A Texas Matchmaker HTML version

VI. Spring Of '76
The spring of '76 was eventful at Las Palomas. After the pigeon hunt, Uncle
Lance went to San Antonio to sell cattle for spring delivery. Meanwhile, Father
Norquin visited the ranch and spent a few days among his parishioners, Miss
Jean acting the hostess in behalf of Las Palomas. The priest proved a congenial
fellow of the cloth, and among us, with Miss Jean's countenance, it was decided
not to delay Enrique's marriage; for there was no telling when Uncle Lance would
return. All the arrangements were made by the padre and Miss Jean, the groom-
to-be apparently playing a minor part in the preliminaries. Though none of the
white element of the ranch were communicants of his church, the priest
apparently enjoyed the visit. At parting, the mistress pressed a gold piece into his
chubby palm as the marriage fee for Enrique; and, after naming a day for the
ceremony, the padre mounted his horse and left us for the Tarancalous,
showering his blessings on Las Palomas and its people.
During the intervening days before the wedding, we overhauled an unused
_jacal_ and made it habitable for the bride and groom. The _jacal_ is a crude
structure of this semi-tropical country, containing but a single room with a shady,
protecting stoop. It is constructed by standing palisades on end in a trench.
These constitute the walls. The floor is earthen, while the roof is thatched with
the wild grass which grows rank in the overflow portions of the river valley. It
forms a serviceable shelter for a warm country, the peculiar roofing equally
defying rain and the sun's heat. Under the leadership of the mistress of the
ranch, assisted by the Mexican women, the _jacal_ was transformed into a rustic
bower; for Enrique was not only a favorite among the whites, but also among his
own people. A few gaudy pictures of Saints and the Madonna ornamented the
side walls, while in the rear hung the necessary crucifix. At the time of its building
the _jacal_ had been blessed, as was customary before occupancy, and to
Enrique's reasoning the potency of the former sprinkling still held good.
Weddings were momentous occasions among the Mexican population at Las
Palomas. In outfitting the party to attend Enrique's wedding at Santa Maria, the
ranch came to a standstill. Not only the regular ambulance but a second
conveyance was required to transport the numerous female relatives of the
groom, while the men, all in gala attire, were mounted on the best horses on the
ranch. As none of the whites attended, Deweese charged Tiburcio with humanity
to the stock, while the mistress admonished every one to be on his good
behavior. With greetings to Santa Maria, the wedding party set out. They were
expected to return the following evening, and the ranch was set in order to give
the bride a rousing reception on her arrival at Las Palomas. The largest place on
the ranch was a warehouse, and we shifted its contents in such a manner as to
have quite a commodious ball-room. The most notable decoration of the room
was an immense heart-shaped figure, in which was worked in live-oak leaves the
names of the two ranches, flanked on either side with the American and Mexican