farmers cheered him on): "I tellee what tez. I don't care

"Often." exclaimed Ramona; "but why should you do that?" Then suddenly bethinking herself, she said in her heart, "Oh, what a thoughtless question! Can it be they are so poor as that?" And to save Alessandro from replying, she set off on a run for the house, saying, "Come, come, Margarita, we must go and help at the supper."

farmers cheered him on):

"Will the Senorita let me help, too," asked Alessandro, wondering at his own boldness,-- "if there is anything I can do?"

farmers cheered him on):

"Oh, no," she cried, "there is not. Yes, there is, too. You can help carry the things down to the booth; for we are short of hands now, with Juan Can in bed, and Luigo gone to Ventura for the doctor. You and some of your men might carry all the supper over. I'll call you when we are ready."

farmers cheered him on):

The men sat down in a group and waited contentedly, smoking, chatting, and laughing. Alessandro walked up and down between the kitchen and the shed. He could hear the sounds of rattling dishes, jingling spoons, frying, pouring water. Savory smells began to be wafted out. Evidently old Marda meant to atone for the shortcoming of the noon. Juan Can, in his bed, also heard and smelled what was going on. "May the fiends get me," he growled, "if that wasteful old hussy isn't getting up a feast for those beasts of Indians! There's mutton and onions, and peppers stewing, and potatoes, I'll be bound, and God knows what else, for beggars that are only too thankful to get a handful of roasted wheat or a bowl of acorn porridge at home. Well, they'll have to say they were well feasted at the Moreno's, -- that's one comfort. I wonder if Margarita'll think I am worthy of tasting that stew! San Jose! but it smells well! Margarita! Margarita!" he called at top of his lungs; but Margarita did not hear. She was absorbed in her duties in the kitchen; and having already taken Juan at sundown a bowl of the good broth which the doctor had said was the only sort of food he must eat for two weeks, she had dismissed him from her mind for the night. Moreover, Margarita was absent-minded to-night. She was more than half in love with the handsome Alessandro, who, when he had been on the ranch the year before, had danced with her, and said many a light pleasant word to her, evenings, as a young man may; and what ailed him now, that he seemed, when he saw her, as if she were no more than a transparent shade, through which he stared at the sky behind her, she did not know. Senor Felipe's illness, she thought, and the general misery and confusion, had perhaps put everything else out of his head; but now he was going to stay, and it would be good fun having him there, if only Senor Felipe got well, which he seemed likely to do. And as Margarita flew about, here, there, and everywhere, she cast frequent glances at the tall straight figure pacing up and down in the dusk outside.

Alessandro did not see her. He did not see anything. He was looking off at the sunset, and listening. Ramona had said, "I will call you when we are ready." But she did not do as she said. She told Margarita to call.

"Run, Margarita," she said. "All is ready now; see if Alessandro is in sight. Call him to come and take the things."

So it was Margarita's voice, and not Ramona's, that called "Alessandro! Alessandro! the supper is ready."

But it was Ramona who, when Alessandro reached the doorway, stood there holding in her arms a huge smoking platter of the stew which had so roused poor Juan Can's longings; and it was Ramona who said, as she gave it into Alessandro's hands, "Take care, Alessandro, it is very full. The gravy will run over if you are not careful. You are not used to waiting on table;" and as she said it, she smiled full into Alessandro's eyes,-- a little flitting, gentle, friendly smile, which went near to making him drop the platter, mutton, gravy, and all, then and there, at her feet.

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