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Title: Ella Barnwell - A Historical Romance of Border Life
Author: Bennett, Emerson
Language: English
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Team.



ELLA BARNWELL:

A Historical Romance of Border Life


BY EMERSON BENNETT,

AUTHOR OF
"PRAIRIE FLOWER," "LENI LEOTI," "FOREST ROSE," "MIKE FINK," "VIOLA,"
"CLARA MORELAND," "FORGED WILL," "TRAITOR," "FEMALE SPY," "ROSALIE DU
PONT," "FAIR REBEL," ETC., ETC.


CINCINNATI:
PUBLISHED BY U.P. JAMES,
No. 177 RACE STREET.


Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1853, BY J.A. &
U.P. JAMES, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States, for the District of Ohio.



PREFACE.


In putting to press a new and revised edition of the following story,
the author would state, that his original design was to combine fact and
fiction, in such a way, as, while making his story move forward to a
proper _denouement_, to give the reader a correct picture of the dress,
customs, and social and war-like habits of the early pioneers of the
west; and also embody a series of historical events which took place on
the frontiers during that revolutionary struggle by which we gained our
glorious independence. For this purpose, Kentucky, in her infancy, was
selected as the scene of action; and most of the existing records of her
early settlements were read with care, each compared with the others,
and only the best authenticated accounts presented to the reader. So
much in fact did the author labor to make the present story historical,
that there is scarcely a scene or character in its pages that had not
its counterpart in reality.

He would only add, that, for important reasons, the original title has
been changed to that which now heads its title-page. "What's in a name?"
queried the great bard. Had he lived in our day, and been a novelist
instead of a poet, he would either not have asked the question, or
answered it very differently than he did.



ELLA BARNWELL.



CHAPTER I.

THE STRANGER.


That portion of territory known throughout Christendom as Kentucky, was,
at an early period, the theatre of some of the wildest, most hardily
contested, and bloody scenes ever placed on record. In fact its very
name, derived from the Indian word Kan-tuck-kee, which was applied to it
long before its discovery by the whites, is peculiarly significant in
meaning--being no less than "the dark and bloody ground." History makes
no mention of its being inhabited prior to its settlement by the present
race; but rather serves to aid us to the inference, that from time
immemorial it was used as a "neutral ground," whereon the different
savage tribes were wont to meet in deadly strife; and hence the
portentious name by which it was known among them. But notwithstanding
its ominous title, Kentucky, when first beheld by the white hunter,
presented all the attractions he would have envied in Paradise itself.
The climate was congenial to his feelings--the country was devoid of
savages--while its thick tangles of green cane--abounding with deer,
elk, bears, buffaloes, panthers, wolves and wild cats, and its more open
woods with pheasant, turkey and partridge--made it the full realization
of his hopes--his longings. What more could he ask? And when he again
stood among his friends, beyond the Alleghanies, is it to be wondered at
that his excited feelings, aided by distance, should lead him to
describe it as the El Dorado of the world? Such indeed he did describe
it; and to such glowing descriptions, Kentucky was doubtless partially
indebted for her settlement so much in advance of the surrounding
territory.

As it is not our purpose, in the present instance, to enter into a
history of the country, further than is necessary to the development of
our story, the reader will pardon us for omitting that account of its
early settlement which can readily be gleaned from numerous works
already familiar to the reading public. It may not be amiss, however, to
remark here, what almost every reader knows, that first and foremost in
the dangerous struggles of pioneer life, was the celebrated Daniel
Boone; whose name, in the west, and particularly in Kentucky, is a
household word; and whose fame, as a fearless hunter, has extended not
only throughout this continent, but over Europe. The birth place of this
renowned individual has been accredited to several states, by as many
writers; but one, more than the rest, is positive in asserting it to
have been Bucks county, Pennsylvania; and the year of his birth 1732;
which is sufficient for our purpose, whether strictly correct or not. At
an early period of his life, all agree that he removed with his father
to a very thinly settled section of North Carolina, where he spent his
time in hunting--thereby supplying the family with meat and destroying
the wild beasts, while his brothers assisted the father in tilling the
farm--and where he afterwards, in a romantic manner, became acquainted
with a settler's daughter, whom he married; and whence, in the spring
of 1769, in company with five others, he set out on an expedition of
danger across the mountains, to explore the western wilds; and after
undergoing hardships innumerable, and losing all his companions in
various ways, he at last succeeded in erecting the first log cabin, and
being the first white settler within the borders of Kentucky. To follow
up, even from this time, a detail of his trials, adventures, captures by
the Indians, and hair-breadth escapes, to the close of his eventful
career, would be sufficient to fill a volume; therefore we shall drop
him for the time--merely remarking, by the way, that he will be found to
figure occasionally in the following pages.

From the first appearance of Boone in the wilds of Kentucky, we shall
pass over a space of some ten or twelve years, and open our story in the
fall of 1781. During this period, the aspect of the country for a
considerable distance around the present site of Lexington, had become
materially changed; and the smoke from the cabin of the white settler
arose in an hundred places, where, a dozen years before, prowled the
wolf, the bear, and the panther, in perfect security. In sooth, the year
in question had been very propitious to the immigrants; who, flocking in
from eastern settlements in goodly numbers, were allowed to domiciliate
themselves in their new homes, with but few exceptions, entirely
unmolested by the savage foe. So much in fact was this the case, that
instead of taking up their residence in a fort--or station, as they were
more generally called--the new comers erected cabins for themselves, at
such points as they considered most agreeable; gradually venturing
further and further from the strongholds, until some of them became too
distant to look hopefully for succor in cases of extreme necessity.

Among the stations most prominent at this period, as being most secure,
and against which the attacks of the Indians were most frequent and
unsuccessful, may be mentioned Harrod's, Boone's, Logan's, and Bryan's,
so called in honor of their founders. The first two named, probably from
being the two earliest founded, were particularly unfortunate in drawing
down upon themselves the concentrated fury of the savages, who at
various times surrounded them in great numbers and attempted to take
them by storm. These attacks not unfrequently lasted several days, in
which a brisk fire was maintained on both sides, whenever a foe could be
seen; until wearied out with fruitless endeavors, or surprised by a
reinforcement of the whites, the Indians would raise the siege, with a
howl of rage, and depart. One of the longest and most remarkable of
these on record, we believe, was that of Boonesborough, which was
attacked in June, 1778, by five hundred Indians, led on by Duquesne, a
Frenchman, and which, with only a small garrison, commanded by Boone
himself, nobly held out for eight days, when the enemy withdrew in
despair. But, as we before remarked, it not being our purpose to enter
into a general history of the time, we will now proceed with our story.

It was near the close of a mild, beautiful day, in the autumn of 1781,
that a young man, some twenty-two years of age, emerged from a wood into
an open space or clearing, at a distance of perhaps fifteen miles
eastward from Lexington. The general appearance of this individual
betokened the hunter, but at the same time one who followed it for
pleasure, rather than as a means of support. This was evident from his
dress, which although somewhat characteristic of the time, was much
superior to that generally worn by the woodsman. He had on a woolen
hunting frock, of fine texture, of a dark green color, that came a few
inches below the hips. Beneath this, and fitting closely around his
shoulders, neck and breast, was a scarlet jacket, ornamented with two
rows of round, white metal buttons. A large cape, with a deep red
fringe, of about inch in width, was attached to the frock, and extended
from the shoulders nearly to the elbow. Around the waist, outside the
frock, passed a dark leather belt, in which were confined a brace of
handsome pistols, and a long silver-hilted hunting knife. Breeches of
cloth, like the frock, were connected with leggins of tanned deer skin,
which in turn extended over, and partly concealed, heavy cow-hide boots.
A neatly made cap of deer skin, with the hair outside, surmounted a
finely shaped head. His features, though somewhat pale and haggard, as
if from recent grief or trouble, were mostly of the Grecian cast. He had
a high, noble forehead; a large, clear, fascinating gray eye; a well
formed mouth, and a prominent chin. In height he was about five feet and
ten inches, broad shouldered, straight, heavy set, with handsome
proportions.

Upon the shoulder of the young man, as he emerged from the wood, rested
an elegant rifle; which, after advancing a short distance, he brought
into a trailing position; and then pausing, he dropped the breech upon
the ground, placed his hands over the muzzle, and, carelessly leaning
his chin upon them, swept with his eye the surrounding country, to which
he was evidently a stranger.

The day had been one of those mild and smoky ones, peculiar to the
climate and season; and the sun, large and red, was near to sinking
behind the far western ridge, giving a beautiful crimson, mellow tinge
to each object which came beneath his rays. The landscape, over which
the stranger gazed, was by no means unpleasing. His position was on an
eminence, overlooking a fertile valley, partly cleared, and partly
shaded by woods, through which wound a crystal stream, whose gentle
murmurs could be heard even where he stood. Beyond this stream, the
ground, in pleasing undulations, took a gentle rise, to a goodly height,
and was covered by what is termed an open wood--a wood peculiar to
Kentucky at this period--consisting of trees in the regularity of an
orchard, at some distance apart, devoid of underbrush, beneath which the
earth was beautifully carpeted with a rank growth of clover, high grass,
and wild flowers innumerable. In the rear of the young hunter, as if to
form a background to the picture, was the wood he had just quitted,
which, continuing the elevation spoken of, but more abruptly, rose high
above him, and was crowned by a ledge of rocks. Far in the distance, to
his right, could be seen another high ridge; while to the left,
spreading far away from the mouth of the valley, if we may so term it,
like the prairies of Missouri, was a beautiful tangle, or cane-brake,
containing its thousands of wild animals. The open space wherein the
hunter stood was not large, covering an area of not more than half a
dozen acres. It was of an oblong form, and sloped off from his position
to the right, left, and front, and reached from the wood down to the
stream in the valley, where stood a rather neat log cabin, from which a
light blue smoke ascended in graceful wreaths. The eye of the stranger,
glancing over the scene, fell upon this latter with that gleam of
satisfaction which is felt by a person after performing a long fatiguing
journey, when he sees before him a comfortable inn, where he is to
repose for the night; and pausing for a couple of minutes, he replaced
his rifle upon his shoulder, and started forward down the hill, at a
leisure pace.

Scarcely had the stranger advanced twenty paces, when he was startled by
a fierce yell, accompanied by the report of a rifle, the ball of which
whizzed past him, within an inch of his head. Ere he could recover from
his surprise, a sharp pain in the side, followed by another report,
caused him to reel like one intoxicated, and finally sink to the earth.
As the young man fell, two Indians sprung from behind a cluster of
bushes, which skirted the clearing some seventy-five yards to the right,
and, with a whoop of triumph, tomahawk in hand, rushed toward him.
Believing that his life now depended upon his own speedy exertions, the
young hunter, by a great effort, succeeded in raising himself on his
knees; and drawing up his rifle with a hasty aim, he fired; but with no
other success than that of causing one of the savages to jerk his head
suddenly aside without slackening his speed. There was still a chance
left him; and setting his teeth hard, the wounded man drew his pistols
from his belt, and awaited the approach of his enemies; who, when within
thirty paces, discovering the weapons of death, suddenly came to a halt,
and commenced loading their rifles with great rapidity.

The young hunter now perceived, with painful regret, that only an
interposition of Providence could save him, for his life was hanging on
a thread that might snap at any moment. It was an awful moment of
suspense, as there, on his knees, far, far away from the land of his
birth, in a strange country, he, in the prime of life, without a friend
near, wounded and weak, was waiting to die, like a wild beast, by the
hands of savages, with his scalp to be borne hence as a trophy, his
flesh to be devoured by wolves, and his bones left to bleach in the open
air. It was an awful moment of suspense! and a thousand thoughts came
rushing through his mind; and he felt he would have given worlds, were
they his, for the existence of even half an hour, with a friend by, to
receive his dying requests. To add to his despair, he felt himself fast
growing weaker and weaker; and with an unsteady vision, as his last
hope, he turned his eye in the direction of the cottage, to note if any
assistance were at hand; but he saw none; and nature failing to support
him longer in his position, he sunk back upon the ground, believing the
last sands of his existence were run.

Meantime, the Indians had loaded their rifles; and one of them, stepping
a pace in front of his companion, was already in the act of aiming,
when, perceiving the young man falter and sink back, he lowered the
muzzle of his gun, and, grasping his tomahawk, darted forward to
despatch him without further loss of ammunition. Already had he reached
within five or six paces of his victim, who, now unable to exert himself
in his own defence, could only look upon his savage enemy and the weapon
uplifted for his destruction, when, crack went another rifle, in an
opposite direction whence the Indians approached, and, bounding into the
air, with a terrific yell, the foremost fell dead by the young man's
side. On seeing his companion fall, the other Indian, who was only a few
paces behind, stopped suddenly, and, with a yell of fear and
disappointment, turned and fled.

Those only who have been placed in peril sufficient to extinguish the
last gleam of hope, and have suddenly been relieved by a mysterious
interposition of Providence, can fully realize the feelings with which
the wounded hunter saw himself rescued from an ignominious death. True,
he was weak and faint from a wound which was, perhaps, mortal; still it
was a great consolation to feel that he should die among those who would
bury him, and perhaps bear a message to friends in a far-off land. With
such thoughts uppermost in his mind, the young man, by great exertion,
raised himself upon his elbow, and turned his head in the direction
whence his deliverer might be expected; but, to his surprise and
disappointment, no one appeared; and after vainly attempting to regain
his feet, he sunk back, completely exhausted. The wound in his side had
now grown very painful, and was bleeding freely; while he became
conscious, that unless the hemorrhage could be stanched immediately, the
only good service a friend could render him, would be to inter his
remains. In this helpless state, something like a minute elapsed, when
he felt a strange sensation about his heart--his head grew dizzy--his
thoughts seemed confused--the sky appeared suddenly to grow dark, and he
believed the icy grasp of death was already settling upon him. At this
moment a form--but whether of friend or foe he could not tell--flitted
before his uncertain vision; and then all became darkness and nonentity.
He had swooned.

When the young stranger recovered his senses, after a lapse of some ten
minutes, his glance rested on the form of a white hunter, of noble
aspect, who was bending over him with a compassionate look; and who,
meantime, had opened his dress to the wound and stanched the blood, by
covering it with a few pieces of coarse linen, which he had torn into
shreds for the purpose, and secured there by means of his belt.

As this latter personage is destined to figure somewhat in the following
pages, we shall take this opportunity of describing him as he appeared
to our wounded friend.

In height and proportion--but not in age--these two individuals were
somewhat alike--the new comer being full five feet, ten inches, with a
robust, athletic frame, and all the concomitants of a powerful man. At
the moment when first beheld by the young man, after regaining his
senses, he was kneeling by his side, his cap of the wild-cat skin was
lying on the ground, and the last mellow rays of the setting sun were
streaming upon an intelligent and manly countenance, which, now rendered
more deeply interesting by the earnest, compassionate look wherewith he
regarded the other, made him appear to that other, in his peculiar
situation, this most noble being he had ever seen. Of years he had seen
some fifty; though there was a freshness about his face, owing probably
to his hardy, healthy mode of life, which made him appear much younger.
His countenance was open and pleasing, with good, regular, though not,
strictly speaking, handsome features. His forehead was high and full,
beneath which beamed a mild, clear blue eye. His nose was rather long
and angular; his cheekbones high and bold; his lips thin and compressed,
covering a goodly set of teeth; his chin round and prominent; the whole
together conveying an expression of energy, decision, hardy recklessness
and manly courage. His dress was fashioned much like the other's,
already described, but of coarser materials--the frock being of
linsey-woolsey; the breeches and leggings of deerskin; and the
moccasins, in place of boots of the same material. Around his waist
passed a belt; wherein, instead of pistols, were confined a tomahawk and
scalping knife--two weapons which were considered as indispensable to
the regular white hunter of that day as to the Indian warrior himself.

So soon as the elder of the two became aware of consciousness on the
part of the younger, a friendly smile succeeded to the look of anxiety
with which he had been regarding him; and in the frank, cordial,
familiar tone of that period, when every man's cabin was the traveler's
home, and every strange guest was treated with the hospitality of an old
acquaintance, he said:

"Well, stranger, I'm right glad to welcome you back to life agin; for I
war beginning to fear your account with earthly matters had closed. By
the Power that made me! but you've had a narrow escape on't; and ef
Betsy (putting his hand on his rifle, which was lying by his side,)
hadn't spoke out as she did, that thar red skin varmint (pointing to the
dead Indian) would have been skulking now like a thief through yonder
woods, with your crown piece hanging to his girdle."

"A thousand thanks," returned the wounded man, pressing the hand of the
other as much as his strength would permit, and accompanying it with a
look of gratitude more eloquent than words: "A thousand thanks, sir, for
your timely shot, and subsequent kindness and interest in behalf of one
you know not, but who will ever remember you with gratitude."

"See here, stranger, I reckon you've not been long in these parts?"

"But a few days, sir."

"And you've come from a good ways east o' the Alleghanies?"

"I have."

"I knew it. I'd have bet Betsey agin a bushel of corn, and that's large
odds you know, that such war the fact, from the particular trouble
you've taken to thank me for doing the duty of a man. Let me assure you,
stranger, that you're in a country now whar equality exists; and whar
one man's just as good as another, provided he is no coward, and behaves
himself as he should do; and whether stranger or not, is equally
entitled to the assistance of his fellows; perticularly when about being
treed by such a sneaking varmint as that lying yonder. Besides, I don't
want any body to thank me for shooting Indians; for I always do it,
whensomever I get a chance, as Betsey would tell you, ef she could speak
English; for somehow thar's no perticular agreement atween us, unless
it's for each to make the most he can off the other; and so far I reckon
thar's a ballance in my favor, though the wretches are ever trying
desperate hard to get even. But come, stranger, it won't do for you to
be lying thar with that hole in your side; and so just have patience a
minute, till I've secured the top-knot of this beauty here, and then
I'll assist you down to yonder cabin, whar I doubt not you'll be well
cared for."

As he spoke, the old woodsman rose to his feet, drew his knife, and
turning to the dead Indian, to the surprise of the other, who was but
little familiar with Kentucky customs of that day, deliberately took off
the scalp, which he attached to his belt;[1] and then spurning the body
with his foot, he muttered: "Go, worthless dog! and fill the belly of
some wolf! and may your cowardly companion be soon keeping you company."
Then, as he turned to the other, and noticed his look of surprise, he
added: "Well, stranger, I reckon this business looks a little odd to
you, coming from away beyond the mountains as you do."

"Why, if truth must be told, I confess it does," answered the other.

"Don't doubt it, stranger; but you'll do it yourself afore you've
wintered here two seasons."

"I must beg leave to differ with you on that point."

"Well, well, we'll not quarrel about it--it arn't worth while; but ef
you stay here two year, without scalping a red-skin and perhaps skinning
one, I'll agree to pay you for your time in bar-skins at your own
valuation."

"I am much obliged to you for the offer," answered the young man--a
faint smile lighting his pale features; "but I think it hardly probable
I shall remain in the country that length of time."

"Not unless you have good care, I reckon," returned the other; "for that
thar wound o' yourn arn't none o' the slightest; though I don't want you
to be skeered, for I've seen many a worse one cured. But come, I'll
assist you down to yon cabin, and then I must be off--for I've got a
good distance to travel afore daylight to-morrow;" and bending down as
he spoke, the veteran hunter placed his arms under the arms of the
wounded man, and gently raised him upon his feet.

Although extremely weak from loss of blood, the latter, by this means of
support, was enabled to walk, at a slow pace; and the two descended the
hill--the elder, the while, talking much, and endeavoring by his
discourse to amuse and cheer up his companion.

"Why," he continued, "you think your case a hard one, no doubt,
stranger; but it's nothing compared to what some of us old settlers have
seen and been through with, without even winking, as one may say. Within
the last few year, I've seen a brother and a son shot by the infernal
red-skins--have lost I don't know how many companions in the same
way--been shot at fifty times myself, and captured several; and yet you
see here I am, hale and hearty, and just as eager, with Betsey's
permission, to talk to the varmints now as I war ten year ago."

"But do you not weary of this fatiguing and dangerous mode of life?"
inquired the other.

"Weary, stranger? Lord bless ye! you're but a young hunter to ax such a
question as that. Weary, friend? Why I war born to it--nursed to it--had
a rifle for a plaything; and the first thing I can remember
particularly, war shooting a painter;[2] and it's become as nateral and
necessary as breathing; and when I get so I can't follow the one, I want
to quit the other. Weary on't, indeed! Why, thar's more real
satisfaction in sarcumventing and scalping one o' there red heathen,
than in all the amusement you could scare up in a thick-peopled,
peaceable settlement in a life time."

"By the way," said the other, "pray tell me how you chanced to be so
opportune in saving my life?"

"Why, you must know, I war just crossing through the wood back here
about a mile, on my way home from the Licks, when I came across the
trail of two Indians, whom I 'spected war arter no good; and as Betsey
war itching for something to do, I kind o' kept on the same way, and
happened round on the other side o' this ridge, just as the red varmints
fired. I saw you fall, but could'nt see them, on account o' the hill;
but as I knowed they'd be for showing themselves soon, I got Betsey into
a comfortable position, and waited as patiently as I could, until the
ugly face of that rascal yonder showed clar; when I told her to speak to
him, which she did in rale backwood's dialect, and he died a answering
her. I then hurried round on the skirt of the wood, loading Betsey as I
went; but finding the other varmint had got off, I hastened to you and
found you senseless: the rest you know."

By this time the two had reached nearly to the foot of the hill, and
within a hundred yards of the cabin. Here they were joined by a tall,
lank, lantern-jawed, awkward young man, some twenty years of age, with
small, dark eyes, a long, peaked nose, and flaxen hair that floated down
over his ungainly shoulders, like weeping willows over a scrub oak, and
who carried in his hand a rifle nearly as long and ugly as himself.

"Why, colonel, how are ye? good even' to ye, stranger," was his
salutation, as he came up. "I war down by the tangle yonder, when I
heerd some firing, and some yelling, and I legged it home, ahead o' the
old man, just to keep the women folks in sperets, in case they war
attacked, and get a pop or so at an Injen myself; but thank the Lord,
they warn't thar; and so I ventered on, with long Nance here, to see
whar they mought be."

"Well, Isaac," returned the one addressed as colonel, "I don't doubt
your being a brave lad, and I've had some opportunity o' seeing you
tried; but being is how thar's no Indians to shoot just now, I'll ax you
to show your good qualities in another way. This young man's been badly
wounded, and ef you'll give him a little extra care, you'll put me under
obligations which I'll be happy to repay whensomever needed."

"It don't need them thar inducements you've just mentioned, colonel, to
rouse all my sympathies for a wounded stranger. Rely on't, he shan't
suffer for want o' attention."

"Rightly said, lad; rightly said; and so I leave him in your care.
Tender my regards to your family, for I must be off, and can't stay to
see them." Then turning to the wounded man, he grasped his hand and
said: "Stranger, thar's something about you I like; I don't say it of
every man I meet; and so you may put it down for a compliment or not,
just as you please. Give me your name?"

"Algernon Reynolds."

"Algernon Reynolds, I hope we shall meet again, though in a different
manner from our introduction; but whether or no, ef you ever need the
assistance of either Betsey or myself, just make it known, and we'll do
our best for you. Good bye, sir--good bye, Isaac!" and without waiting a
reply, the speaker sprung suddenly behind a cluster of bushes near which
the party stood, and the next moment was lost to view in the gathering
darkness.

"A great man, that thar, sir!--a powerful great man," observed Isaac,
gazing with admiration after the retreating form of the hunter. "Always
doing good deeds, and never looking for pay nor thanks; may God give him
four-score and ten."

"Amen to that!" returned Reynolds. "But pray tell me his name."

"And you don't know him?"

"I do not."

"And you didn't inquire his name?"

"I did not."

"And ef you had, sir, ten to one but he'd a given you a fictitious one,
to keep clar o' your surprise and extra thanks. Why that, sir, war the
great white hunter, Colonel Daniel Boone."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Reynolds, in no feigned surprise--"the very man I
have so longed to behold; for his fame has already extended far beyond
the Alleghanies. But come, friend Isaac, my wound grows painful; my
exertions thus far have weakened me exceedingly; and with your
permission, I will proceed to the cottage. Ah! I feel myself growing
faint--fainter--fa-i-n-t;" and he sunk senseless into the other's arms;
who, raising him, apparently without an effort, bore him into the house.


[Footnote 1: However barbarous such a proceeding may appear to thousands
in the present day of civilization and refinement, we can assure them,
on the authority of numerous historians of that period, that it was a
general custom with the early settlers of the west, to take the scalp of
an Indian slain by their hand, whenever opportunity presented.]

[Footnote 2: Backwoods name for a panther.]



CHAPTER II.

NEW CHARACTERS.


When young Reynolds again regained his senses, it was some minutes
before he could sufficiently recover from the confusion of ideas
consequent upon his mishap, to follow up the train of events that had
occurred to place him in his present situation. His first recollection
was of the attack made upon him by the Indians; and it required
considerable argument with himself, to prove conclusively, to his own
mind, that he was not even now a captive to the savage foe. Gradually,
one by one, each event recurred to his mind, until he had traced himself
to the moment of his swooning in the arms of a tall, ungainly young man,
called Isaac; but of what, had taken place since--where he now was--or
what length of time had intervened--he had not the remotest idea. He was
lying on his back, upon a rude, though by no means uncomfortable, bed;
and, to the best of his judgment, within the four walls of some
cabin--though to him but two of the walls were visible--owing to the
quantity of skins of the buffalo, bear, and deer, which were suspended
around the foot and front of his pallet. He was undressed; and, as he
judged, upon applying his hand to the wounded part, had been treated
with care; for it came in contact with a nicely arranged bandage of
cloth, which was even now moist with some spirituous liquid. But what
perplexed him most, was the peculiar light, with the aid of which,
though dim, he could discern every object so distinctly. It could not
proceed from a candle--it was too generally diffused; nor from the
fire--it was too gray, and did not flicker; nor from the moon--it was
not silvery enough: from what then did it proceed? It appeared the most
like daylight; but this it could not be, he reasoned, from the fact that
he was wounded just before night-fall--unless--and the idea seemed to
startle him--unless he had lain in a senseless state for many hours, and
it was indeed again morning. Determined, however, to satisfy himself on
this point, he attempted to rise for the purpose; but found, to his no
small surprise and regret, that he had not even strength sufficient to
lift his body from the bed; and, therefore, that nothing was left him,
but to surmise whatever he chose, until some one should appear to solve
the riddle; which, he doubted not, would be ere long.

While these reflections and surmises were rapidly passing through the
mind of our hero--for such we must acknowledge him to be--he heard no
sound indicating the immediate vicinity of any other human being; and
turning his thoughts upon this latter, he was beginning to doubt
whether, at the moment, he was not the only individual beneath the roof;
when he heard a step, as of some one entering another apartment; and,
directly following, a female voice addressed to some person within.

"Have ye looked to the stranger agin, Ella, and moisted his bandage?"

"I have, mother," was the answer, in a sweet and silvery voice, which
caused our wounded hero to start with a thrill of pleasing astonishment.

"And how appeared he, Ella?" continued the first speaker.

"Why, I thought a little better," answered the same soft, musical voice;
"he seemed asleep, and entirely tranquil."

"God send it, gal, for he's had a tougher, sartin. Three days, now,
nater's bin tugging away for him; and I'd hate to see him die now, arter
all; and being the colonel's recommind, too; for Isaac says the colonel
injuncted him strongly to take car o' him; and I'd do any thing to
oblege sech a man as him. He didn't appear to have his senses, I
reckon?"

"I judged not," answered Ella; "though, from his tranquil sleep, I
argued favorably of his case."

"Well," rejoined the other, "it's my opine the crisis is at hand; and
that he'll ayther come out o' this _lethargick_--as they calls it--a
rational, or die straight off. 'Spose you look at him agin, Ella; or,
stay, I'll look myself. Poor feller! how he did rave and run on 'bout
his troubles at home, that's away off, until I all but cried, in
reckoning how I'd feel ef it war Isaac as war going on so.".

As the speaker concluded, she advanced to where the object of her
remarks was lying; and, drawing aside in a gentle manner, some of the
skins near his head, gazed upon him.

As will be surmised by the reader, not a syllable of the foregoing
colloquy had been lost upon Reynolds; who heard, with unbounded
astonishment, of his narrow escape from that dark valley whence none who
enter again return, and that three days had elapsed since he had fallen
into an unconscious state. He learned, too, with regret, that he had
been communicating matters--to what extent he knew not--to others, which
he wished safely locked in his own breast; and judging it best, in the
present instance, to dissemble a little, that his informant might not be
aware of his having overheard her, he feigned to be asleep on her
approach.

"He's sleeping yit, poor creater," continued the hostess, as she bent
over the bed of our hero, until he felt her breath upon his face. "I
hope it arn't a going to be his final sleep--so young, and so handsome
too! but, O dear, thar's no telling what them Injen bullets will do, for
folks does say as how they have a knack o' pizening them, that's orful
to tell on! O Lord o' marcy, Ella, child, do come here!" cried the dame
suddenly: "I do believe he's coming to, for sartin."

This latter speech was occasioned by a movement of the pretended
sleeper, and the gradual opening of his eyes, with the rude stare of
bewildered surprise natural to one in his supposed situation, and such
as he would have exhibited without feigning, had the hostess been
present some ten minutes sooner. Discovering, as already intimated, a
returning consciousness on the part of her guest, the good woman drew
back her head, but still kept her position by the bed, and her eyes
fixed upon him, with an expression which betrayed a fear lest her hopes
of this important event should prove entirely fallacious. Behind her,
with timid step, stole up Ella, and, peeping over her shoulders,
encountered the eyes of the young man beaming upon her, with a look
which her acute perception told her was any thing but insane; and
instantly starting back, the blood rushed upward, crimsoning her neck
and face with a beautiful glow. As for Reynolds--in whom, as already
stated, the voice of Ella alone was sufficient to awaken a thrill of
pleasure--no sooner did he behold her, though but for an instant, than
he felt that thrill revived with a sensation, which, in spite of
himself, he knew was expressed in his own countenance; and he hastened
to speak, in order as much as possible to conceal it.

"Will you have the goodness, madam, to inform me where I am?"

"Thar, thar, Ella, child!" exclaimed the matron, joyously; "I told ye
so--I know'd it--he's come to, for sartin--the Lord be praised!" Then
addressing herself to Reynolds, she continued: "Whar are you, stranger,
do you ax? Why you're in the cabin o' Ben Younker--as honest a man as
ever shot a painter--who's my husband, and father of Isaac Younker, what
brought ye here, according to the directions of Colonel Boone, arter you
war shot by the Injens, the varmints, three days ago; and uncle of Ella
Barnwell here, as I calls daughter, 'cause her parents is dead, poor
creaters, and she hadn't a home to go to, but come'd to live with us,
that are fetching her up in a a dutiful way;" and the good woman
concluded her lucid account of family matters with a sound that much
resembled a person taking breath after some laborious exertion.

"And is it possible," answered Reynolds, who hastened to reply, in order
to conceal a strong inclination he felt for laughing, "that I have lain
here three whole days?"

"Three days, and four nights, and part o' another day, jest as true as
buffaloes run in cane-brakes, and Injen varmints shoot white folks
whensomever they git a chance," replied Mrs. Younker, with great
volubility. "And Ella, the darling, has tended on ye like you war her
own nateral born brother; and Isaac, and Ben, and myself ha' tended on
ye too, while you war raving and running on at an orful rate, though
you've had the best bed, and best o' every thing we've got in the
house."

"For all of which I am at a loss for terms to express my gratitude,"
returned Reynolds, coloring slightly as he thought of the assiduous
attentions he had unconsciously received from Ella Barnwell, who already
began to be an object in his eyes of no little importance.

"Don't mention about gratitude," rejoined the kind hearted Mrs. Younker;
"don't talk about gratitude, for a lettle favor sech as every body's got
a right to, what comes into this country and gits shot by savages. We
havn't done no more for you than we'd a done for any body else in like
sarcumstances; and, la, sir, the pleasure o' knowing you're a going to
git well agin, arter being shot by Injen's pizen bullets,[3] is enough
to pay us twenty times over--Eh! Ella, child--don't you say so?"

"No one, save the gentleman himself, or his dearest friends, can be more
rejoiced at his favorable symptoms than myself," responded Ella,
timidly, in a voice so low, sweet and touching, that Reynolds, who heard
without seeing her--for she kept the rude curtain of skins between
them--felt his heart beat strangely, while his eyes involuntarily grew
moist.

"That's truly said, gal--truly said, I do believe," rejoined Mrs.
Younker; "for she's hung over you, sir, (turning to the wounded man)
night and day, like a mother over her child, until we've had to use
right smart authority to make her go to bed, for fear as how she'd be
sick too."

"And if I live," answered Reynolds, in a voice that trembled with
emotion, "and it is ever in my power to repay such disinterested
attention and kindness, I will do it, even to the sacrificing that life
which she, together with you and your family, good woman, has been the
means, under God, of preserving."

"Under God," repeated the matron; "that's true; I like the way you said
that, stranger; it sounds reverential--it's just--and it raises my
respect for you a good deal; for all our doings is under God's permit;"
and she turned her eyes upward, with a devout look, in which position
she remained several seconds; while Ella, with her fair hands clasped,
followed her example, and seemed, with her moving lips, engaged in
prayer.

"But come," resumed the dame, "it won't do for you, stranger, to be
disturbed too much jest now; for you arn't any too strong, I reckon; and
so you'll jest take my advice, and go to sleep awhile, and you'll feel
all the better for't agin Ben and Isaac come home, which'll be in two or
three hours."

Saying this, Mrs. Younker again disposed the curtains so as to conceal
from Reynolds all external objects; and, together with Ella, withdrew,
leaving him to repose. Whether he profited by her advice immediately, or
whether he meditated for some time on other matters, not excluding Ella,
we shall leave to the imagination of the reader; while we proceed, by
way of episode, to give a general, though brief account, of the Younker
family.

Benjamin Younker was a man about fifty-five years of age--tall,
raw-boned and very muscular--and although now past the prime, even the
meridian of life, was still possessed of uncommon strength. His form,
never handsome, even in youth, was now disfigured by a stoop in the
shoulders, caused by hard labor and rheumatism. His face corresponded
with his body--being long and thin, with hollow cheeks, and high cheek
bones,--his eyes were small and gray, with heavy eye-brows; his nose
long and pointed; his mouth large and homely, though expressive; and his
forehead medium, surmounted by a sprinkling of brown-gray hair. In
speech he was deliberate, generally pointed, and seldom spoke when not
absolutely necessary. He was a good farmer--such being his occupation; a
keen hunter, whenever he chose to amuse himself in that way; a sure
marksman; and, although ignorant in book learning, possessed a sound
judgment, and a common-sense understanding on all subjects of general
utility. He was a native of Eastern Virginia, where the greater portion
of his life had been spent in hunting and agricultural pursuits--where
he was married and had been blessed with two children--a son and a
daughter--of whom the former only was now living, and has already been
introduced to the reader as Isaac--and whence, at the instance of his
wife and son, he removed, in the spring of 1779, into the borders of
Kentucky--finally purchased and settled where he now resided; and where,
although somewhat exposed, he and his family had thus far remained
unmolested.

The dame, Mrs. Younker, was a large, corpulent woman of forty-five, with
features rather coarse and masculine, yet expressive of shrewdness and
courage, and, withal, a goodly share of benevolence. She was one of that
peculiar class of females, who, if there is any thing to be said, always
claim the privilege of saying it; in other words, an inveterate talker;
and who, if we may be allowed the phrase, managed her husband, and all
around her, with the length of her tongue. In the country where she was
brought up and known, to say of another, that he or she could compete
with Ben Younker's wife in talking, was considered the extreme of
comparison; and it is not recorded that any individual ever presumed on
the credulity of the public sufficient to assert that the vocal powers
of the said Mrs. Younker were ever surpassed. Unlike most great talkers,
she was rarely heard to speak ill of any, and then only such as were
really deserving of censure; while her rough kind of piety--if we may so
term it--and her genuine goodness of heart, known to all with whom she
came in contact, served to procure her a long list of friends. She
possessed, as the reader has doubtless judged from the specimen we have
given, little or no education; but this deficiency, in her eyes, as well
as in most of those who lived on the frontiers, was of minor
consequence--the knowledge of hunting, farming, spinning and weaving,
being considered by far the more necessary qualifications for
discharging the social duties of life.

Of Isaac, with whom the reader is already, acquainted, we shall not now
speak, other than to say, he could barely read and write--rather
preferring that he develop his character in his own peculiar way. But
there is another, and though last, we trust will not prove least in
point of interest to the reader, with whom we shall close, this
episodical history--namely--Ella Barnwell.

The mother of Ella--a half sister to the elder-Younker--died when she
was very young, leaving her to the care of a kind and indulgent father,
who, having no other child, lavished on her his whole affections. At the
demise of his wife, Barnwell was a prosperous, if not wealthy merchant,
in one of the eastern cities of Virginia; and knowing the instability of
wealth, together with his desire to fit his daughter for any station in
society, he spared no expense necessary to educate her in all the
different branches of English usually studied by a female. To this was
added drawing, needle-work, music and dancing; and as Ella proved by no
means a backward scholar in whatever she undertook, she was, at the age
of fifteen, to use a familiar phrase, turned out an accomplished young
lady. But alas! she had been qualified for a station which fate seemed
determined not to let her occupy; for just at this important period of
her life, her father became involved in an unfortunate speculation, that
ended in ruin, dishonor, and his own bodily confinement in prison for
debts he could never discharge. Naturally high spirited and proud, this
misfortune and persecution proved too much for his philosophy--and what
was more, his reason--and in a state of mental derangement, he one night
hung himself to the bars of his prison window--leaving his daughter at
the age we have named, a poor, unprotected, we might almost add
friendless, orphan; for moneyless and friendless are too often
synonymous terms, as poor Ella soon learned to her mortification and
sorrow.

Ella Barnwell, the young, the beautiful, and accomplished heiress,
was a very different personage from poor Ella Barnwell the bankrupt's
daughter; and those who had fawned upon and flattered and courted the
one, now saw proper to pass the other by in silent contempt. It was a
hard, a very hard lesson for one at the tender age of Ella, who had been
petted and pampered all her life, and taught by her own simplicity of
heart to look upon all pretenders as real friends--it was a hard lesson,
we say, for one of her years, to be forced at one bold stroke to learn
the world, and see her happy, artless dreams vanish like froth from the
foaming cup; but if hard, it was salutary--at least with her; and
instead of blasting in the bud, as it might have done a frailer flower,
it set her reason to work, destroyed the romantic sentimentalism usually
attached to females of that excitable age, taught her to rely more upon
herself, and less upon others, more upon actions and less upon words,
and, in short, made a strong minded woman of her at once. Yet this was
not accomplished without many a heart-rending pang, as the briny tears
of chagrin, disappointment, and almost hopeless destitution, that
nightly chased each other down the pale cheeks of Ella Barnwell to the
pillow which supported her feverish head, for weeks, and even months
after the death of her father, could well attest.

The father of Ella was an Englishman, who had emigrated to this country
a few years previous to his marriage; and as none of his near relations
had seen proper to follow his example, Ella, on his side, was left
entirely destitute of any to whom she could apply for assistance and
protection. On her mother's side, she knew of none who would be likely
to assist her so readily as her half uncle, Benjamin Younker, whom she
remembered as having seen at the funeral of her mother; and who then,
taking her in his brawny arms, while the tears dimmed his eyes, in a
solemn, impressive manner told her, that, in the ups and downs of life,
should she ever stand in need of another's strong arm or purse, to call
on him, and that, while blest with either himself, she should not want.
This at the time had made a deep impression on her youthful mind, but
subsequently had been nearly or quite obliterated, until retouched by
feeling the want of that aid then so solemnly and generously tendered.
Accordingly, after trying some of her supposed true-hearted friends--who
had more than once been sharers in her generosity; and who, in return,
had professed the most devoted attachment; but who now, in her distress,
unkindly treated her urgent requests with cold neglect,--Ella hastened
to make her situation known to her uncle; the result of which had been
her adoption into a family, who, if not graced with that refinement and
education to which she had been accustomed, at least possessed virtues
that many of the refined and learned were strangers to--namely--truth,
honesty, benevolence, and fidelity.

Ella, in her new situation, with her altered views of society in
general, soon grew to love her benefactor and his family, and take that
sincere pleasure in their rude ways, which, at one time, she would have
considered as next to impossible. With a happy faculty, belonging only
to the few, she managed to work herself into their affections, by little
and little, almost imperceptibly, until, ere they were aware of the fact
themselves, she was looked upon rather as a daughter and sister, than a
more distant relation. In sooth, the former appellation the reader has
already seen applied to her during the recorded conversation of the
voluble Mrs. Younker--an appellation which Ella ever took good care to
acknowledge by the corresponding title of mother.

About a year from the period of Ella's becoming a member of the family,
the Younkers had removed, as already stated, to what was then considered
the "Far West," and had finally purchased and settled where we find them
in the opening of our story. In this expedition, Ella, though somewhat
reluctantly, had accompanied them--had remained with them ever
since--and was now, notwithstanding her former lady-like mode of life,
through the tuition of Mrs. Younker, regularly installed into all the
mysteries of milking, churning, sewing, baking, spinning and weaving.
With this brief outline of her past history, we shall proceed to
describe her personal appearance, at the time of her introduction to the
reader, and then leave her to speak and act for herself during the
progress of this drama of life.

Eighteen years of sunshine and cloud, had served to mould the form of
Ella Barnwell into one of peculiar beauty and grace. In height she was a
little above five feet, had a full round bust, and limbs of that
beautiful and airy symmetry, which ever give to their possessor an
appearance of etherial lightness. Her complexion was sufficiently dark
to entitle her to the appellation of brunette; though by many it would
have been thought too light, perhaps, owing to the soft, rich
transparency of her skin; through which, by a crimson tint, could be
traced the "tell-tale-blood," on the slightest provocation tending to
excitement. Her features, if examined closely, could not be put down as
entirely regular, owing to a very slight defect in the mouth, which
otherwise was very handsome, and which was graced with two plump,
pretty, half pouting lips. This defect, however, was only apparent when
the countenance was in stern repose; and, as this was seldom, when in
company with others, it was of course seldom observed. The remainder of
her features were decidedly good, and, seen in profile, really
beautiful. Her eye was a full, soft, animated hazel, that could beam
tenderly with love, sparkle brilliantly with wit, or flash scornfully
with anger; but inclining more to the first and second qualities than
the last. Her eye-brows were well defined, and just sufficiently arched
to correspond with the eyes themselves. Her forehead was prominent, of a
noble cast, and added dignity to her whole appearance. Her hair was a
rich, dark brown, fine and glossy, and although neatly arranged about
the head, evidently required but little training to enable it to fall
gracefully about her neck in beautiful ringlets. The general expression
of her face, was a soft, bewitching playfulness, which, combined with
the half timid, benevolent look, beaming from her large, mild, hazel
eye, invariably won upon the beholder at the first glance, and increased
upon acquaintance. Her voice we have already spoken of as possessing a
silvery sweetness; and if one could be moved at merely seeing her, it
only required this addition to complete the charm. To all of the
foregoing, let us add an ardent temperament--capable of the most tender,
lasting and devoted attachment, when once the affections were placed on
an object--a sweet disposition, modest deportment, and graceful
manners--and you have the portrait in full of Ella Barnwell, the orphan,
the model of her sex, and the admiration of all who knew her.


[Footnote 3: Mrs. Younker is the only authority we have for supposing
Indians poison their bullets, although we have read of poisoned arrows,
and hence infer such a proceeding to be rather a supposition with her
than a certainty.]



CHAPTER III.

THE TALE AND FATAL SECRET.


The dwelling of Benjamin Younker, as already mentioned, stood at the
base of a hill, on the margin of a beautiful valley, and within a
hundred feet of a lucid stream, whose waters, finding their source in
the neighboring bills, rushed down, all gleesome and sparkling, over a
limestone bed, and

    "From morn till night, from night till morn,"

sung gentle melodies for all who chose to listen.

The building itself though rough, both externally and internally, was
what at that period was termed a double cabin; and in this respect was
entitled to a superiority over most of its neighbors. As this may serve
for a representative of the houses or cabins of the early settlers of
Kentucky, we shall proceed to describe its structure and general
appearance somewhat more minutely than might otherwise be deemed
necessary.

The sides of the cottage in question, were composed of logs, rough from
the woods where they had been felled, with the bark still clinging to
them, and without having undergone other transformation than being cut
to a certain length, and notched at either end, so as to sink into each
other, when crossed at right angles, until their bodies met, thereby
forming a structure of compactness, strength and solidity. Some ten or
twelve feet from the ground, the two upper end logs of the cabin
projected a foot or eighteen inches beyond the lower, and supported what
were called _butting poles_--poles which crossed these projections at
right angles, and, extending along the front and back of the building,
formed the eaves of the roof. This latter was constructed by gradually
shortening the logs at either end, until those which crossed them, as we
said before, at right angles, came together at an angle of forty-five
degrees, and the last one formed the ridge-pole or comb of the whole. On
these logs, lapping one over the other, and the lower tier resting
against the butting poles, were laid slabs of clapboard--a species of
plank split from some straight-grained tree--about four feet long, and
from three to four wide. These were secured in their places by logs in
turn resting on them, at certain intervals, and answering the purpose of
nails; necessity requiring these latter articles of convenience to be
dispensed with in the early settlements of the West. As the cabin was
double, two doors gave entrance from without, one into either apartment.
These entrances were formed by cutting away the logs for the space of
three feet by six, and were closed by rude doors, made of rough slabs,
pinned strongly to heavy cross bars, and hung on hinges of the same
material. These, like the rest of the building, were rendered, by their
thickness, bullet proof--so that when closed and bolted, the house was
capable of withstanding an ordinary attack of the Indians. With the
exception of one window, opening into the apartment generally occupied
by the family, and flanked by a heavy shutter, the doors and chimney
were the only means through which light and air were admitted. These
were all firmly secured at night--the unsettled and exposed state of the
country, and the dangerous proximity of the pioneers to the ruthless
savage, particularly those without the forts, rendering necessary, on
their part, the most vigilant caution.

The internal appearance of the cabin corresponded well with the
external. The apartment occupied by the family during the day, where the
meals were cooked and served, and the general household affairs attended
to, was very homely; and might, if contrasted with some of the present
time, be termed almost wretched; though considered, at the period of
which we write, rather above than below the ordinary. The floor was
composed of what by the settlers were termed puncheons; which were made
by splitting in half trees of some eighteen inches in diameter, and
hewing the faces of them as regular as possible with the broad-axe.
These were laid, bark side downwards, upon sleepers running crosswise
for the purpose, and formed at least a dry, solid and durable, if not
polished, floor. At one end of the cabin was the chimney, built of logs,
outside the apartment, but connecting with it by a space cut away for
the purpose. The back, jambs, and hearth of this chimney were of stone,
and put together, in a manner not likely to be imitated by masons of
the present day. A coarse kind of plaster filled up the surrounding
crevices, and served to keep out the air and give a rude finish to the
whole.

The furniture of the Younkers, if the title be not too ambiguous, would
scarcely have been coveted by any of our modern exquisites, even had
they been living in that age of straight-forward common sense. A large,
rough slab, split from some tree, and supported by round legs set in
auger holes, had the honor of standing for a table--around which, like a
brood of chickens around their mother, were promiscuously collected
several three-legged stools of similar workmanship. In one corner of the
room were a few shelves; on which were ranged some wooden trenchers,
pewter plates, knives and forks, and the like necessary articles, while
a not very costly collection of pots and kettles took a less dignified
and prominent position beneath. Another corner was occupied by a bed,
the covering of which was composed of skins of different animals, with
sheetings of home-made linen. In the vicinity of the bed, along the
wall, was a row of pegs, suspending various garments of the occupants;
all of which--with the exception of a few articles, belonging to Ella,
procured for her before the death of her father--were of the plainest
and coarsest description. A churn--a clock--the latter a very rare thing
among the pioneers of Kentucky--a footwheel for spinning flax--a small
mirror--together with several minor articles, of which it is needless to
speak--completed the inventory of the apartment. From this room were two
exits, besides the outer door--one by a ladder leading above to a sort
of attic chamber, where were two beds; and the other through the wall
into the adjoining cabin, whither our hero had been borne in a state of
insensibility on the night of his mishap, and where he was for the
second time presented to the reader. This latter place was graced with a
bed, a loom for weaving, a spinning-wheel, a large oaken chest, and a
few rough benches.

Such, reader, as our description has set forth, was the general
appearance of Younker's dwelling, both without and within, in the year
of our Lord 1781; and, moreover, a fair representative of an hundred
others of the period in question--so arbitrary was necessity in making
one imitate the other. But to resume our story.

In the after part of a day as mild and beautiful as the one on which we
opened our narrative, but some four weeks later, Ella Barnwell,
needle-work in hand, was seated near the open door leading from the
apartment first described to the reader. Her head was bent forward, and
her eyes were apparently fixed upon her occupation with great
intentness--though a close observer might have detected furtive glances
occasionally thrown upon a young man, with a pale and somewhat agitated
countenance, who was pacing to and fro on the ground without. With the
exception of these two, no person was within sight--though the rattling
of a loom in the other apartment or cabin, betokened the vicinity of the
industrious hostess.

For some moments the young man--a no less personage than our hero--paced
back and forth like one whose mind is harrowed by some disagreeable
thought: then suddenly halting in front of the doorway, and in a voice
which, though not intended to be so, was slightly tremulous, he
addressed himself to the young lady, in words denoting a previous
conversation.

"Then I must have said some strange things, Ella--I beg pardon--Miss
Barnwell."

"Have I not requested you, Mr. Reynolds, on more than one occasion, to
call me Ella, instead of using the formality which rather belongs to
strangers in fashionable society than to those dwelling beneath the same
roof, in the wilds of Kentucky?" responded the person addressed, in a
tone of pique, while she raised her head and let her soft, dark eyes
rest reproachfully on the other.

"Well, well, Ella," rejoined Reynolds, "I crave pardon for my
heedlessness; and promise you, on that score at least, no more cause for
offence in future."

"Offence!" said Ella, quickly, catching at the word: "O, no--no--not
offence, Mr. Reynolds! I should be sorry to take offence at what was
meant in all kindness, and with true respect; but somehow I--that
is--perhaps it may not appear so to others--but I--to me it appears
studied--and--and--cold;" and as she concluded, in a hesitating manner,
she quickly bent her head forward, while her cheek crimsoned at the
thought, that she might perhaps have ventured too far, and laid herself
liable to misconstruction.

"And yet, Ella," returned Reynolds, somewhat playfully, "you resemble
many others I have known, in preaching what you do not practice. You
request me to lay aside all formality, and address you by your name
only; while you, in that very request, apply to me the title you
consider as studied, formal and cold."

"You have reference to my saying _Mr._ Reynolds, I presume," answered
Ella; "but I see no analogy between the two; as in addressing you thus,
I do but what, under the circumstances, is proper; and what, doubtless,
habit has rendered familiar to your ear; while, on the other hand, no
one ever thinks of calling me any thing but Ella, or at the most, Ella
Barnwell--and hence all superfluities grate harshly."

"Even complimentary adjectives, eh?" asked Reynolds, with an arch look.

"Even those, Mr. Reynolds; and those most of all are offensive, I assure
you."

"I thought all of your sex were fond of flattery."

"Then have you greatly erred in thinking."

"But thus says general report."

"Then, sir, general report is a slanderer, and should not be credited.
Those who court flattery, are weak-minded and vain; and I trust you do
not so consider all our sex."

"Heaven forbid," answered Reynolds, with energy, "that I should think
thus of all, or judge any too harshly!--but there may be causes to force
one into the conviction, that the exceptions are too few to spoil the
rule."

"I trust such is not your case," responded Ella, quickly, while her eyes
rested on the other with a searching glance.

"No one is required to criminate himself in law," replied Reynolds,
evasively, with a sigh; and then immediately added, as if anxious to
change the topic: "But I am eager for you to inform me what I said
during my delirium."

"O, many things," returned Ella, "the half of which I could not repeat;
but more particularly you spoke of troubles at home, and often repeated
the name of Elvira with great bitterness. Then you would run on
incoherently, for some time, about pistols, and swords, and end by
saying that the quarrel was just--that you were provoked to it, until it
became almost self defence--and that if he died, his blood would be on
his own head."

"Good heavens, Ella! did I indeed say this?" exclaimed Reynolds, with a
start, while his features became deadly pale. "Did I say more? did I
mention further particulars?--speak! tell me--tell me truly!"

"Not in my hearing," answered Ella, while her own face blanched at the
sudden vehemence of the other.

"Well, well, do not be alarmed!" said Reynolds, evidently somewhat
relieved, and softening his voice, as he noticed the change in her
countenance; "people sometimes say strange things, when reason, the
great regulator of the tongue, is absent. What construction did you put
upon my words, Ella?"

"Why, in sooth," replied Ella, watching his features closely as she
spoke, "I thought nothing of them, other than to suppose you might
formerly have had some trouble; and that in the chaos of wild images
crowding your brain, after being attacked and wounded by savages, it was
natural some of these image should be of a bloody nature."

"Then you did not look upon the words as having reference to a reality."

"No! at the time I did not."

"At the time?" repeated Reynolds, with a slight fall of countenance;
"have you then seen or heard any thing since to make you suspicious?"

"Nothing--until--"

"Well, well," said Reynolds, quickly, as she hesitated; "speak out and
fear nothing!"

"Until but now, when you became so agitated, and spoke so vehemently on
my repeating your delirious language," added Ella, concluding the
sentence.

"Ha!" ejaculated Reynolds, as if to himself; "sanity has done more to
betray me than delirium. Well, Ella," continued he, addressing her more
direct, "you have heard enough to make you doubtful of my character;
therefore you must needs hear the whole, that you may not judge me worse
than I am; but remember, withal, the tale is for your ear alone."

"Nay, Mr. Reynolds, if it be a secret, I would rather not have it in
keeping," answered Ella.

"It is a secret," returned Reynolds, solemnly, with his eyes cast down
in a dejected manner; "a secret, I would to Heaven I had not myself in
keeping! but hear it you must, Ella, for various reasons, from my lips;
and then we part--(his voice slightly faltered) we part--forever!"

"Forever!" gasped Ella, quickly, with a choking sensation, while her
features grew pale, and then suddenly flushed, and her work
unconsciously dropped from her hand. Then, as if ashamed of having
betrayed her feelings, she became confused, and endeavored to cover the
exposure by adding, with a forced laugh: "But really, Mr. Reynolds, I
must crave pardon for my silly behavior--but your manner of speaking,
somehow, startled me--and--and I--before I was aware--really, it was
very silly--indeed it was, and I pray you overlook it!"

"Were circumstances not as I have too much reason to fear they are,"
returned Reynolds, slowly, sadly, and impressively, with his eyes fixed
earnestly and even tenderly upon the other, "I would not exchange that
simple expression of yours, Ella, for a mine of gold. By that alone you
have spoken volumes, and told me what I already feared was true, but
hoped was otherwise. Nay, turn not your head away, Ella--dear Ella, if
you will allow me so to address you--it is better, under the
circumstances, that we speak plainly and understandingly, as the time of
our final separation draweth near. I fear that my manner and language
have hitherto too much expressed my feelings, and encouraged hopes in
you that can never be realized. Oh! Ella, if such be the case, I would,
for your dear sake, we had never met!--and the thought hereafter, that I
have caused you a pang, will add its weight of anguish to my already
bitter lot. The days that I have spent beneath this hospitable roof, and
in your sweet presence, are so many of bright sunshine, in a life of
cloud and storm; but will only serve, as I recall them, to make the
remainder, by contrast, seem more dark and dreary. From the first I
learned you were an orphan, and my sympathy was aroused in your behalf;
subsequently, I listened to your recital of grief, and trouble, and cold
treatment by the world--told in an artless manner--and in spite of me,
in spite of my struggles to the contrary, I discovered awakening in my
breast a feeling of a stronger nature. Had my wound permitted, I should
have torn myself from your presence then, with the endeavor, if such a
thing were possible, to forget you; but, alas! fate ordered otherwise,
and the consequence I fear will be to add sorrow to both. But one thing,
dear Ella, before I go further, let me ask: Can you, and will you
forgive me, for the manner in which I have conducted myself in your
company?"

"I have nothing to forgive; and had I, it should be forgiven," answered
Ella, sweetly, in a timid voice, her hands unconsciously toying with her
needle-work, and her face half averted, whereon could be traced the
suppressed workings of internal emotion.

"Thank you, Ella--thank you, for taking a weight from my heart. And now,
ere I proceed with what to both of us will prove a painful revelation,
let me make one request more--a foolish one I know--but one I trust you
will grant nevertheless."

"Name it," said Ella, timidly, as the other paused.

"It is, simply, that in judging me by the evidence I shall give against
myself, you will lean strongly to the side of mercy; and, when I am
gone, think of me rather as an unfortunate than criminal being."

"You alarm me, Mr. Reynolds, with such a request!" answered Ella,
looking up to the other with a pale, anxious countenance. "I know not
the meaning of it! and, as I said before, I would rather not have your
secret in keeping--the more so, as you say the revelation will be a
painful one to both."

For a moment the young man paused, as though undecided as to his reply,
while his countenance expressed a look of mortified regret really
painful to behold--so much so, that Ella, moved by this to a feeling of
compassion, said:

"I perceive my answer wounds your feelings--I meant no harm; go on with
your story; I will listen, and endeavor to concede all you desire."

"Thank you--again thank you!" returned the other, energetically, with
emotion. "I will make my narrative brief as possible."

Saying which, he entered the apartment where the other was sitting, and
seating himself a few feet distant from her, after some little
hesitation, as if to bring his resolution to the point, thus began:

"I shall pass over all minor affairs of my life, and come at once to the
period and event, which changed me from a happy youth, blessed with home
and friends, to a wanderer--I know not but an outlaw--on the face of the
earth. I was born in the state of Connecticut, A.D. 1759; and my father
being a man of property, and one determined on giving his children (of
whom there were two, one older than myself) a liberal education, I was
at an early age sent to a neighboring school, where I remained until
turned of eighteen, and then returned to my parents.

"About this period, an old, eccentric lady--a maiden aunt of my
father--died, bequeathing to me--or rather to the second born of her
nephew, Albert Reynolds, which chanced to be myself--the bulk of her
property--in value some fifty thousand dollars, on condition, that,
between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, I should marry a certain
Elvira Longworth--a lady some three years my junior, for whom my great
aunt had formed a strong attachment. And the will further provided, That
in case the said second born of Albert Reynolds, either through the
intervention of Providence, in removing him from off the face of the
earth, (so it was worded) and from among the living, or through a mutual
dislike of the parties seemed, did not between the specified ages,
celebrate, with due rejoicing, the said nuptials with the said Elvira
Longworth, the sum of twenty thousand dollars should be paid over to the
said Elvira, if living, and the remainder of the property (or in case
she was deceased the whole) should revert to the regular heirs at law.

"Such was the will--one of the most singular perhaps on record--which,
whatever the design of its author, was destined, by a train of
circumstances no one could foresee, to result in the most terrible
consequences to those it should have benefited. On the reading thereof,
no little dissatisfaction was expressed in regard to it, by numerous
relatives of the deceased; each of whom, as a matter of course, was
expecting a considerable share of the old lady's property; and all of
whom, with but few exceptions, were nearer akin than myself; and
therefore, in that respect, more properly entitled to it. As a
consequence of the will, I, though innocent of its construction--for
none could be more surprised at it than myself--became a regular target
for the ridicule, envy, and hate of those who chanced to be disappointed
thereby. At the outset, I had no intention of seeking a title to the
property by complying with the specification set forth at the instance
of its late owner; and only looked upon it as a piece of crack-brained
folly, that would serve for a nine days' comment and jest, and then be
forgotten; but when I saw, that instead of being treated with the
courtesy and respect no conscious act of mine had ever forfeited, I was
ridiculed, sneered at, and looked upon with jealousy and hate by those
whose souls were too narrow to believe in a noble action--and who,
measuring and judging me by their own sordid standards of avaricious
justice, deemed I would spare no pains to legally rob them, as they
termed it,--when I saw this, I say, my blood became heated, my fiercer
passions were roused, and I inwardly swore, that if it were now in my
power to accomplish what they feared, I would do it, though the lady in
question were a fright to look upon. In this decision I was rather
encouraged by my father, who being at the time somewhat involved,
thought it a feasible plan of providing for me, and then, by my aid,
recovering from his own pecuniary embarrassments.

"As yet I had never seen Elvira--she living in an adjoining county,
some thirty miles distant, where my aunt, on a visit to a distant
relative, had first made her acquaintance, and formed that singular
attachment, peculiar to eccentric temperaments, which had resulted in
the manner already shown. Accordingly, one fine spring morning, I
mounted my horse, and set forth to seek my intended, and behold what
manner of person she was of. Late at night I arrived at the village
where she resided--stabled my beast--took lodging at a hotel--inquired
out her residence--and, betimes, the morning following, made my
obeisance in her presence, and with that bashful, awkward grace--if I
may be allowed so paradoxical a term--which my youth present purpose,
and former good breeding combined, were calculated to produce. I was
more embarrassed still a minute after, when, having given my name, and
hinted at the singular document of the old lady deceased, I found my
fair intended, as well as her family, were in total ignorance of my
meaning; and could I at the moment have been suddenly transferred to my
horse, I do not think I should have paused to make the necessary
explanation. As it was, there was no alternative; and accordingly
begging a private interview with Elvira, I disclosed the whole secret;
which she listened to for a time with unfeigned surprise; and then
bursting into a wild, ringing laugh, declared it to be 'The funniest and
most ridiculous thing she ever heard of.'

"She was a gay, sprightly, beautiful being--fresh in the bloom of some
fifteen summers--with a bright, sparkling, roguish eye--long, floating,
auburn ringlets--a musical voice--a ringing laugh--the latter frequent
and long,--so that I soon felt it needed not the stimulating desire of
wealth and revenge to urge me on to that, which, under any
circumstances, would have been by no means disagreeable. To make a long
story short, I called upon her at stated periods; and, within a year
from our first acquaintance, we were plighted to each other. About this
time my father, together with some influential friends, procured me a
lieutenancy, to serve in our present struggle for the maintainance of
that glorious independence, drawn up by the immortal Jefferson, and
signed by the noble patriots some two years before. I served a two
years' campaign, and fought in the unfortunate and bloody battle of
Camden; which resulted, as doubtless you have heard, in great loss and
defeat to the American arms. Shortly after the action commenced, our
captain was killed, and the command of the company devolved on me. I
fulfilled my duties to the best of my ability, and myself and men were
in the hottest of the fight. But from some alleged misdemeanor, whereof
I can take my oath I was guiltless, I was afterward very severely
censured by one of my superior officers; which so wounded my feelings,
that I at once resigned my commission and returned to my native state.

"On arriving at home, to my surprise and mortification, I learned that
my intended was just on the eve of marriage with a cousin of mine--a
worthless fellow--who, urged on by the relatives interested, and his own
desire of acquiring the handsome competence of twenty thousand dollars,
had taken advantage of my absence to calumniate me, (in which design he
had been aided by several worthy assistants) and supplant me in the good
graces--I will not say affections, as I think the term too strong--of
Elvira Longworth.

"The lady in question I do not think I ever loved--at least as I
understand the meaning of that term--and now--that she had listened to
slander against me while absent, and, without waiting to know whether it
would be refuted on my return, had engaged herself to another--I cared
less for her than before;--but my pride was touched, that I should be
thus tamely set aside for one I heartily despised; and this, together
with my desire to thwart the machinations of the whole intriguing clique
arrayed against me, determined me, if feasible, to regain the favor of
Elvira, and have the ceremony performed as soon as possible. This, Ella,
I know you think, and I am ready to admit it, was wrong--very wrong;
but I make no pretensions to be other than a frail mortal, liable to all
the errors appertaining thereto; and were this is the only sin to be
laid to my charge, my conscience were far less troublesome than now.

"I determined, I say, to regain my former place in her favor or
affection--whichever you like--and, to be brief, I apparently succeeded.
The day was set for our marriage; which, for several reasons unnecessary
to be detailed, was to take place at the residence of my father; and, as
the will specified it should be with all due rejoicings, great
preparations were accordingly made, and a goodly number of guests
invited.

"At length the day came--the eventful day. Never shall I forget it; nor
with what feelings, at the appointed hour, I entered the crowded hall,
where the ceremony was to take place, with Elvira leaning tremblingly on
my arm, her features devoid of all color, and approached the spot where
the divine stood ready to unite us forever. All eyes were now fixed upon
us; and the marriage rite was begun amid that deep and almost awful
solemnity, which not unfrequently characterizes such proceedings on
peculiar occasions, when every spectator, as well as the actors
themselves, feel a secret awe steal over them, as though about to
witness a tragic, rather than a civil, performance.

"I have mentioned that Elvira trembled violently when we entered the
hall; but this trembling increased after the divine commenced the
ritual; so that when I had answered in the affirmative the solemn
question pertaining to my taking the being by my side as mine till
death, her trepidation had become so great that it was with difficulty I
could support her; and when the same interrogative was put to her, a
silence of some moments followed; and then the answer came forth, low
and trembling, but still sufficiently distinct to be generally
understood; and was, to the unbounded astonishment of all, in the
negative!"

"In the negative!" exclaimed Ella, suddenly, who had during the last few
sentences been unconsciously leaning forward, as though to devour each
syllable as it was uttered, and who now resumed her former position with
a long drawn breath. "In the negative say you, Alger--a--a--Mr.
Reynolds?"

"Call me Algernon, Ella, I pray you; it sounds more sweet and friendly.
Ay, she answered in the negative. Heavens! what a shock was there for
my proud nature! To be thus publicly insulted and rejected--to be thus
made the butt and ridicule of fools and knaves--a mark for the jests and
sneers of friend and foe! Oh! how my blood boiled and coursed in lava
streams through my heated veins! I saw it all. I was the dupe of some
artful design, intended to stigmatize me forever; and wild with a
thousand terrible brain-searing thoughts, I rushed from the hall to my
own apartment, seized upon my pistols, and was just in the act of
putting a period to my existence, when my arm was suddenly grasped, and
my hated rival and cousin stood before me.

"'Fiend!' cried I in frenzy; 'devil in human shape!--do you seek me in
the body? What want you here?'

"His features were pale with excitement, and his lips quivered as he
made answer: 'Be calm, Algernon, be calm; it was meant but in jest!'

"'Jest!' screamed I; 'do you then own to a knowledge of it,
villain?--were you its author?--then take that, and answer it as you
dare!'--and as I spoke, with the breech of my undischarged pistol, I
stretched him senseless at my feet. Under the excitement of the moment,
I was about to take a more terrible revenge; when others suddenly rushed
in--seized and disarmed me--bore my rival from my sight--and, to
conclude, placed me in bed, where I was confined for three weeks by a
delirious fever, and then only recovered as it were by a miracle.

"During my convalescence, I learned that my cousin, soon after my
return, had been privately married to Elvira; and prompted by his evil
genius, and some of my enemies, had induced his wife to enter into the
plot, the result of which has already been briefly narrated. I do not
think she did it through malice, and doubtless little thought of the
consequences that were destined to follow; but whether so or not, her
punishment has, I think, been fully adequate to her crime; for the last
I heard of her, she was an inmate of a mad-house--remorse for her
conduct, the abuse heaped upon her by society, and her own severe fright
at the termination of the stratagem, having driven her insane. Now comes
the most tragic part of my narrative.

"When so far recovered as to again be abroad, I was cautioned by my
parents against my rash act; and for their sakes, I promised to be
temperate in all my movements; but, alas! how little we know when we
promise, what we may be in sooth destined to perform. On my father's
estate, about a mile distant from his residence, was a beautiful
grove--whither, for recreation, I was in the habit of repairing at all
periods of my life; and where, so soon as my strength permitted, after
my sickness, I rambled daily. About ten days from my recovery, as I was
taking my usual stroll through these grounds, I was suddenly confronted
by my cousin. His cheeks were hollow and pale, and his whole appearance
haggard in the extreme. His eyes, too, seemed to flash, or burn, as it
were, with an unearthly brightness; and his voice, as he addressed me,
was hoarse, and his manner hurried.

"'We meet well,' he said, 'well! I have watched for you long.'

"'Away!' cried I; 'tempt me no more--or something will follow I may
regret hereafter!'

"'Ha, ha, ha!' laughed he, in derision, with that peculiar, hollow
sound, which even now, as I recall it, makes my blood run cold:--'Say
you so, cousin?--I came for that;' and again he laughed as before. 'See
here--see here!' and he presented, as he spoke, with the butts toward
me, a brace of pistols. 'Here is what will settle all our animosities,'
he continued; 'take your choice, and be quick, or perchance we may be
interrupted.'

"'Are you mad,' cried I, 'that you thus seek my life, after the wrongs
you have done me?'

"'Mad!--ha, ha!--yes!--yes!--I believe I am,' he answered; 'and my wife
is mad also. I did you wrong, I know--went to apologise for it, and you
struck me down. Whatever the offence, a blow I never did and never will
forgive; so take your choice, and be quick, for one or both of us must
never quit this place alive.'

"'Away!' cried I, turning aside; 'I will not stain my hands with the
blood of my kin. Go! the world is large enough to hold us both.'

"'Coward!' hissed he; 'take that, then, and bear what I have borne;' and
with the palm of his hand he smote me on the cheek.

"I could bear no more--I was no longer myself--I was maddened with
passion--and snatching a pistol from his hand, which was still extended
toward me, without scarcely knowing what I did, I exclaimed, 'Your blood
be on your own head!'--and--and--Oh, Heaven!--pardon me, Ella--I--shot
him through the body."

Ella, who had partly risen from her seat, and was listening with
breathless attention, now uttered an exclamation of horror, and sunk
back, with features ghastly pale; while the other, burying his face in
his hands, shook his whole frame with convulsive sobs. For some time
neither spoke; and then the young man, slowly raising his face, which
was now a sad spectacle of the workings of grief and remorse, again
proceeded:

"Horror-stricken--aghast at what I had done--I stood for a moment,
gazing upon him weltering in his blood, with eyes that burned and seemed
starting from their sockets--with feelings that are indescribable--and
then rushing to him, I endeavored to raise him, and learn the extent of
his injury.

"'Fly!' said he, faintly, as I bent over him--'fly for your life! I have
got my due--I am mortally wounded--and if you remain, you will surely be
arrested as my murderer. Farewell, Algernon--the fault was mine--but
this you can not prove; and so leave me--leave me while you have
opportunity.'

"His words were true; I felt them in force; if he died, I would be
arraigned as his murderer--I had no proof to the contrary--circumstances
would be against me--I should be imprisoned--condemned--perhaps
executed--a loathsome sight for gaping thousands--I could not bear the
thought--I might escape--ay, would escape--and bidding him a hasty
farewell, I turned and fled. Not a hundred rods distant I met my father;
and falling on my knees before him, I hurriedly related what had taken
place, and begged advice for myself, and his immediate attendance upon
my cousin. He turned pale and trembled violently at my narration; and,
as I concluded, drew forth a purse of gold, which he chanced to have
with him, and placing it in my hand, exclaimed:

"'Fly--son--child--Algernon--for Heaven's sake, fly!'

"'Whither, father?'

"'To the far western wilds, beyond the reach of civilization--at least
beyond the reach of justice--and spare my old eyes the awful sight of
seeing a beloved son arraigned as a criminal!'

"'And my mother?'

"'You can not see her--it might cost you your life,--farewell!' and with
the last word trembling on his lips, he embraced me fondly, and we
parted--perchance forever.

"I fled, feeling that the brand of Cain was on me; that henceforth my
life was to be one of remorse and misery; that I was to be a wanderer
upon the face of the earth--mayhap an Ishmael, with every man's hand
against me. To atone in a measure to my conscience for the awful deed I
had committed, I knelt upon the earth, and swore, by all I held sacred
in time and eternity, that if the wound inflicted upon my cousin should
prove mortal, I would live a life of celibacy, and become a wandering
pilgrim in the western wilds of America till God should see proper to
call me hence."

"And--and did the wound prove mortal?" asked Ella, breathlessly.

"Alas! I know not, Ella, and I fear to know. Four months have passed
since then; and after many adventures, hardships, sufferings, and
hair-breadth escapes, you see me here before you, a miserable man."

"But not one guilty of murder, Algernon," said Ella, energetically.

"I know not that--Heaven grant it true!"

"O, then, do not despair, Algernon!--trust in God, and hope for the
best. I have a hope that all will yet be well."

"Amen to that, dear Ella; and a thousand, thousand thanks, for your
sweet words of consolation; they are as balm to my torn and bleeding
heart; but until I _know_ my fate, we must not meet again; and if, oh
Heaven! and if the worst be true--then--then farewell forever! But who
comes here?"



CHAPTER IV.

THE STRANGER.


The closing sentence of the preceding chapter was occasioned by the
glimpse of a man's shadow, that for a moment swept along in the
sunlight, some twenty paces distant from the speaker, and then suddenly
disappeared by being swallowed up in the larger and more stationary
shade thrown from the cottage by the sinking sun. Scarcely were the
words alluded to uttered, ere the sound of a step was heard close by the
door, and the next moment the cause of the shadow and remark divided the
light of the entrance.

The individual in question, was a stout built, broad-shouldered,
athletic man--some five feet nine inches in height--whose age, judging
from his general appearance, as well as his features, might range from
twenty-seven to thirty years. At the moment when he appeared before our
acquaintances of the foregoing chapter, his right arm was held in a
manner so as to screen the lower portion of his face; while a hat, not
very much unlike those of the present day, pressed down upon his
forehead, left but little of his countenance, and that mainly about the
eyes, visible. With the latter he gave a quick, searching, suspicious
glance at the two before him; and then, as if satisfied he had nothing
to fear, lowered his arm and raised his hat from his forehead, exposing
a physiognomy by no means pleasing to one skilled in reading the heart
thereby. His complexion was swarthy--his skin coarse--and the general
expression of his features repulsive in the extreme; this expression
arising from the combination of three distinct parts of his
countenance--namely: the forehead which was low and receding from two
dark-red, shaggy eye-brows,--the eyes themselves, which were small,
bloodshot and very fiery; and the mouth, which was narrow, thin-lipped,
and habitually contracted into a sneering, sinister smile. In this
general expression, was combined cunning, deceit, treachery, and
bloodthirsty ferocity--each one of which passions were sufficiently
powerful, when fully excited, to predominate over the whole combination.
The hair of his head was short, thick, coarse and red, grew low upon his
forehead, and, in its own peculiar way, added a fierceness to his whole
appearance. Nature had evidently designed him for a villain of the
darkest die; and on the same principle that she gives a rattle to a
certain venomous snake, that other creatures may be warned of the deadly
fang in time to avoid it--so had she stamped him with a look wherein his
passions were mirrored, that those who gazed thereon might know with
whom and what they had to do, and be prepared accordingly. The costume
too of the stranger was rather singular, and worthy of note--being
composed, for the most part, of an extraordinary long frock or
overcoat--more like the gown of some monk than either--which reached
almost down to the moccasins covering his feet, and was laced together
in front, nearly the whole length, by thongs of deerskin. Around the
waist passed a rude belt of the same material--carelessly tied at one
side--in which, contrary to the usual custom of that period, there was
not confined a single weapon, not even so much as a knife; and this
fact, together with the general appearance of the individual and his own
suspicious movements, led Algernon, almost at the first glance, to
consider the long frock or gown an article of disguise, beneath which
the stranger was doubtless doubly armed and costumed in a very
different manner.

As the eyes of the new comer, after closely scanning Reynolds, rested
for the first time upon Ella, there flashed across his ugly features an
expression of admiration and surprise--while the look of suspicion which
he had previously exhibited, seemed entirely to disappear. Turning to
the young man, who on his appearance had risen from his seat, and now
stood as if waiting to know his commands, in a voice evidently much
softened from its usual tones, but still by no means pleasant and
harmonious, he said:

"Will you be kind enough to inform me, sir, to whom this dwelling
belongs?"

"It is owned, I believe, by one Benjamin Younker," answered Algernon, in
a cavalier manner, still eyeing the other closely.

"May I ask his occupation?"

"He is a farmer, sir--a tiller of the soil."

"Will you favor me with a description of his personal appearance?"

"I can do so," replied Algernon, somewhat surprised at the question,
"provided I know the motive of inquiry to be a good one."

"It is no other, I assure you," returned the stranger. "It was simply
prompted by curiosity."

"Well, then, the individual in question is a man who has seen more than
fifty years--is tall, raw-boned, muscular, has a stoop in the shoulder,
a long, thin face, small eyes, and hair slightly gray."

"Has he any sons?" inquired the stranger.

"One, a youth of twenty, who bears a strong resemblance to his father."

"Daughters?"

"He has no other child."

"Then this young lady"--slightly bowing to Ella.

"Is a more distant relation--a niece," answered Ella, rising as she
spoke and disappearing from his sight.

"A beautiful creature!" said the stranger, musingly, as if to
himself--"a beautiful creature! Pardon me," added he, again addressing
Algernon; "but may I inquire concerning yourself?"

"I am a guest here, sir."

"Aha--yes; a hunter I presume?"

"I sometimes hunt."

"Pardon me again--but are there more indwellers here than you have
mentioned?"

"One, sir--the good dame of the cottage."

For a moment or two the stranger mused, as if running over in his mind
all that had been said; and then observed:

"Doubtless you think me very inquisitive; but I had a reason for all my
questions; and I thank you sincerely, sir, for your prompt replies. It
is now growing late; the sun will presently be down; and as I am a
traveler--a stranger in this region--I would rather not pursue my
journey further, providing I could be entertained here for the night."

"As to that, I am unable to answer," said Algernon; "but if you will
step within, I will make the necessary inquiries."

"Thank you," replied the stranger, with a show of cordiality; "thank
you;" and he immediately entered the cottage.

Those days, as before said, were the good old days of hospitality--and,
as far as population went, of social intercourse also--when every man's
cabin was the stranger's home, and every neighbor every neighbor's
friend. There were no distinct grades of society then as now, from which
an honest individual of moral worth must be excluded because of
poverty--a good character for upright dealing being the standard by
which all were judged; and whoever possessed this, could rank equally
with the best, though poor as the beggar Lazarus. Doubtless intellect
and education then, as well as at the present day, held in many things a
superiority over imbecility and ignorance; but there were no distinct
lines of demarcation drawn; and in the ordinary routine of intercourse
one with another, there was no superiority claimed, and none
acknowledged. And this arose, probably, from the necessity each felt
for there being a general unity--a general blending together of all
qualifications, as it were, into one body politic--by which each
individual became an individual member of the whole, perfect in his
place, and capable of supplying what another might chance to need; as
the man of education might be puny in stature and deficient of a strong
arm; the man of strong arm deficient in education; the imbecile man
might be a superior woodman--the man of intellect an inferior one:--so
that, as before remarked, each of these qualities, being essential to
perfect the whole, each one of course was called upon to exercise his
peculiar talent, and take his position on an equality with his neighbor.
There has been great change in society since then; those days of simple
equality have gone forever; but we question if the present race, with
all their privileges, with all their security, with all their means of
enjoyment, are as happy as those noble old pioneers, with all their
necessities, with all their dangers, with all their sufferings.

According, therefore, to the established custom of the early settlers,
the stranger for whom Algernon proceeded to make inquiries, was entitled
to all the rights of hospitality; and whether liked or disliked, could
not consistently be smiled away, nor frowned away, as doubtless he would
have been, had he lived in this civil, wonderworking age of lightning
and steam; and though his appearance was any thing but agreeable to Mrs.
Younker, who surveyed him through her spectacles (being a little near
sighted) from the adjoining cabin, whither Algernon had repaired to
learn her decision; and though it would prove inconvenient to herself
to grant his request; yet, as she expressed it, "He war a stranger, as
hadn't no home and didn't know whar to go to; and prehaps war hungry,
poor man; and it wouldn't be right nor Christian-like to refuse him jest
a night's lodging like;" and so the matter was settled, and Algernon was
deputed to inform him that he could stay and would be welcome to such
fare as their humble means afforded.

Some half an hour later, a loud hallooing announced the arrival of the
two Younkers with the domestic cattle--consisting of the kine and some
pet sheep which ran with them--from their labors in a distant field,
where they had been engaged in harvesting corn. A few minutes after, the
elder Younker entered the cabin, bearing upon his shoulder a rifle, from
which depended a large, fat turkey that he had shot during his absence.
With a slight but friendly nod to the stranger, he proceeded to deposit
his game on the hearth--where it was presently examined and commented on
at considerable length by the good dame--and then carefully placing his
rifle on a couple of horn hooks depending from the ceiling for the
purpose, he seated himself on a stool, his back to the wall, with the
air of one who is very much fatigued, and does not wish to mingle in
conversation of any kind.

The sun by this time was already below the horizon; twilight was fast
deepening into night; and the matron, having finished her remarks on the
turkey, and "Wondered ef sech birds wouldn't git to being scaser arter a
while, when all on, 'em war shot?" proceeded to the cow-yard, to assist
Isaac in milking; while Ella hurried hither and thither, with almost
noiseless activity, to prepare the evening repast. A bright fire was
soon kindled in the chimney, over which was suspended a kettle for
boiling water; while in front, nearly perpendicular, was placed a large
corn loaf, whose savory odor, as it began to cook, was far from being
disagreeable to the olfactory organs of the lookers on. The table, of
which we have previously given a description, was next drawn into the
middle of the apartment and covered with a home-made cloth of linen; on
which were placed a medley of dishes of various sizes and
materials--some of wood, some of pewter, some of earthern, and one of
stone--with knives and forks to correspond. Three of these dishes were
occupied--one with clean, fresh butter, another with rich old cheese,
and the third with a quantity of cold venison steak. In the course of
another half hour, the cake was baked and on the table--Isaac and his
mother had entered with the milk--the announcement was made by Ella that
all was ready; and the whole party, taking seats around the humble
board, proceeded to do justice to the fare before them.

A light, placed in the center of the table, threw its gleams upon
the faces of each, and exhibited a singular variety of expressions.
That of the stranger was downcast, sinister, and suspicious, combined
with an evident desire of appearing exactly the reverse. Occasionally,
when he thought no eye was on him, he would steal a glance at Ella;
and some times gaze steadily--like one who is resolved upon a
certain event, without being decided as to the exact manner of its
accomplishment--until he found himself observed, when his glance would
fall to his plate, or be directed to some other object, with the
seeming embarrassment of one caught in some guilty act. This was noticed
more than once by Algernon; who, perhaps, more than either of the
others, felt from the first that strong dislike, that suspicious
repugnance to the stranger, which can only be explained as one of the
mysteries of nature, whereby we are sometimes warned of whom we should
shun, as the instinct of an animal makes known to it its inveterate foe;
and though he strove to think there was nothing of evil meant by a
circumstance apparently so trifling--that the glance of the stranger was
simply one of admiration or curiosity--yet the thought that it might be
otherwise--that he might be planning something wicked to the fair being
before him--haunted his mind like some hideous vision, made him for
the time more distrustful, more watchful than ever, and was afterward
reverted to with a painful sensation. The features of Algernon also
exhibited an expression of remorse and hopeless melancholy; the reason
whereof the reader, who has now been made acquainted with the secret,
will readily understand. The face of Ella, too, was paler than
usual--more sad and thoughtful--so much so, that it was remarked by Mrs.
Younker, who immediately instituted the necessary inquiries concerning
her health, and explained to her at some length the most approved method
of curing a cold, in case that were the cause. In striking contrast to
the sober looks of the others--for Younker himself was a man who seldom
exhibited other than a sedate expression--was the general appearance and
manner of Isaac. He seemed exceedingly exhilarated in spirits, yet kept
his eyes down, and appeared at times very absent minded. Whatever his
thoughts were, it was evident they were pleasing ones; for he would
smile to himself, and occasionally display a comical nervousness, as
though he had some very important secret to make known, yet was not
ready to communicate it. This had been observed in him through the day;
and was so different from his usual manner, and so much beyond any
conjecture his mother could form of the cause, that at last her
curiosity became so excited, that to restrain it longer was like holding
down the safety-valve to an over-heated steam boiler; and, accordingly,
taking advantage of another mysterious smile, which Isaac chanced to
display while looking at a large piece of corn bread, already on its way
to his capacious jaws, she exclaimed:

"Why, what on yarth _is_ the matter with you, Isaac, that you keep a
grinning, and grinning, and fidgetting about all to yourself so much
like a plaguy nateral born fool for?"

So loudly, suddenly and unexpectedly was this question put--for all had
been silent some minutes previous--that Isaac started, blushed, dropped
the bread--already near enough to his teeth to have felt uncomfortable,
had it been capable of feeling--endeavored to catch it--blundered--and
finally upset his plate and contents into his lap, in a manner so truly
ridiculous, that Ella and Mrs. Younker, unable to restrain their mirth,
laughed heartily, while the stranger and Algernon smiled, and the stern
features of the father relaxed into an expression of quiet humor seldom
seen on his countenance.

"'Pon my word," continued Mrs. Younker, so soon as she could collect
breath enough after laughing to go on; "I do raley believe as how the
boy's ayther crazy, or in love, for sartin. What does ail ye, Isaac?--do
tell!"

"Perhaps he was thinking of his dear Peggy," said Ella, archly; who was,
by the way, very fond of teasing him whenever opportunity presented; and
could not even now, despite her previous low spirits, forbear a little
innocent raillery--her temperament being such, that wit and humor were
ever ready on the slightest provocation to take the ascendancy, as old
wine when stirred ever sends its sparkling beads upward. "I wonder,
Isaac, if you looked as amiable and interesting in the eyes of dear
Peggy, and made as graceful an appearance, when you popped the
question?"

"Why, how in the name o' all Christen nater did you find out I'd done
it?" asked Isaac, in reply; who having, meantime, regained his former
position, and restored the plate, minus some of its contents, now sat a
perfect picture of comical surprise, with his mouth slightly ajar, and
his small eyes strained to their utmost and fastened seriously upon the
querist as he awaited her answer.

"Murder will out, dear Isaac," replied Ella, with a ringing laugh; in
which she was joined by most of the others; and particularly by the
subject of the joke; who perceiving, too late for retreat, that he had
been betrayed into an acknowledgment of his secret, deemed this his
wisest course for defence.

"And so, Isaac, you have really proposed to darling Peggy, then? and we
are to have a wedding shortly?" continued his tormentor. "And pray which
did look the most foolish of the two?--or was it a drawn-game, as we
sometimes say of draughts?"

"Why," rejoined Isaac, changing color as rapidly as an aurora borealis,
and evidently much embarrassed; "I 'spect I mought as well own up,
being's I've got cotched in my own trap; and besides, it won't make no
great difference, only as I war intending it for a surprise. You see I
axed Peggy the question last night; and it's all settled; and we're
going to be married in less nor a week, ef nothing unforeseen don't
happen; and as Mr. Reynolds ar a stranger in these diggins, I thought
prehaps as how he'd like a little amusement like, and so I've fixed on
him for my groomsman."

"I am much obliged for your kind intentions, and the honor you would
confer on me," answered Reynolds, sadly; "but I am sorry to say, I shall
be under the necessity of declining your invitation; as on the morrow I
design taking a farewell leave of you all, and quitting this part of the
country forever."

Mr. Younker, his wife, and son, all started, with looks of surprise, at
this announcement, while Ella again grew deadly pale; and rising, with
some little trepidation, retired from the table. The stranger was the
only one unmoved.

"To-morrow!" ejaculated Mrs. Younker.

"Take leave o' us!" said the host.

"Quit the country forever!" repeated Isaac.

"Such, I assure you, is my determination," rejoined Algernon.

"But your wound, Mr. Reynolds?" suggested Younker.

"Is not entirely healed," returned Algernon; "yet I trust sufficiently
so to allow me to pursue my journey. The wound, as you are aware, was
only a flesh one--the ball having entered the right side, glanced on the
lower rib, and passed out nearly in front--and though very dangerous at
the time from excessive hemorrhage, has of late been rapidly healing,
and now troubles me but little if any."

"Well, now, Mr. Reynolds," rejoined Mrs. Younker, "I'm a considerable
older woman nor you ar--that is, I mean to say, I'm a much older
individule--and I 'spect I've had in my time some lettle experience
in matters that you don't know nothing about; and so you musn't go to
thinking hard o' me, ef I give you a lettle advice, and tell you to
stay right whar you ar, and not stir a single step away for three
weeks;--'cause ef you do, your wound may get rupturous agin, and in
some lone place jest carry you right straight off into the shader o'
the valley of death--as our good old Rev. Mr. Allprayer used to say,
when he wanted to comfort the sick. O, dear good man he war, Preacher
Allprayer,"--continued the voluble old lady, with a sigh, her mind now
wholly occupied with his virtues--"dear good man he war! I jest
remember--Lor bless ye, I'll never forgit it--how he come'd to me when I
war sick--with tears a running out o' his eyes like he'd been eating raw
inyuns, poor man--and told me that I war going to die right straight
away, and never need to hope to be no better; and that I'd most likely
go right straight to that orful place whar all bad folks goes to. O, the
dear man! I never could help always liking him arter that--it made me
feel so orful narvous and religious like. Why, what on yarth be you
grinning at agin, Isaac?--jest for all the world like a monkey for?"

"Nothing, mother," answered Isaac, nearly choking with smothered
laughter; "only I war jest kind o' thinking what a kind comforter Mr.
Allprayer war, to tell you you couldn't live any longer; and that when
you died you'd jest go right straight to--to--"

"Silence! you irrelevant boy, you!" (irreverent was doubtless meant)
interrupted the dame, angrily: "How dare you to go making fun o' the
pious Rev. Mr. Allprayer?--him as used to preach all Sunday long, and
pray all Sunday night, and never did nothing wrong--though he did git
turned out o' the meeting house arterward for getting drunk and
swearing; but then the poor man cried and said it were nothing but a
accident, which hadn't happened more nor ten times to him sence he'd bin
a preacher of the everlasting gospel. Thar, thar, the crazy head's a
giggling agin! I do wish, Ben, you'd see to Isaac, and make him behave
himself--for he's got so tittery like, sence he's axed Peggy, thar's no
use o' trying to do nothing with him."

"Isaac! Isaac!" said his father with a reproving glance; and, as though
that voice and look possessed a spell, the features of the young man
instantly became grave, almost solemn. Then turning to Algernon, the old
man continued: "As to leaving us, Mr. Reynolds, you of course know your
own business best, and it arn't my desire to interfere; but ef you could
put up with our humble fare, say a week or ten days longer, I think as
how it would be much better for you, and would give us a deal of
pleasure besides."

"Why, I'll jest tell you what tis," put in Isaac: "I've fixed on you for
groomsman, and I arn't a going to gin in no how; so unless you want to
quarrel; you'll have to stay; and more'n that, it's spected you'll see
to takin Ella thar; for I know she don't like to go with any o' the
fellers round here; and I shall gin out she's going with you; which may
be won't hurt your feelings none--at any rate, I know it won't hers."

At the mention of Ella, Algernon crimsoned to the eyes, and became so
exceedingly confused, that he could with difficulty stammer forth, by
way of reply, the query as to the time when the important event was
expected to take place.

"Let me see," answered Isaac, telling off the days on his fingers:
"to-morrow's Friday; then Saturday's one, Sunday's two, Monday's three,
and Tuesday's four--only four days from to-morrow morning, Mr. Reynolds."

"Then, as you so urgently insist upon it," rejoined Reynolds, "I will
postpone my departure till after the wedding."

Isaac thanked him cordially, and the father and mother looked gratified
at the result; Ella he could not see--she having withdrawn from the
table, as previously noted. Some further conversation ensued relative to
the manner in which weddings were conducted in that country, and the
design of proceeding with the one in question; but as we intend the
reader to be present at the wedding itself, we shall not detail it.
We will remark here, by the way, that the stranger seemed to take a
singular interest in all that was said concerning the residence of the
intended bride, the road the party were expected to take to reach there,
their probable number, manner of travel, and the time when they would be
likely to set forth and return. In all this it was observed by Algernon,
that whenever he asked a question direct, it was put in such a careless
manner as would lead one not otherwise suspicious to suppose him
perfectly indifferent as to whether it were answered or not; but he
somehow fancied, he scarce knew why, that there was a strong under
current to this outward seeming. And furthermore he observed, that the
stranger in general avoided putting a question at all--rather seeking
his information by conjecturing or supposing what would immediately be
contradicted or confirmed. This mode of interrogation, so closely
followed up to every particular, yet apparently with such indifference,
together with the stranger's treacherous look and several minor things
all bearing a suspicious cast, more than half convinced Algernon that
the other was a spy, and that some foul play was assuredly meditated;
though what, and to whom, or for what purpose, he was at a loss to
determine.

From the particulars of the coming wedding, the stranger, after a
little, adroitly turned the conversation upon the wound of Reynolds;
asked a number of questions, and appeared deeply interested in the whole
narration concerning it--the attack upon him by the Indians and his
providential escape through the assistance of Boone--all of which was
detailed by Isaac in his own peculiar way. From this case in particular,
the conversation gradually changed to other cases that had happened
in the vicinity; and also to the state of the country, with regard
to what it had been and now was--its settlements--its increase of
inhabitants--the many Indian invasions and massacres that had occurred
within the last five years on the borders--and the present supposed
population of the frontiers.

"As to myself," said Younker, in reply to some observation of the
stranger, "as to myself and family, we've been extremely fortunate in
'scaping the red foe--though I've bin daily fearful that when I went
away to my work in the morning, I'd may be come back agin at noon or
night and find my women folks gone, or murdered, and my cot in ashes;
but, thank the Lord! I've been so far spared sech a heart rending
sight."

"And had you no personal fears?" asked the stranger.

"I don't know's I understand you."

"Had you no fears for yourself individually?"

"Well, I can't say's I had," answered the other. "I'm an old man--or at
least I'm in my second half century--and I've so endeavored to live, as
not to fear to go at any moment when God sees fit, and by whatsomever
means he may choose to take me."

"I suppose you now consider yourself in a measure safe from Indian
encroachments?" observed the other.

"No man, stranger--I beg pardon, but I'd like to know your name!"

"Certainly, sir," answered the other, a little embarrassed. "My name
is--is--Williams."

"Thank you! No man, Mr. Williams, ar justified in considering himself
safe from Injens, in a country like this; but to tell the truth, I don't
feel so fearful of 'em, as when I first come out here with my family,
two year ago; though thar's no telling what may hap in the course o' two
year more."

"And did you venture here at once on your arrival in this western
country?"

"Not exactly; for the land laws o' Virginna, passed the year I come out,
made it rayther difficult gitting hold o' land, about which thar war a
great deal o' disputing; and which war kept up till the commissioners
came out and settled the matter; and so while this war agitating, I took
my family to Boonesborough, whar they remained, excepting Isaac, who
went along with me, until we'd got all matters fixed for moving 'em
here. But as you've axed considerable many questions, pray may I know ef
you're from the east?--And ef so, what news thar is with respect to this
here war with the Britishers?" "Why," replied the other, hesitatingly,
"though not strictly speaking from the east, yet I've been eastward the
past season, and have some news of the war; and, as far as I am able to
judge, think it will result in the total subjugation of the colonies."

"Heaven forbid!" exclaimed Younker.

"Heaven forefend!" said Reynolds, with a start.

"Lord presarve us!--marsy on us!" cried Mrs. Younker, with vehemence.
"What on yarth shall we do, ef them plaguy Britishers git uppermost?
They'll take away all our lands, for sartin!--and Ben's bin and bought
four hundred acres, poor man, at forty cents a acre, under the new laws
of Varginna[4]--which comes to one hundred and sixty dollars, hard
money; and now maybe he'll have to lose it all, and not git nothing for
it; and then what in the name o' the whole univarsal creation will
become on us?"

"Well, well, Dorothy--don't fret about it till it happens--thar'll be
plenty o' time then," said Younker, gravely; "and perhaps it won't
happen at all."

"Don't talk to me about fretting, Mr. Younker!" rejoined the now
irritated dame, a la Caudle: "I reckon I don't fret no easier nor you
do, nor half so much nother; but I'd like to know who wouldn't fret,
when they know they're going to lose all thar property by them thar good
for nothing red-coated Britishers, who I do believe is jest as mean as
Injens, and they're too mean to live, that's sartin. Fret, indeed! I
reckon it wouldn't do for you to be letting Preacher Allprayer hear ye
say so; for he said one time with his own mouth--and to me too, mind
that!--that I'd got the bestest disposition in the whole universal yarth
o' creation under the sun!" and the voluble old lady paused to take
breath.

"It's my opine, that ef Preacher Allprayer had lived with you as long as
I have, he wouldn't repeat that thar sentence under oath," returned
Younker, quietly. Then perceiving that a storm was brewing, he hastened
to change the conversation, by addressing the stranger: "What cause have
you, Mr. Williams, for speaking so discourageous o' the war?"

"The failure of the American arms in battle, the weakness of their
resources, and the strength of their opponents," replied the other. "I
presume you have heard of the battles of Guilford and Camden, in both of
which General Greene was defeated?"

"General _Gates_ commanded at Camden, sir!" interposed Reynolds somewhat
haughtily.

"I beg pardon, sir!" retorted the other, in a sneering, sarcastic tone;
"but I was speaking of the defeat of General _Greene!_"

"At Camden?"

"At Camden, sir!"

"I am sorry you are no better informed," rejoined Algernon, with
flashing eyes. "I repeat that General Gates commanded at Camden; and as,
unfortunately, I chanced to be in the fight, I claim the privilege of
being positive."

"The youth is doubtless speaking of the battle fought a year or two
ago," rejoined Williams, turning to Younker, in a manner the most
insulting to Reynolds; who clenched his hand, and pressed his nether lip
with his teeth until the blood sprang through, but said nothing. "I have
reference to the two engagements which took place at Guilford Court
House and Camden, in March and April last; whereby, as I said before,
General Greene, who commanded at both, was twice defeated, and retreated
with great loss; although in the former action his forces outnumbered
those of his opponent, Lord Cornwallis, as two to one; and in the
latter, far exceeded those of Lord Rawdon, his opponent also."

"This is indeed startling news," answered Younker, "and I'm fearful o'
the result!"

"You may depend on't, them thar four-hundred acres is all gone clean to
smash," observed Mrs. Younker; "and its my opine, Ben, you'd better sell
right straight out immediately, afore the news gits about any further,
for fear o' accidents and them things."

"I suppose in reality the present war with England does not trouble you
here?" said the stranger, interrogatively.

"Why not in reality," answered Younker, "only so far as the Britishers
and thar accursed renegade agents set on the Injens agin us."

"To what renegade agents do you allude?" inquired the other, with a
degree of interest he had not before exhibited.

"Why, to the Girtys, McKee, and Elliot--and perticularly to that thar
scoundrel, Simon Girty the worst o' all on 'em."

"Ha! Simon Girty," said the other, with a slight start and change of
countenance; "what know you of him?"

"Nothing that's good, you may be sartin, and every thing that's evil.
He's leagued with the Injens, purposely to excite 'em agin his own white
brethren--to have them murder women and children, that he may feast his
eyes on thar innocent blood. I'm not given to be o' a revengeful speret,
Mr. Williams; but I never think o' that thar renegade, Simon Girty, but
I inwardly pray for the curse o' an avenging God to light upon him; and
come it will, ayther soon or late, you may depend on't!"

"Amen to that thar sentiment!" responded the dame; while the stranger
became very much agitated, on account, as he said, of a violent pain in
his side, to which he was subject.

Mrs. Younker was on the point of bringing down her invectives on the
head of the renegade in a speech of some considerable length, when,
perceiving the distressful look of the other, the kind-hearted woman
suddenly forgot her animosity in sympathy for her suffering guest; and
forthwith proceeded, with all the eloquence of which she was master, to
recommend a certain essence that chanced to be in the house, as a never
failing remedy for all griping and other pains with which unfortunate
humanity was oftentimes afflicted.

"It's one o' the bestest things as ever war invented," continued the
good woman, in her eulogy of the article in question; "and has did more
good in it's time, nor all the doctors on the univarsal yarth put
together could do, in the way of curing sprains, and bruises, and
stomach-pains, and them things; and ef you don't believe it, Mr.
Williams, you can see it all in print, ef you can read, and I spect you
can, on the bottle itself, jest as plain as any thing; and besides, I've
got the testament (testimony, doubtless) of the good and pious Rev. Mr.
Allprayer, who tuk some on't once for the gout; and he said as how the
contracting (counteracting?) pains war so many, that he didn't no more
feel the gout for a long time to come afterwards. I've no doubt it'll
sarve you jest the same way, and I'll go and fetch it right straight
off."

But the mission of the good woman was prevented by the complainant's
insisting that he was much better, would presently be well, and wished
to retire for the night. His request was granted--but little more was
said--and all shortly after betook themselves to bed--to think, or
sleep, or dream, as the case might be with each.

When the family arose on the following morning, they found the stranger
had departed; but when or whither none could tell.


[Footnote 4: It may be proper to note here, for the benefit of those
unfamiliar with the early history of Kentucky, that, at the period of
which we write, it was claimed and held by Virginia as a portion of her
territory, for which she legislated accordingly.]



CHAPTER V.

THE WEDDING.


The year 1781 was remarkable in the history of Kentucky for the immense
emigration from the east into its territory of unmarried females. It
appears, in looking over the records of the time, as though some mighty
barrier had hitherto kept them in check, which, being removed, allowed
them to rush forward in overwhelming force, like to the pent up waters
of some stream when its obstruction suddenly gives way. Whatever this
hitherto obstruction or barrier may have been, we do not pretend to say;
but the fact itself we record as we find it chronicled in history. The
result of this influx of females into a region almost wholly populated
by the opposite sex was one, as will readily be perceived, of great
importance to the well-being of the embryo state; and was duly
celebrated by the rising generation, in a general jubilee of
marriages--one following fast upon another, like drops of rain in a
genial summer shower; and, to extend the simile, with an effect by no
means less productive of fertility, in a long run, to the country round
about.

A wedding in those days was an affair of great importance to the
neighborhood of its location; and was looked forward to by old and
young--the latter in particular--as a grand holiday of feasting,
dancing, and general rejoicing. Nor can this be wondered at, when we
take into consideration the fact, that, in the early settlement of the
country, a wedding was almost the only gathering, as they were called,
which was not accompanied with some laborious employment--such as
harvesting, log-rolling, and the like. Occasionally there might be some
dissatisfaction felt and expressed by some, who, from some cause or
another, chanced to be left out of the almost general invitation; in
which case a special resentment not unfrequently followed. This was
accomplished in various ways--sometimes by felling trees, or placing
other obstacles across some narrow portion of the horse-path by which
the wedding party were advancing, thereby causing considerable delay for
their removal--sometimes by ambushing and firing a volley of blank
cartridges at the party in question, so as to frighten the horses, by
which means more or less were frequently injured, by being thrown to the
ground--and sometimes by shearing the manes and tails of the horses
themselves, while their owners were being occupied with the feast, and
the dance, and the gay carousal of the occasion. But to proceed.

The morning of the day set apart by Isaac Younker, as the one which was
to see him duly united to Peggy Wilson, came in due time--as many an
important one has both before and since--without one visible sign in the
heavens, or otherwise, to denote that any thing remarkable was about to
happen. In fact it might be put down to the reverse of all this; for,
unlike the generality of wished-for days, it was exceedingly fair,
balmy, and beautiful. The sun rose at the expected time, large and red,
and saluted the hills and tree-tops, and anon the vales, with a smiling
light, as though he felt exceedingly happy to greet them again after a
calm night's repose. The dew sparkled on blade and leaf, as if with
delight at his appearance; a few flowers modestly uncovered their
blooming heads; a few warblers of the forest--for although autumn had
nearly half advanced, some had delayed their journey to the sunny
south--sung gleesome songs; and altogether the morning in question was
really a delightful one.

The family of the Younkers were stirring betimes, making the necessary
preparations for their departure, and looking out for the expected
guests; who, according to the custom of the period, first assembled at
the residence of the groom, to proceed thence in company with him to
the mansion of the bride, which place they must always reach in time to
have the ceremony performed before partaking of the dinner prepared for
the occasion. For this purpose, as the distance to the house of the fair
intended was not unfrequently considerable, they generally came at an
early hour; and as Isaac's fair Peggy was not likely to be visible short
of a ten miles' ride, his companions for the journey accordingly began
to appear in couples before his father's dwelling, ere the sun was an
hour above the hills.

Isaac, on the present occasion, stood ready to receive them as they
rode up, arrayed in his wedding garments; which--save a few trifling
exceptions in some minor articles, and the addition of five or six metal
buttons displayed on his hunting frock in a very singular manner, and
a couple of knee buckles, all old family relics--presented the same
appearance as those worn by him during his ordinary labors. And this,
by the way, exhibits another feature of the extreme simplicity of the
time--and one too highly praise-worthy--when the individual was sought
for himself alone, and not for the tinsel gew-gaws, comparatively
speaking, he might chance to exhibit. Necessity forced all to be plain
and substantial in the matter of dress; and consequently comfort and
convenience were looked to, rather than ostentatious display. All at
that day were habited much alike--so that a description of the costume
of one of either sex, as in the case of their habitations, previously
noted, would describe that of a whole community.

"Let the reader," says a historian, in speaking of the manners and dress
of those noble pioneers, "imagine an assemblage of people, without a
store, tailor, or mantuamaker within an hundred miles; and an assemblage
of horses, without a blacksmith or saddler within an equal distance. The
gentlemen dressed in shoepacks, moccasins, leather breeches, leggins,
linsey hunting-shirts, and all home-made. The ladies dressed in linsey
petticoats, and linsey or linen bed-gowns, coarse shoes, stockings,
handkerchiefs, and buckskin gloves, if any. If there were any buckles,
rings, buttons or ruffles, they were the relics of old times--family
pieces from parents or grandparents. The horses were caparisoned with
old saddles, old bridles or halters, and packsaddles, with a bag or
blanket thrown over them--a rope or string as often constituting the
girth as a piece of leather."

But to our story:

Since leaving Isaac in the preceding chapter, after his important
announcement, as therein recorded, he had been by no means idle. The two
days immediately following had been spent by him in riding post-haste
through the surrounding country, to inform his friends that he was on
the point of becoming a married man, and require their presence at the
appointed hour and place of ceremony. The rest of the time (Sunday of
course exempted) had been carefully husbanded by him in making all due
preparation; and he now stood before his expected guests with the air
one, to use a common phrase, who has not been caught napping. For each,
as they rode up, he had a friendly salutation and familiar word; and
inviting them to dismount and enter, until the whole number should be
arrived, he led away and secured their horses to the neighboring trees.

In due time the last couple made their appearance; and having partaken
of some refreshment, which was highly recommended and presented by Mrs.
Younker herself--whose tongue, by the way, had seen no rest for at least
two hours--the whole party, in gleeful spirits, prepared to mount and
set forth on their journey. Even Algernon, as he assisted the graceful
Ella into her saddle, and then sprung lightly himself upon the back of
a high mettled, beautiful steed by her side, could not avoid exhibiting
a look of cheerfulness, almost gaiety, in striking contrast to his
habitual gloom. And this too produced a like effect upon Ella; who,
mounted upon a fine spirited, noble animal, and displaying all the ease
and grace of an accomplished rider, with her flushed cheek and sparkling
eyes, seemed the personification of loveliness. Her dress was
exceedingly neat, of the fashion and quality worn in the east--being one
she had brought with her on her removal hither. A neat hood, to which
was attached a green veil, now thrown carelessly back and floating down
behind, covered her head and partially concealed a profusion of
beautiful ringlets.

The company at length being all mounted, Isaac took it upon himself to
lead the way; for the reason, as he alleged, that having traveled the
ground oftener than either of the others, he of course knew the best and
nearest path to the abode of Peggy Wilson. Algernon as groomsman rode
next with Ella; followed in turn by the father and mother of the groom;
and then in double file by the whole company--talking, laughing and full
of glee--to the number of some fifteen couples. Turning the corner of
the house, they forded the streamlet previously mentioned, crossed the
valley, and ascended by a narrow horse-path the opposite hill, leaving
the canebrake some distance away to the left.

In those days a road--or at least such a highway as we of the present
so denominate--was a something unknown; a few horse-paths, so termed,
traversing the country in various directions--narrow, oftentimes
obstructed, and sometimes dangerous. Over one of this latter class, as
before said, our wedding party now wended their way, in high spirits;
sometimes riding at a brisk trot or gallop, where their course lay open
and clear, sometimes walking their horses very slow, in single file,
where the path, winding across craggy bluffs, among rocks and trees,
became very narrow and unsafe. Twice, on this latter account, did the
gentlemen of the company dismount and lead the horses of their partners
for some considerable distance past the stony and dangerous defile, by
which means all accidents were avoided. When they had reached within
a mile of their destination, Isaac drew rein and all came to a halt.
Turning upon his saddle, with the air of a commander of some important
expedition, he sang out in a loud, shrill voice;

"Well, boys and gals, here we ar--this here's the spot--who's agoing to
run for the bottle?"

"Whoop! yaho! give way thar!" was the answer from a couple of voices in
the rear; and at the same instant, two young men, separating from their
partners, came bounding forward, on two blood horses, at break-neck
speed.

"Stop!" thundered Isaac, as they came tearing up to where he was sitting
astride his beast; and obedient to his command, the two individuals in
question reined in their impatient steeds, hard abreast, close by his
side. "Well, ef you arn't a couple o' beauties, then jest put it down
that I don't know," continued Isaac, eying them coolly from head to
heel, with a quizzical, comical look. "You'd both on ye average two
decent looking fellars--for whar Seth Stokes is too long, Sam Switcher
arn't long enough; and whar Sam Switcher's got too much, Seth Stokes
han't got nothing."

A roar of laughter, in which both Seth and Sam joined, followed Isaac's
closing remarks; for besides partaking of the ludicrous, none could deny
that his description was correct. The two worthies in question were
certainly two very singular looking beings to be brought together for a
race, and presented a most laughable appearance. The one bearing the
poetical appellation of Seth Stokes, was long, thin and bony, with sharp
features, and legs that reminded one of a carpenter's compass; while his
companion, Sam Switcher, was round-favored, short in limbs and stature,
and fat almost to corpulency--thus forming a contrast to the other of
the most striking kind.

As soon as the laugh at their expense had subsided, Isaac again sang
out: "Squar your hosses' heads thar--get ready, boys--now clippet, and
don't keep us long waiting the bottle! for I reckon as how some on us
is gitting dry. Yehep! yahoa!" and ere the sound of his voice had died
away, down came the switches, accompanied by a terrible yell, and off
went horses and bottle-riders--over stumps, logs and rocks--past trees
and brush, and whatever obstacle might lie in their course--with a speed
that threatened them with death at every moment; while the others
remained quietly seated on their ponies, enjoying the sport, and
sometimes shouting after them such words of encouragement as, "Go it,
Seth!" "Up to him, Sammy!" "Pull up, legs!" "Jump it, fatty!" so long as
the racers were in sight.

This race for the bottle, as it was called, was a peculiar feature for
displaying the horsemanship and hardy recklessness of the early
settlers; as a more dangerous one, to both horse and rider, could not
well be imagined. That the reader may form a clear conception of what it
was in reality--and also to destroy the idea if any such may have been
formed, that it existed only in our imagination--we shall take the
liberty of giving a short extract from the author already quoted. In
speaking of the foregoing, he says:

"The worse the path--the more logs, brush, and deep hollows, the
better--as these obstacles afforded an opportunity for the greater
display of intrepidity and horsemanship. The English fox-chase, in point
of danger to the riders and their horses, is nothing to this race for
the bottle. The start was announced by an Indian yell; when logs, brush,
muddy hollows, hill and glen, were speedily passed by the rival ponies.
The bottle was always filled for the occasion, so that there was no use
for judges; for the first who reached the door was presented with the
prize, with which he returned in triumph to the company. On approaching
them, he announced his victory over his rival by a shrill whoop. At the
head of the troop he gave the bottle first to the groom and his
attendants, and then to each pair in succession to the rear of the line,
giving each a drachm; and then putting the bottle in the bosom of his
hunting shirt, took his station in the company."

In something like a quarter of an hour, the clatter of horses' feet was
heard by the company, the rival-racers presently appeared in sight, and
all became anxious to learn who was the successful runner. They were not
long kept in suspense; for advancing at a fast gallop, the riders were,
soon within speaking distance; when a loud, shrill whoop from Seth
Stokes, announced that in this case success had at least been with the
long, if not with the strong.

"How's this, Sammy?" cried a dozen voices, as the rivals rode up to the
party.

"I don't exactly know," answered the individual addressed, shaking his
head with a serio-comical expression; "but stifle me with the night-mar,
if ever I'm cotched riding a race with death on horseback agin."

This allusion to the bony appearance of his companion, caused a roar
of laughter at the expense of the winner, in which he good-humoredly
joined. According to custom, as previously mentioned, the bottle was
presented first to Isaac, and then passed in regular order through
the lines--Algernon and Ella merely putting it to their lips without
drinking. When this ceremony was over, the party resumed their
journey--no less merry on account of the whiskey--and by half an hour
past eleven o'clock, all drew rein before the door of Abijah Wilson,
the father of the fair intended.

Here another party, the friends of the bride, were waiting to receive
them; and after some few introductions, much shaking of hands, and other
demonstrations of joy, the announcement was made, that the squire was
ready to perform the ceremony. Instantly all talking was suspended, the
company proceeded to form into a half circle, and then all became silent
and solemn as the house of death. Isaac presently appeared from behind a
coarse, temporary screen of cloth, hung up for the occasion--the house
having no division save a chamber over head--leading the blushing Peggy
by the hand, (a rosy cheeked, buxom lass of eighteen) both looking as
frightened and foolish as could reasonably be expected. Behind the bride
and groom came Algernon, in company with a dark-eyed, pretty brunette,
who performed the part of bridesmaid. Taking their several places, the
Squire, as he was termed--a man of forty--stepped forward, and said a
few words concerning the importance of the present event, asked the
necessary questions, joined their hands, and pronounced them man and
wife. Then followed the usual amount of congratulations, good wishes for
the future happiness of the married pair, kissing of the bride, and so
forth, in all of which proceedings they differed not materially from
their successors of the present day.

About half an hour from the close of the ceremony, the guests were
invited to partake of a sumptuous dinner, prepared expressly for the
occasion. It was placed on rough tables made of large slabs, supported
by small, round legs, set in auger holes; and though there was a
scantiness of dishes--and these in the main consisting of a few
pewter-plates, several wooden trenchers, with spoons of like material,
interspersed with some of horn--and though the scarcity of knives
required many of the gentlemen to make use of those carried in their
belts--yet the food itself was such as might have rejoiced an epicure.
It consisted of beef, roasted and boiled--pork, roasted and
fried--together with chicken, turkey, partridge, and venison--well
flanked on every side by bread, butter, and cheese, potatoes, cabbage,
and various other vegetables. That it was both acceptable and palatable,
was sufficiently proved by the hearty, joyous manner, in which each
individual performed his or her part, and the rapidity with which it
disappeared. The dessert was composed of two or three kinds of pies and
puddings, washed down (at least by those who chose so to do) with
whiskey. Great hilarity prevailed--particularly after the introduction
of the bottle. Immediately dinner was over, the tables were removed, the
fiddler was called for, and the dance commenced, which was to last till
the following morning. The dance was opened by Isaac and the bridesmaid,
with another couple--beginning with a square four, and ending with what
was termed a jig. From this time forth, until the party separated, the
poor fiddler experienced but little relaxation or comfort--unless in
being encouraged, occasionally, by a refreshing salute from the lips of
Black Betty; a being of no greater intellect, reader, than a bottle of
whiskey.

Some two hours after dinner, the father and mother of Isaac announced
their intention of forthwith returning home; and, although seriously
pressed to tarry longer, shortly after took their leave of the
company--Mrs. Younker adding, as a farewell speech, "That she hoped to
gracious Peggy'd jest make Isaac as good a wife nor she had Ben, and
then thar wouldn't never be no need o' having trouble;" and wound up by
quoting the Rev. Mr. Allprayer as the best authority on the subject.
Younker stood by her side, calmly heard her through, and then shrugging
his shoulders with a very significant expression, walked away without
saying a word, to the great amusement of the whole assemblage.

As to Algernon, he seemed to take no delight in what was going forward;
and though he participated somewhat in the dance, yet it was evident to
all observers that his mind went not with his body, and that what he did
was done more with a design of concealing his real feelings, than for
any amusement it afforded himself. When not occupied in this manner, or
in conversation, he would steal away, seat himself where he was least
likely to be observed, and fall into a gloomy, abstracted mood; from
which, when suddenly roused by some loud peal of laughter, or by the
touch and voice of some person near, he would sometimes start and look
around as one just awakened from a frightful vision. This gloomy
abstraction, too, appeared to grow upon him more and more, as the day
settled into night and the night wore on, as though he felt some dreaded
calamity had been hanging over, and was now about to fall upon him. So
apparent was this toward the last, that even the most careless began to
observe, and make remarks, and ask questions concerning him; and some
even proceeded to inquire of him regarding the state of his health. His
answers to all interrogatives now became so brief and abrupt, that but
few ventured to address him the second time. Whatever the cause of his
present gloomy state of mind, it was evidently not the ordinary one--at
least not wholly that--for never before had Ella (who was in the habit,
since their acquaintance, of observing him narrowly) seen him in such a
mood as now. It was, perhaps, one of those strange mental foresights,
peculiar to certain temperaments, whereby the individual is sometimes
warned of impending danger, and feels oppressed by a weight of
despondency impossible to shake off.

This serious change in the appearance of Algernon, was not without its
effect upon Ella. Naturally of a tender, affectionate, and sympathetic
disposition, she could not feel at ease when another was suffering, and
particularly when that other was one standing so high in her estimation
as Algernon Reynolds. Naturally, too, possessing light and buoyant
spirits--fond of gaiety where all were gay--she exhibited on the present
occasion the effect of two strong but counteracting passions. Her
features, if we may be allowed the comparison, were like the noon-day
heavens, when filled with the broken clouds of a passing storm. Now all
would be bright and cheerful, and the sun of mirth would sparkle in her
eyes; and anon some dark cloud of dejection would sweep along, shut
out the merry light, and cast its shadow drearily over the whole
countenance,--or, to use language without simile, she would one moment
be merry and another sad. Toward the last, however, the latter feeling
gained the ascendancy; she appeared to take no further share in the
merriment of the dance; and had any watched her closely, they might
have guessed the cause, from the manner in which she from time to time
gazed at the pale face of Algernon.

Meantime the dance went bravely on, Black Betty circulated somewhat
freely, and the mirth of the revelers grew more and more boisterous.
Taking advantage of a slight cessation in the general hilarity, about
nine o'clock in the evening, and while the fiddler with some of the
party were engaged in partaking of refreshment, Seth Stokes, encouraged
doubtless by the inspiration he had received from the whiskey, stepped
boldly into the middle of the apartment with the bottle in his hand, and
said:

"Jest allow me, my jollies, to give a toast."

"Harken all! A toast--a toast--from the long man o' the bony frame!"
cried the voice of Sam Switcher. A laugh, and then silence followed.

"Here's to--to Isaac and Peggy Younker--two beauties!" continued Seth.
"May thar union be duly acknowledged by the rising generation o' old
Kaintuck;" and the speaker gravely proceeded to drink.

"Bravo! bravo!" cried a dozen voices, with a merry shout, accompanied
with great clapping of bands; while Isaac, who was sitting by his new
wife, arose, blushed, bowed rather awkwardly, and then sat down again.

"Isaac! Isaac!--A toast from Isaac!" shouted a chorus of voices.

Isaac at first looked very much confused--scratched his head and twisted
around in a very fidgetty manner,--but presently his countenance
flushed, and a smile of triumph crossing his sharp features, announced
that he had been suddenly favored with an idea apropos. This was
instantly perceived by some of the wags standing near, one of whom
exclaimed:

"I see it--it's coming!"

"He's got it!" said a second.

"I knew it--I'd ha' bet a bar-skin he'd fetch it," cried a third.

"Out with it, Ike, afore you forget it," shouted the fourth.

"Hold your jabbering tongues--!" cried Isaac, in vexation. "You're
enough to bother a feller to death. I'd like to see some o' the rest on
ye cramped up fur a toast, jest to see how _you'd_ feel with all on 'em
hollering like." A hearty laugh at his expense was all the sympathy poor
Isaac received.

"Give us the bottle!" resumed Isaac. "Now here goes," continued he,
rising and holding Black Betty by the neck. "Here's to the gals o' old
Kaintuck--Heaven bless 'em! May they bloom like clover heads, be
plentier nor bar-skins, and follow the example o' Peggy, every mother's
daughter on 'em!--hooray!" And having drank, the speaker resumed his
seat, amid roars of laughter and three rounds of applause.

By the time this mirth had subsided, the fiddler struck up, and the
dance again went on as before. Some two hours later the bridesmaid, with
two or three others, managed to steal away the bride unobserved; and
proceeding to a ladder at one end of the apartment, ascended to the
chamber above, and saw her safely lodged in bed. In the course of
another half hour the same number of gentlemen performed a like service
for Isaac--such being customary at all weddings of that period.

During the night Black Betty, in company with more substantial
refreshment, was sent up to the newly married pair some two or three
times; and always returned (Black Betty we mean) considerable lighter
than she went; thus proving, that if lovers can live on air, the married
ones do not always partake of things less spiritual. About three o'clock
in the morning, Algernon and Ella took leave of the company and set out
upon their return--he pleading illness as an apology for withdrawing
thus early. The remainder of the party keep together until five, when
they gradually began to separate; and by six the dancing had ceased, and
the greater portion of them had taken their departure. Thus ended the
wedding of Isaac Younker--a fair specimen, by the way, of a backwood's
wedding in the early settlement of the west.



CHAPTER VI.

THE PRESENTIMENT.


Deep and gloomy were the meditations of Algernon Reynolds, as, in
company with Ella Barnwell, he rode slowly along the narrow path which
he had traversed, if not with buoyant, at least with far lighter
spirits than now, the morning before. From some, latent cause, he felt
oppressed with a weight of despondency, as previously mentioned, that
served to prostrate in a measure both his mental powers and physical
system. He felt, though he could give no reason why, that some calamity
was about to befall himself and the fair being by his side; and he
strove to arouse himself and shake off the gloomy thoughts; but if he
succeeded, it was only momentary, and they would again rush back with an
increased power. He had been subject, since his unfortunate quarrel with
his cousin, to gloomy reveries and depressions of spirits--but never
before had he felt exactly as now; and though in all former cases the
event referred to had been the cause of his sad abstractions, yet in the
present instance it scarcely held a place in his thoughts. Could it be a
presentiment, he asked himself, sent to warn him of danger and prepare
him to meet it? But the question he could not answer.

The night, or rather the morning, though clear overhead, was uncommonly
dark; and the stars, what few could be discerned, shed only pale, faint
gleams, as though their lights were about to be extinguished. For some
time both Algernon and Ella continued their journey without exchanging a
syllable--she too, as well as himself, being deeply absorbed in no very
pleasant reflections. She thought of him, of his hard fate, to meet with
so many bitter disappointments at an age so young; and at last, for no
premeditated, no intentional crime, be forced to fly from home and
friends, and all he held dear, to wander in a far off land, among
strangers--or worse, among the solitudes of the wilderness--exposed to a
thousand dangers from wild savage beasts, and wilder and more savage
human beings; and perhaps, withal, be branded as a felon and fugitive
from justice. She thought what must be his feelings, his sense of utter
desolation, with none around to sympathize--no sweet being by his side
to whisper a single word of encouragement and hope; or, should the worst
prove true, to share his painful lot, and endeavor to render less
burdensome his remorseful thoughts, by smiles of endearment and looks of
love. She thought, too, that to-morrow--perhaps today--he would take his
departure, peradventure never to behold her again; and this was the
saddest of the train. Until she saw him, Ella had never known what it
was to love--perchance she did not now--but at least she had experienced
those fluttering sensations, those deep and strange emotions, those
involuntary yearnings of the heart toward some object in his presence,
that aching void in his absence, which the more experienced would
doubtless put down to that cause, and which no other being had ever even
for a moment awakened in her breast. For something like half an hour the
two rode on together, buried in their own sad reflections, when Ella
broke the silence, by saying, in a low, touching voice:

"You seem sad to-night, Algernon."

Algernon started, sighed heavily, and turning slightly on his saddle,
said: "I am sad, Ella--very, very sad."

"May I ask the cause?" rejoined Ella, gently.

"Doubtless you will think it strange, Ella, but the cause I believe to
have originated in a waking vision or presentiment."

"That does seem strange!" observed Ella, in return.

"Did it never strike you, dear Ella, that we are all strange beings,
subject to strange influences, and destined, many of us, to strange
ends?" inquired Reynolds, solemnly.

"Perhaps I do not understand you," replied Ella; "but with regard to
destiny, I am inclined to think that we in a measure shape our own. As
to our being strange, there are many things relating to us that we may
not understand, and therefore look upon them in the light of which you
speak."

"Are there any we do understand, Ella?" rejoined Algernon. "When I say
understand, I mean the word to be used in its minutest and broadest
sense. You say there are many things we may not understand concerning
ourselves--what ones, I pray you, do we fully comprehend? We are here
upon the earth--so much we know. We shall die and pass away--so much we
know also. But how came we here, and why? How do we exist? How do we
think, reason, speak, feel, move, see, hear, smell, taste? All these
we do, we know; but yet not one--not a single one of them can we
comprehend. You wish to raise your hand; and forthwith, by some
extraordinary power--extraordinary because you cannot tell where it is,
nor how it is--you raise it. Why cannot a dead person do the same?
Strange question you will say to yourself with a smile--but one easily
answered! Why, because in such a person life is extinct--there is no
vital principle--the heart is stopped--the blood has ceased to flow
in its regular channels! Ay! but let me ask you _why_ that life is
extinct?--why that breath has stopped?--and why that blood has ceased
to flow? There was just the same amount of air when the person died as
before! There were the same ingredients still left to stimulate that
blood to action! Then wherefore should both cease?--and with them the
power of thought, reason, speech, and all the other senses? It was not
by a design of the individual himself; for he strove to his utmost to
breathe longer; he was not ready to die--he did not want to quit this
earth so soon; and yet with all his efforts to the contrary, reason
fled, the breath stopped, the blood ceased, the limbs became palsied and
cold, and corruption, decay and dust stood ready to follow. Now why was
this? There is but one answer: 'God willed it!' If then one question
resolves itself into one answer,--'the will of God'--so may all of
the same species; and we come out, after a long train of analytical
reasoning, exactly where we started--with this difference--that when we
set out, we believed in being able to explain the wherefore; but when we
came to the end, we could only assert it as a wonderful fact, whereof
not a single iota could we understand."

Algernon spoke in a clear, distinct, earnest tone--in a manner that
showed the subject was not new to his thoughts; and after a short pause,
during which Ella made no reply, he again proceeded.

"In this grand organ of man--where all things are strange and
incomprehensible--to me the combination of the physical and mental is
strangest of all. The soul and the body are united and yet divided. Each
is distinct from and acts without the other at times, and yet both act
in concert with a wonderful power. The soul plans and the body executes.
The body exercises the soul--the soul the body. The one is visible--the
other invisible; the one is mortal--the other immortal. Now why do they
act together here? Why was not each placed in its separate sphere of
action? Again: What is the soul? Men tell us it is a spirit. What is a
spirit? An invisible something that never dies. Who can comprehend it?
None. Whither does it go when separated forever from the body? None can
answer, save in language of Scripture: 'It returns to God who gave it.'"

"I have never heard the proposition advanced by another," continued
Algernon, after another slight pause, "but I have sometimes thought
myself, that the soul departs from the body, for a brief season, and
wanders at will among scenes either near or remote, and returns with
its impressions, either clouded or clear, to communicate them to the
corporeal or not, as the case may be: hence dreams or visions, and
strong impressions when we wake, that something bright and good has
refreshed our sleep, or something dark and evil has made it troubled and
feverish. Again I have sometimes thought that this soul--this invisible
and immortal something within us--has power at times to look into the
future, and see events about to transpire; which events being sometimes
of a dark and terrible nature, leave upon it like impressions; and hence
gloomy and melancholy forebodings. This may be all sophistry--as much of
our better reasoning on things we know nothing about often is--but if it
be true, then may I trust to account for my present sadness."

"Have you really, then, sad forebodings?" inquired Ella, quickly and
earnestly.

"Against my will and sober reason, dear Ella, I must own I have.
Perchance, however, the feeling was only called up by a train of
melancholy meditations. While sitting there to-night, gazing upon
the many bounding forms--some full of beauty and grace, and some of
strength--noting their joyous faces, and listening occasionally to the
lightsome jest, and merry, ringing laugh--I could not avoid contrasting
with the present the time when I was as happy and full full of mirth as
they. I pictured to myself how they would stare and shudder and draw
away from me, did they know my hand was stained with the blood of my
own kin. Then I began, involuntarily as it were, to picture to myself
the fate of each; and they came up before me in the form of a vision,
(though if such, it was a waking one) but in regular order; and I saw
them pass on one after another--some gliding smoothly down the stream of
time to old age--some wretched and crippled, groping their way along
over barren wastes, without water or food, though nearly dying for the
want of both--some wading through streams of blood, with fierce and
angry looks--and some with pale faces, red eyes, and hollow cheeks,
roving amid coffins, sepulchres and bones; but of all, the very fewest
number happy."

"Oh! it was an awful vision!" exclaimed Ella, with a shudder.

"It was awful enough," rejoined Algernon; "and despite of me, it made me
more and more sad as I thought upon it. Could it indeed be a dream? But
no! I was--seemingly at least--as wide awake and conscious as at the
present moment. I saw the dance going on as ever--I saw the merry
smiles, and heard the jest and laugh as before. Could it be some strange
hallucination of the brain--some wild imagining--caused by my previous
exercise and over heat? I pondered upon it long and seriously, but could
not determine. Suddenly--I know not how nor why--that ill-looking
stranger who lodged one night at your uncle's, and departed so
mysteriously, came up in my mind; and almost at the same moment, I
fancied myself riding with you, dear Ella, through a dark and lonely
wood--when all of a sudden there came a fierce yell--several dark,
hideous forms, with him among them, swam around me--I heard you shriek
for aid--and then all became darkness and confusion; from which I was
aroused by some one inquiring if I were ill? What I answered I know not;
but the querist immediately took his leave."

"It all seems very strange, Algernon," observed Ella, thoughtfully; "but
it was probably nothing more than a feverish dream, brought about by
your exercise acting too suddenly and powerfully upon your nervous
system, which doubtless has not as yet recovered from the prostration
caused by your wound."

"So I tried to think, dear Ella," returned Algernon, with a sigh; "but
I have not even yet been able to shake off the gloomy impression, that,
whatever the cause, it was sent as a warning of danger. But I am
foolish, perhaps, to think as I do; and so let us change the subject.
You spoke a few moments since of destiny. You said, if I mistake not,
you believed each individual capable of shaping his own."

"I did," answered Ella; "with the exception, that I qualified it by
saying in a measure. No person, I think, has the power of moulding
himself to an end which is contrary to the law of nature and his own
physical organization; but at the same time he has many ways, some good
and some evil, left open for him to choose; else he were not a free
agent."

"Ay," rejoined Algernon, "by-paths all to the same great end. I look
upon every one here, Ella, as a traveler placed upon the great highway
called destiny--with a secret power within that impels him forward, but
allows no pause nor retrograde. Along this highway are flowers, and
briars, and thistles, and weeds, and shady woods, and barren rocks, and
sterile bluffs, and glassy plots; but proportioned differently to each,
as the Maker of all designs his path to be pleasant or otherwise. Beside
this highway are perhaps a dozen minor paths, all running a similar
course, and all finally merging into it--either near or far, as the case
may be--before its termination at the great gate of death. The free
agency you speak of, is in choosing of these lesser paths--some of which
are full of the snares of temptation, the chasms of ruin, and the
pitfalls of destruction; and some of the flowers of peace, the bowers of
plenty, and the green woods of contentment. But how to follow the proper
one is the difficulty; for they run into one another--cross and recross
in a thousand different ways--so that the best disposed as often hit the
wrong as the right one, and are entrapped before they are aware of their
dangerous course. Worldly wisdom is here put at fault, and the fool as
often goes right as the wise man of lore--thus showing, notwithstanding
our free agency, that circumstances govern us; and that what many put
down as crime, is, in fact, oftentimes, neither more nor less than error
of judgment."

"Then you consider free agency only a chance game, depending, as it
were, upon the throw of a die?" observed Ella, inquiringly.

"I believe this much of free agency, that a train of circumstances often
forces some to evil and others to good; and that we should look upon the
former, in many cases--mind I do not say all--as unfortunate rather than
criminal--with pity rather than scorn; and so endeavor to reclaim them.
Were this doctrine more practiced by Christians--by those whom the world
terms good, (but whom circumstances alone have made better than their
fellows,) there would be far less of sin, misery, and crime abounding
for them to deplore. Let the creed of churches only be to ameliorate the
condition of the poor, relieve the distressed, remove temptations from
youth, encourage the virtuous, and endeavor, by gently means, to reclaim
the erring--and the holy design of Him who died to save would nobly
progress, prisons would be turned into asylums, and scaffolds be things
known only by tradition."

Algernon spoke with an easy, earnest eloquence, and a force of emphasis,
that made each word tell with proper effect upon his fair hearer. To
Ella the ideas he advanced were, many of them, entirely new; and she
mused thoughtfully upon them, as they rode along, without reply; while
he, becoming warm upon a subject that evidently occupied no inferior
place in his mind, went on to speak of the wrongs and abuses which
society in general heaped upon the unfortunate, as he termed
them--contrasted the charity of professing Christians of the eighteenth
century with that of Christ himself--and pointed out what he considered
the most effectual means of remedy. To show that a train of
circumstances would frequently force persons against their own will and
reason to be what society terms criminal, he referred to himself, and
his own so far eventful destiny; and Ella could not but admit to
herself, that, in his case at least, his arguments were well grounded,
and she shaped her replies accordingly.

Thus conversing, they continued upon their course, until they came to
the brow of a steep descent, down which the path ran in a zigzag manner,
through a dark, gloomy ravine, now rendered intensely so to our
travelers, by the hour, their thoughts, the wildness of the scenery
around, and the dense growth of cedars covering the hollow, whose
untrimmed branches, growing even to the ground, overreached and partly
obstructed their way. By this time only one or two stars were visible in
the heavens; and they shone with pale, faint gleams; while in the east
the beautiful gray and crimson tints of Aurora announced that day was
already breaking on the slumbering world. Drawing rein, Algernon and
Ella paused as if to contemplate the scene. Below and around them each
object presented that misty, indistinct appearance, which leaves the
imagination power to give it either a pleasing or hideous shape. In the
immediate vicinity, the country was uneven; rocky, and covered with
cedars; but far off to the right could be discerned the even surface of
the cane-brake, previously mentioned, now stretching away in the
distance like the unruffled bosom of some beautiful lake. A light breeze
slightly rustled the leaves of the trees, among whose branches an
occasional songster piped forth his morning lay of rejoicing.

"How lovely is nature in all her varieties!" exclaimed Ella, with
animation, as she glanced over the scene.

"Ay, and in that variety lies her loveliness," answered Algernon.
"It is the constant and eternal change going forward that interests us,
and gives to nature her undying charm. Man--high-souled, contemplative
man--was not born to sameness. Variety is to his mind what food is to
his body; and as the latter, deprived of its usual nourishment, sinks to
decay--so the former, from like deprivation of its strengthening power,
becomes weak and imbecile. Again: as coarse, plain food and hardy
exercise add health and vigor to the physical--so does the contemplation
of nature in her wildness and grandeur give to the mental a powerful and
lofty tone. Of all writers for poetical and vigorous intellects, give me
those who have been reared among cloud-capped hills, and craggy steeps,
and rushing streams, and roaring cataracts; for their conceptions are
grand, their comparisons beautiful, and the founts from which they draw,
as exhaustless almost as nature herself."

"I have often thought the same myself," returned Ella; "for I never gaze
upon a beautiful scene in nature, that I do not feel refreshed. To me
the two most delightful are morning and evening. I love to stand upon
some eminence, and mark, as now, the first gray, crimson and golden
streaks that rush up in the eastern sky; and catch the first rays of old
Sol, as he, surrounded by a reddened halo, shows his welcome face above
the hills; or at calm eve watch his departure, as with a last, fond,
lingering look he takes his leave, as 'twere in sorrow that he could not
longer tarry; while earth, not thus to be outdone in point of grief,
puts on her sable dress to mourn his absence."

"Ah! Ella," said Algernon, turning to her with a gentle smile, "methinks
morning and evening are somewhat indebted to you for a touch of poetry
in their behalf."

"Rather say I am indebted to them for a thousand fine feelings I have
not even power to express," rejoined Ella.

Algernon was on the point of returning an answer, when, casting his eyes
down into the ravine, he slightly started, his gaze became fixed, and
his features grew a shade more pale. Ella noticed this sudden change,
and in a voice slightly tremulous inquired the cause. For nearly a
minute Algernon made no reply, but kept his eyes steadily bent in the
same direction, apparently riveted on some object below. Ella also
looked down; but seeing nothing worthy of note, and growing somewhat
alarmed at his silence, was on the point of addressing him again, when,
slightly turning his head, and rubbing his eyes with his hand, he said:

"Methought I saw a dark object move in the hollow below; but I think I
must have been mistaken, for all appears quiet there now--not even a
limb or so much as a leaf stirs. Lest there should be danger, however,
dear Ella, I will ride down first and ascertain. If I give an alarm,
turn your horse and do not spare him till you reach Wilson's."

"No, no, no!" exclaimed Ella, with vehemence, laying her hand upon his
arm, as he was about starting forward, her own features now growing very
pale. "If you go, Algernon, you go not alone! If there is danger, I will
share it with you."

Algernon turned towards her a face that, one moment crimsoned with
animation and the next became deadly pale; while his whole frame
quivered with intense emotion, and he seemed vainly struggling to
command contending feelings. Suddenly clasping her hand in his, he
pressed it warmly, raised it to his lips, and in a trembling tone said:

"Ella--dear Ella--God bless you! If ever--but--no--no--no;" and covering
his face with his hands, he wept convulsively; while she, no less deeply
affected, could scarcely sit her horse.

At length Algernon withdrew his hands, and exhibited features pale but
calm. Drawing forth his pistols, he carefully examined their priming,
and then replaced them in his belt. During this proceeding, he failed
not to urge Ella to alter her design and remain, while he went forward;
but finding her determined on keeping him company, he signified his
readiness to proceed, and both started slowly down the hill together.
They reached the ravine in safety, and advanced some twenty yards
further, when suddenly there arose a terrific Indian yell, followed
instantly by the sharp report of several fire-arms, a wild, piercing
shriek, some two or three heavy groans, a rustling among the trees, and
then by a stillness as deep and awfully solemn as that which pervades
the narrow house appointed for all living.



CHAPTER VII.

THE OLD WOODSMAN AND HIS DOG.


The sun was perhaps an hour above the mountain tops, when a solitary
hunter, in the direction of the cane-brake, might have been seen shaping
his course toward the hill whereon Algernon and Ella had so lately
paused to contemplate the dawning day. Upon his shoulder rested a long
rifle, and a dog of the Newfoundland species followed in his steps or
trotted along by his side. In a few minutes he reached the place
referred to; when the snuffling of his canine companion causing him to
look down, his attention instantly became fixed upon the foot-prints of
the horses which had passed there the day before, and particularly on
the two that had repassed there so lately.

"What is it, Cæsar?" said he, addressing the brute. "Nothing wrong here,
I reckon." Cæsar, as if conscious of his master's language, raised his
head, and looking down into the ravine, appeared to snuff the air;
then darting forward, he was quickly lost among the branching cedars.
Scarcely thirty seconds elapsed, ere a long, low howl came up from the
valley; and starting like one suddenly surprised by some disagreeable
occurrence, the hunter, with a cheek slightly blanched, hurried down the
crooked path, muttering as he went, "Thar's something wrong, for
sartin--for Cæsar never lies."

In less than a minute the hunter came in sight of his dog, which he
found standing with his hind feet on the ground and his fore-paws
resting on the carcass of a horse, that had apparently been dead but a
short time. As Cæsar perceived his master approach, he uttered another
of those peculiar, long, low, mournful howls, which the superstitious
not unfrequently interpret as omens of evil.

"Good heavens!" exclaimed the hunter, as he came up; "thar's been foul
play here, Cæsar--foul play, for sartin. D'ye think, dog, it war Indians
as done it?"

The brute looked up into the speaker's face, with one of those
expressions of intelligence or sagacity, which seem to speak what the
tongue has not power to utter, and then wagging his tail, gave a sharp,
fierce bark.

"Right, dog!" continued the other, as, stooping to the ground, he began
to examine with great care the prints left there by human feet. "Right,
dog, they're the rale varmints, and no mistake. Ef all folks war as
sensible and knowing as you, thar would'nt be many fools about, I
reckon."

Having finished his examination of the ground, the hunter again turned
to look at the carcass of the horse, which was lying on its left side,
some two feet from the path, and had apparently fallen dead from a shot
in the forehead, between the eyes. An old saddle, devoid of straps, lay
just concealed under the branching cedars. The ground around was trodden
as if from a scuffle, and the limbs of the trees were broken in many
places--while in two or three others could be seen spots of blood, not
even yet dry--none of which informants of the recent struggle escaped
the keen observation of the woodsman. Suddenly the dog, which had been
watching his master's motions intently, put his nose to the ground,
darted along the path further into the ravine, and presently resounded
another of those mournful howls.

"Ha! another diskivery!" exclaimed the hunter, as he started after his
companion.

About thirty yards further on, he came upon the carcass of another
horse, which had been killed by a ball in the right side, and the blow
of some weapon, probably a tomahawk, on the head. By its side also lay
a lady's saddle, stripped like the former of its trappings. This the
woodsman now proceeded to examine attentively, for something like a
minute, during which time a troubled expression rested on his dark,
sunburnt features.

"I'm either mightily mistaken," said he at length, with a grave look,
"or that thar horse and saddle is the property of Ben Younker; and I
reckon it's the same critter as is rid by Ella Barnwell. Heaven forbid,
sweet lady, that it be thou as met with this terrible misfortune!--but
ef it be, by the Power that made me, I swar to follow on thy trail; and
ef I meet any of thy captors, then, Betsey, I'll just call on you for a
backwoods sentiment."

As he concluded, the hunter turned with a look of affection towards his
rifle, which he firmly grasped with a nervous motion. At this moment,
the dog, which had been busying himself by running to and fro with his
nose to the ground, suddenly paused, and laying back his ears, uttered
a low, fierce growl. The hunter cast toward him a quick glance; and
dropping upon his knees, applied his ear to the earth, where he remained
some fifteen seconds; then rising to his feet, he made a motion with his
hand, and together with Cæsar withdrew into the thicket.

For some time no sound was heard to justify this precaution of the
woodsman; but at length a slight jarring of the ground became apparent,
followed by a noise at some distance, resembling the clatter of horses'
feet, which, gradually growing louder as the cause drew nearer, soon
became sufficiently so to put all doubts on the matter at rest. In less
than five minutes from the disappearance of the hunter, some eight
or ten horses, bearing as many riders, approached the hill from the
direction of Wilson's, and began to descend into the ravine. The party,
composed of both sexes, were in high glee--some jesting, some singing,
and some laughing uproariously. Nothing occurred to interrupt their
merriment, until they began to lose themselves among the cedars of the
hollow, when the foremost horse suddenly gave a snort and bounded to one
side--a movement which his companion, close behind, imitated--while the
rider of the latter, a female, uttered a loud, piercing scream of
fright. In a moment the whole party was in confusion--some turning their
horses to the right about and riding back towards Wilson's, at headlong
speed--and some pausing in fear, undecided what to do. The two foremost
horses now became very refractory, rearing and plunging in a manner that
threatened to unseat their riders every moment. Of the two, the one
ridden by the lady was the most ungovernable; and in spite of her
efforts to quiet or hold him, he seized the bit in his teeth, and,
rearing on his hind legs, plunged madly forward, until he came to where
the other carcass was lying, when, giving another snort of fear, he
again reared, and turning aside into the thicket, left his rider almost
senseless in the path he had just quitted. Fortunately the beast shaped
his course to where the hunter was concealed, who, with a sudden spring,
as he was rushing past, seized upon the bridle near the bit, and
succeeded, after a struggle, in mastering and leading him back to the
path.

By this time the companion of the lady had come up; and seeing her
condition, was dismounting to render her assistance; when his eye
falling upon the stranger, he started, and placed his hand quickly to
his belt, as if in search of some weapon of defence. The hunter saw the
movement, and said, with a gesture of command:

"Hold! young man; don't do any thing rash!"

"Who are you, sir?"

"A friend."

"Your name!" continued the other, as he sprang to the ground.

"Names don't matter, stranger, in cases sech as this. I said I war a
friend."

"By what may I know you as such."

"My deeds," returned the other, laconically. "Think you, stranger, ef I
wanted to harm ye, I couldn't have done it without you seeing me?" and
as he spoke, he glanced significantly toward his rifle.

"True," returned the other; "but what's the meaning of this?" and he
pointed toward the dead horse.

"It means Indians, as nigh as I can come at it," replied the hunter.
"But look to the living afore the dead!" And the woodsman in turn
pointed toward the lady.

"Right!" said the other; and springing to her side, he raised her in his
arms.

She was not injured, other than slightly stunned by the fall, and she
quickly regained her senses. At first she was somewhat alarmed; but
perceiving who supported her, and nothing in the mild, noble, benevolent
countenance of the stranger, who was still holding her horse by the
bridle, of a sinister nature, she anxiously inquired what had happened.

"I can only guess by what I see;" answered the hunter, "that some o'
your company have been less fortunate than you. Didn't two o' them set
out in advance?"

"Gracious heavens!" cried the young man supporting the lady; "it is Ella
Barnwell and the stranger Reynolds!"

"Then they must be quickly trailed!" rejoined the hunter briefly. "Go,
young man, take your lady back agin, and raise an armed party for
pursuit. Be quick in your operations, and I'll wait and join you here.
Leave your horses thar, for we must take it afoot; and besides, gather
as much provision as you can all easily carry, for Heaven only knows
whar or when our journey'll end."

"But do you think they're still living?"

"I hope so."

"Then let us return, Henry," said the lady, "as quick as possible, so
that a party for pursuit may be collected before the wedding guests have
all separated."

"I fear it will be difficult, Mary, but we must try it," replied the
young man, as he assisted her to mount. Then, turning to the stranger,
he added: "But won't you accompany us, sir?"

"No, it can do no good; besides I'm afoot, and would only cause delay,
and thar's been too much o' that already."

"At least, sir, favor me with your name."

"The first white hunter o' old Kaintuck," answered the other, stroking
the neck of the fiery beast on which the lady was now sitting.

"What!" exclaimed the other, in a tone of surprise: "Boone! Colonel
Daniel Boone?"

"Why, I'm sometimes called colonel," returned the hunter, dryly, still
stroking the horse's neck; "but Daniel's the older title, and a little
the most familiar one besides."

"I crave pardon for my former rudeness, Colonel," said the other,
advancing and offering his hand; "but you were a stranger to me you
know."

"Well, well, it's all right--I'd have done exactly so myself," answered
Boone, grasping the young man's hand with a cordiality that showed no
offence had been taken. "And now--a--how do you call yourself?"

"Henry Millbanks."

"Now, Master Millbanks, pray be speedy; for while we talk, our friends
may die, and it goes agin nater to think on't," said Boone, anxiously.

As he spoke, he led forward the lady's horse past the other carcass;
while Henry, springing upon his own beast, followed after. Having seen
them safely out of the ravine, the noble hunter turned back to wait the
arrival of the expected assistance. He had just gained the center of the
thicket, when he was slightly startled again by the growl of his dog,
and the tramp of what appeared to be another horse, coming from the
direction of Younker's. Hastily secreting himself, he awaited in silence
the approach of the new comer, whom he soon discovered to be an old
acquaintance, who was riding at a fast gallop, bearing some heavy weight
in his arms. As he came up to the carcass of Ella's horse, he slackened
his speed, looked at it earnestly, then gazed cautiously around, and was
about to spur his boast onward again, when the sound of Boone's voice
reached, his ear; requesting him to pause; and at the same time, to his
astonishment, Boone himself emerged into the path before him.

"Ha! Colonel Boone," said the horsemen, quickly; "I'm glad to meet ye;
for now is a time when every true man's wanted."

"What's the news, David Billings?" inquired Boone, anxiously, as he
noticed a troubled, earnest expression on the countenance of the other.

"Bad!" answered Billings, emphatically. "The Injens have been down upon
us agin in a shocking manner."

"Heaven forbid thar be many victims!" ejaculated Boone, unconsciously
tightening the grasp on his rifle.

"Too many--too many!" rejoined Billings, shaking his head sadly. "Thar's
my neighbor Millbanks' family--"

"Well? well?" cried Boone, impatiently, as the other seemed to hesitate.

"Have all been murdered, and his house burnt to ashes."

"All?" echoed Boone.

"All but young Harry, who's fortunately away to a wedding at Wilson's."

"Why, the one you speak of war just now here," said Boone, with a start;
"and I sent him back to raise a party to trail the red varmints, who've
been operating as you see yonder: Good heavens! what awful news for poor
Harry, who seems so likely a lad."

"Yes, likely you may well say," returned the other; "and so war the
whole family--God ha' mercy on 'em! But what's been done here?"

"Why, I suppose Ella Barnwell--Younker's niece, you know--and a likely
young stranger who war along with her, called Reynolds, have been
captured."

"Ha! well it's supposed Younker and his wife are captives too, or else
that thar bones lie white among the ashes of thar own ruins."

"Good heavens!" cried Boone. "Any more, David?"

"Yes, thar's Absalom Switcher and his wife, and a young gal of twelve;
and Ephraim Stokes' wife and a young boy of five; who war left by
themselves, (Stokes himself being away, and his son Seth at the wedding,
as was a son o' Switcher's also) have all bin foully mardered--besides
Johnny Long's family, Peter Pierson's, and a young child of Fred Mason's
that happened to be at Pierson's house, and one or two others whose
names I disremember."

"But when did this happen, David?"

"Last night," replied the other. "It's suspected that the Injens ha bin
warting round here, and took advantage of this wedding, when the greater
part on 'em war away. It's thought too that thar war a white spy out,
who gin 'em information, and led 'em on--as a villainous looking chap
war seed about the vicinity not long ago."

"Do they suspicion who war the spy?" asked Boone.

"Why some thinks as how it war that thar accussed renegade, Simon
Girty."

"Wretch!" muttered Boone, grasping his rifle almost fiercely; "I'd like
to have old Bess, here, hold a short conflab with him. But what have you
got thar in your arms, that seems so heavy, David?"

"Rifles, Colonel. I've bin riding round and collecting on 'em for this
mad party of Younker's, who went off without any precaution; and I'm now
on my way to deliver 'em, that they may start instanter arter the cussed
red skins, and punish 'em according to the Mosaic law."

"Spur on then, David, and you may perhaps overtake some o' them; and all
that you do, arm and send 'em here as quick as possible--for I'm
dreadful impatient to be off."

The colloquy between the two thus concluded, the horseman--a
strongly-built, hard-favored, muscular man of forty--set spurs to his
horse; and bounding onward toward Wilson's (distant some five miles--the
ravine being about half way between the residence of the groom and
bride,) he was quickly lost to the sight of the other, who quietly
seated himself to await the reinforcement.

In the course of half an hour, Boone was joined by some three or four of
the wedding party, who bad been overtaken by Billings, learned the news,
accepted a rifle each, bidden their fair companions adieu, and sent them
and the horses back to the house of the bride, while they moved forward
to meet danger, rescue the living, and seek revenge.

In the course of an hour and a half, Billings himself returned,
accompanied by some seven or eight stout hearts; among whom were young
Switcher, Stokes, Millbanks, and, lastly, Isaac Younker, who had been
roused from the nuptial bed to hear of the terrible calamity that had
befallen his friends. Isaac, on the present occasion, did not disgrace
his training, the land which gave him birth, nor the country he now
inhabited. When the messenger came with the direful news, although
somewhat late in the morning, Isaac had been found in his bed, closely
folded in the arms of the god of sleep. On being awakened and told of
what had taken place, he slowly rose up into a sitting posture, rubbed
his eyes, stared searchingly at his informant, gathered himself upon his
feet, threw on his wedding garments, and made all haste to descend
below; where he at once sought out his new wife, Peggy, who had risen
an hour before; and grasping her by the hand, in a voice slightly
tremulous, but with a firm, determined expression on his features, said:

"Peggy, dear, I 'spect you've heard the whole on't. Father, mother, Ella
and Reynolds--all gone, and our house in ashes, I'm going to follow,
Peggy. Good bye--God bless you! Ef I don't never come back, Peggy"--and
the tears started into his eyes--"you may jest put it down I've been
clean sarcumvented, skinned, and eat up by them thar ripscallious
Injens;" and turning upon his heel, as his tender-hearted spouse burst
into tears, he seized upon same provisions that had graced the last
night's entertainment, gave Black Betty a long and cordial salute with
his lips, shook hands with his wife's father and mother, kissed Peggy
once again, pulled his cap over his eyes, and, without another word, set
forth with rapid strides on the eastern path leading to the rendezvous
of Daniel Boone.

On the faces of those now assembled, who had lost their best and dearest
friends, could be seen the intense workings of the strong passions of
grief and revenge, while their fingers clutched their faithful rifles
with a nervous power. The greatest change was apparent in the features
of Henry Millbanks. He was a fine-favored, good-looking youth of
eighteen, with light hair and a florid complexion. The natural
expression of his handsome countenance was an easy, dignified smile,
which was rendered extremely fascinating by a broad, noble forehead, and
a clear, expressive, gray eye; but now the floridity had given place to
a pale, almost sallow hue, the forehead was wrinkled with grief, the
lips were compressed, and the smile had been succeeded by a look of
great fierceness, aided by the eye; which was more than usually sunken
and bloodshot.

But little was said by any of the party; for all felt the chilling
gloom of the present, so strongly contrasted with the bright hours and
merry jests which had so lately been apportioned to each. Boone called
to Cæsar and bade him seek the Indian trail; a task which the noble
brute flew to execute; and in a few minutes the whole company were on
their way; with the exception of Billings; who, by the unanimous request
of all, returned to Wilson's; to cheer, console and protect the females;
and, if thought advisable, to conduct them to Bryan's Station--a strong
fort a few miles distant--where they might remain in comparative
security.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE INDIANS AND THEIR PRISONERS.


While the events just chronicled were enacting in one part of the
country, others, of a different nature, but somewhat connected with
them, were taking place in another. In a dark, lonely pass or gorge of
the hills, some ten miles to the north of the scene of the preceding
chapter, where the surrounding trees grew so thick with branches and
leaves that they almost entirely excluded the sunlight from the waters
of a stream which there rolled foaming and roaring between the hills and
over and against the rocks of its precipitous bed, or, plunging down
some frightful precipice, lay as if stunned or exhausted by the fall in
the chasm below, mirroring in its still bosom with a gloomy reflection
the craggy steeps rising majestically above it--in this dark and lonely
pass, we say, was a party of human beings, to whom the proper
development of our story now calls us.

The company in question was composed of eight persons, five of whom were
Indians of the Seneca tribe;[5] the others--a thin-faced, gaunt,
stoop-shouldered man past the middle age--a rather corpulent, masculine
looking woman, a few years his junior--a little fair-haired, blue-eyed,
pretty-faced girl of six--were white captives. Four of the Indians were
seated or partly reclining on the ground, with their guns beside them,
ready for instant use if necessary, engaged in roasting slices of deer
meat before a fire that had been kindled for the purpose. The fifth
savage was pacing to and fro, with his rifle on his arm, performing the
double duty of sentinel and guard over the prisoners, who were kept in
durance by strong cords some ten paces distant. The old man was secured
by a stick passing across his back horizontally, to which both wrists
and arms were tightly bound with thongs of deer skin. To prevent the
possibility of escape, both legs were fastened together by the same
material, and a long, stout rope, encircling his neck, was attached to
a tree hard by. This latter precaution, and much of the former, seemed
unnecessary; for there was a mild look of resigned dejection on his
features, as they bent toward the earth, with his chin resting on his
bosom, that appeared strongly at variance with any thing like flight or
strife. His female companion was fastened in like manner to the tree,
but in other respects only bound by a stout thong around the wrists in
front. The third member of the white party, the little girl, was seated
at the feet of the old man, with her small wrists also bound until they
had swollen so as to pain her, looking up from time to time into his
face with a heart-rending expression of grief, fear and anxiety.

Of the Indians themselves, we presume it would be difficult to find,
among all the tribes of America, five more blood-thirsty, villainous
looking beings than the ones in question. They were only partially
dressed, after the manner of their tribe, with skins around their loins,
extending down to their knees, and moccasins on their feet, leaving the
rest of their bodies and limbs bare. Around their waists were belts, for
the tomahawk and scalping knife, at three of which now hung freshly
taken scalps. Their faces had been hideously painted for the war-path;
but heat and perspiration had since out done the artist, by running the
composition into streaks, in such a way as to give them the most
diabolical appearance imaginable. On each of their heads was a tuft of
feathers, some of which had the appearance of having recently been
scorched and blackened by fire, while their arms and bodies were here
and there besmeared with blood.

The four around the fire were in high glee, as they roasted and
devoured their meat, judging from their nods, and grins, and grunts
of approbation, whenever their eyes glanced in the direction of their
prisoners--the effect of which was far from consoling to the matron of
the latter; who, having eyed them for some time in indignant silence,
at length burst forth with angry vehemence:

"Well, now, jest grin, and jabber, and grin, like a pesky set o' natural
born monkeys, that's ten times better nor you is any day of your good
for nothing, sneaking lives. Goodness, gracious, marsy on me alive!"
continued the dame, whom the reader has doubtless recognized as Mrs.
Younker; "I only jest wish you had to change places with me and Ben here
for about five minutes; and ef I didn't make your old daubed, nasty,
villainous, unyarthly looking faces grin to another tune, I hope I may
never be blessed with liberty agin in creation, as long as I live on the
face o' this univarsal yarth!"

"Ugh!" ejaculated the sentinel, turning towards the speaker, as she
concluded her fierce tirade, at the same time placing his hand on the
tomahawk in his belt with an angry gesture: "Ugh! me squaw kill--she no
stop much talky!"

"You'd kill me, would ye? you mean, dirty, ripscallious looking varmint
of the woods you, that don't know a pin from a powder horn!" rejoined
the undaunted Mrs. Younker, in a vehement tone: "You'd kill me for using
the freedom of tongue, as these blessed Colonies is this moment fighting
for with the tarnal Britishers? You'd kill me, would ye? Well, it's jest
my first nateral come at opinion, as I tolled Ben here, not more'n a
quarter o' an hour ago, that you war jest mean enough for any thing, as
ever war invented, in the whole univarsal yarth o' creation--so ef you
do kill me, I won't be in the leastest grain disappinted, no how."

"Don't, Dorothy--don't irritate the savage for nothing at all!" said her
husband, who, raising his head at the first remark of the Indian, now
saw in his fierce, flashing eyes, angry gestures, and awful contortions
of visage, that which boded the sudden fulfillment of his threat: "Don't
irritate him, and git murdered for your pains, Dorothy! Why can't you be
more quiet?"

"Don't talk to me about being quiet, Benjamin Younker, away out here in
the woods, a captive to such imps an them thar, with our house all burnt
to nothing like, and our cows and sheeps and hosses destructed, and--"

Here the speech of the good woman was suddenly cut short by the whizzing
of a tomahawk past her head, which slightly grazed her cheek, and lodged
in the tree a few feet beyond. Whether it was aimed at her life and
missed its mark, or whether it was merely done to frighten her, does not
appear; though the manner of the savage, after the weapon was thrown,
inclines us to the latter supposition; for instead of rushing upon her
with his knife, he walked deliberately to the tree, withdrew the
tomahawk, and then turning to her, and brandishing it over her head,
said:

"Squaw, still be! Speak much, me killum!"

Be the design of the Indian what it might, the whole proceeding
certainly produced one result, which nothing had ever been known to do
before--it awed to silence the tongue of Mrs. Younker, just at a moment
when talking would have been such a relief to her overcharged spirit;
and merely muttering, in an under tone, "I do jest believe the
ripscallious varmint is in arnest, sure enough!" she held her speech for
the extraordinary space of half an hour.

Meantime the other savages finished their repast; and having offered a
portion of it to the prisoners, which the latter refused, they proceeded
to destroy their fire, by casting the burning brands into the rushing
waters of the stream below. This done, they extended their circle
somewhat--each placing himself by a tree or rock--and then in the most
profound silence stood like bronzed statuary, apparently awaiting the
arrival of another party. At last--and just as the sun was beginning to
peep over the brow of the steep above them, and let his rays struggle
with the matted foliage of the trees, for a glimpse of the roaring
waters underneath--one of the Indians started, looked cautiously around,
dropped flat upon the earth; and then rising, and motioning with his
hand for all to be silent, glided noiselessly away, like the shadow of
some evil spirit, into the surrounding thicket. He had scarcely been
absent three minutes, when a slight crackling among the brush was heard
near at hand; and immediately after he rejoined his companions, followed
by a party of eight Indian warriors, and two white prisoners, headed by
a low browed, sinister, blood-thirsty looking white man, in a garb
resembling that worn by a subordinate British officer. His coat was red,
with facings of another color, underneath which was partially displayed
a handsome vest and ruffled shirt. About his waist passed a broad wampum
belt, in which were confined a brace of silver mounted pistols, another
pair of less finish and value, a silver handled dirk, a scalping knife
and tomahawk, on whose blades could be seen traces of blood. Around his
neck was a neatly tied cravat, and dangling in front of his vest a gold
chain, which connected with a watch hid in a pocket of his breeches,
whence depended a larger chain of steel, supporting in turn three
splendid gold seals and two keys. His nether garments were breeches,
leggins, and moccasins, all of deer skin, and without ornament. His hat,
not unlike those of the present day, was on this occasion graced with a
red feather, which protruded above the crown, and corresponded well with
his general appearance.

The Indian companions of this individual were not remarkable for any
thing, unless it might be ferocity of expression. They were habited,
with but one exception, like those previously described, and evidently
belonged to the same tribe. This exception was a large, athletic,
powerful Indian, rather rising of six feet, around whose waist was a
finely worked wampum belt, over whose right shoulder, in a transverse
direction, extended a red scarf, carelessly tied under the left arm,
and in whose nose and ears were large, heavy rings, denoting him to be
either a chief or one in command. His age was about thirty; and his
features, though perhaps less ferocious than some of his companions,
were still enough so to make him an object of dread and fear. His
forehead was low, his eye black and piercing, and his nose rather flat
and widely distended at the nostrils. He was called Peshewa: Anglice,
Wild cat.

As the prisoners of the latter party came in sight of those of the
former, there was a general start and exclamation of surprise; while the
sad faces of each showed how little pleasure they felt in meeting each
other under such painful circumstances. The last comers, as the reader
has doubtless conjectured, were Algernon and Ella. Immediately on their
entering the ravine, as previously recorded, they had been set upon
by savages, their horses shot from under them, and themselves made
captives. This result, however, as regards Algernon, had not been
effected without considerable effort on the part of his numerous
enemies. At the first fire, his horse fell; but disentangling himself,
and drawing his pistols, he sprung upon the side of his dying beast, and
discharged them both at his nearest foes--one of which took effect, and
sent a warrior to his last account. Then leaping in among them, he drew
his knife and cut madly about him until secured; though doubtless he
would have been tomahawked on the spot, only that he might be reserved
for the tortures, when his brutal captors should arrive at their
destination. Meantime the animal which bore the lovely Ella, being
wounded by the same fire which killed her companion's, bounded forward
some twenty paces, when a blow on the head with a tomahawk laid him
prostrate, and she was secured also. The party then proceeded to bury
the dead, at some little distance, and start upon their journey, to join
their companions--which latter we have just seen accomplished.

As soon as mutual recognitions had passed between the prisoners, the
individual habited in the British uniform stepped forward, and said,
jocosely:

"So, friends, we all meet again, do we, eh?--ha, ha, ha!"

At the sound of his voice, the old man and his wife, both of whom had
been too intently occupied with Algernon and Ella to notice him before,
started, and turning their eyes suddenly upon him, simultaneously
exclaimed:

"Mr. Williams!"

"_Sometimes_ Mr. Williams," answered the other, with a strong emphasis
on the first word, accompanying it with a horrible oath; "but now, when
disguise is no longer necessary, Simon Girty, the renegade,
by ----!--ha, ha, ha!"

As he uttered these words, in a coarse, ruffianly tone, a visible
shudder of fear or disgust, or both combined, passed through the frame
of each of the prisoners; and Algernon turning to him, with an
expression of loathing contempt, said:

"I more than half suspected as much, when I sometime since contemplated
your low-browed, hang-dog countenance. Of course we can expect no mercy
at such hands."

"Mercy!" cried Girty, turning fiercely upon him, his eyes gleaming
savagely, his mouth twisting into a shape intended to express the most
withering contempt, while his words fairly hissed from between his
tightly set teeth: "Mercy? dog! No, by h----l! for none like you! Hark ye,
Mr. Reynolds! Were you in the damnable cells of the Inquisition, accused
of heresy, and about to be put to the tortures, you might think yourself
in Paradise compared to what you shall yet undergo!"

As he uttered these words, Ella shrieked and fell fainting to the earth.
Springing to her, Girty raised her in his arms; and pointing to her pale
features, as he did so, continued:

"See! Mr. Reynolds, this girl loves you; I love her; we are rivals; and
you, my rival, are in my power: and, by ----! and all the powers of
darkness, you shall feel my vengeance!"

"You love her?" broke in Mrs. Younker, who, in spite of her previous
dangerous warning, could hold her peace no longer: "You love her! you
mean, contemptible, red headed puppy! I don't believe as how you knows
enough to love nothing! And so you're Simon Girty, hey? that thar
sneaking, red-coat renegade? Well, I reckon as how you've told the truth
once; for I've hearn tell that he war an orful mean looking imp o'
Satan; and I jest don't believe as how a meaner one nor yourself could
be skeer'd up in the whole universal yarth o' creation."

"Rail on, old woman!" replied Girty, as he chafed the temples of Ella
with his hands; "but in a little lower key; or I shall be under the
necessity of ordering a stopper to your mouth; which, saving the
tortures of the stake, is the worst punishment for you I can now invent.
As for you, Mr. Younker," continued he, turning his face to the old man,
with a peculiar expression; "you seem to have nothing to say to an old
friend--ha, ha, ha!"

"Whensomever I mention the name o' Simon Girty," replied Younker, in a
deliberate and startlingly solemn tone, "I al'ays call down God's curse
upon the fiendish renegade--and I do so now."

"By ----! old man," cried Girty, casting Ella roughly from him, and
starting upright, the perfect picture of a fiend in human shape;
"another word, and your brains shall be scattered to the four winds of
heaven!"

As he spoke, he brandished his tomahawk over the other's head; while the
child, before noticed, uttered a wild scream, and sprung to Mrs.
Younker, at whose side she crouched in absolute terror.

"Strike!" answered Younker, mildly, with an unchanged countenance, his
eye resting steadily upon the other, who could not meet his gaze in the
same manner. "Strike! Simon Girty; for I'm a man that's never feared
death, and don't now; besides, I reiterate all I've said, and with my
dying breath pray God to curse ye!"

"Not yet!" rejoined Girty, smothering his rage, as he replaced his
weapon. "Not yet, Ben Younker; for you take death too easy; and by ----!
I'll make it have terrors for you! But what child is this?" continued
he, grasping the little girl fiercely by the arm, causing her to utter a
cry of pain and fear. "By heavens! what do we with squalling children?
Here, Oshasqua, I give her in your charge; and if she yelp again, brain
her, by ----!" and he closed with an oath.

The Indian whom we have previously noticed as the sentinel, stepped
forward, with a demoniac gleam of satisfaction on his ugly countenance,
and taking the child by the hand, led her away some ten paces, where he
amused himself by stripping her of such apparel as he fancied might
ornament his own person; while she, poor little thing, afraid to cry
aloud, could only sob forth the bitterness of her heart.

Meantime Girty turning to Ella, and finding her gradually recovering,
assisted her to rise; and then motioning the chief aside, he held a
short consultation with him, in the Indian dialect, regarding their next
proceedings, and the disposal of the prisoners.

"Were it not, Peshewa, for his own base words," said the renegade, in
reply to some remark of his Indian ally, "I would have spared him; but
now," and his features exhibited a concentrated expression of infernal
hate and revenge; "but now, Peshewa, he dies! with all the horrors of
the stake, that you, a noble master of the art of torture, can invent
and inflict. The Long Knife[6] must not curse the red man's friend in
his own camp and go unpunished. I commend him to your mercy,
Peshewa--ha, ha, ha!" and he ended with a hoarse, fiend-like laugh.

"Ugh!" returned Wild-cat, giving a gutteral grunt of satisfaction,
although not a muscle of his rigid features moved, and, save a peculiar
gleam of his dark eye, nothing to show that he felt uncommon interest
in the sentence of Younker: "Peshewa a chief! The Great Spirit give him
memory--the Great Spirit give him invention. He will remember what he
has done to prisoners at the stake,--he can invent new tortures. But
the squaw?"

"Ay, the squaw!" answered the renegade, musingly; "the old man's
wife--she must be disposed of also. Ha! a thought strikes me, Peshewa:
You have no wife--(the savage gave a grunt)--suppose you take her?"

Peshewa started, and his eyes flashed fire, as he said, with great
energy: "Does the wolf mate with his hunter, that you ask a chief of the
Great Spirit's red children to mate with their white destroyer?"

"Then do with her what you ---- please," rejoined Girty, throwing in an
oath. "I was only jesting, Peshewa. But come, we must be on the move!
for this last job will not be long a secret; and then we shall have the
Long Knives after us as hot as h----l. We must divide our party. I will
take with me these last prisoners and six warriors, and you the others.
A quarter of a mile below here we will separate and break our trail
in the stream; you and your party by going up a piece--I and mine by
going down. This will perplex them, and give us time. Make your trail
conspicuous, Peshewa, and I will be careful to leave none whatever, if I
can help it; for, by ----! I must be sure to escape with my prisoners.
If you are close pressed, you can brain and scalp yours; but for some
important reasons, I want mine to live. We will meet, my noble Peshewa,
at the first bend of the Big Miama."

The Indian heard him through, without moving a muscle of his seemingly
blank features, and then answered, a little haughtily:

"Kitchokema[7] plans all, and gives his red brother all the danger; but
Peshewa is brave, and fears not."

"And do you think it's through fear?" asked Girty, angrily.

"Peshewa makes no charges against his brother," answered Wild-cat,
quietly.

"Perhaps it is as well he don't," rejoined Girty, in an under tone,
knitting his brows; and then quickly added: "Come, Peshewa, let us move;
for while we tarry, we are giving time to our white foes."

Thus ended the conference; and in a few minutes after the whole party
was in motion. Following the course of the waters down to the base of
the hills, they came to a sloping hollow of some considerable extent,
where the stream ran shallow over a smooth, beautiful bed. Into this
latter the whole company now entered, for the purpose of breaking the
trail, as previously arranged by Girty; and here they divided, according
to his former plan also.

If the unhappy prisoners regretted meeting one another in distress,
their parting regrets were an hundred fold more poignant; for to them
it seemed evidently the last time they would ever behold on earth each
others faces; and this thought alone was enough to dim the eyes of Ella
and her adopted mother with burning tears, and shake their frames with
heart-rending sobs of anguish; while the old man and Algernon, though
both strove to be stoical, could not look on unmoved to a similar show
of grief. Since their meeting, the captives had managed to converse
together sufficiently to learn the manner of each others capture, and
give each other some hope of being successfully followed and released
by their friends; but now, when they saw the caution displayed by their
enemies in breaking the trail, they began to fear for the result. Just
before entering the stream, they passed through a cluster of bushes
that skirted the river's bank; and Ella, the only prisoner whose hands
were unbound, by a quick and sly movement succeeded in detaching a
portion of her dress, which she there left as a sign to those who might
follow, that she was still alive, and so encourage them to proceed, in
case they were about to falter and turn back.

The separation being now speedily effected, the two parties were quickly
lost to each other--Girty and his band going down the bed of the stream
some two hundred yards before touching the bank; and the others, headed
by Wild-cat, going up about half that distance.

Leaving each to their journey, let us now return to the band already in
pursuit.


[Footnote 5: Some historians have stated that the Indians here alluded
to were Mingoes, and _not_ Senecas; and that they were a remnant of the
celebrated Logan's tribe.]

[Footnote 6: Sometimes Big Knife--first applied to the Virginians by the
Indians.]

[Footnote 7: Great Chief--a term sometimes given to Girty by the
Indians.]



CHAPTER IX.

THE PURSUERS.


About a hundred yards from where Boone and his young companions set
forth, the dog, which was running along before them, paused, and with
his nose to the ground, set up a fierce bark. When arrived at the spot,
the party halted, and perceived the body of an Indian, slightly covered
with earth, leaves, and a few dry bushes. Hastily throwing off the
covering from his head, they discovered hideous features, wildly
distorted by the last throe of death, and bloody from a wound in his
forehead made by a ball. His scalp had been taken off also, by those who
buried him--from fear, probably, that he would be found by enemies, and
this secured as a trophy--a matter of disgrace which the savage, under
all circumstances, ever seeks to avoid, both for himself and friends.

"Well done, Master Reynolds!" observed Boone, musingly, spurning the
body with his foot, turning away, and resuming his journey: "You're a
brave young man; and I'll bet my life to a bar-skin, did your best under
the sarcumstances; and ef it's possible, we'll do somewhat for you in
return."

"Well, ef he arn't a brave chap--that thar same Algernon Reynolds--then
jest put it down as how Isaac Younker don't know nothing 'bout faces,"
returned the individual in question, in reply to Boone. "I never seed a
man with his fore'ed and eye as would run from danger when a friend war
by wanting his sarvice."

"Ay, he is indeed a clever youth!" rejoined Boone.

"Well, Colonel, he's all that," again returned Isaac; "and I'll al'ays
look 'pon't in the light o' a sarvice, that you jest placed him in my
hands, when he war wounded; for to do sech as him a kindness, al'ays
carries along its own reward. And Ella--my poor, sweet cousin, as war
raised up in good sarcumstances, and lost her all--she too I reckon
feels kind o' grateful to you, Colonel, besides."

"As how?" asked Boone.

"Why, I don't know's it's exactly right for me to tell as how," replied
Isaac, shrewdly, who was fearful of saying what Ella herself might wish
kept a secret.

"I understand ye," said Boone, in a low tone, heard only by Isaac; and
the subject was then changed for one more immediately connected with
their present journey.

In the course of conversation that followed, it was asked of Boone how
he chanced to be in the vicinity, and learned of the calamity that had
befallen Algernon and Ella, before any of the others; to which he
replied, by stating that he was on his way from Boonesborough to Bryan's
Station, and coming into the path just above the ravine, had been
indebted to his noble brute companion for the discovery--a circumstance
which raised Cæsar in the estimation of the whole party to a wonderful
degree. Nor was this estimation lessened by the conduct of Cæsar himself
in the present instance; for true to his training, instinct, and great
sagacity, he led them forward at a rapid pace, and seemed possessed of
reasoning powers that would have done no discredit to an intelligent
human being. One instance in point is worthy of note. In passing through
a dense thicket on the Indian trail, the noble brute discovered a small
fragment of ribbon, which he instantly seized in his mouth, and, turning
back to his master, came up to him, wagging his tail, with a look
expressive of joy, and dropped it at his feet. On examination it was
recognized as a detached portion of a ribbon worn by Ella; and this
little incident gave great animation and encouragement to the party--as
it proved that she at least was yet alive, and had a hope of being
followed by friends.

Some two hours from their leaving the ravine, they came to the dark
pass, where we have seen the meeting between the two Indian parties.
Here our pursuers halted a few minutes to examine the ground, and form
conjectures as to what had taken place--in doing which, all paid the
greatest deference to the opinions and judgment of Boone, who was looked
upon by all who knew him as a master of the woodman's craft.

After gazing intently for some time at the foot prints, Boone informed
his companions that another party had been in waiting, had been joined
by the others, and that all had proceeded together down the stream; and
moreover, that there was an addition of white prisoners, one of which
was a child. This caused a great sensation among his listeners--many of
whom had lost their relatives, as the reader already knows--and Hope,
the cheering angel, which hovers around us on our pathway through life,
began to revive in each breast, that the friends they were mourning as
dead, might still be among the living, and so made them more eager than
ever to press on to the rescue.

At the river's bank, the sagacious Cæsar discovered another piece of
ribbon--dropped there as the reader knows by Ella--which he carried in
triumph to his master, and received in turn a few fond caresses.

"Here," said Boone, as himself and companions entered the streamlet,
whose clear, bright waters, to the depth of some three inches, rolled
merrily over a smooth bed, with a pleasing murmur: "Here, lads, I reckon
we'll have difficulty; for the red varmints never enter a stream for
nothing; and calculating pretty shrewdly they'd be followed soon, no
doubt they've taken good care to puzzle us for the trail. Ef it be as
I suspect, we'll divide on the other side, and a part o' us go up, and
a part down, till we come agin upon thar track. But then agin," added
Boone, musingly, with a troubled expression, "it don't follow, that
because they entered the stream they crossed it; and it's just as likely
they've come out on the same side they went in; so that we'll have to
make four divisions, and start on the sarch."

Accordingly on reaching the other shore, and finding the trail was lost,
Boone divided the party--assigning each his place--and separating, six
of them recrossed the stream; and dividing again, two, headed by Isaac,
went up, and two, led by Henry Millbanks, went down along the bank;
while Boone and Seth Stokes, with the rest, proceeded in like manner on
the opposite side; and the dog flew hither and yon, to render what
service he could also. For something like a quarter of an hour not the
least trace of the savages could be found, when at last the voice of
Isaac was heard shouting:

"I've got it--I've got it! Here it is, jest as plain and nateral as
cornstalks--Hooray!"

In a few minutes the whole company was gathered around Isaac, who
pointed triumphantly to his discovery.

"That's the trail, sure enough," observed Boone, bending down to scan
it closely; "and rather broad it is too. It's not common for the wily
varmints to do thar business in so open a manner, and I suspicion it's
done for some trickery. Look well to your rifles, lads, and be prepared
for an ambush in yon thicket just above thar, while I look carefully
along this, for a few rods, just to see ef I can make out thar meaning.
They've spread themselves here considerable," continued the old hunter,
after examining the trail a few minutes in silence; "but ef they think
to deceive one that has been arter 'em as many times as I, they've made
quite a mistake; for I can see clean through their tricks, as easy as
light comes through greased paper."

"What discovery have you made now?" inquired young Millbanks, who,
together with the others, pressed eagerly around Boone to hear his
answer.

"Why I've diskivered what I war most afeard on," answered the woodsman.
"I've diskivered that the varmints have divided, for the sake of giving
us trouble, or leading us astray from them as they cares most about. See
here!" and bending down to the ground, Boone pointed out to his young
companions, many of whom were entirely ignorant of that ingenious art of
wood-craft, whereby the experienced hunter knows his safety or danger in
the forest as readily as the sailor knows his on the ocean, and which
appears to the uninitiated like a knowledge superhuman--Boone pointed
out to them, we say, three distinct foot prints, which he positively
asserted were neither made by the Indians nor the captives of the
ravine.

"But I'd jest like to know, Colonel Boone, how you can be so sartin o'
what you declar, ef it would'nt be for putting you to too much trouble,"
said one of the party, in surprise.

"Obsarve," replied Boone, who, notwithstanding it would cause some
little delay, was willing to gratify his young friends, by imparting to
them what information he could regarding an art so important to frontier
life: "Obsarve that print thar (pointing with his finger to the largest
one of the three;) now that war never made by Master Reynolds, for it's
much too big; and this I know from having got the dimension o' his track
afore I left the ravine to trail him; and I know it war never made by
one o' the red heathen, for it arn't, the shape o' thar feet,; and
besides, you'll notice how the toe turns out'ard from the heel--a thing
an Indian war never guilty on--for they larn from children to tread
straight forward. The next one you'll obsarve turns out in like manner;
and though it's smaller nor the first, it arn't exactly the shape of
Reynold's, and it's too big for Ella's; and moreover I opine it's a
woman's--though for the matter o' that I only guess at it. The third you
perceive is the child's; and them thar three are the only ones you can
find that arn't Indian's. Now note agin that the trail's spread here,
and that here and thar a twig's snapped on the bushes along thar way;
which the red-skins have done a purpose to make thar course conspicuous,
to draw thar pursuers on arter 'em, prehaps for an ambush, prehaps to
keep them from looking arter the others."

"In this perplexity what are we to do?" inquired young Millbanks.

"Why," answered Boone, energetically, "Heaven knows my heart yearns to
rescue all my fellow creaters who're in distress; but more particularly,
prehaps, them as I know's desarving; and as I set out for Master
Reynolds, and his sweet companion, Ella Barnwell, God bless her! I
somehow reckon it's my duty to follow them--though I leave the rest o'
ye to choose for yourselves. Ef you want to divide, and part go this
trail and part follow me, mayhap it'll be as well in the end."

This plan seemed the best that could be adopted under the circumstances;
and after some further consultation among themselves, it was finally
agreed that Isaac, with six others--two of whom were Switcher and
Stokes--should proceed on the present trail; while Millbanks and the
remainder should accompany Boone. Isaac was chosen as the most suitable
one to lead his party, on account of his foresight and shrewdness, and,
withal, some little knowledge which he possessed of the country and the
woodsman's art, previously gained in a tour with his father, when
seeking a location, together with an expedition of considerable extent
shortly after made with Boone himself.

To him, as the leader, the noble old hunter now turned, and in a brief
manner imparted some very important advice, regarding his mode of
proceeding under various difficulties, particularly cautioned him
against any rash act, and concluded by saying, "Wharsomever or
howsomever you may be fixed, Isaac, and you his companions, (addressing
the young men by his side) don't never forget the injunction o' Daniel
Boone, your friend, that you must be cool, steady and firm; and
whensomever you fire at a painted varmint, be sure you don't throw away
your powder!"

He then proceeded to shake hands with each, bidding them farewell and
God speed, in a manner so earnest and touching as to draw tears from
many an eye unused to the melting mood. The parting example of Boone was
now imitated by the others, and in a few minutes both divisions had
resumed their journey.

Dividing his party again as before, Boone proceeded with them to examine
closely both banks of the stream for the other trail. Commencing where
they had left off on the announcement of Isaac, they moved slowly
downward, taking due note of every bush, leaf and blade as they went
along--often pausing and bending on their knees, to observe some spot
more minutely, where it seemed probable their enemies had withdrawn from
the water. Cæsar, too, apparently comprehending the object of their
search, ran to and fro, snuffing at every thing he saw, sometimes with
his nose to the ground and sometimes elevated in the air. At length he
gave a peculiar whine, at a spot about twenty yards below that which had
been reached by his master, on the side opposite Isaac's discovery; and
hastening to him, Boone immediately communicated to the others the
cheering intelligence that the trail had been found.

Each now hurrying forward, the old hunter was soon joined by his young
friends; not one of whom, on coming up, failed to express surprise that
he should be so positive of what their eyes gave them not the least
proof. The place where they were now assembled, was at the base of a
hill, which terminated the flat or hollow in that direction, and turned
the stream at a short bend off to the left, along whose side its waters
ran for some twenty yards, when the arm projection of the ridge ended,
and allowed it to turn and almost retrace its path on the opposite
side--thus forming an elliptical bow. At the point in question, rose a
steep bank of rocks, of limestone formation, against which the stream,
during the spring and fall floods had rolled its tide to a height of six
or eight feet; and had lodged there, from time to time, various sorts of
refuse--such as old leaves, branches and roots of trees, and the like
encumbrances to the smooth flow of its waters. On these rocks it was
that the eyes of the party were now fixed; while their faces exhibited
expressions of astonishment, that the old hunter should be able to
distinguish marks of a recent trail, where they could perceive nothing
but the undisturbed surface of what perhaps had been ages in forming.

"And so, lads, you don't see no trail thar, eh?" said Boone, with a
quiet smile, after having listened to various observations of the party,
during which time he had been carelessly leaning on his rifle.

"Why, I must confess I can see nothing of the kind," answered Henry.

"Nor I," rejoined another of the party.

"Well, ef thar be any marks o' a trail here, jest shoot me with red
pepper and salt, ef ever I'm cotched bragging on my eyes agin," returned
a third.

"That thar observation'll hold good with me too" uttered a fourth.

"Here's in," said the fifth and last.

"You're all young men, and have got a right smart deal to larn yet,"
resumed Boone, "afore you can be turned out rale ginuine woodsmen and
hunters. Now mark that thar small pebble stone, that lies by your feet
on the rock. Ef you look at it right close, you'll perceive that on one
side on't the dirt looks new and fresh--which proves it's jest been
started from its long quietude. Now cast your eyes a little higher up,
agin yon dirt ridge which partly kivers them thar larger stones, and
you'll see an indent that this here pebble stone just fits. Now
something had to throw that down, o' course; and ef you'll just look
right sharp above it, you'll see a smaller dent, that war made by the
toe of some human foot, in getting up the bank. Agin you'll observe that
thar dry twig, just above still, has been lately broke, as ef by the
person war climbing up taking hold on't for assistance; but that warn't
the reason the climber broke it--it war done purposely; as you'll see by
the top part being bent up the hill, as ef to point us on. By the Power
that made me!" added Boone, gazing for a moment at the broken twig
intently, "ef I arn't wondrously mistaken, thar's a leaf hanging to it
in a way nater never fixed it."

"Right, there is!" cried Henry, who, looking up with, the rest, chanced
to observe it at the same moment with Boone; and springing forward with
a light bound, he soon reached the spot, and returned with it in his
hand. It was a fall leaf, which had been fastened in a hasty manner to
the twig in question, by a pin through its center. On one side of it was
scrawled, in characters difficult to be deciphered:

"_Follow--fast--for the love of Heaven!--E._"

As Millbanks, after looking at it closely, read off these words, Boone
started, clutched his rifle with an iron grasp, and merely saying, in a
quiet manner, "Onward, lads--I trust you're now satisfied!" he sprang up
the rocks with an agility that threatened to leave his young companions
far in the rear.

All now pressed forward with renewed energy; and having gained the
summit of the hill, which here rose to the height of eighty feet, they
were enabled, by the aid of Cæsar, to come quickly upon the trail of
the Indians, who, doubtless supposing themselves now safe from pursuit,
had taken little or no pains to conceal their course. Of this their
pursuers now took advantage, and hurried onward with long and rapid
strides; now through thick dark woods and gloomy hollows; now up steep
hills and rocky barren cliffs; now through tangles and over marshy
grounds--clearing all obstacles that presented themselves with an ease
which showed that notwithstanding some of them might be inferior as
woodsmen, none were at all events as travelers in the woods.

By noon the party had advanced some considerable distance, and were
probably not far in the rear of the pursued--at least such was the
opinion of Boone--when they were again, to their great vexation, put at
fault for the trail, by the cunning of the renegade, who, to prevent all
accidents, had here once more broken it, by entering another small
streamlet--a branch of Eagle river; and although our friends set to with
all energy and diligence to find it, yet, from the nature of the ground
round about, the darkness of the wood through which the rivulet
meandered, and several other causes, they were unable to do so for three
good hours.

This delay tended not a little to discourage the younger members of our
pursuing party, who, in consequence, began to be low spirited, and less
eager than before to press forward when the trail was again found; but
a few words from Boone in a chiding manner, telling them that if they
faltered at every little obstacle, they would be unfit representatives
of border life, served to stimulate them to renewed exertions. To add to
the discomfort of all--not excepting Boone himself--the sun, which had
thus far shone out warm and brilliant, began to grow more and more dim,
as a thick haze spread through the atmosphere overhead, foretokening an
approaching storm--an event which might prove entirely disastrous to
their hopes, by obliterating all vestiges of the pursued. As the gallant
old hunter moved onward with rapid strides--preceded by the faithful
brute, which, on the regular trail, greatly facilitated their progress,
by saving the company a close scrutiny of their course--he from time to
time cast his eyes upward and noted the thickening atmosphere with an
anxious and troubled expression.

For some time the sun shone faintly; then his rays became entirely
obscured, and his position could only be discerned by a bright spot in
the heavens; this, ere he reached the horizon, became obscured also;
when the old hunter, who had watched every sign closely, looking
anxiously toward the west, observed:

"I don't like it, lads; thar's a storm a brewing for sartin, and we
shall be drenched afore to-morrow morning. Howsomever," he continued,
"it arn't the wetting as I cares any thing about--for I'm used to the
elements in all thar stages, and don't fear 'em no more'n a dandy does a
feather bed--but the trail will be lost, in arnest this time; and then
we'll have to give in, or follow on by guess work. It's this as troubles
me; for I'm fearful poor Ella and Reynolds won't get succor in time. But
keep stout hearts, lads," he added, as he noticed gloomy expressions
sweep over the faces of his followers; "keep stout hearts--don't get
melancholy; for in this here world we've got to take things as we find
'em; and no doubt this storm's all for the best, ef we could only see
ahead like into futurity."

With this consoling reflection the hunter again quickened his pace, and
pressed forward until the shadows of evening warned him to seek out an
encampment for the gathering night. Accordingly, sweeping the adjoining
country with an experienced eye, his glance soon rested on a rocky
ridge, some quarter of a mile to the right, at whose base he judged
might be found a comfortable shelter from the coming rain. Communicating
his thoughts to his companions, all immediately quitted the trail and
advanced toward it, where they arrived in a few minutes, and found, to
their delight, that the experienced woodsman had not been wrong in his
conjectures. A cave of no mean dimensions was fortunately discovered,
after a short search among the rocks, into which all now gathered; and
striking a light, they made a small fire near the entrance; around which
they assembled and partook of the refreshments brought with them--Boone
declaring he had not tasted a morsel of food since leaving Boonsborough
early in the morning. The meal over, the young men disposed themselves
about the cave in the best manner possible for their own comfort: and
being greatly fatigued by their journey, and the revels of the night
previous, they very soon gave evidence of being in a sleep too deep for
dreams. Boone sat by the fire, apparently in deep contemplation, until
a few embers only remained; then pointing Cæsar to his place near the
entrance, he threw himself at length upon the ground, and was soon
imitating the example of his young comrades.

Early in the evening it came on to blow very hard from the east; and
about midnight set in to rain, as Boone had predicted; which it
continued to do the rest of the night; nor were there any signs of its
abatement, when the party arose to resume their journey on the following
morning.

"What can't be cured must be endured," said Boone, quoting an old
proverb, as he gazed forth upon the storm. "We must take sech as comes,
lads, without grumbling; though I do'nt know's thar's any sin in wishing
it war a little more to our liking. Howsomever," he added, "prehaps it
won't be so much agin us arter all; for the red varmints mayhap 'll
think as how all traces of 'em have been washed away, and, feeling safe
from pursuit, be less cautious about their proceedings; and by keeping
on the same course, we may chance upon 'em unawares. So come, lads,
let's eat and be off."

Accordingly, making a hasty breakfast, and securing the remainder of
their provision as well as ammunition in the ample bosoms of their
hunting frocks--which were always made large for such and similar
purposes--tightening the belts about their bodies, and placing their
rifles, locks downward, under the ample skirts of their frocks, to
shield them from the rain, the whole party sallied forth upon their
second day's adventure. Regaining the spot they had quitted the evening
before, Boone took a long look in the direction whence they first
approached; and then shaping his course so as to bear as near as
possible on a direct line with it, set forward at a quick pace, going a
very little west of due north.

In this manner our pursuers continued their journey for some three or
four hours, scarcely exchanging a syllable--the storm beating fiercely
against their faces and drenching their bodies--when an incident
occurred of the most alarming kind.

They had descended a hill, and were crossing an almost open plain of
some considerable extent--which was bounded on the right by a wood, and
on the left by a cane-brake--and had nearly gained its center, when they
were startled by a deep rumbling sound, resembling the mighty rushing of
a thousand horse. Nearer and nearer came the rushing sound; while each
one paused, and many a pale face was turned with an anxious, inquiring
glance upon Boone; whose own, though a shade paler than usual, was
composed in every feature, as he gazed, without speaking, in the
direction whence the noise proceeded.

"Good heavens! what is it?" cried Henry, in alarm.

"Behold!" answered Boone, pointing calmly toward the cane-brake.

A cry of surprise, despair and horror, escaped every tongue but the old
hunter's--as, at that moment, a tremendous herd of buffaloes, numbering
thousands, was seen rushing from the brake, and bearing directly toward
the spot where our party stood. Escape by flight was impossible; for the
animals were scarcely four hundred yards distant, and booming forward
with the speed of the frightened wild horse of the prairie. Nothing was
apparent but speedy death, and in its most horrible form, that of dying
unknown beneath the hoofs of the wild beasts of the wilderness. In this
awful moment of suspense, which seemingly but preceded the disuniting of
soul and body, each of the young men turned a breathless look of horror
upon the old hunter, such as landsmen in a terrible gale at sea would
turn upon the commander of the vessel; but, save an almost imperceptible
quiver of the lips, not a muscle of the now stern countenance of Boone
changed.

"Merciful Heaven!--we are lost!" cried Henry, wildly. "Oh! such a
death!"

"Every man's got to die when his time comes--but none afore; and yourn
hasn't come yet, Master Harry," replied Boone, quietly; "unless," he
added, a moment after, as he raised his rifle to his eye, "Betsey here's
forgot her old tricks."

As he spoke, his gun flashed, a report followed, and one of the foremost
of the herd, an old bull, which had gained a point within a hundred
yards of the marksman, stumbled forward and rolled over on the earth,
with a loud bellow of pain His companions, which were pressing close
behind, snorted with fear, as they successively came up; and turning
aside, on either hand, made a furrow in their ranks; that, gradually
widening as they advanced, finally cleared our friends by a space of
twenty yards; and so passed they on, making the very earth tremble under
their mighty trend.[8]

It was a sublime sight--to behold such a tremendous caravan of wild
beasts rushing past--and one that filled each of the spectators, even
when they knew all danger was over, with a sense of trembling awe; and
they stood and gazed in silence, until the last of the herd was lost to
their vision; then advancing to the noble hunter, Henry silently grasped
his hard, weather-beaten hand, and turned away with tearful eyes--an
example that was followed by each of the others, and which was more
heart touchingly expressive of their feelings, than would have been a
vocabulary of appropriate words.

Our party next proceeded to examine the wounded bull, which was still
bellowing with rage and pain; and having carefully approached and
despatched him with their knives, they found that the ball of Boone had
entered a vital part. Taking from him a few slices of meat, to serve
them in case their provisions ran short, they once more resumed their
journey--the wind still easterly and the storm raging.

About three hours past noon the storm began to show signs of
abatement--the wind blew less hard, and had veered several points to the
north--an event which the old hunter noted with great satisfaction. They
had now gained a point within ten miles of the beautiful Ohio; when the
dog--which, since he had had no trail to guide him, ran where he
chose--commenced barking spiritedly, some fifty paces to the left of the
party, who immediately set off at a brisk gait to learn the cause.

"I'll wager what you dare, lads, the pup's found the trail," said Boone.

The event proved him in the right; for on coming up, the footsteps of
both captors and captives, who had evidently passed there not over three
hours before, could be distinctly traced in the soft earth. A shout--not
inferior in power and duration to that set up by crazy-headed
politicians, on the election of some favorite--was sent away to the
hills, announcing the joy of our party; which the hills, as if partakers
also of the hilarious feelings, in turn duly echoed.

This new, important, and unexpected discovery, raised the spirits of all
our company to a high degree; and they again set forward at a faster
gait than ever, so as to overtake the pursued if possible before they
crossed the Ohio river. The trail was now broad and distinct; and the
footprints of the Indians, as also those of their captives, Algernon and
Ella, could be clearly defined wherever the ground chanced to be of a
clayey nature. In something like two hours our pursuers succeeded in
reaching the river; but unfortunately too late to intercept their
enemies and rescue their friends, who had already crossed sometime
before. By trailing them to the water's edge, they discovered the very
spot where the canoes of the savages had been secreted on the beach,
behind some drift-logs, nearly opposite the mouth of the Great Miami.

"Ef we'd only been here a little sooner," observed Boone, musingly,
"we'd ha' saved some o' the varmints the trouble of paddling over thar;
or ef we only had the means o' crossing now, we'd be upon 'em afore they
war aware on't. Howsomever, as it is, I suppose we'll have to make a
raft to cross on, and so give the red heathen a little more time."

"Is it not possible, Colonel," answered Millbanks, in a suggestive way,
"that the Indians, forming the two parties, may all be of the game
tribe, and have crossed here together, when they came over to make the
attack? and that the boats of the other division, unless they have
recrossed, may still be secreted not far hence?"

"By the Power that made me!" exclaimed Boone, energetically; "a good
thought, lad--a good thought, Master Harry--and we'll act on't at once,
by sarching along the banks above here; for as the other varmints took
off to the east, it am't improbable they've just steered a little round
about, to come down on 'em, while these went right straight ahead."

At once proceeding upon this suggestion, Boone and his companions
commenced a close examination along the shore; which finally resulted
in their finding, as had been premised, not the canoes themselves, but
traces of where they had recently been, together with the trail of the
other party, who had also arrived at this point and crossed over.
This caused no little sensation among our pursuers; who, scanning the
footprints eagerly, and perceiving thereby that the prisoners were
still along with their captors, scarcely knew whether most to grieve or
rejoice. One thing at least was cheering--they were still alive; and
could their friends, the present party, succeed in crossing the river
during the night, might be rescued. But where was Isaac and his band,
was the next important query. If, as they ardently hoped, he and his
comrades had not lost the trail, they might be expected to join them
soon--a reinforcement which would render them comparatively safe.

Meantime the storm had wholly subsided--the wind blew strong and cold
from the northwest--a few broken, dripping clouds sailed slowly
onward--while the sun, a little above the horizon, again shone out clear
and bright, and painted a beautiful bow on the cloudy ground of the
eastern heavens.

"Well, lads, the storm's over, thank God!" said Boone, glancing upward,
with an expression of satisfaction; "and now, as day-light'll be scarce
presently, we'll improve what there is, in constructing a raft to cross
over on; and maybe Isaac and the rest on 'em will join us in time to get
a ride."

As the old hunter concluded, he at once applied himself to laying out
such drift logs as were thought suitable for the purpose, in which he
was assisted by three of the others, the remaining two proceeding into
the bushes to cut withes for binding them together; and so energetic and
diligent was each in his labors, that, ere twilight had deepened into
night, the rude vessel was made, launched, and ready to transport its
builders over the waters. They now resolved to take some refreshment,
and wait until night had fully set in, in the faint hope that Isaac
might possibly make his appearance. With this intent, our party retired
up the bank, into the edge of the wood that lined the shore, for the
purpose of kindling a fire, that they might dry their garments, and
roast some portions of the slaughtered bull.

Scarcely had they succeeded, after several attempts, in effecting a
bright, ruddy blaze--which threw from their forms, dark, fantastic
shadows, against the earth, trees and neighboring bushes--when Cæsar
uttered a low, deep growl; and Boone, grasping his rifle tightly,
motioned his companions to follow him in silence into an adjoining
thicket. Here, after cautioning them to remain perfectly quiet, unless
they heard some alarm, he carefully parted the bushes, and glided
noiselessly away, saying, in a low tone, as he departed:

"I rather 'spect it's Isaac; but I'd like to be sartin on't, afore I
commit myself."

For some five or ten minutes after the old hunter disappeared, all was
silent, save the crackling of the fire, the rustling of the leaves, the
sighing of the wind among the trees, and the rippling of the now swollen
and muddy waters of the Ohio. At length the sound of a voice was heard
some fifty paces distant, followed immediately by another in a louder
tone.

On hearing this, our friends in the thicket rushed forward, and were
soon engaged in shaking the hands of Isaac and his comrades, with a
heartiness on both sides that showed the pleasure of meeting was
earnest, and unalloyed.

As more important matters are now pressing hard upon us, and as our
space is limited, we shall omit the detail of Isaac's adventures, as
also the further proceedings of both parties for the present, and
substitute a brief summary.

The trail on which Isaac and his party started the day before, being
broad and open, they had experienced but little difficulty in following
it, until about noon, when they reached a stream where it was broken,
which caused them some two hours delay. This, doubtless, prevented them
from overtaking the enemy that day; and the night succeeding, not having
found quarters as comfortable as Boone's, they had been thoroughly
soaked with rain. The trail in the morning was entirely obliterated; but
pursuing their course in a manner simitar to that adopted by Boone, the
result had happily been the same, and the meeting of the two parties the
consequence, at a moment most fortunate to both.

All now gathered around the fire, to dry their garments, refresh
themselves with food, tell over to each other their adventures, and
consult as to their future course. It was finally agreed to cross the
stream that night; in the hope, by following up the Miami, to stumble
upon the encampment of their adversaries; who were, doubtless, at no
great distance; and who, as they judged, feeling themselves secure,
might easily be surprised to advantage. How they succeeded in their
perilous undertaking, coming events must show.


[Footnote 8: A similar occurrence to the above is recorded of Boone's
first appearance in the Western Wilds.--_See Boone's Life--By Flint_]



CHAPTER X.

THE RENEGADE AND HIS PRISONERS.


The feelings in the breasts of Algernon and Ella, as they reluctantly
moved onward, captives to a savage, bloodthirsty foe, are impossible
to be described. To what awful end had fate destined them? and in what
place were they to drain the last bitter dregs of woe? How much anguish
of heart, how much racking of soul, and how much bodily suffering was
to be their portion, ere death, almost their only hope, would set them
free? True, they might be rescued by friends--such things had been
done--but the probability thereof was as ten to one against them; and
when they perceived the care with which the renegade sought to destroy
all vestiges of their course, their last gleam of hope became nearly
extinguished.

We have previously stated that Ella was left unbound; but wherefore,
would perhaps be hard to conjecture; unless we suppose that the
renegade--feeling for her that selfish affection which pervades the
breasts of all beings, however base or criminal, to a greater or less
degree--fancied it would be adding unnecessary cruelty to bind heir
delicate hands. Whatever the cause, matters but little; but the fact
itself was of considerable importance to Ella; who took advantage of
her freedom, in passing the bushes before noticed, to snatch a leaf
unperceived, whereon, by great adroitness, she managed to trace with a
pin a few almost illegible characters; and also, in ascending the bank,
which she was allowed to do in her own way, to throw down with her foot
the stone, break the twig at the same instant, and pin the leaf to it,
in the faint hope that an old hunter might follow on the trail, who,
if he came to the spot, would hardly fail to notice it.

The freedom thus given to Ella, and the deference shown her by the
renegade and his allies--who appeared to treat her with the same respect
they would have done the wife of their chief--were in striking contrast
with their manners toward Algernon, on whom they seemed disposed to vent
their scorn by petty insults. Believing that his doom was sealed, he
became apparently resigned to his fate, nor seemed to notice, save with
stoical indifference, any thing that took place around him. This quiet,
inoffensive manner, was far from pleasing to Girty, who would much
rather have seen him chafing under his bondage, and manifesting a desire
to escape its toil. But if this was the outward appearance, not so was
the inward feelings of our hero. He knew his fate--unless he could
effect an escape, of which he had little hope--and he nerved himself to
meet and seem to his captors careless of it; but his soul was already on
the rack of torture. This was not for himself alone; for Algernon was a
brave man, and in reality feared not death; though, like many another
brave man, be had no desire to die at his time of life, especially with
all the tortures of the stake, which he knew, from Girty's remark, would
be his assignment; but his soul was harrowed at the thought of Ella--her
awful doom--and what she might be called upon to undergo: perhaps a
punishment a thousand times worse than death--that of being the
pretended wife, but in reality the mistress, of the loathsome renegade.
This thought to him was torture--almost madness--and it was only by the
most powerful struggle with himself, that he could avoid exposing his
feelings.

For a time, after ascending the rocky bank of the stream and gaining the
hill, the renegade and his Indian allies, with their captives, moved
silently onward at a fast pace; but at length, slackening his speed
somewhat, Girty approached the side of Algernon, who was bound in a
manner similar to Younker, with his wrists corded to a cross bar behind
his back; and apparently examining them a moment or two, in a sneering
tone, said:

"How-comes it that the bully fighter of the British, under the cowardly
General Gates, should be so tightly bound, away out in this Indian
country, and a captive to a _renegade_ agent?--ha, ha, ha!"

The pale features of Algernon, as he heard this taunt, grew suddenly
crimson, and then more deadly white than ever--his fingers fairly worked
in their cords, and his respiration seemed almost to stifle him--so
powerfully were his passions wrought upon by the cowardly insults of his
adversary; but at last all became calm and stoical again; when turning
to Girty, he coolly examined him from head to heel, from heel to head;
and then moving away his eyes, as if the sight were offensive to him,
quietly said:

"An honest man would be degraded by condescending to hold discourse with
so mean a _thing_ as Simon Girty the renegade."

At these words Girty started, as if bit by a serpent--the aspect of his
dark sinister features changed to one concentrated expression of hellish
rage--his eyes seemed to turn red--his lips quivered--the nostrils of
his flat ugly nose distended--froth issued from his mouth--while his
fingers worked convulsively at the handle of his tomahawk, and his whole
frame trembled like a tree shaken by a whirlwind. For some time he
essayed to speak, in vain; but at last he hissed forth, as he whirled
the tomahawk aloft:

"Die!--dog!--die!"

Ella uttered a piercing shriek of fear, and sprung forward to arrest the
blow; but ere she could have reached the renegade; the axe would have
been buried to the helve in the brain of Algernon, had not a tall,
powerful Indian suddenly interposed his rifle between it and the victim.

"Is the great chief a child, or in his dotage," he said to Girty, in the
Shawanoe dialect, "that he lets passion run away with his reason? Is not
the Big Knife already doomed to the tortures? And would the white chief
give him the death of a warrior?"

"No, by ----!" cried Girty, with an oath. "He shall have a dog's death!
Right! Mugwaha--right! I thank you for your interference--I was beside
myself. The stake--the torture--the stake--ha, ha, ha!" added he in
English, with a hoarse laugh, which his recent passion made sound
fiend-like and unearthly; and as he concluded, he smote Algernon on the
cheek with the palm of his hand.

The latter winced somewhat, but mastered his feelings and made no reply;
and the renegade resuming his former pace, the party again proceeded in
silence.

Toward night, Ella became so fatigued and exhausted by the long day's
march, that it was with the greatest difficulty she could move forward
at all; and Girty, taking some compassion on her, ordered the party to
halt, until a rough kind of litter could be prepared; on which being
seated, she was borne forward by four of the Indians. At dark they
halted at the base of a hill, where they encamped and found a partial
shelter from the wind and rain. At daylight they again resumed their
journey; and by four o'clock in the afternoon arrived at the river,
which they immediately crossed in their canoes; and, as the water was
found in a good stage, did not land until they reached the first bend
of the Miami--the place agreed on for the meeting between Girty and
Wild-cat.

As the latter chief and his party had not yet made their appearance,
Girty and his band went ashore with their prisoners, and took shelter
under one of the largest trees in the vicinity, to await their coming.
Of this expected meeting, the captives as yet knew nothing; and it was
of course not without considerable surprise, mingled with a saddened
joy, that they observed the approach, some half an hour later, of their
friends and enemies.

Ella, on first perceiving their canoes silently advancing up the stream,
started up with a cry of joy, which was the next moment saddened by the
thought that she was only welcoming her relatives to a miserable doom.
Still it was a joy to know they were yet alive; and as the sinking heart
is ever buoyed up with hope, until completely engulfed in the dark
billows of despair--so she could not, or would not, altogether banish
the animating feeling, that something might yet interfere to save them
all from destruction. As the canoes touched the shore, Ella sprung
forward to greet her adopted mother and father; but her course was
suddenly checked by one of the Indian warriors, who, grasping her
somewhat roughly by the arm, with a gutteral grunt and fierce gesture of
displeasure, pointed her back to her former place. Ella, downcast and
frightened, tremblingly retraced her steps, and could only observe the
pale faces and fatigued looks of her relatives and the little girl at a
distance; but she saw enough to send a thrill of anguish to her heart;
and Girty, who perceived the expressions of agony her sweet features now
displayed, at once advanced to her, and, modulating his voice somewhat
from its usual tones, said:

"Grieve not, Ella. I will endeavor to procure you an interview with your
friends."

The kindness manifested in the tones of the speaker, caused Ella to look
up with a start of surprise and hope; and thinking he might perhaps be
moved to mercy, by a direct appeal to his better feelings, she replied,
energetically, with a flush on her now animated countenance:

"Oh, sir! I perceive you are not lost to all feelings of humanity." Here
the compression of Girty's lips, and a knitting together of his shaggy
brows, warned Ella she was treading on dangerous ground, and she quickly
added: "All of us are liable to err; and there may be circumstances,
unknown to others, that force us to be, or seem to be, that which in our
hearts we are not; and to do acts which our calm moments of reason tell
us are wrong, and which we afterwards sincerely regret."

"I know not that I understand you," said the renegade, evasively.

"To be more explicit, then," rejoined Ella, "I trust that you, Simon
Girty, whose acts hitherto have been such as to draw down reproaches
and even curses upon your head, from many of your own race, may now be
induced, by the prayer of her before you, to do an act of justice and
generosity."

"Speak out your desire!" returned Girty, as Ella, evidently fearful of
broaching the subject too suddenly, paused, in order to observe the
effect of what had already been said. "Speak out briefly, girl; for
yonder stands Wild-cat awaiting me."

"Oh, then, let me implore you to listen, and God grant your heart may
be touched by my words!" rejoined Ella, eagerly, as she fancied she
saw something of relentment in his stern features. "Look yonder! Behold
that poor old man!--whose head is already sprinkled with the silvery
threads of over fifty winters--beside whom stands the companion of
his sorrows--both of whose lives have been spent in quiet, honest
pursuits--whose doors have ever stood open--whose board has ever been
free to the needy wayfarer. You yourself have been a partaker of their
hospitality, in their own home--which, alas! I have since learned is
in ashes--and can testify to their liberality and kindness. Is this
a proper return therefor, think you?"

"But did not he, yon gray-headed man, then and there curse me to my
face?" returned the renegade, fiercely, in whose eye could be seen the
cold, sullen gleam of deadly hate; "and shall I, the outcast of my
race--I, whose deeds have made the boldest tremble--I, whose name is a
by-word for curses--now spare him, that has defied and called down God's
maledictions on me?"

"Oh, yes! yes!" cried Ella, energetically. "Convince him, by your acts
of generosity, that you are not deserving of his censure, and he, I
assure you, will be eager to do you justice. Oh, return good for evil,
where evil has been done you, and God's blessing, instead of His curse,
will be yours!"

"It may be the _Christian's_ creed to return good for evil," answered
Girty, with a strong emphasis on the word Christian, accompanied with a
sneer; "but by ----! such belongs not to me, nor to those I mate with!
Hark you, Ella Barnwell! I could be induced to do much for you--for I
possess for you a passion stronger than I have ever before felt for any
human being--but were I ever so much disposed to grant your request, it
is now beyond my power."

"As how?" asked Ella, quickly.

"Listen! I will tell you briefly. When first I saw, I felt I loved you,
and from that moment resolved you should be mine. Nay, do not shudder
so, and turn away, and look so pale--a worse fate than being the wife
of a British agent might have been apportioned you. To win you by fair
words, I knew at once was out of the question--for one glance showed me
my rival. Besides, I was not handsome, I knew--had not an oily tongue,
and did not like the plan of venturing too much among those who have
good reasons for fearing and hating me--therefore I resolved on your
capture. I had already meditated an attack on some of the settlers in
the vicinity, and I resolved that both should be accomplished at one
time. The result you know. Younker and his wife became my prisoners.
This was done for two purposes. First, to revenge me for the insults
heaped upon Simon Girty. Secondly, to spare their lives; for had it not
been for my positive injunctions, they would have shared the fate of
their neighbors. My design, I say, was to spare their lives and send
them back, whenever it could be done with safety, provided they showed
any signs of contrition. Did they? No! they again upbraided me to my
face. I was again cursed. My blood is hot--my nature revengeful. That
moment sealed their doom. I gave them up to Peshewa. They are no longer
my prisoners. For their lives you must plead with him. I can do nothing.
Have you more to ask?"

Girty, toward the last, spoke rapidly, in short sentences, as one to
whom the conversation was disagreeable; and Ella listened breathlessly,
with a pale cheek and trembling form; for she saw, alas! there was
nothing favorable to be gained. As he concluded, she suddenly started,
clasped her hands together, and looked up into his stern countenance,
with a wild, thrilling expression, saying, in a trembling voice:

"You have said you love me!"

"I repeat it."

"Then, for Heaven's sake! as you are a human being, and hope for peace
in this world and salvation in the next--restore me--restore us all to
our homes--and to my dying day will I bless and pray for you."

"Umph!" returned the renegade, drily; "I had much rather _hear_ your
sweet voice, though in anger, than to merely _think_ you may be praying
for me at a distance. But I see Wild-cat is getting impatient;" and
as he concluded, he turned abruptly on his heel, and advanced to
Peshewa--who was now standing with his warriors and prisoners on the
bank of the stream, some fifty paces distant, awaiting a consultation
with him--while Ella hid her face in her hands and wept convulsively.

"Welcome, Peshewa!" said Girty, as he approached the chief. "You and
your band are here safe, I perceive; and by ----! you have timed it well,
too, for we have only headed you by half an hour."

"Ugh!" grunted Wild-cat, with that look and gutteral sound peculiar to
the Indian. "Kitchokema has learned Peshewa is here!"

"Come! come!" answered the renegade, in a somewhat nettled manner; "no
insinuations! I saw Peshewa when he arrived."

"But could not leave the Big Knife squaw to greet him," added the
Indian.

"Why, I am not particularly fond of being hurried in my affairs, you
know."

"But there may be that which will not leave Kitchokema slow to act, in
safety," rejoined Wild-cat, significantly.

"How, chief! what mean you?" asked Girty, quickly.

"The Shemanoes--"[9]

"Well?" said Girty.

"Are on the trail," concluded Wild-cat, briefly.

"Ha!" exclaimed the renegade, with a start, involuntarily placing his
hand upon the breech of a pistol in his girdle. "But are you sure,
Peshewa?"

"Peshewa speaks only what he knows," returned the chief, quietly.

"Speak out, then--_how_ do you know?" rejoined Girty, in an excited
tone.

"Peshewa a chief," answered the Indian, in that somewhat obscure and
metaphorical manner peculiar to his race. "He sleeps not soundly on the
war-path. He shuts not his eyes when he enters the den of the wolf. He
_saw_ the camp-fires of the pale-face."

Such had been the fact. Knowing that his trail was left broad and open,
and that in all probability it would soon be followed, Wild-cat had
been diligently on the watch and as his course had been shaped in a
roundabout, rather than opposite direction (as the reader might at first
glance have supposed) from that taken by Boone, he and his band, by
reason of this, had encamped, on the night in question, not haif a
mile distant from our old hunter, but on the other side of the ridge.
Ascending this himself, to note if any signs of an enemy were visible,
Peshewa had discovered the light of Boone's fire, and traced it to its
source. Without venturing near enough to expose himself, the wily savage
had, nevertheless, gone sufficiently close to ascertain they were the
foes of his race. His first idea had been to return, collect a part of
his warriors, and attack them; but prudence had soon got the better of
his valor; from the fact, as he reasoned, that his band were now in the
enemy's country, where their late depredations had already aroused the
inhabitants to vengeance; and he neither knew the force of Boone's
party--for the reader will remember they were concealed in a cave--nor
what other of his foes might be in the vicinity;--besides which, his
purpose had been accomplished, and he was now on the return with his
prisoners;--the whole of which considerations, had decided him to leave
them unmolested, and ere daylight resume his journey; so that, even
should they accidentally come upon his trail, he would be far enough in
advance to reach and cross the river before them. Such was the substance
of what Wild-cat, in his own peculiar way, now made known to Girty; and
having inquired out the location distinctly, the latter exclaimed:

"By heavens! I remember leaving that ridge away to the right, which
proves that the white dogs must have been on my trail. I took pains
enough to conceal it before that night; but if they got the better of
me, I don't think they did of the rain that fell afterwards--so that
they have doubtless found themselves on a fool's errand, long ere this,
and given up the search. Besides, should they reach the river's bank,
they have no means of crossing, and therefore we are safe."

Wild-cat seemed to muse on the remarks of Girty, for a moment or two,
and then said:

"Why did Mishemenetoc[10] give the chief cunning, but that he might use
it against his foes?--why caution, but that he might avoid danger?"

"Why that, of course, is all well enough at times," answered Girty; "but
I don't think either particular cunning or caution need be exercised
now--from the fact that I don't believe there is any danger. Even should
the enemies you saw be fool-hardy enough to follow us, they are not many
in number probably, and will only serve to add a few more scalps to our
girdles. However, we are safe for to-night, at all events; for if they
reach the river, as I said before, they won't be able to cross, unless
they make a raft or swim it; and you may rest assured, Peshewa, they
will sleep on the other side, if for nothing else than their own
safety."

"What, therefore, does my brother propose?" asked Wild-cat.

"Why, I am for encamping, as soon as we can find a suitable spot--say
within a mile of here--for by ----! I am not only hungry but cold, and my
very bones ache, from traveling in this untimely storm, which I perceive
is on the point of clearing up."

"Peshewa likes not sleeping with danger so near," replied the savage.

"Well, I'm not _afraid_," rejoined Girty, laying particular stress on
the latter word; "and so suppose you take the prisoners, with a part of
the band, and go forward, while myself and the balance remain behind to
reconnoitre in the morning; for by ----! that will be time enough to look
for the lazy white dogs. Yet stay!" he added, a moment after, as if
struck by a new thought. "Suppose you take the two Big Knives, and leave
the squaws with me--for being very tired, they will only be a drag upon
your party--and then you can have the stakes ready for the others, if
you get in first, so that we can have the music of their groans to make
us merry on our second meeting."

To this latter proposition, the chief gave a grunt of assent, and the
whole matter being speedily arranged, the council ended.

The conversation between these two worthies having been carried on in
the Indian dialect, was of course wholly unintelligible to Mrs. Younker
and her husband, who were standing near; and trying in vain, for some
time, to gain a clue to the discussion, the good lady at last gave
evidence, that if her body and limbs were weary, her tongue was not;
and that with all the warnings she had received, her old habits of
volubility had not as yet been entirely superseded by thoughtful
silence.

"I do wonder what on yarth," she said, "that thar read-headed Simon
Girty, and that thar ripscallious old varmint, as calls himself a chief,
be coniving at?--and why the pesky Injens don't let me and Ella and the
rest on 'em come together agin, as we did afore? Thar she stands--the
darling--as pale nor a lily, and crying like all nater, jest as if
her little heart war a going to break and done with it. I 'spect the
varmints is hatching some orful plans to put us out o' the way--prehaps
to hitch us to the stake and burn us all to cinder, like they did our
housen, and them things. Well, Heaven's will be done!--as Preacher
Allprayer said, when they turned him out o' meeting for gitting drunk
and swearing--the dear good man!--but I do wish, for gracious sake, I
could only jest change places with 'em--ef jest for five minutes--and
I reckon as how they'd be glad to quit their gibberish, and talk like
Christian folks, once in thar sneaking lives! Thar, they're done now,
I do hope to all marcy's sake! and I reckons as how we'll soon have the
gist on't."

The foregoing remarks of Mrs. Younker, were made in a low tone,
and evidently not intended, like Dickens' Notes, for general
circulation--the nearly fatal termination of a former speech of hers,
having taught her to be a little cautious in the camp of the enemy.
The conclusion was succeeded by a stare of surprise, on being civilly
informed by Girty, that she was now at liberty to join Ella as soon as
she pleased.

"Well, now, that's something like," returned the dame, with a smile that
was intended to be a complimentary one; "and shows, jest as clear as any
thing, that thar is a few streaks o' human nater in you arter all."

Then, as if fearful the permission would be countermanded, the good
lady at once set off in haste to join her adopted daughter. Subsequent
events, however, soon changed the favorable opinion Mrs. Younker had
began to entertain of Girty--particularly when she discovered, as she
imagined, that the liberty allowed her, had only been as a ruse to
withdraw her from her husband--who, as she departed, had been
immediately hurried away, without so much as a parting farewell.

Orders now being rapidly given by Girty and Wild-cat, were quickly and
silently executed by their swarthy subordinates; and in a few minutes,
the latter chief was on his way, with four warriors, the two male
prisoners, and the little girl--Oshasqua, to whom the latter had been
consigned by Girty, as the reader will remember, and who still continued
to accompany Wild-cat, refusing to leave her behind.

When informed by Girty, in an authoritative tone, that he must join the
detachment of Wild-cat, Algernon turned toward Ella, and in a trembling
voice said:

"Farewell, dear Ella! If God wills that we never meet again on earth,
let us hope we may in the Land of Spirits;" and ere she, overcome by her
emotion, had power to reply, he had passed on beyond the reach of her
silvery voice.

Immediately on the departure of Peshewa, Girty ordered the canoes to be
drawn ashore and concealed in a thicket near by, where they would be
ready in case they should be wanted for another expedition; and then
leading the way himself, the party proceeded slowly up the Miami, for
about a mile, and encamped for the night, within a hundred yards of the
river.


[Footnote 9: Americans, or Big Knives. We would remark here, that we
have made use altogether of the Shawanoe dialect; that being most common
among all the Ohio tribes, save the Wyandots or Hurons, who spoke an
entirely different language.]

[Footnote 10: Great Spirit.]



CHAPTER XI.

THE ENCAMPMENT OF THE RENEGADE.


It was about ten o'clock on the evening in question, and Simon Girty was
seated by a fire, around which lay stretched at full length some six or
eight dark Indian forms, and near him, on the right, two of another sex
and race. He was evidently in some deep contemplation; for his hat and
rifle were lying by his side, his hands were locked just below his
knees, as if for the purpose of balancing his body in an easy position,
and his eyes fixed intently on the flame, that, waving to and fro in
the wind, threw over his ugly features a ruddy, flickering light, and
extended his shadow to the size and shape of some frightful monster.
The clouds of the late storm had entirely passed away, and through the
checkered openings in the trees overhead could be discerned a few bright
stars, which seemed to sparkle with uncommon brilliancy, owing to the
clearness of the atmosphere. All beyond the immediate circle lighted by
the fire, appeared dark and silent, save the solemn, almost mournful,
sighing of the wind, as it swept among the tree-tops and through the
branches of the surrounding mighty forest.

What the meditations of the renegade were, we shall not essay to tell;
but doubtless they were of a gloomy nature; for after sitting in the
position we have described, some moments, without moving, he suddenly
started, unclasped his hands, and looked hurriedly around him on every
side, as if half expecting, yet fearful of beholding, some frightful
phantom; but he apparently saw nothing to confirm his fears; and with
a heavy sigh, he resumed his former position.

What were the thoughts of that dark man, as he sat there?--he whose soul
had been steeped in crime!--he whose hands had long been made red with
the blood of numberless innocent victims! Who shall say what guilty
deeds of the past might have been harrowing up his soul to fear and even
remorse? Who shall say he was not then and there meditating upon death,
and the dread eternity and judgment that must quickly follow
dissolution? Who shall say he was not secretly repenting of that life of
crime, which had already drawn down the curses of thousands upon his
head? Something of the kind, or something equally powerful, must have
been at work within him; for his features ever and anon, by their
mournful contortions--if we may be allowed the phrase--gave visible
tokens of one in deep agony of mind. It would be no pleasant task to
analyze and lay bare the secret workings of so dark a spirit, even had
we power to do it; and so we will leave his thoughts, whether good or
evil, to himself and his God.

By his side, and within two feet of the renegade, lay extended the
beautiful form of Ella Barnwell--with nothing but a blanket and her own
garments between her and the earth--with none but a similar covering
over her--with her head resting upon a stone, and apparently asleep. We
say apparently asleep; but the drowsy son of Erebus and Nox had not yet
closed her eyelids in slumber; for there were thoughts in her breast
more potent than all his persuasive arts of forgetfulness, or those
of his prime minister, Morpheus. Was she thinking of her own hard
fate--away there in that lonely forest--with not a friend nigh that
could render her assistance--with no hope of escape from the awful doom
to which she was hastening? Or was she thinking of him, for whom her
heart yearned with all the thousand, undefined, indescribable sympathies
of affection?--of him who so lately had been her companion?--for
the heart of love measures duration, not by the cold mathematical
calculation of minutes and hours, and days and weeks, and months and
years, but by events and feelings; and the acquaintance of weeks may
seem the friend of years, and the acquaintance of years be almost
forgotten in weeks;--was she thinking of him, we say--of Algernon? who,
even in misery, had been torn from her side, had said perchance his last
trembling farewell, and gone to suffer a death at which humanity must
shudder! Ay, all these thoughts, and a thousand others, were rushing
wildly through her feverish brain. She thought of her own fate--of
his--of her relations--pictured out in her imagination the terrible doom
of each--and her tender heart became wrung to the most excruciating
point of agony.

By the side of Ella, was her adopted mother--buried in that troubled
sleep which great fatigue sends to the body, even when the mind is
ill at ease, filling it with startling visions--and around the fire,
as we said before, lay the dusky forms of the savages, lost to all
consciousness of the outer world. The position of Ella was such, that,
by slightly turning her head, she could command a view of the features
of the renegade; whose strange workings, as before noted, served to fix
her attention and divide her thoughts between him, as the cause of her
present unhappiness, and that unhappiness itself--and she gazed on his
loathsome, contorted countenance, with much the same feeling as one
might be supposed to gaze upon a serpent coiling itself around the
body, whose deadly fangs, either sooner or later, would assuredly give
the fatal stroke of death. She noted the sudden start of Girty, and the
wildness with which he peered around him, with feelings of hope and
fear--hope, that rescue might be at hand--fear, lest something more
dreadful was about to happen. At length Girty started again, and turned
his head toward Ella so suddenly, that she had not time to withdraw her
eyes ere his were fixed searchingly upon them.

"And are you too awake?" he said, with something resembling a sigh.
"I thought the innocent could ever sleep!"

"Not when the guilty are abroad, with deeds of death, and friends
exposed," returned Ella, bitterly.

"Ah! true--true!" rejoined Girty, again looking toward the fire, in a
musing mood.

"Well may you muse and writhe under the tortures of your guilty acts,"
continued Ella, in the same bitter tone; "for you have much to answer
for, Simon Girty."

"And who told you the past tortured me?" cried Girty, quickly, turning
on her a fierce expression.

"Your changing features and guilty starts," answered Ella.

"Ha! then you have been a spy upon me, have you?" said Girty, pressing
the words slowly through his clenched teeth, knitting his shaggy brows,
and fixing his eye with intensity upon hers, until she quailed and
trembled beneath its seeming fiery glance; which the light, whereby it
was seen, rendered more demon-like than usual; while it made shadow
chase shadow, like waves of the sea, across his face: "You have been
a spy upon my actions, eh? Beware! Ella Barnwell--beware! Do not
put your head in the lion's mouth too often, or he may think the bait
troublesome; and by ----! had other than you told me what I just now
heard, he or she had not lived to repeat it."

"Far better an early death and innocence, than a long life of guilt and
misery," returned Ella, at once regaining her boldness of speech; "Far
better the fate you speak of, than mine."

"And would you prefer being wedded to death, rather than me?" asked
Girty, quickly, in surprise.

"Ay, a thousand times!" replied Ella, energetically, rising as she
spoke, into a sitting posture, and looking fearlessly upon the renegade,
her previously pale features now flushed with excitement. "I fear not
death, Simon Girty; I have done no act that should make me fear the
change that all must sooner or later undergo; but I could not join my
hand to that of a man of blood, without loathing and horror, and feeling
criminal in the sight of God and man; and least of all to you, Simon
Girty, whose name has become a word of terror to the weak and innocent
of my race, and whose deeds of late have been such as to make me join my
voice in the general maledictions called down upon you."

During this speech of Ella, Girty sat and gazed upon her with the look
of a baffled demon; and, as she concluded, fairly hissed through his
teeth:

"And so you would prefer death to me, eh? By ----! you shall have your
choice!"

As he spoke, he grasped Ella by the wrist with one hand, seized his
tomahawk with the other, and sprung upon his feet. His rapid movement
and wild manner now really frightened her; and uttering a faint cry of
horror, she endeavored to release his hold; while the warriors, aroused
by the noise, bounded up from the earth, weapon in hand, with looks of
alarm.

Turning to them, Girty now spoke a few words in the Indian tongue; and,
with significant glances at Ella, they were just in the act of again
encamping, when crack went some five or six rifles, followed by yells
little less savage than their own, and four of them rolled upon the
earth, groaning with pain; while the others, surprised and bewildered,
grasped their weapons and shouted:

"The Shemanoes!" "The Long Knives!" not knowing whether to stand or fly.

Girty, meantime, had been left unharmed; although the shivering of the
helve of the tomahawk in his hand, in front of his breast, showed him
he had been a target for no mean marksman, and that his life had been
preserved almost by a miracle. For a moment he stood irresolute--his
nostrils fairly dilated with fear and rage, still holding Ella by
the wrist, who was too paralyzed with what she had seen to speak or
move--straining his eyes in every direction to note, if possible, the
number of his foes and whence their approach. The whole glance was
momentary; but he saw himself nearly surrounded by his enemies, who
were fast closing in toward the center with fierce yells; and pausing
no longer in indecision, he encircled Ella's waist with his left arm,
raised her from the ground, and keeping her as much as possible between
himself and his enemies, to deter them from firing, darted away toward
a thicket, some fifty yards distant, pursued by two of the attacking
party.

Just as Girty gained the thicket, one of his pursuers made a sudden
bound forward and grasped him by the arm; but his hold was the next
moment shaken off by the renegade, who, being now rendered desperate,
drew a pistol from his belt, with the rapidity of lightning, and laid
the bold adventurer dead at his feet. Almost at the same moment, Girty
received a blow on the back of his head, from the breech of the rifle of
his other antagonist, that staggered him forward; when, releasing his
hold of Ella, he turned and darted off in another direction, firing a
pistol as he went, the ball of which whizzed close to the head of him
for whom it was designed; and in a moment more he was lost in the mazes
of the forest.

Meantime the bloody work was going forward in the center; for at the
moment when Girty darted away, the report of some three or four rifles
again echoed through the wood, two more of the red warriors bit the
dust, while the other two fled in opposite directions, leaving Boone and
his party sole masters of the field.

Eager, excited, reckless and wild, several of the young men now rushed
forward, with yells of triumph, to the wounded Indians, whom they
immediately tomahawked without mercy, and began to scalp, when the voice
of Boone, who had been more cautious, reached them from a distance:

"Beware o' the fire-light, lads! or the red varmints will draw a
bead[11] on some of ye."

Scarcely were the words uttered, ere his warning was sadly fulfilled;
for the two savages finding they were not pursued, and thirsting for
revenge, turned and fired almost simultaneously, with aims so deadly,
that one of the young men, by the name of Beecher, fell mortally wounded
and expired a moment after; and another, by the name of Morris, had his
wrist shattered by a ball. This fatal event produced a panic in the
others, who at once fled precipitately into the darkness, leaving Mrs.
Younker, who had by this time gained her feet, standing alone by the
fire, a bewildered spectator of the terrible tragedies that had so
lately been enacted by her side. To her Boone now immediately advanced,
notwithstanding the caution he had given the others; and turning to him
as he came up, the good lady exclaimed, in a tone of astonishment:

"Why, Colonel Boone, be this here you? Why when did you come--and how
on yarth did ye git here--and what in the name o' all creation has been
happening? For ye see I war jest dosing away thar by the fire, and
dreaming all sorts of things, like all nater, when somehow I kind o'
thought I'd all at once turned into a man and gone to war a rale
soldier; and the battle had opened, and the big guns war blazing away,
and the little guns war popping off, and the soldiers war shrieking and
groaning and falling around me, like all possessed; and men a trampling,
and horses a running like skeered deer; and then I sort o' woke up, and
jumped up, and seed all them dead Injen wretches; and then I jest begun
to think as how it warn't no dream at all, but a living truth, all 'cept
my being a man and a soldier, as you com'd up. Well, ef this arn't a
queer world," resumed the good dame, catching breath meanwhile, "as
Preacher Allprayer used to say, then maybe as how I don't know nothing
at all about it."

"Your dream war a very nateral one, Mrs. Younker," returned Boone,
who, during the speech of the other, had been actively employed in
scattering the burning brands, to prevent the recurrence of another sad
catastrophe; "and I'm rejoiced to see that you've escaped unharmed, amid
this bloody work. Allow me to set you free;" and as he spoke, he drew his
scalping knife, and severed the thongs that bound her wrists.

"Gracious on me!" cried the dame, chafing the parts which had been
swollen by the tightness of the cords; "how clever 'tis to get free
agin, and have the use o' one's hands and tongue, to do and say jest
what a body pleases; for d'ye know, Colonel Boone, them thar imps of
Satan war awfully afeared o' my talking to 'em, to convince 'em they
war the meanest varmints in the whole univarsul yarth o' creation;
and actually put a peremshus stop to my saying what I thought on 'em;
although I told 'em as how it war a liberty as these blessed colonies
war this moment fighting for with the hateful red-coated Britishers.
But, Lord presarve us! gracious on us! where in marcy's sake is my dear,
darling Ella?" concluded Mrs. Younker, with vehemence and alarm, as she
now missed her adopted daughter for the first time.

"She's here, mother," answered a voice close behind her; and turning
round, the dame uttered a cry of joy, sprung into the arms of her son
Isaac, and wept upon his neck--occasionally articulating, in a choked
voice:

"God bless you, Isaac! God bless you, son!--you're a good boy--the
Lord's presarved you through the whole on't--the Lord be praised!--but
your father, poor lad--your father!" and with a strong burst of emotion,
she buried her face upon his breast, and wept aloud.

"I know it," sobbed forth Isaac, his whole frame shaken with the force
of his feelings: "I--I know the whole on't, mother--Ella's told me. I'd
rather he'd bin killed a thousand times; but thar's no help for it now!"

"No help for it!" cried Ella in alarm, who, having greeted the old
hunter, with tearful eyes, now stood weeping by his side. "No help for
it! Heaven have mercy!--say not so! They must--they must be rescued!"
Then turning wildly to Boone, she grasped his hand in both of hers, and
exclaimed: "Oh! sir, speak! tell me they can be saved--and on my knees
will I bless you!"

A few words now rapidly uttered by Isaac, put the old hunter in
possession of the facts, concerning the forced march of Younker and
Reynolds, of which he had previously heard nothing; and musing on the
information a few moments, he shook his head sadly, and said, with a
sigh:

"I'm sorry for you, Ella--I'm sorry for all o' ye--I'm sorry on my own
account--but I'm o' the opinion o' Isaac, that thar's no help for it
now. They're too far beyond us--we're in the Indian country--our numbers
are few--two or three o' the red varmints have escaped to give 'em
information o' what's been done--they'll be thirsty for revenge--and
nothing but a special Providence can now alter that prisoners' doom. I
had hoped it war to be otherwise; but we must submit to God's decrees;"
and raising his hand to his eyes, the old woodsman hastily brushed away
a tear, and turned aside to conceal his emotion; while Ella, overcome by
her feelings, at the thought of having parted, perhaps for the last
time, from Algernon and her uncle, staggered forward and sunk powerless
into the arms of Mrs. Younker, whose tears now mingled with her own.

By this time the whole party had gathered silently around their noble
leader, and were observing the sad scene as much as the feeble light of
the scattered brands would permit, their faces exhibiting a mournfulness
of expression in striking contrast to that they had so lately displayed,
previous to the death of their comrade. To them Boone now turned, and
running his eye slowly over the whole, said, in a sad voice:

"Well, lads, one o' our party's gone to his last account, I perceive,"
and he pointed mournfully to the still body of Beecher, some three or
four paces distant; "another I see is wounded, and a third's missing.
I hope no harm's befallen him, the noble Master Harry Millbanks!"

"Alas! he's dead, Colonel!" answered Isaac, covering his eyes with his
hand.

"Dead?" echoed Boone.

"Dead?" cried the others, simultaneously.

"Yes," rejoined Isaac, with a sigh; "He and I war chasing that thar
infernal renegade Girty, who war running away with Ella thar; and he'd
jest got up to him, and got him by the arm, when Girty shuk him off like
it warn't nothing at all, and then shot him dead on the spot. Ef he
hadn't a bin quite so quick about it, I think as how it wouldn't a
happened; for the next moment I hit him a rap on the head with the
butt-end o' my rifle, that sent him a staggering off, and would ha'
fetched him to the ground, ef it hadn't first struck a limb. Howsomever,
it made him let go o' Ella, and start up a new trail--jest leaving his
compliments for me in the shape of a bullet, which, ef it didn't do me
no harm, it warn't 'cause he didn't intend it to. I jest stopped to look
at poor Harry; and finding he war dead, I took Ella by the hand and come
straight down here."

"Who's that you said war dead, Isaac?" inquired his mother, who had
partially overheard the conversation.

"Harry Millbanks, mother."

"Harry Millbanks!" repeated the dame in astonishment. "What, young
Harry?--our Harry?--Goodness gracious, marcy on me! what orful mean
wretches them Injens is, to kill sech as him. Dear me! then the hull
family is gone; for I hearn from Rosetta, that her father and mother and
all war killed afore her eyes; and now she's bin taken on to be killed
too, the darling."

"Ha! yes," said Boone, as if struck with a new thought; "I remember
seeing the foot-prints of a child--war they made by this unfortunate
young man's sister?"

"I reckon as how they war," answered Mrs. Younker; "for the poor thing
war a prisoner along with us, crying whensomever she dared to, like all
nater."

"Well," rejoined the old hunter, musingly, "we've done all we could--I'm
sorry it didn't turn out better--but we must now leave their fates in
the hands o' Providence, and return to our homes. We must bury our dead
first; and I don't know o' any better way than to sink thar bodies in
the Ohio."

Accordingly, after some further conversation, four of the party
proceeded for the body of Millbanks--with which they soon
returned--while Boone conducted the ladies away from the scene of
horror, and down to where Ella informed him the canoes were hidden,
leaving his younger companions to rifle and scalp the savages if they
chose. In a few minutes from his arrival at the point in question, he
was joined by the others, who came slowly, in silence, bearing the
mortal remains of Millbanks and Beecher. Placing the canoes in the
water, the whole party entered them, in the same silent and solemn
manner, and pulled slowly down the Miami, into the middle of the Ohio;
then leaving the vessels to float with the current, they uncovered their
heads, and mournfully consigned the bodies of the deceased to the watery
element.

It was a sad and impressive scene--there, on the turbid Ohio, near the
midnight hour--to give to the rolling waters the last remains of those
who had been their friends and companions, and as full of life and
activity as themselves but an hour before;--it was a sad, impressive,
and affecting scene--one that was looked upon with weeping eyes--and
one which, by those who witnessed it, was never to be forgotten.
There were no loud bursts of grief--there were no frantic exclamations
of woe--but the place, the hour, and withal the various events which
had transpired to call them so soon from a scene of festivity to one of
mourning--together with the thoughts of other friends departed, or in
terrible captivity--served to render it a most painfully solemn one--and
one, as we said before, that was destined never to be forgotten.

For a short space after the river engulphed the bodies, all gazed upon
the waters in silence; when Boone said, in a voice slightly trembling.

"They did their duties--they have gone--God rest their souls, and give
peace to their bones!" and taking up a paddle, the noble old hunter
pulled steadily for the Kentucky shore in silence, followed by the other
boats in the same manner. There they landed, placed the canoes in
safety, in case they should again be needed, rekindled their fire, and
encamped for the night.

On the following morning, they set out upon their homeward journey;
where they finally arrived, without any events occurring worthy of note.


[Footnote 11: A hunter's phrase for taking sight.]



CHAPTER XII.

THE INDIANS AND THEIR PRISONERS.


As you ascend the Miami from its mouth at the present day, you come
almost immediately upon what are termed the Bottoms, or Bottom Lands,
which are rich and fertile tracts of country, of miles in extent, and
sometimes miles in breadth, almost water level, with the stream in
question slowly winding its course through them, like a deep blue ribbon
carelessly unrolled upon a dark surface. They are now mostly under
culture, and almost entirely devoted to the production of maize, which,
in the autumn of the year, presents the goodly sight of a golden
harvest. At the time of which we write, there were no such pleasant
demonstrations of civilization, but a vast unbroken forest instead, some
vestiges of which still remain, in the shape of old decaying trees,
standing grim and naked,

    "To summer's heat and winter's blast,"

like the ruins of ancient structures, to remind the beholder of former
days.

On these Bottoms, about ten miles above the mouth of the Miami,
Wild-cat and his party, with their prisoners, encamped on the evening
the attack was made upon the renegade, as shown in the preceding chapter.
Possessing caution in a great degree, and fearful of the escape of his
prisoners, Wild-cat spared no precautions which he thought might enhance
the security of Younker and Reynolds. Accordingly, when arrived at the
spot where he intended to remain for the night, the chief ordered stakes
to be driven deep into the earth, some distance apart, to which the feet
of the two in question, after being thrown flat upon their backs, in
opposite directions, were tightly bound, with their hands still corded
to the crossbars as before. A rope was next fastened around the neck
of each, and secured to a neighboring sapling, in which uncomfortable
manner they were left to pass the night; while their captors, starting
a fire, threw themselves upon the earth around it, and soon to all
appearance were sound asleep.

To the tortures of her older companions in captivity, little Rosetta
was not subjected; for Oshasqua--the fierce warrior to whom Girty had
consigned her, in the expectation, probably, that she would long ere
this have been knocked on the head and scalped--had, by one of those
strange mysterious phenomena of nature, (so difficult of comprehension,
and which have been known to link the rough and bloody with the gentle
and innocent,) already begun to feel towards her a sort of affection,
and to treat her with great kindness whenever he could do so unobserved
by the others. The apparel of which he had at first divested her, to
ornament his own person, had been restored, piece by piece; and this,
together with the change in his manner, had at length been observed by
the child, with feelings of gratitude. Poor little thing! to whom could
she look for protection now? Her father and mother were dead--had been
murdered before her own eyes--her brother was away, and she herself a
captive to an almost merciless foe; could she feel other than grateful
for an act of kindness, from one at whose hands she looked for nothing
but abuse and death? Nay, more: So strange and complex is the human
heart--so singular in its developments--that we see nothing to wonder
at, in her feeling for the savage, under the circumstances--loathsome
and offensive as he might have been to her under others--a sort of
affection--or rather, a yearning toward him as a protector. Such she did
feel; and thus between two human beings, as much antagonistical perhaps,
in every particular, as Nature ever presented, was already established
a kind of magnetic sympathy--or, in other words, a gradual blending
together of opposites. The result of all this, as may be imagined, was
highly beneficial to Rosetta, who, in consequence, fared as well as
circumstances would permit. At night she slept unbound beside Oshasqua,
who secured her from escape by passing his brawny arm under her head,
which also in a measure served her for a pillow. So slept she on the
night in question.

With Younker and Reynolds there was little that could be called
sleep--the minds of both being too actively employed with the events
which had transpired, and with thoughts of those so dear to them, who
had been left behind, for what fate God only knew. Besides, there was
little wherewithal to court the drowsy god, in the manner of their
repose--each limb being strained and corded in a position the most
painful--and if they slept at all, it was that feverish and fitful
slumber, which, though it serve in part the design of nature, brings
with it nothing refreshing to the individual himself. To both,
therefore, the night proved one of torture to body and mind; and bad as
was their condition after the encampment, it was destined to be worse
ere the gray dawn of morning, by the arrival of Girty and the only two
Indians who had escaped the deadly rifles of the Kentuckians.

"Up, warriors!" cried the renegade, with a blasphemous oath, as he came
upon the detachment. "Up, warriors! and sharpen your wits to invent the
most damnable tortures that the mind of man can conceive!" and at the
sound of his voice, which was loud and hoarse, each Indian sprung to his
feet, with an anxious and troubled face.

"And you, ye miserable white dogs!" continued Girty, turning to Younker
and Reynolds, on whom he bestowed numerous kicks, as if by way of
enforcing the truth his assertion; "were you suffering all the torments
of hell, you might consider yourselves in perfect bliss, compared to
what you shall yet undergo ere death snatches you from me!"

"What new troubles ha' ye got, Simon Girty?" asked Younker, composedly.
"But you needn't answer; I can see what's writ on your face; thar's bin
a rescue--you've lost your prisoners--for which the Lord be praised! I
can die content now, with all your tortures."

"Can you, by ----!" cried the renegade, in a paroxysm of rage; "we shall
see!"

As he concluded, he bestowed upon Younker a kick in the face, so violent
that a stream of blood followed it. The old man uttered a slight groan,
but made no other answer; and Girty turned away to communicate to the
others the intelligence of what had transpired since their parting; for
although they believed it to be of the utmost consequence, and tragical
in all its bearings, yet so far there had not been a question asked nor
an event related concerning it on either side--such being the force of
habit in all matters of grave importance, and the deference to his
superiors shown by the Indian on all similar occasions.

As soon as Girty had made known the sad disaster that had befallen his
party, there was one universal yell of rage, accompanied by violent
demonstrations of grief and anger--such as beating their bodies,
stamping fiercely on the ground, and brandishing their tomahawks over
their heads with terrific gestures. They then proceeded to dance around
Younker and Reynolds, uttering horrid yells, accompanied with kicks and
blows; after which, a consultation was held between Girty and Wild-cat,
wherein it was agreed to take them to Piqua, a Shawanoe settlement on
the Miami, and there have them put to the tortures. Accordingly, without
further delay, they unbound their prisoners, with the exception of their
hands, and forced them to set forward at a fast pace--treating them,
meanwhile, in the most brutal manner. Oshasqua, however, took good care
there should be no violence done to Rosetta; for he kept her closely by
his side; and occasionally, when he saw her little limbs growing weary,
raised and bore her forward, for a considerable distance, in his arms.

It was a strange, but by no means unpleasing sight, to behold that dark,
bloodstained warrior--whose very nature was cruel and ferocious, and who
probably had never before loved or sought to protect aught bearing the
human form--now exhibiting such tender regard for a weak, trembling
prisoner, placed in his hands for a speedy sacrifice. It was withal an
affecting sight, to Younker and Reynolds, who looked upon it with
moistened eyes, and felt it in the force of a revelation from Heaven,
that He, who sees the sparrow fall, was even now moving through the
wilderness, and teaching one lesson of mercy at least to the most
obdurate heart of the savage race.

To the renegade, however, this conduct of Oshasqua was far from being
agreeable; for so much did he delight in cruelty, and so bitterly did he
hate all his race--particularly now, after having been foiled by them
so lately--that he would a thousand times rather have heard the dying
groans of the child, and seen her in the last agonies of death, than in
the warrior's arms. At length he advanced to the side of the Indian, and
said in the Shawanoe dialect, with a sneer:

"Is Oshasqua a squaw, that he should turn nurse?"

Probably from the whole vocabulary of the Indian tongue, a phrase more
expressive of contempt, and one that would have been more severely felt
by the savage warrior, who abhors any thing of a womanly nature, could
not have been selected; and this Girty, who understood well to whom he
was speaking, knew, and was prepared to see the hellish design of his
heart meet with a ready second from Oshasqua. For a moment after he
spoke, the latter looked upon the renegade with flashing eyes; and then
seizing Rosetta roughly, he raised her aloft, as if with the intention
of dashing her brains out at his feet. She doubtless understood from
his fierce movement the murderous intent in his breast, and uttered a
heart-rending cry of anguish. In an instant the grim features of the
Indian softened; and lowering her again to her former position in his
arms, he turned coldly to Girty, and smiting his breast with his hand,
said, with dignity:

"Oshasqua a warrior above suspicion. He can save and defend with his
life whom he loves!"

Girty bit his lips, and uttering a deep malediction in English, turned
away to consult with Wild-cat on the matter; but finding the chief would
not join him in interfering with the rights of the other, he growled out
another dreadful oath, and let the subject drop.

Late at night the party encamped within something like a mile of Piqua;
and by daylight a warrior was despatched to convey intelligence of their
approach, their prisoners, and the sad disaster they had experienced on
their journey. In the course of an hour the messenger returned, bringing
with him a vast number of savages of both sexes and all ages, who
immediately set up the most horrid yells, danced around Younker and
Algernon like madmen, not unfrequently beating and kicking them
unmercifully. They then departed for the town, taking the prisoners with
them, where their fate was to be decided by the council.[12] But ere
sentence should be pronounced, it was the unanimous decision of the
savages, that they should have some amusement, by forcing the prisoners
to run the gauntlet. This, to the women and children, as well as the
warriors themselves, was a most delightful sport, and they at once made
the welkin ring with yells of joy.

"It's a hard task we've got to undergo now, Algernon," said Younker, in
a low voice; "and God send it may be my last; for I'd much rayther die
this way, nor at the stake. I don't at all calculate on escaping--but
something tells me you will--and ef you do--"

Here the old man was interrupted by Girty, who forced himself between
the two and separated them. Younker being the first selected to run the
gauntlet, was immediately unbound, and stripped to the skin,[13]
preparatory to the race. The assemblage now formed themselves into two
lines, facing each other, only a few feet apart, and extending the
distance of a hundred yards, terminating near the council-house, which
stood in the center of the village. Through these lines, the old man was
informed by Girty, he must run; while the savages on either side, armed
with clubs, were at liberty to inflict as many blows upon him as they
could in passing; and therefore it would stand him in hand to reach the
other extremity as soon as possible.

"I'm an old man, Simon Girty," said Younker, in reply, "and can't run as
I once could--so you needn't reckon on my gitting through alive."

"But, by ----! you must get through alive, or else not at all; for we
can't spare you quite so soon, as we want you to try the pleasures of
the stake," answered the renegade, with a laugh.

"God's will be done--not yourn nor mine!" rejoined Younker, solemnly.
"But tell me, Simon Girty, as the only favor I'll ever ask o' ye--war my
wife and Ella rescued?"

"Why," said Girty, "if it will do you any good to know it, I will tell
you they were; but I will add, for your particular benefit, that they
will again be in my power; for I will excite every tribe of the Six
Nations to the war path; and then, woe to the pioneers of Kentucky!--for
desolation, rapine and blood shall mark our trail, until the race become
extinct. I have sworn, and will fulfill it. But come--all is ready."

"For the first o' your information, I thank you," returned Younker; "for
the last on't, I'll only say, thar's a power above ye. I'm ready--lead
on!"

Girty now conducted the old man to the lines; and having cautioned the
savages, in a loud voice, to beware of taking his life, gave the signal
for him to start. Instantly Younker darted forward, and with such speed,
that the nearest Indians neglected to strike until he had passed them,
by which means he gained some six or eight paces without receiving a
blow; but now they fell hard and fast upon him, accompanied with screams
and yells of the most diabolical nature; and ere he had gone thirty
yards, he began to stagger, when a heavy stroke on the head laid him
senseless on the earth. In a moment the renegade, who had kept him
company outside, burst through the lines, just in time to ward off the
blow of a powerful warrior, aimed at the skull of Younker, which,
without doubt, would have been fatal.

"Fool!" cried Girty, fiercely, to the Indian. "Did I not tell you his
life must be spared for the stake?"

The savage drew himself up with dignity, and walked away without reply;
while the renegade, examining the bruises of the fallen man for a moment
or two, ordered him to be taken to the council-house, and, if possible,
restored to consciousness. He then returned to Algernon, who had been
left standing a sad spectator of the whole proceedings, and said, in a
gruff voice:

"Now, by ----! young man, it's your turn; and let me tell you, it will
stand you in hand to do your best. Come, let us see what sort of a
figure you will cut."

As he concluded, he severed the thongs around the hands of our hero, and
unceremoniously began to strip him, in which he was aided by a couple of
old squaws.

The features of Algernon were pale, but composed; and he allowed himself
to be handled as one who felt an escape from his doom to be impossible,
and who had nerved himself to undergo it with as much stoicism as he
could command. As his vestments were rent from his body, the wound
in his side was discovered to be nearly healed; and would have been
entirely so, probably, but for the irritation occasioned it of late by
his long marches, exposure and fatigue, which had served to render it at
present not a little painful. As his eye for a moment rested upon it,
his mind instantly reverted to its cause--recalled, with the rapidity
of thought, which is the swiftest comparison we can make, the many and
important events that had since transpired up to the present time,
wherein the gentle Ella Barnwell held no second place--and he sighed,
half aloud:

"I would to Heaven it had been mortal!--how much misery had then been
spared me?"

As he said this, one of the squaws, who had been observing it intently,
struck him thereon a violent blow with her fist, which started it to
bleeding afresh, and, in spite of himself, caused Algernon to utter a
sharp cry of pain, at which all laughed heartily. Thinking doubtless
this species of amusement as interesting as any, the old hag was on the
point of repeating the blow, when Girty arrested it, by saying something
to her in the Indian tongue, and all three turned aside, as if to
consult together, leaving our hero standing alone, unbound.

A wild thought now suddenly thrilled him. He was free, perchance he
might escape; at least he could but die in the attempt; and that, at
all events, was preferable to a lingering death of torture! He looked
hurriedly around. Only the renegade and the squaws were close at hand,
and they engaged in conversation. The main body of the Indians were at a
distance, awaiting him to run the gauntlet. He needed no second thought
to prompt him to the trial; and wheeling about, he placed his hand upon
the wound, and bounded away with the fleetness of the deer. In a moment
the yells of an hundred savages in pursuit, sounded in his ear, and
urged him onward to the utmost of his strength. He was no mean runner at
any time; now he was flying to save his life, and every nerve did its
duty. Before him was a slope, that stretched away to the river Miami;
and down this he fled with a velocity that astonished himself; while
yell after yell of the demons behind, now in full chase, were to him
only so many death cries, to stimulate him to renewed exertions. At last
he gained the river and rushed into the water. It was not deep, and he
struggled forward with all his might. On the opposite side was a steep
hill and thicket. Could he but gain that, hope whispered he might elude
his pursuers and escape. Again he redoubled his exertions; and, joy--joy
to his heart--he reached it, just as the foremost of his adversaries,
a powerful and fleet young warrior, dashed into the stream from the
opposite bank. He now for the first time began to feel weak and
fatigued; but his life was yet in danger, and he still pressed onward.
Alas! alas! just on the point of escape, his strength was failing him
fast, the blood was trickling too from his wound, and a sharp, severe
pain afflicted him in his side. Oh God! he thought--what would he not
give for the strength and soundness of body he once possessed! The
thicket he had entered was dense and dark, so that it was impossible to
move through it with much velocity, or see ahead any distance; and as
the thought just recorded rushed through his brain, he came suddenly
upon a high, steep rock. By this time his nearest pursuer was also
entering the thicket; and in a minute or two more he felt capture would
be certain, unless he could instantly secrete himself till his strength
should be again renewed. Fortune for once now seemed to stand his
friend; for stooping down at the base of the rock, he discovered it
to be shelving and projecting somewhat over the declivity; so that by
dropping upon the ground and crawling up under it, he would, owing to
the density and darkness of the thicket, as before mentioned, be wholly
concealed from any one standing upright. To do this was the work of a
moment; and the next he heard his pursuing foe rush panting by, with
much the same sense of relief that one experiences on awakening from a
horrible dream, where death seemed inevitable, and finding oneself lying
safely and easily in a comfortable bed.

We say Algernon experienced much the same sense of relief as the
awakened dreamer; but unlike the latter, his was only momentary; for
yell upon yell still sounded in his ear; and plunge after plunge into
the stream, followed quickly by a rustling of the bushes around, the
trampling of many feet close by, and the war-whoops of his enemies,
warned him, that, if he had escaped one, there were hundreds yet to
be eluded before he could consider himself as safe. Wildly his heart
palpitated, as now one stirred the bushes within reach of his hand, and,
slightly pausing, as if to examine the spot of his concealment, uttered
a horrid yell, as of discovery, and then, just as he fancied all was
lost, to his great relief darted suddenly away.

Thus one after another passed on; and their fierce yells gradually
sounding more and more distant, renewed his hope, that he might yet
escape their vigilant eyes, and again be free to roam the earth at will.
O, potent, joyful thought!--how it made his very heart leap, and the
blood course swiftly through his heated veins!--and then, when some
sound was heard more near, how his heart sickened at the fear he might
again be captured, and forced to a lingering, agonizing death!--how he
shuddered as he thought, until his flesh felt chill and clammy, and cold
drops of perspiration, wrung forth by mental agony, stood upon his pale
features! Even death, before his escape, possessed not half the terrors
for him it would have now; for then he had nerved himself to meet it,
and prepared himself for the worst; but now he had again had a taste of
freedom, and would feel the reverse in a thousand accumulated horrors.

Thus for a few minutes he lay, in painful thought, when he became aware,
by the different sounds, that many of the savages were returning.
Presently some two or three paused by the rock, and beat back the bushes
around it. Then, dropping upon his knees, one of the Indians actually
put his head to the ground, and peered up into the cavity. It was a
horrible moment of suspense to Algernon, as he beheld the hideous visage
of the savage so near, and evidently gazing upon him; and thinking
himself discovered, he was on the point of coming forth, when a certain
vagueness in the look of the Indian, led him to hope he was not yet
perceived; and he lay motionless, with his breath suspended. But, alas!
his hope was soon changed to despair; for after gazing a moment longer,
the Indian suddenly started, his features expressed satisfaction, he
uttered a significant grunt, and, springing to his feet, gave a loud,
long, peculiar whoop. The next moment our hero was roughly seized, and,
ere he could exert himself at all, dragged forth by the heels, by which
means his limbs and body became not a little bruised and lacerated.

The savages now came running towards their prisoner from all quarters,
in high glee at his recapture--being attracted hither, probably, by the
signal whoop of success made by the one who first discovered him. Among
the rest came Girty; who, as he approached Algernon, burst into a loud
laugh, saying, in a jocular manner:

"Well, my fine bird, so you are caught again, eh? I was most infernally
afraid you had got away in earnest; I was, by ----! But we'll soon fix
you now, so that you won't run away again in a hurry."

Then turning to the savages around him, the renegade continued his
remarks in the Indian tongue, occasionally laughing boisterously, in
which they not unfrequently joined. In this manner, the whole party
returned in triumph to the village--being met on their way thither by
the women and children, who set up yells of delight, sung and danced
around their prisoner, whom they beat with their fists and with sticks,
until he became sore from head to heel.

The gauntlet was soon again made ready, and Algernon started upon the
race; but fatigued in body and mind, from the late events--weak and
faint from the bleeding of his wound and bruises--he scarcely reached
twenty paces down the lines, ere he sunk overpowered to the earth; from
which he was immediately raised, and borne forward to the council-house,
where, according to the Indian custom, the chiefs and warriors were to
decide upon his fate.


[Footnote 12: Lest there should seem to the reader an inconsistency
in one tribe yielding the fate of their prisoners to the decision of
another, we would remark here, that at the period of which we write, the
Six Nations were allied and fought for one common interest against the
Americans, on the British side, and therefore not unfrequently shared
each others dangers and partook of each others spoils.]

[Footnote 13: A practice sometimes, but not always, followed.]



CHAPTER XIII.

THE TRIAL, SENTENCE, AND EXECUTION.


The council-house in question, was a building of good size, of
larger dimensions than its neighbors, stood on a slight elevation, and,
as we before remarked, near the center of the village. Into this the
warriors and head men of the Piqua tribe now speedily gathered, and
proceeded at once to business. An old chief--whose wrinkled features and
slightly-tremulous limbs, denoted extreme age--was allowed, by common
consent, to act as chairman; and taking his position near the center of
the apartment, with a knife and a small stick in his hand, the warriors
and chief men of the nation formed a circle around him.

Among these latter--conspicuous above all for his beautiful and graceful
form, his dignified manner, and look of intelligence, to whom all eyes
turned with seeming deference--was the celebrated Shawanoe chief,
Catahecassa, (Black Hoof) whose name occupies no inferior place on the
historic page of the present day, as being at first the inveterate foe,
and afterward the warm friend of the whites. In stature he was small,
being only about five feet eight inches, lightly made, but strongly put
together, with a countenance marked and manly, and one that would be
pleasing to a friend, but the reverse to an enemy. He was a great
orator, a keen, cunning and sagacious warrior, and one who held the
confidence and love of his tribe. At the period referred to, he was far
past what is usually termed the middle age; though, as subsequent events
have proved, only in his noon of life--for at his death he numbered one
hundred and ten years.

Upon the ground, within the circle, and near the old chief in the
center, were seated Algernon and Younker--the latter having recovered
consciousness--both haggard and bloody from their recent brutal
treatment. They were sad spectacles to behold, truly, and would have
moved to pity any hearts less obdurate than those by which they were
surrounded. Their faces bore those expressions of dejection and wan
despair, which may sometimes be perceived in the look of a criminal,
when, loth to die, he is assured all hope of pardon is past. Not that
either Younker or Reynolds felt criminal, or feared death in its
ordinary way; but there were a thousand things to harass their minds,
besides the dreadful thought of that lingering, horrible torture, which
was enough to make the boldest quail, and which they now had not the
faintest hope of escaping. There is ever something solemn and awful in
the thought of death, let it come in the mildest form possible--for the
individual feels he is hastening to that silent bourne, whence none
have e'er returned to tell its mysteries--yet such is as nothing in
comparison with the death our prisoners were now silently awaiting, away
from friends and all sympathy, in the full vigor of animal life, to be
fairly worn out by the most excruciating pains, amid the hootings and
revilings of a savage foe. It was enough to have made the stoutest heart
faint, trembling and sick; and thus our unfortunate friends felt, as
they slowly gazed around and saw nothing but fierce, angry looks bent
upon them.

Girty was the first to address the assemblage, in the Indian dialect,
in an animated and angry speech of five minutes duration; occasionally
turning his sinister visage upon the prisoners, with an expression of
mortal hatred; gesticulating the while in that vehement manner which
would have left no doubts on their minds as to the nature of his
discourse, had they not previously known him to be their determined foe.
He narrated to the savages, clearly and briefly, the wrongs which had
been done them, as well as himself, by the whites; how, as the ally and
friend of the red-man, he had been cursed, defied and treated with much
contumely, by those here present; how their friends had followed and
slaughtered his braves; how the whites were every day becoming stronger
and more aggressive; how that, unless speedily exterminated, they would
presently drive the red-men from their hunting grounds, burn their
wigwams, and murder their wives and children; referred them, as a proof,
to the sacking and burning of the Chillicothe and Piqua villages, on the
Little Miami and Mad rivers, the year preceding, by General Clark and
his men;[15] and wound up by demanding the death of the prisoners at the
stake, and a speedy and bloody retaliation upon the pioneers of
Kentucky.

As Girty concluded his speech, which was listened to in breathless
silence, there was a great sensation in the house, and an almost
unanimous grunt of approval from the chiefs and braves there assembled.
It needed but this, to arouse their vindictive passions against the
white invader to the extreme; and they bent upon the unfortunate
prisoners, eyes which seemed inflamed with rage and revenge. Girty
perceived, at a glance, that he had succeeded to the full of his heart's
desire; and with a devilish smile of satisfaction on his features, he
drew back among the warriors, to listen to the harangues of the others.

Black Hoof was the next to follow the renegade, in a similar but more
eloquent strain; during which his countenance became greatly animated;
and it was easy for the prisoners to perceive--who could not understand
a word he uttered--that he spoke with great enthusiasm. He also pressed
upon his companions the vast importance of exterminating the whites,
ere they, as he expressed it, became as the leaves of the forest, and
covered the red-man's soil; that, for this purpose, they should prepare
themselves as soon as possible, to open a deadly, unyielding warfare
upon the frontiers; but said, withal, that he was opposed to burning
the prisoners--as that was a barbarism which he feared would not be
sanctioned by the great Spirit--and urged that they should be put to
death in, a quicker and milder form.[14]

Black Hoof's speech was warmly received, with the exception of what
referred to the prisoners, and this rather coldly. They were excited to
a powerful degree--their passions were up for revenge--and they could
not bear the idea of sending a prisoner out of the world, without first
enjoying the delight of seeing him writhe under the tortures of the
stake.

Wild-cat next followed Black Hoof, in a brief speech, in which he but
echoed the sentiments of Girty throughout, and received, like his
colleague, an almost universal grunt of approbation. He was succeeded by
one or two others, to the same effect--each urging the burning of the
prisoners--and on their conclusion, no other appearing to speak, the old
chief in the center at once proceeded to decide, by vote, the matter
at issue. Advancing to the warrior nearest the door, he handed him a
war-club, and then resumed his place in the circle, to record the will
of each. He who was in favor of burning the prisoners, struck the
ground fiercely with the weapon in question, and then passed it to his
neighbor; he who was otherwise disposed, passed it quietly, in silence;
thus it went through the whole assemblage--the old chief recording the
vote of each, by cutting a notch on the stick in his hand; those for
mercy being placed on one side, and those for the torture on the
opposite. Some three or four only, besides Black Hoof, passed it
quietly--consequently the sentence of death was carried by a decided
majority. Had there been any doubt in the minds of Younker and Reynolds
as to the result, it would have needed only one glance at Girty, who was
now grinning upon them like a demon, to assure them their doom was
sealed.

The question next came up as to the time and place for executing the
sentence; and after some further debate, it was decided that the old man
should be burnt forthwith, in the village, that their women and children
might have a holiday pastime; but that Algernon must be made a grand
national example of, before the assembled tribes at Upper Sandusky, when
they should be met to receive presents from the British agent.[16] This
latter decision was mainly effected by the eloquence of Black Hoof; who,
from some cause, for which it would be impossible to account--only as a
mysterious working of an overruling Providence--had secretly determined,
if such a thing were possible, to save the life of Algernon; and took
this method as the only one likely to aid his purpose by protecting him
from immediate death.

The trial concluded, the council now broke up, and Girty was authorized
to inform the prisoners of their sentence; while four young braves were
selected to take charge of Algernon, and to set off with him, so soon as
the burning of Younker should be over, for Upper Sandusky, where he was
to be kept in durance until wanted. Advancing directly to the prisoners,
the renegade now said, with a sneer:

"Well, my beauties, are you ready to die?"

"We don't expect any thing else, Simon Girty," answered the old man
mildly.

"Don't you, by ----!" rejoined Girty. "Perhaps it's just as well you
don't--ha, ha, ha! Come, old dotard," he continued, "down on your marrow
bones and say your prayers; for, by ----! you will never behold the
setting of another sun."

"I've said my prayers regular for thirty year," answered Younker; "and
I've been ready to die whensomever the Lord should see fit to call me;
and therefore don't feel myself no more obligated to pray jest at this
particular time, than ef I war told I war going to live twenty year
more. It's only them as hain't lived right, that the near coming o'
death makes pray, more nor at another time; and so jest allow me, Simon
Girty, to return you your advice, which is very good, and which, ef you
follow yourself, you'll be likely to make a much better man nor you've
ever done afore."

"Fool!" muttered the renegade, with an oath. Then turning to Algernon,
he continued: "You, sirrah, are destined to live a little longer--though
by no design of mine, I can assure you. Don't flatter yourself, though,
that you are going to escape," he added, as he perceived the countenance
of Algernon slightly brighten at his intelligence; "for, by ----! if I
thought there was a probability of such a thing happening, I would brain
you where you sit, if I died for it the next moment. No, young man,
there is no escape for you; you are condemned to be burnt, as well as
Younker, only at another place; and, by ----! I will follow you myself,
to see that the sentence is enforced with all its horrors."

"For all of which you doubtless feel yourself entitled to my thanks,"
returned Algernon, bitterly. "Do your worst, Simon Girty; but understand
me, before you go further, that though life is as dear to me at the
present moment as to another, yet so much do I abhor and loathe the very
sight of you, that, could I have it for the asking, I would not stoop to
beg it of so brutal and cowardly a thing as yourself."

"By ----!" cried Girty, in a transport of rage; "the time will come,
when, if you do not sue for life, you will for death, and at my hands;
and till then will I forego my revenge for your insolence now. And let
me tell you one thing further, that you may muse upon it in my absence.
I will raise an army, ere many months are over, and march upon the
frontiers of Kentucky; and by all the powers of good and evil, I swear
again to get possession of the girl you love, but whom I now hate--hate
as the arch-fiend hates Heaven--and she shall thenceforth be my mistress
and slave; and to make her feel more happy, I will ever and anon whisper
your name in her ear, and tell her how you died, and the part I took in
your death; and in the still hours of night, will I picture to her your
agonies and dying groans, and repeat your prayers for death to release
you. Ha! you may well shudder and grow pale; for again I swear, by all
the elements, and by every thing mortal and immortal, I will accomplish
the deed! Then, and not till then, will I feel my revenge complete."

The countenance of Girty, as he said this, was terrible to behold; for
so enraged was he, that he fairly foamed at the mouth, and his eyes
seemed like two balls of fire. As he concluded, he turned away abruptly;
and muttering something in the Indian tongue, to some of the savages who
were standing around, immediately quitted the council-house.

As Girty departed, the four young warriors who were to have charge of
Algernon, immediately advanced to him; and one of them tapping him on
the shoulder, moved away, motioning him to follow. As he prepared to
obey, Younker grasped him by the hand, and, with eyes full of tears,
in a trembling, pathetic voice, said:

"Good-bye, lad! God bless and be with you. Something tells me we won't
never meet agin. Keep up as stout a heart as you can, and ef you should
escape, tell my (here the old man's voice faltered so that he could
scarcely articulate a syllable)--tell my wife, and--and children--that
I died happy, a thinking o' them, and praying for 'em--to--to the last.
Good-bye! good-bye!" and wringing his hand again, the old man fairly
sobbed aloud; while the rough warriors stood looking on in silence, and
Algernon could only groan forth a farewell.

So they parted--never to meet again on earth.

Algernon was now conducted, by his guards, to a small building on the
outskirts of the village; where, after receiving food and water, and
having his clothes restored to him, he was informed by one of the
Indians--who could speak a smattering of English--that he might be bound
and remain, or accompany them to see the Big Knife tortured. He chose
the former without hesitation; and was immediately secured in a manner
similar to what he had been the night previously, and then left alone to
the anguish of his own thoughts. What the feelings of our hero were, as
thus he lay, suffering from his bruises and wound--his mind recurring to
the dire events taking place in another part of the village, and his own
awful doom--we shall leave to the imagination of the reader: suffice it
to say, however, that when his guards returned, some two hours later, he
was found in a swooning state, with large cold drops of perspiration
standing thickly on his features.

Meantime, Younker was brought forth from the council-house--amid the
hootings, revilings, and personal abuse of the savage mob--and then
painted black,[17] preparatory to undergoing the awful death-sentence.
He was then offered food--probably with the kind intention of
strengthening him, and thus prolonging his life and tortures--but this
he absolutely refused, and was immediately conducted to the place of
execution, which was on the brow of the slope before described as
reaching to the river. Here his wrists were immediately bound behind
him; and then a rope, fastened to the ligature, was secured to a
stake--driven into the earth for the purpose and left sufficiently long
for him sit down, stand up, or walk around a circle of some six or eight
feet in diameter.

During this proceeding, the Indians failed not to abuse him in various
ways--some by pinching, and others by pounding him with their fists,
with stones, and with clubs,--all of which he seemed to bear with great
patience and resignation.

As soon as all was ready for the more diabolical tortures, Girty made
the announcement, in a brief speech to the Indians; and then taking up a
rifle, loaded with powder only, discharged it upon the prisoner's naked
body. A loud yell of satisfaction, from the excited mob, followed this
inhuman act; while several savages, rushing forward with rifles loaded
in the same manner, now strove who should be first to imitate the
renegade's example; by which means, no less than fifty discharges were
made, in quick succession, until the flesh of the old man, from the neck
downwards, was completely filled with burnt powder. Younker uttered a
few groans, but bore all with manly fortitude, and made no complaints.

This part of the hellish ceremony over, a fire was kindled of hickory
poles, placed in a circle round the stake, outside of that which his
rope allowed Younker to make, in order that he might feel all the
torments of roasting alive, without being sufficiently near to the flame
to get a speedy relief by death. To add even more torture, if possible,
to this infernal proceeding, the Indians would take up brands, and place
the burning parts against the old man's body; and then, as they saw him
cringe and writhe under the pain thus inflicted, would burst into horrid
laughs, in which they were ever joined by the renegade. The old squaws
too, and even the children, not wishing to be outdone in this refinement
of cruelty, would take slabs, and having loaded them with live coals and
ashes, would throw them upon his head and body, until not only both
became covered, but the ground around him, so that there was no cool
place for his feet; while at every new infliction of pain, the crowd
would break forth in strains of wild, discordant laughter.

Thus passed some three-quarters of an hour of tortures the most
horrible, during which the old man bore up under his sufferings with
a strength and manliness that not only astonished his tormentors, but
excited for himself, even in savage breasts, a feeling of respect.
Girty, it may be, was moved to a similar feeling; for at length,
advancing to his victim, he said, in a tone of more deference than he
had hitherto used:

"You bear up well, old man--well. I have seen many a one die, in a
similar way, who was thought to be courageous--yet none with that
firmness you have thus far displayed."

Younker, who was slowly walking around the stake, with his face bent
toward the earth, suddenly paused, as Girty addressed him, and turning
his eyes mildly upon the renegade, in a feeble voice, replied:

"My firmness is given me from above. I can bear my torments, Simon
Girty, for they're arthly, and will soon be over; but yourn--who'll say
what yourn'll be, when you come to answer afore Almighty God for this
and other crimes! But that arn't for the like o' me to speak of now. I'm
a dying man, and trust soon to be in a better world. Ef I ever did you
wrong, Simon Girty, I don't remember it now; and I'm very sartin I never
did nothing to merit this. You came to my house, and war treated to the
best I had, and here am I in return for't. Howsomever, the reckoning's
got to come yit atween you and your God; and so I leave you--farewell."

"But say," returned Girty, who now seemed greatly moved by the manner
and tone of Younker: "But say, old man, that you forgive me, and I will
own that I did you wrong."

"I don't know's I've any enemies, except these round here," replied the
other, feebly, "and I'd like to die at peace with all the world; but
what you ax, Simon Girty, I can't grant; it's agin my nater and
conscience; I can't say I forgive ye, for what you've done, for I don't.
I may be wrong--it may not be Christian like--but ef it's a sin, it's
one I've got to answer for myself. No, Girty, I can't forgive--pre'aps
God will--you must look to him: I can't. Girty, I can't; and so,
farewell forever! God be merciful to me a sinner," he added, looking
upward devoutly; "and ef I've done wrong, oh! pardon me, for Christ's
sake!"

With these words, the lips of Younker were sealed forever.

Girty stood and gazed upon him in silence, for a few minutes, as one
whose mind is ill at ease, and then walked slowly away, in a mood of
deep abstraction. Younker continued alive some three-quarters of an hour
longer--bearing his tortures with great fortitude--and then sunk down
with a groan and expired. The Indians then proceeded to scalp him; after
which they gradually dispersed, with the apparent satisfaction of wolves
that have gorged their fill on some sheep-fold.

When Algernon's guards returned, they found him in a swooning state,
as previously recorded; and fearful that his life might be lost, and
another day's sport thus spoiled, they immediately called in their great
medicine man, who at once set about bandaging his wound, and applying
to it such healing remedies as were known by him to be speedily
efficacious, and for which the Indians are proverbially remarkable. His
bruises were also rubbed with a soothing liquid; and by noon of the day
following, he had gained sufficient strength to start upon his journey,
accompanied by his guards.

On that journey we shall now leave him, and turn to other, and more
important events; merely remarking, by the way, lest the reader should
consider the neglect an oversight, that, on entering the Piqua village,
Oshasqua had taken care to render the life of little Rosetta Millbanks
safe, and had secured to her as much comfort as circumstances would
permit.


[Footnote 14: In the action at Piqua here referred to, Simon Girty
commanded three hundred Mingoes, whom he withdrew on account of the
desperation with which the whites fought.]

[Footnote 15: This was a peculiar characteristic of this great chief,
as drawn from the pages of history; and the more peculiar, that he was
a fierce, determined warrior, and the very last to hold out against a
peace with his white enemy. But there were some noble traits in the man;
and when, at last, he was wrought upon to sign the treaty of Greenville,
in 1795--twenty-four years after the date of the foregoing events--so
keen was his sense of honor, that no entreaty nor persuasion could
thenceforth induce him to break his bond; and he remained a firm friend
of the Americans to the day of his death. He was opposed to burning
prisoners, and to polygamy, and is said to have lived forty years with
one wife, rearing a numerous family of children.--_See Drake's Life of
Tecumseh_.]

[Footnote 16: The reader will bear in mind, that these events transpired
during the American Revolution; that the Indians were, at this time,
allies of the British; who paid them, in consequence, regular annuities,
at Upper Sandusky.]

[Footnote 17: This was a customary proceeding of the savages at that
day, with all prisoners doomed to death.]



CHAPTER XIV.

HISTORICAL EVENTS.


From the first inroads of the whites upon what the Indians considered
their lawful possessions, although by them unoccupied--namely, the
territory known as Kan-tuck-kee--up to the year which opens our story,
there had been scarcely any cessation of hostilities between the two
races so antagonistical in their habits and principles. Whenever an
opportunity presented itself favorable to their purpose, the savages
would steal down from their settlements--generally situated on the
Bottom Lands of the principal rivers in the present State of Ohio--cross
over _La Belle Riviere_ into Kentucky, and, having committed as many
murders and other horrible acts as were thought prudent for their
safety, would return in triumph, if successful, to their homes, taking
along with them scalps of both sexes and all ages, from the infant to
the gray-beard, and not unfrequently a few prisoners for the amusement
of burning at the stake.

These flying visits of the savages were generally repaid by similar
acts of kindness on the part of the whites; who, on several occasions,
marched with large armies into their very midst, destroyed their crops
and stores, and burnt their towns. An expedition of this kind was
prosecuted by General Clark, in August of the year preceding the events
we have detailed, of which mention has been previously made. He had
under his command one thousand men, mostly from Kentucky, and marched
direct upon old Chillicothe, which the Indians deserted and burnt on
his approach. He next moved upon the Piqua towns, on Mad river, where
a desperate engagement ensued between the whites and Indians, in which
the former proved victorious. Having secured what plunder they could,
together with the horses, the Kentuckians destroyed the town, and cut
down some two hundred acres of standing corn. They then returned to
Chillicothe on their homeward route, where they destroyed other large
fields of produce, supposed in all to amount to something like five
hundred acres.

We have mentioned this expedition for the purpose of showing why the
year which opens our story, 1781, was less disastrous to the frontier
settlers than the preceding ones--the Indians being too busily occupied
in repairing the damage done them, and in hunting to support their
families, to have much thought for the war-path, or time to follow it;
consequently the year in question, as regards Kentucky, may be said to
have passed away in a comparatively quiet manner, with no events more
worthy of note than those we have laid before the reader.

But if the vengeance of the savage slumbered for the time being, it was
only like some pent up fire, burning in secret, until opportunity should
present for it to burst forth in a manner most appalling, carrying
destruction and terror throughout its course; and in consequence of
this, the year 1782 was destined to be one most signally marked by
bloody deeds in the annals of Kentucky. The winter of '81 and '82
passed quietly away; but early in the ensuing spring hostilities were
again renewed, with a zeal which showed that neither faction had
forgotten old grudges during the intervening quietude. Girty did all
that lay in his power to stir up the vindictive feelings of the Indians,
and was aided in his laudable endeavors by one or two others[18] who
wore the uniform of British officers. It was the design of the renegade
to raise a grand army from the union of the Six Nations, lead them
quietly into the heart of Kentucky, and, by a bold move, seize some
prominent station, murder the garrison, and thus secure at once a
stronghold, from which to sally forth, spread death and desolation in
every quarter, and, if possible, depopulate the entire country. Long
and ardently did he labor in stirring up the Indians by inflammatory
speeches; till at last he succeeded in uniting a grand body for his
hellish purpose; which, on the very eve of success, as one may say, was
at last frustrated by what seemed a direct Providence, of which more
anon, and its proper place.

Previously, however, to the event just referred to, parties of Indians,
numbering from five to fifty, prowled about the frontiers, committing
at every opportunity all manner of horrid deeds, and thus rousing the
whites to defence and retaliation. One of these skirmishes has been more
particularly dwelt on, by the historians of Kentucky, than any of the
others; on account, probably, of the desperate and sanguinary struggle
for mastery between the two contending parties, and the cruel desertion,
at a time of need, of a portion of the whites; by which means the
Indians had advantage of numbers, that otherwise would have been equally
opposed. We allude to what is generally known as Estill's Defeat.

It is not our province in the present work to detail any thing not
directly connected with our story; and therefore we shall pass on, after
a cursory glance at the main facts in question. Sometime in March, a
party of Wyandots made a descent upon Estill's station, which stood near
the present site of Richmond; and having killed and scalped a young
lady, and captured a Negro slave, were induced, by the exaggerated
account which the latter gave of the force within, to an immediate
retreat; whereby, probably, the lives of the women and children, almost
the only occupants, were saved--Captain Estill himself, with his
garrison, and several new recruits, being at the time away, on a search
for these very savages, who were known by some unmistakable signs to be
in the vicinity. Word being despatched to Estill, of what had transpired
in his absence, he immediately sought out the trail of the retreating
foes, which he followed with his men, and toward night of the second day
overtook them at Hinston's Fork of Licking, where a desperate engagement
immediately ensued. At the onset, there were twenty-five Indians, and
exactly the same number of whites; but the immediate desertion, in a
cowardly manner, of a certain Lieutenant Miller, with six men under his
command, left the odds greatly in favor of the Wyandots, who were all
picked warriors. Notwithstanding the cowardice of their companions, our
little Spartan band fought most heroically for an hour and
three-quarters; when the few survivors, on both sides, being almost worn
out, ceased hostilities as by mutual consent. In this ever memorable
action, Captain Estill, a brave and popular man, together with nine of
his gallant companions, fell to rise no more. Four others were badly
wounded, leaving only the same number of unharmed survivors. The
Indians, it was afterwards ascertained, had seventeen warriors killed on
the field, among whom was one of their bravest chiefs, and two others
severely wounded; and there has been a tradition since among the
Wyandots, that only one survivor ever returned to tell the tale.

The news of the foregoing disastrous skirmish flew like wild fire, to
use a common phrase, throughout the borders, and, together with others
of less note, served to kindle the fire of vengeance in the bosoms of
the settlers, and excite a deeper hostility than ever against the savage
foe. Nor was the subsequent conduct of the Indians themselves calculated
to soften this bitter feeling against them; for, to use the words of a
modern writer, "The woods again teemed with savages, and no one was safe
from attack beyond the walls of a station. The influence of the British,
and the constant pressure of the Long Knives, upon the red-men, had
produced a union of the various tribes of the northwest, who seemed to
be gathering again to strike a fatal blow at the frontier settlements;
and had they been led by a Phillip, a Pontiac, or a Tecumseh, it is
impossible to estimate the injury they might have inflicted."

Whether the foregoing remarks may be deemed by the reader a digression,
or otherwise, we have certainly felt ourself justified in making them;
from the fact, that our story is designed to be historical in all its
bearings; and because many months being supposed to elapse, ere our
characters are again brought upon the stage of action, it seemed
expedient to give a general view of what was taking place in the
interval. Having done so, we will now forthwith resume our narrative.

About five miles from Lexington, a little to the left of the present
road leading thence to Maysville, and on a gentle rise of the southern
bank of the Elkhorn, at the time of which we write, stood Bryan's
Station, to which we must now call the reader's attention. This station
was founded in the year 1779, by William Bryan, (a brother-in-law of
Daniel Boone,) who had, prior to the events we are now about to
describe, been surprised and killed by the Indians in the vicinity of a
stream called Cane Run.

This fort, at the period in question, was one of great importance to the
early settlers--standing as it did on what was considered at the time of
its erection, the extreme frontier, and, by this means, extending their
area of security. The station consisted of forty cabins, placed in
parallel lines, connected by strong pallisades, forming a parallelogram
of thirty rods by twenty, and enclosing something like four acres of
ground. Outside of the cabins and pallisades, to render the fort still
more secure, were planted heavy pickets, a foot in diameter, and some
twelve feet in height above the ground; so that it was impossible for an
enemy to scale them, or affect them in the least, with any thing short
of fire and cannon ball. To guard against the former, and prevent the
besiegers making a lodgment under the walls, at each of the four corners
or angles, was erected what was called a block-house--a building which
projected beyond the pickets, a few feet above the ground, and enabled
the besieged to pour a raking fire across the advanced party of the
assailants. Large folding gates, on huge, wooden hinges, in front and
rear, opened into the enclosure, through which men, wagons, horses, and
domestic cattle, had admittance and exit. In the center, as the reader
has doubtless already divined, was a broad space, into which the doors
of the cabins opened, and which served the purpose of a regular common,
where teams and cattle were oftentimes secured, where wrestling and
other athletic sports took place. The cabins were all well constructed,
with puncheon floors, the roofs of which sloped inward, to avoid as much
as possible their being set on fire by burning arrows, shot by the
Indians for the purpose, a practice by no means uncommon during a siege.
This fort, at the period referred to, was garrisoned by from forty to
fifty men; and though somewhat out of repair, in respect to a few of its
pallisades, was still in a condition to resist an overwhelming force,
unless taken wholly by surprise. There was one great error, however,
connected with its design--and one that seems to have been common
to most of the stations of that period--which was, that the spring,
supplying the inmates with water, had not been enclosed within the
pickets. The reader can at once imagine the misery that must have ensued
from this cause, in case of their being suddenly assaulted by a superior
enemy, and the siege protracted to any considerable length of time.

Within this fort, on their return from captivity, Mrs. Younker and Ella
had taken up their abode, to remain until another cabin should be
erected, or it should be thought safe for them to live again in a more
exposed manner. Isaac had straightway repaired to his father-in-law's,
to behold again the idol of his heart, and pour into her ear his grief
for the loss of his father and friend, and receive her sympathy for his
affliction in return. The disastrous affair which had called him and his
companions so suddenly from a scene of festivity to one of mourning--the
loss of so many valuable neighbors, and the result of the expedition
in pursuit of the enemy--created at the time no little excitement
throughout the frontiers, and caused some of the more timid to resort
to the nearest stations for security. But as time wore on, and as
nothing serious happened during the fall and winter, confidence and
courage gradually became restored; and the affair was almost forgotten,
save by the friends and relatives of the deceased and those particularly
concerned in it.

Spring, however, revived the alarm of the settlers, by the reappearance
of the enemy in all quarters, and the outrages they committed, as before
mentioned; so that but very few persons ventured to remain without the
walls of a fort; and these, such of them as were fortunate enough to
escape death or captivity, were fain to seek refuge therein before the
close of summer.

Immediately on the receipt of the alarming intelligence of Estill's
defeat, Isaac, his wife, and the family of his father-in-law, Wilson,
repaired to Bryan's Station, and joined Mrs. Younker and Ella, who had
meantime remained there in security.


[Footnote 18: McKee and Elliot.]



CHAPTER XV.

OLD CHARACTERS AND NEW.


It was toward night of a hot sultry day in the month of August, that
Ella Barnwell was seated by the door of a cabin, within the walls of
Bryan's Station, gazing forth, with what seemed a vacant stare, upon a
group of individuals, who were standing near the center of the common
before spoken of, engaged in a very animated conversation. Her features
perhaps were no paler than when we saw her last; but there was a tender,
melancholy expression on her sweet countenance, of deep abiding grief,
and a look of mournfulness in her beautiful eyes, that touched
involuntarily the hearts of all who met her gaze.

Since we last beheld her, days of anxious solicitude, and sleepless
nights, had been apportioned Ella; for memory--all potent memory--had
kept constantly before her mind's eye the images of those who were gone,
and mourned as forever lost to the living; and her imagination had a
thousand times traced them to the awful stake, seen their terrible
tortures, heard their agonizing, dying groans; and her heart had bled
for them in secret; and tears of anguish, at their untimely fate, had
often dimmed her eyes. Even now, as she apparently gazed upon that group
of individuals, whom she saw not, and whose voices, sounding in her ear,
she heard not, her mind was occupied with the probable fate of her uncle
and Algernon, the still all-absorbing theme of her soul.

While seated thus, Mrs. Younker approached Ella from behind, unperceived
by the latter, and now stood gazing upon her with a sorrowful look. The
countenance of the good dame had altered less, perhaps, than Ella's,
owing to her strong masculine spirit; but still there was an expression
of anxiety and sadness thereon, which, until of late, had never been
visible--not even when on her march to what, as she then believed,
was her final doom--the excitement whereof, and the many events that
occurred on the route, having been sufficient to occupy her mind in a
different manner from what it had been in brooding over the fate of her
husband for months in secret, and in a place of comparative safety. At
length a remark, in a loud voice, of one of the individuals of the group
before alluded to, arrested the attention of both Mrs. Younker and Ella.

"I tell you," said the speaker, who was evidently much excited, "it was
that infernal cut-throat Girty's doings, and no mistake. Heaven's curses
on him for a villain!--and I don't think he'll more nor git his just
dues, to suffer them hell fires of torment, hereafter, that he's kindled
so often around his victims on arth."

At these words Ella started to her feet, and exclaiming wildly,

"Who are they--who are Girty's victims?" sprung swiftly towards the
group, followed by Mrs. Younker.

All eyes, from all quarters, were now turned upon her, as, like a
spirit, she glided noiselessly forward, her sweet countenance radiant
with the flush of excitement, her eyes dilated and sparkling, and her
glossy ringlets floating on the breeze. Curiosity could no longer remain
unsatisfied; and by one spontaneous movement, from every point of
compass, women and children now hurried toward the center of the common,
to gather the tidings.

The quiet, modest, melancholy air of Ella, had, one time with another,
since her first appearance in the Station, attracted the attention,
and won the regard of its inmates; most of whom had made inquiries
concerning her, and learned the cause of her sadness; and now, as she
gained the crowd, each gazed upon her with a look of respect; and at
once moving aside to let her pass, she presently stood the central
attraction of an excited multitude, of both sexes, all ages and sizes.

"Who are they?" cried she again, turning from one to the other, rapidly,
with an anxious look: "who are the victims of the renegade Girty?"

"We were speaking, Miss Barnwell," answered a youth, of genteel
appearance, doffing his hat, and making at the same time a polite and
respectful bow: "We were speaking of the defeat, capture, and burning
of Colonel Crawford, by the Indians, in their own country, in which the
notorious Simon Girty is said to have taken an active part[19]--news
whereof has just reached us."

At the mention of the name of Crawford, so different from the one she
was expecting to hear, the momentary insanity, or delusion of Ella,
vanished; she saw her position at a glance, and the hundred eyes that
were upon her; and instantly her face became suffused with blushes;
while she shrunk back, with a sense of maidenly shame and bashful
timidity, almost overpowering to herself, and really painful for others
to behold. She now strove to speak--to give an excuse for her singular
conduct--but her tongue failed her, and she would have sunk to the
earth, only for the support of Mrs. Younker, who at this moment gained
her side.

"Never mind it. Miss Barnwell--it don't need any excuse--we understand
your feelings for lost friends," were some of the remarks from the
crowd, as the throng again made a passage for her to depart.

"Goodness, gracious, marcy on me alive! what a splurge you did make
on't, darling!" said Mrs. Younker to Ella, as they moved away by
themselves. "Why, you jest kind o' started up, for all the world like a
skeered deer; and afore I could get my hands on ye, you war off like an
Injen's arrow. Well, thar, thar, poor gal--never mind it!" added the
good dame, consolingly, as Ella turned towards her a painful, imploring
look; "we all knows your feelings, darling, and so never mind it.
Mistakes will happen in the best o' families, as the Rev. Mr. Allprayer
used to say, when any body accused him o' doing any thing he hadn't
oughter a done."

"Mother," said Ella, feebly, "I feel faint; this shock, I fear, may be
too much for my nervous system."

"Oh! my child, darling, don't mind it--every body knows your
feelings--and nobody'll think any thing strange on't. In course you war
thinking o' your friends--as war nateral you should--and so war I; and
when I heerd the name o' that ripscallious renegade, it jest set my hull
blood to biling, like it war hot water, and I felt orful revengeful. But
the Lord's will be done, child. He knows what's best; and let us pray to
him, that ef our friends is among the land of the living, they may be
restored to us, or taken straight away to His presence."

As Mrs. Younker said this, she and Ella entered the cottage.

"Poor girl!" said a voice among the crowd, as soon as Ella was out of
hearing; "they do say as how she eats but little now, and scarcely takes
any rest at all lately, on account of the trouble of her mind. Poor
girl! she's not long for this world;" and the speaker shook his head
sadly.

"But what is it?--what is it as troubles her so?" inquired an old woman,
in a voice tremulous with age, who, being somewhat of a new-comer, had
not heard the oft-repeated story.

"I'll tell it ye--I'll tell it ye," answered another gossiping crone,
standing beside the querist, who, fearful of being forestalled, now
eagerly began her scandalous narration.

Meantime, the male portion of the crowd had resumed their conversation,
concerning the unfortunate campaign of Crawford; during which manifold
invectives were bestowed upon the savages, and the renegade Girty. Some
of the more reckless among them were for raising another army, as soon
as possible, to pursue the Indians, even to the death, and spare none
that fell into their hands, neither the aged, women, nor children; but
these propositions were speedily overruled by cooler and wiser heads;
who stated that Kentucky had scarcely fighting men enough to protect
one another on their own ground--much less to march into the enemy's
country, and leave their wives and children exposed to certain
destruction.

While these discussions were in progress, the attention of each was
suddenly arrested by the cry of some person from the right hand
block-house, looking toward the south, announcing that a single horseman
was approaching with a speed which betokened evil tidings. These were
times of excitement, when news of disaster and death was borne on almost
every breeze; and consequently all now sprung rapidly to the southern
pickets, where, through loop-holes and crevices in the partially decayed
pallisades, they perceived an individual riding as if for life.

"How he rides!--Who is it?--What can have happened?" were some of the
remarks now rapidly uttered, as the horseman was seen bounding forward
on his foaming steed. Instantly the nearest gate was thrown open; and,
in less than two minutes, horse and rider stood within the enclosure,
surrounded by a breathless multitude, eager for his intelligence.

"Arm!" cried the horseman, a good looking youth of eighteen: "Arm--all
that can be spared--and on to the rescue!"

"What's happened, Dick Allison?" asked one who had recognized the rider.

"I have it on the best authority," answered Dick, "that Hoy's Station
has just been attacked, by a large body of Indians, and Captain Holder
and his men defeated."

"But whar d'ye get your news?" inquired another voice; while a look of
alarm, and resolute determination to avenge the fallen, could be seen
depicted on the upturned countenances of the assemblage.

"I was riding in that direction, when I met a messenger on his way to
Lexington for assistance; and turning my horse, I spurred hither with
all speed."

"Have the red devils got possession of the fort?" inquired another.

"I am not certain, for I did not wait to hear particulars; but I'm under
the impression they have not, and that Holder was defeated outside the
walls."

"Well, they must have assistance, and that as soon as it can be got
to 'em," rejoined a white-haired veteran, one of the head men of the
garrison, whose countenance was remarkable for its noble, benevolent
expression, and who, from love and veneration, was generally called
Father Albach. "It's too late in the day, though, to muster and march
thar to-night," continued the old man; "but we'll have our horses got up
and put in here to night, and our guns cleaned, and every thing fixed
for to start at daylight to-morrow. Eh! my gallant lads--what say ye?"
and he glanced playfully around upon the bystanders.

"Yes--yes--yes--father!" cried a score of voices, in a breath; and the
next moment a long, loud cheer, attested the popularity of the old man's
decision.

"Another cheer for Father Albach, and three more for licking the
ripscallious varmints clean to death!" cried our old acquaintance, Isaac
Younker, who, having been otherwise occupied during the discussion
concerning Crawford's defeat, had joined the crowd on the arrival of the
messenger.

"Good for Ike," shouted one: "Hurray!" and four lusty cheers followed.

All now became bustle and confusion, as each set himself to preparing
for the morrow's expedition. Guns were brought out and cleaned,
locks examined, new flints put in place of old ones, bullets cast,
powder-horns replenished, horses driven within the enclosure, saddles
and bridles overhauled, and, in fact, every thing requisite for the
journey was made ready as fast as possible.

Isaac, on the present occasion, was by no means indolent; for having
examined his rifle, and found it in a good condition, he immediately
brought forth an old saddle and bridle, somewhat the worse for wear, and
set himself down to repairing them, wherever needed, by thongs of
deerskin. While engaged in this laudable occupation, a young lad came
running to and informed him, that there was a stranger down by the gate
who wished to speak with him immediately.

"A stranger!" replied Isaac, looking up in surprise. "Why, what in the
name o' all creation can a stranger be wanting with me? Why don't he
come and see me, if he wants to see me, and not put me to all this here
trouble, jest when I'm gitting ready to go and lick some o' them red
heathen like all nater?"

"Don't know, sir," answered the lad, "what his reasons be for not
coming, any more nor you; but he said to the man as opened the gate for
him, 'Is Isaac Younker in the fort?' and the man said, 'Yes;' and then
he said to me, 'Run, my little lad, and tell him to come here, and I'll
gin you some thing;' and that's all I knows about it."

"Well, I 'spose I'll have to go," rejoined Isaac, rising to his feet;
"but I don't think much o' the feller as puts a gentleman to all this
here trouble, jest for nothing at all, as one may say, when a feller's
in a hurry too. Howsomever," continued he, soliloquizing, as he walked
forward in the proper direction, "I 'spect it's some chap as wants to
hoax me, or else he's putting on the extras; ef so, I'll fix him, so he
won't want to do it agin right immediately, I reckon."

Thus muttering to himself, Isaac drew near the front gate, against
which, within the pallisades, the stranger in question was leaning,
with his hat pressed down over his forehead, as though he desired
concealment. His habiliments, after the fashion of the day, were
originally of a superior quality to those generally worn on the
frontiers, but soiled and torn in several places, as from the wear and
tear of a long, fatiguing journey. His features, what portion of them
could be seen under his hat, were pale and haggard, denoting one who had
experienced many and severe vicissitudes. As Isaac approached, he raised
his eyes from the ground, turned them full upon him, and then, taking a
step forward, said, in a voice tremulous with emotion:

"Thank God! Isaac Younker, I am able to behold you once again."

As a distinct view of his features fell upon the curious gaze of the
latter, and his voice sounded in his ear, Isaac paused for a moment, as
one stupefied with amazement; the next, he staggered back a pace or two,
dropped his hands upon his knees, in a stooping posture, as if to peer
more closely into the face of the stranger; and then bounding from the
earth, he uttered a wild yell of delight, threw his hat upon the ground
in a transport of joy, and rushed into the extended arms of Algernon
Reynolds, where he wept like a child upon his neck, neither of them able
to utter a syllable for something like a minute.

"The Lord be praised!" were the first articulate words of Isaac, in a
voice choked with emotion. "God bless you! Mr. Reynolds;" and again the
tears of joy fell fast and long. "Is it you?" resumed he, again starting
back and gazing wildly upon the other, as if fearful of some mistake.
"Yes! yes! it's you--there's no mistaking that thar face--the dead's
come to life again, for sartin;" and once more he sprung upon the
other's neck, with all the apparent delight of a mother meeting with a
lost child.

"Yes, yes, Isaac, thank God! it is myself you really behold--one who
never expected to see you again in this world," rejoined Algernon,
affected himself to tears, by the noble, heart-touching, affectionate
manner of his companion. "But--but Isaac--our friends here--are
they--all--all well, Isaac?" This was said in a voice, which, in spite
of the speaker's efforts to be calm, trembled from anxiety and
apprehension.

"Why," answered Isaac, in a somewhat hesitating manner, "I don't know's
thar's any body exactly sick--but--"

"But what, Isaac?" interrupted Algernon, with a start.

"Why, Ella, you know--"

"Yes, yes, Isaac--what of her?" and grasping him by the arm, Algernon
gazed upon the other's features with a look of alarm.

"Now don't be skeered, Mr. Reynolds--thar han't nothing happened--only I
'spect she's bin a thinking o' you--who every body thought war dead--and
she's kind o' grown thin and pale on't, and we war gitting afeared it
might end badly; but as you've come now, I know as how it'll all be
right agin."

Algernon released the speaker's arm, and for some moments gazed
abstractedly upon the ground; while over his countenance swept one of
those painful expressions of the deep workings of the soul, to which,
from causes known to the reader, he was subject. At length he said, with
a sigh:

"Well, Isaac, I have come to behold her once again, and then--"

He paused, apparently overpowered by some latent feeling.

"And then!" said Isaac, repeating the words, with a look of surprise:
"I reckon you arn't a going to leave us agin soon, Mr. Reynolds?"

"There are circumstances, unknown to you, friend Isaac, which I fear
will compel me so to do."

"What!" cried the other; "start off agin, and put your scalp into the
hands of the infernal, ripscallious, painted Injens? No, by thunder!
you shan't do it, Mr. Reynolds; for sting me with a nest o' hornets,
ef I don't hang to ye like a tick to a sheep. No, no, Mr. Reynolds;
don't--don't think o' sech a thing. But come, go in and see Ella--she'd
be crazy ef she knew you war here."

"Ay," answered Algernon, sadly, "that is what I fear. I dare not meet
her suddenly, Isaac--the shock might be too much for her nerves. I have
sent for you to go first and communicate intelligence of my arrival, in
a way to surprise her as little as possible."

"I'll do it, Mr. Reynolds; but--(here Isaac's voice trembled, his
features grew pale as death, and his whole frame quivered with intense
emotion)--but--but my--my father--what--"

He could say no more--his voice had completely failed him.

"Alas! Isaac," replied Algernon, deeply affected, and turning away his
face; "think the worst."

"Oh God!" groaned Isaac, covering his face with his hands, and
endeavoring to master his feelings. "But--but--he's dead, Mr. Reynolds?"

"He is."

For a few moments Isaac sobbed grievously; then withdrawing his hands,
and raising himself to an erect posture, with a look of resignation,
he said:

"I--I can bear it now--for I know he's in Heaven. Stay here, Mr.
Reynolds, till I come back;" and he turned abruptly away.

In a few minutes Isaac returned--his features calm, but very pale--and
silently motioned the other to follow him. On their way to the cottage,
they had to cross the common, where their progress was greatly impeded
by a crowd of persons, who, having heard of Algernon's arrival, were
deeply anxious to gather what tidings he might have concerning the
movements of the Indians. In reply, he informed them of the threats made
by Girty to him while a captive; and that, having since been a prisoner
of the British at Detroit, he had learned, from reliable sources, that
a grand army of the Indians was forming to march upon the frontiers,
attack some stronghold, and, if possible, desolate the entire country
of Kentucky; and that he believed they were already on their way.

"More'n that, they're already here," cried a voice; "for it's them, I
'spect, as has attacked Hoy's Station, of which we've just got news, and
are gitting ready to march at daylight and attack them in turn. Arm,
boys, arm! Don't let us dally here, and be lagging when the time comes
to march and fight!"

With this the speaker turned away, and the crowd instantly dispersed to
resume their occupations of preparing for the coming expedition, while
our hero and Isaac pressed forward to the cottage of Mrs. Younker. At
the door they were met by the good dame herself, who, with eyes wet with
tears, caught the proffered hand of Reynolds in both of hers, pressed it
warmly in silence, and led him into the house. Ella, who was seated at a
short distance, on the entrance of Algernon, rose to her feet, took a
step forward, staggered back, and the next moment her insensible form
was caught in the arms of the being she loved, but had long mourned as
dead.


[Footnote 19: This happened in June, 1782. For particulars of Crawford's
disastrous campaign, and horrible fate--_See Howe's Ohio_, p. 542.]



CHAPTER XVI.

THE ALARM AND STRATAGEM.


It was late at night; but still Algernon Reynolds sat beside Ella
Barnwell, relating the sad story of his many hair-breadth escapes and
almost intolerable sufferings. A rude sort of light, on a rough table, a
few feet distant, threw its faint gleams over the homely apartment, and
revealed the persons of Isaac and his mother, his wife and her parents,
together with several others, attracted hither by curiosity, grouped
around our hero, and listening to his thrilling narrative with
breathless attention.

"After being sufficiently recovered from my wound and bruises, to
proceed upon my journey, (continued Reynolds, to resume the account
of his adventures since leaving him at Piqua) Girty came to me, and
inquired what I thought of my fate, and how I felt concerning it; to
which I replied, rather briefly, that it was no worse than I had
expected, since knowing into whose hands I had fallen.

"'Perhaps you think to escape?' said he, sneeringly.

"'I have no such hope,' I replied.

"'No, and by ----! you needn't have, either,' rejoined he, with a savage
grin; 'for I'm determined you shall experience the torture to its
fullest extent, if for nothing else than to revenge myself on you for
your insults. I have only one thing to regret; and that is, that you
didn't suffer in place of Younker, who is the only one whose torments I
would I had had no hand in. But you--_you_ I could see tormented
forever, and laugh heartily throughout. But I'll wreak my vengeance on
you yet; I will by ----!' and with these words he left me to the charge
of my guards, with whom he spoke a short time in the Indian
tongue--probably giving them instructions of caution regarding myself.

"It was about mid-day, when, with my arms tightly bound, we set off
for Upper Sandusky, where, as I had previously been informed by Girty,
I was condemned to suffer before the assembled tribes of the different
nations, who would there shortly meet to receive their annual presents
from the British. Our march, very fatiguing to myself, was without
incident worthy of note, until one night we arrived at a small village
on the Scioto river, where one of my guards, who could speak a little
English, informed me resided the celebrated Mingo chief, Logan. A
thought suddenly flashed across my brain. I had often heard of Logan,
as the great and good chief, humane in his principles, and friendly
to the whites--particularly those who were signally unfortunate--and it
occurred to me, that could I gain an interview, I might perhaps prevail
upon him to assist me in making my escape; and accordingly I at once
expressed to my informant my desire of beholding one so celebrated. To
my great delight, he replied that it was in Logan's cabin I was to pass
the night--such being the private orders, as I afterwards learned, of
Black Hoof--who had, it seems, from some cause unknown to myself, formed
the design of saving my life; and had sent by the Indian in question,
a verbal request to Logan, to use all his influence to this effect.

"As we entered the village, we were immediately surrounded by men, women
and children, who stared hard at me, but offered no violence. In a few
minutes we gained Logan's hut, in the door of which I observed standing
an old, noble-looking warrior, with a commanding form, and mild,
benevolent countenance, who proved to be the chief himself. To him one
of my guards now addressed a few words in Indian; and uttering a grunt,
and looking closely at me some seconds, he moved aside, and we all
passed in. Here I soon had a good supper of homminy provided me, whereof
I did not partake lightly, having been from sunrise to sunset without
tasting a morsel of food. Immediately after I had finished my repast,
Logan approached me, and, in tolerable good English, said:

"'White man, where from?'

"I motioned toward the east, and answered:

"'From sunrise--away beyond the big mountains.'

"Logan shook his head sadly, and replied, with a sigh:

"'Ah! so all come. Poor Indian get run over--he no place lay he head.
But how you come all tied so?'

"In answer, I entered into a full explanation of all that had occurred
respecting the proceedings of Girty, from first to last. Logan listened
throughout with great attention, shook his head, and rejoined:

"'Ah! Simon Girty bad man--berry. Me always think so. Me sorry for you.
Me do all me can for you. You shall sleep here. Me promise you nothing.
Me tell you more sometime--to-morrow mebby!'

"With this he rose and left the cottage, and I saw him no more that
night.

"Early in the morning, however, he came to me, and said that I was to
remain at his cabin through the day; that he had laid a plan to effect
my release from death, but not from captivity--the latter not being in
accordance with his principles, nor in his power; that for this purpose
he had despatched two young braves to Upper Sandusky, to speak a word
in my favor; but that I must not be elated with hope, as it was very
doubtful how much they might effect.[21] Notwithstanding his caution to
the contrary, my spirits became exceedingly exhilarated; and grasping
his hand in both mine, I pressed it to my heart in silence; while my
eyes became suffused with tears, and the old chief himself seemed not
a little affected.

"Late the night following, the messengers returned; and on the morning
succeeding, we resumed our journey. In parting from the noble old chief,
he shook my hand cordially, but gave me no intimation of what would
probably be my fate.

"When within sight of Upper Sandusky, crowds of warriors, women and
children came out to meet us, and, seeing me, set up many a hideous
yell, until I again became alarmed for my safety, and fearful that Logan
had not succeeded in his magnanimous design. This impression was the
more strongly confirmed, shortly after, by one of my guides informing me
that I must again run the gauntlet. Accordingly every preparation being
speedily effected, I started upon the course; but possessing more
strength and activity than before, and a better knowledge of what I had
to perform, I succeeded in breaking through the lines, and reaching the
council house unharmed. Here I was safe for the present; or until, as I
was informed, my fate should once more be decided by a grand council.

"The council in question was speedily convened; and on the opening
thereof, a British agent, one Captain Druyer, made his appearance,
and requested permission to address the assemblage, which was readily
granted. He spoke rapidly, for a few minutes, with great vehemence; and
though I understood not a word he uttered, yet something whispered me it
was in my favor; for I observed that the glances directed towards me,
were milder far than those on my previous trial.

"To sum up briefly, it seems that Logan had despatched his messengers to
Druyer, urging him to exert all his influence in obtaining my reprieve;
and to effect this humane design, the latter had begun by stating to
the Indians that their great white father, of whom he was an humble
representative, was at war with the Long Knives; that nothing would
please him better, than to hear of his red children having sacrificed
all their enemies; but that in war, policy was ofttimes more effectual
than personal revenge in accomplishing their destruction; and that he
doubted not, if the prisoner present were put in his possession and
taken to Detroit, that the great white chiefs of his own nation would
there be able to extort from him such valuable information as would
make the final conquest of the Long Knives comparatively easy. To this
proposition, which was received rather coldly, he had added, that for
this privilege he was willing to pay a fair recompense; and that so soon
as all the information necessary had been gleaned from the prisoner, he
should, if thought advisable, again be returned to them, to be put to
death or not, as they might see proper. To this arrangement, all having
at last consented, the gallant Captain advanced to me, shook my hand,
and said that my life was for the present safe, and that I was to
accompany him to Detroit, where I would be treated as a prisoner of war.

"It is impossible to describe my feelings, on hearing this joyful
intelligence; therefore I shall leave you to imagine them, aided as you
will be by your own experience under similar circumstances. And now let
me close my long narrative as briefly as possible; for the hour is
already late, and I must rise betimes on the morrow to join this
expedition against the savages."

"Surely, Algernon," exclaimed Ella, with pale features, "you are not
going to leave us again so soon?"

"Where duty calls, Ella, there is my place; and if I fall in honorable
action, in defence of my country and friends, perchance my life may
atone for matters whereof _you_ are not ignorant."

Ella buried her face in her hands, to conceal her emotion; and Algernon,
with an effort at composure, again proceeded.

"At Detroit I experienced kind treatment, as a prisoner of war; but
still it was captivity, and I longed for freedom. Many, many an hour
did I employ in planning my escape; yet month upon month rolled on, and
still I remained in durance. At last startling rumors reached me, that
the Indians of the different tribes were banding together, to march upon
the frontiers and depopulate the country; and remembering the savage
threat of Girty, I doubted not he was the instigator, and would be
leader of the expedition; and I determined, at all hazards, if such a
thing were in the province of possibility, to effect my escape, and give
the country warning of the impending danger. To be brief, I succeeded,
as my presence here tells for itself; but no one knows, save myself, and
He who knows all things, the misery I suffered from fatigue, lack of
food, and the fear of again being captured by some roving band of
savages--the which I shall detail, perhaps, should my life be spared me,
at some future period, but not at the present.

"I swam the Ohio, a short distance above the Falls, and made my way,
to the best of my judgment, directly towards Boonesborough, where I
arrived, a few days since, in a state of complete exhaustion. The noble
old hunter received me warmly; from whose lips I heard, with thrilling
emotion, the particulars of the pursuit, headed by himself, and the
rescue of two of my dearest friends, their present abode, as also many
startling events that had transpired during my absence; and in return,
I communicated to him the alarming intelligence which I have before
alluded to. So soon as I felt myself sufficiently strong for the
journey, I left Boonesborough for Bryan's Station, and here I am, and
thus my tale."

"And a mighty tough time you've had on't Mr. Reynolds, for sartin, and
no mistake," rejoined Mrs. Younker, with a sigh, wiping her eyes. "Ah!
me--poor Ben!--poor Ben!--I'm a widder now in arnest. Well, the Lord's
will be done. The good Book says, 'The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh
away, blessed be the name of the Lord;' and them good words, my children
and friends, must be our consolation."

But little more was said; for each of the party felt oppressed with a
weight of sadness, at the thought of the many mournful events a year had
brought forth; and as the hour was late, each and all presently betook
themselves to rest.

Meantime, the preparations of the garrison for the morrow had been going
forward in every part of the station; lights were moving to and fro; and
all within the cabins, and on the common, was bustle and activity. At
last the sounds gradually ceased, the lights went out one by one, and
all finally became tranquil for the night.

About an hour before day-break, the sleepers began to rouse themselves,
and all was soon again in commotion. Horses were led forth, saddled,
returned and fed, and every thing got in readiness to throw open the
gates and march forth so soon as it should become sufficiently light for
the purpose.

At last came the exciting moment of all. Some were standing in groups,
and weeping bitterly at the thought of parting, perhaps for the last
time, with their fathers, husbands and sons; some were running to and
fro with anxious messages; some were clasping each other to their
hearts, in agonizing silence, and praying in secret that the Great Ruler
of all might preserve and happily restore them again to the idols of
their affections; some had mounted their noble steeds, or were leading
them forth for the purpose--and all was in Babel-like confusion.

"Farewell, my friends," said Algernon, as he stood in the door of Mrs.
Younker's cottage, grasping one after another the proffered hands of
its weeping inmates, among whom was the wife and mother-in-law of
Isaac. "Farewell, dearest Ella; we may never meet again on earth.
Farewell--farewell!" and pressing her hand to his lips, he rushed
forth with a heaving heart, not daring to trust himself longer in her
presence.

Isaac and his father-in-law followed the example of Reynolds, moved away
with weeping eyes, and all were quickly in their saddles.

A few minutes later the roll was called, and the order given by the
commanding officer to form in double file and throw open the eastern
gate. Scarcely were the words uttered, when there arose a series of
terrific Indian yells, accompanied by a volley of firearms, and every
face became blanched with surprise and dismay, and looked from one to
the other in astonishment.

"By heavens!" cried a voice; "our fighting 'll be at home, I reckon,
judging by the specimen before us."

Dismounting from their horses, the garrison, together with many of the
women and children, now rushed to the southern pickets, where, through
loop-holes and crevices, they beheld, only a few rods distant, about
a hundred savages, running to and fro, jumping up and down, whooping,
yelling, screeching and firing at the station, accompanied with all
the wild, fantastic gestures of loosened madmen.

"Thar's not more nor a hundred o' the varmints, any how," cried Isaac;
"and I reckon as how we can jest lick them, and no mistake. Hurray for
a fight."

"Hurray for a fight!" echoed a dozen voices, as they rushed back to
remount their horses.

"Hold!" cried the deep voice of Father Albach. "Hold! lads; don't do
things rash! Them Indians wouldn't be dancing and sky-larking round that
way, ef thar warn't some object in it, you may depend on."

"And that's my opinion too," answered another gray-headed veteran. "The
fact is, they're only a decoy party, sent our thar from the main body,
jest to draw us out, so that the others can rush on and make an easy
conquest on't. I tell you, friends, thar's no mistaking it; we're
surrounded by a tremendous body o' the red heathen, and we're likely to
have warm work on't. I've lived in the woods all my life, and I know the
nater of the painted varmints as well as I know my own. Ef them war all
thar war on 'em, we'd have seen very different proceedings, I assure
you."

"But what's to be done?" cried several voices in consternation.

"I would suggest that we send immediately to Lexington for a
reinforcement," spoke up Reynolds, in reply.

"Who'll volunteer to go with me on the dangerous mission?" cried a young
man, by the name of Bell.

"I will!" instantly responded another, called Tomlinson.

"Brave lads!" returned Father Albach. "You'll be doing us and your
country a service, which we at least will ever gratefully remember. I'd
advise your leaving by the western gate, riding round the station, and
keeping away to the right, and you'll maybe pass them without trouble.
But ef you go, now's your only chance."

As he spoke, the young men in question sprung forward to their horses,
and immediately quitted the fort, amid cheers for their gallantry and
courage, and prayers for their safety and success.

A council of the leading men was now speedily convened to deliberate
upon the best means of insuring the safety of themselves, their wives,
and children.

"They'll no doubt attack us on the western side," said Father Albach,
"where the pallisades are somewhat out o' kilter; and it's my opinion,
that we'd better repair them as soon as possible, and station the main
part of the garrison thar, ready to receive 'em with a military salute,
while we send out a few o' our young men to fire on them as is in sight,
to deceive the others; for I believe with neighbor Nickolson, here, that
thar's a large party in ambush close by."

"Ay, and doubtless led by the renegade," said Reynolds; "as I presume
this Indian army is the same whose approach I have foretold. Thank God!"
added he, with energy and emotion, as his mind reverted to Ella, "that
they came as they did; for an hour later, and they would have found the
fort defenceless, when all within would have been food for the tomahawk
and scalping knife."

He shuddered at the thought, and placed his hand to his eyes.

"Indeed, it seems like a direct Providence in our favor," rejoined
another.

"But thar's one thing you've overlooked, in your proposition, Albach,"
said the old veteran called Nickolson. "Ef the seige be protracted, what
are we to do for water?"

Each face of the company blanched, and turned toward the speaker with a
startled look. It was a question of the most grave importance, and all
felt it to be so. The spring was without the pallisades, as we have
previously mentioned, on the northwestern side of the station. The path
to it was through a rank growth of tall weeds, wherein the main body of
the Indians was supposed to be concealed--so that, should the garrison
venture forth in that direction, they would in all probability be cut
off, and the fort fall into the possession of the enemy. This of course
was not to be thought of. But what was to be done? To be without water
in a protected siege, was a dangerous and painful alternative. In this
agitating dilemma, one of the council suddenly exclaimed:

"I have it!--I have it!" All looked at the speaker in breathless
expectation. "I have it!" continued he joyfully. "The women!--the
women!"

"The women!" echoed several voices at once.

"Ay! you know they're in the habit of going for water--and this the
savages know too--and ef they venture forth by themselves, as usual, the
wily scoundrels will be deceived for once--for they won't mistrust thar
hiding place is known; and as thar object is to carry the fort by
stratagem, they won't unmask till they hear firing on t'other side."

"Good!--good!" exclaimed several voices; and forthwith the council
proceeded to summon all the women of the station, and make known their
plan for procuring a supply of water.

Not a little consternation was expressed in the faces of the latter,
when informed of the perilous undertaking required of them.

"What! go right straight in among the Injen warmints--them male
critters?" cried an old maid, holding up her hands in horror.

"Do you think we're invisible, and they can't see us?" said a second.

"Or bullet proof?" added a third.

"Or that our scalps arn't worth as much as yourn?" rejoined a fourth.

"Or of so little account you arn't afeared to lose us?" put in a fifth.

"We don't think any thing o' the kind," returned the spokesman on the
part of the council; "but we do think, as I before explained, that you
can go and come in safety; and that ef we don't have a supply o' water,
we're likely to perish any how, and might as well throw open the gates
and be butchered at once."

This last brief speech produced the desired effect, and a few words from
Mrs. Younker completely carried the day.

"Is this here a time," she cried, with enthusiasm, her eyes flashing as
she spoke, "to be hanging back, till the all important moment's gone by,
and then choke to death for want o'water? What's our lives any more'n
the men's, that we should be so orful skeered about a few ripscallious,
painted varmints, as arn't o' no account, no how? Han't I bin amongst
'em once?--and didn't the Lord preserve me?--and shall I doubt His
protection now, when a hundred lives is at stake? No! no! I'm not
skeered; and I'll go, too, ef I has to go alone. Who'll follow me?"

"I will!" cried one.

"And I!" said a second.

"We'll all go!" exclaimed several voices.

Dispersing in every direction, each flew to her own cabin, and seizing
upon a bucket, hurried to the rear gate, where, all being assembled,
they were at once given exit.[20]

Perhaps in the whole annals of history, a more singular proceeding than
this--of men allowing their wives and daughters to deliberately put
themselves into the power of a ferocious, blood-thirsty enemy, and women
with nerve and courage to dare all so bravely--can not be found. But
these were times of stern necessity, when each individual--man, woman
or child--was called upon to dare and do that which would surprise and
startle their descendants. Still it must not be supposed that they, on
either side, were without fears, and those of the most alarming kind.
Many a palpitating heart moved over the ground to the spring, and many
a pale face was reflected in its placid waters; while many a courageous
soul within the fort trembled at the thought of the venture, and what
might be its result, as they had never done before--even with death
staring them in the face--and as they probably would never do again.
Each party, however, knew the step taken to be a serious alternative;
and the women believed that on their caution and presence of mind, their
own lives, and those of their fathers, husbands, and children were
depending; and in consequence of this, they assumed an indifference and
gaiety the most foreign to their present feelings. As for Algernon,
we leave the task to lovers of imagining his feelings, when he saw the
lovely Ella depart with the rest. It was indeed a most anxious time
for all; but the stratagem succeeded to a charm; and, to use the words
of a historian on the subject, "Although their steps became quicker
and quicker on their return, and, when near the gate of the fort,
degenerated into a rather unmilitary celerity, attended with some
little crowding in passing the aperture, yet not more than one-fifth of
the water was spilled, and the eyes of the youngest had not dilated to
more than double their ordinary size."


[Footnote 20: In both the foregoing and subsequent details, we have
followed history to the letter.]

[Footnote 21: The reader, familiar with the history of the early
pioneers of Kentucky, will doubtless observe a similarity between the
account given by Reynolds of his escape from captivity, and that of Gen.
Simon Kenton, as narrated by his biographer, Col. John McDonald.]



CHAPTER XVII.

THE ATTACK AND RESULT.


Meantime the repairing of the pallisades had been going bravely forward,
every moment rendering the garrison more and more secure, which served
not a little to revive their spirits; and when at length the women had
all entered, the gate been barred, and they had seen themselves well
supplied with water, they could restrain their feelings no longer, and
one grand, simultaneous cheer burst from their lips.

"Now then," said Father Albach, "let 'em come, and I reckon as how
they'll meet with a warm reception. But to draw 'em on, we must send out
a party to make a feint to fight the others."

Thirteen young men, among whom was Isaac, were accordingly selected,
to pass out by the eastern gate and commence firing rapidly; while the
remainder, with loaded muskets, were to range themselves along the
western pickets, and be ready to pour their deadly contents into the
swarthy horde of besiegers, in case their attack should be made in that
quarter. As the young men departed, all relapsed into a solemn silence
of anxious suspense; which was presently broken by the rapid discharge
of firearms, outside the fort, accompanied with cheers and yells from
both the whites and Indians. Now was the all important moment--the war
sounds were gradually growing more and more distant--and every eye of
the inner garrison was strained in breathless expectation, in the
direction of the spring, while every rifle was cocked and in rest, ready
for any emergency.

Suddenly the tall weeds--which a moment before had been quietly waving
in the morning breeze--became dreadfully agitated; and the next instant,
as if by magic, the ground was peopled by some five hundred hideous
savages; who, led on by the notorious renegade, now rushed forward, with
wild frantic yells, to the western pallisades, where our gallant little
band stood drawn up ready to receive them. They had advanced in a
tremendous body, to within a few feet of the fort, when the word "Fire,"
uttered in a clear, manly voice, resounded above their own frightful
yells, and was followed the next moment by a terrible volley of leaden
balls, that carried death and terror into their serried ranks. With one
simultaneous yell of rage, consternation, and disappointment, they
halted a moment in indecision; when another death-dealing volley, from
the gallant Kentuckians, decided their course of action; and again
yelling fearfully, they parted to the right and left, and bearing their
dead and wounded with them, rushed for the covert of a neighboring
forest. At the same moment, the party which had sallied forth upon the
Lexington road, to make a feint of attacking their decoys, entered the
fort by the eastern gate, in high spirits at the success of their
maneuver.

The warfare was now carried on in the usual manner, after the failure of
stratagem, for several hours, with but little success on either side.
The block-houses were immediately manned by the garrison, who by this
means could command every point of compass; and whenever an Indian
came in sight, he was at once made the target for three or four keen
riflemen, who rarely missed their mark. In consequence of this, the
wily savage rarely showed himself in an open manner; but would creep
stealthily among the tall weeds, or among the tall standing corn, that
covered about an hundred acres of ground on the southern side of the
station, or ensconce himself behind some stump or trunk of a tree in
the vicinity, and discharge his rifle at any mark thought suitable,
or let fly his burning arrows upon the roofs of the cabins. To avoid,
if possible, a conflagration, every boy of ten years and upwards, was
ordered upon the roofs of the houses, to throw off these burning
missiles; but notwithstanding their great vigilance, so rapidly were
they sent at one period, that two of the cabins, being in a very
combustible state, took fire, to the great consternation of all, and,
before they could be extinguished, were totally consumed. Here again the
hand of an overruling Providence was manifest; for a light wind drove
the flames from the other buildings, and thus a terrible and fatal
calamity was averted.

From the attack in the morning by the main body, a sharp fire was
maintained on both sides till towards noon; when it began to slacken
considerably; and a little past meridian ceased altogether--the savages
having withdrawn for another purpose, as we shall show anon, leaving the
garrison in suspense as to whether they had totally abandoned the siege
or not.

We have previously stated that Bryan's Station stood on a gentle rise on
the southern bunk of the Elkhorn, whereby it commanded a view of much
of the surrounding country. A considerable portion of the land in the
immediate vicinity had been cleared and was under cultivation; but
still, in some places, the forest approached to a close proximity; so
that it was impossible, without traversing the ground, to determine
whether the foe had withdrawn altogether, or, as was more probable, now
lay hidden therein, awaiting an unguarded moment of the besieged to
renew hostilities. Where the Maysville and Lexington road now runs, was
a long narrow lane, bounded on one side by the large cornfield before
alluded to, and on the other by a heavy wood. Through this lane the
reinforcements from Lexington must naturally pass, to reach the station;
and knowing this, and that they were expected, (for the escape of the
two couriers in the morning had not been overlooked) the Indians, to
the number of more than three hundred, had concealed themselves in the
thicket, within pistol shot of the road, and were now quietly waiting to
cut them off.

Notwithstanding the quiet which had succeeded the sounds of warfare, the
garrison were still on the lookout, fearful of being surprised. In this
manner an hour or two passed away, without any event occurring worth
being recorded, when a voice shouted joyfully:

"The Lexington reinforcements are at hand!"

In a moment the whole station was in commotion--men, women, and children
rushing to the block-houses and pallisades nearest to and overlooking
the long lane just mentioned. The force in question numbered some
sixteen horsemen, and about twice as many foot; who, not having heard
any firing, nor seen any savages thus far, were somewhat carelessly
approaching the fort at a leisure pace, thinking, as was not uncommon in
those times of danger, when such things were often exaggerated, that
perhaps the alarm had been unfounded, or, at the most, based only on
slight grounds. They had been overtaken on the road between Lexington
and Hoy's station, for which place they had marched on receiving the
news of Holder's defeat, and had been informed by Tomlinson and Bell
that Bryan's station was surrounded by a large body of Indians, of whose
numbers they knew nothing. On hearing this, and knowing the unguarded
condition of Lexington, they had instantly turned back, and pressed
forward at what speed they could to the assistance of their neighbors,
of whom they were now in sight.

"Great Heaven!" cried the voice of the look-out, at this moment, in
consternation. "See!--see!--they are ambushed, and will all be cut off!"

As he spoke, a long rolling line of fire could he discerned; and
presently was heard the report of a tremendous volley of musketry,
followed by a cloud of dust and smoke, which for a time completely hid
them from view. In a few minutes, however, the horsemen were seen close
at hand, spurring forward with lightning speed. Some three or four
individuals instantly sprung to and threw open the eastern gate, and in
less than two minutes they reined in their panting steeds in the court
of the station. At the first shot of the savages, they had put spurs to
their horses, and, as the ground was very dry, a cloud of dust had
instantly enveloped them, by which means, fortunately, every one of them
had escaped unharmed, although on their way they had drawn the fire of
more than three hundred Indian rifles, successively discharged at them
while passing the lines of the ambuscade. Not thus easily, however,
escaped their companions on foot.

At the commencement of the firing, these latter were advancing toward
the station through the cornfield, and, being completely hidden from
the savages thereby, they might, had they pressed rapidly forward, have
gained the fort in safety. Not so was their conduct. They were brave,
hot-blooded, noble men. They could not think of flying and leaving their
friends in danger; and more noble and reckless than wise and prudent,
they turned and rushed to their assistance. They saw their error, but
too late to retrieve it. Their friends had fled, and were safe, but
they were now placed within a few paces of three hundred blood-thirsty
warriors. On seeing them, the savages uttered the most hideous yells,
rushed forward and cut them off from the fort, and then sprung after
them, tomahawk in hand. Luckily, however, for our little band of heroes,
the Indians had just discharged their rifles, and their own were loaded;
by which means, when hard pressed, they turned and kept their foes at
bay--the savage, in all cases, being too cautious to rush upon a weapon
so deadly, with only a tomahawk wherewith to defend himself. Moreover,
the corn was stout and tall, among which they ran and dodged with great
agility; and whenever an Indian halted to load his rifle, the fugitive
for whom its contents were designed, generally managed, by extra
exertion, to gain a safe distance before it was completed, and thus
effect his escape. Some five or six, however, were so unfortunate as
to be knocked or shot down, when they were immediately tomahawked and
scalped; but the remainder, in various directions and by various
artifices, succeeded in making their escape. A few reached the fort in
a roundabout manner; but the main body of them returned to Lexington;
where, had the savages followed them, they would have found an easy
conquest. Fortunately for the whites, however, the red men were not
so inclined; and pursuing them a few hundred yards only, the latter
abandoned the chase as hopeless.

One of the most active and ferocious on the part of the Indians during
this skirmish, which lasted nearly an hour, was Simon Girty. Enraged to
madness at the failure of his stratagem in the morning, he gnashed his
teeth and rushed after the fugitives, with all the fury depicted on his
countenance of a demon let loose from the infernal regions of Pluto. Two
with his own hand he sent to their last account; and was in hot pursuit
of a third--a handsome, active youth--who, being hard pressed, turned
round, and raising his rifle to his shoulder, with a scornful smile upon
his face, bitterly exclaimed, as he discharged it:

"Take that, you ---- renegade, and see how it'll digest!"

As he fired, Girty fell, and perceiving this, the Indians, with a yell
of despair, instantly gathered round him, while the man effected his
escape. This closed the exciting contest of the cornfield--which had
been witnessed throughout from the station with feelings better imagined
than described--but, unfortunately for humanity, did not end the career
of Girty; for the ball had taken effect in his shot pouch instead of his
body; and though wounded, his case was in no wise critical; and he was
soon able to take his place at the council fire, to deliberate upon what
further should be done.[22]

The council alluded to, lasted some two or three hours. The Indians were
disheartened at their loss in the morning, and the failure of all their
stratagems, even to cutting off the reinforcements of the enemy. They
were sufficiently convinced they could not carry the fort by storm; and
they also believed it unsafe to longer remain where they were; as the
alarm of their presence had spread far and wide, and there was no
telling at what moment a force equal to their own might be brought
against them; therefore, they were now anxious to abandon the siege and
return home. Girty, however, was by no means satisfied with the turn
matters had taken. He had with great difficulty and masterly persuasion
succeeded in getting them to unite and march in a body (contrary to
their usual mode of warfare, which consisted in skirmishing with small
parties,) against the whites; and he now felt that his reputation was in
a manner staked on the issue; consequently he could illy bear to leave
without the trial of one more stratagem. This he made known to the
chiefs of the council, and offered, in case of failure, to retreat with
them at once.

As this last design of Girty was merely to deceive the whites, and
frighten them into capitulation, without any further risk to themselves,
the Indians agreed to it, and the council broke up.

It was nearly sundown; and every one in the station had been on the
alert, ready to repel another attack should the Indians renew
hostilities, as was not unlikely, when a voice cried out:

"Hang me to the nearest cross-bar, ef the red sons of Satan hav'nt sent
out a flag of truce!"

This at once drew the attention of most of the garrison to a small white
flag on a temporary pole, which at no great distance was gradually
nearing them, supported in an upright position by some object crawling
along on the ground. At length the object gained a stump; and having
mounted it, was at once recognized by Reynolds as the renegade--although
Girty on this expedition had doffed the British uniform, in which we
once described him, and now appeared in a costume not unlike his swarthy
companions.

"Halloo the garrison!" he shouted.

"Halloo yourself!--what's wanted?" cried a voice back again.

"Respect this flag of truce, and listen!" rejoined Girty; and waving it
from side to side as he spoke, he again proceeded: "Courage can do much
in war, and is in all cases a noble trait, which I for one do ever
respect; but there may be circumstances where manly courage can avail
nothing, and where to practice it only becomes fool-hardy, and is sure
to draw down certain destruction on the actor or actors. Such I hasten
to assure you, gentlemen, is exactly your case in the present instance.
No one admires the heroism which you have, one and all, even to your
women and children, this day displayed, more than myself; but I feel it
my duty to inform you that henceforth the utmost daring of each and
all of you combined can be of no avail whatever. Resistance on your
part will henceforth be a crime rather than a virtue. It is to save
bloodshed, and you all from a horrible fate, that I have ventured hither
at the risk of my life. You are surrounded by an army of six hundred
savages. To-morrow there will be a large reinforcement with cannon;
when, unless you surrender now, your bulwark will be demolished, and
you, gentlemen, with your wives and children, will become victims
to an unrelenting, cruel foe. Death will then be the mildest of your
punishments. I would save you from this. I am one of your race; and,
although on the side of your enemy, would at this time counsel and act
toward you a friendly part. Do you not know me? I am Simon Girty--an
agent of the British. Take my advice and surrender now your fort into
my hands, and I swear to you not a single hair of your heads shall be
harmed. But if you hold out until you are carried by storm I can not
save you; for the Indians will have become thirsty for your blood,
and no commander on earth could then restrain them. Be not hasty in
rejecting my friendly offer. It is for your good I have spoken--and so
weigh the matter well. I pause for an answer."

The effect of Girty's speech upon the garrison, was to alarm them not a
little. His mention of reinforcements with cannon, caused many a stout
heart to tremble, and many a face to blanch and turn to its neighbor
with an expression of dismay. Against cannon they knew, as Girty stated,
resistance would be of no avail; and cannon had, in 1780, advanced up
the Licking Valley, and destroyed Riddle's and Martin's stations. If
Girty told the truth, their case was truly alarming.

As the renegade concluded, Reynolds--who saw the effect his words had
produced, and who, knowing him better than any of the others, believed
his whole tale to be false--at once begged leave to reply for the
garrison, which was immediately granted. Placing himself in full view of
Girty, he answered as follows, in a tone of raillery:

"Well done, my old worthy companion! and are you really there, carrying
out another of your noble and humane designs? When, O when, I humbly beg
to know, will your philanthropic efforts end? I suppose not until death
has laid his claim, and the devil has got his due. You ask us if we know
you. What! not know the amiable Simon Girty, surnamed the Renegade?
Could you indeed for a moment suppose such a thing possible? Know you?
Why, we have an untrusty, worthless cur-dog in the fort here, that has
been named Simon Girty, in compliment to you--he is so like you in every
thing that is ugly, wicked and mean. You say you expect reinforcements
of artillery. Well, if you stay in this quarter long, I know of no one
that will be more likely to need them than yourself and the cowardly
cut-throats who call you chief. We too expect reinforcements; for
the country is roused in every direction; and if you remain here
twenty-four hours longer, the scalps of yourself and companions will
be drying on our cabins. Bring on your cannon and blaze away as soon
as you please! We shall fear you not, even then; for if you succeed in
entering, along with your naked, rascally companions, we shall set our
old women to work, and have you scourged to death with rods, of which we
have on hand a goodly stock for the purpose. And now to wind up, allow
me to say I believe you to be a liar, and _know_ you to be a most
depraved, inhuman villain. This knowledge of your character is not
second-hand. I paid dearly for it, by a year's captivity. I defied
you when in your power: I spit at and defy you now in behalf of the
garrison! My name you may remember. It is Algernon Reynolds. What would
you more?"[23]

"Would that I had you in my power again," shouted back Girty; "for
by ----! I would willingly forego all other vengeance on the whites, to
take my revenge on you. I regret the garrison did not choose some one
to reply who was not already doomed to death. It was my desire to save
bloodshed; but my offer has been rejected from the mouth of one I hate;
and now I leave you to your fate. To-morrow morning will see your
bulwarks in ruins, and yourselves, your wives and little ones, in the
power of a foe that never forgives an injury nor forgets an insult.
Farewell till then! I bide my time."

As Girty concluded altogether, he began to ease himself down from the
stump, when his progress was not a little accelerated by hearing a voice
from the garrison cry out:

"Shoot the ---- rascal!--don't let him escape!"

Instantly some five or six rifles were brought to bear upon him; and
his fate might then have been decided forever, had not the voice of
Nickolson warned them to beware of firing upon a flag of truce. Girty,
however, made good his retreat, and the garrison was disturbed no more
that night. Before morning the Indians, after having killed all the
domestic cattle they could find belonging to the station, began their
retreat; and by daylight their camp was deserted; though many of their
fires were still burning brightly, and several pieces of meat were found
on roasting-sticks around them, all showing a late and hasty departure.


[Footnote 22: The foregoing is strictly authentic.]

[Footnote 23: This celebrated reply of Reynolds to Girty, is published,
with but slight variations, in all the historical sketches that we have
seen relating to the attack on Bryan's Station and is, perhaps, familiar
to the reader.]



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE FOE PURSUED.


As Algernon had stated to Girty, the country was indeed roused to a
sense of their danger. The news of the storming of Bryan's Station
had spread fast and far; and, early on the day succeeding the attack,
reinforcements began to come in from all quarters; so that by noon of
the fourth day, the station numbered over one hundred and eighty
fighting men.

Colonel Daniel Boone, accompanied by his son Israel, and brother Samuel,
commanded a considerable force from Boonesborough--Colonel Stephen
Trigg, a large company from Harrodsburgh--and Colonel John Todd, the
militia from Lexington. A large portion of these forces was composed
of commissioned officers, who, having heard of the attack on Bryan's
Station by an overwhelming body of Indians, had hurried to the scene of
hostilities, and, like brave and gallant soldiers as they were, had at
once taken their places in the ranks as privates. Most noted among those
who still held command under the rank of Colonel, were Majors Harlan,
McGary, McBride, and Levi Todd; and Captains Bulger, Patterson and
Gordon.

Of those now assembled, Colonel Todd, as senior officer, was allowed to
take command--though, from the tumultuous council of war which was held
in the afternoon, it appears that each had a voice, and that but little
order was observed. It was well known that Colonel Benjamin Logan was
then in the act of raising a large force in Lincoln county; and at the
furthest would join them in twenty-four hours; which would render them
safe in pursuing the savages; and for this purpose the more prudent,
among whom was our old friend, Colonel Boone, advised their delay;
stating, as a reason, that the Indians were known to outnumber them
all, as three to one; and that to pursue them with a force so small,
could only result, should they be overtaken, in a total defeat of the
whites. Besides which, Boone stated that the scouts who had been sent
out to examine the Indian trail, had reported that it was very broad,
and that the trees on either side had been marked with their tomahawks;
thereby showing a willingness on the part of the enemy to be pursued,
and a design to draw the whites into an ambuscade, the consequences of
which must necessarily be terrible. In this view of the case, Colonel
Boone was strongly seconded by Major McGary, who, though a hot-headed
young officer, eager on almost all occasions for a fight, now gave his
voice on the side of prudence.

But these prudent measures were combatted and overruled by Todd; who,
being an ambitious man, forsaw that, in waiting for Logan, he would be
deprived of his authority as commander-in-chief of the expedition, and
the glory which a successful battle would now cast upon him. By him it
was urged, in opposition to Boone and McGary, that to await the arrival
of Colonel Logan, was only to act the part of cowards, and allow the
Indians a safe retreat; that in case they were overtaken and their
numbers found to be double their own--which report he believed to be
false--the ardor and superior skill of the Kentuckians would more than
make them equal, and the victory and glory would be their own. Whereas,
should the Indians be allowed to escape without an effort to harass
them, the Kentuckians would be held eternally disgraced in the minds of
their countrymen.

The dispute on the matter waxed warm, high words ensued, and the
discussion was in a fair way of being drawn out to great extent; when
Boone, becoming tired and disgusted with the whole proceedings, replied:

"Well, I've given my conscientious opinion about the affair, and now you
can do as you please. Of course I shall go with the majority, and my
seniors in command; and ef the decision's for a fight, why a fight we
must venter, though every man o' Kaintuck be laid on his back for the
risking. Ef we fail--and its my opine we shall--let them as takes the
responsibility bear the blame. I'll give my voice, though, to the last,
that we'd better wait the reinforcements o' Colonel Logan."

"Sir!" exclaimed Colonel Todd, turning fiercely to Boone; "if you are
not a _coward_, you talk like one! Don't you know, sir, that if we wait
for Logan, he will gain all the laurels?--and that if we press forward,
we shall gain all the glory?"

"As to my being a coward, Colonel Todd," replied Boone, mildly, with
dignity, "when the word's explained so as I know the full meaning on't,
prehaps I'll be able to decide ef I be or not. Ef it means prudence in a
time o' danger, on which the welfare o' my country and the lives o' my
countrymen depends, I'd rather be thought cowardly than rash. Ef it
means a fear to risk my own poor body in defence o' others, I reckon as
how my past life'll speak for itself; and for the futer, wharsomever
Colonel Todd dars to venter, Daniel Boone dars to lead. As to _glory_,
we'll talk about that arter the battle's fought."

Thus ended the discussion; and the matter being put to vote, it was
carried by an overwhelming majority in favor of Todd's proposition, that
the Indians should be pursued without further delay. It was now about
three o'clock in the afternoon; and immediately on the final decision
being made, the council broke up, and orders were rapidly given to
prepare to depart forthwith. All the horses in or about the station
were now collected together, on which most of the officers and many of
the privates were soon mounted; and by four o'clock the eastern gate
was thrown open, the order to march given by Colonel Todd, and the
procession, composed of the flower of Kentucky's gallant sons, moved
forth, amid sighs and tears from the opposite sex. Reynolds--who, during
the past two or three days, since the retreat of the enemy, had employed
his leisure moments in the company of the being he loved, and who was
now finely mounted on a superb charger which had been presented him by
Colonel Boone--turned upon his saddle, as he was leaving the station,
and waved another adieu to Ella, who stood in the door of her cottage,
gazing upon his noble form, with a pale cheek, tearful eye, and beating
heart. She raised her lily hand, and, with a graceful motion, returned
his parting salute; and then, to conceal her emotion, retired into the
house.

The Indians, it was found, had followed the buffalo trace, and,
according to the account given by the scouts, had made their trail
obvious as possible, by hacking the trees on either side with their
tomahawks. Their camp fires, however, were very few, comparatively
speaking, which to Boone seemed plainly evident of a desire to mask
their numbers. He had lived in the woods all his life, was the oldest
settler on the borders, and had been several times a prisoner of the
Indians; so that he was familiar with their artifices for decoying their
enemies; and he believed, from what he saw, that it was their desire to
be followed by the whites; and that they would probably seek to draw the
latter into an ambuscade in the vicinity of the Blue Licks, where the
wild country was particularly favorable to their purpose. In imagination
he already saw the disastrous result that was destined to follow this
hasty expedition; but his counsel to the contrary had been disregarded,
and it was not a time now to dampen the ardor of the soldiers, on which
alone success could depend, by expressing his fears and laying himself
liable to further reproach and contumely. He had said and done all that
was consistent in his situation to prevent the present step; and he now
saw proper to keep his fears of the result to himself; the more so, as
a retreat was out of the question.

About dark the party came to halt, and encamped in the woods for the
night. Early on the ensuing morning they resumed their march; and
a little before noon reached the southern bluffs of Licking river,
opposite the Lower Blue Lick, distant from Bryan's Station some
thirty-six miles, and the place where, according to the opinion of
Boone, the savages would be likely to lie in wait to give them battle.

The scenery in the vicinity of the Licks, even at the present day, is
peculiarly wild and romantic; but at the period in question, it was
relieved by nothing in the shape of civilization. The Licks themselves
had for ages been the resort of buffalo and other wild animals, which
had come there to lick the saline rocks, and had cropped the surrounding
hills of every green thing, thereby giving them a barren, desolate,
gloomy appearance. On the northern bank--the one opposite our little
army--arose a tremendous bluff, entirely destitute of vegetation, the
brow of which was trodden hard by the immense herds of buffalo which had
passed over it from time immemorial on their way to and from the salt
springs at its base. To add to its dismal appearance, the rains of
centuries had sloughed deep gullies in its side, and washed the earth
from the rocks around its base, which, being blackened in the sun, now
rose grim and bare, frowning in their majesty like fettered monsters of
the infernal regions. As you ascended this ridge, a hard level trace or
road led back for something like a mile--free from tree, stump or
bush--when you came to a point where two ravines, one on either hand,
met at the top, and, thickly wooded, ran in opposite directions down to
the river, which, beginning on the right, went sweeping round a large
circuit, in the form of an iron magnet, and made a sort of inland
peninsula of the bluff in question. Back from this buffalo trace, on the
southern bank of the Licking, dark heavy woods extended for miles in
every direction, and made the whole scene impressive with a kind of
gloomy grandeur.

As our gallant band of Kentuckians gained the river, they descried some
three or four savages leisurely ascending the stony ridge on the
opposite side. On perceiving the troops, the Indians paused, gazed at
them a few moments in silence, and then, quietly continuing their
ascent, disappeared on the other side. A halt was now ordered by Colonel
Todd, and a council of war called to deliberate on what was best to be
done. The wild gloomy country around them, their distance from any post
of succor, and the startling idea that perchance they were in the
presence of a body of savages of double or treble their own numbers, was
not without its effect upon Todd and those who had seconded his hasty
movements, and served much toward cooling their ardor, and inspiring
each other with a secret awe.

Immediately on the halt of the troops, some twenty officers assembled in
front of the lines for consultation; when, turning to them, Colonel Todd
said:

"Gentlemen, for aught I know to the contrary we are now in the presence
of a superior enemy--superior at least in point of numbers--and I
desire to know your minds as to what course we had best pursue. And
particularly, Colonel Boone," continued Todd, politely bowing to the
veteran woodsman, "would I solicit your views on the matter; believing
as I do, notwithstanding any hasty words I may have uttered in the heat
of excitement to the contrary, that you are a brave soldier, cool under
all circumstances, amply experienced in Indian stratagem, and
consequently capable of rendering much valuable advice in the present
instance."

Boone was not a revengeful man under any circumstances; and though he
had felt more stung and nettled at the implication of Todd the day
before than he cared to let others see, yet now that the other had made
the apology due him, he showed nothing like haughtiness or triumph in
his mild, benevolent countenance, but, bowing slightly, with his
characteristic frankness replied:

"As you say, Colonel Todd, I've had some little experience with the
varmints at different times, not excepting my capter at these same Licks
in 1778; and, besides, I've have traversed this here country in every
direction, and know every secret hiding-place round about, as well as
the rest o' ye know the ground we've jest traveled; and it's on account
o' this knowledge partly, and partly on account o' the lazy movements o'
them red heathen we've jest seen go over the hill yonder, and the wide
trail, and marked trees behind us, that I'm led to opine thar's a
tremendous body o' the naked rascals hid in a couple o' ravines, that
run down to the river on either side of that ridge, about a mile ahead,
who are waiting to take us by surprise. Now I think we'd better do one
of two things. Either wait for the reinforcement o' Colonel Logan--who's
no doubt on his march by this time to join us--or else divide our party,
and let half on 'em go up stream and cross at the rapids, and so get
round behind the ravines, ready to attack the savages in the rear; while
the rest cross the ford here, and keep straight on along the ridge to
attack 'em in front--by which maneuver we may prehaps be able to beat
them. But ef you don't see proper, gentlemen, to take up with either o'
these proposals--don't, for Heaven's sake! I beg o' ye, venter forward,
without first sending on scouts to reconnoitre--else we're likely to be
in an ambuscade afore we know it, and prehaps all be cut off."

"Well, all things considered," answered Colonel Todd, who now, becoming
aware of the fearful responsibility resting upon him as commander, felt
little inclined to press rashly forward, "I think it advisable to wait
the reinforcements of Logan before proceeding further. It can delay us
but a day or two, and then we shall be sure of a victory; whereas, if
we press forward now, and run into an ambuscade, of which Colonel Boone
feels certain, we shall doubtless rue the day by a total defeat."

"I'm of the same opinion," rejoined Major Levi Todd.

"And I," said Captain Patterson.

"And I," rejoined several other voices.

"But I'm opposed to waiting for Logan," said Colonel Trigg; "as delays
on the point of a battle are rarely ever beneficial. I think we had
better take up with Colonel Boone's second proposition--divide our
forces, and proceed at once to action; though, for the matter of
prudence, it may be advisable to send a couple of scouts ahead, before
deciding upon any thing positive."

Majors Harlan and McBride, with two or three others of inferior rank,
took sides with Trigg; and the discussion seemed likely to be protracted
for some considerable time; when Major Hugh McGary, who had been
listening to the proceedings with the utmost impatience, suddenly
startled and broke up the council by a loud whoop, resembling that of an
Indian; and spurring his high mettled charger forward, he waved his hat
over his head, and shouted, in a voice that reached the whole length of
the line, these ever memorable words:

"Those among you who are not d--d cowards, follow me! I'll soon show you
where the Indians are!"

As he spoke he rushed his fiery steed into the river, with all the rash
impetuosity of a desperate soldier charging at the cannon's mouth.

The effect of McGary's words and actions were electrical. The troops,
mounted and on foot, officers and privates, suddenly became animated
with a wild enthusiasm. Whooping and yelling like Indians, more than a
hundred of them now sprung forward, and in a tumultuous body rushed into
the stream and struggled for the opposite shore. A few lingered around
Boone, Todd, and Twigg, to await their orders. But the pause of these
commanders was only momentary. They saw their ranks in confusion, and
more than two-thirds of their soldiers in the water, struggling after
the hot-headed McGary, and most of the other officers. The mischief was
already done. To delay was but to doom their enthusiastic comrades to
certain destruction; and shouting to those who yet remained to follow,
Todd put spurs to his horse, and, together with Trigg and Boone dashed
after the main body. It was a wild scene of excitement. Horsemen and
footmen, officers and privates, all mixed up together in confusion, and
pushing forward in one "rolling and irregular mass."

By violent threats and repeated exertions, with their swords drawn and
flashing in the sunlight, Colonels Todd, Trigg and Boone at length
succeeded, after reaching the opposite bank, in restoring something like
order to the half-crazed troops. On gaining the brow of the buffalo
ridge, Todd commanded a halt; then drawing a pistol from the holster of
his saddle, he rode to the front of the lines, and, with eyes flashing
fire, exclaimed:

"Men! we must have order! Without order we are lost. I command a halt;
and the first man that moves from the ranks, officer or private, until
so commanded, I swear to scatter his brains on the land he disgraces!"

His speech produced the desired effect; not a man ventured, by
disobeying, to put his threat to the test; and after gazing on them
sternly a few moments in silence, he turned to McGary, who was sitting
his horse a few paces distant, and said:

"Sir! you have acted unbecoming, both as an officer and a gentleman; and
if we two live through an engagement which I fear is near at hand, and
which your rashness will have brought about, I will have you put under
arrest and tried by court martial."

"As you please, Colonel Todd," replied McGary, with a fierce look. "But
you will bear in mind, sir, that at the council yesterday, you scouted
at the proposition advanced by Colonel Boone, and seconded by myself
and others, of waiting for the reinforcements of Colonel Logan, and
insinuated that we were cowards. As _you_, sir, were so _very_ brave,
and so eager for a fight when at a distance, I swore that, if we came
where a fight could be had, I would either draw you into action, or
forever damn you as a coward in the eyes of your soldiers. If I have
succeeded, I rest satisfied to let you do your worst."

"Resume your place, sir! and break an order this day at your peril!"
cried Todd, sharply, his face flushed with indignation.

As McGary slowly obeyed, Todd called to Boone, Trigg, and one or two
others, with whom he held a short consultation as to the propriety of
sending forward scouts before advancing with the main army. This being
decided in the affirmative, Isaac Younker and another individual were
selected from the ranks, and appointed to go on the dangerous mission;
with orders to follow the buffalo trace and examine it carefully on both
sides--particularly round about the ravines--and if they saw any traces
of Indians, to hasten back with all speed; but if not, to continue their
examination for a half mile further on, where the great trace gradually
became lost in lesser paths, which branched off in every direction.

Immediately on the departure of these two scouts, the troops were drawn
up in a long line, ready for action at a moment's notice. Colonel Trigg
commanded the Harrodsburgh forces on the right; Colonel Boone the
Boonesborough soldiers on the left; and Colonel Todd, assisted by Majors
McGary and McBride, the Lexington militia in the center. Major Harlan
led the van, and Major Levi Todd brought up the rear. This was the order
in which they went into battle.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE BATTLE OF BLUE LICKS


In less than an hour, Isaac and his companions returned, and reported
that they had seen no signs of Indians whatever. On the receipt of this
intelligence, the order to march was immediately given, and the whole
body of soldiers, under the scorching rays of an August sun, moved
rapidly forward. Nothing occurred to interrupt their progress, until the
van had reached within a few yards of the ravines before mentioned, when
the appalling truth of a tremendous ambuscade of the savages suddenly
became known, by the pouring therefrom, into their ranks, a terrible
volley, which carried with it death, terror and confusion. Never were
soldiers taken more by surprise, and at greater disadvantage to
themselves, both as to numbers and position. They had relied upon the
report of the scouts, who had themselves been deceived by the quiet of
everything about the ravines; and now here they were, less than two
hundred in number, on an open spot, exposed to the deadly rifles of more
than five hundred Indian warriors, who were lying concealed among the
dark cedars of the ravines.

The first fire was severely destructive, particularly on the right,
where the gallant Colonel Trigg fell mortally wounded, and was soon
after tomahawked and scalped. With him went down several officers of
inferior grade, and a large portion of the Harrodsburgh troops; but,
undaunted, his little band of survivors returned the fire of the
Indians, and, assisted by those in the rear, pressed forward like heroes
to the support of the center and van, where the work of death and
carnage was now becoming terrible.

"Onward!" shouted Colonel Todd, as he rode to and fro, animating his men
by his voice and gestures: "Onward, my noble soldiers, and strike for
your country and firesides! Oh God!" exclaimed he the next moment, as a
ball pierced his breast; "I am mortally wounded; but strike! press on,
and mind me not!"

As he spoke, he reeled in his saddle, the rein slipped from his grasp,
and his fiery steed rushed away, bearing him to the enemy and his
untimely doom.

"Fight, my lads, and falter not!" cried Major Harlan in the van; and the
next moment his horse went down, some five or six balls lodged in his
body, and he fell to rise no more.

But his men remembered their orders, and fought without faltering, until
but three remained alive to tell the fate of the party.

"At 'em, lads!--don't spare the varmints!" said Boone, as he urged the
left wing into action; and the immediate report of more than fifty
rifles in that quarter, told him he was obeyed. In this wing fought
Algernon, Isaac, the brother and son of Boone, with a heroic desperation
worthy of Spartans; and at every fire an Indian went down before each of
their deadly rifles.

But what could avail heroism here on that ill-fated day? Our brave
little band of Kentuckians was opposed by a foe of treble their number;
who, on their first terrible fire being expended, rushed forth from
their covert, with horrible yells, tomahawk in hand, and, gradually
extending their lines down the buffalo trace, on either side, so as to
cut off the retreat of the whites, closed in upon them in overwhelming
numbers, and the slaughter became immense. Major McGary rushed his
horse to and fro among the enemy, and shouted and fought with all the
desperate impetuosity of his nature. Major Todd did his best to press on
the rear, and Colonel Boone still urged his men to the fight with all
the backwoods eloquence in his power. But, alas! of what avail was
coolness, impetuosity, or desperation now? The Indians were closing in
thicker and thicker. Officers and privates, horsemen and footmen, were
falling before the destructive fire of their rifles, or sinking beneath
their bloody tomahawks, amid yells and screeches the most diabolical.
Cries, groans, and curses, resounded on every hand, from the living, the
wounded, and dying. But few now remained in command. Colonels Todd and
Trigg, Majors Harlan and McBride, Captains Bulger and Gordon, with a
host of other gallant officers, were now no more. Already had the
Indians enclosed them as in a net, hemmed them in on all sides, and they
were falling as grass before the scythe of the mower. Retreat was almost
cut off--in a few minutes it would be entirely. They could hope for
nothing against such odds, but a certain and bloody death. There was a
possibility of escape. A few minutes and it would be too late. They
hesitated--they wavered--they turned and fled; and now it was that a
horrible sight presented itself.

The space between the head of the ravines and the ford of the river a
distance of more than a mile, suddenly became the scene of a hard and
bloody race. As the whites fled, the Indians sprung after them, with
whoops and yells that more resembled those of infuriated demons than
human beings; and whenever an unfortunate Kentuckian was overtaken, he
instantly fell a victim to the tomahawk and scalping knife. Those who
were mounted generally escaped; but the foot suffered dreadfully; and
the whole distance presented an appalling sight of bloody, mangled
corses, strewing the ground in every direction. Girty, the renegade, was
now at the height of his hellish enjoyment. With oaths and curses, and
horrid laughter, his hands and weapons reeking with blood of the slain,
he rushed on after new victims, braining and scalping all that came
within his reach.

At the river the carnage was in no wise abated. Horsemen and footmen,
victors and vanquished, rushed down the slope, pell-mell, and plunged
into the stream--some striving for life and liberty, some for death and
vengeance--and the dark rolling waters went sweeping on, colored with
the blood of the slaughtered.

An act of heroic gallantry and presence of mind here occurred, which
has often been mentioned in history, tending to check somewhat the
blood-thirsty savages, and give many of the fugitives time to escape.
Some twelve or fifteen horsemen had already passed the ford in safety,
and were in the act of spurring forward, regardless of the fate of their
unfortunate companions on foot, when one of their number, a man by the
name of Netherland, who had previously been accused of cowardice,
suddenly shouted, as if giving the word of command:

"Halt! Fire on the Indians, and protect the men in the river!"

The order was obeyed, in the same spirit it was given; and the sudden
discharge of more than a dozen rifles, made the infuriated savages
recoil in dismay, and thereby saved many a poor fellow's life. The
reaction, however, speedily followed. Many of the savages now swam the
river above and below the ford, and gave chase to the fugitives for
fifteen and even twenty miles--though with but little success after
crossing the stream--as the latter generally plunged into the
neighboring thickets, and so eluded the vigilance of the former.

Such were the general features of the disastrous battle of Blue Licks--a
battle of dreadful import to the pioneers of Kentucky--which threw the
land into mourning, and made a most solemn and startling impression upon
the minds of its inhabitants. Had we space to chronicle individual
heroism, we might fill page after page with brave and noble
achievements; but as it is, we shall confine ourself to those connected
with our most prominent characters.

We have stated previously, that Algernon Reynolds fought in the left
wing, under the command of Boone; where, for the few minutes which the
action lasted, he sustained himself with great gallantry; and, by his
undaunted courage, inspired those immediately around him with like
ardor. On the retreat of the whites, he found himself cut off from the
river by a large body of Indians, headed by his old foe, Simon Girty,
who, having recognized him, was now pressing forward with several
stalwart warriors, to again make him prisoner. For the first time since
the commencement of the battle, he felt his heart sink. To be taken
alive was a thousand times worse than death, and escape seemed
impossible. However, there was no time for consideration; another moment
might be fatal; his foes were upon him; it was now or never. Luckily he
was mounted on a fiery steed--which had thus far escaped a scratch--and
had one undischarged pistol in his holster. This he drew forth as his
last hope; and, tightening the rein, wheeled his horse and spurred down
upon his enemies with tremendous velocity.

"I have you now, by ----!" cried the renegade.

As he spoke, he sprung forward to grasp the bridle of Algernon's horse;
but stumbled and fell, and the beast passed over him, unfortunately
though without doing him any injury.

But Algernon had not yet got clear of his enemies; for on the fall of
Girty, he found himself surrounded by a host of savages, whooping and
yelling frightfully, and his direct course to the river cut off by a
body of more than a hundred. There was only one point, and that a few
yards to his left, where there appeared a possibility of his breaking
through their lines. In the twinkling of an eye, and while his horse was
yet under full headway, his decision was made. Rushing his steed hard to
the right, in order to deceive his foes, he suddenly wheeled him again
to the left; and the side of the beast striking against some three
or four of the Indians, who were on the point of seizing his rein,
staggered them back upon their companions, creating no little confusion.
Taking advantage of this, our hero, with the speed of a flying arrow,
bore down upon the weakest point; where, after shooting down a powerful
savage, who had succeeded in grasping his bridle and was on the point of
tomahawking his horse, he passed their lines, amid a volley of rifle
balls, which cut his clothes in several places, but left himself and
steed unharmed.

The worst of the danger now seemed over; but still his road ahead was
beset with Indians, who were killing and scalping all that fell in their
power; and behind him were the infuriated renegade and his party now in
hot pursuit. His steed, however, was strong and fleet, and he put him to
his wind; by which means he not only distanced those behind him, but
passed one or two parties in front unharmed. About half way between the
ravines and the river, he overtook Major McGary, and some five or six
other horsemen, who were dashing forward at a fast gallop; and checking
his fiery beast somewhat, he silently joined them. A little further on,
Reynolds observed an officer on foot, who, exhausted by his recent
exertions, and lame from former wounds, had fallen behind his
companions. On coming up, he recognized in the crippled soldier the
brave Captain Patterson; and with a magnanimity and self-sacrifice
worthy of all imitation, he instantly reined in his horse and
dismounted, while the others kept upon their course.

"Sir!" cried he to Patterson; "you are, I perceive, fatigued and weak.
Your life is in great danger. Mount, sir--mount! I am fresh and will
take my chance on foot."

"God bless you, sir!--God bless you for this noble act!" exclaimed
Patterson, as Reynolds assisted him, into the saddle. "If I escape--"

"Enough!" said Reynolds, hurriedly, interrupting him. "Fly, sir--fly!
God be with you! Adieu!"

And turning away as he spoke, he sprung down the side of the ridge, and
running along the edge of the river some little distance, plunged into
the water and swam to the opposite shore. Unfortunately for our hero,
he had changed his garments at Bryan's Station, and now wore a pair of
buckskin breeches, which, in swimming the stream, had become so soaked
and heavy that he was obliged to remove them in order to display his
usual agility. While seated upon the bank and occupied in this manner,
he was startled by a hand being placed upon his shoulder, and the
familiar grunt of an Indian sounding in his ear. On looking up, he at
once recognized the grim features of Wild-cat, and saw himself in the
power of some half a dozen savages.

"Me wanty you," said Wild-cat, quietly. "Kitchokema give much for Long
Knife. Come!"

There was no alternative now; and Algernon rose to his feet, and
suffered his weapons to be taken from him, with what feelings we leave
the reader to imagine. Taking him along, the savages set forward, on the
alert for other game; and presently three of them darted away in chase
of a party of whites; and directly after, two others, leaving our hero
alone with Wild-cat. Hope now revived that he might yet escape; nor
was he this time disappointed; for after advancing a short distance,
Wild-cat stooped down to tie his moccasin; when Reynolds immediately
sprung upon him, knocked him down with his fist, seized his rifle,
tomahawk, and knife, fled into the thicket, and reached Bryan's Station,
during the night succeeding, unscathed.[24]

Throughout the short but severe action at the ravines, Boone maintained
his ground with great coolness and courage, animating his soldiers by
word and deed, until the rout became general, when he found it
necessary, to prevent falling into the hands of the enemy, to have
recourse to immediate flight. As he cast his eyes around him for this
purpose, he saw himself cut off from the ford by the large body of
Indians, through whose lines our hero was even then struggling. At this
moment he heard a groan which attracted his attention; and looking down,
he perceived his son Israel lying on the ground, scarcely five paces
distant, weltering in his blood. With all a father's feelings of
affection and alarm, he instantly sprung from his horse, and, raising
the youth in his arms, darted into the nearest ravine, and made with all
speed for the river. A few of the Indians were herein concealed, who
discharged their rifles at him as he passed, without injury, and then
joined in pursuit. One, a powerful warrior, having outstripped his
companions, was rushing upon the old woodsman with his tomahawk, when
the latter, with backwoods celerity, instantly raised his rifle and shot
him through the body. Finding himself hard pressed, and that his son was
already in the agonies of death, the old hunter strained him for the
last time to his heart, with choking emotion, pressed his lips to those
already growing cold, and then, with a groan of agony, left him to his
fate and the scalping-knife of the savage, while he barely made his own
escape by swimming the river below the bend. To him this was a mournful
day--never to be forgotten--and one that, even long, long years after,
could never be mentioned but with tears.

In this action the brother of Boone was wounded; but in company with
Isaac Younker, and some three or four others, he succeeded in making his
escape.

On the day of the battle, Colonel Logan arrived at Bryan's Station with
a command of four hundred and fifty soldiers. On learning that the
garrison with their reinforcements had gone the day preceding in pursuit
of the Indians, and fearful of some disaster, he resolved on a forced
march to give them assistance as soon as possible. For this purpose he
immediately set forward on their trail; but had advanced only a few
miles, when he met a party of the fugitives returning from the scene of
slaughter. They were alarmed and excited, and of course their account of
the battle was greatly exaggerated, believing as they did that they were
the only escaped survivors. Their report, to say the least, was very
startling, allowing that only the half were true; and in consequence,
Logan decided on retracing his steps to the station, until he should be
able to collect more definite news concerning the fight. Gradually one
party after another came dropping in; and by nine o'clock nearly or
quite all of the survivors were assembled in the fortress; when it was
ascertained that a little over one-third of the party, or between sixty
and seventy of those engaged in the battle, were missing. It was a sad
night of wailing, and lamentation, and dreadful excitement in the
station; for scarcely a family there, but was mourning the loss of some
friend or relation. Algernon and Isaac had returned, to the great joy of
those most interested in their welfare; but the father-in-law of the
latter came not, and there was mourning in consequence.

A consultation between Colonels Logan and Boone, resulted in the
decision to march forthwith to the battle-ground. Accordingly every
thing being got in readiness, Colonel Logan set out with his command,
at a late hour the same night, accompanied by Boone, and a few of the
survivors of the ill-fated engagement. Towards morning a halt of three
hours was ordered for rest and refreshment: when the line of march was
again taken up; and by noon of the day succeeding the battle, the forces
arrived upon the ground, where a most horribly repulsive scene met their
view.

The Indians had departed on their homeward route, bearing their killed
and wounded away from the field of carnage; but the dead and mutilated
bodies of the whites still remained where they had fallen, presenting
a spectacle the most hideous and revolting possibly to be conceived.
In the edge of the stream, on the banks, up the ridge, and along the
buffalo trace to the ravines, were lying the bloody and mangled corses
of the gallant heroes--who, the day before, full of ardor and life,
had rushed on to the battle and an untimely and inglorious death--now
swollen, putrid, and in the first stage of decomposition, from the
action of the scorching rays of an August sun--surrounded by vultures
and crows, and all species of carrion fowl; many of which, having gorged
themselves on the horrid repast, were either sweeping overhead in large
flocks, and screeching their funeral dirges, or wiping their bloody
bills on the neighboring trees. Some of the bodies in the stream had
been gnawed by fishes--others by wolves--and all had been so disfigured,
by one means and another, that but very few could be recognized by their
friends.

"Great Heaven! what a sight!" exclaimed Colonel Logan, as he ran his eye
over the scene.

"A dark and terrible day for Kaintuck," answered Boone, who was standing
by his side; and as he spoke, the old hunter turned away his head to
conceal his emotion; for his mind reverted to the death of his noble
son.

Orders were now given by Colonel Logan, to have the bodies collected,
and interred in a manner as decent as circumstances would permit. This
being accomplished, he returned with his men to Bryan's Station, and
there dismissed them--it not being thought advisable to pursue the enemy
further. In this ever memorable battle of Blue Licks, the Kentuckians
had sixty killed, twelve wounded, and seven taken prisoners, most of
whom were afterwards put to the tortures. As we said before, it was
a sad day for Kentucky, and threw the land into mourning and gloom.
Colonels Todd and Trigg, and Majors Harlan and McBride, were men beloved
and respected in life, and bitterly lamented in death by a long list of
true-hearted friends.

The great trace where the battle was fought, is now green with low
branching cedars; and a solitary monument near by, informs the curious
spectator of the sad disaster of by gone times. The Blue Lick Springs
are much resorted to in the summer season by invalids and others, for
whose convenience a magnificent hotel stands upon the banks of the
lovely and romantic Licking.

A few words more and our general history will be closed. On receiving
the intelligence of the battle of Blue Licks, General Clark--who then
occupied a fort at the Falls of the Ohio, on the present site of
Louisville--resolved upon another expedition to the enemy's country; for
which purpose it was proposed to raise an army of one thousand men, who,
under their respective commanders, should congregate opposite the mouth
of the Licking, on the present site of Cincinnati. The interior and
upper country were to rendezvous at Bryan's Station, under the command
of Colonels Logan and Floyd; and the lower settlements at the Falls of
Ohio, under General Clark; who, on all parties arriving at the grand
rendezvous, was to be commander-in-chief of the expedition. One thousand
mounted riflemen were raised without a draft, who marched upon the
enemy in their own country, destroyed their villages, provisions, and
cornfields, took several prisoners, and carried with them so much terror
and desolation, that the Indians never sufficiently recovered from the
shock to renew hostilities in a formidable body; and the Kentuckians
henceforth, save in individual cases, were left unmolested.

On their march they came upon the rear of Girty's party, returning from
their successful battle; but an Indian scout gave the renegade and his
companions warning in time for them to escape the whites by flight. In
this expedition, Colonel Boone volunteered and served as a private;
being the last in which the noble old hunter was ever engaged in defence
of the settlements of Kentucky. Algernon Reynolds and Isaac Younker were
his companions in arms; who, on the dismissal of the troops, returned
again to Bryan's Station.


[Footnote 24: It may perhaps add interest to the story, for the reader
to know that the foregoing account concerning Reynolds and Captain
Patterson, is historically true; as is also the one which follows with
regard to Boone and his son.]



CHAPTER XX.

THE FINALE.


Month upon month rolled away, quiet succeeded to the alarm and commotion
of war, hostilities between Great Britain and America ceased, and the
country both east and west now began to look up from the depression and
gloom which had pervaded it during its long and sanguinary struggle for
independence. In Kentucky the effect was really invigorating; and the
settlers, who for a year past had been driven from their homes in terror
and dismay--who had quitted their peaceable farming implements for the
destructive weapons of strife and bloodshed--now ventured to return to
their desolate firesides, and renew their honest occupations of tilling
the soil. Some, however, more predisposed to financiering than their
neighbors, sought only speculation; in consequence whereof the Land
Offices of the Virginia Commissioners--which opened in November,
after the return of the troops under Clark--were daily thronged with
applicants for the best locations; whereby was laid the first grand
corner-stone of subsequent litigation, disaffection, and civil discord
among the pioneers. But with these, further than to mention the facts as
connected with the history of the time, we have nothing to do; and shall
now forthwith pass on to the finale of our story.

Month upon month, as we said before, had rolled away, spring had come,
and with it had departed many of those who had occupied Bryan's Station
during the siege of August; but still, besides the regular garrison and
their families, a few of the individuals who had sought refuge therein,
yet remained; among whom we may mention Mrs. Younker, Ella, Isaac and
his wife, and so forth. Algernon, too--by the entreaty of his friends,
and contrary to his previous calculations, and what he considered his
duty--had been induced to defer his departure until the opening of
spring. Possibly there might have been a secret power, stronger than the
mere entreaties of others, which had prevailed over his resolution to
depart; but further the records say not. Be that as it may, the extreme
limit of time which he had set for remaining, was now nearly expired;
and he was, at the moment when we again present him to the reader,
engaged in conversation with Ella on the painful subject. Suddenly he
was startled by the information that a stranger in the court desired to
speak with him.

"A stranger!" exclaimed Algernon, in surprise; and as he spoke, his face
became very pale, his lips quivered, and his hands trembled. Turning
upon Ella a look of agony, which seemed to say, "I am an arrested
felon," he wheeled upon his heel, and followed the messenger in silence;
while she, knowing the cause of his agitation, and fearful of the worst,
sunk almost lifeless upon a seat.

As Algernon passed out of the cottage, he beheld, in the center of the
common, a well dressed, good-looking individual, who was standing on the
ground and holding by the bridle a horse, which, as well as the rider
himself, appeared both travel-stained and weary. Approaching the
stranger with a firm step, but with a pale countenance and throbbing
heart, he said:

"I understand, sir, you have business with me."

"Your name, then," returned the other, quietly, "I presume to be
Algernon Reynolds?"

"The same."

"You are, too, I infer, a native of ----, Connecticut, and son of Albert
Reynolds of that place?"

"Again right," answered Algernon, in a voice which, in spite of himself,
was a little tremulous.

"Then, sir," rejoined the stranger, with a satisfied air, "I may say
that I have business with you, and of vast importance. A long chase you
have led me, i' faith; and weeks of travel have you cost me; so you may
rest assured that I am happy in finding you at last."

"Proceed!" said Algernon, compressing his lips, as one whose mind is
made up for the worst. "Proceed, sir. I know your mission."

"The deuce you do!" replied the other, in astonishment; "then you must
have a very remarkable faculty for divining secrets. I rather guess you
are mistaken though," he added, as he drew forth a couple of letters
from a side pocket; "but these will inform you whether you are or not."

Seizing the proffered letters with trembling eagerness, Algernon hastily
glanced at their superscription; then, breaking the seals, he devoured
their contents with the utmost avidity; while the stranger stood noting
the varying expressions of his handsome countenance, with a quiet smile.
At first his pale features seemed flushed with surprise--then became
radiant with joy--and then gradually saddened with sorrow; yet a certain
cheerfulness prevailed over all--such as he had not exhibited for many a
long month. As he finished a hasty perusal of the epistles, he turned to
the stranger, grasped his hand, and, shaking it heartily, while tears of
joy filled his eyes, exclaimed:

"I _was_ mistaken, sir--God be thanked! God bless you too, sir! for
being the messenger of peace between myself and conscience. Excuse me.
Tarry a moment, sir, and I will send some one to take charge of your
weary beast, and show yourself a place of rest and refreshment."

As he spoke, Algernon darted away toward the cottage. Observing Isaac,
he ran to and caught him by the hand:

"Isaac," he said, in a gay tone, while his eyes sparkled with delight,
"wish me joy! I have good news. I--but stay; I forgot; you know nothing
of the matter. Oblige me, though, by showing yonder gentleman and his
beast due hospitality;" and wringing his hand, he sprung into the
apartment where Ella was sitting alone, leaving Isaac staring after him
with open mouth, and wondering whether he were in his right senses or
not.

"Ella!" he exclaimed, wildly, as he suddenly appeared before her with a
flushed countenance: "Ella, God bless you! Listen. I--I am free! I am no
longer a criminal, thank God! These, Ella--these!" and he held aloft the
letters with one hand, and tapped them nervously with the other.

The next moment his features grew pale, his whole frame quivered, and he
sunk upon a seat, completely overcome by the nervous excitement produced
by the sudden transition from despair to hope and freedom.

Ella was alarmed; and springing to him, she exclaimed:

"For Heaven's sake! Algernon, what is the matter?--what has
happened?--are you in your senses? Speak!--speak!"

"Read!" answered he, faintly, placing the letters in her hand: "Read,
Ella--read!"

Ella hesitated a moment on the propriety of complying with his request,
but a moment only; and the next she turned to one of the epistles. It
was from the father of Algernon, and ran as follows:


  "DEAR SON:--If in the land of the living, return as speedily as possible
  to your afflicted and anxious parents, who are even now mourning you as
  dead. You can return in safety; for your cousin, whom you supposed you
  had fatally wounded, recovered therefrom, and publicly exonerated you
  from all blame in the matter. He is now, however, no more--having died
  of late. Elvira, his wife, is also dead. She died insane. As a partial
  restitution for the injury done you, your cousin has made you heir, by
  will, to all his property, real estate and personal, amounting, it is
  said, to over twenty thousand dollars. Your mother is in feeble health,
  caused by anxiety on your account. For further information, inquire of
  the messenger who will bear you this.

                            Your affectionate father,
                                  ALBERT REYNOLDS."
                                        Nov. 12th, 1782.


The other epistle was from a lawyer, informing Reynolds of his
acquisition to a large amount of property, by a will of his late cousin;
and that he, the said lawyer, being executor thereof, required the
presence of him, the said Reynolds, or his proxy forthwith.

"I knew it: I felt that all would yet be well: I told you to hope for
the best!" cried Ella, as she concluded the letter, her eyes moist with
tears, and her face beaming like the sun through a summer shower.

"God bless you, dearest Ella--you did indeed!" exclaimed Reynolds,
suddenly, bounding from his seat and clasping her in his arms. "You did
indeed tell me to hope--and you told me truly;" and he pressed kiss
after kiss, again and again, upon her sweet lips, with all the wild,
trembling, rapturous feelings of a lover in his first ecstasy of bliss,
when he has surmounted all obstacles, and gained the heart of the being
he loves.

"Now, dearest Ella," continued Algernon, when the excitement of the
moment had been succeeded by a calmer, though not less blissful mood:
"Now, dearest Ella, I am free--my sacred oath binds me no longer--and
now can I say, with propriety, that I deeply, solemnly, and devotedly
love you, and you alone. I am not rich; but I have enough of this
world's goods to live in ease, if not in splendor. Will you share with
me, and be partner of my lot, be it for good or ill, through life? My
heart you have had long--my hand I now offer you. Say, dearest, will you
be mine?"

Ella did not speak--she could not; but she looked up into his face, with
a sweet, modest, affectionate smile; and her dark, soft, beautiful eyes,
suffused with tears, wherein a soul of love lay mirrored, gave answer,
with a heart-felt eloquence surpassing words.

"I understand you, Ella," said Algernon, with emotion. "You are
mine--mine forever!" and he strained her trembling form to his heart in
silence--a deep, joyful and holy silence--that had in it more of Heaven
than earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a mild, lovely day in the spring of 1783. Earth had donned her
green mantle, and decorated it with flowers of every hue and variety.
The trees were in leaf and in bloom; among whose soft, waving branches,
gay birds from the sunny south sung most sweetly; and nature seemed
every where to rejoice. In the court of Bryan's Station was a large
concourse of people--many of whom were from a distance--and all
assembled there to witness the solemn ceremony which was to unite
Algernon Reynolds and Ella Barnwell forever; for who shall say the holy
marriage rite is not eternally binding in the great Hereafter. There
were congregated both sexes and all ages, from the infant to the hoary
headed veteran of eighty winters. There were assembled youth and
manhood, whose names have since graced the historic page, and whose
deeds have stamped them benefactors of their race and nation. All were
in order, and silent, and the scene was most solemnly impressive. On the
right and left of the bride and groom and their attendants, stood,
promiscuously, the general spectators of both sexes. In front was drawn
up the garrison, in three platoons, under arms, in compliment to the
noble bravery of our hero at the battle of Blue Licks.

Never did Algernon appear more noble than now--never did Ella look more
beautiful; as, pale and trembling, she seemed to cling to his arm for
support. The ceremony was at length begun and ended, amid a deep and
breathless silence. As the last words, "_I pronounce you man and wife_,"
died away upon the air, the first platoon advanced a pace and fired a
volley--the second and third followed--and then arose a soft bewitching
strain of music; during which the friends of the newly married pair came
forward to offer their congratulations, and wishes for their long life
and happiness.

Among the party present was Colonel Boone; and approaching Algernon and
Ella--who were now seated where the solemn rite had taken place--he took
the hand of each, and said, in a voice of some emotion:

"My children--for ye seem to me as such--may you both live long and be
happy. You've both o' ye had a deal o' trouble since I first saw ye--and
that's but a little while ago--but I hope its now over. Don't think I
want to flatter, sir, when I say I think you're a brave and honorable
young man, and that you've got a wife every way worthy of ye--and she a
husband worthy o' her--and that's saying much. God bless ye both! and ef
you ever need a friend, call on Daniel Boone."

With this he shook their hands heartily, and strode away.

The next who advanced to them was Captain Patterson--the officer, it
will be remembered, whose life Algernon so generously saved at the risk
of his own. After the usual congratulations, he took our hero by the
hand, and said, with deep feeling:

"Sir! I feel that to you, for risking your own life to save mine, I owe
a debt I can never cancel; and an attempt to express to you in words
my sense of obligation for the noble act, would be worse than vain:
therefore accept this, as a slight testimonial of the gratitude of one
who will ever remember you in his prayers, and wear your image in his
heart."

As he concluded, Captain Patterson placed in the hands of Algernon a
sealed packet, and moved away.[25]

"Well, its all over," said Mrs. Younker, coming up in turn to wish the
young couple joy. "I al'ays 'spected as how it 'ud come to this here.
Goodness, gracious, marsy on me alive! what a flustration they has made
about ye, sure enough, for sartin--han't they? I never seed the like
on't afore in all my born days. Why, it's like you war governor's folks,
sure enough. And my own Ella, too; and the stranger as com'd to my house
all bleeding to death like! My! my!--what strange doings Providence
does! Well, its to be hoped you'll al'ays git bread enough to keep
from starving, and that you won't fight nor quarrel more nor is
necessitous--as the Reverend Preacher Allprayer said, when he married
me and Ben together. Ah!--poor Ben!--poor Ben!--I'm a lone widder now.
Well, the Lord's will be done!" And the good dame moved sadly away, to
make room for others, and console herself by recounting her afflictions
to some patient listener, together with the virtues of her deceased and
living friends.

"I don't 'spect it's o' much account my telling you I wish ye joy," said
Isaac, "when every body's doing the same thing; but it comes from the
heart, and I can't help it. Well, you'll be happy, I know; for thar's
nothing like married life; and I speak from experience. I'm sorry you've
got to leave us so soon; but you won't git far from me; for I've got you
both here;" and placing his hand upon his heart, he bowed, smiled, and
passed on.

As soon as the congratulations were over, Algernon and Ella were
escorted into the cottage occupied by Mrs. Younker; where a sumptuous
dinner was already prepared for them, their relatives, and a few select
friends, among whom was Colonel Boone and Captain Patterson. For the
remainder, long tables were ranged around the common, where the greatest
conviviality prevailed; and toasts were drank, and songs were sung, and
all were merry. After dinner there were music and dancing on the common
and in the cabins: and the coming night shut in a scene of festivity,
such as was but seldom witnessed even in those early times; and which
was remembered and spoken of long, long years after, when many of those
who were then actors in the scene had sunk beneath the clods of the
valley.

Years have rolled away to the dark and unapproachable past since the
transpiring of the events which we have chronicled, and vast mutations
have marked the steps of all conquering time. Our beloved country, which
then weak and oppressed was struggling for her independence against the
most powerful nation on the globe, has since nobly won a name and place
among the mighty ones of earth, and planted her stars and stripes from
the Atlantic to the Pacific, and built cities and towns amid dark and
mighty forests, where then roved in freedom the wild, untutored
aborigines of America.

Kentucky, too, has since become a rich, populous, and powerful state;
and her noble sons, by their courage and generosity, have well
maintained that name and fame which was won for them by their fathers,
and which shall go down to future ages all green and unfading. Bryan's
Station--the theatre of many a scene of gay frolic and sanguinary
strife--of festivity and mourning--has long since sunk to ruin and dust;
and on its site now stands the private dwelling of a gentleman of
fortune. But where are they who once inhabited it? Those hoary headed
veterans--those middle aged men--or those fiery and impetuous youths
ever ready for either love or war? Where are they now? Gone! Passed away
like moving shadows that leave no trace behind. Gone out, one by one, as
lights in the late deserted hall of revelry, or stars at the dawn of
day. But very few--and these mere striplings then--now remain to tell
the tale; of whom it may with truth be said, "The places which know them
now shall soon know them no more forever."

Reader, a word or two more and we have done; and in your hands we leave
the decision, as to whether our task has been faithfully fulfilled or
not.

Shortly after their marriage, Algernon and Ella bade farewell to their
friends in the west, and returned to the east, where a long and happy
career awaited them; and where they lived to recount to their children
and grand-children, the thrilling narratives of their captivity, and
their wild and romantic adventures while pioneers on the borders of
Kentucky.

Isaac returned to the farm of his father--rebuilt the cottage destroyed
by the Indians--and there, with his dear Peggy, lived happily to a green
old age, beloved and respected by all who knew him; and there his
posterity still continue to multiply the name of Younker. With him the
good dame, his mother, sojourned for several years, as industrious and
talkative as ever; and at last passed quietly from among the living,
even while in the act of making a sublime quotation on the subject of
dying from her favorite, the immortal Preacher Allprayer.

Boone continued a resident of Kentucky, until he fancied it too populous
for his comfort; when he removed with his family to Missouri; where he
spent much of his time in fishing and hunting, and where he finally died
at an advanced age. From thence his remains were conveyed to Frankfort,
the capital of Kentucky, where they now repose; and where a rough slab,
with a few half intelligible characters thereon, points out to the
curious stranger the last earthly resting place of the noblest, the most
daring, and famous hunter and pioneer the world has ever produced.

The fate of little Rosetta Millbanks, the captive, is unknown.

Girty, notwithstanding his outrageous crimes against humanity, continued
to live among the Indians for a great number of years, the inveterate
and barbarous foe of his race. In the celebrated battle of the Thames,
a desperate white man led on a band of savages, who fought with great
fury, but were at length overpowered and their leader cut to pieces by
Colonel Johnson's mounted men. The mangled corse of this leader was
afterwards recognized as the notorious and once dreaded Simon Girty.


[Footnote 25: This was found to contain a deed of two hundred acres of
the best land in Kentucky. A historical fact.]



THE END





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