Sunday, July 30, 2017

Nine Yards of Other Cloth

But I knew she was Evadare. I’d fled from before her pretty face as never I’d fled from any living thing, not even evil spell-throwers nor murder-doers, nor either from my country’s enemies when I’d soldiered in foreign parts and seen battle as the Bible prophet-book tells it, confused noises and garments rolled in blood. Since dawn I’d run from Evadare like a rabbit from a fox, and still she followed, climbing now along the trail I’d tried not to leave, toward the smoke of the fire I’d built before I knew she was still coming. 

No getaway from her now, for night dropped on the world, and to climb higher would be to fall from some steep hidden place. I could wait where I was or I could head down and face her.


John is leaving Hosea's Hollow, pursued by Evadare, a pretty young woman who has been following him all day. Understanding that he is well and truly caught, John waits for her to catch up and reflects on how they met.

In Hosea's Hollow, during a party sprung up around a hog butchering, John is coaxed into playing songs for the celebration. A fiddler named Shull Cobart takes the next turn making melodies, and as this master plays, John wanders off and finds the old grave of Hosea Palmer, a man thought to have been taken by Kalu, a bone monster. He continues on the trail and finds a cabin. He stops by the river, only to be confronted by Evadare.

The petite blonde is ready to run John off, thinking he is Shull Cobart, but when she sees the silver-stringed guitar, Evadare grows friendlier. Cobart has tried to court her, but when she refused, he picked up the fiddle and grew scarier. Evadare fled into Hosea's Hollow to escape him.

Shull Cobart arrives soon after, using his fiddle to charm Evadare and John. Evadare, he would have for wife, while John will be sacrificed to Kalu in return for the fiddler's gift. But there are two types of power music, and John's silver-stringed guitar sings out against Shull's black fiddle.

Then Kalu comes to the cabin...


Gentlemen, don’t ask me to say too much what Kalu was. Bones, yes— something like man-bones, but bigger and thicker, also something like bear-bones, or big ape-bones from a foreign land. And a rotten light to them, so I saw for a moment that the bones weren’t empty. Inside the ribs were caged puffy things, like guts and lungs and maybe a heart that skipped and wiggled. The skull had a snout like I can’t say what, and in its eyeholes burned blue-green fire.

Most of the strangeness hidden in the hollows of the Silver John stories has been either evil or an amoral neutral ruinous to passersby. Despite Kalu's fearsome appearance, the creature was taught good by Hosea Palmer. Like Frankenstein's monster in the 1980s cartoon, Kalu fills the role of the protective monster, which makes him unique so far in the Silver John tales.


This is the fourth tale where a pretty woman is pursued by a witch man in the hopes of snaring her into evil. And, like the rest, John frees Evadare from this vile threat. Shull Cobart's magic is in his music, and echoes of Robert Johnson's crossroads encounter with the devil appear in Cobart's tale. Once again, John pits white against black, and is saved by supernatural intervention. Finally, he leaves before he has to break the woman's heart.

This time, the woman gives chase. And unlike the women who used feminine charm and black magic charms, Evadare catches her prey.
But she didn’t stand, she came on. And I knew who she was. And if I asked her to marry she wouldn’t answer no.  
The rest of that day I fled from her, not stopping to eat, only to grab mouthfuls of water from streams. And in the dusky last end of the day I sat quiet and watched her still coming, leaning on her stick for weariness, and knew I must go down trail to meet her.  
She was at the moment when she’d drop. She’d lost her ribbon, and the locks of her hair fell round her like a shadow. Her dress was torn, her face was white-tired, and the rocks had cut her shoes to pieces and the blood seeped out of her tom feet.  
She couldn’t even speak. She just sagged into my arms when I held them out to her.
In later stories, Evadare becomes John's wife. But from this point on, John now helps other couples draw closer to each other instead of freeing pretty girls from sinister suitors.


As seen before, Wellman uses actual songs in his stories. Here is one version of "Nine Yards of Other Cloth":

No comments:

Post a Comment