The Devotion of Enriquez
by Bret Harte
In another chronicle which dealt with the exploits of "Chu Chu," a
Californian mustang, I gave some space to the accomplishments of Enriquez
Saltillo, who assisted me in training her, and who was also brother to
Consuelo Saitillo, the young lady to whom I had freely given both the
mustang and my youthful affections. I consider it a proof of the
superiority of masculine friendship that neither the subsequent desertion
of the mustang nor that of the young lady ever made the slightest
difference to Enriquez or me in our exalted amity. To a wondering doubt as
to what I ever could possibly have seen in his sister to admire he joined
a tolerant skepticism of the whole sex. This he was wont to express in
that marvelous combination of Spanish precision and California slang for
which he was justly famous. "As to thees women and their little game," he
would say, "believe me, my friend, your old Oncle 'Enry is not in it. No;
he will ever take a back seat when lofe is around. For why? Regard me
here! If she is a horse, you shall say, 'She will buck-jump,' 'She will
ess-shy,' 'She will not arrive,' or 'She will arrive too quick.' But if it
is thees women, where are you? For when you shall say, 'She will ess-shy,'
look you, she will walk straight; or she will remain tranquil when you
think she buck-jump; or else she will arrive and, look you, you will not.
You shall get left. It is ever so. My father and the brother of my father
have both make court to my mother when she was but a senorita. My father
think she have lofe his brother more. So he say to her: 'It is enofe;
tranquillize yourself. I will go. I will efface myself. Adios! Shake
hands! Ta-ta! So long! See you again in the fall.' And what make my
mother? Regard me! She marry my father—on the instant! Of thees
women, believe me, Pancho, you shall know nothing. Not even if they shall
make you the son of your father or his nephew."
I have recalled this characteristic speech to show the general tendency of
Enriquez' convictions at the opening of this little story. It is only fair
to say, however, that his usual attitude toward the sex he so cheerfully
maligned exhibited little apprehension or caution in dealing with them.
Among the frivolous and light-minded intermixture of his race he moved
with great freedom and popularity. He danced well; when we went to
fandangos together his agility and the audacity of his figures always
procured him the prettiest partners, his professed sentiments, I presume,
shielding him from subsequent jealousies, heartburnings, or envy. I have a
vivid recollection of him in the mysteries of the SEMICUACUA, a somewhat
corybantic dance which left much to the invention of the performers, and
very little to the imagination of the spectator. In one of the figures a
gaudy handkerchief, waved more or less gracefully by dancer and danseuse
before the dazzled eyes of each other, acted as love's signal, and was
used to express alternate admiration and indifference, shyness and
audacity, fear and transport, coyness and coquetry, as the dance
proceeded. I need not say that Enriquez' pantomimic illustration of these
emotions was peculiarly extravagant; but it was always performed and
accepted with a gravity that was an essential feature of the dance. At
such times sighs would escape him which were supposed to portray the
incipient stages of passion; snorts of jealousy burst from him at the
suggestion of a rival; he was overtaken by a sort of St. Vitus's dance
that expressed his timidity in making the first advances of affection; the
scorn of his ladylove struck him with something like a dumb ague; and a
single gesture of invitation from her produced marked delirium. All this
was very like Enriquez; but on the particular occasion to which I refer, I
think no one was prepared to see him begin the figure with the waving of
FOUR handkerchiefs! Yet this he did, pirouetting, capering, brandishing
his silken signals like a ballerina's scarf in the languishment or fire of
passion, until, in a final figure, where the conquered and submitting fair
one usually sinks into the arms of her partner, need it be said that the
ingenious Enriquez was found in the center of the floor supporting four of
the dancers! Yet he was by no means unduly excited either by the plaudits
of the crowd or by his evident success with the fair. "Ah, believe me, it
is nothing," he said quietly, rolling a fresh cigarette as he leaned
against the doorway. "Possibly, I shall have to offer the chocolate or the
wine to thees girls, or make to them a promenade in the moonlight on the
veranda. It is ever so. Unless, my friend," he said, suddenly turning
toward me in an excess of chivalrous self-abnegation, "unless you shall
yourself take my place. Behold, I gif them to you! I vamos! I vanish! I
make track! I skedaddle!" I think he would have carried his extravagance
to the point of summoning his four gypsy witches of partners, and
committing them to my care, if the crowd had not at that moment parted
before the remaining dancers, and left one of the onlookers, a tall,
slender girl, calmly surveying them through gold-rimmed eyeglasses in
complete critical absorption. I stared in amazement and consternation; for
I recognized in the fair stranger Miss Urania Mannersley, the
Congregational minister's niece!
Everybody knew Rainie Mannersley throughout the length and breadth of the
Encinal. She was at once the envy and the goad of the daughters of those
Southwestern and Eastern immigrants who had settled in the valley. She was
correct, she was critical, she was faultless and observant. She was
proper, yet independent; she was highly educated; she was suspected of
knowing Latin and Greek; she even spelled correctly! She could wither the
plainest field nosegay in the hands of other girls by giving the flowers
their botanical names. She never said "Ain't you?" but "Aren't you?" She
looked upon "Did I which?" as an incomplete and imperfect form of "What
did I do?" She quoted from Browning and Tennyson, and was believed to have
read them. She was from Boston. What could she possibly be doing at a
Even if these facts were not already familiar to everyone there, her
outward appearance would have attracted attention. Contrasted with the
gorgeous red, black, and yellow skirts of the dancers, her plain, tightly
fitting gown and hat, all of one delicate gray, were sufficiently notable
in themselves, even had they not seemed, like the girl herself, a kind of
quiet protest to the glaring flounces before her. Her small, straight
waist and flat back brought into greater relief the corsetless, waistless,
swaying figures of the Mexican girls, and her long, slim, well-booted
feet, peeping from the stiff, white edges of her short skirt, made their
broad, low-quartered slippers, held on by the big toe, appear more
preposterous than ever. Suddenly she seemed to realize that she was
standing there alone, but without fear or embarrassment. She drew back a
little, glancing carelessly behind her as if missing some previous
companion, and then her eyes fell upon mine. She smiled an easy
recognition; then a moment later, her glance rested more curiously upon
Enriquez, who was still by my side. I disengaged myself and instantly
joined her, particularly as I noticed that a few of the other bystanders
were beginning to stare at her with little reserve.
"Isn't it the most extraordinary thing you ever saw?" she said quietly.
Then, presently noticing the look of embarrassment on my face, she went
on, more by way of conversation than of explanation:
"I just left uncle making a call on a parishioner next door, and was going
home with Jocasta (a peon servant of her uncle's), when I heard the music,
and dropped in. I don't know what has become of her," she added, glancing
round the room again; "she seemed perfectly wild when she saw that
creature over there bounding about with his handkerchiefs. You were
speaking to him just now. Do tell me—is he real?"
"I should think there was little doubt of that," I said with a vague
"You know what I mean," she said simply. "Is he quite sane? Does he do
that because he likes it, or is he paid for it?"
This was too much. I pointed out somewhat hurriedly that he was a scion of
one of the oldest Castilian families, that the performance was a national
gypsy dance which he had joined in as a patriot and a patron, and that he
was my dearest friend. At the same time I was conscious that I wished she
hadn't seen his last performance.
"You don't mean to say that all that he did was in the dance?" she said.
"I don't believe it. It was only like him." As I hesitated over this
palpable truth, she went on: "I do wish he'd do it again. Don't you think
you could make him?"
"Perhaps he might if YOU asked him," I said a little maliciously.
"Of course I shouldn't do that," she returned quietly. "All the same, I do
believe he is really going to do it—or something else. Do look!"
I looked, and to my horror saw that Enriquez, possibly incited by the
delicate gold eyeglasses of Miss Mannersley, had divested himself of his
coat, and was winding the four handkerchiefs, tied together, picturesquely
around his waist, preparatory to some new performance. I tried furtively
to give him a warning look, but in vain.
"Isn't he really too absurd for anything?" said Miss Mannersley, yet with
a certain comfortable anticipation in her voice. "You know, I never saw
anything like this before. I wouldn't have believed such a creature could
Even had I succeeded in warning him, I doubt if it would have been of any
avail. For, seizing a guitar from one of the musicians, he struck a few
chords, and suddenly began to zigzag into the center of the floor, swaying
his body languishingly from side to side in time with the music and the
pitch of a thin Spanish tenor. It was a gypsy love song. Possibly Miss
Mannersley's lingual accomplishments did not include a knowledge of
Castilian, but she could not fail to see that the gestures and
illustrative pantomime were addressed to her. Passionately assuring her
that she was the most favored daughter of the Virgin, that her eyes were
like votive tapers, and yet in the same breath accusing her of being a
"brigand" and "assassin" in her attitude toward "his heart," he balanced
with quivering timidity toward her, threw an imaginary cloak in front of
her neat boots as a carpet for her to tread on, and with a final
astonishing pirouette and a languishing twang of his guitar, sank on one
knee, and blew, with a rose, a kiss at her feet.
If I had been seriously angry with him before for his grotesque
extravagance, I could have pitied him now for the young girl's absolute
unconsciousness of anything but his utter ludicrousness. The applause of
dancers and bystanders was instantaneous and hearty; her only contribution
to it was a slight parting of her thin red lips in a half-incredulous
smile. In the silence that followed the applause, as Enriquez walked
pantingly away, I heard her saying, half to herself, "Certainly a most
extraordinary creature!" In my indignation I could not help turning
suddenly upon her and looking straight into her eyes. They were brown,
with that peculiar velvet opacity common to the pupils of nearsighted
persons, and seemed to defy internal scrutiny. She only repeated
carelessly, "Isn't he?" and added: "Please see if you can find Jocasta. I
suppose we ought to be going now; and I dare say he won't be doing it
again. Ah! there she is. Good gracious, child! what have you got there?"
It was Enriquez' rose which Jocasta had picked up, and was timidly holding
out toward her mistress.
"Heavens! I don't want it. Keep it yourself."
I walked with them to the door, as I did not fancy a certain glitter in
the black eyes of the Senoritas Manuela and Pepita, who were watching her
curiously. But I think she was as oblivious of this as she was of
Enriquez' particular attentions. As we reached the street I felt that I
ought to say something more.
"You know," I began casually, "that although those poor people meet here
in this public way, their gathering is really quite a homely pastoral and
a national custom; and these girls are all honest, hardworking peons or
servants enjoying themselves in quite the old idyllic fashion."
"Certainly," said the young girl, half-abstractedly. "Of course it's a
Moorish dance, originally brought over, I suppose, by those old Andalusian
immigrants two hundred years ago. It's quite Arabic in its suggestions. I
have got something like it in an old CANCIONERO I picked up at a bookstall
in Boston. But," she added, with a gasp of reminiscent satisfaction,
"that's not like HIM! Oh, no! HE is decidedly original. Heavens! yes."
I turned away in some discomfiture to join Enriquez, who was calmly
awaiting me, with a cigarette in his mouth, outside the sala. Yet he
looked so unconscious of any previous absurdity that I hesitated in what I
thought was a necessary warning. He, however, quickly precipitated it.
Glancing after the retreating figures of the two women, he said: "Thees
mees from Boston is return to her house. You do not accompany her? I
shall. Behold me—I am there." But I linked my arm firmly in his.
Then I pointed out, first, that she was already accompanied by a servant;
secondly, that if I, who knew her, had hesitated to offer myself as an
escort, it was hardly proper for him, a perfect stranger, to take that
liberty; that Miss Mannersley was very punctilious of etiquette, which he,
as a Castilian gentleman, ought to appreciate.
"But will she not regard lofe—the admiration excessif?" he said,
twirling his thin little mustache meditatively.
"No; she will not," I returned sharply; "and you ought to understand that
she is on a different level from your Manuelas and Carmens."
"Pardon, my friend," he said gravely; "thees women are ever the same.
There is a proverb in my language. Listen: 'Whether the sharp blade of the
Toledo pierce the satin or the goatskin, it shall find behind it ever the
same heart to wound.' I am that Toledo blade—possibly it is you, my
friend. Wherefore, let us together pursue this girl of Boston on the
But I kept my grasp on Enriquez' arm, and succeeded in restraining his
mercurial impulses for the moment. He halted, and puffed vigorously at his
cigarette; but the next instant he started forward again. "Let us,
however, follow with discretion in the rear; we shall pass her house; we
shall gaze at it; it shall touch her heart."
Ridiculous as was this following of the young girl we had only just parted
from, I nevertheless knew that Enriquez was quite capable of attempting it
alone, and I thought it better to humor him by consenting to walk with him
in that direction; but I felt it necessary to say:
"I ought to warn you that Miss Mannersley already looks upon your
performances at the sala as something outre and peculiar, and if I were
you I shouldn't do anything to deepen that impression."
"You are saying she ees shock?" said Enriquez, gravely.
I felt I could not conscientiously say that she was shocked, and he saw my
hesitation. "Then she have jealousy of the senoritas," he observed, with
insufferable complacency. "You observe! I have already said. It is ever
I could stand it no longer. "Look here, Harry," I said, "if you must know
it, she looks upon you as an acrobat—a paid performer."
"Ah!"—his black eyes sparkled—"the torero, the man who fights
the bull, he is also an acrobat."
"Yes; but she thinks you a clown!—a GRACIOSO DE TEATRO—there!"
"Then I have make her laugh?" he said coolly.
I don't think he had; but I shrugged my shoulders.
"BUENO!" he said cheerfully. "Lofe, he begin with a laugh, he make feenish
with a sigh."
I turned to look at him in the moonlight. His face presented its habitual
Spanish gravity—a gravity that was almost ironical. His small black
eyes had their characteristic irresponsible audacity—the
irresponsibility of the vivacious young animal. It could not be possible
that he was really touched with the placid frigidities of Miss Mannersley.
I remembered his equally elastic gallantries with Miss Pinkey Smith, a
blonde Western belle, from which both had harmlessly rebounded. As we
walked on slowly I continued more persuasively: "Of course this is only
your nonsense; but don't you see, Miss Mannersley thinks it all in earnest
and really your nature?" I hesitated, for it suddenly struck me that it
WAS really his nature. "And—hang it all!—you don't want her to
believe you a common buffoon., or some intoxicated muchacho."
"Intoxicated?" repeated Enriquez, with exasperating languishment. "Yes;
that is the word that shall express itself. My friend, you have made a
shot in the center—you have ring the bell every time! It is
intoxication—but not of aguardiente. Look! I have long time an
ancestor of whom is a pretty story. One day in church he have seen a young
girl—a mere peasant girl—pass to the confessional. He look her
in her eye, he stagger"—here Enriquez wobbled pantomimically into
the road—"he fall!"—he would have suited the action to the
word if I had not firmly held him up. "They have taken him home, where he
have remain without his clothes, and have dance and sing. But it was the
drunkenness of lofe. And, look you, thees village girl was a nothing, not
even pretty. The name of my ancestor was—"
"Don Quixote de La Mancha," I suggested maliciously. "I suspected as much.
Come along. That will do."
"My ancestor's name," continued Enriquez, gravely, "was Antonio
Hermenegildo de Salvatierra, which is not the same. Thees Don Quixote of
whom you speak exist not at all."
"Never mind. Only, for heaven's sake, as we are nearing the house, don't
make a fool of yourself again."
It was a wonderful moonlight night. The deep redwood porch of the
Mannersley parsonage, under the shadow of a great oak—the largest in
the Encinal—was diapered in black and silver. As the women stepped
upon the porch their shadows were silhouetted against the door. Miss
Mannersley paused for an instant, and turned to give a last look at the
beauty of the night as Jocasta entered. Her glance fell upon us as we
passed. She nodded carelessly and unaffectedly to me, but as she
recognized Enriquez she looked a little longer at him with her previous
cold and invincible curiosity. To my horror Enriquez began instantly to
affect a slight tremulousness of gait and a difficulty of breathing; but I
gripped his arm savagely, and managed to get him past the house as the
door closed finally on the young lady.
"You do not comprehend, friend Pancho," he said gravely, "but those eyes
in their glass are as the ESPEJO USTORIO, the burning mirror. They burn,
they consume me here like paper. Let us affix to ourselves thees tree. She
will, without doubt, appear at her window. We shall salute her for good
"We will do nothing of the kind," I said sharply. Finding that I was
determined, he permitted me to lead him away. I was delighted to notice,
however, that he had indicated the window which I knew was the minister's
study, and that as the bedrooms were in the rear of the house, this later
incident was probably not overseen by the young lady or the servant. But I
did not part from Enriquez until I saw him safely back to the sala, where
I left him sipping chocolate, his arm alternating around the waists of his
two previous partners in a delightful Arcadian and childlike simplicity,
and an apparent utter forgetfulness of Miss Mannersley.
The fandangos were usually held on Saturday night, and the next day, being
Sunday, I missed Enriquez; but as he was a devout Catholic I remembered
that he was at mass in the morning, and possibly at the bullfight at San
Antonio in the afternoon. But I was somewhat surprised on the Monday
morning following, as I was crossing the plaza, to have my arm taken by
the Rev. Mr. Mannersley in the nearest approach to familiarity that was
consistent with the reserve of this eminent divine. I looked at him
inquiringly. Although scrupulously correct in attire, his features always
had a singular resemblance to the national caricature known as "Uncle
Sam," but with the humorous expression left out. Softly stroking his
goatee with three fingers, he began condescendingly: "You are, I think,
more or less familiar with the characteristics and customs of the Spanish
as exhibited by the settlers here." A thrill of apprehension went through
me. Had he heard of Enriquez' proceedings? Had Miss Mannersley cruelly
betrayed him to her uncle? "I have not given that attention myself to
their language and social peculiarities," he continued, with a large wave
of the hand, "being much occupied with a study of their religious beliefs
and superstitions"—it struck me that this was apt to be a common
fault of people of the Mannersley type—"but I have refrained from a
personal discussion of them; on the contrary, I have held somewhat broad
views on the subject of their remarkable missionary work, and have
suggested a scheme of co-operation with them, quite independent of
doctrinal teaching, to my brethren of other Protestant Christian sects.
These views I first incorporated in a sermon last Sunday week, which I am
told has created considerable attention." He stopped and coughed slightly.
"I have not yet heard from any of the Roman clergy, but I am led to
believe that my remarks were not ungrateful to Catholics generally."
I was relieved, although still in some wonder why he should address me on
this topic. I had a vague remembrance of having heard that he had said
something on Sunday which had offended some Puritans of his flock, but
nothing more. He continued: "I have just said that I was unacquainted with
the characteristics of the Spanish-American race. I presume, however, they
have the impulsiveness of their Latin origin. They gesticulate—eh?
They express their gratitude, their joy, their affection, their emotions
generally, by spasmodic movements? They naturally dance—sing—eh?"
A horrible suspicion crossed my mind; I could only stare helplessly at
him. "I see," he said graciously; "perhaps it is a somewhat general
question. I will explain myself. A rather singular occurrence happened to
me the other night. I had returned from visiting a parishioner, and was
alone in my study reviewing my sermon for the next day. It must have been
quite late before I concluded, for I distinctly remember my niece had
returned with her servant fully an hour before. Presently I heard the
sounds of a musical instrument in the road, with the accents of someone
singing or rehearsing some metrical composition in words that, although
couched in a language foreign to me, in expression and modulation gave me
the impression of being distinctly adulatory. For some little time, in the
greater preoccupation of my task, I paid little attention to the
performance; but its persistency at length drew me in no mere idle
curiosity to the window. From thence, standing in my dressing-gown, and
believing myself unperceived, I noticed under the large oak in the
roadside the figure of a young man who, by the imperfect light, appeared
to be of Spanish extraction. But I evidently miscalculated my own
invisibility; for he moved rapidly forward as I came to the window, and in
a series of the most extraordinary pantomimic gestures saluted me. Beyond
my experience of a few Greek plays in earlier days, I confess I am not an
adept in the understanding of gesticulation; but it struck me that the
various phases of gratitude, fervor, reverence, and exaltation were
successively portrayed. He placed his hands upon his head, his heart, and
even clasped them together in this manner." To my consternation the
reverend gentleman here imitated Enriquez' most extravagant pantomime. "I
am willing to confess," he continued, "that I was singularly moved by
them, as well as by the highly creditable and Christian interest that
evidently produced them. At last I opened the window. Leaning out, I told
him that I regretted that the lateness of the hour prevented any further
response from me than a grateful though hurried acknowledgment of his
praiseworthy emotion, but that I should be glad to see him for a few
moments in the vestry before service the next day, or at early
candlelight, before the meeting of the Bible class. I told him that as my
sole purpose had been the creation of an evangelical brotherhood and the
exclusion of merely doctrinal views, nothing could be more gratifying to
me than his spontaneous and unsolicited testimony to my motives. He
appeared for an instant to be deeply affected, and, indeed, quite overcome
with emotion, and then gracefully retired, with some agility and a slight
He paused. A sudden and overwhelming idea took possession of me, and I
looked impulsively into his face. Was it possible that for once Enriquez'
ironical extravagance had been understood, met, and vanquished by a master
hand? But the Rev. Mr. Mannersley's self-satisfied face betrayed no
ambiguity or lurking humor. He was evidently in earnest; he had
complacently accepted for himself the abandoned Enriquez' serenade to his
niece. I felt a hysterical desire to laugh, but it was checked by my
companion's next words.
"I informed my niece of the occurrence in the morning at breakfast. She
had not heard anything of the strange performance, but she agreed with me
as to its undoubted origin in a grateful recognition of my liberal efforts
toward his coreligionists. It was she, in fact, who suggested that your
knowledge of these people might corroborate my impressions."
I was dumfounded. Had Miss Mannersley, who must have recognized Enriquez'
hand in this, concealed the fact in a desire to shield him? But this was
so inconsistent with her utter indifference to him, except as a grotesque
study, that she would have been more likely to tell her uncle all about
his previous performance. Nor could it be that she wished to conceal her
visit to the fandango. She was far too independent for that, and it was
even possible that the reverend gentleman, in his desire to know more of
Enriquez' compatriots, would not have objected. In my confusion I meekly
added my conviction to hers, congratulated him upon his evident success,
and slipped away. But I was burning with a desire to see Enriquez and know
all. He was imaginative but not untruthful. Unfortunately, I learned that
he was just then following one of his erratic impulses, and had gone to a
rodeo at his cousin's, in the foothills, where he was alternately
exercising his horsemanship in catching and breaking wild cattle and
delighting his relatives with his incomparable grasp of the American
language and customs, and of the airs of a young man of fashion. Then my
thoughts recurred to Miss Mannersley. Had she really been oblivious that
night to Enriquez' serenade? I resolved to find out, if I could, without
betraying Enriquez. Indeed, it was possible, after all, that it might not
have been he.
Chance favored me. The next evening I was at a party where Miss
Mannersley, by reason of her position and quality, was a distinguished—I
had almost written a popular—guest. But, as I have formerly stated,
although the youthful fair of the Encinal were flattered by her casual
attentions, and secretly admired her superior style and aristocratic calm,
they were more or less uneasy under the dominance of her intelligence and
education, and were afraid to attempt either confidence or familiarity.
They were also singularly jealous of her, for although the average young
man was equally afraid of her cleverness and her candor, he was not above
paying a tremulous and timid court to her for its effect upon her humbler
sisters. This evening she was surrounded by her usual satellites,
including, of course, the local notables and special guests of
distinction. She had been discussing, I think, the existence of glaciers
on Mount Shasta with a spectacled geologist, and had participated with
charming frankness in a conversation on anatomy with the local doctor and
a learned professor, when she was asked to take a seat at the piano. She
played with remarkable skill and wonderful precision, but coldly and
brilliantly. As she sat there in her subdued but perfectly fitting evening
dress, her regular profile and short but slender neck firmly set upon her
high shoulders, exhaling an atmosphere of refined puritanism and
provocative intelligence, the utter incongruity of Enriquez' extravagant
attentions if ironical, and their equal hopelessness if not, seemed to me
plainer than ever. What had this well-poised, coldly observant spinster to
do with that quaintly ironic ruffler, that romantic cynic, that rowdy Don
Quixote, that impossible Enriquez? Presently she ceased playing. Her slim,
narrow slipper, revealing her thin ankle, remained upon the pedal; her
delicate fingers were resting idly on the keys; her head was slightly
thrown back, and her narrow eyebrows prettily knit toward the ceiling in
an effort of memory.
"Something of Chopin's," suggested the geologist, ardently.
"That exquisite sonata!" pleaded the doctor.
"Suthin' of Rubinstein. Heard him once," said a gentleman of Siskiyou. "He
just made that pianner get up and howl. Play Rube."
She shook her head with parted lips and a slight touch of girlish coquetry
in her manner. Then her fingers suddenly dropped upon the keys with a
glassy tinkle; there were a few quick pizzicato chords, down went the low
pedal with a monotonous strumming, and she presently began to hum to
herself. I started—as well I might—for I recognized one of
Enriquez' favorite and most extravagant guitar solos. It was audacious; it
was barbaric; it was, I fear, vulgar. As I remembered it—as he sang
it—it recounted the adventures of one Don Francisco, a provincial
gallant and roisterer of the most objectionable type. It had one hundred
and four verses, which Enriquez never spared me. I shuddered as in a
pleasant, quiet voice the correct Miss Mannersley warbled in musical
praise of the PELLEJO, or wineskin, and a eulogy of the dicebox came
caressingly from her thin red lips. But the company was far differently
affected: the strange, wild air and wilder accompaniment were evidently
catching; people moved toward the piano; somebody whistled the air from a
distant corner; even the faces of the geologist and doctor brightened.
"A tarantella, I presume?" blandly suggested the doctor.
Miss Mannersley stopped, and rose carelessly from the piano. "It is a
Moorish gypsy song of the fifteenth century," she said dryly.
"It seemed sorter familiar, too," hesitated one of the young men, timidly,
"like as if—don't you know?—you had without knowing it, don't
you know?"—he blushed slightly—"sorter picked it up
"I 'picked it up,' as you call it, in the collection of medieval
manuscripts of the Harvard Library, and copied it," returned Miss
Mannersley coldly as she turned away.
But I was not inclined to let her off so easily. I presently made my way
to her side. "Your uncle was complimentary enough to consult me as to the
meaning of the appearance of a certain exuberant Spanish visitor at his
house the other night." I looked into her brown eyes, but my own slipped
off her velvety pupils without retaining anything. Then she reinforced her
gaze with a pince-nez, and said carelessly:
"Oh, it's you? How are you? Well, could you give him any information?"
"Only generally," I returned, still looking into her eyes. "These people
are impulsive. The Spanish blood is a mixture of gold and quicksilver."
She smiled slightly. "That reminds me of your volatile friend. He was
mercurial enough, certainly. Is he still dancing?"
"And singing sometimes," I responded pointedly. But she only added
casually, "A singular creature," without exhibiting the least
consciousness, and drifted away, leaving me none the wiser. I felt that
Enriquez alone could enlighten me. I must see him.
I did, but not in the way I expected. There was a bullfight at San Antonio
the next Saturday afternoon, the usual Sunday performance being changed in
deference to the Sabbatical habits of the Americans. An additional
attraction was offered in the shape of a bull-and-bear fight, also a
concession to American taste, which had voted the bullfight "slow," and
had averred that the bull "did not get a fair show." I am glad that I am
able to spare the reader the usual realistic horrors, for in the
Californian performances there was very little of the brutality that
distinguished this function in the mother country. The horses were not
miserable, worn-out hacks, but young and alert mustangs; and the display
of horsemanship by the picadors was not only wonderful, but secured an
almost absolute safety to horse and rider. I never saw a horse gored;
although unskillful riders were sometimes thrown in wheeling quickly to
avoid the bull's charge, they generally regained their animals without
The Plaza de Toros was reached through the decayed and tile-strewn
outskirts of an old Spanish village. It was a rudely built oval
amphitheater, with crumbling, whitewashed adobe walls, and roofed only
over portions of the gallery reserved for the provincial "notables," but
now occupied by a few shopkeepers and their wives, with a sprinkling of
American travelers and ranchmen. The impalpable adobe dust of the arena
was being whirled into the air by the strong onset of the afternoon trade
winds, which happily, however, helped also to dissipate a reek of garlic,
and the acrid fumes of cheap tobacco rolled in cornhusk cigarettes. I was
leaning over the second barrier, waiting for the meager and circuslike
procession to enter with the keys of the bull pen, when my attention was
attracted to a movement in the reserved gallery. A lady and gentleman of a
quality that was evidently unfamiliar to the rest of the audience were
picking their way along the rickety benches to a front seat. I recognized
the geologist with some surprise, and the lady he was leading with still
greater astonishment. For it was Miss Mannersley, in her precise,
well-fitting walking-costume—a monotone of sober color among the
However, I was perhaps less surprised than the audience, for I was not
only becoming as accustomed to the young girl's vagaries as I had been to
Enriquez' extravagance, but I was also satisfied that her uncle might have
given her permission to come, as a recognition of the Sunday concession of
the management, as well as to conciliate his supposed Catholic friends. I
watched her sitting there until the first bull had entered, and, after a
rather brief play with the picadors and banderilleros, was dispatched. At
the moment when the matador approached the bull with his lethal weapon I
was not sorry for an excuse to glance at Miss Mannersley. Her hands were
in her lap, her head slightly bent forward over her knees. I fancied that
she, too, had dropped her eyes before the brutal situation; to my horror,
I saw that she had a drawing-book in her hand and was actually sketching
it. I turned my eyes in preference to the dying bull.
The second animal led out for this ingenious slaughter was, however, more
sullen, uncertain, and discomposing to his butchers. He accepted the irony
of a trial with gloomy, suspicious eyes, and he declined the challenge of
whirling and insulting picadors. He bristled with banderillas like a
hedgehog, but remained with his haunches backed against the barrier, at
times almost hidden in the fine dust raised by the monotonous stroke of
his sullenly pawing hoof—his one dull, heavy protest. A vague
uneasiness had infected his adversaries; the picadors held aloof, the
banderilleros skirmished at a safe distance. The audience resented only
the indecision of the bull. Galling epithets were flung at him, followed
by cries of "ESPADA!" and, curving his elbow under his short cloak, the
matador, with his flashing blade in hand, advanced and—stopped. The
bull remained motionless.
For at that moment a heavier gust of wind than usual swept down upon the
arena, lifted a suffocating cloud of dust, and whirled it around the tiers
of benches and the balcony, and for a moment seemed to stop the
performance. I heard an exclamation from the geologist, who had risen to
his feet. I fancied I heard even a faint cry from Miss Mannersley; but the
next moment, as the dust was slowly settling, we saw a sheet of paper in
the air, that had been caught up in this brief cyclone, dropping, dipping
from side to side on uncertain wings, until it slowly descended in the
very middle of the arena. It was a leaf from Miss Mannersley's sketchbook,
the one on which she had been sketching.
In the pause that followed it seemed to be the one object that at last
excited the bull's growing but tardy ire. He glanced at it with murky,
distended eyes; he snorted at it with vague yet troubled fury. Whether he
detected his own presentment in Miss Mannersley's sketch, or whether he
recognized it as an unknown and unfamiliar treachery in his surroundings,
I could not conjecture; for the next moment the matador, taking advantage
of the bull's concentration, with a complacent leer at the audience,
advanced toward the paper. But at that instant a young man cleared the
barrier into the arena with a single bound, shoved the matador to one
side, caught up the paper, turned toward the balcony and Miss Mannersley
with a gesture of apology, dropped gaily before the bull, knelt down
before him with an exaggerated humility, and held up the drawing as if for
his inspection. A roar of applause broke from the audience, a cry of
warning and exasperation from the attendants, as the goaded bull suddenly
charged the stranger. But he sprang to one side with great dexterity, made
a courteous gesture to the matador as if passing the bull over to him, and
still holding the paper in his hand, re-leaped the barrier, and rejoined
the audience in safety. I did not wait to see the deadly, dominant thrust
with which the matador received the charging bull; my eyes were following
the figure now bounding up the steps to the balcony, where with an
exaggerated salutation he laid the drawing in Miss Mannersley's lap and
vanished. There was no mistaking that thin lithe form, the narrow black
mustache, and gravely dancing eyes. The audacity of conception, the
extravagance of execution, the quaint irony of the sequel, could belong to
no one but Enriquez.
I hurried up to her as the six yoked mules dragged the carcass of the bull
away. She was placidly putting up her book, the unmoved focus of a hundred
eager and curious eyes. She smiled slightly as she saw me. "I was just
telling Mr. Briggs what an extraordinary creature it was, and how you knew
him. He must have had great experience to do that sort of thing so
cleverly and safely. Does he do it often? Of course, not just that. But
does he pick up cigars and things that I see they throw to the matador?
Does he belong to the management? Mr. Briggs thinks the whole thing was a
feint to distract the bull," she added, with a wicked glance at the
geologist, who, I fancied, looked disturbed.
"I am afraid," I said dryly, "that his act was as unpremeditated and
genuine as it was unusual."
It was a matter-of-fact question, but I instantly saw my mistake. What
right had I to assume that Enriquez' attentions were any more genuine than
her own easy indifference; and if I suspected that they were, was it fair
in me to give my friend away to this heartless coquette? "You are not very
gallant," she said, with a slight laugh, as I was hesitating, and turned
away with her escort before I could frame a reply. But at least Enriquez
was now accessible, and I should gain some information from him. I knew
where to find him, unless he were still lounging about the building,
intent upon more extravagance; but I waited until I saw Miss Mannersley
and Briggs depart without further interruption.
The hacienda of Ramon Saltillo, Enriquez' cousin, was on the outskirts of
the village. When I arrived there I found Enriquez' pinto mustang steaming
in the corral, and although I was momentarily delayed by the servants at
the gateway, I was surprised to find Enriquez himself lying languidly on
his back in a hammock in the patio. His arms were hanging down listlessly
on each side as if in the greatest prostration, yet I could not resist the
impression that the rascal had only just got into the hammock when he
heard of my arrival.
"You have arrived, friend Pancho, in time," he said, in accents of
exaggerated weakness. "I am absolutely exhaust. I am bursted, caved in,
kerflummoxed. I have behold you, my friend, at the barrier. I speak not, I
make no sign at the first, because I was on fire; I speak not at the
feenish—for I am exhaust."
"I see; the bull made it lively for you."
He instantly bounded up in the hammock. "The bull! Caramba! Not a thousand
bulls! And thees one, look you, was a craven. I snap my fingers over his
horn; I roll my cigarette under his nose."
"Well, then—what was it?"
He instantly lay down again, pulling up the sides of the hammock.
Presently his voice came from its depths, appealing in hollow tones to the
sky. "He asks me—thees friend of my soul, thees brother of my life,
thees Pancho that I lofe—what it was? He would that I should tell
him why I am game in the legs, why I shake in the hand, crack in the
voice, and am generally wipe out! And yet he, my pardner—thees
Francisco—know that I have seen the mees from Boston! That I have
gaze into the eye, touch the hand, and for the instant possess the picture
that hand have drawn! It was a sublime picture, Pancho," he said, sitting
up again suddenly, "and have kill the bull before our friend Pepe's sword
have touch even the bone of hees back and make feenish of him."
"Look here, Enriquez," I said bluntly, "have you been serenading that
He shrugged his shoulders without the least embarrassment, and said: "Ah,
yes. What would you? It is of a necessity."
"Well," I retorted, "then you ought to know that her uncle took it all to
himself—thought you some grateful Catholic pleased with his
He did not even smile. "BUENO," he said gravely. "That make something,
too. In thees affair it is well to begin with the duenna. He is the
"And," I went on relentlessly, "her escort told her just now that your
exploit in the bull ring was only a trick to divert the bull, suggested by
"Bah! her escort is a geologian. Naturally, she is to him as a stone."
I would have continued, but a peon interrupted us at this moment with a
sign to Enriquez, who leaped briskly from the hammock, bidding me wait his
return from a messenger in the gateway.
Still unsatisfied of mind, I waited, and sat down in the hammock that
Enriquez had quitted. A scrap of paper was lying in its meshes, which at
first appeared to be of the kind from which Enriquez rolled his
cigarettes; but as I picked it up to throw it away, I found it was of much
firmer and stouter material. Looking at it more closely, I was surprised
to recognize it as a piece of the tinted drawing-paper torn off the
"block" that Miss Mannersley had used. It had been deeply creased at right
angles as if it had been folded; it looked as if it might have been the
outer half of a sheet used for a note.
It might have been a trifling circumstance, but it greatly excited my
curiosity. I knew that he had returned the sketch to Miss Mannersley, for
I had seen it in her hand. Had she given him another? And if so, why had
it been folded to the destruction of the drawing? Or was it part of a note
which he had destroyed? In the first impulse of discovery I walked quickly
with it toward the gateway where Enriquez had disappeared, intending to
restore it to him. He was just outside talking with a young girl. I
started, for it was Jocasta—Miss Mannersley's maid.
With this added discovery came that sense of uneasiness and indignation
with which we illogically are apt to resent the withholding of a friend's
confidence, even in matters concerning only himself. It was no use for me
to reason that it was no business of mine, that he was right in keeping a
secret that concerned another—and a lady; but I was afraid I was
even more meanly resentful because the discovery quite upset my theory of
his conduct and of Miss Mannersley's attitude toward him. I continued to
walk on to the gateway, where I bade Enriquez a hurried good-by, alleging
the sudden remembrance of another engagement, but without appearing to
recognize the girl, who was moving away when, to my further discomfiture,
the rascal stopped me with an appealing wink, threw his arms around my
neck, whispered hoarsely in my ear, "Ah! you see—you comprehend—but
you are the mirror of discretion!" and returned to Jocasta. But whether
this meant that he had received a message from Miss Mannersley, or that he
was trying to suborn her maid to carry one, was still uncertain. He was
capable of either. During the next two or three weeks I saw him
frequently; but as I had resolved to try the effect of ignoring Miss
Mannersley in our conversation, I gathered little further of their
relations, and, to my surprise, after one or two characteristic
extravagances of allusion, Enriquez dropped the subject, too. Only one
afternoon, as we were parting, he said carelessly: "My friend, you are
going to the casa of Mannersley tonight. I too have the honor of the
invitation. But you will be my Mercury—my Leporello—you will
take of me a message to thees Mees Boston, that I am crushed, desolated,
prostrate, and flabbergasted—that I cannot arrive, for I have of
that night to sit up with the grand-aunt of my brother-in-law, who has a
quinsy to the death. It is sad."
This was the first indication I had received of Miss Mannersley's
advances. I was equally surprised at Enriquez' refusal.
"Nonsense!" I said bluntly. "Nothing keeps you from going."
"My friend," returned Enriquez, with a sudden lapse into languishment that
seemed to make him absolutely infirm, "it is everything that shall
restrain me. I am not strong. I shall become weak of the knee and tremble
under the eye of Mees Boston. I shall precipitate myself to the geologian
by the throat. Ask me another conundrum that shall be easy."
He seemed idiotically inflexible, and did not go. But I did. I found Miss
Mannersley exquisitely dressed and looking singularly animated and pretty.
The lambent glow of her inscrutable eye as she turned toward me might have
been flattering but for my uneasiness in regard to Enriquez. I delivered
his excuses as naturally as I could. She stiffened for an instant, and
seemed an inch higher. "I am so sorry," she said at last in a level voice.
"I thought he would have been so amusing. Indeed, I had hoped we might try
an old Moorish dance together which I have found and was practicing."
"He would have been delighted, I know. It's a great pity he didn't come
with me," I said quickly; "but," I could not help adding, with emphasis on
her words, "he is such an 'extraordinary creature,' you know."
"I see nothing extraordinary in his devotion to an aged relative,"
returned Miss Mannersley quietly as she turned away, "except that it
justifies my respect for his character."
I do not know why I did not relate this to him. Possibly I had given up
trying to understand them; perhaps I was beginning to have an idea that he
could take care of himself. But I was somewhat surprised a few days later
when, after asking me to go with him to a rodeo at his uncle's he added
composedly, "You will meet Mees Boston."
I stared, and but for his manner would have thought it part of his
extravagance. For the rodeo—a yearly chase of wild cattle for the
purpose of lassoing and branding them—was a rather brutal affair,
and purely a man's function; it was also a family affair—a property
stock-taking of the great Spanish cattle-owners—and strangers,
particularly Americans, found it difficult to gain access to its mysteries
and the fiesta that followed.
"But how did she get an invitation?" I asked. "You did not dare to ask—"
"My friend," said Enriquez, with a singular deliberation, "the great and
respectable Boston herself, and her serene, venerable oncle, and other
Boston magnificos, have of a truth done me the inexpressible honor to
solicit of my degraded, papistical oncle that she shall come—that
she shall of her own superior eye behold the barbaric customs of our
His tone and manner were so peculiar that I stepped quickly before him,
laid my hands on his shoulders, and looked down into his face. But the
actual devil which I now for the first time saw in his eyes went out of
them suddenly, and he relapsed again in affected languishment in his
chair. "I shall be there, friend Pancho," he said, with a preposterous
gasp. "I shall nerve my arm to lasso the bull, and tumble him before her
at her feet. I shall throw the 'buck-jump' mustang at the same sacred
spot. I shall pluck for her the buried chicken at full speed from the
ground, and present it to her. You shall see it, friend Pancho. I shall be
He was as good as his word. When Don Pedro Amador, his uncle, installed
Miss Mannersley, with Spanish courtesy, on a raised platform in the long
valley where the rodeo took place, the gallant Enriquez selected a bull
from the frightened and galloping herd, and, cleverly isolating him from
the band, lassoed his hind legs, and threw him exactly before the platform
where Miss Mannersley was seated. It was Enriquez who caught the unbroken
mustang, sprang from his own saddle to the bare back of his captive, and
with the lasso for a bridle, halted him on rigid haunches at Miss
Mannersley's feet. It was Enriquez who, in the sports that followed,
leaned from his saddle at full speed, caught up the chicken buried to its
head in the sand, without wringing its neck, and tossed it unharmed and
fluttering toward his mistress. As for her, she wore the same look of
animation that I had seen in her face at our previous meeting. Although
she did not bring her sketchbook with her, as at the bullfight, she did
not shrink from the branding of the cattle, which took place under her
Yet I had never seen her and Enriquez together; they had never, to my
actual knowledge, even exchanged words. And now, although she was the
guest of his uncle, his duties seemed to keep him in the field, and apart
from her. Nor, as far as I could detect, did either apparently make any
effort to have it otherwise. The peculiar circumstance seemed to attract
no attention from anyone else. But for what I alone knew—or thought
I knew—of their actual relations, I should have thought them
But I felt certain that the fiesta which took place in the broad patio of
Don Pedro's casa would bring them together. And later in the evening, as
we were all sitting on the veranda watching the dancing of the Mexican
women, whose white-flounced sayas were monotonously rising and falling to
the strains of two melancholy harps, Miss Mannersley rejoined us from the
house. She seemed to be utterly absorbed and abstracted in the barbaric
dances, and scarcely moved as she leaned over the railing with her cheek
resting on her hand. Suddenly she arose with a little cry.
"What is it?" asked two or three.
"Nothing—only I have lost my fan." She had risen, and was looking
abstractedly on the floor.
Half a dozen men jumped to their feet. "Let me fetch it," they said.
"No, thank you. I think I know where it is, and will go for it myself."
She was moving away.
But Don Pedro interposed with Spanish gravity. Such a thing was not to be
heard of in his casa. If the senorita would not permit HIM—an old
man—to go for it, it must be brought by Enriquez, her cavalier of
But Enriquez was not to be found. I glanced at Miss Mannersley's somewhat
disturbed face, and begged her to let me fetch it. I thought I saw a flush
of relief come into her pale cheek as she said, in a lower voice, "On the
stone seat in the garden."
I hurried away, leaving Don Pedro still protesting. I knew the gardens,
and the stone seat at an angle of the wall, not a dozen yards from the
casa. The moon shone full upon it. There, indeed, lay the little
gray-feathered fan. But beside it, also, lay the crumpled black
gold-embroidered riding-gauntlet that Enriquez had worn at the rodeo.
I thrust it hurriedly into my pocket, and ran back. As I passed through
the gateway I asked a peon to send Enriquez to me. The man stared. Did I
not know that Don Enriquez had ridden away two minutes ago?
When I reached the veranda, I handed the fan to Miss Mannersley without a
word. "BUENO," said Don Pedro, gravely; "it is as well. There shall be no
bones broken over the getting of it, for Enriquez, I hear, has had to
return to the Encinal this very evening."
Miss Mannersley retired early. I did not inform her of my discovery, nor
did I seek in any way to penetrate her secret. There was no doubt that she
and Enriquez had been together, perhaps not for the first time; but what
was the result of their interview? From the young girl's demeanor and
Enriquez' hurried departure, I could only fear the worst for him. Had he
been tempted into some further extravagance and been angrily rebuked, or
had he avowed a real passion concealed under his exaggerated mask and been
deliberately rejected? I tossed uneasily half the night, following in my
dreams my poor friend's hurrying hoofbeats, and ever starting from my
sleep at what I thought was the sound of galloping hoofs.
I rose early, and lounged into the patio; but others were there before me,
and a small group of Don Pedro's family were excitedly discussing
something, and I fancied they turned away awkwardly and consciously as I
approached. There was an air of indefinite uneasiness everywhere. A
strange fear came over me with the chill of the early morning air. Had
anything happened to Enriquez? I had always looked upon his extravagance
as part of his playful humor. Could it be possible that under the sting of
rejection he had made his grotesque threat of languishing effacement real?
Surely Miss Mannersley would know or suspect something, if it were the
I approached one of the Mexican women and asked if the senorita had risen.
The woman started, and looked covertly round before she replied. Did not
Don Pancho know that Miss Mannersley and her maid had not slept in their
beds that night, but had gone, none knew where?
For an instant I felt an appalling sense of my own responsibility in this
suddenly serious situation, and hurried after the retreating family group.
But as I entered the corridor a vaquero touched me on the shoulder. He had
evidently just dismounted, and was covered with the dust of the road. He
handed me a note written in pencil on a leaf from Miss Mannersley's
sketchbook. It was in Enriquez' hand, and his signature was followed by
his most extravagant rubric.
Friend Pancho: When you read this line you shall of a possibility think I
am no more. That is where you shall slip up, my little brother! I am much
more—I am two times as much, for I have marry Miss Boston. At the
Mission Church, at five of the morning, sharp! No cards shall be left! I
kiss the hand of my venerable uncle-in-law. You shall say to him that we
fly to the South wilderness as the combined evangelical missionary to the
heathen! Miss Boston herself say this. Ta-ta! How are you now?
Your own Enriquez.