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The Passing Of Enriquez
When Enriquez Saltillo ran away with Miss Mannersley, as already recorded in
these chronicles,* her relatives and friends found it much easier to forgive that ill-
assorted union than to understand it. For, after all, Enriquez was the scion of an
old Spanish-Californian family, and in due time would have his share of his
father's three square leagues, whatever incongruity there was between his lively
Latin extravagance and Miss Mannersley's Puritan precision and intellectual
superiority. They had gone to Mexico; Mrs. Saltillo, as was known, having an
interest in Aztec antiquities, and he being utterly submissive to her wishes. For
myself from my knowledge of Enriquez's nature, I had grave doubts of his entire
subjugation, although I knew the prevailing opinion was that Mrs. Saltillo's
superiority would speedily tame him. Since his brief and characteristic note
apprising me of his marriage, I had not heard from him. It was, therefore, with
some surprise, a good deal of reminiscent affection, and a slight twinge of
reproach that, two years after, I looked up from some proofs, in the sanctum of
the "Daily Excelsior," to recognize his handwriting on a note that was handed to
me by a yellow Mexican boy.
* See "The Devotion of Enriquez," in Selected Stories by
Bret Harte Gutenberg #1312.
A single glance at its contents showed me that Mrs. Saltillo's correct Bostonian
speech had not yet subdued Enriquez's peculiar Spanish-American slang:—
"Here we are again,—right side up with care,—at 1110 Dupont Street, Telegraph
Hill. Second floor from top. 'Ring and push.' 'No book agents need apply.' How's
your royal nibs? I kiss your hand! Come at six,—the band shall play at seven,—
and regard your friend 'Mees Boston,' who will tell you about the little old nigger
boys, and your old Uncle 'Ennery."
Two things struck me: Enriquez had not changed; Mrs. Saltillo had certainly
yielded up some of her peculiar prejudices. For the address given, far from being
a fashionable district, was known as the "Spanish quarter," which, while it still
held some old Spanish families, was chiefly given over to half-castes and
obscurer foreigners. Even poverty could not have driven Mrs. Saltillo to such a
refuge against her will; nevertheless, a good deal of concern for Enriquez's
fortune mingled with my curiosity, as I impatiently waited for six o'clock to satisfy
It was a breezy climb to 1110 Dupont Street; and although the street had been
graded, the houses retained their airy elevation, and were accessible only by
successive flights of wooden steps to the front door, which still gave perilously
upon the street, sixty feet below. I now painfully appreciated Enriquez's