J Marvin Hunter's



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Published July 22nd, 2014 by Unknown

[From J. Marvin Hunter's Frontier Times Magazine, March, 1926]

O. T. Word was raised on Caddo Creek, in Hunt county, and when he grew up to manhood, visited his kinsman, Capt. Buck Barry, one of the most noted Indian fighters of his time and whose home was in Bosque county. At the time of this visit Buck Barry commanded a company of rangers and shortly after his arrival the Tonkaways brought in an Indian which they had captured on the headwaters of the San Saba. This Indian was kept under guard by Barry's men several weeks and became an elephant on "Uncle" Buck's hands. He was a quiet, innocent looking sort of cuss, gave the boys no trouble, ate voraciously and seemed always on the alert. His bead-like black eyes took in everything. Every movement, every happening was closely observed and every man's face was studied, by the savage as if he were making a mental photograph of his features. At length, Uncle Buck said to O. T.: "Orville, I don't know what to do with that cussed Indian. I hate to kill him; that would look like murder to shoot a prisoner, and I can't afford to turn him loose. Should I set him at liberty he would kill and scalp some woman, or child before he crossed the border, steal a horse and get away. If we keep him here, we will have to hold him under guard and feed him and if we give him all he wants in the way of grub he will eat us out of house and camp. So I have decided to turn him over to you. I know that you have no scruples as to shooting an Indian. You take him out on the prairie, say three or four miles and leave him. You can report to me when you get back and say he got away. They never get away on horseback,"

Mr. Word took the Indian as directed, but he had no notion of following Uncle Buck 's suggestions. He did not have the heart to kill a poor unarmed captive that had never harmed him. The Indian was on foot while O. T. was well mounted. When they had reached a point about five miles from camp he made the Indian promise to be good on condition that he set him free. The savage had picked up enough English to make himself understood and after making all fair promises he seemed to distrust something and when O. T. drew his pistol and told him to hit the turf a runnin, the Indian hesitated. Evidently he was afraid the white man's gun would go off too soon. Looking O. T. squarely in the eye and without a tremor he pointed upward and said, "Shoot heap up; no shoot me; me run mighty heap." "All right," said O. T., "hit the breeze" and as the Indian bounded away like a scared mustang Word opened fire—in the air.

On his return to the camp O. T. made a true report to the Captain. He told him the Indian had "got away."

Some fifteen or twenty years later Mr. Word was in the territory not far from Fort Sill with cattle. A large number of Indians had gathered around his camp and among these an old breech-clouted Indian who came up, took him by the hand and wanted to hug him. It was the Indian that "got away." His greeting was of the genuine savage cordiality. He told the other Indians that here was the man who saved his fife. He told O. T. that, he was poor and had no ponies to give him, but he had a nice fat dog that would make a fine mess for his entire outfit. This offer was declined with thanks. O. T. had never cultivated a taste for roast dog. The Indian told him he would do better than that. He would give him a present that he would admire and accept. He hurried off and in a few hours he returned with an outfit that would give an ordinary man a nightmare to look at. The Indian had brought his harem of six wives arid insisted that O. T. take his choice, and if one was not sufficient he might pick out any two of the best looking. One of the wives had found a terrapin while being brought in and while her lord was trying to reward his former benefactor by the gift of a wife, this woman threw the terrapin into the camp fire, covered it with live coals and after a brief time, drew it forth, broke its shell with a rock and ate the half cooked thing with wolfish relish. Mr. Wood said that after a brief inspection of the gifts offered be was compelled to decline the generous proposition, whereupon his erstwhile friend, the Indian, seized a pair of raw hide hobbles and whipped the wife that had eaten the terrapin. He was wroth because she had not given it to her dusky husband.

But the Indian didn't seem to understand why his former rescuer refused to accept such a noble gift. Turning to his women the old savage said something in the Indian dialect that Mr. Wood didn't understand, but he knew it was something concerning, himself. When the Indian had spoken every one of the six squaws made a dash for him and tried to hug him. Mr. Word tore around for awhile and at last they chased him up on the mess wagon where he seized a blacksnake whip and laid about him with such force and effect that he soon put them to flight. The bucks, with the grateful husband, roared with shouts of laughter during the unique performance.

Mr. Word was convinced that the Indian has many faults, but he has the virtue of gratitude and never forgets a favor.

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