Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
Gracian Palma was in his fourteenth year when his father died suddenly, and the boy, already motherless, became the ward of Senor Palma’s old and trusted friend, Don Jesus de Viscarra. Gracian had seen Don Jesus only once in his life; he remembered him as a tall, distinguished-looking man whom his father described as the owner of Black Valley—“where the wind roars,” his father had added. To Gracian these words seemed to cast an air of mystery about Don Jesus and his home.
Shortly after Senor Palma’s death, Don Jesus visited Gracian at the convent school in Cordoba and promised to take him to Black Valley for the summer. On the last day of the term, Don Jesus appeared at the school, and that afternoon, they took a train for Cosquin. From there they traveled by horseback through a wild, hilly countryside that reminded Gracian of fairies and witches. Darkness fell long before they arrived at the ranch house, where Gracian met the other members of Don Jesus’ family—his young daughter Mirra and his sister Flavia. While they were at supper, a harsh scream sounded from the darkness outside. Flavia said that the cry had been made by old Pichana. Lazarus, the creole overseer, spoke up to say that he had seen Pichana about a league away on the road to Cosquin. Gracian felt that there was some mystery at Black Valley that he did not understand.
The next morning, Don Jesus left to visit his brother, a rancher in the sierras, and Gracian was...
(The entire section is 1312 words.)
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