Then it was that the negress was really alarmed, fearing that if the girl did rally her mind would be affected. But Rosa was young and, despite her fragility of form, she was strong—too strong, it seemed to her, and possessed of too deep a capacity for suffering. How she ever survived those next few days, days when she prayed hourly to die, was a mystery. And when she found that she could at last shed tears, what agony! The bond between her and Esteban had been stronger than usually exists between sister and brother; he had been her other self; in him she had centered her love, her pride, her ambition. The two had never quarreled; no angry word had ever passed between them: their mutual understanding, moreover, had been almost more than human, and where the one was concerned the other had been utterly unselfish. To lose Esteban, therefore, split the girl’s soul and heart asunder; she felt that she could not stand without him. Born into the world at the same hour, welded into unity by their mother’s supreme pain, the boy and girl were of the same flesh and spirit; they were animated by the same life-current. Never had the one been ill but that the other had suffered corresponding symptoms; never had the one been sad or gay but that the other had felt a like reaction. Personalities so closely knit together are not uncommon, and to sever them is often dangerous.
Into Rosa’s life, however, there had come one interest which she could not share with her twin—that was her love for O’Reilly. Spanish-reared women, as a rule, do not play with love; when it comes they welcome it, even though it be that first infatuation so often scorned by older, colder people. So it was with Rosa Varona. Whatever might have been the true nature of her first feeling for the Irish-American, suffering and meditation had deepened and strengthened it into a mature and genuine passion. As the wise men of old found wisdom in cave or desert, so Rosa in her solitude had learned the truth about herself. Now, in the hour of her extremity, thoughts of O’Reilly acted as a potent medicine. Her hungry yearning for him and her faith in his coming stimulated her desire to live, and so aided her recovery.
The day arrived when her brain was normal and when she could creep about the hut. But she was only the ghost of the girl she had been; she seldom spoke, and she never smiled. She sat for hours staring out into the sunshine, and when she found tears upon her cheeks she was surprised, for it seemed to her that she must long ago have shed the very last.
Asensio, likewise recovered, but he, too, was sadly changed. There was no longer any martial spirit in him; he feared the Spaniards, and tales of their atrocities cowed him.
Then Cobo came into the Yumuri. The valley, already well-nigh deserted, was filled to the brim with smoke from burning fields and houses, and through it the sun showed like a copper shield. Refugees passed the bohio, bound farther into the hills, and Asensio told the two women that he and they must also go. So the three gathered up what few things they could carry on their backs and fled.