|Montana cowboys, c1910|
These are from Francis Lynde’s The Grafters, William MacLeod Raine’s Wyoming, and Harry Leon Wilson’s The Lions of the Lord. Once again, I struck out on a few. If anyone has a definition for “send someone over the road,” “beat up the scenery,” “hill steer,” “bye-low land,” or “party call,” leave a comment below.
across the divide = long gone; gotten rid of. “Hadn’t been for her these boys would have been across the divide hours ago.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
|Balaam and the angel|
burn the wind = to ride fast, make haste. “No use buck-jumpin’ along to burn the wind while they drill streaks of light through us.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
caplock = a muzzle-loading firearm, using a small metal percussion cap, which is struck by the hammer, creating a flash which ignites powder. “If the gun was a caplock, the cap was to be taken off and a piece of leather put on to exclude moisture and dirt.” Harry Leon Wilson, The Lions of the Lord.
|Berdan Sharps rifle|
cipher = to calculate, think out. “Glad to hear of it. I’ll cipher out somehow to be there.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
crown sheet = the upper sheet and hottest part of the inner firebox on a locomotive boiler. “There is about one chance in a thousand that Callahan’s crown-sheet won’t get red-hot and crumple up on him in the last twenty miles.” Francis Lynde, The Grafters.
diamond hitch = a kind of knot used to fasten one thing temporarily to another; a common method of roping a pack on an animal. “I’ve a notion those boys are sufferin’ for a woman to put the diamond-hitch on them bandages.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
drop light = a portable gas lamp attached to the gas pipe by a flexible tube; an electric light suspended from the ceiling. “The judge pressed the button of the drop-light and waved his visitor to a chair.” Francis Lynde, The Grafters.
dumping bar = a device for removing ash and clinker from the fire grate of a locomotive steam engine. “While they wrestle with the dumping-bar, these two, the poising figures have swarmed upon the Naught-seven, and a voice is lifted above the Babel of others in sharp protest.” Francis Lynde, The Grafters.
dust cutter = an alcoholic drink. “The ball’s about to open. Pardners for a waltz. Have a dust-cutter, Mac, before she grows warm.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
Dutch courage = false bravery, fortified by alcohol. “This assurance lent an added braggadocio to the Dutch courage of the lynchers.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
flapper = the arm, hand. “Y’u see, I get him in the flapper without spoiling him complete.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
flintlock = a muzzle-loading firearm, using flint and steel to create a shower of sparks, which ignites the powder. “If a flintlock, the filling was to be taken out and the pan filled with tow or cotton.” Harry Leon Wilson, The Lions of the Lord.
for fair = completely, absolutely, altogether. “The way y’u straddle them high notes is a caution for fair.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
French Fours = a country dance. “There were French Fours, Copenhagen jigs, Virginia reels,—spirited figures blithely stepped.” Harry Leon Wilson, The Lions of the Lord.
go to grass = a dismissive exclamation demanding that someone leave or suggesting that they are talking nonsense. “Y’u go to grass, Mac. I don’t aim to ask y’u to be my valley yet awhile.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
go to Halifax = a mild oath for “go to hell.” “‘Y’u go to Halifax,’ returned Mac genially over his shoulder as he loped away.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
jarred up = shaken, surprised. “I reckon I never did get jarred up so. It’s plumb discouraging.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
|J. M. Barrie, 1901|
lo-the-poor-Indian = a reference to 18th century English poet Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man: “Lo! The poor Indian, whose untutored mind sees God in the clouds, or hears him in the wind.” “Denver, I’ll take care of these beauties while y’u step into the pantry with Mrs. Lo-the-poor-Indian and put up a lunch.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
mast = the fruit of beech, oak, chestnut, and other forest trees, used as food for pigs and wild animals. “We lived on mast and corn, the winter, in tents and a few dugouts and rickety huts.” Harry Leon Wilson, The Lions of the Lord.
nooning = making a noon stop for camp, to unharness and rest draft animals, cook a meal, and move on. “Their nooning was at a running stream called Smith’s Creek.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
parole = a person’s word of honor. “He gave me his parole to go with me whenever I said the word. I’m saying it now.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
|Woman with reticule|
pure = an excellent, first-class person or thing. “He’s ce’tainly a pure when it comes to riding.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
reticule = a woman’s small handbag, with a drawstring. “At the gate was Prudence Corson, gowned for travel, reticule in hand.” Harry Leon Wilson, The Lions of the Lord.
ropewalk = a long straight narrow lane, or a covered pathway, where long strands of material were laid before being twisted into rope. “He passed an empty ropewalk, the hemp strewn untidily about, as if the workers had left hurriedly.” Harry Leon Wilson, The Lions of the Lord.
Sherry, Louis = a New York restaurateur (1855-1926), whose first restaurant opened c1880 and became popular with the social elite. “Ah, Sherry’s! That’s since my time. I don’t suppose I should know my way about in little old New York now.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
|Snag boat, Missouri River, 1912|
surcingle = a wide strap that runs over the back and under the belly of a horse, used to keep a blanket or other equipment in place. “Whyfor should I care what y’u say? I guess this outfit ain’t got no surcingle on me.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
sweep = an unpleasant person. “I ain’t saying that I love you, because I’m a sweep and it’s just likely I don’t know passion from love.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
|Pack horse with surcingle|
that’s whatever = an emphatic expression of agreement with a preceding comment. “‘Soon as we reach the end of the street we better cut across that hayfield,’ suggested Ned. ‘That’s whatever.’” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
think tank = the brain. “I’ll show them smart boys at the Lazy D I don’t have to take the dust of any of the bunch when it comes to using my think tank.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
thumb = to jab a horse with the thumbs to provoke bucking. “When the man from Shoshone country mounted, his steed was too jaded to attempt resistance. ‘Thumb him! Thumb him!’ the audience cried.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
tow = the coarse and broken part of flax or hemp prepared for spinning. “If a flintlock, the filling was to be taken out and the pan filled with tow or cotton.” Harry Leon Wilson, The Lions of the Lord.
waddy = a rustler, or cowboy. “Along with it went a recital of the crimes he had committed. How he was a noted ‘waddy,’ or cattle-rustler.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
Wind River Bible = a catalogue of one of the big Chicago department stores doing a large shipping business in the West. “I see him studying a Wind River Bible yesterday. Curious how in the spring a young man’s fancy gits to wandering on house furnishing.” William MacLeod Raine, Wyoming.
Coming up: Nevada Smith (1966)