The Perilous Trail... How Takala Saved her People...
Early on a Saturday morning in the Year 1838 a group of half-starved Indians, made up of men, women, and children, moved slowly through the large wooden gates of Fort Dragoon—a Border Settlement.
The Indians, on their way to a distant Reservation, were being escorted by a small group of Troopers. Fort Dragoon a thriving notorious border outpost was home to a large contingent of Troopers. Also taking up residence was an unsavory lawless element made up of renegades, outlaws, riffraff, and other dregs of society.
The Indians straggling through the wooden gates of Fort Dragoon were a wretched lot. Most of them showed signs of hunger—dressed in rags, many of them were barefoot. By their unkempt and ragged appearance, it was plain to see; they had traveled far and were barely surviving.
The Troopers and the curious Hanger-on's watching their arrival were surprised to see that in spite of their emancipated looks, some of the young Indian Maidens were attractive and quite pretty.
The Settlement Fort was soon abuzz with speculation, wondering how long the Indians would remain. Would their women be as well received as the exotic women that belonged to another group of recent arrivals?
A few months before the Indians arrived, several families of Oriental Immigrants had been allowed to take up residence and live inside the Fort. Their women were quickly hired by the military to do the washing and other chores for the Troopers.
The women turned out to be pleasant, lively, and attracted much attention from the rough boisterous men. These females were something new to the frontier. Most of the men quartered there had never seen an Oriental woman.
Almost immediately, the men began hanging around where the women were doing their washing, many times helping by carrying water for them. Flirting with the women became a popular pastime.
That Saturday morning most of the men of the Settlement had gathered over at the saloon. They were busily engaging in men's talk. The main topic being, which one of the recent arrivals had the nicest looking females—the Orientals or the Indians? A lively discussion about the differences between the two groups was well underway.
The arrival of the Oriental and Indian women proved to be a welcome diversion.The early frontier was filled with hard-living rowdy men, who many times could be cruel and sadistic by nature. Since there was very little law, the outlaws, renegades, and other riffraff that inhabited the little Outposts felt free to flaunt whatever laws that did exist.
In most towns the strong and the powerful ruled, made their own laws and ran things their way. It was in this lawless atmosphere the following incident had its beginning.
With the men always on the lookout for ways to liven up their Saturday afternoons, Jim Barton, one of the wealthy Ranchers in town for the day, comes up with a bright idea.
"Why don't a bunch of us get together and arrange a private little sporting event for this afternoon? Since I know Oriental men like to gamble—why don't we see if we can interest them in putting one of their women up against one of the Indian females?
"If we offered enough money as a prize to the Winner, I have a feeling the Indian braves would also go along with it, and let one of their Indian females participate. Then we could watch the Oriental female and the Indian female fight each other. Everyone was immediately excited. This would be something different! So the little exclusive group decide it would indeed be great Sport to see one of the Oriental females matched against one of the newly arrived Indian females in a fight.
"We should keep this quiet. We don't want the town's unsavory elements to get wind of it—they would just ruin everything," Mayor Neff said.
"Let's keep it small. Only invite a small group of the more affluent ranchers and town people." he said, looking around and waiting for their reaction.
"I agree... !" Jack McCall said," We don't want all the town's riffraff. Why don't we limit it to a very small group, maybe, say 20 people or so. Just invite the ones who can afford to split the cost of the Prize money."
"Well... , I'm not sure how exciting it would be, anyway," Mr. Ownsby, the Owner of the General Store pointed out.
"Why is that?" Jack McCall said, getting upset that anyone would dare to pour cold water on the exotic idea that was beginning to take shape.
"Well... , some of those little Indian females are very pretty, but they look like they're half starved. They may not be strong enough to hold their own against one of the little Oriental women once the two of them got into it," Mr. Ownsby said. "It could turn out to be a very short fight."
"Maybe we could make it longer if we allowed them to fight until one of them won—then let the woman who wins have her way with the female who loses if she wants. That might make it go quite a bit longer.
"Once one female has had enough, and gives up to the other female, we would still have the fun of watching the Winner dominate the loser," Jack McCall said.
Jack McCall, being the Owner of the saloon, realized what they had was a potential gold mine. Because it would be very exotic and different, he had little doubt; he could line up some well-heeled backers that would pay a pretty penny to attend such a private little Event.
He knew that if it had any chance of succeeding, he would have to move quickly to restricted it to only the more affluent Ranchers and Town people.
"Why don't we see if we can talk the Orientals and Indians into agreeing? I'd be willing to put up a sizeable cash prize to go to the winner," Jack said, trying to convince the others.
Pete, the Owner of the livery stable, not to be outdone, quickly said, with grin.
"I'm in... ! I'll match whatever you put up, McCall. In fact, if you want, we could have it over at my Livery Barn down on the main floor? Some of the boys and I could cover the floor with some thick hay to soften it. Also, it's big enough for everyone to have a good seat to watch the action."
Jessie, another wealthy Rancher, excited at the prospect of getting to watch this exotic female confrontation take place, chimed in.
"I know I'd be willing to throw in some money. I say we make the amount big enough, so they won't say no," he said, with a cruel laugh. "I wouldn't walk across the street to see two men get in a fight—but I would walk half way across that desert out there to watch two women go at it!"
The other men all nodded.
Within the hour the excitement had spread. The prize money quickly grew to over a thousand dollars, a princely sum. When a few more late arrivals agreed to chip in with another hundred dollars, it was decided that the lesser amount should be given as a consolation prize to the woman who lost.
"For that amount of money, I bet neither one of them will be willing to give up until she's to worn out and exhausted to continue. With that much
at stake, neither of them will quit that easily," Jack McCall said.
Making the Deal...
Earlier that morning, the Oriental men and women, along with everyone else, had turned out to watch the bedraggled little group of Indians come through the gates.
So later that Saturday morning, the men from Jack McCall's saloon approached the Oriental men. When they sensed an easy way to make money—they placed very little value on their women anyway—they eagerly accepted.
Confident of a sure thing, they quickly agreed to provide one of their young Oriental females, a feisty slender little Oriental woman named Su Lin to be one of the afternoon participants. Loving to gamble, they immediately set about making bets on the outcome.
Meanwhile, Captain Merrill, who was in charge of Fort Dragoon, being an innately kind man could see the Indians looked half-starved. He immediately directed his cooks to prepare food for them. Watching the way they wolfed it down, he could see they had probably eaten very little in the last several days.
Although an Officer, he had never agreed with his Government's actions to remove the Indians from their ancestral land. Now, privately, he was determined to do whatever he could to ease their plight.
After they had finished eating, he directed that the men's bathhouse be cleared. This would allow the Indian females to go inside and bath. This would also give them a chance to wash their thread-worn clothes.
The Indian Braves sat around on their haunches, talking quietly. At around ten o'clock, the Indians stoically watched Jack McCall and several of the saloon crowd coming toward them.
At first, the Indians wanted nothing to do with the men from the Saloon. That changed the moment Jack McCall told them why they were there, and what was being offered.
"Our females all too weak... , walk many miles... , not eat. They not strong --" they argued.
However, when told that if their Indian female won, the prize would be enough money to buy enough food for the remainder of their journey, the Chief immediately decided to hold a powwow with the other braves.
To see what they would be up against, the Indian Chief quickly dispatched one of his Braves, called Ahiga, his name meaning (he who fights) to go take a look at this strange looking woman from across the great waters.
When Ahiga returned a short time later with his opinion that one of their Indian females would do well against this strange looking female, the Indian Elders had only to decide which of their women should be chosen.
.... There is more of this story ...