GIVEN TO THE SQUAWS, by RM
I fell for 16 year old Jeanette the first time I visited the vicarage. I thought she was a serving girl at first she was so timid, but no, she was a daughter, one they'd adopted. I was told back home she was partly French but she didn't sound it, and how anyone could have a waist that slim I could never understand.
I set my heart on her, I truly did. She was so quiet and so sweet, and I just fell for her and started to visit regular. We were both a bit young but soon she was allowed to walk in the gardens with me and sometimes we sat alone in the drawing room, and my heart ached when I was away from her. But then I got a letter from the new world, all the way from America. It was from my uncle Edward who had a business in Boston importing clothing from Liverpool, and he was inviting me to go and join him.
It was a great opportunity. He said he was so busy he needed a right hand man and I told my parents it was too good an opportunity to miss, what with labouring on the farm not getting me anywhere seeing as I had two older brothers. So I went to the Vicar and his wife and I told them straight out that I wanted to marry Jeanette and take her to the new world.
They were very nice about it, but you can immagine how I felt when they told me she was too young. The old man drew carefully on his old clay pipe and kept shaking his head. They were sad days I can tell you, for when I spoke with her that afternoon she too said she was too young and couldn't see me again. Not even when I'd made up my mind to go, she wouldn't see me when I went to say goodbye. But I told them I would be back. “Tell her,” I said, “When I've made some money I'm coming back for her.” But I didn't have to.
I wrote to her as soon as I arrived in Boston and less than a month later a schooner came in carrying a letter from her telling me she loved me. I was so overjoyed I couldn't believe it, and in it was a lock of her lovely soft brown hair. Chestnut it was. It was beautiful.
After a while my uncle got a letter from the vicar back home asking him if it would be safe for his youngest daughter Jeanette to come to Boston and one day, not long after, I was in the stockroom and there was someone shouting in the window. “Hey, there's a girl in a white dress and holding a white parasol asking for you on the quay,” he said, and I flew down the stairs and there she was, looking like a frightened rabbit, and I hugged her and hugged her until I nearly crushed her. Almighty god I loved her so much.
I didn't expect her so soon but by the end of the day my uncle had arranged for her to move into someones house with them, and it all sounds crazy now, it was happening so quick, but I was wasting no more time. I got us married double quick time.
It was just bliss. Never will I forget that first night we spent together. It was in a lodging my uncle had got for us, and forgive me please, but I knew then what heaven is. She snuggled up in my arms and I never never, never, never, wanted to let go of her. And then, actually making love, oh glory it was just so beautiful.
But then came the crash. It came as quite a shock I can tell you. My uncle, he disappeared. God knows where he went, but soon the legal men arrived. My uncle, he'd borrowed heavily to set up his business and he'd run out of time to pay it back. There were bills unpaid by the score, and within forty eight hours I had no job. The business was wound up, finished and done with.
Jeanette wanted for us to go back home, but I persuaded her to look ahead to our future together. “Its a new word out here darling,” I said, “This is where we'll prosper, not like back home where there's no work and we could never have a home of our own. Here,” I said, “I'll buy you the loveliest house you could ever dream of.”
Within a couple of days I was working again. I was with a group of lads building big sheds for the North Western Railroad Company. You should have seen the size of those great iron steam engines, they were fantastic, and we were building the sheds for them, and their carriages too, great long sheds, and places for the engineers to work in. I'd never seen anything like it. This was the great new age of engineering and this is how the west was being won.
In a little while Jeanette and I were packing our bags for we were off to the wild hills and forests of the great north west, to a little place called Pine Creek. This was to be our new home, settling with a handful of good people who'd come with the building of the railroad to start a good new life, not only for themselves, but for this great new nation. Here there be plenty of good honest work to be done with good reward, building everything needed for the railroad that was always pushing on westward. There were engine sheds to build and a station here too in Pine Creek, and if I say we were excited it's no exaggeration. For a young couple who once had nothing whatsoever to look forward to back home this was a godsend and no mistake.
The little township was growing fast and Jeanette found part time work at one of the stores. It was a general store run by a foreign lady. She was middle aged and named Mrs Veltz. Her husband had moved on with the railroad and hadn't been heard of since, but she seemed not to be perturbed. She was a real business woman and traded not only in the town, but, like a few other traders in those frontier lands, out in the forests with the white settlers and also with the indians too. She was a clever woman, there was no doubt about that. In the four years she'd been trading she'd pretty well mastered the main language of the local tribes and Jeanette thought she was very brave, but the indians were no longer a threat.
The indians were holding the peace with the white man because they could see the benefits that were promised to them, like all the extra land the government was saying they could have one day, but there was still hatred among themselves because some tribes were accusing each other of being too quick to sign the peace treaty, and skirmishes between the tribes were an on going thing. These however were ignored by the state authority because it wasn't the white man's problem.
Mrs Veltz seemed to have taken a real liking to Jeanette, and of an evening Jeanette used to tell me all about her. The woman was bringing in all manner of things by train, things that everyone needed like blankets, clothing, even buckets and bowls, almost everything, and selling them, not only in her ramshackle shed of a store, but also out in the outlying areas where folk were felling areas of forest and setting up homesteads to farm. These people needed things like axes and shovels. And at the same time, with her two black horses pulling her heavily laden wagon, she was reaching far out to the indian camps and trading her goods for things like beaver furs and even strange carvings, and jewelry made from amazing semi precious stones. And the stuff was making a good profit too when she sent it back on the railway to the thriving eastern seaboard.
Soon she'd given Jeanette a rise and taken her on full time, and things were going very well for us. We had rented a little shack on what we laughingly called the other main street, but in reality it was the only other street in town, but in the following months the pattern of my work started to change and I didn't like it. It meant travelling up the line for a couple of days at a time and I didn't like being away from Jeanette. She insisted she was alright, and of course she said Mrs Veltz would look after her.
Very soon Mrs Veltz took on another woman at the store and I was pleased about that. Mrs Veltz wasn't often away on her jaunts as she called them, but when she did go off it would mean Jeanette would have someone with her in the store.
A few more months passed and then out of the blue Mrs Veltz invited us to dinner one night, and what she came up with completely stunned us. She said she was going to go back east and she was offering us her business.
“Dears, you're young enough to go to the bank and get yourself a loan and you'll be set up for life,” she said. It sounded amazing but we did some calculations with her, and on the figures she was showing us it looked as if we could clear the debt in less than five years. It was just too good to miss, and with my worries about working any longer for the railway company and being away from home for days at a time, it was an opportunity not to be ignored.
After a few days she was off again on one of her trips, but this time specifically to one of the indian camps, and she insisted Jeanette must go with her. “I want you to meet these people,” she said. “When I've gone you can do what you like with the business, but I strongly advise you go on trading with the indians because there's a good profit in it.”
Jeanette was very nervous of going up country through the forests to an indian village, but she plucked up courage and one morning climbed aboard the covered wagon and off they went. Mrs Veltz had wanted me to go as well but there was no way I could get time off, and so I had to let her take Jeanette on her own.
It was four days and four very lonely nights before they returned, and when Jeanette burst in the door she threw herself into my arms and couldn't stop talking. She'd been thrilled with the experience. She was just full of it all. She'd been taken to the Waniuco camp and the words were just tumbling out of her. She told me about the journey taking two days each way and how Mrs Veltz shot a rattle snake first day out and how they'd slept under the stars and how the indian braves rode out to meet them because their look-outs had seen them coming and what it was like in the camp with all their cooking fires going and how they all gathered round them in the middle of all their wigwams, and most of all how Mrs Veltz had spoken to them in their own language. And she also told me how, when the boxes had been unloaded, the chief put his hand over her head and said something that made all the braves chant, and she said she was completely bewildered by it all.
She said Mrs Veltz had told them Jeanette was their special guest and they heaped presents on her. As she emptied her pockets and showed me several bead necklaces and bangles she was laughing and saying they even presented her with a leather bag. It was terribly heavy and sewn up so it couldn't be opened and Mrs Veltz had a brave put in the wagon. She laughed again. “It was for Mrs Veltz,” she said “But they were giving everything to me.”
I asked what was in the bag and she told me that her boss had said they were bangles and when I asked what was in the boxes they'd delivered she said they were tools. She said the boxes were heavy but she hadn't seen inside them. And for a brief moment I just felt it didn't sound quite right. I didn't know the indians were buying white mans tools, but then why not, but if they were, would bangles be sufficient payment? I asked Jeanette, and she wasn't sure but said some of the bangles and bracelets that came from there were beautiful.
No further doubt ever entered our heads, but I have wished and wished a million times that we had just stopped and given it all a bit more thought. We were being swept along on the crest of a wave. We were riding high. We were on our way to owning our own business. We thought our future together was assured. Not for one moment did either Jeanette or I realise that we were being fooled, set up and framed.
Some weeks before Jeanette's trip to the indian camp a dozen boxes of ammunition had been stolen from the railway depot, but how could we have guessed they'd been secretly acquired by Mrs Veltz? And how could Jeanette have known the ammunition was hidden inside the boxes they'd delivered to the indians? And seeing as the theft was a standing joke among all the railwaymen, owning to the fact that the boxes were clearly marked FAULTY, why would anyone want to steal them? And a week after her trip to the indian camp, when we heard of a skirmish between two indian tribes had resulted in a massacre, did we connect that in anyway? Of course not. It was only by word of mouth that we heard. The little local paper in town hadn't yet come out that week so there were no details, and most people just shrugged their shoulders. To many a good indian was still a dead indian.
Now of course I can tell you everything. It all came out in the end. The connection to everything I've mentioned was simply Mrs Veltz, and now of course I know all about the jewelry. It was only made with semi precious stones, but in a piece of jewelry she'd had some weeks earlier, Mrs Veltz had spotted a tiny seem of gold in a piece of white quartz. It was no more than the width of a piece of cotton running through it, but she knew what it was.
That piece with the tiny seam of gold had come from the Waniuco camp and soon she was back there, not just hoping for another bracelet or bangle with a tiny amount of gold in it, but with a plan in her head that was as wicked as it was greedy. She knew well enough that they must know they had gold on their land, but it was a fact that the indians saw gold as a curse. They were savages yes but they knew on which side their bread was buttered. They knew that if they let the white man know about the gold the soldiers would come and force them off their land. So, like several other tribes in their position, they had kept quiet about it. To them their land was worth far more than gold.
So, this scheming woman went back to them and struck her deal. In a nut shell it was - “I know there's gold here, and I want some. Give me enough gold bearing quartz to make it worth my while and I will bring you what ever you need, and I will retire, go back east, and no-one will ever know about your gold.”
The old men of the tribe got their heads together and decided there was definitely something they wanted. Something the white man's laws prohibited them from having, and that was rifle ammunition. Rifles they'd got, old now but still usable, ammunition though was scarce, and wouldn't they just love to wipe out the Acachas beyond the Red Sand Lake. And so she set about finding it for them.
Not long after Jeanette had been taken to the Waniuco camp I was able to leave the railway company and I was soon learning the ropes as a trader. We hadn't yet acquired the business and of course we were not aware of what the woman was up to, but one day she decided to leave the other woman in charge of the store while she took Jeanette and I to visit the Waniucos again.
I thought it was strange for her to be visiting the same tribe again so soon, but she said that we needed to keep up the most valuable contacts and that very next day we loaded up with pots and pans, blankets, knives and axes, and goodness what else, and off we went.
It was just like Jeanette said it would be, rattling along for hours through beautiful scenery and at night sleeping under the stars. It was beautiful out there in those great forests, but I remember how frustrated I felt each night. Janette was cuddled up with me, but that woman was only a few feet away, and I longed to be alone with my lovely little Jeanette again.
That last day dawned gloriously. It was going to be hot. Then, after I'd taken the horses to a stream and Jeanette had fixed her long plaits, I watched her laughing and talking with Mrs Veltz who was securing the horses into the shafts, and I just couldn't understand how a girl could be so pretty. As I watched her I was feeling quite embarrassed. She was wearing so little compared to the woman. Perhaps it was the French blood in her veins but I suppose out in the wilds she felt so free and easy. I'd been with her as she'd changed in the wagon earlier so I knew she wasn't wearing anything that morning under her dress, and it was so terribly thin compared to the womans brown shirt and long skirt. Heaven only knows what they would have said back home at the vicarage. Jeanette's flimsy little green dress hardly covered her knees, and her legs were so bare and slim. I tell you honest, I had quite a job controlling myself, but at last they were ready, and pulling on her sandals Jeanette climbed up and sitting close to me planted a big kiss on me cheek, and Mrs Veltz laughed, and said “Now, now children.”
Oh god how I loved Jeanette. Sometimes at home, on bath nights, we used to kneel by the tub facing each other naked with her soft nipples pressing against my chest, and while her lips slowly slid little kisses around my face I would gently unravel her plaits, and as my sexual passion grew and rose up to her between her legs, she would breath a little murmur, and right there and then she'd coil her arms around my neck and I'd lower her gently down to that deep woolly bath rug, and make love to her right there and then.
However, when at last we reached the Waniucos there was something unexpected about it. As we approached through the trees we could see the conical shapes of their wigwams and the smoke from their fires, and soon there were indians either side of us, but we could see they were all squaws. Jeanette asked “Is there something wrong?” But the woman just shook her head and drove on into the midst of the camp, with all these squaws, silent and stony faced, piling in around us now.
Mrs Veltz jumped down from the wagon and told us to follow her, but I felt very uneasy about it. The atmosphere was nothing like welcoming, and I put my arm around Jeanette as we walked between their wigwams and their cooking fires and various frames hung with animal skins, until we stopped before some older squaws, where Mrs Veltz addressed them all. We had no idea what she was saying of course, but they started to shout and Jeanette snuggled closer to me because it was becoming alarming, and then suddenly, with one of the old squaws shouting something, they turned, and yelling like fury they were upon us.
It was like a bar room brawl and I found myself struggling furiously but they were all over me, and god forgive me, trying to throw them off I was hitting out in a blind fury, and before long I found ropes around my wrists and my ankles and I was being dragged backwards and I found I was being lashed with my arms and legs outstretched to a wooden frame. Skins were being pulled from it and at the same time Jeanette was being held up against me and lashed in the same way, so we were face to face, lashed together outstretched to this big frame.
The squaws were now dancing around and chanting, with kids running round and dogs yapping, and we were just standing there, spreadeagled against each other, exhausted, frightened, and utterly bewildered.
Mrs Veltz was no where in sight, and we were worried about her but we were having to endure the taunting of some of the older squaws who were jabbering away and laughing at us, and occasionally poking Janette in the ribs with stubby fingers. But then, as I was trying to tell Janette that we mustn't look scared, they suddenly fell silent, and looking over Jeanette's shoulder I saw Mrs Veltz emerge from a wigwam with an elderly squaw. The others went and gathered round them and soon Mrs Veltz was saying something to them, and then the old squaw said something, and suddenly they erupted again, 'whooping' and 'hollering', and jumping up and down in sheer joy.
Mrs Veltz looked across at us, and at first I thought she was going to turn and go, but no, she walked across to us. We just couldn't understand it though. She quite clearly hadn't been molested so why had we, and as she reached us she said, very sadly, “I'm sorry my dears, I didn't want to see you like this.” It was incredible, but straight away I wanted to know why they'd strung us up, and taking a deep breath she told us. It was like a confession. She was at last getting it off her chest I suppose, and she told us that some months before she'd spotted a thin vein of gold in one of the stone bangles here in this Waniucos camp and, like I said, in the manner of a confession, she told us everything.
However, if she looked contrite to start with it didn't last. When she told us about the dud ammunition she laughed when she said that some-one had brought her a dozen boxes that were useless, but it had set her thinking. She then explained why this Waniucos camp was full of widows and mothers, and we learned that the victims of the massacre we'd heard of had been the warriors of this very tribe.
She then told us that she'd heard it rumoured that the Acachas, the tribe on the Red Sand lake, also had gold on their land, and apparently more of it, and of course she also knew of the hatred between the Acachas and the Waniucos. So, she'd done a deal with both tribes.
She sounded so pleased with herself. She said she'd sold some ammunition to the Acachas for a modest quantity of gold, but for a much larger amount of gold she had promised them that she would sell the Waniucos those boxes of faulty ammunition, ammunition that appeared normal, even when fired, but wouldn't carry much further than you could throw a brick. The outcome of course was that the Acachas wiped out the Waniucos warriors in a very one sided fight.
It was a filthy deal, and of course I still wanted to know why we'd been tied up like this, and what she told us was horrifying. She told us that she knew that the Acachas never killed women, and if these Waniucos women discovered that their warriors had been wiped out because she had sold them faulty ammunition they might never rest until they found her. “So my dears,” she said, “I had to have an insurance policy. When we brought the faulty ammunition here Jeanette, my insurance policy was to make it clear to them that you were the supplier, that's why they were heaping payment upon you so generously.”
Her cold blooded audacity was astounding, and as we listened in horror she went on to say that unfortunately these women had afteral found out why their warriors had been defeated, and that they had got word to her, through another trader, offering her a reward to bring the white girl back to them.
Jeanette kept groaning “Oh dear god,” and I was shouting at her and cursing her and wanting to know why they wanted Jeanette, and as the woman was saying how sorry she was now, I'd half noticed that a few yards away, a squaw in the midst of a crowd of them was digging a deep hole. Facing over Jeanette's shoulder I saw it but it didn't register with me because obviously I was so alarmed by what the woman was telling us, and still I was asking, “For god's sake woman why have they done this to us and what the hell are they going to do?”
She took another very deep breath and paused, I suppose trying to find a way of saying it, but in the end she just came straight out with it. I knew we were in trouble but what she said was just devastating. I couldn't believe it. She took this deep breath, and then she said “I'm sorry but they are going to kill you.”
Jeanette cried out in horror, and I started shouting at the woman, calling her everything I could think of, and still she insisted that it might not have ended this way, and that she had pleaded for us. It was obviously a lie and now she was stroking Jeanette's plaits and trying to calm her. As if she could? She must have been mad, and she kept saying it was a shame and I was swearing at her and begging her to ask them to spare my wife, but she just shook her head, and she said they were taking her first, which made the poor girl cry even more.
She then had the nerve to tell us that she'd told us to give us time to prepare ourselves. But to be told that you're going to die is just unimaginable. Then Jeanette spoke, hesitating through her tears and trying to get her breath, she asked how we were going to die. Mrs Veltz was visibly reluctant to say, but Jeanette insisted. “If we're to die,” she said, “I want to know how.” But she wouldn't say. It was clear that she knew alright, but all she said was “Your husband will stay as he is until tomorrow, but they will deal with you tonight my dear.” That was all she said, and I saw that she too was starting to cry now, and again stroking Jeanette's hair she said, “I'm so sorry my poor little dear,” and quickly then she departed.
Jeanette had slumped in despair and was practically hanging now by her wrists and I was trying to tell her that it couldn't be true and they wouldn't dare harm us, but of course I was terrified that it might be, and as we heard the woman whipping up her horses and driving off I was trying to get us free, and I saw over Jeanette's shoulder that some of the squaws were bringing a long pole which they stood in the hole they'd dug. Again I wasn't paying them any attention and as they were stamping down the earth around the pole I was still trying to tell Jeanette it wasn't true, “They won't harm you, they won't.” I was insisting, “They won't,”
But then suddenly! Oh god, suddenly I realised what they were doing! As I realised what Jeanette was going to I just cried out! Some of them were now laying bundles of wood around the foot of the post! Oh god they were going to burn her at the stake!
Jeanette was asking what I'd seen, but how could I tell her? How could I tell her they were going to burn her? I couldn't even speak, but she knew for sure now that she was going to die. “It's true what she said isn't it.”she said. But I couldn't answer her. I was crying my heart out. I couldn't tell her what I'd seen, but I couldn't pretend any longer.
For a long time we hung together, both crying and entwining our fingers together and trying so hard to be brave, saying the Lord's prayer and telling each other of our love for each other, and all the time I was going through hell, knowing what I was going to be made to watch.
The squaws were in no hurry, but as it grew dark they were getting more and more rowdy. They were feasting around a big fire some distance away and all the time they were wailing some hellish dirge, and all we could do was wait. My poor love, she was trembling all the time and I kept burying my face in her neck, sobbing and kissing her. I felt so helpless, and all the time my heart was breaking in two knowing she was going to be burnt alive.
Then, when it was properly dark, they turned from their feast and came to us. More fires were lit and soon the camp was bathed in a yellowy light with grotesque shadows dancing on their wigwams. And as they pressed eagerly around us, Jeanette in panic now, was crying and pressing her face to mine, and as our tormentors stood around us laughing I was hastily telling Jeanette again and again that I would always love her and the good Lord would bring us together again. Oh God, it was so dreadful looking over her shoulder at that post and its bundles of wood, and then suddenly, with one of them announcing something, they pounced.
Jeanette was screaming and I was swearing at them as they cut her loose and as she came free she was trying to cling to me, but whooping and yelling they pulled her from me, and with dogs barking and yelping, she was dragged away, and then suddenly she saw what they'd prepared for her.
Screaming and digging her heals into the ground she was dragged to it, crying out in panic and trying to wriggle free of them, but of course she couldn't, and pulling off her remaining sandal, they stood her on a bundle of wood and quickly lashed her to the stake. Her arms were pulled roughly right back and her wrists tightly bound together behind it, her ankles were chained, and a rope was coiled tightly several times around her waist with a couple of others pulled around her above and below her breasts.
All I could do was gaze at her and cry out to her that I loved her and pray to the Lord that she would go quickly. “Please, please god,” I was crying “Don't let her suffer, she's not strong, she's only young, don't let her suffer. Please, don't let her suffer.” And struggling through her tears she was crying out to me, but then a fat old squaw appeared with a black cooking pot, and with the others crowding noisily around her, she went down on one knee, scooped out a hand-full of yellow grease from the pot and started to smear it over Jeanette's bare feet. It was horrible to see this because I'd already seen that most of the wood was kept to one side. I feared they were going to burn her slowly, and greasing their victim meant it would be even worse for her.
With Jeanette squirming her feet were greased underneath as well, and then struggling to her feet the old woman started to smear the grease up her legs. Jeanette's ankles had been chained either side of the stake so her legs were a little apart, and soon she was greasing her legs up between her thighs, right up under her little dress. It was horrible, and then I saw another squaw had a knife, and to their delight she soon had Jeanette's knickers off and with another hand-full of grease the old hag was up under her dress again and greasing her all the way up inside her thighs.
The hag was doing things to her now, and the more she tormented her the more those devils enjoyed it. It was vile. They were yelling with sheer joy and eventually some of them were hacking at her dress. They were cutting it into ragged strips and ripping it from under the ropes until they had her completely naked, and grabbing hand-fulls of the grease several of them proceeded to grease Jeanette all over, rubbing it hard into every part of her body until she stood bound to that dreadful post panting, stricken with terror, and absolutely gleaming, greased, and ready.
Then an older squaw came and spoke a few words to them, and as soon as she'd finished they were whooping and cavorting around again, but now with drums beating. They were dancing around the stake, going round and round her like a yelling drunken rabble, and then, I saw a squaw with long black hair stooping at one of the fires. She was lighting a torch, a stick bound around the end with something inflammable, and soon it was ablaze.
I don't know why she had been appointed her torturer but that girl was a devil. As the older, grinning squaws sat down cross legged and the rest continued their wild chanting and dancing, she stood and silently sneered at Jeanette for a few moments, and then she held the torch to one of her arms.
Oh god it was awful. Jeanette was shrieking but the girl took her time. Her screams were pitiful, I just can't tell you how much she suffered. I was pulling at the ropes that held me with all my strength but I couldn't get free, I could only watch her writhing and screaming in the most excruciating torment, and every now and then another squaw would hand her another torch and the torture continued.
The young beast burned each of her arms all the way up leaving them raw, and then, with Jeanette going crazy and begging for mercy, she took a fresh torch and, oh dear god, with the flames reflected against Jeanette's gleaming breasts, she held the torch against her nipples, and very slowly she turned each of her poor breasts into an horrific red mess of blistered raw flesh.
I can't find the words to describe her suffering. I don't know how someone as delicate as Jeanette lived through it. For ages she was screeching in agony, twisting and absolutely writhing, but her torturer gave her no mercy, she held the flame to her poor breasts relentlessly. It was hideous, and time and time again I tried to turn away, I couldn't bare to watch but I couldn't cut out her screams and the relentless beat of the drums. It was driving me crazy.
Eventually she'd finished with her breasts and she was handed another torch. I told you Jeanette's legs were parted, and there was a reason. When she lowered the torch and held it up between her legs, Jeanette went berserk, screeching and twisting herself like fury, and I was going mad too, and the old squaws sitting on the ground were really grinning now, slapping their hands up and down on their laps like children.
I don't know how long she held it there, I just don't know, and when at last she took it away, Jeanette collapsed, crying in such agony, with her head hung down and her plaits hanging over her burned breasts. Her poor body was in such a mess, it was gruesome. Like her arms, her body was raw all the way up her front.
Above their whooping and chanting and the continuous hypnotic beating of those drums, I was crying out to my poor wife, but if she realised she didn't respond, and now with a fresh torch, her torturer stooped at last and lit the dry bundle of wood she was standing on. Fervently I was praying this would be the end for her, and almost immediately the crackling fire was taking hold among the finer sticks and little flames were soon creeping up in a smoky haze around her ankles, and in the those few moments she was lifting her head to me and again I saw her face, twisted now with such pain. But all of a sudden she threw her head back against the stake and went rigid. The fire was at her poor feet, and they were burning, and within seconds, as it became unbearable, she was crying out insanely again and writhing in agony. Oh god I couldn't bare it.
And so it went on and on. She was screeching and wildly wrenching herself this way and that in her ropes, going crazy as the fire burned into her feet, and as I watched her, for a fleeting second, I had a vision of her standing on the quay in that little white dress, holding that little white parasol. She'd looked so sweet. God why did it have to come to this.
Every time the faggots at her feet burned through they threw down others so that in time her legs had turned from livid red to shrivelled black and her cries had given way to the desperate strangled groans of a demented dying animal as she writhed, sagging in her bonds, head bowed, slowly roasting. And still they danced around her, crazed and erotically dancing to the hypnotic rhythm of the drums, revelling in every moment of her torture.
I don't know how long it lasted, but when the first shots rang out, I didn't realise what was happening. Then, as the shots came thick and fast I saw several of the squaws drop to the ground while others were running, screaming for their lives.
It was a platoon of troopers from Fort Rockdale. Several hours later I learned that a trader had suggested to the military that they might bring a patrol this way. It was the trader who'd been asked by these squaws to tell Mrs Veltz to 'bring the girl', and wondering what it meant, he'd eventually told the military, and out of curiosity they'd re-routed the next patrol.
As they stamped out Jeanette's fire I could see some of them could hardly look at her poor body as they cut her free. At the same time others were releasing me and having been strung up for so long I could hardly walk but I was determined to get to her, and while they joined the others going after the squaws I knelt and cradled her in my arms.
Dear god she was in a ghastly mess. I cuddled her and I hugged her, and hugged her, and hugged her, telling her that it was all over now and that she was going to be alright. But I knew it was hopeless. Her burns were horrific. Her whole body was just one whole mass of hideous raw burns. It was just ghastly, but as she lay whimpering she was trying to say something to me, but I couldn't tell what she was trying to say. She was looking up into my eyes and she was trying so hard to say something, and then her words started to fade away, and she started to go. Her eyes started to glaze over and I knew she was going. Her poor body was going limp, and as I hugged her I was desperately begging her not to leave me, but it was too late. She died in my arms.