Monday, November 5, 2012

Indian Field VI


               Jonah was not seen in Indian Field for a month.  But he was spied in Sag Harbor, along its dark and narrow alleys, paved with the ballast from ships and painted every color mustered by God at Creation.  He was drunk and carrousing, drinking in Negro inns and Whaling taverns, where all the races of Sag Harbor, thrown together by the exigencies of wind and sea, comingled.                       
            Before he had largely refrained from the pleasures of the opposite sex, but now he bought women of easy virtue.  Before he had been without a fighting inclination, but in this incarnation he matched himself against the Samsons of Sag Harbor, as if he wished to mortify his flesh against the anvil of other men’s fists.  He often found himself bloodied and bruised in a ditch, staring up at dawn’s first light.
            But all he accomplished was to batter himself to the very gates of death.  Eventually, the old men of Indian Field sent some of the younger men to fetch Jonah Graves.  But after a day and a night of searching, they could not find the man.  Many a sailor said he was dead.  They told the Indians to search the salt marsh for his body.
            The Indians returned without Jonah Graves and sent Carver Simons to Sag Harbor, to see if the Negro could fetch him either dead or alive.  After a day’s search, Simons found him at night on the sandy trail which led away from the Denton family graveyard, a shovel in his hand,  a bulging sack slung over his shoulder.
            “What you done?  What you done, Jonah Graves?  Show me what you done.”
            “I redressed a wrong,” Jonah answered, his words slurred, his lips contorted and purple.  “Righted what was wronged.”
            The two men slunk back up the path and up the rise to the gate of the graveyard.  Eight graves were dug up, including that of Lincoln Denton, the progenitor of his clan on the South Fork who had received his right of lands and an island off the coast from King George himself. 
            “God Almighty, Jonah,” Carver Simons cried, stepping back from the open pits. “You gotta put’em back.  No, sweet Jesus, that won’t do.  Folk’ll see the graves have been churned up.  You gotta run away, Jonah.  Take a boat and head for New England.  You gotta get off the South Fork or they’re gonna swing you from a tree.”
            “No, I’m gonna lay these bones on Denton’s threshold.  Then I’m gonna dump’em in the bay.”
            “You aint!  You ain’t,” Simons gasped, grasping Jonah Graves by his shoulders.  The Indian reeked of whiskey.  His eyes were red as two swollen setting suns.
            “Get outta my way, Simons or I’ll put you in one of them primed holes.”
            “At least, at least, let’s go for a drink…” Simons stuttered, trying to slow the Indian down. “No matter what you do, drink with me now…”
            So Carver Simons took Jonah Graves to a tavern near the end of the wharf and fed him a bevy of drinks.  The Indian’s face turned from pale green to white, and then a livid red.  He tottered about muttering things in a language Simons couldn’t decipher.  The tavern was empty but for the owner, who made his living by keeping silent about the activities of his patrons, so Simons imagined he was safe.  He had stowed the bones under the wharf.   He waited for Jonah Graves to pass out.

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