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Running from the Indians near Victoria

 

Historic Accounts of Life in South Texas

 
From "Early Times in Texas" by J. C. Duval – Published 1892
 
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The Young Explorers

About noon of the second day after leaving the Colorado, we reached the city of Victoria. Victoria at that time contained about two dozen adobe huts, and a small frame building which we never would have taken for a hotel, but for a sign swinging in front on which the words "Victoria hotel" were faintly written, apparently with a piece of charcoal. As Mr. Pitt had been quite unwell all day, we concluded to stop at this hotel.

Our horses had scarcely been unsaddled and turned into the corral when a man came dashing through town on a bareback mustang yelling, "Indians! Indians!" as he passed. In a moment the whole place was in uproar and confusion ; men running here and there in search of arms, women screaming, and children crying. Mr. Pitt and I hastily seized our guns and ran out to the edge of the village, where we saw half a dozen men standing together, and apparently gazing at some objects a mile or so distant on the prairie. "What's the row?" said I to one of the crowd, after we joined them. "Faith and be jabers," said Pat (most of the people at that time in Victoria were Patlanders), "it's looking at a lively race we are out yander betwixt Tiro McGarity, Pat O'Houli-han and the bloody Injins." . I turned my eyes in the direction they were all looking, and about a mile off on the prairie I saw two men coming as fast as their horses could run closely followed by a large party of Indians. I have seen a good many races in my time, but I never witnessed a more exciting one than this between the two Irishmen and the Indians—except on one or two similar occasions, when I was a rider myself. There was no "jockeying" in it. It was all fair and square running from the start to the outcome.

I had scarcely taken in the situation when I heard a shrill scream, and looking round saw a bare armed, red faced, strapping woman rushing up with her loose hair streaming in the wind. "Och ! ye skulking spalpeens," cried Mrs. O'Houli-han (for I suspected from the first she was the wife of one of the men pursued by the Indians), "Och ! ye skulking spalpeens, and are yez going to stand here all day wid yer fingers in yer mouth and see me puir Pat murthered before yer eyes. Take yer guns, ye cowardly loons, and go out at wanst and save a better mon than any of ye." But no one stirred, for, indeed, it would have been sheer folly for the few men in the place to have left the protection of the houses and gone out on foot to encounter such an overwhelming force of mounted Indians. (There were at least eighty or a hundred, as we could plainly see.) "O whirra! whirra!" exclaimed Mrs. O*-Houlihan, wringing her hands, "me puir Pat will be murthered before me face, and you, ye chicken-hearted thaveso' the worruld, won't crook yer fingers to help him. May the widdys and the orphants curse be an ye, and your children's childer!"

At this juncture two or three of the bystanders grabbed Mrs. O'Houlihan and carried her off, in the last stages of hysterics.

By this time the race between the two Irishmen and the Indians was evidently drawing to a close. The Irishmen, only a few yards ahead of the foremost Indians, were now within a quarter of a mile of the -village, and we could plainly see that McGarity's horse was failing fast, and that half a dozen of the leading Indians must soon overtake him. The poor fellow looked back frequently, and seeing the distance between himself and his pursuers was rapidly lessening, he plied whip and spurs vigorously, but all to no purpose, for in a few seconds the grim warriors were alongside of him, and we saw him fall from his horse, pierced with their arrows and lances. His fall made a slight diversion in O'Houlihan's favor, by retarding for a moment the pursuit of the foremost Indians, but they were quickly passed by others, and it was soon apparent he would share McGarity's fate if something was not speedily done to avoid it.

We could not stand it any longer, and with one impulse the whole crowd exclaimed, "Boys, let'js charge 'em!" and the next instant we were in a full run towards the Indians. This sortie was O'Houlihan's salvation. Just as the foremost Indians were leveling their lances upon him, we were in gunshot of them, and checked them by a volley from our rifles. They drew up suddenly, \ and O'Houlihan promptly taking advantage of the check we had given them, in a few moments was safe among his friends, who greeted his coming with hearty cheers. The Indians advanced no further, and we qnickly fell back to the shelter of the houses.


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