Doña Bárbara (BAHR-bahr-ah), a beautiful but unscrupulous mestiza, once wronged by a white man and now taking her revenge on all men. She is superstitious and given to witchcraft. For a time she was the mistress of Lorenzo Barquero, heir to half the Altamira ranch, and by him had a daughter, Marisela. Then she ran him off his land and took possession. With the help of her cowboys, she is acquiring the rest of the ranch by moving the boundary fences and stealing the cattle. She has won over the local authorities. Unfortunately, she falls in love with Santos Luzardo, heir to the other half of the estate. When she goes soft, her followers desert her. Finally she rides to Altamira to shoot her daughter, whom she considers her rival, only to soften at the sight of Santos’ display of affection for Marisela. She draws up papers leaving the Barquero land to Marisela and restoring what she has been stealing, then rides off, never to be heard of again.
Dr. Santos Luzardo
Dr. Santos Luzardo (SAHN-tohs lew-SAHR-doh), a descendant of owners of the other half of the ranch. Taken to Caracas as a child, he studies law, then returns to his ancestral property in the wildest section of the Arauca River basin of Venezuela in order to get the land ready for sale. Seeing its deterioration under irresponsible overseers, he determines to restore the ranch to productivity. To end the long feud between the Luzardos and the Barqueros, he brings the dying Lorenzo Barquero and his daughter Marisela from their swamp cabin to live at the Altamira ranch house. From his knowledge of law, he is able to force the magistrate to call for a round-up to separate the cattle. He also sends some of his cowboys to...
(The entire section is 747 words.)