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The Riding Of Felipe
by [?]


As young Felipe Arillaga guided his pony out of the last intricacies of Pacheco Pass, he was thinking of Rubia Ytuerate and of the scene he had had with her a few days before. He reconstructed it now very vividly. Rubia had been royally angry, and as she had stood before him, her arms folded and her teeth set, he was forced to admit that she was as handsome a woman as could be found through all California.

There had been a time, three months past, when Felipe found no compulsion in the admission, for though betrothed to Buelna Martiarena he had abruptly conceived a violent infatuation for Rubia, and had remained a guest upon her rancho many weeks longer than he had intended.

For three months he had forgotten Buelna entirely. At the end of that time he had remembered her–had awakened to the fact that his infatuation for Rubia was infatuation, and had resolved to end the affair and go back to Buelna as soon as it was possible.

But Rubia was quick to notice the cooling of his passion. First she fixed him with oblique suspicion from under her long lashes, then avoided him, then kept him at her side for days together. Then at last–his defection unmistakable–turned on him with furious demands for the truth.

Felipe had snatched occasion with one hand and courage with the other.

“Well,” he had said, “well, it is not my fault. Yes, it is the truth. It is played out.”

He had not thought it necessary to speak of Buelna; but Rubia divined the other woman.

“So you think you are to throw me aside like that. Ah, it is played out, is it, Felipe Arillaga? You listen to me. Do not fancy for one moment you are going back to an old love, or on to a new one. You listen to me,” she had cried, her fist over her head. “I do not know who she is, but my curse is on her, Felipe Arillaga. My curse is on her who next kisses you. May that kiss be a blight to her. From that moment may evil cling to her, bad luck follow her; may she love and not be loved; may friends desert her, enemies beset her, her sisters shame her, her brothers disown her, and those whom she has loved abandon her. May her body waste as your love for me has wasted; may her heart be broken as your promises to me have been broken; may her joy be as fleeting as your vows, and her beauty grow as dim as your memory of me. I have said it.”

“So be it!” Felipe had retorted with vast nonchalance, and had flung out from her presence to saddle his pony and start back to Buelna.

But Felipe was superstitious. He half believed in curses, had seen two-headed calves born because of them, and sheep stampeded over cliffs for no other reason.

Now, as he drew out of Pacheco Pass and came down into the valley the idea of Rubia and her curse troubled him. At first, when yet three days’ journey from Buelna, it had been easy to resolve to brave it out. But now he was already on the Rancho Martiarena (had been traveling over it for the last ten hours, in fact), and in a short time would be at the hacienda of Martiarena, uncle and guardian of Buelna. He would see Buelna, and she, believing always in his fidelity, would expect to kiss him.

“Well, this is to be thought about,” murmured Felipe uneasily. He touched up the pony with one of his enormous spurs.

“Now I know what I will do,” he thought. “I will go to San Juan Bautista and confess and be absolved, and will buy candles. Then afterward will go to Buelna.”

He found the road that led to the Mission and turned into it, pushing forward at a canter. Then suddenly at a sharp turning reined up just in time to avoid colliding with a little cavalcade.