Part 2 out of 6
trying to the nerves of even the best tempered groom. The hand shakes, the
heavy slaps on the back, and the pommeling he received at the hands of his
intimate friends were as nothing compared to the anguish of mind he endured
while they were kissing his wife. The young bucks would not have considered it
a real wedding had they been prevented from kissing the bride, and for that
matter, every girl within reach. So fast as the burly young settlers could
push themselves through the densely packed rooms they kissed the bride, and
then the first girl they came to.
Betty and Lydia had been Alice's maids of honor. This being Betty's first
experience at a frontier wedding, it developed that she was much in need of
Lydia's advice, which she had previously disdained. She had rested secure in
her dignity. Poor Betty! The first man to kiss Alice was George Martin, a big,
strong fellow, who gathered his brother's bride into his arms and gave her a
bearish hug and a resounding kiss. Releasing her he turned toward Lydia and
Betty. Lydia eluded him, but one of his great hands clasped around Betty's
wrist. She tried to look haughty, but with everyone laughing, and the young
man's face expressive of honest fun and happiness she found it impossible. She
stood still and only turned her face a little to one side while George kissed
her. The young men now made a rush for her. With blushing cheeks Betty, unable
to stand her ground any longer, ran to her brother, the Colonel. He pushed her
away with a laugh. She turned to Major McColloch, who held out his arms to
her. With an exclamation she wrenched herself free from a young man, who had
caught her hand, and flew to the Major. But alas for Betty! The Major was not
proof against the temptation and he kissed her himself.
"Traitor!" cried Betty, breaking away from him.
Poor Betty was in despair. She had just made up her mind to submit when she
caught sight of Wetzel's familiar figure. She ran to him and the hunter put
one of his long arms around her.
"I reckon I kin take care of you, Betty," he said, a smile playing over his
usually stern face. "See here, you young bucks. Betty don't want to be kissed,
and if you keep on pesterin' her I'll have to scalp a few of you."
The merriment grew as the day progressed. During the wedding feast great
hilarity prevailed. It culminated in the dance which followed the dinner. The
long room of the block-house had been decorated with evergreens, autumn leaves
and goldenrod, which were scattered profusely about, hiding the blackened
walls and bare rafters. Numerous blazing pine knots, fastened on sticks which
were stuck into the walls, lighted up a scene, which for color and animation
could not have been surpassed.
Colonel Zane's old slave, Sam, who furnished the music, sat on a raised
platform at the upper end of the hall, and the way he sawed away on his
fiddle, accompanying the movements of his arm with a swaying of his body and a
stamping of his heavy foot, showed he had a hearty appreciation of his own
Prominent among the men and women standing and sitting near the platform could
be distinguished the tall forms of Jonathan Zane, Major McColloch and Wetzel,
all, as usual, dressed in their hunting costumes and carrying long rifles. The
other men had made more or less effort to improve their appearance. Bright
homespun shirts and scarfs had replaced the everyday buckskin garments. Major
McColloch was talking to Colonel Zane. The genial faces of both reflected the
pleasure they felt in the enjoyment of the younger people. Jonathan Zane stood
near the door. Moody and silent he watched the dance. Wetzel leaned against
the wall. The black barrel of his rifle lay in the hollow of his arm. The
hunter was gravely contemplating the members of the bridal party who were
dancing in front of him. When the dance ended Lydia and Betty stopped before
Wetzel and Betty said: "Lew, aren't you going to ask us to dance?"
The hunter looked down into the happy, gleaming faces, and smiling in his half
sad way, answered: "Every man to his gifts."
"But you can dance. I want you to put aside your gun long enough to dance with
me. If I waited for you to ask me, I fear I should have to wait a long time.
Come, Lew, here I am asking you, and I know the other men are dying to dance
with me," said Betty, coaxingly, in a roguish voice.
Wetzel never refused a request of Betty's, and so, laying aside his weapons,
he danced with her, to the wonder and admiration of all. Colonel Zane clapped
his hands, and everyone stared in amazement at the unprecedented sight Wetzel
danced not ungracefully. He was wonderfully light on his feet. His striking
figure, the long black hair, and the fancifully embroidered costume he wore
contrasted strangely with Betty's slender, graceful form and pretty gray
"Well, well, Lewis, I would not have believed anything but the evidence of my
own eyes," said Colonel Zane, with a laugh, as Betty and Wetzel approached
"If all the men could dance as well as Lew, the girls would be thankful, I can
assure you," said Betty.
"Betty, I declare you grow prettier every day," said old John Bennet, who was
standing with the Colonel and the Major. "If I were only a young man once more
I should try my chances with you, and I wouldn't give up very easily."
"I do not know, Uncle John, but I am inclined to think that if you were a
young man and should come a-wooing you would not get a rebuff from me,"
answered Betty, smiling on the old man, of whom she was very fond.
"Miss Zane, will you dance with me?"
The voice sounded close by Betty's side. She recognized it, and an
unaccountable sensation of shyness suddenly came over her. She had firmly made
up her mind, should Mr. Clarke ask her to dance, that she would tell him she
was tired, or engaged for that number--anything so that she could avoid
dancing with him. But, now that the moment had come she either forgot her
resolution or lacked the courage to keep it, for as the music commenced, she
turned and without saying a word or looking at him, she placed her hand on his
arm. He whirled her away. She gave a start of surprise and delight at the
familiar step and then gave herself up to the charm of the dance. Supported by
his strong arm she floated around the room in a sort of dream. Dancing as they
did was new to the young people at the Fort--it was a style then in vogue in
the east--and everyone looked on with great interest and curiosity. But all
too soon the dance ended and before Betty had recovered her composure she
found that her partner had led her to a secluded seat in the lower end of the
hall. The bench was partly obscured from the dancers by masses of autumn
leaves. "That was a very pleasant dance," said Alfred. "Miss Boggs told me you
danced the round dance."
"I was much surprised and pleased," said Betty, who had indeed enjoyed it.
"It has been a delightful day," went on Alfred, seeing that Betty was still
confused. "I almost killed myself in that race for the bottle this morning. I
never saw such logs and brush heaps and ditches in my life. I am sure that if
the fever of recklessness which seemed in the air had not suddenly seized me I
would never have put my horse at such leaps."
"I heard my brother say your horse was one of the best he had ever seen, and
that you rode superbly," murmured Betty.
"Well, to be honest, I would not care to take that ride again. It certainly
was not fair to the horse."
"How do you like the fort by this time?"
"Miss Zane, I am learning to love this free, wild life. I really think I was
made for the frontier. The odd customs and manners which seemed strange at
first have become very acceptable to me now. I find everyone so honest and
simple and brave. Here one must work to live, which is right. Do you know, I
never worked in my life until I came to Fort Henry. My life was all
"I can hardly believe that," answered Betty. "You have learned to dance and
"What?" asked Alfred, as Betty hesitated.
"Never mind." It was an accomplishment with which the girls credited you,"
said Betty, with a little laugh.
"I suppose I did not deserve it. I heard I had a singular aptitude for
discovering young ladies in distress."
"Have you become well acquainted with the boys?" asked Betty, hastening to
change the subject.
"Oh, yes, particularly with your Indianized brother, Isaac. He is the finest
fellow, as well as the most interesting, I ever knew. I like Colonel Zane
immensely too. The dark, quiet fellow, Jack, or John, they call him, is not
like your other brothers. The hunter, Wetzel, inspires me with awe. Everyone
has been most kind to me and I have almost forgotten that I was a wanderer."
"I am glad to hear that," said Betty.
"Miss Zane," continued Alfred, "doubtless you have heard that I came West
because I was compelled to leave my home. Please do not believe everything you
hear of me. Some day I may tell you my story if you care to hear it. Suffice
it to say now that I left my home of my own free will and I could go back
"I did not mean to imply--" began Betty, coloring.
"Of course not. But tell me about yourself. Is it not rather dull and lonesome
here for you?"
"It was last winter. But I have been contented and happy this summer. Of
course, it is not Philadelphia life, and I miss the excitement and gayety of
my uncle's house. I knew my place was with my brothers. My aunt pleaded with
me to live with her and not go to the wilderness. I had everything I wanted
there--luxury, society, parties, balls, dances, friends--all that the heart of
a girl could desire, but I preferred to come to this little frontier
settlement. Strange choice for a girl, was it not?"
"Unusual, yes," answered Alfred, gravely. "And I cannot but wonder what
motives actuated our coming to Fort Henry. I came to seek my fortune. You came
to bring sunshine into the home of your brother, and left your fortune behind
you. Well, your motive has the element of nobility. Mine has nothing but that
of recklessness. I would like to read the future."
"I do not think it is right to have such a wish. With the veil rolled away
could you work as hard, accomplish as much? I do not want to know the future.
Perhaps some of it will be unhappy. I have made my choice and will cheerfully
abide by it. I rather envy your being a man. You have the world to conquer. A
woman--what can she do? She can knead the dough, ply the distaff, and sit by
the lattice and watch and wait."
"Let us postpone such melancholy thoughts until some future day. I have not as
yet said anything that I intended I wish to tell you how sorry I am that I
acted in such a rude way the night your brother came home. I do not know what
made me do so, but I know I have regretted it ever since. Will you forgive me
and may we not be friends?"
"I--I do not know," said Betty, surprised and vaguely troubled by the earnest
light in his eyes.
"But why? Surely you will make some little allowance for a naturally quick
temper, and you know you did not--that you were--"
"Yes, I remember I was hasty and unkind. But I made amends, or at least, I
tried to do so."
"Try to overlook my stupidity. I will not give up until you forgive me.
Consider how much you can avoid by being generous."
"Very well, then, I will forgive you," said Betty, who had arrived at the
conclusion that this young man was one of determination.
"Thank you. I promise you shall never regret it. And the sprained ankle? It
must be well, as I noticed you danced beautifully."
"I am compelled to believe what the girls say--that you are inclined to the
language of compliment. My ankle is nearly well, thank you. It hurts a little
now and then."
"Speaking of your accident reminds me of the day it happened," said Alfred,
watching her closely. He desired to tease her a little, but he was not sure of
his ground. "I had been all day in the woods with nothing but my
thoughts--mostly unhappy ones--for company. When I met you I pretended to be
surprised. As a matter of fact I was not, for I had followed your dog. He took
a liking to me and I was extremely pleased, I assure you. Well, I saw your
face a moment before you knew I was as near you. When you heard my footsteps
you turned with a relieved and joyous cry. When you saw whom it was your glad
expression changed, and if I had been a hostile Wyandot you could not have
looked more unfriendly. Such a woeful, tear-stained face I never saw."
"Mr. Clarke, please do not speak any more of that," said Betty with dignity.
"I desire that you forget it."
"I will forget all except that it was I who had the happiness of finding you
and of helping you. I cannot forget that. I am sure we should never have been
friends but for that accident."
"There is Isaac. He is looking for me," answered Betty, rising.
"Wait a moment longer--please. He will find you," said Alfred, detaining her.
"Since you have been so kind I have grown bolder. May I come over to see you
He looked straight down into the dark eyes which wavered and fell before he
had completed his question.
"There is Isaac. He cannot see me here. I must go."
"But not before telling me. What is the good of your forgiving me if I may not
see you. Please say yes."
"You may come," answered Betty, half amused and half provoked at his
persistence. "I should think you would know that such permission invariably
goes with a young woman's forgiveness."
"Hello, here you are. What a time I have had in finding you," said Isaac,
coming up with flushed face and eyes bright with excitement. "Alfred, what do
you mean by hiding the belle of the dance away like this? I want to dance with
you, Betts. I am having a fine time. I have not danced anything but Indian
dances for ages. Sorry to take her away, Alfred. I can see she doesn't want to
go. Ha! Ha!" and with a mischievous look at both of them he led Betty away.
Alfred kept his seat awhile lost in thought. Suddenly he remembered that it
would look strange if he did not make himself agreeable, so he got up and
found a partner. He danced with Alice, Lydia, and the other young ladies.
After an hour he slipped away to his room. He wished to be alone. He wanted to
think; to decide whether it would be best for him to stay at the fort, or ride
away in the darkness and never return. With the friendly touch of Betty's hand
the madness with which he had been battling for weeks rushed over him stronger
than ever. The thrill of that soft little palm remained with him, and he
pressed the hand it had touched to his lips.
For a long hour he sat by his window. He could dimly see the broad winding
river, with its curtain of pale gray mist, and beyond, the dark outline of the
forest. A cool breeze from the water fanned his heated brow, and the quiet and
solitude soothed him.
"Good morning, Harry. Where are you going so early?" called Betty from the
A lad was passing down the path in front of Colonel Zane's house as Betty
hailed him. He carried a rifle almost as long as himself.
"Mornin', Betty. I am goin' 'cross the crick fer that turkey I hear gobblin',"
he answered, stopping at the gate and smiling brightly at Betty.
"Hello, Harry Bennet. Going after that turkey? I have heard him several
mornings and he must be a big, healthy gobbler," said Colonel Zane, stepping
to the door. "You are going to have company. Here comes Wetzel."
"Good morning, Lew. Are you too off on a turkey hunt?" said Betty.
"Listen," said the hunter, as he stopped and leaned against the gate. They
listened. All was quiet save for the tinkle of a cow-bell in the pasture
adjoining the Colonel's barn. Presently the silence was broken by a long,
shrill, peculiar cry.
"Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug-chug."
"Well, it's a turkey, all right, and I'll bet a big gobbler," remarked Colonel
Zane, as the cry ceased.
"Has Jonathan heard it?" asked Wetzel.
"Not that I know of. Why do you ask?" said the Colonel, in a low tone. "Look
here, Lew, is that not a genuine call?"
"Goodbye, Harry, be sure and bring me a turkey," called Betty, as she
"I calkilate it's a real turkey," answered the hunter, and motioning the lad
to stay behind, he shouldered his rifle and passed swiftly down the path.
Of all the Wetzel family--a family noted from one end of the frontier to the
other--Lewis was as the most famous.
The early history of West Virginia and Ohio is replete with the daring deeds
of this wilderness roamer, this lone hunter and insatiable Nemesis, justly
called the greatest Indian slayer known to men.
When Lewis was about twenty years old, and his brothers John and Martin little
older, they left their Virginia home for a protracted hunt. On their return
they found the smoking ruins of the home, the mangled remains of father and
mother, the naked and violated bodies of their sisters, and the scalped and
bleeding corpse of a baby brother.
Lewis Wetzel swore sleepless and eternal vengeance on the whole Indian race.
Terribly did he carry out that resolution. From that time forward he lived
most of the time in the woods, and an Indian who crossed his trail was a
doomed man. The various Indian tribes gave him different names. The Shawnees
called him "Long Knife;" the Hurons, "Destroyer;" the Delawares, "Death Wind,"
and any one of these names would chill the heart of the stoutest warrior.
To most of the famed pioneer hunters of the border, Indian fighting was only a
side issue--generally a necessary one--but with Wetzel it was the business of
his life. He lived solely to kill Indians. He plunged recklessly into the
strife, and was never content unless roaming the wilderness solitudes,
trailing the savages to their very homes and ambushing the village bridlepath
like a panther waiting for his prey. Often in the gray of the morning the
Indians, sleeping around their camp fire, were awakened by a horrible,
screeching yell. They started up in terror only to fall victims to the
tomahawk of their merciless foe, or to hear a rifle shot and get a glimpse of
a form with flying black hair disappearing with wonderful quickness in the
forest. Wetzel always left death behind him, and he was gone before his
demoniac yell ceased to echo throughout the woods. Although often pursued, he
invariably eluded the Indians, for he was the fleetest runner on the border.
For many years he was considered the right hand of the defense of the fort.
The Indians held him in superstitious dread, and the fact that he was known to
be in the settlement had averted more than one attack by the Indians.
Many regarded Wetzel as a savage, a man who was mad for the blood of the red
men, and without one redeeming quality. But this was an unjust opinion. When
that restless fever for revenge left him--it was not always with him--he was
quiet and peaceable. To those few who knew him well he was even amiable. But
Wetzel, although known to everyone, cared for few. He spent little time in the
settlements and rarely spoke except when addressed.
Nature had singularly fitted him for his pre-eminent position among scouts and
hunters. He was tall and broad across the shoulders; his strength, agility and
endurance were marvelous; he had an eagle eye, the sagacity of the bloodhound,
and that intuitive knowledge which plays such an important part in a hunter's
life. He knew not fear. He was daring where daring was the wiser part. Crafty,
tireless and implacable, Wetzel was incomparable in his vocation.
His long raven-black hair, of which he was vain, when combed out reached to
within a foot of the ground. He had a rare scalp, one for which the Indians
would have bartered anything.
A favorite Indian decoy, and the most fatal one, was the imitation of the call
of the wild turkey. It had often happened that men from the settlements who
had gone out for a turkey which had been gobbling, had not returned.
For several mornings Wetzel had heard a turkey call, and becoming suspicious
of it, had determined to satisfy himself. On the east side of the creek hill
there was a cavern some fifty or sixty yards above the water. The entrance to
this cavern was concealed by vines and foliage. Wetzel knew of it, and,
crossing the stream some distance above, he made a wide circuit and came up
back of the cave. Here he concealed himself in a clump of bushes and waited.
He had not been there long when directly below him sounded the cry,
"Chug-a-lug, Chug-a-lug, Chug-a-lug." At the same time the polished head and
brawny shoulders of an Indian warrior rose out of the cavern. Peering
cautiously around, the savage again gave the peculiar cry, and then sank back
out of sight. Wetzel screened himself safely in his position and watched the
savage repeat the action at least ten times before he made up his mind that
the Indian was alone in the cave. When he had satisfied himself of this he
took a quick aim at the twisted tuft of hair and fired. Without waiting to see
the result of his shot--so well did he trust his unerring aim--he climbed down
the steep bank and brushing aside the vines entered the cave. A stalwart
Indian lay in the entrance with his face pressed down on the vines. He still
clutched in his sinewy fingers the buckhorn mouthpiece with which he had made
the calls that had resulted in his death.
"Huron," muttered the hunter to himself as he ran the keen edge of his knife
around the twisted tuft of hair and tore off the scalp-lock.
The cave showed evidence of having been inhabited for some time. There was a
cunningly contrived fireplace made of stones, against which pieces of birch
bark were placed in such a position that not a ray of light could get out of
the cavern. The bed of black coals between the stones still smoked; a quantity
of parched corn lay on a little rocky shelf which jutted out from the wall; a
piece of jerked meat and a buckskin pouch hung from a peg.
Suddenly Wetzel dropped on his knees and began examining the footprints in the
sandy floor of the cavern. He measured the length and width of the dead
warrior's foot. He closely scrutinized every moccasin print. He crawled to the
opening of the cavern and carefully surveyed the moss.
Then he rose to his feet. A remarkable transformation had come over him during
the last few moments. His face had changed; the calm expression was replaced
by one sullen and fierce: his lips were set in a thin, cruel line, and a
strange light glittered in his eyes.
He slowly pursued a course lending gradually down to the creek. At intervals
he would stop and listen. The strange voices of the woods were not mysteries
to him. They were more familiar to him than the voices of men.
He recalled that, while on his circuit over the ridge to get behind the
cavern, he had heard the report of a rifle far off in the direction of the
chestnut grove, but, as that was a favorite place of the settlers for shooting
squirrels, he had not thought anything of it at the time. Now it had a
peculiar significance. He turned abruptly from the trail he had been following
and plunged down the steep hill. Crossing the creek he took to the cover of
the willows, which grew profusely along the banks, and striking a sort of
bridle path he started on a run. He ran easily, as though accustomed to that
mode of travel, and his long strides covered a couple of miles in short order.
Coming to the rugged bluff, which marked the end of the ridge, he stopped and
walked slowly along the edge of the water. He struck the trail of the Indians
where it crossed the creek, just where he expected. There were several
moccasin tracks in the wet sand and, in some of the depressions made by the
heels the rounded edges of the imprints were still smooth and intact. The
little pools of muddy water, which still lay in these hollows, were other
indications to his keen eyes that the Indians had passed this point early that
The trail led up the hill and far into the woods. Never in doubt the hunter
kept on his course; like a shadow he passed from tree to tree and from bush to
bush; silently, cautiously, but rapidly he followed the tracks of the Indians.
When he had penetrated the dark backwoods of the Black Forest tangled
underbrush, windfalls and gullies crossed his path and rendered fast trailing
impossible. Before these almost impassible barriers he stopped and peered on
all sides, studying the lay of the land, the deadfalls, the gorges, and ail
the time keeping in mind the probable route of the redskins. Then he turned
aside to avoid the roughest travelling. Sometimes these detours were only a
few hundred feet long; often they were miles; but nearly always he struck the
trail again. This almost superhuman knowledge of the Indian's ways of
traversing the forest, which probably no man could have possessed without
giving his life to the hunting of Indians, was the one feature of Wetzel's
woodcraft which placed him so far above other hunters, and made him so dreaded
by the savages.
Descending a knoll he entered a glade where the trees grew farther apart and
the underbrush was only knee high. The black soil showed that the tract of
land had been burned over. On the banks of a babbling brook which wound its
way through this open space, the hunter found tracks which brought an.
exclamation from him. Clearly defined in the soft earth was the impress of a
white man's moccasin. The footprints of an Indian toe inward. Those of a white
man are just the opposite. A little farther on Wetzel came to a slight
crushing of the moss, where he concluded some heavy body had fallen. As he had
seen the tracks of a buck and doe all the way down the brook he thought it
probable one of them had been shot by the white hunter. He found a pool of
blood surrounded by moccasin prints; and from that spot the trail led straight
toward the west, showing that for some reason the Indians had changed their
This new move puzzled the hunter, and he leaned against the trunk of a tree,
while he revolved in his mind the reasons for this abrupt departure--for such
he believed it. The trail he had followed for miles was the devious trail of
hunting Indians, stealing slowly and stealthily along watching for their prey,
whether it be man or beast. The trail toward the west was straight as the crow
flies; the moccasin prints that indented the soil were wide apart, and to an
inexperienced eye looked like the track of one Indian. To Wetzel this
indicated that the Indians had all stepped in the tracks of a leader.
As was usually his way, Wetzel decided quickly. He had calculated that there
were eight Indians in all, not counting the chief whom he had shot. This party
of Indians had either killed or captured the white man who had been hunting.
Wetzel believed that a part of the Indians would push on with all possible
speed, leaving some of their number to ambush the trail or double back on it
to see if they were pursued.
An hour of patient waiting, in which he never moved from his position, proved
the wisdom of his judgment. Suddenly, away at the other end of the grove, he
caught a flash of brown, of a living, moving something, like the flitting of a
bird behind a tree. Was it a bird or a squirrel? Then again he saw it, almost
lost in the shade of the forest. Several minutes passed, in which Wetzel never
moved and hardly breathed. The shadow had disappeared behind a tree. He fixed
his keen eyes on that tree and presently a dark object glided from it and
darted stealthily forward to another tree. One, two, three dark forms followed
the first one. They were Indian warriors, and they moved so quickly that only
the eyes of a woodsman like Wetzel could have discerned their movements at
Probably most hunters would have taken to their heels while there was yet
time. The thought did not occur to Wetzel. He slowly raised the hammer of his
rifle. As the Indians came into plain view he saw they did not suspect his
presence, but were returning on the trail in their customary cautious manner.
When the first warrior reached a big oak tree some two hundred yards distant,
the long, black barrel of the hunter's rifle began slowly, almost
imperceptibly, to rise, and as it reached a level the savage stepped forward
from the tree. With the sharp report of the weapon he staggered and fell.
Wetzel sprang up and knowing that his only escape was in rapid flight, with
his well known yell, he bounded off at the top of his speed. The remaining
Indians discharged their guns at the fleeing, dodging figure, but without
effect. So rapidly did he dart in and out among the trees that an effectual
aim was impossible. Then, with loud yells, the Indians, drawing their
tomahawks, started in pursuit, expecting soon to overtake their victim.
In the early years of his Indian hunting, Wetzel had perfected himself in a
practice which had saved his life many tunes, and had added much to his fame.
He could reload his rifle while running at topmost speed. His extraordinary
fleetness enabled him to keep ahead of his pursuers until his rifle was
reloaded. This trick he now employed. Keeping up his uneven pace until his gun
was ready, he turned quickly and shot the nearest Indian dead in his tracks.
The next Indian had by this time nearly come up with him and close enough to
throw his tomahawk, which whizzed dangerously near Wetzel's head. But he
leaped forward again and soon his rifle was reloaded. Every time he looked
around the Indians treed, afraid to face his unerring weapon. After running a
mile or more in this manner, he reached an open space in the woods where he
wheeled suddenly on his pursuers. The foremost Indian jumped behind a tree,
but, as it did not entirely screen his body, he, too, fell a victim to the
hunter's aim. The Indian must have been desperately wounded, for his companion
now abandoned the chase and went to his assistance. Together they disappeared
in the forest.
Wetzel, seeing that he was no longer pursued, slackened his pace and proceeded
thoughtfully toward the settlement.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
That same day, several hours after Wetzel's departure in quest of the turkey,
Alfred Clarke strolled over from the fort and found Colonel Zane in the yard.
The Colonel was industriously stirring the contents of a huge copper kettle
which swung over a brisk wood fire. The honeyed fragrance of apple-butter
mingled with the pungent odor of burning hickory.
"Morning, Alfred, you see they have me at it," was the Colonel's salute.
"So I observe," answered Alfred, as he seated himself on the wood-pile. "What
is it you are churning so vigorously?"
"Apple-butter, my boy, apple-butter. I don't allow even Bessie to help when I
am making apple-butter."
"Colonel Zane, I have come over to ask a favor. Ever since you notified us
that you intended sending an expedition up the river I have been worried about
my horse Roger. He is too light for a pack horse, and I cannot take two
"I'll let you have the bay. He is big and strong enough. That black horse of
yours is a beauty. You leave Roger with me and if you never come back I'll be
in a fine horse. Ha, Ha! But, seriously, Clarke, this proposed trip is a
hazardous undertaking, and if you would rather stay--"
"You misunderstand me," quickly replied Alfred, who had flushed. "I do not
care about myself. I'll go and take my medicine. But I do mind about my
"That's right. Always think of your horses. I'll have Sam take the best of
care of Roger."
"What is the nature of this excursion, and how long shall we be gone?"
"Jonathan will guide the party. He says it will take six weeks if you have
pleasant weather. You are to go by way of Short Creek, where you will help put
up a blockhouse. Then you go to Fort Pitt. There you will embark on a raft
with the supplies I need and make the return journey by water. You will
probably smell gunpowder before you get back."
"What shall we do with the horses?"
"Bring them along with you on the raft, of course."
"That is a new way to travel with horses," said Alfred, looking dubiously at
the swift river. "Will there be any way to get news from Fort Henry while we
"Yes, there will be several runners."
"Mr. Clarke, I am going to feed my pets. Would you like to see them?" asked a
voice which brought Alfred to his feet. He turned and saw Betty. Her dog
followed her, carrying a basket.
"I shall be delighted," answered Alfred. "Have you more pets than Tige and
"Oh, yes, indeed. I have a bear, six squirrels, one of them white, and some
Betty led the way to an enclosure adjoining Colonel Zane's barn. It was about
twenty feet square, made of pine saplings which had been split and driven
firmly into the ground. As Betty took down a bar and opened the small gate a
number of white pigeons fluttered down from the roof of the barn, several of
them alighting on her shoulders. A half-grown black bear came out of a kennel
and shuffled toward her. He was unmistakably glad to see her, but he avoided
going near Tige, and looked doubtfully at the young man. But after Alfred had
stroked his head and had spoken to him he seemed disposed to be friendly, for
he sniffed around Alfred's knees and then stood up and put his paws against
the young man's shoulders.
"Here, Caesar, get down," said Betty. "He always wants to wrestle, especially
with anyone of whom he is not suspicious. He is very tame and will do almost
anything. Indeed, you would marvel at his intelligence. He never forgets an
injury. If anyone plays a trick on him you may be sure that person will not
get a second opportunity. The night we caught him Tige chased him up a tree
and Jonathan climbed the tree and lassoed him. Ever since he has evinced a
hatred of Jonathan, and if I should leave Tige alone with him there would be a
terrible fight. But for that I could allow Caesar to run free about the yard."
"He looks bright and sagacious," remarked Alfred.
"He is, but sometimes he gets into mischief. I nearly died laughing one day.
Bessie, my brother's wife, you know, had the big kettle on the fire, just as
you saw it a moment ago, only this time she was boiling down maple syrup. Tige
was out with some of the men and I let Caesar loose awhile. If there is
anything he loves it is maple sugar, so when he smelled the syrup he pulled
down the kettle and the hot syrup went all over his nose. Oh, his howls were
dreadful to hear. The funniest part about it was he seemed to think it was
intentional, for he remained sulky and cross with me for two weeks."
"I can understand your love for animals," said Alfred. "I think there are many
interesting things about wild creatures. There are comparatively few animals
down in Virginia where I used to live, and my opportunities to study them have
"Here are my squirrels," said Betty, unfastening the door of a cage. A number
of squirrels ran out. Several jumped to the ground. One perched on top of the
box. Another sprang on Betty's shoulder. "I fasten them up every night, for
I'm afraid the weasels and foxes will get them. The white squirrel is the only
albino we have seen around here. It took Jonathan weeks to trap him, but once
captured he soon grew tame. Is he not pretty?"
"He certainly is. I never saw one before; in fact, I did not know such a
beautiful little animal existed," answered Alfred, looking in admiration at
the graceful creature, as he leaped from the shelf to Betty's arm and ate from
her hand, his great, bushy white tail arching over his back and his small pink
"There! Listen," said Betty. "Look at the fox squirrel, the big brownish red
one. I call him the Captain, because he always wants to boss the others. I had
another fox squirrel, older than this fellow, and he ran things to suit
himself, until one day the grays united their forces and routed him. I think
they would have killed him had I not freed him. Well, this one is commencing
the same way. Do you hear that odd clicking noise? That comes from the
Captain's teeth, and he is angry and jealous because I show so much attention
to this one. He always does that, and he would fight too if I were not
careful. It is a singular fact, though, that the white squirrel has not even a
little pugnacity. He either cannot fight, or he is too well behaved. Here, Mr.
Clarke, show Snowball this nut, and then hide it in your pocket, and see him
Alfred did as he was told, except that while he pretended to put the nut in
his pocket he really kept it concealed in his hand.
The pet squirrel leaped lightly on Alfred's shoulder, ran over his breast,
peeped in all his pockets, and even pushed his cap to one side of his head.
Then he ran down Alfred's arm, sniffed in his coat sleeve, and finally wedged
a cold little nose between his closed fingers.
"There, he has found it, even though you did not play fair," said Betty,
Alfred never forgot the picture Betty made standing there with the red cap on
her dusky hair, and the loving smile upon her face as she talked to her pets.
A white fan-tail pigeon had alighted on her shoulder and was picking daintily
at the piece of cracker she held between her lips. The squirrels were all
sitting up, each with a nut in his little paws, and each with an alert and
cunning look in the corner of his eye, to prevent, no doubt, being surprised
out of a portion of his nut. Caesar was lying on all fours, growling and
tearing at his breakfast, while the dog looked on with a superior air, as if
he knew they would not have had any breakfast but for him.
"Are you fond of canoeing and fishing?" asked Betty, as they returned to the
"Indeed I am. Isaac has taken me out on the river often. Canoeing may be
pleasant for a girl, but I never knew one who cared for fishing."
"Now you behold one. I love dear old Izaak Walton. Of course, you have read
"I am ashamed to say I have not."
"And you say you are a fisherman? Well, you haste a great pleasure in store,
as well as an opportunity to learn something of the 'contemplative man's
recreation.' I shall lend you the books."
"I have not seen a book since I came to Fort Henry."
"I have a fine little library, and you are welcome to any of my books. But to
return to fishing. I love it, and yet I nearly always allow the fish to go
free. Sometimes I bring home a pretty sunfish, place him in a tub of water,
watch him and try to tame him. But I must admit failure. It is the association
which makes fishing so delightful. The canoe gliding down a swift stream, the
open air, the blue sky, the birds and trees and flowers--these are what I
love. Come and see my canoe."
Thus Betty rattled on as she led the way through the sitting-room and kitchen
to Colonel Zane's magazine and store-house which opened into the kitchen. This
little low-roofed hut contained a variety of things. Boxes, barrels and
farming implements filled one corner; packs of dried skins were piled against
the wall; some otter and fox pelts were stretched on the wall, and a number of
powder kegs lined a shelf. A slender canoe swung from ropes thrown over the
rafters. Alfred slipped it out of the loops and carried it outside.
The canoe was a superb specimen of Indian handiwork. It had a length of
fourteen feet and was made of birch hark, stretched over a light framework of
basswood. The bow curved gracefully upward, ending in a carved image
representing a warrior's head. The sides were beautifully ornamented and
decorated in fanciful Indian designs.
"My brother's Indian guide, Tomepomehala, a Shawnee chief, made it for me. You
see this design on the bow. The arrow and the arm mean in Indian language,
'The race is to the swift and the strong.' The canoe is very light. See, I can
easily carry it," said Betty, lifting it from the grass.
She ran into the house and presently came out with two rods, a book and a
"These are Jack's rods. He cut them out of the heart of ten-year-old basswood
trees, so he says. We must be careful of them."
Alfred examined the rods with the eye of a connoisseur and pronounced them
"These rods have been made by a lover of the art. Anyone with half an eye
could see that. What shall we use for bait?" he said.
"Sam got me some this morning."
"Did you expect to go?" asked Alfred, looking up in surprise.
"Yes, I intended going, and as you said you were coming over, I meant to ask
you to accompany me."
"That was kind of you."
"Where are you young people going?" called Colonel Zane, stopping in his task.
"We are going down to the sycamore," answered Betty.
"Very well. But be certain and stay on this side of the creek and do not go
out on the river," said the Colonel.
"Why, Eb, what do you mean? One might think Mr. Clarke and I were children,"
"You certainly aren't much more. But that is not my reason. Never mind the
reason. Do as I say or do not go," said Colonel Zane.
"All right, brother. I shall not forget," said Betty, soberly, looking at the
Colonel. He had not spoken in his usual teasing way, and she was at a loss to
understand him. "Come, Mr. Clarke, you carry the canoe and follow me down this
path and look sharp for roots and stones or you may trip."
"Where is Isaac?" asked Alfred, as he lightly swung the canoe over his
"He took his rifle and went up to the chestnut grove an hour or more ago."
A few minutes' walk down the willow skirted path and they reached the creek.
Here it was a narrow stream, hardly fifty feet wide, shallow, and full of
stones over which the clear brown water rushed noisily.
"Is it not rather risky going down there?" asked Alfred as he noticed the
swift current and the numerous boulders poking treacherous heads just above
"Of course. That is the great pleasure in canoeing," said Betty, calmly. "If
you would rather walk--"
"No, I'll go if I drown. I was thinking of you."
"It is safe enough if you can handle a paddle," said Betty, with a smile at
his hesitation. "And, of course, if your partner in the canoe sits trim."
"Perhaps you had better allow me to use the paddle. Where did you learn to
steer a canoe?"
"I believe you are actually afraid. Why, I was born on the Potomac, and have
used a paddle since I was old enough to lift one. Come, place the canoe in
here and we will keep to the near shore until we reach the bend. There is a
little fall just below this and I love to shoot it."
He steadied the canoe with one hand while he held out the other to help her,
but she stepped nimbly aboard without his assistance.
"Wait a moment while I catch some crickets and grasshoppers."
"Gracious! What a fisherman. Don't you know we have had frost?"
"That's so," said Alfred, abashed by her simple remark.
"But you might find some crickets under those logs," said Betty. She laughed
merrily at the awkward spectacle made by Alfred crawling over the ground,
improvising a sort of trap out of his hat, and pouncing down on a poor little
"Now, get in carefully, and give the canoe a push. There, we are off," she
said, taking up the paddle.
The little bark glided slowly down stream at first hugging the bank as though
reluctant to trust itself to the deeper water, and then gathering headway as a
few gentle strokes of the paddle swerved it into the current. Betty knelt on
one knee and skillfully plied the paddle, using the Indian stroke in which the
paddle was not removed from the water.
"This is great!" exclaimed Alfred, as he leaned back in the bow facing her.
"There is nothing more to be desired. This beautiful clear stream, the air so
fresh, the gold lined banks, the autumn leaves, a guide who--"
"Look," said Betty. "There is the fall over which we must pass."
He looked ahead and saw that they were swiftly approaching two huge stones
that reared themselves high out of the water. They were only a few yards apart
and surrounded by smaller rocks, about high the water rushed white with foam.
"Please do not move!" cried Betty, her eyes shining bright with excitement.
Indeed, the situation was too novel for Alfred to do anything but feel a keen
enjoyment. He had made up his mind that he was sure to get a ducking, but, as
he watched Betty's easy, yet vigorous sweeps with the paddle, and her smiling,
yet resolute lips, he felt reassured. He could see that the fall was not a
great one, only a few feet, but one of those glancing sheets of water like a
mill race, and he well knew that if they struck a stone disaster would be
theirs. Twenty feet above the white-capped wave which marked the fall, Betty
gave a strong forward pull on the paddle, a deep stroke which momentarily
retarded their progress even in that swift current, and then, a short backward
stroke, far under the stern of the canoe, and the little vessel turned
straight, almost in the middle of the course between the two rocks. As she
raised her paddle into the canoe and smiled at the fascinated young man, the
bow dipped, and with that peculiar downward movement, that swift, exhilarating
rush so dearly loved by canoeists, they shot down the smooth incline of water,
were lost for a moment in a white cloud of mist, and in another they coated
into a placid pool.
"Was not that delightful?" she asked, with just a little conscious pride
glowing in her dark eyes.
"Miss Zane, it was more than that. I apologize for my suspicions. You have
admirable skill. I only wish that on my voyage down the River of Life I could
have such a sure eye and hand to guide me through the dangerous reefs and
"You are poetical," said Betty, who laughed, and at the same time blushed
slightly. "But you are right about the guide. Jonathan says 'always get a good
guide,' and as guiding is his work he ought to know. But this has nothing in
common with fishing, and here is my favorite place under the old sycamore."
With a long sweep of the paddle she ran the canoe alongside a stone beneath a
great tree which spread its long branches over the creek and shaded the pool.
It was a grand old tree and must have guarded that sylvan spot for centuries.
The gnarled and knotted trunk was scarred and seamed with the ravages of time.
The upper part was dead. Long limbs extended skyward, gaunt and bare, like the
masts of a storm beaten vessel. The lower branches were white and shining,
relieved here and there by brown patches of bark which curled up like old
parchment as they shelled away from the inner bark. The ground beneath the
tree was carpeted with a velvety moss with little plots of grass and clusters
of maiden-hair fern growing on it. From under an overhanging rock on the bank
a spring of crystal water bubbled forth.
Alfred rigged up the rods, and baiting a hook directed Betty to throw her line
well out into the current and let it float down into the eddy. She complied,
and hardly had the line reached the circle of the eddy, where bits of white
foam floated round and round, when there was a slight splash, a scream from
Betty and she was standing up in the canoe holding tightly to her rod.
"Be careful!" exclaimed Alfred. "Sit down. You will have the canoe upset in a
moment. Hold your rod steady and keep the line taut. That's right. Now lead
him round toward me. There," and grasping the line he lifted a fine rock bass
over the side of the canoe.
"Oh! I always get so intensely excited," breathlessly cried Betty. "I can't
help it. Jonathan always declares he will never take me fishing again. Let me
see the fish. It's a goggle-eye. Isn't he pretty? Look how funny he bats his
eyes," and she laughed gleefully as she gingerly picked up the fish by the
tail and dropped him into the water. "Now, Mr. Goggle-eye, if you are wise, in
future you will beware of tempting looking bugs."
For an hour they had splendid sport. The pool teemed with sunfish. The bait
would scarcely touch the water when the little orange colored fellows would
rush for it. Now and then a black bass darted wickedly through the school of
sunfish and stole the morsel from them. Or a sharp-nosed fiery-eyed
pickerel--vulture of the water--rising to the surface, and, supreme in his
indifference to man or fish, would swim lazily round until he had discovered
the cause of all this commotion among the smaller fishes, and then, opening
wide his jaws would take the bait with one voracious snap.
Presently something took hold of Betty's line and moved out toward the middle
of the pool. She struck and the next instant her rod was bent double and the
tip under water.
"Pull your rod up!" shouted Alfred. "Here, hand it to me."
But it was too late. A surge right and left, a vicious tug, and Betty's line
floated on the surface of the water.
"Now, isn't that too bad? He has broken my line. Goodness, I never before felt
such a strong fish. What shall I do?"
"You should be thankful you were not pulled in. I have been in a state of fear
ever since we commenced fishing. You move round in this canoe as though it
were a raft. Let me paddle out to that little ripple and try once there; then
we will stop. I know you are tired."
Near the center of the pool a half submerged rock checked the current and
caused a little ripple of the water. Several times Alfred had seen the dark
shadow of a large fish followed by a swirl of the water, and the frantic
leaping of little bright-sided minnows in all directions. As his hook, baited
with a lively shiner, floated over the spot, a long, yellow object shot from
out that shaded lair. There was a splash, not unlike that made by the sharp
edge of a paddle impelled by a short, powerful stroke, the minnow disappeared,
and the broad tail of the fish flapped on the water. The instant Alfred
struck, the water boiled and the big fish leaped clear into the air, shaking
himself convulsively to get rid of the hook. He made mad rushes up and down
the pool, under the canoe, into the swift current and against the rocks, but
all to no avail. Steadily Alfred increased the strain on the line and
gradually it began to tell, for the plunges of the fish became shorter and
less frequent. Once again, in a last magnificent effort, he leaped straight
into the air, and failing to get loose, gave up the struggle and was drawn
gasping and exhausted to the side of the canoe.
"Are you afraid to touch him?" asked Alfred.
"Indeed I am not," answered Betty.
"Then run your hand gently down the line, slip your fingers in under his gills
and lift him over the side carefully."
"Five pounds," exclaimed Alfred, when the fish lay at his feet. "This is the
largest black bass I ever caught. It is pity to take such a beautiful fish out
of his element."
"Let him go, then. May I?" said Betty.
"No, you have allowed them all to go, even the pickerel which I think ought to
be killed. We will keep this fellow alive, and place him in that nice clear
pool over in the fort-yard."
"I like to watch you play a fish," said Betty. "Jonathan always hauls them
right out. You are so skillful. You let this fish run so far and then you
checked him. Then you gave him a line to go the other way, and no doubt he
felt free once more when you stopped him again."
"You are expressing a sentiment which has been, is, and always will be
particularly pleasing to the fair sex, I believe," observed Alfred, smiling
rather grimly as he wound up his line.
"Would you mind being explicit?" she questioned.
Alfred had laughed and was about to answer when the whip-like crack of a rifle
came from the hillside. The echoes of the shot reverberated from hill to hill
and were finally lost far down the valley.
"What can that be?" exclaimed Alfred anxiously, recalling Colonel Zane's odd
manner when they were about to leave the house.
"I am not sure, but I think that is my turkey, unless Lew Wetzel happened to
miss his aim," said Betty, laughing. "And that is such an unprecedented thing
that it can hardly be considered. Turkeys are scarce this season. Jonathan
says the foxes and wolves ate up the broods. Lew heard this turkey calling and
he made little Harry Bennet, who had started out with his gun, stay at home
and went after Mr. Gobbler himself."
"Is that all? Well, that is nothing to get alarmed about, is it? I actually
had a feeling of fear, or a presentiment, we might say."
They beached the canoe and spread out the lunch in the shade near the spring.
Alfred threw himself at length upon the grass and Betty sat leaning against
the tree. She took a biscuit in one hand, a pickle in the other, and began to
chat volubly to Alfred of her school life, and of Philadelphia, and the
friends she had made there. At length, remarking his abstraction, she said:
"You are not listening to me."
"I beg your pardon. My thoughts did wander. I was thinking of my mother.
Something about you reminds me of her. I do not know what, unless it is that
little mannerism you have of pursing up your lips when you hesitate or stop to
"Tell me of her," said Betty, seeing his softened mood.
"My mother was very beautiful, and as good as she was lovely. I never had a
care until my father died. Then she married again, and as I did not get on
with my step-father I ran away from home. I have not been in Virginia for four
"Do you get homesick?"
"Indeed I do. While at Fort Pitt I used to have spells of the blues which
lasted for days. For a time I felt more contented here. But I fear the old
fever of restlessness will come over me again. I can speak freely to you
because l know you will understand, and I feel sure of your sympathy. My
father wanted me to be a minister. He sent me to the theological seminary at
Princeton, where for two years I tried to study. Then my father died. I went
home and looked after things until my mother married again. That changed
everything for me. I ran away and have since been a wanderer. I feel that I am
not lazy, that I am not afraid of work, but four years have drifted by and I
have nothing to show for it. I am discouraged. Perhaps that is wrong, but tell
me how I can help it. I have not the stoicism of the hunter, Wetzel, nor have
I the philosophy of your brother. I could not be content to sit on my doorstep
and smoke my pipe and watch the wheat and corn grow. And then, this life of
the borderman, environed as it is by untold dangers, leads me, fascinates me,
and yet appalls me with the fear that here I shall fall a victim to an
Indian's bullet or spear, and find a nameless grave."
A long silence ensued. Alfred had spoken quietly, but with an undercurrent of
bitterness that saddened Betty. For the first time she saw a shadow of pain in
his eyes. She looked away down the valley, not seeing the brown and gold hills
boldly defined against the blue sky, nor the beauty of the river as the
setting sun cast a ruddy glow on the water. Her companion's words had touched
an unknown chord in her heart. When finally she turned to answer him a
beautiful light shone in her eyes, a light that shines not on land or sea--the
light of woman's hope.
"Mr. Clarke," she said, and her voice was soft and low, "I am only a girl, but
I can understand. You are unhappy. Try to rise above it. Who knows what will
befall this little settlement? It may be swept away by the savages, and it may
grow to be a mighty city. It must take that chance. So must you, so must we
all take chances. You are here. Find your work and do it cheerfully, honestly,
and let the future take care of itself And let me say--do not be
offended--beware of idleness and drink. They are as great a danger--nay,
greater than the Indians."
"Miss Zane, if you were to ask me not to drink I would never touch a drop
again," said Alfred, earnestly.
"I did not ask that," answered Betty, flushing slightly. "But I shall remember
it as a promise and some day I may ask it of you."
He looked wonderingly at the girl beside him. He had spent most of his life
among educated and cultured people. He had passed several years in the
backwoods. But with all his experience with people he had to confess that this
young woman was as a revelation to him. She could ride like an Indian and
shoot like a hunter. He had heard that she could run almost as swiftly as her
brothers. Evidently she feared nothing, for he had just seen an example of her
courage in a deed that had tried even his own nerve, and, withal, she was a
bright, happy girl, earnest and true, possessing all the softer graces of his
sisters, and that exquisite touch of feminine delicacy and refinement which
appeals more to men than any other virtue.
"Have you not met Mr. Miller before he came here from Fort Pitt?" asked Betty.
"Why do you ask?"
"I think he mentioned something of the kind."
"What else did he say?"
"Why--Mr. Clarke, I hardly remember."
"I see," said Alfred, his face darkening. "He has talked about me. I do not
care what he said. I knew him at Fort Pitt, and we had trouble there. I
venture to say he has told no one about it. He certainly would not shine in
the story. But I am not a tattler."
"It is not very difficult to see that you do not like him. Jonathan does not,
either. He says Mr. Miller was friendly with McKee, and the notorious Simon
Girty, the soldiers who deserted from Fort Pitt and went to the Indians. The
girls like him however."
"Usually if a man is good looking and pleasant that is enough for the girls. I
noticed that he paid you a great deal of attention at the dance. He danced
three times with you."
"Did he? How observing you are," said Betty, giving him a little sidelong
glance. "Well, he is very agreeable, and he dances better than many of the
"I wonder if Wetzel got the turkey. I have heard no more shots," said Alfred,
showing plainly that he wished to change the subject.
"Oh, look there! Quick!" exclaimed Betty, pointing toward the hillside.
He looked in the direction indicated and saw a doe and a spotted fawn wading
into the shallow water. The mother stood motionless a moment, with head erect
and long ears extended. Then she drooped her graceful head and drank thirstily
of the cool water. The fawn splashed playfully round while its mother was
drinking. It would dash a few paces into the stream and then look back to see
if its mother approved. Evidently she did not, for she would stop her drinking
and call the fawn back to her side with a soft, crooning noise. Suddenly she
raised her head, the long ears shot up, and she seemed to sniff the air. She
waded through the deeper water to get round a rocky bluff which ran out into
the creek. Then she turned and called the little one. The fawn waded until the
water reached its knees, then stopped and uttered piteous little bleats.
Encouraged by the soft crooning it plunged into the deep water and with great
splashing and floundering managed to swim the short distance. Its slender legs
shook as it staggered up the bank. Exhausted or frightened, it shrank close to
its mother. Together they disappeared in the willows which fringed the side of
"Was not that little fellow cute? I have had several fawns, but have never had
the heart to keep them," said Betty. Then, as Alfred made no motion to speak,
"You do not seem very talkative."
"I have nothing to say. You will think me dull. The fact is when I feel
deepest I am least able to express myself."
"I will read to you." said Betty taking up the book. He lay back against the
grassy bank and gazed dreamily at the many hued trees on the little hillside;
at the bare rugged sides of McColloch's Rock which frowned down upon them. A
silver-breasted eagle sailed slowly round and round in the blue sky, far above
the bluff. Alfred wondered what mysterious power sustained that solitary bird
as he floated high in the air without perceptible movement of his broad wings.
He envied the king of birds his reign over that illimitable space, his
far-reaching vision, and his freedom. Round and round the eagle soared, higher
and higher, with each perfect circle, and at last, for an instant poising as
lightly as if he were about to perch on his lonely crag, he arched his wings
and swooped down through the air with the swiftness of a falling arrow.
Betty's low voice, the water rushing so musically over the falls, the great
yellow leaves falling into the pool, the gentle breeze stirring the clusters
of goldenrod--all came softly to Alfred as he lay there with half closed eyes.
The time slipped swiftly by as only such time can.
"I fear the melancholy spirit of the day has prevailed upon you," said Betty,
half wistfully. "You did not know I had stopped reading, and I do not believe
you heard my favorite poem. I have tried to give you a pleasant afternoon and
"No, no," said Alfred, looking at her with a blue flame in his eyes. "The
afternoon has been perfect. I have forgotten my role, and have allowed you to
see my real self, something I have tried to hide from all."
"And are you always sad when you are sincere?"
"Not always. But I am often sad. Is it any wonder? Is not all nature sad?
Listen! There is the song of the oriole. Breaking in on the stillness it is
mournful. The breeze is sad, the brook is sad, this dying Indian summer day is
sad. Life itself is sad."
"Oh, no. Life is beautiful."
"You are a child," said he, with a thrill in his deep voice "I hope you may
always be as you are to-day, in heart, at least."
"It grows late. See, the shadows are falling. We must go."
"You know I am going away to-morrow. I don't want to go. Perhaps that is why I
have been such poor company today. I have a presentiment of evil I am afraid I
may never come back."
"I am sorry you must go."
"Do you really mean that?" asked Alfred, earnestly, bending toward her "You
know it is a very dangerous undertaking. Would you care if I never returned?"
She looked up and their eyes met. She had raised her head haughtily, as if
questioning his right to speak to her in that manner, but as she saw the
unspoken appeal in his eyes her own wavered and fell while a warm color crept
into her cheek.
"Yes, I would be sorry," she said, gravely. Then, after a moment: "You must
portage the canoe round the falls, and from there we can paddle back to the
The return trip made, they approached the house. As they turned the corner
they saw Colonel Zane standing at the door talking to Wetzel.
They saw that the Colonel looked pale and distressed, and the face of the
hunter was dark and gloomy.
"Lew, did you get my turkey?" said Betty, after a moment of hesitation. A
nameless fear filled her breast.
For answer Wetzel threw back the flaps of his coat and there at his belt hung
a small tuft of black hair. Betty knew at once it was the scalp-lock of an
Indian. Her face turned white and she placed a hand on the hunter's arm.
"What do you mean? That is an Indian's scalp. Lew, you look so strange. Tell
me, is it because we went off in the canoe and have been in danger?"
"Betty, Isaac has been captured again," said the Colonel.
"Oh, no, no, no," cried Betty in agonized tones, and wringing her hands. Then,
excitedly, "Something can be done; you must pursue them. Oh, Lew, Mr. Clarke,
cannot you rescue him? They have not had time to go far."
"Isaac went to the chestnut grove this morning. If he had stayed there he
would not have been captured. But he went far into the Black Forest. The
turkey call we heard across the creek was made by a Wyandot concealed in the
cave. Lewis tells me that a number of Indians have camped there for days. He
shot the one who was calling and followed the others until he found where they
had taken Isaac's trail."
Betty turned to the younger man with tearful eyes, and with beseeching voice
implored them to save her brother.
"I am ready to follow you," said Clarke to Wetzel.
The hunter shook his head, but did not answer.
"It is that hateful White Crane," passionately burst out Betty, as the
Colonel's wife led her weeping into the house.
"Did you get more than one shot at them?" asked Clarke.
The hunter nodded, and the slight, inscrutable smile flitted across his stern
features. He never spoke of his deeds. For this reason many of the thrilling
adventures which he must have had will forever remain unrevealed. That evening
there was sadness at Colonel Zane's supper table. They felt the absence of the
Colonel's usual spirits, his teasing of Betty, and his cheerful conversation.
He had nothing to say. Betty sat at the table a little while, and then got up
and left the room saying she could not eat. Jonathan, on hearing of his
brother's recapture, did not speak, but retired in gloomy silence. Silas was
the only one of the family who was not utterly depressed. He said it could
have been a great deal worse; that they must make the best of it, and that the
sooner Isaac married his Indian Princess the better for his scalp and for the
happiness of all concerned.
"I remember Myeerah very well," he said. "It was eight years ago, and she was
only a child. Even then she was very proud and willful, and the loveliest girl
I ever laid eyes on."
Alfred Clarke staid late at Colonel Zane's that night. Before going away for
so many weeks he wished to have a few more moments alone with Betty. But a
favorable opportunity did not present itself during the evening, so when he
had bade them all goodbye and goodnight, except Betty, who opened the door for
him, he said softly to her:
"It is bright moonlight outside. Come, please, and walk to the gate with me."
A full moon shone serenely down on hill and dale, flooding the valley with its
pure white light and bathing the pastures in its glory; at the foot of the
bluff the waves of the river gleamed like myriads of stars all twinkling and
dancing on a bed of snowy clouds. Thus illumined the river wound down the
valley, its brilliance growing fainter and fainter until at last, resembling
the shimmering of a silver thread which joined the earth to heaven, it
disappeared in the horizon.
"I must say goodbye," said Alfred, as they reached the gate.
"Friends must part. I am sorry you must go, Mr. Clarke, and I trust you may
return safe. It seems only yesterday that you saved my brother's life, and I
was so grateful and happy. Now he is gone."
"You should not think about it so much nor brood over it," answered the young
man. "Grieving will not bring him back nor do you any good. It is not nearly
so bad as if he had been captured by some other tribe. Wetzel assures us that
Isaac was taken alive. Please do not grieve."
"I have cried until I cannot cry any more. I am so unhappy. We were children
together, and I have always loved him better than any one since my mother
died. To have him back again and then to lose him! Oh! I cannot bear it."
She covered her face with her hands and a low sob escaped her.
"Don't, don't grieve," he said in an unsteady voice, as he took the little
hands in his and pulled them away from her face.
Betty trembled. Something in his voice, a tone she had never heard before
startled her. She looked up at him half unconscious that he still held her
hands in his. Never had she appeared so lovely.
"You cannot understand my feelings."
"I loved my mother."
"But you have not lost her. That makes all the difference."
"I want to comfort you and I am powerless. I am unable to say what--I--"
He stopped short. As he stood gazing down into her sweet face, burning,
passionate words came to his lips; but he was dumb; he could not speak. All
day long he had been living in a dream. Now he realized that but a moment
remained for him to be near the girl he loved so well. He was leaving her,
perhaps never to see her again, or to return to find her another's. A fierce
pain tore his heart.
"You--you are holding my hands," faltered Betty, in a doubtful, troubled
voice. She looked up into his face and saw that it was pale with suppressed
Alfred was mad indeed. He forgot everything. In that moment the world held
nothing for him save that fair face. Her eyes, uplifted to his in the
moonlight, beamed with a soft radiance. They were honest eyes, just now filled
with innocent sadness and regret, but they drew him with irresistible power.
Without realizing in the least what he was doing he yielded to the impulse.
Bending his head he kissed the tremulous lips.
"Oh," whispered Betty, standing still as a statue and looking at him with
wonderful eyes. Then, as reason returned, a hot flush dyed her face, and
wrenching her hands free she struck him across the cheek.
"For God's sake, Betty, I did not mean to do that! Wait. I have something to
tell you. For pity's sake, let me explain," he cried, as the full enormity of
his offence dawned upon him.
Betty was deaf to the imploring voice, for she ran into the house and slammed
He called to her, but received no answer. He knocked on the door, but it
remained closed. He stood still awhile, trying to collect his thoughts, and to
find a way to undo the mischief he had wrought. When the real significance of
his act came to him he groaned in spirit. What a fool he had been! Only a few
short hours and he must start on a perilous journey, leaving the girl he loved
in ignorance of his real intentions. Who was to tell her that he loved her?
Who was to tell her that it was because his whole heart and soul had gone to
her that he had kissed her?
With bowed head he slowly walked away toward the fort, totally oblivious of
the fact that a young girl, with hands pressed tightly over her breast to try
to still a madly beating heart, watched him from her window until he
disappeared into the shadow of the block-house.
Alfred paced up and down his room the four remaining hours of that eventful
day. When the light was breaking in at the east and dawn near at hand he heard
the rough voices of men and the tramping of iron-shod hoofs. The hour of his
departure was at hand.
He sat down at his table and by the aid of the dim light from a pine knot he
wrote a hurried letter to Betty. A little hope revived in his heart as he
thought that perhaps all might yet be well. Surely some one would be up to
whom he could intrust the letter, and if no one he would run over and slip it
under the door of Colonel Zane's house.
In the gray of the early morning Alfred rode out with the daring band of
heavily armed men, all grim and stern, each silent with the thought of the man
who knows he may never return. Soon the settlement was left far behind.
During the last few days, in which the frost had cracked open the hickory
nuts, and in which the squirrels had been busily collecting and storing away
their supply of nuts for winter use, it had been Isaac's wont to shoulder his
rifle, walk up the hill, and spend the morning in the grove.
On this crisp autumn morning he had started off as usual, and had been called
back by Col. Zane, who advised him not to wander far from the settlement. This
admonition, kind and brotherly though it was, annoyed Isaac. Like all the
Zanes he had born in him an intense love for the solitude of the wilderness.
There were times when nothing could satisfy him but the calm of the deep
One of these moods possessed him now. Courageous to a fault and daring where
daring was not always the wiser part, Isaac lacked the practical sense of the
Colonel and the cool judgment of Jonathan. Impatient of restraint, independent
in spirit, and it must be admitted, in his persistence in doing as he liked
instead of what he ought to do, he resembled Betty more than he did his
Feeling secure in his ability to take care of himself, for he knew he was an
experienced hunter and woodsman, he resolved to take a long tramp in the
forest. This resolution was strengthened by the fact that he did not believe
what the Colonel and Jonathan had told him--that it was not improbable some of
the Wyandot braves were lurking in the vicinity, bent on killing or
recapturing him. At any rate he did not fear it.
Once in the shade of the great trees the fever of discontent left him, and,
forgetting all except the happiness of being surrounded by the silent oaks, he
penetrated creeper and deeper into the forest. The brushing of a branch
against a tree, the thud of a falling nut, the dart of a squirrel, and the
sight of a bushy tail disappearing round a limb-- all these things which
indicated that the little gray fellows were working in the tree-tops, and
which would usually have brought Isaac to a standstill, now did not seem to
interest him. At times he stooped to examine the tender shoots growing at the
foot of a sassafras tree. Then, again, he closely examined marks he found in
the soft banks of the streams.
He went on and on. Two hours of this still-hunting found him on the bank of a
shallow gully through which a brook went rippling and babbling over the mossy
green stones. The forest was dense here; rugged oaks and tall poplars grew
high over the tops of the first growth of white oaks and beeches; the wild
grapevines which coiled round the trees like gigantic serpents, spread out in
the upper branches and obscured the sun; witch-hopples and laurel bushes grew
thickly; monarchs of the forest, felled by some bygone storm, lay rotting on
the ground; and in places the wind-falls were so thick and high as to be
Isaac hesitated. He realized that he had plunged far into the Black Forest.
Here it was gloomy; a dreamy quiet prevailed, that deep calm of the
wilderness, unbroken save for the distant note of the hermit-thrush, the
strange bird whose lonely cry, given at long intervals, pierced the stillness.
Although Isaac had never seen one of these birds, he was familiar with that
cry which was never heard except in the deepest woods, far from the haunts of
A black squirrel ran down a tree and seeing the hunter scampered away in
alarm. Isaac knew the habits of the black squirrel, that it was a denizen of
the wildest woods and frequented only places remote from civilization. The
song of the hermit and the sight of the black squirrel caused Isaac to stop
and reflect, with the result that he concluded he had gone much farther from
the fort than he had intended. He turned to retrace his steps when a faint
sound from down the ravine came to his sharp ears.
There was no instinct to warn him that a hideously painted face was raised a
moment over the clump of laurel bushes to his left, and that a pair of keen
eyes watched every move he made.
Unconscious of impending evil Isaac stopped and looked around him. Suddenly
above the musical babble of the brook and the rustle of the leaves by the
breeze came a repetition of the sound. He crouched close by the trunk of a
tree and strained his ears. All was quiet for some moments. Then he heard the
patter, patter of little hoofs coming down the stream. Nearer and nearer they
came. Sometimes they were almost inaudible and again he heard them clearly and
distinctly. Then there came a splashing and the faint hollow sound caused by
hard hoofs striking the stones in shallow water. Finally the sounds ceased.
Cautiously peering from behind the tree Isaac saw a doe standing on the bank
fifty yards down the brook. Trembling she had stopped as if in doubt or
uncertainty. Her ears pointed straight upward, and she lifted one front foot
from the ground like a thoroughbred pointer. Isaac knew a doe always led the
way through the woods and if there were other deer they would come up unless
warned by the doe. Presently the willows parted and a magnificent buck with
wide spreading antlers stepped out and stood motionless on the bank. Although
they were down the wind Isaac knew the deer suspected some hidden danger. They
looked steadily at the clump of laurels at Isaac's left, a circumstance he
remarked at the time, but did not understand the real significance of until
Following the ringing report of Isaac's rifle the buck sprang almost across
the stream, leaped convulsively up the bank, reached the top, and then his
strength failing, slid down into the stream, where, in his dying struggles,
his hoofs beat the water into white foam. The doe had disappeared like a brown
Isaac, congratulating himself on such a fortunate shot--for rarely indeed does
a deer fail dead in his tracks even when shot through the heart-- rose from
his crouching position and commenced to reload his rifle. With great care he
poured the powder into the palm of his hand, measuring the quantity with his
eye--for it was an evidence of a hunter's skill to be able to get the proper
quantity for the ball. Then he put the charge into the barrel. Placing a
little greased linsey rag, about half an inch square, over the muzzle, he laid
a small lead bullet on it, and with the ramrod began to push the ball into the
A slight rustle behind him, which sounded to him like the gliding of a
rattlesnake over the leaves, caused him to start and turn round. But he was
too late. A crushing blow on the head from a club in the hand of a brawny
Indian laid him senseless on the ground.
When Isaac regained his senses he felt a throbbing pain in his head, and then
he opened his eyes he was so dizzy that he was unable to discern objects
clearly. After a few moments his sight returned. When he had struggled to a
sitting posture he discovered that his hands were bound with buckskin thongs.
By his side he saw two long poles of basswood, with some strips of green bark
and pieces of grapevine laced across and tied fast to the poles. Evidently
this had served as a litter on which he had been carried. From his wet clothes
and the position of the sun, now low in the west, he concluded he had been
brought across the river and was now miles from the fort. In front of him he
saw three Indians sitting before a fire. One of them was cutting thin slices
from a haunch of deer meat, another was drinking from a gourd, and the third
was roasting a piece of venison which he held on a sharpened stick. Isaac knew
at once the Indians were Wyandots, and he saw they were in full war paint.
They were not young braves, but middle aged warriors. One of them Isaac
recognized as Crow, a chief of one of the Wyandot tribes, and a warrior
renowned for his daring and for his ability to make his way in a straight line
through the wilderness. Crow was a short, heavy Indian and his frame denoted
great strength He had a broad forehead, high cheek bones, prominent nose and
his face would have been handsome and intelligent but for the scar which ran
across his cheek, giving him a sinister look.
"Hugh!" said Crow, as he looked up and saw Isaac staring at him. The other
Indians immediately gave vent to a like exclamation.
"Crow, you caught me again," said Isaac, in the Wyandot tongue, which he spoke
"The white chief is sure of eye and swift of foot, but he cannot escape the
Huron. Crow has been five times on his trail since the moon was bright. The
white chief's eyes were shut and his ears were deaf," answered the Indian
"How long have you been near the fort?"
"Two moons have the warriors of Myeerah hunted the pale face."
"Have you any more Indians with you?"
The chief nodded and said a party of nine Wyandots had been in the vicinity of
Wheeling for a month. He named some of the warriors.
Isaac was surprised to learn of the renowned chiefs who had been sent to
recapture him. Not to mention Crow, the Delaware chiefs Son-of-Wingenund and
Wapatomeka were among the most cunning and sagacious Indians of the west.
Isaac reflected that his year's absence from Myeerah had not caused her to
Crow untied Isaac's hands and gave him water and venison. Then he picked up
his rifle and with a word to the Indians he stepped into the underbrush that
skirted the little dale, and was lost to view.
Isaac's head ached and throbbed so that after he had satisfied his thirst and
hunger he was glad to close his eyes and lean back against the tree. Engrossed
in thoughts of the home he might never see again, he had lain there an hour
without moving, when he was aroused from his meditations by low guttural
exclamations from the Indians. Opening his eyes he saw Crow and another Indian
enter the glade, leading and half supporting a third savage.
They helped this Indian to the log, where he sat down slowly and wearily,
holding one hand over his breast. He was a magnificent specimen of Indian
manhood, almost a giant in stature, with broad shoulders in proportion to his
height. His head-dress and the gold rings which encircled his bare muscular
arms indicated that he was a chief high in power. The seven eagle plumes in
his scalp-lock represented seven warriors that he had killed in battle. Little
sticks of wood plaited in his coal black hair and painted different colors
showed to an Indian eye how many times this chief had been wounded by bullet,
knife, or tomahawk.
His face was calm. If he suffered he allowed no sign of it to escape him. He
gazed thoughtfully into the fire, slowly the while untying the belt which
contained his knife and tomahawk. The weapons were raised and held before him,
one in each hand, and then waved on high. The action was repeated three times.
Then slowly and reluctantly the Indian lowered them as if he knew their work
on earth was done.
It was growing dark and the bright blaze from the camp fire lighted up the
glade, thus enabling Isaac to see the drooping figure on the log, and in the
background Crow, holding a whispered consultation with the other Indians.
Isaac heard enough of the colloquy to guess the facts. The chief had been
desperately rounded; the palefaces were on their trail, and a march must be
commenced at once.
Isaac knew the wounded chief. He was the Delaware Son-of-Wingenund. He married
a Wyandot squaw, had spent much of his time in the Wyandot village and on
warring expeditions which the two friendly nations made on other tribes. Isaac
had hunted with him, slept under the same blanket with him, and had grown to
As Isaac moved slightly in his position the chief saw him. He straightened up,
threw back the hunting shirt and pointed to a small hole in his broad breast.
A slender stream of blood issued from the wound and flowed down his chest
"Wind-of-Death is a great white chief. His gun is always loaded," he said
calmly, and a look of pride gleamed across his dark face, as though he gloried
in the wound made by such a warrior.
"Deathwind" was one of the many names given to Wetzel by the savages, and a
thrill of hope shot through Isaac's heart when he saw the Indians feared
Wetzel was on their track. This hope was short lived, however, for when he
considered the probabilities of the thing he knew that pursuit would only
result in his death before the settlers could come up with the Indians, and he
concluded that Wetzel, familiar with every trick of the redmen, would be the
first to think of the hopelessness of rescuing him and so would not attempt
The four Indians now returned to the fire and stood beside the chief. It was
evident to them that his end was imminent. He sang in a low, not unmusical
tone the death-chant of the Hurons. His companions silently bowed their heads.
When he had finished singing he slowly rose to his great height, showing a
commanding figure. Slowly his features lost their stern pride, his face
softened, and his dark eyes, gazing straight into the gloom of the forest,
bespoke a superhuman vision.
"Wingenund has been a great chief. He has crossed his last trail. The deeds of
Wingenund will be told in the wigwams of the Lenape," said the chief in a loud
voice, and then sank back into the arms of his comrades. They laid him gently
A convulsive shudder shook the stricken warrior's frame. Then, starting up he
straightened out his long arm and clutched wildly at the air with his sinewy
fingers as if to grasp and hold the life that was escaping him.
Isaac could see the fixed, sombre light in the eyes, and the pallor of death
stealing over the face of the chief. He turned his eyes away from the sad
spectacle, and when he looked again the majestic figure lay still.
The moon sailed out from behind a cloud and shed its mellow light down on the
little glade. It showed the four Indians digging a grave beneath the oak tree.
No word was spoken. They worked with their tomahawks on the soft duff and soon
their task was completed. A bed of moss and ferns lined the last resting place
of the chief. His weapons were placed beside him, to go with him to the Happy
Hunting Ground, the eternal home of the redmen, where the redmen believe the
sun will always shine, and where they will be free from their cruel white
When the grave had been filled and the log rolled on it the Indians stood by
it a moment, each speaking a few words in a low tone, while the night wind
moaned the dead chief's requiem through the tree tops.
Accustomed as Isaac was to the bloody conflicts common to the Indians, and to
the tragedy that surrounded the life of a borderman, the ghastly sight had
unnerved him. The last glimpse of that stern, dark face, of that powerful
form, as the moon brightened up the spot in seeming pity, he felt he could
never forget. His thoughts were interrupted by the harsh voice of Crow bidding
him get up. He was told that the slightest inclination on his part to lag
behind on the march before them, or in any way to make their trail plainer,
would be the signal for his death. With that Crow cut the thongs which bound
Isaac's legs and placing him between two of the Indians, led the way into the
Moving like spectres in the moonlight they marched on and on for hours. Crow
was well named. He led them up the stony ridges where their footsteps left no
mark, and where even a dog could not find their trail; down into the valleys
and into the shallow streams where the running water would soon wash away all
trace of their tracks; then out on the open plain, where the soft, springy
grass retained little impress of their moccasins.
Single file they marched in the leader's tracks as he led them onward through
the dark forests, out under the shining moon, never slacking his rapid pace,
ever in a straight line, and yet avoiding the roughest going with that
unerring instinct. which was this Indian's gift. Toward dawn the moon went
down, leaving them in darkness, but this made no difference, for, guided by
the stars, Crow kept straight on his course. Not till break of day did he come
to a halt.
Then, on the banks of a narrow stream, the Indians kindled a fire and broiled
some of the venison. Crow told Isaac he could rest, so he made haste to avail
himself of the permission, and almost instantly was wrapped in the deep
slumber of exhaustion. Three of the Indians followed suit, and Crow stood
guard. Sleepless, tireless, he paced to and fro on the bank his keen eyes
vigilant for signs of pursuers.
The sun was high when the party resumed their flight toward the west. Crow
plunged into the brook and waded several miles before he took to the woods on
the other shore. Isaac suffered severely from the sharp and slippery stones,
which in no wise bothered the Indians. His feet were cut and bruised; still he
struggled on without complaining. They rested part of the night, and the next
day the Indians, now deeming themselves practically safe from pursuit, did not
exercise unusual care to conceal their trail.
That evening about dusk they came to a rapidly flowing stream which ran
northwest. Crow and one of the other Indians parted the willows on the bank at
this point and dragged forth a long birch-bark canoe which they ran into the
stream. Isaac recognized the spot. It was near the head of Mad River, the
river which ran through the Wyandot settlements.
Two of the Indians took the bow, the third Indian and Isaac sat in the middle,
back to back, and Crow knelt in the stern. Once launched on that wild ride
Isaac forgot his uneasiness and his bruises. The night was beautiful; he loved
the water, and was not lacking in sentiment. He gave himself up to the charm
of the silver moonlight, of the changing scenery, and the musical gurgle of
the water. Had it not been for the cruel face of Crow, he could have imagined
himself on one of those enchanted canoes in fairyland, of which he had read
when a boy. Ever varying pictures presented themselves at the range, impelled
by vigorous arms, flew over the shining bosom of the stream. Here, in a sharp
bend, was a narrow place where the trees on each bank interlaced their
branches and hid the moon, making a dark and dim retreat. Then came a short
series of ripples, with merry, bouncing waves and foamy currents; below lay a
long, smooth reach of water, deep and placid, mirroring the moon and the
countless stars. Noiseless as a shadow the canoe glided down this stretch, the
paddle dipping regularly, flashing brightly, and scattering diamond drops in
the clear moonlight.
Another turn in the stream and a sound like the roar of an approaching storm
as it is borne on a rising wind, broke the silence. It was the roar of rapids
or falls. The stream narrowed; the water ran swifter; rocky ledges rose on
both sides, gradually getting higher and higher. Crow rose to his feet and
looked ahead. Then he dropped to his knees and turned the head of the canoe
into the middle of the stream. The roar became deafening. Looking forward
Isaac saw that they were entering a dark gorge. In another moment the canoe
pitched over a fall and shot between two high, rocky bluffs. These walls ran
up almost perpendicularly two hundred feet; the space between was scarcely
twenty feet wide, and the water fairly screamed as it rushed madly through its
narrow passage. In the center it was like a glancing sheet of glass, weird and
dark, and was bordered on the sides by white, seething foam-capped waves which
tore and dashed and leaped at their stony confines.
Though the danger was great, though Death lurked in those jagged stones and in
those black waits Isaac felt no fear, he knew the strength of that arm, now
rigid and again moving with lightning swiftness; he knew the power of the eye
which guided them.
Once more out under the starry sky; rifts, shallows, narrows, and lake-like
basins were passed swiftly. At length as the sky was becoming gray in the
east, they passed into the shadow of what was called the Standing Stone. This
was a peculiarly shaped stone-faced bluff, standing high over the river, and
taking its name from Tarhe, or Standing Stone, chief of all the Hurons.
At the first sight of that well known landmark, which stood by the Wyandot
village, there mingled with Isaac's despondency and resentment some other
feeling that was akin to pleasure; with a quickening of the pulse came a
confusion of expectancy and bitter memories as he thought of the dark eyed
maiden from whom he had fled a year ago.
"Co-wee-Co-woe," called out one of the Indians in the bow of the canoe. The
signal was heard, for immediately an answering shout came from the shore.
When a few moments later the canoe grated softly on a pebbly beach. Isaac saw,
indistinctly in the morning mist, the faint outlines of tepees and wigwams,
and he knew he was once more in the encampment of the Wyandots.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Late in the afternoon of that day Isaac was awakened from his heavy slumber
and told that the chief had summoned him. He got up from the buffalo robes
upon which he had flung himself that morning, stretched his aching limbs, and
walked to the door of the lodge.
The view before him was so familiar that it seemed as if he had suddenly come
home after being absent a long time. The last rays of the setting sun shone
ruddy and bright over the top of the Standing Stone; they touched the scores
of lodges and wigwams which dotted the little valley; they crimsoned the
swift, narrow river, rushing noisily over its rocky bed. The banks of the
stream were lined with rows of canoes; here and there a bridge made of a
single tree spanned the stream. From the camp fires long, thin columns of blue
smoke curled lazily upward; giant maple trees, in them garb of purple and
gold, rose high above the wigwams, adding a further beauty to this peaceful
As Isaac was led down a lane between two long lines of tepees the watching
Indians did not make the demonstration that usually marked the capture of a
paleface. Some of the old squaws looked up from their work round the campfires
and steaming kettles and grinned as the prisoner passed. The braves who were
sitting upon their blankets and smoking their long pipes, or lounging before
the warm blazes maintained a stolid indifference; the dusky maidens smiled
shyly, and the little Indian boys, with whom Isaac had always been a great
favorite, manifested their joy by yelling and running after him. One youngster
grasped Isaac round the leg and held on until he was pulled away.
In the center of the village were several lodges connected with one another
and larger and more imposing than the surrounding tepees. These were the
wigwams of the chief, and thither Isaac was conducted. The guards led him to a
large and circular apartment and left him there alone. This room was the
council-room. It contained nothing but a low seat and a knotted war-club.
Isaac heard the rattle of beads and bear claws, and as he turned a tall and
majestic Indian entered the room. It was Tarhe, the chief of all the Wyandots.
Though Tarhe was over seventy, he walked erect; his calm face, dark as a
bronze mask, showed no trace of his advanced age. Every line and feature of
his face had race in it; the high forehead, the square, protruding jaw, the
stern mouth, the falcon eyes--all denoted the pride and unbending will of the
last of the Tarhes.
"The White Eagle is again in the power of Tarhe," said the chief in his native
tongue. "Though he had the swiftness of the bounding deer or the flight of the
eagle it would avail him not. The wild geese as they fly northward are not
swifter than the warriors of Tarhe. Swifter than all is the vengeance of the
Huron. The young paleface has cost the lives of some great warriors. What has
he to say?"
"It was not my fault," answered Isaac quickly. "I was struck down from behind
and had no chance to use a weapon. I have never raised my hand against a
Wyandot. Crow will tell you that. If my people and friends kill your braves I
am not to blame. Yet I have had good cause to shed Huron blood. Your warriors
have taken me from my home and have wounded me many times."
"The White Chief speaks well. Tarhe believes his words," answered Tarhe in his
sonorous voice. "The Lenapee seek the death of the pale face. Wingenund
grieves for his son. He is Tarhe's friend. Tarhe is old and wise and he is
king here. He can save the White Chief from Wingenund and Cornplanter. Listen.
Tarhe is old and he has no son. He will make you a great chief and give you
lands and braves and honors. He shall not ask you to raise your hand against
your people, but help to bring peace. Tarhe does not love this war. He wants
only justice. He wants only to keep his lands, his horses, and his people. The
White Chief is known to be brave; his step is light, his eye is keen, and his
bullet is true. For many long moons Tarhe's daughter has been like the singing
bird without its mate. She sings no more. She shall be the White Chief's wife.
She has the blood of her mother and not that of the last of the Tarhes. Thus
the mistakes of Tarhe's youth come to disappoint his old age. He is the friend
of the young paleface. Tarhe has said. Now go and make your peace with
The chief motioned toward the back of the lodge. Isaac stepped forward and
went through another large room, evidently the chief's, as it was fitted up
with a wild and barbaric splendor. Isaac hesitated before a bearskin curtain
at the farther end of the chief's lodge. He had been there many times before,
but never with such conflicting emotions. What was it that made his heart beat
faster? With a quick movement he lifted the curtain and passed under it.
The room which he entered was circular in shape and furnished with all the
bright colors and luxuriance known to the Indian. Buffalo robes covered the
smooth, hard-packed clay floor; animals, allegorical pictures, and fanciful
Indian designs had been painted on the wall; bows and arrows, shields, strings
of bright-colored beads and Indian scarfs hung round the room. The wall was
made of dried deerskins sewed together and fastened over long poles which were
planted in the ground and bent until the ends met overhead. An oval-shaped
opening let in the light. Through a narrow aperture, which served as a door
leading to a smaller apartment, could be seen a low couch covered with red
blankets, and a glimpse of many hued garments hanging on the wall.
As Isaac entered the room a slender maiden ran impulsively to him and throwing
her arms round his neck hid her face on his breast. A few broken, incoherent
words escaped her lips. Isaac disengaged himself from the clinging arms and
put her from him. The face raised to his was strikingly beautiful. Oval in
shape, it was as white as his own, with a broad, low brow and regular
features. The eyes were large and dark and they dilated and quickened with a
thousand shadows of thought.
"Myeerah, I am taken again. This time there has been blood shed. The Delaware
chief was killed, and I do not know how many more Indians. The chiefs are all
for putting me to death. I am in great danger. Why could you not leave me in
At his first words the maiden sighed and turned sorrowfully and proudly away
from the angry face of the young man. A short silence ensued.
"Then you are not glad to see Myeerah?" she said, in English. Her voice was
music. It rang low, sweet, clear-toned as a bell.
"What has that to do with it? Under some circumstances I would be glad to see
you. But to be dragged back here and perhaps murdered--no, I don't welcome it.
Look at this mark where Crow hit me," said Isaac, passionately, bowing his
head to enable her to see the bruise where the club had struck him.
"I am sorry," said Myeerah, gently.
"I know that I am in great danger from the Delawares."
"The daughter of Tarhe has saved your life before and will save it again."
"They may kill me in spite of you."
"They will not dare. Do not forget that I saved you from the Shawnees. What
did my father say to you?"
"He assured me that he was my friend and that he would protect me from
Wingenund. But I must marry you and become one of the tribe. I cannot do that.
And that is why I am sure they will kill me."
"You are angry now. I will tell you. Myeerah tried hard to win your love, and
when you ran away from her she was proud for a long time. But there was no
singing of birds, no music of the waters, no beauty in anything after you left
her. Life became unbearable without you. Then Myeerah remembered that she was
a daughter of kings. She summoned the bravest and greatest warriors of two
tribes and said to them. "Go and bring to me the paleface, White Eagle. Bring
him to me alive or dead. If alive, Myeerah will smile once more upon her
warriors. If dead, she will look once upon his face and die. Ever since
Myeerah was old enough to remember she has thought of you. Would you wish her
to be inconstant, like the moon?"
"It is not what I wish you to be. It is that I cannot live always without
seeing my people. I told you that a year ago."
"You told me other things in that past time before you ran away. They were
tender words that were sweet to the ear of the Indian maiden. Have you
"I have not forgotten them. I am not without feeling. You do not understand.
Since I have been home this last time, I have realized more than ever that I
could not live away from my home."
"Is there any maiden in your old home whom you have learned to love more than
He did not reply, but looked gloomily out of the opening in the wall. Myeerah
had placed her hold upon his arm, and as he did not answer the hand tightened
"She shall never have you."
The low tones vibrated with intense feeling, with a deathless resolve. Isaac
laughed bitterly and looked up at her Myeerah's face was pale and her eyes
burned like fire.
"I should not be surprised if you gave me up to the Delawares," said Isaac,
coldly. "I am prepared for it, and I would not care very much. I have
despaired of your ever becoming civilized enough to understand the misery of
my sister and family. Why not let the Indians kill me?"
He knew how to wound her. A quick, shuddery cry broke from her lips. She stood
before him with bowed head and wept. When she spoke again her voice was broken
"You are cruel and unjust. Though Myeerah has Indian blood she is a white
woman. She can feel as your people do. In your anger and bitterness you forget
that Myeerah saved you from the knife of the Shawnees. You forget her
tenderness; you forget that she nursed you when you were wounded. Myeerah has
a heart to break. Has she not suffered? Is she not laughed at, scorned, called
a 'paleface' by the other tribes? She thanks the Great Spirit for the Indian
blood that keep her true. The white man changes his loves and his wives. That
is not an Indian gift."
"No, Myeerah, I did not say so. There is no other woman. It is that I am
wretched and sick at heart. Do you not see that this will end in a tragedy
some day? Can you not realize that we would be happier if you would let me go?
If you love me you would not want to see me dead. If I do not marry you they
will kill me; if I try to escape again they win kill me. Let me go free."
"I cannot! I cannot!" she cried. "You have taught me many of the ways of your
people, but you cannot change my nature."
"Why cannot you free me?"
"I love you, and I will not live without you."
"Then come and go to my home and live there with me," said Isaac, taking the
weeping maiden in his arms. "I know that my people will welcome you."
"Myeerah would be pitied and scorned," she said, sadly, shaking her head.
Isaac tried hard to steel his heart against her, but he was only mortal and he
failed. The charm of her presence influenced him; her love wrung tenderness
from him. Those dark eyes, so proud to all others, but which gazed wistfully
and yearningly into his, stirred his heart to its depths. He kissed the
tear-wet cheeks and smiled upon her.
"Well, since I am a prisoner once more, I must make the best of it. Do not
look so sad. We shall talk of this another day. Come, let us go and find my
little friend, Captain Jack. He remembered me, for he ran out and grasped my
knee and they pulled him away."
When the first French explorers invaded the northwest, about the year 1615,
the Wyandot Indians occupied the territory between Georgian Bay and the
Muskoka Lakes in Ontario. These Frenchmen named the tribe Huron because of the
manner in which they wore their hair.
At this period the Hurons were at war with the Iroquois, and the two tribes
kept up a bitter fight until in 1649, when the Hurons suffered a decisive
defeat. They then abandoned their villages and sought other hunting grounds.
They travelled south and settled in Ohio along the south and west shores of
Lake Erie. The present site of Zanesfield, named from Isaac Zane, marks the
spot where the largest tribe of Hurons once lived.
In a grove of maples on the banks of a swift little river named Mad River, the
Hurons built their lodges and their wigwams. The stately elk and graceful deer
abounded in this fertile valley, and countless herds of bison browsed upon the
There for mans years the Hurons lived a peaceful and contented life. The long
war cry was not heard. They were at peace with the neighboring tribes. Tarhe,
the Huron chief, attained great influence with the Delawares. He became a
friend of Logan, the Mingo chief.
With the invasion of the valley of the Ohio by the whites, with the march into
the wilderness of that wild-turkey breed of heroes of which Boone, Kenton, the
Zanes, and the Wetzels were the first, the Indian's nature gradually chanced
until he became a fierce and relentless foe.
The Hurons had sided with the French in Pontiac's war, and in the Revolution
they aided the British. They allied themselves with the Mingoes, Delawares and
Shawnees and made a fierce war on the Virginian pioneers. Some powerful
influence must have engendered this implacable hatred in these tribes,
particularly in the Mingo and the Wyandot.
The war between the Indians and the settlers along the Pennsylvania and West
Virginia borders was known as "Dunmore's War." The Hurons, Mingoes, and
Delawares living in the "hunter's paradise" west of the Ohio River, seeing
their land sold by the Iroquois and the occupation of their possessions by a
daring band of white men naturally were filled with fierce anger and hate. But
remembering the past bloody war and British punishment they slowly moved
backward toward the setting sun and kept the peace. In 1774 a canoe filled
with friendly Wyandots was attacked by white men below Yellow Creek and the
Indians were killed. Later the same year a party of men under Colonel Cresop
made an unprovoked and dastardly massacre of the family and relatives of
Logan. This attack reflected the deepest dishonor upon all the white men
concerned, and Was the principal cause of the long and bloody war which
followed. The settlers on the border sent messengers to Governor Dunmore at
Williamsburg for immediate relief parties. Knowing well that the Indians would
not allow this massacre to go unavenged the frontiersmen erected forts and
Logan, the famous Mingo chief, had been a noted friend of the white men. After
the murder of his people he made ceaseless war upon them. He incited the wrath
of the Hurons and the Delawares. He went on the warpath, and when his lust for
vengeance had been satisfied he sent the following remarkable address to Lord
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin and he gave
him not meat: if ever he came cold and naked and he clothed him not. During
the course of the last long and bloody war Logan remained idle in his cabin,
an advocate of peace. Such was my love for the whites that my countrymen
pointed as they passed and said: 'Logan is the friend of the white man.' I had
even thought to have lived with you but for the injuries of one man, Colonel
Cresop, who, last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the
relatives of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. There runs not a
drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called upon me for
vengeance. I have sought it: I have killed many; I have glutted my vengeance.
For my country I will rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbor a
thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear; he could not turn
upon his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."
The war between the Indians and the pioneers was waged for years. The settlers
pushed farther and farther into the wilderness. The Indians, who at first
sought only to save their farms and their stock, now fought for revenges That
is why every ambitious pioneer who went out upon those borders carried his
life in his hands: why there was always the danger of being shot or tomahawked
from behind every tree; why wife and children were constantly in fear of the
To creep unawares upon a foe and strike him in the dark was Indian warfare; to
an Indian it was not dishonorable; it was not cowardly. He was taught to hide
in the long grass like a snake, to shoot from coverts, to worm his way
stealthily through the dense woods and to ambush the paleface's trail.
Horrible cruelties, such as torturing white prisoners and burning them at the
stake never heard of before the war made upon the Indians by the whites.
Comparatively little is known of the real character of the Indian of that
time. We ourselves sit before our warm fires and talk of the deeds of the
redman. We while away an hour by reading Pontiac's siege of Detroit, of the
battle of Braddock's fields, and of Custer's last charge. We lay the book down
with a fervent expression of thankfulness that the day of the horrible redman
is past. Because little has been written on the subject, no thought is given
to the long years of deceit and treachery practiced upon Pontiac; we are
ignorant of the causes which led to the slaughter of Braddock's army, and we
know little of the life of bitterness suffered by Sitting Bull.
Many intelligent white men, who were acquainted with the true life of the
Indian before he was harassed and driven to desperation by the pioneers, said
that he had been cruelly wronged. Many white men in those days loved the
Indian life so well that they left the settlements and lived with the Indians.
Boone, who knew the Indian nature, said the honesty and the simplicity of the
Indian were remarkable. Kenton said he had been happy among the Indians. Col.
Zane had many Indian friends. Isaac Zane, who lived most of his life with the
Wyandots, said the American redman had been wrongfully judged a bloodthirsty
savage, an ignorant, thieving wretch, capable of not one virtue. He said the