Squatter and the Don

ISBN-10: 0812972899

ISBN-13: 9780812972894

Edition: 2004

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Description: “The Squatter and the Don, like its author, has come out a survivor,” notes Ana Castillo in her Introduction. “The fact that it has resurfaced after more than a century from its original publication is a testimony to its worthiness.” Inviting comparison to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton’s illuminating political novel is also an engaging historical romance. Set in San Diego shortly after the United States’ annexation of California and written from the point of view of a native Californio, the story centers on two families: the Alamars of the landed Mexican gentry, and the Darrells, transplanted New Englanders–and their tumultuous struggles over property, social status, and personal integrity. This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the first edition of 1885. Ana Castillo is a poet, essayist, and novelist whose works include the recent poetry collection I Ask the Impossible and the novel Peel My Love Like an Onion. She lives in Chicago and teaches at DePaul University.

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Book details

List price: $23.00
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/9/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 432
Size: 5.00" wide x 7.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.682
Language: English

Ana Castillo is the author of the novels The Mixquiahuala Letters, Sapogonia, and So Far from God; the story collection Loverboys; the critical study Massacre of the Dreamers; and several volumes of poetry. She has received an American Book Award, a Carl Sandburg Prize, and a Southwestern Booksellers Award for her work. She lives in Chicago.

"But I hope we will never more deserve such name; I trust that before you locate any homestead claim in Southern California, you will first inform yourself, very carefully, whether any one has a previous claim. And more specially, I beg of you, do not go on a Mexican grant3 unless you buy the land from the owner. This I beg of you specially, and must insist upon it." "And how am I to know who is the owner of a rancho4 that has been rejected, for instance?" "If the rancho is still in litigation, don't buy land in it, or if you do, buy title from the original grantee, on fair conditions and clear understanding." "I don't know whether that can be done in the Alamar rancho, which I am going to see, and I know it has been rejected. But of one thing you can rest assured, that I shall not forget our sad experience in Napa and Sonoma valleys,5 where-after years of hard toil-I had to abandon our home and lose the earnings of years and years of hard work." "That is all I ask, William. To remember our experience in Napa and Sonoma. To remember, also, that we are no longer young. We cannot afford to throw away another twenty years of our life; and really and truly, if you again go into a Mexican grant, William, I shall not follow you there willingly. Do not expect it of me; I shall only go if you compel me." "Compel you!" he exclaimed, laughing. "Compel you, when you know I have obeyed you all my life." "Oh! no, William, not all your life, for you were well grown before I ever saw you." "I mean ever since I went to Washington6 with my mind made up to jump off the train coming back, if you didn't agree to come North to be my commandant." "I don't think I have been a very strict disciplinarian," she said, smiling. "I think the subaltern has had pretty much his own way." "Yes, when he thinks he might. But when the commandant pulls the string, by looking sad or offended, then good-by to the spirit and independence of the subaltern." "One thing I must not forget to ask you;" she said, going back to the point of their digression, "and it is, not to believe what those men have been telling you about the Alamar rancho having been finally rejected. You know John Gasbang could never speak the truth, and years have not made him more reliable. As for Miller, Hughes and Mathews, they are dishonest enough, and though not so brazen as Gasbang, they will misrepresent facts to induce you to go with them, for they want you with them." "I know they do; I see through all that: But I see, too, that San Diego is sure to have a railroad direct to the Eastern States.7 Lands will increase in value immediately; so I think, myself, I had better take time by the forelock and get a good lot of land in the Alamar grant, which is quite near town." "But, are you sure it is finally rejected?" "I saw the book, where the fact is recorded. Isn't that enough?" "Yes, if there has been no error." "Always the same cautious Mary Moreneau, who tortured me with her doubts and would not have me until Father White took compassion on me," said he, smiling, looking at her fondly, for his thoughts reverted back to those days when Miss Mary was afraid to marry him; but, after all, he won her and brought her all the way from Washington to his New England home.
William Darrell was already a well-to-do young farmer in those days, a bachelor twenty-eight to thirty years of age, sole heir to a flourishing New England farm, and with a good account in a Boston bank, when Miss Mary Moreneau came to New England from Washington to visit her aunt, Mrs. Newton. As Mrs. Newton's husband was William Darrell's uncle, nothing was more natural than for Mary to meet him at his uncle's house. Nobody expected that William would fall in love with her, as he seemed to be proof against Cupid's darts. The marriageable maidens of William's neighborhood had in vain tried to attract the obdurate young farmer, who seemed to enjoy no other society than that of his uncle Newton and his wife.
But Mary came and William surrendered at once. She, however, gave him no encouragement. Her coldness seemed only to inflame his love the more, until Miss Moreneau thought it was best to shorten her visit and return home about the middle of September.
"Why are you to return home so early?" Darrell asked Mary, after Mrs. Newton had informed him of Mary's intention of going.
"Because I think it is best," she answered.
"Why is it best?" "For several reasons." "May I be permitted to ask what are those reasons?" "Certainly. One reason is, that as I came to see my aunt and at the same time to rest and improve my health, and all those objects have been accomplished, I might as well go home. Then, my other aunt, with whom I reside, is not feeling well. She went to spend the summer in Virginia, but writes that her health has not improved much, and she will soon come back to Washington. Then some of my pupils will want to recommence their lessons soon, and I want to have some little time to myself before I begin to work. You know, Mr. Darrell, I teach to support myself." "Yes, only because you have a notion to do it." "A notion! Do you think I am rich?" "No, but there is no need of your working." "It is a need to me to feel independent. I don't want to be supported by my aunts, while I know how to earn my own living." "Miss Mary, please, I beg of you, let me have the happiness of taking care of you. Be my wife, I am not a rich man, but I have enough to provide for you." "Mr. Darrell, you surprise me. I thank you for the compliment you pay me with your honorable offer, but I have no wish to get married." "Do you reject me, Miss Mary? Tell me one thing; tell me truly, do you care for any one else?" "No, I care for nobody. I don't want to marry." "But you will marry some time. If you knew how very miserable you make me, I think you would not have the heart to refuse me." "You will get over it. I am going soon. Forget me." Darrell made no answer. He staggered out of the room and did not return until the following week, when Mary had left for Washington, accompanied by Letitia, her colored servant (called Tisha), who was devotedly attached to her.
Darrell had become rather taciturn and less sociable than ever, Mrs. Newton noticed, and since Mary left he seemed to lose flesh and all his spirits, and passed the winter as if life were a burden to him. But when spring came, he brightened up a little, though he felt far from happy. About that time Mrs. Newton had a letter from Mary, saying that she was going to spend vacation in Maryland with her other aunt, and Tisha for her escort.
"She don't come here, because she fears I shall pester her life with my visits. As she knows I can't keep away from her, she keeps away from you. She hates me. I suppose you, too, will take to hating me, by and by," said Darrell, when he heard that Mary was not coming that summer.
"No danger of that, William," Mrs. Newton replied.
"Yes, there is. You ought to hate me for driving her away. I hate myself worse than I hate the devil." "William, you mustn't feel so. It isn't right." "I know it. But when did I ever do anything right, I'd like to know? I wish I could hate her as I hate myself, or as she hates me." "William, she does not hate you." "How do you know she don't?"
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