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by LEMON SQUEEZER, SAN SABA, TEXAS 1900
PART TWO OF TWO PARTS

 

           

           

 

 

The fire had rapidly gained on them until but a hundred yards divided men from fire.  With quirt and spurs every man was urging his pony to do his best.

Just now Big Sam’s pony stepped into a hole in the ground and over he went, Big Sam landing lightly on his feet by the side of his horse.  He urged his pony to rise but to no avail; the poor beast only groaned.  Ben Davis drew rein, wheeled close up beside Big Sam.  Quick as thought the latter sprang up behind Davis and again they were flying for their lives.  Only a moment was lost but their companions had go some yards ahead.

Davis’ horse already will nigh exhausted soon began to show such signs of distress under his double load that both men saw that it would be impossible for them to reach the Big Pond.  Big Sam wanted Davis to leave him and save his own life but this Davis would  not agree to, but told Sam to jump to the ground, catch his saddle strings or his horses’ tail with one hand and to hold on and that they would either both get away together or die together.

            Now the smoke and heat was so thick and intense that breathing was a burden.  By tying their big red handkerchiefs over their mouths and noses they managed to breathe a little.  Their companions were perhaps two hundred yards in advance of them.

            “My God! But must we be burnt to death?”  Came out of the lips of Big Sam.

“Never give up, old man,” and Ben Davis gritted his teeth and cruelly dug his spurs into his poor jaded pony.

            “God, but I can’t stand it but a mightily little longer!”

            The pony stumbled, recovered himself, stumbled again and fell, gasped and rolled over dead.  The two men fell down upon the ground flat with their faces to the earth.  On came that sea of fire, men and horse are left behind a charred and blackened heap.  Six men are left now racing for their livers.  See, there’s the Pond only a quarter of a mile away!  Can they hold out two minutes – one minute longer?

            Yes, thank God, the Pond at last!  And they rush into the water belly deep to their exhausted ponies.

            The mad fire stopped only at the water’s edge, parted and went round either side of the pond and still madly races onward.

            Stiff and sore from their recent exertions but somewhat renewed in the physical, man and beast, our frontiersmen bent their way towards Rose’s Mill the next morning.

            By the middle of the forenoon they reached Rose’s Mill, and here they learned that the Indians two nights before had left almost everybody a foot, stealing nearly every horse in the settlement.  Captain Hambric and his small ban of rangers had set out after the red rascals that very morning.  The Indians were on their way back to their homes and were moving with the speed of the winds.

            It had been John Tod’s intention to secure fresh horses in the vicinity of Rose’s Mill and to continue and chase but now there were no horses and his own were too much jaded to think of ever overtaking a band of red skins mounted on fresh horses.

            Kind friends prevailed upon Tod and men to remain a couple of days at Rose’s Mill and rest up their horses.

            The next morning at four o’clock the people of Rose’s Mill were startled by the cry of a woman begging relief.  Two large bull dogs belonging to the Mill had set upon her, but she had contrived to escape their fangs and was standing on the top round of an old ladder leaning against a tree for the chickens to climb to roost upon.

            Mrs. Hutchinson was in a pitiable plight indeed; barefooted, her feet cut and bleeding for the sharp stones, her scant clothing was torn into shreds.  Her face was haggard and her eyes had that restless frightened look of a poor hunted animal.  When taken into the house she cried and laughed by turns, then shivered as from an ague, and at last swooned.  Kind hands attended her and was at last put to sleep in a nice bed.  At ten o’clock Mrs. Hutchinson awoke, took food and related this story:

            “Six months ago the Indians made a rain through Mason county killing and driving away stock, burning houses, killing men and children and taking us poor women captives.  God knows we would much rather have been killed!  After being captured I was tied on the back of a wild pony and the pony was led by an Indian all night and we must had traveled all night and we mush have traveled seventy or eight miles to the west and camped at daylight at a big spring where were many other camps.  No doubt this was Kickapoo Spring in the southern part of Concho County.  Before many hours had gone by, several hundred Indians had come to our camp, some of them driving ponies, some of them leading ponies with women tied upon their backs just as I had been.   Some of the Indians had white men’s and girl’s scalps tied to their belts.  One big ugly Indian, uglier than any picture of the Devil that I have ever seen, had twelve scalps, four of which were fresh.  An old wrinkled ugly, oh so ugly, squaw took me and rubbed me all over with some kind of stinking oil and made me drink hot, bitter sweet, yellow looking tea.  A little while after drinking this tea I would go to sleep and not wake any more till in the evening.  Every morning she would rub that stinking oil all over me and twice a day she would make me drink about a pint of that yellow tea.  At first I cried and tried to get away and once jumped on the old squaw, scratched her in the face, bit her and pulled out hands full of her coarse black hair.  The old buck Indians laughed and grunted and patted me and jeered at the old squaw.  But she was too strong for me, she threw me down on the ground and choked me nearly to death and tied my hands so tight that the rawhide strings cut through the skin on me wrists.  It seemed to me that every time after I drank the yellowish tea, I cared less and less about getting away from the Indians.  After a week I was strong and well and had lost all desire to leave the Indians.  One morning my old squaw led me to the biggest tent in the Indian camp, opened the flap, which answered for a door and pushed me within and then went away.  I did not know what to do.  I looked around me and curled up like a dog was that big ugly Indian.  He opened his little black snaky eyes and looked straight at me.  I couldn’t move nor couldn’t say a word to save my life.  After a few minutes he pointed to a buffalo robe close by and without knowing why I did it, I got on the robe and in three minutes was sound asleep.

            “The next morning when I awoke the sun was shining high up in the heavens.  The old ugly squaw took me and again made me drink the yellow bitter sweet tea but did not rub the stinking oil on me.  Some days she would use the oil and some days she would not but always I had to drink that nasty tea.

            “For over a week the buck Indians did nothing but eat and sleep, the Indians had lots of beef and this the squaws would roll around in the ashes and coals and then rake out on the flat rocks for the Indians to eat.

            “I know that I am telling no story when I say that that big buck whose tent was my home could and did eat as much of that half raw meat beef as any pack of half starved hounds in Texas.  Whenever an Indian had gorged himself he always went to sleep right away and slept for several hours.

            “After about two weeks the beef was all gone and the Indians killed and ate some old ponies that they had.  At last all of the meat was gone and the Indian boys would go out and bring back deer and antelope.  The squaw that watched over me showed me how to grind acorns and pecans and dried grasshoppers into a kind of a meal.  This I did by putting the mixture into round deep holes in the rocks at the spring and pestling it up with the lower bone out of a horse’s foreleg.

            “When the pecans, acorns and grasshoppers were ground as fine as corn meal we would put a little cold water into it, pat it out into small cakes, and bake it on a hot flat stone.  And it made better bread than you might think.

            “One morning I awoke early and heard a terrible racket and commotion outside.  Lifting the tent flap and looking out I could see about three hundred Indians dancing, hollering, beating on old  tin cans and just cuttin’ up generally.  And they had a lot of ponies tied  all around about these ponies were making nearly as much racket as the Indians were.  With lances the Indians killed three old ponies that were no account much and if you will believe the honest truth, in not over an hour and a half nothing but the hair, hoofs and big bones of those three old ponies was left.

            “The moon had begun to shine a little about sundown.  All of the buck Indians, excepting some old men, left our camp.   Some of them rode horses but a good many of them went on foot.  They were going down into the settlements to steal horses from the whites.

            “That night as I lay on my buffalo skin bed it came over me all at once to get away.  At first it scared me to think about it and I tried to go to sleep but my eyes got so wide open that I had to sit up.  I was decided, so I laid my plans.  I could hear the bold bucks snoring sway like so many hogs and I guessed that the squaws were asleep too, but I must be certain of it.  I crept on hands and knees to every Indian pallet in that camp.

            “I forgot to tell you that the big Indian had a nice pony mare that had got her foot dreadfully cut on a sharp rock a few days before.  And though the rest of the Indians wanted to kill her for meat the big Indian would not let them.  I had washed the poor animal’s sore and wrapped it up with a piece of old calico that the old squaws gave me.  I pulled nice green grass and fed her and petted her until she would let me catch her anywhere and would follow me almost like a dog.  This was my plan to get away:  Catch Doxie – that’s what I called here – and follow the trail that the Indians made until I got close enough to the settlements that I could find my way to some hours.  Doxie was lame yet but I hoped and prayed that she would carry me over half the way.  I found a big rawhide string which I intended to use for a helter on Doxie.  I slipped out of that camp as easily as a cat could.  I would crawl on my hands and knees to the shadow of a tree and lie flat down and listen for a spell; then I’d crawl again, stop and listen, and sometimes my heart would beat so hard that it seemed to me that it would wake the sleeping Indians.  At last I got far enough away from the camp that I stood up and fairly flew.  All at once down I went and it seemed that I made noise enough to wake the dead.  I lay still for a long time, my heart thumping so hard that I could hardly get my breath.  At last I quietly got on my feet and began to look for Doxie.

            “Doxie could see in the dark better than I could, for in a minute I heard her snicker.  I called to her softly and very soon she was standing by my side.  I patted her neck and slipped her halter on.  In another second I was on her back.  The mare limped less than I thought.  I turned towards the way the Indians had gone and soon we were on their trail.  I felt so good that I just cried and leaned over and kissed Doxie on the neck.”

            Mrs. Hutchinson paused for a minute, and then resumed:

            “Once I thought I head somebody after me, but I felt no fear of being overtaken as long as Doxie held out.  After a while I came to prairie country and the floor was level as a pone.  Nobody but just me all alone on that big prairie, and it was night!  Was I afraid?   I don’t know.  I don’t believe I was just then, anyway.  I was so happy in getting away from the Indians that I just simply forgot to get scared.

            “It was constant surprise to me that Doxie got over the ground so easily and so quickly.

            “It began to grow light in the east.  Not very far away I could see timber,  I guessed that I could find water and hide away and sleep for awhile.  I thought it likely that the Indians would stop not far off and rest also; so I quit the trail now and turned for the nearest brush that I could see.  There was nice running water in the creek.  I took Doxie’s halter and made it serve for hobbles and the little mare was soon grazing on the nice green grass nearby.  I found some water cress by an old log in the creek and hastened to eat some of it, for I was very hungry. I had two little cakes made of the acorns, pecans and dried grasshoppers, but I intended saving them to the last minute. I also found a good many wild onions and gathered a handful of them, some of which I ate.

            “Presently I began to be very sleepy and chancing to look about saw a very thick clump of chaparral and gum elastic bushes.  In the middle of these was a tolerably clean place, and into this I crawled, raking the dried leaves together, and soon was asleep.

            “Something was tickling my nose.  I was not good awake yet but put up my hand to scratch my nose and the act awakened me fully.

            “At first I didn’t know where I was, but very quickly found myself.  I sat up much refreshed, though pretty sore and stiff.  A slight noise nearby attracted my attention and I saw two little black eyes, those snakey eyes that I knew so well.  Standing and leaning against a pecan tree was that ugly red scoundrel with his eyes fastened upon me.  If I could, right then and there I would have died.  They say that the good Lord tries us and that we must not oppose our puny will against His might arm, but to trust Him and to be humble.  I have always tried to have faith and to believe that everything was for the best, but my faith sure dwindled now; and humble?  Why, I wasn’t humble worth a cent!  I was mad – madder than a wet hen.  I railed out at the ugly beast, the Indian, but he never said a word, nor did he move; but just stared with them devilish eyes fixed on me.  I tried with all my might to withstand his eyes, but what was the use?  It was just like a snake charming a bird.

            “At last he pushed me, grunted and pointed up the creek.  A half mile up the creek we came to where the Indians were camped.  When they saw me they all set up a big laugh.  Doxie was standing fifty yards away and snickered to me.  The big Indian had come down the creek a little before daylight to shoot some turkeys that roosted there and had seen me as I cam up.  He hid himself and watched me until I went to sleep and then took Doxie away.

            “We staid in camps all day except some of the Indians hunted a little, but about sundown we started towards the settlements again.  We traveled fast nearly half the night.  The big Indian took most of the Indians and headed down towards the north star.  The rest of the Indians, all on horseback, turned towards the south.  When it was nearly daylight we stopped again.  About two o’clock that evening the other Indians began coming in.  They had a few ponies that they had stolen somewhere, and the last ones to come in brought a young girl tied to a pony.  Poor girly, she was nearly dead.  I did all that I could for her, which was but little.  She told me that her name was Alice Tod and that her family lived in Mason County, near Spice Rock, and that that  very morning her father and mother and self were on their way to church, and how the Indians had waylaid them, took her captive and killed her father and mother.”

            The reader knows that John Tod and wife had escaped the Indians, but Alice thought, as was natural that both had been killed.

            “It was sundown again,” Mrs. Hutchinson continued, “and we were again moving.  The most of the Indians went off in a southeasterly direction, but the big Indian and two or three others and Alice Tod and myself kept our faces fair to the North Star.  I rode on Doxie but the Indians made Alice walk.  Poor girl, she was weak and faint, and sometimes she would stumble and fall.  The Indians would laugh, pull her hair and sometimes punch her with a stick to make her get up.   At last she fell and though they kicked her and pulled her hair she did not move.  I started to go to her but they would not let me.  After a minute she came to – for she had fainted and the big Indian lifted her on to Doxie’s back and we moved on.  I was walking now.

            “Alice’s hands were still tied together and it was hard for her to hold on horseback.  Once she would have come off but the big Indian caught her, pushed her back straight, tied her feet together underneath her horse and then we traveled faster.

            “For some time we had been traveling through a rough, brushy country, and every step we took it got rougher and brushier.  We could just see the faintest red in the east when we came to a high rock bluff and a nice running little stream of water.  Her we stopped.

            “Poor Alice,” said Mrs. Hutchinson, “was so faint when we stopped that she was unable to stand without support.  I spread a buffalo robe and get her on it.  She went to sleep presently but she had a fever and waked herself several times by screaming.

            “At last about noon she got quiet and slept well. I had not slept a wink since the day before and was glad to get an opportunity to do so.

            “Shortly before sundown I awoke.  Alice was still sleeping but the big Indian rolled a large stone off the bluff nearby and it made such a racket that she awoke.  She was considerably refreshed but still weak.  I told her that if she would walk around a little that she would feel better presently. I helped her to get up and she walked two steps and said she could go no further, and put her hands still tied together against the bluff and leaned her forehead against them.  Her wrists were crossed and tied hard and tight with green rawhide which was not hard from the sunshine and cut the blood out of her wrists.  While Alice was leaning against the bluff moaning that ugly devil of an Indian passed close to her and kicked her so hard that she fell down flat.  And dear folks, I sweat it most solemnly, that when her hands were spread out upon the rock bluff the whole print of both hands was left in blood!

            It is a fact that at the present day the prints of crossed hands can be seen on the bluff a short distance from Turkey Creek spring.  Some who have seen these hand prints, and claim to know, say that they are blood stains.  About thirty-five years ago these bloody hands prints were first seen by white men, and they are just as clear and distinct today as they were then.  Every finger is complete, not a single wrinkle is missing.  They are perfect – they are the Bloody Handprints of Alice Tod.

            Resumed Mrs. Hutchinson. “I would have carried Alice and put her back on the buffalo skin but the Indian drove me away with a big stick.

            “Away into the night I could hear Alice moaning and crying and I determined to get away from the Indians or die trying.  It must have been about one o’clock when I crept to Alice and gently shook her.  She was awake and whispered and asked me what I wanted; I told her I was going to get away from the Indians or die trying and that I would help her all I could.  She put her arms around my neck and kissed me but said she could not walk to save her life and that I must get away and get the men folks to come and rescue her.  I could hardly bear to leave her but the, she could not go and I must.  We embraced, she said ‘God bless you and help you my dear’ and I silently began moving away from the Indian camp.  I crawled through prickly pears, devil catchers, over sharp stones, over hills and hollows and through brush until I was almost scratched and cut to pieces.  At last, I thought I could hear chickens crow and listening closely I was certain of it.  Once more I felt happy for I knew that I was almost safe.  After awhile I hears lots of chickens crowing and also heard a dog bark.  I can tell you that I was not long in coming here after that.”

            So ended Mrs. Hutchinson’s story.

            Alice Tod was never heard of afterwards.

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