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Cajuns in Louisiana

Cajun Tales of the
Louisiana Bayous


The Widow Maker Boots

This is a story of a pair of hip boots. I first heard it in the Bayou Country of south Louisiana, but have heard versions of it in Texas and Arkansas, with particulars applicable to each locale.
There was a pretty Cajun girl that married her girl-hood sweetheart. They lived on the bayou and were very happy. He built a nice little cottage with a wharf where he tied his boat. He was a trapper and hunter and their table was always well supplied.

One day the trapper came home and was very sick. He asked his wife to help undress and before she could put him to bed he was dead. The cause of death was not known. There were not many doctors around in the bayou country and, when a man was dead, what use was there for a doctor?

A few months passes by and the pretty widow's loneliness was more than she could bear. So, she married another young man of the community - also a hunter and trapper. She was good to him and they were happy.

One day her young husband went hunting. He left early in the morning and when nightfall came, he had not returned. All night wife waited, but in vain. The next day his body was found. He had died in his boat where it had drifted into a clump of cypress trees.

After the Funeral

After the funeral the lonely widow waited in mourning for several months. Again she was courted and won by a local young man. Again she had a happy marriage, at least from all outward appearances.

The new husband (the third one) left to go hunting bullfrogs one night with a friend. They had been walking the fringe of a swampy old lake with their boo-lies (headlights) for only a few minutes when he complained of feeling bad. Soon he was unconscious. By the time that his friend brought him home, he was dead.

The pretty widow pined away in her little cabin. She was alone and the long days and nights alone were more than she could bear. All she had was her cat, and his company was far from enough for her.

This time she fell in love with a Yankee - that's what they called him, because he was from up north. He was from Shreveport. That is even further north than Alexandria. He was a Yankee, for sure. This man was a drummer. (A drummer is a grocery wholesaler who traveled around and sold goods to grocery stores. They were considered wise, because in their travels they learned many things.)

She married the drummer and their happiness was apparently complete. He neither hunted nor fished and spent as much time with his pretty Cajun wife as he could.

A hurricane came in from the Gulf of Mexico. Water rose higher and higher in the bayou until it covered the highest part of the yard with over a foot of water. The winds were furious, scattering debris everywhere. Several houses were destroyed. The well built house of the pretty Cajun wife stood strong.

After the storm the drummer went out in the muddy yard to clean up. But, before he had time to do very much, he took sick and like the others before him, he died.

By now there was a lot of gossip about the pretty widow. Some even said she poisoned her husbands. Others said she was a voodoo queen and cast spells on them. No one visited her anymore. The little children gave her cabin a wide berth. Only her cat stayed to keep her company and she was very lonesome.

The Young men of the Community

The young men of the community could not help casting covetuous glances at her. She was such a pretty woman, and the air of mystery that surrounded here and her cottage lured the most daring to make visits. These brave rakes were soundly rebuffed. It was true, she had many husbands - and all of them had died - but that did not make her a loose woman. However, she really had no problem with the young men of the community. Their families would so strongly dissuade them that they soon ceased to pay the pretty widow any attention.

One day a tall Yankee from up north came to live in the little fishing village. He was from Monroe, La. He was an older man, a retired army sergeant. When he saw the widow he was drawn to her like so many before him. Soon he came to court. The widow's reluctance to accept another swain was soon overcome by the sergeant's ardor. Also, he had not family to dissuade him.

He was a cautious man. He had worked with the doctors, it was said, and was a smart man, too. He asked many questions. Especially about the circumstances surrounding the demises of his predecessors.

His questioning led to the forming of a pattern in the manner of death of the husbands of his intended. Each man had died with a pair of rubber boots on. And it was the same pair of boots. He asked the widow to examine them.

Soon he found a fang, a rattlesnake fang, imbedded just above the heel of one of the boots. It was obvious that all the wearers had died from the poison of the rattlesnake fang.

The boots were burned and soon the new suitor was married to the Cajun widow. They lived a long, happy life. He clerked in the store and it was said that he never went hunting, trapping or fishing. He stayed home with his Cajun wife and their cat.

Cajun Tales of the Louisiana Bayous
by Ray Robinson
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