Part 4 out of 6
"There is more to be explained, but I am satisfied with your side of it," said
Col. Zane. "Now I'll go to Sam and see what has become of that letter. I am
glad I am justified in thinking of you as I have. I imagine this thing has
hurt you and I don't wonder at it. Maybe we can untangle the problem yet. My
advice would be--but never mind that now. Anyway, I'm your friend in this
matter. I'll let you know the result of my talk with Sam."
"I thought that young fellow was a gentleman," mused Col. Zane as he crossed
the green square and started up the hill toward the cabins. He found the old
negro seated on his doorstep.
"Sam, what did you do with a letter Mr. Clarke gave you last October and
instructed you to deliver to Betty?"
"I dun recollec' no lettah, sah," replied Sam.
"Now, Sam, don't lie about it. Clarke has just told me that he gave you the
letter. What did you do with it?"
"Masse Zane, I ain dun seen no lettah," answered the old darkey, taking a
dingy pipe from his mouth and rolling his eyes at his master.
"If you lie again I will punish you," said Col. Zane sternly. "You are getting
old, Sam, and I would not like to whip you, but I will if you do not find that
Sam grumbled, and shuffled inside the cabin. Col. Zane heard him rummaging
around. Presently he came back to the door and handed a very badly soiled
paper to the Colonel.
"What possessed you to do this, Sam? You have always been honest. Your act has
caused great misunderstanding and it might have led to worse."
"He's one of dem no good Southern white trash; he's good fer nuttin'," said
Sam. "I saw yo' sistah, Mis' Betty, wit him, and I seen she was gittin' fond
of him, and I says I ain't gwinter have Mis' Betty runnin' off wif him. And
I'se never gibbin de lettah to her."
That was all the explanation Sam would vouchsafe, and Col. Zane, knowing it
would be useless to say more to the well-meaning but ignorant and
superstitious old negro, turned and wended his way back to the house. He
looked at the paper and saw that it was addressed to Elizabeth Zane, and that
the ink was faded until the letters were scarcely visible.
"What have you there?" asked his wife, who had watched him go up the hill to
the negro's cabin. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that her
husband's face had recovered its usual placid expression.
"It is a little letter for that young fire-brand up stairs, and, I believe it
will clear up the mystery. Clarke gave it to Sam last fall and Sam never gave
it to Betty."
"I hope with all my heart it may settle Betty. She worries me to death with
her love affairs."
Col. Zane went up stairs and found the young lady exactly as he had left her.
She gave an impatient toss of her head as he entered.
"Well, Madam, I have here something that may excite even your interest." he
"What?" asked Betty with a start. She flushed crimson when she saw the letter
and at first refused to take it from her brother. She was at a loss to
understand his cheerful demeanor. He had been anything but pleasant a few
"Here, take it. It is a letter from Mr. Clarke which you should have received
last fall. That last morning he gave this letter to Sam to deliver to you, and
the crazy old nigger kept it. However, it is too late to talk of that, only it
does seem a great pity. I feel sorry for both of you. Clarke never will
forgive you, even if you want him to, which I am sure you do not. I don't know
exactly what is in this letter, but I know it will make you ashamed to think
you did not trust him."
With this parting reproof the Colonel walked out, leaving Betty completely
bewildered. The words "too late," "never forgive," and "a great pity" rang
through her head. What did he mean? She tore the letter open with trembling
hands and holding it up to the now fast-waning light, she read
"If you had waited only a moment longer I know you would not have been so
angry with me. The words I wanted so much to say choked me and I could not
speak them. I love you. I have loved you from the very first moment, that
blessed moment when I looked up over your pony's head to see the sweetest face
the sun ever shone on. I'll be the happiest man on earth if you will say you
care a little for me and promise to be my wife.
"It was wrong to kiss you and I beg your forgiveness. Could you but see your
face as I saw it last night in the moonlight, I would not need to plead: you
would know that the impulse which swayed me was irresistible. In that kiss I
gave you my hope, my love, my life, my all. Let it plead for me.
"I expect to return from Ft. Pitt in about six or eight weeks, but I cannot
wait until then for your answer.
"With hope I sign myself,
"Yours until death,
Betty read the letter through. The page blurred before her eyes; a sensation
of oppression and giddiness made her reach out helplessly with both hands.
Then she slipped forward and fell on the door. For the first time in all her
young life Betty had fainted. Col. Zane found her lying pale and quiet under
Yantwaia, or, as he was more commonly called, Cornplanter, was originally a
Seneca chief, but when the five war tribes consolidated, forming the
historical "Five Nations," he became their leader. An old historian said of
this renowned chieftain: "Tradition says that the blood of a famous white man
coursed through the veins of Cornplanter. The tribe he led was originally
ruled by an Indian queen of singular power and beauty. She was born to govern
her people by the force of her character. Many a great chief importuned her to
become his wife, but she preferred to cling to her power and dignity. When
this white man, then a very young man, came to the Ohio valley the queen fell
in love with him, and Cornplanter was their son."
Cornplanter lived to a great age. He was a wise counsellor, a great leader,
and he died when he was one hundred years old, having had more conceded to him
by the white men than any other chieftain. General Washington wrote of him:
"The merits of Cornplanter and his friendship for the United States are well
known and shall not be forgotten."
But Cornplanter had not always been a friend to the palefaces. During
Dunmore's war and for years after, he was one of the most vindictive of the
savage leaders against the invading pioneers.
It was during this period of Cornplanter's activity against the whites that
Isaac Zane had the misfortune to fall into the great chief's power.
We remember Isaac last when, lost in the woods, weak from hunger and exposure,
he had crawled into a thicket and had gone to sleep. He was awakened by a dog
licking his face. He heard Indian voices. He got up and ran as fast as he
could, but exhausted as he was he proved no match for his pursuers. They came
up with him and seeing that he was unable to defend himself they grasped him
by the arms and fled him down a well-worn bridle-path.
"D--n poor run. No good legs," said one of his captors, and at this the other
two Indians laughed. Then they whooped and yelled, at which signal other
Indians joined them. Isaac saw that they were leading him into a large
encampment. He asked the big savage who led him what camp it was, and learned
that he had fallen into the hands of Cornplanter.
While being marched through the large Indian village Isaac saw unmistakable
indications of war. There was a busy hum on all sides; the squaws were
preparing large quantities of buffalo meat, cutting it in long, thin strips,
and were parching corn in stone vessels. The braves were cleaning rifles,
sharpening tomahawks, and mixing war paints. All these things Isaac knew to be
preparations for long marches and for battle. That night he heard speech after
speech in the lodge next to the one in which he lay, but they were in an
unknown tongue. Later he heard the yelling of the Indians and the dull thud of
their feet as they stamped on the ground. He heard the ring of the tomahawks
as they were struck into hard wood. The Indians were dancing the war-dance
round the war-post. This continued with some little intermission all the four
days that Isaac lay in the lodge rapidly recovering his strength. The fifth
day a man came into the lodge. He was tall and powerful, his fair fell over
his shoulders and he wore the scanty buckskin dress of the Indian. But Isaac
knew at once he was a white man, perhaps one of the many French traders who
passed through the Indian village.
"Your name is Zane," said the man in English, looking sharply at Isaac.
"That is my name. Who are you?" asked Isaac in great surprise.
"I am Girty. I've never seen you, but I knew Col. Zane and Jonathan well. I've
seen your sister; you all favor one another."
"Are you Simon Girty?"
"I have heard of your influence with the Indians. Can you do anything to get
me out of this?"
"How did you happen to git over here? Yon are not many miles from Wingenund's
Camp," said Girty, giving Isaac another sharp look from his small black eyes.
"Girty, I assure you I am not a spy. I escaped from the Wyandot village on Mad
River and after traveling three days I lost my way. I went to sleep in a
thicket and when I awoke an Indian dog had found me. I heard voices and saw
three Indians. I got up and ran, but they easily caught me."
"I know about you. Old Tarhe has a daughter who kept you from bein' ransomed."
"Yes, and I wish I were back there. I don't like the look of things."
"You are right, Zane. You got ketched at a bad time. The Indians are mad. I
suppose you don't know that Col. Crawford massacred a lot of Indians a few
days ago. It'll go hard with any white man that gits captured. I'm afraid I
can't do nothin' for you."
A few words concerning Simon Girty, the White Savage. He had two brothers,
James and George, who had been desperadoes before they were adopted by the
Delawares, and who eventually became fierce and relentless savages. Simon had
been captured at the same time as his brothers, but he did not at once fall
under the influence of the unsettled, free-and-easy life of the Indians. It is
probable that while in captivity he acquired the power of commanding the
Indians' interest and learned the secret of ruling them--two capabilities few
white men ever possessed. It is certain that he, like the noted
French-Canadian Joucaire, delighted to sit round the camp fires and to go into
the council-lodge and talk to the assembled Indians.
At the outbreak of the revolution Girty was a commissioned officer of militia
at Ft. Pitt. He deserted from the Fort, taking with him the Tories McKee and
Elliott, and twelve soldiers, and these traitors spread as much terror among
the Delaware Indians as they did among the whites. The Delawares had been one
of the few peacefully disposed tribes. In order to get them to join their
forces with Governor Hamilton, the British commander, Girty declared that Gen.
Washington had been killed, that Congress had been dispersed, and that the
British were winning all the battles.
Girty spoke most of the Indian languages, and Hamilton employed him to go
among the different Indian tribes and incite them to greater hatred of the
pioneers. This proved to be just the life that suited him. He soon rose to
have a great and bad influence on all the tribes. He became noted for his
assisting the Indians in marauds, for his midnight forays, for his scalpings,
and his efforts to capture white women, and for his devilish cunning and
For many years Girty was the Deathshead of the frontier. The mention of his
name alone created terror in any houses hold; in every pioneer's cabin it made
the children cry out in fear and paled the cheeks of the stoutest-hearted
It is difficult to conceive of a white man's being such a fiend in human
guise. The only explanation that can be given is that renegades rage against
the cause of their own blood with the fury of insanity rather than with the
malignity of a naturally ferocious temper. In justice to Simon Girty it must
be said that facts not known until his death showed he was not so cruel and
base as believed; that some deeds of kindness were attributed to him; that he
risked his life to save Kenton from the stake, and that many of the terrible
crimes laid at his door were really committed by his savage brothers.
Isaac Zane suffered no annoyance at the hands of Cornplanter's braves until
the seventh day of his imprisonment. He saw no one except the squaw who
brought him corn and meat. On that day two savages came for him and led him
into the immense council-lodge of the Five Nations. Cornplanter sat between
his right-hand chiefs, Big Tree and Half Town, and surrounded by the other
chiefs of the tribes. An aged Indian stood in the center of the lodge and
addressed the others. The listening savages sat immovable, their faces as cold
and stern as stone masks. Apparently they did not heed the entrance of the
"Zane, they're havin' a council," whispered a voice in Isaac's ear. Isaac
turned and recognized Girty. "I want to prepare you for the worst."
"Is there, then, no hope for me?" asked Isaac.
"I'm afraid not," continued the renegade, speaking in a low whisper. "They
wouldn't let me speak at the council. I told Cornplanter that killin' you
might bring the Hurons down on him, but he wouldn't listen. Yesterday, in the
camp of the Delawares, I saw Col. Crawford burnt at the stake. He was a friend
of mine at Pitt, and I didn't dare to say one word to the frenzied Indians. I
had to watch the torture. Pipe and Wingenund, both old friends of Crawford,
stood by and watched him walk round the stake on the red-hot coals five
Isaac shuddered at the words of the renegade, but did not answer. He had felt
from the first that his case was hopeless, and that no opportunity for escape
could possibly present itself in such a large encampment. He set his teeth
hard and resolved to show the red devils how a white man could die.
Several speeches were made by different chiefs and then an impressive oration
by Big Tree. At the conclusion of the speeches, which were in an unknown
tongue to Isaac, Cornplanter handed a war-club to Half Town. This chief got
up, walked to the end of the circle, and there brought the club down on the
ground with a resounding thud. Then he passed the club to Big Tree. In a
solemn and dignified manner every chief duplicated Half Town's performance
with the club.
Isaac watched the ceremony as if fascinated. He had seen a war-club used in
the councils of the Hurons and knew that striking it on the ground signified
war and death.
"White man, you are a killer of Indians," said Cornplanter in good English.
"When the sun shines again you die."
A brave came forward and painted Isaac's face black. This Isaac knew to
indicate that death awaited him on the morrow. On his way back to his
prison-lodge he saw that a war-dance was in progress.
A hundred braves with tomahawks, knives, and mallets in their hands revere
circling round a post and keeping time to the low music of a muffled drum.
Close together, with heads bowed, they marched. At certain moments, which they
led up to with a dancing on rigid legs and a stamping with their feet, they
wheeled, and uttering hideous yells, started to march in the other direction.
When this had been repeated three times a brave stepped from the line,
advanced, and struck his knife or tomahawk into the post. Then with a loud
voice he proclaimed his past exploits and great deeds in war. The other
Indians greeted this with loud yells of applause and a flourishing of weapons.
Then the whole ceremony was gone through again.
That afternoon many of the Indians visited Isaac in his lodge and shook their
fists at him and pointed their knives at him. They hissed and groaned at him.
Their vindictive faces expressed the malignant joy they felt at the
expectation of putting him to the torture.
When night came Isaac's guards laced up the lodge-door and shut him from the
sight of the maddened Indians. The darkness that gradually enveloped him was a
relief. By and by all was silent except for the occasional yell of a drunken
savage. To Isaac it sounded like a long, rolling death-cry echoing throughout
the encampment and murdering his sleep. Its horrible meaning made him shiver
and his flesh creep. At length even that yell ceased. The watch-dogs quieted
down and the perfect stillness which ensued could almost be felt. Through
Isaac's mind ran over and over again the same words. His last night to live!
His last night to live! He forced himself to think of other things. He lay
there in the darkness of his tent, but he was far away in thought, far away in
the past with his mother and brothers before they had come to this
bloodthirsty country. His thoughts wandered to the days of his boyhood when he
used to drive the sows to the pasture on the hillside, and in his dreamy,
disordered fancy he was once more letting down the bars of the gate. Then he
was wading in the brook and whacking the green frogs with his stick. Old
playmates' faces, forgotten for years, were there looking at him from the dark
wall of his wigwam. There was Andrew's face; the faces of his other brothers;
the laughing face of his sister; the serene face of his mother. As he lay
there with the shadow of death over him sweet was the thought that soon he
would be reunited with that mother. The images faded slowly away, swallowed up
in the gloom. Suddenly a vision appeared to him. A radiant white light
illumined the lodge and shone full on the beautiful face of the Indian maiden
who had loved him so well. Myeerah's dark eyes were bright with an undying
love and her lips smiled hope.
A rude kick dispelled Isaac's dreams. A brawny savage pulled him to his feet
and pushed him outside of the lodge.
It was early morning. The sun had just cleared the low hills in the east and
its red beams crimsoned the edges of the clouds of fog which hung over the
river like a great white curtain. Though the air was warm, Isaac shivered a
little as the breeze blew softly against his cheek. He took one long look
toward the rising sun, toward that east he had hoped to see, and then
resolutely turned his face away forever.
Early though it was the Indians were astir and their whooping rang throughout
the valley. Down the main street of the village the guards led the prisoner,
followed by a screaming mob of squaws and young braves and children who threw
sticks and stones at the hated Long Knife.
Soon the inhabitants of the camp congregated on the green oval in the midst of
the lodges. When the prisoner appeared they formed in two long lines facing
each other, and several feet apart. Isaac was to run the gauntlet--one of the
severest of Indian tortures. With the exception of Cornplanter and several of
his chiefs, every Indian in the village was in line. Little Indian boys hardly
large enough to sling a stone; maidens and squaws with switches or spears;
athletic young braves with flashing tomahawks; grim, matured warriors swinging
knotted war clubs,--all were there in line, yelling and brandishing their
weapons in a manner frightful to behold.
The word was given, and stripped to the waist, Isaac bounded forward fleet as
a deer. He knew the Indian way of running the gauntlet. The head of that long
lane contained the warriors and older braves and it was here that the great
danger lay. Between these lines he sped like a flash, dodging this way and
that, running close in under the raised weapons, taking what blows he could on
his uplifted arms, knocking this warrior over and doubling that one up with a
lightning blow in the stomach, never slacking his speed for one stride, so
that it was extremely difficult for the Indians to strike him effectually.
Once past that formidable array, Isaac's gauntlet was run, for the squaws and
children scattered screaming before the sweep of his powerful arms.
The old chiefs grunted their approval. There was a bruise on Isaac's forehead
and a few drops of blood mingled with the beads of perspiration. Several lumps
and scratches showed on his bare shoulders and arms, but he had escaped any
serious injury. This was a feat almost without a parallel in gauntlet running.
When he had been tied with wet buckskin thongs to the post in the center of
the oval, the youths, the younger braves, and the squaws began circling round
him, yelling like so many demons. The old squaws thrust sharpened sticks,
which had been soaked in salt water, into his flesh. The maidens struck him
with willows which left red welts on his white shoulders. The braves buried
the blades of their tomahawks in the post as near as possible to his head
without actually hitting him.
Isaac knew the Indian nature well. To command the respect of the savages was
the only way to lessen his torture. He knew that a cry for mercy would only
increase his sufferings and not hasten his death,--indeed it would prolong
both. He had resolved to die without a moan. He had determined to show
absolute indifference to his torture, which was the only way to appeal to the
savage nature, and if anything could, make the Indians show mercy. Or, if he
could taunt them into killing him at once he would be spared all the terrible
agony which they were in the habit of inflicting on their victims.
One handsome young brave twirled a glittering tomahawk which he threw from a
distance of ten, fifteen, and twenty feet and every time the sharp blade of
the hatchet sank deep into the stake within an inch of Isaac's head. With a
proud and disdainful look Isaac gazed straight before him and paid no heed to
"Does the Indian boy think he can frighten a white warrior?" said Isaac
scornfully at length. "Let him go and earn his eagle plumes. The pale face
laughs at him."
The young brave understood the Huron language, for he gave a frightful yell
and cast his tomahawk again, this time shaving a lock of hair from Isaac's
This was what Isaac had prayed for. He hoped that one of these glittering
hatchets would be propelled less skillfully than its predecessors and would
kill him instantly. But the enraged brave had no other opportunity to cast his
weapon, for the Indians jeered at him and pushed him from the line.
Other braves tried their proficiency in the art of throwing knives and
tomahawks, but their efforts called forth only words of derision from Isaac.
They left the weapons sticking in the post until round Isaac's head and
shoulders there was scarcely room for another.
"The White Eagle is tired of boys," cried Isaac to a chief dancing near. "What
has he done that he be made the plaything of children? Let him die the death
of a chief."
The maidens had long since desisted in their efforts to torment the prisoner.
Even the hardened old squaws had withdrawn. The prisoner's proud, handsome
face, his upright bearing, his scorn for his enemies, his indifference to the
cuts and bruises, and red welts upon his clear white skin had won their
Not so with the braves. Seeing that the pale face scorned all efforts to make
him flinch, the young brave turned to Big Tree. At a command from this chief
the Indians stopped their maneuvering round the post and formed a large
circle. In another moment a tall warrior appeared carrying an armful of
In spite of his iron nerve Isaac shuddered with horror. He had anticipated
running the gauntlet, having his nails pulled out, powder and salt shot into
his flesh, being scalped alive and a host of other Indian tortures, but as he
had killed no members of this tribe he had not thought of being burned alive.
God, it was too horrible!
The Indians were now quiet. Their songs and dances would break out soon
enough. They piled fagot after fagot round Isaac's feet. The Indian warrior
knelt on the ground the steel clicked on the flint; a little shower of sparks
dropped on the pieces of punk and then--a tiny flame shot up, and slender
little column of blue smoke floated on the air.
Isaac dim his teeth hard and prayed with all his soul for a speedy death.
Simon Girty came hurriedly through the lines of waiting, watching Indians. He
had obtained permission to speak to the man of his own color.
"Zane, you made a brave stand. Any other time but this it might have saved
you. If you want I'll get word to your people." And then bending and placing
his mouth close to Isaac's ear, he whispered, "I did all I could for you, but
it must have been too late."
"Try and tell them at Ft. Henry," Isaac said simply.
There was a little cracking of dried wood and then a narrow tongue of red
flame darted up from the pile of fagots and licked at the buckskin fringe on
the prisoner's legging. At this supreme moment when the attention of all
centered on that motionless figure lashed to the stake, and when only the low
chanting of the death-song broke the stillness, a long, piercing yell rang out
on the quiet morning air. So strong, so sudden, so startling was the break in
that almost perfect calm that for a moment afterward there was a silence as of
death. All eyes turned to the ridge of rising ground whence that sound had
come. Now came the unmistakable thunder of horses' hoofs pounding furiously on
the rocky ground. A moment of paralyzed inaction ensued. The Indians stood
bewildered, petrified. Then on that ridge of rising ground stood, silhouetted
against the blue sky, a great black horse with arching neck and flying mane.
Astride him sat a plumed warrior, who waved his rifle high in the air. Again
that shrill screeching yell came floating to the ears of the astonished
The prisoner had seen that horse and rider before; he had heard that long
yell; his heart bounded with hope. The Indians knew that yell; it was the
terrible war-cry of the Hurons.
A horse followed closely after the leader, and then another appeared on the
crest of the hill. Then came two abreast, and then four abreast, and now the
hill was black with plunging horses. They galloped swiftly down the slope and
into the narrow street of the village. When the black horse entered the oval
the train of racing horses extended to the top of the ridge. The plumes of the
riders streamed gracefully on the breeze; their feathers shone; their weapons
glittered in the bright sunlight.
Never was there more complete surprise. In the earlier morning the Hurons had
crept up to within a rifle shot of the encampment, and at an opportune moment
when all the scouts and runners were round the torture-stake, they had reached
the hillside from which they rode into the village before the inhabitants knew
what had happened. Not an Indian raised a weapon. There were screams from the
women and children, a shouted command from Big Tree, and then all stood still
Thundercloud, the war chief of the Wyandots, pulled his black stallion back on
his haunches not twenty feet from the prisoner at the stake. His band of
painted devils closed in behind him. Full two hundred strong were they and all
picked warriors tried and true. They were naked to the waist. Across their
brawny chests ran a broad bar of flaming red paint; hideous designs in black
and white covered their faces. Every head had been clean-shaven except where
the scalp lock bristled like a porcupine's quills. Each warrior carried a
plumed spear, a tomahawk, and a rifle. The shining heads, with the little
tufts of hair tied tightly close to the scalp, were enough to show that these
Indians were on the war-path.
From the back of one of the foremost horses a slender figure dropped and
darted toward the prisoner at the stake. Surely that wildly flying hair proved
this was not a warrior. Swift as a flash of light this figure reached the
stake, the blazing fagots scattered right and left; a naked blade gleamed; the
thongs fell from the prisoner's wrists; and the front ranks of the Hurons
opened and closed on the freed man. The deliverer turned to the gaping
Indians, disclosing to their gaze the pale and beautiful face of Myeerah, the
"Summon your chief," she commanded.
The tall form of the Seneca chief moved from among the warriors and with slow
and measured tread approached the maiden. His bearing fitted the leader of
five nations of Indians. It was of one who knew that he was the wisest of
chiefs, the hero of a hundred battles. Who dared beard him in his den? Who
dared defy the greatest power in all Indian tribes? When he stood before the
maiden he folded his arms and waited for her to speak.
"Myeerah claims the White Eagle," she said.
Cornplanter did not answer at once. He had never seek Myeerah, though he had
heard many stories of her loveliness. Now he was face to face with the Indian
Princess whose fame had been the theme of many an Indian romance, and whose
beauty had been sung of in many an Indian song. The beautiful girl stood erect
and fearless. Her disordered garments, torn and bedraggled and stained from
the long ride, ill-concealed the grace of her form. Her hair rippled from the
uncovered head and fell in dusky splendor over her shoulders; her dark eyes
shone with a stern and steady fire: her bosom swelled with each deep breath.
She was the daughter of great chiefs; she looked the embodiment of savage
"The Huron squaw is brave," said Cornplanter. "By what right does she come to
free my captive?"
"He is an adopted Wyandot."
"Why does the paleface hide like a fox near the camp of Cornplanter?"
"He ran away. He lost the trail to the Fort on the river."
"Cornplanter takes prisoners to kill; not to free."
"If you will not give him up Myeerah will take him," she answered, pointing to
the long line of mounted warriors. "And should harm befall Tarhe's daughter it
will be avenged."
Cornplanter looked at Thundercloud. Well he knew that chief's prowess in the
field. He ran his eyes over the silent, watching Hurons, and then back to the
sombre face of their leader. Thundercloud sat rigid upon his stallion; his
head held high; every muscle tense and strong for instant action. He was ready
and eager for the fray. He, and every one of his warriors, would fight like a
thousand tigers for their Princess--the pride of the proud race of Wyandots.
Cornplanter saw this and he felt that on the eve of important marches he dared
not sacrifice one of his braves for any reason, much less a worthless pale
face; and yet to let the prisoner go galled the haughty spirit of the Seneca
"The Long Knife is not worth the life of one of my dogs," he said, with scorn
in his deep voice. "If Cornplanter willed he could drive the Hurons before him
like leaves before the storm. Let Myeerah take the pale face back to her
wigwam and there feed him and make a squaw of him. When he stings like a snake
in the grass remember the chief's words. Cornplanter turns on his heel from
the Huron maiden who forgets her blood."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When the sun reached its zenith it shone down upon a long line of mounted
Indians riding single file along the narrow trail and like a huge serpent
winding through the forest and over the plain.
They were Wyandot Indians, and Isaac Zane rode among them. Freed from the
terrible fate which had menaced him, and knowing that he was once more on his
way to the Huron encampment, he had accepted his destiny and quarreled no more
with fate. He was thankful beyond all words for his rescue from the stake.
Coming to a clear, rapid stream, the warriors dismounted and rested while
their horses drank thirstily of the cool water. An Indian touched Isaac on the
arm and silently pointed toward the huge maple tree under which Thundercloud
and Myeerah were sitting. Isaac turned his horse and rode the short distance
intervening. When he got near he saw that Myeerah stood with one arm over her
pony's neck. She raised eyes that were weary and sad, which yet held a lofty
and noble resolve.
"White Eagle, this stream leads straight to the Fort on the river," she said
briefly, almost coldly. "Follow it, and when the sun reaches the top of yonder
hill you will be with your people. Go, you are free."
She turned her face away. Isaac's head whirled in his amazement. He could not
believe his ears. He looked closely at her and saw that though her face was
calm her throat swelled, and the hand which lay over the neck of her pony
clenched the bridle in a fierce grasp. Isaac glanced at Thundercloud and the
other Indians near by. They sat unconcerned with the invariable unreadable
"Myeerah, what do you mean?" asked Isaac.
"The words of Cornplanter cut deep into the heart of Myeerah," she answered
bitterly. "They were true. The Eagle does not care for Myeerah. She shall no
longer keep him in a cage. He is free to fly away."
"The Eagle does not want his freedom. I love you, Myeerah. You have saved me
and I am yours. If you will go home with me and marry me there as my people
are married I will go back to the Wyandot village."
Myeerah's eyes softened with unutterable love. With a quick cry she was in his
arms. After a few moments of forgetfulness Myeerah spoke to Thundercloud and
waved her hand toward the west. The chief swung himself over his horse,
shouted a single command, and rode down the bank into the water. His warriors
followed him, wading their horses into the shallow creek, with never backward
look. When the last rider had disappeared in the willows the lovers turned
their horses eastward.
It was near the close of a day in early summer. A small group of persons
surrounded Col. Zane where he sat on his doorstep. From time to time he took
the long Indian pipe from his mouth and blew great clouds of smoke over his
head. Major McColloch and Capt. Boggs were there. Silas Zane half reclined on
the grass. The Colonel's wife stood in the door-way, and Betty sat on the
lower step with her head leaning against her brother's knee. They all had
grave faces. Jonathan Zane had returned that day after an absence of three
weeks, and was now answering the many questions with which he was plied.
"Don't ask me any more and I'll tell you the whole thing," he had just said,
while wiping the perspiration from his brow. His face was worn; his beard
ragged and unkempt; his appearance suggestive of extreme fatigue. "It was this
way: Colonel Crawford had four hundred and eighty men under him, with Slover
and me acting as guides. This was a large force of men and comprised soldiers
from Pitt and the other forts and settlers from all along the river. You see,
Crawford wanted to crush the Shawnees at one blow. When we reached the
Sandusky River, which we did after an arduous march, not one Indian did we
see. You know Crawford expected to surprise the Shawnee camp, and when he
found it deserted he didn't know what to do. Slover and I both advised an
immediate retreat. Crawford would not listen to us. I tried to explain to him
that ever since the Guadenhutten massacre keen-eyed Indian scouts had been
watching the border The news of the present expedition had been carried by
fleet runners to the different Indian tribes and they were working like hives
of angry bees. The deserted Shawnee village meant to me that the alarm had
been sounded in the towns of the Shawnees and the Delawares; perhaps also in
the Wyandot towns to the north. Colonel Crawford was obdurate and insisted on
resuming the march into the Indian country. The next day we met the Indians
coming directly toward us. It was the combined force of the Delaware chiefs,
Pipe an Wingenund. The battle had hardly commenced when the redskins Were
reinforced by four hundred warriors under Shanshota, the Huron chief. The
enemy skulked behind trees and rocks, hid in ravines, and crawled through the
long grass. They could be picked off only by Indian hunters, of whom Crawford
had but few--probably fifty all told. All that day we managed to keep our
position, though we lost sixty men. That night we lay down to rest by great
fires which we built, to prevent night surprises.
"Early next morning we resumed the fight. I saw Simon Girty on his white
horse. He was urging and cheering the Indians on to desperate fighting. Their
fire became so deadly that we were forced to retreat. In the afternoon Slover,
who had been out scouting, returned with the information that a mounted force
was approaching, and that he believed they were the reinforcements which Col.
Crawford expected. The reinforcements came up and proved to be Butler's
British rangers from Detroit. This stunned Crawford's soldiers. The fire of
the enemy became hotter and hotter. Our men were falling like leaves around
us. They threw aside their rifles and ran, many of them right into the hands
of the savages I believe some of the experienced bordermen escaped but most of
Crawford's force met death on the field. I hid in a hollow log. Next day when
I felt that it could be done safely I crawled out. I saw scalped and mutilated
bodies everywhere, but did not find Col. Crawford's body. The Indians had
taken all the clothing, weapons, blankets and everything of value. The
Wyandots took a northwest trail and the Delawares and the Shawnees traveled
east. I followed the latter because their trail led toward home. Three days
later I stood on the high bluff above Wingenund's camp. From there I saw Col.
Crawford tied to a stake and a fire started at his feet. I was not five
hundred yards from the camp. I saw the war chiefs, Pipe and Wingenund; I saw
Simon Girty and a British officer in uniform. The chiefs and Girty were once
Crawford's friends. They stood calmly by and watched the poor victim slowly
burn to death. The Indians yelled and danced round the stake; they devised
every kind of hellish torture. When at last an Indian ran in and tore off the
scalp of the still living man I could bear to see no more, and I turned and
ran. I have been in some tough places, but this last was the worst."
"My God! it is awful--and to think that man Girty was once a white man," cried
"He came very near being a dead man," said Jonathan, with grim humor. "I got a
long shot at him and killed his big white horse."
"It's a pity you missed him," said Silas Zane.
"Here comes Wetzel. What will he say about the massacre?" remarked Major
Wetzel joined the group at that moment and shook hands with Jonathan. When
interrogated about the failure of Col. Crawford's expedition Wetzel said that
Slover had just made his appearance at the cabin of Hugh Bennet, and that he
was without clothing and almost dead from exposure.
"I'm glad Slover got out alive. He was against the march all along. If
Crawford had listened to us he would have averted this terrible affair and
saved his own life. Lew, did Slover know how many men got out?" asked
"He said not many. The redskins killed all the prisoners exceptin' Crawford
"I saw Col. Crawford burned at the stake. I did not see Dr. Knight. Maybe they
murdered him before I reached the camp of the Delawares," said Jonathan.
"Wetzel, in your judgment, what effect will this massacre and Crawford's death
have on the border?" inquired Col. Zane.
"It means another bloody year like 1777," answered Wetzel. "We are liable to
have trouble with the Indians any day. You mean that."
"There'll be war all along the river. Hamilton is hatchin' some new devil's
trick with Girty. Col. Zane, I calkilate that Girty has a spy in the river
settlements and knows as much about the forts and defense as you do."
"You can't mean a white spy."
"Yes, just that."
"That is a strong assertion, Lewis, but coming from you it means something.
Step aside here and explain yourself," said Col. Zane, getting up and walking
out to the fence.
"I don't like the looks of things," said the hunter. "A month ago I ketched
this man Miller pokin' his nose round the block-house where he hadn't ought to
be. And I kep' watchin' him. If my suspicions is correct he's playin' some
deep game. I ain't got any proof, but things looks bad."
"That's strange, Lewis," said Col. Zane soberly. "Now that you mention it I
remember Jonathan said he met Miller near the Kanawha three weeks ago. That
was when Crawford's expedition was on the way to the Shawnee villages. The
Colonel tried to enlist Miller, but Miller said he was in a hurry to get back
to the Fort. And he hasn't come back yet."
"I ain't surprised. Now, Col. Zane, you are in command here. I'm not a soldier
and for that reason I'm all the better to watch Miller. He won't suspect me.
You give me authority and I'll round up his little game."
"By all means, Lewis. Go about it your own way, and report anything to me.
Remember you may be mistaken and give Miller the benefit of the doubt. I don't
like the fellow. He has a way of appearing and disappearing, and for no
apparent reason, that makes me distrust him. But for Heaven's sake, Lew, how
would he profit by betraying us?"
"I don't know. All I know is he'll bear watchin'."
"My gracious, Lew Wetzel!" exclaimed Betty as her brother and the hunter
rejoined the others. "Have you come all the way over here without a gun? And
you have on a new suit of buckskin."
Lewis stood a moment by Betty, gazing down at her with his slight smile. He
looked exceedingly well. His face was not yet bronzed by summer suns. His long
black hair, of which he was as proud as a woman could have been, and of which
he took as much care as he did of his rifle, waved over his shoulders.
"Betty, this is my birthday, but that ain't the reason I've got my fine
feathers on. I'm goin' to try and make an impression on you," replied Lewis,
"I declare, this is very sudden. But you have succeeded. Who made the suit?
And where did you get all that pretty fringe and those beautiful beads?"
"That stuff I picked up round an Injun camp. The suit I made myself."
"I think, Lewis, I must get you to help me make my new gown," said Betty,
"Well, I must be getting' back," said Wetzel, rising.
"Oh, don't go yet. You have not talked to me at all,"" said Betty petulantly.
She walked to the gate with him.
"What can an Injun hunter say to amuse the belle of the border?"
"I don't want to be amused exactly. I mean I'm not used to being unnoticed,
especially by you." And then in a lower tone she continued: "What did you mean
about Mr. Miller? I heard his name and Eb looked worried. What did you tell
"Never mind now, Betty. Maybe I'll tell you some day. It's enough for you to
know the Colonel don't like Miller and that I think he is a bad man. You don't
care nothin' for Miller, do you Betty?"
"Not in the least."
"Don't see him any more, Betty. Good-night, now, I must be goin' to supper."
"Lew, stop! or I shall run after you."
"And what good would your runnin' do?" said Lewis "You'd never ketch me. Why,
I could give you twenty paces start and beat you to yon tree."
"You can't. Come, try it," retorted Betty, catching hold of her skirt. She
could never have allowed a challenge like that to pass.
"Ha! ha! We are in for a race. Betty. if you beat him, start or no start, you
will have accomplished something never done before," said Col. Zane.
"Come, Silas, step off twenty paces and make them long ones," said Betty, who
was in earnest.
"We'll make it forty paces," said Silas, as he commenced taking immense
"What is Lewis looking at?" remarked Col. Zane's wife.
Wetzel, in taking his position for the race, had faced the river. Mrs. Zane
had seen him start suddenly, straighten up and for a moment stand like a
statue. Her exclamation drew he attention of the others to the hunter.
"Look!" he cried, waving his hand toward the river.
"I declare, Wetzel, you are always seeing something. Where shall I look? Ah,
yes, there is a dark form moving along the bank. By jove! I believe it's an
Indian," said Col. Zane.
Jonathan darted into the house. When he reappeared second later he had three
"I see horses, Lew. What do you make out?" said Jonathan. "It's a bold
manoeuvre for Indians unless they have a strong force."
"Hostile Injuns wouldn't show themselves like that. Maybe they ain't redskins
at all. We'll go down to the bluff."
"Oh, yes, let us go," cried Betty, walking down the path toward Wetzel.
Col. Zane followed her, and presently the whole party were on their way to the
river. When they reached the bluff they saw two horses come down the opposite
bank and enter the water. Then they seemed to fade from view. The tall trees
east a dark shadow over the water and the horses had become lost in this
obscurity. Col. Zane and Jonathan walked up and down the bank seeking to find
a place which afforded a clearer view of the river.
"There they come," shouted Silas.
"Yes, I see them just swimming out of the shadow," said Col. Zane. "Both
horses have riders. Lewis, what can you make out?"
"It's Isaac and an Indian girl," answered Wetzel.
This startling announcement created a commotion in the little group. It was
followed by a chorus of exclamations.
"Heavens! Wetzel, you have wonderful eyes. I hope to God you are right. There,
I see the foremost rider waving his hand," cried Col. Zane.
"Oh, Bessie, Bessie! I believe Lew is right. Look at Tige," said Betty
Everybody had forgotten the dog. He had come down the path with Betty and had
pressed close to her. First he trembled, then whined, then with a loud bark he
ran down the bank and dashed into the water.
"Hel-lo, Betts," came the cry across the water. There was no mistaking that
clear voice. It was Isaac's.
Although the sun had long gone down behind the hills daylight lingered. It was
bright enough for the watchers to recognize Isaac Zane. He sat high on his
horse and in his hand he held the bridle of a pony that was swimming beside
him. The pony bore the slender figure of a girl. She was bending forward and
her hands were twisted in the pony's mane.
By this time the Colonel and Jonathan were standing in the shallow water
waiting to grasp the reins and lead the horses up the steep bank. Attracted by
the unusual sight of a wildly gesticulating group on the river bluff, the
settlers from the Fort hurried down to the scene of action. Capt. Boggs and
Alfred Clarke joined the crowd. Old Sam came running down from the barn. All
were intensely excited and Col. Zane and Jonathan reached for the bridles and
led the horses up the slippery incline.
"Eb, Jack, Silas, here I am alive and well," cried Isaac as he leaped from his
horse. "Betty, you darling, it's Isaac. Don't stand staring as if I were a
Whereupon Betty ran to him, flung her arms around his neck and clung to him.
Isaac kissed her tenderly and disengaged himself from her arms.
"You'll get all wet. Glad to see me? Well, I never had such a happy moment in
my life. Betty, I have brought you home one whom you must love This is
Myeerah, your sister. She is wet and cold. Take her home and make her warm and
comfortable. You must forget all the past, for Myeerah has saved me from the
Betty had forgotten the other. At her brother's words she turned and saw a
slender form. Even the wet, mud-stained and ragged Indian costume failed to
hide the grace of that figure. She saw a beautiful face, as white as her own,
and dark eyes full of unshed tears.
"The Eagle is free," said the Indian girl in her low, musical voice.
"You have brought him home to us. Come," said Betty taking the hand of the
The settlers crowded round Isaac and greeted him warms while they plied him
with innumerable questions. Was he free? Who was the Indian girl? Had he run
off with her? Were the Indians preparing for war?
On the way to the Colonel's house Isaac told briefly of his escape from the
Wyandots, of his capture by Cornplanter, and of his rescue. He also mentioned
the preparations for war he had seen in Cornplanter's camp, and Girty's story
of Col. Crawford's death.
"How does it come that you have the Indian girl with you?" asked Col. Zane as
they left the curious settlers and entered the house.
"I am going to marry Myeerah and I brought her with me for that purpose. When
we are married I will go back to the Wyandots and live with them until peace
"Humph! Will it be declared?"
"Myeerah has promised it, and I believe she can bring it about, especially if
I marry her. Peace with the Hurons may help to bring about peace with the
Shawnees. I shall never cease to work for that end; but even if peace cannot
be secured, my duty still is to Myeerah. She saved me from a most horrible
"If your marriage with this Indian girl will secure the friendly offices of
that grim old warrior Tarhe, it is far more than fighting will ever do. I do
not want you to go back. Would we ever see you again?"
"Oh, yes, often I hope. You see, if I marry Myeerah the Hurons will allow me
"Well, that puts a different light on the subject."
"Oh, how I wish you and Jonathan could have seen Thundercloud and his two
hundred warriors ride into Cornplanter's camp. It was magnificent! The braves
were all crowded near the stake where I was bound. The fire had been lighted.
Suddenly the silence was shattered by an awful yell. It was Thundercloud's
yell. I knew it because I had heard it before, and anyone who had once heard
that yell could never forget it. In what seemed an incredibly short time
Thundercloud's warriors were lined up in the middle of the camp. The surprise
was so complete that, had it been necessary, they could have ridden
Cornplanter's braves down, killed many, routed the others, and burned the
village. Cornplanter will not get over that surprise in many a moon."
Betty had always hated the very mention of the Indian girl who had been the
cause of her brother's long absence from home. But she was so happy in the
knowledge of his return that she felt that it was in her power to forgive
much; more over, the white, weary face of the Indian maiden touched Betty's
warm heart. With her quick intuition she had divined that this was even a
greater trial for Myeerah. Undoubtedly the Indian girl feared the scorn of her
lover's people. She showed it in her trembling hands, in her fearful glances.
Finding that Myeerah could speak and understand English, Betty became more
interested in her charge every moment. She set about to make Myeerah
comfortable, and while she removed the wet and stained garments she talked all
the time. She told her how happy she was that Isaac was alive and well. She
said Myeerah's heroism in saving him should atone for all the past, and that
Isaac's family would welcome her in his home.
Gradually Myeerah's agitation subsided under Betty's sweet graciousness, and
by the time Betty had dressed her in a white gown, had brushed the dark hair
and added a bright ribbon to the simple toilet, Myeerah had so far forgotten
her fears as to take a shy pleasure in the picture of herself in the mirror.
As for Betty, she gave vent to a little cry of delight. "Oh, you are perfectly
lovely," cried Betty. "In that gown no one would know you as a Wyandot
"Myeerah's mother was a white woman."
"I have heard your story, Myeerah, and it is wonderful. You must tell me all
about your life with the Indians. You speak my language almost as well as I
do. Who taught you?"
"Myeerah learned to talk with the White Eagle. She can speak French with the
"That's more than I can do, Myeerah. And I had French teacher," said Betty,
"Hello, up there," came Isaac's voice from below.
"Come up, Isaac," called Betty.
"Is this my Indian sweetheart?" exclaimed Isaac, stopping at the door. "Betty,
"Yes," answered Betty, "she is simply beautiful."
"Come, Myeerah, we must go down to supper," said Isaac, taking her in his arms
and kissing her. "Now you must not be afraid, nor mind being looked at."
"Everyone will be kind to you," said Betty, taking her hand. Myeerah had
slipped from Isaac's arm and hesitated and hung back. "Come," continued Betty,
"I will stay with you, and you need not talk if you do not wish."
Thus reassured Myeerah allowed Betty to lead her down stairs. Isaac had gone
ahead and was waiting at the door.
The big room was brilliantly lighted with pine knots. Mrs. Zane was arranging
the dishes on the table. Old Sam and Annie were hurrying to and fro from the
kitchen. Col. Zane had just come up the cellar stairs carrying a mouldy
looking cask. From its appearance it might have been a powder keg, but the
merry twinkle in the Colonel's eyes showed that the cask contained something
as precious, perhaps, as powder, but not quite so dangerous. It was a cask of
wine over thirty years old. With Col. Zane's other effects it had stood the
test of the long wagon-train journey over the Virginia mountains, and of the
raft-ride down the Ohio. Col. Zane thought the feast he had arranged for Isaac
would be a fitting occasion for the breaking of the cask.
Major McCullough, Capt. Boggs and Hugh Bennet had been invited. Wetzel had
been persuaded to come. Betty's friends Lydia and Alice were there.
As Isaac, with an air of pride, led the two girls into the room Old Sam saw
them and he exclaimed, "For de Lawd's sakes, Marsh Zane, dar's two pippins,
sure can't tell 'em from one anudder."
Betty and Myeerah did resemble each other. They were of about the same size,
tall and slender. Betty was rosy, bright-eyed and smiling; Myeerah was pale
one moment and red the next.
"Friends, this is Myeerah, the daughter of Tarhe," said Isaac simply. "We are
to be married to-morrow."
"Oh, why did you not tell me?" asked Betty in great surprise. "She said
nothing about it."
"You see Myeerah has that most excellent trait in a woman--knowing when to
keep silent," answered Isaac with a smile.
The door opened at this moment, admitting Will Martin and Alfred Clarke.
"Everybody is here now, Bessie, and I guess we may as well sit down to
supper," said Col. Zane. "And, good friends, let me say that this is an
occasion for rejoicing. It is not so much a marriage that I mean. That we
might have any day if Lydia or Betty would show some of the alacrity which got
a good husband for Alice. Isaac is a free man and we expect his marriage will
bring about peace with a powerful tribe of Indians. To us, and particularly to
you, young people, that is a matter of great importance. The friendship of the
Hurons cannot but exert an influence on other tribes. I, myself, may live to
see the day that my dream shall be realized--peaceful and friendly relations
with the Indians, the freedom of the soil, well-tilled farms and growing
settlements, and at last, the opening of this glorious country to the world.
Therefore, let us rejoice; let every one be happy; let your gayest laugh ring
out, and tell your best story."
Betty had blushed painfully at the entrance of Alfred and again at the
Colonel's remark. To add to her embarrassment she found herself seated
opposite Alfred at the table. This was the first time he had been near her
since the Sunday at the meeting-house, and the incident had a singular effect
on Betty. She found herself possessed, all at once, of an unaccountable
shyness, and she could not lift her eyes from her plate. But at length she
managed to steal a glance at Alfred. She failed to see any signs in his
beaming face of the broken spirit of which her brother had hinted. He looked
very well indeed. He was eating his dinner like any other healthy man, and
talking and laughing with Lydia. This developed another unaccountable feeling
in Betty, but this time it was resentment. Who ever heard of a man, who was as
much in love as his letter said, looking well and enjoying himself with any
other than the object of his affections? He had got over it, that was all.
Just then Alfred turned and gazed full into Betty's eyes. She lowered them
instantly, but not so quickly that she failed to see in his a reproach.
"You are going to stay with us a while, are you not?" asked Betty of Isaac.
"No, Betts, not more than a day or so. Now, do not look so distressed. I do
not go back as a prisoner. Myeerah and I can often come and visit you. But
just now I want to get back and try to prevent the Delawares from urging Tarhe
"Isaac, I believe you are doing the wisest thing possible," said Capt. Boggs.
"And when I look at your bride-to-be I confess I do not see how you remained
single so long."
"That's so, Captain," answered Isaac. "But you see, I have never been
satisfied or contented in captivity, I wanted nothing but to be free."
"In other words, you were blind," remarked Alfred, smiling at Isaac.
"Yes, Alfred, was. And I imagine had you been in my place you would have
discovered the beauty and virtue of my Princess long before I did.
Nevertheless, please do not favor Myeerah with so many admiring glances. She
is not used to it. And that reminds me that I must expect trouble tomorrow.
All you fellows will want to kiss her."
"And Betty is going to be maid of honor. She, too, will have her troubles,"
remarked Col. Zane.
"Think of that, Alfred," said Isaac "A chance to kiss the two prettiest girls
on the border--a chance of a lifetime."
"It is customary, is it not?" said Alfred coolly.
"Yes, it's a custom, if you can catch the girl," answered Col. Zane.
Betty's face flushed at Alfred's cool assumption. How dared he? In spite of
her will she could not resist the power that compelled her to look at him. As
plainly as if it were written there, she saw in his steady blue eyes the light
of a memory--the memory of a kiss. And Betty dropped her head, her face
burning, her heart on fire with shame, and love, and regret.
"It'll be a good chance for me, too," said Wetzel. His remark instantly turned
attention to himself.
"The idea is absurd," said Isaac. "Why, Lew Wetzel, you could not be made to
kiss any girl."
"I would not be backward about it," said Col. Zane.
"You have forgotten the fuss you made when the boys were kissing me," said
Mrs. Zane with a fine scorn.
"My dear," said Col. Zane, in an aggrieved tone, "I did not make so much of a
fuss, as you call it, until they had kissed you a great many times more than
"Isaac, tell us one thing more," said Capt. Boggs. "How did Myeerah learn of
your capture by Cornplanter? Surely she could not have trailed you?"
"Will you tell us?" said Isaac to Myeerah.
"A bird sang it to me," answered Myeerah.
"She will never tell, that is certain," said Isaac. "And for that reason I
believe Simon Girty got word to her that I was in the hands of Cornplanter. At
the last moment when the Indians were lashing me to the stake Girty came to me
and said he must have been too late."
"Yes, Girty might have done that," said Col. Zane. "I suppose, though he dared
not interfere in behalf of poor Crawford."
"Isaac, Can you get Myeerah to talk? I love to hear her speak," said Betty, in
"Myeerah, will you sing a Huron love-song?" said Isaac "Or, if you do not wish
to sing, tell a story. I want them to know how well you can speak our
"What shall Myeerah say?" she said, shyly.
"Tell them the legend of the Standing Stone."
"A beautiful Indian girl once dwelt in the pine forests," began Myeerah, with
her eyes cast down and her hand seeking Isaac's. "Her voice was like rippling
waters, her beauty like the rising sun. From near and from far came warriors
to see the fair face of this maiden. She smiled on them all an they called her
Smiling Moon. Now there lived on the Great Lake a Wyandot chief. He was young
and bold. No warrior was as great as Tarhe. Smiling Moon cast a spell o his
heart. He came many times to woo her and make be his wife. But Smiling Moon
said: 'Go, do great deeds, an come again.'
"Tarhe searched the east and the west. He brought her strange gifts from
strange lands. She said: 'Go and slay my enemies.' Tarhe went forth in his war
paint and killed the braves who named her Smiling Moon. He came again to her
and she said: 'Run swifter than the deer, be more cunning than the beaver,
dive deeper than the loon.'
"Tarhe passed once more to the island where dwelt Smiling Moon. The ice was
thick, the snow was deep. Smiling Moon turned not from her warm fire as she
said: 'The chief is a great warrior, but Smiling Moon is not easily won. It is
cold. Change winter into summer and then Smiling Moon will love him.'
"Tarhe cried in a loud voice to the Great Spirit: 'Make me a master.'
"A voice out of the forest answered: 'Tarhe, great warrior, wise chief, waste
not thy time, go back to thy wigwam.'
"Tarhe unheeding cried 'Tarhe wins or dies. Make him a master so that he may
drive the ice northward.'
"Stormed the wild tempest; thundered the rivers of ice chill blew the north
wind, the cold northwest wind, against the mild south wind; snow-spirits and
hail-spirits fled before the warm raindrops; the white mountains melted, and
lo! it was summer.
"On the mountain top Tarhe waited for his bride. Never wearying, ever faithful
he watched many years. There he turned to stone. There he stands to-day, the
Standing Stone of ages. And Smiling Moon, changed by the Great Spirit into the
Night Wind, forever wails her lament at dusk through the forest trees, and
moans over the mountain tops."
Myeerah's story elicited cheers and praises from all. She was entreated to
tell another, but smilingly shook her head. Now that her shyness had worn off
to some extent she took great interest in the jest and the general
Col. Zane's fine old wine flowed like water. The custom was to fill a guest's
cup as soon as it was empty. Drinking much was rather encouraged than
otherwise. But Col. Zane never allowed this custom to go too far in his house.
"Friends, the hour grows late," he said. "To-morrow, after the great event, we
shall have games, shooting matches, running races, and contests of all kinds.
Capt. Boggs and I have arranged to give prizes, and I expect the girls can
give something to lend a zest to the competition."
"Will the girls have a chance in these races?" asked Isaac. "If so, I should
like to see Betty and Myeerah run."
"Betty can outrun any woman, red or white, on the border," said Wetzel. "And
she could make some of the men run their level best."
"Well, perhaps we shall give her one opportunity to-morrow," observed the
Colonel. "She used to be good at running but it seems to me that of late she
has taken to books and--"
"Oh, Eb! that is untrue," interrupted Betty.
Col. Zane laughed and patted his sister's cheek. "Never mind, Betty," and
then, rising, he continued, "Now let us drink to the bride and groom-to-be.
Capt. Boggs, I call on you."
"We drink to the bride's fair beauty; we drink to the groom's good luck," said
Capt. Boggs, raising his cup.
"Do not forget the maid-of-honor," said Isaac.
"Yes, and the maid-of-honor. Mr. Clarke, will you say something appropriate?"
asked Col. Zane.
Rising, Clarke said: "I would be glad to speak fittingly on this occasion, but
I do not think I can do it justice. I believe as Col. Zane does, that this
Indian Princess is the first link in that chain of peace which will some day
unite the red men and the white men. Instead of the White Crane she should be
called the White Dove. Gentlemen, rise and drink to her long life and
The toast was drunk. Then Clarke refilled his cup and holding it high over his
head he looked at Betty.
"Gentlemen, to the maid-of-honor. Miss Zane, your health, your happiness, in
this good old wine."
"I thank you," murmured Betty with downcast eyes. "I bid you all good-night.
Once more alone with Betty, the Indian girl turned to her with eyes like twin
"My sister has made me very happy," whispered Myeerah in her soft, low voice.
"Myeerah's heart is full."
"I believe you are happy, for I know you love Isaac dearly."
"Myeerah has always loved him. She will love his sister."
"And I will love you," said Betty. "I will love you because you have saved
him. Ah! Myeerah, yours has been wonderful, wonderful love."
"My sister is loved," whispered Myeerah. "Myeerah saw the look in the eyes of
the great hunter. It was the sad light of the moon on the water. He loves you.
And the other looked at my sister with eyes like the blue of northern skies.
He, too, loves you."
"Hush!" whispered Betty, trembling and hiding her face. "Hush! Myeerah, do not
speak of him."
He following afternoon the sun shone fair and warm; the sweet smell of the
tan-bark pervaded the airs and the birds sang their gladsome songs. The scene
before the grim battle-scarred old fort was not without its picturesqueness.
The low vine-covered cabins on the hill side looked more like picture houses
than like real habitations of men; the mill with its burned-out roof--a
reminder of the Indians--and its great wheel, now silent and still, might have
been from its lonely and dilapidated appearance a hundred years old.
On a little knoll carpeted with velvety grass sat Isaac and his Indian bride.
He had selected this vantage point because it afforded a fine view of the
green square where the races and the matches were to take place. Admiring
women stood around him and gazed at his wife. They gossiped in whispers about
her white skin, her little hands, her beauty. The girls stared with wide open
and wondering eyes. The youngsters ran round and round the little group; they
pushed each other over, and rolled in the long grass, and screamed with
It was to be a gala occasion and every man, woman and child in the settlement
had assembled on the green. Col. Zane and Sam were planting a post in the
center of the square. It was to be used in the shooting matches. Capt. Boggs
and Major McColloch were arranging the contestants in order. Jonathan Zane,
Will Martin, Alfred Clarke--all the young men were carefully charging and
priming their rifles. Betty was sitting on the black stallion which Col. Zane
had generously offered as first prize. She was in the gayest of moods and had
just coaxed Isaac to lift her on the tall horse, from which height she
purposed watching the sports. Wetzel alone did not seem infected by the spirit
of gladsomeness which pervaded. He stood apart leaning on his long rifle and
taking no interest in the proceedings behind him. He was absorbed in
contemplating the forest on the opposite shore of the river.
"Well, boys, I guess we are ready for the fun," called Col. Zane, cheerily.
"Only one shot apiece, mind you, except in case of a tie. Now, everybody shoot
The first contest was a shooting match known as "driving the nail." It was as
the name indicated, nothing less than shooting at the head of a nail. In the
absence of a nail--for nails were scarce--one was usually fashioned from a
knife blade, or an old file, or even a piece of silver. The nail was driven
lightly into the stake, the contestants shot at it from a distance as great as
the eyesight permitted. To drive the nail hard and fast into the wood at one
hundred yards was a feat seldom accomplished. By many hunters it was deemed
more difficult than "snuffing the candle," another border pastime, which
consisted of placing in the dark at any distance a lighted candle, and then
putting out the flame with a single rifle ball. Many settlers, particularly
those who handled the plow more than the rifle, sighted from a rest, and
placed a piece of moss under the rife-barrel to prevent its spring at the
The match began. Of the first six shooters Jonathan Zane and Alfred Clarke
scored the best shots. Each placed a bullet in the half-inch circle round the
"Alfred, very good, indeed," said Col. Zane. "You have made a decided
improvement since the last shooting-match."
Six other settlers took their turns. All were unsuccessful in getting a shot
inside the little circle. Thus a tie between Alfred and Jonathan had to be
"Shoot close, Alfred," yelled Isaac. "I hope you beat him. He always won from
me and then crowed over it."
Alfred's second shot went wide of the mark, and as Jonathan placed another
bullet in the circle, this time nearer the center, Alfred had to acknowledge
"Here comes Miller," said Silas Zane. "Perhaps he will want a try."
Col. Zane looked round. Miller had joined the party. He carried his rifle and
accoutrements, and evidently had just returned to the settlement. He nodded
pleasantly to all.
"Miller, will you take a shot for the first prize, which I was about to award
to Jonathan?" said Col. Zane.
"No. I am a little late, and not entitled to a shot. I will take a try for the
others," answered Miller.
At the arrival of Miller on the scene Wetzel had changed his position to one
nearer the crowd. The dog, Tige, trotted closely at his heels. No one heard
Tige's low growl or Wetzel's stern word to silence him. Throwing his arm over
Betty's pony, Wetzel apparently watched the shooters. In reality he studied
intently Miller's every movement.
"I expect some good shooting for this prize," said Col. Zane, waving a
beautifully embroidered buckskin bullet pouch, which was one of Betty's
Jonathan having won his prize was out of the lists and could compete no more.
This entitled Alfred to the first shot for second prize. He felt he would give
anything he possessed to win the dainty trifle which the Colonel had waved
aloft. Twice he raised his rifle in his exceeding earnestness to score a good
shot and each time lowered the barrel. When finally he did shoot the bullet
embedded itself in the second circle. It was a good shot, but he knew it would
never win that prize.
"A little nervous, eh?" remarked Miller, with a half sneer on his swarthy
Several young settlers followed in succession, but their aims were poor. Then
little Harry Bennet took his stand. Harry had won many prizes in former
matches, and many of the pioneers considered him one of the best shots in the
"Only a few more after you, Harry," said Col. Zane. "You have a good chance."
"All right, Colonel. That's Betty's prize and somebody'll have to do some
mighty tall shootin' to beat me," said the lad, his blue eyes flashing as he
toed the mark.
Shouts and cheers of approval greeted his attempt. The bullet had passed into
the wood so close to the nail that a knife blade could not have been inserted
Miller's turn came next. He was a fine marksman and he knew it. With the
confidence born of long experience and knowledge of his weapon, he took a
careful though quick aim and fired. He turned away satisfied that he would
carry off the coveted prize. He had nicked the nail.
But Miller reckoned without his host. Betty had seen the result of his shot
and the self-satisfied smile on his face. She watched several of the settlers
make poor attempts at the nail, and then, convinced that not one of the other
contestants could do so well as Miller, she slipped off the horse and ran
around to where Wetzel was standing by her pony.
"Lew, I believe Miller will win my prize," she whispered, placing her hand on
the hunter's arm. "He has scratched the nail, and I am sure no one except you
can do better. I do not want Miller to have anything of mine."
"And, little girl, you want me to shoot fer you," said Lewis.
"Yes, Lew, please come and shoot for me."
It was said of Wetzel that he never wasted powder. He never entered into the
races and shooting-matches of the settlers, yet it was well known that he was
the fleetest runner and the most unerring shot on the frontier. Therefore, it
was with surprise and pleasure that Col. Zane heard the hunter say he guessed
he would like one shot anyway.
Miller looked on with a grim smile. He knew that, Wetzel or no Wetzel, it
would take a remarkably clever shot to beat his.
"This shot's for Betty," said Wetzel as he stepped to the mark. He fastened
his keen eyes on the stake. At that distance the head of the nail looked like
a tiny black speck. Wetzel took one of the locks of hair that waved over his
broad shoulders and held it up in front of his eyes a moment. He thus
ascertained that there was not any perceptible breeze. The long black barrel
started slowly to rise--it seemed to the interested onlookers that it would
never reach a level and when, at last. it became rigid, there was a single
second in which man and rifle appeared as if carved out of stone. Then
followed a burst of red flame, a puff of white smoke, a clear ringing report.
Many thought the hunter had missed altogether. It seemed that the nail had not
changed its position; there was no bullet hole in the white lime wash that had
been smeared round the nail. But on close inspection the nail was found to
have been driven to its head in the wood.
"A wonderful shot!" exclaimed Col. Zane. "Lewis, I don't remember having seen
the like more than once or twice in my life."
Wetzel made no answer. He moved away to his former position and commenced to
reload his rifle. Betty came running up to him, holding in her hand the prize
"Oh, Lew, if I dared I would kiss you. It pleases me more for you to have won
my prize than if any one else had won it. And it was the finest, straightest
shot ever made."
"Betty, it's a little fancy for redskins, but it'll be a keepsake," answered
Lewis, his eyes reflecting the bright smile on her face.
Friendly rivalry in feats that called for strength, speed and daring was the
diversion of the youth of that period, and the pioneers conducted this
good-natured but spirited sport strictly on its merits. Each contestant strove
his utmost to outdo his opponent. It was hardly to be expected that Alfred
would carry off any of the laurels. Used as he had been to comparative
idleness he was no match for the hardy lads who had been brought up and
trained to a life of action, wherein a ten mile walk behind a plow, or a cord
of wood chopped in a day, were trifles. Alfred lost in the foot-race and the
sackrace, but by dint of exerting himself to the limit of his strength, he did
manage to take one fall out of the best wrestler. He was content to stop here,
and, throwing himself on the grass, endeavored to recover his breath. He felt
happier today than for some time past. Twice during the afternoon he had met
Betty's eyes and the look he encountered there made his heart stir with a
strange feeling of fear and hope. While he was ruminating on what had happened
between Betty and himself he allowed his eyes to wander from one person to
another. When his gaze alighted on Wetzel it became riveted there. The
hunter's attitude struck him as singular. Wetzel had his face half turned
toward the boys romping near him and he leaned carelessly against a white oak
tree. But a close observer would have seen, as Alfred did, that there was a
certain alertness in that rigid and motionless figure. Wetzel's eyes were
fixed on the western end of the island. Almost involuntarily Alfred's eyes
sought the same direction. The western end of the island ran out into a long
low point covered with briars, rushes and saw-grass. As Alfred directed his
gaze along the water line of this point he distinctly saw a dark form flit
from one bush to another. He was positive he had not been mistaken. He got up
slowly and unconcernedly, and strolled over to Wetzel.
"Wetzel, I saw an object just now," he said in a low tone. "It was moving
behind those bushes at the head of the island. I am not sure whether it was an
animal or an Indian."
"Injuns. Go back and be natur'l like. Don't say nothin' and watch Miller,"
Much perturbed by the developments of the last few moments, and wondering what
was going to happen, Alfred turned away. He had scarcely reached the others
when he heard Betty's voice raised in indignant protest.
"I tell you I did swim my pony across the river," cried Betty. "It was just
even with that point and the river was higher than it is now."
"You probably overestimated your feat," said Miller, with his disagreeable,
doubtful smile. "I have seen the river so low that it could be waded, and then
it would be a very easy matter to cross. But now your pony could not swim half
"I'll show you," answered Betty, her black eyes flashing. She put her foot in
the stirrup and leaped on Madcap.
"Now, Betty, don't try that foolish ride again," implored Mrs. Zane. "What do
you care whether strangers believe or not? Eb, make her come back."
Col. Bane only laughed and made no attempt to detain Betty. He rather indulged
"Stop her!" cried Clarke.
"Betty, where are you goin'?" said Wetzel, grabbing at Madcap's bridle. But
Betty was too quick for him. She avoided the hunter, and with a saucy laugh
she wheeled the fiery little pony and urged her over the bank. Almost before
any one could divine her purpose she had Madcap in the water up to her knees.
"Betty, stop!" cried Wetzel.
She paid no attention to his call. In another moment the pony would be off the
shoal and swimming.
"Stop! Turn back, Betty, or I'll shoot the pony," shouted Wetzel, and this
time there was a ring of deadly earnestness in his voice. With the words he
had cocked and thrown forward the long rifle.
Betty heard, and in alarm she turned her pony. She looked up with great
surprise and concern, for she knew Wetzel was not one to trifle.
"For God's sake!" exclaimed Colonel Zane, looking in amazement at the hunter's
face, which was now white and stern.
"Why, Lew, you do not mean you would shoot Madcap?" said Betty, reproachfully,
as she reached the shore.
All present in that watching crowd were silent, awaiting the hunter's answer.
They felt that mysterious power which portends the revelation of strange
events. Col. Zane and Jonathan knew the instant they saw Wetzel that something
extraordinary was coming. His face had grown cold and gray; his lips were
tightly compressed; his eyes dilated and shone with a peculiar lustre.
"Where were you headin' your pony?" asked Wetzel.
"I wanted to reach that point where the water is shallow," answered Betty.
"That's what I thought. Well, Betty, hostile Injuns are hidin' and waitin' fer
you in them high rushes right where you were makin' fer," said Wetzel. Then he
shouldered his rifle and walked rapidly away.
"Oh, he cannot be serious!" cried Betty. "Oh, how foolish am I."
"Get back up from the river, everybody," commanded Col. Zane.
"Col. Zane," said Clarke, walking beside the Colonel up the bank, "I saw
Wetzel watching the island in a manner that I thought odd, under the
circumstances, and I watched too. Presently I saw a dark form dart behind a
bush. I went over and told Wetzel, and he said there were Indians on the
"This is most d--n strange," said Col. Zane, frowning heavily. "Wetzel's
suspicions, Miller turns up, teases Betty attempting that foolhardy trick, and
then--Indians! It may be a coincidence, but it looks bad."
"Col. Zane, don't you think Wetzel may be mistaken?" said Miller, coming up.
"I came over from the other side this morning and I did not see any Indian
sign. Probably Wetzel has caused needless excitement."
"It does not follow that because you came from over the river there are no
Indians there," answered Col. Zane, sharply. "Do you presume to criticise
"I saw an Indian!" cried Clarke, facing Miller with blazing eyes. "And if you
say I did not, you lie! What is more, I believe you know more than any one
else about it. I watched you. I saw you were uneasy and that you looked across
the river from time to time. Perhaps you had better explain to Col. Zane the
reason you taunted his sister into attempting that ride."
With a snarl more like that of a tiger than of a human being, Miller sprang at
Clarke. His face was dark with malignant hatred, as he reached for and drew an
ugly knife. There were cries of fright from the children and screams from the
women. Alfred stepped aside with the wonderful quickness of the trained boxer
and shot out his right arm. His fist caught Miller a hard blow on the head,
knocking him down and sending the knife flying in the air.
It had all happened so quickly that everyone was as if paralyzed. The settlers
stood still and watched Miller rise slowly to his feet.
"Give me my knife!" he cried hoarsely. The knife had fallen at the feet of
Major McColloch, who had concealed it with his foot.
"Let this end right here," ordered Col. Zane. "Clarke, you have made a very
strong statement. Have you anything to substantiate your words?"
"I think I have," said Clarke. He was standing erect, his face white and his
eyes like blue steel. "I knew him at Ft. Pitt. He was a liar and a drunkard
there. He was a friend of the Indians and of the British. What he was there he
must be here. It was Wetzel who told me to watch him. Wetzel and I both think
he knew the Indians were on the island."
"Col. Zane, it is false," said Miller, huskily. "He is trying to put you
against me. He hates me because your sister--"
"You cur!" cried Clarke, striking at Miller. Col. Zane struck up the
infuriated young man's arm.
"Give us knives, or anything," panted Clarke.
"Yes, let us fight it out now," said Miller.
"Capt. Boggs, take Clarke to the block-house. Make him stay there if you have
to lock him up," commanded Col. Zane. "Miller, as for you, I cannot condemn
you without proof. If I knew positively that there were Indians on the island
and that you were aware of it, you would be a dead man in less time than it
takes to say it. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and twenty-four
hours to leave the Fort."
The villagers dispersed and went to their homes. They were inclined to take
Clarke's side. Miller had become disliked. His drinking habits and his
arrogant and bold manner had slowly undermined the friendships he had made
during the early part of his stay at Ft. Henry; while Clarke's good humor and
willingness to help any one, his gentleness with the children, and his several
acts of heroism had strengthened their regard.
"Jonathan, this looks like some of Girty's work. I wish I knew the truth,"
said Col. Zane, as he, his brothers and Betty and Myeerah entered the house.
"Confound it! We can't have even one afternoon of enjoyment. I must see Lewis.
I cannot be sure of Clarke. He is evidently bitter against Miller. That would
have been a terrible fight. Those fellows have had trouble before, and I am
afraid we have not seen the last of their quarrel."
"If they meet again--but how can you keep them apart?" said Silas. "If Miller
leaves the Fort without killing Clarke he'll hide around in the woods and wait
for a chance to shoot him."
"Not with Wetzel here," answered Col. Zane. "Betty, do you see what your--" he
began, turning to his sister, but when he saw her white and miserable face he
said no more.
"Don't mind, Betts. It wasn't any fault of yours," said Isaac, putting his arm
tenderly round the trembling girl. "I for another believe Clarke was right
when he said Miller knew there were Indians over the river. It looks like a
plot to abduct you. Have no fear for Alfred. He can take care of himself. He
showed that pretty well."
An hour later Clarke had finished his supper and was sitting by his window
smoking his pipe. His anger had cooled somewhat and his reflections were not
of the pleasantest kind. He regretted that he lowered himself so far as to
fight with a man little better than an outlaw. Still there was a grim
satisfaction in the thought of the blow he had given Miller. He remembered he
had asked for a knife and that his enemy and he be permitted to fight to the
death. After all to have ended, then and there, the feud between them would
have been the better course; for he well knew Miller's desperate character,
that he had killed more than one white man, and that now a fair fight might
not be possible. Well, he thoughts what did it matter? He was not going to
worry himself. He did not care much, one way or another. He had no home; he
could not make one without the woman he loved. He was a Soldier of Fortune; he
was at the mercy of Fate, and he would drift along and let what came be
welcome. A soft footfall on the stairs and a knock on the door interrupted his
"Come in," he said.
The door opened and Wetzel strode into the room.
"I come over to say somethin' to you," said the hunter taking the chair by the
window and placing his rifle over his knee.
"I will be pleased to listen or talk, as you desire," said Alfred.
"I don't mind tellin' you that the punch you give Miller was what he deserved.
If he and Girty didn't hatch up that trick to ketch Betty, I don't know
nothin'. But we can't prove nothin' on him yet. Mebbe he knew about the
redskins; mebbe he didn't. Personally, I think he did. But I can't kill a
white man because I think somethin'. I'd have to know fer sure. What I want to
say is to put you on your guard against the baddest man on the river."
"I am aware of that," answered Alfred. "I knew his record at Ft. Pitt. What
would you have me do?"
"Keep close till he's gone."
"That would be cowardly."
"No, it wouldn't. He'd shoot you from behind some tree or cabin."
"Well, I'm much obliged to you for your kind advice, but for all that I won't
stay in the house," said Alfred, beginning to wonder at the hunter's earnest
"You're in love with Betty, ain't you?"
The question came with Wetzel's usual bluntness and it staggered Alfred. He
could not be angry, and he did not know what to say. The hunter went on:
"You needn't say so, because I know it. And I know she loves you and that's
why I want you to look out fer Miller."
"My God! man, you're crazy," said Alfred, laughing scornfully. "She cares
nothing for me."
"That's your great failin', young feller. You fly off'en the handle too easy.
And so does Betty. You both care fer each other and are unhappy about it. Now,
you don't know Betty, and she keeps misunderstandin' you."
"For Heaven's sake! Wetzel, if you know anything tell me. Love her? Why, the
words are weak! I love her so well that an hour ago I would have welcomed
death at Miller's hands only to fall and die at her feet defending her. Your
words set me on fire. What right have you to say that? How do you know?"
The hunter leaned forward and put his hand on Alfred's shoulder. On his pale
face was that sublime light which comes to great souls when they give up a
life long secret, or when they sacrifice what is best beloved. His broad chest
heaved: his deep voice trembled.
"Listen. I'm not a man fer words, and it's hard to tell. Betty loves you. I've
carried her in my arms when she was a baby. I've made her toys and played with
her when she was a little girl. I know all her moods. I can read her like I do
the moss, and the leaves, and the bark of the forest. I've loved her all my
life. That's why I know she loves you. I can feel it. Her happiness is the
only dear thing left on earth fer me. And that's why I'm your friend."
In the silence that followed his words the door opened and closed and he was
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Betty awoke with a start. She was wide awake in a second. The moonbeams came
through the leaves of the maple tree near her window and cast fantastic
shadows on the wall of her room. Betty lay quiet, watching the fairy-like
figures on the wall and listening intently. What had awakened her? The night
was still; the crow of a cock in the distance proclaimed that the hour of dawn
was near at hand. She waited for Tige's bark under her window, or Sam's voice,
or the kicking and trampling of horses in the barn--sounds that usually broke
her slumbers in the morning. But no such noises were forthcoming. Suddenly she
heard a light, quick tap, tap, and then a rattling in the corner. It was like
no sound but that made by a pebble striking the floor, bounding and rolling
across the room. There it was again. Some one was tossing stones in at her
window. She slipped out of bed, ran, and leaned on the window-sill and looked
out. The moon was going down behind the hill, but there was light enough for
her to distinguish objects. She saw a dark figure crouching by the fence.
"Who is it?" said Betty, a little frightened, but more curious.
"Sh-h-h, it's Miller," came the answer, spoken in low voice.
The bent form straightened and stood erect. It stepped forward under Betty's
window. The light was dim, but Betty recognized the dark face of Miller. He
carried a rifle in his hand and a pack on his shoulder.
"Go away, or I'll call my brother. I will not listen to you," said Betty,
making a move to leave the window.
"Sh-h-h, not so loud," said Miller, in a quick, hoarse whisper. "You'd better
listen. I am going across the border to join Girty. He is going to bring the
Indians and the British here to burn the settlement. If you will go away with
me I'll save the lives of your brothers and their families. I have aided Girty
and I have influence with him. If you won't go you'll be taken captive and
you'll see all your friends and relatives scalped and burned. Quick, your
"Never, traitor! Monster! I'd be burned at the stake before I'd go a step with
you!" cried Betty.
"Then remember that you've crossed a desperate man. If you escape the massacre
you will beg on your knees to me. This settlement is doomed. Now, go to your
white-faced lover. You'll find him cold. Ha! Ha! Ha!" and with a taunting
laugh he leaped the fence and disappeared in the gloom.
Betty sank to the floor stunned, horrified. She shuddered at the malignity
expressed in Miller's words. How had she ever been deceived in him? He was in
league with Girty. At heart he was a savage, a renegade. Betty went over his
words, one by one.
"Your white-faced lover. You will find him cold," whispered Betty. "What did
Then came the thought. Miller had murdered Clarke. Betty gave one agonized
quiver, as if a knife had been thrust into her side, and then her paralyzed
limbs recovered the power of action. She flew out into the passage-way and
pounded on her brother's door.
"Eb! Eb! Get up! Quickly, for God's sake!" she cried. A smothered exclamation,
a woman's quick voice, the heavy thud of feet striking the floor followed
Betty's alarm. Then the door opened.
"Hello, Betts, what's up?" said Col. Zane, in his rapid voice.
At the same moment the door at the end of the hall opened and Isaac came out.
"Eb, Betty, I heard voices out doors and in the house. What's the row?"
"Oh, Isaac! Oh, Eb! Something terrible has happened!" cried Betty,
"Then it is no time to get excited," said the Colonel, calmly. He placed his
arm round Betty and drew her into the room. "Isaac, get down the rifles. Now,
Betty, time is precious. Tell me quickly, briefly."
"I was awakened by a stone rolling on the floor. I ran to the window and saw a
man by the fence. He came under my window and I saw it was Miller. He said he
was going to join Girty. He said if I would go with him he would save the
lives of all my relatives. If I would not they would all be killed, massacred,
burned alive, and I would be taken away as his captive. I told him I'd rather
die before I'd go with him. Then he said we were all doomed, and that my
white-faced lover was already cold. With that he gave a laugh which made my
flesh creep and ran on toward the river. Oh! he has murdered Mr. Clarke."
"Hell! What a fiend!" cried Col. Zane, hurriedly getting into his clothes.
"Betts, you had a gun in there. Why didn't you shoot him? Why didn't I pay
more attention to Wetzel's advice?"
"You should have allowed Clarke to kill him yesterday," said Isaac. "Like as
not he'll have Girty here with a lot of howling devils. What's to be done?"
"I'll send Wetzel after him and that'll soon wind up his ball of yarn,"
answered Col. Zane.
"Please--go--and find--if Mr. Clarke--"
"Yes, Betty, I'll go at once. You must not lose courage, Betty. It's quite
probable that Miller has killed Alfred and that there's worse to follow."
"I'll come, Eb, as soon as I have told Myeerah. She is scared half to death,"
said Isaac, starting for the door.
"All right, only hurry," said Col. Zane, grabbing his rifle. Without wasting
more words, and lacing up his hunting shirt as he went he ran out of the room.
The first rays of dawn came streaking in at the window The chill gray light
brought no cheer with its herald of the birth of another day. For what might
the morning sun disclose? It might shine on a long line of painted Indians.
The fresh breeze from over the river might bring the long war whoop of the
No wonder Noah and his brother, awakened by the voice of their father, sat up
in their little bed and looked about with frightened eyes. No wonder Mrs.
Zane's face blanched. How many times she had seen her husband grasp his rifle
and run out to meet danger!
"Bessie," said Betty. "If it's true I will not be able to bear it. It s all my
"Nonsense! You heard Eb say Miller and Clarke had quarreled before. They hated
each other before they ever saw you."
A door banged, quick footsteps sounded on the stairs, and Isaac came rushing
into the room. Betty, deathly pale, stood with her hands pressed to her bosom,
and looked at Isaac with a question in her eyes that her tongue could not
"Betty, Alfred's badly hurt, but he's alive. I can tell you no more now," said
Isaac. "Bessie, bring your needle, silk linen, liniment-- everything you need
for a bad knife wound, and come quickly."
Betty's haggard face changed as if some warm light had been reflected on it;
her lips moved, and with a sob of thankfulness she fled to her room.
Two hours later, while Annie was serving breakfast to Betty and Myeerah, Col.
Zane strode into the room.
"Well, one has to eat whatever happens," he said, his clouded face brightening
somewhat. "Betty, there's been bad work, bad work. When I got to Clarke's room
I found him lying on the bed with a knife sticking in him. As it is we are
doubtful about pulling him through."
"May I see him?" whispered Betty, with pale lips.
"If the worst comes to the worst I'll take you over. But it would do no good
now and would surely unnerve you. He still has a fighting chance."
"Did they fight, or was Mr. Clarke stabbed in his sleep?"
"Miller climbed into Clarke's window and knifed him in the dark. As I came
over I met Wetzel and told him I wanted him to trail Miller and find if there
is any truth in his threat about Girty and the Indians. Sam just now found
Tige tied fast in the fence corner back of the barn. That explains the mystery
of Miller's getting so near the house. You know he always took pains to make
friends with Tige. The poor dog was helpless; his legs were tied and his jaws
bound fast. Oh, Miller is as cunning as an Indian! He has had this all planned
out, and he has had more than one arrow to his bow. But, if I mistake not he
has shot his last one."
"Miller must be safe from pursuit by this time," said Betty.
"Safe for the present, yes," answered Col. Zane, "but while Jonathan and
Wetzel live I would not give a snap of my fingers for Miller's chances. Hello,
I hear some one talking. I sent for Jack and the Major."
The Colonel threw open the door. Wetzel, Major McColloch, Jonathan and Silas
Zane were approaching. They were all heavily armed. Wetzel was equipped for a
long chase. Double leggins were laced round his legs. A buckskin knapsack was
strapped to his shoulders.
"Major, I want you and Jonathan to watch the river," said Col. Zane. "Silas,
you are to go to the mouth of Yellow Creek and reconnoiter. We are in for a
siege. It may be twenty-four hours and it may be ten days. In the meantime I
will get the Fort in shape to meet the attack. Lewis, you have your orders.
Have you anything to suggest?"
"I'll take the dog," answered Wetzel. "He'll save time for me. I'll stick to
Miller's trail and find Girty's forces. I've believed all along that Miller
was helpin' Girty, and I'm thinkin' that where Miller goes there I'll find
Girty and his redskins. If it's night when I get back I'll give the call of
the hoot-owl three times, quick, so Jack and the Major will know I want to get
back across the river."
"All right, Lewis, we'll be expecting you any time," said Col. Zane.
"Betty, I'm goin' now and I want to tell you somethin'," said Wetzel, as Betty
appeared. "Come as far as the end of the path with me."
"I'm sorry you must go. But Tige seems delighted," said Betty, walking beside
Wetzel, while the dog ran on before.
"Betty, I wanted to tell you to stay close like to the house, fer this feller
Miller has been layin' traps fer you, and the Injuns is on the war-path. Don't
ride your pony, and stay home now."
"Indeed, I shall never again do anything as foolish as I did yesterday. I have
learned my lesson. And Oh! Lew, I am so grateful to you for saving me. When
will you return to the Fort?"
"Mebbe never, Betty."
"Oh, no. Don't say that. I know all this Indian talk will blow over, as it
always does, and you will come back and everything will be all right again."
"I hope it'll be as you say, Betty, but there's no tellin', there's no
"You are going to see if the Indians are making preparations to besiege the
"Yes, I am goin' fer that. And if I happen to find Miller on my way I'll give
him Betty's regards."
Betty shivered at his covert meaning. Long ago in a moment of playfulness,
Betty had scratched her name on the hunter's rifle. Ever after that Wetzel
called his fatal weapon by her name.
"If you were going simply to avenge I would not let you go. That wretch will
get his just due some day, never fear for that."
"Betty, 'taint likely he'll get away from me, and if he does there's Jonathan.
This mornin' when we trailed Miller down to the river bank Jonathan points
across the river and says: 'You or me,' and I says: 'Me,' so it's all
"Will Mr. Clarke live?" said Betty, in an altered tone, asking the question
which was uppermost in her mind.
"I think so, I hope so. He's a husky young chap and the cut wasn't bad. He
lost so much blood. That's why he's so weak. If he gets well he'll have
somethin' to tell you."
"Lew, what do you mean?" demanded Betty, quickly.
"Me and him had a long talk last night and--"
"You did not go to him and talk of me, did you?" said Betty, reproachfully.
They had now reached the end of the path. Wetzel stopped and dropped the butt
of his rifle on the ground. Tige looked on and wagged his tail. Presently the
"Yes, we talked about you."
"Oh! Lewis. What did--could you have said?" faltered Betty.
"You think I hadn't ought to speak to him of you?"
"I do not see why you should. Of course you are my good friend, but he-- it is
not like you to speak of me."
"Fer once I don't agree with you. I knew how it was with him so I told him. I
knew how it was with you so I told him, and I know how it is with me, so I
told him that too."
"With you?" whispered Betty.
"Yes, with me. That kind of gives me a right, don't it, considerin' it's all
fer your happiness?"
"With you?" echoed Betty in a low tone. She was beginning to realize that she
had not known this man. She looked up at him. His eyes were misty with an
"Oh, no! No! Lew. Say it is not true," she cried, piteously. All in a moment
Betty's burdens became too heavy for her. She wrung her little hands. Her
brother's kindly advice, Bessie's warnings, and old Grandmother Watkins' words
came back to her. For the first time she believed what they said--that Wetzel
loved her. All at once the scales fell from her eyes and she saw this man as
he really was. All the thousand and one things he had done for her, his simple
teaching, his thoughtfulness, his faithfulness, and his watchful
protection--all came crowding on her as debts that she could never pay. For
now what could she give this man to whom she owed more than her life? Nothing.
It was too late. Her love could have reclaimed him, could have put an end to
that solitary wandering, and have made him a good, happy man.
"Yes, Betty, it's time to tell it. I've loved you always," he said softly.
She covered her face and sobbed. Wetzel put his arm round her and drew her to
him until the dark head rested on his shoulder. Thus they stood a moment.
"Don't cry, little one," he said, tenderly. "Don't grieve fer me. My love fer
you has been the only good in my life. It's been happiness to love you. Don't
think of me. I can see you and Alfred in a happy home, surrounded by
bright-eyed children. There'll be a brave lad named fer me, and when I come,
if I ever do, I'll tell him stories, and learn him the secrets of the woods,
and how to shoot, and things I know so well."
"I am so wretched--so miserable. To think I have been so--so blind, and I have
teased you--and--it might have been--only now it's too late," said Betty,
between her sobs.
"Yes, I know, and it's better so. This man you love rings true. He has
learnin' and edication. I have nothin' but muscle and a quick eye. And that'll
serve you and Alfred when you are in danger. I'm goin' now. Stand here till
I'm out of sight."
"Kiss me goodbye," whispered Betty.
The hunter bent his head and kissed her on the brow. Then he turned and with a
rapid step went along the bluff toward the west. When he reached the laurel
bushes which fringed the edge of the forest he looked back. He saw the slender
gray clad figure standing motionless in the narrow path. He waved his hand and
then turned and plunged into the forest. The dog looked back, raised his head
and gave a long, mournful howl. Then, he too disappeared.
A mile west of the settlement Wetzel abandoned the forest and picked his way
down the steep bluff to the river. Here he prepared to swim to the western
shore. He took off his buckskin garments, spread them out on the ground,
placed his knapsack in the middle, and rolling all into a small bundle tied it
round his rifle. Grasping the rifle just above the hammer he waded into the
water up to his waist and then, turning easily on his back he held the rifle
straight up, allowing the butt to rest on his breast. This left his right arm
unhampered. With a powerful back-arm stroke he rapidly swam the river, which