“The Ash-tree” by M.R. James, with Digressions

Walpurgisnacht:
Vernal weird horror.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Ash-tree”

M.R. James

Everyone who has travelled over Eastern England knows the smaller country-houses with which it is studded—the rather dank little buildings, usually in the Italian style, surrounded with parks of some eighty to a hundred acres. For me they have always had a very strong attraction, with the grey paling of split oak, the noble trees, the meres with their reed-beds, and the line of distant woods. Then, I like the pillared portico—perhaps stuck on to a red-brick Queen Anne house which has been faced with stucco to bring it into line with the ‘Grecian’ taste of the end of the eighteenth century; the hall inside, going up to the roof, which hall ought always to be provided with a gallery and a small organ. I like the library, too, where you may find anything from a Psalter of the thirteenth century to a Shakespeare quarto. I like the pictures, of course; and perhaps most of all I like fancying what life in such a house was when it was first built, and in the piping times of landlords’ prosperity, and not least now, when, if money is not so plentiful, taste is more varied and life quite as interesting. I wish to have one of these houses, and enough money to keep it together and entertain my friends in it modestly.

But this is a digression. I have to tell you of a curious series of events which happened in such a house as I have tried to describe. Continue reading

“De Moose” by Jessamine Slaughter Burgum

“De Moose”

from Dakota Horizons

Jessamine Slaughter Burgum

published in 1940 by The Times Publishing Co., Hunter, North Dakota

“The poems herein may be reprinted or used in any program as desired if due credit is given to author and publisher.”

Yes, by Gar,
I tak you two young fallers,
From de states,
To where de moose live; Continue reading

3 Lakota Heroes: Red Cloud, Gall, and Crazy Horse by Charles Eastman

Battle of the Little Bighorn Anniversary:
June 25 is the anniversary of the great victory. As of 2016, it’s been only 140 years.
From one of his popular books, here presented are dramatic biographies of three men by the Dakota writer Ohiyesa, more widely known as Charles Eastman.
-The Voice before the Void

3 Lakota Heroes: Red Cloud, Gall, and Crazy Horse

from Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains

Charles Eastman

“Red Cloud”

The Sioux were now entering upon the most stormy period of their history. The old things were fast giving place to new. The young men, for the first time engaging in serious and destructive warfare with the neighboring tribes, armed with the deadly weapons furnished by the white man, began to realize that they must soon enter upon a desperate struggle for their ancestral hunting grounds. The old men had been innocently cultivating the friendship of the stranger, saying among themselves, “Surely there is land enough for all!”

1865-1880 - Sioux - Red Bear, Young Man Afraid of his Horses, Good Voice, Ring Thunder, Iron Crow, White Tail, Spotted Tail, Yellow Bear, Red Cloud, Big Road, Little Wound, Black CrowRed Cloud was a modest and little-known man of about twenty-eight years when General [William S.] Harney called all the western bands of Sioux together at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, for the purpose of securing an agreement and right of way through their territory. The Ogallalas held aloof from this proposal, but Bear Bull, an Ogallala chief, after having been plied with whisky, undertook to dictate submission to the rest of the clan. Enraged by failure, he fired upon a group of his own tribesmen, and Red Cloud’s father and brother fell dead. According to Indian custom, it fell to him to avenge the deed. Calmly, without uttering a word, he faced old Bear Bull and his son, who attempted to defend his father, and shot them both. Continue reading

“Three Toes of Harding County” from Wikipedia

Old stories, told long ago.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Three Toes of Harding County”

Wikipedia

Three Toes of Harding County was the nickname given to a solitary North American male wolf who killed livestock at ranches in Harding County, South Dakota over a thirteen-year period in the early 20th century. His hunting range extended into southwestern North Dakota and southeastern Montana.

Three Toes began his depredations in 1912, becoming a fully fledged livestock killer by 1917. He was estimated to have killed $50,000 worth of livestock in his thirteen-year career. He is known to have killed 66 sheep in two nights shortly before his capture. He was pursued by over 150 men, only to be trapped on July 23, 1925, in the Kahoun pasture, near Gallup, South Dakota, by Clyde F. Briggs, the state deputy predatory animal inspector.

Three Toes was thought to have been 20 years old, and measured 6 feet in length and weighed between 75 and 80 pounds.

1925 July Three Toes of Harding County South Dakota famous wolf taken by Clyde F Briggs state deputy predatory animal inspector

“Hunting the Deceitful Turkey” by Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s Birthday Special:
Twain bestows personality upon your holiday meal.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Hunting the Deceitful Turkey”

Mark Twain

When I was a boy my uncle and his big boys hunted with the rifle, the youngest boy Fred and I with a shotgun–a small single-barrelled shotgun which was properly suited to our size and strength; it was not much heavier than a broom. We carried it turn about, half an hour at a time. I was not able to hit anything with it, but I liked to try. Continue reading

“The Hand” by Guy de Maupassant

Halloween Special:
Maupassant has a brilliant way of relating the supernatural. He does not say: “this supernatural thing happened,” a fact which would be unbelievable; instead he says: “it is said that this supernatural thing happened,” a fact which is indisputable.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Hand”

Guy de Maupassant

translated from the French

All were crowding around M. Bermutier, the judge, who was giving his opinion about the Saint-Cloud mystery. For a month this in explicable crime had been the talk of Paris. Nobody could make head or tail of it.

M. Bermutier, standing with his back to the fireplace, was talking, citing the evidence, discussing the various theories, but arriving at no conclusion.

Some women had risen, in order to get nearer to him, and were standing with their eyes fastened on the clean-shaven face of the judge, who was saying such weighty things. They, were shaking and trembling, moved by fear and curiosity, and by the eager and insatiable desire for the horrible, which haunts the soul of every woman. One of them, paler than the others, said during a pause:

“It’s terrible. It verges on the supernatural. The truth will never be known.” Continue reading

“The Buffalo Hunt” by Pierre Falcon and Agnes Christina Laut

Canada Day Special:
Glory and grisly death, for food and clothing.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Buffalo Hunt”

Pierre Falcon and Agnes Christina Laut

Now list to the song of the buffalo hunt,
Which I, Pierre, the rhymester, chant of the brave!
We are Bois-Brulés, Freemen of the plains,
We choose our chief! We are no man’s slave!
Up, riders, up, ere the early mist
Ascends to salute the rising sun!
Up, rangers, up, ere the buffalo herds
Sniff morning air for the hunter’s gun!
They lie in their lairs of dank spear-grass,
Down in the gorge, where the prairie dips.
We’ve followed their tracks through the sucking ooze,
Where our bronchos sank to their steaming hips.
We’ve followed their tracks from the rolling plain
Through slime-green sloughs to a sedgy ravine, Continue reading

“Four Little Foxes” by Lew Sarett

Spring Equinox Special:
Forbear, March.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Four Little Foxes”

Lew Sarett

Speak gently, Spring, and make no sudden sound;
For in my windy valley, yesterday I found
New-born foxes squirming on the ground —
Speak gently.

Walk softly, March, forbear the bitter blow;
Her feet within a trap, her blood upon the snow,
The four little foxes saw their mother go —
Walk softly. Continue reading

“The Soft-Hearted Sioux” by Zitkala-Sa

Christianity as a weapon of subjugation.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Soft-Hearted Sioux”

Zitkala-Ša

I.

Beside the open fire I sat within our tepee. With my red blanket wrapped tightly about my crossed legs, I was thinking of the coming season, my sixteenth winter. On either side of the wigwam were my parents. My father was whistling a tune between his teeth while polishing with his bare hand a red stone pipe he had recently carved. Almost in front of me, beyond the center fire, my old grandmother sat near the entranceway.

She turned her face toward her right and addressed most of her words to my mother. Now and then she spoke to me, but never did she allow her eyes to rest upon her daughter’s husband, my father. It was only upon rare occasions that my grandmother said anything to him. Thus his ears were open and ready to catch the smallest wish she might express. Sometimes when my grandmother had been saying things which pleased him, my father used to comment upon them. At other times, when he could not approve of what was spoken, he used to work or smoke silently.

On this night my old grandmother began her talk about me. Filling the bowl of her red stone pipe with dry willow bark, she looked across at me.

“My grandchild, you are tall and are no longer a little boy.” Narrowing her old eyes, she asked, “My grandchild, when are you going to bring here a handsome young woman?” Continue reading

“A Goblin Story” by Theodore Roosevelt

An astonishingly creepy story by one of the most popular of U.S. Presidents.
Any contemporary listener has a ready name for the “goblin” of this story.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“A Goblin Story”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Frontiersmen are not, as a rule, apt to be very superstitious. They lead lives too hard and practical, and have too little imagination in things spiritual and supernatural. I have heard but few ghost stories while living on the frontier, and these few were of a perfectly commonplace and conventional type.

But I once listened to a goblin story which rather impressed me. It was told by a grisled, weather-beaten old mountain hunter, named Bauman, who was born and had passed all his life on the frontier. Continue reading

“Trapped by a War Party” by Theodore Roosevelt

Regrettable and complex, Roosevelt’s attitude toward Native Americans is reflective of his entire nation’s attitude toward Native Americans.
Here, Roosevelt goads his reluctant friend into relating one of the most desperate struggles of his friend’s life, because the event also happened to be one of the most famous gunfights of the American West.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Trapped by a War Party”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Accidents are common. Men break their collar-bones, arms, or legs by falling when riding at speed over dangerous ground, when cutting cattle or trying to control a stampeded herd, or by being thrown or rolled on by bucking or rearing horses; or their horses, and on rare occasion even they themselves, are gored by fighting steers. Death by storm or in flood, death in striving to master a wild and vicious horse, or in handling maddened cattle, and too often death in brutal conflict with one of his own fellows–any one of these is the not unnatural end of the life of the dweller on the plains or in the mountains.

But a few years ago other risks had to be run from savage beasts, and from the Indians. Continue reading

“The Ending of a Desperado” by Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt recounts the story of one of his friends telling him the story of one of his scars.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Ending of a Desperado”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

One of my valued friends in the mountains, and one of the best hunters with whom I ever travelled, was a man who had a peculiarly light-hearted way of looking at conventional social obligations. Continue reading

“Spirit Buck” by Karen Zenner

Mythic narrative.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Spirit Buck”

Karen Zenner

The first year I went hunting –
with Pa and Mike –
Everyone winked at me, and said,
“He looks like he’s all set for Ol’ Spirit.”
And I grinned and said I was.

Only a few had actually seen Spirit,
And then there was them that said they’d
gotten off a shot,
But you could count them on one hand. Continue reading

Into Annihilation: The Arikara Story of Custer’s March to, and the Battle of, the Little Bighorn, part 3

Scouting forward and encountering the portents of a momentous battle to come: giant deserted camps with sun dance circles and sweat lodges, drawings in sand of dead men, drawings on hills of fighting bison, rocks painted red.
⁓The Voice before the Void

Into Annihilation: The Arikara Story of Custer’s March to, and the Battle of, the Little Bighorn

from The Arikara Narrative of the Campaign against the Hostile Dakotas, June, 1876

compiled from interviews conducted by the North Dakota State Historical Society with the aged Arikara scouts in 1912 at Fort Berthold Reservation

edited by O.G. Libby and The Voice before the Void

part 3

An interview with Custer as told by the Arikara scout named Soldier

Soldier and Bob-tailed Bull met Custer at his camp on the river bank, in his own tent, F.F. Gerard was interpreter. Custer said: “The man before me, Bob-tailed Bull, is a man of good heart, of good character. I am pleased to have him here. I am glad he has enlisted. It will be a hard expedition but we will all share the same hardships. I am very well pleased to have him in my party, and I told it at Washington. We are to live and fight together, children of one father and one mother. The great-grandfather has a plan. The Sioux camps have united and you and I must work together for the Great Father and help each other. The Great Father is well pleased that it took few words to coax Son-of-the-Star to furnish me scouts for this work we have to do and he is pleased, too, at his behavior in helping on the plan of the Great Father. I, for one, am willing to help in this all I can, and you must help too. It is this way, my brothers. If I should happen to lose any of the men Son-of-the-Star has furnished, their reward will not be forgotten by the government. Their relations will be saddened by their death but there will be some comfort in the pay that the United States government will provide.”

Bob-tailed Bull replied: “It is a good thing you say, my brother, my children and other relatives will receive my pay and other rewards. I am glad you say this for I see there is some gain even though I lose my life.”

Custer then said: “No more words need be said. Bob-tailed Bull is to be leader and Soldier second in command of the scouts.”

Clothing was issued to the two leaders, on Bob-tailed Bull’s sleeve there were three stripes, and on Soldier’s sleeve there were two. Custer called on Bob-tailed Bull to speak, and he said through Gerard, that he was not a man to change tribes all the time, that he was always an Arikara and respected their chiefs and had served under them gladly. He said: ”Yes, Long Hair, I am a member of the police and also chief, with one hand I hold the position of police among my people and with the other I hold the position of chief of the scouts. My brother, I am going to address you so, for you said we were brothers, I have had experience fighting the Sioux, and when we meet them we shall see each other’s bravery.”

Bloody Knife US Army cavalry Arikara scout 1873 Continue reading

“Ole and Lena” from Wikipedia

April Fools’ Day Special:
Oh, you know.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Ole and Lena”

Wikipedia

Ole and Lena (along with Sven and Helga and Lars) are central characters in jokes by Scandinavian Americans, particularly in the Upper Midwest region of the United States, particularly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota where Scandinavian immigrant traditions are common. The popularity of the jokes was enhanced by the numerous Ole and Lena joke books authored by Red Stangland.

Ole and Lena jokes can be long and drawn-out stories, or as short as two or three sentences. Ole and Lena are typically Norwegian, and Sven and his wife are Swedish.

One would not find Ole and Lena jokes in Sweden or Norway. Rather, they are an outgrowth of an immigrant experience. Language mistakes are a frequent source of Ole and Lena joke material. The characters of the jokes speak with the marring accent and fractured English of the recently arrived immigrant. Turning misunderstandings and mistakes into jokes enabled people to jest about their American immigrant experience.

The core of this folk humor may lie in the strongly egalitarian code that permeates the culture of the Nordic countries. Maybe.

Examples

Ole is on his deathbed. The doctor has told him he has only a few hours to live. Continue reading

“The Horror at Martin’s Beach” by H.P. Lovecraft and Sonia Greene

Summer Vacation Special:
Genuinely creepy, here is a story in which cosmic horror intrudes upon the leisure of the wealthy, and exploitation of the weak by the strong receives its poetic, horrific reward.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Horror at Martin’s Beach”

H.P. Lovecraft and Sonia Greene

I have never heard an even approximately adequate explanation of the horror at Martin’s Beach. Despite the large number of witnesses, no two accounts agree; and the testimony taken by local authorities contains the most amazing discrepancies.

Perhaps this haziness is natural in view of the unheard-of character of the horror itself, the almost paralytic terror of all who saw it, and the efforts made by the fashionable Wavecrest Inn to hush it up Continue reading

“The Enchanted Bluff” by Willa Cather

Of boys and dreams in a small town, Cather tells a masterful story rife with beauty and melancholy.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Enchanted Bluff”

Willa Cather

We had our swim before sundown, and while we were cooking our supper the oblique rays of light made a dazzling glare on the white sand about us. The translucent red ball itself sank behind the brown stretches of cornfield as we sat down to eat, and the warm layer of air that had rested over the water and our clean sand bar grew fresher and smelled of the rank ironweed and sunflowers growing on the flatter shore. The river was brown and sluggish, like any other of the half-dozen streams that water the Nebraska corn lands. On one shore was an irregular line of bald clay bluffs where a few scrub oaks with thick trunks and flat, twisted tops threw light shadows on the long grass. The western shore was low and level, with cornfields that stretched to the skyline, Continue reading