Anabella’s Hat…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 



About forty-years ago, maybe more, an old Basque sheep herder came to me wanting to sell an awkward looking Alibates arrowhead. It was worth about five bucks so when he said he wanted fifteen, I bought it. I couldn’t guess how old the man was but his face looked like he’d slept on it for a long time.
“Where’d you find that point,” I asked.
“I donno, wherever I went, there I was,” or words similar.

He had a fun way so we sat down. He pulled a folded half-sheet of newspaper from his back pocket, tore off a small square and rolled a cigarette. The “tobacco”, looked like cedar bark. Then, to my amazement, he struck an iron strike-a-light against a piece of flint, which caused a spark that lit his smoke. And he did it with one hand. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I have a collection of fire starters and have used them at mountain man rendezvous, but would never have thought what he did was possible.


Each time this strike-a-light struck the sharp edge of a flint it removed a red hot fliver of steel that fell upon tinder and started a fire.

Several cigarettes later the sheep herder rested his hat on the bench next to me. I picked it up. It was homemade from very thick, hand tanned hide, probably buffalo, and was maybe a hundred years old. He could see I liked it, and smiled to reveal an interesting tooth-lacking dental pattern.


Anabella’s Hat

“It’ll break a fall,” he grinned, and pointed to the bullet hole near the hat’s forehead. “Got that one moonlit night when Anabella’s husband showed up unexpectedly. Unreasonable man, he was,” and the sheep man’s expression said that it was a proud failing. It didn’t take much for me to know that both the hat and the Basque had been molded in rude elements.

“How much you want for this old beat up hat,” I asked.
“No, No, with its history of saving my life a million dollars wouldn’t buy that thing.”
“I’ll give you three hundred bucks?”
“My God, sir, you sure bought a great hat.”

44 thoughts on “Anabella’s Hat…

    • Margie – Story even more “Forresty” by using a word that he made up… “fliver” does not exist. Flivver does, but means an old, cheap automobile. Do you think he mean “sliver” of steel?

      BTW Mr. Fenn, if this was just a typo, forgive me as I don’t wish to correct you. Only trying to figure out what a fliver was. New one to me.

  1. This story strikes a cord with me. I may just trade you that silver and turquoise for it sir.

    • Navy, if this story strikes a chord, you might enjoy the last poem of Edgar Allen Poe, Annabel Lee. It’s lengthy so I’ll post it on the poetry page for your enjoyment.

  2. That old Basque sure knew how to bargain! Maybe he could find the treasure or at least convince you to disclose the secret!! Ha

  3. I’m sure every piece in F’s collection has a great story behind it. I like this one!

  4. It’s amazing how one mans treasure can just be junk to someone else. And how a simple item can have great value in it’s moment. I find that good tools can be invaluable and that’s what many artifacts are. Sometimes you make do with what you find but its always good to be prepared… love the story (what’s a life worth?) 🙂

  5. I would love to have a chance to just sit around a campfire and listen to all of your adventure tales Forrest. As I read these my mind flashes pictures of people places and things you speak of. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures.

  6. I learn something every time I read one of these stories! And generally more than one something. Today I learned about strike-a-lights and wily old Basques. 🙂 Thanks for the lessons!

  7. 😀 you just made my IBC root beer shoot out my nose with that last line ! Ha!

  8. Forrest, I like many others have gratitude for the stories and knowledge you have led us to. I came hear seeking a treasure of gold to make my life and other lives easier and more secure and what I have gotten from you is WAY more than that. You have shown each of us the importance of the little things and how simple life should really be. I want to thank you sir.

  9. Similar words- “No matter where you go, there you are.” Buckaroo Banzai. All of the good aliens in the movie were named John. Does anyone remember this?

  10. ok, may regret giving this away, but Mr Fenn ask a question.

    “Where’d you find that point,”

    i believe if this is a hint offered up in a well depicted slow life short. ty sir for the sharing on both accounts.

    i have my pointand will press fwd soon to that special place, what a view it must have been for a native thousands of years ago.

    • Navy, there are some amazing views – places in Wyo & Mt where sheep herders roamed in old na hunting grounds many years ago. Often the cattlemen were put out because sheep had been introduced in their grazing/range lands. You may be onto something;)

      • Navy, f’s phrase “I donno, wherever I went, there I was,” or words similar. Is also curious…no?

    • Hi Navy,
      IMO…Mr f also is pointing to a place (area) and time. The time period may have something to do with the blaze and heavy loads…or either I have not had enough coffee this morning 🙂

    • a point is something one comes to in life. have you ever come to a point, do you remember it, i sure do. it is most likely ff came to a point in life as well where he realized as we all do when coming to that point in life. do you remember where you were when you came to that point, right there. the where and there is where you will find the answers and the chest, presiding someone else didn’t come to that point between you and ff doing so. But then again, i dunno there is much time that has passed between there and where.

  11. Thank you for these vibrant stories Forrest!

    I love looking at the strike-a-light…it’s beautiful. (Not to leave all the others out of course) As many folks have expressed, I relished looking for arrowheads as a kid too. Although I never found one, I remember holding one in my hands, examining it closely with the intrigue and fascination of knowing someone else a long time ago held and created it with their own hands. It’s definitely mind candy wondering about the stories behind these objects…lol. Your arrowhead is gorgeous, love the layers of texture, color and depth – gives it so much character.

  12. Dal,
    In reading Anabella’s Hat again, I found that a “donno” is a talking-drum. Is Forrest our griot?

  13. What a great story Forrest! It still amazes me how you are able to incorporate so many wonderful items that you’ve collected into stories that entertain and “educate” searchers.

  14. Do ya still wanna buy my traveling chair hehehe I’ll even sign it for ya across from your name How can ya say no to that

  15. The shape of that strike-a-light kinda reminds me of (at least part of) a search trip path, IMO.

  16. As we age and pass through time,
    tis good to sit an unwind.
    neath the stars flicker or shine.

    Crackling fire as it burns, a story is woven for all to hear.
    Hidden hints as clear as mud, nonetheless many still seek.
    That which was hidden sometime ago.

    As always Forrest you have a way to captivate ones mind and lead it into
    a land of imagination.

    Thank you.


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