The footfall of a spider in Ramona’s room had not been light enough to escape the ear of that watching lover outside. Again Alessandro’s tall figure arose from the floor, turning towards Ramona’s window; and now the darkness was so far softened to dusk, that the outline of his form could be seen. Ramona felt it rather than saw it, and stopped praying. Alessandro was sure he had heard her voice.

“Did the Senorita speak?” he whispered, his face close at the curtain. Ramona, startled, stopped her rosary, which rattled as it fell on the wooden floor.

“No, no, Alessandro,” she said, “I did not speak.” And she trembled, she knew not why. The sound of the beads on the floor explained to Alessandro what had been the whispered words he heard.

“She was at her prayers,” he thought, ashamed and sorry. “Forgive me,” he whispered, “I thought you called;” and he stepped back to the outer edge of the veranda, and seated himself on the railing. He would lie down no more. Ramona remained on her knees, gazing at the window. Through the transparent muslin curtain the dawning light came slowly, steadily, till at last she could see Alessandro distinctly. Forgetful of all else, she knelt gazing at him. The rosary lay on the floor, forgotten. Ramona would not finish that prayer, that day. But her heart was full of thanksgiving and gratitude, and the Madonna had a better prayer than any in the book.

~ Helen Hunt Jackson, Ramona


Image of rosary by miqul via Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.