Old Polka Dot's Daughter by Edgar Wilson Bill Nye
I once decided to visit an acquaintance who had named his country
place The Elms. I went partly to punish him because his invitation
was so evidently hollow and insincere.
He had The Elms worked on his clothes, and embossed on his
stationery and blown in his glass, and it pained him to eat his food
from table linen that didn't have The Elms emblazoned on it. He told
me to come and surprise him any time, and shoot in his preserves, and
stay until business compelled me to return to town again. He had no
doubt heard that I never surprise any one, and never go away from home
very much, and so thought it would be safe. Therefore I went. I went
just to teach him a valuable lesson. When I go to visit a man for a
week, he is certainly thenceforth going to be a better man, or else
punishment is of no avail and the chastening rod entirely useless in
The Elms was a misnomer. It should have been called The Shagbark
or The Doodle Bug's Lair. It was supposed to mean a wide sweep of
meadow, a vine covered lodge, a broad velvet lawn, and a carriage way,
where the drowsy locust, in the sensuous shadow of magnanimous elms,
gnawed a file at intervals through the day, while back of all this the
mossy and gray-whiskered front and corrugated brow of the venerable
architectural pile stood off and admired itself in the deep and glassy
pool at its base.
In the first place none of the yeomanry for eight miles around knew
that he called his old malarial tank The Elms, so it was hard to
find. But when I described the looks of the lord of The Elms they wink
at each other and wagged their heads and said, Oh, yes, we know him,
also interjecting well known one syllable words that are not euphonious
enough to print.
[Illustration: ... His old look of apprehensive cordiality did
not leave him until he had seen me climb on a load of hay with my trunk
and start for home (Page 15)]
When I got there he was down cellar sprouting potatoes, and his wife
was hanging out upon the clothes line a pair of gathered summer
trousers that evidently were made for a man who had been badly mangled
in a saw-mill.
The Elms was not even picturesque, and the preserves were out of
order. I was received with the same cordiality which you detect on the
face of any other kind of detected liar. He wanted to be regarded as a
remarkable host and landed proprietor, without being really hospitable.
I remained there at The Elms a few days, rubbing rock salt and Cayenne
pepper into the wounds of my host, and suggesting different names for
his home, such as The Tom Tit's Eyrie, The Weeping Willow, The
Crook Neck Squash and The Muskrat's Retreat. Then I came away. His
old look of apprehensive cordiality did not leave him until he had seen
me climb on a load of hay with my trunk and start for home.
During my brief sojourn I noticed that the surrounding country was
full of people, and I presume there was a larger population of
boarders, as we were called indiscriminately, than ever before. The
number of available points to which the victims of humidity and poor
plumbing may retreat in summer time is constantly on the increase,
while, so far as I know, all the private and public boarding places are
filled to their utmost capacity. Everywhere, the gaudy boarder in
flannels and ecru shoes looms upon the green lawn or the brown dirt
road, or scales the mountain one day and stays in bed the following
week, rubbing James B. Pond's Extract on his swollen joints.
I scaled Mount Utsa-yantha in company with others. We picked out a
nice hot day, and, selecting the most erect wall of the mountain,
facing west, we scaled it in such a way that it will not have to be
done again till new scales grow on it.
Mount Utsa-yantha is 3,365 feet above sea level, and has a brow
which reminds me of mine. It is broad, massive and bleak. The foot of
the mountain is more massive, however. From the top of the mountain one
gets, with a good glass, a view of six or seven states, I was told.
Possibly there were that many in sight, though at that season of the
year states look so much alike that it takes an expert to pick them out
readily. When states are moulting, it is all I can do to tell Vermont
from Massachusetts. On this mountain one gets a nice view and highly
exhilarating birch beer.
Albany can be distinctly seen with a glassa field glass, I mean,
not a glass of birch beer. Some claim that the nub of a political boom
may be seen protruding from the Capitol with the nude vision. Others
say they can see the Green mountains, and as far south as the eye can
reach. We took two hours and a half for the ascent of the mountain, and
came down in about twenty minutes. We descended ungracefullythe way
the Irishman claimed that the toad walked, viz.: git up and sit down.
Mount Utsa-yanthaI use the accepted orthography as found in the
Blackhawk dictionaryhas a legend also. Many centuries ago this
beautiful valley was infested by the red brother and his bronze
progeny. Where now the red and blue blazer goes shimmering through the
swaying maples, and the girl with her other dress on and her straw
colored canvas cinch knocketh the croquet ball galley west, once there
dwelt an old chief whom we will call Polka Dot, the pride of his
people. He looked somewhat like William Maxwell Evarts, but was a
heavier set man. Places where old Polka Dot sat down and accumulated
rest for himself are still shown to city people whose faith was not
overworked while young.
Old Polka Dot was a firm man, with double teeth all around, and his
prowess got into the personal columns of the papers every little while.
He had a daughter named Utsa-yantha, which means a messenger sent
hastily for treasure, so I am told, or possibly old Polka Dot meant to
imply one sent off for cash.
Anyhow Utsa-yantha grew to be quite comely, as Indian women go. I
never yet saw one that couldn't stop an ordinary planet by looking at
it steadily for two minutes. She dressed simply, wearing the same
clothes while tooling cross-country before breakfast that she wore at
the scalp dance the evening before. In summer time she shellacked
herself and visited the poor. Taking a little box of water colors in a
shawl strap, so that she could change her clothes whenever she felt
like it, she would go away and be gone for a fortnight at a time,
visiting the ultra fashionable people of her tribe.
Finally a white man penetrated this region. He did it by asking a
brakeman on the West Shore road how to get here and then doing
differently. In that way he had no trouble at all. He saw Utsa-yantha
and loved her almost instantly. She was skinning a muskrat at the time,
and he could not but admire her deftness and skill. From that moment he
was not able to drive her image from his heart. He sought her again and
again to tell her of his passion, but she would jump the fence and flee
like a frightened fawn with a split stick on its tail, if such a
comparison may be permitted. At last he won her, and married her
quietly in his working clothes. The nearest justice of the peace was
then in England, and so rather than wait he was married informally to
Utsa-yantha, and she went home very much impressed indeed. That fall a
little russet baby came to bless their union. The blessing was all he
had with him when he arrived.
Then the old chief Polka Dot arose in his wrath, to which he added a
pair of moose hide moccasins, and he upbraided his daughter for her
conduct. He upbraided her with a piazza pole from his wigwam. He was
very much agitated. So was the pole.
Then he cursed her for being the mother of a 1/2 breed child, and
stalking 1/4 he slew the white man by cutting open his trunk and
disarranging his most valuable possessions. He then wiped the stab
knife on his tossing mane, and grabbing his grandson by his swaddling
clothes he hurled the surprised little stranger into Lake Utsa-yantha.
By pouring another pailful of water into the lake the child was
Then the widowed and childless Utsa-yantha came forth as night
settled down upon the beautiful valley and the day died peacefully on
the mountain tops. Her eyes were red with weeping and her breath was
punctuated with sobs. Putting on a pair of high rubber boots she waded
out into the middle of the lake, where there is quite a deep place, and
When the old man found the body of his daughter he was considerably
mortified. He took her to the top of the mountain and buried her there,
and ever afterward, it is said, whenever any one spoke of the death of
his daughter and her family, he would color up and change the subject.
This should teach us never to kill a son-in-law without getting his