Part 6 out of 6
"Why--why are you in such a hurry to go?"
"I have learned what I wanted to know. And after that I do not imagine I would
be very agreeable. I am going back. Are you coming?"
"I did not mean quite what I said," whispered Betty.
"Then what did you mean?" asked Alfred, in a stern voice.
"I don't know. Please don't speak so."
"Betty, forgive my harshness. Can you expect a man to feel as I do and remain
calm? You know I love you. You must not trifle any longer. You must not fight
"But I can't help fighting."
"Look at me," said Alfred, taking her hands. "Let me see your eyes. I believe
you care a little for me, or else you wouldn't have called me back. I love
you. Can you understand that?"
"Yes, I can; and I think you should love me a great deal to make up for what
you made me suffer."
"Betty, look at me."
Slowly she raised her head and lifted the downcast eyes. Those telltale
traitors no longer hid her secret. With a glad cry Alfred caught her in his
arms. She tried to hide her face, but he got his hand under her chin and held
it firmly so that the sweet crimson lips were very near his own. Then he
slowly bent his head.
Betty saw his intention, closed her eyes and whispered.
"Alfred, please don't--it's not fair--I beg of you--Oh!"
That kiss was Betty's undoing. She uttered a strange little cry. Then her dark
head found a hiding place over his heart, and her slender form, which a moment
before had resisted so fiercely, sank yielding into his embrace.
"Betty, do you dare tell me now that you do not care for me?" Alfred whispered
into the dusky hair which rippled over his breast.
Betty was brave even in her surrender. Her hands moved slowly upward along his
arms, slipped over his shoulders, and clasped round his neck. Then she lifted
a flushed and tearstained face with tremulous lips and wonderful shining eyes.
"Alfred, I do love you--with my whole heart I love you. I never knew until
The hours flew apace. The prolonged ringing of the dinner bell brought the
lovers back to earth, and to the realization that the world held others than
themselves. Slowly they climbed the familiar path, but this time as never
before. They walked hand in hand. From the blur they looked back. They wanted
to make sure they were not dreaming. The water rushed over the fall more
musically than ever before; the white patches of foam floated round and round
the shady pool; the leaves of the sycamore rustled cheerily in the breeze. On
a dead branch a wood-packer hammered industriously.
"Before we get out of sight of that dear old tree I want to make a
confession," said Betty, as she stood before Alfred. She was pulling at the
fringe on his hunting-coat.
"You need not make confessions to me."
"But this was dreadful; it preys on my conscience."
"Very well, I will be your judge. Your punishment shall be slight."
"One day when you were lying unconscious from your wound, Bessie sent me to
watch you. I nursed you for hours; and--and--do not think badly of me--I--I
"My darling," cried the enraptured young man.
When they at last reached the house they found Col. Zane on the doorstep.
"Where on earth have you been?" he said. "Wetzel was here. He said he would
not wait to see you. There he goes up the hill. He is behind that laurel."
They looked and presently saw the tall figure of the hunter emerge from the
bushes. He stopped and leaned on his rifle. For a minute he remained
motionless. Then he waved his hand and plunged into the thicket. Betty sighed
and Alfred said:
"Poor Wetzel! ever restless, ever roaming."
"Hello, there!" exclaimed a gay voice. The lovers turned to see the smiling
face of Isaac, and over his shoulder Myeerah's happy face beaming on them.
"Alfred, you are a lucky dog. You can thank Myeerah and me for this; because
if I had not taken to the river and nearly drowned myself to give you that
opportunity you would not wear that happy face to-day. Blush away, Betts, it
becomes you mightily."
"Bessie, here they are!" cried Col. Zane, in his hearty voice. "She is tamed
at last. No excuses, Alfred, in to dinner you go."
Col. Zane pushed the young people up the steps before him, and stopping on the
threshold while he knocked the ashes from his pipe, he smiled contentedly.
Betty lived all her after life on the scene of her famous exploit. She became
a happy wife and mother. When she grew to be an old lady, with her
grandchildren about her knee, she delighted to tell them that when girl she
had run the gauntlet of the Indians.
Col. Zane became the friend of all redmen. He maintained a trading-post for
many years, and his dealings were ever kind and honorable. After the country
got settled he received from time to time various marks of distinction from
the State, Colonial, and National governments. His most noted achievement was
completed about 1796. President Washington, desiring to open a National road
from Fort Henry to Maysville, Kentucky, paid a great tribute to Col. Zane's
ability by employing him to undertake the arduous task. His brother Jonathan
and the Indian guide, Tomepomehala, rendered valuable aid in blazing out the
path through the wilderness. This road, famous for many years as Zane's Trace,
opened the beautiful Ohio valley to the ambitious pioneer. For this service
Congress granted Col. Zane the privilege of locating military warrants upon
three sections of land, each a square mile in extent, which property the
government eventually presented to him. Col. Zane was the founder of Wheeling,
Zanesville, Martin's Ferry, and Bridgeport. He died in 1811.
Isaac Zane received from the government a patent of ten thousand acres of land
on Mad river. He established his home in the center of this tract, where he
lived with the Wyandot until his death. A white settlement sprang up,
prospered, and grew, and today it is the thriving city of Zanesfield.
Jonathan Zane settled down after peace was declared with the Indians, found
himself a wife, and eventually became an influential citizen. However, he
never lost his love for the wild woods. At times he would take down the old
rifle and disappear for two or three days. He always returned cheerful and
happy from these lonely hunts.
Wetzel alone did not take kindly to the march of civilization; but then he was
a hunter, not a pioneer. He kept his word of peace with his old enemies, the
Hurons, though he never abandoned his wandering and vengeful quests after the
As the years passed Wetzel grew more silent and taciturn. From time to time he
visited Ft. Henry, and on these visits he spent hours playing with Betty's
children. But he was restless in the settlement, and his sojourns grew briefer
and more infrequent as time rolled on. True to his conviction that no wife
existed on earth for him, he never married. His home was the trackless wilds,
where he was true to his calling--a foe to the redman.
Wonderful to relate his long, black hair never adorned the walls of an
Indian's lodge, where a warrior might point with grim pride and say: "No more
does the Deathwind blow over the hills and vales." We could tell of how his
keen eye once again saw Wingenund over the sights of his fatal rifle, and how
he was once again a prisoner in the camp of that lifelong foe, but that's
another story, which, perhaps, we may tell some day.
To-day the beautiful city of Wheeling rises on the banks of the Ohio, where
the yells of the Indians once blanched the cheeks of the pioneers. The broad,
winding river rolls on as of yore; it alone remains unchanged. What were
Indians and pioneers, forts and cities to it? Eons of time before human beings
lived it flowed slowly toward the sea, and ages after men and their works are
dust, it will roll on placidly with its eternal scheme of nature.
Upon the island still stand noble beeches, oaks, and chestnuts--trees that
long ago have covered up their bullet-scars, but they could tell, had they the
power to speak, many a wild thrilling tale. Beautiful parks and stately
mansions grace the island; and polished equipages roll over the ground that
once knew naught save the soft tread of the deer and the moccasin.
McColloch's Rock still juts boldly out over the river as deep and rugged as
when the brave Major leaped to everlasting fame. Wetzel's Cave, so named to
this day, remains on the side of the bluff overlooking the creek. The
grapevines and wild rose-bushes still cluster round the cavern-entrance,
where, long ago, the wily savage was wont to lie in wait for the settler,
lured there by the false turkey-call. The boys visit the cave on Saturday
afternoons and play "Injuns."
Not long since the writer spent a quiet afternoon there, listening to the
musical flow of the brook, and dreaming of those who had lived and loved,
fought and died by that stream one hundred and twenty years ago. The city with
its long blocks of buildings, its spires and bridges, faded away, leaving the
scene as it was in the days of Fort Henry--unobscured by smoke, the river
undotted by pulling boats, and everywhere the green and verdant forest.
Nothing was wanting in that dream picture: Betty tearing along on her pony;
the pioneer plowing in the field; the stealthy approach of the savage; Wetzel
and Jonathan watching the river; the deer browsing with the cows in the
pasture, and the old fort, grim and menacing on the bluff--all were there as
natural as in those times which tried men's souls.
And as the writer awoke to the realities of life, that his dreams were of long
ago, he was saddened by the thought that the labor of the pioneer is ended;
his faithful, heroic wife's work is done. That beautiful country, which their
sacrifices made ours, will ever be a monument to them.
Sad, too, is the thought that the poor Indian is unmourned. He is almost
forgotten; he is in the shadow; his songs are sung; no more will he sing to
his dusky bride: his deeds are done; no more will he boast of his
all-conquering arm or of his speed like the Northwind; no more will his heart
bound at the whistle of the stag, for he sleeps in the shade of the oaks,
under the moss and the ferns.