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The Devotion of Enriquez
by [?]

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 free-and-easy fandango?

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 laugh.

“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!”