This is a story about a San Saba sheriff named Jeff Lane in the late 1800’s. Jeff was in The state capital city of Austin on official business when he got a telegram from his deputy that simply read “needed here.” The trip from Austin to San Saba could be made in a hard one night ride easy enough, so the sheriff set off to do just that. Not quite half way into his journey a large thunder head showed itself and Jeff got that uneasy feeling you get in your spine when you realize you’re about to get real personal with mother nature. A flash flood can swell up a creek enough to wash away a man and horse that was powder keg dry only a few moments ago.
With the storm nipping at his horses heals, Jeff was sure proud to see the outline off an old line shack emerge from the darkness. He pulled up and saw that it wasn’t occupied at the present moment, so he stabled and grained his horse and stepped into the line shack to make for the night. He lit a fire in the fireplace and stretched out his bedroll and got comfortable. As he lay there he felt something land on his hand. As he moved his hand into the light he noticed it was blood that he felt. He slowly moved his eyes up to the rafters and damn near jumped out of his skin when he noticed a woman up in the rafters with a large butcher knife taking slices out of her own self. Jeff gave out a loud holler at which the woman took another go at herself with that knife. Next he gave a commanding tone and she went at herself again.
The only way he figured he could get her down with that butcher knife in her hand was to try and get her to come down on her own, so he thought that maybe if he cooked something the smell of food would bring her down. So he went to work cooking up some vittles and when he turned around, to his unsettling surprise the woman was on the floor at his back, without him ever hearing her crawl down out of the rafters. Jeff stepped out of the way and let her at the food he had cooked. As she was entertaining herself with that, Jeff got a sewing kit from his saddle bag and a blanket from his bedroll. The plan was to sew the woman up in the blanket. That proved easier said than done but after a half hour battle and quite a few scratches, Jeff did just that.
After the storm had passed the task of getting back on the road was at hand. Getting a crazy woman sewn up in a sheet on the back of a horse was not going to be easy. Horses have a sort of sixth sense about crazy animals and people and they don’t like them. Luck was with Jeff and with a little sweet talking the horse let in and they were on there way.
Upon arrival in San Saba the sheriff had the deputy fetch the doctor. The doctor said the woman was indeed crazy, as if Jeff didn’t already know. He patched up her knife wounds and asked that she remain in the jail cell under his observation until the risk of infection had passed. Jeff had wired the US marshals office to see just what the hell he was supposed to do with his prisoner. The response was not what the good sheriff had wanted to here. The message read “woman escapee from lunatic asylum in Austin. Stop. Return to asylum a.s.a.p. Stop. Good luck. Stop.
In the weeks Jeff had to wait for his prisoner to be fit for travel the crazy lady had become more and more subdued. Jeff’s wife cooked meals for the woman and Jeff delivered them. After only a few days the woman started calling Jeff her son. Then the time had come for the train trip to Austin. Jeff didn’t want to have to keep her restrained on the long ride to Austin, so he had a trial walk about town. The local town people had heard about Jeff’s crazy lady and for the most part, paid her no mind. She did well on the walk about town and actually seemed to cling to Jeff’s side.
The next day the two of them loaded up on the train and headed for Austin. As the train made its way towards its destination the crazy lady would tell every passenger that passed down the aisle that Jeff was her son. The good sheriff would just pull his hat down a little lower over his eyes and hope the trip would soon come to an end. The train stopped in a small town long enough for a lunch break. With great reservation Jeff walked his traveling partner in, sat down and ordered something to eat. When there food arrived, the lady took one look at it and declared that this was simply just not good enough for her son and went in the kitchen to prepare a fitting meal for Jeff. Jeff explained the situation to the kitchen staff and ask that they humor the woman. Jeff returned to his table and in a short while the woman returned with a fried dish towel and served it in front of Jeff with much pride and joy.
The train finally made it to Austin. Jeff walked his prisoner to the asylum and turned her over to the state. Jeff had a little remorse, as he had never heard of a good story coming from an asylum. He was glad to be rid of his burden and never so glad to get back to his normal life.
This was a common occurrence in them days, having to deal with crazy people that is and this is just one of many stories of this nature that attest to the fact, that there were some good men back then that really tried to do what was right. This is Jeff Lane’s story and i right it for him and his descendant’s.
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