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´╗┐Title: The Ranger - or The Fugitives of the Border
Author: Ellis, Edward Sylvester, 1840-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "The Ranger - or The Fugitives of the Border" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                              THE RANGER


                      THE FUGITIVES OF THE BORDER

                          BY EDWARD S. ELLIS

            AUTHOR OF "OONOMOO," "SET JONES," "IRONA," ETC.


NEW YORK
HURST & COMPANY
PUBLISHERS

COPYRIGHT, 1911,
BY
HURST & COMPANY.



[Illustration: "Hold! You strike the white man's friend!"]



CONTENTS.


       I. Zeb and his Master

      II. The Night of Terror

     III. Kent and Leslie

      IV. The Captives

       V. The Meeting on the River

      VI. The Raft

     VII. Lost and Found

    VIII. The Companion in Captivity

      IX. Zeb's Revenge

       X. The Brief Reprieve

      XI. A Friend

     XII. Escape

    XIII. The Captive

     XIV. The Rescue

      XV. The Fugitives Flying no Longer



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


"Hold! You strike the white man's friend!"

George and Rosalind

"Them varmints," said he, "are playing particular devil in these parts"

There were two horses in the party, and upon one of these Rosalind had
been placed

"Ready," whispered Leslie, "you take the nearest one."

"You shoot Indian, eh?" said one, brandishing his knife at the same time

The savages were amusing themselves by ascertaining who could send his
tomahawk nearest the body of their captive without touching him

"Does the maiden remember Pequanon?"

Two savages were left on shore

"Yonder is something approaching."



KENT, THE RANGER.



CHAPTER I.

ZEB AND HIS MASTER.


At the southern part of Ohio, where the river of that name swerves from
its south-western course, and makes a sweeping bend toward the
north-west, many years ago stood a large and imposing dwelling. Its
character, so different and superior to others found here and there
along the Ohio, showed that its owner must have been a man both of
superior taste and abundant means. It had been built by Sir William
Leland, who had emigrated from Europe with his young wife, and erected a
home in the western wilderness. Here they lived a goodly number of days;
and when, at last, they took their departure within a year of each
other, they left behind them a son and daughter to cherish and inherit
their home.

George Leland, at the time of which we speak, was but twenty, while his
sister Rosalind was three years his junior. Yet both, with the
assistance of a faithful negro servant, managed to live quite
comfortably. The soil was exceedingly rich, and, with a little pains,
yielded abundantly every thing that could be wished, while the river and
wood were unfailing resources. Three years had elapsed since the elder
Leland's death, and during that time, although living in a country
swarming with Indians, nothing had occurred to alarm the fears of our
friends, or even to give them the slightest suspicion that danger
threatened them.

[Illustration: George and Rosalind.]

When Sir William settled in this section, he followed the example of the
great founder of Pennsylvania, and purchased every foot of his land from
those who claimed it; and, in addition to the liberal remuneration which
each received, they were given some charming present by their pale-faced
brother. This secured their friendship; and, although many miles
intervened between the whites and their nearest kindred, yet they had
nothing to fear from the savages who surrounded them. Thus matters stood
when George and Rosalind were left orphans, some years before the
opening of our story.

It was a pleasant day in early summer that George and his sister were
seated in front of their house. The sun was just setting, and they had
remained thus a long time. Zeb, the negro, was absent for the time, and
they were thus undisturbed.

"Do you really think," pursued the sister, "it can be true that the
Indians have perpetrated the outrages which have been reported?"

"I should be glad to think differently, could I have reason for doing
so; but these reports certainly have foundation; and what is more
alarming, the suspicion that we are _not_ safe, which was awakened some
time ago, is now confirmed. For two or three days I have detected
suspicious appearances, and Zeb informed me that he discovered a couple
of savages lurking around the edge of the forest. I fear there is strong
reason to apprehend danger."

"But, brother, will not the kindness which our parents showed them while
living be a guaranty of our protection?"

"It may, to some extent; but you must remember that there are hundreds
of Indians who have never seen or heard of them, who would not hesitate
to kill or take us prisoners at the first opportunity."

"Can it be possible?"

"It is not only possible but true. You remember Roland Leslie, who was
here last summer? Yesterday I saw him up the river, and he gave me the
information that I have repeated. At first I deferred mentioning it to
you, for the reason that I did not wish to alarm you until it could not
be avoided."

"Why did he not come here?" asked the sister.

"He said that he should shortly visit us. He had heard rumors of
another massacre some miles up the river, and wished to satisfy himself
in regard to it before calling here. Leslie, although young, is an
experienced hunter and backwoodsman, and I have not much fear for his
personal safety. He assured me that, should he find the Indians above
ravaging the country as fearfully as reported, he would immediately
return to us."

"I hope so," earnestly replied Rosalind.

"Still," continued George, "what can we do, even then? He intends to
bring a hunter back with him, and that will make only three of us
against perhaps a thousand savages."

"But have we not the house to protect us?"

"And have they not the forest? Can they not lurk around until we die of
hunger, or until they fire the building? There are a hundred
contingencies that will bar an escape, while I confess no prospect of
getting safely away presents itself."

"We have arms and ammunition," said Rosalind. "Of course Leslie and his
friend are good marksmen, and why can we not do enough to deter and
intimidate the savages? Finding us well prepared, they will doubtless
retreat and not disturb us again. I hope the trouble will soon be over."

"I _hope_ so too; but it is hoping against hope. This war will be a long
and bloody one, and when it is over the country will present a different
appearance. Many lives must be lost ere it is done, and perhaps ours are
among that number."

"Perhaps so, brother; but do not be so depressed. Let us hope and pray
for the best. It is not such a sad thing to die, and the country which
has given us birth has certainly a strong claim upon us."

"Noble girl," exclaimed George, "it is so, and we have no cause for
murmuring."

At this moment Zeb appeared. He was a short, dumpy, thick-set negro,
with a most luxuriant head of wool, a portion of which hung around his
head in small, close braids, resembling bits of decayed rope. His eyes
were large and protruding, and his face glistened like a mirror. He was
a genuine African. Some of their qualities in him were carried to the
extreme. Instead of being a coward, as is often the case with his
nation, he seemed never to know when there really was danger. He always
was reckless and careless, and seemed to escape by accident.

"Heigh! massa George, what's up?" he exclaimed, observing the solemn
appearance of the two before him.

"Nothing but what is known to you, Zeb. We were just speaking of the
danger which you are aware is threatening us. Have you seen anything
lately to excite suspicion?"

"Nothin' worth speakin' of," replied he, seating himself in front of
George and Rosalind.

"What was it, Zeb?" asked the latter.

"When I's out tendin' to things, I t'ought as how I'd sit down and rest,
and 'cordin'ly I squats on a big stone. Purty soon de stone begin to
move, and come to look, 'twas a big Injin.

"'Heigh!' says I, 'what you doin' here?'

"'Ugh!' he grunted.

"'Yes, I'll "ugh!" you,' says I, 'if I cotches you here ag'in.' With dat
I pitches him two, free rods off, and tells him to make tracks fur
home."

"Heavens! if you would only tell the truth, Zeb. Did you really see an
Indian, though?"

"'Deed I did, and he run when he see'd me in arnist."

"And you saw others yesterday, did you?" remarked Rosalind.

"Two or free, down toward de woods. I spied 'em crawlin' and smellin'
down dar, and axes dem dar business. Dey said as how dey's lookin' for a
jack-knife dat dey lost dar last summer. I told 'em dat dey oughter be
'shamed demselves to be smellin' round dat way; and to provide against
dar doin's in future, I give dem each a good kick and sent dem away."

"Do not exaggerate your story so much," said Rosalind. "Give the truth
and nothing else."

"Qua'r, folks won't believe all dis pusson observes," said he, with an
offended air.

"Tell the truth and they will in all cases; but should you deceive once,
you will always be suspected afterward."

"Dat's it," commenced the negro, spreading out his broad hand like an
orator to illustrate the point. "If I tells de truf dey're sure to t'ink
I's lyin', and what's de use?"

"Zeb," commenced George, not regarding the last remark, "you, as well as
we, are aware that we are encompassed by peril. You have seen that the
Indians are constantly prowling around, and evidently for no good
purpose. What would you advise us to do under the circumstances?"

"Give 'em all a good floggin' and set 'em to work," he replied.

"Come, come, Zeb, we want no jesting," interrupted Rosalind.

"Dar 'tis ag'in. Who war jestin'? Dat's what I t'ink is de best. Give
'em a good lickin', and set 'em to work clearin' off de wood till dar
spunk is gone."

"Fudge!" said George, impatiently, turning his back toward Zeb, whose
head ducked down with a chuckle.

"Rosalind," said George, "the best plan is certainly to wait until
Leslie returns, which will be either to-morrow or the next day. We will
then determine upon what course to pursue. Perhaps we shall be
undisturbed until that time. If not, it cannot be helped."

"Wished dis pusson warn't so hungry," remarked Zeb, picking up a stick
and whittling it.

Rosalind smiled as she arose and remarked:

"It is getting late, George, and it perhaps is best to have supper."

He made no answer and turned toward the negro.

"Zeb," said he, "in all probability we shall be obliged to leave this
place in a few days for a safer location. Of course you will accompany
us, and I wish it to be understood that you are to lay aside this levity
and carelessness. Remember that you are in danger, as much as ourselves.
Your scalp may be the first taken."

"What, dis yere wool of mine? Yah! yah! yah! Lord bless you, dey'd have
a handful!"

"How would you relish being roasted at the stake?" asked George, hoping
to terrify him.

"Yah! yah! Dey'd be some sizzlin', I guess."

"You will think soberly about the matter, perhaps sooner than you
suspect."

"Yas," said Zeb, and his face straightened out in an instant, while he
slowly and thoughtfully continued whittling.

"Zeb," continued George, leaning toward him and speaking in an
undertone, "I think we shall be attacked in two days at the latest."

"Jest keep de whip in good order, and I'll put it into 'em and teach 'em
manners."

"I fear you will learn wisdom only by experience, even if you do then,"
returned George. "It would be a good thing for you, should you meet with
something that would impress you with a sense of your peril. I can only
wonder at your stupidity."

"Gorra mighty! do you s'pose dere's anything that'd make _me_ afeard of
dem Injins? Why, bless you, forty of 'em wouldn't dare to frow a stone
at me. I've licked free, four dozen of 'em, and dey all respect me
awful."

"I suppose so," rejoined young Leland, with mock seriousness.

"Last summer," pursued Zeb, "when you's down de river fishin', dere's
thirteen of 'em come up one day to borrer de wood-box. I s'pose dey
wanted to keep dar dogs and pappooses in it, and I 'cluded as how dey
warn't gwine to get it. So I told 'em I's very sorry dat I couldn't
'commodate 'em, but de fact war we wanted to put de wood in it
ourselves. When I said dat, one of de niggers begin to got sassy. I just
informed 'em dat dey'd better make demselves scarce mighty quick, if dey
didn't want dis pusson in dar wool. Dey didn't mind what was said,
howsumever, and purty soon I cotched 'em runnin' off wid de wood-box.
Dat raised my dander, and I grabbed de box and frowed it right over dar
heads and cotched 'em fast. Den I put a big stone on it, and kept 'em
dere free weeks, and afore I let 'em out I made 'em promise to behave
'emselves. Now I considers dat we'd better serve 'em some sich trick.
Tie two, free hundred to de fence, and leave 'em dere for a few months."

"You are welcome to try it," returned George, rather disgusted at the
negro's propensity for big story telling. He arose and passed within,
where the ample table was laid. Yet he could not eat the plain, sweet
food which Rosalind's own hands had prepared. The dreadful sense of
danger was too real a guest for any rest or peace of mind.



CHAPTER II.

THE NIGHT OF TERROR.


Few words were interchanged during the evening. George and Rosalind had
enough to occupy their minds, and Zeb, finding them taciturn, relapsed
into a sullen silence.

At an early hour each retired. Rosalind now felt more than George that
unaccountable presentiment which sometimes comes over one in cases of
danger. During the last few hours it had increased until it nearly
resolved itself into a certainty.

The view from the front of the house was clear and unobstructed to the
river, a quarter of a mile distant. Along this lay the cultivated
clearing, while the forest, stretching miles away, approached to within
a few yards of the rear of the house.

Rosalind's room overlooked this wilderness. Instead of retiring, she
seated herself by the window to gaze out upon it. There was a faint
moon, and the tree-tops for a considerable distance could be seen
swaying in the gentle night-wind. The silence was so profound that it
seemed to make itself _felt_ and, in that vast solitude, few indeed
could remain without being impressed with the solemn grandeur of nature
around.

Hour after hour wore away; still Rosalind remained at the window. As
there was no inclination to sleep, she determined to remain in her
position until morning. She knew that it must be far beyond midnight,
and at the thought there sprung up a faint hope within her breast. But
she was startled by the dismal hoot of an owl. She sprang up, with a
beating heart, listening intently and painfully; but no other sound was
heard. Trying to smile at her trepidation, she again seated herself and
listened; in a moment that cry was repeated, now in an opposite
direction from which the first note was heard.

Rosalind wondered that the simple circumstance should so affect her; but
try as much as she might, she could not shake it off. Again, for a few
minutes, she remained trembling with an undefinable fear, when there
came another hoot, followed instantly by another, in an opposite
direction. She began now to entertain a fearful suspicion.

Her first impulse was to awaken her brother, but, after a moment's
thought, she concluded to wait a short time. A few more sounds were
heard, when they entirely ceased. During this time, Rosalind, although
suffering an intense fear, had been gazing vacantly toward the point or
clearing nearest the house. As her eyes rested upon the spot, she caught
the shadowy outlines of a dark body moving stealthily and noiselessly
along upon the ground.

Without waiting a moment, she darted to George's room. He had not slept,
and in an instant was by her side.

"Call Zeb," she exclaimed. "We are surrounded by Indians."

Leland disappeared, and in a moment came back with the negro.

"Gorra mighty!" said the latter, in a hurried, husky whisper, "where am
de cussed niggers? Heigh, Miss Rosa?"

"Keep quiet," she replied, "or you will be heard."

"Dat's just what I wants to be, and I calkilates I'll be _felt_ too, if
dar are any of 'em 'bout."

"Stay here a moment," said George, "while I look out. Rosalind, what did
you see?"

"A body approaching the house from the woods. Be careful and do not
expose yourself, George."

He made no answer and entered her room, followed by herself and the
negro, who remained at a safe distance, while he cautiously approached
the window. He had no more than reached it, when Zeb asked:

"See noffin'?"

This question was repeated perhaps a dozen times without an answer, when
the patience of Zeb becoming exhausted, he shuffled to the window and
pressed his head forward, exclaiming:

"Gorra mighty, whar am dey?"

"Hist! there is one now--yes, two of them!"

"Whar--whar?"

"Keep your mouth shut," interrupted the young man, his vexation causing
him to speak louder than he intended.

"Heigh! dat's him! Look out!"

And before young Leland suspected his intentions or could prevent it,
Zeb had taken aim and fired. This was so sudden and unexpected that, for
a moment, nothing was heard but the dull echo, rolling off over the
forest and up the river. Then arose a piercing, agonized yell, that told
how effectual was the shot of the negro. Rosalind's face blanched with
terror as she heard the fearful chorus of enraged voices, and thought of
the fearful scene that must follow.

"Are the doors secured?" she asked, laying her hand upon George's
shoulder.

"Yes, I barricaded them all," he answered. "If they do not fire the
building, we may be able to keep them off until morning. I don't know
but what Zeb's shot was the best, after all--God save us!"

This last exclamation was caused by a bullet whizzing past, within an
inch of his face. For a while Leland was uncertain of the proper course
to pursue. Should he expose his person at the window, he was almost
certain to be struck; yet this or some other one equally exposed, was
the only place where he could exchange shots, and the savages must be
kept in check.

Zeb had reloaded his gun, and peering around the edge of the window,
caught a glimpse of an Indian. As reckless of danger as usual, he raised
his rifle and discharged it. He was a good marksman, and the shot was as
effective as the other.

"Gorra mighty!" he exclaimed, "I can dodge dar lead. Didn't I pick dat
darkey off awful nice? Just wait till I load ag'n." Chuckling over his
achievements, he proceeded to prime his rifle. George Leland withdrew to
the window of another room, from which he succeeded in slaying a
savage, and by being careful and cautious, he was able to make his few
shots tell with effect.

When Zeb shot the first savage, the red-skins sprung to their feet and
commenced yelling and leaping, feeling that those within were already at
their mercy; but the succeeding shots convinced them of their mistake,
and retreating to cover, they were more careful in exposing themselves.
Several stole around to the front of the house, but George had
anticipated them, and there being no means of concealing their
appearance, they were easily kept at a distance. Rosalind followed and
assisted him as far as lay in her power, while Zeb was left alone in his
delight and glory.

"Be careful," said Leland; "don't come too near. Just have the powder
and wadding ready and hand it to me when I need it."

"I will," she replied, in a calm, unexcited voice, as she reached him
his rod.

"Just see what Zeb is at, while I watch my chance."

She disappeared, and in a moment returned.

"He seems frantic with delight, and is yet unharmed."

"God preserve him," said George, "for his assistance is needed."

"Be careful," said Rosalind, as George approached the window.

"I shall--whew! that's a close rub!" he muttered, as a bullet pierced
his cap. "There, _you're_ past harm," he added, as he discharged his
gun.

Thus the contest was kept up for over an hour. But few shots were
interchanged on either side, each party becoming more careful in their
action. Young Leland remained at his window, and kept a close watch upon
his field; but no human being was seen. Zeb laughed, ducked his head,
and made numerous threats toward his enemies, but seemed to attract no
notice from them.

Now and then Rosalind spoke a word to her brother, but the suspense
which the silence of their enemies had put them in, sealed their lips,
and, for a long while, the silence was unbroken by either. They were
startled at length by the report of Zeb's rifle, and the next minute he
appeared among them, exclaiming:

"Gorra mighty! I shot out my ramrod. I seen a good chance, and blazed
away 'fore I thought to take it out. It went through six of 'em, and
stuck into a tree and hung 'em fast. Heigh! it's fun to see 'em."

"Here, take mine, and for God's sake, cease your jesting!" said Leland,
handing his rod to him.

"Wish I could string some more up," added Zeb, as he rammed home his
charge. "Yer oughter seen it, Miss Rosa. It went right frough de fust
feller's eye, and den frough de oder one's foot, den frough de oder's
gizzard, and half way frough de tree. Gorra, how dey wriggled! Looked
just like a lot of mackerel hung up to dry. Heigh!"

At this point Leland discharged his gun, and said, without changing his
position:

"They are trying to approach the house. Go, Zeb, and attend to your
side. Be very sharp!"

"Yes, I's dar, stringing 'em up," he rejoined, as he turned away.

"Hark!" exclaimed Rosalind, when he had gone. "What noise is that?"

Leland listened awhile, and his heart died within him as he answered:

"Merciful Heaven! the house is on fire! All hope is now gone!"

"Shall we give ourselves up?" hurriedly asked Rosalind.

"No; come with me."

"Hurry up, massa, dey's gwine to roast us. De grease begins to siss in
my face a'ready," said Zeb, as he joined them.

The fugitives retreated to the lower story, and Leland led the way to a
door which opened upon the kitchen, at the end of the house. His hope
was that from this they might have a chance of escaping to the wood, but
a short distance off, ere they were discovered.

Cautiously opening the door, he saw with anxious, hopeful joy, that no
Indians were visible.

"Now, Rosalind," he whispered, "be quick. Make for the nearest trees,
and if you succeed in reaching them, pass to the river-bank and wait for
me. Move softly and rapidly."

Rosalind stepped quickly out. The yells of the infuriated savages
deafened her; but, although fearfully near, she saw none, and started
rapidly forward. Leland watched each step with an agony of fear and
anxiety which cannot be described. The trees were within twenty yards,
and half the distance was passed, when Leland knew that her flight was
discovered. A number of savages darted forward, but a shot from him
stopped the course of the foremost. Taking advantage of the confusion
which this had occasioned, Rosalind sprung away and succeeded in
reaching the cover; but here, upon the very threshold of escape, she was
reached and captured.

"Gorra mighty!" shouted Zeb, as he saw her seized and borne away. "Ef I
don't cowhide ebery nigger of 'em for dat trick."

And clenching his hands he stalked boldly forward and demanded:

"Whar's dat lady? Ef you doesn't want to git into trouble, I calkilate
you'd better bring her back in double-quick time."

Several savages sprung toward him, and Zeb prepared himself for the
struggle. His huge fist felled the first and the second; but ere he
could do further damage he found himself thrown down and bound.

"Well, dar, if dat ain't de meanest trick yet, servin' a decent prisoner
dis way. I'll cowhide ebery one ob you. Oh, dear, I wish I had de whip!"
he muttered, writhing and rolling in helpless rage upon the ground.

Leland had seen this occurrence and taken advantage of it. It had served
to divert the action of the savages, and the attention of all being
occupied with their two prisoners, he managed with considerable
difficulty to reach the wood without being discovered.

Here, at a safe distance, he watched the progress of things. The
building was now one mass of flame, which lit up the sky with a lurid,
unearthly glare. The border of the forest was visible and the trunks
and limbs of the trees appeared as if scorched and reddened by the
consuming heat. The savages resembled demons dancing and yelling around
the ruin which they had caused. It was with difficulty that Leland
restrained himself from firing upon them. With a sad heart he saw the
house which had sheltered him from infancy fall inward with a crash. The
splinters and ashes of fire were hurled in the air and fell at his feet,
and the thick volume of smoke reached him.

Yet he thought more of the captives which were in the hands of their
merciless enemies. Their safety demanded his attention. Thoughtfully and
despondingly he turned upon his heel and disappeared in the shadows of
the great forest.



CHAPTER III.

KENT AND LESLIE.


When Roland Leslie reached his destination some miles up the Ohio, his
fears and suspicions were confirmed. There had been a massacre, a week
previous, of a number of settlers, and the Indians were scouring the
country for more victims.

This information was given by Kent Whiteman, the person for whom he was
searching. This personage was a strange character, some forty years of
age, who led a wandering hunter's life, and was known by every white man
for a great distance along the Ohio. Roland Leslie had made his
acquaintance when but a mere lad, and they often spent weeks together
hunting and roaming through the great wilderness, which was the home of
both. He cherished an implacable hatred to every red-man, and they in
turn often sought his life, for they had no enemy so dangerous as he.

"Yes, sir, them varmints," said he, as he leaned upon his long rifle and
gazed at Leslie, "are playing particular devil in these parts, and I
calkelate it's a game that two can play at."

[Illustration: "Them varmints," said he, "are playing particular devil
in these parts."]

"Jump in the boat, Kent," said Leslie, "and ride down with me; I
promised George Leland that if he needed assistance I would bring it to
him."

"He needs it, that's a p'inted fact, and as soon as it can conveniently
reach him too."

"Well, let us be off." Leslie dipped his oars in the water and pulled
out into the stream. It was the morning after the burning of the
Lelands' home, which of course was unknown to them. For a few moments
the boat glided rapidly down the stream, when Whiteman spoke:

"Where'd you put up last night, Leslie?"

"About ten miles down the river. I ran in under the bank and had an
undisturbed night's rest?"

"Didn't hear nothin' of the red-skins?"

"No."

"Wal, it's a wonder; they're as thick as flies in August, and I
calkelate I'll have rich times with 'em."

"I cannot understand how it is, Kent, that you cherish such a deadly
hatred for these Indians."

"I have good reason," returned the hunter, compressing his lips.

"How long is it that you have felt thus?"

"Ever since I's a boy. Ever since _that_ time."

"What time, Kent?"

"I have never told you, I believe, why the sight of a red-skin throws me
into such a fit, have I?"

"No; I should certainly be glad to hear."

"Wal, it doesn't take long to tell. Yet how few persons know it except
myself. It is nigh thirty years ago," commenced Kent, "that I lived
about a dozen miles above the place that we left this morning. There I
was born and lived with my old father and mother until I was ten or
eleven years old.

"One dark, stormy night we war attacked by them red devils, and that
father and mother were butchered before my eyes. During the confusion of
the attack, I escaped to the woods and secreted m'self until it was
over. It was a hard matter to lie there, scorched by the flames of your
own home, and see your parents, while begging for mercy, tomahawked and
slain before your eyes. But in such a position I was placed, and
remained until the savages, satisfied with their bloody work, took their
departure.

"When the rain, which fell in torrents, had extinguished the smoking
ruins, I crawled from my hiding-place. I felt around until I come upon
the cold bodies of my father and mother lyin' side by side, and then
kneelin' over them, I took a fearful oath--an oath to which I have
devoted my life. I swore that as long as life was given me, it should be
used for revengin' the slaughter of my parents. That night these savages
contracted a debt of which they little dreamed. Before they left the
place, I had marked each of the dozen, and I never forgot them. For ten
years I follered and tracked them, and at the end of that time I had
sent the last one to his final account. Yet that did not satisfy me. I
swore _eternal_ enmity against the whole people, and as I said, it shall
be carried out. While Kent is alive, he is the mortal enemy of every
red-skin."

The hunter looked up in the face of Leslie, and his gleaming eyes and
gnashing teeth told his earnestness. His manner and recital had
impressed the latter, and he forbore speaking to him for some time.

"I should think," observed Leslie, after a short silence, "that you had
nearly paid that debt, Kent."

"It is a debt which will be balanced," rejoined the hunter, "when I am
unable to make any more payments."

"Well, I shouldn't want you for an enemy," added Leslie, glancing over
his shoulder at the stream in front of him.

Both banks of the river at this point, and, in fact, for many miles,
were lined with overhanging trees and bushes, which might afford shelter
to any enemy. Kent sat in the stern and glanced suspiciously at each
bank, as the boat was impelled swiftly yet silently forward, and there
was not even a falling leaf that escaped his keen eye.

"Strikes me," said Leslie, leaning on his oars, "that we are in rather a
dangerous vicinity. Those thick bushes along the shore, over there,
might easily contain a few red gentlemen."

"Don't be alarmed," returned the hunter, "I'll keep a good watch.
They've got to make some movement before they can harm us, and I'll be
sure to see them. The river's wide, too, and there ain't so much to
fear, after all."

Leslie again dipped his oars, and the boat shot forward in silence.
Nothing but the suppressed dip of the slender ashen blades, or the dull
sighing of the wind through the tree-tops, broke the silence of the
great solitude. Suddenly, as Leslie bent forward and gazed into the
hunter's face, he saw him start and gaze anxiously at the right shore,
some distance ahead.

"What's the matter?" asked Leslie.

"Just wait a minute," returned the hunter, rising and gazing in the same
direction. "Stop the boat. Back water!" he added, in a hurried tone.

Leslie did as he was bidden, and again spoke:

"What is it, Kent?"

"Do you see them bushes hangin' a little further out in the stream than
the others?"

"Yes; what of them?"

"Watch them a minute. There--look quick!" said Kent.

"I can see a fluttering among the branches, as if a bird had flown from
it," answered Leslie.

"Wal, them birds is Indians, that's all," remarked the hunter, dropping
composedly back into the boat. "Go ahead!"

"They will fire into us, no doubt. Had I not better run in to the other
shore?"

"No; there may be a host of 'em there. Keep in the middle of the stream,
and we'll give 'em the slip yet."

It must be confessed that Leslie experienced rather strange sensations
as he neared the locality which had excited their suspicion, especially
when he knew that he was exposed to any shot that they might feel
inclined to give. A shudder ran through his frame, when, directly
opposite the spot, he distinctly heard a groan of agony.

Kent made a motion for him to cease rowing. Bending their heads down and
listening, they again heard that now loud, agonizing expression of
mortal pain.

As soon as Leslie was certain that the sound proceeded from some being
in distress, he headed the boat toward the shore.

"Stop!" commanded Kent; "you should have more sense than that."

"But will you not assist a person in distress?" asked he, gazing
reproachfully into his face.

"Who's in distress?"

"Oh, Gorra mighty! I's been dyin'," now came from the shore.

"Hallo there! what's wantin'?" called Whiteman.

"Help, help, 'fore dis Indian gentleman--'fore I dies from de wounds dat
dey's given me."

"I've heard that voice before," remarked Kent to Leslie, in an
undertone.

"So have I," replied the latter. "Why, it is George Leland's negro; _he_
wouldn't decoy us into danger. Let us go in."

"Wait until I speak further with him." (Then, to the person upon shore):
"What might be your name?"

"Zeb Langdon. Isn't dat old Kent?"

"Yes; how came you in this scrape, Zeb?"

"Gorra mighty! I didn't come into it. Dem red dogs--dese here nice
fellers--brought me here 'bout two months ago, and den dey all fired at
me fur two or free days, and den dey hung me up and left me to starve to
death. Boo-hoo-oo!"

"But," said Leslie, "you were at home yesterday when I came up the
river."

"Yes; dey burned down de house last night, and cooked us all and eat us
up. I's come to live ag'in, and crawled down here to get you fellers to
take me home; but, Lord bless you, don't come ashore--blast you, quit a
hittin' me over de head," added the negro, evidently to some one near
him.

Leslie and Whiteman exchanged significant glances, and silently worked
the boat further from the land.

"Who is that you spoke to?" asked the former, when they were at a safe
distance.

"Dis yere blasted limb reached down and pulled my wool," replied the
negro, with perfect _nonchalance_.

"Where is George Leland?" asked Leslie.

"Dunno; slipped away from dese yere nice fellers what's pulled all de
wool out of me head, and is tellin' me a lot o' yarns to tell you. Gorra
mighty! can't you let a feller 'lone, when he's yarnin' as good as he
can?"

"Where is Miss Leland?"

"How does I know? A lot of 'em run off wid her last night."

"Oh God! what I expected," said Leslie, dropping his voice, and gazing
with an agonizing look at Whiteman. The latter, regardless of his
emotion, continued his conversation with Zeb.

"Are you hurt any?"

"Considerable."

"Now, Zeb, tell the truth. Did they capture George Leland?"

"Bless you, no. He got away during de trouble."

"Did they get Miss Leland?"

"'Deed they did."

"Is she with you?"

"No. It took forty of 'em to watch me and de rest."

Here the negro's words were cut short with a jerk, and he gave vent to a
loud groan.

"Gorra mighty!" he ejaculated, in fury. "Come ashore, Mr. Whiteman and
Mr. Leslie. Come quick, and let dese yer fellers got you. Dey wants yer
too."

"Are there any of the imps with you?" asked Kent, more for amusement
than anything else.

"What shall I tell him?" the negro asked, in a husky whisper, loud
enough to be plainly heard by the two in the boat.

"Dey say dar ain't any of 'em. Talk yourself, if dat doesn't suit you,"
he added, in great wrath.

"Three cheers for you," shouted Whiteman. "Are there any of 'em upon the
other side?"

"Dese fellers say dey am all dar. Gorra, don't kill me."

"Good; you're the best nigger 'long the 'Hio. I guess we'll go over to
the other side and visit them."

So saying, Kent seized the oars and pulled for the opposite shore. He
had not taken more than a couple of strokes when a dozen rifles cracked
simultaneously from the bushes, and as many bullets struck the boat and
glanced over the water.

"Drop down," he whispered to Leslie. Instead of doing the same himself,
he bent the more vigorously to his oars. A few minutes sufficed to carry
them so far down that little danger was to be apprehended from the
Indians, who uttered their loudest shouts and discharged their rifles,
as they passed beyond their reach.

"That's too good a chance to be lost," muttered the ranger, bringing his
long rifle to his shoulder. Leslie followed the direction of his aim,
and saw a daring savage standing boldly out to view, and making furious
gesticulations toward them. The next instant Kent's rifle uttered its
sharp report, and the Indian, with a yell, sprung several feet in the
air, and fell to the ground.

"That was a good shot," remarked Leslie, gazing at the fallen body.

"Yes, and it's done just what I wanted it to," replied Kent, heading the
boat toward shore.

"They are going to pursue us, are they not?" asked Leslie.

"Yes, and we'll have fun," added the ranger, as the boat touched the
shore, and he sprung out.

"Come along and make up yer mind for a long run," said he, glancing
furtively toward the savages.

Leslie sprung after him, and they darted away into the forest.

When Whiteman had fired his fatal shot the Indians were so infuriated,
that, setting up their demoniac yells, they plunged down the banks of
the stream, determined to revenge their fallen companion.

This was what Kent desired. He exulted as he saw that he was being
gratified. "If there isn't fun pretty shortly it won't be my fault,"
said he, as he plunged onward into the forest.

In a short time the pursuers gained the opposite shore, and followed
with renewed ardor into the wilderness. Kent and Leslie, however, had
gained a good start. Both being rapid runners, they had not much to
fear. Had nothing unusual occurred, they would easily have distanced
their pursuers. But Leslie, following Kent in a leap across a rocky
gorge, struck in his comrade's footsteps in the earth upon its edge. The
earth had become loosened and started by the shock, and ere Leslie could
recover his footing, he fell some fifteen or twenty feet to the bottom.
The fall bruised him so much that he was unable to rise, or in fact
hardly to stir.

"Hurt?" asked the ranger, gazing over at him.

"Yes," groaned Leslie. "I can't get up. Don't wait for me, for it's no
use. Go on and save yourself."

"I hate to leave you, but it's got to be done. Lay down there; crawl in
under that rock. Perhaps they won't see you. Quick, for I hear 'em
comin'."

With these words the hunter turned and disappeared, and succeeded in
getting beyond the gorge without being seen by his pursuers; but this
delay had given them time to gain a great deal upon him, and when he
started their hurried tramp could be distinctly heard.

His words had roused Leslie to a sense of his peril. By struggling and
laboring for a few minutes he succeeded in disengaging himself and
managed to crawl beneath a projecting ridge of rock. This effectually
concealed him from sight, and had his pursuers no suspicion of his
fall, he yet stood a chance of escaping.

In a few moments he heard them overhead, and the pain of his wounds was
forgotten in the anxiety which he now felt for his safety. He knew that
they had hesitated, but whether it was on account of the leap which they
were required to make, or on account of any suspicion that they might
entertain, he could not divine.

The place in which he had fallen had probably once been swept by a
torrent, but now a tiny stream only warbled through it. The murmur of
this, by Leslie's side, prevented his understanding the words of those
above. The hum of their voices could be heard but not their words.

Presently, however, he distinguished a well-known voice evidently in
expostulation with some one.

"Gorra mighty! does yer s'pects I can jump dat? It's bad 'nough to make
me git drownded in dat river without broken my neck down dar!"

Leslie could not help wondering why Zeb was brought along, nor how he
managed to keep pace with the rest. But as he had not heard his voice
before, he concluded that the negro must have been brought by several
Indians who remained behind for that purpose. This conclusion was
confirmed by the words which he heard the next minute.

"Whar's de use ob jumpin'? Dem yere fellers'll soon be back, coz dey
ain't agwine to cotch dat man nohow. He can run like a streak o'
sunshine, and likes as not dey'll all get shot. You'd better go on and
coax 'em to come back while I stay here and waits fur ye."

In answer to this, Leslie heard some angry muttering and mumbling, but
could distinguish no words. In a moment, however, Zeb's voice was
audible.

"Bless yer, you're de all-firedest fools I eber see'd. How does you
s'pects I's gwine to light on toder side. Ef one of you'll take me on
your back, I won't mind lettin' you try to carry me over; but I tells
you I ain't agwine to try it. So you can shut up yer rat-traps."

Hardly a second elapsed before he again spoke:

"Hold on dar; you kickin' all my brains out! I'll try it!"

The next moment Leslie heard a dull thump, and Zeb came rolling down
directly beside him.

"I's killed! Ebery bone is broken. I can't live anoder second."

"Zeb! Zeb!" whispered Leslie, in a hurried whisper.

The negro suddenly ceased his groaning and exclamations, and rolling his
head over toward him, asked, in a whisper.

"Who's dat?"

"It's I, Zeb. Get up quick, for God's sake, before they come down, or
I'm lost!"

The negro clambered to his feet without difficulty, and disappeared,
shouting to those above:

"I isn't hurt. It war de rock dat was broke by my head striking it! How
de pieces flewed!"



CHAPTER IV.

THE CAPTIVES.


When Rosalind Leland felt herself seized by the savage, she fainted in
the arms of her swarthy captor, and so remained for a long space of
time. When she recovered, she found that she was a secure prisoner in
the hands of her enemies. She was grieved to see that Zeb was a
companion in captivity. She felt that, could she alone suffer, she would
willingly bear it. Although acquainted with many Indians, she was unable
to recognize any of those around. This, of course, was a gratification.
It showed that the kindness of her parents and herself had not been lost
upon them. Although the recipients of her kindness might not strive to
prevent violence being done her, yet they refused to participate in it
themselves.

The whole Indian force numbered about thirty. As soon as they had done
all in their power, and were convinced that there were no more captives
to be secured, they took up the line of march. In the course of their
journey, Rosalind found that she was near enough to hold a conversation
with Zeb, and after a few minutes' silence, she ventured:

"How do you feel, Zeb?"

"Bless you, missus, if dese niggers doesn't get the all-firedest
walloping when I gets de chance, dey may feel glad."

"Yes, but I'm afraid that you will not get the chance very soon."

"Oh, dey daresn't kill me; fur if dey did, I'd hang ebery one ob dem."

Despite Rosalind's painful situation, she could not but smile at the
earnestness of tone in which Zeb delivered himself of this. She resumed:

"Are you bound, Zeb?"

"Not much; only a dozen ropes tied around one leg, and as many round de
rest ob me body."

"Oh, Zeb, don't tell such stories."

"Fact, Missus Leland. I counted 'em when dey's puttin' 'em on, and dey
cut like forty, too."

"Forty-two what?" asked a gruff voice by Zeb's side, in very good
English.

"Gorra mighty, _who's dat_?"

No answer was given.

"Who de debbil was dat?" asked Zeb, speaking to Rosalind.

She made no answer and appeared to be lost in a reverie. Zeb repeated
his question but failed to elicit any reply. Muttering something to
himself, he permitted her silence to remain undisturbed.

There were two horses in the party, and upon one of these Rosalind had
been placed. The other was bestrode by a savage, who appeared to be the
leader of the band. Zeb's hands were pinioned behind his back, and he
was compelled to walk behind the horse of Rosalind, with a guard that
kept a close eye upon his movements.

[Illustration: There were two horses in the party, and upon one of these
Rosalind had been placed.]

Silently yet rapidly the body moved along through the forest of
impenetrable darkness, where a perfect knowledge was required in order
to make the least progress. Rosalind's horse was a powerful creature,
and carried her with comparative comfort. Now and then the cold leaves
brushed her face, or her body grazed some tree, yet the animal carried
her safely and unharmed. Several times the thought of escape flashed
upon her. It seemed easy to turn her horse's head and gallop beyond the
reach of her enemies. But one of them was mounted, and she believed she
could elude him. She could ride down those immediately around her, and
what was there to prevent her making good her escape?

And yet, after a few more minutes of thought, she abandoned all hopes of
liberty for the present. Her brother was free, and would leave no means
untried until she was again restored to him; and there was _another
one_, who, she knew in her heart, would exert himself to the utmost to
save her. This thought caused her heart to beat faster and faster.
There was a slight tremor in her voice as she spoke:

"Zeb, come a little nearer to me."

He made a movement, but was unable to approach much nearer.

"Are you listening?" she asked, in a subdued tone.

"Yes, missus; mouth, ears and eyes is open."

"Then," said she, bending toward him and lowering her voice still more,
"I wish to ask you, Zeb, whether you would do me a favor?"

"Lord bless you, missus, you knows I'd die a hundred times for you."

"I believe you would," returned Rosalind, touched by his tone and words;
"but it is no hardship that I ask of you."

"Well, out with it quick, fur dese fellers don't like to see yer horse's
side rubbin' all de wool off ob my head."

"You are acquainted with Roland Leslie, Zeb?" asked Rosalind, bending
lower and speaking in a whisper which she scarcely heard herself.

"Yes," answered Zeb, breathing hurriedly.

"Well, should you see him, tell him of my situation; and--and--tell him
not to run into danger for my sake."

"I will," rejoined Zeb, fervently.

Here a savage, judging that matters had gone far enough, jerked the
negro rudely back.

"You needn't be so spiteful," retorted Zeb; "she's told me all she's
agwine to."

Rosalind had done so; nothing further passed between them.

Toward morning they reached the banks of a stream, where the savages
divided into two parties. The one which retained the negro started down
the Ohio, while those who held Rosalind continued their journey in a
southerly direction.

The course of the former has already been given, and also a part of
their doings. The latter, which numbered twenty, experienced nothing
worthy of record for a considerable time. They moved forward rapidly,
as they had some fears of pursuit. This was their reason for retaining
Rosalind with them. They were cunning enough to know that what efforts
might be made would be for her sake, while probably the negro would be
left to himself.

Their progress south continued until Rosalind knew that she was many
miles in Kentucky. They had kept along the banks of a river during the
whole time, which she also knew to be the Big Sandy. From this she
judged that her captors were a tribe, or at least a part of one, which
belonged many miles distant from where her home had been.

Throughout all her trials, Rosalind relied upon Providence with a firm,
unshaken faith. Although hope dawned but faintly upon her, she murmured
not. Her fears were great for others beside herself. She was young, and
her youthful blood coursed through her veins, bearing with it the
pleasures and hopes of life just commenced. It was hard to die, hard to
give up the hopes which had only begun to dawn in her bosom; yet, if it
was His will, she felt that she could go without a murmur. "Thy will be
done," was the prayer which but herself and Heaven heard.



CHAPTER V.

THE MEETING ON THE RIVER.


For some minutes after Zeb's disappearance, Leslie remained without
moving, scarcely breathing for fear there might still be some Indians
overhead; but as minute after minute wore by, and no sound above warned
him that his enemies were in the vicinity, he managed to creep from his
hiding-place and seat himself upon a rock near by.

Now that he was safe for the present, he began to examine his wounds.
There being no strong emotion to occupy his mind, the pain again came
upon him, and he feared that he might be dangerously hurt; but, upon
examination he was gratified to see that he was only bruised in two or
three places. In falling, he had first struck upon his feet; his side,
from the force of the concussion, came rather violently in contact with
the jagged, projecting rocks. This gave a few severe flesh-cuts, which,
for the time being, were more painful and distressing than would have
been a wound of a more serious character.

Still, he found that he was unable to walk without great labor and pain,
and concluded to remain in his present position until morning. He
crawled back into the hiding-place, and disposed of himself for the
night. Little sleep, however, was gained, and the night seemed the
longest that he had ever spent.

When morning dawned, he emerged from his hard resting-place, and, with
great difficulty, made his way to the top. Then, shaping his course
toward the river, he reached it in the course of an hour or so. Here, to
his great joy, he found the boat that he and Kent had left. It was
pulled high and dry upon the bank, yet he succeeded in getting it in the
water, and, with a light heart, pushed out from the shore.

It was so much easier to propel the boat than to walk, that he had no
difficulty in making good headway. He had determined upon no course to
pursue, but continued moving forward with a sort of instinct, hardly
caring in what direction he went. He was moving toward the spot where
once the house of the Lelands stood; some impulse seemed drawing him
thitherward.

The truth was, Roland Leslie was thinking of Rosalind and her situation.
Although he had spoken to her but comparatively a few times, yet those
occasions had awakened a feeling in his breast which he found could not
be subdued; his love was growing day by day. He knew not whether she was
aware of his passion, but his fluttering heart told him, at least, that
she had not frowned upon him.

Young love rests upon the slightest foundation; thus Leslie was
encouraged and made hopeful by the remembrance of the friendly meeting
which he had with Rosalind. Then, as he awoke from this pleasant reverie
into which he had fallen, the consciousness that she was now a captive
among the Indians, the thought maddened him. He dipped his oars deep in
the water, and moved swiftly along.

It occurred to him that perhaps it would be best to keep a watch of the
shores ahead, to prevent running carelessly into danger. There might be
Indians concealed or lurking in the vicinity, and he would be easily
drawn into a decoy, should he be careless and thoughtless.

He turned around and scanned the shore more closely and searchingly.
Seeing nothing suspicious, he was about to resume rowing again, when,
from an overhanging cluster of bushes came the sharp crack of a rifle,
and a bullet split one of the oars, a few inches below his hand. Seizing
his rifle, he turned toward the point from which the shot had come, but
could see no person. The thin wreath of smoke curling slowly up from the
bushes showed the point from which it had been given; but whoever the
person might be, he kept himself well concealed. In a moment another
shot was given, which glanced over the water a few feet from the stern.

Leslie began to think that he was in rather a close situation, and
clutching his rifle nervously, endeavored to ascertain the point from
which the shot had come, determined to return one at all hazards. He did
not dare to pass over to the opposite side, for he had a suspicion that
they were intended for that purpose. He believed that his person had not
been aimed at, but the balls had been intended to pass closely enough to
alarm him and cause him to seek safety by pulling for the other shore,
where, probably, a foe was waiting. While he sat undetermined what
course to pursue, a form stepped out in full view upon the bank, and
accosted him.

"Frightened any?"

"Well, I should think I ought to be. Why, is that you, George?"

"I believe so. Come in and take me aboard."

"What reason had you for firing upon me?" asked Leslie, approaching him.

"Well, not any. I saw you coming down-stream, and an idea seized me to
learn if you were easily frightened."

"I felt rather nervous when that shot came," returned Leslie, pointing
at the hole in his oar.

"It was a close rub; but, of course, I took good care not to make it too
close."

"What is the news? What reason have you for being here?" asked Leslie,
interrupting him.

"News enough," returned Leland, gloomily.

"Step in the boat and let me hear it."

As they passed down-stream, Leland narrated his story, and when he had
finished, remarked:

"Roland, I have sought you for advice and assistance, and I trust both
will be given."

"Gladly! Do you think, George, that I could rest as long as your sister
is in the hands of those savages?"

"Pardon me," returned Leland, "if I at all doubted. This affliction
weighs heavily upon me."

"I suspected this state of things," continued Leslie, "and it is the
reason that I hurried down-stream. Yet the uncertainty of seeing you or
any friend, deterred me from making haste to your place."

Here Leslie gave the circumstances of his encountering Zeb, and his
subsequent misfortune, or, as he termed it, his fortune, of falling in
the gorge.

"Then Kent is gone, is he?" asked George, when he had finished. "That is
too bad, for we need his assistance greatly."

"In fact, I do not understand what we shall be able to do without him,"
added Leslie.

"Nor I; and here we are as helpless as if we were already in the hands
of the Indians, so far as regards any assistance that we can give
Rosalind," continued Leland.

"Oh, don't despair so soon. I trust that Kent will soon turn up, and we
shall then have a good chance to recover her."

"Where do you suppose that Kent can be?"

"I can only guess."

"What reason have you then for thinking that we shall meet him?"

"This reason. He saw me fall, and was obliged to leave me for a time, as
the pursuers were close at hand. I am certain that, as soon as he
eluded and escaped them, he would return to the place for me."

"And find you gone and give you up."

"No; he would search the place, and seeing my trail, would follow it. I
left a pretty plain one, and he will meet with no difficulty."

"But suppose the ranger is captured himself?"

"There is no supposition in the case," rejoined Leslie, with an air of
assurance.

"Well, admitting what you say," continued Leland, "did you leave a trail
after getting in the boat, that will be easy for him to follow?"

"Easy enough. He knows what course I would take, and, consequently, he
knows what one to pursue."

"But, even then, can he overtake you?"

"I have not come very rapidly, and I think that he can. I believe that
at this moment he is on the way."

"Well, Roland, we have probably speculated enough upon our chances of
meeting him. In the meantime, what do you propose that we do with
ourselves?"

"As to that, I am hardly decided. There is great danger in our remaining
on the river, and yet I see no means which will be so apt to bring us in
communication with Kent."

"This gliding down the Ohio in broad daylight, when we know the woods on
both sides are full of our enemies, is rather dangerous business,
although it may possess some advantages for us."

"I leave the matter with you," said Leslie. "The stream is very broad
for a considerable distance, and both of us ought to understand enough
of woodcraft to prevent running into danger."

"We _ought_ to understand enough," said Leland, significantly, "but the
fact is, we do _not_. There are so many contrivances these cunning
rascals devise for a white man's destruction, that one needs to have a
schooling of years in their ways to understand them. However," he added,
in a whisper, "I understand _that_ contrivance yonder."

"What is that?" inquired his companion, in some excitement.

"Take a careful look down-stream and tell me whether you see anything
unusual."

"No--I don't know as I do," slowly repeated Leslie. "Hold on--yes, I
do--yonder is a log, or more likely two or three of them--a raft. I
suppose, Leland, it is for our benefit."

"Undoubtedly. It was constructed for the benefit of the white race
generally; and, as we come first we are to be served first."

"Let us cut in to shore and give them the slip."

"It may be the very thing they wish us to do. The action of the savages,
so far, shows that they are more anxious to take prisoners than to slay
men. So keep quiet and don't allow yourself to become nervous."



CHAPTER VI.

THE RAFT.


Slowly, silently and gently the boat glided onward--both Leslie and
Leland as motionless as death, yet with hearts throbbing wildly and
fearfully. The former stooped and whispered:

"There are three Indians on it, upon the opposite side from us. We must
pass beyond the log before they will be in range of our guns. They will
not fire until we begin to pass them. Take a quick but sure aim, and
drop down in the bottom of the boat the instant your gun is discharged."

Nearer and nearer came the canoe to the log, until but a few rods
separated them, but not a breath or fluttering of a leaf disturbed the
profound silence.

When at the nearest point, scarcely more than two rods would separate
them. Still onward the boat swept until its prow was even with the log.

"Ready," whispered Leslie, "you take the nearest one."

[Illustration: "Ready," whispered Leslie, "you take the nearest one."]

The next instant the enemies were in full view of each other.
Simultaneously the two rifles in the boat broke the solemn stillness.
But not a sound showed whether their shots had produced any effect at
all! Not a savage's head, however, could be seen! They either had been
slain or else had quietly drawn out of sight when they became aware of
the danger that menaced them. The latter was most probably the case,
although neither of the whites could satisfy himself upon that point.

As the thin haze from the guns diffused itself over the spot, the same
oppressive silence settled upon the water, and the same absence of life
was manifest in everything around. So sudden had been the interruption,
that, a few minutes afterward, it was almost impossible to realize that
it had actually occurred. More than once both Leslie and Leland caught
themselves debating this very point in their minds.

For a few moments the two remained concealed within the boat, for they
well knew that danger yet threatened; but, nervously excited over the
event, Leland, with a sad want of discretion, peered over the gunwale of
the canoe.

"Down, instantly," admonished his companion, catching his shoulder.

The report of another gun came at that very instant, and George dropped
so suddenly and awkwardly out of sight, that Leslie inquired with much
concern:

"Are you hurt?"

"Pretty near it, at any rate," returned Leland, putting his hand to his
face.

He was not struck, however, although the ball had grazed and marked his
cheek. The instant Leland saw that he was not injured, he raised himself
and aimed toward the log. No sign of an enemy was visible, and not
knowing but what there might be more loaded rifles behind the
contrivance, he dropped his head again.

Peering cautiously over the gunwale, the young man saw the raft
gradually approaching the Kentucky shore. The Indians possessing no
means of reloading their pieces without running great risk, probably
deemed it best to make a safe retreat.

The distance between the whites and the savages slowly but surely
increased, and when the former judged they were comparatively safe, they
arose and plied their paddles.

"Now if we can only come across Kent, I shall be pretty hopeful of
getting out of the woods," remarked Leslie.

"But how is that to be done? There is just the trouble."

"I think he will find _us_ if we only wait for him."

"I agree with you, that it is all that we can do. We will row
down-stream a short distance further, where we will be sheltered more
from the observation of our enemies, and wait until he comes, or until
it is pretty certain that he will not."

Leslie bent to his oars, and the boat again shot forward. Each now felt
a stronger hope. The depression of spirits under which Leland was
laboring began to undergo a reaction.

Leslie was naturally of a more buoyant disposition than Leland, and
seldom suffered those spells of melancholy which are so apt to affect
those of a temperament less sanguine. The latter at seasons was more
light-hearted than the former, yet adverse circumstances easily affected
and depressed him.

The locality to which Leslie had referred was a place in the river where
the overhanging boughs and underwood were so thick and luxuriant that it
was an easy matter to send a small boat beneath them and remain
effectually hidden from any enemy passing up or down the river.

Their plan was to conceal themselves, and thus, while affording
themselves comparative security, to keep an unremitting watch for the
appearance of Kent. They expected, and in fact were certain, that he
would descend the opposite side, which, from their hiding-place, could
be easily seen.

Leslie, with a vigorous pull, sent the boat under the sweeping branches,
and, coming to rest, remarked:

"There, George, we are safe for the present. An Indian might pass within
twenty feet of us, and not dream of our proximity."

"True, Leland, I feel glad that we are thus fortunate."

"See," continued Leslie, "what a nice arrangement. From my seat I can
keep a good view of the opposite side."

"How long do you intend to remain here?" asked Leland, whose fears were
ever on the alert.

"Can't say precisely."

"Remember that food will be necessary, and soon necessary, too."

"I am aware of that, yet we can do without it for some time. If Kent is
going to pass us, it will be during to-morrow."

"Leslie," said Leland, earnestly, "I have been thinking deeply upon our
chances of meeting him, and I must confess that they seem few indeed."

"I do not doubt it. They would have the same appearance to me, were it
not for one thing. I have been calculating, and though, of course, a
great deal of guess-work has been employed, yet I think that I have come
to a very nearly correct conclusion. I'm pretty positive that if Kent
reaches us, it will be in the neighborhood of to-morrow at mid-day. Not
seeing him, I shall fire my rifle. Kent knows the sound of it, and will
search for us."

"Perhaps he may not be upon the opposite shore."

"Which will be as well, yet I can think of no reason that would induce
him to cross."

"In the meantime, how do you propose that we pass away time and keep off
_ennui_."

"In sleep, if that is possible."

"I think it is with myself," returned Leland, with a light laugh.

"And the same with me," added Leslie.

"Well, the circumstances being favorable, I propose that we commence
operations at once."

"A good suggestion."

Both disposed themselves as best they could in the boat, and being tired
and fatigued, were soon asleep.



CHAPTER VII.

LOST AND FOUND.


The two young men slept soundly through the night. When Leslie awoke it
was broad day, and his companion was still asleep. He suffered him to
remain so until the day was well advanced. Then each felt the pangs of
hunger. Leland proposed that one should land and go in quest of food,
but Leslie answered:

"If Kent appears, it will be in the course of a few hours. We had better
wait and see what comes of patience."

Another hour of silence wore away. Leland was about to speak when Leslie
exclaimed, in a whisper:

"Hush!"

They listened intently. In a moment the steady measured dip of paddles
could be heard. Whoever was approaching had little fear or apprehension
of danger; for they came fearlessly along, and were moving with
considerable noise and swiftness.

Leland and Leslie held their breath as the sound came steadily nearer.
Not a whisper was exchanged. The former, from his position, could not
discern any object that might be passing, but the latter had a full view
of the river.

In a moment the whole force passed before Leslie's eyes. Two canoes
loaded with Indians glided past, unconscious of their proximity. Each
drew a long breath of relief; but for a considerable time neither
ventured a whisper.

"It appears to me that Indians are plenty in these parts," remarked
Leland.

"Rather more than I could wish," returned his companion.

"Confound it, it will soon be time to fire your gun, and of course the
savages will hear it."

"But for all that I shall risk it. It will not do to let Kent escape
us."

"How soon do you intend discharging your piece?"

"In an hour or so."

"Well, see here, Roland, if Kent comes, it can not be expected that he
will have any food. The report of your gun will doubtless reach the ears
of enemies as well as friends."

"I expect it will."

"And still further: if such be the case, we shall not dare to land for
fear of an encounter. We may be obliged to remain concealed for a few
days, and no means will be left to procure food during that time. Now,
what I am coming at is this: while we have an opportunity to get it, let
us do it."

"How do you propose obtaining it?"

"Easily enough. Just let me land, and I will insure you success in a
short time."

"But you have overlooked one thing."

"What is it?"

"The report of your gun will be heard as well as mine, and will be as
likely to attract the attention of any enemies in the neighborhood."

"That is true, but I can reach the boat in time."

"And although Kent is within a short distance, I shall not dare to
apprise him of our situation."

"Such appears to be the case; but you must see that it is absolutely
necessary that _some_ means should be taken to secure food."

"I admit it, and am willing that you should try."

"Hold!" exclaimed Leland, brightening up. "I have a plan. You say that
Kent, in the course of an hour or so, will probably be near enough for
you to fire. I will try and not bring down any game until that time, and
the minute you hear the report of my gun you must discharge yours. This
will have the effect that you wish, and I shall have time to reach you
before any one can come up."

"A capital idea," said Leslie. "Hearing two guns, the Indians will have
a little more fear in approaching us, than they would did they hear but
one. You deserve credit, George, for the thought."

"Remember, and wait until you hear my gun, before you fire yours,"
replied he.

"I will wait an hour, George; and then, whether I hear yours or not, I
shall discharge mine. As I said a while ago, it won't do to let Kent
escape us, and I must be sure to warn him."

"I trust that I shall encounter game before that time; but should I not,
you must do as you said. I will return upon hearing you."

"And return instantly," said Leslie, impressively. "Don't wait until the
danger is increased. Although it may seem that a few minutes will enable
you to procure abundant food, don't wait a single minute. It may cost
you your life, if you do."

"I will remember your advice. Now shove in a little nearer shore and I
will be off."

Leslie brought the boat to the bank, and Leland stepped off.

"Try and not be gone long; do not wander too far, for it will be an easy
thing to get lost in this forest. Remember that it will take you
considerable time to reach me, and if the distance be too great, an
enemy may be ahead of you. Be careful in all your movements, and be sure
to return the instant that my gun is heard."

"I will try and obey you," returned Leland. And George disappeared in
the mazes of the woods.

Leslie returned to his former position, and more to occupy his mind than
anything else, gazed out upon the broad bosom of the Ohio, as it glided
majestically along, through the dark shadows of the forest. It then
presented a far different appearance from what it does at this day. No
crowded cities then lined its banks. The flaming steamboat had not
broken its surface; the canoe, gliding noiselessly over it, was all that
gave token of the presence of man. A rude cabin erected in some lone
spot in the wilderness, like a green spot in the desert, showed the
feeble footing which he had upon the soil.

Solemnly and silently the old Ohio rolled along through its hundreds of
miles until it as solemnly and silently united with the great father of
waters.

When one has recently passed through an exciting and momentous
occurrence, and is then left completely alone, it is difficult to keep
from falling into a reverie; the subject which interests the mind most
will finally occupy it to the exclusion of everything else.

Thus it was with Roland Leslie. At first he began speculating upon the
probable success of Leland's enterprise; then upon the probability of
his arresting the attention of Kent, should he chance to be in the
vicinity. Having considered this for some time, he reflected upon the
dangers through which he had passed, and upon the likelihood of further
deliverance from them. This thought called to mind his mishap among the
rocks, and he proceeded to examine his wounds, of which, for some time,
he had entirely ceased to think. These being not very severe, as we have
shown, had failed to trouble him, and he was glad to see that they
needed no more attention.

Again left to his thoughts, they shortly wandered to Rosalind Leland.
Where was she? Was she alive, or already slain? Was there any hope of
meeting her again? Could _he_ do anything toward rescuing her from
bondage? He felt certain that she was alive, although a close prisoner,
and was confident that recovery was possible. That he determined she
_should be_ rescued, and that he should be the one that would do it, was
not strange.

Love will upset the mind of any person, and at times play the _wild_
with him. Leslie was naturally clear-headed, far-sighted and sagacious;
yet, when he permitted his ideas to dwell upon the object of his love,
they sadly misused him. At such times he was another person. He lost
sight of the obstacles and dangers which would have been apparent to any
one gifted with ordinary shrewdness; and he formed plans which, in his
sober moments, would have only excited his ridicule.

Strange as it may seem for such a person to have been guilty of such an
idea, Leslie had not pondered upon the absorbing topic for any length of
time before he deliberately came to the conclusion to rescue Rosalind in
the course of three days, to rebuild her old home, and settle down with
her for the rest of his life! Of course the savages would never disturb
him, and he should be, without doubt, the happiest mortal in existence!

He was suddenly awakened from his reverie by the faint report of
Leland's rifle. It sounded fully a mile distant, and the certainty of
his danger made him tremble with apprehension. George, as he feared, had
forgotten the warning given him, and, in the excitement, had
unconsciously wandered to a greater distance than he supposed. In all
probability he was lost, and would be obliged to seek the river and
follow it in order to find Leslie. This would require time, and he had
already exposed himself to danger by firing his gun.

Although Roland had promised to fire upon hearing Leland, yet he
forebore to do it. The difference which a half-hour would make in the
probability of Kent's hearing his own gun, would be in his favor. He
supposed that Leland, upon discharging his piece, had instantly set out
to return, and he wished to give him almost sufficient time to reach
him.

Anxiously and painfully Roland listened, with his finger upon the
trigger of his gun; and, as minute after minute wore away without a
sound reaching him, he began to hope that Leland could be at no great
distance.

A few more minutes were passed, when Roland concluded that the time for
firing his signal had arrived. It would serve to guide Leland, and, had
he not deceived himself, would reach the ears of Kent. Standing up in
the boat, he raised the gun above his head, and was already pressing the
trigger, when he paused, as he heard the sharp crack of Leland's rifle
at no great distance. He waited a few seconds, until the echo had died
away, and then discharged his own.

He remained stationary a moment, as though to permit the sound to escape
entirely from his rifle. Then, reseating himself, proceeded to reload
it. This done, he impatiently listened for a returning signal. He had
placed a great deal of reliance and hope upon that shot, and, as he now
was so soon to learn whether it had accomplished what he wished, he
could not keep down his fearful anxiety.

He was nervous, and listened with painful interest for the slightest
sound. The falling of a leaf startled him; and, at last, unable to
restrain himself, he determined again to fire his gun.

At that instant there came a crash of Leland's rifle, followed by the
maddened shouts of infuriated savages, so near that Leslie sprung to his
feet and gazed about him. Recovering himself, he stooped, and, seizing a
paddle, began shoving the boat toward shore, fully determined to afford
his friend all the assistance that lay in his power.

The boat had hardly touched, when there was a rustling in the bushes
directly before him, and the next instant Kent stood beside him.

"Quick--shove out! They are after me!" he exclaimed, springing into the
boat and grasping the oars.

"Where is George?" asked Leslie.

"They've got him, and came nigh getting me. Cuss the infernal devils!"

In a moment the two had freed themselves from the bushes. As the yells
of their enemies were heard upon the shore, they had reached the center
of the stream, and were passing swiftly downward.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE COMPANION IN CAPTIVITY.


When Leland left the boat, he wandered forward for a considerable
distance, not noticing the direction in which he was going, only intent
upon securing game of some sort or other. Still, he exercised
considerable caution in his movements, and determined not to risk a shot
unless he was certain of his success. Birds and quadrupeds were plenty,
and he did not entertain any doubts of his ability to secure all that he
wished. He permitted several good shots to pass, for the reason that he
did not wish to fire until the hour was up. By this means he
unconsciously increased the distance between himself and Leslie, until
it occurred to him that the hour had nearly expired. A few minutes
after, having a good opportunity, he improved it, and, securing his
prize, turned to retrace his steps.

Then it flashed upon him, for the first time, that he was lost. As we
said, he had failed to notice the direction, and had no idea of the
course to pursue in order to reach the river. The only means left was to
proceed by guess; contrary to what might be expected, he took the right
course. His anxiety caused him to be somewhat heedless; and after
proceeding a short distance, he again discharged his rifle. Then hearing
the report of Leslie's rifle but a short distance away, he set joyously
forward, confident of soon coming up to him. He had not gone far when he
heard a suppressed, significant whistle. Hardly conscious of its
meaning, he paused and listened. It was repeated, and becoming
suspicious, he sprung behind a tree. While listening, the subdued voice
of Kent reached him:

"Make for the river, George; the imps are on your trail."

He turned to obey this injunction, but had not taken a dozen steps when
a rifle flamed from some concealment, and a twinge in his side told him
that he was wounded. At the same instant several savages sprung toward
him, setting up their demoniac howls. The pain of his wound maddened
him, and, regardless of consequences, he raised his rifle and shot the
foremost through the breast, when scarcely the length of his gun from
him.

This act, though rash, and one which he would not have done in his
cooler moments, was the means eventually of saving his life. The
intention of the savages was to kill him on the spot; but the death of
one of their number increased their fury and thirst for vengeance, and
the chief or leader deterred the others from further violence,
determined that his death should be at the stake.

"You shoot Indian, eh?" said one, through his closed teeth, brandishing
his knife at the same time in the face of the young man.

[Illustration: "You shoot Indian, eh?" said one, brandishing his knife
at the same time.]

He made no reply; but weakened by the loss of blood, sunk fainting to
the ground. He was jerked to his feet, and although barely able to
stand, was forced forward, and compelled to keep pace with the others.

The Indians who had thus captured Leland were the same band who had
pursued him and Kent. The latter had taken a circuitous course, and,
after placing a considerable distance between himself and his enemies,
took the back track and reached the gorge where Leslie had fallen,
hoping to find him there; but being disappointed, followed his trail to
the river where he saw that he had embarked in the boat.

Kent knew that his own trail would be followed. In order to mislead the
savages, he took to the water and swam about a half-mile down-stream
before he landed upon the opposite side. But it seemed that fate was
against him. The savages in pursuing him had separated somewhat. Kent's
ruse one of them accidentally discovered, and apprised his companions.
They collected and immediately took the right trail. The first
intimation the ranger had of his danger was the whistling of a bullet a
few inches from his head, as he was nearing the bank; and when his feet
rested upon land, his unwearied and tenacious enemies were in the river,
boldly crossing toward him.

When the Indians reached the bank, Kent was already at a great distance,
yet they continued their pursuit, and had gone some distance, when the
first report of Leland's rifle reached their ears. This they mistook for
Kent's, and abandoning the trail, made directly toward it. The second
discharge of the young man's gun occurred when he was but a short
distance from them. Kent endeavored to warn him of his danger, but as we
have seen, it was too late. He himself was discovered and hotly pursued
to the boat, where he barely succeeded in making his escape.

Leland's captors took up their march toward the Ohio. Here, although
their captive was suffering intense agony, they forced him into the
water, and compelled him to swim across. Every stroke he thought would
be his last, yet he reached the shore in safety. The band set forward at
once. There were six savages, upon two of whom the duty of attending
Leland devolved. Yet he required little watching or attention. The
thought of escape was far from his mind; he was in a sad situation to
rebel or offer resistance. Both hands were firmly secured behind him,
and his strength was taxed to the utmost to keep up with his captors.

In the course of a couple of hours they came upon two of their
companions, seated around and amusing themselves with a negro. Each
appeared to enjoy himself prodigiously at the expense of the poor
African, who was boiling over with furious rage.

"Get out, niggers!" he shouted, "my head's split wide open now, sure!"

Here one of the savages amused himself by letting the end of a weighty
stick fall upon the head of the negro. The luxuriant wool caused it to
re-bound again, to the infinite delight of the tormentors, who smiled
horribly at it.

Leland recognized Zeb as he came up. It gave him a sort of pleasure, or
rather served to lighten his pain, to know that they were to be
companions in captivity. He could probably obtain information of
Rosalind, while the conversation of the slave might assist to keep off
the gloom which was settling over him.

"Gorra, ef dar ain't massa Leland," exclaimed the negro, turning toward
the approaching Indians. "High! whar'd _you_ come from, George? What did
you let 'em cotch _you_ fur?"

"Because I could not prevent it," returned he, with a faint smile.

"Well, now, if't had been dis pusson, you see, dey'd 've had some
trouble."

"How is it that you are here, then?"

"Well, dat question requires considerable explanation. I know'd as how
dey's agoin' to git _you_, and so I just come along to help you out de
scrape."

Here the conversation ceased for the present. Leland had stretched
himself upon the ground, and the pain of his wound increased. A savage
noticing this, prepared a sort of poultice of pounded leaves and herbs,
and placed it upon his side. Had this been done with a view to
alleviate his suffering and not to preserve him for a great and awful
torture, as it really was, Leland might have felt disposed to thank him
for it.

It had now begun to grow dark. A fire was started, and in a short time a
large quantity of meat was roasted. A piece of this was offered to
Leland, but, though a short time before he had felt keenly the pangs of
hunger, the sight of food now filled him with loathing.

"S'posen you offer dis pusson a few pounds, just to see if he'll take
it," suggested Zeb, gazing wistfully toward the Indian who held it.

Several pieces were given him, all of which he devoured voraciously and
demanded more. An Indian approached him, and holding a piece within a
few inches of his mouth, jerked it away as he was about to seize it.
This was repeated several times, until Zeb, losing all patience, became
morose and sullen and refused to snap at it. The savage seemed disposed
to humor him and held it still closer. Zeb, watching his opportunity,
made a quick motion, and nearly severed the finger of his tormentor's
hand, between his teeth. The savage dropped the meat with a howl, and
furiously shaking his wounded member, fairly danced with pain. He would
have undoubtedly killed the negro had not his companions prevented. They
enjoyed the sport and encouraged Zeb, who devoured his food for some
time in dignified silence.

"Wouldn't mind tryin' some more. S'posen you hold out yer other hand!"

No one noticed this remark, and the negro was obliged to rest satisfied
with what he had obtained.

As night came on, the savages stretched themselves upon the earth and
left the prisoners to themselves. Each was securely fastened. Leland was
within a few feet of Zeb, yet he concluded to wait until all were asleep
before he ventured to hold converse with him.

At length when the night had considerably advanced, and the heavy
breathing of the savages showed that slumber had at last settled upon
them, George turned his head so that he faced the negro, and abruptly
asked:

"Zeb, what do you know of my sister?"

"Noffin'!" returned the negro, earnestly.

"Were you not taken off together?"

"At fust we was; but dey took her one way and me anoder." He then
proceeded to narrate all the circumstances which had occurred to him,
since the burning of the house, in his own characteristic way.

"I am afraid you will soon have your last adventure," said Leland.

"Gorra! does you s'pose dat dey'd dare to shake a stick at me when I's
mad."

"I think they were engaged at that when I came up."

"Well, dat you see is a mistake."

"Have you heard anything hinted of the manner in which they intend to
dispose of you?"

"Not much, but I consates dat I knows. Dey'll just make me dar chief, if
I'll stay wid 'em, and I's bout 'cluded dat I would, just so dat I can
pay 'em for dis trick."

"Have they made the proposition yet?" asked George, feeling a strange
impulse to amuse himself.

"Well, 'bout as good. Dey axed me not to hurt 'em, and said somefin'
'bout tying somebody to a tree and roastin' 'em. S'pose dey's 'fraid
I'll do it to all ob 'em one dese days, if dey isn't careful."

"Why do they misuse you, if they intend to elevate you?"

"Well, dat's hard to tell. They've gone and went and cut all my curls
off."

"Never mind such things," said Leland, again feeling depressed. "In all
probability neither you nor I will see many more days. Unless we are
rescued pretty soon, we shall be past all human help. I advise you, Zeb,
to let serious thoughts enter your mind. Think of the world which you
are soon to enter, and try and make some preparation for it."

The negro gazed wonderingly at Leland, then turned his head without
speaking. The words probably had some effect upon him, for he made no
further observations. His silence seemed occasioned by the doom pending
over him.

That night was one never to be forgotten by Leland. The pain of his
wound, and the still greater pain of his thoughts, prevented a moment's
sleep. Hour after hour he gazed into the smoldering embers before him,
buried in deep meditation, and conjuring up fantastic figures in the
glowing coals. Then he watched the few stars which were twinkling
through the branches overhead, and the sighing of the solemn night-wind
made music that chorded with the feelings of his soul.

Far in the small hours of the night, he lay still awake, sending up his
prayer to the only eye that saw him, and to the only one that could
assist him.



CHAPTER IX.

ZEB'S REVENGE.


When the King of Terrors shakes his sword at his victim, unwonted
yearnings come over the human heart. To die alone, removed from home and
friends, when strange faces are beside us, is a fate which we all
fervently pray may not be ours. Yet, when these strangers are enemies,
and our death is at their hands--when every shriek or moan elicits only
jeers and laughter, how unspeakably dreadful is the fate! He who has
lost a dear friend in war, that has languished and died in the hands of
strangers, and perhaps received no burial at their hands--he who mourns
such a loss, may be able to appreciate, in some degree, the mournful
situation of young Leland, in the hands of the malignant Shawnees.

It is at such times as these, if at no other, that the stricken and
bowed heart turns to the One who alone can cheer and sustain. When shut
out from all prospect of human help, and conscious that there is but one
arm which is not shortened, we do not draw back from calling upon that
arm to sustain us in the dark hour of trial.

With the dull glow of the slumbering camp-fire, the grotesque groups of
almost unconscious sleepers, the solemn sighing of the night-wind, and
the twinkle of the stars through the branches overhead--with such
mournful surroundings as these, George Leland sent up his prayer of
agony to God.

He prayed, not for life, but for the preparation to meet the death
impending. The soft wailing of the night-zephyr seemed to warn him that
the death-angel was approaching every moment. He prayed for his beloved
sister in the hands of ruthless enemies--prayed only as he could pray
when he realized her peril. And he sent up his petition for the safety
of Leslie, who might still be awaiting his return--for the rough ranger
with him, and for the rude, untutored negro, now his brother-prisoner.

A short distance away, he could discern the shadowy form of Zeb, bound
against a tree, while scattered around him were stretched the savage
sentinels, whether asleep or not he was unable to tell. As for that
matter, however, they might as well have been unconscious as awake, for
the slumber of the North American Indian is so delicate that a falling
leaf is sufficient to disturb it.

The heart of Leland bled for the poor ignorant colored man. His
prolonged silence showed that he had begun to realize, in some measure,
his appalling situation. His natural thoughtlessness and recklessness
could not last forever. It might carry him into many a danger, but not
_beyond_ it.

The Shawnees seemed to imagine that the bonds of the prisoners were
secure, and that there was no possibility of their escape. In fact,
Leland had no hopes of release. Had his hands been free, he might have
ventured to do something; but at present they were as useless as if he
were deprived altogether of those members.

It was fully an hour beyond midnight, when, in spite of his situation,
Leland began to yield to the fatigue of the day. His head drooped upon
his breast, and he started fitfully. It is at such times as these that
the nervous system seems to be most fully alive to what is passing. The
prisoner was just in this state of mind when his attention was arrested
by a sound no louder than the murmuring wind above him--so low, indeed,
that it would have escaped his attention altogether, had it not been of
a character different from that monotonous moaning.

With the consciousness of this sound, came also the knowledge that it
was a continuous one, and had been in progress some time. At first it
seemed to be in the tree above him, but a moment's listening proved that
it came from the direction of the negro, Zeb. The darkness had deepened
somewhat during the last hour, so that he could barely make the outline
of the fellow, but could not discern any motion upon his part, unless it
was an absolute change of position.

All doubt as to Zeb being the author of the disturbing sound was removed
as soon as Leland became fully awake. It came directly from toward him,
and was of such a nature that it could not have been caused by one of
the sleeping Shawnees. With his eyes intently fixed upon the shadowy
outlines of the negro, Leland saw the upper part of his body move
forward, and then suddenly straighten itself again. This singular
movement was repeated several times, and then, to his amazement, he saw
the African step clear away from the tree and approach him!

As Zeb deposited his foot upon the ground, it was slowly and cautiously,
and at each time he threw his outstretched arms upward, like a bird when
flying, distorting his face also, as if the effort caused him extreme
pain. But he passed the sleepers safely, and was soon beside his master.

"How did you succeed in freeing yourself?" he asked.

"Golly, I chawed 'em off!" he replied, with a suppressed chuckle. "Had a
great notion of chawin' de tree off, so dat it mought fall on dem and
broke dar necks."

"'Sh! you are making too much noise," admonished Leland, in a guarded
whisper.

"Shall I eat up your cords?"

"Loosen them around my wrists and arms, and then I will help myself."

"Yere's de instruments dat will do dat same t'ing," said Zeb, applying
himself to the task at once. He progressed with such celerity and
success that in a few moments, to Leland's unspeakable delight, he found
his arms at liberty. It need scarcely be said that these were
immediately used to assist the negro in his further efforts.

The excitement and nervousness of the young man were so great, that when
his limbs were freed of the fetters he was scarcely able to stand, and,
for a few moments, was on the very verge of fainting. The sudden renewal
of hope overcame him for the time. By a powerful effort he regained his
self-possession, and strove, in the few hurried seconds that were his,
to decide upon some means of action.

It may be said that the two prisoners were literally surrounded by
savages. They were stretched on every side of them, and before either
dare hope to escape, it was necessary (if the expression be allowable)
to scale the dreaded prisonwall. Leland had good cause to fear success
for himself and his sable companion in this attempt. He found, to his
chagrin and dismay, that scarcely any reliance at all could be placed
upon his own limbs. His legs especially, from their long confinement in
one position, were so cramped and spasmodic, that, when he stepped out
from the tree to join the negro, one of them doubled like a reed beneath
him and let him fall to the ground. He believed it was all over with
him; but his fall was so gentle as not to disturb the sleepers, and he
once more raised himself to his feet.

"Shan't I carry dat sick leg while you walk wid de oder one?" inquired
Zeb, in a sympathetic tone.

"It is almost useless to me at present," replied Leland. "Let me lean
upon you while we walk, and for the love of heaven, Zeb, be cautious. A
single mismove, and it will be all up with us."

"Strikes dis chile dat it was ober wid you jes' now, de way you
cawalloped onto de ground jes' now."

"My leg is asleep and numb."

"Let's wake it up, den."

Leland paused a few moments until the circulation was somewhat restored;
but, as every moment seemed so fraught with peril to him, he whispered
to the negro to move ahead, repeating his petition for him to exercise
the most extreme caution in all his movements.

After all, the young man knew that the peril of both lay in the habitual
recklessness of the ignorant fellow.

At first Zeb entirely overdid the matter. The trained elephant that
steps over the prostrate and pompous form of Van Amburgh, was not more
careful and tardy in the performance of his feat than was the negro in
passing the unconscious form of a Shawnee. Although Leland deemed this
circumspection unnecessary, he did not protest, as he feared, in case he
did so, the negro would run into the opposite extreme.

The foot of Zeb was lifted in the very act of stepping over the third
and last savage, when a smoldering ember parted, and a twist of flame
flared up. At that instant, he looked down and recognized in the
features of the Indian, the one who had taken such especial delight in
tormenting him through the day. The negro paused while he was yet
astride of him.

"Look dar!" he whispered, "dat's him; tired himself out so much pullin'
at my wool, dat he is sleepin' like a chicken in de egg."

Leland made no reply, but motioned for him to proceed; but Zeb
stubbornly maintained his position.

"Look what a mouf he has!" he added; "tremenjus! If 'twas only two, free
inches wider on each side, he mought outshine me; but it's no use de way
de affair is got up jes' now."

"Go on! go on!" repeated Leland, shoving him impatiently with his hand.

"In jes' one minit. Dat's him dat bothered me so much to-day. I'd like
to smoke him for it! Gorra! if he hain't woke. Dar--take dat!"

The savage, who had been awakened and alarmed by the voice of the negro,
received a smashing blow in his face, that straightened him out
completely. Realizing his imminent peril, Leland at once leaped away in
the woods at the top of his speed, the negro taking a direction almost
opposite. Every Shawnee was aroused; the critical moment for the
fugitives was upon them.



CHAPTER X.

THE BRIEF REPRIEVE.


Leland succeeded in getting outside the circle of savages when, feeling
himself in the open woods, he dashed away at the top of his speed. He
ran with astonishing swiftness for a few moments, when, as might
naturally be expected, he so exhausted himself that he was scarcely able
to stand.

From the moment of starting, the Shawnees seemed to understand the
identity of the fugitives; and while they did not neglect to send in
pursuit of the flying negro, four of their fleetest runners instantly
dashed after the white man. Were it in the daylight, the latter would
not have stood a moment's chance against them; but he hoped to elude
them in the darkness and gloom of the woods. The obscuration being only
partial, his pursuers close in his rear, and the noise of the rustling
leaves beneath his feet betraying every step, it will be seen at once
that he was in the most constant and imminent danger.

Pausing but a few seconds--barely sufficient to catch his "second
breath," he again leaped away. There is no telling how long he would
have run, had he not stepped into a hole, deep and narrow--the mouth of
a fox's burrow evidently, for it was quite hidden by overgrowth--he fell
into the hole with a sudden violence which confused and stunned him.
Panting and exhausted, he lay still and awaited his pursuers.

They were far closer than he imagined. He seemed scarcely to have
disappeared, when the whole four passed within a few feet of him. How
fearfully his heart throbbed as the foot of one threw several leaves
upon his person!

Leland had lain here less than five minutes, when a second footstep
startled him. It came from an entirely different direction; and
approaching to within about a dozen feet, it halted. Rising to his
hands and feet so that his head was brought upon a level with the
ground, he peered through the darkness at the object. One long, earnest,
scrutinizing look, revealed the dress of a large Indian. His position
was so favorable that he could even make out the rifle he held in his
hand.

He stood as motionless as a statue for a moment, and then gave utterance
to a cry that resembled exactly that of the whippoorwill. Receiving no
response, he repeated it again, but with no better success than before.
The cowering fugitive was listening for the slightest movement upon his
part, when to his unfeigned amazement, the Indian in a suppressed
whisper called out, "_Leland!_"

The young man, however, was not thrown off his guard. He knew that every
one of his captors spoke the English language, some of them quite
fluently. It need scarcely be said that he made no response to the call,
even when it was iterated again and again. The savage during these
utterances did not stir a hand or foot, but seemed to bend all his
faculties into the one of listening. He had stood but a few moments,
when Leland caught the rustle of approaching feet.

The Indian detected them at the same moment, and instantly moved off,
but with such a catlike tread that the young man scarcely heard him at
all. Ah! had he but known the identity of that strange Indian, and
responded to his call, he would have been saved.

It was scarcely a moment later when the whole four Indians came back at
a leisurely gait, and halted not more than a rod from where Leland
imagined he lay concealed. They commenced conversing at once in broken
English:

"White man got legs of deer--run fast," said one.

"Yeh!--git away from four Shummumdewumrum--run much fast," added
another.

"Go back to camp--stay dere--won't come among Shawnee ag'in--don't like
him, t'ink."

"He run much fast--mebbe fast as black man."

At this point the whole four laughed immoderately, as if in remembrance
of the ludicrous figure of Zeb. Their mirth continued for several
moments, when they sobered down and renewed their conversation.

"Wait till daylight--den foller trail t'rough woods--Shummumdewumrum git
eye on it--soon cotch him."

This Leland felt was now his great danger. Should his pursuers return to
their camp, he hoped the distance that he thus gained upon them would be
sufficient to carry him entirely beyond their reach; but if they decided
to remain where they were, his only chance was to steal away before the
morning came. Judging such to be their intention, he determined to make
the attempt at once.

On his hands and knees he commenced crawling forward, listening to every
word that was uttered.

"White man try hard to git away--don't like Shawnee great much."

"He run much fast, _den fall down in woods_!"

"_Den try to crawl away like snake!_"

Leland saw that it was all over with him and gave up at once. The
Indians had been aware of his hiding-place from the moment he fell, and
their passage beyond it, their return and their conversation, were all
made on purpose to toy with his fears, as a cat would play with a mouse
before destroying it.

As one of the savages uttered the last words, he walked directly to the
prostrate man, and ordered him to arise. Leland judged it best to resist
no further. He accordingly obeyed; and, saddened and despairing, was led
back a prisoner to the Indian camp.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have heard of a fish, known in the humble fisherman's parlance as the
_ink-fish_, which, when pursued by an enemy, has the power of tinging
the water in its immediate vicinity with such a dark color, that its
pursuer is completely befogged and gives up the hopeless chase in
disgust.

A realizing sense of his recklessness and his imminent peril came over
Zeb when he felled the rising Shawnee to the earth. It was his
intention, in the first place, to serve every one in the same manner;
but as they came to their feet far more rapidly than he anticipated, he
gave over the idea, and, with a "Ki! yi!" plunged headlong into the
woods. At this very juncture, the attention of the Indians was taken up
with Leland, as the more important captive of the two, and for a moment
the negro escaped notice; but the instant the four started after him,
two others gave Zeb their undivided attention.

The sable fugitive, with all his recklessness, did the very best thing
that could have been done under the circumstances. Instead of fleeing,
as did Leland, he ran less than a hundred yards, when he halted abruptly
and took a position behind a sapling. Here he stood as motionless as
death, while his enemies came on. Whether his intensely black
countenance had the power of diffusing deeper darkness into the
surrounding gloom, or whether it was the unexpected manner of his flight
that deluded his pursuers, we are unable to say. Certain it is that
although the two savages passed very closely to him, neither saw nor
suspected his presence.

"Gorra, but dat's soothin'," chuckled Zeb. "Dey've missed me dis time,
shuah! Wonder whether dey'll outlive dar disapp'intment, when dey finds
out dat when dey finds me, dey hain't found me! Ki! yi!"

He maintained his motionless position for several moments longer, all
the while listening for his enemies. As their footsteps finally died out
in the distance, and he realized that he was left alone indeed, his
former characteristic returned to him.

"What's to be done, dat _am_ de question!" said he, speaking in an
incautiously loud voice, as he spread out his left hand at the same
time, and rested the forefinger of his right upon it. "In de _fust_
place, I don't know what has become of Master Leland. If he's done got
away, how am I to find him? If I sets up a yell to cotch his ear, like
'nuff de oders will hear it also likewise. Den if he hasn't got away
what _am_ de use ob bawlin' to him. Guess I won't bawl."

So much was settled at least. The fact that it would not only be a
useless but an extremely dangerous undertaking to make an outcry at that
particular time, worked itself through his head, and the intention was
accordingly given over for the present.

"One thing _am_ sartin, howsumever," he added. "I'm hungry, and I know
dar am some meat left by dat camp-fire, dat would relish high jus' now.
But had I oughter to go dar or not? Dey mought found me, but den I'm
hungry."

When our own personal feelings are put into the balance, they are apt to
outweigh the dictates of prudence and sense. The experiences of the
night, although fraught in their teachings to the ignorant black man,
had not as yet attained sufficient dignity to stand before the animal
feelings of his nature.

Although he comprehended in a degree the risk he run, he decided it was
worth his while to do it, rather than suffer for a few hours longer the
cravings of what was only a moderate degree of hunger.

"De stummich am de most importantest part ob man, and consequently am de
fust thing dat should receive his undiwided attention."

With this philosophical conclusion, he turned his footsteps toward the
camp-fire. Despite its proximity, he experienced considerable difficulty
in finding it. The few smoldering embers, gleaming like a demon's eye,
guided him, however, to the spot.

"Dar _am_ anoder matter sartin," thought he, as he came up. "Mr.
Zebenezer Langdon is not agwine to be able to s'arch here for de meat
onless he has some more light--Ki! dat coal am warm!" he exclaimed, as
he hopped off from the fiery end of a fagot.

It required but a few moments to gather sufficient fuel to replenish the
fire. The hot coals set the wood almost immediately into a roaring
blaze, which threw a warm, rich light through the surrounding woods for
many yards around.

Zeb was radiant with smiles. The cool night and the constrained position
had chilled him considerably, and he gave the fire a few moments to
infuse the comfortable warmth into his person.

"Now I'll jes' warm up my hands like," said he, after a few minutes,
"and den I'll go to work;" and forthwith he held them toward the blaze,
rubbing and turning them into each other with great zest and enjoyment.

"_Dar_, I guess dat'll do. Now I'll make a s'arch--Gorra! whar did _you_
come from?"

As the negro turned, he found himself standing face to face with the two
Shawnees who had started in his pursuit but a short time before! He
realized that he was recaptured, and made no resistance. He was
instantly re-bound to the very tree from which he had escaped, while the
Indians sat upon the ground very near him, firmly resolved that he
should not again have so favorable an opportunity to leave them.

The negro was hardly secured, when the other savages made their
appearance with Leland. He was also fastened to the identical tree from
which he had been loosened; and there, sad, gloomy and despairing, he
was left until morning.



CHAPTER XI.

A FRIEND.


In a short time the whole body of Indians were awake and astir. The
morning meal was soon prepared and hastily eaten, and they set forward.
Leland found that his wound was much better, and he traveled without
difficulty. The savages took a southerly direction, and appeared to be
journeying toward the destination of those who held Rosalind.

Their march continued without interruption until noon, when they halted
for a couple of hours for rest and food. For the first time, George
partook of some, and felt in a more hopeful frame of mind. Zeb was as
usual, and continued quarreling and abusing and threatening every one
within his reach.

"If dis isn't shameful, treating a pusson like me in dis way. I's sorry
dat I ever come wid you. I 'spects ebery bone in my body is broke in
pieces."

"You said last night that they dare not touch you," interrupted Leland.

"Well, dat's a subject dat you can't understand, and I haven't time to
'splain it. Dey're perwoken, anyhow, and dey's agwine to cotch dar pay
some ob dese days."

Consoled with this reflection, Zeb kept steadily upon his way, seemingly
as happy as a person could be when laboring under a slight provocation.
No further words passed between him and Leland for a considerable time.
The latter was busy with his own thoughts, and began to feel the
fatigues of their long-continued journey. They had set out at an early
hour, and had halted only at noon. The traveling was very difficult at
times, often leading through tangled underwood and swamps, where a
person's weight bore him deep into the mire; and now and then some
sluggish, poisonous serpent crawled from beneath their feet, or hissed
at them from some decayed tree.

About the middle of the afternoon they paused upon the banks of a stream
of considerable size, which was a tributary to the Big Sandy. Though
broad, it was not deep, and could be easily forded. The water flowed
quite swiftly, and being perfectly translucent, the bottom could be seen
from either shore.

Here the Indians exhibited their usual cunning and foresight. During
their journey, they had proceeded in "Indian file," permitting their
prisoners, however, to walk after their usual manner. The reason for
their adopting the caution mentioned with themselves, was more from
habit than anything else. Although suspecting they might be pursued, yet
they had little fear of an enemy, and omitted, as we have seen, to
employ a sentinel at night.

One of the savages stepped into the water, and, taking a few steps, was
followed by another, who placed his feet upon the stones, in the tracks
that he had used and made. Thus each one did until Leland and Zeb were
driven in and warned to do likewise. The former had no difficulty in
obeying, but the latter, either through mistake or design, made several
provoking blunders. He seemed to use his utmost endeavors to step into
the tracks of those before him, but instead of succeeding, was sure to
place his foot a good distance from it; and losing his foothold when
about in the center of the stream, came down with an awkward splash into
the water.

"Gorra!" he exclaimed, regaining his position, "dat fish pulled awful."
The savages nearest cast threatening looks toward him, and he reached
the shore without further mishap.

At about sundown the party came to a halt, and a fire was started.
Leland and Zeb found themselves in the same condition as upon the
preceding night, with the exception that a closer surveillance was kept
upon their actions. George partook sparingly of supper, while Zeb's
appetite was as insatiate as ever. A guard was stationed as soon as it
was fully dark, and the Indians appeared disposed to amuse and enjoy
themselves until a late hour. One of their number, with a hoarse,
guttural "Ugh!" approached the negro.

"You needn't come here," ejaculated Zeb, divining his intention. The
savage paid no attention to him, but continued approaching. Had the
negro been free, he might have offered resistance and occasioned
considerable trouble; but besides having his arms bound; his legs were
joined at the ankles and he was thus rendered helpless.

"Plenty wool," said the savage, placing his hand upon his head. He made
no answer, but glanced furtively and suspiciously at him. "Nice, good,"
he added; then closing his hand, gave a vigorous jerk.

"Lord help me!" screamed Zeb, rolling over in helpless agony.

"Poor fellow," repeated the Indian, approaching him and rubbing his
back, after the manner which a celebrated horse-tamer advises. Then,
watching his opportunity, he seized another quantity and pulled it
forth. To his surprise, this elicited no remark from his victim, and he
repeated it.

This time he succeeded no better than before.

Zeb was lying upon his back and staring at his tormentor in unspeakable
fury. The Indian, still determined upon amusement, again approached. Zeb
remained motionless until he stooped over him; then bending his knees to
his chin, he gathered all his strength, and planted both feet in his
chest, throwing him a dozen feet. The savage groaned and doubled up in
his agony, and gasped spasmodically for breath.

"Dar, how does dat set on your stummich? Yah! yah! dat's fun!"

Although this for the moment amused the others, yet it likewise excited
their anger, and there is no telling what the end would have been, had
not their attention been suddenly called in another direction. This was
occasioned by the arrival of a stranger among them.

Leland gazed at the new-comer, and saw a tall, powerfully-built and
well-shaped savage stalk boldly forward toward the fire, and exchange
salutations with those seated around. All regarded him suspiciously at
first, yet his boldness and assurance seemed to disarm them, and room
was made for him. The pipe was passed to him, and taking it, he smoked
several minutes in silence, during which time he seemed unconscious that
the eye of every one was bent upon him. Having finished, he turned and
passed it to the one nearest him, then gazing thoughtfully for a few
moments in the fire, commenced a conversation with the chief. He spoke
their tongue as correctly and fluently as any of them, which served to
disarm them still more. He stated that he had been out with a couple of
Indians, scouring the country for prey, when they were set upon and
pursued by two hunters, who at the first shot killed his companion. He
succeeded in effecting his escape after a hot pursuit of nearly a day,
and encountering a trail which he supposed to be his friends', he
followed it up and found that he was not mistaken.

On hearing this recital, several of the savages appeared to suspect that
Kent and Leland were the two to whom he referred, and directed his
attention toward their captives. The savage stared wonderingly toward
them for a moment, and slowly shook his head. He had never seen either
before.

Although none of the Indians could show any reason for suspecting their
visitor, except his strange arrival among them, still they were not
reckless and foolish enough to leave him to himself, or to permit him to
depart. Besides the two who were stationed at a distance as sentinels,
one remained awake to keep an eye upon his movements. Yet this
precaution was useless; for to all appearances, he slept as deeply as
any of them, and was among the latest who awoke in the morning.

Leland fell asleep about midnight, and gained a few hours of undisturbed
rest. In the morning he was considerably refreshed, and had it not been
for the awful doom that threatened him, would have possessed a joyous
fund of spirits. His wound, which had been only an ugly flesh one, had
ceased to trouble him, and he experienced no pain except from the
ligaments that bound him. As he increased in strength, these were
increased in number and tightness, until his limbs swelled and pained
him more than his hurt.

It is the same with the body as with the mind. The sorest affliction
that can visit us will not occasion half the murmuring and discontent
that the petty annoyances and grievances of every-day life do. Could the
pain which harassed Leland, and in the end nearly drove him frantic,
have been concentrated into a few moments, or even into a half-hour, he
could have borne it without a murmur; but it was the continual,
never-ceasing, monotonous length of it that troubled him.

Several times in the course of their journey, Leland was upon the point
of beseeching his enemies to kill him at once, and end his misery; and
had he reason to believe that they would have gratified him, he would
not have hesitated a moment; but such a request would have been useless.

At noon, as usual, the party came to a halt, and a couple proceeded to
bind Leland to a tree. During the proceeding he broke the cords that
pained him so much, and they were replaced by others. The latter,
however, were much more lax, and he felt greatly relieved when they were
placed upon him.

As soon as he was secured to the body of the tree, the savage left him
and joined his companions. Leland closed his eyes as if to shut out the
terrible reality, and the dancing lights that flickered before him,
together with the hum that filled his ears, told him that for a moment
he had succeeded. But he was soon recalled to a sense of his situation
by the _zip_ of a tomahawk within a few inches of his head. Opening his
eyes, he soon comprehended the state of things. The savages were amusing
themselves by ascertaining who could send his tomahawk nearest the body
of their captive without touching him. The first weapon that had been
sent had missed his head, as we have said, by a few inches; but the next
was still closer, and Leland felt the wind of it, as it buried itself in
the solid oak by his cheek. He again closed his eyes, and fervently
prayed that one of their hatchets might sink into his skull instead of
the tree; yet there was not much danger of such an occurrence; for the
savages exercised perfect skill, and rarely failed of sending their
weapons to the very point intended.

[Illustration: The savages were amusing themselves by ascertaining who
could send his tomahawk nearest the body of their captive without
touching him.]

Leland opened his eyes as a tomahawk came fearfully close to his
forehead. He wished to see who had hurled it. He soon saw that it was
the strange Indian, who was approaching to withdraw it. It was buried
deeper than the others; and as the savage placed his hand upon it, it
required considerable of an effort to extricate it. While doing so,
Leland heard the following words whispered by the stranger:

"Don't be scart, George; it's Kent Whiteman that has got his eye upon
you."

These words came near proving fatal to both. They so startled Leland
that he could not prevent himself from betraying somewhat his emotion
and excitement. This was observed by a savage near at hand, who
approached to satisfy himself of the cause. Leland, suspecting his
motive, repeated the action and accompanied it by a shudder, as though
the scene which was being enacted had overcome him. This satisfied the
wily Indian, who retreated and joined the others.

Hope was again awakened in Leland's breast--painful hope, that increased
his doubts and fears--hope that drowned the torture that beset him--hope
that sent the life-blood coursing rapidly and hotly through his veins,
and increased the charms which life had held out to him.

Leland was shortly released from his unenviable situation, and Zeb put
in his place. The negro made no threats or declaration, but submitted to
the trying ordeal without a word. The scenes through which he had passed
had evidently had some effect upon him. He seemed to possess a faint
realization of the danger in which he and his companion were placed. And
yet it could not be said that he was really frightened, for he evinced
no fear of any of his enemies, and his silence had the appearance of
being occasioned by sullenness and apathy. He did not tremble in the
least, but gazed unflinchingly at the tomahawks, as they came revolving
and seemingly directed toward his head, and struck beside him.

Finding that they had about lost their power over their captives, the
Indians released Zeb, and permitted him and his master to lie down upon
the ground.

Leland could not prevent his gaze from wandering toward Kent now and
then, yet their eyes did not meet. The latter betrayed no interest
whatever in either of the captives, and seemed as indifferent to their
fate as any of the others.

The negro had no suspicion of the true state of things, and perhaps it
was best that he had not. He might have unwittingly betrayed it, and
Kent did not choose to warn him. The fact was, it could have done him
but little good at any rate; for Kent had determined to rescue Leland,
if possible, and leave Zeb for the present to shift for himself. The
white _man_ was the first upon whom they would wreak their vengeance,
and aside from the greater estimation in which his life was held, from
the very nature of the case, he required the first attention.



CHAPTER XII.

ESCAPE.


The hunter in the course of the day had gained a full knowledge of the
intentions of the Indians in regard to their captives. Leland was to
suffer death at the stake at an early period, while the negro was to be
reserved until some indefinite time in the future, to be tortured.

The hunter had completely succeeded in disarming his enemies of every
suspicion. He had employed himself, as we have seen, in throwing his
tomahawk at Leland; and learning through a casual remark that he was to
be put to the torture, he expressed his opinion strongly in favor of it,
urging them at the same time to do it as soon as possible. He made
himself perfectly at home, and was so free among them, that a stranger
would have considered him one of the leading characters.

So perfectly had Kent dissembled, that at night, unexpectedly to
himself, he was chosen as one to watch Leland. The negro was firmly
fastened to a tree and left to himself, while George was to sleep
between two savages.

At supper-time Kent brought him a good-sized piece of well-cooked meat,
and gave him to understand that he was to eat it at all events. Leland
took it without daring to meet his benefactor's eye, and ate all that
was possible. The negro received his meal from the same hand without the
remotest suspicion that a friend was so near him, and even went so far
as to insult him as much as was in his power, for not bringing him a
larger quantity of food. To carry out still further the appearance of
things, Kent tore a small tuft from the negro's head, as if to revenge
himself.

"Blast you," he shouted, "if I doesn't flog you till you can't stand.
Just hold out your paw a minute."

Zeb used his utmost powers of persuasion to induce Kent to reach his
hand toward him, hoping to revenge himself as he had upon a former
occasion; but the hunter was too shrewd for him, and with a threatening
gesture, left him to himself, and joined his companions.

"Gorra!" said Zeb to Leland, "if I doesn't believe dat dat's de nigger I
sawed up in de barn toder day."

"You mean cut up?"

"All de same; leastways ef 'tis him, he's cotched his pay afore he come
sneakin' about here."

Now that Leland knew assistance was at hand, he experienced a desire to
converse with the negro, and thus help to pass away time, which had
grown intolerably monotonous. Turning to the old slave, he resumed:

"He is a savage-looking individual."

This was said in order to quell any suspicion or doubt that might have
entered his head.

"Dat he is; but he'd better keep away from me, if he doesn't want his
picter sp'iled," returned the negro.

"What were you abusing him for, a few minutes ago, when he brought your
food?"

"Well, you see, he's afraid I's agwine to hurt him, and begun to beg
off. It makes me _so_ mad to see any feller afraid dat I let out on him,
and he took himself off in a mighty big hurry."

"Have you lost much of your wool?"

"Two or free hands full; dat's all. 'Bout all growed in ag'in; but I
ca'culate dat de next dat gits his hand in my head'll get it in a
steel-trap. If I gits my grinder on 'im he'll see," said Zeb, with a
meaning shake of his head.

"I guess that they will not trouble you further for the present," added
Leland, with that air of assurance which one feels for the safety of
another when his own case is free from danger.

"Don't know 'bout dat, but I'd like to have 'em try."

"Well, your wish is about to be gratified," said Leland, as he noticed a
savage approaching him.

"Gorra, don't come here!" said Zeb, staring at him. The savage did not
heed his warning, however, but continued to advance, and made a motion
as if to strike him. The black man closed his eyes, bent his head toward
him and drew his face in all manner of furious contortions. The savage,
however, left him without provoking him further.

Leland was allowed to remain in his position until the savages stretched
themselves out to rest. They remained up later than usual, smoking and
recounting their deeds and boasting of the exploits they intended to
accomplish. Kent narrated some marvelous stories, which greatly excited
their wonder and admiration of him.

The time thus occupied seemed interminable to Leland, who was in a fever
of excitement and anxiety; but at last Kent stretched himself beside
him, while the other watch did the same upon the opposite side.

Still it would probably be hours before anything could be done, and
Leland was compelled to suffer the most intense and anxious impatience
for a long time. His thoughts prevented him from feeling the least
desire to sleep, and he could only worry and writhe in his helpless
position.

Kent, in arranging a place for himself beside him, bent his head to his
ear and breathed:

"Pretend to sleep."

Although this was said in less than a whisper, Leland heard the words
distinctly and prepared to follow the warning. To prevent the slightest
suspicion, he continued to groan and move for some minutes; but he
gradually ceased, and after a while settled down into a state of rest.
Soon his heavy, regular breathing would have led any one into the belief
that a heavy sleep was upon him. Not the slightest voluntary motion was
made, and Kent remarked to his brother sentinel that their captive must
be unconscious of the doom that awaited him.

A cord was fastened to Leland's wrist and then to Kent's arm, so that
the slightest movement upon the part of the former would disturb and
awake the latter should he fall asleep. The other watch, noticing this,
failed to adopt the same precaution.

For a few more minutes the savage held a conversation with Kent; but in
the course of a half-hour the answers of the latter began to grow brief
and indistinct, and finally ceased altogether; then he began to breathe
more slowly and heavily, and the savage at last believed that both guard
and prisoner were sound asleep.

When lying upon the earth at night, with no one with whom a conversation
can be held, and with nothing but the will to combat the approach of
sleep, the person is almost sure to succumb sooner or later. At any
rate, such was the case with the savage in question, and scarce an hour
had elapsed since he had ceased speaking when he was as unconscious of
the state of things around as though he had never been born.

Now was the time to commence operations; the critical moment had
arrived, and Kent commenced the work upon which probably more than one
life depended.

First he withdrew his knife from his belt, and severed the cord that
bound him to Leland. Then as cautiously, silently and quickly, cut the
thong that held his feet. This was the first intimation Leland had that
his friend was at work.

Leland's hands, as we have said, were bound behind; consequently it was
necessary that he should turn upon his side in order that Kent might
reach them. He knew this and made the movement; but his excitement and
agitation were so great that he turned too far, and in recovering
himself, awoke the savage. His presence of mind and Kent's cunning saved
him. He groaned deeply and muttered to himself, while the hunter started
up as though he had just awoke, and gazed wonderingly at him.

"I wish he'd keep still," said he, in the Indian tongue, lying down
again. This satisfied the other, who fell back and closed his eyes.

For an hour neither stirred. At the end of that time, Kent raised his
head and gazed cautiously around upon the circle of sleeping savages.
Zeb was at a short distance, resting as calmly as an infant upon its
mother's breast. The one beside Leland had again passed off to the land
of dreams; yet an Indian never sleeps soundly, and the slightest mishap
upon the part of those who were awake and expecting to move, might
arouse the whole body and bring certain and instant death upon them. It
would not do to awaken the sleeping sentinel again. Life now hung upon a
thread.

Kent reached beneath Leland and cut the cord. He was now free and at
liberty to move.

"Be careful!" whispered the hunter, as he assisted him to his feet.
Leland could not suppress his agitation, yet he used all the caution in
his power. But cautious as they both were, the savage nearest them
awoke. Kent had his eye upon him, and the instant he stirred, sprung
like a panther toward him. One hand clutched his mouth, his knee pressed
heavily upon his breast, and whipping out his knife, he forced it to the
hilt in his body. Nothing but the dull, fleshy sound, as it sunk into
the seat of life, was heard. The bloody stream silently followed its
withdrawal, there were several spasmodic struggles, and the savage
straightened out in death.

Kent arose from the body and motioned to Leland to follow him. Not
another being was awake, and tremblingly he followed over their
prostrate, sleeping forms. They were just passing into the thick
surrounding darkness, when the negro, through some means, awoke.

"Gorra," he shouted, "isn't you gwine to help dis pusson too?"

"Cuss that nigger," muttered the hunter. "Keep close to me and use your
pegs, fur a long run's before us."

Both darted away together, as the wild yells told them that their escape
was discovered. Those horrid, unearthly whoops, of which no idea can be
had unless they be heard, set Leland's blood on fire. In a moment the
whole forest seemed swarming with their enemies, and the yells of many
were fearfully near. Kent could distance any of them when alone, yet the
presence of Leland retarded him somewhat. However, by taking the
latter's hand, they both passed over the ground with great swiftness,
and neither had much fear of being overtaken.

On, on plunged the pursued, until many a mile had been passed; still
they halted not. The voices and answering shouts of the savages could be
heard upon every side, and they had yet by no means reached a place of
safety. Now some limb brushed in Leland's face, or he stumbled over some
fallen tree, and then, without a murmur, arose and pursued his way. On,
on they hurried, until the dispersing darkness told them that the day
was not far distant.

"I can travel no further," said Leland, sinking to the earth.

"Give out?" queried Kent.

"I believe I have. This is a terrible chase; but the prospect of a
recapture and death cannot goad me further, until I have rested."

"Wal, no mistake we have tramped some; but Lord save you, this is just
fun for me."

"Do you not think that they will abandon pursuit?"

"No danger of that. As soon as 'tis light they'll pounce upon our trail,
and foller it until it's lost or we are cotched."

"Which must not be."

"Wal, p'raps if they get their claws on you you wouldn't feel very
comfortable."

But they had passed through the most trying ordeals, and had now only to
make their way as best they could. Kent had some idea of the nature of
the ground, and they progressed with greater ease and rapidity, after a
short rest.

"Here we are," said the hunter, coming to a halt. Leland gazed ahead,
and saw a broad sheet of water which he knew must be the Ohio.

"And now," added Kent, "we've got to hunt up Leslie. He can't be far
off, and I'm in hopes we'll stumble upon him afore day. Just squat and
make yourself miserable while I take a run up and down the bank."

Leland obeyed him, and in a moment was left alone, shivering in the
chilly night-air, and feeling miserable indeed in his lonely situation.
But he was not disposed to murmur; he had escaped death--that was
enough.

In the course of an hour Kent returned with the information that he had
found the boat about half a mile up, but that Leslie was not in it. Both
started, and, after stumbling over bushes loaded with water, and sinking
into the miry shore, and wading in the river by turns, they came upon
it, pulled high up on the bank. It was becoming lighter every moment,
and as Kent knew that as soon as possible their trail would be followed,
he was unwilling to brook the slightest delay.

"As soon as one is out the scrape another gets in. Here you have got
clear, and now _he_ must go and make a fool of himself. If he's got
taken, that's the meanest trick yet."

"Perhaps he is not far off," said Leland, stepping in the boat and
searching it. "He is not here, certainly," he added, after looking over
it.

"I'll wait a while, and then we must look out for ourselves. No use of
losing our own hair in tryin' to help him," rejoined Kent.

Both took the boat, and turning it over so as to free it from water,
shoved it out from the beach.

"Halloa, Leslie! If you're about just say so, and if you ain't let us
know," shouted Kent, in a loud voice.

A silence of a few moments followed, when he repeated the call. To the
surprise of both it was answered.

"That you, Kent?" came a voice as if its owner had just waked.

"Wal, I rather guess so; and it's my private opinion that you'd better
tumble yourself in here in short order," returned Kent.

A dark form arose to all appearance from the ground, and pitching
awkwardly forward, exclaimed:

"You don't suppose a fellow would be in the boat through all that rain,
do you? Oh! is Leland there?" he asked, pausing and collecting his
senses.

"No! Poor fellow's scalped and burned at the stake. Had to kill nine of
them to save my own hair."

Leslie made no reply, but stepped silently into the boat. Making his way
toward the stern, he encountered the very person of whom he had been
speaking.

"Hey! who is this?" he exclaimed, starting back.

"A dead red-skin that I cotched," answered Kent.

"Leland, sure as I live!" said Leslie, joyously catching his hand.

For a few moments they heeded not the mirth of Kent at his joke, in
their mutual congratulations. Then they turned and heard him say:

"What a couple of fools."

They appreciated his rough kindness too well to make any reply. The boat
was out in the river, and under the long, powerful impulses that the
hunter gave it, was moving rapidly downward.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE CAPTIVE.


Leland and Leslie conversed and recounted to each other their adventures
until those were exhausted, when they endeavored to keep off the chill
by taking turns at the oars. Morning at length began to appear. In a
short time darkness lifted from the water, and the bright rays of the
morning sun pierced the foliage of the forest and rested upon the
stream.

About the middle of the forenoon, Kent ran in under the bank and sprung
ashore. The day was quite warm, and it was a pleasure for the three to
step upon the land and stretch themselves in the genial sunshine. They
had, however, halted for consultation, and to determine upon the plan to
pursue in order to rescue Rosalind.

"One more job finished and we'll rest a while," said Kent.

"And as we have depended upon and been guided and saved by your wisdom,"
said Leslie, "of course, in this most important case your advice must be
followed."

"Let's hear what you chaps have got to say first, 'cause p'raps you
might accidentally say somethin' smart without knowin' it. I'll decide
it after we all get through."

"What seems to me the most feasible is this," commenced Leland. "Let all
three of us follow the savages which have taken my sister, and after
reaching their vicinity, by stratagem recover her. If it be impossible
to do it in this way, make a bold dash and venture among them, and take
her at all events."

"Killin' first 'bout one hundred Injins, just to get 'em out the way,
you know," said Kent, with mock gravity. "Come, Leslie, it's your turn;
and bein' you're so much interested, I 'spects to hear somethin' awful
grand."

Leslie, to save his life, could not prevent a blush at this allusion. As
might be expected, he had thought of more than one plan, long before
asked for it, and replied without hesitation:

"What I say is, _rescue_ her at all events, as George has said. Of
course, it's out of the question to do it by force, and we must outwit
the savages. This I think possible, for the good reason that it has so
often been done. All three of us, or perhaps, what would be better, you
and myself can follow them up and retake her. George, in his present
state, could do but little to aid us, and in all probability, will
endanger the safety of all concerned."

"I agrees with you there; and a little further. Mr. Leslie, 'in his
present state,' _would_ do but little to aid us, and in all probability,
endanger the safety of all concerned."

"There is no need of jesting, Kent. You know that it would be the best
for you to have a companion, and who can you take but me?"

"Don't know but what it would. Now, s'posen an old feller that don't
know nothin' says somethin'?" said Kent, good-humoredly; for he, as is
generally the case with those of his class, had a habit of depreciating
his own sagacity and foresight, when he really knew how much superior it
was to his companion's.

"Don't know but what it would," he repeated. "S'pose if I's in your
case, I'd feel the same; but you see, there's somethin' else to think
of. S'posen we gets her, we hain't got any place to stick our heads in,
and may be hunted forever after by the skunks. Now as soon as
convenient, we'll paddle down to the place where Leland's house was
burned, and drop him there; fur it won't do to take _you_ 'long, George.
Leslie understands the Injins better than you, and it would just git us
all into a muss, and like enough, make 'em knock her on the head, to
save trouble. We'll take you up to your farm 'cause that'll be a place
we can't miss very well; and if there's a shed or anything left, you can
stow yourself away till we gets back. Keep a good lookout, and don't get
into any trouble. I'll take Leslie along, for I s'pose he won't stay,
and I've thought of a plan that'll take him to work with. There, you
have my plan."

"Which you must admit, is the one that must be followed," said Leslie,
turning toward Leland.

"I suppose," he returned, "that your advice should be taken, although I
confess that I had hoped to accompany you; but as I said, Kent knows
best, and the only proper course is to obey him."

"Well, let us not wait, now that we have decided what to do," said
Leslie, rising to his feet.

"No; we ought to be movin', fur I opine we've a good tramp afore us."

Again the boat was shoved out, and shot onward. Nothing worthy of
mention occurred on the way. The next day, at noon, they reached their
destination. Leland's heart sunk within him, as he gazed up from the
river and saw, where once his home had been, nothing but black and
charred ruins. A portion of what had once been used as the barn remained
entire, having escaped the flames.

"This is just the thing," said Kent, approaching it. "We'll fix it up
a little and I'd advise you to go to sleep, and stay so until we get
back."

The three set vigorously to work, and in a short time they had made it
quite comfortable. It consisted of logs placed firmly and compactly
together, and secured so that a single person well armed could offer
effectual resistance to a formidable enemy. Being in a sort of clearing,
it had the additional advantage of affording its inhabitant such a view
that he could not be approached by any person without their being
observed and thus giving him time to prepare for them.

"There!" said the hunter, retreating a short distance and gazing at it.
"I wouldn't ax a better place. You might bring down a hundred Injins,
and give me plenty powder and ball, I'd have the best fun in creation."

"Suppose they come upon all sides?" suggested Leland.

"All you got to do is to take the stock off your gun and shoot out of
both ends of the barrel."

"You can go now as soon as you please; but first tell me what time to
expect you back."

Kent folded both arms over the muzzle of his gun, and shutting one eye,
remained for a few moments buried in earnest thought. Then he replied:

"Between five and eight days; probably on the sixth."

"All ready?" queried Leslie.

"All ready," returned Kent.

Both bade Leland good-by, and after a few unimportant words, started
upon their journey. Leslie felt a wild, joyous thrill as he realized
that he was really nearing Rosalind; that in a short time, as he firmly
believed, he should see and be able to assist her to procure her
liberty. He could hardly restrain his impatience, but vainly urged Kent
to quicken his thoughtful, lagging steps. The sun had set, and darkness
was slowly spreading over the great forest, when the two plunged into
its depths and ventured upon their perilous, doubtful undertaking.

For a considerable time we have left Rosalind to herself, and with the
reader's permission we will now return to her.

The Indians which held her, as was stated, journeyed far into the
interior of Kentucky before making a final halt. Here they reached the
village or headquarters of their tribe, and gave her to understand that
her journey was at an end.

The village numbered several hundred, and considering her defenseless
position, the savages allowed her considerable liberty. From the first,
however, she was made a slave and a drudge, and compelled to toil with
the hardy squaws of their tribe, bearing their insults and sometimes
even their blows. The hope and prospect of a speedy relief and
deliverance enabled her to bear this without murmuring. She had not much
fear of death, as she judged by their actions that their intention was
to make her a prisoner for life.

There is nothing in the animal creation but which is affected by
kindness and obedience, and there is no race upon which it makes a more
ready impression than the American. Rosalind's continual gentleness and
pleasing manner melted the hearts of many of the warriors, and more than
one rude epithet was restrained by the meek loveliness of her face.

Yet she was sometimes in greater danger than she ever dreamed. All did
not act and feel thus toward her; more than one voice demanded her
blood, and while she lay quietly dreaming of some loved one, there was
many an angry discussion over her life. Deadly, baleful glances were
given her, when in her musings she was unconscious of the notice of any
one; and among the entire female portion there was not a squaw but what
regarded her with feelings of jealousy and hatred. Had she remained a
month, at the end of that time her life would no doubt have been
sacrificed. To quiet the continual broiling and angry feelings, the
Indians would have acted as they did in nearly a similar case some years
before; she would have been tomahawked, as was the young Miss McCrea.

Rosalind often wondered who the person could be that had interrupted her
conversation with Zeb upon the first night of her captivity. One day she
was gratified with the knowledge. A savage approached her and commenced
a conversation:

"How is the pale-faced maiden?"

She started at hearing her tongue spoken so well, and looking up
recognized a middle-aged Indian, that had frequently visited her house
during her father's life. She replied:

"Very well."

The savage was uneasy, and waited a few moments for her to speak
further, but as she evinced no disposition to do so, he at length added:

"Does the maiden remember Pequanon?"

[Illustration: "Does the maiden remember Pequanon?"]

"She does," she returned, looking him steadily in the face. "She
remembers him as one who received kindness both from her father's hand
and her own, and as one who shows his gratitude by treacherously burning
her home, and carrying her into captivity. Yes, Pequanon," she
continued, bursting into tears at the remembrance of the event, "she
remembers you and can never forget your conduct."

"Pequanon saved your life," he returned, feelingly.

"And gave me a fate that is worse."

"He went with his brothers when they burned your home, but he did not
help. He went to save your life, and did do it. When the tomahawk was
lifted over your head, he caught the arm and turned it aside. When your
blood was called for, Pequanon swore that it should not be had, and he
has kept his word. Pequanon never forgets kindness, and will die for the
maiden that clothed and fed him."

Rosalind felt her heart moved with pity toward the poor, untutored
savage who had thus really been grateful, and no doubt had done all in
his power for her good. She recalled many instances where she believed
that he was the cause of the lenity upon the part of the captors, and
where it seemed that some one had shown an interest in her welfare. She
informed him that she believed he had done her all the good that was in
his power, and expressed her heartfelt thanks for it. The Indian seemed
gratified beyond measure, and after further conversation took his
departure, promising eternal fidelity to her.

This circumstance, though trivial in itself, had a great influence upon
Rosalind. It gave her a knowledge of the true position in which she
stood. Although she doubted not but that she had friends among the
savage beings around her, yet she well knew that there were many deadly
enemies, who, when an opportunity offered, would not hesitate to take
her life. Every night when she lay down, it was with the prayer that her
life might be preserved until morning, and that, were it in the power of
her friends to rescue her, they would do it speedily.

The lodge in which she slept was that of the chief. Besides his own
wife, several squaws remained in it during the night. A young woman, her
most bitter and hateful enemy, slept beside Rosalind most of the time,
and the slightest movement on the part of the latter was sure to
occasion some insulting word or command from her. She bore this without
a word, hoping each night that it was the last she was to spend in this
manner.

One night she suddenly awoke to a full state of consciousness--so
suddenly that it startled and alarmed her. It seemed as though something
had awakened her, and yet she could recall nothing. She turned her head
and gazed at her companion, but she, to all appearances, was sound
asleep, and could not have been the cause. She experienced no more of
drowsiness or inclination to sleep, but concluded to feign it in the
hope of satisfying herself of any danger that might be lurking near her.

She half closed her eyes, yet kept a close watch of everything around
her. In a moment there was a rustling upon the outside; the next instant
the point of a knife protruded through a gap in the skin of the lodge,
and two eyes were seen gleaming like a tiger's; then the hand that held
the knife was thrust forward, and it was held over her.

Rosalind tried to scream, but could not utter a sound. She seemed frozen
with terror, and only made a spasmodic movement that awoke her
companion. As soon as the latter moved, the hand was withdrawn and the
rent closed of its own accord.

"Oh!" she murmured, "did you see it?"

Her companion, more angered on account of being awakened from her sleep,
struck her a blow and commanded silence; but Rosalind could not remain
in her position, and arising and stepping softly over the sleeping form
beside her, seated herself in the center of the lodge. Here she remained
until morning, when she made the inmates understand the nature of her
nocturnal fright. All treated it lightly, and she began to entertain a
suspicion that they knew more of it than she did herself.

In the course of the day she narrated the circumstance to Pequanon,
showing him also the aperture that had been made in the lodge. He
examined it carefully, and appeared troubled about it. The marks of a
person's knee and moccasin could be seen upon the soft earth, and there
was no doubt that her life had been sought. Pequanon informed her of
something that surprised and alarmed her as much as this. Several of the
warriors, since her first appearance among them, had shown a desire to
obtain Rosalind for a wife; and although it may seem strange that she
herself was not aware of the fact, Pequanon had noticed it from the
commencement, and now for the first time warned her of it. One who
suspected that he should be disappointed, had taken the means to procure
the revenge that we have mentioned. Ever after this Pequanon remained in
the lodge during the night, and Rosalind was careful to keep at a safe
distance from the sides of it.

She saw in the fact that he had given her, the cause of the hatred upon
the part of the females toward her. They had seen the favor with which
she was regarded by numbers of the warriors, and were filled with
jealousy at it. From them she had as much to fear as from the Indians
who wished to obtain her.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE RESCUE.


Rosalind was a good distance from the Ohio, and consequently a long way
was to be traveled by Kent and Leslie. During the first night of their
journey, a bright moon favored them, and they continued on without
halting until morning. The hunter struck the trail at an early hour in
the day, and the two continued their pursuit with renewed ardor until
the sun was high in the heavens, when they halted for rest.

When they finally halted, it was on the banks of Big Sandy, at the point
where the West Fork unites with it. Here they discovered signs of the
encampment of a large body of Indians. Leslie felt hope increase, and
was impatient to pursue their way. They judged it best--or rather Kent
judged it best--to remain in their present position, and follow the
trail only during the day.

The hunter left Leslie in order to search for game, as they both were
exceedingly hungry. He returned in a short time, to the surprise of
Leslie, who had not heard the report of his gun. Kent informed him that
he had slain it without firing a shot, as he dared not to risk one. A
fire was started, it being concealed by the river-bank as much as
possible, and their food was cooked. This finished, the fire was
extinguished, and they partook of the repast.

A moon as bright as that of the preceding night arose, and the clear
river, glistening in the moonlight like liquid silver, was visible for a
great distance. Leslie was soon asleep, but Kent lay awake the greater
part of the night, revolving in his mind the best course to pursue in
regard to capturing Rosalind. At last he hit upon the plan, and having
fully determined what to do, he fell into a peaceful slumber.

"Now to the rescue," said Leslie, springing to his feet as soon as it
was fairly light.

"I'd advise you to put a stopper on that jaw of yourn, if you don't want
the whole pack down here in a twinklin'," quickly retorted the hunter,
slowly coming to the sitting posture.

"Why, what's the matter, Kent?"

"Oh, nothin'; only there's a few Injins squatted over on t'other shore."

"Ah! well, they can't see us, at any rate, for a thick fog has gathered
during the night and is resting upon the river."

"Wal, they can hear you easy 'nough, 'specially if you go on that way."

"Come, come, Kent, don't be cross. I'll wager that they haven't heard
me, and I promise that they shall not."

The two shouldered their rifles, and, as the mist was slowly rising from
the river, again commenced their journey. The trail was now easily
discovered, and followed without difficulty. It led most of the time
along the bank of the river, and its distinctness showed that the
savages had no fear or cared little for pursuit. Instead of proceeding
in Indian file, as they had at first, they traveled promiscuously and
carelessly, and their number could be easily made out by their
footsteps. During the course of the day Kent gave the exact number to
Leslie, and the precise time that they had journeyed over the ground.

Leslie, in the ardor of his hopes, still had a fear that they might not
really be upon the track of Rosalind. Might not some other party be
misleading them? Was it not possible that the party had subdivided, and
the one that held her taken an entirely different course? The
probability of error prevented him from experiencing the joyous
hopefulness that he might have otherwise felt. This worried and caused
him so much anxiety, that he expressed his fears to Kent.

"Don't know but what we are," returned the hunter, composedly.

"Do you _think_ that we are?" asked Leslie, earnestly.

"Can't say; I'll go back if you want to."

"Heigh! what's that?"

He sprung forward and caught a shred fluttering from a bush.

"That's it! that's it!" he shouted, fairly leaping with joy.

"That's what?" asked the hunter, seemingly disgusted at this display of
childlike emotion.

"Why, a piece of her dress, sure enough," responded Leslie.

Here the corners of Kent's mouth gave a downward twitch, and turning his
head so as to glance at Leslie, a deprecating grunt escaped him.

"She did it on purpose to guide us," added Leslie, not heeding him.

Kent's mouth jerked forward, and a loud guffaw was given.

"Let us hurry," said Leslie, starting forward.

"I allow," commenced the hunter, unable to restrain himself further,
"that if you play many more such capers you'll go alone. If the sight of
her dress sets you in such fits, what do you s'pose'll 'come of you when
you set your eyes on her? and I daresn't think of the consequences of
once gettin' your arm around her. Whew!"

"You must pardon my feeling, Kent; but the sudden assurance that we were
not mistaken or proceeding by guess, completely overcame me."

"Somethin' queer come over you, no mistake."

"Well, if you don't like to see it, I will try and repress it in
future."

"I hope you will when I'm about."

The two hurried on without further conversation for some time. At noon
they made a shorter halt than usual, as Kent informed Leslie that, by
pressing forward, they could gain the region of the savages by
nightfall. As the afternoon advanced, the experienced eye of the hunter
began to detect unmistakable signs of the presence of Indians.

Leslie could not repress his agitation as he realized that every minute
was bringing him nearer and nearer to the object of his desires. Fear
and hope filled him, and he was alternately gladdened by the one and
tormented by the other.

He did not notice that Kent had changed his direction, and was
proceeding more cautiously than before; he only knew that he was
following closely in his footsteps, and relying entirely upon his
guidance.

All at once the hunter came to a stop, and laid his hand upon Leslie's
arm. He looked up, and there, before him, was the Indian village. Kent
had conducted him to a sort of rising ground, which afforded them a
complete view of it, while the forest gave them an effectual
concealment.

"Is this the place?" asked he, in astonishment.

"This is the place," answered the ranger.

Leslie feasted his eyes a long time upon the scene before he withdrew
his gaze. Every wigwam was visible, and the squaws and children could be
seen passing to and fro through the sort of street or highway. Many of
the warriors were gathered in groups, and reclined upon the ground,
lazily chatting; while their far better halves were patiently toiling
and drudging at the most difficult kinds of work.

Leslie scanned each form that came under his eye, in the hope of
distinguishing _one_; but he was disappointed, and compelled to see the
night closely settle over the village without obtaining a glimpse of
her. "After all," he thought, "she may not be there, and I am doomed to
be frustrated, at last." But again hope whispered in his ear, and
rendered him impatient for the hour when his fate must be decided.

The moon arose at about midnight, consequently, all that was to be done
must be done before that time. As soon as it had become fairly dark, so
that Leslie was unable to distinguish anything in the village, he seated
himself beside Kent to ascertain his intentions.

"The time," said he, "has arrove when we must commence business, and I
allow that we must be at it soon. Here's your part. You are to stay here
till I come back. I am goin' down into their nest to hunt her up, and
when I come back you'll know whether she's to be got or not. Keep quiet,
and don't stir from this spot till I give you the order. Remember, if
we're goin' to do anythin', you must do as I tell you. Take care of
yourself."

With these words the hunter departed--departed so silently and
stealthily, that Leslie hardly comprehended that he was gone.

Kent, while it was yet light, had taken a survey of the village, and
viewed it, too, with a scout's eye. He had distinguished the chief's
lodge from the others, and rightly conjectured that this would be the
most likely to contain Rosalind. Accordingly, he determined to direct
his footsteps toward it, before looking in any other direction. This was
situated in the center. He was, consequently, exposed to greater danger
in reaching it; yet he placed great reliance upon his disguise, which he
yet assumed, and determined to venture within the village in a short
time.

He stood at the extreme end, and now and then could discern a shadowy
form passing silently before him, or, perhaps, the voice of some warrior
or squaw; but soon these sights and sounds ceased, and he commenced
moving forward. Not a savage was encountered until he stood before the
lodge for which he was seeking. He had now reached the point where his
most subtle powers of cunning were called into requisition, yet thought
not of hesitating.

Standing a second in front of the lodge, he glanced about him, but not a
form was to be seen. Had he been observed he must have been taken for an
Indian, and attracted no further notice. Kent being certain that his way
was clear, sunk to the earth, and lying upon his face, worked himself
slowly and cautiously toward the lodge. He seemed to glide precisely
like a serpent, so easy and silent were his motions. In a moment he was
beside it, and, as he believed, within ten feet of the object of his
search. A dim light was burning. By its light he hoped to satisfy
himself shortly of the truth of his conjectures. Running the keen point
of his knife along the skin that formed the lodge, he had pierced it
enough to admit his gaze, when the light was suddenly extinguished.

For a moment the hunter's calculations were at fault. He had not counted
upon this, but had hoped to gain a view of the interior while the light
was burning. He felt barely able to repress his disappointment, as he
was again compelled to devise some other plan. For once he had been
frustrated in his design, and he felt it keenly.

But he determined to risk a look at all hazards. The aperture was
completed; Kent raised his head and peered in--and betrayed himself.

Pequanon was at his place in the inside as usual, watching, in the
nobleness of his soul, the life of Rosalind. His quick ear detected the
noise, slight as it was, occasioned by Kent's labor. The latter
supposing the inmates of the lodge would be slumbering, hoped for an
opportunity to do what he wished. But Pequanon was on the alert, and
detected him at work. When his face was placed at the opening, it was
brought between the sky and the darkness of the lodge, and the Indian
plainly observed the outlines of his face. His first impulse was to
seize a rifle and shoot the intruder instantly, for he believed that it
was the one who sought the life of Rosalind; but checking himself, he
arose and passed out noiselessly, determined to satisfy himself before
action.

Two consummate hunters were now maneuvering against each other. The
movements of both with respect to themselves were as much at fault as
though they were inexperienced youngsters. The noise of Pequanon was so
slight that it failed to awake either Rosalind or any of the inmates;
yet Kent heard it distinctly, and crouched down upon the ground and
listened. In an instant he caught the step upon the outside. He knew
that he could spring to his feet and easily make his escape; but in
doing so, he would raise an alarm, and thus effectually prevent anything
of use being done by himself. He therefore withdrew some ten or fifteen
feet, and trusted that the Indian would not search further; but he was
mistaken. Pequanon was determined to satisfy himself in regard to
Rosalind's secret enemy; and espying the shadowy form gliding along from
him, he sprung toward it, hoping and expecting that it might leap to its
feet.

The form leaped to its feet in a manner that he little suspected. Kent
saw that an encounter was unavoidable, when, concentrating his strength,
he bounded like a panther toward the savage, bearing him to the earth,
with his iron hand clutching his throat. Pequanon struggled, but was
powerless, and could not make a sound above a painful gurgle. Kent
whipped out his knife, and had just aimed at his breast, when the savage
found voice to speak a few words.

"Hold! you strike the white man's friend!"

The excellent English startled Kent, and he relaxed his hold.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

"Pequanon, the white man's friend."

"What did you come nosin' out here fur then?"

Kent's knees were upon the arms of the Indian, while he was seated upon
his breast. The hunter loosed his grasp.

"The pale-faced maiden. Pequanon wished to save her."

"Wal, see here, old red-skin, I'm after her. You's sayin' as how you's
her friend. Mind to help?"

The Indian answered in the affirmative.

"Wal, I'll let you up, pervidin' you'll go and bring her out. What you
say?"

"Is it her friends that wish her?"

"You've hit it there. Goin' to help?"

"Pequanon will lay his life down for the captive."

"I'll let you up then, and give you two minutes to trot her out. If you
undertake to come any of your tricks over me, I'll blow your brains
out."

Kent permitted Pequanon to arise, who departed silently for the lodge
without giving a reply to his remark.

The hunter was not to be deceived by any artifice of the savage, and to
guard against treachery, withdrew still further from the lodge. He
doubted very much whether the Indian would endeavor to assist him at
all, but he had done the best he could under the circumstances.

In a moment his doubts were put to flight by the reappearance of the
noble Indian, with Rosalind. As cool and collected as was the hunter, he
could not repress a joyous start as he gazed upon her form.

"That's the fust Injin, accordin' to my opine," he muttered to himself,
"that ever _was_ a man."

Rosalind, all trembling eagerness and anxiety, on coming up to Kent,
seemed unable to speak. The hunter noticed her action and forbore
speaking, making a motion, as an apology, for silence. For a second the
trio remained motionless and undetermined what course to pursue.
Pequanon noticed this and started toward the river.

"Hold on, cap'n!" said Kent; "there's another chap that come with me."

The hunter now took the lead; and leaving them hopefully pursuing their
way, let us glance at Leslie until they arrive.

Chafing, fretting, hoping, fearing and doubting sat Leslie, impatiently
awaiting the appearance of Kent. The falling of a leaf, or rustling of
the branches under some light breeze startled him; and when a
night-bird, that had been resting above him gave utterance to its
unearthly hoot, and swooped past, its voice he mistook for the yell of
his savage foes, and the flap of its wings for their approaching tread.

Now he pictured the bliss that he hoped to feel; then again he was the
prey of most poignant doubts and fears. Would he see her, and clasp her
to his bosom, or was she a hopeless captive? Was she living or dead?
Would Kent come back without information or hope? Suddenly there arose a
wild, prolonged yell, that fairly froze him with terror. Kent was
discovered, and all hope was gone! Oh, the agony of that moment!

Hardly comprehending the state of things, he formed a dozen different
plans at once. Now he was going to rush madly forward and rescue
Rosalind during the confusion, and then was about shouting for Kent.

All at once he heard a footstep. The pursuers were then at hand!
Resolved to lay one savage low, he rushed forward toward the approaching
figure. Could it be possible? Was it not a dream? There she stood before
his eyes. His limbs trembled, and he felt upon the point of falling.

"Is this Mr. Leslie?" asked a sweet voice that had thrilled him more
than once before.

"I guess it's him or his spook," answered Kent, for him. "If there's
goin' to be any huggin' done, hurry up with it, fur they're follerin'
us."

This threw off all reserve. Leslie folded Rosalind to his breast. She
spoke not--resisted not--her trembling limbs and sobs told more than
words could have done.

"That'll do for the present," interrupted Kent, in a kind tone. "We must
be off now, fur the red-skins have smelt the rat, and I should judge by
the noise they're makin' that they're in a confounded muss. Never mind,
don't cry. When we get down home out of danger, I'll let you hug and cry
as much as you please. Which way, Mr. Red-skin?"

Pequanon turned to the left and took long, impatient strides. Kent
followed closely in his footsteps, while Leslie led the trembling
Rosalind. Often, regardless of the danger which threatened, he pressed
her to him and whispered words of which we can only guess the meaning.

On they hurried, half running, over the tangled underwood and fallen
trees until they paused upon the brink of the river.

Here, to the surprise and joy of all, Pequanon running to a clump of
bushes pulled forth a large canoe and shoved it into the stream. The
others needed no admonition to use it.

"Here," said their guide, "we part. May the great Spirit guide you."

"Say, you, you'll get into trouble, won't you, if you go back?" queried
Kent.

"The Great Spirit will protect me. Farewell."

"Wait, Pequanon," said Rosalind, rising from her seat.

"Pequanon has only paid his debt to the pale-faced maiden."

The Indian was gone.

Rosalind sunk back upon her seat in tears.

"He's the first Injin that I ever got my clutches on that has got away
after it, and the first one that I ever felt like lettin' go. Somehow or
other my old gun didn't burn and wriggle when I sot my eyes on him, as
it is used to doin' in such cases; and if it wasn't fur that red hide of
hisn' I wouldn't believe he was one of them."

All this time the shouts and yells of the savages could be heard, and
now and then it seemed to the fugitives that they must have been
discovered. Kent pulled the boat to the opposite shore, and as he
expressed it, "hugged the bank mighty close." He had little fear of
being discovered, but the utmost caution was to be used, for, in their
rage, the savages would use every means in their power to recapture
them.

Kent knew that by keeping on, he would in time reach the banks of the
Ohio. Their enemies would probably suspect the true nature of their
escape and take to the river in pursuit; and, as the Indians, in case of
discovery, could easily overtake and recapture them, they must
necessarily be saved by fortune and stratagem. Though scarce a ripple
was heard, the shadowy form of the boat shot swiftly under the hanging
trees and round the projecting points of the bank, like some serpent
gliding noiselessly over the surface.

Soon the edge of the great moon slowly rose above the dark line of the
forest, and its long rays streamed over wood and river; when it had
finally risen high up in the heavens, the stream shone as brightly as at
noonday. Its winding course could be discerned ahead until it was lost
in the forest, and for miles behind, its banks were as clearly defined
as it could have been under the sun's rays.

Now that the river and its objects were so plainly depicted, Kent kept
closer yet under the shadows of the friendly bank. Now and then he
hurried through some opening in the trees of the shore, where, for a
minute, he was exposed to any gaze that might chance to be given; then,
when the water was shallow, he struck the muddy bottom, and patiently
worked himself on again. Being engaged in rowing, his face was turned
toward the stern, and thus had a full sweep of the river which he had
passed over, the only point from which he had reason to apprehend
danger.

He was upon the point of speaking, when his quick eye detected a speck
in view around a bend in the river, some distance back. He halted, for
he knew its character.

"We're follered!" said he, guiding the boat in to shore.

A few minutes more and the boat could be plainly seen by all three. It
was in the center of the stream, and approaching rapidly. The heads of
four or five Indians could be discerned. Their object was plain to all.

Kent had run his boat against the shore, and the three were now waiting
breathlessly for their enemies to pass.

The Indians plainly had no suspicion that the fugitives were so close at
hand, and kept steadily onward. Hardly daring to breathe, our three
friends saw the long, sharp canoe, with five of their mortal enemies,
shoot past, and disappear.

"Did you see how my gun kept twitchin' and jumpin'? Why, I had all I
could do to hold him. Thunder! it's too bad to see them fellers give
you such a nice shot and then miss it," said the ranger, again taking
the oars.

Kent now guided the boat with greater caution, ever and anon turning and
looking ahead, not daring to leave the sole watch to Leslie, who had
other things far more interesting to himself with which to occupy his
mind.



CHAPTER XV.

THE FUGITIVES FLYING NO LONGER.


The fugitives continued moving forward until morning, when, to guard
against needless exposure, Kent again ran the canoe under the bank, and
remained at rest the entire day. All suffered so much from hunger, that
the hunter left the boat during the afternoon, and, after a few hours'
absence, obtained a sufficient quantity of meat for them all. This was
cooked after his usual cautious and expert fashion, and was thankfully
partaken of by his companions.

Roland and the maid were resting on the sheltered bank of the river;
none but Kent ventured out of sight of the spot during the day. For
aught they knew there might be hordes of savages within hearing of their
voices, scouring the woods in every direction in their search; it needed
but the slightest inadvertency upon their part to insure their own
destruction.

Leslie sat conversing with Rosalind, when Kent started up, and, glancing
behind, stepped down the river-bank and peered out upon the stream.
Leslie was beside him in an instant, and, as the two gazed out, the boat
which they had seen pursuing them during the night came into view. It
was coming up-stream, evidently returning from the chase. It now
contained but three savages. Although Leslie had but little to fear,
nevertheless he watched the boat with intense interest. Pausing a
second, he glanced around, and exclaimed, in terror:

"As sure as heaven, they are heading toward this point."

Kent commanded, in a whisper:

"Get your shootin'-iron ready, and be ready yourself. They're comin' in
below us."

The savages had landed a few hundred yards down-stream, and seemed to
suspect the presence of no one. Suddenly one of them uttered a loud
whoop. In a moment it was repeated, and an answer came, apparently from
a distance. Ere long two savages approached the canoe, and, entering,
the five again shoved out, and commenced paddling up-stream. Leslie
asked Kent the meaning of these proceedings.

"Plain enough," he answered; "they left them two fellers on the shore
last night, so that, if they passed us, they would see us when we came
along, and they've been watching there ever since. If we'd gone a half a
mile further, they'd have shot us; but as we happened to stop afore they
got eyes on us, they've missed us, that's all."

[Illustration: Two savages were left on shore.]

At night they again set out, proceeding fearlessly. When morning again
dawned, many miles were placed between Rosalind and her captors.

It is needless to dwell upon the further particulars of their homeward
journey. Every day occupied was like its predecessor: pressing boldly
forward when the shade of night favored them; proceeding more cautiously
through the day; resting sometimes in the center of the stream, and then
again approaching the shore for food; now a prey to some imaginary fear,
and then thrilling with hope, when they finally glided into the fair
Ohio. Safely they reached their destination unpursued, and fearing no
enemy.

"Wonder who's in them pile of logs up thar," remarked Kent, glancing
suspiciously at Leslie, when they were approaching the ruins of the
house.

"Why, who would be there?" returned he, with well-feigned ignorance.

"Looks as though somebody had fitted it up. Hallo, here!" demanded Kent,
battering against the structure.

At this summons George Leland stepped forth.

The meeting was such as can be easily imagined; joy complete filled the
hearts of all; friend, brother, sister and lover were reunited; nothing
was wanting to fill their cup of bliss. The old hunter, as soon as his
brief salutation was over, withdrew to the background. Leaning on his
rifle, he remarked that he was "goin' to look on and see the fun."

As soon as the emotion of all had subsided, they turned toward the
hunter. They were without shelter and home, and something must be done
at once.

Kent at once divined their thoughts and said: "Wal, sit down and I'll
tell you what's to be done."

The three did as required, and Kent unfolded his plan.

"There's too much trouble for you in these parts; you must leave. Up the
river some distance is quite a settlement, and there's the only place
you can stay, what I propose is this: we must leave here as soon as
possible, and let us do it _now_."

"More than once have I thought of the plan which Kent has given," said
Leslie, "and I hope that it will be carried out at the earliest moment.
Every hour passed here is an hour of peril."

"The matter is then settled," said George. "Let us prepare to pass our
last night here; then to seek another home."

The shelter in which Leland had spent his time during the absence of the
others was found to be commodious enough to accommodate all, and into it
they went. The old hunter kept watch during the night, while the rest
slept, and we doubt very much whether four happier, more hopeful beings
ever were congregated.

At the earliest streak of morn, the hunter aroused the others, and they
prepared to take their final departure. The canoe in which the three had
come was found to be sufficiently capacious for the entire party. With a
tear of regret for the old home, the fair Rosalind entered the canoe,
and soon it was cutting the waters on its upward course.

It is not necessary in this place to dwell upon the particulars of their
journey. They encountered nothing unusual or alarming until, in rounding
a bend in the river, they were startled by the sight of an unusual
object far up the stream. With the exception of Kent, all manifested
considerable surprise and apprehension.

"What are we to encounter now?" asked Leslie, as he earnestly
scrutinized the approaching object. "Are we never to be rid of these
brutes?"

"It is undoubtedly one of their contrivances," added Leland, "and I'm
afraid we shall have to take to the woods again to give it a go-by. How
is it, Kent?"

The face of the hunter wore a quizzical look, and his only reply was a
quiet smile. As he observed the looks of wonder his companions cast upon
him, he became more thoughtful.

"This is bad business," said he, shaking his head; "_that_ is something I
didn't expect to see."

The progress of the canoe by this time was checked, and it was drifting
with the current. The two young men had no desire for a nearer approach
to the apparently formidable contrivance.

"Can't either one of you two chaps make out what sort of ship that is
coming down-stream?"

Both Leland and Leslie were considerably puzzled, when they saw Rosalind
smile, as if enjoying their stupidity.

"If you can't tell, just ask the gal," added the hunter, bursting into a
loud laugh.

"Why, George I thought you had lived long enough in the western country
to recognize a _flat-boat_!"

"What dunces we both are. How could any one imagine that to be anything
else than a genuine flat-boat? Let us approach it and make the
acquaintance of those on board."

"Sart'in, boys," said the hunter, dipping his paddles deep into the
water and impelling the canoe rapidly forward.

"A cheer for them!" exclaimed Leslie, rising in the boat and swinging
his hat over his head.

How unspeakably thankful were the hearts of the fugitives, as their
salutation was returned by more than one voice! Friends indeed were
near, and their dangers were over.

A few moments later the canoe was beside the flat-boat.

"Thank God! thank God!" fervently uttered Leland, as he clasped his
sister in his arms and realized that they were now safe, safe! For the
first time in weeks he felt the sweet consciousness of safety.

"It is almost worth the sufferings we have undergone!" said he. "This
sweet consciousness that we are really beyond the reach of our foes is
an enjoyment that we have not experienced for a long time."

"Do not forget the all-sustaining Hand that has brought us out of the
very jaws of death."

"Forget it? May He forget me when I fail to remember Him. Great Father,"
said Leland, meekly uncovering and bowing his head, while the tears fell
like rain down his face, "Great Father, for this and all other mercies I
thank thee!"

"I join in thanksgiving with theirs," said Leslie, in the same reverent
manner, as he approached brother and sister.

The flat-boat was no other than the celebrated expedition under Major
Taylor, which established such a firm and prosperous settlement upon the
northern bank of the Ohio. He had about thirty souls on board, a dozen
of whom were men. The true cause of the astonishing success of this
company was that both the leader and his comrades fully understood the
perils they encountered in venturing into the great western wilderness.
They were not men who could be decoyed into the simplest or most
cunning contrivances that Indian ingenuity could suggest, nor were they
those who expected to spend a life of ease and enjoyment in the woods.
They simply understood and prepared for what was before them.

Major Taylor was a man rather inclined to corpulency, with a red face,
Roman nose and eagle eye that seemed to penetrate everything at which it
glanced. He was very affable and social, a great favorite among all his
acquaintances, especially the female portion, who always felt safe in
his presence. His men, nearly all of whom had served under him in the
Revolution, trusted implicitly in him.

"Friends, you are welcome, doubly welcome to this boat," said he,
raising his hat and saluting Rosalind with all the stately politeness of
a gentleman of the old school. "I trust your stay upon it will be as
prolonged as our own, who, in all probability, will be the last
passengers it will ever carry."

Leslie related in a few words the main facts concerning the burning of
Leland's home, the capture and subsequent escape of himself and sister,
and finally of their desire to reach the upper settlements. The
commiserations of all were given them. For Rosalind especially they
seemed unable to do enough. She was taken within their cabin, where
everything that was possible was done for her comfort.

"I must now insist that you remain with us," said Major Taylor. "Now
that you have no home to which to return, you must accompany us and
build a new one. If the red-skins take _our_ homes from us they are
welcome to do so; but when they undertake it, I suspect they will find
they are troubling a set of men that know a trick or two as well as
themselves. We've all seen service among the dogs."

"Do you think, Cap'n, there's likely to be a scrimmage where you drive
your stakes?" inquired Kent, with a considerable degree of curiosity.

"I am sure I cannot tell," replied Major Taylor. "It certainly seems
probable, but why do you ask?"

"'Cause if there's any likelibility of it, I'll agree to accept your
invite and go with you."

"Well, well, my good man, you will go with us anyway, and take the
chances of a brush with them. You strike me as a man who has seen
considerable of the woods."

"He has indeed," said Leslie. "Under heaven, our safety is owing to his
experience and sagacity. He has spent a lifetime in the woods, and I can
honestly say he will be a valuable acquisition to your party."

"Come, none of that now, or I'll leave you!" said the hunter, in a
warning tone to his young friend.

"I have no doubt of it--no doubt of it in the least. We need him, and if
he will only go with us, I think I can promise that he will occasionally
see the service for which his soul longs. But, you have not given us
your decision."

"We are very grateful for your offer," said Leland; "we have indeed no
other refuge to which we can go. The house which has sheltered my sister
and myself since infancy is swept away by those whom we had learned to
look upon as our friends and protectors. I think when we see men at
your age beginning life again, we can afford to do it ourselves."

"Of course you can--of course you can," replied the officer, in his
hearty manner. "We'll start a settlement on a grand scale. One of our
men once took orders, and is licensed to marry, so that if either of you
gentlemen should need his services at _any_ time, you will always find
him at hand."

"There is a servant--a negro, who was taken at the same time with my
sister. I feel as though some effort should be made to recover him,"
added Leland, a few minutes later. "We shall be in a situation to do
that by accompanying you, or, at least, we shall be more likely to find
some means of doing so, than if we followed out the idea, entertained
some time ago, of leaving the country altogether."

"I am decidedly of the opinion----"

The officer was interrupted by a man at the front of the boat, calling
out his name. He instantly hastened beside him, and demanded what he
wanted.

"Yonder is something approaching, and I cannot satisfy myself as to what
it is. What do you make of it?" he asked.

[Illustration: "Yonder is something approaching."]

Major Taylor bent his sharp gaze upon the object in question for a
moment, and then replied:

"It looks like the head of a person, and yet it is certainly an
odd-looking head. We will call this hunter that has just come on board.
Undoubtedly he can assist us."

In answer to the summons, Kent approached the bow of the boat, rifle in
hand. He peered across the water, but for a time, failed to identify the
thing.

"Stand back a little, and I'll give it a shot. I'll graze it at first,
so as to be sure of what I am going to hit when I shoot next time."

The hunter raised his rifle, and holding it a second, fired. At the same
instant the unknown object disappeared.

"I think you struck it!" remarked Leland.

"I didn't aim _at_ it, and consequently it ain't been hit," returned
Kent, with an air of assurance.

"Yonder it is this moment!"

As these words were uttered, it again appeared, and to the amazement of
all, called out to them:

"Gorra! what you wastin' your bullets on dis nigger's head for? Reckoned
Kent knowed better."

The hunter seemed on the point of falling from laughter.

"Who'd a thought it was Zeb! Where has he come from? He beats all
niggers in Kentuck for adventures and walloping lies."

A few minutes later the negro was received upon the flat-boat. It is
scarcely necessary to say that his friends all experienced unfeigned joy
at his return. He was as jubilant and reckless of the truth as ever, and
it was a long time before they got at the truth regarding his escape
from the Shawnees.

The flight of Leland, under Providence, was really the means of
liberating the negro. The confusion occasioned by the escape of the
former was so great, that the savages imagined he also had fled with
him. Understanding that it was "do or die" with him, he tugged and
struggled at his bonds with the strength of desperation. Being secured
to a tree as usual, at some distance from the center of confusion, he
escaped observation for a few moments. It is doubtful, however, whether
he would have succeeded in freeing himself, had he not been covertly
assisted by some unknown friend. Who this personage could be, was never
known; perhaps some Indian who had been befriended by the Leland family,
and who experienced some compunctions of honor (not of conscience) at
the situation of the poor negro.

Zeb had learned enough by this time to exercise a little common sense.
Accordingly, when he found himself free, he made the best use of his
feet and wits, and used every effort to reach the Ohio river. According
to his own narration, he overcame all manner of perils before
succeeding. Undoubtedly he incurred great risk in the undertaking, and
finally succeeded.

He was trudging wearily along the river margin, listening for some sound
of his relentless enemies, who, he doubted not, were upon his trail,
when he caught sight of the flat-boat. Although he did not identify it
at once, he understood from its size and formation that the hand of the
white man alone was concerned in its structure. He immediately plunged
into the river, reaching it in due time, as we have already shown.

At last the pioneers reached their destination, and began a settlement
which, at this day, is not a town merely but a flourishing city. As we
have hinted in another place, their experience of frontier life and the
sagacity and foresight of their nominal head, saved them from the
misfortunes and sufferings that often befall settlers in the new
country. It is true the red wave of the dreadful war in the West surged
to their very doors; but they saw far away in the heavens the portentous
signs, and so prepared that they passed through it unscathed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The passing years touched lightly the heads of Roland and Rosalind
Leslie. As the palmy days of peace settled upon them, an old hunter
frequently spent days and weeks at their house. At such times, he took
the children upon his knees, and told them of the hardships and
suffering their parents had endured, and recounted many of his own
adventures to them. Old Kent was a universal favorite in the settlement.
As he became too old to spend his time entirely in the woods, he joined
the boys in their hunts, and there was not one who would not have braved
death in his defense. He died peacefully and happily, under the roof of
those whom he had served so well, and was given a burial, at his own
request, in the grand old woods which had ever been his delight and
enjoyment.

The wife of Leland survived all of those who have figured in these
pages; but she too has been laid in the valley. Their descendants are
now a numerous and influential family, proud of their ancestry, and
enthusiastic over the deeds of THE RANGER.


THE END.

       *       *       *       *       *


BOY INVENTORS SERIES

Stories of Skill and Ingenuity

By RICHARD BONNER

THE BOY INVENTORS' WIRELESS TELEGRAPH.

Blest with natural curiosity,--sometimes called the instinct of
investigation,--favored with golden opportunity, and gifted with
creative ability, the Boy Inventors meet emergencies and contrive
mechanical wonders that interest and convince the reader because they
always "work" when put to the test.

THE BOY INVENTORS' VANISHING GUN.

A thought, a belief, an experiment; discouragement, hope, effort and
final success--this is the history of many an invention; a history in
which excitement, competition, danger, despair and persistence figure.
This merely suggests the circumstances which draw the daring Boy
Inventors into strange experiences and startling adventures, and which
demonstrate the practical use of their vanishing gun.

THE BOY INVENTORS' DIVING TORPEDO BOAT.

As in the previous stories of the Boy Inventors, new and interesting
triumphs of mechanism are produced which become immediately valuable,
and the stage for their proving and testing is again the water. On the
surface and below it, the boys have jolly, contagious fun, and the story
of their serious, purposeful inventions challenge the reader's deepest
attention.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

       *       *       *       *       *

BUNGALOW BOYS SERIES

LIVE STORIES OF OUTDOOR LIFE

By DEXTER J. FORRESTER.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS.

How the Bungalow Boys received their title and how they retained the
right to it in spite of much opposition makes a lively narrative for
lively boys.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS MAROONED IN THE TROPICS.

A real treasure hunt of the most thrilling kind, with a sunken Spanish
galleon as its object, makes a subject of intense interest at any time,
but add to that a band of desperate men, a dark plot and a devil fish,
and you have the combination that brings strange adventures into the
lives of the Bungalow Boys.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS IN THE GREAT NORTH WEST.

The clever assistance of a young detective saves the boys from the
clutches of Chinese smugglers, of whose nefarious trade they know too
much. How the Professor's invention relieves a critical situation is
also an exciting incident of this book.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES.

The Bungalow Boys start out for a quiet cruise on the Great Lakes and a
visit to an island. A storm and a band of wreckers interfere with the
serenity of their trip, and a submarine adds zest and adventure to it.





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