"Stop crying, Margarita!" said Ramona, firmly, "and tell me all about it. It isn't so bad as it looks. I think I can mend it."
"Oh, the saints bless you!" cried Margarita, looking up for the first time. "Do you really think you can mend it, Senorita? If you will mend that lace, I'll go on my knees for you all the rest of my life!"
Ramona laughed in spite of herself. "You'll serve me better by keeping on your feet," she said merrily; at which Margarita laughed too, through her tears. They were both young.
"Oh, but Senorita," Margarita began again in a tone of anguish, her tears flowing afresh, "there is not time! It must be washed and ironed to-night, for the mass to-morrow morning, and I have to help at the supper. Anita and Rosa are both ill in bed, you know, and Maria has gone away for a week. The Senora said if the Father came to-night I must help mother, and must wait on table. It cannot be done. I was just going to iron it now, and I found it -- so -- It was in the artichoke-patch, and Capitan, the beast, had been tossing it among the sharp pricks of the old last year's seeds."
"In the artichoke-patch!" ejaculated Ramona. "How under heavens did it get there?"
"Oh, that was what I meant, Senorita, when I said she never would forgive me. She has forbidden me many times to hang anything to dry on the fence there; and if I had only washed it when she first told me, two days ago, all would have been well. But I forgot it till this afternoon, and there was no sun in the court to dry it, and you know how the sun lies on the artichoke-patch, and I put a strong cloth over the fence, so that the wood should not pierce the lace, and I did not leave it more than half an hour, just while I said a few words to Luigo, and there was no wind; and I believe the saints must have fetched it down to the ground to punish me for my disobedience."
Ramona had been all this time carefully smoothing out the torn places, "It is not so bad as it looks," she said; "if it were not for the hurry, there would be no trouble in mending it. But I will do it the best I can, so that it will not show, for to-morrow, and then, after the Father is gone, I can repair it at leisure, and make it just as good as new. I think I can mend it and wash it before dark," and she glanced at the sun. "Oh, yes, there are good three hours of daylight yet. I can do it. You put the irons on the fire, to have them hot, to iron it as soon as it is partly dried. You will see it will not show that anything has happened to it."
"Will the Senora know?" asked poor Margarita, calmed and reassured, but still in mortal terror.
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