Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Indian Field III


            Jonah Graves spied himself in a broken piece of looking glass.  The image which gazed back at him was of a long faced man, not yet twenty, with ink-black eyes and blue-black hair, sitting atop his forehead high like an after thought.  His skin, tanned a leather brown from the plow and raking clams in the bay, sprouted soft tufts of down on his upper lip and chin, and was blemishless.   
         He could not be mistaken for anything but an Indian, and as a resident of the South Fork, as a Montaukett.  His nose was broad and squat, as if the aquiline proportions of his Algonquin nasal bones had been flattened by some unseen hand.  For Jonah Graves’ paternal grandfather, James Graves, had been a Negro from Free Town.  And there it sat, James Graves’s nose on the improbable visage of his grandson, although not another African feature could be detected on his Indian Field face.   
           James Graves had left Free Town when he was fourteen and circumnavigated the globe three times on a whaling vessel.  When he returned to Free Town, his body was ringed with golden tattoos, both ears were pierced and for the duration of his life he was a stranger to all the Negros of Freetown, who hardly had a recollection of him.  He fell for an Indian woman named Bess Jones, and they had thirteen children.  Only three reached the age of maturity, and Jonah’s father, Abraham Graves, married a women from Indian Field named Callie.   His two other brothers likewise married Indians.  All that was left of James Graves, that freewheeling Negro whaler, was a score of Indian decedents, each of whom wore a feature of his somewhere in the aggregate of their faces.
            Despite his Negro grandfather, Jonah Graves felt no justification to considered himself a half-breed of any sort.  He had just a tincture of Negro blood and he knew that hardly a man or woman in Indian Field could claim a blood line without by some admixture.
            The sun had set behind the line of scraggly pines and low dunes which ringed Indian Field.  The wind blew salty and stiff from the ocean side of the point.  Jonah fetched his rake and slinging it over his shoulder, took the path from Indian Field to the bay side of the Neck.

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