A Deal in Wheat And Other Stories
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
He uttered an exclamation under his breath.
At the head of the cavalcade rode old Martiarena himself, and behind him came a peon or
two, then Manuela, the aged housekeeper and--after a fashion--duenna. Then at her side,
on a saddle of red leather with silver bosses, which was cinched about the body of a very
small white burro, Buelna herself.
She was just turned sixteen, and being of the best blood of the mother kingdom (the strain
dating back to the Ostrogothic invasion), was fair. Her hair was blond, her eyes blue-
gray, her eyebrows and lashes dark brown, and as he caught sight of her Felipe wondered
how he ever could have believed the swarthy Rubia beautiful.
There was a jubilant meeting. Old Martiarena kissed both his cheeks, patting him on the
"Oh, ho!" he cried. "Once more back. We have just returned from the feast of the Santa
Cruz at the Mission, and Buelna prayed for your safe return. Go to her, boy. She has
waited long for this hour."
Felipe, his eyes upon those of his betrothed, advanced. She was looking at him and
smiling. As he saw the unmistakable light in her blue eyes, the light he knew she had kept
burning for him alone, Felipe could have abased himself to the very hoofs of her burro.
Could it be possible he had ever forgotten her for such a one as Rubia--have been
unfaithful to this dear girl for so much as the smallest fraction of a minute?