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- Old Mission Stories of California - 10/22 -


and increase their religious instincts, and to make them good, pious Catholic men and women. The children, almost without exception, were docile and obedient, venerating the sisters in charge, and quick to respond to their slightest word. Among the girls was one to be especially remarked, from her face and its habitual expression. Indistinguishable from the others in general appearance, it was only in glancing at her countenance that one thought to look at her a second time with close attention. She was not handsome, or even pretty, although not by any means homely; but her face was almost transfigured by its expression of earnest piety and goodness, remarkable in one so young. Quiet and sedate as was her habit, she was ever ready to enter freely into the fun and play of the other children; but even in the most absorbing frolic, if any one became hurt from too much roughness, she was the first to be on the spot to comfort the suffering one and to ease its pain.

Apolinaria Lorenzana (for so the child had been named by her guardians) had become the object of the love of the entire asylum, and of the sisters in charge of it, in particular. She was looked up to with respect, almost adoration, for her piety and devotion to all religious observances; and the sisters never tired of whispering to each other, prophesying what good works she would do during her life, led and taught by the Virgin as she most certainly was. The parting from her was a sore one to the sisters, more so than to Apolinaria herself, great as was her affection for them; but, in spite of her youth, she was already filled with her work in the new land to which she was going; and she was almost the only one of the little group of children to look forward with joy to the new life.

With fair winds, and under bright skies, the ship sped on her course, and, at the end of three weeks, cast anchor in the bay before the town of Monterey and opposite the presidio. Here the scenes enacted at their departure from Acapulco, were repeated, with even greater animation, although the number of people was pitifully small. It was touching to see the eagerness with which they welcomed the newcomers, strangers though they were; the passion with which they seized on letters from friends in Mexico, as soon as they were distributed; the interest shown in the news, extorted from each of the passengers, as they in turn were questioned, of everything which had occurred in their old home and in Spain, as well as in the rest of the world. Such was the hunger manifested by these home-sick persons! The children aroused quite as much interest here as they had on their departure, and with more reason, for this was to be their future home. Boys and girls stood on the deck, and noted everything going on. Such a little place Monterey seemed to these young people fresh from Mexico City - some dozen houses scattered here and there, a church, the Governor's house and the presidio, all of adobe, and all small and insignificant. But the little town made a pretty sight in the warm sunshine, with the bay and ocean in front, and the hills, forest-clad, behind.

During the height of the excitement incident to unloading, Governor Borica was seen to approach, accompanied by half a dozen soldiers from the presidio, and a Franciscan priest, who was come from the mission, six miles distant, to take charge of the little band of children, until they should be placed in permanent homes. Boarding the ship, the Governor and the Father made their way to the group, and greeted the two sisters, both of whom had been acquainted with the Governor before he left Mexico. The children, instructed by the sisters, made a deep obeisance to the Governor, and kneeled before the Father, as he spoke to each in turn. A few minutes later all left the ship, and the priest, with the sister and children, set out, on foot, for the mission. The way was long, but no one thought of fatigue; for it lay, for the most part, along the edge of the shore, with the ocean in full sight, the waves dashing on to the rocks strewn thickly here and there, while now and then the scene was varied with clusters of cypress trees growing in fantastic shapes. It was past noon when they reached the mission, a small establishment, having, at this time, about eight hundred Indians, under the charge of the Father and his assistants.

The children, however, did not remain here long. During the next two weeks homes were found for them, some among the families at Monterey, some were sent across the bay to Mission Santa Cruz, and some as far as Mission Santa Clara; so that, by the end of that time, not one was left at Mission San Carlos, the two sisters alone continuing there to give their aid in all manner of work looking toward the betterment of the Indians.

Among the children finding homes in Monterey was Apolinaria. Pleased with her appearance, when he saw her at the disembarkation, Don Raimundo Carrillo, a well-known and powerful personage in the new country, decided to take her into his own family, consisting of himself, his wife and three small children. This was a piece of rare good fortune for Apolinaria, for Se–or Carrillo was noted for his kind heart to all inferiors; and with this family she found a home than which none could have been happier in the whole colony. Apolinaria was not adopted by the Carrillos - she filled, in some measure, the place of a servant, while, at the same time, she was regarded as one of the family in all domestic relations, and became a companion, in many respects, to Se–ora Carrillo, who was an invalid. And beyond all this, Apolinaria was under the religious charge of the mission fathers, as were all the foundlings brought to the province. The fathers not only instructed and admonished them in the Catholic faith, but kept informed as to the temporal welfare of their every-day life.

And now began a time of happiness for Apolinaria; busy all day, sometimes at the roughest toil, she worked with her whole heart, full of joy because she was busy, and was doing something for the good people with whom she had found a home. But more than this: the change from her old shelter in the asylum in the great city to a life in the sweet, wild new country, beautiful with all that was loveliest in nature, was one to make a character like Apolinaria expand and grow into a rounded simplicity of soul and spirit. Father Pujol had heard of Apolinaria's piety on her coming to Monterey, having a chance, also, of observing it during her short stay at the mission; and he watched over her with more than usual interest, instructing her mentally, as occasion offered, in addition to fostering the religious side of her nature. Apolinaria attended the school in the town until she was thirteen years old, and acquired the elements of an education, as much as she could possibly have any occasion to use in after years in the country whither she was come for life.

As Apolinaria grew older, and after she had ceased going to school, she found, even with her accustomed duties in Don Raimundo's home, that she had much unoccupied time; and with her religious fervor she thought long on the matter, trying to find in what way she could more completely fill the place she believed the Holy Virgin had destined for her. But in vain did she seek for this object; and at length arose slowly in her, becoming more and more fixed as she dwelt on it, the thought that maybe she had been mistaken in considering that a life in Nueva California was meant for her; and with the thought was awakened the longing to return to Mexico and become a nun. This was during her fifteenth year. A young girl with her religious habit of mind would, naturally, turn to the convent, and regard a life spent in it as the worthiest, therefore the most desirable, to be found in this sinful world; and Apolinaria, notwithstanding her strength of character, soon became fascinated with the prospect. She thought long and seriously before saying a word to any one; for much as she now wished it, she knew it would be painful both to herself and to the good Carrillos, and she dreaded to disclose her plan. But at last, believing she had definitely decided that it concerned the future welfare of her soul, she betook herself to her spiritual adviser, Father Pujol, and laid her thought before him.

Now Father Pujol was a man - one of many in this imperfect world - who had not found his proper place in life. His father had intended to take him, as a partner, into business, toward which he had a natural leaning, so soon as he was of sufficient age; but Se–or Pujol suffered reverses which swept away his modest fortune, and left his family destitute. Rather than receive aid from his uncle, and waiving his claim in favor of his younger brother, this son, although with reluctance, decided to enter the priesthood, for he was a singularly religious young man. But Father Pujol, in his capacity as priest, combined, in a marked degree, the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove. He had a deeply rooted aversion to the custom of women sequestering themselves from the world behind the walls of a convent; and it had been his habit, whenever opportunity offered, to dissuade any who, by so doing, might leave a void in the world. Indeed, he had been so zealous in one or two cases that the suspicions of his fellow-brethren had been aroused, and, eventually, he was selected to make one of a company of Franciscans to the new province. Therefore, on hearing for the first time what Apolinaria meditated doing, he felt almost angry with her, foolish and unreasonable though he knew he was.

"My blessed child!" he exclaimed, "what has made you think of such a thing?"

"I know not, Father," replied Apolinaria, "but it seemed to have been put into my mind by the saints in Heaven that that was what I should do; and I believe that must be what I was destined for when I was found by the dear sisters, forsaken and starving, and was taken to the asylum. Did not they save my life that I might glorify God and the Blessed Virgin the rest of my days?"

"Listen, Apolinaria," replied the Father solemnly. "I know well the state of your mind concerning this question. I have no word of blame to give you, and I am sure that the life you would pass in the convent would be acceptable to God; one, indeed, of good work done for others, in so far as your limited sphere of action would permit. But, my dear child, consider carefully before you decide to take this step, whether it may not be a step backward in your progress toward a heavenly home. Here you are, a member of a leading family in Nueva California, in the midst of duties which you can, and do, discharge faithfully, and which would not be done so well by any one else, should you give them up. Think of the help and comfort you are to Se–ora Carrillo, in her poor health, with three children, who would be a sad burden to her without you. Look at the place you fill in the household, where you are, in truth, the housekeeper. Is not your life full of good work? What more could you find in a convent? I know, my daughter, you wish for the life of devotion to be found there, and that you look on it as a life of rapture and uplifting. That is all very well for many poor women who have no especial sphere of usefulness to fill in the world; but, Apolinaria, I should deeply mourn the day that saw you become one of them. Do not think I am decrying the convent - far be from me such a thing! But I believe, I know, God never intended that his creatures should isolate themselves in any such way from the duties among which He had placed them."

The Father had risen to his feet as he uttered the last sentence, and, with some agitation, took a few steps back and forth in the room. He was an earnest, deep-souled man, eager and passionate, almost to the point of inspiration, when aroused from his usual reserved manner. Apolinaria was greatly beloved by him, and it was with genuine pain that he had heard her wish.

"Apolinaria," he said at last, after a few moments of silence on the part of both, "hija mia, have I made you see this matter clearly,? Can not you trust me to decide this weighty question for you? Is your heart so set on the quiet life of prayer, cut off from so much of the work, without which, Saint James tells us, faith is dead? Do not decide now," he added, as Apolinaria made an uncertain attempt to speak, "take plenty of time, daughter; think it over during the next week, and then come to


Old Mission Stories of California - 10/22

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