The Enchanted Burro And Other Stories as I Have Known Them from Maine to Chile and California
The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Enchanted Burro, by Charles FletcherLummis
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Title: The Enchanted Burro
And Other Stories as I Have Known Them from Maine to Chile and California
Author: Charles Fletcher Lummis
Release Date: February 24, 2019 [eBook #58954]
Character set encoding: UTF-8
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The Enchanted Burro
And Other Stories as I Have Known Them
From Maine to Chile and California
CHARLES F. LUMMIS
Strange Corners of Our Country, A Tramp Across the Continent,
Mexico Today, The Spanish Pioneers of America, My
Friend Will, The Gold Fish of Gran Chimú,
The Land of Poco Tiempo, Pueblo
WITH MANY NEW STORIES AND ILLUSTRATIONS
A. C. McCLURG & CO.
Copyright, 1897, by Way & Williams
A. C. McCLURG & CO.
Published September, 1912
M. F. Hall Printing Company
|The Enchanted Burro (New Mexico)||1|
|The Mummy-Miner (Peru)||25|
|A Boy of the Andes (Peru)||43|
|A Daughter of the Misti (Peru)||65|
|The Witch Deer (New Mexico)||85|
|Felipe’s Sugaring-Off (Peru)||99|
|Andrés, the Arriero (Bolivia)||111|
|Our Yellow Slave||141|
|The Peak of Gold (New Mexico)||161|
|Pablo’s Deer Hunt (New Mexico)||179|
|Candelária’s Curse (New Mexico)||203|
|The Habit of the Fraile (Peru)||219|
|The Great Magician||241|
|The Silver Omelet (Mexico)||257|
|A Duel in the Desert (California)||275|
|A ’Rastle with a Wildcat (New England)||285|
|A Tame Deer (California)||299|
|The Rebel Double Runner (New England)||315|
|The Balsa Boy of Lake Titi-Caca (Bolivia)||333|
|The enchanted burro||Frontispiece|
|The home of the Soroche||55|
|“The bones of Ta-bi-rá”||186|
|The patio process at Guanajuato||257|
|Wildcat and owl in death-struggle||280|
The Truly Clever know enough tomake books of a country by a fewdays of Pullman and hotel—or evenby skimming the public library at home,without the bother and expense of travelat all.
But the few Dullards now left can arrivein Knowledge only by plodding; not “ason wings of eagles” and Inspiration, but bythe drudgery of learning.
It has taken more than twenty-five arduousyears to beat into me what little I hopeI know about the Frontiers of the ThreeAmericas. To learn several new languagesand digest innumerable old chronicles wasbut one side of the task: everywhere, andamong many peoples, I had to win slowadoption from Stranger to Friend; to travelfootsore or saddleweary; to share theirbeds, their feasts, their famine, theirspeech, their ideas, their pleasures andtheir hardships—in fact, to live their life.And it was Life—Human and warm, evenat its rudest.
Part of these stories, under this sametitle, were published in 1897 by an amateurfirm which very presently succumbed—posthoc, indeed, but I trust not propter. Sothe book has been out of print for a dozenyears. It was very gently entreated bycritics and public while its young godfatherslasted.
I now add five stories and 4,000 miles ofgeography—clear back to my venerableboyhood. Born and bred a Yankee, IEscaped In Time (at 23), and have becomea much better Indian, New Mexican, Mexican,Peruvian, Californian and compositePaisano of the Frontier. It may be thatother graduate New Englanders will findhere some echo to memory of what theyand I used to think we knew of the Sternand Rockbound, so long ago; and that theUnremoved will pardon my lapses, in viewof my enduring Alibi.
As to anything this side of New England,I won’t “either apologize or fight.” Thispart is not remote and precarious memoryof the only true Golden Age—the Age whenwe Haven’t Any—but the indelible autographof thirty older years, scarred andwrinkled upon me inside and out. It cantake care of itself.
Most of these stories, in both instances,are of episodes in which I had some part.Not all are “True Stories,” but all aretruthful. I hope that makes them no dullerthan if they had been guessed out of wholecloth and innocence.
C. F. L.
Los Angeles, Cal.
The Enchanted Burro.
The Enchanted Burro.
Lelo dropped the point of his heavy irrigatinghoe and stood with chin dentedupon the rude handle, looking intently to theeast. Around his bare ankles the rill fromthe acéquia eddied a moment and thensucked through the gap in the little ridge ofearth which bounded the irrigating bed.The early sun was yellow as gold upon thecrags of the mesa—that league-long frontof ragged cliffs whose sandstones, black-cappedby the lava of the immemorial Yearof Fire, here wall the valley of the RioGrande on the west. Where a spur of thefrowning Kú-mai runs out is a little bay inthe cliffs; and here the outermost fields ofIsleta were turning green with spring. Theyoung wheat swayed and whispered to thewater, whose scouts stole about amid thestalks, and came back and called their fellowsforward, and spread hither and yon,till every green blade was drinking and thetide began to creep up the low boundariesat either side. Up at the sluice gate a smallbut eager stream was tumbling from thebig, placid ditch, and on it came till it struckthe tiny dam which closed the furrow justbeyond Lelo, and, turning, stole past himagain to join the rest amid the wheat. Theirrigating bed, twenty feet square, filledand filled, and suddenly the gathered puddlebroke down a barrier and came rompinginto the next bed without so much assaying “By your leave.” And here it wasnot so friendly; for, forgetting that it hadcome only to bring a drink, it went stampedingabout, knocking down the tenderblades and half covering them with mud.At sound of this, Lelo seemed suddenly towaken, and lifting with his hoe the few clodswhich dammed the furrow, he droppedthem into the first gap, and jumping intothe second bed repaired its barrier alsowith a few strokes. Then he let in a gentlerstream from the furrow.
“Poco, and I should have lost a bed,” hesaid to himself, goodnaturedly. Blas alwaystook things easy, and I presume that is thereason no one ever called him anything butLelo—“Slow-poke”—for Indian boys areas given to nicknames as are any others, andthe mote had stuck to him ever since its invention.He was rather slow—this big,powerful boy, with a round, heavy chin anda face less clear-cut than was common inthe pueblo. Old ’Lipe had taken to wife aNavajo captive, and all could see that theboy carried upon his father’s strong framethe flatter, more stolid features of hismother’s nomad people.
But now the face seemed not quite soheavy; for again he was looking toward thepueblo and bending his head as one wholistens for a far whisper. There it cameagain—a faint, faint air which not one ofus could have heard, but to this Indian boyit told of shouts and mingled wails.
“What will be?” cried Lelo, stampinghis hoe upon the barrier, and with unwontedfire in his eyes. “For surely I hear thevoice of women lamenting, and there aremen’s shouts as in anger. Something heavyit will be—and perhaps I am needed.”Splashing up to the ditch, he shut the gateand threw down his hoe, and a momentlater was running toward Isleta with thelong, heavy, tireless stride that was thejest of the other boys in the rabbit hunt,but left Lelo not so very far behind themafter all.
In the pueblo was, indeed, excitementenough. Little knots of the swart peoplestood here and there, talking earnestly butlow; in the broad, flat plaza were many hurryingto and fro; and in the street beyondwas a great crowd about a house whencearose the long, wild wails of mourners.
“What is, tio Diego?” asked Lelo, stoppingwhere a number of men stood ingloomy silence. “What has befallen? Foreven in the milpa I heard the cries, andcame running to see.”
“It is ill,” answered the old man he hadaddressed as uncle. “It seems that ThoseAbove are angry with us! For this morningthe captain of war finds himself dead inbed—and scalped! And no tracks of manwere about his door.”