WILLIAM A. WALLACE, who now resides on a ranche, near San Antonio, must be nearly seventy years old. He is six feet two inches tall, a thorough Texan. The name by which he is best known and which we have placed at the head of this sketch, was given him on account of his enormous feet. The fact that he is yet alive, having survived the stormy and turbulent period of the history of Texas, and lives to see it rapidly advancing to the front rank among the states of the Union, must be attributed to fortune. All, or nearly all his old companion Rangers who were with him in terrible expeditions, in cruel captivity, in fierce adventures, are gone. Many fell in battle long years ago. Of the few who chanced to escape a death by violence, many have breathed their last in lonely ranches where their closing days were spent.
The day of the Texan Ranger has long since departed. The troubles with Mexico ceased to exist many years ago. Since the time when the shaggy Rangers dashed across the country on their bold expeditions, fighting, killing, capturing, retreating, many changes have come to pass in Texas. While, no doubt, her vast and lonely expanses of territory yet contain many bold and desperate men, the Ranger, as such, is a character which lives only in history.
Big Foot Wallace was born in Virginia. When he was twenty years of age, about the year 1836, he turned up in Texas, attracted to that point, like Lee, and many another bold young spirit of the eastern states, who had in his veins the blood of the old pioneers and Indian fighters.
Soon after Wallace's arrival in Texas he fell in with a surveyor who was preparing for an expedition to locate lands on the frontier. The surveyor offered Wallace employment, telling him that as the rest of the party were all old frontiersmen, it was well enough to have one greenhorn along for the fun of the thing.
The party consisted of sixteen men, including a hunter and a cook. On the first day out, Wallace killed a deer. He says, "I thought I had performed a wonderful feat, for I had never killed any thing before larger than a squirrel or a 'possum, and I proudly returned to the camp with the deer on my shoulders, trying all the time though, to look as if the killing of a deer was no unusual thing with me. But the boys suspected me, and when I owned up that it was the first deer I had ever shot, they seized me and smeared my face with the blood of the animal." This bit of camp fun was a sort of an initiation of Wallace into the brotherhood of hunters.
When the expedition reached the last white settlement which the men were to see for many a day, Wallace had another taste of the fun which is made of a greenhorn. The "settlement" consisted of a cabin of a family named Benson. Wallace's own account of the incident is as follows: "I went up to this house to see if any thing in the way of vegetables could be had. Benson was out hunting, but his wife, a tall, raw-boned, hard-favored woman, as soon as she saw me coming, stepped to the door with a gun in her hand, and told me to 'stand'--and I stood! A half-dozen little cotton-headed children, who who were playing in the yard, discovered me at this moment, and they 'squandered' and squatted in the bushes like a gang of partridges.
"'Who are you?' asked Mrs. Benson, pointing her gun right at me, 'and what do you want here?'
"'I am from the settlements below, ma'am,' said I, as polite as possible, but keeping a tree between the good lady and myself all the time, for women, you know, are very awkward about handling fire-arms, 'and,' I continued, 'I want to buy some vegetables, if you have any to sell.'"'Well,' she answered, 'come in. We hain't no vegetables left now,' as I walked into the cabin and took a seat on a bench, 'except cowcumbers and mushmillions, and maybe so, a few "collards," the dratted "varmints" are so uncommon bad on 'em; but, if you want any of them, you can go into the truck patch and help yourself.'
"'You seem,' I ventured to remark, 'a little suspicious of strangers in these parts from the way you handled your gun.'
"'Yes,' she said, 'I am, and a good reason to be so, too! Only last Saturday was a week, some Lonk Ingens, dressed up like white folks, walked into 'Squire Henry's house, not more than two miles from here, and killed and sculped the whole family; but as luck would have it, there was nobody at home, except the baby and an old nigger woman that nussed it. And which way are you traveling to?' she asked.
"I told her we were going up on the head-waters of the Brazos to survey lands. 'Well,' says she, 'you'll be luckier than most every body else that has gone up there if you need more than six feet apiece before you get back. If I was your mammy, young man, you should n't go one step on such a wild goose chase.' After some further questioning, she showed me the way to the 'truck patch,' and, after filling my wallet with 'mushmillions' and 'cowcumbers,' I thanked her, as she would take no pay. 'Good-bye, young man. I feel mighty sorry for your mammy, for you'll never see her again.'"
A day or two later some of the men found a "bee tree," which they cut down, getting five gallons of honey. Bear's meat and honey is the frontiersman's choicest dish. As the days advanced the little mountain streams, which they came across, supplied the men with delicious trout. Besides this they found artichokes in abundance, roasting the root in the ashes like a potato.
There were numerous signs of both Indian and buffalo to be seen by this time, but neither animal had yet been actually perceived. One evening, after camp was struck, Big Foot, as people now call him, went out to look around for game. He was sitting on a log in a little ravine with his gun across his lap, when, hearing a noise in some bushes, he turned around, and discovered a large bear coming toward him. When the animal was within twenty feet the hunter fired, and killed him. This event, which supplied the camp with its favorite food, greatly increased the reputation of tho youngest member of the company. On October 21st the party struck the Leon River, opposite the mouth of Armstrong's Creek. Here they found a splendid pecan grove. The nuts were very large and the hulls so thin that the men easily crushed them in their fingers.
Following the course of Armstrong's Creek, the men pitched camp one evening near a lovely spring. Toward midnight the sleeping company was awakened by the report of a gun right in their midst. Every man sprang to his feet, supposing Indians were at hand. It transpired, however, that the man on guard, had fired his gun accidentally. So excited was Wallace by the incident that it was a long time before he could go to sleep.
On the 23d of October, 1837, the explorers reached the south branch of the Palo Rinto Creek, where the surveying was to begin. A pleasant situation being chosen, all hands fell to work to build a permanent camp, with walls, roof and floor. This done, the men resolved to rest on the following day. Some went fishing, others gathered pecans, others still busied themselves fitting up little comforts about the camp.
Big Foot soon got tired of this, and taking his gun, resolved to explore a little of the country around them. He strolled off in the direction of a pass which seemed to penetrate the encircling range of hills. In a little while he reached the pass. Right by it was a single hill, shaped like a sugar loaf, to the top of which Big Foot climbed. This gave him a good view of the valley in which they had encamped. A mile and a half away he saw the snug little house which they had built for their shelter, the smoke rising from the camp fire, the animals grazing about contentedly, and even three or four or the men sitting around smoking their pipes. As he looked upon the scene, Big Foot felt a thrill of satisfaction to think they were so comfortably quartered. Little did he think that it was the last time he would ever look upon that camp.
He descended the hill and took his way up the pass, and, after following it half a mile, found himself in a narrow valley filled with a grove of the finest pecan trees. He was sitting at the foot of one of the trees, leisurely cracking and eating the nuts, when, looking down in the direction he had come, he saw a party of twelve or fifteen Indians riding through the pass at full speed. There was no chance for concealment where he was, and the perpendicular sides of the valley prevented escape from it. His only hope lay in hurrying up the valley until he could reach some cañon or ravine into which he might dodge.
He at once started up the pass or valley as fast as he could go. When he had passed the pecan grove the Indians caught sight of him, and with yells and whoops began pursuit. The round was broken and intersected with gullies, so that for a half an hour the Indians on their ponies gained but little upon Big Foot.
The young man hurried on, looking eagerly for some opening in the hills on either side, but the solid walls of rock were unbroken. When he reached a place where the floor of the valley was smooth the Indians gained rapidly. Just in time to save himself he discovered an opening in the wall of the pass on the left, and made for it. He found himself in a ravine, impassable for horses, and so rough that he himself could hardly get along on foot.
Aware that the Indians would dismount from their ponies and continue the chase on foot, he continued his race up the ravine, bounding from rock to rock and leaping chasms, until he had traversed several miles, winding in and out along the dark and crooked cañon.
Feeling his strength somewhat abated, Big Foot paused for the first time to take a rest. For this purpose he chose a spot which commanded a view for several hundred yards along the way which he had come. He had sat still but a little while, when an Indian came in sight, making rapid time up the ravine. Big Foot concealed himself behind a large rock, and, placing his gun in position, resolved to shoot the savage if possible.
The Indian hurried along, unconscious of Wallace's where-abouts. When within twenty steps of Big Foot, the latter gave a low whistle. The Indian instantly stopped, and gave a swift and searching glance about him. He was just on the brink of a fearful precipice. At that moment Big Foot fired. The savage, mortally wounded, with a cry of despair, threw one hand to the wound in his side, and holding aloft his rifle in the other, leaped over the fearful precipice. Before the echoes of his wild scream had died away among the mountains, a terrific thud was heard by Wallace, as the body of his enemy was dashed into atoms upon the rocks far below.
Big Foot reloaded his rifle, and, fearful lest others might be about, hurried on up the ravine. Half a mile farther he discovered another cañon intersecting the one he was traversing. He entered the latter and, though long since out of sight and sound of the Indians, continued on his way, until it became so dark that he was in danger of breaking his neck stumbling over the rocks. Crawling into a little crevice, he lay down supperless, and passed the night. On the following morning, he found himself in a locality to which he was, of course, a total stranger.
To return by the way he had come was not to be thought of. He determined to strike across the country in the direction in which he thought the camp lay. His way lay over ridges of rocky hills, separated by cañons and almost impassable even for a man on foot. About noon, almost worn out, he reached a little creek. He threw himself on the ground. In a few moments he was thrilled with delight to discover a large buck approaching the water to drink. Raising his rifle cautiously, for he felt that his life depended on his success in killing the game, Wallace fired. The animal bounded away as if unhurt. After a few leaps he stopped short, began to reel from side to side, and in a moment fell over dead. Wallace ran out and instantly began to dress the buck, which was one of the fattest he ever saw. After roasting a good lot of the meat and eating a hearty dinner, he built a low scaffold of little poles, cut up a quantity of the meat into thin slices, laid them across the poles, built a fire underneath, and by dark had enough venison "jerked" to last him several days.
Looking about for a place to pass the night, he found a small cave. Into this he carried a quantity of grass for a bed, and here, also, he carefully stored his dried venison. He blocked up the door of the cave with rocks, after going in himself; and prepared to pass a comfortable night. In less than an hour a heavy rain came up, accompanied by a cold wind. But Big Foot slept snug in his cave, undisturbed alike by the storm and by the howling of the wolves who were holding a celebration over the remains of the deer which he had killed. When morning came Wallace found the rain had ceased, but the sun was obscured by heavy clouds. Being then an inexperienced woodsman, he had no way to tell the points of the compass. Later in life, Big Foot says, he could tell the points of the compass as well without as with the sun, by the bark on the trees, which is thicker on the north side, or by sticking a pin into a piece of white cloth or paper. In the cloudiest day the dim light will cast a faint shadow opposite the sun, and thus point out its position.
However, our wanderer ate his breakfast and started in what he supposed to be the right direction. His course as before lay through a wilderness of rock. He continually found impassable ravines and gulches in his way, forcing him to make long detours. About noon he came to a pleasant spring, where he ate his dinner. Near by, he picked up some round stones, which proved to be garnets. A still greater curiosity was a petrified forest. "The trees were all lying on the ground, as if they had been blown down by a heavy wind, but in some instances they were nearly whole, even the small twigs and branches being petrified."
Continuing on his course through the day, Big Foot suffered greatly from want of water. He was forced to go to sleep that night without having found any. In the morning when he awoke the first sound which his ear caught was that of the falling of water. He ran in the direction of the sound, and discovered that he had passed the night, almost crazy with thirst, not, fifty yards from the finest spring he had ever seen. It broke out of the side of a cliff in a stream as large as his body, and fell in a beautiful cascade to the bottom of the ravine, twenty feet below.
Near the spring were the remains of two Indian camps. Here Big Foot picked up a gourd, which the occupants of the camp had left. As it would hold about two quarts, he regarded it as a treasure of priceless value, enabling him to carry water along with him. Taking some broad bands of bear-grass, he made a bail with which to carry it.
While eating his breakfast, Wallace discovered some sort of an animal poking its head out of a crevice in the rock and looking at him intently. At first it looked like a wolf. Then he saw it was a dog. Pleased with the idea of companionship, Wallace whistled and called to the dog. To these signs, it paid no further heed than to continue to look wistfully from its hiding place. Finally in response to the offer of a bit of meat, the dog stole cautiously forward, and eagerly snatched the venison. "He was" said Wallace, "the most wretched specimen of a dog I had ever seen. Both of his ears wore cut off close to his head, and he had been starved to such a degree that he looked for all the world like a pile of bones loosely packed in a sack of hair and hide. He was too weak to hold his tail up, which dragged on the round like a wolf's."
The two wanderers soon made friends. Wallace named the dog "Comanche;" what the dog named Wallace does not appear. Henceforth they were inseparable. After traveling for a week, the sun shone out for the first time since the night passed in the cave. To his dismay, Wallace discovered that he had been traveling in exactly the wrong direction. He had been going north instead of south.
At the end of the first day's journey southward, Wallace, standing on the top of a high ridge, found himself overlooking a beautiful little valley. He and Comanche at once made their way thither. A cool spring of water was found, and near by, in a ledge of rock, Wallace found a small cave, about twelve feet square. The front had been walled up evidently by a human hand, with a small entrance way left open. The floor was smooth, dry rock, and no better protection from the weather could be desired. A bed of dried grass made, both the man and dog comfortable.
Proceeding down the valley the next day, Wallace saw plenty of deer and wild turkeys, but as he still had some venison he refrained from using his ammunition. In climbing a hill, Wallace met with an unhappy accident. His foot slipped on a loose stone, and he gave his ankle a terrible sprain. It was impossible to bear the slightest weight upon it. It was evident that he must remain where he was until the injured member got well.
With great pain and difficulty Wallace crawled back to where he had passed the night. He bathed his swollen limb in the spring, and, suffering greatly, crawled into the cave. While the prospect was not so bad as it might have been, in much as the accident might have occurred at a point where no shelter was obtainable, nevertheless, Wallace felt that his inability to hunt game and procure food rendered the emergency one of great danger.
He slept somewhat through the night and was awakened in the morning by the flapping of wild turkeys' wings. Crawling to the door of the cave, he discovered several of the birds in a clump of neighboring pecan trees. Selecting the largest gobbler, Big Foot fired; bringing him down. Comanche understood the situation perfectly. He bounded to the spot, seized the turkey by the neck, and dragged it to the door of the cave. Wallace dressed the bird nicely, spitted him on the ramrod of his gun, and in two hours had him beautifully roasted. The remainder of the day Wallace devoted to the manufacture of a rude crutch out of the forked limb of a pecan tree. He had to whittle the whole tree down in order to reach the branch.
Wallace was forced to remain where he was three weeks, during which time he had an abundance of food, suffering only from want of salt. On the 20th of November Big Foot felt well enough to travel. Comanche, too seemed ready. The dog could not be recognized as the same wretched cur we have described. He was fat, sleek, and his tail had a defiant curl. Ten miles was all the distance Wallace was able to travel that day. He killed a fat doe and found some artichokes, which he relished exceedingly. He observed with some uneasiness the presence of Indian signs. That night, too, Comanche woke him several times with his growling. On these occasions his master, supposing the wolves to be unusually bold would simply say, "Lie still, sir!"
Just at sunrise the dog again set up a furious barking, waking his master. Wallace looked up to discover a dozen Indians fifty yards away coming toward him on a dead run. He seized his gun and jumped behind a tree, only to perceive that he was completely surrounded. Just as he was on the point of firing at the nearest Indian, the chief shouted to his braves, who halted. He then stepped forward, and asked Wallace in the Mexican tongue who he was. Big Foot explained as well as he could by signs and a few phrases which he knew, that he was an American and was lost. The chief motioned energetically for him to put down his gun. Seeing that escape was impossible Big Foot, in hopes that his life might be spared, obeyed. The Indians at once sprang forward and bound Wallace. Comanche, however, had no notion of surrendering, and at once went for the Indians who were tying his master. Nor would he give up the fight until kicked and severely beaten.
The savages at once started with their prisoner down the valley. After traveling five miles they reached their village, a crowd of old men, women, and boys coming out to assault Big Foot. He was placed in a lodge under guard. The next morning a hideous, old squaw, with a face as wrinkled as a walnut, brought him his breakfast. Ugly as she was, Big Foot understood from her face and manner that she desired to be friendly.
After she left the lodge Big Foot heard a tremendous row outside, and two warriors came in and painted him black. At this point Big Foot gave up all hope of his life. When painted from head to foot the savages led him out doors, where the whole village was assembled, and proceeded to bind him firmly to a post in the ground. Near by was a great heap of dry wood. Twenty naked warriors, blacked from head to foot, armed with tomahawks and scalping-knives, stood by in grim silence, waiting to commence the death ceremony.
The chief now arose, and from a little platform he made a speech to his people. Wallace says, "I could understand but little of what he said, but it seemed to me, he was telling them how the white people had encroached upon them, and stolen from them their hunting grounds, and that it was a good deed to burn every one of the hated race that fell into their hands."
The speech ended, the twenty black warriors commenced piling up the wood about Wallace, while the rest executed a wild death dance about him. Just at this moment the old squaw, who had been so friendly to him in the lodge, broke through the crowd and began to throw the wood from around him, talking and gesticulating in the wildest manner. When they seized her and threw her outside of the ring, she commenced a shrill and voluble harangue to the crowd, in the midst of which she frequently pointed to the prisoner, and boldly shook her fist, with horrid jabbering, at his would-be executioners.
As the old woman proceeded with her harangue she gained more and more attention from the crowd, seeing which, her violence and energy redoubled itself. Her voice broke with the fury of her passion, but still she kept on with ear-piercing screams and howls, which rose higher and higher, until they formed a mighty wail, sounding far down the valley. By this time the whole assemblage became perfectly silent. As the old woman's strength was about to fail her, a great jabbering set up in the crowd, in the midst of which a number of squaws ran to the stake, and scolding the warriors all the while, quickly unbound Wallace and handed him over to the old woman.
The singular scene grew out of the fact that the old squaw, having lost a son in battle, claimed Big Foot as a substitute in accordance with the custom of the tribe, but the warriors wanted to have the fun of putting their prisoner to death.
Big Foot's adopted mother took him to her lodge with every sign of gratified affection. In a little while the squaws brought him his gun, knife, and gourd. Even Comanche was hunted up and brought to him. The dog looked half starved and as if he had been kicked by every boy in the village. Big Foot, with cool adaptation to circumstances which no man ever had but a genuine Texan Ranger, proceeded to ransack the wigwam for cold victuals, and gave the dog every thing he found.
Besides the old squaw, Big Foot found a firm friend in her remaining son, his adopted brother, Black Wolf. As time went on, the chief wanted Big Foot to marry his sister, but the white man told him that he preferred to live in the lodge with his mother and brother. Black Wolf was an Indian of intelligence and kindness. He never wearied of asking Big Foot about the white race. All the information which Wallace gave him of their numbers, their cities, their weapons, and their great "steam canoes," strengthened him in his opinion, he said, that the white man would gradually overrun the entire continent and that a few stone arrow-heads, thrown up here and there by the farmer's plow, would be all that remained of the red man's race. In this connection Black Wolf related to Big Foot the following legend, which, he said, had been told him by his father.
"A great many years ago," said Black Wolf, "a young chief, belonging to one of the most powerful tribes of Arkansas, concluded that he would visit one of the nearest white settlements, and see some of the people of whom he had heard so much. So he took his gun and dog, and crossed the 'father of waters' in his canoe, and traveled many days toward the rising of the sun, through a dense forest that had never echoed to the sound of the white man's ax. One day, just as the sun was setting, he came to the top of a high hill, and four or five miles away in the valley below, he saw the smoke curling up from the chimneys of the most western settlement, at that time, east of the Mississippi River.
"As it was too late to reach the settlement before dark, the chief sought out the thickest part of the woods, where he spread his blanket upon the ground, and laid himself down upon it, with the intention of passing the night there. He had scarcely settled himself there when he heard a halloo a long way off among the hills. Supposing that some one had got lost in the woods, he raised himself up, and shouted as loud as he could. Again he heard the halloo, apparently a little nearer, but it sounded so mournful and so wild, and so unlike the voice of any living being, that he became alarmed, and did not shout in return.
"After a while, however, the long, mournful 'halloo-o-o' was repeated, and this time much nearer than before. The chief's heart beat loudly in his bosom, and a cold sweat broke out upon his forehead, for he knew that the unearthly sounds that met his ears never came from mortal lips. His very dog, too, seemed to understand this, for he whined and cowered down at his feet, seemingly in the greatest dread. Again the mournful and prolonged "halloo-o-o" was heard, and this time close at hand, and in a few moments an Indian warrior stalked up and took a seat near the chief and gazed mournfully at him out of his hollow eyes without uttering a word.
"He was dressed in a different garb from any thing the chief had ever seen worn by the Indians, and he held a bow in his withered hand and a quiver filled with arrows was slung across his shoulders. As the chief looked more closely at him, he saw that this unearthly visitor was, in fact, a grinning skeleton, for his white ribs showed plainly through the rents in his robe, and though seemingly he looked at the chief, there were no eyes in the empty sockets he turned toward him.
"Presently the figure rose up, and, in a hollow voice, spoke to the chief, and told him to return from whence he came, for their race was doomed; that they would disappear before the white people like dew before the morning sun; that he was the spirit of one of his forefathers, and that he came to warn him of the fate that awaited him and his people; that he could remember when the Indians were as numerous as the leaves on the trees, and the white people were few and weak, and shut up in their towns upon the seashore--now they are strong, and their number can not be counted, and before many years they will drive the last remnant of the red race into the waters of the great western ocean. 'Go back,' said the figure, advancing toward the chief and waving his withered hand, 'and tell your people to prepare themselves for their doom, and to meet me in the "happy hunting grounds," where the white man shall trouble them no more.'
"As he said this, he came up close to the chief; and placed his skeleton fingers on his head, and glared at him out of the empty sockets in his fleshless skull. 'Son of a fading race, the last hour of your unfortunate people is fast approaching, and soon not a vestige of them will be left on all this wide continent. They and their forests, their hunting grounds, their villages and wigwams, will disappear forever, and the white man's cities and towns will rise up in places where once they chased the buffalo, the elk, and the deer.'
"The chief was as fearless a warrior as ever went to battle, but when he felt the cold touch of that skeleton hand, a horrible dread took possession of him, and he remembered nothing what happened afterward. In the morning, when he woke up, the sun was shining brightly overhead, and the birds were whistling and chirping in the trees above him. He looked around for his gun, and was surprised beyond measure when picked it up that the barrel was all eaten up with rust, and the stock so decayed and rotten that it all fell to pieces in hand. His dog was nowhere to be seen, and he whistled and called to him in vain, but at his feet he saw a heap of white bones, among which there was a skeleton of a neck with the collar his dog had worn still around it! He then noticed that his buckskin hunting-shirt was decayed and mildewed, and hung in tatters upon him, and that his hair had grown so long that it reached down nearly to his waist.
Bewildered by all these sudden and curious changes, took his way toward the top of the hill, from which, the evening before, he had seen the smoke rising up from the cabins of the frontier settlement, and what was his astonishment, when he saw, spread out in the valley below him, a great city, with its spires and steeples rising up, as far as his eye could extend and, in place of the dense, unbroken forests, that covered the earth when he came, a wide, open country presented itself to his view, fenced up into fields and pastures, and dotted over with the white man's stately houses and buildings.
"As he gazed at all this, in surprise and wonder, he could distinctly hear, from where he stood the distant hum of the vast multitude, who were laboring and trafficking and moving about in the great city below him. Sad and dispirited, turned his course homeward, and, after traveling many days, through farms and villages and towns, he at length reached once more the banks of the mighty Mississippi. But the white people had got there before him, and, in place of a silent and lonely forest, he found a large town built up where it had once stood, and saw a huge steamboat puffing and paddling along right where he had crossed the 'father of waters' in his little canoe.
When he had crossed the river, he found that the white settlements had gone on a long ways beyond it, but at length he came to the wilderness again, and after wandering about for many moons, he at last came up with the remnant of his people, but now no longer a powerful tribe such as he had left them, for they had dwindled down to a mere handful. His father and mother were dead, his brothers and sisters were all dead, and no one knew the poor old warrior that had appeared so suddenly among them. For awhile he stayed with them and talked in the strangest way, about things that had happened long before the oldest people in the tribe were born; but one day after telling the story I have told you, he took his way toward the setting sun, and was never seen more."
After Big Foot had been in the Indian village three months he became exceedingly weary of his surroundings and longed only to be able to return to the settlements. Black Wolf and his mother noticed his moodiness and discontent.
One day when they were alone in the lodge, Black Wolf asked Wallace why he seemed so unhappy. When told that it was because he pined to see his own people, the Indian did not seem surprised, but sadly said: " Sorry as I am, I will do all that I can to help you to get back to your people." The preparations for flight must, he said, be made in secrecy, as if Big Foot should be recaptured nothing could save his life, and Black Wolf himself would be put to death for having aided him.
The old squaw received the news of Big Foot's intended departure with much less composure than her son. However, in time she became more resigned, and at parting gave him a dried terrapin's tail, which, she said, would protect him from all danger in battle.
When their preparations were completed, Black Wolf gave out that he and his white brother were going out on a bear hunt, to be gone several days. Taking the faithful Comanche Big Foot bade adieu to his adopted mother, and left the Indian village forever. He and Black Wolf traveled together for thirty miles. The Indian was overcome by deep melancholy, yet he would from time to time try to throw it off by cheerful conversation. After camping together for the last time, the two men ate their breakfast, and then Black Wolf marked out upon the ground a rough map of the country through which Wallace was to pass on his way home. After giving full and careful directions, the Indian shouldered his gun, bade his white brother farewell, and sorrowfully taking his way back toward the village, was soon lost to sight among the hills. Big Foot accompanied by Comanche, made his way home to the settlements, reaching them early in March 1838.
Some months after Wallace's return from captivity, late one winter afternoon, he picked up his gun and started for some neighboring hills to bring in some venison. No game seemed to be stirring, and after keeping on till it had grown too dark to shoot, he reluctantly returned homeward without the venison. The sun had set, and he hurried along to get out of the chaparral thickets into the open prairie before night came on. The wolves had been howling unusually, but Wallace paid no attention to the matter. He had gone about a half a mile on his homeward way, when a large gray wolf trotted out into the path before him, and commenced howling in the most mournful manner. In an instant he was answered by a dozen other wolves in the hills around him.
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Heroes of the Long Star State
Big Foot Wallace--Bowie's Fight
Created November 20, 2001
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