Legends of Texas
The Texas Folklore Society, 1924
"The Wild Woman of the Navidad, 1837 "
Martin M. Kenney
condensed the following from "The Wild Woman Of The Navidad"
The narrative begins
with an account of mysterious "barefoot tracks of two human beings"
seen frequently in the Texas settlements of the lower Navidad "about
the year 1837." The tracks were small and thought by the witnesses
to be made by a boy and the other "by a girl or woman of delicate
feet." Watchdogs occasionally reacted prior to the visitors' prowling
while at other times the Wild Woman - as "it" was later called
due to the appearance of only the woman's footprints - would come at
night and enter property, "stepping over dogs it would seem" without as much as a whimper from the animals.
An earlier capture
attempt failed. A second time the men waited, and... "...at a late
hour" she came and as near as they had expected. The night was
dark, but they could see the shadowy form. It was slim and apparently
unclothed, but the color could not be distinguished.
The riddle remained
unsolved for years until a group of men "cornered a runaway male
slave" in the area. Apparently local newspapers were satisfied
the Wild Woman had been all along this poor, shivering, half-naked man
who'd managed to elude capture.
"...By this time a general resolution had grown up that this riddle must be solved. A more systematic and cautious plan was adopted. A number of hunters formed extended lines and drove through the woods with leashed hounds, while others, well mounted and provided with lassos, took stands. Several fruitless hunts were made, but at length the hunters became satisfied late one evening that the woman was in a neck of woods running out into a prairie something more than a quarter of a mile wide.
"The men with lassos took positions along the edge of this prairie while others drove through the skirt of the woods with the hounds. It was night before the men were well arranged, but a bright moon shone. It is well known that men accustomed to hunting with hounds, can readily tell what kind of game they are pursuing by the nature of their cry. Scarcely were the men at their posts when the hounds raised a cry never before heard. They were following the track of some strange creature. Presently the breaking of little sticks and the hurried rustling of brush near one of the lasso men announced the approach of something, which immediately bounded with a light and flying step into the open prairie in the bright light of the moon. It was the Wild Woman. She ran directly across the prairie in the direction of the main forest.
The man was mounted on a fleet horse, and it needed all its speed to bring this rider to an even race with the object of his pursuit. But the horse was so afraid of the strange creature that he could not urged within reach of the lasso. Three times he came up but each time shied to right or left too far for his rider to throw, while the flying figure each time turned her course to the opposite hand and ran with the speed of a frightened deer.
They were now nearing the black shadow of the great forest, which was projected far on the plain. Spurring his horse with angry energy, the pursuer came this time fairly within reach and threw his lasso; but at the instant of throwing, his horse shied as before, and the rope fell short. In an instant the pursued creature was in the shadow of a vast forest and further pursuit was useless.
Though disappointed in capturing her, one point was gained: the man had a good look at her as they ran together across the prairie for several hundred yards. She had no clothes, but her body was covered with short brown hair. The rider did not see her face, as she was between him and the moon, so that whenever she turned toward him her face was in shadow. Once or twice, he thought he caught a glimpse of wild eyes as she cast a frightened glance over her shoulder. She had something in her hand when he first saw her, but she dropped it either from fright or to facilitate her escape.
After the chase
this was sought and found. It proved to be a club about five feet long,
polished to a wonder..."The narrative goes on to say that for many
years nothing was seen or heard of the Wild Woman until the capture
of the above mentioned "runaway slave."
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