choir was the empty stone coffin of an abbot, in which


"That was what they said," he replied. "You see it is a lie, like the rest! But I offered him gold, and he would not come then. The child must die, Majella!"

choir was the empty stone coffin of an abbot, in which

"She shall not die!" cried Ramona. "We will carry her to him!" The thought struck them both as an inspiration. Why had they not thought of it before? "You can fasten the cradle on Baba's back, and he will go so gently, she will think it is but play; and I will walk by her side, or you, all the way!" she continued. "And we can sleep at Aunt Ri's house. Oh, why, why did we not do it before? Early in the morning we will start."

choir was the empty stone coffin of an abbot, in which

All through the night they sat watching the little creature. If they had ever seen death, they would have known that there was no hope for the child. But how should Ramona and Alessandro know?

choir was the empty stone coffin of an abbot, in which

The sun rose bright and warm. Before it was up, the cradle was ready, ingeniously strapped on Baba's back. When the baby was placed in it, she smiled. "The first smile she has given for days," cried Ramona. "Oh, the air itself will do good to her! Let me walk by her first! Come, Baba! Dear Baba!" and Ramona stepped almost joyfully by the horse's side, Alessandro riding Benito. As they paced along, their eyes never leaving the baby's face, Ramona said, in a low tone, "Alessandro, I am almost afraid to tell you what I have done. I took the little Jesus out of the Madonna's arms and hid it! Did you never hear, that if you do that, the Madonna will grant you anything, to get him back again in her arms' Did you ever hear of it?"

"Never!" exclaimed Alessandro, with horror in his tone. "Never, Majella! How dared you?"

"I dare anything now!" said Ramona. "I have been thinking to do it for some days, and to tell her she could not have him any more till she gave me back the baby well and strong; but I knew I could not have courage to sit and look at her all lonely without him in her arms, so I did not do it. But now we are to be away, I thought, that is the time; and I told her, 'When we come back with our baby well, you shall have your little Jesus again, too; now, Holy Mother, you go with us, and make the doctor cure our baby!' Oh, I have heard, many times, women tell the Senora they had done this, and always they got what they wanted. Never will she let the Jesus be out of her arms more than three weeks before she will grant any prayer one can make. It was that way she brought you to me, Alessandro. I never before told you. I was afraid. I think she had brought you sooner, but I could keep the little Jesus hid from her only at night. In the day I could not, because the Senora would see. So she did not miss him so much; else she had brought you quicker."

"But, Majella," said the logical Alessandro, "it was because I could not leave my father that I did not come. As soon as he was buried, I came."

"If it had not been for the Virgin, you would never have come at all," said Ramona, confidently.

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