A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

How long we had hid there and listened,
Where the trees let in winks o' the sun,
'Fore their Winchesters glittered and glistened
In the gully below by the run,
I never kep' count. It wuz mornin',
An' my legs wuz stove stiff with the chill
O' the night. But my Lize had the warnin'
An' we knew it wuz up with the still
If we ever give up with our watchin':
The six on us me an' Bud Roe,
Two Tollivers, Dickon an' Hotchin
An' the posse nigh twenty or so.
The evenin' before we had reckoned
The sheriff would ride through the glen;
An' it took little less nor a second
To see how we manage it then;
For the valley wound up in a' alley,
Blind-walled with bald bluffs; an' no trees
At its bottom; a trap of a valley,
Scrub thicket not high as my knees.
With me an' the Tollivers watchin'
The rear, an' Bud Roe in the gap,
With Dickon an' Hotch for the scotchin',
We had 'em like rats in a trap.
So we all took a pull at the bottle
Lize brung me last evenin': an' though
We 'd eaten, nor left whut would throttle
A fly, we wuz hungry I know.
Then a caw come hoarse through the quiet:
We knew it the signal they'd reached
The gully: an' when they'd passed by it,
A hawk we had fixed it jest screeched:
When a pewee had whistled, we knew it
The signal the posse wuz in,
Safe into the trap. . . . They would do it!
An' we we wuz glad to begin.
A pistol each side an' a rifle
Or two ready loaded. Our height
Would help me to aim jest a trifle
To left an' my pards front an' right.
An' we laid in the rocks, never winkin'
Jest ready. I heard the dry buzz
O' the grasshoppers; thinkin' an' thinkin'
How lonesome an' solemn it wuz:
When suddent, I riz in a hurry,
The laurel whipped back I could curse!
Lize could n't git rid o' her worry,
An' woman-like come fer the worse.
Jest then through the gully an' thicket
I seed the sun glim on the stocks
O' their Winchesters. Slim as a picket
Lize stood by me there in the rocks.
We waited until the last came in.
I lined on the leader an' said,
"Shoot!" hoarsely. We ushered the game in
With the sheriff an' deputy dead.
It wuz a surprise for 'em certain!
They saw 't wuz a trap, an' rid back;
But the three in the gap raised a curtain,
With death-dealin' crack upon crack.
An' back to the gully with frighted
Sick faces they galloped, like sin;
An' we, in the rocks, lay an' sighted,
An' hell jest happened agin.
They wuz cornered: they seed it: an' grimly
They turned on their death: an' I leant
With my gun on a rock, an' seed dimly
They rid fer us shootin', hell-bent
Through the smoke fer the thick o' our fire:
Then Lize, who wuz loadin' a gun,
Shrieked somethin' an' jumped an' a wire
O' blood down her face. She wuz done.
There wuz six on 'em left. But a baby
Could of finished me then, with her dead
Instid o' myself! An' it may be
The rest on us there had eat lead
If Bud had n't come with another.
Them three wuz enough fer the rest,
Gittin' off as they did! I would bother
With nothin', her head on my breast.
But they got me away; an' together
Brung her to the cave with the shot
In her face. May the buzzards now feather
And roost on them there where they rot!

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