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28 Works of Mary Hunter Austin

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Oh, the Shepherds in Judea, They are pacing to and fro, For the air grows chill at twilight And the weanling lambs are slow! Leave, O lambs, the dripping sedges, quit the bramble and the brier, Leave the fields of barley stubble, for we light the watching fire; Twinkling fires across the twilight, and a […]

From the time that he had first found, himself alone with them, Oliver had felt sure that the animals could come alive again if they wished. That was one blowy afternoon about a week after his father had been made night engineer and nobody had come into the Museum for several hours. Oliver had been […]

BY THE ONONDAGA Down the Mound-Builder’s graded way the children ran looking for the Onondaga. Like all the trail in the Museum Country it covered a vast tract of country in a very little while, so that it was no time at all before they came out among high, pine-covered swells, that broke along the […]

TOLD BY MOKE-ICHA Oliver was so interested in his sister’s account of how the corn came into the country, that that very evening he dragged out a tattered old atlas which he had rescued from the Museum waste, and began to look for the places named by the Corn Woman. They found the old Chihuahua […]

YOUNG-MAN-WHO-NEVER-TURNS-BACK: A TELLING OF THE TALLEGEWI, BY ONE OF THEM It could only have been for a few moments at the end of Moke-icha’s story, before the cliff picture split like a thin film before the dancing circles of the watchmen’s lanterns, and curled into the shadows between the cases. A thousand echoes broke out […]

TOLD BY THE COYOTE “Concerning that Talking Stick of Taku-Wa-kin’s,”–said the Coyote, as the company settled back after Arrumpa’s story,–“there is a Telling of my people … not of a Rod, but a Skin, a hide of thy people, Great Chief,”–he bowed to the Bull Buffalo,–“that talked of Tamal-Pyweack and a Dead Man’s Journey–” The […]

TOLD BY THE CORN WOMAN It was one of those holidays, when there isn’t any school and the Museum is only opened for a few hours in the afternoon, that Dorcas Jane had come into the north gallery of the Indian room where her father was at work mending the radiators. This was about a […]

“Wake! Wake!” said the Bull Buffalo, with a roll to it, as though the word had been shouted in a deep voice down an empty barrel. He shook the dust out of his mane and stamped his fore-foot to set the herd in motion. There were thousands of them feeding as far as the eye […]

AS TOLD BY ARRUMPA “In my time, everything, even the shape of the land was different. From Two Rivers it was all marsh, marsh and swamp with squidgy islands, with swamp and marsh again till you came to hills and hard land, beyond which was the sea. Nothing grew then but cane and coarse grass, […]

The Scavengers

Story type: Literature

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Fifty-seven buzzards, one on each of fifty-seven fence posts at the rancho El Tejon, on a mirage-breeding September morning, sat solemnly while the white tilted travelers’ vans lumbered down the Canada de los Uvas. After three hours they had only clapped their wings, or exchanged posts. The season’s end in the vast dim valley of […]

The Land of Little Rain

Story type: Literature

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East away from the Sierras, south from Panamint and Amargosa, east and south many an uncounted mile, is the Country of Lost Borders. Ute, Paiute, Mojave, and Shoshone inhabit its frontiers, and as far into the heart of it as a man dare go. Not the law, but the land sets the limit. Desert is […]

By the end of the dry season the water trails of the Ceriso are worn to a white ribbon in the leaning grass, spread out faint and fanwise toward the homes of gopher and ground rat and squirrel. But however faint to man-sight, they are sufficiently plain to the furred and feathered folk who travel […]

TOLD BY THE ROAD-RUNNER From Cay Verde in the Bahamas to the desert of New Mexico, by the Museum trail, is around a corner and past two windows that look out upon the west. As the children stood waiting for the Road-Runner to notice them, they found the view not very different from the one […]

TOLD BY THE CONDOR “In the days of our Ancients,” said the Road-Runner between short skimming runs, “this was the only trail from the river to the Middle Ant Hill of the World. The eastern end of it changed like the tip of a wild gourd vine as the towns moved up and down the […]

TOLD BY THE CHIEF OFFICER OF THE DOG SOLDIERS This is the story the Dog Soldier told Oliver one evening in April, just after school let out, while the sun was still warm and bright on the young grass, and yet one somehow did not care about playing. Oliver had slipped into the Indian room […]

THE PEARLS OF COFACHIQUE: HOW LUCAS DE AYLLON CAME TO LOOK FOR THEM AND WHAT THE CACICA FAR-LOOKING DID TO HIM; TOLD BY THE PELICAN One morning toward the end of February the children were sitting on the last bench at the far end of the Bird Gallery, which is the nicest sort of place […]

HOW THE IRON SHIRTS CAME TO TUSCALOOSA: A TELLING OF THE TRIBUTE ROAD BY THE LADY OF COFACHIQUE “There was a bloom on the sea like the bloom on a wild grape when the Adelantado left his winter quarters at Anaica Apalache,” said the Princess. “He sent Maldonado, his captain, to cruise along the Gulf […]

The Basket Maker

Story type: Literature

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“A man,” says Seyavi of the campoodie, “must have a woman, but a woman who has a child will do very well.” That was perhaps why, when she lost her mate in the dying struggle of his race, she never took another, but set her wit to fend for herself and her young son. No […]

All streets of the mountains lead to the citadel; steep or slow they go up to the core of the hills. Any trail that goes otherwhere must dip and cross, sidle and take chances. Rifts of the hills open into each other, and the high meadows are often wide enough to be called valleys by […]

When Mr. Harte found himself with a fresh palette and his particular local color fading from the West, he did what he considered the only safe thing, and carried his young impression away to be worked out untroubled by any newer fact. He should have gone to Jimville. There he would have found cast up […]

My Neighbor’s Field

Story type: Literature

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It is one of those places God must have meant for a field from all time, lying very level at the foot of the slope that crowds up against Kearsarge, falling slightly toward the town. North and south it is fenced by low old glacial ridges, boulder strewn and untenable. Eastward it butts on orchard […]

The Mesa Trail

Story type: Literature

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The mesa trail begins in the campoodie at the corner of Naboth’s field, though one may drop into it from the wood road toward the canon, or from any of the cattle paths that go up along the streamside; a clean, pale, smooth-trodden way between spiny shrubs, comfortably wide for a horse or an Indian. […]

The Pocket Hunter

Story type: Literature

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I remember very well when I first met him. Walking in the evening glow to spy the marriages of the white gilias, I sniffed the unmistakable odor of burning sage. It is a smell that carries far and indicates usually the nearness of a campoodie, but on the level mesa nothing taller showed than Diana’s […]

Shoshone Land

Story type: Literature

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It is true I have been in Shoshone Land, but before that, long before, I had seen it through the eyes of Winnenap’ in a rosy mist of reminiscence, and must always see it with a sense of intimacy in the light that never was. Sitting on the golden slope at the campoodie, looking across […]

Other Water Borders

Story type: Literature

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It is the proper destiny of every considerable stream in the west to become an irrigating ditch. It would seem the streams are willing. They go as far as they can, or dare, toward the tillable lands in their own boulder fenced gullies–but how much farther in the man-made waterways. It is difficult to come […]

Nurslings of the Sky

Story type: Literature

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Choose a hill country for storms. There all the business of the weather is carried on above your horizon and loses its terror in familiarity. When you come to think about it, the disastrous storms are on the levels, sea or sand or plains. There you get only a hint of what is about to […]

There are still some places in the west where the quails cry “cuidado”; where all the speech is soft, all the manners gentle; where all the dishes have chile in them, and they make more of the Sixteenth of September than they do of the Fourth of July. I mean in particular El Pueblo de […]

Water Borders

Story type: Literature

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I like that name the Indians give to the mountain of Lone Pine, and find it pertinent to my subject,–Oppapago, The Weeper. It sits eastward and solitary from the lordliest ranks of the Sierras, and above a range of little, old, blunt hills, and has a bowed, grave aspect as of some woman you might […]