The Mystery of the Barranca
Thanakorn Papan
1.0 1.1mb

Herman Whitaker (1867–1919) was a Californian writer. Whitaker and his family moved to the Piedmont hills in 1902 and took up residence in "The Bug House," which is now Blair Avenue. His family became part of the Bohemian group including Jack and Bess London and George and Carrie Sterling. His daughter, Elsie Whitaker, was the subject of photographs and paintings. She married Mexican-American artist Xavier Martinez in October 1907. His books include: 'The Probationer' (1905), 'The Settler' (1906), 'The Planter' (1909), and 'The Mystery of the Barranca' (1913) among many others.

"Oh Bob, just look at them!”
Leaning down from his perch on the sacked mining tools which formed the apex of their baggage, Billy Thornton punched his companion in the back to call his attention to a scene which had spread a blaze of humor over his own rich crop of freckles.
As a matter of fact, the spectacle of two men fondly embracing can always be depended on to stir the crude Anglo-Saxon sense of humor. In this case it was rendered still more ridiculous by age and portliness, but two years’ wandering through interior Mexico had accustomed Thornton’s comrade, Robert Seyd, to the sight. After a careless glance he resumed his contemplation of the crowd that thronged the little station. Exhibiting every variety of Mexican costume, from the plain white blanket of the peons to the leather suits of the rancheros and the hacendados, or owners of estates, it was as picturesque and brilliant in color and movement as anything in a musical extravaganza. The European clothing of a young girl who presently stepped out of the ticket office emphasized the theatrical flavor by its vivid contrast. She might easily have been the captive heroine among bandits, and the thought actually occurred to Billy. While she paused to call her dog, a huge Siberian wolf hound, she was hidden from Seyd’s view by the stout embracers. Therefore it was to the dog that he applied Billy’s remark at first.
“Isn’t she a peach?”
She seemed the finest of her race that he had ever seen, and Seyd was just about to say that she carried herself like a “perfect lady” when the dissolution of the aforesaid embrace brought the girl into view. He stopped—with a small gasp that testified to his astonishment at her unusual type.
Although slender for her years—about two and twenty—her throat and bust were rounded in perfect development. The clear olive complexion was undoubtedly Spanish, yet her face lacked the firm line that hardens with the years. Perhaps some strain of Aztec blood—from which the Spanish-Mexican is never free—had helped to soften her features, but this would not account for their pleasing irregularity. A bit rétrousée, the small nose with its well-defined nostrils patterned after the Celtic. Had Seyd known it, the face in its entirety—colors and soft contours—is to be found to this day among the descendants of the sailors who escaped from the wreck of the Spanish Armada on the west coast of Ireland. Pretty and unusual as she was, her greatest charm centered in the large black eyes that shone amid her clear pallor, conveying in broad day the tantalizing mystery of a face seen for an instant through a warm gloaming. In the moment that he caught their velvet glance Seyd received an impression of vivacious intelligence altogether foreign in his experience of Mexican women.
As she was standing only a few feet away, he knew that she must have heard Billy’s remark;


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