Wednesday, December 1, 2021

the last book I ever read (Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop, excerpt ten)

from Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather:

Antonio Olivares was the most intelligent and prosperous member of a large family of brothers and cousins, and he was for that time and place a man of wide experience, a man of the world. He had spent the greater part of his life in New Orleans and El Paso del Norte, but he returned to live in Santa Fé several years after Bishop Latour took up his duties there. He brought with him his American wife and a wagon train of furniture, and settled down to spend his declining years in the old ranch house just east of the town where he was born and had grown up. He was then a man of sixty. In early manhood he had lost his first wife; after he went to New Orleans he had married a second time, a Kentucky girl who had grown up among her relatives in Louisiana. She was pretty and accomplished, had been educated at a French convent, and had done much in Europeanize her husband. The refinement of his dress and manners, and his lavish style of living, provoked half-contempuous envy among his brothers and their friends.

Olivares’s wife, Doña Isabella, was a devout Catholic, and at their house the French priests were always welcome and were most cordially entertained. The Señora Olivares had made a pleasant place of the rambling adobe building, with its great court-yard and gateway, carved joists and beams, fine herring-bone ceilings and snug fire-places. She was a gracious hostess, and though no longer very young, she was still attractive to the eye; a slight woman, spirited, quick in movement, with a delicate blonde complexion which she had successfully guardered in trying climates, and fair hair—a little silvered, and perhaps worn in too many puffs and ringlets for the sharpening outline of her face. She spoke Franch well, Spanish lamely, played the harp, and sang agreeably.

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