Oh, joy! the man–a white man, too–had seen her and was waving back at her!
All this the little tot told the older sister who was vainly trying to hide in the short buffalo grass, but the sister would not believe that help was really at hand, but lay there face downward, overcome with fear.
The brave, blue-capped soldier swooped down upon them and leaping from his horse gathered the little tot who had stood up so bravely that he might see her in his arms, at the same time catching sight of the frightened child lying on the ground.
“Both here, thank God!” the rescuer exclaimed and raising the now nearly exhausted children to the horse’s back, he leaped on behind. Encircling each in a strong arm, he bore them gently into the fort and laid them more dead than alive in the father’s arms!
The father sobbed aloud for joy, kissed the sunblistered hands and faces of his rescued darlings and chafed their little feet, now sore and bleeding from the long tramp through the dry buffalo grass.
Women, the wives of the officers, gathered round the little ones and ministered kindly to their needs.
The happy father and kind neighbors would have given the waifs all they wanted to eat, which at the time would have meant certain death, but not so with the kind nurses who had taken charge.
The children were first bathed, dressed comfortably and put to bed, then tea was made, a few crackers crumbled in and at stated intervals a teaspoonful of this was given. A slim diet indeed, it seemed to the starving children, yet this was the only safe course to pursue.
It was many days before the children were strong enough to be trusted in the hands of the men to be taken home, but finally the start was made, much to the relief of the anxious father and the men who had come with him.
No word had been sent to the waiting ones at home. It was not thought safe to send even a part of the men back with word, as it might require all the posse to make a safe journey back from the fort.
So while the anxious ones waited at the fort more anxious ones waited at home! Days came and went, nights passed and no message came to relieve the mind of the almost crazed mother; if she could only know, could only know!
The neighbors did all they cold to comfort her, but their own hearts were almost broken too, for were not their husbands on the chase who knew what might have been their fate?
The last thing at night and the first thing in the morning those waiting souls did, was to strain their eyes westward toward the setting sun in the hope of catching sight of the returning posse!
The journey from the fort home was of necessity made very slowly on account of the convalescent state of the children but at last it was done, the little ones again lay safe in the mother’s arms and all rejoiced over the safe return of the dear ones.
I was not been able to trace, Mary Barrett, the author of this article, but I have been able to discover the Bell family that she spoke about. The father, Aaron, was born in Illinois in 1829, and married, Nancy, when she was only sixteen years old. The girls, Margaret and Sarah, who were taken by the Indians were the couple’s third and fourth of their eventual eleven children. Margaret the elder, married, had two children and passed away at the age of 67. Sarah, the brave little five year old, married at 22, had one daughter and passed away when she was 26 years old.