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How The Raven Died 1902, From "Wolfville Nights"   By: (1857-1914)

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By Alfred Henry Lewis

From "Wolfville Nights," copyright, 1902, by Frederick A. Stokes Company

"Which 'f you all is out to hear of Injuns, son," observed the Old Cattleman, doubtfully, "the best I can do is shet my eyes an' push along regyardless, like a cayouse in a storm of snow. But I don't guarantee no facts; none whatever; I never does bend myse'f to severe study of savages, an' what notions I packs concernin' 'em is the casual frootes of what I accidental hears an' what I sees. It's only now an' then, as I observes former, that Injuns invades Wolfville; an' when they does, we all scowls 'em outen camp sort o' makes a sour front, so as to break 'em early of habits of visitin' us. We shore don't hone none to have 'em hankerin' 'round.

"Nacherally, I makes no doubt that if you goes clost to Injuns an' studies their little game you finds some of 'em good an' some bad, some gaudy an' some sedate, some cur'ous an' some indifferent, same as you finds among shore enough folks. It's so with mules an' broncos; wherefore, then, may not these differences exist among Injuns? Come squar' to the turn, you all finds white folks separated the same. Some gents follows off one wagon track an' some another; some even makes a new trail.

"Speakin' of what's opposite in folks, I one time an' ag'in sees two white chiefs of scouts who frequent comes pirootin' into Wolfville from the Fort. Each has mebby a score of Injuns at his heels who pertains to him personal. One of these scout chiefs is all buckskins, fringes, beads an' feathers from y'ears to hocks, while t'other goes garbed in a stiff hat with a little jim crow rim one of them kind you deenom'nates as a darby an' a diag'nal overcoat; one chief looks like a dime novel on a spree an' t'other as much like the far East as he saveys how. An' yet, son, this voylent person in buckskins is a Second Lootenant a mere boy, he is from West P'int; while that outcast in the reedic'lous hat is foaled on the plains an' never does go that clost to the risin' sun as to glimpse the Old Missouri. The last form of maverick bursts frequent into Western bloom; it's their ambition, that a way, to deloode you into deemin' 'em as fresh from the States as one of them tomatter airtights.

"Thar's old gent Jeffords; he's that sort. Old Jeffords lives for long with the Apaches; he's found among 'em when Gen'ral Crook the old 'Gray Fox' an' civilization and Gatlin' guns comes into Arizona arm in arm. I used to note old Jeffords hibernatin' about the Oriental over in Tucson, I shore reckons he's procrastinatin' about thar yet, if the Great Sperit ain't done called him in. As I says, old Jeffords is that long among the Apaches back in Cochise's time that the mem'ry of man don't run none to the contrary. An' yet no gent ever sees old Jeffords wearin' anything more savage than a long tail black surtoot an' one of them stove pipe hats. Is Jeffords dangerous? No, you all couldn't call him a distinct peril; still, folks who goes devotin' themse'fs to stirrin' Jeffords up jest to see if he's alive gets disastrous action. He has long gray ha'r an' a tangled white beard half way down his front; an' with that old plug hat an' black coat he's a sight to frighten children or sour milk! Still, Jeffords is all right. As long as towerists an' other inquisitive people don't go pesterin' Jeffords, he shore lets 'em alone. Otherwise, you might as well be up the same saplin' with a cinnamon b'ar; which you'd most likely hear something drop a lot.

"For myse'f, I likes old Jeffords, an' considers him a pleasin' conundrum. About tenth drink time he'd take a cha'r an' go camp by himse'f in a far corner, an' thar he'd warble hymns. Many a time as I files away my nosepaint in the Oriental have I been regaled with

"'Jesus, Lover of my soul, Let me to Thy bosom fly, While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high,'

as emanatin' from Jeffords where he's r'ared back conductin' some personal services... Continue reading book >>

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