Part 3 out of 6
and dim retreat. Then came a short series of ripples, with merry,
bouncing waves and foamy currents; below lay a long, smooth reach of
water, deep and placid, mirroring the moon and the countless stars.
Noiseless as a shadow the canoe glided down this stretch, the paddle
dipping regularly, flashing brightly, and scattering diamond drops
in the clear moonlight.
Another turn in the stream and a sound like the roar of an
approaching storm as it is borne on a rising wind, broke the
silence. It was the roar of rapids or falls. The stream narrowed;
the water ran swifter; rocky ledges rose on both sides, gradually
getting higher and higher. Crow rose to his feet and looked ahead.
Then he dropped to his knees and turned the head of the canoe into
the middle of the stream. The roar became deafening. Looking forward
Isaac saw that they were entering a dark gorge. In another moment
the canoe pitched over a fall and shot between two high, rocky
bluffs. These walls ran up almost perpendicularly two hundred feet;
the space between was scarcely twenty feet wide, and the water
fairly screamed as it rushed madly through its narrow passage. In
the center it was like a glancing sheet of glass, weird and dark,
and was bordered on the sides by white, seething foam-capped waves
which tore and dashed and leaped at their stony confines.
Though the danger was great, though Death lurked in those jagged
stones and in those black waits Isaac felt no fear, he knew the
strength of that arm, now rigid and again moving with lightning
swiftness; he knew the power of the eye which guided them.
Once more out under the starry sky; rifts, shallows, narrows, and
lake-like basins were passed swiftly. At length as the sky was
becoming gray in the east, they passed into the shadow of what was
called the Standing Stone. This was a peculiarly shaped stone-faced
bluff, standing high over the river, and taking its name from Tarhe,
or Standing Stone, chief of all the Hurons.
At the first sight of that well known landmark, which stood by the
Wyandot village, there mingled with Isaac's despondency and
resentment some other feeling that was akin to pleasure; with a
quickening of the pulse came a confusion of expectancy and bitter
memories as he thought of the dark eyed maiden from whom he had fled
a year ago.
"Co-wee-Co-woe," called out one of the Indians in the bow of the
canoe. The signal was heard, for immediately an answering shout came
from the shore.
When a few moments later the canoe grated softly on a pebbly beach.
Isaac saw, indistinctly in the morning mist, the faint outlines of
tepees and wigwams, and he knew he was once more in the encampment
of the Wyandots.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Late in the afternoon of that day Isaac was awakened from his heavy
slumber and told that the chief had summoned him. He got up from the
buffalo robes upon which he had flung himself that morning,
stretched his aching limbs, and walked to the door of the lodge.
The view before him was so familiar that it seemed as if he had
suddenly come home after being absent a long time. The last rays of
the setting sun shone ruddy and bright over the top of the Standing
Stone; they touched the scores of lodges and wigwams which dotted
the little valley; they crimsoned the swift, narrow river, rushing
noisily over its rocky bed. The banks of the stream were lined with
rows of canoes; here and there a bridge made of a single tree
spanned the stream. From the camp fires long, thin columns of blue
smoke curled lazily upward; giant maple trees, in them garb of
purple and gold, rose high above the wigwams, adding a further
beauty to this peaceful scene.
As Isaac was led down a lane between two long lines of tepees the
watching Indians did not make the demonstration that usually marked
the capture of a paleface. Some of the old squaws looked up from
their work round the campfires and steaming kettles and grinned as
the prisoner passed. The braves who were sitting upon their blankets
and smoking their long pipes, or lounging before the warm blazes
maintained a stolid indifference; the dusky maidens smiled shyly,
and the little Indian boys, with whom Isaac had always been a great
favorite, manifested their joy by yelling and running after him. One
youngster grasped Isaac round the leg and held on until he was
In the center of the village were several lodges connected with one
another and larger and more imposing than the surrounding tepees.
These were the wigwams of the chief, and thither Isaac was
conducted. The guards led him to a large and circular apartment and
left him there alone. This room was the council-room. It contained
nothing but a low seat and a knotted war-club.
Isaac heard the rattle of beads and bear claws, and as he turned a
tall and majestic Indian entered the room. It was Tarhe, the chief
of all the Wyandots. Though Tarhe was over seventy, he walked erect;
his calm face, dark as a bronze mask, showed no trace of his
advanced age. Every line and feature of his face had race in it; the
high forehead, the square, protruding jaw, the stern mouth, the
falcon eyes--all denoted the pride and unbending will of the last of
"The White Eagle is again in the power of Tarhe," said the chief in
his native tongue. "Though he had the swiftness of the bounding deer
or the flight of the eagle it would avail him not. The wild geese as
they fly northward are not swifter than the warriors of Tarhe.
Swifter than all is the vengeance of the Huron. The young paleface
has cost the lives of some great warriors. What has he to say?"
"It was not my fault," answered Isaac quickly. "I was struck down
from behind and had no chance to use a weapon. I have never raised
my hand against a Wyandot. Crow will tell you that. If my people and
friends kill your braves I am not to blame. Yet I have had good
cause to shed Huron blood. Your warriors have taken me from my home
and have wounded me many times."
"The White Chief speaks well. Tarhe believes his words," answered
Tarhe in his sonorous voice. "The Lenapee seek the death of the pale
face. Wingenund grieves for his son. He is Tarhe's friend. Tarhe is
old and wise and he is king here. He can save the White Chief from
Wingenund and Cornplanter. Listen. Tarhe is old and he has no son.
He will make you a great chief and give you lands and braves and
honors. He shall not ask you to raise your hand against your people,
but help to bring peace. Tarhe does not love this war. He wants only
justice. He wants only to keep his lands, his horses, and his
people. The White Chief is known to be brave; his step is light, his
eye is keen, and his bullet is true. For many long moons Tarhe's
daughter has been like the singing bird without its mate. She sings
no more. She shall be the White Chief's wife. She has the blood of
her mother and not that of the last of the Tarhes. Thus the mistakes
of Tarhe's youth come to disappoint his old age. He is the friend of
the young paleface. Tarhe has said. Now go and make your peace with
The chief motioned toward the back of the lodge. Isaac stepped
forward and went through another large room, evidently the chief's,
as it was fitted up with a wild and barbaric splendor. Isaac
hesitated before a bearskin curtain at the farther end of the
chief's lodge. He had been there many times before, but never with
such conflicting emotions. What was it that made his heart beat
faster? With a quick movement he lifted the curtain and passed under
The room which he entered was circular in shape and furnished with
all the bright colors and luxuriance known to the Indian. Buffalo
robes covered the smooth, hard-packed clay floor; animals,
allegorical pictures, and fanciful Indian designs had been painted
on the wall; bows and arrows, shields, strings of bright-colored
beads and Indian scarfs hung round the room. The wall was made of
dried deerskins sewed together and fastened over long poles which
were planted in the ground and bent until the ends met overhead. An
oval-shaped opening let in the light. Through a narrow aperture,
which served as a door leading to a smaller apartment, could be seen
a low couch covered with red blankets, and a glimpse of many hued
garments hanging on the wall.
As Isaac entered the room a slender maiden ran impulsively to him
and throwing her arms round his neck hid her face on his breast. A
few broken, incoherent words escaped her lips. Isaac disengaged
himself from the clinging arms and put her from him. The face raised
to his was strikingly beautiful. Oval in shape, it was as white as
his own, with a broad, low brow and regular features. The eyes were
large and dark and they dilated and quickened with a thousand
shadows of thought.
"Myeerah, I am taken again. This time there has been blood shed. The
Delaware chief was killed, and I do not know how many more Indians.
The chiefs are all for putting me to death. I am in great danger.
Why could you not leave me in peace?"
At his first words the maiden sighed and turned sorrowfully and
proudly away from the angry face of the young man. A short silence
"Then you are not glad to see Myeerah?" she said, in English. Her
voice was music. It rang low, sweet, clear-toned as a bell.
"What has that to do with it? Under some circumstances I would be
glad to see you. But to be dragged back here and perhaps
murdered--no, I don't welcome it. Look at this mark where Crow hit
me," said Isaac, passionately, bowing his head to enable her to see
the bruise where the club had struck him.
"I am sorry," said Myeerah, gently.
"I know that I am in great danger from the Delawares."
"The daughter of Tarhe has saved your life before and will save it
"They may kill me in spite of you."
"They will not dare. Do not forget that I saved you from the
Shawnees. What did my father say to you?"
"He assured me that he was my friend and that he would protect me
from Wingenund. But I must marry you and become one of the tribe. I
cannot do that. And that is why I am sure they will kill me."
"You are angry now. I will tell you. Myeerah tried hard to win your
love, and when you ran away from her she was proud for a long time.
But there was no singing of birds, no music of the waters, no beauty
in anything after you left her. Life became unbearable without you.
Then Myeerah remembered that she was a daughter of kings. She
summoned the bravest and greatest warriors of two tribes and said to
them. 'Go and bring to me the paleface, White Eagle. Bring him to me
alive or dead. If alive, Myeerah will smile once more upon her
warriors. If dead, she will look once upon his face and die. Ever
since Myeerah was old enough to remember she has thought of you.
Would you wish her to be inconstant, like the moon?'"
"It is not what I wish you to be. It is that I cannot live always
without seeing my people. I told you that a year ago."
"You told me other things in that past time before you ran away.
They were tender words that were sweet to the ear of the Indian
maiden. Have you forgotten them?"
"I have not forgotten them. I am not without feeling. You do not
understand. Since I have been home this last time, I have realized
more than ever that I could not live away from my home."
"Is there any maiden in your old home whom you have learned to love
more than Myeerah?"
He did not reply, but looked gloomily out of the opening in the
wall. Myeerah had placed her hold upon his arm, and as he did not
answer the hand tightened its grasp.
"She shall never have you."
The low tones vibrated with intense feeling, with a deathless
resolve. Isaac laughed bitterly and looked up at her. Myeerah's face
was pale and her eyes burned like fire.
"I should not be surprised if you gave me up to the Delawares," said
Isaac, coldly. "I am prepared for it, and I would not care very
much. I have despaired of your ever becoming civilized enough to
understand the misery of my sister and family. Why not let the
Indians kill me?"
He knew how to wound her. A quick, shuddery cry broke from her lips.
She stood before him with bowed head and wept. When she spoke again
her voice was broken and pleading.
"You are cruel and unjust. Though Myeerah has Indian blood she is a
white woman. She can feel as your people do. In your anger and
bitterness you forget that Myeerah saved you from the knife of the
Shawnees. You forget her tenderness; you forget that she nursed you
when you were wounded. Myeerah has a heart to break. Has she not
suffered? Is she not laughed at, scorned, called a 'paleface' by the
other tribes? She thanks the Great Spirit for the Indian blood that
keep her true. The white man changes his loves and his wives. That
is not an Indian gift."
"No, Myeerah, I did not say so. There is no other woman. It is that
I am wretched and sick at heart. Do you not see that this will end
in a tragedy some day? Can you not realize that we would be happier
if you would let me go? If you love me you would not want to see me
dead. If I do not marry you they will kill me; if I try to escape
again they win kill me. Let me go free."
"I cannot! I cannot!" she cried. "You have taught me many of the
ways of your people, but you cannot change my nature."
"Why cannot you free me?"
"I love you, and I will not live without you."
"Then come and go to my home and live there with me," said Isaac,
taking the weeping maiden in his arms. "I know that my people will
"Myeerah would be pitied and scorned," she said, sadly, shaking her
Isaac tried hard to steel his heart against her, but he was only
mortal and he failed. The charm of her presence influenced him; her
love wrung tenderness from him. Those dark eyes, so proud to all
others, but which gazed wistfully and yearningly into his, stirred
his heart to its depths. He kissed the tear-wet cheeks and smiled
"Well, since I am a prisoner once more, I must make the best of it.
Do not look so sad. We shall talk of this another day. Come, let us
go and find my little friend, Captain Jack. He remembered me, for he
ran out and grasped my knee and they pulled him away."
When the first French explorers invaded the northwest, about the
year 1615, the Wyandot Indians occupied the territory between
Georgian Bay and the Muskoka Lakes in Ontario. These Frenchmen named
the tribe Huron because of the manner in which they wore their hair.
At this period the Hurons were at war with the Iroquois, and the two
tribes kept up a bitter fight until in 1649, when the Hurons
suffered a decisive defeat. They then abandoned their villages and
sought other hunting grounds. They travelled south and settled in
Ohio along the south and west shores of Lake Erie. The present site
of Zanesfield, named from Isaac Zane, marks the spot where the
largest tribe of Hurons once lived.
In a grove of maples on the banks of a swift little river named Mad
River, the Hurons built their lodges and their wigwams. The stately
elk and graceful deer abounded in this fertile valley, and countless
herds of bison browsed upon the uplands.
There for many years the Hurons lived a peaceful and contented life.
The long war cry was not heard. They were at peace with the
neighboring tribes. Tarhe, the Huron chief, attained great influence
with the Delawares. He became a friend of Logan, the Mingo chief.
With the invasion of the valley of the Ohio by the whites, with the
march into the wilderness of that wild-turkey breed of heroes of
which Boone, Kenton, the Zanes, and the Wetzels were the first, the
Indian's nature gradually changed until he became a fierce and
The Hurons had sided with the French in Pontiac's war, and in the
Revolution they aided the British. They allied themselves with the
Mingoes, Delawares and Shawnees and made a fierce war on the
Virginian pioneers. Some powerful influence must have engendered
this implacable hatred in these tribes, particularly in the Mingo
and the Wyandot.
The war between the Indians and the settlers along the Pennsylvania
and West Virginia borders was known as "Dunmore's War." The Hurons,
Mingoes, and Delawares living in the "hunter's paradise" west of the
Ohio River, seeing their land sold by the Iroquois and the
occupation of their possessions by a daring band of white men
naturally were filled with fierce anger and hate. But remembering
the past bloody war and British punishment they slowly moved
backward toward the setting sun and kept the peace. In 1774 a canoe
filled with friendly Wyandots was attacked by white men below Yellow
Creek and the Indians were killed. Later the same year a party of
men under Colonel Cresop made an unprovoked and dastardly massacre
of the family and relatives of Logan. This attack reflected the
deepest dishonor upon all the white men concerned, and was the
principal cause of the long and bloody war which followed. The
settlers on the border sent messengers to Governor Dunmore at
Williamsburg for immediate relief parties. Knowing well that the
Indians would not allow this massacre to go unavenged the
frontiersmen erected forts and blockhouses.
Logan, the famous Mingo chief, had been a noted friend of the white
men. After the murder of his people he made ceaseless war upon them.
He incited the wrath of the Hurons and the Delawares. He went on the
warpath, and when his lust for vengeance had been satisfied he sent
the following remarkable address to Lord Dunmore:
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin
and he gave him not meat: if ever he came cold and naked and he
clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war
Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate of peace. Such was my
love for the whites that my countrymen pointed as they passed and
said: 'Logan is the friend of the white man.' I had even thought to
have lived with you but for the injuries of one man, Colonel Cresop,
who, last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the
relatives of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. There
runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature.
This called upon me for vengeance. I have sought it: I have killed
many; I have glutted my vengeance. For my country I will rejoice at
the beams of peace. But do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy
of fear. Logan never felt fear; he could not turn upon his heel to
save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."
The war between the Indians and the pioneers was waged for years.
The settlers pushed farther and farther into the wilderness. The
Indians, who at first sought only to save their farms and their
stock, now fought for revenge. That is why every ambitious pioneer
who went out upon those borders carried his life in his hands; why
there was always the danger of being shot or tomahawked from behind
every tree; why wife and children were constantly in fear of the
To creep unawares upon a foe and strike him in the dark was Indian
warfare; to an Indian it was not dishonorable; it was not cowardly.
He was taught to hide in the long grass like a snake, to shoot from
coverts, to worm his way stealthily through the dense woods and to
ambush the paleface's trail. Horrible cruelties, such as torturing
white prisoners and burning them at the stake were never heard of
before the war made upon the Indians by the whites.
Comparatively little is known of the real character of the Indian of
that time. We ourselves sit before our warm fires and talk of the
deeds of the redman. We while away an hour by reading Pontiac's
siege of Detroit, of the battle of Braddock's fields, and of
Custer's last charge. We lay the book down with a fervent expression
of thankfulness that the day of the horrible redman is past. Because
little has been written on the subject, no thought is given to the
long years of deceit and treachery practiced upon Pontiac; we are
ignorant of the causes which led to the slaughter of Braddock's
army, and we know little of the life of bitterness suffered by
Many intelligent white men, who were acquainted with the true life
of the Indian before he was harassed and driven to desperation by
the pioneers, said that he had been cruelly wronged. Many white men
in those days loved the Indian life so well that they left the
settlements and lived with the Indians. Boone, who knew the Indian
nature, said the honesty and the simplicity of the Indian were
remarkable. Kenton said he had been happy among the Indians. Col.
Zane had many Indian friends. Isaac Zane, who lived most of his life
with the Wyandots, said the American redman had been wrongfully
judged a bloodthirsty savage, an ignorant, thieving wretch, capable
of not one virtue. He said the free picturesque life of the Indians
would have appealed to any white man; that it had a wonderful charm,
and that before the war with the whites the Indians were kind to
their prisoners, and sought only to make Indians of them. He told
tales of how easily white boys become Indianized, so attached to the
wild life and freedom of the redmen that it was impossible to get
the captives to return to civilized life. The boys had been
permitted to grow wild with the Indian lads; to fish and shoot and
swim with them; to play the Indian games--to live idle, joyous
lives. He said these white boys had been ransomed and taken from
captivity and returned to their homes and, although a close watch
has kept on them, they contrived to escape and return to the
Indians, and that while they were back among civilized people it was
difficult to keep the boys dressed. In summer time it was useless to
attempt it. The strongest hemp-linen shirts, made with the strongest
collar and wrist-band, would directly be torn off and the little
rascals found swimming in the river or rolling on the sand.
If we may believe what these men have said--and there seems no good
reason why we may not--the Indian was very different from the
impression given of him. There can be little doubt that the redman
once lived a noble and blameless life; that he was simple, honest
and brave, that he had a regard for honor and a respect for a
promise far exceeding that of most white men. Think of the beautiful
poetry and legends left by these silent men: men who were a part of
the woods; men whose music was the sighing of the wind, the rustling
of the leaf, the murmur of the brook; men whose simple joys were the
chase of the stag, and the light in the dark eye of a maiden.
If we wish to find the highest type of the American Indian we must
look for him before he was driven west by the land-seeking pioneer
and before he was degraded by the rum-selling French trader.
The French claimed all the land watered by the Mississippi River and
its tributaries. The French Canadian was a restless, roaming
adventurer and he found his vocation in the fur-trade. This
fur-trade engendered a strange class of men--bush-rangers they were
called--whose work was to paddle the canoe along the lakes and
streams and exchange their cheap rum for the valuable furs of the
Indians. To these men the Indians of the west owe their degradation.
These bush-rangers or coureurs-des-bois, perverted the Indians and
sank into barbarism with them.
The few travellers there in those days were often surprised to find
in the wigwams of the Indians men who acknowledged the blood of
France, yet who had lost all semblance to the white man. They lived
in their tepee with their Indian squaws and lolled on their blankets
while the squaws cooked their venison and did all the work. They let
their hair grow long and wore feathers in it; they painted their
faces hideously with ochre and vermilion.
These were the worthless traders and adventurers who, from the year
1748 to 1783, encroached on the hunting grounds of the Indians and
explored the wilderness, seeking out the remote tribes and trading
the villainous rum for the rare pelts. In 1784 the French
authorities, realizing that these vagrants were demoralizing the
Indians, warned them to get off the soil. Finding this course
ineffectual they arrested those that could be apprehended and sent
them to Canada. But it was too late: the harm had been done: the
poor, ignorant savage had tasted of the terrible "fire-water," as he
called the rum and his ruin was inevitable.
It was a singular fact that almost every Indian who had once tasted
strong drink, was unable to resist the desire for more. When a
trader came to one of the Indian hamlets the braves purchased a keg
of rum and then they held a council to see who was to get drunk and
who was to keep sober. It was necessary to have some sober Indians
in camp, otherwise the drunken braves would kill one another. The
weapons would have to be concealed. When the Indians had finished
one keg of rum they would buy another, and so on until not a
beaver-skin was left. Then the trader would move or when the Indians
sobered up they would be much dejected, for invariably they would
find that some had been wounded, others crippled, and often several
had been killed.
Logan, using all his eloquence, travelled from village to village
visiting the different tribes and making speeches. He urged the
Indians to shun the dreaded "fire-water." He exclaimed against the
whites for introducing liquor to the Indians and thus debasing them.
At the same time Logan admitted his own fondness for rum. This
intelligent and noble Indian was murdered in a drunken fight shortly
after sending his address to Lord Dunmore.
Thus it was that the poor Indians had no chance to avert their
downfall; the steadily increasing tide of land-stealing settlers
rolling westward, and the insidious, debasing, soul-destroying
liquor were the noble redman's doom.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Isaac Zane dropped back not altogether unhappily into his old place
in the wigwam, in the hunting parties, and in the Indian games.
When the braves were in camp, the greatest part of the day was spent
in shooting and running matches, in canoe races, in wrestling, and
in the game of ball. The chiefs and the older braves who had won
their laurels and the maidens of the tribe looked on and applauded.
Isaac entered into all these pastimes, partly because he had a
natural love for them, and partly because he wished to win the
regard of the Indians. In wrestling, and in those sports which
required weight and endurance, he usually suffered defeat. In a foot
race there was not a brave in the entire tribe who could keep even
with him. But it was with the rifle that Isaac won his greatest
distinction. The Indians never learned the finer shooting with the
ride. Some few of them could shoot well, but for the most part they
were poor marksmen.
Accordingly, Isaac was always taken on the fall hunt. Every autumn
there were three parties sent out to bring in the supply of meat for
the winter. Because of Isaac's fine marksmanship he was always taken
with the bear hunters. Bear hunting was exciting and dangerous work.
Before the weather got very cold and winter actually set in the
bears crawled into a hole in a tree or a cave in the rocks, where
they hibernated. A favorite place for them was in hollow trees. When
the Indians found a tree with the scratches of a bear on it and a
hole large enough to admit the body of a bear, an Indian climbed up
the tree and with a long pole tried to punch Bruin out of his den.
Often this was a hazardous undertaking, for the bear would get angry
on being disturbed in his winter sleep and would rush out before the
Indian could reach a place of safety. At times there were even two
or three bears in one den. Sometimes the bear would refuse to come
out, and on these occasions, which were rare, the hunters would
resort to fire. A piece of dry, rotten wood was fastened to a long
pole and was set on fire. When this was pushed in on the bear he
would give a sniff and a growl and come out in a hurry.
The buffalo and elk were hunted with the bow and arrow. This
effective weapon did not make a noise and frighten the game. The
wary Indian crawled through the high grass until within easy range
and sometimes killed several buffalo or elk before the herd became
alarmed. The meat was then jerked. This consisted in cutting it into
thin strips and drying it in the sun. Afterwards it was hung up in
the lodges. The skins were stretched on poles to dry, and when cured
they served as robes, clothing and wigwam-coverings.
The Indians were fond of honey and maple sugar. The finding of a
hive of bees, or a good run of maple syrup was an occasion for
general rejoicing. They found the honey in hollow trees, and they
obtained the maple sugar in two ways. When the sap came up in the
maple trees a hole was bored in the trees about a foot from the
ground and a small tube, usually made from a piece of alder, was
inserted in the hole. Through this the sap was carried into a vessel
which was placed under the tree. This sap was boiled down in
kettles. If the Indians had no kettles they made the frost take the
place of heat in preparing the sugar. They used shallow vessels made
of bark, and these were filled with water and the maple sap. It was
left to freeze over night and in the morning the ice was broken and
thrown away. The sugar did not freeze. When this process had been
repeated several times the residue was very good maple sugar.
Isaac did more than his share toward the work of provisioning the
village for the winter. But he enjoyed it. He was particularly fond
of fishing by moonlight. Early November was the best season for this
sport, and the Indians caught large numbers of fish. They placed a
torch in the bow of a canoe and paddled noiselessly over the stream.
In the clear water a bright light would so attract and fascinate the
fish that they would lie motionless near the bottom of the shallow
One cold night Isaac was in the bow of the canoe. Seeing a large
fish he whispered to the Indians with him to exercise caution. His
guides paddled noiselessly through the water. Isaac stood up and
raised the spear, ready to strike. In another second Isaac had cast
the iron, but in his eagerness he overbalanced himself and plunged
head first into the icy current, making a great splash and spoiling
any further fishing. Incidents like this were a source of infinite
amusement to the Indians.
Before the autumn evenings grew too cold the Indian held their
courting dances. All unmarried maidens and braves in the village
were expected to take part in these dances. In the bright light of
huge fires, and watched by the chiefs, the old men, the squaws, and
the children, the maidens and the braves, arrayed in their gaudiest
apparel, marched into the circle. They formed two lines a few paces
apart. Each held in the right hand a dry gourd which contained
pebbles. Advancing toward one another they sang the courting song,
keeping time to the tune with the rattling of the pebbles. When they
met in the center the braves bent forward and whispered a word to
the maidens. At a certain point in the song, which was indicated by
a louder note, the maidens would change their positions, and this
was continued until every brave had whispered to every maiden, when
the dance ended.
Isaac took part in all these pleasures; he entered into every phase
of the Indian's life; he hunted, worked, played, danced, and sang
with faithfulness. But when the long, dreary winter days came with
their ice-laden breezes, enforcing idleness on the Indians, he
became restless. Sometimes for days he would be morose and gloomy,
keeping beside his own tent and not mingling with the Indians. At
such times Myeerah did not question him.
Even in his happier hours his diversions were not many. He never
tired of watching and studying the Indian children. When he had an
opportunity without being observed, which was seldom, he amused
himself with the papooses. The Indian baby was strapped to a flat
piece of wood and covered with a broad flap of buckskin. The squaws
hung these primitive baby carriages up on the pole of a tepee, on a
branch of a tree, or threw them round anywhere. Isaac never heard a
papoose cry. He often pulled down the flap of buckskin and looked at
the solemn little fellow, who would stare up at him with big,
Isaac's most intimate friend was a six-year-old Indian boy, whom he
called Captain Jack. He was the son of Thundercloud, the war-chief
of the Hurons. Jack made a brave picture in his buckskin hunting
suit and his war bonnet. Already he could stick tenaciously on the
back of a racing mustang and with his little bow he could place
arrow after arrow in the center of the target. Knowing Captain Jack
would some day be a mighty chief, Isaac taught him to speak English.
He endeavored to make Jack love him, so that when the lad should
grow to be a man he would remember his white brother and show mercy
to the prisoners who fell into his power.
Another of Isaac's favorites was a half-breed Ottawa Indian, a
distant relative of Tarhe's. This Indian was very old; no one knew
how old; his face was seamed and scarred and wrinkled. Bent and
shrunken was his form. He slept most of the time, but at long
intervals he would brighten up and tell of his prowess when a
One of his favorite stories was of the part he had taken in the
events of that fatal and memorable July 2, 1755, when Gen. Braddock
and his English army were massacred by the French and Indians near
The old chief told how Beaujeu with his Frenchmen and his five
hundred Indians ambushed Braddock's army, surrounded the soldiers,
fired from the ravines, the trees, the long grass, poured a pitiless
hail of bullets on the bewildered British soldiers, who,
unaccustomed to this deadly and unseen foe, huddled under the trees
like herds of frightened sheep, and were shot down with hardly an
effort to defend themselves.
The old chief related that fifteen years after that battle he went
to the Kanawha settlement to see the Big Chief, Gen. George
Washington, who was travelling on the Kanawha. He told Gen.
Washington how he had fought in the battle of Braddock's Fields; how
he had shot and killed Gen. Braddock; how he had fired repeatedly at
Washington, and had killed two horses under him, and how at last he
came to the conclusion that Washington was protected by the Great
Spirit who destined him for a great future.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Myeerah was the Indian name for a rare and beautiful bird--the white
crane--commonly called by the Indians, Walk-in-the-Water. It had
been the name of Tarhe's mother and grandmother. The present Myeerah
was the daughter of a French woman, who had been taken captive at a
very early age, adopted into the Huron tribe, and married to Tarhe.
The only child of this union was Myeerah. She grew to be beautiful
woman and was known in Detroit and the Canadian forts as Tarhe's
white daughter. The old chief often visited the towns along the lake
shore, and so proud was he of Myeerah that he always had her
accompany him. White men travelled far to look at the Indian beauty.
Many French soldiers wooed her in vain. Once, while Tarhe was in
Detroit, a noted French family tried in every way to get possession
The head of this family believed he saw in Myeerah the child of his
long lost daughter. Tarhe hurried away from the city and never
returned to the white settlement.
Myeerah was only five years old at the time of the capture of the
Zane brothers and it was at this early age that she formed the
attachment for Isaac Zane which clung to her all her life. She was
seven when the men came from Detroit to ransom the brothers, and she
showed such grief when she learned that Isaac was to be returned to
his people that Tarhe refused to accept any ransom for Isaac. As
Myeerah grew older her childish fancy for the white boy deepened
into an intense love.
But while this love tendered her inexorable to Isaac on the question
of giving him his freedom, it undoubtedly saved his life as well as
the lives of other white prisoners, on more than one occasion.
To the white captives who fell into the hands of the Hurons, she was
kind and merciful; many of the wounded she had tended with her own
hands, and many poor wretches she had saved from the gauntlet and
the stake. When her efforts to persuade her father to save any one
were unavailing she would retire in sorrow to her lodge and remain
Her infatuation for the White Eagle, the Huron name for Isaac, was
an old story; it was known to all the tribes and had long ceased to
be questioned. At first some of the Delawares and the Shawnee
braves, who had failed to win Myeerah's love, had openly scorned her
for her love for the pale face. The Wyandot warriors to a man
worshipped her; they would have marched straight into the jaws of
death at her command; they resented the insults which had been cast
on their princess, and they had wiped them out in blood: now none
dared taunt her.
In the spring following Isaac's recapture a very serious accident
befell him. He had become expert in the Indian game of ball, which
is a game resembling the Canadian lacrosse, and from which, in fact,
it had been adopted. Goals were placed at both ends of a level
plain. Each party of Indians chose a goal which they endeavored to
defend and at the same time would try to carry the ball over their
A well contested game of Indian ball presented a scene of wonderful
effort and excitement. Hundreds of strong and supple braves could be
seen running over the plain, darting this way and that, or
struggling in a yelling, kicking, fighting mass, all in a mad
scramble to get the ball.
As Isaac had his share of the Zane swiftness of foot, at times his
really remarkable fleetness enabled him to get control of the ball.
In front of the band of yelling savages he would carry it down the
field, and evading the guards at the goal, would throw it between
the posts. This was a feat of which any brave could be proud.
During one of these games Red Fox, a Wyandot brave, who had long
been hopelessly in love with Myeerah, and who cordially hated Isaac,
used this opportunity for revenge. Red Fox, who was a swift runner,
had vied with Isaac for the honors, but being defeated in the end,
he had yielded to his jealous frenzy and had struck Isaac a terrible
blow on the head with his bat.
It happened to be a glancing blow or Isaac's life would have been
ended then and there. As it was he had a deep gash in his head. The
Indians carried him to his lodge and the medicine men of the tribe
When Isaac recovered consciousness he asked for Myeerah and
entreated her not to punish Red Fox. He knew that such a course
would only increase his difficulties, and, on the other hand, if he
saved the life of the Indian who had struck him in such a cowardly
manner such an act would appeal favorably to the Indians. His
entreaties had no effect on Myeerah, who was furious, and who said
that if Red Fox, who had escaped, ever returned he would pay for his
unprovoked assault with his life, even if she had to kill him
herself. Isaac knew that Myeerah would keep her word. He dreaded
every morning that the old squaw who prepared his meals would bring
him the news that his assailant had been slain. Red Fox was a
popular brave, and there were many Indians who believed the blow he
had struck Isaac was not intentional. Isaac worried needlessly,
however, for Red Fox never came back, and nothing could be learned
as to his whereabouts.
It was during his convalescence that Isaac learned really to love
the Indian maiden. She showed such distress in the first days after
his injury, and such happiness when he was out of danger and on the
road to recovery that Isaac wondered at her. She attended him with
anxious solicitude; when she bathed and bandaged his wound her every
touch was a tender caress; she sat by him for hours; her low voice
made soft melody as she sang the Huron love songs. The moments were
sweet to Isaac when in the gathering twilight she leaned her head on
his shoulder while they listened to the evening carol of the
whip-poor-will. Days passed and at length Isaac was entirely well.
One day when the air was laden with the warm breath of summer
Myeerah and Isaac walked by the river.
"You are sad again," said Myeerah.
"I am homesick. I want to see my people. Myeerah, you have named me
rightly. The Eagle can never be happy unless he is free."
"The Eagle can be happy with his mate. And what life could be freer
than a Huron's? I hope always that you will grow content."
"It has been a long time now, Myeerah, since I have spoken with you
of my freedom. Will you ever free me? Or must I take again those
awful chances of escape? I cannot always live here in this way. Some
day I shall be killed while trying to get away, and then, if you
truly love me, you will never forgive yourself."
"Does not Myeerah truly love you?" she asked, gazing straight into
his eyes, her own misty and sad.
"I do not doubt that, but I think sometimes that it is not the right
kind of love. It is too savage. No man should be made a prisoner for
no other reason than that he is loved by a woman. I have tried to
teach you many things; the language of my people, their ways and
thoughts, but I have failed to civilize you. I cannot make you
understand that it is unwomanly--do not turn away. I am not
indifferent. I have learned to care for you. Your beauty and
tenderness have made anything else impossible."
"Myeerah is proud of her beauty, if it pleases the Eagle. Her beauty
and her love are his. Yet the Eagle's words make Myeerah sad. She
cannot tell what she feels. The pale face's words flow swiftly and
smoothly like rippling waters, but Myeerah's heart is full and her
lips are dumb."
Myeerah and Isaac stopped under a spreading elm tree the branches of
which drooped over and shaded the river. The action of the high
water had worn away the earth round the roots of the old elm,
leaving them bare and dry when the stream was low. As though Nature
had been jealous in the interest of lovers, she had twisted and
curled the roots into a curiously shaped bench just above the water,
which was secluded enough to escape all eyes except those of the
beaver and the muskrat. The bank above was carpeted with fresh, dewy
grass; blue bells and violets hid modestly under their dark green
leaves; delicate ferns, like wonderful fairy lace, lifted their
dainty heads to sway in the summer breeze. In this quiet nook the
lovers passed many hours.
"Then, if my White Chief has learned to care for me, he must not try
to escape," whispered Myeerah, tenderly, as she crept into Isaac's
arms and laid her head on his breast. "I love you. I love you. What
will become of Myeerah if you leave her? Could she ever be happy?
Could she ever forget? No, no, I will keep my captive."
"I cannot persuade you to let me go?"
"If I free you I will come and lie here," cried Myeerah, pointing to
the dark pool.
"Then come with me to my home and live there."
"Go with you to the village of the pale faces, where Myeerah would
be scorned, pointed at as your captors laughed at and pitied? No!
"But you would not be," said Isaac, eagerly. "You would be my wife.
My sister and people will love you. Come, Myeerah save me from this
bondage; come home with me and I will make you happy."
"It can never be," she said, sadly, after a long pause. "How would
we ever reach the fort by the big river? Tarhe loves his daughter
and will not give her up. If we tried to get away the braves would
overtake us and then even Myeerah could not save your life. You
would be killed. I dare not try. No, no, Myeerah loves too well for
"You might make the attempt," said Isaac, turning away in bitter
disappointment. "If you loved me you could not see me suffer."
"Never say that again," cried Myeerah, pain and scorn in her dark
eyes. "Can an Indian Princess who has the blood of great chiefs in
her veins prove her love in any way that she has not? Some day you
will know that you wrong me. I am Tarhe's daughter. A Huron does not
They slowly wended their way back to the camp, both miserable at
heart; Isaac longing to see his home and friends, and yet with
tenderness in his heart for the Indian maiden who would not free
him; Myeerah with pity and love for him and a fear that her long
cherished dream could never be realized.
One dark, stormy night, when the rain beat down in torrents and the
swollen river raged almost to its banks, Isaac slipped out of his
lodge unobserved and under cover of the pitchy darkness he got
safely between the lines of tepees to the river. He had just the
opportunity for which he had been praying. He plunged into the water
and floating down with the swift current he soon got out of sight of
the flickering camp fires. Half a mile below he left the water and
ran along the bank until he came to a large tree, a landmark he
remembered, when he turned abruptly to the east and struck out
through the dense woods. He travelled due east all that night and
the next day without resting, and with nothing to eat except a small
piece of jerked buffalo meat which he had taken the precaution to
hide in his hunting shirt. He rested part of the second night and
next morning pushed on toward the east. He had expected to reach the
Ohio that day, but he did not and he noticed that the ground seemed
to be gradually rising. He did not come across any swampy lands or
saw grass or vegetation characteristic of the lowlands. He stopped
and tried to get his bearings. The country was unknown to him, but
he believed he knew the general lay of the ridges and the
The fourth day found Isaac hopelessly lost in the woods. He was
famished, having eaten but a few herbs and berries in the last two
days; his buckskin garments were torn in tatters; his moccasins were
worn out and his feet lacerated by the sharp thorns.
Darkness was fast approaching when he first realized that he was
lost. He waited hopefully for the appearance of the north star--that
most faithful of hunter's guides--but the sky clouded over and no
stars appeared. Tired out and hopeless he dragged his weary body
into a dense laurel thicket end lay down to wait for dawn. The
dismal hoot of an owl nearby, the stealthy steps of some soft-footed
animal prowling round the thicket, and the mournful sough of the
wind in the treetops kept him awake for hours, but at last he fell
The chilling rains of November and December's flurry of snow had
passed and mid-winter with its icy blasts had set in. The Black
Forest had changed autumn's gay crimson and yellow to the somber hue
of winter and now looked indescribably dreary. An ice gorge had
formed in the bend of the river at the head of the island and from
bank to bank logs, driftwood, broken ice and giant floes were packed
and jammed so tightly as to resist the action of the mighty current.
This natural bridge would remain solid until spring had loosened the
frozen grip of old winter. The hills surrounding Fort Henry were
white with snow. The huge drifts were on a level with Col. Zane's
fence and in some places the top rail had disappeared. The pine
trees in the yard were weighted down and drooped helplessly with
their white burden.
On this frosty January morning the only signs of life round the
settlement were a man and a dog walking up Wheeling hill. The man
carried a rifle, an axe, and several steel traps. His snow-shoes
sank into the drifts as he labored up the steep hill. All at once he
stopped. The big black dog had put his nose high in the air and had
sniffed at the cold wind.
"Well, Tige, old fellow, what is it?" said Jonathan Zane, for this
The dog answered with a low whine. Jonathan looked up and down the
creek valley and along the hillside, but he saw no living thing.
Snow, snow everywhere, its white monotony relieved here and there by
a black tree trunk. Tige sniffed again and then growled. Turning his
ear to the breeze Jonathan heard faint yelps from far over the
hilltop. He dropped his axe and the traps and ran the remaining
short distance up the hill. When he reached the summit the clear
baying of hunting wolves was borne to his ears.
The hill sloped gradually on the other side, ending in a white,
unbroken plain which extended to the edge of the laurel thicket a
quarter of a mile distant. Jonathan could not see the wolves, but he
heard distinctly their peculiar, broken howls. They were in pursuit
of something, whether quadruped or man he could not decide. Another
moment and he was no longer in doubt, for a deer dashed out of the
thicket. Jonathan saw that it was a buck and that he was well nigh
exhausted; his head swung low from side to side; he sank slowly to
his knees, and showed every indication of distress.
The next instant the baying of the wolves, which had ceased for a
moment, sounded close at hand. The buck staggered to his feet; he
turned this way and that. When he saw the man and the dog he started
toward them without a moment's hesitation.
At a warning word from Jonathan the dog sank on the snow. Jonathan
stepped behind a tree, which, however, was not large enough to
screen his body. He thought the buck would pass close by him and he
determined to shoot at the most favorable moment.
The buck, however, showed no intention of passing by; in his abject
terror he saw in the man and the dog foes less terrible than those
which were yelping on his trail. He came on in a lame uneven trot,
making straight for the tree. When he reached the tree he crouched,
or rather fell, on the ground within a yard of Jonathan and his dog.
He quivered and twitched; his nostrils flared; at every pant drops
of blood flecked the snow; his great dark eyes had a strained and
awful look, almost human in its agony.
Another yelp from the thicket and Jonathan looked up in time to see
five timber wolves, gaunt, hungry looking beasts, burst from the
bushes. With their noses close to the snow they followed the trail.
When they came to the spot where the deer had fallen a chorus of
angry, thirsty howls filled the air.
"Well, if this doesn't beat me! I thought I knew a little about
deer," said Jonathan. "Tige, we will save this buck from those gray
devils if it costs a leg. Steady now, old fellow, wait."
When the wolves were within fifty yards of the tree and coming
swiftly Jonathan threw his rifle forward and yelled with all the
power of his strong lungs:
"Hi! Hi! Hi! Take 'em, Tige!"
In trying to stop quickly on the slippery snowcrust the wolves fell
all over themselves. One dropped dead and another fell wounded at
the report of Jonathan's rifle. The others turned tail and loped
swiftly off into the thicket. Tige made short work of the wounded
"Old White Tail, if you were the last buck in the valley, I would
not harm you," said Jonathan, looking at the panting deer. "You need
have no farther fear of that pack of cowards."
So saying Jonathan called to Tige and wended his way down the hill
toward the settlement.
An hour afterward he was sitting in Col. Zane's comfortable cabin,
where all was warmth and cheerfulness. Blazing hickory logs roared
and crackled in the stone fireplace.
"Hello, Jack, where did you come from?" said Col. Zane, who had just
come in. "Haven't seen you since we were snowed up. Come over to see
about the horses? If I were you I would not undertake that trip to
Fort Pitt until the weather breaks. You could go in the sled, of
course, but if you care anything for my advice you will stay home.
This weather will hold on for some time. Let Lord Dunmore wait."
"I guess we are in for some stiff weather."
"Haven't a doubt of it. I told Bessie last fall we might expect a
hard winter. Everything indicated it. Look at the thick corn-husks.
The hulls of the nuts from the shell-bark here in the yard were
larger and tougher than I ever saw them. Last October Tige killed a
raccoon that had the wooliest kind of a fur. I could have given you
a dozen signs of a hard winter. We shall still have a month or six
weeks of it. In a week will be ground-hog day and you had better
wait and decide after that."
"I tell you, Eb, I get tired chopping wood and hanging round the
"Aha! another moody spell," said Col. Zane, glancing kindly at his
brother. "Jack, if you were married you would outgrow those
'blue-devils.' I used to have them. It runs in the family to be
moody. I have known our father to take his gun and go into the woods
and stay there until he had fought out the spell. I have done that
myself, but once I married Bessie I have had no return of the old
feeling. Get married, Jack, and then you will settle down and work.
You will not have time to roam around alone in the woods."
"I prefer the spells, as you call them, any day," answered Jonathan,
with a short laugh. "A man with my disposition has no right to get
married. This weather is trying, for it keeps me indoors. I cannot
hunt because we do not need the meat. And even if I did want to hunt
I should not have to go out of sight of the fort. There were three
deer in front of the barn this morning. They were nearly starved.
They ran off a little at sight of me, but in a few moments came back
for the hay I pitched out of the loft. This afternoon Tige and I
saved a big buck from a pack of wolves. The buck came right up to
me. I could have touched him. This storm is sending the deer down
from the hills."
"You are right. It is too bad. Severe weather like this will kill
more deer than an army could. Have you been doing anything with your
"Yes, I have thirty traps out."
"If you are going, tell Sam to fetch down another load of fodder
before he unhitches."
"Eb, I have no patience with your brothers," said Col. Zane's wife
to him after he had closed the door. "They are all alike; forever
wanting to be on the go. If it isn't Indians it is something else.
The very idea of going up the river in this weather. If Jonathan
doesn't care for himself he should think of the horses."
"My dear, I was just as wild and discontented as Jack before I met
you," remarked Col. Zane. "You may not think so, but a home and
pretty little woman will do wonders for any man. My brothers have
nothing to keep them steady."
"Perhaps. I do not believe that Jonathan ever will get married.
Silas may; he certainly has been keeping company long enough with
Mary Bennet. You are the only Zane who has conquered that
adventurous spirit and the desire to be always roaming the woods in
search of something to kill. Your old boy, Noah, is growing up like
all the Zanes. He fights with all the children in the settlement. I
cannot break him of it. He is not a bully, for I have never known
him to do anything mean or cruel. It is just sheer love of
"Ha! Ha! I fear you will not break him of that," answered Col. Zane.
"It is a good joke to say he gets it all from the Zanes. How about
the McCollochs? What have you to say of your father and the Major
and John McColloch? They are not anything if not the fighting kind.
It's the best trait the youngster could have, out here on the
border. He'll need it all. Don't worry about him. Where is Betty?"
"I told her to take the children out for a sled ride. Betty needs
exercise. She stays indoors too much, and of late she looks pale."
"What! Betty not looking well! She was never ill in her life. I have
noticed no change in her."
"No, I daresay you have not. You men can't see anything. But I can,
and I tell you, Betty is very different from the girl she used to
be. Most of the time she sits and gazes out of her window. She used
to be so bright, and when she was not romping with the children she
busied herself with her needle. Yesterday as I entered her room she
hurriedly picked up a book, and, I think, intentionally hid her face
behind it. I saw she had been crying."
"Come to think of it, I believe I have missed Betty," said Col.
Zane, gravely. "She seems more quiet. Is she unhappy? When did you
first see this change?"
"I think it a little while after Mr. Clarke left here last fall."
"Clarke! What has he to do with Betty? What are you driving at?"
exclaimed the Colonel, stopping in front of his wife. His faced had
paled slightly. "I had forgotten Clarke. Bess, you can't mean--"
"Now, Eb, do not get that look on your face. You always frighten
me," answered his wife, as she quietly placed her hand on his arm.
"I do not mean anything much, certainly nothing against Mr. Clarke.
He was a true gentleman. I really liked him."
"So did I," interrupted the Colonel.
"I believe Betty cared for Mr. Clarke. She was always different with
him. He has gone away and has forgotten her. That is strange to us,
because we cannot imagine any one indifferent to our beautiful
Betty. Nevertheless, no matter how attractive a woman may be men
sometimes love and ride away. I hear the children coming now. Do not
let Betty see that we have been talking about her. She is as quick
as a steel trap."
A peal of childish laughter came from without. The door opened and
Betty ran in, followed by the sturdy, rosy-checked youngsters. All
three were white with snow.
"We have had great fun," said Betty. "We went over the bank once and
tumbled off the sled into the snow. Then we had a snow-balling
contest, and the boys compelled me to strike my colors and fly for
Col. Zane looked closely at his sister. Her cheeks were flowing with
health; her eyes were sparkling with pleasure. Failing to observe
any indication of the change in Betty which his wife had spoken, he
concluded that women were better qualified to judge their own sex
than were men. He had to confess to himself that the only change he
could see in his sister was that she grew prettier every day of her
"Oh, papa. I hit Sam right in the head with a big snow-ball, and I
made Betty run into the house, and I slid down to all by myself. Sam
was afraid," said Noah to his father.
"Noah, if Sammy saw the danger in sliding down the hill he was
braver than you. Now both of you run to Annie and have these wet
things taken off."
"I must go get on dry clothes myself," said Betty. "I am nearly
frozen. It is growing colder. I saw Jack come in. Is he going to
"No. He has decided to wait until good weather. I met Mr. Miller
over at the garrison this afternoon and he wants you to go on the
sled-ride to-night. There is to be a dance down at Watkins' place.
All the young people are going. It is a long ride, but I guess it
will be perfectly safe. Silas and Wetzel are going. Dress yourself
warmly and go with them. You have never seen old Grandma Watkins."
"I shall be pleased to go," said Betty.
Betty's room was very cozy, considering that it was in a pioneer's
cabin. It had two windows, the larger of which opened on the side
toward the river. The walls had been smoothly plastered and covered
with white birch-bark. They were adorned with a few pictures and
Indian ornaments. A bright homespun carpet covered the floor. A
small bookcase stood in the corner. The other furniture consisted of
two chairs, a small table, a bureau with a mirror, and a large
wardrobe. It was in this last that Betty kept the gowns which she
had brought from Philadelphia, and which were the wonder of all the
girls in the village.
"I wonder why Eb looked so closely at me," mused Betty, as she
slipped on her little moccasins. "Usually he is not anxious to have
me go so far from the fort; and now he seemed to think I would enjoy
this dance to-night. I wonder what Bessie has been telling him."
Betty threw some wood on the smouldering fire in the little stone
grate and sat down to think. Like every one who has a humiliating
secret, Betty was eternally suspicious and feared the very walls
would guess it. Swift as light came the thought that her brother and
his wife had suspected her secret and had been talking about her,
perhaps pitying her. With this thought came the fear that if she had
betrayed herself to the Colonel's wife she might have done so to
others. The consciousness that this might well be true and that even
now the girls might be talking and laughing at her caused her
exceeding shame and bitterness.
Many weeks had passed since that last night that Betty and Alfred
Clarke had been together.
In due time Col. Zane's men returned and Betty learned from Jonathan
that Alfred had left them at Ft. Pitt, saying he was going south to
his old home. At first she had expected some word from Alfred, a
letter, or if not that, surely an apology for his conduct on that
last evening they had been together. But Jonathan brought her no
word, and after hoping against hope and wearing away the long days
looking for a letter that never came, she ceased to hope and plunged
The last few months had changed her life; changed it as only
constant thinking, and suffering that must be hidden from the world,
can change the life of a young girl. She had been so intent on her
own thoughts, so deep in her dreams that she had taken no heed of
other people. She did not know that those who loved her were always
thinking of her welfare and would naturally see even a slight change
in her. With a sudden shock of surprise and pain she realized that
to-day for the first time in a month she had played with the boys.
Sammy had asked her why she did not laugh any more. Now she
understood the mad antics of Tige that morning; Madcap's whinney of
delight; the chattering of the squirrels, and Caesar's pranks in the
snow. She had neglected her pets. She had neglected her work, her
friends, the boys' lessons; and her brother. For what? What would
her girl friends say? That she was pining for a lover who had
forgotten her. They would say that and it would be true. She did
think of him constantly.
With bitter pain she recalled the first days of the acquaintance
which now seemed so long past; how much she had disliked Alfred; how
angry she had been with him and how contemptuously she had spurned
his first proffer of friendship; how, little by little, her pride
had been subdued; then the struggle with her heart. And, at last,
after he had gone, came the realization that the moments spent with
him had been the sweetest of her life. She thought of him as she
used to see him stand before her; so good to look at; so strong and
masterful, and yet so gentle.
"Oh, I cannot bear it," whispered Betty with a half sob, giving up
to a rush of tender feeling. "I love him. I love him, and I cannot
forget him. Oh, I am so ashamed."
Betty bowed her head on her knees. Her slight form quivered a while
and then grew still. When a half hour later she raised her head her
face was pale and cold. It bore the look of a girl who had suddenly
become a woman; a woman who saw the battle of life before her and
who was ready to fight. Stern resolve gleamed from her flashing
eyes; there was no faltering in those set lips.
Betty was a Zane and the Zanes came of a fighting race. Their blood
had ever been hot and passionate; the blood of men quick to love and
quick to hate. It had flowed in the veins of daring, reckless men
who had fought and died for their country; men who had won their
sweethearts with the sword; men who had had unconquerable spirits.
It was this fighting instinct that now rose in Betty; it gave her
strength and pride to defend her secret; the resolve to fight
against the longing in her heart.
"I will forget him! I will tear him out of my heart!" she exclaimed
passionately. "He never deserved my love. He did not care. I was a
little fool to let him amuse himself with me. He went away and
forgot. I hate him."
At length Betty subdued her excitement, and when she went down to
supper a few minutes later she tried to maintain a cheerful
composure of manner and to chat with her old-time vivacity.
"Bessie, I am sure you have exaggerated things," remarked Col. Zane
after Betty had gone upstairs to dress for the dance. "Perhaps it is
only that Betty grows a little tired of this howling wilderness.
Small wonder if she does. You know she has always been used to
comfort and many young people, places to go and all that. This is
her first winter on the frontier. She'll come round all right."
"Have it your way, Ebenezer," answered his wife with a look of
amused contempt on her face. "I am sure I hope you are right. By the
way, what do you think of this Ralfe Miller? He has been much with
Betty of late."
"I do not know the fellow, Bessie. He seems agreeable. He is a
good-looking young man. Why do you ask?"
"The Major told me that Miller had a bad name at Pitt, and that he
had been a friend of Simon Girty before Girty became a renegade."
"Humph! I'll have to speak to Sam. As for knowing Girty, there is
nothing terrible in that. All the women seem to think that Simon is
the very prince of devils. I have known all the Girtys for years.
Simon was not a bad fellow before he went over to the Indians. It is
his brother James who has committed most of those deeds which have
made the name of Girty so infamous."
"I don't like Miller," continued Mrs. Zane in a hesitating way. "I
must admit that I have no sensible reason for my dislike. He is
pleasant and agreeable, yes, but behind it there is a certain
intensity. That man has something on his mind."
"If he is in love with Betty, as you seem to think, he has enough on
his mind. I'll vouch for that," said Col. Zane. "Betty is inclined
to be a coquette. If she liked Clarke pretty well, it may be a
lesson to her."
"I wish she were married and settled down. It may have been no great
harm for Betty to have had many admirers while in Philadelphia, but
out here on the border it will never do. These men will not have it.
There will be trouble come of Betty's coquettishness."
"Why, Bessie, she is only a child. What would you have her do? Marry
the first man who asked her?"
"The clod-hoppers are coming," said Mrs. Zane as the jingling of
sleigh bells broke the stillness.
Col. Zane sprang up and opened the door. A broad stream of light
flashed from the room and lighted up the road. Three powerful teams
stood before the door. They were hitched to sleds, or clod-hoppers,
which were nothing more than wagon-beds fastened on wooden runners.
A chorus of merry shouts greeted Col. Zane as he appeared in the
"All right! all right! Here she is," he cried, as Betty ran down the
The Colonel bundled her in a buffalo robe in a corner of the
foremost sled. At her feet he placed a buckskin bag containing a hot
stone Mrs. Zane thoughtfully had provided.
"All ready here. Let them go," called the Colonel. "You will have
clear weather. Coming back look well to the traces and keep a watch
for the wolves."
The long whips cracked, the bells jingled, the impatient horses
plunged forward and away they went over the glistening snow. The
night was clear and cold; countless stars blinked in the black vault
overhead; the pale moon cast its wintry light down on a white and
frozen world. As the runners glided swiftly and smoothly onward
showers of dry snow like fine powder flew from under the horses'
hoofs and soon whitened the black-robed figures in the sleds. The
way led down the hill past the Fort, over the creek bridge and along
the road that skirted the Black Forest. The ride was long; it led up
and down hills, and through a lengthy stretch of gloomy forest.
Sometimes the drivers walked the horses up a steep climb and again
raced them along a level bottom. Making a turn in the road they saw
a bright light in the distance which marked their destination. In
five minutes the horses dashed into a wide clearing. An immense log
fire burned in front of a two-story structure. Streams of light
poured from the small windows; the squeaking of fiddles, the
shuffling of many feet, and gay laughter came through the open door.
The steaming horses were unhitched, covered carefully with robes and
led into sheltered places, while the merry party disappeared into
The occasion was the celebration of the birthday of old Dan Watkins'
daughter. Dan was one of the oldest settlers along the river; in
fact, he had located his farm several years after Col. Zane had
founded the settlement. He was noted for his open-handed dealing and
kindness of heart. He had loaned many a head of cattle which had
never been returned, and many a sack of flour had left his mill
unpaid for in grain. He was a good shot, he would lay a tree on the
ground as quickly as any man who ever swung an axe, and he could
drink more whiskey than any man in the valley.
Dan stood at the door with a smile of welcome upon his rugged
features and a handshake and a pleasant word for everyone. His
daughter Susan greeted the men with a little curtsy and kissed the
girls upon the cheek. Susan was not pretty, though she was strong
and healthy; her laughing blue eyes assured a sunny disposition, and
she numbered her suitors by the score.
The young people lost no time. Soon the floor was covered with their
In one corner of the room sat a little dried-up old woman with white
hair and bright dark eyes. This was Grandma Watkins. She was very
old, so old that no one knew her age, but she was still vigorous
enough to do her day's work with more pleasure than many a younger
woman. Just now she was talking to Wetzel, who leaned upon his
inseparable rifle and listened to her chatter. The hunter liked the
old lady and would often stop at her cabin while on his way to the
settlement and leave at her door a fat turkey or a haunch of
"Lew Wetzel, I am ashamed of you." Grandmother Watkins was saying.
"Put that gun in the corner and get out there and dance. Enjoy
yourself. You are only a boy yet."
"I'd better look on, mother," answered the hunter.
"Pshaw! You can hop and skip around like any of then and laugh too
if you want. I hope that pretty sister of Eb Zane has caught your
"She is not for the like of me," he said gently "I haven't the
"Don't talk about gifts. Not to an old woman who has lived three
times and more your age," she said impatiently. "It is not gifts a
woman wants out here in the West. If she does 'twill do her no good.
She needs a strong arm to build cabins, a quick eye with a rifle,
and a fearless heart. What border-women want are houses and
children. They must bring up men, men to drive the redskins back,
men to till the soil, or else what is the good of our suffering
"You are right," said Wetzel thoughtfully. "But I'd hate to see a
flower like Betty Zane in a rude hunter's cabin."
"I have known the Zanes for forty year' and I never saw one yet that
was afraid of work. And you might win her if you would give up
running mad after Indians. I'll allow no woman would put up with
that. You have killed many Indians. You ought to be satisfied."
"Fightin' redskins is somethin' I can't help," said the hunter,
slowly shaking his head. "If I got married the fever would come on
and I'd leave home. No, I'm no good for a woman. Fightin' is all I'm
"Why not fight for her, then? Don't let one of these boys walk off
with her. Look at her. She likes fun and admiration. I believe you
do care for her. Why not try to win her?"
"Who is that tall man with her?" continued the old lady as Wetzel
did not answer. "There, they have gone into the other room. Who is
"His name is Miller."
"Lewis, I don't like him. I have been watching him all evening. I'm
a contrary old woman, I know, but I have seen a good many men in my
time, and his face is not honest. He is in love with her. Does she
care for him?"
"No, Betty doesn't care for Miller. She's just full of life and
"You may be mistaken. All the Zanes are fire and brimstone and this
girl is a Zane clear through. Go and fetch her to me, Lewis. I'll
tell you if there's a chance for you."
"Dear mother, perhaps there's a wife in Heaven for me. There's none
on earth," said the hunter, a sad smile flitting over his calm face.
Ralfe Miller, whose actions had occasioned the remarks of the old
lady, would have been conspicuous in any assembly of men. There was
something in his dark face that compelled interest and yet left the
observer in doubt. His square chin, deep-set eyes and firm mouth
denoted a strong and indomitable will. He looked a man whom it would
be dangerous to cross.
Little was known of Miller's history. He hailed from Ft. Pitt, where
he had a reputation as a good soldier, but a man of morose and
quarrelsome disposition. It was whispered that he drank, and that he
had been friendly with the renegades McKee, Elliott, and Girty. He
had passed the fall and winter at Ft. Henry, serving on garrison
duty. Since he had made the acquaintance of Betty he had shown her
all the attention possible.
On this night a close observer would have seen that Miller was
laboring under some strong feeling. A half-subdued fire gleamed from
his dark eyes. A peculiar nervous twitching of his nostrils betrayed
a poorly suppressed excitement.
All evening he followed Betty like a shadow. Her kindness may have
encouraged him. She danced often with him and showed a certain
preference for his society. Alice and Lydia were puzzled by Betty's
manner. As they were intimate friends they believed they knew
something of her likes and dislikes. Had not Betty told them she did
not care for Mr. Miller? What was the meaning of the arch glances
she bestowed upon him, if she did not care for him? To be sure, it
was nothing wonderful for Betty to smile,--she was always prodigal
of her smiles--but she had never been known to encourage any man.
The truth was that Betty had put her new resolution into effect; to
be as merry and charming as any fancy-free maiden could possibly be,
and the farthest removed from a young lady pining for an absent and
indifferent sweetheart. To her sorrow Betty played her part too
Except to Wetzel, whose keen eyes little escaped, there was no
significance in Miller's hilarity one moment and sudden
thoughtfulness the next. And if there had been, it would have
excited no comment. Most of the young men had sampled some of old
Dan's best rye and their flushed faces and unusual spirits did not
result altogether from the exercise of the dance.
After one of the reels Miller led Betty, with whom he had been
dancing, into one of the side rooms. Round the dimly lighted room
were benches upon which were seated some of the dancers. Betty was
uneasy in mind and now wished that she had remained at home. They
had exchanged several commonplace remarks when the music struck up
and Betty rose quickly to her feet.
"See, the others have gone. Let us return," she said.
"Wait," said Miller hurriedly. "Do not go just yet. I wish to speak
to you. I have asked you many times if you will marry me. Now I ask
"Mr. Miller, I thanked you and begged you not to cause us both pain
by again referring to that subject," answered Betty with dignity.
"If you will persist in bringing it up we cannot be friends any
"Wait, please wait. I have told you that I will not take 'No' for an
answer. I love you with all my heart and soul and I cannot give you
His voice was low and hoarse and thrilled with a strong man's
passion. Betty looked up into his face and tears of compassion
filled her eyes. Her heart softened to this man, and her conscience
gave her a little twinge of remorse. Could she not have averted all
this? No doubt she had been much to blame, and this thought made her
voice very low and sweet as she answered him.
"I like you as a friend, Mr. Miller, but we can never be more than
friends. I am very sorry for you, and angry with myself that I did
not try to help you instead of making it worse. Please do not speak
of this again. Come, let us join the others."
They were quite alone in the room. As Betty finished speaking and
started for the door Miller intercepted her. She recoiled in alarm
from his white face.
"No, you don't go yet. I won't give you up so easily. No woman can
play fast and loose with me! Do you understand? What have you meant
all this winter? You encouraged me. You know you did," he cried
"I thought you were a gentleman. I have really taken the trouble to
defend you against persons who evidently were not misled as to your
real nature. I will not listen to you," said Betty coldly. She
turned away from him, all her softened feeling changed to scorn.
"You shall listen to me," he whispered as he grasped her wrist and
pulled her backward. All the man's brutal passion had been aroused.
The fierce border blood boiled within his heart. Unmasked he showed
himself in his true colors a frontier desperado. His eyes gleamed
dark and lurid beneath his bent brows and a short, desperate laugh
passed his lips.
"I will make you love me, my proud beauty. I shall have you yet, one
way or another."
"Let me go. How dare you touch me!" cried Betty, the hot blood
coloring her face. She struck him a stinging blow with her free hand
and struggled with all her might to free herself; but she was
powerless in his iron grasp. Closer he drew her.
"If it costs me my life I will kiss you for that blow," he muttered
"Oh, you coward! you ruffian! Release me or I will scream."
She had opened her lips to call for help when she saw a dark figure
cross the threshold. She recognized the tall form of Wetzel. The
hunter stood still in the doorway for a second and then with the
swiftness of light he sprang forward. The single straightening of
his arm sent Miller backward over a bench to the floor with a
crashing sound. Miller rose with some difficulty and stood with one
hand to his head.
"Lew, don't draw your knife," cried Betty as she saw Wetzel's hand
go inside his hunting shirt. She had thrown herself in front of him
as Miller got to his feet. With both little hands she clung to the
brawny arm of the hunter, but she could not stay it. Wetzel's hand
slipped to his belt.
"For God's sake, Lew, do not kill him," implored Betty, gazing
horror-stricken at the glittering eyes of the hunter. "You have
punished him enough. He only tried to kiss me. I was partly to
blame. Put your knife away. Do not shed blood. For my sake, Lew, for
When Betty found that she could not hold Wetzel's arm she threw her
arms round his neck and clung to him with all her young strength. No
doubt her action averted a tragedy. If Miller had been inclined to
draw a weapon then he might have had a good opportunity to use it.
He had the reputation of being quick with his knife, and many of his
past fights testified that he was not a coward. But he made no
effort to attack Wetzel. It was certain that he measured with his
eye the distance to the door. Wetzel was not like other men.
Irrespective of his wonderful strength and agility there was
something about the Indian hunter that terrified all men. Miller
shrank before those eyes. He knew that never in all his life of
adventure had he been as near death as at that moment. There was
nothing between him and eternity but the delicate arms of this frail
girl. At a slight wave of the hunter's hand towards the door he
turned and passed out.
"Oh, how dreadful!" cried Betty, dropping upon a bench with a sob of
relief. "I am glad you came when you did even though you frightened
me more than he did. Promise me that you will not do Miller any
further harm. If you had fought it would all have been on my
account; one or both of you might have been killed. Don't look at me
so. I do not care for him. I never did. Now that I know him I
despise him. He lost his senses and tried to kiss me. I could have
killed him myself."
Wetzel did not answer. Betty had been holding his hand in both her
own while she spoke impulsively.
"I understand how difficult it is for you to overlook an insult to
me," she continued earnestly. "But I ask it of you. You are my best
friend, almost my brother, and I promise you that if he ever speaks
a word to me again that is not what it should be I will tell you."
"I reckon I'll let him go, considerin' how set on it you are."
"But remember, Lew, that he is revengeful and you must be on the
lookout," said Betty gravely as she recalled the malignant gleam in
"He's dangerous only like a moccasin snake that hides in the grass."
"Am I all right? Do I look mussed or--or excited--or anything?"
Lewis smiled as she turned round for his benefit. Her hair was a
little awry and the lace at her neck disarranged. The natural bloom
had not quite returned to her cheeks. With a look in his eyes that
would have mystified Betty for many a day had she but seen it he ran
his gaze over the dainty figure. Then reassuring her that she looked
as well as ever, he led her into the dance-room.
"So this is Betty Zane. Dear child, kiss me," said Grandmother
Watkins when Wetzel had brought Betty up to her. "Now, let me get a
good look at you. Well, well, you are a true Zane. Black hair and
eyes; all fire and pride. Child, I knew your father and mother long
before you were born. Your father was a fine man but a proud one.
And how do you like the frontier? Are you enjoying yourself?"
"Oh, yes, indeed," said Betty, smiling brightly at the old lady.
"Well, dearie, have a good time while you can. Life is hard in a
pioneer's cabin. You will not always have the Colonel to look after
you. They tell me you have been to some grand school in
Philadelphia. Learning is very well, but it will not help you in the
cabin of one of these rough men."
"There is a great need of education in all the pioneers' homes. I
have persuaded brother Eb to have a schoolteacher at the Fort next
"First teach the boys to plow and the girls to make Johnny cake. How
much you favor your brother Isaac. He used to come and see me often.
So must you in summertime. Poor lad, I suppose he is dead by this
time. I have seen so many brave and good lads go. There now, I did
not mean to make you sad," and the old lady patted Betty's hand and
"He often spoke of you and said that I must come with him to see
you. Now he is gone," said Betty.
"Yes, he is gone, Betty, but you must not be sad while you are so
young. Wait until you are old like I am. How long have you known Lew
"All my life. He used to carry me in his arm, when I was a baby. Of
course I do not remember that, but as far back as I can go in memory
I can see Lew. Oh, the many times he has saved me from disaster! But
why do you ask?"
"I think Lew Wetzel cares more for you than for all the world. He is
as silent as an Indian, but I am an old woman and I can read men's
hearts. If he could be made to give up his wandering life he would
be the best man on the border."
"Oh, indeed I think you are wrong. Lew does not care for me in that
way," said Betty, surprised and troubled by the old lady's
A loud blast from a hunting-horn directed the attention of all to
the platform at the upper end of the hall, where Dan Watkins stood.
The fiddlers ceased playing, the dancers stopped, and all looked
expectantly. The scene was simple strong, and earnest. The light in
the eyes of these maidens shone like the light from the pine cones
on the walls. It beamed soft and warm. These fearless sons of the
wilderness, these sturdy sons of progress, standing there clasping
the hands of their partners and with faces glowing with happiness,
forgetful of all save the enjoyment of the moment, were ready to go
out on the morrow and battle unto the death for the homes and the
lives of their loved ones.
"Friends," said Dan when the hum of voices had ceased "I never
thought as how I'd have to get up here and make a speech to-night or
I might have taken to the woods. Howsomever, mother and Susan says
as it's gettin' late it's about time we had some supper. Somewhere
in the big cake is hid a gold ring. If one of the girls gets it she
can keep it as a gift from Susan, and should one of the boys find it
he may make a present to his best girl. And in the bargain he gets
to kiss Susan. She made some objection about this and said that part
of the game didn't go, but I reckon the lucky young man will decide
that for hisself. And now to the festal board."
Ample justice was done to the turkey, the venison, and the bear
meat. Grandmother Watkins' delicious apple and pumpkin pies for
which she was renowned, disappeared as by magic. Likewise the cakes
and the sweet cider and the apple butter vanished.
When the big cake had been cut and divided among the guests, Wetzel
discovered the gold ring within his share. He presented the ring to
Betty, and gave his privilege of kissing Susan to George Reynolds,
with the remark: "George, I calkilate Susan would like it better if
you do the kissin' part." Now it was known to all that George had
long been an ardent admirer of Susan's, and it was suspected that
she was not indifferent to him. Nevertheless, she protested that it
was not fair. George acted like a man who had the opportunity of his
life. Amid uproarious laughter he ran Susan all over the room, and
when he caught her he pulled her hands away from her blushing face
and bestowed a right hearty kiss on her cheek. To everyone's
surprise and to Wetzel's discomfiture, Susan walked up to him and
saying that as he had taken such an easy way out of it she intended
to punish him by kissing him. And so she did. Poor Lewis' face
looked the picture of dismay. Probably he had never been kissed
before in his life.
Happy hours speed away on the wings of the wind. The feasting over,
the good-byes were spoken, the girls were wrapped in the warm robes,
for it was now intensely cold, and soon the horses, eager to start
on the long homeward journey, were pulling hard on their bits. On
the party's return trip there was an absence of the hilarity which
had prevailed on their coming. The bells were taken off before the
sleds left the blockhouse, and the traces and the harness examined
and tightened with the caution of men who were apprehensive of
danger and who would take no chances.
In winter time the foes most feared by the settlers were the timber
wolves. Thousands of these savage beasts infested the wild forest
regions which bounded the lonely roads, and their wonderful power of
scent and swift and tireless pursuit made a long night ride a thing
to be dreaded. While the horses moved swiftly danger from wolves was
not imminent; but carelessness or some mishap to a trace or a wheel
had been the cause of more than one tragedy.
Therefore it was not remarkable that the drivers of our party
breathed a sigh of relief when the top of the last steep hill had
been reached. The girls were quiet, and tired out and cold they
pressed close to one another; the men were silent and watchful.
When they were half way home and had just reached the outskirts of
the Black Forest the keen ear of Wetzel caught the cry of a wolf. It
came from the south and sounded so faint that Wetzel believed at
first that he had been mistaken. A few moments passed in which the
hunter turned his ear to the south. He had about made up his mind
that he had only imagined he had heard something when the
unmistakable yelp of a wolf came down on the wind. Then another,
this time clear and distinct, caused the driver to turn and whisper
to Wetzel. The hunter spoke in a low tone and the driver whipped up
his horses. From out the depths of the dark woods along which they
were riding came a long and mournful howl. It was a wolf answering
the call of his mate. This time the horses heard it, for they threw
back their ears and increased their speed. The girls heard it, for
they shrank closer to the men.
There is that which is frightful in the cry of a wolf. When one is
safe in camp before a roaring fire the short, sharp bark of a wolf
is startling, and the long howl will make one shudder. It is so
lonely and dismal. It makes no difference whether it be given while
the wolf is sitting on his haunches near some cabin waiting for the
remains of the settler's dinner, or while he is in full chase after
his prey--the cry is equally wild, savage and bloodcurdling.
Betty had never heard it and though she was brave, when the howl
from the forest had its answer in another howl from the creek
thicket, she slipped her little mittened hand under Wetzel's arm and
looked up at him with frightened eyes.
In half an hour the full chorus of yelps, barks and howls swelled
hideously on the air, and the ever increasing pack of wolves could
be seen scarcely a hundred yards behind the sleds. The patter of
their swiftly flying feet on the snow could be distinctly heard. The
slender, dark forms came nearer and nearer every moment. Presently
the wolves had approached close enough for the occupants of the
sleds to see their shining eyes looking like little balls of green
fire. A gaunt beast bolder than the others, and evidently the leader
of the pack, bounded forward until he was only a few yards from the
last sled. At every jump he opened his great jaws and uttered a
quick bark as if to embolden his followers.
Almost simultaneously with the red flame that burst from Wetzel's
rifle came a sharp yelp of agony from the leader. He rolled over and
over. Instantly followed a horrible mingling of snarls and barks,
and snapping of jaws as the band fought over the body of their
This short delay gave the advantage to the horses. When the wolves
again appeared they were a long way behind. The distance to the fort
was now short and the horses were urged to their utmost. The wolves
kept up the chase until they reached the creek bridge and the mill.
Then they slowed up: the howling became desultory, and finally the
dark forms disappeared in the thickets.
Winter dragged by uneventfully for Betty. Unlike the other pioneer
girls, who were kept busy all the time with their mending, and
linsey weaving, and household duties, Betty had nothing to divert
her but her embroidery and her reading. These she found very
tiresome. Her maid was devoted to her and never left a thing undone.
Annie was old Sam's daughter, and she had waited on Betty since she
had been a baby. The cleaning or mending or darning--anything in the
shape of work that would have helped pass away the monotonous hours
for Betty, was always done before she could lift her hand.
During the day she passed hours in her little room, and most of them
were dreamed away by her window. Lydia and Alice came over sometimes
and whiled away the tedious moments with their bright chatter and
merry laughter, their castle-building, and their romancing on heroes
and love and marriage as girls always will until the end of time.
They had not forgotten Mr. Clarke, but as Betty had rebuked them
with a dignity which forbade any further teasing on that score, they
had transferred their fun-making to the use of Mr. Miller's name.
Fearing her brothers' wrath Betty had not told them of the scene
with Miller at the dance. She had learned enough of rough border
justice to dread the consequence of such a disclosure. She permitted
Miller to come to the house, although she never saw him alone.
Miller had accepted this favor gratefully. He said that on the night
of the dance he had been a little the worse for Dan Watkins' strong
liquor, and that, together with his bitter disappointment, made him
act in the mad way which had so grievously offended her. He exerted
himself to win her forgiveness. Betty was always tender-hearted, and
though she did not trust him, she said they might still be friends,
but that that depended on his respect for her forbearance. Miller
had promised he would never refer to the old subject and he had kept
Indeed Betty welcomed any diversion for the long winter evenings.
Occasionally some of the young people visited her, and they sang and
danced, roasted apples, popped chestnuts, and played games. Often
Wetzel and Major McColloch came in after supper. Betty would come
down and sing for them, and afterward would coax Indian lore and
woodcraft from Wetzel, or she would play checkers with the Major. If
she succeeded in winning from him, which in truth was not often, she
teased him unmercifully. When Col. Zane and the Major had settled
down to their series of games, from which nothing short of Indians
could have diverted them, Betty sat by Wetzel. The silent man of the
woods, an appellation the hunter had earned by his reticence, talked
for Betty as he would for no one else.
One night while Col. Zane, his wife and Betty were entertaining
Capt. Boggs and Major McColloch and several of Betty's girls
friends, after the usual music and singing, storytelling became the
order of the evening. Little Noah told of the time he had climbed
the apple-tree in the yard after a raccoon and got severely bitten.
"One day," said Noah, "I heard Tige barking out in the orchard and I
ran out there and saw a funny little fur ball up in the tree with a
black tail and white rings around it. It looked like a pretty cat
with a sharp nose. Every time Tige barked the little animal showed
his teeth and swelled up his back. I wanted him for a pet. I got Sam
to give me a sack and I climbed the tree and the nearer I got to him
the farther he backed down the limb. I followed him and put out the
sack to put it over his head and he bit me. I fell from the limb,
but he fell too and Tige killed him and Sam stuffed him for me."
"Noah, you are quite a valiant hunter," said Betty. "Now, Jonathan,
remember that you promised to tell me of your meeting with Daniel
"It was over on the Muskingong near the mouth of the Sandusky. I was
hunting in the open woods along the bank when I saw an Indian. He
saw me at the same time and we both treed. There we stood a long
time each afraid to change position. Finally I began to act tired
and resorted to an old ruse. I put my coon-skin cap on my ramrod and
cautiously poked it from behind the tree, expecting every second to
hear the whistle of the redskin's bullet. Instead I heard a jolly
voice yell: 'Hey, young feller, you'll have to try something
better'n that.' I looked and saw a white man standing out in the
open and shaking all over with laughter. I went up to him and found
him to be a big strong fellow with an honest, merry face. He said:
'I'm Boone.' I was considerably taken aback, especially when I saw
he knew I was a white man all the time. We camped and hunted along
the river a week and at the Falls of the Muskingong he struck out
for his Kentucky home."
"Here is Wetzel," said Col. Zane, who had risen and gone to the
door. "Now, Betty, try and get Lew to tell us something."
"Come, Lewis, here is a seat by me," said Betty. "We have been
pleasantly passing the time. We have had bear stories, snake
stories, ghost stories--all kinds of tales. Will you tell us one?"
"Lewis, did you ever have a chance to kill a hostile Indian and not
take it?" asked Col. Zane.
"Never but once," answered Lewis.
"Tell us about it. I imagine it will be interesting."
"Well, I ain't good at tellin' things," began Lewis. "I reckon I've
seen some strange sights. I kin tell you about the only redskin I
ever let off. Three years ago I was takin' a fall hunt over on the
Big Sandy, and I run into a party of Shawnees. I plugged a chief and
started to run. There was some good runners and I couldn't shake 'em
in the open country. Comin' to the Ohio I jumped in and swum across,
keepin' my rifle and powder dry by holdin' 'em up. I hid in some
bulrushes and waited. Pretty soon along comes three Injuns, and when
they saw where I had taken to the water they stopped and held a
short pow-wow. Then they all took to the water. This was what I was
waitin' for. When they got nearly acrosst I shot the first redskin,
and loadin' quick got a bullet into the others. The last Injun did
not sink. I watched him go floatin' down stream expectin' every
minute to see him go under as he was hurt so bad he could hardly
keep his head above water. He floated down a long ways and the
current carried him to a pile of driftwood which had lodged against
a little island. I saw the Injun crawl up on the drift. I went down
stream and by keepin' the island between me and him I got out to
where he was. I pulled my tomahawk and went around the head of the
island and found the redskin leanin' against a big log. He was a
young brave and a fine lookin strong feller. He was tryin' to stop
the blood from my bullet-hole in his side. When he saw me he tried
to get up, but he was too weak. He smiled, pointed to the wound and
said: 'Deathwind not heap times bad shot.' Then he bowed his head
and waited for the tomahawk. Well, I picked him up and carried him
ashore and made a shack by a spring. I staid there with him. When he
got well enough to stand a few days' travel I got him across the
river and givin' him a hunk of deer meat I told him to go, and if I
ever saw him again I'd make a better shot.
"A year afterwards I trailed two Shawnees into Wingenund's camp and
got surrounded and captured. The Delaware chief is my great enemy.
They beat me, shot salt into my legs, made me run the gauntlet, tied
me on the back of a wild mustang. Then they got ready to burn me at
the stake. That night they painted my face black and held the usual
death dances. Some of the braves got drunk and worked themselves
into a frenzy. I allowed I'd never see daylight. I seen that one of
the braves left to guard me was the young feller I had wounded the
year before. He never took no notice of me. In the gray of the early
mornin' when all were asleep and the other watch dozin' I felt cold
steel between my wrists and my buckskin thongs dropped off. Then my
feet were cut loose. I looked round and in the dim light I seen my
young brave. He handed me my own rifle, knife and tomahawk, put his
finger on his lips and with a bright smile, as if to say he was
square with me, he pointed to the east. I was out of sight in a
"How noble of him!" exclaimed Betty, her eyes all aglow. "He paid
his debt to you, perhaps at the price of his life."
"I have never known an Indian to forget a promise, or a kind action,
or an injury," observed Col. Zane.
"Are the Indians half as bad as they are called?" asked Betty. "I
have heard as many stories of their nobility as of their cruelty."
"The Indians consider that they have been robbed and driven from
their homes. What we think hideously inhuman is war to them,"
answered Col. Zane.
"When I came here from Fort Pitt I expected to see and fight Indians
every day," said Capt. Boggs. "I have been here at Wheeling for
nearly two years and have never seen a hostile Indian. There have
been some Indians in the vicinity during that time but not one has
shown himself to me. I'm not up to Indian tricks, I know, but I
think the last siege must have been enough for them. I don't believe
we shall have any more trouble from them."
"Captain," called out Col. Zane, banging his hand on the table.
"I'll bet you my best horse to a keg of gunpowder that you see
enough Indians before you are a year older to make you wish you had
never seen or heard of the western border."
"And I'll go you the same bet," said Major McColloch.
"You see, Captain, you must understand a little of the nature of the
Indian," continued Col. Zane. "We have had proof that the Delawares
and the Shawnees have been preparing for an expedition for months.
We shall have another siege some day and to my thinking it will be a
longer and harder one than the last. What say you, Wetzel?"
"I ain't sayin' much, but I don't calkilate on goin' on any long
hunts this summer," answered the hunter.
"And do you think Tarhe, Wingenund, Pipe, Cornplanter, and all those
chiefs will unite their forces and attack us?" asked Betty of
"Cornplanter won't. He has been paid for most of his land and he
ain't so bitter. Tarhe is not likely to bother us. But Pipe and
Wingenund and Red Fox--they all want blood."
"Have you seen these chiefs?" said Betty.
"Yes, I know 'em all and they all know me," answered the hunter.
"I've watched over many a trail waitin' for one of 'em. If I can
ever get a shot at any of 'em I'll give up Injuns and go farmin'.
Good night, Betty."
"What a strange man is Wetzel," mused Betty, after the visitors had
gone. "Do you know, Eb, he is not at all like any one else. I have
seen the girls shudder at the mention of his name and I have heard
them say they could not look in his eyes. He does not affect me that
way. It is not often I can get him to talk, but sometimes he tells
me beautiful thing about the woods; how he lives in the wilderness,
his home under the great trees; how every leaf on the trees and
every blade of grass has its joy for him as well as its knowledge;
how he curls up in his little bark shack and is lulled to sleep by
the sighing of the wind through the pine tops. He told me he has
often watched the stars for hours at a time. I know there is a
waterfall back in the Black Forest somewhere that Lewis goes to,
simply to sit and watch the water tumble over the precipice."
"Wetzel is a wonderful character, even to those who know him only as
an Indian slayer and a man who wants no other occupation. Some day
he will go off on one of these long jaunts and will never return.
That is certain. The day is fast approaching when a man like Wetzel
will be of no use in life. Now, he is a necessity. Like Tige he can
smell Indians. Betty, I believe Lewis tells you so much and is so
kind and gentle toward you because he cares for you."
"Of course Lew likes me. I know he does and I want him to," said
Betty. "But he does not care as you seem to think. Grandmother
Watkins said the same. I am sure both of you are wrong."
"Did Dan's mother tell you that? Well, she's pretty shrewd. It's
quite likely, Betty, quite likely. It seems to me you are not so
quick witted as you used to be."
"Why so?" asked Betty, quickly.
"Well, you used to be different somehow," said her brother, as he
patted her hand.
"Do you mean I am more thoughtful?"
"Yes, and sometimes you seem sad."
"I have tried to be brave and--and happy," said Betty, her voice
"Yes, yes, I know you have, Betty. You have done wonderfully well
here in this dead place. But tell me, don't be angry, don't you
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