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- Old Spookses' Pass - 1/37 -


OLD SPOOKSES' PASS MALCOLM'S KATIE, AND OTHER POEMS,

BY

ISABELLA VALANCY CRAWFORD.

AUTHOR OF A LITTLE BACCHANTE, OR SOME BLACK SHEEP, ETC., ETC., ETC.

TO JOHN IRWIN CRAWFORD, ESQ., M. D., R. N. THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED BY HIS NIECE ISABELLA VALANCY CRAWFORD.

OLD SPOOKSES' PASS.

I.

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

II.

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

III.

We was short of hands, the herd was large, An' watch an' watch we divided the night; We could hear the coyotes howl an' whine, But the darn'd critters kept out of sight Of the camp-fire blazin'; an' now an' then Thar come a rustle an' sort of rush, A rattle a-sneakin' away from the blaze, Thro' the rattlin', cracklin' grey sage bush.

IV.

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

V.

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

VI.

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

VII.

It 'pears to me that them solemn hills Beckin' them stars so big an' calm, An' whisper, "Make tracks this way, my friends, We've ring'd in here a specimen man; He's here alone, so we'll take a look Thro' his ganzy an' vest, an' his blood an' bone, An post ourselves as to whether his heart Is _flesh_, or a rotten, made-up stone!"

VIII.

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

IX.

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

X.

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

XI.

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

XII.

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

XIII.

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

XIV.

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

XV.


Old Spookses' Pass - 1/37

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