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think too much of some one?”

“You have no right to ask me that,” said Betty, flushing and turning away toward the stairway.

“Well, well, child, don’t mind me. I did not mean anything. There, good night, Betty.”

Long after she had gone up-stairs Col. Zane sat by his fireside. From time to time he sighed. He thought of the old Virginia home and of the smile of his mother. It seemed only a few short years since he had promised her that he would take care of the baby sister. How had he kept that promise made when Betty was a little thing bouncing on his knee? It seemed only yesterday. How swift the flight of time! Already Betty was a woman; her sweet, gay girlhood had passed; already a shadow had fallen on her face, the shadow of a secret sorrow.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

March with its blustering winds had departed, and now April’s showers and sunshine were gladdening the hearts of the settlers. Patches of green freshened the slopes of the hills; the lilac bushes showed tiny leaves, and the maple-buds were bursting. Yesterday a blue-bird–surest harbinger of spring–had alighted on the fence-post and had sung his plaintive song. A few more days and the blossoms were out mingling their pink and white with the green; the red-bud, the hawthorne, and the dog-wood were in bloom, checkering the hillsides.

“Bessie, spring is here,” said Col. Zane, as he stood in the doorway. “The air is fresh, the sun shines warm, the birds are singing; it makes me feel good.”

“Yes, it is pleasant to have spring with us again,” answered his wife. “I think, though, that in winter I am happier. In summer I am always worried. I am afraid for the children to be out of my sight, and when you are away on a hunt I am distraught until you are home safe.”

“Well, if the redskins let us alone this summer it will be something new,” he said, laughing. “By the way, Bess, some new people came to the fort last night. They rafted down from the Monongahela settlements. Some of the women suffered considerably. I intend to offer them the cabin on the hill until they can cut the timber and run up a house. Sam said the cabin roof leaked and the chimney smoked, but with a little work I think they can be made more comfortable there than at the block-house.”

“It is the only vacant cabin in the settlement. I can accommodate the women folks here.”

“Well, we’ll see about it. I don’t want you and Betty inconvenienced. I’ll send Sam up to the cabin and have him fix things up a bit and make it more habitable.”

The door opened, admitting Col. Zane’s elder boy. The lad’s face was dirty, his nose was all bloody, and a big bruise showed over his right eye.

“For the land’s sake!” exclaimed his mother. “Look at the boy. Noah, come here. What have you been doing?”

Noah crept close to his mother and grasping her apron with both hands hid his face. Mrs. Zane turned the boy around and wiped his discolored features with a wet towel. She gave him a little shake and said: “Noah, have you been fighting again?”

“Let him go and I’ll tell you about it,” said the Colonel, and when the youngster had disappeared he continued: “Right after breakfast Noah went with me down to the mill. I noticed several children playing in front of Reihart’s blacksmith shop. I went in, leaving Noah outside. I got a plow-share which I had left with Reihart to be repaired. He came to the door with me and all at once he said: ‘look at the kids.’ I looked and saw Noah walk up to a boy and say something to him. The lad was a stranger, and I have no doubt belongs to these new people I told you about. He was bigger than Noah. At first the older boy appeared very friendly and evidently wanted to join the others in their game. I guess Noah did not approve of this, for after he had looked the stranger over he hauled away and punched the lad soundly. To make it short the strange boy gave Noah the worst beating he ever got in his life. I told Noah to come straight to you and confess.”

“Well, did you ever!” ejaculated Mrs. Zane. “Noah is a bad boy. And you stood and watched him fight. You are laughing about it now. Ebenezer Zane, I would not put it beneath you to set Noah to fighting. I know you used to make the little niggers fight. Anyway, it serves Noah right and I hope it will be a lesson to him.”

“I’ll make you a bet, Bessie,” said the Colonel, with another laugh. “I’ll bet you that unless we lock him up, Noah will fight that boy every day or every time he meets him.”

“I won’t bet,” said Mrs. Zane, with a smile of resignation.

“Where’s Betts? I haven’t seen her this morning. I am going over to Short Creek to-morrow or next day, and think I’ll take her with me. You know I am to get a commission to lay out several settlements along the river, and I want to get some work finished at Short Creek this spring. Mrs. Raymer’ll be delighted to have Betty. Shall I take her?”

“By all means. A visit there will brighten her up and do her good.”

“Well, what on earth have you been doing?” cried the Colonel. His remark had been called forth by a charming vision that had entered by the open door. Betty–for it was she–wore a little red cap set jauntily on her black hair. Her linsey dress was crumpled and covered with hayseed.

“I’ve been in the hay-mow,” said Betty, waving a small basket. “For a week that old black hen has circumvented me, but at last I have conquered. I found the nest in the farthest corner under the hay.”

“How did you get up in the loft?” inquired Mrs. Zane.

“Bessie, I climbed up the ladder of course. I acknowledge being unusually light-hearted and happy this morning, but I have not as yet grown wings. Sam said I could not climb up that straight ladder, but I found it easy enough.”

“You should not climb up into the loft,” said Mrs. Zane, in a severe tone. “Only last fall Hugh Bennet’s little boy slid off the hay down into one of the stalls and the horse kicked him nearly to death.”

“Oh, fiddlesticks, Bessie, I am not a baby,” said Betty, with vehemence. “There is not a horse in the barn but would stand on his hind legs before he would step on me, let alone kick me.”

“I don’t know, Betty, but I think that black horse Mr. Clarke left here would kick any one,” remarked the Colonel.

“Oh, no, he would not hurt me.”

“Betty, we have had pleasant weather for about three days,” said the Colonel, gravely. “In that time you have let out that crazy bear of yours to turn everything topsy-turvy. Only yesterday I got my hands in the paint you have put on your canoe. If you had asked my advice I would have told you that painting your canoe should not have been done for a month yet. Silas told me you fell down the creek hill; Sam said you tried to drive his team over the bluff, and so on. We are happy to see you get back your old time spirits, but could you not be a little more careful? Your versatility is bewildering. We do not know what to look for next. I fully expect to see you brought to the house some day maimed for life, or all that beautiful black hair gone to decorate some Huron’s lodge.”

“I tell you I am perfectly delighted that the weather is again so I can go out. I am tired to death of staying indoors. This morning I could have cried for very joy. Bessie will soon be lecturing me about Madcap. I must not ride farther than the fort. Well, I don’t care. I intend to ride all over.”

“Betty, I do not wish you to think I am lecturing you,” said the Colonel’s wife. “But you are as wild as a March hare and some one must tell you things. Now listen. My brother, the Major, told me that Simon Girty, the renegade, had been heard to say that he had seen Eb Zane’s little sister and that if he ever got his hands on her he would make a squaw of her. I am not teasing you. I am telling you the truth. Girty saw you when you were at Fort Pitt two years ago. Now what would you do if he caught you on one of your lonely rides and carried you off to his wigwam? He has done things like that before. James Girty carried off one of the Johnson girls. Her brothers tried to rescue her and lost their lives. It is a common trick of the Indians.”

“What would I do if Mr. Simon Girty tried to make a squaw of me?” exclaimed Betty, her eyes flashing fire. “Why, I’d kill him!”

“I believe it, Betts, on my word I do,” spoke up the Colonel. “But let us hope you may never see Girty. All I ask is that you be careful. I am going over to Short Creek to-morrow. Will you go with me? I know Mrs. Raymer will be pleased to see you.”

“Oh, Eb, that will be delightful!”

“Very well, get ready and we shall start early in the morning.”

Two weeks later Betty returned from Short Creek and seemed to have profited much by her short visit. Col. Zane remarked with satisfaction to his wife that Betty had regained all her former cheerfulness.

The morning after Betty’s return was a perfect spring morning–the first in that month of May-days. The sun shone bright and warm; the mayflowers blossomed; the trailing arbutus scented the air; everywhere the grass and the leaves looked fresh and green; swallows flitted in and out of the barn door; the blue-birds twittered; a meadow-lark caroled forth his pure melody, and the busy hum of bees came from the fragrant apple-blossoms.

“Mis’ Betty, Madcap ‘pears powerfo’ skittenish,” said old Sam, when he had led the pony to where Betty stood on the hitching block. “Whoa, dar, you rascal.”

Betty laughed as she leaped lightly into the saddle, and soon she was flying over the old familiar road, down across the creek bridge, past the old grist-mill, around the fort and then out on the river bluff. The Indian pony was fiery and mettlesome. He pranced and side-stepped, galloped and trotted by turns. He seemed as glad to get out again into the warm sunshine as was Betty herself. He tore down the road a mile at his best speed. Coming back Betty pulled him into a walk. Presently her musings were interrupted by a sharp switch in the face from a twig of a tree. She stopped the pony and broke off the offending branch. As she looked around the recollection of what had happened to her in that very spot flashed into her mind. It was here that she had been stopped by the man who had passed almost as swiftly out of her life as he had crossed her path that memorable afternoon. She fell to musing on the old perplexing question. After all could there not have been some mistake? Perhaps she might have misjudged him? And then the old spirit, which resented her thinking of him in that softened mood, rose and fought the old battle over again. But as often happened the mood conquered, and Betty permitted herself to sink for the moment into the sad thoughts which returned like a mournful strain of music once sung by beloved voices, now forever silent.

She could not resist the desire to ride down to the old sycamore. The pony turned into the bridle-path that led down the bluff and the sure-footed beast picked his way carefully over the roots and stones. Betty’s heart beat quicker when she saw the noble tree under whose spreading branches she had spent the happiest day of her life. The old monarch of the forest was not one whit changed by the wild winds of winter. The dew sparkled on the nearly full grown leaves; the little sycamore balls were already as large as marbles.

Betty drew rein at the top of the bank and looked absently at the tree and into the foam covered pool beneath. At that moment her eyes saw nothing physical. They held the faraway light of the dreamer, the look that sees so much of the past and nothing of the present.

Presently her reflections were broken by the actions of the pony. Madcap had thrown up her head, laid back her ears and commenced to paw the ground with her forefeet. Betty looked round to see the cause of Madcap’s excitement. What was that! She saw a tall figure clad in brown leaning against the stone. She saw a long fishing-rod. What was there so familiar in the poise of that figure? Madcap dislodged a stone from the path and it went rattling down the rock, slope and fell with a splash into the water. The man heard it, turned and faced the hillside. Betty recognized Alfred Clarke. For a moment she believed she must be dreaming. She had had many dreams of the old sycamore. She looked again. Yes, it was he. Pale, worn, and older he undoubtedly looked, but the features were surely those of Alfred Clarke. Her heart gave a great bound and then seemed to stop beating while a very agony of joy surged over her and made her faint. So he still lived. That was her first thought, glad and joyous, and then memory returning, her face went white as with clenched teeth she wheeled Madcap and struck her with the switch. Once on the level bluff she urged her toward the house at a furious pace.

Col. Zane had just stepped out of the barn door and his face took on an expression of amazement when he saw the pony come tearing up the road, Betty’s hair flying in the wind and with a face as white as if she were pursued by a thousand yelling Indians.

“Say, Betts, what the deuce is wrong?” cried the Colonel, when Betty reached the fence.

“Why did you not tell me that man was here again?” she demanded in intense excitement.

“That man! What man?” asked Col. Zane, considerably taken back by this angry apparition.

“Mr. Clarke, of course. Just as if you did not know. I suppose you thought it a fine opportunity for one of your jokes.”

“Oh, Clarke. Well, the fact is I just found it out myself. Haven’t I been away as well as you? I certainly cannot imagine how any man could create such evident excitement in your mind. Poor Clarke, what has he done now?”

“You might have told me. Somebody could have told me and saved me from making a fool of myself,” retorted Betty, who was plainly on the verge of tears. “I rode down to the old sycamore tree and he saw me in, of all the places in the world, the one place where I would not want him to see me.”

“Huh!” said the Colonel, who often gave vent to the Indian exclamation. “Is that all? I thought something had happened.”

“All! Is it not enough? I would rather have died. He is a man and he will think I followed him down there, that I was thinking of–that–Oh!” cried Betty, passionately, and then she strode into the house, slammed the door, and left the Colonel, lost in wonder.

“Humph! These women beat me. I can’t make them out, and the older I grow the worse I get,” he said, as he led the pony into the stable.

Betty ran up-stairs to her room, her head in a whirl stronger than the surprise of Alfred’s unexpected appearance in Fort Henry and stronger than the mortification in having been discovered going to a spot she should have been too proud to remember was the bitter sweet consciousness that his mere presence had thrilled her through and through. It hurt her and made her hate herself in that moment. She hid her face in shame at the thought that she could not help being glad to see the man who had only trifled with her, the man who had considered the acquaintance of so little consequence that he had never taken the trouble to write her a line or send her a message. She wrung her trembling hands. She endeavored to still that throbbing heart and to conquer that sweet vague feeling which had crept over her and made her weak. The tears began to come and with a sob she threw herself on the bed and buried her head in the pillow.

An hour after, when Betty had quieted herself and had seated herself by the window a light knock sounded on the door and Col. Zane entered. He hesitated and came in rather timidly, for Betty was not to be taken liberties with, and seeing her by the window he crossed the room and sat down by her side.

Betty did not remember her father or her mother. Long ago when she was a child she had gone to her brother, laid her head on his shoulder and told him all her troubles. The desire grew strong within her now. There was comfort in the strong clasp of his hand. She was not proof against it, and her dark head fell on his shoulder.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Alfred Clarke had indeed made his reappearance in Fort Henry. The preceding October when he left the settlement to go on the expedition up the Monongahela River his intention had been to return to the fort as soon as he had finished his work, but what he did do was only another illustration of that fatality which affects everything. Man hopefully makes his plans and an inexorable destiny works out what it has in store for him.

The men of the expedition returned to Fort Henry in due time, but Alfred had been unable to accompany them. He had sustained a painful injury and had been compelled to go to Fort Pitt for medical assistance. While there he had received word that his mother was lying very ill at his old home in Southern Virginia and if he wished to see her alive he must not delay in reaching her bedside. He left Fort Pitt at once and went to his home, where he remained until his mother’s death. She had been the only tie that bound him to the old home, and now that she was gone he determined to leave the scene of his boyhood forever.

Alfred was the rightful heir to all of the property, but an unjust and selfish stepfather stood between him and any contentment he might have found there. He decided he would be a soldier of fortune. He loved the daring life of a ranger, and preferred to take his chances with the hardy settlers on the border rather than live the idle life of a gentleman farmer. He declared his intention to his step-father, who ill-concealed his satisfaction at the turn affairs had taken. Then Alfred packed his belongings, secured his mother’s jewels, and with one sad, backward glance rode away from the stately old mansion.

It was Sunday morning and Clarke had been two days in Fort Henry. From his little room in the block-house he surveyed the well-remembered scene. The rolling hills, the broad river, the green forests seemed like old friends.

“Here I am again,” he mused. “What a fool a man can be. I have left a fine old plantation, slaves, horses, a country noted for its pretty women–for what? Here there can be nothing for me but Indians, hard work, privation, and trouble. Yet I could not get here quickly enough. Pshaw! What use to speak of the possibilities of a new country. I cannot deceive myself. It is she. I would walk a thousand miles and starve myself for months just for one glimpse of her sweet face. Knowing this what care I for all the rest. How strange she should ride down to the old sycamore tree yesterday the moment I was there and thinking of her. Evidently she had just returned from her visit. I wonder if she ever cared. I wonder if she ever thinks of me. Shall I accept that incident as a happy augury? Well, I am here to find out and find out I will. Aha! there goes the church bell.”

Laughing a little at his eagerness he brushed his coat, put on his cap and went down stairs. The settlers with their families were going into the meeting house. As Alfred started up the steps he met Lydia Boggs.

“Why, Mr. Clarke, I heard you had returned,” she said, smiling pleasantly and extending her hand. “Welcome to the fort. I am very glad to see you.”

While they were chatting her father and Col. Zane came up and both greeted the young man warmly.

“Well, well, back on the frontier,” said the Colonel, in his hearty way. “Glad to see you at the fort again. I tell you, Clarke, I have taken a fancy to that black horse you left me last fall. I did not know what to think when Jonathan brought back my horse. To tell you the truth I always looked for you to come back. What have you been doing all winter?”

“I have been at home. My mother was ill all winter and she died in April.”

“My lad, that’s bad news. I am sorry,” said Col. Zane putting his hand kindly on the young man’s shoulder. “I was wondering what gave you that older and graver look. It’s hard, lad, but it’s the way of life.”

“I have come back to get my old place with you, Col. Zane, if you will give it to me.”

“I will, and can promise you more in the future. I am going to open a road through to Maysville, Kentucky, and start several new settlements along the river. I will need young men, and am more than glad you have returned.”

“Thank you, Col. Zane. That is more than I could have hoped for.”

Alfred caught sight of a trim figure in a gray linsey gown coming down the road. There were several young people approaching, but he saw only Betty. By some evil chance Betty walked with Ralfe Miller, and for some mysterious reason, which women always keep to themselves, she smiled and looked up into his face at a time of all times she should not have done so. Alfred’s heart turned to lead.

When the young people reached the steps the eyes of the rivals met for one brief second, but that was long enough for them to understand each other. They did not speak. Lydia hesitated and looked toward Betty.

“Betty, here is–” began Col. Zane, but Betty passed them with flaming cheeks and with not so much as a glance at Alfred. It was an awkward moment for him.

“Let us go in,” he said composedly, and they filed into the church.

As long as he lived Alfred Clarke never forgot that hour. His pride kept him chained in his seat. Outwardly he maintained his composure, but inwardly his brain seemed throbbing, whirling, bursting. What an idiot he had been! He understood now why his letter had never been answered. Betty loved Miller, a man who hated him, a man who would leave no stone unturned to destroy even a little liking which she might have felt for him. Once again Miller had crossed his path and worsted him. With a sudden sickening sense of despair he realized that all his fond hopes had been but dreams, a fool’s dreams. The dream of that moment when he would give her his mother’s jewels, the dream of that charming face uplifted to his, the dream of the little cottage to which he would hurry after his day’s work and find her waiting at the gate,–these dreams must be dispelled forever. He could barely wait until the end of the service. He wanted to be alone; to fight it out with himself; to crush out of his heart that fair image. At length the hour ended and he got out before the congregation and hurried to his room.

Betty had company all that afternoon and it was late in the day when Col. Zane ascended the stairs and entered her room to find her alone.

“Betty, I wish to know why you ignored Mr. Clarke this morning?” said Col. Zane, looking down on his sister. There was a gleam in his eye and an expression about his mouth seldom seen in the Colonel’s features.

“I do not know that it concerns any one but myself,” answered Betty quickly, as her head went higher and her eyes flashed with a gleam not unlike that in her brother’s.

“I beg your pardon. I do not agree with you,” replied Col. Zane. “It does concern others. You cannot do things like that in this little place where every one knows all about you and expect it to pass unnoticed. Martin’s wife saw you cut Clarke and you know what a gossip she is. Already every one is talking about you and Clarke.”

“To that I am indifferent.”

“But I care. I won’t have people talking about you,” replied the Colonel, who began to lose patience. Usually he had the best temper imaginable. “Last fall you allowed Clarke to pay you a good deal of attention and apparently you were on good terms when he went away. Now that he has returned you won’t even speak to him. You let this fellow Miller run after you. In my estimation Miller is not to be compared to Clarke, and judging from the warm greetings I saw Clarke receive this morning, there are a number of folk who agree with me. Not that I am praising Clarke. I simply say this because to Bessie, to Jack, to everyone, your act is incomprehensible. People are calling you a flirt and saying that they would prefer some country manners.”

“I have not allowed Mr. Miller to run after me, as you are pleased to term it,” retorted Betty with indignation. “I do not like him. I never see him any more unless you or Bessie or some one else is present. You know that. I cannot prevent him from walking to church with me.”

“No, I suppose not, but are you entirely innocent of those sweet glances which you gave him this morning?”

“I did not,” cried Betty with an angry blush. “I won’t be called a flirt by you or by anyone else. The moment I am civil to some man all these old maids and old women say I am flirting. It is outrageous.”

“Now, Betty, don’t get excited. We are getting from the question. Why are you not civil to Clarke?” asked Col. Zane. She did not answer and after a moment he continued. “If there is anything about Clarke that I do not know and that I should know I want you to tell me. Personally I like the fellow. I am not saying that to make you think you ought to like him because I do. You might not care for him at all, but that would be no good reason for your actions. Betty, in these frontier settlements a man is soon known for his real worth. Every one at the Fort liked Clarke. The youngsters adored him. Jessie liked him very much. You know he and Isaac became good friends. I think he acted like a man to-day. I saw the look Miller gave him. I don’t like this fellow Miller, anyway. Now, I am taking the trouble to tell you my side of the argument. It is not a question of your liking Clarke–that is none of my affair. It is simply that either he is not the man we all think him or you are acting in a way unbecoming a Zane. I do not purpose to have this state of affairs continue. Now, enough of this beating about the bush.”

Betty had seen the Colonel angry more than once, but never with her. It was quite certain she had angered him and she forgot her own resentment. Her heart had warmed with her brother’s praise of Clarke. Then as she remembered the past she felt a scorn for her weakness and such a revulsion of feeling that she cried out passionately:

“He is a trifler. He never cared for me. He insulted me.”

Col. Zane reached for his hat, got up without saying another word and went down stairs.

Betty had not intended to say quite what she had and instantly regretted her hasty words. She called to the Colonel, but he did not answer her, nor return.

“Betty, what in the world could you have said to my husband?” said Mrs. Zane as she entered the room. She was breathless from running up the stairs and her comely face wore a look of concern. “He was as white as that sheet and he stalked off toward the Fort without a word to me.”

“I simply told him Mr. Clarke had insulted me,” answered Betty calmly.

“Great Heavens! Betty, what have you done?” exclaimed Mrs. Zane. “You don’t know Eb when he is angry. He is a big fool over you, anyway. He is liable to kill Clarke.”

Betty’s blood was up now and she said that would not be a matter of much importance.

“When did he insult you?” asked the elder woman, yielding to her natural curiosity.

“It was last October.”

“Pooh! It took you a long time to tell it. I don’t believe it amounted to much. Mr. Clarke did not appear to be the sort of a man to insult anyone. All the girls were crazy about him last year. If he was not all right they would not have been.”

“I do not care if they were. The girls can have him and welcome. I don’t want him. I never did. I am tired of hearing everyone eulogize him. I hate him. Do you hear? I hate him! And I wish you would go away and leave me alone.”

“Well, Betty, all I will say is that you are a remarkable young woman,” answered Mrs. Zane, who saw plainly that Betty’s violent outburst was a prelude to a storm of weeping. “I don’t believe a word you have said. I don’t believe you hate him. There!”

Col. Zane walked straight to the Fort, entered the block-house and knocked on the door of Clarke’s room. A voice bade him come in. He shoved open the door and went into the room. Clarke had evidently just returned from a tramp in the hills, for his garments were covered with burrs and his boots were dusty. He looked tired, but his face was calm.

“Why, Col. Zane! Have a seat. What can I do for you?”

“I have come to ask you to explain a remark of my sister’s.”

“Very well, I am at your service,” answered Alfred slowly lighting his pipe, after which he looked straight into Col. Zane’s face.

“My sister informs me that you insulted her last fall before you left the Fort. I am sure you are neither a liar nor a coward, and I expect you to answer as a man.”

“Col. Zane, I am not a liar, and I hope I am not a coward,” said Alfred coolly. He took a long pull on his pipe and blew a puff of white smoke toward the ceiling.

“I believe you, but I must have an explanation. There is something wrong somewhere. I saw Betty pass you without speaking this morning. I did not like it and I took her to task about it. She then said you had insulted her. Betty is prone to exaggerate, especially when angry, but she never told me a lie in her life. Ever since you pulled Isaac out of the river I have taken an interest in you. That’s why I’d like to avoid any trouble. But this thing has gone far enough. Now be sensible, swallow your pride and let me hear your side of the story.”

Alfred had turned pale at his visitor’s first words. There was no mistaking Col. Zane’s manner. Alfred well knew that the Colonel, if he found Betty had really been insulted, would call him out and kill him. Col. Zane spoke quietly, ever kindly, but there was an undercurrent of intense feeling in his voice, a certain deadly intent which boded ill to anyone who might cross him at that moment. Alfred’s first impulse was a reckless desire to tell Col. Zane he had nothing to explain and that he stood ready to give any satisfaction in his power. But he wisely thought better of this. It struck him that this would not be fair, for no matter what the girl had done the Colonel had always been his friend. So Alfred pulled himself together and resolved to make a clean breast of the whole affair.

“Col. Zane, I do not feel that I owe your sister anything, and what I am going to tell you is simply because you have always been my friend, and I do not want you to have any wrong ideas about me. I’ll tell you the truth and you can be the judge as to whether or not I insulted your sister. I fell in love with her, almost at first sight. The night after the Indians recaptured your brother, Betty and I stood out in the moonlight and she looked so bewitching and I felt so sorry for her and so carried away by my love for her that I yielded to a momentary impulse and kissed her. I simply could not help it. There is no excuse for me. She struck me across the face and ran into the house. I had intended that night to tell her of my love and place my fate in her hands, but, of course, the unfortunate occurrence made that impossible. As I was to leave at dawn next day, I remained up all night, thinking what I ought to do. Finally I decided to write. I wrote her a letter, telling her all and begging her to become my wife. I gave the letter to your slave, Sam, and told him it was a matter of life and death, and not to lose the letter nor fail to give it to Betty. I have had no answer to that letter. Today she coldly ignored me. That is my story, Col. Zane.”

“Well, I don’t believe she got the letter,” said Col. Zane. “She has not acted like a young lady who has had the privilege of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to you. And Sam never had any use for you. He disliked you from the first, and never failed to say something against you.”

“I’ll kill that d–n nigger if he did not deliver that letter,” said Clarke, jumping up in his excitement. “I never thought of that. Good Heaven! What could she have thought of me? She would think I had gone away without a word. If she knew I really loved her she could not think so terribly of me.”

“There is more to be explained, but I am satisfied with your side of it,” said Col. Zane. “Now I’ll go to Sam and see what has become of that letter. I am glad I am justified in thinking of you as I have. I imagine this thing has hurt you and I don’t wonder at it. Maybe we can untangle the problem yet. My advice would be–but never mind that now. Anyway, I’m your friend in this matter. I’ll let you know the result of my talk with Sam.”

“I thought that young fellow was a gentleman,” mused Col. Zane as he crossed the green square and started up the hill toward the cabins. He found the old negro seated on his doorstep.

“Sam, what did you do with a letter Mr. Clarke gave you last October and instructed you to deliver to Betty?”

“I dun recollec’ no lettah, sah,” replied Sam.

“Now, Sam, don’t lie about it. Clarke has just told me that he gave you the letter. What did you do with it?”

“Masse Zane, I ain dun seen no lettah,” answered the old darkey, taking a dingy pipe from his mouth and rolling his eyes at his 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 letter.”

Sam grumbled, and shuffled inside the cabin. Col. Zane heard him rummaging around. Presently he came back to the door and handed a very badly soiled paper to the Colonel.

“What possessed you to do this, Sam? You have always been honest. Your act has caused great misunderstanding and it might have led to 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 said cheerily.

“What?” asked Betty with a start. She flushed crimson when she saw the letter and at first refused to take it from her brother. She was at a loss to understand his cheerful demeanor. He had been anything but pleasant a few moments since.

“Here, take it. It is a letter from Mr. Clarke which you should have received last fall. That last morning he gave this letter to Sam to deliver to you, and the crazy old nigger kept it. However, it is too late to talk of that, only it does seem a great pity. I feel sorry for both of you. Clarke never will forgive you, even if you want him to, which I am sure you do not. I don’t know exactly what is in this letter, but I know it will make you ashamed to think you did not 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

“Dear Betty:

“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,

“Alfred.”

Betty read the letter through. The page blurred before her eyes; a sensation of oppression and giddiness made her reach out helplessly with both hands. Then she slipped forward and fell on the floor. For the first time in all her young life Betty had fainted. Col. Zane found her lying pale and quiet under the window.

CHAPTER IX.

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 led him down a well-worn bridle-path.

“D–n poor run. No good legs,” said one of his captors, and at this the other two Indians laughed. Then they whooped and yelled, at which signal other Indians joined them. Isaac saw that they were leading him into a large encampment. He asked the big savage who led him what camp it was, and learned that he had fallen into the hands 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 hair fell over his shoulders and he wore the scanty buckskin dress of the Indian. But Isaac knew at once he was a white man, perhaps one of the many French traders who passed through the Indian village.

“Your name is Zane,” said the man in English, looking sharply at 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?”

“Yes.”

“I have heard of your influence with the Indians. Can you do anything to get me out of this?”

“How did you happen to git over here? You are not many miles from Wingenund’s Camp,” said Girty, giving Isaac another sharp look from his small black eyes.

“Girty, I assure you I am not a spy. I escaped from the Wyandot village on Mad River and after traveling three days I lost my way. I went to sleep in a thicket and when I awoke an Indian dog had found me. I heard voices and saw three Indians. I got up and ran, but they easily caught me.”

“I know about you. Old Tarhe has a daughter who kept you from bein’ 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 cruelty.

For many years Girty was the Deathshead of the frontier. The mention of his name alone created terror in any household; in every pioneer’s cabin it made the children cry out in fear and paled the cheeks of the stoutest-hearted wife.

It is difficult to conceive of a white man’s being such a fiend in human guise. The only explanation that can be given is that renegades rage against the cause of their own blood with the fury of insanity rather than with the malignity of a naturally ferocious temper. In justice to Simon Girty it must be said that facts not known until his death showed he was not so cruel and base as believed; that some deeds of kindness were attributed to him; that he risked his life to save Kenton from the stake, and that many of the terrible crimes laid at his door were really committed by his 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 prisoner.

“Zane, they’re havin’ a council,” whispered a voice in Isaac’s ear. Isaac turned and recognized Girty. “I want to prepare you for the 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 hours.”

Isaac shuddered at the words of the renegade, but did not answer. He had felt from the first that his case was hopeless, and that no opportunity for escape could possibly present itself in such a large encampment. He set his teeth hard and resolved to show the red devils how a white man could die.

Several speeches were made by different chiefs and then an impressive oration by Big Tree. At the conclusion of the speeches, which were in an unknown tongue to Isaac, Cornplanter handed a war-club to Half Town. This chief got up, walked to the end of the circle, and there brought the club down on the ground with a resounding thud. Then he passed the club to Big Tree. In a solemn and dignified manner every chief duplicated Half Town’s performance with the club.

Isaac watched the ceremony as if fascinated. He had seen a war-club used in the councils of the Hurons and knew that striking it on the ground signified war and death.

“White man, you are a killer of Indians,” said Cornplanter in good English. “When the sun shines again you die.”

A brave came forward and painted Isaac’s face black. This Isaac knew to indicate that death awaited him on the morrow. On his way back to his prison-lodge he saw that a war-dance was in progress.

A hundred braves with tomahawks, knives, and mallets in their hands were circling round a post and keeping time to the low music of a muffled drum. Close together, with heads bowed, they marched. At certain moments, which they led up to with a dancing on rigid legs and a stamping with their feet, they wheeled, and uttering hideous yells, started to march in the other direction. When this had been repeated three times a brave stepped from the line, advanced, and struck his knife or tomahawk into the post. Then with a loud voice he proclaimed his past exploits and great deeds in war. The other Indians greeted this with loud yells of applause and a flourishing of weapons. Then the whole ceremony was gone through again.

That afternoon many of the Indians visited Isaac in his lodge and shook their fists at him and pointed their knives at him. They hissed and groaned at him. Their vindictive faces expressed the malignant joy they felt at the expectation of putting him to the 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 his tormentor.

“Does the Indian boy think he can frighten a white warrior?” said Isaac scornfully at length. “Let him go and earn his eagle plumes. The pale face laughs at him.”

The young brave understood the Huron language, for he gave a frightful yell and cast his tomahawk again, this time shaving a lock of hair from Isaac’s head.

This was what Isaac had prayed for. He hoped that one of these glittering hatchets would be propelled less skillfully than its predecessors and would kill him instantly. But the enraged brave had no other opportunity to cast his weapon, for the Indians jeered at him and pushed him from the line.

Other braves tried their proficiency in the art of throwing knives and tomahawks, but their efforts called forth only words of derision from Isaac. They left the weapons sticking in the post until round Isaac’s head and shoulders there was scarcely room for another.

“The White Eagle is tired of boys,” cried Isaac to a chief dancing near. “What has he done that he be made the plaything of children? Let him die the death of a chief.”

The maidens had long since desisted in their efforts to torment the prisoner. Even the hardened old squaws had withdrawn. The prisoner’s proud, handsome face, his upright bearing, his scorn for his enemies, his indifference to the cuts and bruises, and red welts upon his clear white skin had won their hearts.

Not so with the braves. Seeing that the pale face scorned all efforts to make him flinch, the young brave turned to Big Tree. At a command from this chief the Indians stopped their maneuvering round the post and formed a large circle. In another moment a tall warrior appeared carrying an armful of fagots.

In spite of his iron nerve Isaac shuddered with horror. He had anticipated running the gauntlet, having his nails pulled out, powder and salt shot into his flesh, being scalped alive and a host of other Indian tortures, but as he had killed no members of this tribe he had not thought of being burned alive. God, it was too 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 shut 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 Indians.

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 and waited.

Thundercloud, the war chief of the Wyandots, pulled his black stallion back on his haunches not twenty feet from the prisoner at the stake. His band of painted devils closed in behind him. Full two hundred strong were they and all picked warriors tried and true. They were naked to the waist. Across their brawny chests ran a broad bar of flaming red paint; hideous designs in black and white covered their faces. Every head had been clean-shaven except where the scalp lock bristled like a porcupine’s quills. Each warrior carried a plumed spear, a tomahawk, and a rifle. The shining heads, with the little tufts of hair tied tightly close to the scalp, were enough to show that these Indians were on the war-path.

From the back of one of the foremost horses a slender figure dropped and darted toward the prisoner at the stake. Surely that wildly flying hair proved this was not a warrior. Swift as a flash of light this figure reached the stake, the blazing fagots scattered right and left; a naked blade gleamed; the thongs fell from the prisoner’s wrists; and the front ranks of the Hurons opened and closed on the freed man. The deliverer turned to the gaping Indians, disclosing to their gaze the pale and beautiful face of Myeerah, the Wyandot Princes.

“Summon your chief,” she commanded.

The tall form of the Seneca chief moved from among the warriors and with slow and measured tread approached the maiden. His bearing fitted the leader of five nations of Indians. It was of one who knew that he was the wisest of chiefs, the hero of a hundred battles. Who dared beard him in his den? Who dared defy the greatest power in all Indian tribes? When he stood before the maiden he folded his arms and waited for her to speak.

“Myeerah claims the White Eagle,” she said.

Cornplanter did not answer at once. He had never seek Myeerah, though he had heard many stories of her loveliness. Now he was face to face with the Indian Princess whose fame had been the theme of many an Indian romance, and whose beauty had been sung of in many an Indian song. The beautiful girl stood erect and fearless. Her disordered garments, torn and bedraggled and stained from the long ride, ill-concealed the grace of her form. Her hair rippled from the uncovered head and fell in dusky splendor over her shoulders; her dark eyes shone with a stern and steady fire: her bosom swelled with each deep breath. She was the daughter of great chiefs; she looked the embodiment of savage love.

“The Huron squaw is brave,” said Cornplanter. “By what right does she come to free my captive?”

“He is an adopted Wyandot.”

“Why does the paleface hide like a fox near the camp of 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 chief.

“The Long Knife is not worth the life of one of my dogs,” he said, with scorn in his deep voice. “If Cornplanter willed he could drive the Hurons before him like leaves before the storm. Let Myeerah take the pale face back to her wigwam and there feed him and make a squaw of him. When he stings like a snake in the grass remember the chief’s words. Cornplanter turns on his heel from the Huron maiden who forgets her blood.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When the sun reached its zenith it shone down upon a long line of mounted Indians riding single file along the narrow trail and like a huge serpent winding through the forest and over the plain.

They were Wyandot Indians, and Isaac Zane rode among them. Freed from the terrible fate which had menaced him, and knowing that he was once more on his way to the Huron encampment, he had accepted his destiny and quarreled no more with fate. He was thankful beyond all words for his rescue from the stake.

Coming to a clear, rapid stream, the warriors dismounted and rested while their horses drank thirstily of the cool water. An Indian touched Isaac on the arm and silently pointed toward the huge maple tree under which Thundercloud and Myeerah were sitting. Isaac turned his horse and rode the short distance intervening. When he got near he saw that Myeerah stood with one arm over her pony’s neck. She raised eyes that were weary and sad, which yet held a lofty and 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 expression.

“Myeerah, what do you mean?” asked Isaac.

“The words of Cornplanter cut deep into the heart of Myeerah,” she answered bitterly. “They were true. The Eagle does not care for Myeerah. She shall no longer keep him in a cage. He is free to fly 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.

CHAPTER X.

It was near the close of a day in early summer. A small group of persons surrounded Col. Zane where he sat on his doorstep. From time to time he took the long Indian pipe from his mouth and blew great clouds of smoke over his head. Major McColloch and Capt. Boggs were there. Silas Zane half reclined on the grass. The Colonel’s wife stood in the door-way, and Betty sat on the lower step with her head leaning against her brother’s knee. They all had grave faces. Jonathan Zane had returned that day after an absence of three weeks, and was now answering the many questions with which he was plied.

“Don’t ask me any more and I’ll tell you the whole thing,” he had just said, while wiping the perspiration from his brow. His face was worn; his beard ragged and unkempt; his appearance suggestive of extreme fatigue. “It was this way: Colonel Crawford had four hundred and eighty men under him, with Slover and me acting as guides. This was a large force of men and comprised soldiers from Pitt and the other forts and settlers from all along the river. You see, Crawford wanted to crush the Shawnees at one blow. When we reached the Sandusky River, which we did after an arduous march, not one Indian did we see. You know Crawford expected to surprise the Shawnee camp, and when he found it deserted he didn’t know what to do. Slover and I both advised an immediate retreat. Crawford would not listen to us. I tried to explain to him that ever since the Guadenhutten massacre keen-eyed Indian scouts had been watching the border. The news of the present expedition had been carried by fleet runners to the different Indian tribes and they were working like hives of angry bees. The deserted Shawnee village meant to me that the alarm had been sounded in the towns of the Shawnees and the Delawares; perhaps also in the Wyandot towns to the north. Colonel Crawford was obdurate and insisted on resuming the march into the Indian country. The next day we met the Indians coming directly toward us. It was the combined force of the Delaware chiefs, Pipe and Wingenund. The battle had hardly commenced when the redskins were reinforced by four hundred warriors under Shanshota, the Huron chief. The enemy skulked behind trees and rocks, hid in ravines, and crawled through the long grass. They could be picked off only by Indian hunters, of whom Crawford had but few–probably fifty all told. All that day we managed to keep our position, though we lost sixty men. That night we lay down to rest by great fires which we built, to prevent night 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 Col. Zane.

“He came very near being a dead man,” said Jonathan, with grim humor. “I got a long shot at him and killed his big white horse.”

“It’s a pity you missed him,” said Silas Zane.

“Here comes Wetzel. What will he say about the massacre?” remarked Major McColloch.

Wetzel joined the group at that moment and shook hands with Jonathan. When interrogated about the failure of Col. Crawford’s expedition Wetzel said that Slover had just made his appearance at the cabin of Hugh Bennet, and that he was without clothing and almost dead from exposure.

“I’m glad Slover got out alive. He was against the march all along. If Crawford had listened to us he would have averted this terrible affair and saved his own life. Lew, did Slover know how many men got out?” asked Jonathan.

“He said not many. The redskins killed all the prisoners exceptin’ Crawford and Knight.”

“I saw Col. Crawford burned at the stake. I did not see Dr. Knight. Maybe they murdered him before I reached the camp of the Delawares,” 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, smiling.

“I declare, this is very sudden. But you have succeeded. Who made the suit? And where did you get all that pretty fringe and those 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, roguishly.

“Well, I must be getting’ back,” said Wetzel, rising.

“Oh, don’t go yet. You have not talked to me at all,” said Betty petulantly. She walked to the gate with him.

“What can an Injun hunter say to amuse the belle of the border?”

“I don’t want to be amused exactly. I mean I’m not used to being unnoticed, especially by you.” And then in a lower tone she continued: “What did you mean about Mr. Miller? I heard his name and Eb looked worried. What did you tell him?”

“Never mind now, Betty. Maybe I’ll tell you some day. It’s enough for you to know the Colonel don’t like Miller and that I think he is a bad man. You don’t care nothin’ for Miller, do you Betty?”

“Not in the least.”

“Don’t see him any more, Betty. Good-night, now, I must be goin’ to 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 strides.

“What is Lewis looking at?” remarked Col. Zane’s wife.

Wetzel, in taking his position for the race, had faced the river. Mrs. Zane had seen him start suddenly, straighten up and for a moment stand like a statue. Her exclamation drew he attention of the others to the hunter.

“Look!” he cried, waving his hand toward the river.

“I declare, Wetzel, you are always seeing something. Where shall I look? Ah, yes, there is a dark form moving along the bank. By jove! I believe it’s an Indian,” said Col. Zane.

Jonathan darted into the house. When he reappeared second later he had three rifles.

“I see horses, Lew. What do you make out?” said Jonathan. “It’s a bold manoeuvre for Indians unless they have a strong force.”

“Hostile Injuns wouldn’t show themselves like that. Maybe they ain’t redskins at all. We’ll go down to the bluff.”

“Oh, yes, let us go,” cried Betty, walking down the path toward 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 cast a dark shadow over the water and the horses had become lost in this obscurity. Col. Zane and Jonathan walked up and down the bank seeking to find a place which afforded a clearer view of the river.

“There they come,” shouted Silas.

“Yes, I see them just swimming out of the shadow,” said Col. Zane. “Both horses have riders. Lewis, what can you make out?”

“It’s Isaac and an Indian girl,” answered Wetzel.

This startling announcement created a commotion in the little group. It was followed by a chorus of exclamations.

“Heavens! Wetzel, you have wonderful eyes. I hope to God you are right. There, I see the foremost rider waving his hand,” cried Col. Zane.

“Oh, Bessie, Bessie! I believe Lew is right. Look at Tige,” said Betty excitedly.

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 ghost.”

Whereupon Betty ran to him, flung her arms around his neck and clung to him. Isaac kissed her tenderly and disengaged himself from her 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 stake.”

Betty had forgotten the other. At her brother’s words she turned and saw a slender form. Even the wet, mud-stained and ragged Indian costume failed to hide the grace of that figure. She saw a beautiful face, as white as her own, and dark eyes full of unshed tears.

“The Eagle is free,” said the Indian girl in her low, musical voice.

“You have brought him home to us. Come,” said Betty taking the hand of the trembling maiden.

The settlers crowded round Isaac and greeted him warmly while they plied him with innumerable questions. Was he free? Who was the Indian girl? Had he run off with her? Were the Indians preparing for 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 is declared.”

“Humph! Will it be declared?”

“Myeerah has promised it, and I believe she can bring it about, especially if I marry her. Peace with the Hurons may help to bring about peace with the Shawnees. I shall never cease to work for that end; but even if peace cannot be secured, my duty still is to Myeerah. She saved me from a most horrible death.”

“If your marriage with this Indian girl will secure the friendly offices of that grim old warrior Tarhe, it is far more than fighting will ever do. I do not want you to go back. Would we ever see you again?”

“Oh, yes, often I hope. You see, if I marry Myeerah the Hurons will allow me every liberty.”

“Well, that puts a different light on the subject.”

“Oh, how I wish you and Jonathan could have seen Thundercloud and his two hundred warriors ride into Cornplanter’s camp. It was magnificent! The braves were all crowded near the stake where I was bound. The fire had been lighted. Suddenly the silence was shattered by an awful yell. It was Thundercloud’s yell. I knew it because I had heard it before, and anyone who had once heard that yell could never forget it. In what seemed an incredibly short time Thundercloud’s warriors were lined up in the middle of the camp. The surprise was so complete that, had it been necessary, they could have ridden Cornplanter’s braves down, killed many, routed the others, and burned the village. Cornplanter will not get over that surprise in many a moon.”

Betty had always hated the very mention of the Indian girl who had been the cause of her brother’s long absence from home. But she was so happy in the knowledge of his return that she felt that it was in her power to forgive much; more over, the white, weary face of the Indian maiden touched Betty’s warm heart. With her quick intuition she had divined that this was even a greater trial for Myeerah. Undoubtedly the Indian girl feared the scorn of her lover’s people. She showed it in her trembling hands, in her fearful glances.

Finding that Myeerah could speak and understand English, Betty became more interested in her charge every moment. She set about to make Myeerah comfortable, and while she removed the wet and stained garments she talked all the time. She told her how happy she was that Isaac was alive and well. She said Myeerah’s heroism in saving him should atone for all the past, and that Isaac’s family would welcome her in his home.

Gradually Myeerah’s agitation subsided under Betty’s sweet graciousness, and by the time Betty had dressed her in a white gown, had brushed the dark hair and added a bright ribbon to the simple toilet, Myeerah had so far forgotten her fears as to take a shy pleasure in the picture of herself in the mirror. As for Betty, she gave vent to a little cry of delight. “Oh, you are perfectly lovely,” cried Betty. “In that gown no one would know you as a Wyandot princess.”

“Myeerah’s mother was a white woman.”

“I have heard your story, Myeerah, and it is wonderful. You must tell me all about your life with the Indians. You speak my language almost as well as I do. Who taught you?”

“Myeerah learned to talk with the White Eagle. She can speak French with the Coureurs-des-bois.”

“That’s more than I can do, Myeerah. And I had French teacher,” said Betty, laughing.

“Hello, up there,” came Isaac’s voice from below.

“Come up, Isaac,” called Betty.

“Is this my Indian sweetheart?” exclaimed Isaac, stopping at the door. “Betty, isn’t she–“

“Yes,” answered Betty, “she is simply beautiful.”

“Come, Myeerah, we must go down to supper,” said Isaac, taking her in his arms and kissing her. “Now you must not be afraid, nor mind being looked at.”

“Everyone will be kind to you,” said Betty, taking her hand. Myeerah had slipped from Isaac’s arm and hesitated and hung back. “Come,” continued Betty, “I will stay with you, and you need not talk if you do not wish.”

Thus reassured Myeerah allowed Betty to lead her down stairs. Isaac had gone ahead and was waiting at the door.

The big room was brilliantly lighted with pine knots. Mrs. Zane was arranging the dishes on the table. Old Sam and Annie were hurrying to and fro from the kitchen. Col. Zane had just come up the cellar stairs carrying a mouldy looking cask. From its appearance it might have been a powder keg, but the merry twinkle in the Colonel’s eyes showed that the cask contained something as precious, perhaps, as powder, but not quite so dangerous. It was a cask of wine over thirty years old. With Col. Zane’s other effects it had stood the test of the long wagon-train journey over the Virginia mountains, and of the raft-ride down the Ohio. Col. Zane thought the feast he had arranged for Isaac would be a fitting occasion for the breaking of the cask.

Major McCullough, Capt. Boggs and Hugh Bennet had been invited. Wetzel had been persuaded to come. Betty’s friends Lydia and Alice 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 to war.”

“Isaac, I believe you are doing the wisest thing possible,” said Capt. Boggs. “And when I look at your bride-to-be I confess I do not see how you remained single so long.”

“That’s so, Captain,” answered Isaac. “But you see, I have never been satisfied or contented in captivity, I wanted nothing but to be 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 was reasonable.”

“Isaac, tell us one thing more,” said Capt. Boggs. “How did Myeerah learn of your capture by Cornplanter? Surely she could not have 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 an aside.

“Myeerah, will you sing a Huron love-song?” said Isaac “Or, if you do not wish to sing, tell a story. I want them to know how well you can speak our language.”

“What shall Myeerah say?” she said, shyly.

“Tell them the legend of the Standing Stone.”

“A beautiful Indian girl once dwelt in the pine forests,” began Myeerah, with her eyes cast down and her hand seeking Isaac’s. “Her voice was like rippling waters, her beauty like the rising sun. From near and from far came warriors to see the fair face of this maiden. She smiled on them all and they called her Smiling Moon. Now there lived on the Great Lake a Wyandot chief. He was young and bold. No warrior was as great as Tarhe. Smiling Moon cast a spell on his heart. He came many times to woo her and make her his wife. But Smiling Moon said: ‘Go, do great deeds, an come again.’

“Tarhe searched the east and the west. He brought her strange gifts from strange lands. She said: ‘Go and slay my enemies.’ Tarhe went forth in his war paint and killed the braves who named her Smiling Moon. He came again to her and she said: ‘Run swifter than the deer, be more cunning than the beaver, dive deeper than the loon.’

“Tarhe passed once more to the island where dwelt Smiling Moon. The ice was thick, the snow was deep. Smiling Moon turned not from her warm fire as she said: ‘The chief is a great warrior, but Smiling Moon is not easily won. It is cold. Change winter into summer and then Smiling Moon will love him.’

“Tarhe cried in a loud voice to the Great Spirit: ‘Make me a 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 conversation.

Col. Zane’s fine old wine flowed like water. The custom was to fill a guest’s cup as soon as it was empty. Drinking much was rather encouraged than otherwise. But Col. Zane never allowed this custom to go too far in his house.

“Friends, the hour grows late,” he said. “To-morrow, after the great event, we shall have games, shooting matches, running races, and contests of all kinds. Capt. Boggs and I have arranged to give prizes, and I expect the girls can give something to lend a zest to 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 happiness.”

The toast was drunk. Then Clarke refilled his cup and holding it high over his head he looked at Betty.

“Gentlemen, to the maid-of-honor. Miss Zane, your health, your happiness, in this good old wine.”

“I thank you,” murmured Betty with downcast eyes. “I bid you all good-night. Come, Myeerah.”

Once more alone with Betty, the Indian girl turned to her with eyes like twin stars.

“My sister has made me very happy,” whispered Myeerah in her soft, low voice. “Myeerah’s heart is full.”

“I believe you are happy, for I know you love Isaac dearly.”