Part 4 out of 6
think too much of some one?"
"You have no right to ask me that," said Betty, flushing and turning
away toward the stairway.
"Well, well, child, don't mind me. I did not mean anything. There,
good night, Betty."
Long after she had gone up-stairs Col. Zane sat by his fireside.
From time to time he sighed. He thought of the old Virginia home and
of the smile of his mother. It seemed only a few short years since
he had promised her that he would take care of the baby sister. How
had he kept that promise made when Betty was a little thing bouncing
on his knee? It seemed only yesterday. How swift the flight of time!
Already Betty was a woman; her sweet, gay girlhood had passed;
already a shadow had fallen on her face, the shadow of a secret
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
March with its blustering winds had departed, and now April's
showers and sunshine were gladdening the hearts of the settlers.
Patches of green freshened the slopes of the hills; the lilac bushes
showed tiny leaves, and the maple-buds were bursting. Yesterday a
blue-bird--surest harbinger of spring--had alighted on the
fence-post and had sung his plaintive song. A few more days and the
blossoms were out mingling their pink and white with the green; the
red-bud, the hawthorne, and the dog-wood were in bloom, checkering
"Bessie, spring is here," said Col. Zane, as he stood in the
doorway. "The air is fresh, the sun shines warm, the birds are
singing; it makes me feel good."
"Yes, it is pleasant to have spring with us again," answered his
wife. "I think, though, that in winter I am happier. In summer I am
always worried. I am afraid for the children to be out of my sight,
and when you are away on a hunt I am distraught until you are home
"Well, if the redskins let us alone this summer it will be something
new," he said, laughing. "By the way, Bess, some new people came to
the fort last night. They rafted down from the Monongahela
settlements. Some of the women suffered considerably. I intend to
offer them the cabin on the hill until they can cut the timber and
run up a house. Sam said the cabin roof leaked and the chimney
smoked, but with a little work I think they can be made more
comfortable there than at the block-house."
"It is the only vacant cabin in the settlement. I can accommodate
the women folks here."
"Well, we'll see about it. I don't want you and Betty
inconvenienced. I'll send Sam up to the cabin and have him fix
things up a bit and make it more habitable."
The door opened, admitting Col. Zane's elder boy. The lad's face was
dirty, his nose was all bloody, and a big bruise showed over his
"For the land's sake!" exclaimed his mother. "Look at the boy. Noah,
come here. What have you been doing?"
Noah crept close to his mother and grasping her apron with both
hands hid his face. Mrs. Zane turned the boy around and wiped his
discolored features with a wet towel. She gave him a little shake
and said: "Noah, have you been fighting again?"
"Let him go and I'll tell you about it," said the Colonel, and when
the youngster had disappeared he continued: "Right after breakfast
Noah went with me down to the mill. I noticed several children
playing in front of Reihart's blacksmith shop. I went in, leaving
Noah outside. I got a plow-share which I had left with Reihart to be
repaired. He came to the door with me and all at once he said: 'look
at the kids.' I looked and saw Noah walk up to a boy and say
something to him. The lad was a stranger, and I have no doubt
belongs to these new people I told you about. He was bigger than
Noah. At first the older boy appeared very friendly and evidently
wanted to join the others in their game. I guess Noah did not
approve of this, for after he had looked the stranger over he hauled
away and punched the lad soundly. To make it short the strange boy
gave Noah the worst beating he ever got in his life. I told Noah to
come straight to you and confess."
"Well, did you ever!" ejaculated Mrs. Zane. "Noah is a bad boy. And
you stood and watched him fight. You are laughing about it now.
Ebenezer Zane, I would not put it beneath you to set Noah to
fighting. I know you used to make the little niggers fight. Anyway,
it serves Noah right and I hope it will be a lesson to him."
"I'll make you a bet, Bessie," said the Colonel, with another laugh.
"I'll bet you that unless we lock him up, Noah will fight that boy
every day or every time he meets him."
"I won't bet," said Mrs. Zane, with a smile of resignation.
"Where's Betts? I haven't seen her this morning. I am going over to
Short Creek to-morrow or next day, and think I'll take her with me.
You know I am to get a commission to lay out several settlements
along the river, and I want to get some work finished at Short Creek
this spring. Mrs. Raymer'll be delighted to have Betty. Shall I take
"By all means. A visit there will brighten her up and do her good."
"Well, what on earth have you been doing?" cried the Colonel. His
remark had been called forth by a charming vision that had entered
by the open door. Betty--for it was she--wore a little red cap set
jauntily on her black hair. Her linsey dress was crumpled and
covered with hayseed.
"I've been in the hay-mow," said Betty, waving a small basket. "For
a week that old black hen has circumvented me, but at last I have
conquered. I found the nest in the farthest corner under the hay."
"How did you get up in the loft?" inquired Mrs. Zane.
"Bessie, I climbed up the ladder of course. I acknowledge being
unusually light-hearted and happy this morning, but I have not as
yet grown wings. Sam said I could not climb up that straight ladder,
but I found it easy enough."
"You should not climb up into the loft," said Mrs. Zane, in a severe
tone. "Only last fall Hugh Bennet's little boy slid off the hay down
into one of the stalls and the horse kicked him nearly to death."
"Oh, fiddlesticks, Bessie, I am not a baby," said Betty, with
vehemence. "There is not a horse in the barn but would stand on his
hind legs before he would step on me, let alone kick me."
"I don't know, Betty, but I think that black horse Mr. Clarke left
here would kick any one," remarked the Colonel.
"Oh, no, he would not hurt me."
"Betty, we have had pleasant weather for about three days," said the
Colonel, gravely. "In that time you have let out that crazy bear of
yours to turn everything topsy-turvy. Only yesterday I got my hands
in the paint you have put on your canoe. If you had asked my advice
I would have told you that painting your canoe should not have been
done for a month yet. Silas told me you fell down the creek hill;
Sam said you tried to drive his team over the bluff, and so on. We
are happy to see you get back your old time spirits, but could you
not be a little more careful? Your versatility is bewildering. We do
not know what to look for next. I fully expect to see you brought to
the house some day maimed for life, or all that beautiful black hair
gone to decorate some Huron's lodge."
"I tell you I am perfectly delighted that the weather is again so I
can go out. I am tired to death of staying indoors. This morning I
could have cried for very joy. Bessie will soon be lecturing me
about Madcap. I must not ride farther than the fort. Well, I don't
care. I intend to ride all over."
"Betty, I do not wish you to think I am lecturing you," said the
Colonel's wife. "But you are as wild as a March hare and some one
must tell you things. Now listen. My brother, the Major, told me
that Simon Girty, the renegade, had been heard to say that he had
seen Eb Zane's little sister and that if he ever got his hands on
her he would make a squaw of her. I am not teasing you. I am telling
you the truth. Girty saw you when you were at Fort Pitt two years
ago. Now what would you do if he caught you on one of your lonely
rides and carried you off to his wigwam? He has done things like
that before. James Girty carried off one of the Johnson girls. Her
brothers tried to rescue her and lost their lives. It is a common
trick of the Indians."
"What would I do if Mr. Simon Girty tried to make a squaw of me?"
exclaimed Betty, her eyes flashing fire. "Why, I'd kill him!"
"I believe it, Betts, on my word I do," spoke up the Colonel. "But
let us hope you may never see Girty. All I ask is that you be
careful. I am going over to Short Creek to-morrow. Will you go with
me? I know Mrs. Raymer will be pleased to see you."
"Oh, Eb, that will be delightful!"
"Very well, get ready and we shall start early in the morning."
Two weeks later Betty returned from Short Creek and seemed to have
profited much by her short visit. Col. Zane remarked with
satisfaction to his wife that Betty had regained all her former
The morning after Betty's return was a perfect spring morning--the
first in that month of May-days. The sun shone bright and warm; the
mayflowers blossomed; the trailing arbutus scented the air;
everywhere the grass and the leaves looked fresh and green; swallows
flitted in and out of the barn door; the blue-birds twittered; a
meadow-lark caroled forth his pure melody, and the busy hum of bees
came from the fragrant apple-blossoms.
"Mis' Betty, Madcap 'pears powerfo' skittenish," said old Sam, when
he had led the pony to where Betty stood on the hitching block.
"Whoa, dar, you rascal."
Betty laughed as she leaped lightly into the saddle, and soon she
was flying over the old familiar road, down across the creek bridge,
past the old grist-mill, around the fort and then out on the river
bluff. The Indian pony was fiery and mettlesome. He pranced and
side-stepped, galloped and trotted by turns. He seemed as glad to
get out again into the warm sunshine as was Betty herself. He tore
down the road a mile at his best speed. Coming back Betty pulled him
into a walk. Presently her musings were interrupted by a sharp
switch in the face from a twig of a tree. She stopped the pony and
broke off the offending branch. As she looked around the
recollection of what had happened to her in that very spot flashed
into her mind. It was here that she had been stopped by the man who
had passed almost as swiftly out of her life as he had crossed her
path that memorable afternoon. She fell to musing on the old
perplexing question. After all could there not have been some
mistake? Perhaps she might have misjudged him? And then the old
spirit, which resented her thinking of him in that softened mood,
rose and fought the old battle over again. But as often happened the
mood conquered, and Betty permitted herself to sink for the moment
into the sad thoughts which returned like a mournful strain of music
once sung by beloved voices, now forever silent.
She could not resist the desire to ride down to the old sycamore.
The pony turned into the bridle-path that led down the bluff and the
sure-footed beast picked his way carefully over the roots and
stones. Betty's heart beat quicker when she saw the noble tree under
whose spreading branches she had spent the happiest day of her life.
The old monarch of the forest was not one whit changed by the wild
winds of winter. The dew sparkled on the nearly full grown leaves;
the little sycamore balls were already as large as marbles.
Betty drew rein at the top of the bank and looked absently at the
tree and into the foam covered pool beneath. At that moment her eyes
saw nothing physical. They held the faraway light of the dreamer,
the look that sees so much of the past and nothing of the present.
Presently her reflections were broken by the actions of the pony.
Madcap had thrown up her head, laid back her ears and commenced to
paw the ground with her forefeet. Betty looked round to see the
cause of Madcap's excitement. What was that! She saw a tall figure
clad in brown leaning against the stone. She saw a long fishing-rod.
What was there so familiar in the poise of that figure? Madcap
dislodged a stone from the path and it went rattling down the rock,
slope and fell with a splash into the water. The man heard it,
turned and faced the hillside. Betty recognized Alfred Clarke. For a
moment she believed she must be dreaming. She had had many dreams of
the old sycamore. She looked again. Yes, it was he. Pale, worn, and
older he undoubtedly looked, but the features were surely those of
Alfred Clarke. Her heart gave a great bound and then seemed to stop
beating while a very agony of joy surged over her and made her
faint. So he still lived. That was her first thought, glad and
joyous, and then memory returning, her face went white as with
clenched teeth she wheeled Madcap and struck her with the switch.
Once on the level bluff she urged her toward the house at a furious
Col. Zane had just stepped out of the barn door and his face took on
an expression of amazement when he saw the pony come tearing up the
road, Betty's hair flying in the wind and with a face as white as if
she were pursued by a thousand yelling Indians.
"Say, Betts, what the deuce is wrong?" cried the Colonel, when Betty
reached the fence.
"Why did you not tell me that man was here again?" she demanded in
"That man! What man?" asked Col. Zane, considerably taken back by
this angry apparition.
"Mr. Clarke, of course. Just as if you did not know. I suppose you
thought it a fine opportunity for one of your jokes."
"Oh, Clarke. Well, the fact is I just found it out myself. Haven't I
been away as well as you? I certainly cannot imagine how any man
could create such evident excitement in your mind. Poor Clarke, what
has he done now?"
"You might have told me. Somebody could have told me and saved me
from making a fool of myself," retorted Betty, who was plainly on
the verge of tears. "I rode down to the old sycamore tree and he saw
me in, of all the places in the world, the one place where I would
not want him to see me."
"Huh!" said the Colonel, who often gave vent to the Indian
exclamation. "Is that all? I thought something had happened."
"All! Is it not enough? I would rather have died. He is a man and he
will think I followed him down there, that I was thinking
of--that--Oh!" cried Betty, passionately, and then she strode into
the house, slammed the door, and left the Colonel, lost in wonder.
"Humph! These women beat me. I can't make them out, and the older I
grow the worse I get," he said, as he led the pony into the stable.
Betty ran up-stairs to her room, her head in a whirl stronger than
the surprise of Alfred's unexpected appearance in Fort Henry and
stronger than the mortification in having been discovered going to a
spot she should have been too proud to remember was the bitter sweet
consciousness that his mere presence had thrilled her through and
through. It hurt her and made her hate herself in that moment. She
hid her face in shame at the thought that she could not help being
glad to see the man who had only trifled with her, the man who had
considered the acquaintance of so little consequence that he had
never taken the trouble to write her a line or send her a message.
She wrung her trembling hands. She endeavored to still that
throbbing heart and to conquer that sweet vague feeling which had
crept over her and made her weak. The tears began to come and with a
sob she threw herself on the bed and buried her head in the pillow.
An hour after, when Betty had quieted herself and had seated herself
by the window a light knock sounded on the door and Col. Zane
entered. He hesitated and came in rather timidly, for Betty was not
to be taken liberties with, and seeing her by the window he crossed
the room and sat down by her side.
Betty did not remember her father or her mother. Long ago when she
was a child she had gone to her brother, laid her head on his
shoulder and told him all her troubles. The desire grew strong
within her now. There was comfort in the strong clasp of his hand.
She was not proof against it, and her dark head fell on his
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Alfred Clarke had indeed made his reappearance in Fort Henry. The
preceding October when he left the settlement to go on the
expedition up the Monongahela River his intention had been to return
to the fort as soon as he had finished his work, but what he did do
was only another illustration of that fatality which affects
everything. Man hopefully makes his plans and an inexorable destiny
works out what it has in store for him.
The men of the expedition returned to Fort Henry in due time, but
Alfred had been unable to accompany them. He had sustained a painful
injury and had been compelled to go to Fort Pitt for medical
assistance. While there he had received word that his mother was
lying very ill at his old home in Southern Virginia and if he wished
to see her alive he must not delay in reaching her bedside. He left
Fort Pitt at once and went to his home, where he remained until his
mother's death. She had been the only tie that bound him to the old
home, and now that she was gone he determined to leave the scene of
his boyhood forever.
Alfred was the rightful heir to all of the property, but an unjust
and selfish stepfather stood between him and any contentment he
might have found there. He decided he would be a soldier of fortune.
He loved the daring life of a ranger, and preferred to take his
chances with the hardy settlers on the border rather than live the
idle life of a gentleman farmer. He declared his intention to his
step-father, who ill-concealed his satisfaction at the turn affairs
had taken. Then Alfred packed his belongings, secured his mother's
jewels, and with one sad, backward glance rode away from the stately
It was Sunday morning and Clarke had been two days in Fort Henry.
From his little room in the block-house he surveyed the
well-remembered scene. The rolling hills, the broad river, the green
forests seemed like old friends.
"Here I am again," he mused. "What a fool a man can be. I have left
a fine old plantation, slaves, horses, a country noted for its
pretty women--for what? Here there can be nothing for me but
Indians, hard work, privation, and trouble. Yet I could not get here
quickly enough. Pshaw! What use to speak of the possibilities of a
new country. I cannot deceive myself. It is she. I would walk a
thousand miles and starve myself for months just for one glimpse of
her sweet face. Knowing this what care I for all the rest. How
strange she should ride down to the old sycamore tree yesterday the
moment I was there and thinking of her. Evidently she had just
returned from her visit. I wonder if she ever cared. I wonder if she
ever thinks of me. Shall I accept that incident as a happy augury?
Well, I am here to find out and find out I will. Aha! there goes the
Laughing a little at his eagerness he brushed his coat, put on his
cap and went down stairs. The settlers with their families were
going into the meeting house. As Alfred started up the steps he met
"Why, Mr. Clarke, I heard you had returned," she said, smiling
pleasantly and extending her hand. "Welcome to the fort. I am very
glad to see you."
While they were chatting her father and Col. Zane came up and both
greeted the young man warmly.
"Well, well, back on the frontier," said the Colonel, in his hearty
way. "Glad to see you at the fort again. I tell you, Clarke, I have
taken a fancy to that black horse you left me last fall. I did not
know what to think when Jonathan brought back my horse. To tell you
the truth I always looked for you to come back. What have you been
doing all winter?"
"I have been at home. My mother was ill all winter and she died in
"My lad, that's bad news. I am sorry," said Col. Zane putting his
hand kindly on the young man's shoulder. "I was wondering what gave
you that older and graver look. It's hard, lad, but it's the way of
"I have come back to get my old place with you, Col. Zane, if you
will give it to me."
"I will, and can promise you more in the future. I am going to open
a road through to Maysville, Kentucky, and start several new
settlements along the river. I will need young men, and am more than
glad you have returned."
"Thank you, Col. Zane. That is more than I could have hoped for."
Alfred caught sight of a trim figure in a gray linsey gown coming
down the road. There were several young people approaching, but he
saw only Betty. By some evil chance Betty walked with Ralfe Miller,
and for some mysterious reason, which women always keep to
themselves, she smiled and looked up into his face at a time of all
times she should not have done so. Alfred's heart turned to lead.
When the young people reached the steps the eyes of the rivals met
for one brief second, but that was long enough for them to
understand each other. They did not speak. Lydia hesitated and
looked toward Betty.
"Betty, here is--" began Col. Zane, but Betty passed them with
flaming cheeks and with not so much as a glance at Alfred. It was an
awkward moment for him.
"Let us go in," he said composedly, and they filed into the church.
As long as he lived Alfred Clarke never forgot that hour. His pride
kept him chained in his seat. Outwardly he maintained his composure,
but inwardly his brain seemed throbbing, whirling, bursting. What an
idiot he had been! He understood now why his letter had never been
answered. Betty loved Miller, a man who hated him, a man who would
leave no stone unturned to destroy even a little liking which she
might have felt for him. Once again Miller had crossed his path and
worsted him. With a sudden sickening sense of despair he realized
that all his fond hopes had been but dreams, a fool's dreams. The
dream of that moment when he would give her his mother's jewels, the
dream of that charming face uplifted to his, the dream of the little
cottage to which he would hurry after his day's work and find her
waiting at the gate,--these dreams must be dispelled forever. He
could barely wait until the end of the service. He wanted to be
alone; to fight it out with himself; to crush out of his heart that
fair image. At length the hour ended and he got out before the
congregation and hurried to his room.
Betty had company all that afternoon and it was late in the day when
Col. Zane ascended the stairs and entered her room to find her
"Betty, I wish to know why you ignored Mr. Clarke this morning?"
said Col. Zane, looking down on his sister. There was a gleam in his
eye and an expression about his mouth seldom seen in the Colonel's
"I do not know that it concerns any one but myself," answered Betty
quickly, as her head went higher and her eyes flashed with a gleam
not unlike that in her brother's.
"I beg your pardon. I do not agree with you," replied Col. Zane. "It
does concern others. You cannot do things like that in this little
place where every one knows all about you and expect it to pass
unnoticed. Martin's wife saw you cut Clarke and you know what a
gossip she is. Already every one is talking about you and Clarke."
"To that I am indifferent."
"But I care. I won't have people talking about you," replied the
Colonel, who began to lose patience. Usually he had the best temper
imaginable. "Last fall you allowed Clarke to pay you a good deal of
attention and apparently you were on good terms when he went away.
Now that he has returned you won't even speak to him. You let this
fellow Miller run after you. In my estimation Miller is not to be
compared to Clarke, and judging from the warm greetings I saw Clarke
receive this morning, there are a number of folk who agree with me.
Not that I am praising Clarke. I simply say this because to Bessie,
to Jack, to everyone, your act is incomprehensible. People are
calling you a flirt and saying that they would prefer some country
"I have not allowed Mr. Miller to run after me, as you are pleased
to term it," retorted Betty with indignation. "I do not like him. I
never see him any more unless you or Bessie or some one else is
present. You know that. I cannot prevent him from walking to church
"No, I suppose not, but are you entirely innocent of those sweet
glances which you gave him this morning?"
"I did not," cried Betty with an angry blush. "I won't be called a
flirt by you or by anyone else. The moment I am civil to some man
all these old maids and old women say I am flirting. It is
"Now, Betty, don't get excited. We are getting from the question.
Why are you not civil to Clarke?" asked Col. Zane. She did not
answer and after a moment he continued. "If there is anything about
Clarke that I do not know and that I should know I want you to tell
me. Personally I like the fellow. I am not saying that to make you
think you ought to like him because I do. You might not care for him
at all, but that would be no good reason for your actions. Betty, in
these frontier settlements a man is soon known for his real worth.
Every one at the Fort liked Clarke. The youngsters adored him.
Jessie liked him very much. You know he and Isaac became good
friends. I think he acted like a man to-day. I saw the look Miller
gave him. I don't like this fellow Miller, anyway. Now, I am taking
the trouble to tell you my side of the argument. It is not a
question of your liking Clarke--that is none of my affair. It is
simply that either he is not the man we all think him or you are
acting in a way unbecoming a Zane. I do not purpose to have this
state of affairs continue. Now, enough of this beating about the
Betty had seen the Colonel angry more than once, but never with her.
It was quite certain she had angered him and she forgot her own
resentment. Her heart had warmed with her brother's praise of
Clarke. Then as she remembered the past she felt a scorn for her
weakness and such a revulsion of feeling that she cried out
"He is a trifler. He never cared for me. He insulted me."
Col. Zane reached for his hat, got up without saying another word
and went down stairs.
Betty had not intended to say quite what she had and instantly
regretted her hasty words. She called to the Colonel, but he did not
answer her, nor return.
"Betty, what in the world could you have said to my husband?" said
Mrs. Zane as she entered the room. She was breathless from running
up the stairs and her comely face wore a look of concern. "He was as
white as that sheet and he stalked off toward the Fort without a
word to me."
"I simply told him Mr. Clarke had insulted me," answered Betty
"Great Heavens! Betty, what have you done?" exclaimed Mrs. Zane.
"You don't know Eb when he is angry. He is a big fool over you,
anyway. He is liable to kill Clarke."
Betty's blood was up now and she said that would not be a matter of
"When did he insult you?" asked the elder woman, yielding to her
"It was last October."
"Pooh! It took you a long time to tell it. I don't believe it
amounted to much. Mr. Clarke did not appear to be the sort of a man
to insult anyone. All the girls were crazy about him last year. If
he was not all right they would not have been."
"I do not care if they were. The girls can have him and welcome. I
don't want him. I never did. I am tired of hearing everyone eulogize
him. I hate him. Do you hear? I hate him! And I wish you would go
away and leave me alone."
"Well, Betty, all I will say is that you are a remarkable young
woman," answered Mrs. Zane, who saw plainly that Betty's violent
outburst was a prelude to a storm of weeping. "I don't believe a
word you have said. I don't believe you hate him. There!"
Col. Zane walked straight to the Fort, entered the block-house and
knocked on the door of Clarke's room. A voice bade him come in. He
shoved open the door and went into the room. Clarke had evidently
just returned from a tramp in the hills, for his garments were
covered with burrs and his boots were dusty. He looked tired, but
his face was calm.
"Why, Col. Zane! Have a seat. What can I do for you?"
"I have come to ask you to explain a remark of my sister's."
"Very well, I am at your service," answered Alfred slowly lighting
his pipe, after which he looked straight into Col. Zane's face.
"My sister informs me that you insulted her last fall before you
left the Fort. I am sure you are neither a liar nor a coward, and I
expect you to answer as a man."
"Col. Zane, I am not a liar, and I hope I am not a coward," said
Alfred coolly. He took a long pull on his pipe and blew a puff of
white smoke toward the ceiling.
"I believe you, but I must have an explanation. There is something
wrong somewhere. I saw Betty pass you without speaking this morning.
I did not like it and I took her to task about it. She then said you
had insulted her. Betty is prone to exaggerate, especially when
angry, but she never told me a lie in her life. Ever since you
pulled Isaac out of the river I have taken an interest in you.
That's why I'd like to avoid any trouble. But this thing has gone
far enough. Now be sensible, swallow your pride and let me hear your
side of the story."
Alfred had turned pale at his visitor's first words. There was no
mistaking Col. Zane's manner. Alfred well knew that the Colonel, if
he found Betty had really been insulted, would call him out and kill
him. Col. Zane spoke quietly, ever kindly, but there was an
undercurrent of intense feeling in his voice, a certain deadly
intent which boded ill to anyone who might cross him at that moment.
Alfred's first impulse was a reckless desire to tell Col. Zane he
had nothing to explain and that he stood ready to give any
satisfaction in his power. But he wisely thought better of this. It
struck him that this would not be fair, for no matter what the girl
had done the Colonel had always been his friend. So Alfred pulled
himself together and resolved to make a clean breast of the whole
"Col. Zane, I do not feel that I owe your sister anything, and what
I am going to tell you is simply because you have always been my
friend, and I do not want you to have any wrong ideas about me. I'll
tell you the truth and you can be the judge as to whether or not I
insulted your sister. I fell in love with her, almost at first
sight. The night after the Indians recaptured your brother, Betty
and I stood out in the moonlight and she looked so bewitching and I
felt so sorry for her and so carried away by my love for her that I
yielded to a momentary impulse and kissed her. I simply could not
help it. There is no excuse for me. She struck me across the face
and ran into the house. I had intended that night to tell her of my
love and place my fate in her hands, but, of course, the unfortunate
occurrence made that impossible. As I was to leave at dawn next day,
I remained up all night, thinking what I ought to do. Finally I
decided to write. I wrote her a letter, telling her all and begging
her to become my wife. I gave the letter to your slave, Sam, and
told him it was a matter of life and death, and not to lose the
letter nor fail to give it to Betty. I have had no answer to that
letter. Today she coldly ignored me. That is my story, Col. Zane."
"Well, I don't believe she got the letter," said Col. Zane. "She has
not acted like a young lady who has had the privilege of saying
'yes' or 'no' to you. And Sam never had any use for you. He disliked
you from the first, and never failed to say something against you."
"I'll kill that d--n nigger if he did not deliver that letter," said
Clarke, jumping up in his excitement. "I never thought of that. Good
Heaven! What could she have thought of me? She would think I had
gone away without a word. If she knew I really loved her she could
not think so terribly of me."
"There is more to be explained, but I am satisfied with your side of
it," said Col. Zane. "Now I'll go to Sam and see what has become of
that letter. I am glad I am justified in thinking of you as I have.
I imagine this thing has hurt you and I don't wonder at it. Maybe we
can untangle the problem yet. My advice would be--but never mind
that now. Anyway, I'm your friend in this matter. I'll let you know
the result of my talk with Sam."
"I thought that young fellow was a gentleman," mused Col. Zane as he
crossed the green square and started up the hill toward the cabins.
He found the old negro seated on his doorstep.
"Sam, what did you do with a letter Mr. Clarke gave you last October
and instructed you to deliver to Betty?"
"I dun recollec' no lettah, sah," replied Sam.
"Now, Sam, don't lie about it. Clarke has just told me that he gave
you the letter. What did you do with it?"
"Masse Zane, I ain dun seen no lettah," answered the old darkey,
taking a dingy pipe from his mouth and rolling his eyes at his
"If you lie again I will punish you," said Col. Zane sternly. "You
are getting old, Sam, and I would not like to whip you, but I will
if you do not find that letter."
Sam grumbled, and shuffled inside the cabin. Col. Zane heard him
rummaging around. Presently he came back to the door and handed a
very badly soiled paper to the Colonel.
"What possessed you to do this, Sam? You have always been honest.
Your act has caused great misunderstanding and it might have led to
"He's one of dem no good Southern white trash; he's good fer
nuttin'," said Sam. "I saw yo' sistah, Mis' Betty, wit him, and I
seen she was gittin' fond of him, and I says I ain't gwinter have
Mis' Betty runnin' off wif him. And I'se never gibbin de lettah to
That was all the explanation Sam would vouchsafe, and Col. Zane,
knowing it would be useless to say more to the well-meaning but
ignorant and superstitious old negro, turned and wended his way back
to the house. He looked at the paper and saw that it was addressed
to Elizabeth Zane, and that the ink was faded until the letters were
"What have you there?" asked his wife, who had watched him go up the
hill to the negro's cabin. She breathed a sigh of relief when she
saw that her husband's face had recovered its usual placid
"It is a little letter for that young fire-brand up stairs, and, I
believe it will clear up the mystery. Clarke gave it to Sam last
fall and Sam never gave it to Betty."
"I hope with all my heart it may settle Betty. She worries me to
death with her love affairs."
Col. Zane went up stairs and found the young lady exactly as he had
left her. She gave an impatient toss of her head as he entered.
"Well, Madam, I have here something that may excite even your
interest." he said cheerily.
"What?" asked Betty with a start. She flushed crimson when she saw
the letter and at first refused to take it from her brother. She was
at a loss to understand his cheerful demeanor. He had been anything
but pleasant a few moments since.
"Here, take it. It is a letter from Mr. Clarke which you should have
received last fall. That last morning he gave this letter to Sam to
deliver to you, and the crazy old nigger kept it. However, it is too
late to talk of that, only it does seem a great pity. I feel sorry
for both of you. Clarke never will forgive you, even if you want him
to, which I am sure you do not. I don't know exactly what is in this
letter, but I know it will make you ashamed to think you did not
With this parting reproof the Colonel walked out, leaving Betty
completely bewildered. The words "too late," "never forgive," and "a
great pity" rang through her head. What did he mean? She tore the
letter open with trembling hands and holding it up to the now
fast-waning light, she read
"If you had waited only a moment longer I know you would not have
been so angry with me. The words I wanted so much to say choked me
and I could not speak them. I love you. I have loved you from the
very first moment, that blessed moment when I looked up over your
pony's head to see the sweetest face the sun ever shone on. I'll be
the happiest man on earth if you will say you care a little for me
and promise to be my wife.
"It was wrong to kiss you and I beg your forgiveness. Could you but
see your face as I saw it last night in the moonlight, I would not
need to plead: you would know that the impulse which swayed me was
irresistible. In that kiss I gave you my hope, my love, my life, my
all. Let it plead for me.
"I expect to return from Ft. Pitt in about six or eight weeks, but I
cannot wait until then for your answer.
"With hope I sign myself,
"Yours until death,
Betty read the letter through. The page blurred before her eyes; a
sensation of oppression and giddiness made her reach out helplessly
with both hands. Then she slipped forward and fell on the floor. For
the first time in all her young life Betty had fainted. Col. Zane
found her lying pale and quiet under the window.
Yantwaia, or, as he was more commonly called, Cornplanter, was
originally a Seneca chief, but when the five war tribes
consolidated, forming the historical "Five Nations," he became their
leader. An old historian said of this renowned chieftain: "Tradition
says that the blood of a famous white man coursed through the veins
of Cornplanter. The tribe he led was originally ruled by an Indian
queen of singular power and beauty. She was born to govern her
people by the force of her character. Many a great chief importuned
her to become his wife, but she preferred to cling to her power and
dignity. When this white man, then a very young man, came to the
Ohio valley the queen fell in love with him, and Cornplanter was
Cornplanter lived to a great age. He was a wise counsellor, a great
leader, and he died when he was one hundred years old, having had
more conceded to him by the white men than any other chieftain.
General Washington wrote of him: "The merits of Cornplanter and his
friendship for the United States are well known and shall not be
But Cornplanter had not always been a friend to the palefaces.
During Dunmore's war and for years after, he was one of the most
vindictive of the savage leaders against the invading pioneers.
It was during this period of Cornplanter's activity against the
whites that Isaac Zane had the misfortune to fall into the great
We remember Isaac last when, lost in the woods, weak from hunger and
exposure, he had crawled into a thicket and had gone to sleep. He
was awakened by a dog licking his face. He heard Indian voices. He
got up and ran as fast as he could, but exhausted as he was he
proved no match for his pursuers. They came up with him and seeing
that he was unable to defend himself they grasped him by the arms
and led him down a well-worn bridle-path.
"D--n poor run. No good legs," said one of his captors, and at this
the other two Indians laughed. Then they whooped and yelled, at
which signal other Indians joined them. Isaac saw that they were
leading him into a large encampment. He asked the big savage who led
him what camp it was, and learned that he had fallen into the hands
While being marched through the large Indian village Isaac saw
unmistakable indications of war. There was a busy hum on all sides;
the squaws were preparing large quantities of buffalo meat, cutting
it in long, thin strips, and were parching corn in stone vessels.
The braves were cleaning rifles, sharpening tomahawks, and mixing
war paints. All these things Isaac knew to be preparations for long
marches and for battle. That night he heard speech after speech in
the lodge next to the one in which he lay, but they were in an
unknown tongue. Later he heard the yelling of the Indians and the
dull thud of their feet as they stamped on the ground. He heard the
ring of the tomahawks as they were struck into hard wood. The
Indians were dancing the war-dance round the war-post. This
continued with some little intermission all the four days that Isaac
lay in the lodge rapidly recovering his strength. The fifth day a
man came into the lodge. He was tall and powerful, his hair fell
over his shoulders and he wore the scanty buckskin dress of the
Indian. But Isaac knew at once he was a white man, perhaps one of
the many French traders who passed through the Indian village.
"Your name is Zane," said the man in English, looking sharply at
"That is my name. Who are you?" asked Isaac in great surprise.
"I am Girty. I've never seen you, but I knew Col. Zane and Jonathan
well. I've seen your sister; you all favor one another."
"Are you Simon Girty?"
"I have heard of your influence with the Indians. Can you do
anything to get me out of this?"
"How did you happen to git over here? You are not many miles from
Wingenund's Camp," said Girty, giving Isaac another sharp look from
his small black eyes.
"Girty, I assure you I am not a spy. I escaped from the Wyandot
village on Mad River and after traveling three days I lost my way. I
went to sleep in a thicket and when I awoke an Indian dog had found
me. I heard voices and saw three Indians. I got up and ran, but they
easily caught me."
"I know about you. Old Tarhe has a daughter who kept you from bein'
"Yes, and I wish I were back there. I don't like the look of
"You are right, Zane. You got ketched at a bad time. The Indians are
mad. I suppose you don't know that Col. Crawford massacred a lot of
Indians a few days ago. It'll go hard with any white man that gits
captured. I'm afraid I can't do nothin' for you."
A few words concerning Simon Girty, the White Savage. He had two
brothers, James and George, who had been desperadoes before they
were adopted by the Delawares, and who eventually became fierce and
relentless savages. Simon had been captured at the same time as his
brothers, but he did not at once fall under the influence of the
unsettled, free-and-easy life of the Indians. It is probable that
while in captivity he acquired the power of commanding the Indians'
interest and learned the secret of ruling them--two capabilities few
white men ever possessed. It is certain that he, like the noted
French-Canadian Joucaire, delighted to sit round the camp fires and
to go into the council-lodge and talk to the assembled Indians.
At the outbreak of the revolution Girty was a commissioned officer
of militia at Ft. Pitt. He deserted from the Fort, taking with him
the Tories McKee and Elliott, and twelve soldiers, and these
traitors spread as much terror among the Delaware Indians as they
did among the whites. The Delawares had been one of the few
peacefully disposed tribes. In order to get them to join their
forces with Governor Hamilton, the British commander, Girty declared
that Gen. Washington had been killed, that Congress had been
dispersed, and that the British were winning all the battles.
Girty spoke most of the Indian languages, and Hamilton employed him
to go among the different Indian tribes and incite them to greater
hatred of the pioneers. This proved to be just the life that suited
him. He soon rose to have a great and bad influence on all the
tribes. He became noted for his assisting the Indians in marauds,
for his midnight forays, for his scalpings, and his efforts to
capture white women, and for his devilish cunning and cruelty.
For many years Girty was the Deathshead of the frontier. The mention
of his name alone created terror in any household; in every
pioneer's cabin it made the children cry out in fear and paled the
cheeks of the stoutest-hearted wife.
It is difficult to conceive of a white man's being such a fiend in
human guise. The only explanation that can be given is that
renegades rage against the cause of their own blood with the fury of
insanity rather than with the malignity of a naturally ferocious
temper. In justice to Simon Girty it must be said that facts not
known until his death showed he was not so cruel and base as
believed; that some deeds of kindness were attributed to him; that
he risked his life to save Kenton from the stake, and that many of
the terrible crimes laid at his door were really committed by his
Isaac Zane suffered no annoyance at the hands of Cornplanter's
braves until the seventh day of his imprisonment. He saw no one
except the squaw who brought him corn and meat. On that day two
savages came for him and led him into the immense council-lodge of
the Five Nations. Cornplanter sat between his right-hand chiefs, Big
Tree and Half Town, and surrounded by the other chiefs of the
tribes. An aged Indian stood in the center of the lodge and
addressed the others. The listening savages sat immovable, their
faces as cold and stern as stone masks. Apparently they did not heed
the entrance of the prisoner.
"Zane, they're havin' a council," whispered a voice in Isaac's ear.
Isaac turned and recognized Girty. "I want to prepare you for the
"Is there, then, no hope for me?" asked Isaac.
"I'm afraid not," continued the renegade, speaking in a low whisper.
"They wouldn't let me speak at the council. I told Cornplanter that
killin' you might bring the Hurons down on him, but he wouldn't
listen. Yesterday, in the camp of the Delawares, I saw Col. Crawford
burnt at the stake. He was a friend of mine at Pitt, and I didn't
dare to say one word to the frenzied Indians. I had to watch the
torture. Pipe and Wingenund, both old friends of Crawford, stood by
and watched him walk round the stake on the red-hot coals five
Isaac shuddered at the words of the renegade, but did not answer. He
had felt from the first that his case was hopeless, and that no
opportunity for escape could possibly present itself in such a large
encampment. He set his teeth hard and resolved to show the red
devils how a white man could die.
Several speeches were made by different chiefs and then an
impressive oration by Big Tree. At the conclusion of the speeches,
which were in an unknown tongue to Isaac, Cornplanter handed a
war-club to Half Town. This chief got up, walked to the end of the
circle, and there brought the club down on the ground with a
resounding thud. Then he passed the club to Big Tree. In a solemn
and dignified manner every chief duplicated Half Town's performance
with the club.
Isaac watched the ceremony as if fascinated. He had seen a war-club
used in the councils of the Hurons and knew that striking it on the
ground signified war and death.
"White man, you are a killer of Indians," said Cornplanter in good
English. "When the sun shines again you die."
A brave came forward and painted Isaac's face black. This Isaac knew
to indicate that death awaited him on the morrow. On his way back to
his prison-lodge he saw that a war-dance was in progress.
A hundred braves with tomahawks, knives, and mallets in their hands
were circling round a post and keeping time to the low music of a
muffled drum. Close together, with heads bowed, they marched. At
certain moments, which they led up to with a dancing on rigid legs
and a stamping with their feet, they wheeled, and uttering hideous
yells, started to march in the other direction. When this had been
repeated three times a brave stepped from the line, advanced, and
struck his knife or tomahawk into the post. Then with a loud voice
he proclaimed his past exploits and great deeds in war. The other
Indians greeted this with loud yells of applause and a flourishing
of weapons. Then the whole ceremony was gone through again.
That afternoon many of the Indians visited Isaac in his lodge and
shook their fists at him and pointed their knives at him. They
hissed and groaned at him. Their vindictive faces expressed the
malignant joy they felt at the expectation of putting him to the
When night came Isaac's guards laced up the lodge-door and shut him
from the sight of the maddened Indians. The darkness that gradually
enveloped him was a relief. By and by all was silent except for the
occasional yell of a drunken savage. To Isaac it sounded like a
long, rolling death-cry echoing throughout the encampment and
murdering his sleep. Its horrible meaning made him shiver and his
flesh creep. At length even that yell ceased. The watch-dogs quieted
down and the perfect stillness which ensued could almost be felt.
Through Isaac's mind ran over and over again the same words. His
last night to live! His last night to live! He forced himself to
think of other things. He lay there in the darkness of his tent, but
he was far away in thought, far away in the past with his mother and
brothers before they had come to this bloodthirsty country. His
thoughts wandered to the days of his boyhood when he used to drive
the sows to the pasture on the hillside, and in his dreamy,
disordered fancy he was once more letting down the bars of the gate.
Then he was wading in the brook and whacking the green frogs with
his stick. Old playmates' faces, forgotten for years, were there
looking at him from the dark wall of his wigwam. There was Andrew's
face; the faces of his other brothers; the laughing face of his
sister; the serene face of his mother. As he lay there with the
shadow of death over him sweet was the thought that soon he would be
reunited with that mother. The images faded slowly away, swallowed
up in the gloom. Suddenly a vision appeared to him. A radiant white
light illumined the lodge and shone full on the beautiful face of
the Indian maiden who had loved him so well. Myeerah's dark eyes
were bright with an undying love and her lips smiled hope.
A rude kick dispelled Isaac's dreams. A brawny savage pulled him to
his feet and pushed him outside of the lodge.
It was early morning. The sun had just cleared the low hills in the
east and its red beams crimsoned the edges of the clouds of fog
which hung over the river like a great white curtain. Though the air
was warm, Isaac shivered a little as the breeze blew softly against
his cheek. He took one long look toward the rising sun, toward that
east he had hoped to see, and then resolutely turned his face away
Early though it was the Indians were astir and their whooping rang
throughout the valley. Down the main street of the village the
guards led the prisoner, followed by a screaming mob of squaws and
young braves and children who threw sticks and stones at the hated
Soon the inhabitants of the camp congregated on the green oval in
the midst of the lodges. When the prisoner appeared they formed in
two long lines facing each other, and several feet apart. Isaac was
to run the gauntlet--one of the severest of Indian tortures. With
the exception of Cornplanter and several of his chiefs, every Indian
in the village was in line. Little Indian boys hardly large enough
to sling a stone; maidens and squaws with switches or spears;
athletic young braves with flashing tomahawks; grim, matured
warriors swinging knotted war clubs,--all were there in line,
yelling and brandishing their weapons in a manner frightful to
The word was given, and stripped to the waist, Isaac bounded forward
fleet as a deer. He knew the Indian way of running the gauntlet. The
head of that long lane contained the warriors and older braves and
it was here that the great danger lay. Between these lines he sped
like a flash, dodging this way and that, running close in under the
raised weapons, taking what blows he could on his uplifted arms,
knocking this warrior over and doubling that one up with a lightning
blow in the stomach, never slacking his speed for one stride, so
that it was extremely difficult for the Indians to strike him
effectually. Once past that formidable array, Isaac's gauntlet was
run, for the squaws and children scattered screaming before the
sweep of his powerful arms.
The old chiefs grunted their approval. There was a bruise on Isaac's
forehead and a few drops of blood mingled with the beads of
perspiration. Several lumps and scratches showed on his bare
shoulders and arms, but he had escaped any serious injury. This was
a feat almost without a parallel in gauntlet running.
When he had been tied with wet buckskin thongs to the post in the
center of the oval, the youths, the younger braves, and the squaws
began circling round him, yelling like so many demons. The old
squaws thrust sharpened sticks, which had been soaked in salt water,
into his flesh. The maidens struck him with willows which left red
welts on his white shoulders. The braves buried the blades of their
tomahawks in the post as near as possible to his head without
actually hitting him.
Isaac knew the Indian nature well. To command the respect of the
savages was the only way to lessen his torture. He knew that a cry
for mercy would only increase his sufferings and not hasten his
death,--indeed it would prolong both. He had resolved to die without
a moan. He had determined to show absolute indifference to his
torture, which was the only way to appeal to the savage nature, and
if anything could, make the Indians show mercy. Or, if he could
taunt them into killing him at once he would be spared all the
terrible agony which they were in the habit of inflicting on their
One handsome young brave twirled a glittering tomahawk which he
threw from a distance of ten, fifteen, and twenty feet and every
time the sharp blade of the hatchet sank deep into the stake within
an inch of Isaac's head. With a proud and disdainful look Isaac
gazed straight before him and paid no heed to his tormentor.
"Does the Indian boy think he can frighten a white warrior?" said
Isaac scornfully at length. "Let him go and earn his eagle plumes.
The pale face laughs at him."
The young brave understood the Huron language, for he gave a
frightful yell and cast his tomahawk again, this time shaving a lock
of hair from Isaac's head.
This was what Isaac had prayed for. He hoped that one of these
glittering hatchets would be propelled less skillfully than its
predecessors and would kill him instantly. But the enraged brave had
no other opportunity to cast his weapon, for the Indians jeered at
him and pushed him from the line.
Other braves tried their proficiency in the art of throwing knives
and tomahawks, but their efforts called forth only words of derision
from Isaac. They left the weapons sticking in the post until round
Isaac's head and shoulders there was scarcely room for another.
"The White Eagle is tired of boys," cried Isaac to a chief dancing
near. "What has he done that he be made the plaything of children?
Let him die the death of a chief."
The maidens had long since desisted in their efforts to torment the
prisoner. Even the hardened old squaws had withdrawn. The prisoner's
proud, handsome face, his upright bearing, his scorn for his
enemies, his indifference to the cuts and bruises, and red welts
upon his clear white skin had won their hearts.
Not so with the braves. Seeing that the pale face scorned all
efforts to make him flinch, the young brave turned to Big Tree. At a
command from this chief the Indians stopped their maneuvering round
the post and formed a large circle. In another moment a tall warrior
appeared carrying an armful of fagots.
In spite of his iron nerve Isaac shuddered with horror. He had
anticipated running the gauntlet, having his nails pulled out,
powder and salt shot into his flesh, being scalped alive and a host
of other Indian tortures, but as he had killed no members of this
tribe he had not thought of being burned alive. God, it was too
The Indians were now quiet. Their songs and dances would break out
soon enough. They piled fagot after fagot round Isaac's feet. The
Indian warrior knelt on the ground the steel clicked on the flint; a
little shower of sparks dropped on the pieces of punk and then--a
tiny flame shot up, and slender little column of blue smoke floated
on the air.
Isaac shut his teeth hard and prayed with all his soul for a speedy
Simon Girty came hurriedly through the lines of waiting, watching
Indians. He had obtained permission to speak to the man of his own
"Zane, you made a brave stand. Any other time but this it might have
saved you. If you want I'll get word to your people." And then
bending and placing his mouth close to Isaac's ear, he whispered, "I
did all I could for you, but it must have been too late."
"Try and tell them at Ft. Henry," Isaac said simply.
There was a little cracking of dried wood and then a narrow tongue
of red flame darted up from the pile of fagots and licked at the
buckskin fringe on the prisoner's legging. At this supreme moment
when the attention of all centered on that motionless figure lashed
to the stake, and when only the low chanting of the death-song broke
the stillness, a long, piercing yell rang out on the quiet morning
air. So strong, so sudden, so startling was the break in that almost
perfect calm that for a moment afterward there was a silence as of
death. All eyes turned to the ridge of rising ground whence that
sound had come. Now came the unmistakable thunder of horses' hoofs
pounding furiously on the rocky ground. A moment of paralyzed
inaction ensued. The Indians stood bewildered, petrified. Then on
that ridge of rising ground stood, silhouetted against the blue sky,
a great black horse with arching neck and flying mane. Astride him
sat a plumed warrior, who waved his rifle high in the air. Again
that shrill screeching yell came floating to the ears of the
The prisoner had seen that horse and rider before; he had heard that
long yell; his heart bounded with hope. The Indians knew that yell;
it was the terrible war-cry of the Hurons.
A horse followed closely after the leader, and then another appeared
on the crest of the hill. Then came two abreast, and then four
abreast, and now the hill was black with plunging horses. They
galloped swiftly down the slope and into the narrow street of the
village. When the black horse entered the oval the train of racing
horses extended to the top of the ridge. The plumes of the riders
streamed gracefully on the breeze; their feathers shone; their
weapons glittered in the bright sunlight.
Never was there more complete surprise. In the earlier morning the
Hurons had crept up to within a rifle shot of the encampment, and at
an opportune moment when all the scouts and runners were round the
torture-stake, they had reached the hillside from which they rode
into the village before the inhabitants knew what had happened. Not
an Indian raised a weapon. There were screams from the women and
children, a shouted command from Big Tree, and then all stood still
Thundercloud, the war chief of the Wyandots, pulled his black
stallion back on his haunches not twenty feet from the prisoner at
the stake. His band of painted devils closed in behind him. Full two
hundred strong were they and all picked warriors tried and true.
They were naked to the waist. Across their brawny chests ran a broad
bar of flaming red paint; hideous designs in black and white covered
their faces. Every head had been clean-shaven except where the scalp
lock bristled like a porcupine's quills. Each warrior carried a
plumed spear, a tomahawk, and a rifle. The shining heads, with the
little tufts of hair tied tightly close to the scalp, were enough to
show that these Indians were on the war-path.
From the back of one of the foremost horses a slender figure dropped
and darted toward the prisoner at the stake. Surely that wildly
flying hair proved this was not a warrior. Swift as a flash of light
this figure reached the stake, the blazing fagots scattered right
and left; a naked blade gleamed; the thongs fell from the prisoner's
wrists; and the front ranks of the Hurons opened and closed on the
freed man. The deliverer turned to the gaping Indians, disclosing to
their gaze the pale and beautiful face of Myeerah, the Wyandot
"Summon your chief," she commanded.
The tall form of the Seneca chief moved from among the warriors and
with slow and measured tread approached the maiden. His bearing
fitted the leader of five nations of Indians. It was of one who knew
that he was the wisest of chiefs, the hero of a hundred battles. Who
dared beard him in his den? Who dared defy the greatest power in all
Indian tribes? When he stood before the maiden he folded his arms
and waited for her to speak.
"Myeerah claims the White Eagle," she said.
Cornplanter did not answer at once. He had never seek Myeerah,
though he had heard many stories of her loveliness. Now he was face
to face with the Indian Princess whose fame had been the theme of
many an Indian romance, and whose beauty had been sung of in many an
Indian song. The beautiful girl stood erect and fearless. Her
disordered garments, torn and bedraggled and stained from the long
ride, ill-concealed the grace of her form. Her hair rippled from the
uncovered head and fell in dusky splendor over her shoulders; her
dark eyes shone with a stern and steady fire: her bosom swelled with
each deep breath. She was the daughter of great chiefs; she looked
the embodiment of savage love.
"The Huron squaw is brave," said Cornplanter. "By what right does
she come to free my captive?"
"He is an adopted Wyandot."
"Why does the paleface hide like a fox near the camp of
"He ran away. He lost the trail to the Fort on the river."
"Cornplanter takes prisoners to kill; not to free."
"If you will not give him up Myeerah will take him," she answered,
pointing to the long line of mounted warriors. "And should harm
befall Tarhe's daughter it will be avenged."
Cornplanter looked at Thundercloud. Well he knew that chief's
prowess in the field. He ran his eyes over the silent, watching
Hurons, and then back to the sombre face of their leader.
Thundercloud sat rigid upon his stallion; his head held high; every
muscle tense and strong for instant action. He was ready and eager
for the fray. He, and every one of his warriors, would fight like a
thousand tigers for their Princess--the pride of the proud race of
Wyandots. Cornplanter saw this and he felt that on the eve of
important marches he dared not sacrifice one of his braves for any
reason, much less a worthless pale face; and yet to let the prisoner
go galled the haughty spirit of the Seneca chief.
"The Long Knife is not worth the life of one of my dogs," he said,
with scorn in his deep voice. "If Cornplanter willed he could drive
the Hurons before him like leaves before the storm. Let Myeerah take
the pale face back to her wigwam and there feed him and make a squaw
of him. When he stings like a snake in the grass remember the
chief's words. Cornplanter turns on his heel from the Huron maiden
who forgets her blood."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When the sun reached its zenith it shone down upon a long line of
mounted Indians riding single file along the narrow trail and like a
huge serpent winding through the forest and over the plain.
They were Wyandot Indians, and Isaac Zane rode among them. Freed
from the terrible fate which had menaced him, and knowing that he
was once more on his way to the Huron encampment, he had accepted
his destiny and quarreled no more with fate. He was thankful beyond
all words for his rescue from the stake.
Coming to a clear, rapid stream, the warriors dismounted and rested
while their horses drank thirstily of the cool water. An Indian
touched Isaac on the arm and silently pointed toward the huge maple
tree under which Thundercloud and Myeerah were sitting. Isaac turned
his horse and rode the short distance intervening. When he got near
he saw that Myeerah stood with one arm over her pony's neck. She
raised eyes that were weary and sad, which yet held a lofty and
"White Eagle, this stream leads straight to the Fort on the river,"
she said briefly, almost coldly. "Follow it, and when the sun
reaches the top of yonder hill you will be with your people. Go, you
She turned her face away. Isaac's head whirled in his amazement. He
could not believe his ears. He looked closely at her and saw that
though her face was calm her throat swelled, and the hand which lay
over the neck of her pony clenched the bridle in a fierce grasp.
Isaac glanced at Thundercloud and the other Indians near by. They
sat unconcerned with the invariable unreadable expression.
"Myeerah, what do you mean?" asked Isaac.
"The words of Cornplanter cut deep into the heart of Myeerah," she
answered bitterly. "They were true. The Eagle does not care for
Myeerah. She shall no longer keep him in a cage. He is free to fly
"The Eagle does not want his freedom. I love you, Myeerah. You have
saved me and I am yours. If you will go home with me and marry me
there as my people are married I will go back to the Wyandot
Myeerah's eyes softened with unutterable love. With a quick cry she
was in his arms. After a few moments of forgetfulness Myeerah spoke
to Thundercloud and waved her hand toward the west. The chief swung
himself over his horse, shouted a single command, and rode down the
bank into the water. His warriors followed him, wading their horses
into the shallow creek, with never backward look. When the last
rider had disappeared in the willows the lovers turned their horses
It was near the close of a day in early summer. A small group of
persons surrounded Col. Zane where he sat on his doorstep. From time
to time he took the long Indian pipe from his mouth and blew great
clouds of smoke over his head. Major McColloch and Capt. Boggs were
there. Silas Zane half reclined on the grass. The Colonel's wife
stood in the door-way, and Betty sat on the lower step with her head
leaning against her brother's knee. They all had grave faces.
Jonathan Zane had returned that day after an absence of three weeks,
and was now answering the many questions with which he was plied.
"Don't ask me any more and I'll tell you the whole thing," he had
just said, while wiping the perspiration from his brow. His face was
worn; his beard ragged and unkempt; his appearance suggestive of
extreme fatigue. "It was this way: Colonel Crawford had four hundred
and eighty men under him, with Slover and me acting as guides. This
was a large force of men and comprised soldiers from Pitt and the
other forts and settlers from all along the river. You see, Crawford
wanted to crush the Shawnees at one blow. When we reached the
Sandusky River, which we did after an arduous march, not one Indian
did we see. You know Crawford expected to surprise the Shawnee camp,
and when he found it deserted he didn't know what to do. Slover and
I both advised an immediate retreat. Crawford would not listen to
us. I tried to explain to him that ever since the Guadenhutten
massacre keen-eyed Indian scouts had been watching the border. The
news of the present expedition had been carried by fleet runners to
the different Indian tribes and they were working like hives of
angry bees. The deserted Shawnee village meant to me that the alarm
had been sounded in the towns of the Shawnees and the Delawares;
perhaps also in the Wyandot towns to the north. Colonel Crawford was
obdurate and insisted on resuming the march into the Indian country.
The next day we met the Indians coming directly toward us. It was
the combined force of the Delaware chiefs, Pipe and Wingenund. The
battle had hardly commenced when the redskins were reinforced by
four hundred warriors under Shanshota, the Huron chief. The enemy
skulked behind trees and rocks, hid in ravines, and crawled through
the long grass. They could be picked off only by Indian hunters, of
whom Crawford had but few--probably fifty all told. All that day we
managed to keep our position, though we lost sixty men. That night
we lay down to rest by great fires which we built, to prevent night
"Early next morning we resumed the fight. I saw Simon Girty on his
white horse. He was urging and cheering the Indians on to desperate
fighting. Their fire became so deadly that we were forced to
retreat. In the afternoon Slover, who had been out scouting,
returned with the information that a mounted force was approaching,
and that he believed they were the reinforcements which Col.
Crawford expected. The reinforcements came up and proved to be
Butler's British rangers from Detroit. This stunned Crawford's
soldiers. The fire of the enemy became hotter and hotter. Our men
were falling like leaves around us. They threw aside their rifles
and ran, many of them right into the hands of the savages. I believe
some of the experienced bordermen escaped but most of Crawford's
force met death on the field. I hid in a hollow log. Next day when I
felt that it could be done safely I crawled out. I saw scalped and
mutilated bodies everywhere, but did not find Col. Crawford's body.
The Indians had taken all the clothing, weapons, blankets and
everything of value. The Wyandots took a northwest trail and the
Delawares and the Shawnees traveled east. I followed the latter
because their trail led toward home. Three days later I stood on the
high bluff above Wingenund's camp. From there I saw Col. Crawford
tied to a stake and a fire started at his feet. I was not five
hundred yards from the camp. I saw the war chiefs, Pipe and
Wingenund; I saw Simon Girty and a British officer in uniform. The
chiefs and Girty were once Crawford's friends. They stood calmly by
and watched the poor victim slowly burn to death. The Indians yelled
and danced round the stake; they devised every kind of hellish
torture. When at last an Indian ran in and tore off the scalp of the
still living man I could bear to see no more, and I turned and ran.
I have been in some tough places, but this last was the worst."
"My God! it is awful--and to think that man Girty was once a white
man," cried Col. Zane.
"He came very near being a dead man," said Jonathan, with grim
humor. "I got a long shot at him and killed his big white horse."
"It's a pity you missed him," said Silas Zane.
"Here comes Wetzel. What will he say about the massacre?" remarked
Wetzel joined the group at that moment and shook hands with
Jonathan. When interrogated about the failure of Col. Crawford's
expedition Wetzel said that Slover had just made his appearance at
the cabin of Hugh Bennet, and that he was without clothing and
almost dead from exposure.
"I'm glad Slover got out alive. He was against the march all along.
If Crawford had listened to us he would have averted this terrible
affair and saved his own life. Lew, did Slover know how many men got
out?" asked Jonathan.
"He said not many. The redskins killed all the prisoners exceptin'
Crawford and Knight."
"I saw Col. Crawford burned at the stake. I did not see Dr. Knight.
Maybe they murdered him before I reached the camp of the Delawares,"
"Wetzel, in your judgment, what effect will this massacre and
Crawford's death have on the border?" inquired Col. Zane.
"It means another bloody year like 1777," answered Wetzel.
"We are liable to have trouble with the Indians any day. You mean
"There'll be war all along the river. Hamilton is hatchin' some new
devil's trick with Girty. Col. Zane, I calkilate that Girty has a
spy in the river settlements and knows as much about the forts and
defense as you do."
"You can't mean a white spy."
"Yes, just that."
"That is a strong assertion, Lewis, but coming from you it means
something. Step aside here and explain yourself," said Col. Zane,
getting up and walking out to the fence.
"I don't like the looks of things," said the hunter. "A month ago I
ketched this man Miller pokin' his nose round the block-house where
he hadn't ought to be. And I kep' watchin' him. If my suspicions is
correct he's playin' some deep game. I ain't got any proof, but
things looks bad."
"That's strange, Lewis," said Col. Zane soberly. "Now that you
mention it I remember Jonathan said he met Miller near the Kanawha
three weeks ago. That was when Crawford's expedition was on the way
to the Shawnee villages. The Colonel tried to enlist Miller, but
Miller said he was in a hurry to get back to the Fort. And he hasn't
come back yet."
"I ain't surprised. Now, Col. Zane, you are in command here. I'm not
a soldier and for that reason I'm all the better to watch Miller. He
won't suspect me. You give me authority and I'll round up his little
"By all means, Lewis. Go about it your own way, and report anything
to me. Remember you may be mistaken and give Miller the benefit of
the doubt. I don't like the fellow. He has a way of appearing and
disappearing, and for no apparent reason, that makes me distrust
him. But for Heaven's sake, Lew, how would he profit by betraying
"I don't know. All I know is he'll bear watchin'."
"My gracious, Lew Wetzel!" exclaimed Betty as her brother and the
hunter rejoined the others. "Have you come all the way over here
without a gun? And you have on a new suit of buckskin."
Lewis stood a moment by Betty, gazing down at her with his slight
smile. He looked exceedingly well. His face was not yet bronzed by
summer suns. His long black hair, of which he was as proud as a
woman could have been, and of which he took as much care as he did
of his rifle, waved over his shoulders.
"Betty, this is my birthday, but that ain't the reason I've got my
fine feathers on. I'm goin' to try and make an impression on you,"
replied Lewis, smiling.
"I declare, this is very sudden. But you have succeeded. Who made
the suit? And where did you get all that pretty fringe and those
"That stuff I picked up round an Injun camp. The suit I made
"I think, Lewis, I must get you to help me make my new gown," said
"Well, I must be getting' back," said Wetzel, rising.
"Oh, don't go yet. You have not talked to me at all," said Betty
petulantly. She walked to the gate with him.
"What can an Injun hunter say to amuse the belle of the border?"
"I don't want to be amused exactly. I mean I'm not used to being
unnoticed, especially by you." And then in a lower tone she
continued: "What did you mean about Mr. Miller? I heard his name and
Eb looked worried. What did you tell him?"
"Never mind now, Betty. Maybe I'll tell you some day. It's enough
for you to know the Colonel don't like Miller and that I think he is
a bad man. You don't care nothin' for Miller, do you Betty?"
"Not in the least."
"Don't see him any more, Betty. Good-night, now, I must be goin' to
"Lew, stop! or I shall run after you."
"And what good would your runnin' do?" said Lewis "You'd never ketch
me. Why, I could give you twenty paces start and beat you to yon
"You can't. Come, try it," retorted Betty, catching hold of her
skirt. She could never have allowed a challenge like that to pass.
"Ha! ha! We are in for a race, Betty. if you beat him, start or no
start, you will have accomplished something never done before," said
"Come, Silas, step off twenty paces and make them long ones," said
Betty, who was in earnest.
"We'll make it forty paces," said Silas, as he commenced taking
"What is Lewis looking at?" remarked Col. Zane's wife.
Wetzel, in taking his position for the race, had faced the river.
Mrs. Zane had seen him start suddenly, straighten up and for a
moment stand like a statue. Her exclamation drew he attention of the
others to the hunter.
"Look!" he cried, waving his hand toward the river.
"I declare, Wetzel, you are always seeing something. Where shall I
look? Ah, yes, there is a dark form moving along the bank. By jove!
I believe it's an Indian," said Col. Zane.
Jonathan darted into the house. When he reappeared second later he
had three rifles.
"I see horses, Lew. What do you make out?" said Jonathan. "It's a
bold manoeuvre for Indians unless they have a strong force."
"Hostile Injuns wouldn't show themselves like that. Maybe they ain't
redskins at all. We'll go down to the bluff."
"Oh, yes, let us go," cried Betty, walking down the path toward
Col. Zane followed her, and presently the whole party were on their
way to the river. When they reached the bluff they saw two horses
come down the opposite bank and enter the water. Then they seemed to
fade from view. The tall trees cast a dark shadow over the water and
the horses had become lost in this obscurity. Col. Zane and Jonathan
walked up and down the bank seeking to find a place which afforded a
clearer view of the river.
"There they come," shouted Silas.
"Yes, I see them just swimming out of the shadow," said Col. Zane.
"Both horses have riders. Lewis, what can you make out?"
"It's Isaac and an Indian girl," answered Wetzel.
This startling announcement created a commotion in the little group.
It was followed by a chorus of exclamations.
"Heavens! Wetzel, you have wonderful eyes. I hope to God you are
right. There, I see the foremost rider waving his hand," cried Col.
"Oh, Bessie, Bessie! I believe Lew is right. Look at Tige," said
Everybody had forgotten the dog. He had come down the path with
Betty and had pressed close to her. First he trembled, then whined,
then with a loud bark he ran down the bank and dashed into the
"Hel-lo, Betts," came the cry across the water. There was no
mistaking that clear voice. It was Isaac's.
Although the sun had long gone down behind the hills daylight
lingered. It was bright enough for the watchers to recognize Isaac
Zane. He sat high on his horse and in his hand he held the bridle of
a pony that was swimming beside him. The pony bore the slender
figure of a girl. She was bending forward and her hands were twisted
in the pony's mane.
By this time the Colonel and Jonathan were standing in the shallow
water waiting to grasp the reins and lead the horses up the steep
bank. Attracted by the unusual sight of a wildly gesticulating group
on the river bluff, the settlers from the Fort hurried down to the
scene of action. Capt. Boggs and Alfred Clarke joined the crowd. Old
Sam came running down from the barn. All were intensely excited and
Col. Zane and Jonathan reached for the bridles and led the horses up
the slippery incline.
"Eb, Jack, Silas, here I am alive and well," cried Isaac as he
leaped from his horse. "Betty, you darling, it's Isaac. Don't stand
staring as if I were a ghost."
Whereupon Betty ran to him, flung her arms around his neck and clung
to him. Isaac kissed her tenderly and disengaged himself from her
"You'll get all wet. Glad to see me? Well, I never had such a happy
moment in my life. Betty, I have brought you home one whom you must
love. This is Myeerah, your sister. She is wet and cold. Take her
home and make her warm and comfortable. You must forget all the
past, for Myeerah has saved me from the stake."
Betty had forgotten the other. At her brother's words she turned and
saw a slender form. Even the wet, mud-stained and ragged Indian
costume failed to hide the grace of that figure. She saw a beautiful
face, as white as her own, and dark eyes full of unshed tears.
"The Eagle is free," said the Indian girl in her low, musical voice.
"You have brought him home to us. Come," said Betty taking the hand
of the trembling maiden.
The settlers crowded round Isaac and greeted him warmly while they
plied him with innumerable questions. Was he free? Who was the
Indian girl? Had he run off with her? Were the Indians preparing for
On the way to the Colonel's house Isaac told briefly of his escape
from the Wyandots, of his capture by Cornplanter, and of his rescue.
He also mentioned the preparations for war he had seen in
Cornplanter's camp, and Girty's story of Col. Crawford's death.
"How does it come that you have the Indian girl with you?" asked
Col. Zane as they left the curious settlers and entered the house.
"I am going to marry Myeerah and I brought her with me for that
purpose. When we are married I will go back to the Wyandots and live
with them until peace is declared."
"Humph! Will it be declared?"
"Myeerah has promised it, and I believe she can bring it about,
especially if I marry her. Peace with the Hurons may help to bring
about peace with the Shawnees. I shall never cease to work for that
end; but even if peace cannot be secured, my duty still is to
Myeerah. She saved me from a most horrible death."
"If your marriage with this Indian girl will secure the friendly
offices of that grim old warrior Tarhe, it is far more than fighting
will ever do. I do not want you to go back. Would we ever see you
"Oh, yes, often I hope. You see, if I marry Myeerah the Hurons will
allow me every liberty."
"Well, that puts a different light on the subject."
"Oh, how I wish you and Jonathan could have seen Thundercloud and
his two hundred warriors ride into Cornplanter's camp. It was
magnificent! The braves were all crowded near the stake where I was
bound. The fire had been lighted. Suddenly the silence was shattered
by an awful yell. It was Thundercloud's yell. I knew it because I
had heard it before, and anyone who had once heard that yell could
never forget it. In what seemed an incredibly short time
Thundercloud's warriors were lined up in the middle of the camp. The
surprise was so complete that, had it been necessary, they could
have ridden Cornplanter's braves down, killed many, routed the
others, and burned the village. Cornplanter will not get over that
surprise in many a moon."
Betty had always hated the very mention of the Indian girl who had
been the cause of her brother's long absence from home. But she was
so happy in the knowledge of his return that she felt that it was in
her power to forgive much; more over, the white, weary face of the
Indian maiden touched Betty's warm heart. With her quick intuition
she had divined that this was even a greater trial for Myeerah.
Undoubtedly the Indian girl feared the scorn of her lover's people.
She showed it in her trembling hands, in her fearful glances.
Finding that Myeerah could speak and understand English, Betty
became more interested in her charge every moment. She set about to
make Myeerah comfortable, and while she removed the wet and stained
garments she talked all the time. She told her how happy she was
that Isaac was alive and well. She said Myeerah's heroism in saving
him should atone for all the past, and that Isaac's family would
welcome her in his home.
Gradually Myeerah's agitation subsided under Betty's sweet
graciousness, and by the time Betty had dressed her in a white gown,
had brushed the dark hair and added a bright ribbon to the simple
toilet, Myeerah had so far forgotten her fears as to take a shy
pleasure in the picture of herself in the mirror. As for Betty, she
gave vent to a little cry of delight. "Oh, you are perfectly
lovely," cried Betty. "In that gown no one would know you as a
"Myeerah's mother was a white woman."
"I have heard your story, Myeerah, and it is wonderful. You must
tell me all about your life with the Indians. You speak my language
almost as well as I do. Who taught you?"
"Myeerah learned to talk with the White Eagle. She can speak French
with the Coureurs-des-bois."
"That's more than I can do, Myeerah. And I had French teacher," said
"Hello, up there," came Isaac's voice from below.
"Come up, Isaac," called Betty.
"Is this my Indian sweetheart?" exclaimed Isaac, stopping at the
door. "Betty, isn't she--"
"Yes," answered Betty, "she is simply beautiful."
"Come, Myeerah, we must go down to supper," said Isaac, taking her
in his arms and kissing her. "Now you must not be afraid, nor mind
being looked at."
"Everyone will be kind to you," said Betty, taking her hand. Myeerah
had slipped from Isaac's arm and hesitated and hung back. "Come,"
continued Betty, "I will stay with you, and you need not talk if you
do not wish."
Thus reassured Myeerah allowed Betty to lead her down stairs. Isaac
had gone ahead and was waiting at the door.
The big room was brilliantly lighted with pine knots. Mrs. Zane was
arranging the dishes on the table. Old Sam and Annie were hurrying
to and fro from the kitchen. Col. Zane had just come up the cellar
stairs carrying a mouldy looking cask. From its appearance it might
have been a powder keg, but the merry twinkle in the Colonel's eyes
showed that the cask contained something as precious, perhaps, as
powder, but not quite so dangerous. It was a cask of wine over
thirty years old. With Col. Zane's other effects it had stood the
test of the long wagon-train journey over the Virginia mountains,
and of the raft-ride down the Ohio. Col. Zane thought the feast he
had arranged for Isaac would be a fitting occasion for the breaking
of the cask.
Major McCullough, Capt. Boggs and Hugh Bennet had been invited.
Wetzel had been persuaded to come. Betty's friends Lydia and Alice
As Isaac, with an air of pride, led the two girls into the room Old
Sam saw them and he exclaimed, "For de Lawd's sakes, Marsh Zane,
dar's two pippins, sure can't tell 'em from one anudder."
Betty and Myeerah did resemble each other. They were of about the
same size, tall and slender. Betty was rosy, bright-eyed and
smiling; Myeerah was pale one moment and red the next.
"Friends, this is Myeerah, the daughter of Tarhe," said Isaac
simply. "We are to be married to-morrow."
"Oh, why did you not tell me?" asked Betty in great surprise. "She
said nothing about it."
"You see Myeerah has that most excellent trait in a woman--knowing
when to keep silent," answered Isaac with a smile.
The door opened at this moment, admitting Will Martin and Alfred
"Everybody is here now, Bessie, and I guess we may as well sit down
to supper," said Col. Zane. "And, good friends, let me say that this
is an occasion for rejoicing. It is not so much a marriage that I
mean. That we might have any day if Lydia or Betty would show some
of the alacrity which got a good husband for Alice. Isaac is a free
man and we expect his marriage will bring about peace with a
powerful tribe of Indians. To us, and particularly to you, young
people, that is a matter of great importance. The friendship of the
Hurons cannot but exert an influence on other tribes. I, myself, may
live to see the day that my dream shall be realized--peaceful and
friendly relations with the Indians, the freedom of the soil,
well-tilled farms and growing settlements, and at last, the opening
of this glorious country to the world. Therefore, let us rejoice;
let every one be happy; let your gayest laugh ring out, and tell
your best story."
Betty had blushed painfully at the entrance of Alfred and again at
the Colonel's remark. To add to her embarrassment she found herself
seated opposite Alfred at the table. This was the first time he had
been near her since the Sunday at the meeting-house, and the
incident had a singular effect on Betty. She found herself
possessed, all at once, of an unaccountable shyness, and she could
not lift her eyes from her plate. But at length she managed to steal
a glance at Alfred. She failed to see any signs in his beaming face
of the broken spirit of which her brother had hinted. He looked very
well indeed. He was eating his dinner like any other healthy man,
and talking and laughing with Lydia. This developed another
unaccountable feeling in Betty, but this time it was resentment. Who
ever heard of a man, who was as much in love as his letter said,
looking well and enjoying himself with any other than the object of
his affections? He had got over it, that was all. Just then Alfred
turned and gazed full into Betty's eyes. She lowered them instantly,
but not so quickly that she failed to see in his a reproach.
"You are going to stay with us a while, are you not?" asked Betty of
"No, Betts, not more than a day or so. Now, do not look so
distressed. I do not go back as a prisoner. Myeerah and I can often
come and visit you. But just now I want to get back and try to
prevent the Delawares from urging Tarhe to war."
"Isaac, I believe you are doing the wisest thing possible," said
Capt. Boggs. "And when I look at your bride-to-be I confess I do not
see how you remained single so long."
"That's so, Captain," answered Isaac. "But you see, I have never
been satisfied or contented in captivity, I wanted nothing but to be
"In other words, you were blind," remarked Alfred, smiling at Isaac.
"Yes, Alfred, was. And I imagine had you been in my place you would
have discovered the beauty and virtue of my Princess long before I
did. Nevertheless, please do not favor Myeerah with so many admiring
glances. She is not used to it. And that reminds me that I must
expect trouble tomorrow. All you fellows will want to kiss her."
"And Betty is going to be maid of honor. She, too, will have her
troubles," remarked Col. Zane.
"Think of that, Alfred," said Isaac "A chance to kiss the two
prettiest girls on the border--a chance of a lifetime."
"It is customary, is it not?" said Alfred coolly.
"Yes, it's a custom, if you can catch the girl," answered Col. Zane.
Betty's face flushed at Alfred's cool assumption. How dared he? In
spite of her will she could not resist the power that compelled her
to look at him. As plainly as if it were written there, she saw in
his steady blue eyes the light of a memory--the memory of a kiss.
And Betty dropped her head, her face burning, her heart on fire with
shame, and love, and regret.
"It'll be a good chance for me, too," said Wetzel. His remark
instantly turned attention to himself.
"The idea is absurd," said Isaac. "Why, Lew Wetzel, you could not be
made to kiss any girl."
"I would not be backward about it," said Col. Zane.
"You have forgotten the fuss you made when the boys were kissing
me," said Mrs. Zane with a fine scorn.
"My dear," said Col. Zane, in an aggrieved tone, "I did not make so
much of a fuss, as you call it, until they had kissed you a great
many times more than was reasonable."
"Isaac, tell us one thing more," said Capt. Boggs. "How did Myeerah
learn of your capture by Cornplanter? Surely she could not have
"Will you tell us?" said Isaac to Myeerah.
"A bird sang it to me," answered Myeerah.
"She will never tell, that is certain," said Isaac. "And for that
reason I believe Simon Girty got word to her that I was in the hands
of Cornplanter. At the last moment when the Indians were lashing me
to the stake Girty came to me and said he must have been too late."
"Yes, Girty might have done that," said Col. Zane. "I suppose,
though he dared not interfere in behalf of poor Crawford."
"Isaac, Can you get Myeerah to talk? I love to hear her speak," said
Betty, in an aside.
"Myeerah, will you sing a Huron love-song?" said Isaac "Or, if you
do not wish to sing, tell a story. I want them to know how well you
can speak our language."
"What shall Myeerah say?" she said, shyly.
"Tell them the legend of the Standing Stone."
"A beautiful Indian girl once dwelt in the pine forests," began
Myeerah, with her eyes cast down and her hand seeking Isaac's. "Her
voice was like rippling waters, her beauty like the rising sun. From
near and from far came warriors to see the fair face of this maiden.
She smiled on them all and they called her Smiling Moon. Now there
lived on the Great Lake a Wyandot chief. He was young and bold. No
warrior was as great as Tarhe. Smiling Moon cast a spell on his
heart. He came many times to woo her and make her his wife. But
Smiling Moon said: 'Go, do great deeds, an come again.'
"Tarhe searched the east and the west. He brought her strange gifts
from strange lands. She said: 'Go and slay my enemies.' Tarhe went
forth in his war paint and killed the braves who named her Smiling
Moon. He came again to her and she said: 'Run swifter than the deer,
be more cunning than the beaver, dive deeper than the loon.'
"Tarhe passed once more to the island where dwelt Smiling Moon. The
ice was thick, the snow was deep. Smiling Moon turned not from her
warm fire as she said: 'The chief is a great warrior, but Smiling
Moon is not easily won. It is cold. Change winter into summer and
then Smiling Moon will love him.'
"Tarhe cried in a loud voice to the Great Spirit: 'Make me a
"A voice out of the forest answered: 'Tarhe, great warrior, wise
chief, waste not thy time, go back to thy wigwam.'
"Tarhe unheeding cried 'Tarhe wins or dies. Make him a master so
that he may drive the ice northward.'
"Stormed the wild tempest; thundered the rivers of ice; chill blew
the north wind, the cold northwest wind, against the mild south
wind; snow-spirits and hail-spirits fled before the warm raindrops;
the white mountains melted, and lo! it was summer.
"On the mountain top Tarhe waited for his bride. Never wearying,
ever faithful he watched many years. There he turned to stone. There
he stands to-day, the Standing Stone of ages. And Smiling Moon,
changed by the Great Spirit into the Night Wind, forever wails her
lament at dusk through the forest trees, and moans over the mountain
Myeerah's story elicited cheers and praises from all. She was
entreated to tell another, but smilingly shook her head. Now that
her shyness had worn off to some extent she took great interest in
the jest and the general conversation.
Col. Zane's fine old wine flowed like water. The custom was to fill
a guest's cup as soon as it was empty. Drinking much was rather
encouraged than otherwise. But Col. Zane never allowed this custom
to go too far in his house.
"Friends, the hour grows late," he said. "To-morrow, after the great
event, we shall have games, shooting matches, running races, and
contests of all kinds. Capt. Boggs and I have arranged to give
prizes, and I expect the girls can give something to lend a zest to
"Will the girls have a chance in these races?" asked Isaac. "If so,
I should like to see Betty and Myeerah run."
"Betty can outrun any woman, red or white, on the border," said
Wetzel. "And she could make some of the men run their level best."
"Well, perhaps we shall give her one opportunity to-morrow,"
observed the Colonel. "She used to be good at running but it seems
to me that of late she has taken to books and--"
"Oh, Eb! that is untrue," interrupted Betty.
Col. Zane laughed and patted his sister's cheek. "Never mind,
Betty," and then, rising, he continued, "Now let us drink to the
bride and groom-to-be. Capt. Boggs, I call on you."
"We drink to the bride's fair beauty; we drink to the groom's good
luck," said Capt. Boggs, raising his cup.
"Do not forget the maid-of-honor," said Isaac.
"Yes, and the maid-of-honor. Mr. Clarke, will you say something
appropriate?" asked Col. Zane.
Rising, Clarke said: "I would be glad to speak fittingly on this
occasion, but I do not think I can do it justice. I believe as Col.
Zane does, that this Indian Princess is the first link in that chain
of peace which will some day unite the red men and the white men.
Instead of the White Crane she should be called the White Dove.
Gentlemen, rise and drink to her long life and happiness."
The toast was drunk. Then Clarke refilled his cup and holding it
high over his head he looked at Betty.
"Gentlemen, to the maid-of-honor. Miss Zane, your health, your
happiness, in this good old wine."
"I thank you," murmured Betty with downcast eyes. "I bid you all
good-night. Come, Myeerah."
Once more alone with Betty, the Indian girl turned to her with eyes
like twin stars.
"My sister has made me very happy," whispered Myeerah in her soft,
low voice. "Myeerah's heart is full."
"I believe you are happy, for I know you love Isaac dearly."