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Isabella Valancy Crawford (1850-1887)

Old Spookses' Pass


I.
              1WE'D camped that night on Yaller Bull Flat,--
              2     Thar was Possum Billy, an' Tom, an' me.
              3Right smart at throwin' a lariat
              4     Was them two fellers, as ever I see;
              5An' for ridin' a broncho, or argyin' squar
              6     With the devil roll'd up in the hide of a mule,
              7Them two fellers that camp'd with me thar
              8     Would hev made an' or'nary feller a fool.

II.
              9Fur argyfyin' in any way,
            10     Thet hed to be argy'd with sinew an' bone,
            11I never see'd fellers could argy like them;
            12     But just right har I will hev to own
            13Thet whar brains come in in the game of life,
            14     They held the poorest keerds in the lot;
            15An' when hands was shown, some other chap
            16     Rak'd in the hull of the blamed old pot!

III.
            17We was short of hands, the herd was large,
            18     An' watch an' watch we divided the night;
            19We could hear the coyotes howl an' whine,
            20     But the darned critters kept out of sight
            21Of the camp-fire blazin'; an' now an' then
            22     Thar cum a rustle an' sort of rush--
            23A rattle a-sneakin' away from the blaze,
            24     Thro' the rattlin', cracklin' grey sage bush.

IV.
            25We'd chanc'd that night on a pootyish lot,
            26     With a tol'ble show of tall, sweet grass--
            27We was takin' Speredo's drove across
            28     The Rockies, by way of  "Old Spookses' Pass"--
            29An' a mite of a creek went crinklin' down,
            30     Like a "pocket" bust in the rocks overhead,
            31Consid'able shrunk, by the summer drought,
            32     To a silver streak in its gravelly bed.

V.
            33'Twas a fairish spot fur to camp a' night;
            34     An' chipper I felt, tho' sort of skeer'd
            35That them two cowboys with only me,
            36     Couldn't boss three thousand head of a herd.
            37I took the fust of the watch myself;
            38     An' as the red sun down the mountains sprang,
            39I roll'd a fresh quid, an' got on the back
            40     Of my peart leetle chunk of a tough mustang.

VI.
            41An' Possum Billy was sleepin' sound
            42     Es only a cowboy knows how to sleep;
            43An' Tommy's snores would hev made a old
            44     Buffalo bull feel kind o' cheap.
            45Wal, pard, I reckin' thar's no sech time
            46     For dwind'lin' a chap in his own conceit,
            47Es when them mountains an' awful stars,
            48     Jest hark to the tramp of his mustang's feet.

VII.
            49It 'pears to me that them solemn hills
            50     Beckin' them stars so big an' calm,
            51An' whisper, "Make tracks this way, my friends,
            52     We've ringed in here a specimen man;
            53He's here alone, so we'll take a look
            54     Thro' his ganzy an' vest, an' his blood an' bone,
            55An post ourselves as to whether his heart
            56     Is flesh, or a rotten, made-up stone."

VIII.
            57An' it's often seemed, on a midnight watch,
            58     When the mountains blacken'd the dry, brown sod,
            59That a chap, if he shut his eyes, might grip
            60     The great kind hand of his Father-God.
            61I rode round the herd at a sort of walk--
            62     The shadders come stealin' thick an' black;
            63I'd jest got to leave tew thet thar chunk
            64     Of a mustang tew keep in the proper track.

IX.
            65Ever see'd a herd ring'd in at night?
            66     Wal, it's sort of cur'us,-- the watchin' sky,
            67The howl of coyotes a great black mass,
            68     With thar an' thar the gleam of a eye
            69An' the white of a horn an', now an' then,
            70     An' old bull liftin' his shaggy head,
            71With a beller like a broke-up thunder growl--
            72     An' the summer lightnin', quick an' red,

X.
            73Twistin' an' turnin' amid the stars,
            74     Silent as snakes at play in the grass,
            75An' plungin' thar fangs in the bare old skulls
            76     Of the mountains, frownin' above the Pass.
            77An' all so still, that the leetle crick,
            78     Twinklin' an' crinklin' frum stone to stone,
            79Grows louder an' louder, an' fills the air
            80     With a cur'us sort of a singin' tone.
            81It ain't no matter wharever ye be,
            82    (I'll 'low it's a cur'us sort of case)
            83Whar thar's runnin' water, it's sure to speak
            84     Of folks tew home an' the old home place;

XI.
            85An' yer bound tew listen an' hear it talk,
            86     Es yer mustang crunches the dry, bald sod;
            87Fur I reckin' the hills, an' stars, an' creek
            88     Are all of 'em preachers sent by God.
            89An' them mountains talk tew a chap this way:
            90     "Climb, if ye can, ye degenerate cuss!"
            91An' the stars smile down on a man, an say,
            92     "Come higher, poor critter, come up tew us!"

XII.
            93An' I reckin', pard, thar is One above
            94     The highest old star that a chap can see,
            95An' He says, in a solid, etarnal way,
            96     "Ye never can stop till ye get to ME!"
            97Good fur Him, tew! fur I calculate
            98     HE ain't the One to dodge an' tew shirk,
            99Or waste a mite of the things He's made,
          100     Or knock off till He's finished His great day's work!

XIII.
          101We've got to labor an' strain an' snort
          102     Along thet road thet He's planned an' made;
          103Don't matter a mite He's cut His line
          104     Tew run over a 'tarnal tough up-grade;
          105An' if some poor sinner ain't built tew hold
          106     Es big a head of steam es the next,
          107An' keeps slippin' an' slidin' 'way down hill,
          108     Why, He don't make out thet He's awful vex'd.

XIV.
          109Fur He knows He made Him in thet thar way,
          110     Sumwhars tew fit in His own great plan;
          111An' He ain't the Bein' tew pour His wrath
          112     On the head of thet slimpsy an' slippery man,
          113An' He says tew the feller, "Look here, my son,
          114     You're the worst hard case that ever I see,
          115But be thet it takes ye a million y'ars,
          116     Ye never can stop till ye git tew ME!"

XV.
          117Them's my idees es I pann'd them out;
          118     Don't take no stock in them creeds that say,
          119Thar's a chap with horns thet's took control
          120     Of the rollin' stock on thet up-grade way,
          121Thet's free to tote up es ugly a log
          122     Es grows in his big bush grim an' black,
          123An' slyly put it across the rails,
          124     Tew hist a poor critter clar off the track.

XVI.
          125An' when he's pooty well busted an' smashed,
          126     The devil comes smilin' an' bowin' round,
          127Says tew the Maker, "Guess ye don't keer
          128     Tew trouble with stock thet ain't parfactly sound;
          129Lemme tote him away--best ye can do--
          130     Neglected, I guess, tew build him with care;
          131I'll hide him in hell--better thet folks
          132     Shouldn't see him laid up on the track for repair!"

XVII.
          133Don't take no stock in them creeds at all;
          134     Ain't one of them cur'us sort of moles
          135Thet think the Maker is bound to let
          136     The devil git up a "corner" in souls.
          137Ye think I've put up a biggish stake?
          138     Wal, I'll bet fur all I'm wuth, d'ye see?
          139He ain't wuth shucks thet won't dar tew lay
          140     All his pile on his own idee!

XVIII.
          141Ye bet yer boots I am safe tew win,
          142     Es the chap thet's able tew smilin' smack
          143The ace he's been hidin' up his sleeve
          144     Kerslap on top of a feller's jack!
          145Es I wus sayin', the night wus dark,
          146     The lightnin' skippin' from star to star;
          147Thar wa'n't no clouds but a thread of mist,
          148     No sound but the coyotes yell afar,

XIX.
          149An' the noise of the creek as it called tew me,
          150     "Pard, don't ye mind the mossy, green spot
          151Whar a creek stood still fur a drowzin' spell
          152     Right in the midst of the old home lot?
          153Whar, right at sundown on Sabba'day,
          154     Ye skinn'd yerself of yer meetin' clothes,
          155An dove, like a duck, whar the water clar
          156     Shone up like glass through the lily-blows?

XX.
          157Yer soul wus white es yer skin them days,
          158     Yer eyes es clar es the creek at rest;
          159The wust idee in yer head thet time
          160     Wus robbin' a bluebird's swingin' nest.
          161Now ain't ye changed? declar fur it, pard;
          162     Thet creek would question, it 'pears tew me,
          163Ef ye looked in its waters agin tew night,
          164     'Who may this old cuss of a sinner be?"'

XXI.
          165Thet wus the style thet thet thar creek
          166     In "Old Spookses' Pass" in the Rockies, talked;
          167Drowzily list'nin' I rode round the herd,
          168     When all of a sudden the mustang balked,
          169An' shied with a snort; I never know'd
          170     Thet tough leetle critter tew show a scare
          171In storm or dark; but he jest scrouch'd down,
          172     With his nostrils snuffin' the damp, cool air,

XXII.
          173An' his flanks a-quiver. Shook up? Wal, yas
          174     Guess'd we hev heaps uv tarnation fun;
          175I calculated quicker'n light
          176     That the herd would be off on a healthy run.
          177But thar wan't a stir tew horn or hoof;
          178     The herd, like a great black mist, lay spread,
          179While har an' thar a grazin' bull
          180     Loomed up, like a mighty "thunder head."

XXIII.
          181I riz in my saddle an' star'd around--
          182     On the mustang's neck I felt the sweat;
          183Thar wus nuthin' tew see--sort of felt the har
          184     Commencin' tew crawl on my scalp, ye bet!
          185Felt kind of cur'us--own up I did;
          186     Felt sort of dry in my mouth an' throat.
          187Sez I, "Ye ain't goin' tew scare, old hoss,
          188     At a prowlin' cuss of a blamed coyote?"

XXIV.
          189But 'twan't no coyote nor prowlin' beast,
          190     Nor rattle a-wrigglin' through the grass,
          191Nor a lurkin' red-skin--twan't my way
          192     In a game like that to sing out, "I pass!"
          193But I know'd when I glimps'd the rollin' whites,
          194     The sparks from the black of the mustang's eye,
          195Thar wus somethin' waltzin' up thet way
          196     Thet would send them critters off on the fly!

XXV.
          197In the night-air's tremblin,' shakin' hands
          198     Felt it beatin' kerslap onto me,
          199Like them waves thet chas'd thet President chap
          200     Thet went on the war-trail in old Judee.
          201The air wus bustin'--but silent es death;
          202     An' lookin' up, in a second I seed
          203The sort of sky thet allers looks down
          204     On the rush an' the roar of a night stampede.

XXVI.
          205Tearin' along the indigo sky
          206     Wus a drove of clouds, snarl'd an' black;
          207Scuddin' along to'ards the risin' moon,
          208     Like the sweep of a darn'd hungry pack
          209Of preairie wolves to'ard a bufferler,
          210     The heft of the herd left out of sight;
          211I dror'd my breath right hard, fur I know'd
          212     We wus in fur a 'tarnal run thet night.

XXVII.
          213Quiet? Ye bet! The mustang scrounch'd,
          214     His neck stretch'd out an' his nostrils wide;
          215The moonshine swept, a white river down,
          216     The black of the mighty mountain's side,
          217Lappin' over an' over the stuns an' brush
          218     In whirls an' swirls of leapin' light,
          219Makin' straight fur the herd, whar black an' still,
          220     It stretch'd away to the left an' right

XXVIII.
          221On the level lot,--I tell ye, pard,
          222     I know'd when it touch'd the first black hide,
          223Me an' the mustang would hev a show
          224     Fur a breezy bit of an' evenin' ride!
          225One! it flow'd over a homely pine
          226     Thet riz from a cranny, lean an' lank,
          227A cleft of the mountain;--reck'nin' two,
          228     It slapp'd onto an' old steer's heavin' flank,

XXIX.
          229Es sound he slept on the skirt of the herd,
          230     Dreamin' his dreams of the sweet blue grass
          231On the plains below; an' afore it touched
          232     The other wall of "Old Spookses' Pass"
          233The herd wus up--not one at a time,
          234     Thet ain't the style in a midnight run,
          235They wus up an' off like es all thair minds
          236     Wus roll'd in the hide of only one!

XXX.
          237I've fit in a battle, an' heerd the guns
          238     Blasphemin' God with their devils' yell;
          239Heerd the stuns of a fort like thunder crash
          240     In front of the scream of a red-hot shell;
          241But thet thar poundin' of iron hoofs,
          242     The clatter of horns, the peltin' sweep
          243Of three thousand head of a runnin' herd,
          244     Made all of them noises kind of cheap.

XXXI.
          245The Pass jest open'd its giant throat
          246     An' its lips of granite, an' let a roar
          247Of answerin' echoes; the mustang buck'd,
          248     Then answer'd the bridle; an', pard, afore
          249The twink of a fire-bug, lifted his legs
          250     Over stuns an' brush, like a lopin' deer--
          251A smart leetle critter! An' thar wus I
          252     'Longside of the plungin' leadin' steer!

XXXII.
          253A low-set critter, not much account
          254     For heft or looks, but one of them sort
          255Thet kin fetch a herd at his darn'd heels
          256     With a toss of his horns or a mite of a snort,
          257Fur a fight or a run; an' thar wus I,
          258     Pressin' clus to the steel of his heavin' flank,
          259An' cussin' an' shoutin'--while overhead
          260     The moon in the black clouds tremblin' sank,

XXXIII.
          261Like a bufferler overtook by the wolves
          262     An' pull'd tew the ground by the scuddin' pack.
          263The herd rush'd on with a din an' crash,
          264     Dim es a shadder, vast an' black;
          265Couldn't tell ef a hide wus black or white,
          266     But from the dim surges a-roarin' by
          267Bust long red flashes--the flamin' light
          268     From some old steer's furious an' scareful eye.

XXXIV.
          269Thet pass in the Rockies fairly roar'd;
          270     An sudden' es winkin' came the bang
          271An rattle of thunder. Tew see the grit
          272     Of thet peart little chunk of a tough mustang!
          273Not a buck nor a shy!--he gev a snort
          274     Thet shook the foam on his steamin' hide,
          275An' leap'd along. Wal, pard, ye bet
          276     I'd a healthy show fur a lively ride.

XXXV.
          277An' them cowboys slept in the leetle camp,
          278     Calm es three kids in a truckle bed;
          279Declar the crash wus enough tew put
          280     Life in the dust of the sleepin' dead!
          281The thunder kept droppin' its awful shells,
          282     One at a minute, on mountain an' rock:
          283The pass with its stone lips thunder'd back;
          284     An' the rush an' roar an' whirlin' shock
          285Of the runnin' herd wus fit tew bust
          286     A tenderfoot's heart hed he chanc'd along;
          287But I jest let out of my lungs an' throat
          288     A rippin' old verse of a herdsman's song,

XXXVI.
          289An' sidl'd the mustang closer up,
          290    'Longside of the leader, an' hit him flat
          291On his steamin' flank with a lightsome stroke
          292     Of the end of my limber lariat;
          293He never swerv'd, an' we thunder'd on,
          294     Black in the blackness, red in the red
          295Of the lightnin' blazin' with ev'ry clap
          296     That bust from the black guns overhead!

XXXVII.
          297The mustang wus shod, an' the lightnin' bit
          298     At his iron shoes each step he run,
          299Then plung'd in the yearth--we rode in flame,
          300     Fur the flashes roll'd inter only one,
          301Same es the bellers made one big roar;
          302     Yet thro' the whirl of din an' flame
          303I sung an' shouted, an' call'd the steer
          304     I sidl'd agin by his own front name,

XXXVIII.
          305An' struck his side with my fist an' foot--
          306     'Twas jest like hittin' a rushin' stone,
          307An' he thunder'd ahead--I couldn't boss
          308     The critter a mossel, I'm free tew own.
          309The sweat come a-pourin' down my beard;
          310     Ef ye wonder wharfor, jest ye spread
          311Yerself fur a ride with a runnin' herd,
          312     A yawnin' gulch half a mile ahead.

XXXIX.
          313Three hundred foot from its grinnin' lips
          314     Tew the roarin' stream on its stones below.
          315Once more I hurl'd the mustang up
          316     Agin the side of the cuss call'd Joe;
          317'Twan't a mite of use--he riz his heels
          318     Up in the air, like a scuddin' colt;
          319The herd mass'd closer, an' hurl'd down
          320     The roarin' Pass, like a thunderbolt.

XL.
          321I couldn't rein off--seem'd swept along
          322     In the rush an' roar an' thunderin' crash;
          323The lightnin' struck at the runnin' herd
          324     With a crack like the stroke of a cowboy's lash.
          325Thar! I could see it;--I tell ye, pard,
          326     Things seem'd whittl'd down sort of fine--
          327We wusn't five hundred feet from the gulch,
          328     With its mean little fringe of scrubby pine.

XLI.
          329What could stop us? I grit my teeth;
          330     Think I pray'd,--ain't sartin of thet;
          331When, whizzin' an' singin', thar came the rush
          332     Right past my face of a lariat!
          333"Bully fur you, old pard!" I roar'd,
          334     Es it whizz'd roun' the leader's steamin' chest,
          335An' I wheel'd the mustang fur all he was wuth
          336     Kerslap on the side uv the old steer's breast.

XLII.
          337He gev a snort, an' I see him swerve--
          338     I foller'd his shoulder clus an' tight;
          339Another swerve, an' the herd begun
          340     To swing around--Shouts I, "All right
          341"Ye've fetch'd 'em now!" The mustang gave
          342     A small, leettle whinny. I felt him flinch.
          343Sez I, "Ye ain't goin' tew weaken now,
          344     Old feller, an' me in this darn'd pinch?"

XLIII.
          345"No," sez he, with his small, prickin' ears,
          346     Plain es a human could speak; an' me--
          347I turn'd my head tew glimpse ef I could,
          348     Who might the chap with the lariat be.
          349Wal, pard, I weaken'd--ye bet yer life!
          350     Thar wan't a human in sight around,
          351But right in front of me come the beat
          352     Of a hoss's hoofs on the tremblin' ground--

XLIV.
          353Steddy an' heavy--a slingin' lope;
          354     A hefty critter with biggish bones
          355Might make jest sich--could hear the hoofs
          356     Es they struck on the rattlin', rollin' stones--
          357The jingle of bit--an' clar an' shrill
          358     A whistle es ever left cowboy's lip,
          359An' cuttin' the air, the long, fine hiss
          360     Of the whirlin' lash of a cowboy's whip.

XLV.
          361I crowded the mustang back, ontil
          362     He riz on his haunches--an' I sed,
          363"In the Maker's name, who may ye be?"
          364     Sez a vice, "Old feller, jest ride ahead!"
          365"All right!" sez I, an' I shook the rein.
          366     "Ye've turn'd the herd in a hansum style--
          367Whoever ye be, I'll not back down!"
          368     An' I didn't, neither--ye bet yer pile!

XLVI.
          369Clus on the heels of that unseen hoss,
          370     I rode on the side of the turnin' herd,
          371An' once in a while I answer'd back
          372     A shout or a whistle or cheerin' word--
          373From lips no lightnin' was strong tew show.
          374     'Twas sort of scareful, that midnight ride;
          375But we'd got our backs tew the gulch--fur that
          376     I'd hev foller'd a curiouser sort of guide!

XLVII.
          377Twas kind of scareful tew watch the herd,
          378     Es the plungin' leaders squirm'd an' shrank--
          379Es I heerd the flick of the unseen lash
          380     Hiss on the side of a steamin' flank.
          381Guess the feller was smart at the work!
          382     We work'd them leaders round, ontil
          383They overtook the tail of the herd,
          384     An' the hull of the crowd begun tew "mill."

XLVIII.
          385Round spun the herd in a great black wheel,
          386     Slower an' slower--ye've seen beneath
          387A biggish torrent a whirlpool spin,
          388     Its waters black es the face of Death?
          389'Pear'd sort of like that the "millin'" herd.
          390     We kept by the leaders--HIM and me,
          391Neck by neck, an' he sung a tune,
          392     About a young gal, nam'd Betsey Lee!

XLIX.
          393Jine in the chorus? Wal, yes, I did.
          394     He sung like a regilar mockin' bird,
          395An' us cowboys allus sing out ef tew calm
          396     The scare, ef we can, of a runnin' herd.
          397Slower an' slower wheel'd round the "mill";
          398     The maddest old steer of a leader slow'd;
          399Slower an' slower sounded the hoofs
          400     Of the hoss that HIM in front of me rode.

L.
          401Fainter an' fainter grow'd that thar song
          402     Of Betsey Lee an' her har of gold;
          403Fainter an' fainter grew the sound
          404     Of the unseen hoofs on the tore-up mold.
          405The leadin' steer, that cuss of a Joe
          406     Stopp'd an' shook off the foam an' the sweat,
          407With a stamp an a beller--the run was done,
          408     Wus glad of it, tew, yer free tew bet!

LI.
          409The herd slow'd up--an' stood in a mass
          410     Of blackness lit by the lightnin's eye;
          411An' the mustang cower'd es something swept
          412     Clus to his wet flank in passin' by.
          413"Good night tew ye, Pard!" "Good night," sez I,
          414     Strainin' my sight on the empty air;
          415The har riz rustlin' up on my head,
          416     Now that I hed time tew scare.

LII.
          417The mustang flinch'd till his saddle girth
          418     Scrap'd on the dust of the tremblin' ground--
          419There cum a laugh--the crack of a whip,
          420     A whine like the cry of a well pleas'd hound,
          421The noise of a hoss thet rear'd an' sprang
          422     At the touch of a spur--then all was still;
          423But the sound of the thunder dyin' down
          424     On the stony breast of the nighest hill!

LIII.
          425The herd went back to its rest an' feed,
          426     Es quiet a crowd es ever wore hide;
          427An' them boys in camp never heerd a lisp
          428     Of the thunder an' crash of that run an' ride.
          429An' I'll never forget, while a wild cat claws,
          430     Or a cow loves a nibble of sweet blue grass,
          431The cur'us pardner that rode with me
          432     In the night stampede in "Old Spookses Pass!"

Notes

1] Yellow Bull Flat and Old Spookses' Pass are made-up place names in the Rocky Mountains, the Canadian part of North America's greatest mountain range, which bestrides Alberta and British Columbia. A flat (e.g., Old Crow Flats) is a high plateau; a pass (e.g., Yellowhead Pass) is a relatively low way crossing a mountain range from one side to another. A spook, of course, is a ghost, and the cowboy's tale concerns what would later be called "a ghost rider in the sky."

2] Possum: opossum

3] lariat: light rope with noose thrown by cowboys to lasso animals.

4] fellers: guys, fellows

5] broncho: unbroken, uncontrollable wild horse or mustang

5-6] arguing head-to-head with, i.e., a broncho's opposite, a stubborn, unmovable mule

7] thar: there

8] hev: have
or'nary: ordinary

9] Fur: for

10] Thet hed: that had

12] har: here
own: admit

14] keerds: cards

16] hull: whole

19] coyotes: small wolves

20] darned critters: damned (polite) creatures

24] sage bush: hoary underscrub smelling like sage

25] pootyish lot: prettyish place

26] tol'ble: tolerable, decent

27] Speredo's drove: moving herd (cf. 206) owned by Speredo.

29] mite of a: little

34] chipper: in good spirits, cheerful

37] fust: first

39] quid: mouthful of chewing tobacco, a cud

40] peart leetle: pert little--the overused modern "cute" might serve for "peart"

42] Es: as

45] Wal, pard: well, partner
sech: such

48] Jest hark; just listen

54] ganzy: unknown, perhaps "shirt"?

55] post ourselves: find out

62] shadders: shadows

63-64] he had to leave it to that there ("leave tew thet thar") mustang to find the path

66] cur'us: curious, strange

71] beller: bellow

82] I'll 'low: I'll allow, admit

85] yer: you're

90] cuss: fellow, guy (low)

104] 'tarnal: eternal
up-grade: slope

112] slimpsy: weak, "slim-flimsy"

117] pann'd: sifted (as gold nuggets from a stream's gravel)

119] chap with horns: the devil

121] tote up: carry up

124] hist: hoist

125] pooty: pretty

136] git up a "corner": monopolize

139] wuth shucks: worth nothing ("shucks"=husks)

144] Kerslap: onomatopoeic, "firmly" (cf. 198, 336)
jack: the playing card

153] Sabba'day: Sabbath-day, Sunday

154] yer meeting clothes: "your Sunday best," clothes suitable for a church meeting

156] lily-blows: lily-blossoms

159] wust: worst

169] shied: made shy, started back (in fear)

174] uv tarnation fun: of damned fun

181] riz: rose

183] sort of: the modern colloquial adverb

187] Sez: says

190] rattle: rattlesnake

191] red-skin: slang for native Amerindian

193] rollin' whites: of the eyes (turning up in fear)

199-00] Pharoah's armies drowned in the Red Sea after following Moses and the Israelites through the gap that opened up for them and the waters closed again (Exodus 14: 26-30)
Judee: Judea

202] seed: saw (cf. 362)

203] allers: always

207] Scuddin': moving fast and low

211] dror'd: drew

217] stuns: stones

237] fit: fought

249] twink of a fire-bug: the twinkling of a fire-fly

258] clus: close

259] cussin': swearing

271] grit: courage, toughness, shown by "grinding" your teeth (cf. 329)

273] Not a buck nor a shy: he didn't kick or back off

274] a healthy show: the mustang?

278] truckle bed: a bed that can be rolled or wheeled away

286] tenderfoot: city dweller

292] limber: flexible

297] shod: he had "iron shoes" on (298)

299] yearth: earth

300] inter: into

308] mossel: a bit, a "morsel"

312] gulch: ravine

330] sartin: certain

333] Bully fur you: "good for you"

352] hoss's: horse's

357] bit: the part of the harness passing through the mouth of the horse

362] riz: rose
sed: saw

366] hansum: handsome

368] pile: stake, money

392] Betsey Lee: unidentified popular song about a girl with golden hair (402)

393] Jine: join

404] mold: ground

408] yer free tew bet: you can bet on that


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Isabella Valancy Crawford, "Old Spookses' Pass," "Malcolm's Katie" and other Poems (Toronto: James Bain and Son, 1884): 1-19. PR 4518 C17 O5 1884 Canadiana (Victoria College Library)
First publication date: 1884
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 4:2002/2/17

Rhyme: abcbdefe (and varies)


Other poems by Isabella Valancy Crawford