An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
An Heiress from Redhorse
CORONADO, June 20th.
I find myself more and more interested in him. It is not, I am sure, his--do you know any
noun corresponding to the adjective "handsome"? One does not like to say "beauty" when
speaking of a man. He is handsome enough, heaven knows; I should not even care to trust
you with him--faithful of all possible wives that you are-- when he looks his best, as he
always does. Nor do I think the fascination of his manner has much to do with it. You
recollect that the charm of art inheres in that which is undefinable, and to you and me, my
dear Irene, I fancy there is rather less of that in the branch of art under consideration than
to girls in their first season. I fancy I know how my fine gentleman produces many of his
effects, and could, perhaps, give him a pointer on heightening them. Nevertheless, his
manner is something truly delightful. I suppose what interests me chiefly is the man's
brains. His conversation is the best I have ever heard, and altogether unlike anyone's else.
He seems to know everything, as, indeed, he ought, for he has been everywhere, read
everything, seen all there is to see--sometimes I think rather more than is good for him--
and had acquaintance with the queerest people. And then his voice--Irene, when I hear it
I actually feel as if I ought to have paid at the door, though, of course, it is my own door.
I fear my remarks about Dr. Barritz must have been, being thoughtless, very silly, or you
would not have written of him with such levity, not to say disrespect. Believe me,
dearest, he has more dignity and seriousness (of the kind, I mean, which is not
inconsistent with a manner sometimes playful and always charming) than any of the men
that you and I ever met. And young Raynor--you knew Raynor at Monterey--tells me that
the men all like him, and that he is treated with something like deference everywhere.
There is a mystery, too--something about his connection with the Blavatsky people in
Northern India. Raynor either would not or could not tell me the particulars. I infer that
Dr. Barritz is thought--don't you dare to laugh at me--a magician! Could anything be finer
than that? An ordinary mystery is not, of course, as good as a scandal, but when it relates
to dark and dreadful practices-- to the exercise of unearthly powers--could anything be
more piquant? It explains, too, the singular influence the man has upon me. It is the
undefinable in his art--black art. Seriously, dear, I quite tremble when he looks me full in
the eyes with those unfathomable orbs of his, which I have already vainly attempted to
describe to you. How dreadful if we have the power to make one fall in love! Do you
know if the Blavatsky crowd have that power-- outside of Sepoy?
The strangest thing! Last evening while Auntie was attending one of the hotel hops (I
hate them) Dr. Barritz called. It was scandalously late--I actually believe he had talked
with Auntie in the ballroom, and learned from her that I was alone. I had been all the