“It is Senor Gordon’s tin box. After you carried him to the house here the other night I found it under a cottonwood. So I took it home with me. They are papers. Important—— Is it not so?”
“Yes. I have been looking everywhere for them. You did right to bring them back to me.”
“Perhaps they may help you win the land. Eh, Dona?”
“Perhaps. You know I offered a reward of twenty-five dollars for the box. It is yours. Buy some furniture with it when you and Juanita go to housekeeping.”
“That is all past, alas, Senorita. Juanita looks down her nose when I am near. She does not speak to me.”
“Foolish boy! That is a sign she thinks much of you. Tell her you did wrong to accuse her. Beg her to forgive you. Do not sulk, but love her and she will smile on you.”
“But—this Senor Gordon?”
“All nonsense, Pablo. I have talked with Juanita. It is you she loves. Go to her and be good to her. She is back there in the milkhouse churning. But remember she is only a girl—so young, and motherless, too. It is the part of a man to be kind and generous and forbearing to a woman. He must be gentle—always gentle, if he would hold her love. Can you do that, Pablo? Or are you only a hot-headed, selfish, foolish boy?”
“I will try, Dona,” he answered humbly. “For always have I love’ her since she was such a little muchacha.”
“Then go. Don’t tell her I sent you. She must feel you have come because you could no longer stay away.”
Pablo flashed his teeth in a smile of understanding and took the path that led round the house. He followed it to the sunken cellar that had been built for a milkhouse. Noiselessly he tiptoed down the steps and into the dark room. The plop-plop of a churn dasher told him Juanita was here even before his eyes could make her out in the darkness.
Presently he saw more clearly the slender figure bent a little wearily over the churn. Softly he trod forward. His hand went out and closed on the handle above hers. In startled surprise she turned.
“You—Pablo!” she cried faintly.
“I have so longed to see you—to come to you and tell you I was wrong, nina—— Oh, you don’t know how I have wanted to come. But my pride—my hard, foolish pride—it held me back. But no longer, heart of my heart, can I wait. Tell me that you forgive—that you will love me again—in spite of what I said and have done. I cannot get along without my little Juanita,” he cried in the soft Spanish that was native to them both.
She was in his arms, crying softly, nestling close to him so that his love might enfold her more warmly. Always Juanita had been a soft, clinging child, happy only in an atmosphere of affection. She responded to caresses as a rose does to the sunlight. Pablo had been her first lover, the most constant of them all. She had relied upon him as a child does upon its mother. When he had left her in anger and not returned she had been miserably unhappy. Now all was well again, since Pablo had come back to her.