|Montana cowboys, c1910|
These are from novels by Mary Austin and Roger Pocock, about a caballero in Old California and a cowboy who befriends an English lord ranching in Arizona. Once again I struck out on a few. If anybody knows the meaning of “rim-fire cigar,” “baby troubles,” or “glue-glue harp,” leave a comment.
boss = a round, swelling, knob-like part or body (cf. emboss). “The trail went sidling on the flanks of the hills, and at each upward turn flung them a wider arc of boss and hollow.” Mary Austin, Isidro.
charro = Mexican cowboy. “So while they trotted slow Jim stained his hide all black like a greaser vaquero, then slung on the charro clothes of a poor Mexican cowboy.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
deadfall = a trap with a weight that falls on the prey. “My house is like a deadfall trap. Indeed—ah, yes, only one door, you see.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
drawn thread work = a form of embroidery based on removing threads from a piece of fabric, the remaining threads grouped or bundled together into a variety of patterns. “She was the repository of all possible patterns and combinations for the drawn-thread work which occupied the leisure of that time.” Mary Austin, Isidro.
flirt = to fling. “When my boys found out that there was going to be trouble in town they surely flirted gravel for fear of arriving too late.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
heliograph = solar telegraph that signals using Morse code flashes of sunlight reflected by a mirror. “The thing was a heliograph making talk, as it supposed, to the preacher, and Jim watched harder than ever.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
hurroar = cheer, hurrah, outcry. “It made me laugh to think what a big hurroar there would be presently when the news got wind of that train being held up by robbers.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
lashings = lots, an abundance. “Jim squatted down on the doorstep for a feed of pork and beans, with lashings of coffee.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
mahala = a slang word for an Indian woman in 1800's California, from a mispronunciation of the Spanish word mujer. “Here are no wives, unless you have a fancy yourself for turning mahala, as seems likely.” Mary Austin, Isidro. [Thanks to www.native-languages.org]
mattock = a long-handled tool used for digging and chopping, similar to the pickaxe. “He tried the lock with his stone, tried the wood with his knife, fumbling and hurried; bethought himself at last to stumble about the dark and filthy corners of the room for a mattock.” Mary Austin, Isidro.
mosquito bar = a net to keep out mosquitoes. “Curly came tumbling through the mosquito bar in the window.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
palace car = Pullman railroad car. “Where’s your palace car? Have you sunk so low as to come in a mere cab?” Roger Pocock, Curly.
pie foundry = an eating place. “At the Delmonico pie foundry he let out that he craved for sausages, mashed potatoes, and green tea.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
|Kitchen at Delmonico's, 1902|
roller = a thief, especially one whose victims are drugged, sleeping, or drunk. “There was the Alabama Kid, and beside him Shorty Broach, stage robber and thug, Beef Jones, the horse-thief, Gas, a tin-horn crook, Thimble-Rig Phipps, and two or three other sure-thing gamblers, rollers, and thugs.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
sky scout = a parson. “He was dressed all in black, a sky-scout of sorts, but dusty and making signs as though he couldn’t shout for thirst.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
|Man in knee breeches|
smallclothes = men’s close-fitting knee breeches. “His ruffles were all of very fine needlework, his smallclothes of Genoese velvet, his jacket ropy with precious embroidery.” Mary Austin, Isidro.
stifle = on a horse, the joint at the junction of the hind leg and the body. “He was last seen on or about May 5th, at Clay Flat, in the Painted Desert, with a flea-bitten grey gelding branded x on the near stifle.” Roger Pocock, Curly.
withe = a slender, flexible branch or twig, used for basket making. “Saco rolled stones across the mouth of it and made a little cross of withes.” Mary Austin, Isidro.
Letters, drawings from Mary Austin's Isidro, and Frederic Remington
All others, Wikimedia Commons
Coming up: Roger Pocock, Curly: A Tale of the Arizona Desert (1905)