The Robber Bridegroom

La novela de Eudora Welty, The Robber Bridegroom, fue publicada en 1942 y está conectada a los cuentos folklóricos de los hermanos Grimm.

IT WAS the close of day when a boat touched Rodney's Landing on the Mississippi River and Clement Musgrove, an innocent planter, with a bag of gold and many presents, disembarked. He had made the voyage from New Orleans in safety, his tobacco had been sold for a fair price to the King's men. In Rodney he had a horse stabled against his return, and he meant to spend the night there at an inn, for the way home through the wilderness was beset with dangers.
As his foot touched shore, the sun sank into the river the color of blood, and at once a wind sprang up and covered the sky with black, yellow, and green clouds the size of whales, which moved across the face of the moon. The river was covered with foam, and against the landing the boats strained in the waves and strained again. River and bluff gave off alike a leaf-green light, and from the water's edge the red torches lining the Landing-under-the-Hill and climbing the bluff to the town stirred and blew to the left and right. There were sounds of rushing and flying, from the flourish of carriages hurrying through the streets after dark, from the bellowing throats of the flatboatmen, and from the wilderness itself, which lifted and drew itself in the wind, and pressed its savage breath even closer to the little galleries of Rodney, and caused a bell to turn over in one of the steeples, and shook the fort and dropped a tree over the racetrack.

Holding his bag of gold tight in his hand, Clement made for the first inn he saw under the hill. It was all lighted up and full of the sounds of singing. Clement entered and went straight to the landlord and inquired, "Have you a bed for the night, where I will not be disturbed till morning?
"Aye" replied the landlord, who brushed at a long mustache an Englishman.
"But where have you left your right ear?" said Clement, pointing to the vacancy. Like all innocent men, he was proud of having one thing in the world he could be sharp about.
And the landlord was forced to admit that he had left the ear pinned to a market cross in Kentucky, for the horse stealing he did. Clement turned and went on up the road, and the storm was worse. He asked at the next inn, which was equally glittering and bright, indeed he could not distinguish them in his memory from one year's end to the next, if he might be accommodated for the night.
"Aye" said the landlord, showing his front teeth all of gold.
"But where have you left your left ear?" Clement asked, and he had that man too. The fellow said it had been clipped away in Nashville for the sad trouble he got into after the cockfights.
On he went, the rain worse all the time, until it sounded like the quarreling of wildcats in the cane, and at last, at the very top of the hill, he found an inn where he was able to pronounce the landlord honest.
"Since you appear to be a scrupulous man," he said, "I would like to engage of you a bed for the night, with supper and breakfast, if not too dear."
"To be sure," replied the landlord, the very image of a hare, whose large ears were easily set a-trembling. "But, sir, this is a popular house, if I may say so. You may have one bedfellow, on even two, before the night is over."
At that very moment there came a loud gust of laughter from the grogshop at the side "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"But it is early yet" the landlord said, his ears beginning to quiver nonetheless. "If you go up at once, you will be able to take first choice of place in the bed."
Clement stopped only to eat a supper of beefsteak, eggs, bacon, turkey joints, johnnycake, pickled peaches, plum pie, and a bowl of grog before saying good night to him.
"Pleasant dreams!" the landlord said, and the traveler went up the winding stair.
Clement was the first man to the room. The storm was unabated, the wind was shaking the house like a cat a mouse. The rain had turned to hail. First he hid his moneybag under that end of the pillow which was nearest the door, and then he sat down to take off his boots before getting into bed, such being the rule of the house. But before he got his first boot off, in walked a second traveler.
This was a brawny man six and a half feet high, with a blue coat, red shirt, and turkey feather stuck in his cap, and he held a raven on his finger which never blinked an eye, and could say,
"Turn hack., my liowny, Turn away home."
"Ah, stranger," said this fellow to Clement, striding up. 'It's been a long time since we slept together'
"So it has' said Clement.
"Have you got the same old smell you had before?" asked the stranger, and Clement did not say no.
"Are you just as lousy as ever?" he roared, and Clement said he was.
"Then shake hands!"
Before Clement could get the second boot off, the third traveler walked in.
He was as brawny as the other, though but six feet tall, and dressed up like a New Orleans dandy, with his short coat knotted about him cape wise. But for some reason he wore no hat, and his heavy yellow locks hung over his forehead and down to his shoulders.
"Ah, stranger' said he to the second traveler.
"Crowded days! It's been a long time since our heads were side by side on the pillow'
"Long as forever!'' sang out the other.
Then Clement knew they were all three strangers to one another, with the stormy night ahead… (Paragraphs from The Robber Bridegroom, by Eudora Welty)

Grogshop: a usually low-class barroom.
Johnnycake: is a cornmeal flatbread. The food originates from the native inhabitants of North America. It is still eaten in the West Indies, Dominican Republic, Saint Croix, Bahamas, Colombia, and Bermuda as well as in the United States. Johnnycakes are an unleavened cornbread made of cornmeal, salt, and water. Early cooks set thick corn dough on a wooden board or barrel stave, which they leaned on a piece of wood or a rock in front of an open fire to bake
Grog is any of a variety of alcoholic beverages. The word originally referred to a drink made with water and rum, which British Vice Admiral Edward Vernon introduced into the naval squadron he commanded in the West Indies on 21 August 1740.

The Robber Bridegroom, from Wikipedia.