Collected by Karl T. Gosnell For Mary C. Parler
Sung by W. J. Green Ola, Arkansas November 20, 1958
Reel 273, Item 21
Bill Venaro heard them say In a frontier town one day,
There's a band of red-plumed warriors Upon the trail of death.
Heard them tell of murder done,
Three men killed at Rocky Run;
Oh, there's danger up at Crawford, Said Venaro under breath.
Crawford, thirty miles away,
In a settlement that lay
In a green and pleasant valley
In a bit of wilderness.
Half a score of homes were there,
And in one a maiden fair Dwelt the heart of Bill Venaro,
Bill Venaro's little Bess.
Oh, no wonder he grew pale When he heard the settler's tale Of the men they'd seen murdered Yesterday at Rocky Run.
You are going straight to death,
But he answered, Save your breath.
I may fail to reach Crawford,
But I'll do the best I can.
Sharp and keen,the rifle shot Broke the echo of the spot;
Oh, my Nell, I'm wounded,
Cried Venaro with a moan.
And the warm blood from his side Spurted out in arid tide,
And he trembled in the saddle And his lips were white with pain.
From his buckskin shirt he took With weak hands a little book;
And he tore blank leaf from it,
This, he says, will be my will.Bill Venaro (Cont'd)
Reel 273, Item 21 (Cont'd)
From a branch a twig he broke,
And he dipped his pen of oak In the warm blood that was dripping From the wound down below the heart.
'Round he wrote the port too late; Red-plumed warriors lie in wait. Good-bye, Bess, God bless you always. And he felt the warm tears start.
Then he made his message fast,
Love first letter and the last;
To the saddle horn he tied it,
Though his lips were white with pain.
There my message, too, said he,
Little Bess is safe and free;
Good-bye, Bess, God bless you always. And he felt the warm tears start.
He leaned down in the saddle And clutched the sweaty mane;
Just at dusk a horse of brown,
Flecked with foam came panting down To the settlement at Crawford,
And he stopped at Bessie's door.
Though the cowboy was asleep,
And his slumbers were so deep,
Little Bessie couldn't have waked him If she called forever more.
You have heard my story told,
By the young and by the old Of the settlement of Crawford,
The night the red-plumes came,
Of the dark and bloody fight,
How the chief fell in the night,
And the fear stricken warriors.
Now speak Venaro's name,
In a mightier reverent way,
As has been uttered. Let us pray,
As we seek the names of heroes And how they lived and died.
And his messages ...
And his face in heaven between,
Blooms the flowers that Bessie planted And they laid her by his side.
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