The Jimmyjohn Boss and Other Stories HTML version

Padre Ignazio
At Santa Ysabel del Mar the season was at one of its moments when the air
hangs quiet over land and sea. The old breezes had gone; the new ones were
not yet risen. The flowers in the mission garden opened wide, for no wind came
by day or night to shake the loose petals from their stems. Along the basking,
silent, many-colored shore gathered and lingered the crisp odors of the
mountains. The dust floated golden and motionless long after the rider was
behind the hill, and the Pacific lay like a floor of sapphire, on which to walk
beyond the setting sun into the East. One white sail shone there. Instead of an
hour, it had been from dawn till afternoon in sight between the short headlands;
and the padre had hoped that it might be his ship. But it had slowly passed. Now
from an arch in his garden cloisters he was watching the last of it. Presently it
was gone, and the great ocean lay empty. The padre put his glasses in his lap.
For a short while he read in his breviary, but soon forgot it again. He looked at
the flowers and sunny ridges, then at the huge blue triangle of sea which the
opening of the hills let into sight."Paradise," he murmured, "need not hold more
beauty and peace. But I think I would exchange all my remaining years of this for
one sight again of Paris or Seville. May God forgive me such a thought!"
Across the unstirred fragrance of oleanders the bell for vespers began to ring. Its
tones passed over the padre as he watched the sea in his garden. They reached
his parishioners in their adobe dwellings near by. The gentle circles of sound
floated outward upon the smooth immense silence--over the vines and pear-
trees; down the avenues of the olives; into the planted fields, whence women and
children began to return; then out of the lap of the valley along the yellow
uplands, where the men that rode among the cattle paused, looking down like
birds at the map of their home. Then the sound widened, faint, unbroken, until it
met Temptation riding towards the padre from the south, and cheered the steps
of Temptation's jaded horse
"For a day, one single day of Paris!" repeated the padre, gazing through his
cloisters at the empty sea.
Once in the year the mother-world remembered him. Once in the year a
barkentine came sailing with news and tokens from Spain. It was in 1685 that a
galleon had begun such voyages up to the lower country from Acapulco, where
she loaded the cargo that had come across Tehuantepec on mules from Vera
Cruz. By 1768 she had added the new mission of San Diego to her ports. In the
year that we, a thin strip of colonists away over on the Atlantic edge of the
continent, declared ourselves an independent nation, that Spanish ship, in the
name of Saint Francis, was unloading the centuries of her own civilization at the
Golden Gate. Then, slowly, as mission after mission was planted along the soft
coast wilderness, she made new stops--at Santa Barbara, for instance; and by
Point San Luis for San Luis Obispo, that lay inland a little way up the gorge
where it opened among the hills. Thus the world reached these places by water;