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Title: A Virginia Scout
Author: Pendexter, Hugh, 1875-1940
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Virginia Scout" ***

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[Illustration: "You were never meant for the frontier."]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

A VIRGINIA SCOUT

By
HUGH PENDEXTER

Author of
Kings of the Missouri, Etc.

Frontispiece by
D. C. Hutchison

INDIANAPOLIS
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
PUBLISHERS

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright 1920
The Ridgway Company

Copyright 1922
The Bobbs-Merrill Company

Printed in the United States of America

PRESS OF
BRAUNWORTH & CO.
BOOK MANUFACTURERS
BROOKLYN, N. Y.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

To
Faunce Pendexter

My Son and Best of Seven-Year-Old Scouts
This Story Is Lovingly Dedicated

------------------------------------------------------------------------

CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                 PAGE
     I.  Three Travelers                   1
     II  Indian-Haters                    23
    III  Over the Mountains               55
     IV  I Report to My Superiors         81
      V  Love Comes a Cropper            106
     VI  The Pack-Horse-Man's Medicine   133
    VII  Lost Sister                     167
   VIII  In Abb's Valley                 193
     IX  Dale Escapes                    229
      X  Our Medicine Grows Stronger     265
     XI  Back to the Blue Wall           289
    XII  The Shadows Vanish              311
   XIII  Peace Comes to the Clearing     352

------------------------------------------------------------------------



A Virginia Scout

CHAPTER I

THREE TRAVELERS


It was good to rest in the seclusion of my hollow sycamore. It was
pleasant to know that in the early morning my horse would soon cover the
four miles separating me from the soil of Virginia. As a surveyor, and now
as a messenger between Fort Pitt and His Lordship, the Earl of Dunmore,
our royal governor, I had utilized this unique shelter more than once when
breaking my journey at the junction of the Monongahela and the Cheat.

I had come to look upon it with something of affection. It was one of my
wilderness homes. It was roughly circular and a good eight feet in
diameter, and never yet had I been disturbed while occupying it.

During the night I heard the diabolic screech of a loon somewhere down the
river, while closer by rose the pathetic song of the whippoorwill. Strange
contrasts and each very welcome in my ears. I was awake with the first
rays of the sun mottling the bark and mold before the low entrance to my
retreat. The rippling melody of a mocking-bird deluged the thicket.
Honey-bees hovered and buzzed about my tree, perhaps investigating it with
the idea of moving in and using it for a storehouse. The Indians called
them the "white man's flies," and believed they heralded the coming of
permanent settlements. I hoped the augury was a true one, but there were
times when I doubted.

Making sure that the priming of my long Deckhard rifle was dry, I crawled
out into the thicket and stood erect. As far as the eye could roam
stretched the rich bottom-lands and the low ridges, covered with the
primeval growths of giant walnuts, maples, oaks and hickory. Small wonder
that the heart of the homeseeker should covet such a country.

Groves of beeches, less desired by settlers, were noisy with satisfied
squirrels. From river to ridge the air was alive with orioles and
cardinals and red-starts. And could I have stood at the western rim of my
vision I would have beheld the panorama repeated, only even richer and
more delectable; for there was nothing but the ancient forest between me
and the lonely Mississippi.

Birds and song and the soft June air and the mystery of the Kentucky
country tugging at my heartstrings. I felt the call very strong as I stood
there in the thicket, and gladly would I have traveled West to the richest
game-region ever visited by white men. From some who had made the trip I
had heard wonderful stories of Nature's prodigality. There were roads made
through tangled thickets by immense herds of buffaloes smashing their way
five abreast. Deer were too innumerable to estimate. To perch a turkey
merely required that one step a rod or two from the cabin door. Only the
serious nature of my business, resulting from the very serious nature of
the times, held me back.

On this particular morning when the summer was in full tide of song and
scents and pleasing vistas, I was bringing important despatches to
Governor Dunmore. The long-looked-for Indian war was upon us. From the
back-country to the seaboard Virginians knew this year of 1774 was to
figure prominently in our destiny.

In the preceding spring we realized it was only a question of time when we
must "fort" ourselves, or abandon the back-country, thereby losing crops
and cabins. When young James Boone and Henry Russell were killed by
Indians in Powell's Valley in the fall of 1773, all hope of a friendly
penetration of the western country died. Ever since Colonel Bouquet's
treaty with the Ohio tribes on the collapse of Pontiac's War the frontier
had suffered from many small raids, but there had been no organized
warfare.

During those ten years much blood had been spilled and many cabins burned,
but the red opposition had not been sufficient to stop the backwoodsmen
from crowding into the Alleghanies. And only a general war could prevent
them from overflowing down into the bottoms of the Ohio. The killing of
friendly Shawnees at Pipe Creek below the mouth of the Little Kanawha in
April, followed three days later by the cruel slaughter of John Logan's
relatives and friends at Baker's groggery opposite Yellow Creek, had
touched off the powder.

But the notion that the massacre of Logan's people at Joshua Baker's house
was the cause of the war is erroneous. For any one living in the country
at the time to have believed it would be too ridiculous. That brutal
affair was only one more brand added to a fire which had smoldered for ten
years.

It happened to be the last piece of violence before both red and white
threw aside make-believe and settled down to the ghastly struggle for
supremacy. Hunters bound for Kentucky had suffered none from the Indians
except as they had a brush with small raiding-parties. But when Daniel
Boone undertook to convey his wife and children and the families of his
friends into the wonderland the natives would have none of it. In killing
his son and young Russell, along with several of their companions, the
Indians were merely serving notice of no thoroughfare for home-builders.

So let us remember that Dunmore's War was the inevitable outcome of two
alien races determined on the same prize, with each primed for a
death-struggle by the memories of fearful wrongs. It is useless to argue
which race gave the first cause for retaliation; it had been give and take
between them for many years. Nor should our children's children, because
of any tendency toward ancestor-worship, be allowed to believe that the
whites were invincible and slaughtered more natives than they lost of
their own people.

There were white men as merciless and murderous as any Indians, and some
of these had a rare score of killings to their discredit. Yet in a
man-for-man account the Indians had all the best of it. Veterans of
Braddock's War insisted that the frontier lost fifty whites for each red
man killed. Bouquet and other leaders estimated the ratio in Pontiac's War
to have been ten to one in favor of the Indians.

This reduction proved that the settlers had learned something from the
lessons taught in the old French War. Our people on the border knew all
this and they were confident that in the struggle now upon them they would
bring the count down to one for one.[1] So let the youngsters of the new
day learn the truth; that is, that the backwoodsmen clung to their homes
although suffering most hideously.

Virginia understood she must sustain the full brunt of the war, inasmuch
as she comprised the disputed frontier. It was upon Virginia that the red
hatred centered. I never blamed the Indians for this hate for white cabins
and cleared forests and permanent settlements. Nor should our dislike of
the Indians incite sentimental people, ignorant of the red man's ways and
lacking sympathy with our ambitions, to denounce us as being solely
responsible for the brutal aspects such a struggle will always display.

It should also be remembered that the men of Pennsylvania were chiefly
concerned with trade. Their profits depended upon the natives remaining
undisturbed in their ancient homes. Like the French they would keep the
red man and his forests unchanged.

Naturally they disapproved of any migrations over the mountains; and they
were very disagreeable in expressing their dissatisfaction. We retorted,
overwarmly doubtless, by accusing our northern sister of trading guns and
powder to the Indians for horses stolen from Virginia. There was bad blood
between the two colonies; for history to gloss over the fact is to
perpetrate a lie. Fort Pitt, recently renamed Fort Dunmore by the
commandant, Doctor John Connolly, controlled the approach to the Ohio
country. It was a strong conditional cause of the war, peculiar as the
statement may sound to those born long after the troublesome times of
1774.

Pennsylvania accused our royal governor of being a land-grabber and the
catspaw or partner of land-speculators. His Lordship was interested in
land-speculation and so were many prominent Virginians. It is also true
that claims under Virginia patents would be worthless if Pennsylvania
controlled the junction of the Monongahela and the Alleghany Rivers and
sustained her claims to the surrounding country.

It is another fact that it was the rifles of Virginia which protected that
outlying region, and that many of the settlers in the disputed territory
preferred Virginia control. Every one realized that should our militia
push the Indians back and win a decisive victory our claims would be
immensely strengthened. And through Doctor Connolly we were already
handling affairs at Fort Pitt.

Because of these and other facts there was an excellent chance for an
intercolonial war. I am of the strong opinion that an armed clash between
the hotheads of the two provinces would have resulted if not for the
intervention of the Indian war.

At the beginning of hostilities the Indians proclaimed they would whip
Pennsylvania and would roast Virginians. However, when Benjamin Speare,
his wife and six children were massacred on Dunkard Creek early in June,
with similar bloody murders being perpetrated at Muddy Creek, all on
Pennsylvania soil, by John Logan, the Mingo chief, there was less foolish
talk north of the line.

All these thoughts of raids and reprisals, of white striving to outdo red
in cruelty, may seem to harmonize but ill with that soft June morning, the
flight of the red-start, the song of the oriole and the impish chatter of
the squirrels. Beech and oak urged one to rest in the shade; the limpid
waters of the river called for one to strip and bathe.

To heed either invitation incautiously invited the war-ax to be buried in
the head. However, we of the border always had had the Indian trouble, and
each generation had taken its pleasure with a wary eye and ready weapons.
Although the times were very dangerous and I was serving as scout for
thirty-three cents a day I could still enjoy the sweet aromas and
sympathize with the song of birds and yet keep an eye and ear open for
that which concerned my life.

In ascending the Monongahela I had seen many settlers crossing the river
to make the eastern settlements. I was told that a thousand men, women and
children had crossed during the space of twenty-four hours. Down on the
Clinch and Holston the settlers were either "forting" or fleeing.

Much of this retirement was compelled by the sad lack of powder and lead,
even of guns. More than one settler depended entirely upon ax or scythe
for protection. Such were prevented from using the advantage of their
stout walls and could do the foe no mischief until after the door had been
battered down, when of course all the advantage shifted to the side of the
invader.

By this I do not mean to disparage such tools as implements of war. A
sturdy fellow with both hands gripping a scythe can do an amazing amount
of damage at close quarters, as more than one Shawnee war-party has
learned.

Briefly summed up, there were dissensions between some of the colonies
over the land-disputes; sparks were flying between the colonies and the
mother-country; every day brought gruesome news from the back-country;
there was a scarcity of guns and ammunition; militia captains were eagerly
stealing one another's men to fill their quotas.

Yet regardless of all these troubles let it be understood that for once
the borders welcomed war and insisted upon it. As early as March, a month
before the Pipe and Yellow Creek outrages, the Williamsburg _Gazette_
printed an address to Lord Dunmore, stating that "an immediate declaration
of war was necessary, nay inevitable." Not only did the whites want the
war, but the natives also were eager for it.

But enough of whys and wherefores, as they make poor story-telling, and
leave me, Basdel Morris, overlong in quitting the thicket about my tree.
And yet the wise man always looks backward as well as forward when
entering on a trail, and children yet unborn may blaze a better trace if
they understand what lies behind them.

I ate my breakfast there in the thick growth, packing my hungry mouth with
parched corn and topping off with a promise of turkey, once I drew beyond
the danger-belt. Trying to make myself believe my appetite was satisfied,
I began the delicate task of leaving cover without leaving any signs. My
horse was a fourth of a mile from my tree, so that in finding him the
Indians would not find me.

The river sang a drowsy song a short distance from my tree and down a
gentle slope. I knew of a spring beneath its bank, and I was impatient to
taste its cold waters. I moved toward it slowly, determined that if an
Indian ever secured my long black hair it would not be because he caught
me off my guard. With ears and eyes I scouted the river-bank.

The flights and songs of birds and the boisterous chatter of the squirrels
now became so many helps. There were no intruders in the grove of beech.
There was no one between me and the river. At last I passed under some
overhanging boughs and slipped down the bank to the water's edge.

Once more I searched both banks of the river, the Cheat, and then ventured
to drink. Like an animal I drank a swallow, then threw up my head and
glanced about. It took me some time to drink my fill, but I was not
tomahawked while at the spring. At last I was convinced I had the bank to
myself; and satisfied that the screen of overhanging boughs screened me
from any canoe turning a bend up- or down-stream I removed my clothes and
very softly slipped into the water.

There could be no hilarious splashing nor swimming, but the silent
immersion was most refreshing. It was while supine on my back with only my
nose and toes above water that I received my first alarm for that morning.
My position being recumbent I was staring up at the sky and in the
direction of up-stream, and I saw a speck.

It was circling and from the west a smaller speck was hastening eastward.
A third tiny speck showed on the southern skyline. Turkey-buzzards. The
one circling had sighted dead beast or man. The others had seen the
discoverer's maneuvers advertising his good luck; and now each scavenger
in hastening to the feast drew other scavengers after him.

I crawled ashore and hurriedly began slipping into my few garments. I drew
on my breeches and paused for a moment to part the shrubbery and stare
into the sky. I was startled to observe the buzzards--there were three of
them now--were much nearer, as if following something. I pulled on my
leggings and finished fitting my moccasins carefully about the ankles to
keep out all dust and dirt and took my second look.

The buzzards were five, and in making their wide circles they had again
cut down the distance. Then it dawned upon me that they were following
something in the river. I watched the bend, the buzzards ever circling
nearer, their numbers continually being augmented by fresh arrivals. At
last it came in sight--a canoe containing one man.

Hastily drying my hands on my hunting-shirt, I picked up my rifle and drew
a bead on the distant figure. The man was an Indian and was allowing the
canoe to drift. But why should the turkey-buzzards follow him? As I
pondered over this problem and waited to learn whether he be friendly or
hostile, there came the _spang_ of a rifle from my side of the river and
above me.

A second shot quickly followed and I thought the figure in the canoe
lurched to one side a bit. Still there was no attempt made to use the
paddle. The shrill ear-splitting scream of a panther rang out, and this
like the two shots was on my side of the river. That the Indian made no
move to escape was inexplicable unless the first shot had killed him
outright.

The canoe was deflected toward my hiding-place, and I expected to hear
another brace of shots from above me. But there was no more shooting, and
the canoe swung in close enough for me to observe the Indian was holding
something between his teeth. I now recognized him as a friendly native, a
Delaware; and anxious to protect him from those lurking on the bank I
showed myself and softly called:

"Bald Eagle is in danger! Paddle in here."

He paid no attention to my greeting, although the canoe continued its
approach until it grounded against the bank. I slipped down to the water
to urge him to come ashore and take cover. He was a well-known chief, and
for years very friendly to the whites. The thing he held in his mouth was
a piece of journey-cake, only he was not eating it as I had first
supposed. As I gained the canoe I noticed a paddle placed across it so as
to support his back, and another so braced as to prop up his head.

The man was dead. There was a hideous wound at the back of his head. He
had been struck down with an ax. While I was weighing this gruesome
discovery the scream of the panther rang out again and close by, and the
bushes parted and I wheeled in time to strike up a double-barrel rifle a
young man was aiming at the chief.

"You've fired at him twice already, Shelby Cousin," I angrily rebuked.
"Isn't that about enough?"

"Nothin' ain't 'nough till I git his sculp," was the grim reply; and
Cousin, scarcely more than a boy, endeavored to knock my rifle aside. "At
least you ought to kill before you scalp," I said.

His lips parted and his eyes screwed up into a perplexed frown and he
dropped the butt of his rifle to the ground. Holding the barrels with both
hands, he stared down at the dead man.

"Some one bu'sted him with a' ax most vastly," he muttered. "An' me
wastin' two shoots o' powder on the skunk!"

"Without bothering to notice the turkey-buzzards that have been following
him down the river," I said.

He looked sheepish and defended himself:

"The cover was too thick to see anything overhead."

"He was a friend to the whites. He has been murdered. His killer struck
him down from behind. As if murder wasn't bad enough, his killer tried to
make a joke of it by stuffing journey-cake in his mouth. The cake alone
would tell every red who sees him that a white man killed him."

"Only trouble with the joke is that there ain't a couple o' him," hissed
young Cousin. "But the fellor who played this joke owes me two shoots of
powder. I 'low he'll pay me."

"You know who he is?"

"Seen Lige Runner up along. I 'low it will be him. Him an' me look on
Injuns just the same way."

"It's fellows like him and Joshua Baker and Daniel Greathouse who bring
trouble to the settlements," I said.

His face was as hard as a mask of stone as he looked at me. His eyes,
which should have glowed with the amiable fires of youth, were as
implacably baleful as those of a mad wolf.

"You don't go for to figger me in with Baker an' Greathouse?" he fiercely
demanded.

"I know your story. It wouldn't be just to rank you with them."

"Mebbe it's my story what turns other men ag'in' these critters," he
coldly suggested. "There was a time when I had a daddy. He talked like you
do. He called some o' the red devils his friends. He believed in 'em, too.
Cornstalk, the Shawnee devil, was his good friend.

"Daddy an' mammy 'lowed we could live on Keeney's Knob till all git-out
bu'sted up an' never have no trouble with friendly Injuns. That was ten
years ago. I was eight years old. Then Cornstalk made his last visit.
Daddy had just brought in some deer meat. Made a feast for th' bloody
devils.

"I happened to be out in the woods when it was done. Or, happen like, I'd
'a' gone along t'others. There's two things that'll make me hunt Cornstalk
an' his Shawnees to the back-country o' hell--my little sister, an' their
overlookin' to wipe me out."

He turned and stood by the canoe, glaring down at the dead man. All
Virginia was familiar with the terrible story of the Cousin massacre at
Keeney's Knob. Fully as tragic and horrible to me, perhaps, was the
terrible change in the only survivor. He became an Injun-killer as soon as
he was able to handle a rifle; and a Virginia boy of twelve was ashamed
when he failed to bring down his squirrel shot through the head.

At eighteen Cousin was hated and feared by the Ohio tribes. He was not
content to wait for Shawnee and Mingo to cross the river, but made
frequent and extremely hazardous trips into their country. His
panther-scream had rung out more than once near the Scioto villages to
proclaim a kill.

Isaac Crabtree was a killer, but his hate did not make him rash. Jesse
Hughes would have been one of our best border scouts if not for his insane
hatred of Indians. He killed them whenever he met them; nor did he, like
Crabtree, wait until the advantage was all on his side before striking.
William White, William Hacker and John Cutright massacred five inoffensive
Indian families at Bulltown on the Little Kanawha as a reprisal for the
Stroud family, slain on Elk River.

Elijah Runner, who Cousin believed had killed Bald Eagle, was yet another
with an insatiable thirst for red blood. Many others were notorious
Injun-killers. Some were border ruffians; some were driven to the limits
of hate because of scenes they had witnessed or losses they had suffered.
But none was like Shelby Cousin.

Other killers would drink and make merry at times, keeping their hate in
the background until a victim appeared. Young Cousin carried his hate in
his face as well as in his heart at all times. There was nothing on earth,
so far as I ever learned, no friendships, no maiden's smile, which could
divert him from the one consuming passion of his life.

His mention of his sister revealed the deepest depth of his anguish. His
parents were beyond all suffering and the need of pity. His sister, a year
older than he, had been carried off. The pursuers found her clothing by a
creek near the ruined cabin; but it had never been proved that she was
dead. It was this, the uncertainty of her fate, which daily fed the boy's
hate and drove him to the forest, where he sought to learn the truth and
never relinquished an opportunity to take his revenge.

"If Lige Runner done for him he sure did a good job," Cousin muttered. "He
sure did make tomahawk improvements on him."[2]

"You never kill in or near the settlements as some of them do," I said.

His eyes closed and what should have been a rarely handsome boyish face, a
face to stir the heart of any maiden to beating faster, was distorted with
the pain he was keeping clamped down behind his clenched teeth.

"That's only because o' what I seen at Keeney's Knob," he hoarsely
whispered. "When I meet one of 'em in a settlement I skedaddle afore I
lose my grip. I mustn't do anything that'll fetch a parcel of 'em down to
carry off some other feller's little sister. If I know'd she was
dead----"

"If you'd stop killing long enough to question some of the Shawnees you
might learn the truth."

He shook his head slowly, and said:

"I stopped--just afore the killin' at Baker's Bottom. Kept my Injun alive
all night. But he wouldn't tell."

I shuddered at the cold-bloodedness of him.

"You tortured him and perhaps he knew nothing to tell," I said.

"If he didn't know nothin' it was hard luck for him," he quietly agreed.
"But I was sartain from things he had boasted that he was at the Knob that
day. What you goin' to do with this varmint?"

And he nodded toward the dead voyager.

"My business won't allow me to take the time necessary to dig a grave
where his friends can't find him or wild animals dig him out. We'll set
him afloat again and hope he'll journey far down the river before his
friends find him. He was friendly to us----"

"Friendly----" interrupted the boy. "So was Cornstalk friendly!"

I removed the journey-cake from the grinning mouth and placed the rigid
figure in the bottom of the canoe. Before I could push the craft into the
current young Cousin grunted with satisfaction and pointed to two
bullet-holes, close together, just back of the ear.

"Knew I must hit pretty close to where I was shootin'," he muttered as he
made up the bank.

I shoved the canoe from shore and called after him: "If you will wait
until I get my horse we might travel together."

He waved his hand in farewell and informed me: "I've got some business
west o' here. It's out o' your path if you're makin' for the Greenbriar."

"But a bit of gossip. I'm just back from Fort Pitt," I said.

He halted and leaned on his rifle and stared at me with lack-luster eyes,
and in a monotonous voice said:

"Ed Sharpe, Dick Stanton, Eph Drake an' Bill Harrel are scoutin' the head
o' Powell's Valley. Wanted me to go but the signs wa'n't promisin' 'nough.
Logan says he'll take ten sculps for one. He still thinks Michael Cresap
led the killin' at Baker's--an' Cresap was at Red Stone when it happened.
Cresap wants to be mighty keerful he don't fall into Logan's hands alive.

"Half the folks on the South Fork o' the Clinch can't raise five shoots o'
powder. Folks on Rye Cove been movin' over to the Holston, leavin' their
cattle behind. Mebbe I'll scout over that way by 'n' by.

"Augusta boys ain't goin' to have any man in their militia company that
stands under six feet in his moccasins. Folks between the heads o'
Bluestone an' Clinch so skeered they prob'ly won't stay to lay by their
corn. Injuns signs up Sandy Creek has made some o' Moccasin an' Copper
Creek folks come off. I 'low that's 'bout all."

"Any signs of the Cherokees coming in?"

"Some says they will. T'others says they won't. Sort o' depends on whether
they can keep Ike Crabtree from killin' of 'em off."

He threw his rifle over his shoulder and with a curt nod turned into the
bushes and followed the bank to find a crossing. He was away on his
fearful business; his youth was hopelessly corroded.

I scouted the spot where I had left my horse and discovered no signs of
Indians. Unspanceling and mounting, I picked up my journey. I was passing
through a mountainous country which contained many large meadows. These
pleasant openings would accommodate many cattle if not for the Indian
danger. They were thick with grass and enough hay could be cured on them
to feed large herds throughout the winter.

The bottom-lands, although smaller, were very rich. Along the hillsides I
had no doubt but that grain could easily be grown. Altogether it was a
most pleasing country if lasting peace ever could come to the border.
While I observed the natural advantages and fancied the glades and bottoms
dotted with happy cabins, I did not forget the dead Delaware floating down
the river, nor ignore the probability of some of his kin discovering the
murder before sundown and taking the path for reprisals.

There was no suggestion of war in the warm sunshine and busy woods-life.
Birds rejoiced in their matings, and the air was most gracious with the
perfume of growing things. The stirring optimism of spring lingered with
me. My heart was warm to rejoin old friends, to enjoy women's company; but
never a moment did I neglect to scrutinize the trace ahead.

The day passed with no hint of danger. I had the world to myself when the
sun was cradled by the western ridges. I found it a wonderful world, and I
believed it was never intended that any race of savages, whites or red,
should hold such fair lands for hunting-preserves only.

That night, according to my custom, I spanceled my horse at a considerable
distance from my camp. I had selected a spot on top of a ridge, where the
maples and walnuts grew thick. I perched a turkey in the gloaming and
roasted him over a small fire. Having eaten, I walked to the edge of the
growth and gazed toward the west. Across the valley a light suddenly
twinkled on the side of a ridge. I first thought that hunters were camping
there; and as the light increased to a bright blaze I decided there was a
large company of them and that they had no fear of Indians.

But as I watched the flames grew higher. What had been a white light
became a ruddy light. The fire spread on both sides. My heart began to
pound and I tilted my head to listen. The distance was too far for me to
hear tell-tale sounds, still I fancied I could hear the yelling of demons
dancing around a burning cabin.

A dead man floating down the river; a boy seeking vengeance somewhere near
the blazing home, and a scout for Virginia traveling toward the
Greenbriar.

-----

  [1] It is estimated that the whites lost three to the Indians'
      one in Dunmore's War.

  [2] Tomahawk improvements. Settlers often took possession by blazing
      trees with axes and carving their names thereon. Such entry to land
      was not legal, but usually was recognized and later made valid by
      legal process. Such was the claim made to the site of modern
      Wheeling, West Virginia, by Ebenezer Silas and Jonathan Zane
      in 1770.



CHAPTER II

INDIAN-HATERS


I journeyed up the Cheat and left its head waters and proceeded down the
Greenbriar without observing any signs of the red peril which was creeping
upon the country. A great gray eagle, poised at the apex of my upturned
gaze, appeared to be absolutely stationary; a little brown flycatcher,
darting across my path, made much commotion. Red-crested woodpeckers
hammered industriously in dead wood for rations. So long as their tappings
resounded ahead of me I feared no ambush.

Wherever nut-trees stood the squirrels made more noise than did the House
of Burgesses when dissolved by Governor Dunmore for expressing
revolutionary sentiments. A most gracious country, and because of its
fairness, most fearfully beset. That which is worthless needs no
sentinels. I met with no humans, white or red; but when within a few miles
of Patrick Davis' home on Howard Creek I came upon a spot where three
Indians had eaten their breakfast that very morning.

I knew they must be friendly to the whites as they had not attempted to
hide their temporary camp. They had departed in the direction of the
creek, which also was my destination. I planned resting there over night
and then crossing the main ridge of the Alleghanies during the next day,
stopping the night with the Greenwood family on Dunlap's Creek.

Thence it would be an easy ride to Salem where I would find Colonel Andrew
Lewis, commander of the county militia. I hoped he would provide a
messenger for forwarding my despatches to Governor Dunmore in
Williamsburg. I had no desire to visit the seat of government, nor was my
disinclination due to the bustle and confusion of its more than a thousand
inhabitants.

A mile from where the Indians had camped I came upon two white men. They
were at one side of the trace and curiously busy among some rocks at the
top of a fifty-foot cliff. They were hauling a rope from a deep crack or
crevice in the rocks and were making hard work of it.

We discovered each other at the same moment, and they called on me to lend
them a hand. Leaving my horse in the trace, I hastened over the rough
ground to learn what they wanted. As I drew nearer I recognized them as
Jacob Scott and William Hacker, confirmed "Injun-haters."

"How d'ye do, Morris," greeted Hacker. "Catch hold here and help haul him
up."

"Who is it?" I asked, seizing the rope which was composed of leather belts
and spancel-ropes.

"Lige Runner," grunted Hacker, digging in his heels and pulling in the
rope hand over hand. Runner, as I have said, was another implacable foe of
all red men.

"All together!" panted Scott.

My contribution of muscle soon brought Runner's head into view. We held
the rope taut while he dragged himself on to the ledge.

"Did you git it?" eagerly demanded Hacker.

The triumphant grin was surety for his success down the crevice. He rose
and tapped a fresh scalp dangling at his belt.

"I got it," he grimly replied. "Had to follow him most to the bottom where
his carcass was wedged between the rocks. Morning, Morris. Traveling far?
Seen any Injun-signs on the way?"

I shook my head, preferring they should not learn about the three Indians
making for Howard's Creek.

"What does all this mean, Runner? Do scalps grow at the bottom of holes?"

"This one seemed to," he answered with a deep chuckle. "Didn't git a fair
crack at him, as he was running mighty cute. Rifle held fire the nick of a
second too long. I knew he was mortal hit, but he managed to reach this
hole. Then the skunk jumped in a-purpose to make us all this bother to git
his scalp."

"Who was he?"

"Don't know. He was a good hundred and fifty yards away and going like a
streak when I plugged him. It's too dark down in the hole to see
anything."

"For all you know he was a friendly."

"We never see no friendlies," Hacker grimly reminded.

"'Cept when they're dead," ironically added Scott. "Our eyesight's
terribly poor when they're alive."

"I call it dirty business. I wouldn't have hauled on the rope if I had
known."

Runner lowered at me and growled:

"You're too finicky. A' Injun is a' Injun. Sooner they're all dead, the
better. I kill 'em quicker'n I would a rattlesnake. A rattler gives notice
when he's going to strike."

"If you've killed a friendly this work will cause much suffering among the
outlying cabins."

"Bah! If we took good corn cakes and honey to the red devils they'd kill
us every chance they got. We ain't forgitting what happened at Keeney's
Knob, at the Clendennin farm on the Greenbriar; nor the scores of killings
up in Tygart's Valley, and in other places. Give 'em the pewter every
chance you can! That's my religion."

"That's the talk, Lige!" cried Scott. "Ike Crabtree would 'a' liked to
been in this fun."

"He'll feel cut up when he hears about our luck," said Hacker.

"Crabtree's feelings do him credit," added Runner. "But his natural
hankering to raise hair is stronger'n his courage when he thinks there's
more'n one Injun to dicker with. Young Shelby Cousin would be the best one
for this business if it wa'n't for his fool notions about killing near a
settlement."

"Cousin says you killed old Bald Eagle. I saw the Delaware floating down
the Cheat in his canoe."

Runner laughed in huge delight, and cried:

"The world's mighty small after all. Ain't it the truth! So you seen him?
Did he have the chunk of johnny-cake in his meat-trap?"

"He was friendly to the whites and harmless. It was a poor piece of
work."

"The reason why we didn't sculp him was that it would 'a' spoiled the
joke," defended Hacker. "With his hair on and the johnny-cake in his
mouth, folks would think he was still alive till they got real close."

"The three of us done that," informed Scott, as though jealous of Runner's
receiving all the credit.

"Morris means it was a poor job because the chief was said to be friendly
to white folks," explained Runner, scowling at me.

"Morris, you'd better go up to David's and tell Ike Crabtree that," jeered
Hacker.

"Crabtree is there, is he?" I said, deeply concerned for the safety of the
three Indians.

"He started for there. He'll feel mighty well cut up when he hears about
us and this Injun in the hole," gravely declared Scott.

"How many cabins on Howard's Creek now?" I asked; for a cabin could be put
up in a few hours and the population at any point might greatly increase
in the space of twenty-four hours. I had no desire to quarrel with the
three men, and I realized that there was nothing I could say which would
change their natures, or make them act in a human manner toward friendly
Indians.

Runner was inclined to harbor resentment and refused to answer me. Hacker,
however, readily informed me:

"There was five when I come through there last. With outlying settlers
pouring in, there may be a dozen by this time. All I know is that the
call's gone out for fifteen or twenty miles, asking every one to come in
to the big log-rolling.

"Davis and t'others swear they won't come off the creek till they've
harvested their corn. So they're going to have a rolling and build a fort
and stick it out. We fellers reckon we'll go up there and have a hand in
the fun-making."

"Up near the Pennsylvania line and west of the Cheat a cabin was burned a
few nights ago," I said, hoping they might feel disposed to scout north in
search of Indians who were not friendly.

If the trio should go to Howard's Creek and happen upon the three Indians
I feared that nothing could prevent another ghastly affair. Possibly
Crabtree already had struck, but I hoped not. The men were interested in
my news and listened closely. I continued:

"It was a cabin. I know that, although I was too far away to investigate.
I have a notion that young Cousin was somewhere near it when it burned."

"Then you can bet the young cuss gave his panther-screech and made his
kill," exclaimed Scott.

"If you men want to do the settlers on Howard's Creek a good turn you
might scout up there and look for signs."

"I 'low the signs wouldn't be very fresh now," said Runner. "Show me a
fresh footing and I'm keen to follow it. But just looking round after the
skunks move on ain't my notion of a good time."

"I 'low Lige is right," decided Hacker. "If the reds was there a few
nights ago they may be down this way by this time. Either that or they've
sneaked back across the Ohio. I 'low there'll be more up to the creek."

"That's my notion," chimed in Scott. "Show us fresh signs and we're like
good dogs on the scent. We'd better go to the rollin'."

"There's many Indians who need killing badly," I said. "But if you men
persist in killing friendly Indians we'll have the Delawares joining in
with the Shawnees and Mingos."

"We don't hanker for any more Moravian missionary talk," coldly warned
Runner. "As for the Delawares dipping into the dish, let 'em come. Let 'em
all come together! The sooner we smoke their bacon, the sooner the Holston
and Clinch and Tygart's Valley will be safe for our women and children. As
for that old cuss of a Bald Eagle, we're right glad you seen him. It shows
others will see him. That's the sort of a notice we're serving on every
redskin in Virginia."

It was obvious they would not relinquish their plan of visiting Howard's
Creek, and it was equally plain they preferred to travel without my
company. So I returned to the trace and mounted and rode on.

As I neared the creek I came upon several settlers hurrying in from their
isolated cabins, and I was pleased to see they had taken time to collect
their few cattle and bring them along. Of the five men I talked with there
were only two who had guns. The others were armed with axes and big clubs
of oak.

One lean fellow carried a long sapling to the end of which he had made
fast a long butcher-knife. One of the gunmen said to me that he hoped
there would be "a lively chunk of a fight" although he and his friend had
only one charge of powder apiece. These two were young men, and like many
of their generation they imitated the Indian to the extent of wearing
thigh-leggings and breech-clouts.

The ends of the latter were passed through the belt in front and behind,
and were allowed to hang down in flaps. These flaps were decorated with
crude beadwork. Around their heads they wore red kerchiefs. Two of the
older men had wives. These women would impress a resident of the seacoast
as being stolid of face.

In reality the continuous apprehension of an Indian raid had frozen their
features into a wooden expression. Their eyes were alive enough. I counted
ten children, six of whom were girls. I do not think one of the youngsters
was more than twelve years old.

The boys were continually bemoaning their lack of guns. The girls seemed
happy over the adventure and prattled a stream about the new people they
would see at the creek. I think every one of them had brought along a doll
made from rags, corn-cobs or wood. The maternal was very strong in their
stout little hearts.

One flaxen-haired miss consented to ride before me after my solemnly
assuring her that horseback travel would not make her dollie sick. She
shyly confessed her great joy in attending "rollin's." Her folks, she
said, had not been invited to the last "rollin'," although they lived
within fifteen miles of it; and her daddy and mammy had been greatly
incensed.

But this, fortunately, was a bee where no one waited to be invited, each
settler, living far or near, having an equal equity in the work. Long
before we reached the scene of activities we heard the loud voices of the
men, the hilarious cries of young folks and the barking of several dogs.
My little companion twisted nervously, her blue eyes wide with excitement.
Then she was sliding from the horse and with her doll clutched to her
side, was scampering ahead with the others.

Then we grown-ups reached the edge of the clearing. Hacker had reported
five cabins. Now there were seven, and if the people continued to arrive
there must soon be twice that number. At the first of it the overflow
would take up quarters among those already housed, or in the fort when it
was finished.

Ordinarily a settler girdled his trees and chopped them down when they
were dead, and then burned them into long logs. Not until the trees were
down and burned into suitable lengths were invitations to the rolling sent
out. As this was an emergency rolling the usual custom could not be
followed.

Some of the dead trees were being burned into sections with small fires
built on top and pressed against the wood by butt-ends of logs we called
nigger-heads. Boys and girls were feeding small fuel to these fires.
Charred logs left over from former rollings were being yanked out and
built into the walls of the fort. As not enough seasoned timber was
available for such a large structure green logs were being utilized.

The settlers behind me handed their two guns, clubs and other belongings
over to the small boys, and with a nod and a word of greeting joined the
workers. The women and girls looked after the cattle. Those of the women
who were not working among the logs were busy in the cabins cooking large
quantities of food, for we ate marvelously in those old days.

As in peaceful times, when a happy home was to evolve from the "rollin',"
the usual pot-pie, composed of boiled grouse, pigeon and venison, and
always with dumplings, was the principal dish of the feasting. On a stump,
accessible to all who needed it, rested a squat jug containing rum.

I turned my horse loose near the fort and sought out Davis. He was inside
the fort, superintending the work. The walls of this were well up. As the
first need was shelter, and as the Indians might strike at any moment, no
time was lost with a puncheon floor. The earth must do until the men could
have a breathing-spell. Four tight walls and a stout roof was the best
they could hope for.

Davis paused long enough to inform me that if time permitted they would
build the fort two stories high and stockade it with twelve-foot posts.
From his worried expression and obvious anxiety to get back to his work I
did not believe he had any hope of building more than a one-story shell.

When the Indians struck they would strike with a rush. They would plan on
a quick assault taking the settlers by surprise. They dared not remain to
conduct a prolonged siege. The fort when completed would not be any
stronger than the average cabin; it would simply accommodate more
defenders.

The nearest water was a spring some twenty yards from the fort. This
failure to provide for a water-supply was an amazing characteristic of
many frontier defenses. There was no reason why the fort should not have
been built close by the spring, or even over it. I said as much to Davis,
but he defended:

"It would place us too near the woods. Their fire-arrows could fall on us
too easy."

I reminded him that as the fort was now they would have but little water
to extinguish a fire, whereas the spring would have afforded an
inexhaustible supply. However, it was too late to change their plans and I
volunteered to collect kettles and tubs and organize a water-squad so
there might be plenty of water in the fort each night.

"Might be a good plan," agreed Davis. "But I 'low if the Injuns come it'll
be all over, one way or t'other, afore we have time to git thirsty."

I briefly explained to Davis my business as despatch-bearer, so he might
understand my reason for departing in the morning. He was generous enough
to insist that I ran a greater risk in crossing the mountains alone than I
would encounter by remaining at the creek.

I left him and levied on kettles to be delivered after supper and then
returned to the fort. I had barely arrived when the dogs began barking and
several horses came running through the stumps from the north end of the
clearing. Before the alarm could find expression in shouts and a semblance
of defense a deep voice called from the woods:

"White men! Friends! Hacker, Scott and Runner."

A rousing cheer greeted these newcomers, and one enthusiast grabbed up the
jug and ran to meet them. Each of the three drank deeply and were rewarded
with more cheers. If they were murderous in their hatred they would be
stout defenders. As for their attitude toward all Indians, there were but
few along the border who did not have some cause for hating the natives.

This sentiment of the frontier was shown when Henry Judah, arrested for
killing some friendly Indians on the South Branch, was rescued by two
hundred pioneers. After his irons were knocked off the settlers warned the
authorities it would not be well to place him in custody a second time.
Nor was Judah the only man thus snatched from the law.

Men like Hacker and his companions would do very little manual labor. They
did not build homes, but were always roaming about the country. This trait
was of value to men of the Davis type, inasmuch as the killers brought in
much game when the home-makers were busy with their cabins or planting.

"Any news, Lige?" bawled Davis, his deep voice booming across the clearing
and overriding the clamorous welcome of his neighbors.

"Found some footing and hoss-tracks," Runner yelled back.

"They'll be coming this way, the yaller dogs, and we're here to rub 'em up
a bit!" boasted Scott.

"Jesse Hughes oughter be here," said one of the men who was notching the
long logs.

"He'll be along if there's promise of a fight," assured Hacker. "Young
Cousin and Ike Crabtree, too."

"I 'low them red devils would skin back to the Ohio like a burned cat if
they know'd you boys was after 'em!" cried Widow McCabe, who was as strong
as the average man and could swing an ax with the best of them. Her
husband was killed on the Kanawha the year before, and her hatred of
Indians was as intense as that of any killer.

"They'll sure know they've met with some trouble, Missus," modestly
admitted Hacker.

The three men seated themselves on a knoll and watched the busy scene. I
joined them and inquired about the footing they had observed. Scott
informed me they had followed the trail toward the creek and then lost
it.

"It was a small party of scouts, mebbe not more'n three," he said. "We
sort o' reckon that they 'lowed they might be followed and so took to
water. We 'lowed it was best to hustle along here and git in front of the
fighting, instead o' losing time trying to find where they quit the creek.
You're sticking along, we 'low."

"No need with all you men. I must carry my despatches over the mountains
to-morrow."

"Better think twice afore trying it alone. By to-morrow the mountain trace
will probably be shut in by the reds," declared Hacker ominously.

"Then I must take my chances of breaking across country. His Lordship must
have the despatches at the earliest possible minute."

"Of course," Runner agreed. "Wish you luck even if you got a Quaker
stomick when it comes to killing the vermin. But if you want to git across
you'd better start at once. Them two or three scouts shows the devils are
closing in. Every hour saved now means a dozen more chances for your hair
to grow."

As I believed the footing the fellows found was left by the three Indians
I had pronounced to be friendly, I was not much exercised in my mind by
the warning. I did not believe the Indians would seek to cut off the
settlement. They must strike and be off, and they would prefer to have the
settlers in flight over the mountains, with the inevitable stragglers
easily cut off, than to have them stubbornly remaining in the cabins and
fort.

If time was not vital, and providing the Shawnees could bring a large
force, then an encircling movement would be their game. But Cornstalk and
Logan would not lead a big force into any of the valleys. They knew as
well as the whites that the war was to be won by one decisive battle.

These isolated raids up and down the western valleys were simply of value
in that they might unnerve the settlers and keep them from leaving their
cabins to join the army Dunmore proposed to send against the Shawnee
towns. And last of all I was fagged by my long ride and would have one
night's unworried sleep, let the risk be ever so great.

The dinner, much belated, was now ready, and the workers were asked to
assemble in and around the Davis cabin. Four men were left to do sentinel
duty, and the children were told to keep on with their work and play as
they would be served after the men had eaten. Huge pot-pies were hurried
from all the cabins to where the backwoodsmen were waiting to prove their
appetites.

Several jugs of rum garnished the feast. The Widow McCabe contributed a
scanty stock of tea, but the men would have none of it on the grounds that
it did not "stick to the ribs."

My helping of pie was served on a huge china plate that had been packed
over the mountains with much trouble and when every inch of room was
needed for the bare necessities. Thus tenacious were the women in coming
to this raw country to preserve their womanliness. I might have thought I
was being favored had not Mrs. Davis frankly informed me that her few
pieces of china were shunned by her men-folks on the plea the ware "dulled
their sculping-knives."

Finishing my meal, I seated myself on a stump and proceeded to remove my
moccasins and mend them. Davis joined me in a similar task; for while it
required only two or three hours to make a pair of moccasins it was
necessary to mend them almost daily. Davis greatly admired the awl I
bought over the mountains, although it was no more serviceable than the
one he had made from the back spring of a clasp-knife.

A settler might be unfortunate enough not to possess a gun, but there was
none who did not carry a moccasin-awl attached to the strap of his
shot-pouch, a roll of buckskin for patches and some deerskin thongs, or
whangs, for sewing. While we sat there barefooted and worked we discussed
the pending big battle. He held what I considered to be a narrow view of
the situation. He was for having every valley act on the defensive until
the Indians were convinced they were wasting warriors in attempting to
drive the settlers back over the mountains.

While we argued back and forth those children having finished their dinner
took to playing at "Injun." The boys hid in ambush and the little girls
endeavored to steal by them without being "sculped." Along the edge of the
clearing were five or six sentinels. They were keeping only a perfunctory
watch, their eyes and ears giving more heed to the laughter and banter
than to the silent woods. At the northern end of the clearing some
lovesick swain surrendered to sentiment and in a whimsical nasal voice
began singing:

        "Come all ye young people, for I'm going for to sing
        Consarnin' Molly Pringle and her lov-yer, Reuben King."

The thin penetrating shriek of a child somewhere in the forest pricked our
ears, the clear falsetto of its fright silencing the singer and leaving
his mouth agape. I began drawing on my moccasins, but before I could
finish a wonderful transformation had taken place in the clearing. As if
the cry had been a prearranged signal, six of the young men filed silently
into the woods, moving one behind the other, their hunting-shirts now
inside their belts leaving their thighs bare, as if they had been so many
Shawnees.

They moved swiftly and silently with no more show of confusion or emotion
than if they had been setting out on routine scout-duty. The child
screamed again, but not before feasters and workers had become
fighting-units. Those possessing guns ran quietly in scattering groups
toward the forest, leaving the women to guard the clearing and children.

And the women! They were marvelous in their spirit. With scarcely a word
they caught up the axes dropped by the men and formed a long line with the
children behind them. Little girls became little mothers and hurried still
smaller tots to the unfinished fort.

The woodsmen advanced to the woods, the women slowly fell back, herding
the youngsters behind them. As I ran my best to make up for the time lost
over my moccasins I passed the Widow McCabe. I shall never forget the
ferocious gleam of her slate-gray eyes, nor the superb courage of the thin
lips compressed in a straight line.

She moved with the grace of a forest cat, reluctant to fall back, her
muscular arm swinging the heavy ax as if it were a toy. Abreast of her,
and likewise refusing to retreat, was Moulton's wife, mother of three. She
was a thin, frail-appearing little woman with prominent blue eyes, and her
gaze was glassy as she stared at the woods, and her lips were drawn back
in a snarl.

"Moulton gal missin'," ran down the line. "Git t'other younkers back."

The line began bending at the ends to form a half-circle. The distracted
little mother left her place in it. Without a word to betray the anguish
tearing at her heart she gathered her linsey petticoat snugly about her,
and grasping an ax, ran swiftly toward the direction of the screaming. The
Widow McCabe hesitated, glanced over her shoulder. Satisfied the other
women had the children well grouped and close to the fort, she darted
after Mrs. Moulton.

"Keep back, you women!" yelled Elijah Runner. "Stay with the children!
They're letting the child scream to fetch us into a' ambush!"

This was excellent advice, but the widow and Mrs. Moulton gave it no heed.
One was impelled by hate, the other by love; and as they crashed into the
growth behind me each was worth a woodsman or two in hand-to-hand
fighting. With unnerving abruptness a man laughed boisterously directly
ahead of me. Yells and questions filled the arches of the deep wood.

"Everybody back! False alarm! Nothin' but the gal gittin' skeered," he
shouted. "I'm fetchin' her in, an' th' feller what skeered her."

Explosive laughter from the men and much crude banter marked our relief.
Mrs. Moulton dropped her ax and with both hands held to her face stumbled
into the clearing. The Widow McCabe walked with her head bowed, the ax
held limply. Although rejoicing over the child's safety, I suspected she
regretted not having had a chance to use her ax.

"Here they come! Two babies!" some one shouted.

Mrs. Moulton turned and ran toward the woods again, much as a
hen-partridge scurries to its young.

The bush-growth swayed and parted. First came the frightened child, and
she redoubled her weeping on finding herself in her mother's arms. Behind
the child came a grinning woodsman and back of him rode a tall man of very
powerful build, but with a face so fat as to appear round and wearing an
expression of stupidity.

It was my first glimpse of him, but I recognized him instantly from the
many descriptions border men had given of him. He was known as "Baby"
Kirst, and he was a Nemesis the Indians had raised against themselves, a
piece of terrible machinery which their superstitions would not permit
them to kill.

His intelligence was that of a child of seven. When about that age his
people were massacred on the Greenbriar and he had been left for dead with
a portion of his scalp ripped off and a ghastly wound in his head. By some
miracle he had survived, but with his mental growth checked. Physically he
had developed muscle and bone until he was a giant in strength.

The red men believed him to be under the protection of the Great Spirit,
and when they heard him wandering through the woods, sometimes weeping
like a peevish child because some little plan had gone awry, more often
laughing uproariously at that which would tickle the fancy of a
seven-year-old, they made mad haste to get out of his path.

His instinct to kill was aroused against Indians only. Perhaps it was
induced by a vague memory of dark-skinned men having hurt him at some
time. Nor was he always possessed by this ungovernable rage. Sometimes he
would spend a day in an Indian camp, but woe to the warrior who even
inadvertently crossed his whims.

He was not skilled in woodcraft beyond the cunning necessary for
surprising easy game such as turkeys, squirrels and rabbits. Regardless of
his enormous appetite food was gladly given him at every cabin; for
wherever he sought shelter, that place was safe from any Indian attack.

While Mrs. Moulton hurried her child to the fort and hushed its weeping
with pot-pie the young men raised a yelping chorus and came dancing into
the clearing with all the prancing steps of the red men. Deep-voiced oaths
and thunderous welcomes were showered upon Baby Kirst as he proudly rode
among them, his huge face further distended by a broad grin.

Awkwardly dismounting from his rawbone horse, he stared around the circle
and with one hand held behind him tantalizingly said:

"Got something. Sha'n't let you peek at it."

"Let's see it, Baby," coaxed Runner, his tone such as he might use in
pleading with a child.

"No!" And Baby shook his head stubbornly and grinned mischievously.

"'Lasses on mush. Heaps of it, Baby," bribed Davis.

Baby became interested. Davis repeated his offer. Slowly Baby drew from
behind him the scalp of a white man. It was long, dark brown hair, burned
to a yellowish white at the ends by the sun.

"That's Ben Kirby's hair!" gasped Scott, staring in horror at the exhibit.
Then aside, "Good God, he ain't took to killing whites, has he?"

"Where'd you git it, Baby?" coaxed Hacker. "Davis will give you a big bowl
of mush and 'lasses."

"That man had it," proudly informed Baby, and he fished from the bosom of
his hunting-shirt a hank of coarse black hair.

"A Shawnee sculp or I'm a flying-squirrel!" yelled Runner. "Don't you
understand it, men? Some dog of a Shawnee rubbed out Kirby. His hair's
been off his head these six weeks. No wonder he ain't come in to help you
folks to fort.

"Baby meets this Shawnee and gives him his needings. The red devil's sculp
ain't more'n three days old. Good for you, Baby! Good boy! Give him all
the 'lasses he can hold. Needn't worry about any raid s'long as he stays
here, Davis. You can just take your time in finishing that fort."

"If we could only keep him!" sighed Davis.

"But you can't," spoke up a young man. "Every one has tried. A day or two,
yes. Then he must go back to the woods. When the Injuns failed to finish
him off they did a bad job for themselves."

"We'll keep him long's we can," said Davis. "Hi, mother! Fill the
mixing-bowl with mush and cover it with sweeting."

As proud as a boy being praised by his elders, Baby started to strut to
the Davis cabin, but quickly fell into a limping walk and whimpered a
bit.

"Crippled on account of rheumatiz," sighed Runner. "Rheumatiz has put more
hunters and fighters out of business than the Ohio Injuns ever did. And
poor Baby can't remember to always sleep with his feet to the fire. If we
could git him a stout pair of shoes to wear in place of them spongy
moccasins it would pay us."

Kirst was too grotesque to laugh at, and the settlers were grotesque when
they smiled at his ferocious appetite, and in the next moment tried to buy
the protection of his presence. Let him regularly patrol a dozen miles of
frontier each day, and I would guarantee no Indian would knowingly cross
his path.

More than one party of red raiders had unwittingly followed his trail,
only to turn in flight as if the devil was nipping after them once they
glimpsed his bulky figure, heard his whimpering or his loud laughter. The
men followed him to the Davis Cabin, each eager to contribute to the
general gossip concerning the child-man's prodigious strength.

As my horse was straying toward the west side of the clearing I went to
fetch him back and spancel him near the fort. I had secured him and was
about to ride him back when a rifle cracked close at hand in the woods,
and I heard a voice passionately jeering:

"I 'low that cotched ye where ye lived, didn't it?"

I drove my horse through the bushes and came upon a sickening scene. An
Indian man and a squaw were seated on a horse. On the ground was another
Indian. A glance told me he was dead from the small blue hole through the
forehead. The man and woman on the horse remained as motionless as if
paralyzed.

Isaac Crabtree stood reloading his long rifle, his sallow face twisted in
a smile of vicious joy. As he rammed home the charge I crowded my horse
against him and sent him sprawling. Turning to the Indians I cried:

"Ride away! Ride quick!"

"We are friendly Cherokees!" cried the woman in that tongue. "That man
there is called Cherokee Billy by white men." And she pointed to the dead
man.

With that she swerved the horse about, kicked her feet into his ribs and
dashed away, the man clinging on behind her, his dark features devoid of
expression. An oath brought my head about. Crabtree was on his feet, his
hand drawing his ax, his face livid with rage.

"Curse you!" he stuttered. "Ye sp'iled my baggin' the three of 'em!"

"You've bagged Cherokee Billy, the brother of Oconostota, the great chief
of the Cherokees," I wrathfully retorted. "It would have been well for the
frontier if I could have arrived in time to bag you before you did it. The
Cherokees have kept out of the war, but it'll be a wonder if they don't
swarm up this creek when they hear of this murder."

"Let 'em come!" he yelled. "That's what we want. It'll take more'n you,
Basdel Morris, to keep my paws clear of the critters once I git a bead on
one of 'em. Git out of my way so's I can git my rifle. I'll have the three
of 'em yet."

"If you make a move to follow them I'll shoot you," I promised.

By this time men were crashing through the bushes. Then came a louder
noise and Baby Kirst, mounted on his big horse, his broad face bedaubed
with molasses, burst on the scene. A dozen settlers crowded into the spot
behind him. Hacker and Runner were the first to see the dead Indian. With
a whoop they drew their knives and rushed in to get the scalp. I drove
them back with my horse and loudly informed them:

"It's Cherokee Billy, brother of Oconostota, who can send the whole
Cherokee nation against you, or hold it back."

"I don't care what Injun it is," howled Hacker. "Hair's hair. Git out the
way, or you'll git acquainted with my ax. I'll have that scalp."

"Not so fast," I warned. "The hair belongs to Crabtree here. Kill your own
scalps. Crabtree doesn't care to take that scalp. He knows Oconostota has
a long memory." And I swung about, my rifle across the saddle and in a
direct line with the murderer's chin.

"It's my kill," growled Crabtree. "Morris held me up with his gun, or I'd
bagged t'other two of 'em."

"I'd like to see him hold me up when there's red meat to be run down!"
snarled Runner.

There were four killers present in addition to the irresponsible Kirst. I
was helpless against them, I could not shoot a man down for proposing to
follow two Indians, let the reds be ever so friendly toward the whites.
But Patrick Davis had come to Howard's Creek to stay, and it was a problem
he could handle. It at once developed that he did not fancy the prospect
of a Cherokee reprisal. He stepped in front of Runner and in a low ugly
voice said:

"You fellows quit this talk. 'Nough mischief has been done. Unless
Oconostota can be smoothed down there'll be trouble from Rye Cove to
Tygart's Valley. As for following t'other two, you'll reckon with me and
my neighbors first."

"A dead Injun ain't worth quarreling over," spoke up Widow McCabe from the
edge of the group; and her eyes glowed as they rested on Cherokee Billy.

Mrs. Moulton now came on the scene. She still had her husband, and she
frantically called on her friends to prevent further bloodshed. The
greater number of the men, while unwilling to criticize Crabtree for his
dastardly murder, did not care to add to the Cherokees' anger, and they
took sides with Davis. I believed the whole affair had ended, but Crabtree
was crafty, and he caused fresh fear by reminding them:

"You folks are fools to let the only witnesses to that dawg's death git
away and take word back to the Cherokees. If Morris hadn't took a hand
there wouldn't 'a' been that danger."

Many settlers were long used to classifying the red men with the wild
animals along the border. Therefore, the question of killing the two
fleeing Cherokees became a matter of policy, rather than of sentiment. But
Davis, although he wavered, finally declared he would have none of it. He
reminded his friends that they would soon be called by Dunmore to march
against the Ohio tribes, and that it would not do to leave hostile
Cherokees behind them to attack the valleys. Hacker, Runner, Scott and
Crabtree perceived that the settlers were opposed to further bloodshed,
but Crabtree still had a card to play. Turning to Baby Kirst, who was
staring intently down on the dead man, he suddenly cried:

"Sweet sugar, Baby, if you ride and find two Injuns just gone away."

And he pointed in the direction taken by the man and woman. With a yelp of
juvenile delight Baby slapped his horse and rode away down the valley.

"Now you've done it!" growled Davis, scowling blackly at Crabtree. "You've
made trouble atween us and the Cherokees, and you've drove away the best
defense against Injuns we could 'a' had."

"I don't have to have no loose-wit to stand 'tween me and Injuns," sneered
Crabtree.

"You're better at killing unarmed Indians than in putting up a real
fight," I accused. "You're not fond of traveling very far from a
settlement when you draw blood. Shelby Cousin was telling me down on the
Cheat that you like to be near a white man's cabin when you make a kill."

His sallow face flushed red, but he had no harsh words to say against
young Cousin. Without replying to me he made for the Davis cabin to get
something to eat, leaving Cherokee Billy for others to bury. I noticed it
was the Widow McCabe, with her slate-gray eyes half-closed and gleaming
brightly, who waited on Crabtree and heaped his plate with food.

What with the interruptions and the nervous tension of the men it was
after sunset before the roof of the fort was finished. It was agreed that
the men with families should sleep in the fort that night with the single
men occupying the cabins nearest the fort. I took up my quarters in the
Davis cabin, after reminding my friends again that I must start early in
the morning to cross the mountains on my way to Colonel Lewis who lived
near Salem.

"Why, land sake! To Salem! Why, look here! You'll be seeing my cousin,
Ericus Dale!" excitedly exclaimed Mrs. Davis.

My emotion was far greater than that expressed by Mrs. Davis, but the dusk
of early evening permitted me to conceal it. It was three years since I
had seen the Dales, father and daughter. They were then living in
Williamsburg. It was most astonishing that they should be now living in
Salem. But this was going too fast.

It did not follow that Patricia Dale was in Salem because her father was
there. In truth, it was difficult to imagine Patsy Dale being content with
that little settlement under the eastern eaves of the mountains. Before I
could find my tongue Mrs. Davis was informing her neighbors:

"My cousin, Ericus, ain't got many warm spots in his heart for Governor
Dunmore. He's sure to be sot ag'in' this war. He's a very powerful man in
the colony." Then to me, "I want you to see Patsy and tell her not to
think of coming out here this summer. She's not to come till the Injuns
have been well whipped."

"Coming out here?" I dully repeated.

"They was opinin' to when I last got word from 'em last March. They was at
their home in Williamsburg, and the girl wrote she was going to Salem with
her father, who had some trading-business to fix up. 'Spected to be there
all summer, and was 'lowing to come out here with her daddy. But seeing
how things is going, it won't do. Mebbe Salem even won't be safe for 'em.
It won't put you out any to see her and tell her?"

I trusted to the dusk to conceal my burning cheeks. I had supposed I had
secured control of myself during my three years on the border. It would be
impossible for any man who had looked into Patsy Dale's dark blue eyes to
forget her; and we had been something more than friends. I promised Mrs.
Davis I would do her errand, and hurried from the cabin.

The ride ahead of me suddenly became momentous. I was thrilled with the
prospect of seeing Patsy again; and I was afraid the interview would
disturb me vastly. To be alone and arrange my jumbled thoughts I helped
drive the horses into a small inclosure, well stockaded, and watched the
boys coming through the clearing to drive the cattle into their stalls in
several hollow sycamores. These natural shelters, once the openings were
enlarged and protected with bars, made excellent pens for the domestic
animals and fowls. I was still thinking about Patsy Dale and the time when
her young life touched mine when the cabin doors were barred and it was
time to sleep.



CHAPTER III

OVER THE MOUNTAINS


When I opened my eyes a young man was surveying the clearing through a
chink above the door. This morning vigilance was customary in every cabin
along the frontier and revealed the settler's realization of the ever
present danger. No wonder those first men grew to hate the dark forest and
the cover it afforded the red raiders. A reconnaissance made through a
peephole could at the best satisfy one that no stump in the clearing
concealed an Indian.

It was with this unsatisfactory guarantee that the settler unbarred his
door. He could never be sure that the fringe of the woods was not alive
with the enemy. And yet young men fell in love and amorously sought their
mates, and were married, and their neighbors made merry, and children were
born. And always across the clearing lay the shadow of the tomahawk.

Now that I am older and the blood runs colder, and the frontier is pushed
beyond the mountains, I often wonder what our town swains would do if they
had to risk their scalps each time a sweetheart was visited!

The man at the door dropped back to the puncheon floor, announcing: "All
clear at my end."

A companion at the other end of the cabin made a similar report, and the
door was opened. Two of the men, with their rifles ready, stepped outside
and swiftly swung their gaze along the edge of the forest. The early
morning mists obscured the vision somewhat. A bell tinkled just within the
undergrowth. Instantly the fellows outside dropped behind stumps, while we
inside removed the plugs from loopholes.

"All the cattle is in," murmured a youth to me, so young his first beard
had barely sprouted. "Injun trick to git us out there."

Several minutes passed, then Davis loudly called from the fort:

"It's all right! Hodge's critter wa'n't fetched in last night."

Even as he spoke the cow emerged from the bushes.

Smoke began issuing from the cabin chimneys and the women came from the
fort to warm up the remains of the pot-pies, to bake corn bread and
prepare mush. The men scattered through the clearing. Some chopped down
bushes which might mask a foe's stealthy advance, others cleared out logs
which might serve as breastworks for the raiders.

Labor did not appeal to the four killers, and their part was done when
they slipped into the forest, each taking a different course, and scouted
for signs and bagged some game. As my business demanded an early departure
I was not expected to participate in any of these precautions.

I saw that my horse had his feed and water and led him back to the cabin,
and gave my weapons their daily overhauling. Mrs. Davis paused in her
labors long enough to remind me of her message to Patricia Dale. I
reassured her so earnestly that she turned from her corn-bread baking in a
flat pan before the open fire and stared at me rather intently. There was
no dodging her keen eyes.

"See here," she exclaimed; "you've met Patsy already, I 'low."

I hesitated between the truth and a lie, and then nodded my head. She
brushed a limp strand of hair from her face, and in so doing left a
smut-streak across her nose, and half-closed her eyes while a smile tugged
at the corners of her mouth.

"I can't say yet whether you're lucky, or just the opposite," she demurely
remarked.

A loud call from the forest relieved my answering this insinuating remark,
and I stepped outdoors to find the men leaving their work and the women
leaving their cooking. "White man coming!" bawled a young man.

"Ain't any of the scouts," said Davis. "Better gather the children in.
White man sure enough, but it may be one of the renegade breed. Surveyors
from the Kanawha say Tavenor Ross is out with the reds ag'in."

There was no haste or confusion in preparing for this possible attack led
by a white man. The children scuttled to their mothers; the men slowly
fell back to fort and cabins. The fact that four Indian-haters were
carefully scouting the woods satisfied us that no enemy could get very
close without being fired upon. The white man called again. This time he
was answered from two directions.

"It's all right," shouted Davis. "Ike Crabtree answered him. So did Lige
Runner. Crabtree never would 'a' yipped till sure there wa'n't no Injun
waiting to be shot down. Prob'ly some one from the Holston."

"Hooray!" howled a seventeen-year-old lad, who painted his face in
addition to wearing Indian leggings. "It's Jesse Hughes!"

His endorsement of the passionate, reckless man evoked more enthusiasm
from the younger men than from their elders. So implacable was Hughes in
his hatred of the natives that he was incapable of any self-restraint. His
participation in the massacre of the Bulltown families had made him a
well-known character wherever Indian-fighters met.

Crabtree loved to kill Indians, but he always weighed his chances and
never scorned an advantage. Hughes killed on sight, whether in a
settlement or in the woods, whether the act brought one or a score of
dusky avengers on his trail. Nor did it matter if the Indian be friendly
to the whites and known to be perfectly harmless. His skin condemned him.

Although a master of woodcraft and possessing a knowledge of western
Virginia equaled by few men, Hughes was never asked to lead a command of
rangers sent to rescue prisoners, or punish a village. He was too
irresponsible. He would imperil the lives of a score of friends bent on a
surprise attack by firing upon the first savage he saw.

The young men saw in him the successful killer. Their elders preferred to
travel the forests without him. His presence in a settlement once war came
to the frontier, however, was always desirable, as in case of a fight he
would do the enemy much damage.

When he rode from the forest the four scouts came with him; and there was
no question as to their admiration of the fellow. Greetings were called
out by men and women. He saw me mounted and some one told him of my
journey. He rode up to me and warned me to be watchful as he had found
tracks a few miles south of the mountain-trace I proposed following.

His errand at Howard's Creek was to secure a few men and attempt to cut
off this band. Eager queries for news induced him to say he had just come
from Clinch River, and that Captain William Russell, in charge of the
rangers along the Clinch, had started Daniel Boone and Michael Stoner for
the Falls of the Ohio to warn the surveyors along the river that the
Indians were out and would soon be attacking the frontier and combing the
Kentucky country clean.

With much gusto he added that three Cherokees had been killed recently at
the head of the Clinch. The thoughtless, in unison with Hacker and his
companions, cheered this announcement most lustily. The men with families
looked very grave. Of Baby Kirst, Hughes had seen no signs.

His report of Indian-signs near my route over the mountains influenced me
to return to the cabin and check up my ammunition more carefully. I spread
a double handful of small bullets on the table, running seventy to the
pound, and let each slip through my fingers to make sure none was
irregular. Only those which were round and smooth were returned to the
pouch.

My flints and greased linen patches were examined a second time. An aged
man, known as Uncle Dick, came in and watched me curiously, and grinned in
approval of my caution. It was seldom a man reached his advanced age on
the frontier. I had never heard Uncle Dick's last name, nor do I believe
there was any one on the creek who had heard it.

According to rumor he had gone against some law in South Carolina and had
fled to the frontier. Despite his many years he was sturdy and strong, but
his failing eyesight made him dependent upon knife and ax. Much travel in
wet weather had crippled him with rheumatism, and he remained close to
whatever settlement he happened to visit.

"Fill the breast o' yer shirt with hunks o' corn cake, younker. Be sure
yer ax is hitched so it won't be snagged from the loop when ye ride
hellitiflicker through the bushes," he warned me.

I nodded, and he seated himself on a three-legged stool and whetted a long
knife against one of the fireplace stones, and mumbled:

"Don't make no differ about me, but for the sake o' these younkers here
such men as love killin' Injuns oughter keep clear o' the settlements an'
do their stent on t'other side the Ohio. Old Cornstalk's powerful keen to
git them fellers. When he hears they're here at the creek he's likely to
strike quick an' mighty pert. Wal, if they come an' I can make it
hand-grips with 'em I 'low there'll be some new Injuns in the Happy
Huntin'-grounds."

When I bid the people good-by and received their kindly wishes for a safe
journey, Uncle Dick was still at the fireplace, trying to improve the
razor-edge of his blade.

I rode through the woods without spending any time in looking for signs.
Runner and his mates had scouted a circle around the clearing in a
thorough fashion, and I could spare my eyes until I reached the first
slope of the mountains. When the path began to ascend and I was afforded a
better view of the heavens, thunder-clouds were piling in sullen
massiveness above the western horizon.

The heat was very oppressive. The dull rumble of thunder came across the
valley behind. It was as much of a vibration as a sound, something to be
felt as well as heard. The song-birds were keeping close to the thickets
and fluttering about nervously. By the time I was well committed to the
first rugged ascent, a yellowish gray wall filled the western sky. Across
this the lightning played.

As the curtain of rain drove in toward the Greenbriar I knew that any
savages lurking west of Howard's Creek would be bothered to keep their
priming dry. No rain fell on my path, however, and at no time did I lose
the early morning sun. On gaining a higher elevation I could see the storm
was following the valley down to the head waters of the Clinch.

I had not neglected Uncle Dick's advice in regard to provisions, and the
front of my loose hunting-shirt held a bag of corn cakes and some cooked
venison. On reaching the first slope I had watched carefully for the
tracks Hughes had seen south of the trace, but found none.

There could be no question of Hughes' ability to read Indian-signs; and
his warning recalled the Grisdols to my mind. These people--two brothers
and two children--had their cabin in a hollow close by a tumbling brook
and to one side of the trace. I planned to make a slight détour and pass a
word with them and to warn them to be watchful.

The fact that Hughes had found signs near the mountains would indicate the
Indians had planned a raid against some isolated home, and as there was no
footing in the trace I followed, it might easily be that the enemy had
entered lower down.

Along toward the noon hour I topped a ridge and decided I would halt and
eat at the first spring or brook I came to. My horse, an old campaigner in
wilderness work, pricked his ears as we began dipping down the gentle
slope. I studied the path ahead and the timbered slopes on both sides to
discover the cause of this attention.

The animal was intelligent. I knew it could be no wild creature as there
was no suggestion of fear in the attentive ears. Dissatisfied at remaining
in ignorance, I reined in to investigate more carefully. Almost at once
the horse swung his head to the right and gazed curiously. On this side
the space was bordered by a beech grove. Owing to the rank bush-growth
lining the path, little could be seen of the grove from any point below
where I had halted until a brook, which cut the path, was reached.

I leaned forward and looked between the horse's ears and discovered a bear
down in the hollow, nosing about for nuts and grubs on the bank of the
brook. A bear was always acceptable meat to a settler, and I at once
decided to stalk the brute and pack his carcass to the Grisdol cabin.

After the first moment he passed behind some trees, but as I continued to
glimpse him I knew he had not taken alarm. I slid from my horse and
started him down the trace, and then ducked into the grove and rapidly
descended toward the brook. I had no fear of my horse losing himself, as
he would make for the stream where I would join him within a few minutes.

As I flitted from tree to tree I repeatedly sighted the animal as he poked
his nose about in search of ants or grubs, and yet when I reached a point
within sixty or seventy-five yards of where he should have been feeding I
could not locate him.

A half-formed suspicion popped into my mind from nowhere. My horse had
shown no nervousness in drawing nearer to the bear. The bushes prevented
my seeing the horse, but I could hear him as he quickened his pace to
reach the tumbling brook. Now for a second I saw the bear again, and my
suspicion grew stronger.

The brute impressed me as being very lean, whereas the season was enough
advanced to have grown some fat on his bones. I was fairly startled next
to behold the creature emerge from behind a tree and walk upright toward
the opening made by the brook, cutting across the trace. Had I not been
partly primed for the surprise I should have been astounded at my second
discovery; the bear was armed with a gun.

Expecting to behold me on the horse when the animal reached the brook the
fellow's only thought was to remain unseen by any one in the trace. He
halted behind a tree, but in full view of me, and standing with his left
side exposed to me. Had I the instincts of a killer I would have shot him
forthwith, and as he was obviously stalking me, having discovered I was
traveling over the trace, I would have been justified. As it was I
whistled shrilly.

Like a flash the bearskin fell back and a painted Shawnee wheeled to face
me. Even as he turned his smoothbore banged away and half a dozen buckshot
rained through the branches over my head. He was slipping behind the tree
when I fired.

He went down with a foot and part of his leg exposed. Controlling an
impulse to close in I reloaded, taking great care in wrapping the greased
patch about the bullet. I believed I had done for him, but to make sure I
sent another pellet through the exposed foot. It twitched, as a dead limb
will, but without muscular reaction. Reloading, and circling warily to
avoid being taken by surprise by any companion, I reached the beech. My
first shot had caught him through the base of the neck, killing
instantly.

He wore a necklace of bear's claws and was hideously painted. He had the
snake totem on his chest and was nude except for his breech-clout and
moccasins. Fastened to his clout were four awful exhibits of his
predaceous success--four scalps. One was gray, another streaked with gray,
and two--oh, the pity of it--were soft and long.

I removed them and placed them in the roll of buckskin that I carried for
moccasin-patches. And my heart being hardened, I scalped the murderer with
never a qualm. No warning was longer needed at the Grisdol cabin. The
Indians had struck.

Furtively scanning the grove, I stole to the trace where my horse stood
fetlock-deep in the brook. The dead warrior had known of my coming, or of
some one's coming, and had had time to masquerade as a bear. He had
thought to catch his victim off his guard.

The four scalps proved the raiders were out in numbers, for a small party
would not venture so far east. But the dead warrior's attempt to ambush me
in a bearskin also proved he was working alone for the time being. Yet
gunshots carry far, and I might expect the Shawnees to be swarming into
the hollow at any moment.

Mounting my horse, I turned north, left of the trace, and picked a course
where no trail ran, and from which I could occasionally catch a glimpse of
the path some fifty feet below. I discovered no signs of the enemy, and
there was no way of telling whether they were ahead or behind me. That
they must have heard the roar of the smoothbore and the whip-like crack of
my Deckhard was not to be doubted. Nor would they fail to guess the truth,
inasmuch as the rifle had spoken last.

It became very difficult to keep along the side of the slope and I
dismounted and led the horse. The prolonged howl of a wolf sounded behind.
My horse was greatly afraid of wolves, yet he did not draw back and
display nervousness. I increased my pace, then halted and half-raised my
rifle as there came a shuffling of feet above me, accompanied by a tiny
avalanche of forest mold and rotten chestnuts. I rested the rifle over the
saddle and endeavored to peer through the tangle of beech and inferior
growth which masked the flank of the slope.

The sliding, shuffling sound continued with no attempt at concealment that
I could discover; and yet there was nothing to shoot at. Suddenly the
noise ceased. I was still staring toward the spot where it had last
sounded when a calm voice behind me called out:

"They're after you."

It was Shelby Cousin, with the hate of the border making his young face
very hard and cruel.

"I've been scouting 'em," he informed me. "I seen you take to the side o'
this ridge. I seen 'em streamin' down the trace. They picked up your trail
mighty smart. Now they're scattered all along behind you."

I opened the roll of buckskin and disclosed the terrible trophies. He
straightened and threw his head back, and for a moment stood with his eyes
closed, his slight figure trembling violently. Then he fiercely
whispered:

"How'd you git these from the devils?"

There was an expectant glare in his gaze. I showed him the hair of the
Shawnee.

"Good! Good!" he repeated exultantly as he gloated over the repulsive
thing. Then gloomily:

"But why couldn't I 'a' took it? Luck's been ag'in' me for days. Found a
burned cabin after I quit you on the Cheat, an' 'lowed to ambush the party
when they made for the Ohio. 'Stead o' goin' to their villages they fooled
me by strikin' across to here. Now they've made this kill! Who be they?"

"The Grisdols. Only a short distance from here. Two men and the two
children. No women. I knew them. I must go there and bury them and these
scalps."

"I'll help," he mumbled. "I ain't heard no discovery-yell yet. They're
still huntin' for your signs along this ridge." Trailing his double-barrel
rifle, he took the lead and began a diagonal descent to the trace I had
abandoned. I murmured a protest, but he assured me:

"They're all behind us. We can make quicker time in the trace. They'll hop
on to your trail sure's shootin'. Speed is what we hanker for."

His woodcraft was remarkable. He seemed to possess the gift of seeing that
which was concealed. With a glance he would observe land formations and
the nature of the growth, and confidently circle a heavy grove and tell me
what would be the nature of the traveling beyond, and whether wet or dry.

"We could slide down into the trace in a minute any time, but I don't want
to take to it till we round the bend ahead; then we'll be out o' sight o'
the reds strung along the ridge."

He had halted as he explained this and I was almost abreast of him, and he
startled me by whipping up his rifle and firing. As the shot rang out he
rejoiced:

"One!"

I had heard nothing, seen nothing, and yet he had both heard and seen, and
had made his kill.

"No use coverin' up any longer," he said. "They're closin' in. Make for
the trace shortest way. Hold back once you hit it for me to come up.
There's not more'n two or three close at hand, but the whole kit an'
b'ilin' know we're here."

The spiteful _spang_ of his rifle barely interrupted the woods life close
about us. Only for a moment did the squirrels cease their chatter. A
grouse drummed away in alarm, but only for a short flight. No cries of
rage, nor war-whoops, warned that the enemy were closing in on us. Had I
been new to the border I should have disbelieved my companion's statement.
Leading the horse, I started down the bank while Cousin climbed higher.

It was not until my horse slid down a ten-foot bank that I heard a hostile
sound--the rush of many feet through last year's dead leaves. I heard the
Deckhard fired once, and instantly the side of the ridge was as quiet as a
death-chamber. Then came the scream of a panther, Cousin's way of
announcing a kill.

They must have attempted rushing him, thinking his rifle was empty; for he
fired again, and once more gave voice to his war-cry. Then the old eternal
quiet of the forest dropped back in place. Until I heard a Shawnee
scalp-cry I could rest easy as to my companion. I slipped into the trace
and mounted, and pushed ahead.

The Indians were abreast of me and there was the danger of their cutting
into the trace ahead. That they had not followed at my heels made me
believe they were concentrating all their energies on making a surround
and killing, or capturing their much feared enemy. They would prefer to
dance Cousin's scalp than to dance a dozen of men of my caliber.

There were no more shots up the ridge, and I found it hard to decide just
what gait I should permit my horse to take. I could not leave the boy
behind, nor did I care to risk being intercepted. I was worrying my mind
into a fine stew over this point when the bushes stirred ahead. I dropped
to the ground behind the horse, but it was young Cousin. He motioned for
me to hurry.

"You dodged them!" I said.

"Black Hoof's band. They're hard to dodge," he whispered, striding rapidly
along and swinging his head from side to side. "How far to the Grisdol
cabin?"

"Two miles."

"Then ride for it. I'll run at your stirrup. We'll need that cabin if it
ain't been burned. I 'low it'll be a close race."

There was no sign of pursuit. I was no novice in Indian warfare, but in
this instance I scarcely believed the Shawnees would draw near enough to
make the chase interesting. So far as I could observe Cousin had succeeded
in stealing away from them, and there was no Indian who could overtake
him, especially if he ran at my stirrup.

"They've took four sculps on this side the valley," he murmured as he
loped along at my side. "I bagged three on 'em. You fetched one. Black
Hoof is too big a chief to call it quits. He's back there leadin' the
chase. So I 'low it'll be close."

A curious little thrill chilled my spine. Catahecassa, or Black Hoof, was
one of the most redoubtable and resourceful savages to be found in the
Shawnee nation. If below Cornstalk's intellectual plane he made up for
much of any such discrepancy by his fiery courage and deep cunning.

The long-drawn howl of a wolf sounded up the slope on our left and was
soon answered by a similar call directly in our rear. For a third time the
signal menaced us, on our right and at a considerable distance.

"They're still scoutin' the ridge for me," murmured Cousin, his lean face
turning to the left. "The heft of 'em are comin' along the trace behind
us. Those over to the right are hustlin' to find out what's up. We must
git along faster!"

My mount responded eagerly, for he sensed the danger. And it was wonderful
to observe how Cousin kept up, with one hand on my stirrup, the other
holding the rifle. We were well beyond the brook where I shot my Shawnee,
and within half a mile or less of the Grisdol cabin, when our flight was
interrupted for a few moments by the behavior of my horse.

It was just as we turned from the main trace to strike into the path
leading to the cabin that the animal bolted sidewise, crowding Cousin deep
into the bushes. I reined in and stared down on a terrible sight--that of
the four Grisdols. They lay in the path, head to head, in the form of a
cross. I felt my stirrup shake as Cousin's hand rested on it. He gave a
little gasping sob and whispered:

"How near to the cabin now?"

"Less than half a mile," I told him as I soothed my horse and permitted
him to pick his way around the dead.

Once more we were off, but now Cousin ran behind, for the way was winding
and narrow, and at places the overhanging boughs tried to brush me from
the saddle.

There was no need of glancing back to make sure my companion was keeping
up, for his impatient voice repeatedly urged me to make greater speed.

"If the cabin ain't standin' we've got to have 'nough of a lead to let us
lose 'em in the woods," he reminded.

The path completed a détour of some tangled blackberry bushes and ended in
a natural opening, well grassed.

"There it is! The roof is partly burned!" I encouraged.

"The walls stand. The door's in place. Faster!"

Across the opening we raced. From the woods behind arose a ferocious
yelling. The Shawnee were confident they had driven us into a trap. We
flashed by two dead cows and some butchered hogs, and as yet I had not
seen an Indian except the one masked in a bear's pelt. The cabin roof was
burned through at the front end. The door was partly open and uninjured.

It was simple reasoning to reconstruct the tragedy even while we hastened
to shelter. The family had offered resistance, but had been thrown into a
panic at the first danger from fire. Then it was quickly over. Doubtless
there had been something of a parley with the usual promise of life if
they came out. The fire crackled overhead, the victims opened the door.

Cousin said they had been conducted to the main trace before being
slaughtered. As I leaped from my horse a fringe of savages broke from
cover and began shooting. Cousin dropped the foremost of them. I led the
horse inside the cabin and my companion closed and barred the door.

The interior of the place mutely related the tragic story. It is the
homely background of a crime that accents the terrible. On the table was
the breakfast of the family, scarcely touched. They had been surprised
when just about to eat. An overturned stool told how one of the men had
leaped to bar the door at the first alarm. I spied through a peephole but
could see nothing of our foes. A low cry from Cousin alarmed me. He was
overcome at the sight of a small apron.

"I wish I'd stuck to the open," he whispered. "The air o' this place
chokes me."

"If we can stand them off till night we can send the horse galloping
toward the woods to draw their fire. Then we can run for it."

"There won't be no darkness to-night," morosely replied Cousin. "They'll
make big fires. They'll try to burn us out. We're well forted till they
git the roof blazin' ag'in. We'll 'low to stick here s'long we can. They
won't dare to hang round too long."

He took a big kettle from the fireplace and thrust it through the hole in
the roof. Bullets whistled overhead, with an occasional _whang_ as a piece
of lead hit the kettle and ricochetted. After the first volley the Indians
refused to waste their ammunition, either realizing it was useless, or
suspecting the kettle was some kind of a trick.

"I 'lowed they'd git tired," muttered Cousin, sticking the top of his head
into the kettle and lifting the edge a crack so he could scrutinize the
forest. After a minute of silence his muffed voice called down to me: "Had
a notion that cow we passed nearest the woods was dead. Try a shot that'll
just graze the rump."

I fired and a Shawnee began rolling toward the bushes. The iron kettle
rattled to the ground, and young Cousin, with head and shoulders thrust
through the roof, discharged both barrels of his rifle. The Indian stopped
rolling. I was amazed that Black Hoof's men had not instantly fired a
volley. I exclaimed as much as he dropped to the floor.

"Here she comes!" he cried as the lead began plunging into the thick logs.
"If they keep it up we can dig quite a lot o' lead out the timbers. It
took 'em by surprise to see me comin' through the roof, an' it surprised
'em more to see two shoots comin' out of a gun that hadn't been reloaded.
Mighty few double barrels out here. Huh! I 'low somethin' cur'ous is goin'
to happen."

I could discern nothing to warrant this prophecy. No Indians were to be
seen. Cousin called my attention to the sound of their tomahawks. I had
heard it before he spoke, but I had been so intent in using my eyes that I
had forgotten to interpret what my ears were trying to tell me. There was
nothing to do but wait.

Cousin discovered the horse had drunk what water there had happened to be
in the bucket, leaving us scarcely a drop. Half an hour of waiting seemed
half a day; then something began emerging from the woods. It resolved
itself into a barrier of green boughs, measuring some fifteen feet in
length and ten feet in height.

Its approach was slow. The noise of the axes was explained. The Indians
had chopped saplings and had made a frame and filled it with boughs.
Behind it was a number of warriors. About half-way across the clearing
were half a dozen long logs scattered about.

"They're thinkin' to make them logs an' while hid by their boughs yank 'em
together to make a breastwork. Then they'll pepper us while 'nother party
rushes in close. New party will pelt us while the first makes a run to git
ag'in' the walls where we can't damage 'em from the loopholes. That Black
Hoof is a devil for thinkin' up tricks."

I fired at the green mass. Cousin rebuked me, saying:

"Don't waste lead. There's three braves with long poles to keep the
contraption from fallin' backward. They're on their feet, but keepin' low
as possible. There's t'others pushin' the bottom along. There's t'others
huggin' the ground. You'll notice the ends an' middle o' the top stick up
right pert, but between the middle an' each end the boughs sort o' sag
down. If the middle pole can be put out o' business I 'low the weight of
it will make it cave in. Loaded? Then don't shoot less you see
somethin'."

With this warning he fired at the middle of the screen, and the middle
support developed a weakness, indicating he had wounded the poleman. He
fired again, and the whole affair began to collapse, and a dozen warriors
were uncovered. These raced for the woods, two of them dragging a wounded
or dead man.

For a few seconds I was incapable of moving a muscle. I was much like a
boy trying to shoot his first buck. Or perhaps it was the very abundance
of targets that made me behave so foolishly. Cousin screamed in rage. My
bonds snapped, and I fired. If I scored a hit it was only to wound, for
none of the fleeing foe lessened their speed. "Awful poor fiddlin'!"
groaned Cousin, eying me malevolently.

"I don't know what was the matter with me. Something seemed to hold me
paralyzed. Couldn't move a finger until you yelled."

"Better luck next time," he growled, his resentment passing away.

He loaded and stood his rifle against the logs and began spying from the
rear of the cabin. Whenever he glanced at the apron his eyes would close
for a moment. No women had lived there. One of the Grisdols, the father of
the two children, had brought it as a reminder of his dead wife. Cousin's
great fight was not against the red besiegers, but against his emotions. I
knew he was thinking of his sister.

"Come here!" I sharply called. "They want a pow-wow. One's waving a green
bough."

Cousin climbed to the hole in the roof, holding his rifle out of sight by
the muzzle. He yelled in Shawnee for the man to advance alone. The warrior
strode forward, the token of peace held high. So far as I could see he did
not have even a knife in his belt. Overhead Cousin's rifle cracked and the
Indian went down with never a kick.

"Good God! You've fired on a flag of truce, after agreeing to receive it!"
I raged.

He stood beside me, a crooked smile on his set face, his eyes gleaming
with triumph, his shapely head tilted to enjoy every note of the horrible
anger now welling from the forest. "You fired----"

"I 'low I did," he chuckled. Then with awful intentness, "But the folks
who lived here an' was happy didn't fire on the Injun fetchin' 'em a
bundle o' peace-talk. They believed the Injuns meant it. Do you reckon I
treated that dog any worse than the Shawnees treated my father and mother
and little sister ten years ago? If you don't 'low that, just keep shet.
When a Injun sends you a flag o' truce you want to tie your scalp down, or
it'll blow off."

The chorus of howls in the forest suddenly ceased, then were succeeded by
sharp yelps of joy. Cousin stared at me in bewilderment. Darting to the
back of the cabin, he peered through a chink. "Come here," he softly
commanded. I joined him and took his place at the peephole. There was a
haze of smoke in the eastern sky.

"That's why Black Hoof an' his men are hangin' round here," he sighed. "He
sent a small band farther east. They've made a kill. That's a burnin' over
there."

"That would be Edgely's cabin," I decided. "But they moved back to
Dunlap's Creek three months ago."

"Thank God for that!" he exclaimed. "But we'll have more Injuns round us
mighty soon. I wish it was dark."

"They've stopped their yowling. Look out for fresh deviltry!"

He nodded and walked to the front of the cabin. The horse neighed shrilly.
The call was repeated in the forest. The Indians continued silent. I heard
it first; that is to recognize it. For I had heard it the day before. The
voice of a man shouting fretfully, much as an angry child complains.
Cousin understood it when a whimpering note was added.

"Baby Kirst!" he softly cried. "Black Hoof will 'low his medicine is
mighty weak. Baby's out there an' in a bad frame o' mind. Somethin' is
goin' ag'in' the grain. It's good medicine for us that he wandered up this
way."

I began sketching the happenings at Howard's Creek, but before I could
finish the bushes on the hem of the woods were violently agitated and Baby
Kirst rode into the clearing, his horse in a lather. When he beheld the
dead cows and hogs he yelled like a madman and plucked his heavy ax from
his belt, and turned back to the woods. He disappeared with a crash, his
hoarse voice shouting unintelligible things.

"Now you can go," quietly said Cousin as he unbarred the door. "Be keerful
o' the Injuns to the east. They'll be a small band. I 'low I'll foller
Kirst. If he don't drive 'em too fast there oughter be good huntin' for
me."

That night I rode into the Greenwood clearing on Dunlap's Creek without
having seen any Indians along the way.



CHAPTER IV

I REPORT TO MY SUPERIORS


A night at the Greenwood cabin and I resumed my journey to Salem on the
Roanoke. Near this hamlet lived Colonel Andrew Lewis, to whom I was to
report before carrying or forwarding Doctor Connolly's despatches to
Governor Dunmore. The trip was free from any incidents and seemed
exceedingly tame after the stress of over-mountain travel. All the
settlers I talked with were very anxious to know the true conditions along
the border.

As I pressed on and found the cabins more thickly strewn along the various
waters I was impressed by the belief of many that the Cherokees would join
the Ohio tribes before the war ended. One would expect to find this
apprehension to be the keenest where the danger would be the greatest. But
not so. Whenever I related how Isaac Crabtree had murdered Cherokee Billy,
brother of the powerful Oconostota, the pessimists were positive that the
Cherokee nation would lay down a red path.

Notwithstanding these natural fears the war remained popular with
practically all the men with whom I talked. Various companies were being
formed, and militia captains, to make sure of seeing active service, were
not punctilious as to where and by what means they secured their men.
There was much ill-natured bickering over this rivalry, with several
matters assuming such proportions that only Colonel Lewis could straighten
them out.

The war was popular because the people realized a farther western
expansion would be impossible until the Indians had been crowded back and
firmly held behind the Ohio. Anything short of a permanent elimination of
the red menace was cried down.

Much resentment was felt against the hotheads in Pennsylvania for openly
accusing the Virginians of inciting the war to establish their land
claims. It was widely known that the Pennsylvania _Gazette_ had published
charges against Doctor Connolly to the effect that his agents, acting
under his orders, had fired on friendly Shawnees who were escorting white
traders into Fort Pitt. Among these settlers east of the mountains the
common complaint was about the scarcity of powder and lead.

When within a few miles of my destination I came upon a group of settlers
who were gathered about a travel-stained stranger. For the first time
since leaving Dunlap's Creek I found myself of second importance. This man
was tanned by the weather to a deep copper color and wore a black cloth
around his head in place of a cap.

I halted on the edge of the group and waited for him to finish his
narrative which must have been of lively interest if the rapt attention of
the men and women was any gage.

"--and using the ax I jumped over his body, got to the horse and rode
away," his deep voice concluded. He spoke with a palpable effort and
almost with a sing-song intonation.

I dismounted and pressed forward, and told him:

"You talk like an Indian."

"God's marcy, young sir!" cried an old dame. "An', please sweet grace, why
shouldn't he? Isn't he Johnny Ward, took by the Injums when a boy, an'
just managed to scoot free of 'em?"

The man slowly looked me over, his face as immovable as any Shawnee
chief's. Then with the slightest of hesitation between each two words he
calmly informed me:

"Escaped as the white woman says. Named John Ward. Indian name, Red Arrow.
Now I am back with my people. Now I am John Ward again. I talk bad. I
talked with Indians most the time all these years. With my old friends I
will grow to talk better."

I congratulated him on his return to civilization. Many a man holding a
high place in the colony's government and in the affection of the people
had been held in captivity; but few were the men who returned after
spending so many years with the Indians. In that respect Ward's case was
unusual.

"Your talk sounds all right to us," said one of the men. "Mayhap you
l'arned some things about the red hellions that'll help our boys to give
'em pepper."

"I can lead you to their towns by the shortest trails. I can lead you to
their new towns that white men can not find quick," he replied, after a
few moments' pause, just as an Indian would wait before answering a
question.

Young Cousin flashed into my mind, and I asked:

"Do you know of a white woman--she would be nineteen years old now--named
Cousin? She was captured by Shawnees at Keeney's Knob ten years ago."

For half a minute I was doubtful if he understood my query. Then he shook
his head. I was disappointed as it seemed to be an excellent chance to
learn whether the girl be dead or alive. Still talking in his peculiar,
halting way, he said:

"She, the white woman, was killed, probably. If not that she would be
taken to Detroit and sold. Now married and living on a Canada farm,
probably. Whites taken prisoners were not let to see each other. No whites
were ever kept in the village where I lived."

"What village were you kept in?"

"First in Lower Shawnee Town. Then in more towns. As I grew old they took
me to the towns farthest from the Ohio. Then came a time when I went where
I pleased, but they never took me on their war-paths south the Ohio."

By this time the country folk began to remember that I, too, was a
newcomer, and should have much information or gossip. They turned from
Ward and plied me with questions. I briefly recited for the twentieth time
since leaving Dunlap's Creek the conditions west of the mountains.

Detailed cross-examination brought forth the happenings at Howard's Creek
and the murder of the four Grisdols, and the firing of the Edgely cabin.
When I said that Black Hoof was in command of the Grisdol raiders my
audience displayed nervousness, and more than one glance was cast toward
the west. The effect on Ward was pronounced, also. Rising, he asked:

"Catahecassa led that path? I must be going. It was from his band I
escaped. His warriors followed me. I will go to the east before camping
for the night."

"He'll never dare come east of the mountains!" loudly declared one of the
men.

Ward's face was inscrutable as he walked to his horse. As he vaulted into
the saddle he remarked:

"Black Hoof has a long arm."

So it happened that John Ward, the returned captive, and I finished the
distance to Salem. Temptation assailed me as we reached the edge of the
settlement. I had planned all the time to finish my business with Colonel
Lewis at his home at Richfield. I had planned this even after learning
from Mrs. Davis of the Dales' presence in Salem.

Now, of a sudden, it seemed that I must hunt them up and look on Patricia
once more. But Colonel Lewis was waiting for me. I had endured three years
without a glimpse of the girl; and leaving Ward to ride on and relate his
experience to the Salem people I skirted the town and pressed on to
Richfield.

Arriving at the Lewis home I was informed by a colored man that the
colonel was not at the house, but somewhere about the grounds.

"An' please goodness, massa, I's gwine to fotch him in two shakes of a
houn' dawg's tail," he told me.

I threw myself on the grass and waited. Either the servant's powers of
"fotching" had been exaggerated, or else the colonel was quite indifferent
to my arrival. Nearly an hour passed before my meditations were
interrupted.

This was not my first visit to Richfield to report to the colonel, but I
felt no better acquainted at the last meeting than at the first. There was
a certain reserve in his manner which held folks at arm's length. This
impression of aloofness was increased by his personal appearance. His tall
figure and stern dark eyes made for austerity.

In military affairs he was said to be overstrict in discipline; this from
those who had served under him in former wars. Yet he stood very high in
the esteem of the county militia and his superiors. Perhaps his severe
mien was the natural result of a life filled with stormy experiences. From
early manhood he had been employed in fighting Indians.

He was a captain of militia at the age of twenty-two. Twelve years later
he was a major, serving under Colonel George Washington. He was seriously
wounded at Fort Necessity. He would have played a prominent part in
Braddock's first and last Indian battle had he not been detailed to
complete a chain of frontier forts. He was in the disastrous Sandy Creek
expedition the year following Braddock's defeat.

In 1758 he was an officer under Forbes, and was one of those captured with
Grant's detachment. He escaped the stake only to be held a prisoner in
Montreal. Later he led a force against the Cherokees; and in Pontiac's War
he commanded two hundred and fifty riflemen under Colonel Bouquet. Now he
was picked to command one of the two armies that Governor Dunmore proposed
to send against the Indian towns above the Ohio.

Among the Indians the name of Lewis stood very high. The natives knew the
colonel to be the son of that John Lewis who was long famed as an Indian
fighter. It was commonly believed by red and white, and I have no reason
to doubt the truth of it, that it was John Lewis who introduced red clover
to America.

Whether he did or did not, the Ohio Indians credited him with planting the
first seed and said the color resulted from the blood of the red men he
had slain. William and Charles Lewis, the colonel's brothers, also were
noted border men. Charles undoubtedly ranked as high for courage and
astuteness as any frontiersman in Virginia.

The colored man at last turned the corner of the house. Behind him, and
not yet in sight, was the colonel, and he was not alone for I could hear
his grave voice addressing some companion.

"De c'unel dat stubbo'n I jes' have to talk mighty plain 'fore I could
make him pudge erlong," proudly whispered the servant as he passed me.

I sprang to my feet, and Colonel Lewis and His Excellency, John Murray,
Earl of Dunmore, our royal governor, leisurely strolled into view.

Colonel Lewis wore no wig and was smoking a pipe, of which he was
inordinately fond. It was characteristic of him to be more democratic and
careless in personal presentment when with his superiors than when meeting
the rough and ready people of the border.

Nor was Governor Dunmore given to set forms. He was forty-two years of age
and in his prime, a man among men. He could be most democratic, and on
this day there was none of the town beau's fastidiousness in his dress.
Yet his wig and his coat were a mode in themselves, while his shoe, knee
and stock buckles were of gold. Ultra-genteel young bucks would have had
such buckles set with brilliants, that they might twinkle and glitter at
every mincing step.

His Excellency walked with a man's stride and gave the impression of being
careless in dress, whereas, in fact, he always was perfect in his points.
He dominated his attire and left you scarcely conscious of it. The two of
them had been discussing something with great earnestness for as they drew
near me the colonel gestured with his pipe-stem, and His Excellency pushed
back his wig and appeared inclined to disagree.

"Lord, man! I tell you it's their cursed provincial jealousy. They malign
the man."

"Your Excellency, I am not the judge," Colonel Lewis calmly replied. "I
simply repeat what I hear, and suggest how it may be disastrous to the
campaign."

"Jealousy and slander!" heatedly declared the governor. Then his lively
gaze rested on me. He frowned, as if trying to remember, then smiled with
that graciousness he could so charmingly display when he deemed it worth
while and said:

"I've been keeping you from your guest, Colonel. He looks brown and lean
enough to have traveled far and to have brought a pretty earful. I know
the face and ought to be calling him by name."

Colonel Lewis advanced a few steps and bowed slightly, and refreshed the
governor's recollection by saying:

"He is Basdel Morris, Your Excellency. Of Prince William County
originally. Before Your Excellency came to Virginia he came out here to
act as scout and messenger between us and Fort Pitt."

"Fort Dunmore," coldly corrected the governor, giving the name bestowed in
honor of his earldom. Then with a genial smile:

"I remember Mr. Morris distinctly. He has brought papers to me. I vow but
he should have a good budget of news. If we could retire to the shade and
escape this cursed heat----"

"Inside, inside," brusquely interrupted the colonel, and he waved us
through the door with his pipe-stem. "We'll find it cool in there."

And we did; and very pleasant too, and with many little comforts for those
who wish to be indolent, such as foot-rests, and low tables for holding
decanter and glasses and a sheaf of long pipes and some of Virginia's
superb tobacco.

"No ceremony here, Mr. Morris. Sit down, man. We will play His Lordship is
traveling in disguise."

"Forsooth! He has that which we are hungry to receive! It's more fit we
should stand while he takes his ease," gaily exclaimed His Excellency. And
he removed his wig and mopped his cropped poll and sipped appreciatively
of the tall glass a soft-footed servant placed at his elbow.

This was a most pleasing trait about His Excellency, and one which in
happier times should have endeared him even to people who have small use
for earls. He could make the young or diffident man feel more at home than
could the democratic and autocracy-hating Andrew Lewis. Nor was it any
affectation; for we were soon to learn he could keep up with hardy
borderers on long forest marches, and at that, proceed afoot and carry his
own blanket and equipment like any backwoods volunteer.

Colonel Lewis shot a glance at me and then at the governor, and I verily
believed his dark eyes were laughing at one of us. Surely not at me, for I
was too insignificant. I obtained an inkling as to the cause of his
cynical amusement when he said:

"Young Mr. Morris, while not forest-bred, has lived long enough in the
woods as to make him blunt of tongue. Would Your Excellency prefer that he
make a verbal report to me and that I reduce it to writing for your
consideration?"

"After what the Quakers have said I find my skin to be very thick except
when it comes to something touching my personal honor," coldly replied the
governor. "Let the man tell what he will. We want the truth."

Until this moment I had barely opened my mouth. Now I produced the
despatches committed to my care by Doctor Connolly. In presenting these to
Governor Dunmore I remained standing, waiting to be dismissed.

His Excellency, however, made no move to open and read his despatches, but
fell to staring at me speculatively. Finally he said:

"Let's have the personal side--the things you observed on your journey
back here." And he motioned for me to be seated.

I told them of Bald Eagle's murder, and His Excellency exhibited hot
anger, and broke in on my recital long enough to exclaim:

"Curse their black hearts! I drove John Ryan out of the country for
murdering on the Cheat, Ohio, and the Monongahela. I've had others
arrested, and their crazy neighbors have released them. I offer rewards
for still others, and they come and go unmolested!"

"Yes, it's unfortunate that some of our border men are as murderous as the
Indians," quietly agreed Colonel Lewis. His Excellency subsided and nodded
for me to continue.

I next spoke of young Shelby Cousin, and the colonel's eyes grew hard as I
related the youth's lament over his little sister, and, in his behalf,
urged that some effort be made to ascertain the girl's fate. The governor
wrinkled his nose and brows in an effort to remember something. Then he
said:

"I knew the name was familiar. I've sent word to Connolly to seek traces
of the girl through the different traders. The war has closed that line of
inquiry, I fear, as the traders have come in, or have been slaughtered.
Very sad case. Very sad. The young man should go to England to begin life
anew and learn to forget. I shall arrange it for him."

"He would die before he would quit the woods, Your Excellency," said the
colonel. "If he did consent and did go to England he would die of
homesickness inside of ten days. Either that, or he would try to swim
back."

"Rather a poor opinion of England's charms," remarked the governor.

When I took up the general scarcity of powder and lead and described how
handicapped the settlers were by the lack of these vital necessities, it
was Colonel Lewis's turn to show the most feeling.

His anger was almost passionate, and none the less impressive because he
held it in check. Staring wide-eyed at the governor he concluded his
outburst by demanding:

"What about it, Your Excellency?"

"What about it? Why, that's something to ask of the House of Burgesses,
wound all up in their red tape. His gracious Majesty suggested in
'sixty-three that insomuch as the colonies implored England's aid against
the French and Indians they should contribute something toward the cost of
their defense in that war. Methinks they have taken the suggestion as an
affront."

"The French War is ten years old. It was fought so that England might gain
Canada. Virginia is still a royal province and her people need powder and
lead," the colonel replied. Perhaps he stressed "still" a bit. At least
the governor's gaze dropped and concealed any impression he might have
received.

The governor drummed his fingers on the low liquor-stand, then lifted his
head and stated:

"This war will never be won by isolated groups of settlers fighting on the
defensive along the many creeks and rivers. The decisive blow will be
struck by the two armies soon to take the field. There will be plenty of
powder for the men I lead and the men you are to lead. As to the
back-country settlements, the House of Burgesses should have provided for
them. His Majesty is eager to aid all his subjects, but there's scant
policy in serving our powder and balls to be husbanded along the western
slope of the Alleghanies and perhaps later used against England's
soldiers."

Colonel Lewis dropped his pipe and stared wrathfully at his noble guest.
With an effort he restrained his temper and rejoined:

"The talk seems to touch upon some war other than that with the Ohio
tribes."

His Excellency at once was all smiles and graciousness. Leaning forward
and placing a hand on the colonel's knee, he earnestly declared:

"The conversation has wandered, foolishly on my part, I admit. I have
lacked in tact, but the first fault I swear is due to the attitude of the
Burgesses in neglecting to take proper measures for defending the
frontier. Before England can send sufficient supplies to Virginia this war
will have ended. There is plenty of powder at Williamsburg. Why doesn't
the House of Burgesses send it to the border?"

"There is but a small store at the most, Your Excellency."

"But why retain it when it is needed elsewhere?"

"That is hardly a question I can answer," was the stiff reply. Then with a
flash of heat:

"It's a shame! We repeatedly urge those families to stick, not to come off
their creeks until they've laid by their corn and harvested their oats;
and they are denied the simple means of defending their lives. Whether the
Burgesses or the royal governor be at fault the fact remains that the
settlers pay in blood and anguish."

"If there is any powder at Williamsburg or Norfolk that I can lay hands
to, it shall go over the mountains. At least the royal governor will prove
his hands are clean," solemnly declared His Excellency.

"I'll warrant that Pennsylvania has traded enough guns and powder to the
Shawnee and Mingos," moodily observed the colonel.

"There's too much talk in Williamsburg over peoples' rights, and not
enough concern for peoples' lives," declared His Excellency. "It would be
a good thing if the House of Burgesses could be locked up in a fort and
made to repel an Indian attack."

"Well, well," sighed the colonel, "we'll never lick the Ohio tribes with
proclamations and empty hands."

"By gad, sir! We'll whip them with powder and lead! I've set myself to the
task of crushing the Indian power. It shall be done!"

They settled back and signaled for me to resume my narrative. When I
mentioned Crabtree and the other killers both the governor and the colonel
expressed a wish that the Indians might catch them, or else scare them
from the border. I closed my story by speaking of John Ward, the returned
captive. The military instinct of both my hearers was instantly aroused;
for here was a source of inside information our spies could not hope to
provide.

"Find that man and send him here," ordered the governor. "But before you
go tell us something of conditions about Fort Dunmore. You seem to have
skipped that."

This was what I had expected, and I did not relish the task. Had I been
talking alone with Colonel Lewis it would have been the first topic I had
touched upon.

"Your Excellency has Doctor Connolly's despatches. Doubtless they will
give you much more than I can," I faltered.

"There isn't any danger of your duplicating Doctor Connolly's
information," said His Excellency sharply.

"His Excellency desires to learn those odds and ends which wouldn't be
included in an official report, but which may throw some light on the
whole situation," added the colonel, his gaze resting on me very
insistently. And somehow I knew he wanted me to talk, and to speak
plainly.

If I reported according to my sense of duty I feared I was in for an
unpleasant experience with His Excellency. If I would ever receive any
favors from him it would be because I kept my mouth shut and steered clear
of dangerous ground. The situation at Pitt, however, had offended me; and
now that I must speak I grew reckless and decided to speak frankly.

"Arthur St. Clair, representing the Pennsylvania proprietors, together
with other eminent men in that colony, publicly declared that Your
Excellency is in partnership with Doctor Connolly in various land-deals,"
I began.

"Doctor Connolly has acted as my agent, just as his uncle, Michael
Croghan, has acted for Colonel George Washington," easily remarked His
Excellency.

"Croghan repudiates the acts of Connolly," I said.

Dunmore frowned and spoke wide of the mark when he said:

"What St. Clair and his friends see fit to believe scarcely constitutes
facts. But go on."

"They also say that this war with the Shawnees is being hurried on for the
purpose of establishing our boundary-claims and making good our titles to
grants under Virginia patents."

"Scarcely news. They've been howling that ever since last April," growled
Lewis.

"I've been absent some months. I have no way of knowing what you've heard,
or haven't heard. I'm afraid I have nothing new in the way of facts or
gossip," I said, and my face flushed.

Governor Dunmore laughed softly and good-naturedly nodded for me to
continue. I said:

"It is commonly believed in Pennsylvania that Connolly's circular letter
to our frontier was meant to precipitate a war so that he might cover up
the costs of rebuilding Fort Pitt. It is said on all sides that the
commandant fears the House of Burgesses will repudiate his expenditures
even after Your Excellency has endorsed them--providing there is no war."

The governor's face colored, but his voice was quiet as he said:

"Connolly may be a fool in many things, but he is right about the House of
Burgesses. There isn't any doubt as to their repudiating anything which
looks like a benefit to our frontier."

"Your Excellency, I can scarcely agree to that," cut in Colonel Lewis. It
was the second time their counter-views had struck out sparks.

Both remained silent for half a minute, each, I have no doubt, controlling
an impulse to explode. Relations between the colonies and England
resembled an open powder-keg. With a bow that might indicate he desired to
avoid a dangerous subject the governor shifted the conversation by
remarking:

"After all, it doesn't matter what Pennsylvania thinks, so long as we know
her interests are hostile to Virginia's. I am governor of Virginia. I will
serve her interests, and by gad! if the Quakers don't like our way they
can chew their thumbs."

"We are one in that!" heartily cried the colonel.

Governor Dunmore frowned down at his gold shoe-buckles and wearily said:

"They say I want war. But the Williamsburg paper has insisted on this war
since last March. Truth is, the border wants the war. And let me confess
to you, Colonel Lewis, that the Earl of Dartmouth, as Secretary of State
for the colonies, will express His Majesty's great displeasure to me
before this war is over.

"England does not want his campaign to go through. Taking the position I
have means I will meet with disfavor and criticism at home."

Turning to me, he querulously complained.

"And it's you people along the border who make the war necessary. It's the
horrible massacres of harmless Indians that brought the trouble upon me."

This was grossly untrue and I countered:

"Even Logan doesn't claim that. It's been give and take as to the
killings, with the Indians getting the better of it in scalps. A general
war can result only from the Indians' belief that our settlers are
crossing the mountains to settle in the Kentucky country."

"Ah! There you go! True to the dot, too!" he cried. "You Americans are
restless. You acquire no attachment to any place. Wandering about seems to
be engrafted in your natures. It's your great weakness that you should
forever be thinking the lands farther off are better than those on which
you're already settled."

"But land-grants on the Ohio are worthless without settlers," I meekly
reminded. Colonel Lewis indulged in a frosty smile. His Excellency eyed me
shrewdly, and said:

"Of course the lands must be settled sometime. The trouble comes from the
frontier people's failure to understand that His Majesty's government has
any right to forbid backwoodsmen from taking over any Indian lands which
happen to hit the fancy.

"They have no idea of the permanent obligation of treaties which His
Majesty's government has made with the various Indian nations. Why, some
of the frontier people feel so isolated from the colonies that they wish
to set up democratic governments of their own. A pretty kettle of fish!
Then such creatures as this Crabtree murder such men as the brother of the
powerful Cherokee chief. More trouble for the border.

"I shall offer a reward of a hundred pounds for Crabtree's arrest. If he
is arrested the border men will release him. And yet they demand that His
Majesty supply them with powder to defend their homes. Good God! What
inconsistency! And as if we did not have enough trouble inside our colony
there is Mr. Penn, to the north. As proprietary governor he sullies the
dignity of his communications to the House of Representatives by making
the same a conveyance of falsehood, thereby creating trouble between
Pennsylvania and Virginia.

"He is even now trying to make my Lord Dartmouth believe that my zeal in
carrying on this war is not through any sense of duty to my king, but
because of a desire for personal emoluments. If he can make the people of
Virginia believe that, then I am helpless." Certainly this defense of his
motives was not meant to convert me. My ideas worried His Excellency none.
He was testing Colonel Lewis, whose reserve made the broaching of delicate
subjects very much of a difficulty. The colonel quickly declared:

"Your Excellency knows that I thoroughly understand the true bias of
Pennsylvania. We are with you in this war heart and soul. But I do think,
to put it mildly, that Doctor Connolly has been indiscreet."

He had come back to the one phase of the conversation which interested
him. The governor hesitated a moment, then asked me:

"What is your personal opinion of Doctor Connolly? Speak freely."

"I consider him to be a very ambitious, intriguing man, and very much of a
fire-eater."

Both the gentlemen smiled, His Excellency being less genuine than the
colonel. "To be an ambitious fire-eater is not a bad quality in these
times," said the governor. "As to intrigue, so long as it is for Virginia
I will not condemn it too strongly. What other charges are there in your
arraignment?"

"I do not arraign him," I retorted. Believing I had gone too far ever to
retrieve myself in the governor's good graces, and being made angry by the
thought, I boldly continued: "Connolly is too autocratic. He carries
things with too high a hand. He takes measures which neither Your
Excellency, nor any other of His Majesty's governors would dream of
indulging in. He arrests and imprisons citizens without any pretense at
legal procedure. It is because of such actions that many in Pennsylvania
expressed the wish we might lose the war. I will add that I heard no such
expressions of ill-will since the white families were murdered along the
Monongahela."

"It does make a difference as to whose ox is being gored," grimly
commented Colonel Lewis.

"Does Pennsylvania still blame Michael Cresap for the death of Logan's
people?" asked the governor.

"Many of them do, because Connolly reduced him in rank. His reinstatement
at Your Excellency's command is not so generally known."

"Confusion and bickering!" wrathfully exclaimed the governor. "Virginia
demanding a decisive war--England opposed to it. Our militia captains
stealing each other's men--Sir William Johnson's death is most untimely."

Sir William Johnson dead! For the moment I was stunned. My facial
expression was so pronounced that His Excellency kindly added:

"The sad news has just reached us. Never was he needed more and wanted
more. The colonies have been so used to having him hold the Iroquois in
check that few have paused to picture what might happen if his influence
were removed from the Six Nations."

He rose and paced the room for a few turns. Then with a short bow to me he
addressed the colonel, saying:

"With your permission, Colonel, I believe I shall retire for an hour. When
the man Ward comes I wish to question him."

"By all means, Your Excellency, take a bit of rest. I shall call you if
the fellow comes."

I turned to go and the colonel walked with me to the door, urging me to
return and remain his guest that night. I thanked him, explaining an
acceptance of his kind offer would depend on circumstances. He walked with
me to my horse and with a side-glance at the house softly inquired:

"What do the people over the mountains and in Pennsylvania say about the
Quebec Bill now before Parliament?"

"I do not remember hearing it mentioned. I do not think any of the
settlers are interested in it."

"Not interested!" he groaned. "And if it is approved[3] by Parliament the
American colonies will be robbed of hundreds of thousands of square miles
of territory. They will lose the lands which already have been given them
in their own charters. Think of Virginia and Pennsylvania quarreling over
the junction of two rivers when we stand fair to lose all the country west
of the Alleghanies. Young man, there's going to be war." This was very
softly spoken.

"We're in it now," I stupidly replied.

"I am speaking of war with England," he whispered.

I could scarcely accept it as being a true prophecy. I was not disturbed
by it. The quarreling between colonies and the mother-country was an old
story. Hiding my skepticism I asked, "When will it begin?"

"It began in 1763, when the English Ministry decided to collect revenues
from the colonies," was the quiet reply. "It will soon be open war. I
verily believe I am entertaining in my humble home to-day the last royal
governor of Virginia."

-----

  [3] The Quebec Bill, to take effect in 1775, was approved June 22, 1774,
      or before Colonel Lewis and Morris had their conversation.



CHAPTER V

LOVE COMES A CROPPER


"I am speaking of a war with England." These words of Colonel Lewis rang
in my ears as I rode to Salem. They had sounded fantastic when he uttered
them. Now that I was alone they repeated themselves most ominously. The
flying hoofs of my horse pounded them into my ears. War with England was
unthinkable, and yet the colonel's speech lifted me up to a dreary height
and I was gazing over into a new and very grim world.

For years, from my first connected thoughts, there had been dissension
after dissension between England and America. My father before me had
lived through similar disputes. But why talk of war now? Many times the
colonies had boiled over a bit; then some concession was made, and what
our orators had declared to be a crisis died out and became a dead issue.

To be sure another "crisis" always took the place of the defunct one, but
the great fact remained that none of those situations had led to war.
Perhaps if some one other than Colonel Lewis had indulged in the dire
foreboding it would have made less of an impression. At the time he spoke
the words I had not been disturbed. Now that I was remembering what an
unemotional level-headed man he was the effect became accumulative. The
farther I left Richfield behind and the longer I mulled over his sinister
statement the more I worried.

As I neared Salem my meditations continued disquieting and yet were highly
pleasing. I was on my way to meet Patricia Dale. I was born on the
Mattapony and left an orphan at an early age. I had gone to Williamsburg
when turning sixteen, and soon learned to love and wear gold and silver
buckles on a pewter income.

In my innocence, rather ignorance, I unwittingly allowed my town
acquaintances to believe me to be a chap of means. When I discovered their
false estimate I did not have the courage to disillusion them. My true
spending-pace was struck on my eighteenth birthday, and inside the year I
had wasted my King William County patrimony.

Just what process of reasoning I followed during that foolish year I have
never been able to determine. I must have believed it to be imperative
that I live up to the expectations of my new friends. As a complement to
this idiotic obsession there must have been a grotesque belief that
somehow, by accident or miracle, I would be kept in funds indefinitely. I
do recall my amazement at the abrupt ending of my dreams. I woke up one
morning to discover I had no money, no assets. There were no odds and
ends, even, of wreckage which I could salvage for one more week of the old
life.

Among my first friends had been Ericus Dale and his daughter, Patricia. To
her intimates she was known as Patsy. As was to be expected when an
awkward boy meets a dainty and wonderful maid, I fell in love completely
out of sight. At nineteen I observed that the girl, eighteen, was becoming
a toast among men much older and very, very much more sophisticated than
I.

She was often spoken of as the belle of Charles City County, and I spent
much time vainly wishing she was less attractive. Her father, engaged in
the Indian-trade, and often away from home for several months at a time,
had seemed to be very kindly disposed to me.

I instinctively hurried to the Dales to impart the astounding fact that I
was bankrupt. One usually speaks of financial reverses as "crashing about"
one's head. My wind-up did not even possess that poor dignity; for there
was not enough left even to rattle, let alone crash.

The youth who rode so desperately to the Dale home that wonderful day
tragically to proclaim his plight, followed by fervid vows to go away and
make a new fortune, has long since won my sympathy. I have always resented
Ericus Dale's attitude toward that youth on learning he was a pauper. It
is bad enough to confess to a girl that one has not enough to marry on;
but it is hell to be compelled to add that one has not enough to woo on.

How it wrung my heart to tell her I was an impostor, that I was going to
the back-country and begin life all over. Poor young devil! How many like
me have solemnly declared their intentions to begin all over, whereas, in
fact, they never had begun at all.

And why does youth in such juvenile cataclysms feel forced to seek new
fields in making the fresh start? Shame for having failed, I suppose. An
unwillingness to toe the scratch under the handicap of having his
neighbors know it is his second trial.

But so much had happened since that epochal day back in Williamsburg that
it seemed our parting had been fully a million years ago. It made me smile
to remember how mature Patsy had been when I meekly ran her errands and
gladly wore her yoke in the old days.

Three years of surveying, scouting and despatch-bearing through the
trackless wilderness had aged me. I prided myself I was an old man in
worldly wisdom. Patsy Dale had only added three years to her young life. I
could even feel much at ease in meeting Ericus Dale. And yet there had
been no day during my absence that I did not think of her, still
idealizing her, and finding her fragrant memory an anodyne when suffering
in the wilderness.

The sun was casting its longest shadows as I inquired for the house and
rode to it. If my heart went pit-a-pat when I dismounted and walked to the
veranda it must have been because of anticipation. As I was about to rap
on the casing of the open door I heard a deep voice exclaim:

"This country's going to the dogs! We need the regulars over here. Using
volunteers weakens a country. Volunteers are too damned independent.
They'll soon get the notion they're running things over here. Put me in
charge of Virginia, and I'd make some changes. I'd begin with Dunmore and
wind up with the backwoodsmen. Neither Whigs nor Tories can save this
country. It's trade we want, trade with the Indians."

I could not hear that any one was answering him, and after a decent
interval I rapped again. At last I heard a slow heavy step approaching
from the cool twilight of the living-room.

"Aye? You have business with me, my man?" demanded Dale, staring into my
face without appearing to recognize me. He had changed none that I could
perceive. Short, square as though chopped out of an oak log. His dark hair
still kinked a bit and suggested great virility. His thick lips were
pursed as of old, and the bushy brows, projecting nearly an inch from the
deep-set eyes, perhaps had a bit more gray in them than they showed three
years back.

"Ericus Dale, you naturally have forgotten me," I began. "I am Basdel
Morris. I knew you and your daughter three years ago in Williamsburg."

"Oh, young Morris, eh? I'm better at remembering Indian faces than white.
Among 'em so much. So you're young Morris, who made a fool of himself
trying to be gentry. Sit down. Turned to forest-running, I should say."
And he advanced to the edge of the veranda and seated himself. He had not
bothered to shake hands.

"I had business with Colonel Lewis and I wished to see you and Patsy
before going back," I explained. I had looked for bluntness in his
greeting, but I had expected to be invited inside the house.

"Pat's out," he mumbled, his keen gaze roaming up and down my forest garb.
"But she'll be back. Morris, you don't seem to have made much of a hit at
prosperity since coming out this way."

"I'm dependent only on myself," I told him. "Personal appearance doesn't
go for much when you're in the woods."

"Ain't it the truth?" he agreed. "In trade?"

"Carrying despatches between Fort Pitt and Governor Dunmore just now.
Surveying before that."

"Then, by Harry, sir! You could be in better business," he snapped. "What
with Dunmore at the top, and thieving, land-grabbing settlers at the
bottom, this country is going to the devil! Dunmore cooks up a war to make
a profit out of his land-jobbing! Settlers quit good lands on this side
the mountains to go land-stealing in the Kentucky country and north of the
Ohio. It riles my blood! I say you could be in better business than
helping along the schemes of Dunmore and that trained skunk of his, Jack
Connolly."

I smiled pleasantly, beginning to remember that Ericus Dale was always a
freely spoken man.

"Do you mean that there is no need of this war? You say it is cooked up."

"Need of war?" he wrathfully repeated. "In God's mercy why should we have
war with the Indians? All they ask is to be let alone! Ever see a single
piaster of profit made out of a dead Indian unless you could sell his
hair? Of course not. The Indians don't want war. What they want is trade.
I've lived among 'em. I know. It's Dunmore and the border scum who want
war. They want to steal more land."

I had no wish to quarrel with the man, but I, too, had been among the
Indians; and I could not in decency to myself allow his ridiculous
statements to go unchallenged.

"How can the country expand unless the settlers have land? And if the
Indians block the trail how can we get the land without fighting for it?
Surely it was never intended that five or more square miles of the fairest
country on earth should be devoted to keeping alive one naked red
hunter."

He fairly roared in disgust. Then with an effort to be calm he began:

"Land? Settlers? You can't build a profit on land and settlers. Why, the
colonies already refuse to pay any revenue to England. Line both sides of
the Ohio with log cabins and stick a white family in each and what good
does it do? Did the French try to settle Canada? No! The French weren't
fools. They depended on trade."

"But they lost Canada," I reminded.

"Bah! For a purely military reason. The future of this country is trade.
England's greatness is built up on trade." His trick of jumping his voice
on that word "trade" was very offensive to the ears.

"Pennsylvania has the right idea. Pennsylvania is prosperous. Pennsylvania
doesn't go round chopping down bee-trees and then killing the bees to get
the honey. What good is this land over here if you can't get fur from it?
Settlers chop down the timber, burn it, raise measly patches of corn, live
half-starved, die. That's all."

His crazy tirade nettled me. It was obvious I could not keep in his good
books, even with Patricia as the incentive, without losing my
self-respect. I told him:

"This country can never develop without settled homes. We're building
rudely now, but a hundred years from now----"

"Yah!" And his disgust burst through the thick lips in a deep howl. "Who
of us will be alive a hundred years from now? Were we put on earth to
slave and make fortunes for fools not yet born? Did any fools work and
save up so we could take life soft and easy? You make me sick!"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Dale, to hear you say that. However, the war is here----"

"The war may be here, in Virginia, among the backwoodsmen. It is also in
Dunmore's heart, but it ain't in the hearts of the Indians," he
passionately contradicted. "The Indians only ask to be let alone, to be
allowed to trade with us. Some canting hypocrites are whining for us to
civilize the Indians. Why should they be civilized? Do they want to be?
Ever hear of Indians making a profit out of our civilization? Did the
Conestoga Indians make a profit when they tried to live like the whites
near Lancaster, and the Paxton boys killed fourteen of them, men, women
and children, then broke into the Lancaster jail where the others had been
placed for their safety, and butchered the rest of them?

"Did the ancient Virginia Indians prosper by civilization? I reckon if the
old Powhatans could return they'd have some mighty warm things to say on
that score. Why shouldn't the Indians insist we live as they do? They were
here first. The only way to help the Indian is to trade with him. And when
you help him that way you're helping yourself. That's the only point you
can ever make a red man see.

"I know the Indians. I can go into their towns now, be they Cherokee,
Mingo, Shawnee or Delaware, and they'll welcome me as a brother. They know
I don't want their land. They know I'm their true friend. They want me to
make a profit when I trade with them, so I'll come again with more rum and
blankets and guns, and gay cloth for their women."

"You have the trader's point of view, and very naturally so," I said.

"Thank God I ain't got the land-grabber's point of view! Nor the canting
hypocrite's point of view! Nor a thick-headed forest-runner's point of
view!" he loudly stormed, rising to end the discussion.

But I was not to be balked, and I reminded him:

"I called to pay my respects to Mistress Dale. I hope I may have the
pleasure."

"She's in the field back of the house. I'll call her," he grumbled. "I
have a man in my kitchen, a white man, who has lived with the Indians ever
since he was a boy. He knows more about them than all you border-folks
could learn in a million years. He's the most sensible white man I ever
met. He agrees with me perfectly that trade is what the Indian wants; not
settlers nor Bibles."

"Your guest would be John Ward!" I exclaimed, remembering the governor's
errand. "I was asked by Colonel Lewis to find him and send him to
Richfield. The colonel and Governor Dunmore wish to talk with him."

"Ho! Ho! That's the way the cat jumps, eh? Want to milk him for military
information, eh? Well, I reckon I'll go along with him and see they don't
play no tricks on him. I've taken a strong liking to Ward. He's the one
white man that's got my point of view."

"He lived with the Indians so long he may have the Indians' point of
view," I warned.

"The sooner white men learn the Indians' point of view the better it'll be
for both white and red. Ward knows the Indians well enough to know I'm
their friend. He knows I'm more'n welcome in any of their towns. I'm going
to carry a talk to Cornstalk and Black Hoof. If I can't stop this war I
can fix it so's there'll never be any doubt who's to blame for it."

"I tell you, Dale, that no white men, except it be Ward or Tavenor Ross
and others like them, are safe for a minute with Logan's Cayugas,
Cornstalk's Shawnees, Red Hawk's Delawares, or Chiyawee's Wyandots."

"Three years ain't even made a tomahawk improvement on you," he sneered.
"You mean to tell me that after all my years of friendship with the
Indians I won't be safe among them, or that any friends I take along won't
be safe among them? You talk worse'n a fool! I can send my girl alone into
the Scioto villages, and once she gives belts from me she will be as safe
as she would be in Williamsburg or Norfolk."

"Such talk is madness," I cried. "The one message your cousin, Patrick
Davis' wife, on Howard's Creek, asked me to deliver to your daughter is
for her not to cross the mountains until the Indian trouble is over."

"An old biddy whose husband is scared at every Indian he sees because he
knows he's squatting on their lands. My cousin may not be safe on Howard's
Creek, but my daughter would be. I'll say more; once the Indians know I am
at Howard's Creek, they'll spare that settlement."

It was useless to argue with the man. It was almost impossible to believe
that he meant his vaporings for seriousness. With a scowl he walked to the
rear of the house and entered the kitchen. All the windows were open, and
his voice was deep and heavy. I heard him say:

"Ward, I want you. We're going to have a talk with two white men, who
don't understand Indians. Pat, that young cub of a forest-running Morris
is out front. Hankers to see you, I 'low."

My leather face was still on fire when I heard the soft swish of skirts.
Then she stood before me, more beautiful than even my forest-dreaming had
pictured her, more desirable than ever. She courtesied low, and the
amazing mass of blue-black hair seemed an over-heavy burden for the slim
white neck to carry.

She smiled on me and I found my years dropping away like the leaves of the
maple after its first mad dance to the tune of the autumn's wind. I felt
fully as young as when I saw her in Williamsburg. And time had placed a
distance other than that of years between us: it had destroyed the old
familiarity.

To my astonishment we were meeting as casual acquaintances, much as if a
chin-high barrier was between us. It was nothing like that I had pictured.
I had supposed we would pick up the cordiality at the first exchange of
glances. I stuck out my hand and she placed her hand in it for a moment.

"Basdel, I would scarcely have known you. Taller and thinner. And you're
very dark."

"Wind and weather," I replied. "It was at Howard's Creek I learned you
were here. I was very anxious to see you."

"Don't stand." And she seated herself and I took a chair opposite her. "So
nice of you to have us in mind. It's some three years since."

"I reckon your father doesn't fancy me much."

"He's displeased with you about something," she readily agreed. "You
mustn't mind what he says. He's excitable."

"If I minded it I've forgotten it now," I told her. I now had time to note
the cool creamy whiteness of her arms and throat and to be properly
amazed. She had been as sweet and fresh three years before, but I was used
to town maids then, and accepted their charms as I did the sunshine and
spring flowers. But for three years I had seen only frontier women, and
weather and worry and hard work had made sad work of delicate
complexions.

"Now tell me about yourself," she commanded.

There was not much to tell; surveying, scouting, despatch-bearing. When I
finished my brief recital she made a funny little grimace, too whimsical
to disturb me, and we both laughed. Then quite seriously she reminded me:

"But, Basdel, your last words were that you were to make a man of
yourself."

In this one sentence she tagged my forest work as being valueless. Had I
been the boy who rode through the May sunshine frantically to announce his
poverty, I might have accepted her verdict as a just sentence. Now there
was a calculating light in her dark blue eyes that put me on my mettle.
She was throwing down a red ax.

"I am self-dependent," I said. "I never was that in Williamsburg. I have
risked much. Before crossing the mountains, I did not dare risk even your
displeasure. I have done things that men on the frontier think well of.
When you knew me back East I only succeeded in making a fool of myself.
The carrying of despatches between Fort Pitt and Botetourt County is
considered to be rather important."

"But, please mercy, there's more important things for young men to do than
these you've mentioned," she softly rebuked.

"If the work of surveying lands for homes and settlements, if the scouting
of wild country to protect settlements already established, if keeping a
line of communication open between the Ohio and the James are not
important tasks, then tell me what are?" I demanded.

She was displeased at my show of heat.

"There's no call for your defending to me your work over the mountains,"
she coldly reminded. "As an old friend I was interested in you."

"But tell me what you would consider to have been more important work," I
persisted. "I honestly believed I was working into your good opinion. I
believed that once you knew how seriously I was taking life, you would be
glad of me."

"Poor Basdel," she soothed. "I mustn't scold you."

"Pitying me is worse," I corrected. "If you can't understand a man doing a
man's work at least withhold your sympathy. I am proud of the work I have
done."

This ended her softer mood.

"You do right to think well of your work," she sweetly agreed. "But there
are men who also take pride in being leaders of affairs, of holding office
and the like."

"And going into trade," I was rash enough to suggest.

With a stare that strongly reminded me of her father she slowly said:

"In trade? Why not? Trade is most honorable. The world is built up on
trade. Men in trade usually have means. They have comfortable homes. They
can give advantages to those dependent upon them. Trade? Why, the average
woman would prefer a trader to the wanderer, who owns only his rifle and
what game he shoots."

"Patsy, that is downright savagery," I warmly accused. "Come, be your old
self. We used to be mighty good friends three years ago. Be honest with
me. Didn't you like me back in Williamsburg?"

The pink of her cheeks deepened, but she quietly countered:

"Why, Basdel, I like you now. If I didn't I never would bother to speak
plainly to you."

Three years' picture-painting was turning out to be dream-stuff. I tried
to tell myself I was foolish to love one so much like Ericus Dale; but the
lure was there and I could no more resist it than a bear can keep away
from a honey-tree.

She had shown herself to be contemptuous in reviewing the little I had
done. She was blind to the glory of to-morrow and more than filled with
absurd crotchets, and yet there was but one woman in America who could
make my heart run away from control. If it couldn't be Patsy Dale it could
be no one.

"Back in Williamsburg, before I made such a mess of my affairs, you knew I
loved you."

"We were children--almost."

"But I've felt the same about you these three years. I've looked ahead to
seeing you. I've--well, Patsy, you can guess how I feel. Do I carry any
hope with me when I go back to the forest?"

The color faded from her face and her eyes were almost wistful as she met
my gaze unflinchingly, and gently asked:

"Basdel, is it fair for a man going back to the forest to carry hope with
him? The man goes once and is gone three years. What if he goes a second
time and is gone another three years? And then what if he comes back,
rifle in hand, and that's all? What has he to offer her? A home in the
wilderness? But what if she has always lived in town and isn't used to
that sort of life?"

"But if she loves the man----"

"But what if she believes she doesn't love him quite enough to take him
and his rifle and live in the woods? Has he any more right to expect that
sacrifice than she has the right to expect him to leave the forest and
rifle and make his home where she always has lived?"

"I suppose not. But I, too, like the scenes and things you like. I don't
intend spending all my life fighting Indians and living in the forest."

"If your absence meant something definite," she sighed.

"Meaning if I were in trade," I bitterly said.

The kindly mood was gone. She defiantly exclaimed:

"And why not? Trade is honorable. It gets one somewhere. It has hardships
but it brings rewards. You come to me with your rifle. You talk sentiment.
I listen because we were fond of each other in a boy-and-girl way. We
mustn't talk this way any more. You always have my best wishes, but I
never would make a frontier woman. I like the softer side of life too
much."

"Then you will not wait? Will not give me any hope?"

"Wait for what? Another three years; and you coming back with your long
rifle and horse. Is that fair to ask any woman?"

"No. Not when the woman questions the fairness. 'Another three years' are
your words, not mine. I shall see this war through, and then turn selfish.
What I have done is good for me. It will serve to build on."

"I'm sure of it," she agreed. "And you always have my best--my best
wishes."

"And down in your heart you dare care some, or you wouldn't talk it over
with me," I insisted.

"We liked each other as boy and girl. Perhaps our talk is what I believe I
owe to that friendship. Now tell me something about our backwoods
settlements."

In story-writing the lover should, or usually does, fling himself off the
scene when his attempt at love-making is thwarted. Not so in life with
Patsy. I believed she cared for me, or would care for me if I could only
measure up to the standard provided for her by her father's influence.

So instead of running away I remained and tried to give her a truthful
picture of border conditions. She understood my words but she could not
visualize what the cabins stood for. They were so many humble habitations,
undesirable for the town-bred to dwell in, rather than the symbols of
many, happy American homes. She pretended to see when she was blind, but
her nods and bright glances deceived me none. She had no inkling of what a
frontier woman must contend with every day, and could she have glimpsed
the stern life, even in spots, it would be to draw back in disgust at the
hardships involved.

So I omitted all descriptions of how the newly married were provided with
homes by a few hours' work on the part of the neighbors, how the simple
furniture was quickly fashioned from slabs and sections of logs, how a few
pewter dishes and the husband's rifle constituted the happy couple's
worldly possessions. She wished to be nice to me, I could see. She wished
to send me away with amiable thoughts.

"It sounds very interesting," she said. "Father must take me over the
mountains before we return to town."

"Do not ask him to do that," I cried. And I repeated the message sent by
Mrs. Davis.

She was the one person who always had her own way with Ericus Dale. She
smiled tolerantly and scoffed:

"Father's cousin sees danger where there isn't any. No Indian would ever
bother me once he know I was my father's daughter."

"Patsy Dale," I declared in my desperation. "I've loved you from the day I
first saw you. I love you now. It's all over between us because you have
ended it. But do not for your own sake cross the mountains until the
Indian danger is ended. Howard's Creek is the last place you should visit.
Why, even this side of the creek I had to fight for my life. The Indians
had murdered a family of four, two of them children."

She gave a little shudder but would not surrender her confidence in her
father.

"One would think I intended going alone. I know the Indians are killing
white folks, and are being killed by white folks. But with my father
beside me----"

"If you love your father keep him on this side of the Alleghanies!"

"You will make me angry, Basdel. I don't want to be displeased with you.
My father has known the Indians for years. He has warm friends in every
tribe. He is as safe among them as he is here in Salem. And if Howard's
Creek is in danger he can request the Indians to keep away from it."

"Good God! Are you as blind as all that?" I groaned.

"Forest-running, Basdel, has made you violent and rough in your talk," she
icily rebuked. "You hate the Indians simply because you do not understand
them. Now I'm positive that the best thing for you to do is to keep away
from the frontier and see if you can't start right on this side of the
mountains."

It would be folly to argue with her longer. I fished a pair of moccasins,
absurdly small, from the breast of my hunting-shirt and placed them on the
table. I had bought them from a squaw in White Eyes' village, and they
were lavishly embroidered with gay beads. The squaw had laughed when I
told the size I wanted.

"If you will forget these came from the forest and will let me leave them,
I shall be pleased," I said. "If you don't care for them, just chuck them
aside. I had to guess at the size."

"Oh, they are beautiful," she softly exclaimed, snatching them from the
table. "Basdel, why not stay on this side of the mountains? You're a very
clever young man if you would only give yourself a chance. Very soon you
could go to the House of Burgesses. If you don't care to go into trade you
could speculate in land. Father is against it, but if it will be done, you
might as well do it as to leave the cream for others."

"Even if I wished to stay, I could not," I replied. "I have much to do
over there. Unfinished work. I have promised Colonel Lewis to carry
despatches when not scouting. If they can send some one to Fort Pitt in my
place I shall serve as scout in the Clinch River Valley. The people down
there are badly upset."

"Well, giving yourself for others may be very Christian-like. One must
decide for one's self," she said.

"The people over there help one another. They stand together. If I can
help them, I shall be helping myself."

"I wish my father could go there and make them see how silly they are,"
she impatiently declared. "If they would only be friendly with the
Indians! It is so simple----"

"I know a fellow about your age," I broke in. "The Indians killed his
people on Keeney's Knob ten years ago and stole his little sister. He
doesn't know whether she is dead or a captive. His folks were friendly.
They were butchered after making a feast for Cornstalk and his warriors.
There are many such cases. It would do no good for your father to tell
young Cousin and others, who happened to survive, that they are silly."

"Do you mean they would resent it?" she demanded, her chin going up in a
very regal manner.

"He could scarcely change their opinions," I mumbled.

We were interrupted by a colored woman bustling in with Colonel Lewis'
servant in tow. The man bowed profoundly before Patsy and then informed
me:

"Please, Massa Morris, de c'unel 'mires fo' to see yo' at de house right
erway. I 'spects it's business fo' de gun'ner. De c'unel mos' 'tic'lar dat
say he wants to see yo' to once. Yas, sah. Please, sah."

I dismissed him with a word of my immediate attendance on the colonel.
Then I gave my hand to Patsy and said:

"This ends it then. Patsy, my thoughts of you have helped me out of many
tight places."

"If you'd only be sensible, Basdel, and stay back here where you belong.
Just say the word and father will place you in his office. I'm sure of
it."

"So am I sure of it, if you asked it. No, Patsy, it can't be that way. I
thank you. I may be an awful failure, but I can always fool myself with
hoping for better things. If I was pushed into trade, that would end me."

"Of course you know your limitations better than I do," she coldly said.
"Thanks for the pretty moccasins. I may have a chance to wear them soon."

"Do not wear them over the mountains," I begged. "You were never meant for
the frontier. Good-by."

I had mounted my horse and was galloping back to Richfield almost before I
had realized how definitely I had separated from her. There was so much I
had intended to say. My thoughts grew very bitter as I repeatedly lived
over our short and unsatisfactory meeting. I recalled patches of the
bright dreams filling my poor noodle when I was riding to meet her, and I
smiled in derision at myself.

I had carried her in my heart for three years, and because daily I had
paid my devotion to her I had been imbecile enough to imagine she was
thinking of me in some such persistent way. Patsy Dale was admired by many
men. Her days had been filled with compliments and flattery.

My face burned as though a whip had been laid across it when I recalled
her frank skepticism of my ability to support a wife. I had a rifle.
Several times she had thrust that ironical reminder at me, which meant I
had nothing else. I came to her carrying my rifle. It was unfair to tie a
girl with a promise when the wooer had only his rifle.

The damnable repetition kept crawling through my mind. She wanted to
impress the fact of my poverty upon me. I worked up quite a fine bit of
anger against Patsy. I even told myself that had I come back with profits
derived from peddling rum to the Indians, I might have found her more
susceptible to my approach. Altogether I made rather a wicked game of
viewing the poor girl in an unsavory light.

With a final effort I declared half-aloud that she was not worth a serious
man's devotion. And it got me nowhere. For after all, the remembrance of
her as she stood there, with her slim white neck and the mass of
blue-black hair towering above the upturned face, told me she must ever
fill my thoughts.

I reached Richfield early in the evening. Governor Dunmore had retired
against an early start for Williamsburg. It was Colonel Lewis' wish that I
ride without delay to Charles Lewis' place at Staunton, something better
than eighty miles, and confer with him over the situation on the
frontier.

"My brother has recently received intelligences from Fort Pitt which state
the Indians are anxious for peace," explained the colonel.

"A parcel of lies," I promptly denounced.

"So say I. But the written statements are very plausible. They have made
an impression on Charles. It is very important that he know the truth. It
will be much better for you to talk with him than for me to try to send
him your statements in writing. Haste is necessary. Leave your horse and
take one of mine."

"Have your man bring out the horse. I will start now."

"A prompt response," he said. "And most pleasing. But to-morrow early will
do. Spend the night here."

"To-night. Now," I insisted. "I need action."

He gave me a sharp glance, then called his man and gave the order. While
my saddle was being shifted he informed me:

"Ericus Dale and John Ward paid us a call. Dale and His Excellency had a
rare bout of words. The fellow Ward didn't say much, but he agreed to
everything Dale said."

"I know about the way Dale talked," I gloomily said. "I talked with him
before he came here. He thinks that Virginia is made up of fools, that
only Pennsylvania knows how to handle the Indians."

I swung into the saddle and the colonel kindly said:

"I hope this business of mine isn't taking you away from something more
pleasant."

"I thank you, Colonel, but I am quite free. All I ask is action and an
early return to the frontier."

I knew the colonel knew the truth. He knew I had paid my respects to the
girl and had been dismissed. He stretched out a hand in silence and gave
me a hearty handshake; and I shook the reins and thundered up the road to
Staunton.



CHAPTER VI

THE PACK-HORSE-MAN'S MEDICINE


Charles Lewis was as popular as he was widely known. He had the gift of
attracting men to him on short acquaintance and of holding them as
life-long friends. His fame as an Indian-fighter was known throughout the
South, his adventures possessing those picturesque elements which strongly
appeal to border-folk. During the Braddock and Pontiac Wars his service
was practically continuous.

In his home-life he was a kindly, gentle man. I found him playing with his
five small children. He greeted me warmly and displayed none of his
brother's austerity. During the greater part of two days which I was in
his hospitable home I succeeded, I pride myself, in showing him the truth
concerning the various reports sent over the line from Pennsylvania.

I know that when I left him he was convinced the war must be fought to a
decisive finish before any of our western valleys could be safe. On one
point he was very positive: the Cherokees, he insisted, would not join the
Ohio tribes, despite the murder of Oconostota's brother. Could the people
of the Clinch and Holston have felt the same confidence, they would have
spared themselves much nagging.

I took my time in returning to Salem, for there was much to think over.
The bulk of my meditations concerned Patsy Dale. I decided to see her once
more before crossing the mountains. I had no hope of finding her changed,
but I did not intend to leave a shadow of a doubt in my own mind. I would
leave no room for the torturing thought that had I been less precipitate
she would have been more kindly.

Yet I had no foolish expectations; I knew Patricia. This last interview
was to be an orderly settlement of the whole affair, and assurance that
self-accusation should not accompany me to the wilderness. Then with the
war over there would be no over-mountain ties to hold me back from the
Kentucky country, or the Natchez lands.

I reached Richfield just as Colonel Lewis was setting forth to settle some
wrangling between two of his captains. It was the old contention over
enlistments, each leader charging the other with stealing men. I stopped
only long enough to get my horse and to induce the colonel to let me have
twenty pounds of powder and ten pounds of lead for the settlers. The lead
was sufficient for seven hundred rounds and, divided into one-fourth
portions, the powder would give a consciousness of power of eighty
riflemen.

It was late afternoon when my fresh mount brought me to Salem, and without
any hesitation--for I must move while my resolve was high--I galloped out
to the Dale house. The low sun extended my shadow to a grotesque length as
I flung myself from the saddle and with an attempt at a bold swagger
advanced to find the maid. I am sure my bearing suggested confidence, but
it was purely physical.

Inwardly I was quaking and wondering how I should begin my explanation for
this second call. I was a most arrant coward when I mounted the veranda.
The carefully rehearsed calm of my leather face vanished and I made the
discouraging discovery that my features were out of control. The door of
the house was open. I rapped loudly and frowned. A shuffling step, which
never could be Patricia's, nor yet heavy enough for Dale, finally rewarded
by efforts. A colored woman came to the door and ducked her portly form.

I began asking for Patricia, but she recognized me as a recent caller and
broke in:

"De massa 'n' de young missy done gwine 'way. Dat onery white man gone wif
dem."

"Gone away? John Ward went with them?" I mumbled. "Which way did they
ride, Aunty?"

"Dat a-way." And she pointed to the sun, now sliced in half by Walker's
Mountain.

"You are sure they made for the mountains?"

"Dey gwine to slam right ag'in' 'em, den ride ober dem," she declared.

So after all my warnings the Dales were foolhardy enough to ride into
danger. Ericus Dale would not only stake his own life but even his
daughter's on his faith in red men. I recalled Cornstalk's pretended
friendship for the whites at Carr's Creek and on Jackson's River and the
price the settlers paid for their trustfulness.

"When did they ride?"

"Two days ergo. Bright 'n' early in de mornin'."

I ran to my horse and mounted. As I yanked his head about the servant
called after me:

"De missy have dem mogasums wif her."

The first stage of my journey was to Dunlap's Creek, although there was no
certainty that the Dales and Ward were taking that route. I had small
doubt, however, but that Dale was bound for the home of his cousin on
Howard's Creek. Unless he knew of some secret trace over the mountains he
would follow the open trail.

He would be more likely to go boldly and openly, I reasoned, because of
his belief there was nothing for him to fear. His daughter's convenience
would be better suited by the main traveled trails. As I hurried to the
west I paused at every habitation and inquired for the travelers. Always
the same reply; two men and a woman had been observed.

When I finally reached the Greenwood cabin at Dunlap's Creek I learned I
had gained a day because of Patricia's need for rest. She was an odd
bundle of contradictions. She felt superior to frontier women, and how
they would have smiled at the thought of recuperating after the easy
travel from Salem to the creek! Many of the women on the Greenbriar had
walked the entire distance over the mountains so that the pack-animals
might be used in carrying the jealously guarded and pitiably few
household-goods.

It was amazing to contemplate what a difference two or three hundred miles
could make in one's environment. Patricia Dale, soft and dainty, was used
to the flattery of the town, and, I feared, the attention of many beaux.
Her parents had known none of the comfortable places in life at her age;
and yet she had responded to her environment, had been petted by it, and
now she was a domestic kitten. I wondered if she would respond to her
ancestry if placed among arduous experiences. I knew the kitten would, and
therein I found hope for Patsy Dale.

I had been greatly shocked when told the girl was being taken over the
mountains. Now by some peculiar mental twist I was beginning to enjoy
secretly the prospect of seeing her again and in surroundings which
harmonized with long rifles and hunting-shirts. On the surface I persisted
in my anger at Dale and vehemently wished her back at Salem. Yet my guilty
anticipation endured, and as a sop to conscience I tried to make myself
believe there was no danger.

Howard's Creek could not be conquered so long as the settlers kept close
to the cabins and fort. I believed that or I should have urged a return of
all the women to the east side of the mountains. If the enemy, in force,
should lay a protracted siege, Howard's Creek would be remembered among
other bloody annals.

But I knew there would be no prolonged attempt to massacre the settlement.
Cornstalk was too wise a warrior to weaken his forces for a score of
scalps when a general engagement was pending. Let him win that and he
could take his time in blotting out every cabin west of the Alleghanies.
So after all it was neither difficult nor illogical to convince myself the
girl would be safe as long as she kept close to the creek.

Even Dale would not plan to take his daughter beyond the creek. If he
attempted it there were men enough to prevent the mad act. Across this
line of thought came the recollection of the Grisdols' fate. The girl
would be safe at Howard's Creek, but death lined the trace leading
thereto. My reason assured me Black Hoof's band had long since departed
from the mountains.

My fear that the girl was being led into an ambush threw me into a fine
sweat; and I pushed on the faster. I reviewed all the circumstances which
would preclude the possibility of an Indian attack on the three travelers.
There could be no Indians between Dunlap's and Howard's. Black Hoof's
losses at the Grisdol cabin, the venomous hatred of young Cousin stalking
them day and night and the appearance of Baby Kirst would surely hasten
their retreat.

But there would obtrude the terrible possibility of a few raiders hiding
along the trace, determined to strengthen their medicine with more white
scalps. But never once did I count in favor of the girl Dale's boasted
friendship with the Shawnees. Even my most visionary listing of assets
could not include that. I made a night-camp half-way across the mountains
and dined on cold provisions procured from the Greenwoods.

The morning brought optimism. By this time the girl was safe in the Davis
cabin. I finished my prepared food and resumed my journey. I had covered a
mile when a mounted figure turning a twist in the trace ahead sent me to
the ground. The two of us struck the ground at about the same moment. Our
rifles slid across the saddles as if we were puppets worked by the same
string. Then a voice called out:

"I won't shoot if you won't."

Of course he was white.

"Jesse Hughes!" I exclaimed, vaulting into the saddle. "These are queer
hunting-grounds for you." Then in sudden terror, "Are the Indians back
here in the mountains?"

"Devil take worse luck! No," he grumbled as he trotted to meet me. "I'm
going out to Greenwood's to see if I can't git a few shoots of powder."

"Have you seen Ericus Dale, the trader?" I anxiously asked.

"Yes, I seen the fool. He was making the creek when I come off. His gal
was with him and John Ward. Come pretty nigh potting that Ward feller.
He's a white man, but I can't git it out of my noodle that he ain't a'
Injun."

"How did Dale's girl stand the journey?"

The query surprised him, and he looked puzzled.

"Stand it?" he slowly repeated. "Why, she ain't sick or hurt, is she?"

I said something about her not being used to riding long distances.

"Long distances!" he snorted. "Wal, if a woman can't foller a smooth trace
on a good hoss for a day's ride, she ain't got no business west of the
mountains. I can't stick here swapping talk. I've got to push on and git
that powder. Curse the luck!"

"The Greenwoods have no powder to spare. He has less than half a pound."

"Black devils in a pipe! Howard's Creek will have to go to making bows and
arrers!"

"I've brought twenty pounds of powder and ten of lead from Salem," I
added. "Howard's Creek is welcome to it after I've outfitted myself."

"Hooray! That ends that cussed trip. Twenty pounds! Wal, I declare if
there won't be some rare killings! Now I'll hustle right back along with
you. I've felt all the time that some one would be gitting hair that
belonged to me if I come off the creek. Ten pounds of lead! Seven hundred
little pills! That'll let Runner, Hacker, Scott 'n' me strike for the
Ohio, where we can catch some of them red devils as they beat back home.
They'll be keerless and we oughter nail quite a few."

"Crabtree isn't going with you?"

"Ike ain't got no stummick for a reg'lar stand-up fight. He'll hang round
the creek and kill when he catches a red along."

"He'll get no powder from my stock to use around the creek," I declared.

Hughes eyed me moodily.

"What odds where they're killed so long as they're rubbed out?" he harshly
demanded.

"Women and children are the odds," I retorted. "Crabtree kills friendly
Indians. Even young Cousin, who hates reds as much as any man alive, won't
make a kill in a settlement unless the Indians are attacking it."

"That's the one weak spot in Cousin," regretted Hughes. "He's a good
hater. But he'd have a bigger count for that little sister of his if he'd
take them wherever he finds them. It's all damn foolishness to pick and
choose your spot for killing a red skunk. And this friendly Injun talk
makes me sick! Never was a time but what half the Shawnees and other
tribes was loafing 'round the settlements, pretending to be friends, while
t'other half was using the tomahawk and scalping-knife.

"That sort of medicine won't do for me. No, siree! Injuns are a pest, just
like wolves and painters, only worse. They must be wiped out. That's my
belief and I make it my business to wipe them out. Few men that's got
more'n me."

It's a waste of time to talk with a bloody-minded man. Hughes' brother was
killed by the Indians. As for that, there was hardly a settler in Virginia
who had not lost some dear friend or relative. When the history of the
country is written, it will surprise the coming generations to read the
many names having opposite them, "Killed by the Indians."

I was sorry I had met Hughes. His company grated on me. It was impossible
to think of Patsy Dale with the fellow's cruel babble ringing in my ears.
I remained silent and he garrulously recounted some of his many exploits,
and with gusto described how he had trapped various victims. It was his
one ambition of life. He cared nothing for land.

Offer him all of Colonel Washington's thirty-odd thousand acres on the
Ohio and Great Kanawha as a gift, and he would have none of them unless
they contained red men to slaughter. He had laid down a red path and it
was his destiny to follow it. I had no love for Shawnee or Mingo, but my
mind held room for something besides schemes for bloodletting.

And yet it was well for me that I had met Hughes the Indian-hater, and
doubly well that I had brought powder and lead so that he had turned back
with me. We were riding down the western slope and about clear of the
mountains, I trying to think my own thoughts and he talking, talking, his
words dripping blood, when ahead in the trace I spied something on the
ground that caused me to exclaim aloud.

It was a brightly beaded moccasin, very small, and strangely familiar even
at a distance. Hughes saw it and stared at it through half-closed lids. I
leaped from my horse and started forward to pick it up.

"Don't touch it;" yelled Hughes. "Come back! Come back!"

I heard him and understood his words, and yet I continued advancing while
I mechanically endeavored to guess his reason for stopping me.

"Jump, you fool!" he yelled as I stretched out my hand to pick up the
moccasin. And his horse was almost upon me and covering me with dirt as he
pivoted and slid into the bushes, his hindquarters hitting me and hurling
me over, half a dozen feet beyond the little moccasin. I landed on my head
and shoulders with the crack of a rifle echoing in my dazed ears.

Instinct sent me rolling out of the trace and into the bushes. By the time
I gained my knees and had cleared the dirt from my eyes Hughes was working
rapidly up the right-hand slope. His horse stood at the edge of the
bushes, rubbing noses with my animal. I kept under cover of the growth and
halted abreast of the moccasin.

There was a furrow within a few inches of its embroided toe. I broke a
branch and pawed the moccasin toward me and picked it up and went back to
the horses. Then I took time to examine my prize. It was one of the pair I
had given to Patsy Dale. She must have carried it carelessly to drop it in
the trace without discovering her loss. I slipped it into my hunting-shirt
and sat down to wait for Hughes. It was fully an hour before he came
back.

"Couldn't git a crack at him," he growled, his face grim and sullen. "But
you was a fool to be took in by such a clumsy trick as that."

"It's an old trick," I conceded, taking the moccasin from my shirt. "If it
had been any Indian finery I would have kept clear of it. But this happens
to belong to Ericus Dale's girl. She dropped it coming down the slope."

He heard this in astonishment and scratched his head helplessly.

"Then I must 'a' been asleep, or in a hell of a hurry when I come to this
slope," he muttered. "And it ain't just the right kind of a slope to go
galloping over. I don't understand it a bit. They was riding into the
settlement when I come out. I called to Dale and asked if he'd seen any
Injun signs. He told me he hadn't seen any. Then that feller Ward come
trotting out the woods, looking like a' Injun, and I was bringing up my
rifle to give him his needings when Dale let out a yelp and said he was a
white man. Wal, it'll tickle the gal to learn how near her moccasin come
to killing you."

"The Indian knew it was there and knew we were coming, and used it for
bait," I mused.

"A five-year-old child would know that," was the scornful rejoinder. "But
what no five-year-old on Howard's Creek would 'a' done was to go for to
git it after I'd called a halt. You must 'a' been foolish in your mind.
The Injun took a spot where he could line his gun on the moccasin. The
growth cut off any sight of the trace 'cept where the moccasin lay. All he
had to do was to line it and shoot when you stooped over it. The second he
couldn't see the moccasin he'd know some one's body was between it and
him. He heard me bawl out, but he didn't git sight of you till you was
over it, and by that time my old hoss give you a belt and made you keep on
moving."

"He undershot, yet as I was bending close to it he would have bagged me,"
I said. "I have to thank you for saving my life."

"Part of a day's work," he carelessly observed. "Wal, seeing as the skunk
has skedaddled, we might as well push on rather smart and tell the fellers
there's a loose red round these parts."

When we entered the settlement we saw men and women gathered in front of
the Davis cabin, frankly curious to see the newcomers and eager to volley
them with questions. I joined the group and through a window beheld Patsy
in animated conversation with what women could crowd inside. Mrs. Davis
was very proud of her cousin's daughter and was preening herself
considerably.

Patsy's cheeks were flushed and her tongue was racing as only a woman's
can. As she talked I could see she was trying to get used to the table of
split slabs and its four round legs set in auger-holes, the pewter
tableware and the spoons and bowls fashioned from wood, and the gourds and
hard-shell squash hollowed out for noggings.

With a slant of half-veiled eyes she also was studying the women's linsey
petticoats and bare feet, for now that it was warm weather many dispensed
with any foot-covering. In turn the women were openly examining the
texture and style of her town gown, and shrilly calling on one another to
come and admire her soft leather boots.

I did not see Dale, and Davis informed me he was inspecting the fort. As
Ward was not in sight I assumed he, too, was at the fort. Making my way to
the window, I caught Patsy's eye and handed her her lost moccasin.

She stared at the moccasin in bewilderment, but what with the newness of
her experience and the voluble praise of the women and the open-eyed
admiration of the men, she was finely excited. She forgot to ask where I
found the moccasin or how I happened to be there. She was in the act of
giving me a smile and a nod when Mrs. Davis tugged her to the
right-about.

Realizing it was useless to strive for the girl's attention until the
neighbors returned to their cabins, I walked to the fort, leading my
horse. Hughes was there ahead of me and stood with a group of sullen-faced
men who were being addressed by Ericus Dale.

"I say there ain't going to be any war," he cried as I took a position
behind him. "The Indians don't want war. They want trade. Take a pack of
goods on your horse and walk into a Shawnee village and see how quick
they'll quit the war-post to buy red paint and cloth.

"Open a keg of New England rum among the Mingos and see how quick they'll
drop their axes and hunt for tin dippers. Take blankets and beads to the
Wyandots and watch them hang up white wampum. Take----"

"Oh, that's all fool talk!" thundered Hughes crowding forward and staring
angrily into the trader's deep-set eyes. "You can't lead a pack-hoss fifty
miles from this creek without losing your hair, neighbor."

"I can! I will!" wrathfully replied Dale. "I've traded for years with the
Indians. I never yet went to them with a gun in my hand. If ever I need
protection, they'll protect me. They are my friends. This war is all
wrong. You can have it if you insist. But if you'd rather have trade, then
you needn't build any more forts west of the Alleghanies."

Hughes laughed hoarsely and called out to the silent settlers:

"What do you fellers say to all this twaddle? Any of you believe it?"

Uncle Dick, whom I had left whetting his knife on the stones of the Davis
fireplace, gave a cackling laugh and answered:

"Believe it? No! But it's fun to hear him splutter."

The men smiled grimly. They had held back from affronting their neighbor's
cousin. They looked upon Dale much as they looked on Baby Kirst when he
came to the settlement and whimpered because he could not find ripe
berries to pick. They were deciding that Dale was mentally irresponsible;
only his malady took a different twist than did Baby's. He was an
Indian-lover instead of hater. Dale's dark face flushed purple with anger.
By an effort he controlled himself and said:

"All right. You men want a fight. I'm afraid you'll have it. But I tell
you that if Dunmore would call off that dog of a Connolly at Fort Pitt I
could go among the Ohio Indians and make a peace which would last."

"How about the Injuns being willing for us to go down into the Kentucky
country?" spoke up Moulton.

"If you want peace with the Indian, you must let him keep a place to hunt
and live in. He can't live if you take away his hunting-grounds."

"Then let's take 'em away so they'll die out tarnation fast," cried Elijah
Runner.

Drawing himself up and speaking with much dignity, Dale said:

"I am sorry for any of you men who came out here to make homes if you will
let a few Indian-killers, who never make homes, spoil your chances for
getting ahead."

"We don't go for to kill every Injun we see," said Davis, heretofore
silent. "I'm a fambly-man. I don't want Injuns butchered here in the
settlement like as Ike Crabtree done for Cherokee Billy. No sense in
that."

"That's what I say, too," agreed another. And this endorsement of Davis'
view became quite general. Of course I had known right along that the
settlers as a whole did not look with favor upon indiscriminate slaughter
of the natives. Dale nodded his approval and said:

"Well, that's something. Only you don't go far enough."

Hughes angrily took up the talk, declaring:

"You cabin-men are mighty tickled to have us Injun-hating fellers come
along when there's any chance of trouble. I've noticed that right along."

"Course we are, Jesse," agreed Davis. "But that don't mean we're mighty
glad when some of you kill a friendly Injun in the settlement and, by
doing so, bring the fighting to us."

"I 'low we've outstayed our welcome," Hughes grimly continued. "You folks
foller this man's trail and it'll lead you all to the stake. I'm moving on
to-night."

"Don't go away mad, Jesse," piped up old Uncle Dick. "Talk don't hurt
nothin'. Stick along an' git your fingers into the fightin' what's bound
to come."

"I'm going away to kill Injuns," was the calm reply. "That's my
business."

"Hacker, Scott 'n' me will go along with you," said Runner. "Now that
Howard's Creek has got a trader to keep the Injuns off, we ain't needed
here no more."

"I can keep the Indians away," cried Dale. "When I offer them my belts,
they'll be glad to receive them. You send them a few trade-belts in place
of the bloody ax and they'll be your friends, too."

"Bah!" roared Hughes, too disgusted to talk.

"What does the white Injun say?" yelled one of the young men.

He had barely put the query before John Ward stalked through the fort door
and stood at Dale's elbow. Speaking slowly and stressing his words in that
jerky fashion that marks an Indian's speech in English, he said:

"The trader is right. I have been a prisoner among Indians for many years.
I know their minds. Dale can go anywhere among Indians where he has been
before, and no hand will be lifted against him."

"You're a liar!" passionately cried Hughes, his hand creeping to his
belt.

Ward folded his arms across his deep chest and stared in silence at Hughes
for nearly a minute; then slowly said:

"No Indian ever called me that. It's a man of my own race that uses the
word to me."

"And a mighty cheap sample of his race," boomed Dale, his heavy face
convulsed with rage. "A cheap killer, who must strike from behind! Faugh!
It's creatures like you----" With an animal screech Hughes jumped for him.
Before we could seize the infuriated man Ward's arm was thrust across his
chest and with the rigidity of a bar of iron stopped the assault. Before
Hughes could pull knife or ax from his belt we hustled him into the
background. His three friends scowled ferociously but offered no
interference. It was obvious that the settlers as a body would not
tolerate any attack on Dale.

Inarticulate with rage, Hughes beckoned for Hacker, Scott and Runner to
follow him. A few rods away he halted and called out:

"Dale, I'll live to hear how your red friends have danced your scalp. Then
I'll go out and shoot some of them. That white Injun beside you will be
one of the first to stick burning splinters into your carcass. He's lived
with redskins too long to forget his red tricks. Come on, fellers."

This sorry disturbance depressed the spirits of the settlers. War was on,
and there was none of the Howard's Creek men who believed that any change
in their attitude could prevent the Ohio Indians from slaying at every
opportunity. No matter how much they might decry the acts of Hughes and
his mates in time of peace, there was no denying the fighting-value of the
quartet when it came to war.

No word was spoken until the last of the four killers had filed away to
secure their horses and be gone. Then Davis said:

"Time to eat, Ericus. Let's go back and see how the women-folks is gettin'
along."

"Keep that white scum from this creek until I can carry a bag of talk to
Cornstalk and Logan and you won't need any armed bullies to protect you,"
said Dale.

"We ain't askin' of 'em to look after us, nor you with your white belts,
neither," shrilly proclaimed Uncle Dick.

Some of the younger men laughed.

Dale reddened, but turned to walk with his cousin without making any
answer. He all but bumped into me.

"Why, Morris!" he greeted, staring at me in surprise. "You bob up
everywhere. Will you go with me to the Scioto villages?"

"Go as what?" I cautiously asked. The men gathered closer about us.

"Go as a trader, carrying white wampum. Go to make peace with the
Shawnees," slowly replied Dale, his eyes burning with the fire of
fanaticism.

"Not hankering for slow fires, nor to have squaws heap coals on my head, I
must refuse," I retorted. "But I'll go with you or any man, as a scout."

"In your blood, too," he jeered. "I didn't suppose you'd been out here
long enough to lose your head."

"I'd certainly lose it if the Shawnees got me," I good-naturedly retorted.
My poor jest brought a rumble of laughter from the men and added to Dale's
resentment, which I greatly regretted.

John Ward glided to my side and said:

"You talk like a child. I have been long among the Indians. They did not
take my head."

I didn't like the fellow. There was something of the snake in his way of
stealthily approaching. I could not get it out of my head that he must be
half-red. Had he been all Indian, I might have found something in him to
fancy; for there were red men whom I had liked and had respected
immensely. But Ward impressed me as being neither white nor red. He
stirred my bile. Without thinking much, I shot back at him:

"Perhaps they did something worse to you than to take your head. Are you
sure they didn't take your heart?"

He turned on his heel and stalked away. Dale snarled:

"You're worse than Hughes and those other fools. You even hate a poor
white man who has been held prisoner by the Indians. He comes back to his
people and you welcome him by telling him he's a renegade. Shame on you!"

"No call for that sort of talk to Ward at all!" denounced Davis.

"What call had Ward to say he was a fool?" loudly demanded one of the
young men.

"I shouldn't have said that," I admitted, now much ashamed of my
hot-headedness. "I'll say as much to Ward when I see him next. If he'd
look and act more like a white man then I'd keep remembering that he is
white. But I shouldn't have said that."

"Morris, that's much better," said Dale. "I'll tell him what you said and
you needn't eat your words a second time in public. I admire you for
conquering yourself and saying it."

Uncle Dick did not relish my retraction, and his near-sighted eyes glared
at me in disgust.

"Too much talkin'. Scouts oughter be out. Our friends, th' killers, have
quit us."

Glad to be alone, I volunteered:

"I'll scout half the circle, striking west, then south, returning on the
east side."

Moulton, a quiet, soft-spoken fellow, but a very demon in a fight, picked
up his rifle and waved his hand to his wife and little girl and trotted in
the opposite direction, calling back over his shoulder:

"I'll go east, north and half-down the west side."

I finished on the north leg at the point where Moulton had commenced his
scout. I made no discoveries while out. I walked to the fort and was glad
to see that Moulton had but recently come in. I returned to the Davis
cabin and passed behind it. So far as I could observe no sentinels had
been posted on the east side of the clearing. In front of the cabin burned
a big fire and there was a confusion of voices.

I gained a position at the end of the cabin, and from the shadows viewed
the scene. It was old to me, but new to Patsy, and she was deeply
interested. The young men had erected a war-post, and had painted the
upper half red. Now they were dancing and cavorting around the post like
so many red heathens, bowing their heads nearly to the ground and then
throwing them far back. They were stripped to the waist and had painted
their faces, and as they danced they stuck their axes into the post and
whooped and howled according to the Indian ceremony of declaring war.

"I don't like it!" I heard Dale protest.

"But the boys only wanted Patsy to see how the Injuns git ready for war,"
defended Mrs. Davis. "An', lor'! Ain't she all took up by it!"

"But it's the way the border men declared war after the murder at Yellow
Creek," declared Dale. "They stripped and painted and struck the post and
danced around it."

"They'll be through mighty soon now, Ericus," soothed Davis, who was
uneasy between his fears of displeasing his wife's cousin and giving
offense to the young men. "They meant well."

"All such actions mean ill for the settlers," growled Dale. "They'd best
finish at once."

Davis did not have to incur his neighbors' ill-will by asking the dancers
to cease their ceremony, as Dale's speech was closely followed by a volley
from the west side of the clearing. A dancer went down, coughing and
clawing at his throat, while yelps of surprise and pain told me others had
been wounded. I raised my rifle and fired toward the flashes.

With the promptness of seasoned veterans the young men kicked the fire to
pieces and grabbed up their rifles and advanced toward the hidden foe,
their movements being barely perceptible even while within reach of the
light streaming from the cabins.

It was not until I had fired and was reloading that I was conscious of
Patsy's ear-splitting shrieks. I heard her father fiercely command her to
be still, then command Davis to recall the young men now lost in the
darkness. A stentorian voice began shouting:

"All women to the fort! Put out all lights!"

One by one the candles were extinguished. Patsy was silent, and across the
clearing came the low voices of the women, driving their children before
them and urging them to hurry. Dark forms were discernible close at hand
and were those settlers apportioned to defend the fort.

Davis was commanding his wife to take Patsy to the fort while there was
yet time, and she was refusing. The savages must have heard the men and
women leaving the outlying cabins, for they started to rush from the woods
only to fall back before a brisk volley from the young men now scouting
well to the front.

I walked to the cabin door just as the war-whoop of the Shawnees announced
an attack in force. I was standing by Patsy's side, but she did not see
me. She had both hands clapped over her ears, her lips parted but uttering
no sound. Now there came a rush of feet and the young men fell back, some
making into the fort, others, as previously assigned, entering the cabins
close to the fort. Three came to the Davis cabin, and I entered with them,
leading Patsy. Some one, I think it was Davis, dragged Dale inside.

The trader seemed to be paralyzed, for he had remained voiceless during
the stirring events. And it had all been a matter of a few minutes. I
jumped through the doorway just as a young man began closing it. The
Shawnees were yelling like demons and approaching to close range very
cautiously, feeling out each rod of the ground.

The sally of the young men had taught them they could not have all things
their own way. I scouted toward the fort to make sure all the women and
children had made cover, but before I could reach the log walls I heard
Dale's voice shouting for attention. I dropped behind a stump, and as the
savages ceased their howling I heard him hoarsely crying:

"It is the Pack-Horse-Man speaking. Do the Shawnees fire guns at the
Pack-Horse-Man? My friends live here. Do the Shawnees hurt the friends of
the Pack-Horse-Man? I give you a belt to wash the red paint from your
faces. I give you a belt to make the road smooth between the Greenbriar
and the Scioto. By this belt the nettles and rocks shall be removed from
the road. I will cover the bones of your dead, if any fell to-night, with
many presents."

He was either very brave or crazy. For now he left the cabin and began
walking toward the hidden Shawnees, his confident voice repeating the fact
he was the red man's friend, that he brought white belts, that the red and
white men should eat from one dish, and that a hole should be dug to the
middle of the earth and the war-ax buried there and a mighty river turned
from its ancient bed to flow over the spot so that the ax could never be
found.

His amazing boldness brought the hush of death over cabins and forts. My
horse, secured in the small stockaded paddock near the fort, whinnied for
me to come to him, and his call in that tense stillness set my nerves to
jumping madly. Dale was now close to the warriors. Every minute I expected
to see a streak of fire, or hear the crunch of an ax. Trailing my rifle
and bent double, I stole after him. From the forest a deep voice shouted:

"The belts of the Pack-Horse-Man are good belts. Black Hoof's warriors do
not harm the friends of the Pack-Horse-Man. Sleep with your cabin doors
open to-night and you shall hear nothing but the call of the night birds
and the voice of the little owl talking with the dead."

I now discovered that the Shawnees had silently retreated to the woods at
the beginning of Dale's advance. The declaration of peace as given by the
Indian--and I was convinced it was the famous Black Hoof talking--was in
the Shawnee tongue. Dale faced to the cabins and fort and triumphantly
interpreted it. From deep in the forest came a pulsating cry, the farewell
of the marauders, as they swiftly fell back toward New River. I was
suspicious of some Indian trick and yelled a warning for the men to keep
in the cabins.

Dale became very angry, and upbraided me:

"It's the like of you that spoils the Indian's heart. You men have heard
what the Black Hoof says. You men and women of Howard's Creek are foolish
to believe this young fool's words. The Shawnees have gone. You heard
their travel-cry. They have left none behind to harm by treachery. I told
you I could keep the Indians from attacking this settlement. Could your
friends, the killers, have sent them away so quickly? I think not. Open
your doors. Light your candles. Make merry if you will. There is nothing
in the forest to harm you."

"Keep inside till I and some of the young men have scouted the woods.
Three men from the fort will be enough," I loudly shouted.

Dale was furious, but that was nothing when the women and children had to
be remembered. Soon a soft pattering of moccasins, and three youths stood
before me. Choosing one, I set off in the direction the Indians apparently
had taken. The other two were to separate, one scouting south and the
other north, to discover any attempt at a surprise attack by swinging back
to the creek in a half-circle.

My companion and I, although hampered by the darkness, penetrated some
miles toward New River. In returning, we separated, one swinging south and
the other north. The first morning light was burning the mists from the
creek when I reentered the clearing. My companion came in an hour later.
The other two had returned much earlier, having had a much shorter course
to cover. We all made the same report; no signs of Indians except those
left by them in their retreat.

I sat outside the Davis cabin and Patsy brought me some food. She was very
proud of her father and carried her small figure right grandly. Her
attitude toward the women was that of a protector; and they, dear souls,
so thankful to be alive, so eager to accept the new faith, fairly
worshiped the girl.

The one exception was the Widow McCabe. She paid homage to no one. And
while she said nothing to the chorus of admiring exclamations directed at
the trader there was the same cold glint in the slate-gray eyes, and she
walked about with her skirts tucked up and an ax in her hand.

I made no effort to talk with Patsy. Her frame of mind was too exalted for
speech with a skeptical worm. She smiled kindly on me, much as a goddess
designs to sweeten the life of a mortal with a glance. She smiled in
gentle rebuke as she noted my torn and stained garments and the moccasins
so sadly in need of patching.

"You silly boy! It wasn't necessary. When will you learn, Morris?" It was
not intended that I should answer this, for she turned away graciously to
receive the blessings of the women. Thus, vicariously, was Ericus Dale
recognized as a great man. And the trader walked among the morning clouds.
For some hours the savor of his triumph stifled speech, and he wandered
about while the women paid their tribute through his daughter.

Nor were the men lacking in appreciation. The younger generation remained
silent, secretly wishing their bravery and marksmanship had scattered the
foe, yet unable to deny that Dale's medicine had been very powerful. Those
with families stared upon him as they might gaze on one who had looked on
David.

They congregated around the Davis cabin after the morning meal and forgot
there was much work to be done. They were eager to renew their fires of
this new faith by listening to him. And after his exaltation had softened
enough to permit of speech the trader once more harangued them on his
influence over the natives. He was constantly in motion, his swinging arms
keeping a path clear as he strode through the group and back again and
addressed the mountains and horizon. He was too full of the sweets of a
peaceful victory to confine his utterance to any individual, and he spoke
to the whole frontier.

He concluded a long and eloquent speech by saying:

"So after all, as you settlers have learned, the Ohio tribes, yes, and all
tribes, will always hark to the one word--trade. They are now dependent
upon the white man for traps and guns, even their women's clothing. Trade
with them and they will remain your friends, for your goods they must
have.

"You can plant your war-posts three feet apart along the whole length of
Virginia, and you'll always have work for your rifles and axes until the
last Indian-hunter is killed. I admit they can be exterminated, but you'll
pay an awful price in doing it. But give them a chance to live, carry
trade-belts to them, and you shall have peace."

Even Uncle Dick, the aged one, had nothing to say. But it was Patsy I was
watching while Dale talked. She never took her eyes from him, and her gaze
was idolatrous in its love. She believed in his powers implicitly; and to
bask in the reflection of his greatness was the sweetest triumph she had
ever experienced. Throughout that day the scouts were busy in the forest,
ranging very far on the track of Black Hoof's band. When they began
dropping in after sundown all their reports were alike.

There were no Indian-signs besides those left by the departing Shawnee
band. This band, said the scouts, was very large and quite sufficient to
cause the settlement much trouble and inevitable losses. There was no
mistaking the story told by the trail. The Indians had marched rapidly,
swinging north.

Every emotion, unless it be that of love, must have its ebb; and by
nightfall the settlers were returning to their old caution. Dale did not
relish this outcropping of old habits. Throwing open the door of the Davis
cabin after Davis had closed and barred it, he cried: "Let us have air.
There is no danger. You're like silly children afraid of the dark. Your
scouts have told you there are no Indians near. Yet the minute the sun
sets you imagine the woods are full of them. I will go out alone and
unarmed and I will shout my name. If any Shawnee who was not in Black
Hoof's band hears my voice he will come to me. After he learns I have
friends here on Howard's Creek, he will go away. Give me time to act
before that scoundrel Connolly can stir up more trouble and I'll make a
lasting peace between the Greenbriar, the Clinch and the Holston and the
Ohio tribes; and I'll make Dunmore look like a fool."

His overpowering personality, his massive way of asserting things made a
deep impression on the simple folks. They asked only for a chance to plant
and reap. When he went out alone that night he brought them deep under his
spell. As he plunged into the forest and stumbled about he took pains to
advertise his presence. Unknown to the settlers, I trailed him. I was
within ten feet of him when he halted and shouted his name, and in their
language called on the Shawnees to come to him.

For half an hour he wandered about, proclaiming he was the Pack-Horse-Man,
the ancient friend of the Shawnees and Mingos. Let him be a fool according
to Jesse Hughes' notion, yet he was a very brave man. He had the courage
to attempt proof of his belief in the honesty of the Shawnees.

I trailed him back to the cabin door. I saw the girl's radiant face as she
proudly threw her arms about his neck. I saw the great pride in his own
face as he stood in the middle of the floor and harshly demanded:

"Now, who will you believe; Dale, the trader, or Hughes, the killer?"

It was all mighty dramatic, and it was not surprising that it should
affect the settlers keenly. It shook my skepticism a bit, but only for the
moment. If I could not feel a full confidence in John Ward, born white,
how could I place a deep and abiding trust in those who were born red? Had
not Cornstalk and other chiefs, the best of their breed, sworn friendship
to the whites in Virginia in 1759 and during Pontiac's War? Had they not
feasted with old friends, and then, catching them off their guard, chopped
them down? Black Hoof had drawn off his raiders; so far, so good. But I
looked to my flints none the less carefully that night and made the rounds
to see that reliable men were on guard. The night passed with nothing to
disturb the settlement's rest.



CHAPTER VII

LOST SISTER


Patsy stood in the doorway of the Davis cabin when I approached to pay my
respects. She was wearing a linsey petticoat and a short gown for an
overskirt. Her mass of wonderful hair was partly confined by a calico cap,
and on her feet were my gift moccasins. She believed she was conforming to
the frontier standard of dress, but she was as much out of place as a
butterfly at a bear-baiting. Before I could speak she was advancing toward
me, her hands on her hips, her head tilted back, and demanding:

"What do you say now about the influence of trade and the trader?"

She did not ask that she might learn my opinion; she firmly believed there
was but one thing I could say. She was in an exultant mood and happy to
parade her triumph. Of course she was proud of her father and was viewing
him as the deliverer of the settlement. Without waiting for me to answer
she excitedly continued:

"And your long rifle! And the rifles of all these other men! What good
would they have done? They spoke night before last, and the Indians kept
up their attack. Then my father spoke and the Indians have gone! John
Ward, who was out scouting when the Indians attacked, says they greatly
outnumbered us and were led by Black Hoof, one of their greatest chiefs.
He says they would have captured or killed us if not for my father. Now,
Mr. Rifleman, what do you think about the influence of an honest trader?"

I would not have shaken her pride in her father even had that
accomplishment been possible. To convince her--which was not
possible--that her father's success was no success at all, that Black
Hoof's behavior was simply an Indian trick to lull us into a foolish sense
of security, would mean to alienate even her friendship, let alone killing
all chance of her ever reciprocating my love.

While not deeply experienced with women, my instinct early taught me that
my sex is most unwise in proving to a woman that she is wrong. She will
hold such procedure to be the man's greatest fault. It is far better to
let her discover her own errors, and even then pretend you still cling to
her first reasoning, thereby permitting her to convince you that she was
wrong.

On the other hand there was, I sensed, a peril in the situation, a peril
to Howard's Creek, that made my seeming acquiescence in her opinion very
distasteful to me. I had no proof of my suspicions except my knowledge of
Indian nature and my familiarity with frontier history. A red man can be
capable of great and lasting friendships. But to judge him, when he is at
war, by the standards of the white race is worse than foolish.

Cornstalk, according to his blood, was a great man. Under certain
conditions I would trust him with my life as implicitly as I would trust
any white man. Under certain conditions I would repose this same trust in
him although he was at war with my race. But when placed among the
combatants opposing him, I knew there was no subterfuge even that great
warrior would not use to attain success.

So I said nothing of my doubts, nothing of my vague suspicions concerning
John Ward. I felt a strong antipathy toward the fellow, and I realized
this dislike might prejudice me to a degree not warranted by the facts. To
put it mildly, his status puzzled me. If he were an escaped prisoner then
he had committed one of the gravest sins in the red man's entire
category.

To be taken into the tribe, to be adopted after his white blood had been
washed out by solemn ceremony, and then to run away, meant the stake and
horrible preliminary tortures should he be recaptured. As a prize such a
runaway would be more eagerly sought than any settler. And yet the fellow
was back on the fringe of imminent danger and ranging the woods
unconcernedly. His captivity must have taught him that every war-party
would be instructed to bring him in alive if possible.

"What's the matter with you, Basdel?" demanded the girl sharply as she
turned and walked by my side toward the Davis cabin. "You act queer. Do
you begrudge giving my father his due? Aren't you thankful he was here to
stop the attack?"

"If he were here alone, yes. But I am terribly worried because you are
here, Patsy."

"But that's doubting my father's influence!" she rebuked, her eyes
lighting war-signals.

"When one has loved, one stops reasoning," I quickly defended. "I can not
bear to see even a shadow of a chance of harm come to you."

"That was said very pretty," she smiled, her gaze all softness.

Then with calm pride she unfastened several strings of white wampum from
around her slender waist and holding them up simply said:

"My father's belts."

Among the strings was a strip some seven or eight rows in width and two
hundred beads long. It was pictographic and showed a man leading a
pack-horse along a white road to a wigwam. The figures, like the road,
were worked in white beads, the background being dark for contrast.

Refastening them about her waist, she said:

"There is no danger for me here so long as I wear my father's belts. There
are none of the Ohio Indians who would refuse to accept them and respect
them. When they see the Pack-Horse-Man walking along the white road to
their villages they will lift that belt up very high."

"When one sees you, there should be no need of belts," I ventured.

She smiled graciously and lightly patted my fringed sleeve, and ignoring
my fervid declaration, she gently reminded:

"Even if I had no belts I am no better than any of the other women on the
creek. Don't think for a moment I would hide behind my father's trade
wampum. The belts must protect all of us, or none of us. But there is no
more danger for me than there is for them even if I threw the belts away.
Not so much; because I am Ericus Dale's daughter. Basdel, it makes me
unhappy to fear that when we leave here the danger may return to these
people. I carry my safety with me. I wish I could leave it for them. I
wish a general and lasting peace could be made."

"God knows I wish the same," I cried. "As for being no better than these
other women, I agree to that." And she became suddenly thoughtful. "In
judging from a Howard's Creek standpoint you are not so good in many ways.
Rather, I should say, not so valuable."

"You measure a woman's value as you do your guns and horses," she
murmured.

Her calmness was rather ominous, and I feared I had bungled. Yet my
meaning should have been transparent even to a child. To make sure she had
not misconstrued me I explained:

"You know what I mean, no matter how I appear to measure you. In making a
new country a woman on the edge of things must have certain qualities that
the town woman does not possess, does not need to possess. It's because of
these qualities that the new country becomes possible as a place to live
in; then the town woman develops. Two hundred miles east are conditions
that resulted from the rugged qualities of the first women on the first
frontier.

"Those first women helped to make it safe for their children's children.
Now it's behind the frontier and women of your kind live there. In other
words"--I was growing a trifle desperate, for her gaze, while persistent,
was rather blank--"you don't fit in out here. I doubt if you know how to
run bullets or load a gun or throw an ax. I'm sure you'd find it very
disagreeable to go barefooted. It isn't your place. Your values shine when
you are back in town. That's why I'm sorry you're here."

"I haven't shot a rifle, but I could learn," she quietly remarked.

"I believe that," I heartily agreed. "But could you take an ax and stand
between a drove of children and what you believed to be a band of Indians
about to break from cover and begin their work of killing? I saw the Widow
McCabe do that. I saw the little Moulton woman, armed with an ax, run to
meet the attack."

"It's hardly sensible to ask if I could have done this or that. Who knows
what I could have done? I shall never have to deal with what is past. And
there was a time, I suppose, when all these women were new to the
frontier. At least I should be allowed time to learn certain things before
you apply your measuring-rod, sir!"

"That's right," I admitted. "I was rather unjust, but the fact remains
that just now you are out of place and not used to this life and its
dangers."

"I feel very cross at you. You pass over my father's great work for the
settlement with scarcely a word. You complain because I am here and look
different from Mrs. Davis. I can't help my looks."

"You are adorable. Already see the havoc you've wrought among the
unmarried men. Observe how many times each finds an errand that takes him
by this cabin door. How slow they are to scout the woods and seek signs.
No; you can't help your looks, and it results there are few men who can
resist loving you. There's not a youngster in this settlement who's not up
to his neck in love with you already. And there's not one of them who does
not realize that you would be the poorest mate he could pick so long as he
must live on the border."

"I'm glad to hear just what you believe about me," she muttered. "But
you're bewildering. It seems I'm a rare prize for any man and a most
uncomfortable burden."

"Oh, dash it all, Patsy! You understand that what I've said applies to
Howard's Creek. If we were standing two hundred miles due east I should
say directly the opposite."

Of course she understood my true meaning, and of course in her heart she
agreed with it. She was town-bred and therefore was intended for the town.
Yet so strangely stubborn and eccentric is a woman's reasoning that she
can feel resentment toward a man because he has brains enough to
comprehend the same simple truth that she comprehends.

Had there been no danger from the Indians I could have scored a bull's-eye
with her by baldly declaring her to be the most valuable asset the
frontier ever had received; and she would have dimpled and smiled and but
faintly demurred, knowing I was a rock-ribbed liar for asserting it, and
yet liking me the more for the ridiculous exaggeration. That is one reason
why it is more sensible and much more satisfactory to quarrel with a man
than a woman.

With the tenacity which her sex displays when believing a male is trying
to avoid some issue, she coldly reminded:

"Talk, talk, but not a word yet as to what my father did two nights ago."

"It was one of the most splendid exhibitions of faith and moral courage I
ever witnessed."

Her gaze grew kindly again and she halted and stared up into my eyes,
flushed with pleasure, and waited to hear more encomiums.

"I never before saw one man rush out and confront a war-party. Then his
going out alone last night and prowling about through the dark forest!
That was magnificent. Your father is one of the bravest men I ever saw."

She rubbed a pink finger against her nose and tilted her head and weighed
my words thoughtfully. Obviously I had omitted something; for with a
little frown worrying her fair forehead she began:

"But--but there's something else you haven't said. What about his
influence over the Indians? You thought him foolish to take me over the
mountains. You now admit you were foolish to think that?"

She was waiting for me to complete my confessional. If the element of
danger had been absent how gladly I would have lied to her! How quickly I
would have won her approval by proclaiming myself the greatest dolt in
Virginia and her father the wisest man in the world! But to accede to
everything she said and believed would be an endorsement of her presence
on the creek. I had had no idea of ousting myself from her good graces
when I went to find her that morning. Now the test had come, and her
welfare was involved; to be true to her as well as to myself I was forced
to say:

"I still think it was most dangerous for you to come here. I believe your
father acted very unwisely, no matter how much be believes in his
influence over the Indians. And I would thank God if you were back in
Williamsburg."

Her hands dropped to her side. The smiling eyes grew hard.

"Go on!" she curtly commanded.

"I've damned myself in your opinion already. Isn't that enough? Don't make
me pay double for being honest."

"Honest?" she jeered. "You've deliberately dodged my question. I asked you
what you thought of my father's power with the Indians. You rant about his
wickedness in bringing me here. For the last time I ask you to answer my
question and finish your list of my father's faults."

As if to make more steep the precipice down which from her esteem I was
about to plunge there came the voice of her father, loudly addressing the
settlers.

"You people ought to wake up," he was saying. "Was it your rifles, or was
it trade that stopped an attack on these cabins night before last? When
will you learn that you can not stop Indian wars until you've killed every
Indian this side the mountains? Has there ever been a time when you or
your fathers could stop their raids with rifles? Well, you've seen one
raid stopped by the influence of trade."

As he paused for breath the girl quietly said:

"Now, answer me."

And I blurted out:

"I don't have any idea that Black Hoof and his warriors will hesitate a
second in sacking Howard's Creek because of anything your father has said
or could say. I honestly believe the Shawnees are playing a game, that
they are hoping the settlers are silly enough to think themselves safe. I
am convinced that once Black Hoof believes the settlers are in that frame
of mind he will return and strike just as venomously as the Shawnees
struck in the old French War and in Pontiac's War, after feasting with the
whites and making them believe the red man was their friend."

She straightened and drew a deep breath, and in a low voice said:

"At last you've answered me. Now go!"

I withdrew from the cabin and from the group of men. Dale's heavy voice
was doubly hateful in my ears. The settlement was a small place. Patsy had
dismissed me, and there was scarcely room for me without my presence
giving her annoyance. I went to the cabin where I had left my few
belongings and filled my powder-horn and shot-pouch. I renewed my stock of
flints and added to my roll of buckskins, not forgetting a fresh supply of
"whangs" for sewing my moccasins. While thus engaged Uncle Dick came in
and began sharpening his knife at the fireplace.

"Why do that?" I morosely asked. "You are safe from Indian attacks now the
trader has told the Shawnees you are under his protection."

He leered at me cunningly and ran his thumb along the edge of the knife
and muttered:

"If some o' th' varmints will only git within strikin'-distance! They sure
ran away night before last, but how far did they go? Dale seems to have a
pert amount o' authority over 'em; but how long's he goin' to stay here?
He can't go trapezin' up 'n' down these valleys and keep men 'n' women
from bein' killed by jest hangin' some white wampum on 'em."

"What do the men think?"

"Them that has famblies are hopin' th' critters won't come back. Younger
men want to git a crack at 'em. Two nights ago th' younkers thought Dale
was mighty strong medicine. A night or two of sleep leaves 'em 'lowin' th'
creek may be safe s'long as he sticks here. Some t'others spit it right
out that Black Hoof is playin' one o' his Injun games. If that pert young
petticoat wa'n't here mebbe we could git some o' th' young men out into
th' woods for to do some real scoutin'.

"If my eyes was right I'd go. As it is, th' young folks keep runnin' a
circle round th' settlement, lickety-larrup, an' their minds is on th'
gal, an' they wouldn't see a buf'lo if one crossed their path. Then they
hustle back an' say as how they ain't seen nothin'. I 'low some o' th'
older men will have to scout."

"I'm going out. I'll find the Indians' trail and follow it," I told him.

"That'll be neighborly of you. If they chase you back an' git within
stickin'-distance I'll soon have their in'ards out to dry."

I decided to leave my horse, as the travel would take me through rough
places. Shouldering my rifle, I struck for the western side of the
clearing. Dale had disappeared, gone into the Davis cabin, I assumed, as
John Ward was lying on the ground near the door. I hadn't seen much of
Ward for two days. Davis and Moulton were drawing leather through a tan
trough, and I turned aside to speak with them. They noticed I was fitted
out for a scout and their faces lighted a bit.

"Ward's been out ag'in and says the reds went north toward Tygart's
Valley. He follered 'em quite some considerable. If you can find any new
signs an' can fetch us word----"

"That's what I'm going out for, Davis. How do you feel about the doings of
night before last?"

He scratched his chin and after a bit of hesitation answered:

"Wife's cousin is a mighty smart man. Powerful smart. I 'low he knows a
heap 'bout Injuns. Been with 'em so much. But we're sorter uneasy. More so
to-day than we was yesterday. This waiting to see what'll happen is most
as bad, if not worse, than to have a fight an' have it over with. Once a
parcel of Injuns strikes, it either cleans us out or is licked an' don't
want no more for a long time. Still Dale has a master lot of power among
the Injuns. But we'll be glad to know you're out looking for fresh
footing. Their trail oughter be easy to foller, as there was a smart
number of 'em had hosses."

"I'll find the trail easy enough, and I'll satisfy myself they are still
making toward the Ohio or have swung back," I assured him. "While I'm gone
keep the young men in the woods and post sentinels. Don't get careless.
Don't let the children wander from the cabins. I'm free to tell you,
Davis, that I don't believe for a second that you've seen the last of
Black Hoof and his men. Have all those living in the outlying cabins use
the fort to-night."

After reaching the woods, I turned and looked back. Dale was standing in
the doorway with one hand resting on the shoulder of John Ward. Ward was
talking to Patsy, whose dainty figure could not be disguised by the coarse
linsey gown.

The man Ward must have lost some of his taciturnity, for the girl was
laughing gaily at whatever he was saying. I observed that Dale was still
feeling very important in his rôle of protector, for as he stepped from
the doorway he walked with a swagger. Well, God give that he was right and
that the menace had passed from Howard's Creek.

I found the trail where it turned back toward Tygart's Valley, even as
John Ward had reported, and followed it up the Greenbriar. The country
here was very fertile on both sides of the river and would make rich farms
should the danger from the Indians ever permit it to be settled. Farther
back from the river on each hand the country was broken and mountainous
and afforded excellent hiding-places for large bodies of Indians, as only
rattlesnakes, copperheads, wolves and wildcats lived there.

My mood was equal to overdaring, and all because of Patsy Dale. When the
sun swung into its western arc I halted where a large number of warriors
had broken their fast. I ate some food and pushed on. After two miles of
travel I came to a branching of the trail. Two of the band had turned off
to the northeast. My interest instantly shifted from the main trail to the
smaller one, for I assumed the two were scouting some particular
neighborhood, and that by following it I would learn the object of their
attention and be enabled to give warning.

That done, the footing would lead me back to the main band. The signs were
few and barely sufficient to allow me to keep up the pursuit. It was not
until I came to a spring, the overflow of which had made muck of the
ground, that I was afforded an opportunity to inspect the two sets of
tracks. One set was made by moccasins almost as small as those I had given
to Patricia Dale.

But why a squaw on a war-path? It was very puzzling. From the amount of
moisture already seeped into the tracks I estimated the two of them had
stood there within thirty minutes. My pursuit became more cautious. Not
more than twenty rods from the spring I came to a trail swinging in from
the east, as shown by a broken vine and a bent bush.

The newcomer had moved carelessly and had fallen in behind the two
Indians. I stuck to the trail until the diminished sunlight warned me it
would soon be too dark to continue. Then I caught a whiff of burning wood
and in ten minutes I was reconnoitering a tiny glade.

My first glance took in a small fire; my second glance dwelt upon a scene
that sent me into the open on the jump. An Indian sat at the foot of a
walnut-tree, his legs crossed and his empty hands hanging over his knees.
At one side crouched a squaw, her long hair falling on each side of her
face and hiding her profile. In a direct line between me and the warrior
stood Shelby Cousin, his rifle bearing on the warrior.

My step caused him to turn, expecting to behold another native. The man on
the ground made no attempt to take advantage of the interruption; and in
the next second Cousin's long double-barrel rifle was again aiming at the
painted chest.

"Don't go for to try any sp'ilin' o' my game," warned Cousin without
looking at me.

"They're scouts from a big band of Shawnees now making toward Tygart's
Valley," I informed him. "Can't we learn something from them?"

"I'm going to kill this one now. The squaw can go. Crabtree would snuff
her out, but I ain't reached the p'int where I can do that yet."

"You coward!" cried the squaw in excellent English.

Cousin darted a puzzled glance at her. His victim seemed to be indifferent
to his fate; nor did the woman offer to interfere.

"She's a white woman!" I cried. For a sunbeam straggled through the growth
and rested on the long hair and revealed it to be fine and brown and never
to be mistaken for the coarse black locks of an Indian.

"White?" faltered Cousin, lowering his rifle. "Watch that devil, Morris!"

I dropped on a log with my rifle across my knees. Cousin strode to the
woman and caught her by the shoulder and pulled her to her feet. For a
long minute the two stared.

"Shelby?"

The words dropped from her lips in a sibilous crescendo as her blood drove
her to a display of emotion.

Cousin's hands slowly advanced and pushed back the long locks. He advanced
his face close to hers, and I knew his slight form was trembling. Then he
staggered back and jerkily brought his arm across his eyes.

"God! It's my sister!" I heard him mutter.

I leaped to my feet, crying out for him to be a man. He remained
motionless with his arm across his face, helpless to defend himself. I
turned to the woman. Whatever light had shone in her eyes when memory
forced his name from her lips had departed.

Her face was cold and immobile as she met my wild gaze. There was a streak
of yellow paint running from the bridge of her nose to the parting of her
brown hair. Her skin was as dark as any Shawnee's, but her eyes held the
blue of the cornflower.

I tried to discover points of resemblance between her and the boy and
succeeded only when she turned her head in profile; then they were very
much alike. He lowered his arm to look over it, and she watched him
without changing her expression.

With a hoarse cry he straightened and answering the impulse in his heart,
sprang toward her, his arms outstretched to enfold her. She gave ground,
not hastily as though wishing to avoid his embrace, but with a sinuous
twist of her lithe body, and she repulsed him by raising her hand. He
stared at her stupidly, and mumbled:

"You remember me. You called my name. You know I am your brother. You know
we lived on Keeney's Knob. You remember the creek----"

"I remember," she quietly interrupted. "A very long time ago. Very long. I
am a Shawnee now. My heart is red."

Her words stunned him for a bit, then he managed to gasp out, "Who is this
man?" And he glared at the warrior seated at the foot of the tree.

"My husband."

The boy's mouth popped open, but without uttering a sound he stooped and
grabbed for his rifle. I placed my foot on it and seized his arm and
pleaded with him to regain his senses before he took any action. During
all this the warrior remained as passive as the tree-roots against which
he half-reclined.

After a brief hysterical outburst Cousin stood erect and ceased struggling
with me. And all the time his sister had watched us speculatively, her
gaze as cold and impersonal as though she had been looking at a rock. It
was very hideous. It was one of those damnable situations which must end
at once, and to which there can be no end. For the boy to kill his
sister's husband was an awful thing to contemplate.

I pulled the lad back and softly whispered:

"You can't do it. The blood would always be between you two. She has
changed. She believes she is red. Take her aside and talk with her. If she
will go with you make for the mountains and get her to the settlements."

"An' him?"

"I will wait an hour. If you two do not return before an hour--Well, he
will not bother you."

At first he did not seem to understand; then he seized my free hand and
gripped it tightly. Taking his rifle, he approached the girl and took her
by the arm.

"Come," he gently told her. "We must talk, you and I. I have hunted for
you for years."

She was suspicious of us two, but she did not resist him.

"Wait," she said.

She glided to the savage and leaned over him and said something. Then she
was back to her brother, and the two disappeared into the woods.

I drew a line on the savage and in Shawnee demanded:

"Throw me the knife she gave you."

Glaring at me sullenly, he flipped the knife toward the fire and resumed
his attitude of abstraction. I had never killed an unarmed Indian. I had
never shot one in cold blood. The office of executioner did not appeal,
but repulsive as it was it would not do for the boy to kill his savage
brother-in-law. Lost Sister and the savage were man and wife, even if
married according to the Indian custom.

Nor would it do for a woman of Virginia to be redeemed to civilization
with a red husband roaming at large. No. The fellow must die, and I had
the nasty work to do. The glade was thickening with shadows, but the
sunlight still marked the top of an elm and made glorious the zenith. When
the light died from the heavens I would assassinate the man.

This would give him a scant hour, but a dozen or fifteen minutes of life
could make small difference. Then again, once the dusk filled the glade my
impassive victim would become alert and up to some of his devilish tricks.
He did not change his position except as he turned his head to gaze
fixedly at the western forest wall. One could imagine him to be ignorant
of my presence.

"Where does Black Hoof lead his warriors?" I asked him.

Without deflecting his gaze he answered:

"Back to their homes on the Scioto."

"The white trader, the Pack-Horse-Man, spoke words that drive them back?"

It was either a trick of the dying light, or else I detected an almost
imperceptible twitching of the grim lips. After a short pause he said:

"The Shawnees are not driven. They will pick up the end of the peace-belt.
They will not drop it on the ground again. Tah-gah-jute (Logan) does not
wish for war. He has taken ten scalps for every one taken from his people
at Baker's house. He has covered the dead. The Pack-Horse-Man spoke wise
words."

"This white woman? You know she must go back to her people."

Again the faint twitching of the lips. When he spoke it was to say:

"She can go where she will or where she is made to go. If she is taken to
the white settlements she will run away and go back to the Scioto. Her
people are red. After the French War, after Pontiac's War, it was the
same. White prisoners were returned to the white people. Many of them
escaped and came back to us."

His voice was calm and positive and my confidence in the girl's
willingness to return to civilization was shaken. She had been as stolid
as her red mate in my presence, but I had believed that nature would
conquer her ten years' of savagery once she was alone with her brother.

The light had left the top of the elm and the fleecy clouds overhead were
no longer dazzling because of their borrowed splendor. I cocked my rifle.
The savage folded his arms as he caught the sound, but his gaze toward the
west never wavered. To nerve myself into shooting the fellow in cold blood
I made myself think of the girl's terrible fate, and was succeeding
rapidly when a light step sounded behind me and her low voice was saying:

"My brother is at the spring. You will find him there."

I rose and dropped the rifle into the hollow of my left arm and stared at
her incredulously. It had happened before, the rebellion of white
prisoners at quitting their captors. Yet the girl's refusal was
astounding.

"You would not go with him?"

"I am here. I go to my people," she answered. "He is waiting for you. The
squaws would laugh at him. He is very weak."

With an oath I whirled toward the Indian. Had he made a move or had he
reflected her disdain with a smile, his white-red wife surely would have
been a widow on the spot. But he had not shifted his position. To all
appearances he was not even interested in his wife's return. And she too
now ignored me, and busied herself in gathering up their few belongings
and slinging them on her back. Then she went to him, and in disgust and
rage I left them and sped through the darkening woods to the spring where
I had first seen the imprints of her tiny moccasins.

Cousin was there, seated and his head bowed on his chest, a waiting victim
for the first Indian scout who might happen along.

I dragged him to his feet and harshly said:

"Come! We must go. Your white sister is dead. Your search is ended. Your
sister died in the raid on Keeney's Knob."

"My little sister," he whispered.

He went with me passively enough, and he did not speak until we had struck
into the main trail of the Shawnees. Then he asked:

"You did not kill him?"

"No."

"It's best that way. There're 'nough others. They'll pay for it."

I abandoned my plan of following the war-party farther and was only
anxious to get my companion back to the protection of Howard's Creek. We
followed the back-trail for a few miles and then were forced by the night
to make a camp. I opened my supply of smoked meat and found a spring. I
did not dare to risk a fire. But he would not eat. Only once did he speak
that night, and that was to say:

"I must keep clear o' the settlements. If I don't I'll do as Ike Crabtree
does, kill in sight o' the cabins."

In the morning he ate some of my food; not as if he were hungry, but as if
forcing himself to a disagreeable task. He seemed to be perfectly willing
to go on with me, but he did not speak of the girl again.

When we drew near the creek he began to look about him. He at once
recognized the surroundings and made a heroic effort to control himself.
When we swung into the clearing there was nothing in his appearance to
denote the terrible experience he had passed through.

Now that we were back I was beset by a fear, that the sight of Patricia in
all her loveliness would be an overwhelming shock to his poor brain. It
was with great relief that I got him to the Moulton cabin without his
glimpsing Patsy.

"You can tell 'em if you want to. S'pose they'll l'arn it some time," he
said to me as we reached the door and met Mrs. Moulton and her little
girl. With that he passed inside and seated himself in a corner and bowed
his head.

I drew Mrs. Moulton aside and briefly explained his great sorrow. With
rich sympathy she stole into the cabin and began mothering him, patting
his shoulders and stroking the long hair back from his wan face.

My own affairs became of small importance when measured beside this
tragedy. I had no trepidation now in facing Patricia. I walked boldly to
the Davis cabin and thrust my head in the door. Only Davis and his wife
were there.

"Where are the Dales?" I bruskly asked.

"Gone," grunted Davis in disgust.

"Gone back home?" I eagerly asked.

"What do you think!" babbled Mrs. Davis. "Cousin Ericus has took that gal
down toward the Clinch. He 'lows now he's goin' to keep the Injuns out of
that valley--"

"Good God! Why did you let them go?"

Davis snorted angrily, and exclaimed:

"Let 'em go! How ye goin' to stop her? 'Twas she that was bound to be
movin' on. Just made her daddy go."

"When did they start?"

"Right after you lit out. Seems 's if th' gal couldn't git shut o' this
creek quick 'nough."

I ran from the cabin to get my horse and start in immediate pursuit. By
the time I reached the animal, well rested during my absence, I became
more reasonable. After all Black Hoof was traveling north. There would be
small chance of another band raiding down the Clinch for some time at
least. I needed rest. Night travel would advance me but slowly. I would
start early in the morning.



CHAPTER VIII

IN ABB'S VALLEY


Orioles and mocking-birds sang in the openings, and startled deer fled
before our advance as Shelby Cousin and I rode for the Clinch. The heat of
July was tempered by a breeze out of the north, and the heavens were
filled with hurrying white argosies. So it had ever been since the white
man came to these pleasant ridges and rich bottom-lands; perfume, song,
gracious valleys, and the lurking red evil.

Cousin had regained his self-control overnight and outwardly appeared to
be thoroughly composed. He talked but little, and then only when I took
the lead. I refrained from mentioning the tragedy of yesterday and the sun
was noon-high before he brought the matter up.

"I couldn't kill that feller," he abruptly informed me.

There was no preface to indicate whom he meant, but I knew and nodded
sympathetically.

"An' I'd ruther kill him than all the rest o' the Injuns 'tween here 'n'
Detroit," he added after a long pause.

"She will never come back to us?" I asked; for he had given no details of
his interview with his sister.

"She'll never come back. For a time I'd a mind to drag her away, but she
was so cold to me, so Injun-like in her way of lettin' me know it wouldn't
do no good, that I give it up. You see she was only a child when captured.
Women caught when much older'n her have gone for to choose a wigwam to a
cabin."

"Do you wish I had shot him?"

"No. If it could happen in a open fight--that's different. It wouldn't do
any good to hurt her by killin' him. But I wish he was dead!"

We stopped and ate and rode several miles before either of us spoke again.
Then I said:

"There's a girl ahead, about your age."

He was disturbed to hear it and I feared he would wish to leave me.

"I don't want her captured by Indians," I added.

"God forbid it!" he hoarsely cried.

Having prepared him for seeing Patricia, I shifted his line of thought by
asking, "What do you think of John Ward?"

"Injun."

I said nothing and after a few minutes he went on:

"Took by Injuns when a little boy, just like Tavenor Ross and George
Collet was took. I've heard traders tell about the three of 'em. When
they're took so young they grow up just as much Injuns as if they was born
red. Ward's that way. Must be. Look at the sister I lost!"

"But Ward comes back to settlements. He even crosses the mountains. He
says he escaped."

"He wouldn't be travelin' round these parts if he was a' 'scaped prisoner.
As for crossin' the mountains he might 'a' gone for to see what he could
see. Cornstalk has spies all up an' down the frontier. I 'low them two we
met yesterday was bent on spyin'. God! That's a' awful thought! But I
ain't got no sister. It was a red woman we seen. She 'n' her man was
spyin'. If not that why should they be makin' east into the mountains? I
'low he was to stay hid while 'nother 'scaped prisoner rode down into some
settlement."

From that speech on I do not remember that he spoke of his sister as being
any kin of his. When he must mention her he usually styled her, "That
woman who's turned red."

To get his thoughts away from her I rattled on about my trip to Richfield
and told of my experiences in returning over the mountains. After I had
narrated Hughes' quick action in saving me from an assassin's bullet
Cousin jerked up his head and said:

"Moccasin, one you give to that there young woman we're now followin'?"

I nodded, and he continued:

"I 'low it was John Ward who tried to pot you. He stole the moccasin and
sneaked back an' laid the trap. Prob'ly laid it for whoever come along
without knowin' who would walk into it. You was mighty lucky to have
Hughes there." I had never connected Ward with that attempt on my life.

"The Dales believe Ward to be what he pretends--an escaped prisoner," I
said.

"Course they do," sighed the boy. "The country's full of fools. After he's
led 'em to the stake an' they begin to roast they'll wake up an' reckon
that there's something wrong with his white blood."

His matter-of-fact way of expressing it made my blood congeal. It was
unthinkable to imagine Patsy Dale in the hands of the Indians. I urged my
horse to a sharper clip, but Cousin warned me:

"No use hurryin'. Save your nag for the time when you'll need him mighty
bad. I 'low we can overtake 'em afore anything happens."

We had discovered no fresh Indian-signs. Black Hoof and his braves were
far north of us. We knew scouts were ranging up the Clinch and Holston,
and that the people were forting from Fort Chiswell to the head of the
Holston, and that practically all the settlers had left Rich Valley
between Walker's Mountain and the north fork of the Holston.

Nearly all the settlers had come off the heads of Sandy and Walker's
Creeks and were building forts at David Doack's mill on the Clinch and on
the head waters of the middle fork of the Holston, as well as at Gasper
Kinder's place in Poor Valley.

Cornstalk must know the time was near when the whites would send an army
against the Shawnee towns north of the Ohio, and he was too cunning a
warrior to risk sending many of his men into southwestern Virginia. Black
Hoof was there with a large force, but he could not tarry without leaving
the Scioto towns uncovered.

Therefore my opinion coincided with my companion's, once my first flurry
of fear was expended. The Dales were in no immediate danger, and if any
hostile band was below New River it would be a small one. Once more I
allowed my horse to take his time. I began to find room for wondering how
I was to overcome my embarrassment once we did come up with the Dales.

Ericus Dale would rant and indulge in abuse. Patricia would be remembering
my lack of faith in her father's influence over the natives. She would
want none of my company. But if Cousin and I could trail them unseen until
they entered a small settlement at the head of the Bluestone, where they
would be sure to pause before making for the head of the Clinch, we could
pretend we were scouting far south and had met them by accident; then we
could ride on ahead of them.

Their trail was simple to follow. The Dales were mounted and Ward was
afoot and leading a pack-horse. We came to their several camps, and at
each of these I observed the girl was wearing my moccasins. When Cousin
would behold the small imprint his face would twist in anguish. Poor
devil!

For three days we leisurely followed them, and each sunrise found me
entertaining fewer fears for the girl's safety. We timed our progress so
as to pitch our last camp within a mile of the settlement in Abb's Valley
on the Bluestone, intending to reconnoiter it for signs of the Dales
before showing ourselves.

The valley was about ten miles long and very narrow and possessing
unusually fertile soil. It was named after Absalom Looney, a hunter, who
claimed to have discovered it. Cousin informed me there were three cabins
and a small fort in the valley when he last visited it. At that time one
of the families was planning to cross the mountains and sacrifice the
summer's planting.

"Mebbe they've all come off since then. Or them that's stayed may be
killed an' sculped by this time," he added.

"Whatever may have happened to the settlers is all finished by this time
and there can be no danger for the Dales," I declared.

"I 'low they're packin' their worst danger along with 'em," he mumbled.

"Meaning John Ward?"

"Meaning him," was the terse answer.

This set all my fears to galloping again, and they rode one another close.
What if Ward were the creature Cousin pictured him? Then he must have
designs on the Dales, and he would persuade them to travel in a direction
which would lead them into a trap. If Ward were "red" he already had
planned just where he would bag his game.

Against this line of reasoning was our failure to discover fresh signs,
and the fact that Black Hoof's band was making north. Then one fear drew
ahead of all others, and I was thrown into a panic lest Ward plotted to
count his coup unaided and would murder the trader and his daughter. I
rose from the fire and announced my intention of proceeding to the valley
settlement that night. I told Cousin my fears.

"That's just so much foolishness," he told me. "If Ward's up to them sort
o' tricks he'd 'a' made his kill when only a few miles from Howard's
Creek, when he was that much closer to Black Hoof's band. Then he'd 'a'
sneaked north to j'in his red friends and dance his sculps. But we've
found all their camps, and nothin' has happened. They're safe so far."

It was near morning before I could sleep and I awoke at sunrise. Cousin
was missing. I investigated and discovered he had gone on foot, so I
assumed he was out to kill some meat to pack into the settlement. I
prepared something to eat and finished my portion and was kneeling to
drink from a spring when I heard him coming through the woods. He was
running and making much noise, and I had a presentiment that something
very evil had happened. Before he came into view he called my name
sharply.

"All right! I'm here! What is it?" I answered.

"Devil's come for his pay!" he snapped as he burst through the last of the
growth. "Only two miles west fresh tracks of big war-party makin' south.
They're makin' for Abb's Valley. That white-Injun devil fixed it up. Goin'
to gobble the settlers along with your fool friends. If we can't stop 'em
they'll git every white in the valley sure's Sabba'day preachin'!"

Until that moment I had never dreamed of the exquisite torture that the
threat of an Indian raid could induce. I secured my weapons and mounted
without realizing what I was doing. My first coherent thought was one of
amazement to behold Cousin stuffing smoked meat into his pack with one
hand while the other held a tough morsel for his teeth to tear at. He ate
like a famished wolf.

"Can't fight without some linin'," he mumbled. "An' we'll take what's left
along. May git in a corner an' have mighty little time for cookin'."

I urged my horse into a gallop. Cousin tore after me, angrily calling on
me to wait. I was in no mood to wait, and endeavored to get even more
speed out of my animal. Then Cousin brought me to my senses by yelling:

"All right! Kill 'em if you want to!"

I pulled in and he drove alongside, crying:

"First thing you know you'll be runnin' into a nest o' them devils. Their
path and our path draws together an' enters the valley as one path."

"But we must reach the valley ahead of them!"

"Can't be did," he discouraged. "Best we can do is to sneak up on 'em
without bein' seen."

As a last hope I suggested:

"Perhaps after all they know nothing about the Dales."

"They know 'bout Abb's Valley. It's Black Hoof's band. Made off north,
then swung back down here, keepin' clear o' Howard's Creek. If they clean
out Abb's Valley they'll clean out the creek on their way home."

Scant consolation in all this. It was a great relief to reach the
Bluestone and prepare for action. We spanceled our horses in a tiny
opening well surrounded by woods. Cousin was familiar with the country and
led the way. Instead of making for the mouth of the narrow valley we
gained the end of one of its enclosing ridges and scouted along the
slope.

When we halted and Cousin carefully parted the bushes I observed we were
behind three cabins and high enough up the slope to see over them. The
valley at this point was not more than fifty rods wide, and appeared to be
even less because of the long walls stretching away for ten miles.

Some children were laughing at their play and were hidden from view as
long as they kept close to the door of the middle cabin. A dog was
growling and barking, but as he did not join the sport of the little ones
we concluded he was tied. One of the red cabins, that nearest to the mouth
of the valley, did not appear to be occupied.

Through the small window of the cabin farthest up the valley I glimpsed
two persons moving about when they passed between the window and the open
door. A few rods farther out toward the middle of the valley and nearer
the Bluestone than the unoccupied cabin, were the four walls of what had
been intended for a fort. It lacked the roof. For some reason the men had
suspended work on it, being too few to complete it, or else deciding the
cabins furnished sufficient protection.

Three men, all strangers to me, now entered our line of vision as they
walked out from the shelter of the middle cabin. Cousin told me their
names. The tall man with the long black beard was Granville, one of the
original settlers. He and his wife and two children, with Mrs. Granville's
sister, lived in the middle cabin. A short swarthy man was Nate Dicks. He
had sent his family over the mountains and was staying behind to gather
the season's crops, explained Cousin. The third man was along in years and
walked with a limp.

"That's the old Englishman. All the name he goes by. No kin to any one on
this side the ocean, he says. He lives with the Granvilles. The empty
cabin belonged to the Drakes. They pulled out early this spring. Dicks
lives in the t'other-end cabin."

"I make out at least two people in there now," I murmured.

"They'll be the Dales. Dicks's prob'ly sleepin' in the Granville cabin."

My heart behaved badly for a minute.

"Listen to that pup!" softly exclaimed Cousin, his brows drawing down.
"The fools have him tied up, an they ain't got sense 'nough to hark to
what he's tryin' to tell 'em."

"We're here ahead of the Indians. Let's go down," I urged.

"Wait! Look across!" He pointed to the wall of woods opposite our
hiding-place. John Ward had broken cover and was stalking toward the
cabins. The black cloth he wore around his head gave him a sinister,
piratical appearance and his feet tracked like an Indian's.

I would have descended the slope but Cousin clutched my arm, whispering:

"If there ain't no Injuns across the valley we can afford to wait a bit.
If there is, our goin' down would hurry up their attack. It won't do to
call out an' scare 'em so they'll scatter. As they are now they can fort
themselves in the shake of a dog's tail."

Two women, Mrs. Granville and her sister, now walked back of the middle
cabin and picked up some wood. Both were barefooted, and I was close
enough to read the expression of constant fear on each face. As they
stooped for the wood their gaze was continually roving over the woods on
our ridge, and often their fingers fumbled for a fagot while their eyes
persisted in examining the forest.

Now Dale and Patsy emerged from their cabin and walked to meet Ward.
Cousin groaned aloud as he beheld the girl. There was something in her
appearance to remind him of his lost sister. Ericus Dale greeted Ward with
a wide flourish of his hand. Ward was emotionless as a Shawnee chief.
Granville and Dicks hurried to join the three, anxious no doubt to learn
the result of Ward's scouting.

His report seemed to please the men, for Granville laid aside his rifle
and began chopping a long log into fireplace lengths. Dicks walked toward
the middle cabin, lustily singing:

                "Ye patriot souls who love to sing,
                What serves your country and your king,
                In wealth, peace, and royal estate;
                Attention give whilst I rehearse
                A modern fact in jingling verse."

This song, six or seven lengthy stanzas in all, was written by Mr. George
Campbell, an Irish gentleman, and was popular along the frontier. It was
sung to the tune of the Black Joke, and commemorated the successful
efforts of Captain James Smith to prevent Philadelphia traders from
sending weapons of war to the northwest tribes shortly after the treaty of
1765 was concluded.

Dicks was finishing the first stanza as he entered the cabin. He broke off
sharply to rebuke the dog. Soon he came out with a bag. At about a hundred
yards from the cabin, and farther up the valley than any of them, was the
lick-block. Dicks was walking toward this. Several horses broke from the
growth across the valley and ran toward the cabins.

"Almost act like they was skeered," whispered Cousin.

"Coming in to be salted," I corrected as the horses swerved and galloped
toward the block. Dicks was ambling along slowly and reverting to his
song. The dog suddenly darted from the cabin and streaked after Dicks, a
piece of rawhide trailing from his neck. As he ran he made a great outcry.
Dicks was very angry to have his vocal efforts interrupted, and he halted
and swung the bag of salt in an attempt to hit the dog, all the while
commanding him to go back. The horses were now at the block and stepping
about uneasily.

"I never guessed that! Come on! Something will bu'st loose in a minute!"
groaned Cousin.

We started to slide down the bank, when a terrible tragedy took place
before our eyes. As Dicks was emptying the salt on to the lick-block the
horses sprang back and bolted in alarm, and an Indian's topknot, decorated
with wild-turkey feathers, bobbed up from behind the block. Dicks seemed
to be paralyzed. The savage struck him with his ax and the unfortunate man
went down, dead before he lost his footing. In the next second the dog, a
huge brute of mongrel breed, cleared the block and closed his jaws on the
murderer's neck.

This was a signal for Cousin's prophecy to come true. A deafening chorus
of howls burst from the woods opposite the cabins, and a volley of bullets
rained among the settlers. Mrs. Granville and the two children dropped.
The old Englishman, standing nearer the cabins, staggered and turned
around two or three times. Granville, unharmed, picked up the body of his
wife.

The old Englishman was very brave, for he limped forward and managed to
gather up the children, one under each arm. Granville's sister was
practical enough to secure her brother-in-law's rifle and ax. The three,
with their dead, made for the middle cabin.

All this happened in the wink of an eye. The Dales and Ward, walking
toward the end cabin when Dicks was killed, halted and stood as if
stupefied. None of the bullets had reached them. The girl seized her
father's arm and led him to shelter. He was unhurt, but he moved with
shuffling steps, much like a tavern-loafer soggy from rum.

We ran to enter the nearest cabin, which happened to be Granville's, but
the door was slammed and barred before we could round the corner.

"In here!" sharply cried Cousin, darting through the doorway of the empty
cabin.

As I piled in after him I saw Patsy and Dale entering their cabin, but
Ward, the white Indian, was running to cover up the valley. And not a
savage had shown himself with the exception of the one who had counted
coup at the lick-block. This fellow was still in sight and extremely
busy.

With our door ajar we watched the ghastly struggle between the faithful
mongrel and the assassin. The Indian had lost his ax but had managed to
draw his knife. The dog's teeth were buried in his throat before he could
get his blade loose. I raised my rifle but Cousin laughed and knocked it
aside and cried:

"Let him make his kill! It's his coup!"

The warrior staggered clear of the block, his desperate plight blinding
him to all else. His eyes were protruding. He stabbed blindly. I cried out
in pain as I saw the knife sink to the hilt. But the faithful beast had
locked his jaws and the weight of his body was already ripping the red
throat open. Dead dog and dying warrior fell side by side. The dog had
counted the first coup for the whites.

Now we caught our first view of the enemy. A long line of Shawnees emerged
from the woods, running and leaping and jumping from side to side, sinking
behind stumps and vanishing behind the scattered trees.

"We've got time to make the ridge back o' here," spoke up Cousin. "We's
fools to come in here. S'pose we go."

"You go! I must stick," I told him.

"We can do 'em more good out in the open than by bein' cooped up in here,"
he quietly reasoned.

"You go. I can't leave the girl."

"Then bar the door," he commanded.

I did so, and through a loophole knocked over a savage who had paused in
the open to brandish a war-ax thickly decorated with either feathers or
scalps.

"Good! We'll make a fine fight of it!" grimly said Cousin as he stepped
from a loophole at the back of the cabin. "It's too late for us to make
the ridge now. It's crawlin' with the vermin."

His bearing was exceedingly cheerful as he posted himself at the front of
the cabin, his double-barrel rifle ready for a snap-shot. He fired the two
barrels almost together, and laughed boisterously.

"Two tryin' to hide behind one small tree," he explained. "Got one dead
an' sp'iled t'other."

As yet not a shot had been fired from the other two cabins. A voice called
from the Granville cabin. I found a chink in the wall and beheld the face
of the Englishman peering from the small end window.

"Who's there?" he kept demanding in a shrill voice.

"Two white scouts. Get to shooting!"

He could not see me but he heard me, and vanished to help in the defense.
Cousin had reloaded and was watching the valley closely. Bullets were
plunking into the log walls, but I knew none of the savages were exposing
themselves, else my companion would be shooting. From the Granville cabin
several shots were fired without any effect so far as we could make out.
Then again the Englishman was calling us. I went forward.

"Hear what I say?" he cried.

I answered that we could.

"Ericus Dale says for us to stop shooting or he can't save us," he
informed us.

"He can't save himself!" I yelled back.

"He thinks he can save all of us."

"He couldn't save the man at the lick-block," I reminded.

"Aye. There's sorry truth in that."

"This valley's a trap. John Ward, the white Indian, led him and his
daughter into it," I shouted.

"God help and pity us!" he groaned. Then more calmly, "Ward came back from
the woods this morning and said there were no signs of Indians."

"He met them and talked with them, and planned how they should surprise
you people. The warrior at the lick-block knew Dicks would discover him,
so he showed himself and made his kill."

"Aye. That is reasonable thinking."

"What losses in there?" I asked. I thrust my knife-blade between the logs
so he might know where I was standing and cease rolling his eyes in his
efforts to locate me.

His old face screwed up in pain.

"Mistress Granville and the two children, shot dead. Perhaps it's best
that way. I'm wounded--that don't count. You going to keep on shooting?"

"As long as we can pull trigger."

"I'll tell Granville. He wants to save his sister if he can."

"Then he must fight. Tell him so," I warned.

I turned back to Cousin. He was scowling savagely through his peephole.
"Take the back side 'n' watch for signs on the ridge," he mumbled. "Them
out front are huggin' dirt an' not tryin' to git nearer. They're waitin'
for somethin'."

At the back of the cabin I found a tiny chink and applied my eye. My first
thought was that a comet was streaming down into my face. The long
war-arrow, weighted with a blazing mass of pitch-smeared moss, stuck in a
log a few inches below my peephole. From the ridge came a howl of
triumph.

By thrusting my knife-blade through the hole and against the shaft of the
arrow I managed to dislodge it, and it burned itself out against the huge
bottom log. We did not fear fire until the arrows stuck in the roof. The
same thought was in Cousin's mind. He did not look around, but he had
smelled the smoke and he directed:

"Climb up an' work the roof-poles apart a bit so's you can knock 'em off
the roof when they land."

I soon had the poles slightly separated in two places. As I finished a
dozen flying brands poured down on the Granville cabin and ours. One arrow
lodged on our roof close to the eves. Two were burning on the ridgepole of
the Granville cabin. The others either stuck harmlessly in the logs or
overshot and stood so many torches in the ground. By means of the table I
scrambled back to the roof and managed to knock the menace to the ground.
While I was thus engaged Cousin fired both barrels.

"What luck?" I asked as I jumped to the floor.

"Just bein' neighborly," he growled as he rapidly loaded. "Shot them two
arrers off the next roof."

Suddenly the savage howling ceased; nor were there any more fire-arrows.
Then the Englishman began shouting. He was once more calling us. I
answered and wriggled the knife-blade between the logs. Sure of my
attention he loudly informed us: "Dale passes the word for us to stop
fighting. Says he's going to save us."

"To the devil with Dale!" snarled Cousin, showing his teeth like a wolf.

"He's going out to talk with 'em," added the Englishman.

"Lord! What a fool!" lamented Cousin.

"He's going now," continued the Englishman.

I darted to Cousin's side and peered out. We heard the bar drop from the
end cabin; then Dale came into view, walking with a swagger toward the
concealed savages. In one hand he held up a string of white wampum. And as
he slowly advanced he shouted in the Shawnee language:

"Do my brothers fire on their brother? Do they harm their brother's
friends? Does the Pack-Horse-Man ask his red brothers to be kind only to
have his words fall on dead ears? I bring you belts. My daughter in the
cabin also brings belts to the Shawnees and Mingos and the Delawares."

"Let our white brother come close," called a deep guttural voice.

"That'll be Black Hoof himself," excitedly muttered Cousin, darting his
gaze over the valley in search of the stone or log which hid the great
chief from view.

"Don't shoot! They'll butcher him if you do!" I warned.

"They'll worse'n butcher him if I don't," gritted Cousin. Yet he held his
fire, for the excellent reason he could see nothing to shoot at.

"Tell your people not to fire," again called Black Hoof's powerful voice.

Dale faced the cabins and waved his white wampum, crying:

"I am saving your lives. You men in the lower cabin, throw down your
arms!"

"Like thunder!" grunted Cousin.

"He's fairly among them!" I gasped.

Dale had come to a stop and was turning his head and glancing from one
point to another on the ground as he talked. His voice had its old
confident ring, and there was a slight smile on his lips as he rehearsed
his friendship for the red people and reminded them how often he visited
their villages and smoked their pipes.

When he ceased Black Hoof called out:

"We will lift a peace-pipe to our good friend, the Pack-Horse-Man. We will
cover his friends with the smoke. Let him tell his friends not to be
afraid and to throw down their guns."

Dale was sure of Granville's and the Englishman's behavior, and he
addressed his warning to Cousin and me, calling on us in a stentorian
voice to offer no resistance if we valued our lives. He ended by yelling:

"Catahecassa, war-chief of the Shawnees, spares your lives."

Without giving us time to speak, he waved a hand and commanded:

"It's all right, Patricia! Come out!"

"Stay where you are!" I screamed, my voice muffled by the four stout
walls. I jumped to tear the bar from the door, but Cousin hurled me aside,
panting:

"Too late! God! To think such a woman should walk into their bloody
trap!"

His words sent me to the loophole. Patricia Dale was walking composedly
toward her father, her slim hands holding up her belts. She winced as she
passed the lick-block and got a glimpse of the dead savage and the dead
dog. Then her gaze remained steady on her father's calm face.

Black Hoof said something, but there was a pounding in my ears which
prevented me from hearing it. I guessed it, though, when Dale called out:

"All you who would be spared come out and leave your guns behind!"

He had barely spoken before the Englishman's voice excitedly called:

"You two scouts in there."

I gave him heed and he informed me: "Granville and his sister say they are
going out. Do you go out?"

"We shall stay here. It's better for you to die where you are," I told
him.

"Ay, I think it's better myself. Well, I'm old and hungry to be with the
children again."

The Englishman was a brave man, and very sensible. He recognized Fate when
it paused to stare him in the eye. My companion was panting for breath and
was standing back so as to rest the muzzle of his rifle just inside the
loophole. A glance revealed his deadly purpose. A tall warrior was now on
his feet. I knew him to be Black Hoof. I had seen him at Fort Pitt during
one of those rare lulls between wars.

Cousin was fairly out of his head with the lust to kill the chief, but the
Shawnee took no chances. He was careful to keep the girl and her father
between him and the cabins. I pushed Cousin's gun aside and fiercely
upbraided him for placing the Dales' lives in jeopardy.

"You fool!" he cried. "They're gone already. Are you, too, blind? If you
love that gal out there and want to do her the greatest kindness a man can
ever do to a border woman, shoot her!"

Granville began shouting:

"Me 'n' my sister are comin' out. We surrender. Tell 'em, Mr. Dale! God
knows 'nough blood's been spilt."

I heard their cabin door open. Then it closed with a bang and we heard the
heavy bar drop into place. For a moment I believed they had changed their
minds; then they crossed our line of vision, the man walking ahead with
empty hands held high, his sister walking behind and wildly waving a white
cloth. It was the Englishman, skeptical, because of our advice, who
dropped the bar.

Cousin began muttering under his breath. I soon discovered the reason.
John Ward was approaching the group from the opposite side of the valley
and trying to keep some of the whites between him and our cabin. The
nearer he drew to the group, the easier this maneuver was. Ward had made a
half-circuit of the valley and was advancing through the lines of hidden
braves. Cousin would have tried a shot at the renegade if not for fear of
instant reprisal on the girl. It was horrible to hear him curse and moan
as he nursed the set of triggers.

"Shut up!" I whispered. "Watch them close!"

I meant Granville and his sister; for as they entered the zone held by the
enemy I observed a clump of low bushes dipping and swaying behind them.
The woman saw something that frightened her, for she pressed close to her
brother and shook the white cloth toward the ground. The grotesque fancy
came into my head that she would do the same thing if she wanted to shoo
some chickens out of a garden.

Granville and his sister walked up to Black Hoof, the woman still waving
the cloth to make sure the chief beheld it and recognized its sacred
character. Dale turned to give Cousin, the Englishman and me one last
chance to save our lives; and the hideous work began.

John Ward seized Patricia from behind, holding her by her arms as a
bulwark against our lead. Black Hoof with a lightning gesture raised his
ax and struck Dale with the flat of it, sending him crashing to the
ground. Almost at the same moment two devils leaped from the ground and
with their axes struck Granville and his sister from behind. Black Hoof
dropped behind his log the moment he struck Dale.

Ward remained standing, sheltered by the girl. But the two who had killed
Granville and his sister forgot us in their lust to secure the scalps. I
got one as he was kneeling on the man, and Cousin shot the other through
the head before he could touch the woman. I shall never forget the
terrible scream which burst from the lips of Patricia Dale. Then she went
limp and her head sagged over Ward's arms, and he began to walk backward
with her to the forest.

I ran to the door and Cousin stuck out his foot and tripped me, and my
head hit against the logs, and for a minute confused me beyond the
possibility of action. When I would have renewed my efforts to pursue and
die in attempting the rescue of the girl Ward was dragging her into the
woods. Cousin's arm was around my neck, and as he pulled me back he
passionately cried:

"Will it help her to git killed? The ground's alive with 'em! You can't
more'n show your head afore they'd have your hair!"

I got to a loophole and looked out. Several guns banged and the bullets
pattered into the logs. There was no sign of life in the valley beyond
this scattering volley, however. Ward and the girl were gone. The dead
Indian and dog were partly in view among the weeds beside the lick-block.
The gown of the dead woman made a little patch of melancholy color against
the green of the grass and ranker ground growth. Granville had been
dragged behind some bushes to be scalped. I came near firing when I beheld
two Shawnees making for the timber.

"Fellers we potted," murmured Cousin. "They've hitched cords to 'em an'
are draggin' 'em to the woods so's no one'll git their hair."

From the Granville cabin a gun roared loudly; and an Indian, clawing at
his bloody breast, shot up in the heart of a clump of bushes and pitched
forward on his face.

"Lawdy! But the Englisher must 'a' used 'bout a pint o' buckshot!"
exclaimed Cousin admiringly. "Pretty smart, too! He traced the cord back
to where th' Injun was haulin' on it, an' trusted to his medicine to make
the spreadin' buckshot fetch somethin'. Wish he had smoothbores an' a few
pounds o' shot!"

Yells of rage and a furious volley against the two cabins evidenced how
the enemy viewed the Englishman's success. Again the smoothbore roared and
a handful of balls scoured another thicket. A warrior leaped from cover
and started to run to the woods. Cousin shot him off his feet before he
could make a rod.

Our admiration for the smoothbore and its wholesale tactics was beyond
expression. The Indians, also, thoroughly appreciated its efficacy, and
there was a general backward movement toward the woods. No savage showed
himself except for a flash of bronze leg, or the flutter of a hand, too
transient for even Cousin to take advantage of. The Englishman fired
again, but flushed no game.

"We oughter be goin'," Cousin mused. "But the ridge behind us is still
alive with 'em. Reckon we must wait till it gits dark."

"Wait till night? Oh, I can't do that!" I cried.

"Your gal may be skeered to death, but she ain't been hurt any yet," he
encouraged. "She's safe till they git her back to the towns. Black Hoof is
too smart to hurt her now. If he gits into a tight corner afore he reaches
the Ohio he'll need her to buy an open path with. She ain't in no danger
s'long as he wants her on hand to swap if the settlers git him penned."

"No danger? And in the hands of that damned renegade!"

"Catahecassa is boss o' that band. Ward was only a spy. They may burn your
gal when they git back on the Scioto where every one can enjoy it. But she
won't be hurt any this side o' the Ohio. Our first job is to git clear o'
this cabin an' valley. Then we must head those dogs off an' do the next
job right."

His words cleared my mind of madness. Instead of the dark forest, forty
rods away, marking the end of everything, I need not entirely despair
until the girl reached the Scioto.

"They've hitched a rope to Dale an' are draggin' him to the woods. The
damn fool ain't dead yet. Black Hoof fetched him a crack with the flat of
his ax, but they'll roast him to a frizzle by 'n' by if our medicine don't
fetch him out of it."

The man had been grossly mistaken and I pitied him. I wondered what he
would think of the influence of trade on red heathens at war when he
regained his senses! Surely he would learn the torments of hell when he
beheld his daughter a prisoner.

The cabin was like an oven and the sting of powder-smoke made our eyes
water. Outside the birds were fluttering about their daily tasks. High
among the fleecy cloud-bundles were dark specks which we knew to be
turkey-buzzards, already attracted by the dead. For some time the only
sign of the enemy's presence was when three horses galloped down the
valley, running from the savages in the edge of the woods. As the animals
drew near the cabins and showed an inclination to visit the lick-block a
volley from the Indians sent one down. The other two dashed madly toward
the Bluestone.

Cousin studied the ridge back of the cabin and failed to discover any
suggestion of the hidden foe.

"Which ain't no token they ain't there," he muttered.

"If they hadn't scared the horses we could have caught a couple!" I
lamented.

"We'd been shot off their backs afore we'd gone two rods," assured my
companion. "Let me show you."

With that he took a big gourd from the corner and painted a face on it
with a piece of charcoal found in the fireplace. To a few small wooden
pegs stuck in the top he made fast some long strings of tow, shredded out
to resemble hair. Then he placed my hat on top of the gourd and the effect
was most grotesque. Yet from a distance it easily would be mistaken for a
human face.

It was a vast improvement on the old trick of hoisting a hat on a stick.
His next maneuver was to enlarge one of the holes I had made in the roof.
When he thrust his hands through the hole, as if about to draw himself up,
he focused every savage eye on the back of the cabin roof. Through the
opening he slowly pushed the gourd, topped by the hat and having long hair
hanging down the sides.

The decoy was barely in place before he was on the floor while a volley of
lead and a flight of arrows rained against the roof.

"I 'low that they're still there," he said.

"They'll wait till dark and then rush us."

"They'll use fire-arrers first," he corrected. "The Hoof has a poor
stomick for losin' more warriors. He'll need lots o' sculps an' prisoners
to make up for the men he's lost. He'll take no more chances. When it gits
dark they'll start a blaze on the roof. They'll creep mighty close without
our seein' 'em. The minute we show ourselves they'll be ready to jump us.
The chief is reckonin' to take us alive. The towns on the Scioto will need
more'n one stake-fire to make 'em forgit what this trip to Virginia has
cost 'em."

The business of waiting was most dreary. There was no water in the cabin,
and the sweat from our hands would spoil a priming unless care was taken.
At the end of this misery was almost certain captivity, ended by torture.
Cousin had the same thought for he spoke up and said:

"I'll live s'long's there's any show to even up the score, but I ain't
goin' to be kept alive no three days over a slow fire just to make some
fun for them damn beggars."

I watched the bar of sunlight slowly move over the rough puncheon floor.
The time passed infernally slowly for men waiting to test a hopeless
hazard. By all logic the minutes should have been very precious and should
have fairly flashed into eternity. The best we could reasonably wish for
was death in combat, or self-inflicted. Yet we cursed the heat, the
buzzing flies, the choking fumes of powder, the lack of water, and wished
the time away.

I wanted to open the door a bit for a breath of outside air. Cousin
objected, saying:

"We could do it, an' there ain't no Injuns near 'nough to play us any
tricks. But they'd see the door was open, even if only a crack, and they'd
know we was gittin' desperate, or sufferin' a heap, an' that would tickle
'em. I'm ag'in' givin' 'em even that bit of enjoyment. If we can make a
break when it gits dark afore the fire-arrers begin lightin' things up
we'll try for the Bluestone. If we could git clear o' this damn bottle
we'd stand a chance o' makin' our hosses."

I glanced down at the floor, and my heart tightened a bit. The bar of
sunlight had vanished.

"We've just 'bout come to it," gravely remarked Cousin. "I ain't no
talkin' cuss, but I'll say right here that I sorter like you, Morris. If
things could 'a' been different, an' I could be more like other folks, I
'low we'd been good friends."

"We're the best of friends, Shelby. As long as I can think I shall
remember how you came with me into this trap to help rescue the girl."

"Shucks! Don't be a fool!" he growled. "That ain't nothin'. Once I bu'sted
up a Mingo camp to git my dawg. They'd caught the critter an' was
cal'latin' to sculp him alive. Got him free, too, an' the damn pup was
that stirred up by his feelin's that he couldn't tell who was his friends,
an' he chawed my thumb somethin' cruel."

He stepped to the loophole, and after peering out mumbled:

"Changin' mighty smart."

I glanced out and the ridges were losing their outlines and the valley was
becoming blurred. Cousin mused.

"It'll be comin' right smart now. Don't overlook anything."

We made a last examination of flints and primings, and Cousin softly
arranged the heavy door bar so it might be displaced with a single
movement. He startled me by abruptly standing erect and cocking his head
to one side and remaining motionless.

"The old Englishman!" he exclaimed. "He ain't fired a shot, or tried to
talk with us for a long time."

I went to the front end of the cabin and put my eye to the peephole. The
small window showed black. I called to him several times and received no
answer. There was only one conclusion. A chance ball through a loophole or
a window had killed the old fellow. Cousin agreed to this. A signal at the
mouth of the valley brought us to our toes. It was about to begin. The
signal was answered from the ridge behind us.

"They've put the stopper in the bottle," Cousin whispered. "But here's an
idea. The upper cabin, where the Dales was, is empty. If we could sneak in
there without bein' seen we'd have the slimmest sort of a chance to duck
back to the ridge while they was shootin' their fire-arrers at this cabin.
There would be a few minutes, when the first flames begin showin', when
every eye would be on this place. If we could only reach the flank o' the
ridge we'd be fools if we couldn't dodge 'em."

This appealed to me as being excellent strategy. Knowing the Dales' cabin
was empty, the Indians would not think of paying it much attention at
first. To leave our shelter and make the short distance would require
darkness. Our greatest danger would be from the Indians on the ridge back
of us. By this time they were lined up at the foot of the slope and were
all ready to break from cover.

In our favor was the Granville cabin, which would shelter us from the
ridge for a bit of the perilous way. Already it was possible, I decided,
to crawl the distance without being detected by the enemy across the
valley. Cousin refused to run the risk, and argued.

"Every minute gained now gives us that much more of a chance. The Injuns
out front ain't all across the valley any more. They begun creepin' into
the clearin' the minute it begun growin' dark. Reckon it's time they
l'arned who's cooped up in here, so's they won't git too bold."

He removed the bar of the door and through the crevice sounded his
terrible war-cry, the scream of a panther. It stabbed the dusk with
ear-splitting intensity.

"There! They'll stop an' count a dozen afore gittin' too close," he
muttered as he softly replaced the bar. "They'll lay mighty low an' won't
bother to do much but watch the door. I 'low it'll be hard work to crawl
out without they guessin' somethin's wrong."

"Then let's rip up the floor and dig a hole under the logs," I suggested.

"We'll do that," he quietly agreed.

As cautiously as possible we removed several of the puncheon slabs next to
the wall. The base logs were huge fellows and held the floor several feet
from the ground. To excavate a hole under either of the four would have
required more time than we believed we had to spare. Our plan threatened
to be hopeless until Cousin explored the length of the log with his
fingers and gave a little cry of delight. He found a hole already dug near
the front end of the cabin. It had been the work of the dog. Working with
our hunting-knives we loosened the dirt and pawed it behind us and made it
larger. At last Cousin pressed me back and ducked his head and shoulders
into the hole. Then he drew back and whispered:

"I can git my head an' shoulders through. 'low I could squirm out o' hell
if I could git my shoulders through. I'll go ahead an' you pass out the
rifles. Ready?"

I pressed his hand. There followed a few moments of waiting, then a
handful of dirt fell into the hole and informed me my companion had
squeezed clear of the log and that the ultimate test was to be faced. I
passed the rifles, butts first, and felt them gently removed from my
grasp. Working noiselessly as possible I soon squirmed out into the
refreshing evening air and lay motionless. Cousin was ahead and already
worming his way toward the third cabin. My outstretched hand touched the
butt of my rifle, and I began creeping after my friend.

I nearly suffocated in crawling by the opening between our cabin and the
Granville cabin, for I scarcely ventured to breathe. It seemed as if any
one within pistol-shot of me must hear the pounding of my heart. The
silence continued, and at last I was hugging the ground at the end of the
cabin and for the time sheltered from spying eyes at the foot of the
ridge.

A quavering cry rang out at the mouth of the valley. This time it was
answered from the clearing on our right as well as from the ridge. The
Indians had crept closer, just as Cousin had predicted.

Half a minute passed, then the signal sounded directly ahead of us, or
from beyond the Dales' cabin. The circle was completed. From the ridge
soared a burning arrow. It fell short, landing behind the cabin we had
vacated. As it gave off no light I surmised it went out on striking the
ground.

Cousin drew away from the end of the Granville cabin and was risking the
second and last gap. I hurried a bit, fearing more arrows. As I came
abreast of the door I wondered what had become of the Englishman. Either
the night was playing a trick, or else the door was partly open. I reached
out my hand to learn the truth, and touched a cold hand hanging limply
over the threshold.

My nerves jumped, but I mastered them by reasoning that the Englishman had
been shot by a chance ball and had attempted to leave the cabin, thinking
to gain our shelter and to die there. Death had overtaken him as he was
opening the door. That it was the Englishman's hand I had touched was
evidenced by the shirt-sleeve, puckered in at the wrist.

I released the poor hand and was resuming my way when a slight sound
caused me to hold my breath. Then a heavy weight landed on my back,
knocking the breath from my lungs with an explosive grunt. Next, the night
was ripped from horizon to horizon with a jagged streak of red.



CHAPTER IX

DALE ESCAPES


When I recovered my senses I was being dragged over the ground by means of
a cord around my chest and under my arms. My wrists were lashed together
and my ankles were likewise secured. The first thing my eyes beheld were
the red loopholes and window of the lower cabin, and the flames crawling
through the two holes I had made in the roof.

My capture had revealed our desertion of the cabin, and the Indians had
lost no time in entering and firing it. Smoke and flames were pouring from
the end window of the Granville cabin also. As the red tongues licked
across the top of the doorway they threw into relief the arm and hand of
the old Englishman still hanging over the threshold.

My head felt as though it was cracked wide open and it throbbed most
sickeningly. I managed to lift it a bit to escape further bruises as my
captor roughly hauled me to the forest. The third cabin, the one occupied
by the Dales, burst into flames as I was being yanked into the first
fringe of bushes. The valley was now brightly lighted, and my last view of
it included the lick-block. One phase of a successful Indian raid was
missing; there were no warriors madly dancing about the burning homes. Far
up the ridge rang out the infuriated cry of a panther, and I knew it was
fear of young Cousin's deadly rifle that was keeping the savages under
cover.

"Let me stand up and walk," I said in Shawnee.

"Alive are you?" growled a white man's voice in English.

"You'll be John Ward," I said as some one lifted me to my feet.

"I am Red Arrow, a Shawnee. And don't you forget it."

"Where are the Dales?" I asked.

"Keep your mouth shut!" he ordered.

They untied my hands only to fasten them behind me. They shifted the
waist-cord to my neck, and then released my feet. Some one walked ahead,
pulling on the cord, and I followed as best I could to escape being
strangled. On each side of me walked a warrior, invisible except as when
we crossed a glade where the starlight filtered down. Ward walked behind
me, and warned:

"Any tricks and you'll get my ax."

"You were in the cabin with the dead Englishman?"

He chuckled softly and boasted:

"I killed him. When you two were fighting fire I got my chance to steal
down to the Dale cabin. Then it was easy to make the Granville cabin. The
old fool thought I was one of you when he heard my voice, and drew the
bar. I was inside and had his life before he knew he had made a mistake. I
waited. Then you crawled along. Curse that damned young devil who yells
like a panther! He was the one I wanted. I'd give a thousand of such as
you to get his hair! But he got by the door without my hearing him. A
little more, and you'd have passed, too."

There was much crashing and running through the bushes behind us, and
occasionally I could make out dark shapes hurrying by. These were the
warriors who had fired the cabins, and now they were in haste to leave the
spot. Owing to their fear of Cousin they dared not leave the valley except
as they did so under cover. We made good time through the woods, however,
although more than once my gasping cry warned Ward, or one of the savages
at my side, that I was being choked to death.

As a premature demise was not on their program the cord was quickly
loosened each time, and the man ahead warned to be more careful. These
partial strangulations resulted from the fellow's anxiety to escape from
the neighborhood of the double-barrel rifle. On reaching the Bluestone we
halted while the savages collected their horses. From the few words
exchanged I estimated that half the band was mounted. Without building a
fire or eating we started up the Bluestone. Neither Black Hoof nor the
Dales were with our party when we halted at daybreak. We paused only long
enough to bolt some half-cooked deer-meat. I asked for the trader and his
daughter, and Ward laughed and shook before my face the scalps he had
taken in the Granville cabin. Two of them were pitiably small.

"You scalp other men's kills," I observed.

"You'll not say that when I scalp you."

"What does Dale now think of his Indian friends?"

This seemed to amuse him tremendously, and he laughed like a white man.

"He doesn't seem to know what has happened," he finally replied with much
relish. "He stares at us, then at the girl, as if trying to understand."

"What about the girl?"

"That's enough. Keep still," he warned, and made a threatening gesture
with his ax.

My hands, which had been released long enough for me to eat, were trussed
up again. My rough usage and the travel had worn on me, but I had no
desire to rest so long as Patricia Dale was to be found. My captors also
had a definite plan--one that demanded haste. By daylight I perceived by
the signs that the greater number of the band had gone ahead, probably
under the lead of Black Hoof.

Unless the Dales had been butchered in the woods they must be with the
chief; and I could not believe they were dead. They would be too valuable
as hostages should the settlers gather in force to block the Shawnees'
return to the Ohio. Those of the Indians who had horses, with the
exception of two, rode off. One of the mounted men to remain was Ward, who
came behind me. The other was the Indian holding the cord.

It was plain that every savage in the band was eager to advance with all
possible haste, nor was it fear of Cousin that was now driving them.
Finally my aching head understood it all; the Howard's Creek settlement
was to be attacked and the savages afoot were afraid they would arrive too
late to participate.

On our left rose the wall of Great Flat Top Mountain, a short chain, in
reality a continuation of Tug Ridge. On the right rose ridge after ridge
of the Alleghanies, punctuated by Peter's Mountain, where New River burst
through the wall in its quest for the Ohio. A wild land, and yet birds,
bees and deer were here, and the soil was ripe for happy homes.

I managed to keep up until after midday, when my legs suddenly refused to
carry me farther. I told Ward to tomahawk me if he wished, but that I must
rest before moving another step. There was no question as to his
inclination, for his brown hand fondled his ax most longingly. He
dismounted and boosted me on to his horse. The rest of the day was covered
with me riding first Ward's and then the savage's animal.

We camped at dusk that night, and I was too exhausted to swallow more than
a few mouthfuls of food before falling asleep. Before sunrise we were up
and hurrying through the gray mists and reversing the route Cousin and I
had followed on traveling to the valley. I recognized several of the camps
where the Dales and Ward had halted when the brute was leading them into
the death-trap.

"You nearly got me by dropping the girl's moccasin in the mountains," I
informed him.

The abruptness of the accusation took him off his guard. With a wide grin
he said:

"Stole it from her just before we entered the settlement. Saw Hughes
striking into the hills and planned to catch him. But he got too far ahead
for me to ride around him. Dogged him until he met you, then rode back and
laid my trap. Hughes was the man I was after. His hair would count for a
dozen scalps like yours."

"But you didn't care to try a shot unless it could be from behind and sure
to kill," I taunted.

"You'll pay a high price for that," he quietly assured me. "The chief says
you are to be brought in alive. We will soon see how brave you are with
the girl looking on. Men should be very brave men when their squaws are
watching."

I was afoot and walking at his side. I lowered my head and tried to butt
him from the saddle. He kicked me in the chest and the warrior yanked on
the cord and threw me down on my face and all but strangled me. After that
Ward and I had no more words. He rode either ahead, or some distance
behind, leaving one of the Indians to walk at my heels. I have no doubt he
did this to avoid any temptation to brain me. I lost track of time, for we
traveled far into the night when the footing was good. We snatched a few
hours' sleep when absolutely necessary and fed indifferently. When I could
walk no farther I was placed on one of the two horses. I hoped that Cousin
in escaping from Abb's Valley had taken our horses with him; and I prayed
he would reach Howard's Creek ahead of Black Hoof.

At last we came to the outskirts of an Indian camp, which I estimated to
be within less than half a mile of the creek settlement. A dozen warriors
swarmed forward to greet us, welcoming me with exaggerated courtesy. While
they were thus mocking me Black Hoof appeared, moving with great dignity,
and dispersing my tormentors with a gesture.

I was led into the camp and my cord made fast to a tree. There was no air
of triumph about the place. A warrior reclining on a pile of boughs and
nursing a shattered shoulder suggested a futile attack on the cabins. I
glanced about for a display of fresh scalps and rejoiced at beholding
none.

The Indians stared at me malevolently, but offered me no abuse. Ward
proudly flourished the hair he had retrieved from the Granville cabin, and
the trophies were soon fastened to a tall pole and paraded around the
camp, after which demonstration the pole was stuck upright in the ground.

It required a second examination of the place to locate Dale. Like myself
he was tied to a tree with sufficient length of cord to permit him to lie
down. His face was heavy with unspeakable horror. When he met my gaze he
did not seem to recognize me at first. Then he muttered:

"You, too!"

My heart ached when I failed to discover any trace of Patricia. Before I
could question the trader, Ward yanked me to my feet and turned me about,
and I found myself looking into the eyes of Black Hoof.

"The young man made a very brave fight," he said.

"It is sad to know a skunk and not a Shawnee warrior captured me," I
replied.

Ward glared murder at me. Black Hoof gave him a warning glance, and
informed me:

"Red Arrow is a Shawnee warrior. Very brave. Very cunning. He will help us
take the cabins on the creek."

"You have tried once?" I asked, glancing at the man with the broken
shoulder.

The chief's brows contracted.

"Some of my young men were very foolish," he replied. "When Catahecassa
tries, the first time will be the last."

From the direction of the settlement came the scream of a panther, and at
the sound the camp seemed to stir uneasily. With a fiery glance at the
warriors Black Hoof gave an order, and a score of men glided into the
forest. To me he quietly said:

"There was a panther's whelp in the little valley we did not get. The
Shawnees would dance his scalp ahead of all the hair growing in any of
these valleys. He rode to the settlement ahead of me. But we shall get
them now. We shall get him. Then we will see if his war-cry is strong when
he feels fire."

"Where is the white woman? Did you kill her?" I asked, and I had to fight
myself to keep my voice from shaking.

Without deigning to answer he turned and walked over to Dale. At almost
the same moment Patricia and Shelby Cousin's sister entered the camp.
Patricia walked ahead, the Cousin girl a few feet behind her. I forgot the
cord and eagerly started to join her.

Ward snarled like an animal and jerked on the cord and pulled me violently
back. Patricia glanced in our direction, and I saw her hand fly to her
heart as she stared at me with lips parted. Black Hoof noticed this bit of
drama, and wheeling about, he harshly commanded:

"Let Red Arrow remember I am chief. If the white man would talk to the
white woman do not stop him. See that his hands are well tied and put
hobbles on his legs."

"If I had my way with you!" hissed Ward.

An Indian slipped the cord from the tree and with it trailing behind me I
hurried to the girl. She dropped on a log, her face a white mask of
terror. Cousin's sister remained a few paces behind her. Her face was
expressionless, but she did not remove her gaze from Patricia. Perhaps
Patsy was the first white woman she had seen whose freshness suggested her
own youth. Recognizing my desire to talk with the prisoner she withdrew,
keeping in sight but out of hearing.

"At least they have not tied you," I said.

"I go and come as I will," was the listless answer.

"With the woman to watch you?"

"Not if I want to be alone."

"You mean you are free to go and come unwatched?" I demanded.

She nodded her head.

"Then why haven't you tried to make the settlement? It is near. Listen.
Shelby Cousin is here. The Indians can't afford the time it will take to
capture the place. Walk along into the woods. Go due east. By God's grace
I believe you can make it!"

"Basdel, you forget," she sorrowfully reproached. "You forget my father is
here. That is why they give me my freedom."

"He would rejoice and thank God if you would do as I say."

"But the Indian woman with the blue eyes has told me in English that if I
run away they will hurt him terribly."

Poor child! As if her presence could save Ericus Dale from dying the death
once Black Hoof found time to indulge in his favorite pastime. I
vehemently begged her to flee, promising all sorts of absurd things if she
would but do so, even to assuring her I would effect her father's
release.

She slowly shook her head, tempted not the least by my pleas.

"Even the Indians know me better than that. And to think we trusted them!
Oh, Basdel, it doesn't seem possible! You were right. Father was wrong.
God help him! And now they have taken you!"

"All will be well yet," I faltered.

"Yes, all will be well," she gently said. "All will be well, when we are
dead and at peace."

"Patsy! Patsy!" I begged. "Don't give up hope. Don't lose your courage!
Why, there's a dozen chances for us to fool these devils."

She patted my tied hands, and murmured:

"You're a good boy, Basdel. You were patient when I abused you. You told
me the truth. I am out of place out here. If I were a pioneer woman I
could help you plan to escape, but I am only a silly fool from over the
mountains. I am absolutely helpless. But you've been good to me, Basdel.
You followed me into that horrible valley. You were caught because you
tried to help us. Oh, the shame of it! The hideous cruelty of it! That you
were caught--Basdel, I pray my last thought will be about your goodness to
me. Just that."

She was at the limit of her endurance and I backed away and Cousin's
sister glided forward. I flogged my mind for a scheme of escape which
would include her; her father, if possible. But it was as she had said;
she was no pioneer woman, resourceful and daring. The Shawnees saw her
helplessness, else they never would have allowed her the freedom of the
camp and surrounding woods.

They knew she would never leave her father, and that she lacked the border
woman's daring initiative so necessary in any attempt to free him. As I
was casting about for some plan to save her Black Hoof glided to my side
and took me by the arm and led me toward the tree where Dale was lying.

This closer inspection of the trader revealed how fearfully he had
suffered in his mind. The flesh of his strong face hung in folds as if his
skin had suddenly become many sizes too large for him. His eyes had
retreated deeper into the sockets, and his thick lips, once so firm and
domineering, were loose and flabby. Black Hoof stirred him contemptuously
with his foot. Dale dragged himself to a sitting posture and began
shivering as if suffering from ague.

"Oh, my God, Morris!" he groaned.

"The Pack-Horse-Man can save his life," sententiously began Black Hoof.

"My daughter?" gasped Dale, rising on his knees.

"He shall save his daughter's life," added the chief.

Dale moistened his lips and tried to recover some of his old spirit.

"Never mind, Morris. Give me a little time. I'll get us all out of this
fix. They're angry now. When they've had time to think they'll be
reasonable. If they kill me, they'll kill their trade with the whites." It
was the first time I ever heard him pronounce the word without stressing
it.

Black Hoof glowered at the miserable man ferociously and said:

"You will go to the edge of the clearing with my warriors. You will speak
to the settlers and tell them they shall save their lives if they put down
their guns. After they put down their guns you and your daughter shall go
free."

The picture of Abb's Valley and the result of his trusting in the
Shawnees' promises must have flashed across the unhappy man's mind. He
sank, feebly moaning:

"No, no! Not that! The blood of the Granvilles--the little children--is on
me. Kill me, but I'll lead no more into your trap."

These were brave words even if brokenly voiced. But Black Hoof heard with
grim amusement in his small black eyes.

"You weak-hearted dog!" he hissed. "So you tell Catahecassa what he will
and what he will not, do. Ho! You fat white man who always planned to
cheat the Indians in a trade. You fill your ears against Catahecassa's
words? Ho! Then you are a brave man. The Shawnees have been blind not to
see your brave heart. Now, white trader, hear my talk. You will do as
Catahecassa says, or you will be tied to a tree and your daughter shall be
put to the torture before your eyes."

With a terrible cry Dale fell over on his side and remained unconscious.
There was a second shriek, and the girl was pushing Black Hoof aside as
she hastened to kneel by her father. The chief darted a glance of
admiration at her for her display of courage. The girl was blind to our
presence as she fondled and petted the stricken man until he opened his
eyes. Black Hoof was pleased to have her there as a means of breaking down
the trader's will. Leaning over her shoulder to stare down into the
terrified eyes of his victim the chief warned:

"Unless the settlers give themselves up it shall be as I have said. It
must be before the sun goes down. Tell her all I have said."

With that he dragged me back to my tree. For a few minutes the chief's
horrible threat dulled my mind to the point of stupidity. He waited for me
to collect my thoughts. At last I managed to ask:

"What you said back there was a trick of course? You would never torture
the daughter of the Pack-Horse-Man?"

"Unless he does as told she must die," he calmly assured me. "She will die
soon anyway. She is not strong enough to live our life, like the blue-eyed
squaw over there." And he glanced toward Cousin's sister. "Her children
would be neither red nor white. They would have squaw-hearts. If the
trader does not speak words that will bring the settlers from their cabins
with empty hands she shall be tortured until he does speak."

I do not remember falling, yet I found myself on the ground, and Black
Hoof had departed. In his place stood Ward, staring at me curiously.

"You went down as if hit with an ax," he grunted.

"My legs are weak from hard travel and poor food," I said.

Patricia Dale passed quite close to us, a gourd of water in her hands. She
was carrying it to her father. Ward exclaimed in English:

"What a woman!"

His brawny figure seemed to dilate and he made a queer hissing noise as he
looked after her. Turning to me he hoarsely said:

"I was born white. It's her blood that calls me. When I saw her in Salem I
said I would have her for my squaw if I could get her and her fool of a
father into the mountains."

My mental paralysis lifted.

"Is she promised to you?" I asked.

"I am to have any two prisoners to do with as I like," he answered.
"Catahecassa said that when I started to enter the villages beyond the
mountains to get news. There was little chance of bringing any whites
back, but if I did I was to have two of them."

"Then you had better remind your chief of his promise," I warned. "He says
he will torture the girl before her father's eyes if the father does not
help in betraying the settlers."

"Ugh! I have his promise. He dare not break it."

The girl would kill herself before submitting to Ward's savage caresses.
She would go mad if forced to witness the torture of her father. I had
seized upon Ward's passion as a means of gaining a bit more time. If he
could successfully claim the girl then she must be rescued from him. But
viewed from any angle I could find nothing but horrors.

Release by death would be very kind. If any harm were suffered by the girl
I should lose my reason; my life, if God were merciful. No longer did our
time of grace extend to the Scioto villages. At any moment our little
destinies might come to a fearful ending. In my soul I railed at the curse
of it. Such a little way to go, and so much pain and sorrow.

Ward left me and strode up to the chief. They talked rapidly, and I could
read from Ward's mien that he was very angry. When he returned to me he
was in a rare rage.

"Catahecassa dodges by saying you and the trader are the two prisoners I
must take. He says he will burn the girl unless the trader makes the talk
as told. If I can find a way of capturing the settlers the girl will be
given to me in place of either you or her father."

"I don't want to be your prisoner," I said.

"I do not believe you do," he agreed. "But I would take you if I did not
need the trader. If the girl refuses to become my squaw then I will build
a little fire on Dale's back. That will make her accept my belts."

He left me with that thought in my mind. On the one hand the girl was to
be utilized in forcing Dale to betray the settlement. On the other, the
trader was to be used to make the girl submit to the renegade. I could not
imagine a more horrible situation. I was still wallowing deep in my hell
when the camp became very active. Dale was lifted to his feet and his
cords were removed.

The time had come for Black Hoof to try him as a decoy. There remained a
good hour of light. Patricia, not understanding, yet fearing the worst,
hovered about her father, her eyes wildly staring and her whole appearance
denoting a weakening of her reason. As they started to lead her father
into the woods she attempted to follow him, and Black Hoof pushed her
back. Cousin's sister spoke up, saying:

"I will keep her."

The warriors disappeared in the direction of the settlement. The two women
left the camp on the opposite side. Ward went along with the Indians, and
I knew this was my golden opportunity to escape. Before I could make a
beginning at freeing my hands a noose fell over my head and clutched at my
throat. The guards were taking no chances.

Great mental anguish is accompanied by no clarity of thought and graves no
connected memories on the mind. I know I suffered, but there are only
fragments of recollections covering that black period of waiting.

I have a clear picture of the warrior holding the end of the cord calling
for some one to bring a gourd of water. I do not remember drinking, but as
later I found the front of my shirt soaked I assume the water was for me.
Coherent memory resumes with the noise the warriors made in returning to
the camp. I shall never forget their appearance as they emerged from the
undergrowth. Black Hoof walked ahead. Close behind him came two warriors
dragging Dale.

I was amazed to behold Patricia in the procession. She was leaning on Lost
Sister's arm, and there was a lump on her forehead as though she had been
struck most brutally. Then came the warriors and Ward. Dale was roughly
thrown to the ground. Several men began trimming the branches from a stout
sapling. Others became busy searching the fallen timber for dry wood.

Ward walked over to me and kicked me in the side. I must have groaned
aloud, for he commanded:

"Shut up! I'm ripe for a killing."

Matters had gone against his liking. He played with his ax nervously, his
baleful gaze darting about the camp. I waited and at last his race
heritage compelled him to talk, and he commenced:

"The old man was scared into doing what the chief told him to do. He would
not at first, and the men were sent to bring the girl along. When he faced
her he made a noise like a sheep bleating. Then he ran to the clearing and
began his talk. The girl heard his words. She broke away and ran into
sight of the cabins and screamed for them not to listen, that it was a
trap. Black Hoof struck her with the flat of his ax. Now he swears he'll
roast the fool."

"She is your prisoner!" I cried.

"He says she must burn."

"There must be some way, something you can do!" I wildly insisted, my only
thought being to spare her the immediate danger.

"I want her for my squaw bad enough to get her if I can," he growled. "But
if I'm to think of any plan I must be quick. They've got the stake nearly
ready."

He walked to where the warriors were collecting small fuel from between
the fallen trees. One of them hauled a hollow maple log out of the débris
and threw it to one side as being too heavy for a quick fire. Ward halted
and rested a foot on it and bowed his head. Next he began tapping it with
his tomahawk. His actions attracted the attention of the men, and Black
Hoof asked:

"What does Red Arrow think is in the log? A snake?"

Ward startled the savages, and also me, by curtly replying:

"He sees a white man's cannon in the log. The fort holds all the settlers
on the creek. Its walls are stout. If they can be broken down the Shawnees
will take many scalps and prisoners. It will be an easy victory. Black
Hoof's name will be repeated far beyond Kaskaskia and the Great Lakes in
the North. He will be given many new war-names."

Black Hoof's eyes glittered as he pictured the glory and prestige the
hollow log might confer upon him. He examined the log carefully and
perceived only that it was hollow.

"Have you medicine to make it into a cannon?" he asked.

"I have big medicine. Before it will work for me I must be given the white
squaw. There must be no taking back of the gift. If the medicine-cannon
does not give the settlers into our hands still the white squaw must be
mine to do with as I will."

Black Hoof took some minutes to ponder over this proposition. He could
only see a hollow log. Ward's intellect permitted him to see greater
possibilities. While he waited for the chief to make a decision he
examined the maple more thoroughly, and smiled quietly.

Black Hoof at last said:

"Catahecassa gives the white woman to the Red Arrow. Tell your medicine to
make the big gun shoot."

Ward was exultant. To the wondering savages he explained:

"It must be bound tight with much rawhide. Small stones must be packed
tight in the butt-end. I will make a hole for the priming. Then we will
draw it to the clearing and load it with powder and rocks."

This simple expedient, superior to the best plans of the Indians, was
greeted with yells of triumph. The chief said:

"Red Arrow is a medicine-man."

The wooden tube was reinforced under Ward's directions. This done, the
savages danced and whooped about the grotesque cannon for some minutes.
Ward stood with folded arms, his gaze gloating as it rested on the girl,
and haughty with pride as he observed Black Hoof's respectful bearing.
Coming back to me he said:

"You wanted that woman. You will die among the Shawnees. You showed you
wanted her when you followed her into that valley. Her father spoke of you
and by his words I knew you wanted her. Now I have her."

The girl came forward, attracted by Ward's speech to me, although she
could understand none of it. She drew aside in passing the renegade and
dropped on her knees at my side.

"What do they plan? What will they do with me?" her dry lips demanded.

Ward, enraged by her show of aversion, seized her by the shoulder, ripping
the cloth, and dragged her to her feet, and informed her:

"Catahecassa ordered his men to burn you. I made him give you to me. You
are my woman. You are lucky I am not a red man."

"No! No! I'll burn, you monster! I'll burn a hundred times," she panted.
And she struck her hand into his face, whereat the savages shouted in
merriment.

I believed he would kill her then and there, for he groaned aloud from
rage and raised his ax over his head.

"Strike me!" she begged, facing the uplifted ax unflinchingly; and
although not of the border she displayed the fine courage of the Widow
McCabe and other frontier women.

With a whimpering, bestial note Ward managed to say:

"No! You shall live, and many times beg me to kill you. But you shall
still live till I trade you to some red hunter."

"I will kill myself some way before you can harm me!" she defied.

Ward slowly lowered his ax and began chuckling. He told her, pointing to
me:

"This man. He loved you. He was a fool. I say was because his life is
behind him. It is something that is finished, a trace followed to the end.
He is a dead man as he lies there. He loved you. I believe you loved him.
He is my prisoner. Now you can guess why I know you will not harm
yourself."

I knew. She was suffering too much to reason clearly. But he was eager to
help her to understand He amplified by explaining:

"It will be for you to say if he is to be tortured. He is young and
strong. We could keep him alive many days after the fire began to burn
him. It will be a fine game to see whom you love the better, yourself or
him. You will be free to go about the camp. But this man will be watched
all the time. After we take the fort to-night you will come to me and ask
to be my woman.

"I had planned to take your father for my second prisoner. My medicine
tells me to take this man as he will live longer. Remember; you will ask
to be my squaw. That sapling was trimmed for you; it will do for this man.
You will come to me, or he goes to the stake. Now, go!"

And he reached out his hand and sent her spinning and reeling toward her
father.

"You dog! Set me free, empty-handed, and you take a knife and ax, and I
will show the Shawnees what a poor dog you are," I told him in Shawnee.

But he was not to be tempted into any violence just now. He mocked:

"You are something to be watched and guarded. When my new wife is ugly to
me I will order you to the fire. Then she will be kind and you will be
kept alive. Some time you will go to the fire. When I get tired of her and
wish a new wife."

Patricia crawled to her father and laid her head on his breast. No one
gave her any heed except as the Cousin girl walked by her several times,
watching her with inscrutable eyes. The Shawnees were impatient to try
their new cannon.

At Ward's suggestion Black Hoof sent some of his warriors to make a feint
on the east side of the fort, so that the cannon could be hurried forward
and mounted across a log while the garrison's attention was distracted. It
was now dusk in the woods although the birds circling high above the glade
caught the sunlight on their wings. The clearing would now be in the first
twilight shadows, and Black Hoof gave his final orders.

Acting on Ward's command two warriors fell upon me and fastened cords to
my wrists and ankles and staked me out in spread-eagle style, and then sat
beside me, one on each side. Half a dozen of the older men remained in the
camp. Dale was mumbling something to the girl and she rose as if at his
bidding.

The Cousin girl glided forward and in English asked what she wanted. It
was Dale who told her, asking for water in Shawnee. She motioned for
Patricia to remain where she was and in a few minutes brought water in a
gourd, and some venison. Patricia drank but would eat nothing.

The Cousin woman tried to feed Dale, and succeeded but poorly. I asked for
food and water, and one of them brought a gourd and some meat. They lifted
my head so I might drink and fed me strips of smoked meat, but they would
not release my hands.

After a time we heard much shouting and the firing of many guns. This
would be the mock attack, I judged. It increased in volume, this firing,
until I feared that what had been started as a feint was being pushed
forward to a victory.

Suddenly the firing dropped away and only the yelling continued. This
would mean the savages had succeeded in rushing their wooden cannon close
enough to do damage.

Every Indian left in the camp, including my two guards, were now standing
listening eagerly for the voice of the cannon. It came, a loud explosion
that dwarfed all rifle-fire any of us had ever heard. With screams of joy
the guard began dancing about me and the older men danced around the
Dales. They went through all the grotesque attitudes and steps which they
use in their pantomimes of great victories.

This savage play was quickly stilled, however, as groans of pain and
shouts of furious anger came to us. Now the cheering was that of white
voices only. There was the noise of many feet hurrying back to the camp.
Black Hoof came through the bushes first, and only the dusk saved my head
from being split, as with a howl he threw his ax at me. Then came Ward,
staggering like a drunken man and clawing at his left shoulder.

The full force of the catastrophe was revealed when four broken forms of
dead warriors were hurried into the little opening, followed by a dozen
braves bearing wounds, which would appall a town-dweller. Ward's medicine
had lied to them. The cannon had burst and had scattered its charge of
stones among the Shawnees. One of the corpses had been beheaded by a piece
of rock.

Several warriors rushed toward the Dales; others ran to me.

"Stop!" roared Black Hoof. "Do not touch the prisoners!"

Some one lighted a fire. Other fires sprang up until the glade was well
illumined. Black Hoof sent some of the younger men to scout the creek so
the camp might not be surprised by a sally. To the warriors remaining the
chief announced:

"We must march for the Ohio. Bad medicine has dogged us for many sleeps. I
will make a feast to my medicine and will tell you what it says shall be
done with the prisoners."

"That man and that woman are my prisoners!" hoarsely cried Ward.

"They were your prisoners while we believed your medicine was strong. Now
that we know your medicine is weak and foolish they belong to all the
Shawnees. Red Arrow's medicine is bad at heart. It told him to make a big
gun. Four of my warriors are dead. Many are hurt. It will take blood to
cover the bodies of the dead. Red Arrow has no prisoners until he goes and
catches them."

Ward pulled his ax and limped toward me. No warrior made an effort to stop
him. But Black Hoof reminded:

"When the Red Arrow is no longer a Shawnee he will be tied and left at the
edge of the settlement. The prisoners are not to be harmed until my
medicine directs."

Ward halted. He was close enough for me to see that while he had escaped a
wound from the flying stones his shoulder was blown full of powder. The
sweat streamed down his face and intimated something of the agony he was
suffering.

"Black Hoof is a great warrior and a mighty chief!" he said huskily. "But
Red Arrow's medicine is weak because it has not been fed. Only blood will
make it strong. Let this man die before we break our camp." And he stirred
me with his foot.

"The prisoners belong to the Shawnees. My medicine may whisper to kill one
of them, but the warriors in sound of my voice must decide. Those who
would see one of the three die show the ax."

Almost as soon as he had spoken the air was filled with spinning axes,
ascending to the boughs and then falling to be deftly caught, each ax by
its owner.

"It is good," said the chief. "My medicine shall pick the prisoners to
die."

The explosion of the wooden cannon and the chief's ruling that we were no
longer Ward's prisoners appealed to me as a reprieve. At least the girl
was snatched from Ward's clutches. But the unanimous vote that one of us
must die threw me back on the rack.

It was inconceivable that Patricia Dale should thus die. And yet I had had
an earnest of the devil's ferocity. East of the mountains I could not have
imagined a hand ever being raised against her. And I had seen her buffeted
and struck down this day. Therefore, I did comprehend the inconceivable.

I called out to the chief:

"Catahecassa, listen to a white medicine, for the red medicine is far away
or else is asleep. If the white woman is harmed you will shed tears of
blood before you reach your Scioto towns. The settlers are swarming in to
head you off. You have no time to spend in torturing any prisoner.

"But had you many sleeps of time it would be bad for you to harm the white
girl. If you harm her you will have nothing to trade for an open path to
the river. If you are wise in war, as your enemies say you are, you will
guard her carefully at least until you make your villages above the
Ohio."

The chief's eyes shifted uneasily, but his voice was ominous as he tersely
advised:

"The white man had better ask his strong medicine to keep him from the
fire. One of the prisoners shall roast this night. I have said it."

He had not liked my words as they set his superstitions to working, but it
would never do for him to bow before the threats of a white medicine. So
he remained inexorable in his determination to cover his dead with a white
victim.

His raid into Virginia had been disastrous even though he could count the
four Grisdols, the seven men, women and children in Abb's Valley in his
death score. And he had taken three prisoners. Doubtless there were other
victims at the fire I had seen when on the Cheat. But the price he had
paid for these various kills and us three prisoners was too heavy.

Every Indian slain had been a prime fighting man, one it would take years
of training to replace. After counting his losses in the mountains about
the Grisdol clearing, the warriors killed in Abb's Valley, and now his
losses here at Howard's Creek, the score was distinctly against him. No
matter how mighty and famous a chief may be, he will surely and quickly
lose his following if disaster dogs his war-paths.

So I could understand Black Hoof's mental attitude. He attributed his
misfortunes to his weakening medicine. Let the cost be ever so dear he
must strengthen that medicine; and he firmly believed a human sacrifice
would be the most acceptable offering he could make.

"Bring that man over to the fire," he directed, pointing to me.

My wrist-cords were loosed, my ankles were fastened only with a spancel,
and strong hands jerked me to my feet. Taking short steps I advanced to
where the girl lay with her head on her father's breast.

Black Hoof selected a charred stick from the fire and stood staring at us,
his eyes blank as though he did not see us. His warriors watched him with
much awe. His spirit was far away up in the mountains communing with his
medicine. He was asking his manito which of the three victims would be
most acceptable.

Ward stood behind him, his lean face working in helpless rage for fear the
girl would be the choice, thereby costing him a new wife. I felt deathly
sick, physically sick, fearing she was marked for death, fearing she was
reserved for worse than death.

Suddenly Black Hoof began shivering, then threw back his head and for a
moment stared about him as if to collect his scattered senses. Reaching
down he pulled the girl from her father. She had swooned and was at least
spared these few minutes of awful dread. The charred stick hovered over
her white face, then was withdrawn and darted at mine.

Instinctively I closed my eyes, but as the stick failed to leave its mark
I opened them and beheld Dale had been chosen: A black smooch extended
from the tip of his nose to the roots of his hair, and was bisected by
another mark across the bridge of his nose, and extending to his ears.

"Paint that man black," Black Hoof ordered.

Dale was very composed. He knew the worst. Perhaps he believed his death
would save the girl. In a steady voice he said to me:

"Morris, I am sorry for you. Only God knows how I feel about Pat. I've
been worse than a fool. Don't tell her when she wakes up. Get the Cousin
woman to take her out of sight. It will be very hard but I will try to go
through it like a man."

"If there is anything I could do!" I cried.

He shook his head and threw it back and his lips were drawn tight.

"I am to blame. It's best this way. You came after me to help me. That was
good and foolish of you. Pray God she will be spared. Pray God you will be
spared. They'll be satisfied with my death for a while. I think I shall go
through it very well."

They pulled me away and fell to rubbing the unfortunate man's face and
neck with charcoal. Cousin's sister with a magnificent show of strength
gathered the unconscious girl in her arms and walked toward the woods.
Ward would have stopped her, but she hissed like a snake in his face, and
there was a hardness in the blue eyes he could not withstand.

As she disappeared with her burden Black Hoof said something to Lost
Sister's red husband. This warrior, very loath to miss the spectacle of a
burning, sullenly glided after the woman. I feared he was sent to bring
them back, but as they did not return I knew he was ordered to stand guard
over them.

Now the opening was filled with the Shawnees, word having passed that
Black Hoof was about to appease his war-medicine. Only the scouts and Lost
Sister's man remained out. Dale was stood on his feet and his upper
garments were torn off from him. As they offered to lead him to the stake
he struck their hands aside and with firm step walked inside the circle of
brush which had been heaped up some five feet from the stake.

I closed my eyes and endeavored not to witness the scene but was unable to
keep them closed. With a spancel rope fastened to his ankles Dale was
further secured by a long cord tied around one wrist and fastened some
fifteen feet up the trimmed sapling.

When the flames began to bite on one side he could hobble around the post
to the opposite side. As the flames spread he would become very active,
but each revolution around the post would shorten the slack of the
wrist-cord. With the entire circle of fuel ablaze he would slowly roast.
Black Hoof muttered some gibberish and applied the torch.

As the first billow of smoke rose and before the savages could commence
their dancing and preliminary tortures, Ericus Dale threw back his head
and loudly prayed:

"O God, protect my little girl! O God, have mercy upon me!"

Black Hoof jeered him, sardonically crying:

"The white man makes medicine to his white manito. Let Big Turtle[4] try
him with a mouthful of fire. We will see if the white manito is weak or
afraid to help his child."

A burly warrior scooped up coals on a piece of bark and with a fiendish
grin leaped through the smoke. Two rifle shots, so close together as to be
almost one, shattered the tense silence as the savages held their breath
to enjoy every symptom of the excruciating agony. Dale went down on his
knees, a small blue hole showing where the bullet mercifully had struck
his heart. Big Turtle leaped backward and fell into the burning brush. A
warrior, acting mechanically, dragged the Turtle clear of the flames. He
was stone-dead.

For several moments the Indians were incapable of motion, so astounding
was this interference with their sport. It was the scream of a panther
that awoke them to furious activity. Black Hoof shouted for his men to
catch the white scout. Then he turned on me and raised his ax. The act was
involuntary, for at once dropping his arm he ordered his men to extinguish
the fire and to see I did not escape. Then he hurried into the forest.

The fire was stamped out and Dale's body removed to one side. I asked them
to cover the dead man with a blanket, which they readily did. Now Lost
Sister returned, this time leading Patricia. I called to her in Shawnee:

"Bring the white girl here. Does she know her father is dead?"

"I told her. The men said he was killed by a white bullet," was the sullen
reply.

"Leave her with me and wash the black from his face," I said.

She brought her charge to me. Patricia's eyes were hot as if with fever.
She dropped beside me and stared wildly. Then she began to remember and
said:

"My father is dead, they tell me."

"He is dead. He suffered none. It is as he wished. He could not escape. He
is at peace."

"Life is so terrible," she mumbled. "Death is so peaceful. Death is so
beautiful. Then one is so safe."

She gave a little scream and collapsed with her head resting on my bound
hands. But although her slender frame shook convulsively she shed no
tears.

I tried to talk to her as I would to a little child. After a while she
rose and her composure frightened me. She walked to her father. Lost
Sister had removed the tell-tale black. The girl kneeled and kissed him
and patted his hair. Then returning to me, she quietly said:

"He looks very peaceful. Very happy. I am glad he did not have to suffer.
The bullet that took his life was very kind. It must be very beautiful to
be dead."

She ceased speaking and slowly began stretching her arms above her head,
and with a long-drawn scream she fell over backward and I knew she had
lost her reason.

-----

  [4] Also Daniel Boone's Shawnee name in later years.



CHAPTER X

OUR MEDICINE GROWS STRONGER


The Shawnees' anxiety to start for the Ohio almost became a panic. The
tragic manner in which they had been robbed of their victim, the screaming
defiance of young Cousin, together with their losses in warriors,
convinced them something was radically wrong with their war-medicine.
Outwardly Black Hoof remained calm but I knew he was greatly worried. His
medicine had designated Dale for the torture, and then had permitted a
bullet to release the man.

Nor was it any small influence which the girl's condition exerted in this
desire to retreat. She seemed to be stunned. She walked about, but without
appearing to hear or see her captors. There was none of the savages who
did not believe her terrible scream prefaced her crossing the
dividing-line between reason and insanity.

As an insane person she was under the special protection of the great
manito, and black woe to him who interfered with her. The chief was eager
to abandon her to be picked up by the settlers at Howard's Creek, but she
clung tenaciously to Cousin's sister. The latter displayed no emotion over
this preference, yet she did not repulse the girl. She even was gentle in
caring for her.

Ward was for finishing me out of hand, but Black Hoof insisted I should
carry packs and make myself useful before being dispensed with. Then again
I would be something to display at the villages and something to dance
about when it came to appeasing the ghosts of the slain warriors. We broke
camp that night, and with malicious ingenuity Ward strapped packs on my
shoulders until my back buckled. As he finished and was promising to
thrust his knife into my legs if I displayed any weariness, Cousin's
sister came up and sharply directed him to remove the packs as I was to
serve as a litter-bearer.

"The white woman asks for him," she said. "Catahecassa gives him to me to
help carry the medicine-woman."

Ward raged, but Black Hoof upheld the girl; and although I knew Patricia
was too insensible of her surroundings to ask for any one, I was keen to
serve her. Lost Sister had fashioned a rude litter out of rawhide and two
saplings, slack between the poles so the girl could not roll out. To my
surprise she stepped between the saplings at the forward end and called on
me to pick up the other end and march. I considered it to be a man's work,
but she made nothing of it, and never called a halt that she might rest.

In the morning the hunters brought in some deer-meat and turkeys, and we
camped long enough to eat. Once more Ward endeavored to prevail upon the
chief to put me out of the way. He played upon Black Hoof's superstitions
very cunningly by declaring the war-medicine would be very weak until I
was killed. The chief was impressed, else he never would have come to
stare at me.

It happened, however, that Patricia was delirious, and it was my hand on
her head that seemed to quiet her. Lost Sister told a noble lie by
volunteering the information that it was my presence that kept the girl
quiet. Black Hoof and his braves had a great fear of the girl when she
began her rambling talk. They believed she was surrounded by ghosts and
talking with them. So Ward's request was refused, and stern orders were
given that I should not be harmed. When the home villages were reached, he
added, I might be burned.

When we made our second camp on the Kanawha I called Black Hoof to me. I
had been staked out in spread-eagle fashion and my guards had placed
saplings across my body and were preparing to lie down on the ends at each
side of me. I assured the chief there was no danger of my running away, as
my medicine would wither and die, did I forsake the great manito's child;
and I asked him to relieve me of the cords and saplings. He told the
warriors to omit the cords.

The next time we halted to snatch a few hours' sleep he ordered that no
more saplings be placed across me, that it would be sufficient to tie my
ankles and wrists. This was a great relief. During this portion of the
march the girl seemed oblivious to her surroundings, also to the fact that
she was a captive. She showed a strong preference for Lost Sister's
company, and would glance about worriedly if the young woman left her
sight.

So it devolved on the two of us, both white, to care for her. There were
times when she babbled of faraway scenes, of Williamsburg and her old
home, of the streets of Norfolk and Richmond. She talked with those she
had known as children. When in this condition the Indians were glad to
keep away from us. Even Ward would not willingly remain within hearing of
her sweet voice could he avoid so doing. And alas! There were other times
when she was almost violent, when only Lost Sister could soothe and quiet
her.

By the time we reached the mouth of the Great Kanawha no guard was kept
over me that I could perceive; nor were my limbs any longer bound at
night. At each camp Lost Sister ranged the woods and brought in roots and
herbs and made strange-smelling messes in a camp kettle and assiduously
dosed the girl.

Rafts were quickly knocked together and the crossing made to the Indian
shore. I had expected the band to dig out hidden canoes and descend to the
mouth of the Scioto. Instead we struck into a trail across-country. The
path was well worn, and the fork we followed ended at the Scioto above
Chillicothe, the principal Shawnee town.

Much of the distance Patricia walked, although the litter was taken along
for her convenience. Lost Sister talked with me at times and I began to
feel that the barrier between us was much lower. But she never spoke of
the settlements or her brother. Her talk was always a red talk and she
never addressed me except in Shawnee.

From her I learned we were making for Cornstalk's Town, some twenty-five
miles above Chillicothe, located on Scippo Creek. Among border men this
region was known as the Pickaway Plains. Near our destination was
Grenadier Squaw's Town, named after Cornstalk's gigantic sister.

I suffered no incivility during the overland march. My status became that
of an attendant on the great manito's medicine-child. Patricia continued
in a dazed state of mind, but after two days of arduous travel I detected
her weeping. Lost Sister enigmatically warned:

"She is another woman. She is more like the woman she once was. She must
keep close to her manito."

I could interpret this only to mean that the girl was recovering from her
mental shock and was recalling bits of the past, and that she was safe
only so long as the savages believed her to be insane. At our last camp
from Cornstalk's Town Patricia insisted on walking beside me when the
trace would permit it and she startled me by saying:

"My father was good to me."

"Do you remember me?" I asked.

"Remember you, Basdel? Why, of course. What a queer question." Then with a
little frown she sighed and complained. "But I don't understand why I am
here with you and these Indians. I wonder if it is a bad dream, if I will
soon wake up."

I blundered along the best I could, striving to say nothing which might
upset her. She suddenly refused to talk and began displaying much physical
nervousness. Lost Sister promptly took her in hand and led her some
distance in advance of me. That was the day the band split up, the bulk of
the warriors leaving to go to their different villages. Half a dozen
remained to press on to Cornstalk's Town.

Ward was among those who left us and he was unwilling to go. His departure
was a great relief to me. His presence frightened the girl, although she
gave no sign of remembering him as having been a factor in her life. It
was due entirely to Lost Sister's appeal to Black Hoof that the renegade
was ordered to Chillicothe.

As he was leaving us he promised me:

"I'll yet see you eating fire. That white squaw will see me again."

"I'll dance your mangy scalp some time," I retorted.

Whereat he used terms of abuse he had picked up from traders, and I struck
him with my fist. Black Hoof stopped him from killing me, and threatened
me with torture if I offended again. Then he ordered Ward to go.

The chief continued with us to Cornstalk's Town, but Cornstalk was not
there; so he went in search of him at Grenadier Squaw's Town. Before
leaving he gave orders that I was not to be molested so long as I did not
attempt to escape. The town was inhabited by women and children largely,
with a dozen men left to act as hunters.

It was plain that the fighting men of the tribe were gathering somewhere,
probably at Chillicothe. Patricia was believed to be in touch with the
manito, and was feared and respected accordingly. The days that followed
were not unhappy for me; and Patricia appeared to be contented in a numb
sort of way.

My own reaction to the anxieties and fears of our captivity devitalized me
to a certain degree, I believed; else, I would not have been contented to
settle down to the drowsy existence of village life. I did no hunting. I
was a companion to the girl when she wished for my company. Aside from
that capacity the Indians looked on me as if I had been a tree.

I talked on general subjects with Lost Sister, always waiting for her to
blaze the trace our words were to follow. Her red husband remained aloof
from her from the day she took charge of Patricia. Whether he resented her
companionship with us I do not know, and after our arrival he disappeared
for a time.

I discovered I was lacking in curiosity as to what each morrow had in
store for us. It savored of the indifference of the fatalist. But I did
come to the alert when I observed Patricia was rapidly returning to
normal. I remembered Lost Sister's warning, "She must keep close to her
manito." I was forced to repeat these words to her.

It was one of the hardest tasks I ever undertook. She suffered deeply when
she began to grasp my meaning. She began to remember things concretely.
Yet life was the stake, and the fact that my life was also involved helped
her much. With the aid of Lost Sister I taught her how to be ever on her
guard, how to carry herself when in the presence of the silent but ever
watchful Indians.

Once the shock wore off somewhat she found it was not difficult to keep up
her rôle. The most effective way to allay any suspicion was for her to
talk aloud to herself. The savages believed she was holding conversation
with inmates of the invisible world, and drew away from her. But while she
improved, my lethargy continued. My physical and mental strength seemed to
be sapped. I was content to lie on the bank of the creek, my mind idling
with vagaries.

Some six weeks passed in this desultory fashion, then Cornstalk and Black
Hoof returned to the village with three warriors and a negro woman. The
woman had been captured at Sapling Grove within three hundred yards of
Captain Evan Shelby's house, the woman told me. She also informed me that
her captors were led by a very large man, much whiter than any of his
companions, and that he talked good English.

This description fitted either John Logan or Will Emery, the Cherokee
half-breed. I decided the man was Logan. The woman was treated kindly.
Immediately on arrival the two chiefs retired to a wigwam for a long talk.
Then Black Hoof sent for me and Patricia. I warned her to pay no attention
to them, and to talk much to herself. She acted admirably and was kept in
the wigwam only a few minutes.

Cornstalk had watched her closely, and both he and Black Hoof were uneasy
and relieved when she departed. Toward me their manner was incisive, and
they demanded certain information. As I knew conditions had changed vastly
since I was captured I talked freely and improvised considerably. There
was no military value whatever to the news that I imparted.

Cornstalk, who was a large man and of a commanding appearance, and
possessing unusual intellectual powers, was keen to learn about
individuals, especially about Daniel Boone. He asked how many men Boone
could lead against the Shawnees. I told him all the border men would be
glad to serve under him, that he was collecting fighting men when I was
taken prisoner.

"Your tongue is split," Cornstalk warned. "Be careful, or we will say that
young medicine-woman does not need a liar to care for her. Be careful, or
your tongue will be pulled out. The Shawnees will be glad to warm
themselves at your fire. That man was sent to the Falls of the Ohio. He
has returned to the settlements. He commands three forts in the lower
valleys. Will he head riflemen to battle, or stay at the forts?"

I truthfully answered that I believed he would be given an important
command. And I explained how Colonel Lewis would be over him as he would
be over many other brave leaders. They knew Lewis and feared him. Their
faces were very glum until I repeated Connolly's message to Charles Lewis
that peace with the tribes was very possible. Then they smiled grimly and
Cornstalk informed me.

"Your Dunmore ordered his Long Knives to march against Shawnee towns ten
sleeps after you were captured."[5]

I was startled at the information and glanced through the opening of the
wigwam as if expecting to see the lean militia men breaking from the
woods. The chief added:

"But they seem to have trouble in starting. Perhaps they are very old men
and can not walk fast. I shall send my young men across the Ohio to dig
them out of the mud."

"The Cherokees will not join the Shawnees," I ventured.

Cornstalk eyed me menacingly.

"They will not because they have old women among them. They put their
powder in bags, and put the bags in caves. Their powder is spoiled. After
I whip your army the Cherokees will carry their axes into the Carolinas."

I believed the Cherokees would do this, if our army were whipped. Turning
to Black Hoof, Cornstalk asked:

"How long before you roast this white man?"

"After we have whipped the army of Dunmore and Lewis and Boone. Now he
waits on the medicine-woman. After the battle there will be many white
women to wait on her."

I was dismissed and on reaching the open air I discovered I had left all
my apathy behind me. The importance of time and the imperative need of
immediate action was burned into my brain by Black Hoof's words. I sought
Patricia and found her seated on the bank, staring into the sluggish
waters.

"I was thinking of you, Basdel," she greeted, and she reached her hand to
me. "I was remembering what I said in Salem about your rifle. I'm sorry. I
did wrong."

"Heavens, child! Abuse the rifle all you will!"

"It was abuse of you and of all that your rifle stood for. I mocked you
because you were from the border. Poor father! He knew many Indians, but
he did not understand them. Town ways seem mighty small and of no account
now."

"Patsy, you must get a grip on yourself. We must get clear of this village
at once. We must get back to Virginia."

She shivered and her eyes dilated as she stared at me and she muttered:

"I dread the woods, the silence, the darkness. The wolves howling at
night. Worst of all is the creeping horror of being chased. No! No! I
can't stand any more, Basdel. The black horror comes over me when I let
myself think of it. The dank woods--the silence--the awful stealth of
night. No, no, Basdel. Let me die here."

"Patsy, grip yourself! You can't stay among these beggars. They think you
are insane. That's why they've spared you. But there's going to be a
battle soon. If they win they'll bring many prisoners here. You must not
be here then."

She interrupted me with a little heart-broken cry and clapped her hands to
her eyes to blot out some horrid picture. It was harsh, but the way she
was inclining led to permanent madness.

"We will steal away and make the Ohio. The Indians are busy planning for
the big battle. They'll not spare many men to seek us. I will take you
back to Virginia and across the mountains."

"Or we will both die," she whispered. "That wouldn't be bad. To die and be
out of it all--But I mustn't speak for you, Basdel."

"You speak for both of us," I comforted. "Death isn't terrible. This is."
And I swept my hand in a half-circle at the Shawnee wigwams forming the
village. "Say nothing to Cousin's sister. I will make my plans at once. A
gun, some powder and lead, and then we will go."

"And never come back to them alive?" she insisted, and she leaned forward
and stared intently into my eyes.

"Never alive, sweetheart."

"That is much better," she quietly remarked. "And here comes my sister.
She has been very good to me. I wish we could take her with us. Over the
mountains, or to death."

"She refused to go over the mountains with her brother. We must tell her
nothing," I warned.

Lost Sister gave me a quick glance as she came up. She gazed at Patricia
in silence for a moment, then warned:

"The white woman must keep close to her manito. The eyes of the eagle and
the ears of the fox are in this village."

"She is having bad thoughts," I told her. "Lead her thoughts through new
paths."

As I strolled away I heard her beginning a Shawnee myth, in which it was
explained why the wet-hawk feeds while flying, and how the small
turkey-buzzard got its tufted head.

According to the notches cut in my long stick it was the first day of
September. Now that Cornstalk was back and in conference with Black Hoof
the village became a center of importance. Notable chiefs and medicine-men
of the northern tribes began to assemble. Lost Sister pointed out to me
Puck-e-shin-wa, father of a six-year-old boy, who was to become one of the
most remarkable Indian characters in our history, under the name of
Tecumseh.

Young Ellinipsico, son of Cornstalk, was there, gay in his war-trappings
and eager for the battle. Blue Jacket, another famous Shawnee chief and
warrior, was in attendance. Of the allied tribes I saw Chiyawee the
Wyandot, Scoppathus the Mingo, Redhawk the Delaware, and most interesting
of all, John Logan, chief of the Mingos.

He was the son of a French man, who was adopted by the Oneidas, but he
always claimed kin to the Cayuga, the term "Mingo" being loosely applied
by our border men to any fragments of the Iroquois living outside the Long
House in New York Province. Logan came and went inside an hour, spending
all his time in a secret conference with Cornstalk.

I saw him as he strode through the little village, looking neither to
right nor left, saturnine of countenance. He showed his white blood, being
much lighter in complexion than the full-bloods. A warrior walked behind
him, carrying his gun. The chief himself carried a long wand decorated
with the ten or twelve scalps he had taken since Baker and Greathouse
massacred his people at Baker's Bottom.

Young Cherokees, stolen away from their nation to be in at the death of
the white race in Virginia, were present without leaders. Black Hoof's
long absence from the villages was explained when a full score Ottawas
filed into the opening and sang their war-song. Their spokesman loudly
announced that they were but the advance of many of their tribe.

I feared I had waited too long, and was much relieved to learn from Lost
Sister that warriors and chiefs were to move to Chillicothe at once and
there await the coming of the western bands. Their going would leave our
village practically deserted except for aged and broken men and the women
and children.

Lost Sister said her husband was eager to take the path, and that it was
Cornstalk's plan to cross the Ohio instead of waiting to be attacked in
his own country. She was vague as to the chief's exact plans once he had
crossed the river, but by joining her brief statements together I was led
to believe Cornstalk had learned that the Virginia forces had been split
into two armies, and that the masterly red strategist planned to surprise
and annihilate one, and then attack the second. This information alone was
of sufficient importance for me to risk my life many times in order to
apprise my superiors of the trap being set for them.

By the time the sun was half-way down the afternoon sky all the chiefs
were moving down the river bound for Chillicothe. Young Ellinipsico and a
mixed band of warriors were left to arrange for guarding the girl. He
would depart for Chillicothe on the morrow. I went in search of the girl
and met Lost Sister standing by a big honey-tree. She asked me if I had
seen her husband, and looked worried when I shook my head.

"He said he would not go without seeing me, and yet he is not here in the
village. Your white woman--she walks far from her manito. It is bad for
her."

"She must leave here," I boldly said. "I must take her away." I had had no
intention of taking her into my confidence, but I realized it would be
impossible to make a start without her missing the girl. So I took the
desperate course and did what I had warned Patricia not to do.

She drew her knife and cut some straight marks on the honey-tree.

"You see those?" she asked.

I bowed my head. Without explaining the relevancy of her question, she
turned and walked rapidly toward the village. I stared at the marks and
they told me nothing. There was nothing pictorial about them. I followed
her among the wigwams, and was in time to see her leading Patricia into
her wigwam. I sauntered after them, obsessed by the notion that strange
forces were at work. The village seemed to be quiet and sleepy and yet the
air was surcharged with threats of things about to happen.

When the storm broke it was from a quarter entirely different from
anything I could have imagined. My first intimation that something unusual
was happening was when a Shawnee ran into the village and began talking to
Ellinipsico, who was lounging sleepily on the grass before his father's
wigwam. I heard Ellinipsico exclaim:

"He must not be hurt. He has felt the hand of the great manito on his
head."

I looked about for a weapon, so that I might go down fighting, for I first
thought the stranger Indians were demanding me for a plaything, not
understanding my true status as servant to the medicine-woman. I knew this
was not the solution of the affair when Ellinipsico jumped to his feet and
ran to the edge of the village, at every bound shouting to the Ottawas to
hurry back to the village.

A loud outcry answered him from the forest. To my amazement Ellinipsico
slowed down his mad pace and appeared to be reluctant to enter the woods.
The few Shawnees and Mingos in the village followed his example in
timidity. Then above the war-cry of the Ottawas rose the roar of Baby
Kirst, punctuated by the crack of a rifle and the death-yell of a savage.

Now I understood. The Ottawas, ignorant of Kirst's condition, had met him
blundering through the woods and had essayed to halt his progress. He
promptly had offered fight, and they were at it, with the odds greatly in
favor of the Indians. In my excitement I ran to where Ellinipsico stood.
He was dancing with rage and fright. Beholding me, he ordered me to dive
into the growth and stop the fight.

I glanced back and saw Lost Sister and Patricia leaving the wigwam. Lost
Sister began leading her charge toward the south end of the village and
jerked her head at me as though calling on me to follow. It was driven
into my mind that this was the time to escape with the girl. I plunged
into the woods and no Indian cared to dog my steps.

I made as if to go to the scene of the fearful confusion, but once out of
sight of Ellinipsico and his men I turned to intercept the course taken by
Lost Sister and Patricia. I miscalculated the distance, or else the
combatants made a rapid shift of ground, for before I knew it I was
standing on the edge of a most ferocious struggle. Kirst was still mounted
and bleeding from a dozen wounds. His long rifle was being swung for a
club.

My first view of him was as he splintered the butt on an Ottawa head. He
bawled in triumph. The Ottawas, expecting no diversion so near the
village, were armed only with their knives and axes. A fellow leaped on to
the horse and tried to stab him from behind, and one immense hand reached
back and caught him by the neck and held him in midair, and squeezed the
life from the painted body, and then hurled him among the remaining
warriors.

The girl must come first, but it was not in my heart to pass without
contributing something to Kirst's advantage. I snatched up a war-club,
dropped by a slain savage, and hurled it into the thick of them, bowling
over two. Kirst's horse went down, disemboweled. Now Kirst was at a great
disadvantage, but his long arms gathered up two of the Ottawas, and I
heard their ribs crack, as with a pleased grunt the simple fellow
contracted his embrace.

But now they were piling upon him, striking and stabbing, a living mound
which for the moment concealed the big fellow. Then the mass began to
disintegrate, and savages staggered back and fell dead, or suffering from
terrible wounds. Kirst rose to his feet only to fall on his face as if
shot through the head, although he received no wound at the time that I
could perceive.

My last glance was fleeting, but it sufficed to count six silent forms of
Ottawas who would never cross the Ohio to attack Lord Dunmore's armies.
One Indian, gasping with pain, with both arms hanging like rags, lurched
by me but not seeing me, his gaping mouth trying to sound his death-song.
Ellinipsico was calling on his men to follow him, and I sped away.

Baby Kirst had fulfilled his destiny and would babble his way through the
forests no more. The force which had destroyed his reason had paid the
full price the law of compensation had worked out.

Could I find the girl without returning to the village I hoped the
confusion resulting from the bloody struggle would permit me to steal away
with her. I swung back toward the opening and soon discovered Patricia and
Lost Sister. The latter on beholding me called me by name, the first time
she had ever done so. As I ran to them she fiercely said:

"Take your white woman and go! Cross the Ohio but do not go up the
Kanawha. Follow the Guyandotte or Sandy, into the valley of the Clinch.
You must hurry!"

As if the day had not been hideous enough a bepainted warrior burst
through the undergrowth as she finished, with his bow raised and an arrow
drawn to the head. Beneath the war vermilion, I recognized Lost Sister's
husband. She threw out her arms and smiled scornfully and cried:

"You hide in the bushes to watch me? I thought so."

Then she was down with an arrow buried to the feathers.

I leaped into the bushes and grappled with the murderer before he could
draw another arrow from his quiver. He dropped his bow and endeavored to
hurl me to the ground. As we whirled about I saw Patricia kneeling beside
Lost Sister and striving to pet her back to life. One glimpse, and then
all my attention was needed for my adversary. He was quicker than I, and
his freshly oiled body made him hard to hold; but I was far the stronger.

"His knife, Basdel; Look out;" screamed Patricia; and I was glad to note
there was no madness in her voice.

I had him by his right wrist, my left arm shoved under his chin and into
his red throat. The girl's gaze sent my gaze downward. He was trying to
work the knife from its sheath before I could force him backward or break
his neck. But the sheath was too long for the knife and he could not reach
the handle with his fingers until he had forced the blade upward by
pinching the tip of the sheath. I did not try to interfere with his
maneuver, but settled myself solidly to hold him from escaping.

"The knife, Basdel!" she shrilly repeated. Then she nearly upset my
calculations by trying to thrust a bough between my foe's feet. Only by a
nimble maneuver did I escape being tripped; but it was heartening to know
Patricia could respond to my needs.

"Stand clear!" I panted. "I have him!"

"But the knife!" she despairingly cried.

"He's getting it for me!" I replied.

Now he had managed to work the haft clear of the leather and his left hand
was closing on it. His eyes told me that much. Instantly I changed my
tactics. I dropped my left arm to seize his left wrist. I released his
right wrist and with my free hand tore the weapon from his grasp. He
struck me in the head with his free fist, but I felt it none as he did not
have the white man's trick of delivering a buffet. We went down side by
side, and by the time we had rolled over once he was dead by his own
knife.

Retaining the weapon, I ran to Patricia as she collapsed by the side of
the dying woman.

"I am all right! Get up!" I commanded.

Cousin's sister smiled grimly, and whispered:

"He has been watching us. He saw me come here when I scratched the tree.
He has been hiding--The marks I made on the honey-tree--Look behind
it--the pea-vines--. Tell Shelby I send him a little sister--" And she had
solved all her problems, and had passed into the compassion of the manito
whose gentleness and understanding surpass all comprehension.

Patricia was weeping softly, as one who sorrows with an aching heart, but
not as one who is afraid. I gathered her up in my arms and made for the
honey-tree close by. I stood her on her feet, and exhorted her to be brave
as the time had come for us to take to flight. I plunged into the
pea-vines behind the tree. A new thrill of life fired me as I fished out
my own rifle, a powder-horn, shot-pouch and linen patches. Cousin's sister
had even remembered to provide a roll of buckskin and an awl for mending
our moccasins, and a small package of smoked meat.

Thus armed once more I took the girl's hand and stole through the woods,
following the well-beaten path that led to Chillicothe, and planning to
swing to the east and skirt the town under the cover of darkness. I
desired to emerge on the Ohio at a point opposite the mouth of the Big
Sandy. For some time we could hear the wailing and howling of the Shawnees
in Cornstalk's Town as they mourned for the dead Ottawas, and Patricia was
sadly frightened. My ears were tingling for fear they would catch the cry
of discovery, but young Ellinipsico was there instead of Black Hoof, and
our flight was undiscovered.

-----

  [5] Expedition against Indian towns ordered July 24th. Boone
      returned from Kentucky to the settlements August 27th.



CHAPTER XI

BACK TO THE BLUE WALL


We reached the Ohio and I soon found a canoe. The trip down the Scioto had
its danger thrills, and twice we narrowly escaped meeting bands of
warriors on the main trace. I stuck to the path because of its advantages.
None below us knew we had left the upper town, and would not be looking
for us. In the beaten path there was much less chance of leaving signs for
some scout to pick up and follow. I knew warriors would be scouring the
country in all directions once the news of our escape was carried to
Chillicothe, but the Scioto path was the last one they would expect us to
take.

I had remembered Lost Sister's warning and planned to follow the Big Sandy
until its head waters interlocked with those of the Clinch and Holston. It
was nerve-wearing work, that crossing of the Ohio. With each dip of the
paddle I expected rifles to crack behind me and canoes to poke their noses
through the overhanging foliage and make after us. I could not see that
the girl breathed during the crossing, and I kept her in front of me as
her face was a mirror to reflect instantly any danger on the Indian
shore.

We landed at the mouth of Four-Mile Creek without any disturbing
incidents. I told her we were four miles above the mouth of the Scioto and
she was for placing more distance between us and that river at once. But
it was impossible to travel all the time. Now we were foot-free, and as I
had my rifle the Shawnees would pay high before catching up with us, I
assured her. I had been at Four-Mile Creek the year before to survey five
hundred acres of good bottom-land for Patrick Henry, and was of course
familiar with the locality.

Five hundred yards back from the Ohio was an old fort. I took the girl
there to rest while I patched our moccasins. The Indians said this
structure was so ancient that no one knew who built it. As a matter of
fact it was the remains of George Croghan's stone trading-house. Traces of
an Indian town, antedating the fort, were also to be observed. Very
possibly it was occupied by the Shawnees before they built their first
town at the mouth of the Scioto on the west bank. It was from this Scioto
town that Mary Ingles escaped in 1755, and the history of her daring and
hardships rather belittled my feat in bringing Patricia from the upper
town.

The poor girl continued extremely nervous and I feared she would collapse.
Now that she had tasted freedom she feared the Indians were hot on our
trail. Her gaze was constantly roving to the Ohio. She was fearing to
behold the Shawnees paddling across to recapture us. The moccasins had to
be mended, however, as the night travel down the Scioto path had sadly
damaged them.

As I sewed the whangs through the rips and hastily patched the holes I
could see her worriment was increasing. That period of delay was more
trying to her fortitude than when we were making the détour around
Chillicothe and our very lives hung on luck, or the mercy of her manito.

"There is something in the river," she whispered, her slight figure
growing rigid.

"Only a log," I told her.

"Look! Isn't there something moving in the bushes?" And she clutched my
arm.

"Only the wind ruffling the tops," I soothed.

She was silent for a few minutes and then confessed:

"I dread and hate the river, Basdel. I wish we could get out of sight of
it."

"It's a short trip in the canoe to the Big Sandy."

"And with the possibility of an Indian hiding behind every stump and log
along the shore!"

"Then we will hide the canoe and strike across the bend. A few creeks to
cross, and inside of two days we should reach the Big Sandy. It's about
thirty-five miles and there is the blaze left by the surveyors. Do you
wish that? It will be harder for your feet than riding in the canoe. It
may be easier on your nerves."

"Anything, Basdel, to get away from the river! And can't we start now? I
know we shall see the Indians coming across to catch us if we stay here
much longer."

I tossed her her moccasins and quickly mended mine and put them on.
Leaving her to wait until I could draw up the canoe and hide it, I
proceeded to conceal all traces of our landing as best I could, and then
told her I was ready.

The bottoms on this side of the river are narrower than on the Indian
shore, and the old surveyors' blaze proved to be a wet path. The small
creeks were bordered with cane and when we encountered them it was hard on
the girl. But she minded hardships none, and once we were out of sight of
the river she regained some of her spirits. But a glimpse of the blue
river brought back her old fears as though the Ohio were some monster able
to reach out and seize her.

Before night I proved the river could be good to us. Against her will I
had swung down to the shore and was leading her along a narrow beach in
order to escape a bad tangle of briers when I had the good fortune to
discover a bateau lodged against the bank. The girl begged me not to go
near it although it was obviously empty. I insisted and was rewarded with
a bag containing a bushel of corn. Now we could have cooked it in our
kettle had we been provided with that indispensable article. As it was
there was life in munching the corn.

The undergrowth was a nuisance, being composed of pea-vines, clover,
nettles, cane and briery berry bushes. I would not stop to camp until I
could reach a tract free from the stuff. As a result it was nearly sunset
by the time we halted in a mixed growth of hickory, ironwood and ash on
the banks of a tiny creek. Here we could pick a path that left no signs.
We rested a bit and then followed the creek toward its outlet for half a
mile and came to a log cabin.

The girl dropped to the ground, glaring as if we were beholding the
painted head of a Shawnee. I assured her it was a white man's cabin and
probably empty. Leaving her behind an elm, I scouted the place and
satisfied myself there had been no recent visitors there. I called to her
to join me and proudly displayed an iron kettle I had found by the door.
But when I would have left her to make the kettle boil while I looked for
a turkey, she refused to stay and insisted on accompanying me.

Fortunately I perched a turkey within two hundred feet of the cabin. I
hung the kettle in the fireplace and built a good fire under it and then
dressed the turkey. For some reason the girl preferred the open to the
cabin and remained outside the door. As I finished my task she called to
me excitedly. Grabbing my rifle, I ran out. She was pointing dramatically
at a big blaze on a mulberry-tree. The scar was fresh, and on it some one
had written with a charred stick:

Found some people killed here. We are gone down this way. Douglass.

"What does it mean?" she whispered, her eyes very big as she stared at the
dusky forest wall.

"That would be James Douglass," I mused. "He came down here with Floyd's
surveying-party last spring. I wonder who was killed."

"Enough to know the Indians have been here," she said, drawing closer to
me. "Can't we go the way they did and be safe?"

"We might make it. But 'gone down this way' means they started for New
Orleans. A long, roundabout journey to Williamsburg."

"Oh, never that! I didn't understand," she cried. "I will be braver. But
if the nearest way home was by the Ohio I would go by land. Anything but
the river! Remember your promise that we are not to be taken alive. Now
let's push on."

"And leave this excellent shelter?" I protested.

"Men have been killed here. I can't abide it. A few miles more--please."

Of course she had her own way, but I made her wait until we had cooked
some corn to a mush and I had broiled the turkey. I could have told her it
would be difficult for us to select any spot along the river which had not
been the scene of a killing. So we took the kettle and left a stout, snug
cabin and pushed on through the darkness to the top of a low ridge, where
I insisted we must camp. We made no fire.

I estimated the day's travel to have been twelve miles at the least, which
was a good stint for a man, let alone a girl unused to the forest. Nor had
the work wearied her unduly. At least she had gained something from her
captivity--a strength to endure physical hardships which she had never
known before. With good luck and half-way decent footing I believed
another sunset would find us at the Big Sandy. That night was cold and I
sorely regretted our lack of blankets.

Before sunrise I had a fire burning and the kettle of mush slung on a
green sapling for further cooking. Patricia was curled up like a kitten,
and I recovered my hunting-shirt and slipped it on without her knowing I
had loaned it to her for a covering. She opened her eyes and watched me a
few moments without comprehending where she was. With a little cry she
jumped to her feet and roundly unbraided me for not calling her to help in
the work.

I pointed out a spring, and by the time she was ready to eat the hot mush
and cold turkey, the fire was out and we were ready to march. Our lack of
salt was all that prevented the meal from being very appetizing. We were
not inclined to quarrel with our good fortune, however, but ate enough to
last us the day. As the first rays touched the tops of the trees we
resumed the journey.

We covered a good ten miles when we had our first serious mishap since
leaving the Indian village. Patricia had insisted she be allowed to take
the lead where the blazed trees made the trace easy to follow. I humored
her, for she kept within a rod of me. We struck into a bottom and had to
pick our way through a stretch of cane.

Afraid she might stumble on to a bear and be sadly frightened, I called on
her to wait for me. But she discovered a blaze on a sycamore beyond the
cane and hurried forward. Half-way through the cane she slipped on a wet
root and fell on her side. Ordinarily the accident would not have been
serious, but the moment I saw the expression of pain driving her face
white I knew she was hurt. I dropped the kettle and picked her up. She
winced and groaned and said it was her arm. I carried her to the high
ground and made her sit while I examined her hurt. I expected to find the
bone broken. I was happily disappointed, and yet she was hurt grievously
enough. A section of cane had penetrated the upper arm near the shoulder,
making a nasty wound. As the cane had broken off in the flesh it was
necessary for me to play the surgeon. Using a pair of bullet-molds I
managed to secure a grip on the ugly splinter and pull it out. She gave a
little yelp, but did not move.

"The worst is over," I told her. "Now we must dress it."

Returning and securing the kettle, I dipped water from a spring and
lighted a fire and hung the kettle to boil. Then I hunted for Indian
medicine. I soon found it, the bark of a linn or bee-tree root. This I
pounded and bruised with the butt of my rifle and threw it into the kettle
to boil. Patricia remained very patient and quiet, her eyes following my
every move.

"You're as useful as a housewife, Basdel," she remarked. "More useful than
most women could be."

"Only a trick learned from the environment," I lightly replied. "Does it
hurt much?" This was rhetorical, for I knew a stab wound from the cane
smarted and ached most disagreeably.

"Not much," she bravely replied. "I'm sorry to bother you, though."

"You'll soon be as fit as a fiddle," I assured her. "Border men are
continually helping each other in this fashion."

As soon as the kettle boiled I washed the wound in the liquid and made
sure all of the cane had been removed. This additional probing caused her
pain but she showed no signs not even by flinching. The application at
once had a soothing effect. We waited until the medicine had cooked down
to a jelly-like consistency, when I applied it as a salve, working it into
and thoroughly covering the wound. Then I tied it up with a strip torn
from her skirt. Rather rough surgery, but I knew it would be effective.

She bitterly lamented over the time we were losing, and blamed herself so
severely that I finally consented to go on, providing she would keep
behind me. Had the hurt been in her foot we would have been forced to camp
for several days.

Toward night the country grew more broken and much rougher, and I knew we
were nearing the Sandy. I feared she might trip over some obstacle, and we
camped before the light deserted us. I told her we were within a few miles
of the river and that we ought to strike it at the mouth of Savage Creek,
some four or five miles from the Ohio. After starting a fire, she
volunteered to remain and feed it while I looked for game. This in the way
of doing penance, perhaps. I had the good luck to shoot a deer and we
dined on venison.

After we had eaten she sat close by the fire and was silent for many
minutes. That she was meditating deeply was shown by her indifference to
the night sounds which usually perturbed her. The howling of the wolves,
and the scream of a panther, leaping to make a kill, passed unheard.
Suddenly she declared:

"You were right, Basdel."

"About what, Patsy?"

"About my not fitting in west of the mountains."

"That was said before you were tried. No woman, even border-born, could be
more brave than you have been."

"And I was so woefully wrong when I made fun of your long rifle. I want
you to forgive me."

"Patsy, don't. You are wonderful."

"Still being good to me, Basdel. But I know the truth now. Back over the
mountains I was wicked enough to feel a little superior to frontier folks.
No. Don't wave your hands at me. I must say it. I even felt a little bit
of contempt for those brave women who went barefooted. God forgive me! I
was a cat, Basdel. A vicious cat!"

"Good heavens, Patsy! Say it all and have done with it. Call yourself a
pirate."

She would not respond to my banter, but fell to staring into the handful
of coals. Then the tears began streaming down her face, and at last she
sobbed:

"Poor girl! Poor girl! She was a wonderful friend to me. She never had any
chance, and you can never know how hard she tried to keep my spirits up;
how ready she was to stand between me and harm--me, who has had every
chance! And to end like that! And yet it was far worse to live like that.
It's best as it is, but God must be very good to her to make up for what
she lost. Tell me, Basdel, did she suffer much when she died?"

She could be talking only of Cousin's sister. I declared:

"She suffered none. It's best for her as it is."

She fell asleep with her back against a black walnut, and I spread my
hunting-shirt over her, for the air was shrewdly cool. In the dying coals
I saw pictures, wherein Kirst, Dale, and Lost Sister paraded in turn; the
fate of each the result of race-hatred, and a race-avidity to possess the
land. And a great fear came over me that the girl leaning against the
walnut, the mass of blue-black hair seeming to bow down the proud head,
was destined to be added to the purchase-price the frontier was ever
paying.

It was her talk and tears that induced this mood, for I knew the Shawnees
would have overtaken us by this time had they found our trail on the
Kentucky shore. Common sense told me that for the remainder of our journey
we would, at worst, be compelled to avoid small scouting-parties that had
no intimation of our presence on the Big Sandy.

But so many gruesome pranks had been played by Fate that I was growing
superstitious. And I feared lest the girl should be snatched from me at
the last moment, just as safety was almost within sight. I slept poorly
that night and what little rest I did obtain was along toward morning.

The girl awoke me; and I felt my face burning as I beheld her standing
there, staring down accusingly, the hunting-shirt spread across my chest.
I sprang to my feet and slipped into the shirt, which was made like a
coat, and waited for her to speak.

"So you've been sleeping cold," she said.

"Nay. Very warm," I replied, becoming busy with my moccasins.

"After this I will keep awake nights."

"I did not need it. I always take it off at night It makes me too warm."

"You lie most beautifully, Basdel."

"How is the arm this morning?"

"Much better. But you must be more honest with me. You must not lie any
more."

"You're making a mountain out of a hunting-shirt. It is too warm to wear
at night in this mild weather."

"You're hopeless. Of course it is not too warm in the warm sunshine."

I was glad to let it go at that. And there was no warm sunshine this
morning. The heavens were overcast with gray cold clouds that rode high
and brought wind rather than rain. We missed the sun. Town-dwellers can
never know the degree of dependence the forest wanderer places on the
sunlight for his comfort and good cheer. Despair becomes gaiety under the
genial rays. It is not surprising the sun should be the greatest of all
mysteries to the Indians, and therefore their greatest medicine or god.

We ate of the venison and mush and started for the river. The distance was
not great, but the way was very rough, and there were no more blazed trees
to guide us, the surveyors' trace passing below us and closer to the
shore. But I was familiar with the lay of the land and it was impossible
for me to go far wrong as long as all streams flowed into the Ohio and we
crossed at right angles with their general course.

I carried the kettle slung on my rifle and with my right hand gave the
girl aid when the path became unusually difficult. A wrenched ankle would
leave us as helpless as a broken leg. It required three hours of painful
effort to bring us to the Sandy.

I found a fording and carried her across to the east shore and soon
located a trader's trace. She never dreamed that her father often had
traveled along this faint path in his visits to the Ohio Indians. Now that
the footing was easier she had time to gaze about, and the aspect
depressed her.

The immense hills of sandrock were worn into deep and gloomy ravines by
the streams. In the walls of the ravines black holes gaped, for caves were
almost as numerous as springs. To encourage a lighter mood I explained
that these very caves made the country an ideal place for hiding from the
Indians.

She broke into my talk by moaning:

"May the good God help us! See that!"

She was pointing to a dark opening across the river. This framed the face
of the devil. For a moment I was sadly startled, then laughed hysterically
in relief.

"It's a bear, with a white or gray marking on his face," I explained. "He
is harmless. See! He's finished looking us over and goes back into his
den."

But the effect of the shock to her nerves did not wear off for some time.
To prepare her against more glimpses of bruin I told her how the broken
nature of the country made it a favorite region for bears, and that it had
been long known along the border as a famous hunting-ground for the big
creatures.

"I feel just as if it was the guardian spirit of an evil place, that it is
spying on us and plotting to harm us," she confessed.

Whenever the trace permitted I swung aside from the river and took to the
ridges. The tops of these were covered with chestnuts and their sides with
oaks. More than once on such détours I sighted furtive furry forms
slipping away from their feast on the fallen nuts, but Patricia's gaze was
not sufficiently trained to detect them; and she wandered through the
groves without knowing we were literally surrounded by bears.

While a wild country, it was relieved by many beautiful touches. Such were
the tulip-trees, or yellow poplar. Many of them towered a hundred feet
with scarcely a limb to mar the wand-like symmetry of the six-foot boles.
Scarcely less inspiring were the cucumber-trees, or mountain magnolias,
which here reached the perfection of growth.

Scattered among these tall ones were white and yellow oaks; and they would
be considered giants if standing alone. These were the serene gods of the
forest, and they had a quieting influence on my companion. It was with
regret that I led her back along the rough shore of the river.

I shot a young bear, but Patricia displayed a foolish repugnance and would
eat none of it. Later in the day I killed a deer with such a minute charge
of powder as emphatically to establish my excellence as a marksman for
that one shot at least. We were nearly three days in making the Tug Fork
of the Sandy.

The girl bore the hardships well. The wound on her arm healed rapidly, and
whatever she actually suffered was mental rather than physical. Our kettle
proved second only to my rifle in importance, and if the fare lacked the
savor of salt our appetites made up for the deficit. When we reached the
Tug we were in the region celebrated for Colonel Andrew Lewis' "Sandy
Creek Voyage of Fifty-six," as it was styled with grim facetiousness.

It was one instance when Colonel Lewis failed of carrying out an
enterprise against the Indians. It was a retaliatory raid against the
Shawnees and his force was composed of whites and Cherokees; and his lack
of success was due largely to the inefficiency of the guides who undertook
to pilot him to the mouth of the Sandy. I told the girl of the expedition
as it was lacking in horrible details, and with other carefully selected
narratives tried to keep her from brooding.

She seldom mentioned her father, and when she did it was usually connected
with some phase of life over the mountains. I believe that she was so
thankful to know he escaped the torture that his death lost much of
poignancy. Only once did she revert to his taking off, and then to ask:

"Was there a single chance for him to escape?"

And I emphatically declared he never had the ghost of a chance from the
moment he fell into Black Hoof's hands.

Another ruse to keep her mind engaged was to trace out our course with a
stick on a patch of bare earth. I showed how we should travel to the north
fork of the Sandy and then strike to the head of Bluestone, and follow it
nearly to the mouth before leaving it to cross New River; then a short
journey to the Greenbriar and Howard's Creek.

Had I had any choice I should have preferred to take her over the
mountains to Salem, but my time was not my own and it was imperative that
I leave her at the first place of safety and be about Governor Dunmore's
business. My decision to make Howard's Creek was strengthened by an
adventure which befell us near the end of our first day on the Tug. We
were casting about for a place to camp when we came upon five Indians,
three squaws and two hunters.

Patricia was greatly frightened on beholding them, and it was some time
before I could make her understand that they were friendly Delawares,
accompanied by their women, and not painted nor equipped for war. After
calming her I addressed them and learned they were from White Eye's
village. They were afraid to go near the settlements.

Many "Long Knives," as they called the Virginia militia, were flocking to
the Great Levels of the Greenbriar, and a forward movement of a whole army
was shortly to be expected. As the presence of a large force of our
riflemen so near Howard's Creek would insure the safety of that settlement
I knew it to be the proper ending of our journey.

I induced Patricia to remain in camp with the Indians while I went out and
shot a bear. The bear was very fat and I gave all the meat to the natives,
for which they were grateful. One of them had a smoothbore, but no powder.
I could spare him none.

Patricia was now convinced the Indians would not harm us, but she would
not consent to making camp near them. We walked several more miles before
she was willing to stop and cook the kettle.

My tally-stick gave the thirteenth of September as the date of our arrival
at Howard's Creek. The settlers informed me I had lost a day somewhere on
the long journey and that it was the fourteenth. Nearly all the young and
unmarried men were off to fight in Colonel Lewis' army, and many of the
heads of families, including Davis and Moulton.

Those who were left behind gave us a royal welcome. Uncle Dick, the aged
one, fell to sharpening his long knife with renewed vigor. Patricia and I
had been counted as dead. Dale's death had been reported by young Cousin,
and it caused no great amount of sorrow. The girl was never allowed to
suspect this indifference. In reply to my eager inquiries I was told that
Shelby Cousin was at the Great Levels, serving as a scout.

For once Howard's Creek felt safe. With nothing to worry about the men and
women became garrulous as crows. The children played "Lewis' Army" from
sunrise to sunset. The Widow McCabe swore she would put on a hunting-shirt
and breeches and go to war. The passing of men between the levels and the
creek resulted in some news and many rumors. The meeting-place at the
levels was called Camp Union. Colonel Lewis, pursuant to orders from
Governor Dunmore, had commenced assembling the Augusta, Botetourt and
Fincastle County troops at the levels on August twenty-seven. Cornstalk's
spies had served him well!

His Lordship was to lead an army, raised from the northwest counties and
from the vicinity of Fort Pitt, down the Ohio and unite with Colonel Lewis
at the mouth of the Great Kanawha. Colonel Charles Lewis, with some
Augusta and Botetourt troops, had left Camp Union on September sixth to
drive the cattle and four hundred pack-animals to the mouth of the Elk,
where he was to make canoes for transporting provisions to the Ohio.

The main army had marched from Camp Union on the twelfth, although Colonel
Lewis had received a letter from Dunmore, urging that the rendezvous be
changed to the mouth of the Little Kanawha. Colonel Lewis had replied it
was impossible to alter his line of march.

From a fellow sent out to round up stray bullocks I learned the army would
avoid the deep gorge and falls in the river by marching ten miles inland
and parallel to the east bank, joining Colonel Charles Lewis at the Elk.

By another man I was told how the militia men were given to shooting away
their precious ammunition, and how the colonel had warned that unless the
practise ceased no more powder would be given out. That the Indians were
active and not afraid of the troops was evidenced by an attack on
Stewart's Fort, only four miles from Camp Union. And this, before the
troops marched.

Colonel William Christian was in command of the rear-guard, and his men
were much disgruntled at the thought of not being in the forefront of the
fighting. What was most significant to me, although only an incident in
the estimation of the men left at Howard's Creek, was the attack made by
two Indians on two of Lewis' scouts, Clay and Coward by name.

The scouts had separated and one of the Indians fired on and killed Clay.
Thinking him to be alone, the Indians ran to get his scalp, and Coward at
a distance of a hundred yards shot him dead. Coward then ran back toward
the line of march and the surviving Indian fled down the Great Kanawha to
inform the Shawnee towns that the Long Knives were coming.

I lost no time in securing a horse and a supply of powder and in hurrying
to say good-by to Patricia. She was very sober when I told her I was off
to overtake the army. Placing both hands on my shoulders, she said:

"Basdel, I know you've forgiven all the disagreeable things I've said to
you. I will wait here until I hear from you. I will pray that you have an
equal chance with the other brave men."

"I will come back and take you over the mountains."

"If you will only come back you may take me where you will, dear lad, even
if it be deeper into the wilderness," she softly promised.

And Mrs. Davis bustled out of the cabin and energetically shooed the
curious youngsters away.

And now I was riding away to battle, riding right joyously over the
chestnut ridges and through the thick laurel, through stretches of pawpaw,
beech and flowering poplar, with the pea-vine and buffalo grass soft
underfoot. And my heart was as blithe as the mocking-bird's and there was
no shadow of tomahawk or scalping-knife across my path.

I knew the destiny of the border was soon to be settled, that it hinged on
the lean, leather-faced riflemen ahead, but there was nothing but sunshine
and glory for me in that September day as I hastened to overtake the
grim-faced man who believed His Lordship, John Murray, fourth Earl of
Dunmore, Viscount Fincastle, Baron of Blair, Monlin and of Tillimet, was
Virginia's last royal governor.



CHAPTER XII

THE SHADOWS VANISH


I followed the river, the cord of the bow, and made good time where the
army would have had difficulty to get through. A dozen miles below the
falls and near the mouth of Kelly's Creek, where Walter Kelly was killed
by the Indians early in August, I came upon a scout named Nooney. We were
on the west bank and the river was two hundred yards wide at that point.
Nooney begged some tobacco and pointed out a fording-place and gave me the
"parole." This, very fittingly, was "Kanawha." He said I would speedily
make the camp and that Colonel Lewis was with the first troops.

I lost no time in crossing and had barely cleared the river-bank before I
was held up by an outpost. This fellow knew nothing of military red-tape.
He was plain militia, a good man in a fight, but inclined to resent
discipline. He grinned affably as I broke through the woods and lowered
his rifle.

"Gim'me some tobacker," he demanded good-naturedly.

"I suppose you'd want the parole," I replied, fishing out a twist of
Virginia leaf.

"I got that. It's 'Kanawha.' What I want is tobacker. Don't hurry. Le's
talk. I'm lonesome as one bug all alone in a buffler robe. See any footin'
over 'cross? I'm gittin' tired o' this outpost business. All foolishness.
We'll know when we strike th' red devils. No need o' havin' some one tell
us. Your hoss looks sorter peaked. S'pose we'll have a mess of a fight
soon? We boys come along to fight, not to stand like stockade-timbers out
here all alone."

I told him I had important news for Colonel Lewis and must not tarry. He
took it rather ill because I would not tell him my news, then tried to
make me promise I would come back and impart it. I equivocated and led my
horse on toward the camp, concealed from view of the river-bank by a
ribbon of woods. The first man I met was Davis, and the honest fellow was
so rejoiced to see me that he dropped his gun and took both my hands and
stood there with his mouth working, but unable to say a word. Big tears
streamed down his face.

I hurriedly related my adventures, and his joy was treble when he heard
that Patricia was safe at Howard's Creek.

"Shelby Cousin shot and kilt Dale. He told us 'bout that. Ericus thought
he knew it all. Wal, them that lives longest learns th' most," he
philosophically observed. "Powerful glad to see you. We'll be seein' more
of each other, I take it. How's my woman? Good. She's a right forward,
capable woman, if I do say it. Moulton's out on a scout. Silent sort of a
cuss these days from thinkin' 'bout his woman an' th' children. But a rare
hand in a mess."

"And Cousin?"

"Say, Morris, that feller acts like he was reg'lar happy. Laughs a lot,
only it don't sound nat'ral. He's a hellion at scoutin'. Poor Baby Kirst!
I must 'low it's best for him to be wiped out, but it's too bad he
couldn't 'a' made his last fight along with us. There's th' colonel in his
shirt-sleeves smokin' his pipe."

I passed on to where Lewis was sitting on a log. It was fearfully hot, as
the high hills on each side of the river shut out the free air and made
the camp an oven. On recognizing me, the colonel's eyes flickered with
surprise, as the report of my capture had spread far. He rose and took my
hand and quietly said:

"I knew they couldn't hold you unless they killed you on the spot. What
about Miss Dale?"

I informed him of her safety and his face lighted wonderfully.

"That's good!" he softly exclaimed. "A beautiful young woman, the kind
that Virginia is always proud of. Ericus Dale was lucky to die without
being tortured. Now for your news; for you must be bringing some."

I told him of the mighty gathering at Chillicothe and of the influx of the
fierce Ottawas. Lost Sister's warning to me to keep clear of the Great
Kanawha impressed him deeply. It convinced him, I think, that the astute
Cornstalk had planned to attack the army before it could cross the Ohio,
and that the Shawnees on learning of the assembling at the levels knew the
advance must be down the Kanawha. The Indian who escaped after Clay was
killed was back on the Scioto by this time. After musing over it for a bit
he insisted that it did not necessarily follow the attack would be in
force.

"That was Cornstalk's first plan. But now he knows Governor Dunmore has an
army at the mouth of the Little Kanawha. He may choose to attack him
instead of me. I hope not, but there's a strong chance he'll do that while
making a feint to fool me, and then float down the river and give me a
real battle."

He kindly offered to attach me to one of the companies as sergeant, with
the possibility of appointing me an ensign, but I preferred to act as
scout and enjoy more independence of action.

"That's the trouble," he remarked. "All these fellows want to be scouts
and range the woods free of discipline. They want to whip the Indians but
they want to do it their own way. They persist in wasting ammunition, and
it now looks as if we would go into battle with less than one-fourth of a
pound of powder per man.

"If any man speaks up and says he is the best marksman in Virginia then
every man within hearing challenges him to prove it. And they'll step one
side and have a shooting-match, even if they know Cornstalk's army is
within a couple of miles of us. They're used to bear- and deer-meat. They
don't want to eat bullock-meat. I'll admit the beef is a bit tough. And
every morning some of them break the rules by stealing out to kill game.
This not only wastes powder, but keeps the outposts alarmed."

Before I was dismissed I asked about Cousin. The colonel's face became
animated.

"Oh, the young man with the sad history? He's out on a scout. That fellow
is absolutely fearless. I am surprised every time he lives to return to
make a report. It's useless to lay down a route for him to scout; he
prowls where he will. But he's valuable, and we let him have his own
way."

On the next day we marched to the mouth of the Elk where Colonel Charles
Lewis was completing arrangements for transporting the supplies down the
river. While at that camp I went on my first scout and found Indian
tracks. One set of them measured fourteen inches in length. The men went
and looked at the signs before they would accept my measurements.

The camp was extremely busy, for we all knew the crisis was drawing close.
Our armorer worked early and late unbreeching the guns having wet charges.
Three brigades of horses were sent back to Camp Union for more flour. I
went with Mooney on a scout up Coal River and we found Indian signs four
miles from camp. Other scouts were sent down the Kanawha and up the Elk.

On returning, I found Cousin impatiently waiting for me to come in. He had
changed and his bearing puzzled me. He was given to laughing loudly at the
horse-play of the men, yet his eyes never laughed. I took him outside the
camp and without any circumlocution related the facts concerning his
sister and Kirst.

"Tell me again that part 'bout how she died," he quietly requested when I
had finished. I did so. He commented:

"For killing that redskin I owe you more'n I would if you'd saved my life
a thousand times. So little sister is dead. No, not that. Now that woman
is dead I have my little sister back again. I took on with this army so's
I could reach the Scioto towns. To think that Kirst got way up there! I
'low he had a man's fight to die in. That's the way. Morris, I'm obleeged
to you. I'll always remember her words 'bout sendin' a little sister to
me. Now I've got two of 'em. We won't talk no more 'bout it."

With that he turned and hurried into the woods.

The men continued firing their guns without having obtained permission,
and Colonel Lewis was thoroughly aroused to stop the practise. He directed
that his orders of the fifteenth be read at the head of each company, with
orders for the captains to inspect their men's stock of ammunition and
report those lacking powder. This reduced the waste, but there was no
stopping the riflemen from popping away at bear or deer once they were out
of sight of their officers.

I had hoped Cousin would return and be my companion on the next scout, but
as he failed to show up I set off with Mooney for a second trip up the
Coal. This time we discovered signs of fifteen Indians making toward the
Kanawha below the camp. We returned with the news and found a wave of
drunkenness had swept the camp during our absence.

The sutlers were ordered to bring no more liquor into camp, and to sell
from the supply on hand only on a captain's written order. This served to
sober the offenders speedily. The scouts sent down the Kanawha returned
and reported two fires and five Indians within fifteen miles of the Ohio.
It was plain that the Indians were dogging our steps day and night, and
the men were warned not to straggle.

We were at the Elk Camp from the twenty-fourth to the thirtieth, and on
the latter date the canoemen loaded their craft, and the pack-horse men
and bullock-drivers drew two days' rations and started down-river. It
rained for three days and on October second we were camped near the mouth
of the Coal. It was there that Cousin appeared, a Mingo scalp hanging at
his belt. He informed Colonel Lewis he had been to the mouth of the river,
making the down-trip in a canoe, and that as yet no Indians had crossed
except small bands of scouts.

Breaking camp, we encountered rich bottom-lands, difficult to traverse
because of the rain. Every mile or two there were muddy creeks, and the
pack-horses were nearly worn out. Several desertions were now reported
from the troops, a hostility to discipline rather than cowardice being the
incentive. Another trouble was the theft of supplies.

As we advanced down the river signs of small bands of Indians became
numerous; scarcely a scout returned without reporting some. I saw nothing
of Cousin until the sixth of October, and as we were finishing an
eight-mile march through long defiles and across small runs and were
entering the bottom which extends for four miles to the Ohio. The first
that I knew he was with us was when he walked at my side and greeted:

"There's goin' to be a screamin' big fight."

He offered no explanation of his absence and I asked him nothing. It had
required five weeks to march eleven hundred men one hundred and sixty
miles and to convey the necessary supplies the same distance.

As we scouts in the lead entered the bottom Cousin called my attention to
the high-water marks on the trees. Some of these measured ten feet. The
Point itself is high. From it we had a wide view of the Ohio and Kanawha,
up- and down-stream. It was Cousin who discovered a writing made fast to a
tree, calling attention to a paper concealed in the hollow at the base of
the tree. We fished it out and found it was addressed to Colonel Lewis.
Cousin and I took it to him. Before opening it, he gave Cousin a shrewd
glance and remarked:

"I am glad to see you back, young man."

"If I've read the signs right I 'low I'm glad to git back," was the grave
reply.

The letter was from Governor Dunmore, and he wrote to complain because our
colonel had not joined him at the Little Kanawha. He now informed our
commander he had dropped down to the mouth of the Big Hockhocking, and we
were expected to join him there. After frowning over the communication,
Colonel Lewis read it aloud to some of his officers and expressed himself
very forcefully. It was soon camp gossip, and every man was free to
discuss it.

Much anger was expressed against Governor Dunmore. And it did seem absurd
to ask our army to move up the Ohio some sixty miles when such a tedious
maneuver would lead us farther from the Indian towns than we were while at
the Point. Had the order been given for the army to go to the Hockhocking
there would have been many desertions.

I learned later that the letter was brought to the Point by Simon Kenton
and Simon Girty, who with Michael Cresap were serving as scouts with
Dunmore. While the camp was busily criticizing the governor our scouts
from the Elk came in and reported seeing Indians hunting buffalo. When
within six miles of the Point, they found a plowshare, some
surveying-instruments, a shirt, a light blue coat and a human under
jaw-bone.

Shelby Cousin said the dead man was Thomas Hoog, who with two or three of
his men were reported killed by the Indians in the preceding April while
making improvements. Cousin insisted his death had been due to wild
animals or an accident, after which the animals had dragged his remains
into the woods. He argued that an Indian would never have left the coat or
the instruments.

We passed the seventh and eighth of the month in making the camp sanitary
and in building a shelter for the supplies yet to arrive down the river.
Preparations also went ahead for moving the army across the Ohio. Most of
the scouts were sent out to hunt up lost beeves, while a sergeant and
squad were despatched with canoes to the Elk after flour.

Three men came in from the Elk and reported that Colonel Christian was
camped there with two hundred and twenty men, that he had only sixteen
kettles, and was fearing his men would be ill from eating too much roast
meat "without broth." On the eighth there arrived more letters from
Governor Dunmore, in which His Lordship expressed his surprise and
annoyance because of our failure to appear at the Hockhocking.

This time Colonel Lewis was quite open in expressing his disgust at the
governor's lack of strategy. The Kanawha was the gate to Augusta,
Botetourt and Fincastle Counties. To leave it and move up-river would
leave the way open for the red army to stream into Virginia and work its
savagery while the colonials were cooped up on the Ohio or hunting Indian
wigwams in the wilderness.

In the package was a letter to our colonel from Colonel Adam Stephens,
second in command to His Excellency, which was given wide publicity.
Colonel Stephens reported very disagreeable news from Boston. It was to
the effect that General Gage had fired on the people at Cambridge. Later
we learned that while some gun-powder and two cannon had been seized by
His Majesty's troops there had been no massacre of the provincials. But
while the rumor remained uncontradicted it caused high excitement and
great rage.

On the evening of the ninth Cousin and I were ordered out to scout up the
river beyond Old Town Creek. Our camp was near the junction of the Kanawha
and the Ohio, almost at the tip of the Point. About a fourth of a mile to
the east is Crooked Creek, a very narrow stream at that season of the
year, with banks steep and muddy. It skirts the base of some low hills and
flows nearly south in emptying into the Kanawha. Half-way between our camp
and Old Town Creek, which empties into the Ohio, is a small stretch of
marsh-land extending north and south, with bottom-lands on each side.

Cousin and I planned to keep along the Ohio shore until a few miles above
Old Town Creek, when we would separate, one returning along our course to
keep an eye on the river, the other circling to the east and swinging back
through the low hills drained by Crooked Creek. This double reconnaissance
should reveal any spies.

The men were very anxious to cross the river and come in contact with the
Indians. They believed they would have the allied tribes within their
grasp once they reached the Scioto. They were cheered by the report that
the army would cross on the morrow. One tall Watauga boy boastfully
proclaimed that all the Shawnees and Mingos beyond the Ohio wouldn't "make
more'n a breakfast for us." Davis, because a man of family and more
conservative, insisted it would be a "pretty tough chunk of a fight."

This was the optimistic spirit Cousin and I left behind us when we set out
at sunset. Cousin was in a new mood. There was a certain wild gaiety,
rather a ferocious gaiety, in his bearing. His drawn face had lost some of
the hard lines and looked almost boyish and his eyes were feverishly
alight. He seemed possessed of superabundant physical strength, and in
pure muscular wantonness went out of his way to leap the fallen timbers
which littered the shore.

As darkness increased he ceased his wild play and became the prince of
scouts. We advanced most leisurely, for we had all night if we cared to
stay out. We halted when abreast of the marsh-land and seated ourselves on
the banks of the Ohio and watched the starlight find a mirror in the
water. After a protracted silence he abruptly asked:

"My sister said she was sendin' me a new sister, you say?"

"Those were her words."

"I wish she could know to-night I ain't needin' any new sister. Wish she
could know right now that she's always been my sister. When I reckoned I'd
lost her I was just mistook. She was just gone away for a little while.
She found a mighty hard an' rough trace to travel. I 'low the Almighty
will have to give her many belts afore He smooths out the path in her
mind. I 'low it'll take a heap o' presents to make up for the burrs an'
briers an' sharp stones she had to foot it over. Thank God she died
white!"

"Amen to that!"

After another silence he asked:

"You 'low she's with daddy an' mammy?"

"I do."

"That's mighty comfortin' to figger on," he slowly mused. "Much like a
younker gittin' mighty tired an' goin' back home to rest. Daddy an' mammy
will do a heap to make it up to her for what she had to go through. Yes, I
can count on 'em, even if the Almighty happened to be too busy to notice
her when she first crossed the border."

Dear lad! He meant no irreverence.

The night was calm and sounds carried easily. We had passed beyond where
we could hear the men singing and merry-making in camp, but the uneasy
movements of a turkey and the stealthy retreat of a deer seemed very close
at hand. The soft pad-pad of a woods cat approached within a few feet
before the creature caught the scent, and the retreat was marked by a
series of crashings through the undergrowth.

After a while we rose and continued up the river.

"No Injuns along here," murmured Cousin.

We reached Old Town Creek and crossed it without discovering any signs of
the enemy; nor were we looking for anything more serious than a stray
scout or two. We went nearly two miles above the creek and turned back
after deciding we would separate at the creek, he taking the hills route
and I following the river. We reached the creek and he was about to leave
me when we both heard a new note, a splashing noise, very faint. Our hands
met in a mutual desire to grab an arm and enforce attention.

"No fish made it," I whispered.

"No fish," he agreed. "There!"

The splashing came from across the several hundred yards of the Ohio's
deep and silent current. It was repeated until it became almost
continuous, and it gradually grew louder.

"Rafts!" shrilly whispered Cousin.

"They are paddling fast."

"No! But there are many rafts," he corrected.

We retreated up-stream a short distance and concealed ourselves in a deep
growth. To the sound of poles and paddles was added the murmuring of
guttural voices. Then for a climax a raft struck against the bank and a
low voice speaking Shawnee gave some sharp orders.

"One!" counted Cousin.

As he spoke another raft took the shore, and then they grounded so rapidly
that it was impossible to count them. Orders were given, and the Indians
worked back from the river and proceeded to make a night-camp. The landing
had been made at the mouth of the creek, but the savages had spread out,
and some of them were due east from us.

"There's a heap of 'em!" whispered Cousin. "Lucky for us they didn't fetch
any dawgs along, or we'd be smelled out an' have to leg it."

"I hear squaws talking."

"Kiss the devil if you don't! There's boys' voices, too. They've fetched
their squaws an' boys along to knock the wounded an' dyin' in the head."

"Then that means they feel sure of winning."

And my heart began thumping until I feared its beating would be audible at
a distance. And before my inner gaze appeared a picture of Lewis' army
defeated and many victims being given over to the stake.

"Keep shet!" cautioned Cousin. "There it is again! A Mingo talkin', a
Seneca, I'd say--Hear that jabber! Delaware--Wyandot--Taway (Ottawa). With
a blanket o' Shawnee pow-wow. By heavens, Morris! This is Cornstalk's
whole force. They've learned that Dunmore is at the Hockhockin' an' will
be j'inin' up with Lewis any day, an' old Cornstalk thinks to lick Lewis
afore Dunmore's men can git along!"

It was now after midnight, and I knew we should be back at camp and
warning Colonel Lewis of his peril. I knew from my last talk with him that
he did not expect to meet the Indians in any numbers until we had crossed
the Ohio. Our failure to find any Indians at the Point and our prospects
for an immediate crossing conduced to this belief.

The day before all the scouts had been instructed as to our maneuvers once
we crossed the river and were searching for ambushes. It was terrible to
think of our army asleep only three miles away. I urged an immediate
return, but Cousin coolly refused to go until he had reconnoitered
further.

"You stay here till I've sneaked down to the mouth o' the creek," he
whispered. "'Twon't do for both of us to git killed an' leave no one to
take the word to Lewis."

"But why run any risk?" I anxiously demanded; for I feared he had some mad
prank in mind which would betray our presence and perhaps stop our warning
to the army.

"We must l'arn somethin' as to how many o' the red skunks there be," he
replied.

"To venture near their camp will mean discovery. They're very
wide-awake."

"I ain't goin' near their camp," he growled in irritation. "I want to look
over them rafts. I can tell from them how many warriors come over, or
pretty close to it."

He slipped away and left me to do the hardest of the work--the work of
waiting. It seemed a very long time before I heard the bushes rustle. I
drew my ax, but a voice whispering "Richmond," the parole for the night,
composed me. Feeling his way to my side he gravely informed me:

"There's seventy-eight or nine rafts an' a few canoes. It's goin' to be a
fine piece o' fightin'. At least there's a thousand warriors on this side
an' a lot o' squaws an' boys."

I estimated our army at eleven hundred and I thanked God they were all
frontiersmen.

Cousin now was as eager to go as I; and leaving our hiding-place, we
worked north until we felt safe to make a détour to the east. Our progress
was slow as there was no knowing how far the Indian scouts were ranging.
Once we were forced to remain flat on our stomachs while a group of
warriors passed within a dozen feet of us, driving to their camp some
strayed beeves from the high rolling bottom-lands to the east. When the
last of them had passed I observed with great alarm a thinning out of the
darkness along the eastern skyline.

"Good God! We'll be too late!" I groaned. "Let's fire our guns and give
the alarm!"

"Not yet!" snarled my companion. "I must be in the thick o' that fight.
We're too far east to git to camp in a hustle. We must sneak atween the
hills an' that small slash (Virginian for marsh). Foller me."

We changed our course so as to avoid the low hills drained by Crooked
Creek, and made after the warriors. About an hour before sunrise we were
at the head of the marsh, and in time to witness the first act of the
day's great drama. Two men were working out of the fallen timber, and
Cousin threw up his double-barrel rifle. I checked him, saying:

"Don't! They're white!"

"Renegades!"

"John Sevier's younger brother, Valentine. T'other is Jim Robertson."

"Then Lewis knows. He sent 'em to scout the camp."

"They're after game. James Shelby is sick with the fever. Yesterday
morning he asked them to perch a turkey for him. Signal them. They know
nothing about the Indians!"

Cousin risked discovery by standing clear of the bushes and waving his
hat. "There comes two more of 'em!" he exclaimed.

This couple was some distance behind the Watauga boys, but I recognized
them. One was James Mooney, my companion on the Coal River scout. The
other was Joseph Hughey.

I jumped out and stood beside Cousin and waved my arms frantically. One of
them caught the motion and said something. The four paused and stared at
us. We made emphatic gestures for them to fall back. At first they were
slow to understand, thinking, as Sevier told me afterward, that I was
pointing out some game. Then they turned to run, Robertson and Sevier
firing their rifles to the woods to the north of us.

These were the first guns fired in the battle of Point Pleasant. From the
woods came the noise of a large body of men advancing. A ripple of shots
was sent after the hunters. Hughey and Mooney halted and returned the
fire. A streak of red some distance ahead of the Shawnees' position, and
close to the river-bank, dropped Hughey dead. This shot was fired by
Tavenor Ross, a white man, who was captured by the Indians when a boy and
who had grown up among them.

Mooney, Robertson and young Sevier were now running for the camp, passing
between the Ohio bank and the marsh. We raced after them just as a man
named Hickey ran from the bushes and joined them. The Indians kept up a
scattering fire and they made much noise as they spread out through the
woods in battle-line. They supposed we were the scouts of an advancing
army.

It is the only instance I know of where insubordination saved any army
from a surprise attack, and possibly from defeat. To escape detection
while breaking the orders against foraging, the five men named had stolen
from the camp at an early hour.

By the time Cousin and I passed the lower end of the marsh small bodies of
Indians were making for the hills along Crooked Creek; others were
following down the Ohio inside the timber, while their scouts raced
recklessly after us to locate our line of battle. The scouts soon
discovered that our army was nowhere to be seen. Runners were instantly
sent back to inform Cornstalk he was missing a golden opportunity by not
attacking at once.

Mooney was the first to reach Colonel Lewis, who was seated on a log in
his shirt-sleeves, smoking his pipe. Mooney shouted:

"More'n four acres covered with Injuns at Old Town Creek!"

Rising, but with no show of haste, Lewis called to Cousin and me: "What
about this?"

"An attack in force, sir, I believe," I panted.

He glanced at Cousin, who nodded and then ducked away.

"I think you are mistaken," the colonel coldly remarked. "It must be a big
scouting-party." I tried to tell him what Cousin and I had seen and heard.
But he ignored me and ordered the drums to beat To Arms. But already the
border men were turning out and diving behind logs and rocks even while
the sleep still blurred their eyes.

Colonel Lewis ordered two columns of one hundred and fifty men each to
march forward and test the strength of the enemy. The colonel's brother
Charles led the Augusta line to the right. Colonel William Fleming
commanded the left--Botetourt men. The two columns were about two hundred
yards apart, and their brisk and businesslike advance did the heart good
to behold.

No one as yet except the hunters and Cousin and I realized the three
hundred men were being sent against the full force of the Ohio Indians.
Colonel Lewis resumed his seat and continued smoking.

"You're nervous, Morris. It can't be more than a large scouting-party, or
they'd have chased you in."

"They came over on seventy-eight rafts!" I replied, turning to race after
Colonel Charles Lewis' column.

The Augusta men were now swinging in close to Crooked Creek where it
skirts the foot of the low hills. As I drew abreast of the head of the
column we were fired upon by a large force of Indians, now snugly
ensconced behind trees and fallen timber along the creek. We were then not
more than a quarter of a mile from camp. The first fire was tremendously
heavy and was quickly followed by a second and third volley. The Augusta
men reeled, but quickly began returning the fire, the behavior of the men
being all that a commander could desire. They were forced to give ground,
however, as the odds were heavy.

On our left crashed a volley as the Botetourt men were fired on. Colonel
Lewis ordered his men to take cover, then turned to Captain Benjamin
Harrison and cried:

"This is no scouting-party! But my brother will soon be sending
reinforcements."

He had hardly spoken before he spun half-way around, a surprised
expression on his face.

"I'm wounded," he quietly said.

Then handing his rifle to a soldier, he called out to his men:

"Go on and be brave!"

With that he began walking to the camp. I ran to help him, but he motioned
me back, saying:

"Your place is there. I'm all right."

So I left him, a very brave soldier and a Christian gentleman, to make his
way alone while his very minutes were numbered.

Half a dozen of our men were down and the rest were slowly giving ground.
Up to the time Colonel Lewis left us I had seen very few Indians, and only
mere glimpses at that. Now they began showing themselves as they crowded
forward through the timber, confident they were to slaughter us. Above the
noise of the guns, the yells and shouts of red and white combatants, rose
a deep booming voice, that of Cornstalk, and he was shouting:

"Be strong! Be strong! Push them into the river!"

We dragged back our dead and wounded as with a reckless rush the Indians
advanced over logs and rocks up to the very muzzles of our guns. But
although the Augusta line gave ground the men were not suffering from
panic, and the smashing volley poured into the enemy did great damage and
checked their mad onslaught.

Never before did red men make such a determined charge. In an instant
there were a score of individual combats, backwoodsman and savage being
clinched in a death-struggle with ax and knife. Now our line stiffened,
and the very shock of their attack seemed to hurl the Indians back. Still
we would have been forced back to the camp and must have suffered cruel
losses if not for the timely reinforcements brought up on the run by
Colonel John Field, veteran of Braddock's and Pontiac's Wars.

He led Augusta and Botetourt men, for it was no longer possible to keep
the two lines under their respective commanders, nor did any captain for
the rest of the day command his own company as a unit. With the coming up
of Colonel Field the Indians immediately gave ground, then charged most
viciously as our men pursued. This maneuver was one of Cornstalk's cunning
tactics, the alternate advance and retreat somewhat confusing our men.

The second attack was repulsed and the riflemen slowly gained more ground.
The firing on our left was now very heavy and Colonel Field directed me to
learn how the fight there was progressing. Some of our fellows were
screaming that Fleming's column was being driven in, and our colonel had
no intention of being cut off.

As I started toward the river I could hear Cornstalk exhorting: "Shoot
straight! Lie close! Fight and be strong!"

As I withdrew from the right column I had a chance to get a better idea of
the battle. The Indians lined the base of the hills bordered by Crooked
Creek, and were posted on all the heights to shoot any whites trying to
swim either the Ohio or the Kanawha. On the opposite side of the Ohio and,
as I later learned on the south bank of the Kanawha, red forces had been
stationed in anticipation of our army being routed.

As I neared the Botetourt men I could hear between volleys the Indians
shouting in unison:

"Drive the white dogs over!" meaning across the river.

The Botetourt men were well posted and considerably in advance of the
right column, as they had given but little ground while the right was
retiring after Lewis was shot. At no time did either column fight at a
range of more than twenty yards, and when I crawled among Fleming's men
the range was not more than six yards, while here and there in the deeper
growth were hand-to-hand struggles.

"A big chunk of a fight!" screamed a shrill voice, and Cousin was beside
me, wearing a brilliant scarlet jacket. As he was crawling by me I caught
him by the heel and dragged him back.

"You fool! Take that coat off!" I yelled. For the vivid splotch of color
made him a tempting target for every Indian gun. And the Shawnees were
skilful marksmen even if less rapid than the whites because of their
inability to clean their fouled weapons.

Cousin drew up his leg to kick free, then smiled sweetly and said:

"It's my big day, Morris. Don't go for to meddle with my medicine.
Everything's all right at last. I've found the long trace that leads to my
little sister. She's waitin' to put her hand in mine, as she used to do on
Keeney's Knob."

With that he suddenly jerked his leg free and sprang to his feet and
streaked toward the savages, his blood-curdling panther-screech
penetrating the heavier vibrations of the battle.

He was lost to view in the brush and I had my work to do. I kept along the
edge of the timber, and answered many anxious queries as to the fate of
the right column. I reassured them, but did not deem it wise to tell of
Colonel Lewis' wound. I found the column quite close to the river and by
the stubborn resistance it was meeting I knew the Indians were strongly
posted.

"Why don't you whistle now?" they kept howling in concert, and referring
to our fifes which were still.

"We'll kill you all, and then go and speak to your big chief (Dunmore),"
was one of their promises.

And there were other things shouted, foul epithets, which I am ashamed to
admit could only have been learned from the whites. And repeatedly did
they encourage one another and seek to intimidate us by yelling:

"Drive the white dogs over the river! Drive them like cattle into the
water!"

While I kept well covered and was completing my reconnaissance I was
horrified to see Colonel Fleming walk into the clear ground. He fired at
an Indian who had showed himself for a moment to make an insulting
gesture. He got his man, and the next second was struck by three balls,
two passing through his left arm and the third penetrating his left
breast.

He called out to his captains by name and sharply ordered them to hold
their ground while he went to the rear to be patched up. He was answered
by hearty cheers, but his absence was to be keenly felt by his officers.
He started to work his way to the Point, but the exertion of bending and
dodging from tree to stump sorely taxed him. I ran to his aid just as
Davis, of Howard's Creek, sprang from behind a log and seized his right
arm. Between us we soon had him back in camp and his shirt off. The lung
tissue had been forced through the wound a finger's length. He asked me to
put it back. I attempted it and failed, whereat he did it himself without
any fuss.

On returning to the right column to make a belated report to Colonel Field
I ran across the body of Mooney, my partner on several scouts. He had been
shot through the head. It may here be said that nearly all the dead on
both sides were shot through the head or chest, indicating the accuracy of
marksmanship on both sides.

I found the Augusta men steadily pushing the Indians back. But when they
gave ground quickly, as if in a panic, it was to tempt the foolhardy into
rushing forward. The riflemen had learned their lesson, however, and
maintained their alignment. The advance was through nettles and briers, up
steep muddy banks and over fallen timber.

The warriors rushed repeatedly to the very muzzles of our guns, and thus
displayed a brand of courage never surpassed, if ever equaled, by the
North American Indian before. It was Cornstalk who was holding them to the
bloody work. His voice at times sounded very close, but although we all
knew his death would count a greater coup than the scalps of a hundred
braves we never could get him. He was too shrewd and evasive.

Once I believed I had him, for I had located him behind a detached mound
of fallen timber. He was loudly calling out for his men to be brave and to
lie close, when a warrior leaped up and started to run to the rear. Then
Cornstalk flashed into view long enough to sink his ax into the coward's
head. It was all done so quickly that he dropped to cover unharmed.

That was one of his ways of enforcing obedience, a mode of terrorization
never before practised by a war-chief to my knowledge. It was told
afterward by the Shawnees that he killed more than that weak-hearted one
during the long day. I saw nothing of the other chiefs who attended the
conference in Cornstalk's Town while I was a prisoner. And yet they were
there, chiefs of Mingos, Wyandots, Delawares and Ottawas.

"They're fallin' back! They're fallin' back!" yelled a voice in advance of
our first line.

And the scream of a panther told us it was Cousin. He had worked across
from the left column, and we were soon beholding his bright jacket in a
tangle of logs and stumps.

The men advanced more rapidly, but did not break their line; and it was
evident the savages were giving ground in earnest. Our men renewed their
cheering and their lusty shouts were answered by the column on the
river-bank, still in advance of us.

As it seemed we were about to rush the enemy into a panic we received our
second heavy loss of the day. Colonel Field was shot dead. He was standing
behind a big tree, reserving his fire for an Indian who had been shouting
filthy abuse at him. Poor colonel! It was but a ruse to hold his attention
while savages up the slope and behind fallen timber drew a bead on him.
Captain Evan Shelby assumed command and ordered the men to keep up the
advance.

The Indians gave ground, but with no signs of confusion. Observing our
left column was in advance of the right, Cornstalk was attempting to
straighten his line by pulling in his left. As we pressed on we discovered
the savages were scalping their own dead to prevent their hair falling
into our hands. From the rear of the red men came the sound of many
tomahawks. Cousin, who for a moment found himself at my side, exulted:

"Curse 'em! Their squaws an' boys are cuttin' saplin's for to carry off
their wounded! They'll need a heap o' stretchers afore this day is over!"

The sun was now noon-high and the heat was beastly. The battle was at its
climax. The left column was near a little pond and about fifty yards from
the river, or a fourth of a mile beyond the spot where Lewis was shot. We
had evened up this lead, and the battle-line extended from the river and
pond to Crooked Creek and half-way down the creek, running from west to
east and then southwest.

Cornstalk's plan was to coop us up in the Point and drive us into the
Kanawha and Ohio. There were times when our whole line gave ground, but
only to surge ahead again. Thus we seesawed back and forth along a mile
and a quarter of battle-line, with the firing equal in intensity from wing
to wing. Nor had the Indians lost any of their high spirits. Their retreat
was merely a maneuver. They kept shouting:

"We'll show you how to shoot!"

"Why don't you come along?"

"Why don't you whistle now?"

"You'll have two thousand to fight to-morrow!"

But the force that held them together and impelled them to make the
greatest fight the American Indian ever put up, not even excepting the
battle of Bushy Run, was Cornstalk. Truly he was a great man, measured
even by the white man's standards!

"Be strong! Be brave! Lie close! Shoot well!" flowed almost
uninterruptedly from his lips.

Davis, of Howard's Creek, went by me, making for the rear with a shattered
right arm and a ghastly hole through his cheek. He tried to grin on
recognizing me. Word was passed on from our rear that runners had been
sent to hurry up Colonel Christian and his two hundred men. Among the
captains killed by this time were John Murray and Samuel Wilson. It was a
few minutes after the noon hour that Cousin emerged from the smoke on my
right and howled:

"There's old Puck-i-n-shin-wa!"

He darted forward, clearing all obstacles with the ease of a deer. I saw
the Shawnee chief, father of Tecumseh, snap his piece at the boy. Then I
saw him go down with Cousin's lead through his painted head. Two savages
sprang up and Cousin killed one with his remaining barrel. The other fired
pointblank, and by the way Cousin fell I knew his object in wearing the
scarlet jacket was attained. He had wished to die this day in the midst of
battle.

William White killed Cousin's slayer. The boy was in advance of the line
and his coat made him conspicuous. Doubtless the savages believed him to
be an important officer because of it.

Five of them rushed in to secure his scalp, and each fell dead, and their
bodies concealed the boy from view. Up to one o'clock the fighting raged
with undiminished fury, with never any cessation of their taunts and
epithets and Cornstalk's stentorian encouragement.

Now it is never in Indian nature to prolong a conflict once it is obvious
they must suffer heavy losses. They consider it the better wisdom to run
away and await an opportunity when the advantage will be with them.
Cornstalk had been confident that his early morning attack would drive us
into the rivers, thus affording his forces on the opposite banks much
sport in picking us off.

But so fiercely contested had been the battle that none of our dead had
been scalped except Hughey and two or three men who fell at the first
fire. By all that we had learned of Indian nature they should now, after
six hours of continuous fighting, be eager to withdraw. They had fought
the most bitterly contested battle ever participated in by their race.

Nor had they, as in Braddock's defeat, been aided by white men. There
were, to be true, several white men among them, such as Tavenor Ross, John
Ward and George Collet; but these counted no more than ordinary warriors
and Collet was killed before the fighting was half over. According to all
precedents the battle should have ended in an Indian rout by the time the
sun crossed the meridian. Instead the savages stiffened their resistance
and held their line.

Our men cheered from parched throats when word was passed that Collet's
body had been found and identified. Poor devil! Perhaps it opened the long
trace to him, where everything would be made right. He was captured when a
child and had responded to the only environment he had ever known.

The case of such as Collet--yes, and of John Ward and Ross--is entirely
different from that of Timothy Dorman, and others of his kind, who was
captured when a grown man and who turned renegade to revenge himself for
wrongs, real or fancied, on his old neighbors.

It was not until after seven hours of fighting that we detected any
falling off in the enemy's resistance. Even then the savages had the
advantage of an excellent position, and to press them was extremely
hazardous business. We continued to crowd them, however, until they were
lined up on a long ridge which extended from the small marsh where Cousin
and I first saw Robertson and Sevier, for half a mile to the east, where
it was cut by the narrow bed of Crooked Creek.

None of us needed to be told that so long as the enemy held this ridge our
camp at the Point was in grave danger. From the riflemen along the Ohio
word came that the Indians were throwing their dead into the river, while
squaws and boys were dragging back their wounded.

This had a heartening effect on us, for it indicated a doubt was creeping
into the minds of the savages. Once they permitted the possibility of
defeat to possess them their effectiveness would decrease. Company
commanders called on their men to take the ridge, but to keep their line
intact.

With wild cheers the men responded and buckled down to the grueling task.
Every patch of fallen timber proved to be an Indian fort, where the
bravest of the tribes fought until they were killed. It was stubborn
traveling, but our riflemen were not to be denied.

From along the line would come cries of:

"Remember Tygart's Valley!"

"Remember Carr's Creek!"

"Remember the Clendennins!"

And always Cornstalk's voice answered:

"Be strong! Be brave! Fight hard!"

So we struggled up the slope, gaining a yard at a time and counting it a
triumph if we passed a pile of dead timber and gained another a few feet
beyond.

When we were most encouraged the Indians began mocking us and shouting
exultingly and informing us that the warriors across the Kanawha and Ohio
had attacked our camp and were massacring the small force retained there.
This statement, repeatedly hurled at us with every semblance of savage
gloating, tended to weaken the men's one purpose. We could capture the
ridge--but! Behind our determination crawled the fear that we might be
assailed in the rear at any moment.

Captain Shelby was quick to realize the depressing influence of this kind
of talk, and shouted for the word to be passed that it was an Indian
trick, that our troops were guarding the Kanawha for half a mile up the
stream and that the warriors on the Indian shore could not cross over
without the column on our left discovering the move.

This prompted our common sense to return to us, and we remembered that
Andrew Lewis was too cool and shrewd to be caught napping. The Point was
sprinkled with huge trees and it would take a big force to clear it of our
reserves; and the bulk of the enemy was before us on the ridge.

With renewed vigor we made greater exertions and at last reached the top
of the ridge and cleared it. But even then the Indians were not defeated.
They charged up with ferocious energy time after time, and the best we
could do was to cling to our position and let them bring the fighting to
us. So different was their behavior from any we had been familiar with in
previous engagements we began to wonder if they would violate other Indian
precedents and continue the battle into the night.

It was not until three or four o'clock that we noticed any lessening in
their efforts to retake the ridge. At the best this afforded us only a
short breathing-spell. There were many warriors still hidden along the
slopes drained by Crooked Creek. Our line was so long there was always
danger of the Indians concentrating and breaking it.

So long as we stuck to the ridge on the defensive the enemy had the
advantage of the initiative. A runner brought up word from Colonel Lewis
to learn the strength of the savages in the hills along the creek, and I
was directed to reconnoiter.

I made for the creek from the south slope of the ridge. Sliding down the
muddy bank, I ascended the opposite slope and began making my way toward
the point where the creek cut through the ridge. I encountered no Indians,
although axes and knives on the ground showed where they had been
stationed before retiring.

I passed through the cut and was suddenly confronted by what I thought at
first must be the devil. The fellow was wearing the head of a buffalo,
horns and tangled forelock and all. Through the eye-slits gleamed living
eyes. The shock of his grotesque appearance threw me off my guard for a
moment. He leaped upon me and we went down the bank into the bed of the
creek.

He had his ax ready to use but I caught his hand. His hideous mask proved
to be his undoing, for as we rolled about it became twisted. I was quick
to see my advantage. Relying on one hand to hold his wrist, I used all my
quickness and strength and succeeded in turning the mask half-way around,
leaving him blind and half-smothered. I killed him with his own ax before
he could remove his cumbersome headgear.

As none of his companions had come to his rescue I knew this marked their
most advanced position in the hills. Having learned all I could without
sacrificing my life, I began my retreat down the creek and narrowly
escaped being shot by one of our own men.

Captain Shelby ordered me to report to Colonel Lewis, which I did, running
at top speed without attempting to keep under cover. I found the reserves
had thrown up a breastwork from the Ohio to the Kanawha, thus inclosing
the camp on the Point. It lacked half an hour of sunset when I reached the
camp.

Colonel Lewis heard me, then ordered Captains Isaac Shelby, Arbuckle,
Matthews and Stuart to lead their companies up Crooked Creek under cover
of the bank until they could secure a position behind the Indians and
enfilade their main line. I scouted ahead of this force. We circled the
end of the Indian line, but were at once discovered.

Instead of this being our undoing, it proved to be all in our favor.
Cornstalk's spies had kept him informed of Colonel Christian's presence a
few miles from the Point. He took it for granted that this force in the
hills behind his line was reinforcements brought up by Christian, and this
belief caused him to order a general retirement across Old Town Creek. At
that time Christian was fifteen miles from the Point. Sunset found us in
full possession of the battle-field.

Leaving strong outposts, we retired to the well-protected camp, rejoicing
loudly and boasting of more than two-score scalps. We carried off all our
dead and wounded. The exact Indian loss was never definitely settled but
it must have equaled, if not exceeded, ours. More than a score were found
in the woods covered deep with brush, and many were thrown into the
river.

This battle ended Dunmore's War, also known as Cresap's War and the
Shawnee War. So far as actual fighting and losses are considered it was a
drawn battle. But as Cornstalk could not induce his men to renew the
conflict, and inasmuch as they retreated before morning to the Indian
shore, the victory must be held to be with the backwoodsmen.

And yet the tribes were not entirely downcast, for during the early
evening they continued to taunt us and to repeat their threats of bringing
an army of two thousand on to the field in the morning. In fact, many of
our men believed the savages had a shade the better of the fight, and
would renew hostilities in the morning.

That night we buried Shelby Cousin on the bank of the Kanawha and built a
fire over his grave to conceal it. Colonel Christian arrived at midnight,
and there was some lurid profanity when his men learned they had arrived
too late for the fighting. One week after the battle eleven hundred troops
crossed the Ohio to carry the war to the Indian towns for a final
decision.

When thirteen miles south of Chillicothe, the town Governor Dunmore had
ordered us to attack and destroy, a message arrived from His Lordship,
directing Colonel Lewis to halt his advance, for peace was about to be
made. Hostile bands had fired upon us that very morning, and the position
was not suitable for a camp. Colonel Lewis continued the march for a few
miles. Another messenger arrived with orders for us to halt, for the peace
was about to be consummated.

We went into camp on Congo Creek, about five miles from Chillicothe. The
men raged something marvelous. They insisted that no decisive battle had
been fought and that we had thrown away nearly a hundred lives if the
fighting were not renewed. The Shawnees were in our power. What folly to
let them escape!

Dunmore and White Eyes, the friendly Delaware chief, rode into camp and
conferred with Colonel Lewis; and as a result we started the next day for
Point Pleasant and Virginia. The men were all but out of bounds, so
furious were they at not being loosed at the Shawnees.

Then began the talk that Dunmore brought on the war to keep our
backwoodsmen busy in event the colonies rebelled against England; also,
that he closed it prematurely so that the Indians might continue a menace
to the border and thus keep the frontier men at home.

I was as hot as any against His Lordship for the way the campaign ended.
We demanded blood for blood in those days; and never had the Virginia
riflemen a better chance for inflicting lasting punishment on their
ancient foes. And we were quick to blame His Lordship for a variety of
unwholesome motives.

But with political rancor long since buried we can survey that campaign
more calmly and realize that as a result of the battle the northwest
Indians kept quiet for the first two years of the Revolutionary War, and
that during this period Kentucky was settled and the vast continent west
of the Alleghanies was saved to the Union.

If the battle of Bushy Run took the heart out of the tribes confederated
under Pontiac's masterly leadership, then Dunmore's War permitted us to
begin life as a republic without having the Alleghanies for our western
boundary. Nor can I hold in these latter days that His Lordship was
insincere in waging the war; for England was against it from the first.

I believed he pushed the war as vigorously and shrewdly as he knew how;
and I believe his was the better judgment in securing the best peace-terms
possible instead of heaping defeat on defeat until the allied tribes had
nothing left to bargain for. So I give His Lordship credit for making a
good bargain with the Indians, and a bargain which aided the colonists
during the struggle almost upon them. But I was very happy when Colonel
Andrew Lewis drove him from Virginia.



CHAPTER XIII

PEACE COMES TO THE CLEARING


Early winter, and the wind was crisp and cold as I rode into Howard's
Creek. Smoke rose from the cabins. I limped toward the Davis cabin, a
strange shyness holding me back. Some one inside was singing:

              "Ye daughters and sons of Virginia, incline
                Your ears to a story of woe;
              I sing of a time when your fathers and mine
                Fought for us on the Ohio.
              In seventeen hundred and seventy-four,
                The month of October, we know,
              An army of Indians, two thousand or more,
                Encamped on the Ohio."

There was a whirl of linsey petticoats behind me, and two plump arms were
about my neck; and her dear voice was sobbing:

"They didn't know! I feared you were dead beyond the Ohio!"

"But I sent you a message!" I protested, patting her bowed head. "I sent
word by Moulton that it was only an arrow-wound in the leg, and that I
must wait."

"And he never came, nor brought your word! He stopped in Tygart's Valley
and sent his brother to bring Mrs. Moulton and the children. One man said
he heard you had been hurt. I wrote to Colonel Lewis but he was not at
Richfield. So I never knew!"

We walked aside, and I petted her and listened to her dear voice and
forgot the cold wind biting into my thin blood, forgot I would always walk
with a slight limp. When we did awake, because the early dusk was filling
the clearing, the singer was finishing his seventeen-stanza song:

           "As Israel did mourn and her daughters did weep,
             For Saul and his host on Gilbow,
           We'll mourn Colonel Field and the heroes who sleep
             On the banks of the Ohio."

And I thought of Shelby Cousin and the others, who gave their lives that
we might meet thus without the war-whoop interrupting our wooing. And I
wondered if our children's children would ever realize that the deaths
died at Point Pleasant made life and happiness possible for them. I prayed
it might be so, for lonely graves are not so lonely if they are not
forgotten.

THE END





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