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´╗┐Title: The Daughter of the Chieftain : the Story of an Indian Girl
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 Daughter of the Chieftain : the Story of an Indian Girl" ***

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THE DAUGHTER OF THE CHIEFTAIN

THE STORY OF AN INDIAN GIRL


By Edward S. Ellis.



CHAPTER ONE: OMAS, ALICE, AND LINNA

I don't suppose there is any use in trying to find out when the game of
"Jack Stones" was first played. No one can tell. It certainly is a good
many hundred years old.

All boys and girls know how to play it. There is the little rubber ball,
which you toss in the air, catch up one of the odd iron prongs, without
touching another, and while the ball is aloft; then you do the same
with another, and again with another, until none is left. After that
you seize a couple at a time, until all have been used; then three, and
four, and so on, with other variations, to the end of the game.

Doubtless your fathers and mothers, if they watch you during the
progress of the play, will think it easy and simple. If they do,
persuade them to try it. You will soon laugh at their failure.

Now, when we older folks were young like you, we did not have the
regular, scraggly bits of iron and dainty rubber ball. We played with
pieces of stones. I suspect more deftness was needed in handling them
than in using the new fashioned pieces. Certainly, in trials than I can
remember, I never played the game through without a break; but then
I was never half so handy as you are at such things: that, no doubt,
accounts for it.

Well, a good many years ago, before any of your fathers or mothers were
born, a little girl named Alice Ripley sat near her home playing "Jack
Stones." It was the first of July, 1778, and although her house was made
of logs, had no carpets or stove, but a big fireplace, where all the
food was made ready for eating, yet no sweeter or happier girl can be
found today, if you spend weeks in searching for her. Nor can you come
upon a more lovely spot in which to build a home, for it was the famed
Wyoming Valley, in Western Pennsylvania.

Now, since some of my young friends may not be acquainted with this
place, you will allow me to tell you that the Wyoming Valley lies
between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghany Mountains, and that the
beautiful Susquehanna River runs through it.

The valley runs northeast and southwest, and is twenty-one miles long,
with an average breadth of three miles. The bottom lands--that is, those
in the lowest portion--are sometimes overflowed when there is an unusual
quantity of water in the river. In some places the plains are level, and
in others, rolling. The soil is very fertile.

Two mountain ranges hem in the valley. The one on the east has an
average height of a thousand feet, and the other two hundred feet less.
The eastern range is steep, mostly barren, and abounds with caverns,
clefts, ravines, and forests. The western is not nearly so wild, and is
mostly cultivated.

The meaning of the Indian word for Wyoming is "Large Plains," which,
like most of the Indian names, fits very well indeed.

The first white man who visited Wyoming was a good Moravian missionary,
Count Zinzendorf--in 1742. He toiled among the Delaware Indians who
lived there, and those of his faith who followed him were the means of
the conversion of a great many red men.

The fierce warriors became humble Christians, who set the best example
to wild brethren, and often to the wicked white men.

More than twenty years before the Revolution settlers began making their
way into the Wyoming Valley. You would think their only trouble would
be with the Indians, who always look with anger upon intruders of that
kind, but really their chief difficulty was with white people.

Most of these pioneers came from Connecticut. The successors of William
Penn, who had bought Pennsylvania from his king, and then again from
the Indians, did not fancy having settlers from other colonies take
possession of one of the garden spots of his grant.

I cannot tell you about the quarrels between the settlers from
Connecticut and those that were already living in Pennsylvania. Forty of
the invaders, as they may be called, put up a fort, which was named on
that account Forty Fort. This was in the winter of 1769, and two hundred
more pioneers followed them in the spring. The fort stood on the western
bank of the river.

The Pennsylvanians, however, had prepared for them, and the trouble
began. During the few years following, the New Englanders were three
times driven out of the valley, and the men, women, and children were
obliged to tramp for two hundred miles through the unbroken wilderness
to their old homes. But they rallied and came back again, and at last
were strong enough to hold their ground. About this time the mutterings
of the American Revolution began to be heard, and the Pennsylvanians and
New Englanders forgot their enmity and became brothers in their struggle
for independence.

Among the pioneers from Connecticut who put up their old fashioned log
houses in Wyoming were George Ripley and his wife Ruth. They were young,
frugal, industrious, and worthy people. They had but one child--a boy
named Benjamin; but after awhile Alice was added to the family, and at
the date of which I am telling you she was six years and her brother
thirteen years old.

Mr. Ripley was absent with the continental army under General
Washington, fighting the battles of his country. Benjamin, on this
spring day, was visiting some of his friends further down the valley;
so that when Alice came forth to play "Jack Stones" alone, no one was in
sight, though her next neighbor lived hardly two hundred yards away.

I wish you could have seen her as she looked on that summer afternoon.
She had been helping, so far as she was able, her mother in the house,
until the parent told her to go outdoors and amuse herself. She was
chubby, plump, healthy, with round pink cheeks, yellow hair tied in a
coil at the back of her head, and her big eyes were as blue, and clear,
and bright as they could be.

She wore a brown homespun dress--that is to say, the materials had
been woven by the deft fingers of her mother, with the aid of the old
spinning wheel, which in those days formed a part of every household.
The dark stockings were knitted by the same busy fingers, with the help
of the flashing needles; and the shoes, put together by Peleg Quintin,
the humpbacked shoemaker, were heavy and coarse, and did not fit any too
well.

The few simple articles of underwear were all homemade, clean, and
comfortable, and the same could be said of the clothing of the brother
and of the mother herself.

Alice came running out of the open front door, bounding off the big flat
stone which served as a step with a single leap, and, running to a spot
of green grass a few yards away, where there was not a bit of dirt or
a speck of dust, she sat down and began the game of which I told you at
the opening of this story.

Alice was left handed. So when she took position, she leaned over to the
right, supporting her body with that arm, while with the other hand she
tossed the little jagged pieces of stone aloft, snatching up the others,
and letting the one that was going up and down in the air drop into her
chubby palm.

She had been playing perhaps ten minutes, when she found someone was
watching her.

She did not see him at first, but heard a low, deep "Huh!" partly at one
side and partly behind her.

Instead of glancing around, she finished the turn of the game on which
she was engaged just then. That done, she clasped all the Jack Stones in
her hand, assumed the upright posture, and looked behind her.

"I thought it was you, Omas," she said with a merry laugh; "do you want
to play Jack Stones with me?"

If you could have seen the person whom she thus addressed, you would
have thought it a strange way of speaking.

He was an Indian warrior, belonging to the tribe of Delawares. Those who
knew about him said he was one of the fiercest red men that ever went
on the warpath. A few years before, there had been a massacre of the
settlers, and Omas was foremost among the Indians who swung the tomahawk
and fired his rifle at the white people.

He was tall, sinewy, active, and powerful. Three stained eagle feathers
were fastened on his crown in the long black hair, and his hunting
shirt, leggings, and moccasins were bright with different colored beads
and fringes. In the red sash which passed around his waist were thrust
a hunting knife and tomahawk, while one hand clasped a cumbersome
rifle, which, like all firearms of those times, was used with ramrod and
flintlock.

Omas would have had a rather pleasing face had he let it alone; but his
people love bright colors, and he was never seen without a lot of paint
daubed over it. This was made up of black, white, and yellow circles,
lines, and streaks that made him look frightful.

But Alice was not scared at all. She and Omas were old friends. Nearly
a year before, he stopped at their cabin one stormy night and asked
for something to eat. Mrs. Ripley gave him plenty of coarse brown, well
baked bread and cold meat, and allowed him to sleep on the floor until
morning.

Benjamin was rather shy of the fierce looking Delaware, but Alice took
to him at first. She brought him a basin of water, and asked him to
please wash his face.

The startled mother gently reproved her; but Omas did that which an
Indian rarely does--smiled. He spoke English unusually well, and knew
why the child had proposed to him to use the water.

He told her that he had a little girl that he called Linna, about the
same age as Alice. Upon hearing this, what did Alice do, but climb upon
the warrior's knee and ask him to tell her all about Linna. Well, the
result was, that an affection was formed between this wild warrior and
the gentle little girl.

Omas promised to bring his child to see Alice, who, with her mother's
permission, said she would return the visit. There can be no doubt
that the Delaware often went a long way out of his course, for no other
reason than to spend an hour or less with Alice Ripley. The brother
and mother always made him feel welcome, and to the good parent the
influence of her child upon the savage red man had a peculiar interest
which nothing else in the world could possess for her. So you understand
why it was that Alice did not start and show any fear when she looked
around and saw the warrior standing less than ten feet off, and
attentively watching her.

"You can't play Jack Stones as well as I," she said, looking saucily up
at him.

"I beat you," was his reply, as he strode forward and sat down cross
legged on the grass.

"I'd like to see you do it! You think you're very smart, don't you?"

A shadowy smile played around the stern mouth, and the Delaware, who had
studied the simple game long enough to understand it, began the sport
under the observant eyes of his little mistress.

While both were intent on the amusement, Mrs. Ripley came to the door
and stood wonderingly looking at them.

"It does seem as if Indians are human beings like the rest of us," was
her thought; "but who could resist her gentle ways?"

Up went the single stone in the air, and Omas grabbed the batch that
were lying on the ground, and then caught the first as it came down.

"That won't do!" called Alice, seizing the brawny hand, which--sad to
say--had been stained with blood as innocent as hers; "you didn't do
that fair!"

"What de matter?" he asked, looking reproachfully into the round face
almost against his own.

"I'll show you how. Now, I lay those three on the ground like that. Then
I toss up this, pick up one without touching any of the others, keep it
in my hand and pick up the next--see?"

She illustrated her instruction by her work, while her pupil listened
and stared.

"I know--I know," he said quickly. "I show you." Then the wag of a
Delaware tossed the first stone fully twenty feet aloft, caught up the
others, and took that on the fly.

"I never saw anybody as dumb as you," was the comment. "What is the use
of your trying? You couldn't learn to play Jack Stones in ever so long."

She was about to try him again, when, childlike, she darted off upon a
widely different subject, for it had just come into her little head.

"Omas, when you were here the other day, you promised that the next time
you came to see me you would bring Linna."

"Dat so--Omas promise."

"Then why haven't you done as you said?"

"Omas never speak with double tongue; he bring Linna with him."

"You did?--where is she?" asked Alice, springing to her feet, clasping
her hands, and looking expectantly around.

The Delaware emitted a shrill, tremulous whistle, and immediately from
the wood several rods behind them came running the oddest looking little
girl anyone could have met in a long time.

Her face was as round as that of Alice, her long, black hair hung
loosely over her shoulders, her small eyes were as black as jet, her
nose a pug, her teeth as white and regular as were ever seen, while her
dress was a rude imitation of her father's except the skirt came below
her knees. Her feet were as small as a doll's, and encased in the beaded
little moccasins, were as pretty as they could be.

"That is Linna," said the proud father as she came obediently forward.



CHAPTER TWO: DANGER IN THE AIR

Little Linna, daughter of Omas, the Delaware warrior, was of the
same age as Alice Ripley. The weather was warm although she wore tiny
moccasins to protect her feet, she scorned the superfluous stockings and
undergarments that formed a part of the other's apparel.

Her hair was as black, abundant, and almost as long as her father's;
but her face was clean, and, perhaps in honor of the occasion, she, too,
sported a gaudy eagle feather in her hair.

She bounded out of the green wood like a fawn, but as she drew near
her parent and Alice, her footsteps became slower, and she halted a few
paces away, hung her head, with her forefinger between her pretty white
teeth--for all the world like any white girl of her years.

But Alice did not allow her to remain embarrassed. She had been begging
for this visit, and now, when she saw her friend, she ran forward, took
her little plump hand and said--"Linna, I am real glad you have come!"

Omas had risen to his feet, and watched the girls with an affection and
interest which found no expression on his painted face. His child looked
timidly up to him and walked slowly forward, her hand clasped in that of
Alice. She did not speak, but when her escort sat down on the grass, she
did the same.

"Linna, do you know how to play Jack Stones?" asked Alice, picking up
the pebbles.

Linna shook her head quickly several times, but her lips remained mute.

"Your father thought he knew how, but he don't; he doesn't play fair,
either. Let me show you, so you can beat him when you go home."

Alice set to work, while the bright black eyes watched every movement.

"Now do you want to try it?" she asked, after going through the game
several times.

Linna nodded her head with the same birdlike quickness, and reached out
her chubby hand.

Her father and Alice watched her closely. She made several failures at
first, all of which were patiently explained by her tutor; by and by she
went through the performance from beginning to end without a break.

Alice clapped her hands with delight, and Omas--certain that no grownup
person saw him--smiled with pleasure.

"Doesn't she know how to talk?" asked Alice, looking up at the warrior.
Omas spoke somewhat sharply to his child in the Delaware tongue. She
startled, and looking at Alice, asked--

"Do--yoo think me play well?"

Alice was delighted to find she could make herself understood so easily.
It was wonderful how she had learned to speak English so early in life.

"I guess you can," was the ready reply of Alice; "your father can't
begin to play as well. When you go home you can show your mamma how to
play Jack Stones. Have you any brothers and sisters?"

"No; me have no brother--no sister."

"That's too bad! I've got a big brother Ben. He isn't home now, but he
will be here to supper. He's a nice boy, and you will like him. Let's go
in the house now to see mamma, and you can teach me how to talk Indian."

Both girls bounded to their feet, and hand in hand, walked to the door,
with Omas gravely stalking after them.

Mrs. Ripley had learned of the visitor, and stood on the threshold to
welcome her. She took her by the hand and led her inside. Omas paused,
as if in doubt whether he should follow; but her invitation to him was
so cordial, that he stepped within and seated himself on a chair.

That afternoon and night could never be forgotten by Alice Ripley. In
a very little while she and her visitor were on the best of terms;
laughing, romping, and chasing each other in and out of doors, just as
if they were twin sisters that had never been separated from each other.

When Mrs. Ripley asked Omas for how long a time he could leave his child
with them, he said he must take her back that evening. His wigwam was a
good many miles away in the woods, and he would have to travel all night
to reach the village of his tribe.

Mrs. Ripley, however, pleaded so hard, that he consented to let his
child stay until he came back the next day or soon thereafter for her.

When he rose to go, the long summer day was drawing to a close. He spoke
to Linna in their native tongue. She was sitting on the floor just then,
playing with a wonderful rag baby, but was up in a flash, and followed
him outside.

"Wait a moment and she will come back," said Mrs. Ripley to her own
child. She knew what the movement meant: Omas did not wish anyone to see
him and Linna.

On the outside he moved to the left, and glanced around to make sure
that no person was looking that way. Then he lifted the little one from
the ground; she threw her arms around his neck, and he pressed her to
his breast and kissed her several times with great warmth. Then he set
her down, and she ran laughing into the house, while he strode off to
the woods.

But at the moment of entering them he stopped abruptly, wheeled about,
and walked slowly back toward the cabin.

Upon the return of Linna, Mrs. Ripley stepped to the front door to look
for her son. He was not in sight, but Omas had stopped again hardly
a rod distant. He stood a moment, looking fixedly at her, and then
beckoned with his free hand for her to approach.

Without hesitation she stepped off the broad flat stone and went to him.

"What is it, Omas?" she asked in an undertone, pausing in front of him,
and gazing up into the grim, painted countenance.

The Delaware returned the look for a few seconds, as if studying how
to say what was in his mind. Then in a voice lower even than hers, he
said--"You--little girl--big boy--go way soon--must not stay here."

"Why do you say that, Omas?"

"Iroquois like leaves on trees--white men, call Tories--soon come down
here--kill all white people--kill you--kill little girl, big boy--if you
stay here."

The pioneer's wife had heard the same rumors for days past. She knew
there was cause for fear, for nearly all the able bodied men in Wyoming
were absent with the patriot army, fighting for independence. The
inhabitants in the valley had begged Congress to send some soldiers
to protect them, and the relatives of the women and children had asked
again and again that they might go home to save their loved ones from
the Tories and Indians; but the prayer was refused. The soldiers in the
army were too few to be spared, and no one away from Wyoming believed
the danger as great as it was.

But the people themselves knew the peril, and did their best to prepare
for it. But who should know more about the Indians and Tories than Omas,
the great Delaware warrior?

When, therefore, he said these words to Mrs. Ripley, that woman's heart
beat faster. She heard the laughter and prattle of the children in
the house, and she thought of that bright boy, playing with his young
friends not far away.

"Where can we go?" she asked, in the same guarded voice.

"With Omas," was the prompt reply; "hide in wigwam of Omas. Nobody hurt
palefaced friend of Omas."

It was a trying situation. The brave woman, who had passed through many
dangers with her husband, knew what a visit from the Tories and Indians
meant; but she shrank from leaving Wyoming, and all her friends and
neighbors.

"When will they come?" she asked; "will it be in a few weeks or in a few
days?"

"Getting ready now; Brandt with Iroquois--Butler with Tory--soon be
here."

"But do you mean that we shall all go with you tonight?"

The Delaware was silent for a few seconds. His active brain was busy,
reviewing the situation.

"No," he finally said; "stay here till Omas come back; then go with
him--all go--den no one be hurt."

"Very well; we will wait till you come to us again. We will take good
care of Linna."

And without another word the Delaware turned once more, strode to the
forest, which was then in fullest leaf, and vanished among the trees.

Mrs. Ripley walked slowly back to the door. On the threshold she halted,
and looked around again for her absent boy. It was growing dark, and she
began to feel a vague alarm for him.

A whistle fell on her ear. It was the sweetest music she had ever heard,
for it came from the lips of her boy.

He was in sight, coming along the well worn path that led in front of
the other dwellings and to her own door. When he saw her, he waved his
hand in salutation, but could not afford to break in on the vigorous
melody which kept his lips puckered.

She saw he was carrying something on his shoulder. A second glance
showed that it was one of the heavy rifles used by the pioneers a
hundred years ago. The sight--taken with what Omas had just said--filled
her heart with forebodings.

She waited until the lad came up. He kissed her affectionately, and then
in the offhand manner of a big boy, let the butt of the gun drop on
the ground, leaned the top away from him, and glancing from it to his
mother, asked--"What do you think of it?"

"It seems to be a good gun. Whose is it?"

"Mine," was the proud response. "Colonel Butler ordered that it be given
to me, and I'm to use it, too, mother."

"For what purpose?"

"The other Colonel Butler--you know he is a cousin to ours--has got a
whole lot of Tories" (who, you know, were Americans fighting against
their countrymen) "and Indians, and they're coming down to wipe out
Wyoming; but I guess they will find it a harder job than they think."

And to show his contempt for the danger, the muscular lad lifted his
weighty weapon to a level, and pretended to sight it at a tree.

"I wish that was a Tory or one of those Six Nation Indians--wouldn't I
drop him!"

The mother could not share the buoyancy of her son. She stepped outside,
so as to be beyond the hearing of the little ones.

"Omas has been here; that is his little girl that you hear laughing
with Alice. He has told me the same as you--the Tories and Indians are
coming, and he wants us to flee with him."

"What does he mean by that?" asked the half indignant boy.

"He says they will put us all to death, and if we do not go with him, we
will be killed too."

The handsome face of Benjamin Ripley took on an expression of scorn, and
as he straightened up, he seemed to become several inches taller.

"He forgets that I am with you! Omas is very kind; but he and his Tory
friends had better look out for themselves. Why, with the men at the
fort, Colonel Butler will have several hundred."

"But they are mostly old men and boys."

"Well," said the high spirited lad, with a twinkle of his fine hazel
eyes, "add up a lot of old men and boys, and the average is the same
number of middle aged men, isn't it? Don't you worry, mother--things are
all right. If Omas comes back, give him our thanks, and tell him we are
not going to sneak off when we are needed at home."

It was hard to resist the contagion of Ben's hopefulness. The mother not
only loved but respected him as much as she could have done had he been
several years older. He had been her mainstay for the two years past,
during which the father was absent with the patriot army; and she came
to lean upon him more and more, though her heart sank when Ben began to
talk of following his father into the ranks, to help in the struggle for
independence.

She found herself looking upon the situation as Ben did. If so great
danger threatened Wyoming, it would be cowardly for them to leave their
friends to their fate. It was clear all could not find safety by going,
and she would feel she was doing wrong if she gave no heed to the
others.

Ben was tall and strong for his years, and the fact that he had taken
the gun from Colonel Butler to be used in taking care of the settlement
bound the youth in honor to do so.

"It shall be as you say," said the mother; "I cannot be as hopeful as
you, but it is our duty to stay. We will not talk about it before the
children."

"I want to see how a little Indian girl looks," muttered Ben with a
laugh, following his mother into the house.

Alice caught sight of him, and was in his arms the next instant, while
Linna rose to her feet, and stood with her forefinger between her teeth,
shyly studying the newcomer.

"Helloa, Linna! how are you?" he called, setting down his young sister
and catching up the little Indian. Not only that, but he gave her a
resounding smack on her dusky cheek.

"I always like pretty little girls, and I'm going to be your beau: what
do you say? Is it a bargain?"

It is not to be supposed that the Delaware miss caught the whole meaning
of this momentous question. She was a little overwhelmed by the rush of
the big boy's manner, and nodded her head about a dozen times.

"There, Alice; do you understand that?" he asked, making the room ring
with his merry laughter; "I'm to be Linna's beau. How do you like it?"

"I'm glad for you, but I--guess--I oughter be sorry for Linna."



CHAPTER THREE: JULY THIRD, 1778

While Ben Ripley was frolicking with little Alice and her Indian friend
Linna, the mother prepared the evening meal.

The candles were lighted, and they took their places at the table.

All this was new and strange to Linna. In her own home, she was
accustomed to sit on the ground, and use only her fingers for knife and
fork when taking food; but she was observant and quick, and knowing how
it had been with her, her friends soon did away with her embarrassment.
The mother cut her meat into small pieces, spread butter--which the
visitor looked at askance--on the brown bread, and she had but to do as
the rest, and all went well.

A few minutes after supper both girls became drowsy, and Mrs. Ripley,
candle in hand, conducted them upstairs to the small room set apart for
their use.

This was another novel experience for the visitor. She insisted at first
upon lying on the hard floor, for never in her life had she touched a
bed; but after awhile, she became willing to share the couch with her
playmate.

Alice knelt down by the side of the little trundle bed and said her
prayers, as she always did; but Linna could not understand what it
meant. She wonderingly watched her until she was through, and then with
some misgiving, clambered among the clothes, and the mother tucked her
up, though the night was so warm they needed little covering.

Mrs. Ripley felt that she ought to tell the dusky child about her
heavenly Father, and to teach her to pray. She therefore sat down on the
edge of the bed, and in simple words began the wonderful story of the
Saviour, who gave His life to save her as well as all others.

Alice dropped asleep right away, but Linna lay motionless, with her
round black eyes fixed on the face of the lady, drinking in every word
she said. By and by, however, the eyelids began to droop, and the good
woman ceased. Who shall tell what precious seed was thus sown in that
cabin in Wyoming, more than a hundred years ago?

While Mrs. Ripley was talking upstairs, she heard voices below; so that
she knew Ben had a visitor. As she descended, she recognized a neighbor
who lived on the other side of the river.

"I called," said he, "to tell you that you must lose no time in moving
into Forty Fort with your little girl."

"You do not mean right away?"

"Not tonight, but the first thing in the morning."

"Is the danger so close as that?"

"Our scouts report the Tory Colonel Butler with a large force of whites
and Indians marching down the valley."

"But do you not expect to repel them?"

"We are sure of that," was the confident reply; "but it won't do for any
of the women and children to be exposed. The Indians will scatter, and
cut off all they can. Others of our friends are out warning the people,
and we must have them all in a safe place."

"Will you wait for your enemies to attack the fort?"

"I believe our Colonel Butler favors that; but others, and among them
myself and Ben, favor marching out and meeting them."

"That's it," added the lad, shaking his head. "I believe in showing
them we are not scared. Colonel Butler got leave of absence to come to
Wyoming; he has some regulars with him, and with all our men and boys
we'll teach the other Colonel Butler a lesson he won't forget as long as
he lives."

"Well, if you think it best, we will move into the fort with the other
people until the danger is past."

"Yes, mother; I will fight better knowing that you and Alice are safe.
There's Linna! What about her?"

"Who's Linna?" asked the visitor.

"She is the little child of Omas, the Delaware warrior. He brought her
here this afternoon to make Alice a visit, and promised to call tomorrow
for her. Will it be safe to wait until he comes?"

The neighbor shook his head.

"You mustn't take any chances. Why don't you turn her loose to take care
of herself? She can do it."

"I couldn't," the mother hastened to say; "Omas left her in our care,
and I must not neglect her. She will go with us."

"I don't think it will be safe for her father to come after her, when
the flurry is over."

"Why not?"

"He will be with the Iroquois, even though his tribe doesn't like them
any too well; for the Iroquois are the conquerors of the Delawares, and
drove them off their hunting grounds."

"Well," said Mrs. Ripley, with a sigh; "even if he never comes for her,
she will always have a home with us."

The dwelling of the Ripleys was on the eastern shore of the Susquehanna.
On the other side stood Fort Wintermoot and Forty Fort, the former being
at the upper end of the valley. That would be the first one reached by
the invaders, and the expectation was that it would give up whenever
ordered to do so, for nearly all in it were friends of the Tories.

It was evident that when Omas left his child with her friends, and spoke
of returning the next day, or soon thereafter, he did not know how near
the invasion was. Mrs. Ripley expected that when he did learn it, he
would hasten back for her.

The night, however, passed without his appearance, and the hot July sun
came up over the forests on the eastern bank of the river, and still
he remained away. It looked as if he had decided to let her take her
chances while he joined the invaders in their work of destruction and
woe.

Mrs. Ripley would have been willing to wait longer, but she was urged
not to lose another hour. The frightened settlers were not allowed to
take anything but their actual necessaries with them, for the cramped
quarters in Forty Fort, where a number of cabins were erected, would be
crowded to the utmost to make room for the hundreds who might clamor for
admission. The quarters, indeed, were so scant that many camped outside,
holding themselves ready to rush within should it become necessary.

Little Linna was filled with wonder when she saw her friends preparing
to move and knew she was going with them. But she helped in her way as
much as she could and asked no questions. There was no need, in fact,
for Alice asked enough for both.

And just here I must relate to you a little history.

On the last days of June, 1778, Colonel John Butler, with about four
hundred soldiers--partly made up of Tories--and six or seven hundred
Indians, entered the head of Wyoming Valley. As I have said, he was a
cousin of Colonel Zebulon Butler, who commanded the patriots and did all
he could to check the invaders. Reaching Fort Wintermoot, the British
officer sent in a demand for its surrender. The submission was made,
and the invaders then came down the valley and ordered the Connecticut
people to surrender Forty Fort and the settlements. Colonel Zebulon
Butler had under him, to quote the historical account, "two hundred and
thirty enrolled men, and seventy old people, boys, civil magistrates,
and other volunteers." They formed six companies, which were mustered at
Forty Fort, where the families of the settlers on the east side of the
river had taken refuge.

Colonel Zebulon Butler, upon receiving the summons, called a council of
war. This was on the 3rd of July. The officers believed that a little
delay would be best, in the hope of the arrival of reinforcements; but
nearly all the men were so clamorous to march out and give the invaders
battle, that it was decided to do so.

"You are going into great danger," remarked the leader, as he mounted
his horse and placed himself at the head of the patriots, "but I will go
as far as any of you."

At three o'clock in the afternoon the column, numbering about three
hundred, marched from the fort with drums beating and colors flying.
They moved up the valley, with the river on the right and a marsh on the
left, until they arrived at Fort Wintermoot, which had been set on
fire by the enemy to give the impression they were withdrawing from the
neighborhood.

As you may well believe, the movements of the patriots were watched with
deep interest by those left behind. The women and children clustered
along the river bank and strained their eyes in the direction of Fort
Wintermoot, the black smoke from which rolled down the valley and helped
to shut out their view.

There was hardly one among the spectators that had not a loved relative
with the defenders. It might be a tottering grandfather, a sturdy son,
who, though a boy, was inspired with the deepest fervor, and eager to
risk his life for the sake of his mother or sister, whose hearts almost
stopped beating in the painful suspense which must continue until the
battle was decided.

Alice was too young fully to understand the peril in which Ben was
placed. She had kissed him goodbye when he ran to take his place with
the others, and, with a light jest on his lips about her and Linna, he
had snatched a kiss from the little Delaware's swarthy cheek.

The mother added a few cheering words to the children, and it was a
striking sight when they and a number of others, about their age or
under, began playing with all the merriment of children who never dream
that the world contains such afflictions as sorrow, woe, and death.

It was easy to follow the course of the patriots for a time after they
were beyond sight, by the sound of their drums and the shrill whistling
of several fifes.

In those days it was much more common than now for people to drink
intoxicating liquors. Just before the patriots started up the valley,
I am sorry to say, a few of the men drank more than they should. It
has been claimed by some that but for this things would have gone
differently on that day, which will live for ever as one of the saddest
in American history.

By and by the anxious people near the fort noticed that the sound of
drums and fifes had ceased, and the reports of firearms were heard.

They knew from this that the opposing forces were making ready for the
conflict, and the suspense became painful indeed.

Then amid the rattle of musketry sounded the whoops of the Iroquois.
The battle was on. Fighting began about four o'clock in the afternoon.
Colonel Zebulon Butler ordered his men to fire, and at each discharge
to advance a step. The fire was regular and steady, and the Americans
continued to gain ground, having the advantage where it was open.
Despite the exertions of the invaders, their line gave way, and but for
the help of the Indians they would have been routed.

The flanking party of red men kept up a galling fire on the right, and
the patriots dropped fast. The Indians on the Tory left were divided
into six bands who kept up a continuous yelling which did much to
inspirit each other, while the deadly aim told sadly upon the Americans.

The most powerful body of Indians was in a swamp on the left of the
patriots, and by and by they outflanked them. The Americans tried to
manoeuvre so as to face the new danger, but some of them mistook the
order for one to retreat. Everything was thrown into confusion.

Colonel Zebulon Butler, seeing how things were going, galloped up
and down between the opposing lines, calling out--"Don't leave me, my
children. Stand by me and the victory is ours!"

But it was too late. The patriots could not be rallied. They were far
outnumbered, and once thrown into a panic, with the captain of every
company slain, the day was lost.

You cannot picture the distress of the women, children, and feeble old
men waiting at Forty Fort the issue of the battle.

The sorrowful groups on the bank of the river listened to the sounds of
conflict, and read the meaning as they came to their ears.

The steady, regular firing raised their hopes at first. They knew their
sons and friends were fighting well, despite the shouts of the Indians
borne down the valley on the sultry afternoon.

By and by the firing grew more scattering, and instead of being so far
up the river as at first, it was coming closer.

This could mean but one thing; the patriots were retreating before the
Tories and Indians.

One old man, nearly four score years of age, who pleaded to go into the
battle, but was too feeble, could not restrain his feelings. He walked
back and forth, inspired with new strength and full of hope, until the
scattered firing and its approach left no doubt of its meaning.

He paused in his nervous, hobbling pace, and said to the white faced
women standing breathlessly near--"Our boys are retreating: they have
been beaten--all hope is gone!"

The next moment two horsemen galloped into sight. "Colonel Butler and
Colonel Denison!" said the old man, recognizing them; "they bring sad
news."

It was true. They rode their horses on a dead run, and reining up at the
fort, where the people crowded around them, they leaped to the ground,
and Colonel Butler said--"Our boys have been driven from the field, and
the Tories and Indians are at their heels!"



CHAPTER FOUR: THE EASTERN SHORE

Young Ben Ripley made a good record on that eventful 3rd of July. He
loaded and fired as steadily as a veteran. The smoke of the guns, the
wild whooping of the Iroquois Indians, the sight of his friends and
neighbors continually dropping to the ground, some of them at his elbow,
the deafening discharge of the rifles--all these and the dreadful
swirl and rush of events dazed him at times; but he kept at it with
a steadiness which caused more than one expression of praise from the
officers nearest him.

All at once he found himself mixed up in the confusion caused by the
attempt to wheel a part of the line to face the flanking assailants, and
the mistake of many that it was an order to retreat.

He did not know what it meant, for it seemed to him that a dozen
officers were shouting conflicting orders at the same moment. A number
of men threw down their guns and made a wild rush to get away, several
falling over each other in the frantic scramble; others bumped together,
and above the din of the conflict sounded the voices of Colonel Butler,
as he rode back and forth through the smoke, begging his troops not to
leave him, and victory would be theirs.

Seeing the hopeless tangle, the Indians swarmed out of the swamp, and
by their savage attack and renewed shouts made the hubbub and confusion
tenfold worse.

Somebody ran so violently against Ben that he was thrown to the ground.
He was on his feet in an instant and turned to see who did it. It was a
soldier fleeing for life from an Iroquois warrior.

Ben raised his gun, took quick aim and pulled the trigger, but no report
followed. He had forgotten his weapon was unloaded.

Other forms obtruded between him and the couple, and he could not see
the result of the pursuit and attack. Despite all he could do, he was
forced back by the panic stricken rush around and against him.

Suddenly a wild cry reached him. An Iroquois with painted face rushed
upon him with uplifted tomahawk, but he was yet several paces away, when
another warrior seized his arm and wrenched him to one side.

"Run--go fast--don't stay!" commanded the Indian that had saved the
youth, furiously motioning to him.

"If my gun were loaded," replied Ben, though his voice was unheard in
the din, "I wouldn't go till I did something more. Helloa! is that you,
Omas?"

It was the Delaware that had turned the assault aside.

A couple of bounds placed him beside he lad, and he caught his arm with
a grip of iron.

It was of no use trying to hold back. Omas half running, half leaping,
drove his way like a wedge through the surging swarm. His left hand
closed around the upper arm of Ben, while his right grasped his
tomahawk, he having thrown aside his rifle.

The boy was repeatedly jerked almost off his feet. He could run fast,
but was not equal to this warrior, who forged along with resistless
might. Twice did an Iroquois make for the young prisoner, as he supposed
the lad to be, but a warning motion of the tomahawk upheld by Omas
repelled him.

The Delaware was prudent, and instead of keeping in the midst of the
surging mass, worked to one side, so that they were soon comparatively
free from the tumultuous throng.

There was no attempt at conversation between the Delaware and Ben. The
boy knew what was meant by this rough kindness. The day was lost, and
his thoughts went out to the loved ones waiting down the valley to learn
the result of the battle. He wanted to get to them as quickly as he
could.

The rush carried them beyond the main body of fugitives, though not out
of danger, for the Iroquois were pursuing hard; but soon Omas loosened
his grip and dropped the arm of the lad. They were far enough removed
from the swirl to exchange words.

"Where moder--where Alice?", asked the Delaware, as if he had no concern
for his own child.

"At Forty Fort."

"Linna with them?"

"Yes; they are together with the other folks."

"Go dere--tell cross riber--make haste to Del'mware."

This command meant that the little party should hurry to the eastern
side of the Susquehanna, and start for the settlements on the Upper
Delaware. The nearest town was Stroudsburg, sixty miles distant, and the
way led through a dismal forest.

The words of Omas showed, too, that he knew what was coming. Though the
British Colonel Butler might accept the surrender and strive to give
fair treatment to the prisoners, he would find it hard to restrain the
Tories and Indians.

All that could be done was for the fugitives to flee, without an hour's
delay. They were already flocking to the river in the effort to reach
the other side. A good many hid among the grass and undergrowth on
Monacacy Island, where the Tories and Indians followed, and hunted them
out without mercy.

Those who were wise enough to set out in time had a chance of arriving
at the settlements on the Upper Delaware, though much suffering was sure
to follow, since there was no time to prepare food to take with them.

The remark of Omas prompted Ben's words--"How can I get mother, and
Alice and Linna, to the other side? They cannot swim the river."

"Linna swim," was the somewhat proud answer; "she take care of Alice you
take care of moder."

"I might at any other time, but with the people crowding around us, and
the Indians at our heels and shooting down all they can, what chance
have we? Why can't you come with me and help them?"

No doubt the Delaware had asked himself the question, for he answered
it not by words, but by breaking into a loping trot for Forty Fort,
with Ben running at his side. He halted before reaching the refuge, and
turned aside among the bushes overhanging the edge of the river, his
actions showing he was searching for something.

He speedily found a canoe, probably his own. It had been so skillfully
hidden among the dense undergrowth that one might have passed within a
couple of paces without seeing it.

He picked it up as if it were a toy boat and set it down in the water.

"Go bring moder--bring Alice--bring Linna."

Ben was off like a shot, for he knew there was not a minute to throw
away. It was the season when the days were longest, and two or three
hours must pass before it would be fully night.

It would not do for Omas to go with Ben. His appearance at the fort
would add to the panic, and be almost certain to bring about a conflict
with some of the whites. It was his province to guard the precious canoe
from being taken by other fugitives.

Ben Ripley now thought only of his loved ones. He knew the anguish his
mother would suffer until she learned he was safe, and he forced his way
to the spot where he had parted from her.

It was a sad experience. Old men, women and children, with white faces,
were rushing to and fro, wringing their hands and wailing, searching for
those whom they never again would see in this life; crowding into the
little fort, as if they knew a minute's delay would be fatal; some
making for the river, into which they plunged in a wild effort to reach
the eastern shore, while among the frantic masses appeared here and
there a fugitive from the scene of battle, perhaps wounded and telling
his dreadful story of the defeat, with all the woeful consequences that
were certain to follow.

With much difficulty and some rough work the lad reached the spot where
he had bidden his mother and the children goodbye, but none of the three
was in sight. They had been swept aside by the rush of the terrified
people.

A cry sounded above the tumult, and before he could learn where it came
from, the arms of his mother were about his neck.

"Thank Heaven! my boy is safe! You do not know what I have suffered. I
could learn nothing about you. Are you hurt?"

"Not a scratch--which is more than many other poor fellows can say.
Where are the children?"

A tiny hand was slipped into his own, and looking down, there stood
Linna, with her forefinger between her teeth, looking shyly up at him.
There could be no doubt she felt fully acquainted.

Alice came forward on the other side. Neither understood the cause
of the turmoil about them. They were not scared, but were awed into
silence.

"I saw Omas," explained Ben to his mother; "he saved me from the fate of
many others."

"Where is he?"

"A little way off, under the bank, waiting with his canoe, to take us
across the river.

"He says we must hurry through the woods for the settlements on the
Upper Delaware. Every hour that we stay increases our danger."

"Let me take Alice; lead the way."

Clasping tight the hand of Linna, with his mother at his heels, Ben
pushed for the point where he had left the Delaware a few minutes
before.

Strange that though the distance was not far, and the confusion seemed
to be increasing every minute, the little party had not gone half way
when they were checked by one of the men that had been in the battle. He
was slightly wounded, and under the influence of liquor.

"Who's that you've got with you?" he demanded, looking down at Linna,
who saw no danger in the act.

"A friend of Alice and me."

"She looks like an Injin," added the soldier, scowling threateningly at
her; "if she is, I want her."

"I told you she is a friend of ours--get out of my way!"

The soldier's condition enabled Ben to tumble him over on his back by
means of a vigorous shove. Before he could steady himself and get upon
his feet again, the others were beyond reach.

I am sure he would not have acted that way, had he been in the
possession of his senses.

When Ben parted from Omas, he was without a rifle, but on joining him
again, the warrior had a fine weapon in his hand. It was not the one
with which he appeared at the house. The lad might have guessed how he
got it, but he did not ask any questions, nor seem to notice it.

As the party came up, Omas merely glanced at Mrs. Ripley and her child,
but did not speak. As for his own little girl, he gave her no notice.
Young as she was, she understood him, and did not claim any attention
from him. If they had been alone, she would have been in his arms with
their cheeks together.

"Go 'cross," said he, pointing toward the other shore.

"Ben has told me what you said: we are ready," replied Mrs. Ripley.

He held the canoe steady and motioned her to take her place in it. She
did so, and Alice nestled at her feet, being careful not to stir, for
such frail craft are easily upset.

The canoe was small, and the weight of the mother and child sank it
quite low, though it would hold another adult.

"Get in," added Omas to the lad.

Ben obeyed. He knew all about such boats, and could have paddled it
across had there been a paddle to use, but there was none.

When the Delaware laid his rifle inside with Ben's, it was evident he
intended to swim, towing or shoving the boat.

"Come, Linna, there's just room for you," added the youth, reaching out
his hand for the dusky little girl.

Instead of obeying, she looked up at her father and said something to
which he made answer brusquely, as it sounded to the others.

Retreating several paces from shore, she ran nimbly to the edge of the
bank, and with a leap splashed away beyond the bow of the canoe, and
began swimming like a fish for the eastern shore.

It was a real treat for her, even though she did not remove any of her
clothing. The weather was sultry, and the bath refreshingly cool. Not
comprehending the sad scenes around her, she dived, and splashed, and
frolicked, easily keeping in advance of the boat.

Truth to tell, the canoe had all it could hold, and Omas, who swam at
the stern, handled it with care to prevent it overturning. The water
rose almost to the gunwales, and a little jolt or carelessness would
have capsized it.

The Delaware swam high out of water. He knew the boat would attract the
attention of some of his own people on the bank, who, if they thought
the occupants were escaping, would either pursue or fire on them.

The sight of the Indian, however, at the stern would make it appear that
they were already prisoners, and the other warriors would give their
attention elsewhere.

Omas kept clear of Monacacy Island, and by and by his feet touched
ground. Before that, the dripping Linna had run out on land, and so the
whole party safely reached the eastern shore.



CHAPTER FIVE: IN THE WOODS

You have not forgotten what I told you about the mountain range, which
shuts in Wyoming Valley on the east. It is a thousand feet in height,
abounding with ravines, clefts, rocks, boulders and the most rugged kind
of places.

The fugitives who fled from the Susquehanna to escape the Indians had
to make their way over these mountains, and then find their way through
sixty miles of trackless woods to the Delaware River. A great many
succeeded in doing so, but the deaths and sufferings in the vast stretch
of forest gave it the dreadful name of "The Shades of Death," by which
it is often referred to even to this day.

Omas swam at the rear of the small canoe, as I told you, with Mrs.
Ripley and her two children seated inside and balancing themselves
with great care to prevent the heavily loaded craft from sinking or
overturning.

More than one Seneca or Oneida Indian, or perhaps a Tory, that had
chased some terrified fugitives to the edge of the river, halted and
made ready to fire upon the canoe, whose occupants were seen to be three
white persons.

When they looked again, however, they observed the head and shoulders of
an Indian warrior, who was plainly propelling the craft in front of him.
That was enough to satisfy them.

On the way over, Linna, the little Indian girl, amused herself by diving
under the canoe, sometimes appearing on one side and then on the other,
sometimes in front and then at the rear. She even ventured to impose
upon her father by splashing water in his painted face. She did little
of that, and he paid no attention to it.

The sun had not yet set when the grim warrior and his child emerged on
the eastern shore, their garments dripping, but caring nothing for that.
The boat was drawn far enough up the bank to prevent its being swept
away by the current, and then all stood side by side, and as if by a
common impulse, looked back at the shore they had left.

The smoke from the burning Fort Wintermoot still rested on the calm
surface of the river, and filtered among the green vegetation near the
scene of the battle. Other buildings had been fired, and mingled their
vapor with it.

Here and there, every minute or two, sounded the sharp crack of a rifle.
This too often meant that some fugitive had been run down by his cruel
pursuer, who listened to no pleadings for mercy. A good many had taken
refuge on Monacacy Island, from which the reports of guns continually
came.

I have not the space here to tell you of the wonderful escapes at
Wyoming, the particulars of which I have given in another work.

One boy, who was with several men near Fort Jenkins before the battle,
saw all the men shot down or captured; but he hid himself among some
willows and was not noticed.

If you ever visit the scene of the battle, you will notice a broad, flat
stone, called Queen Esther's Rock, a half dozen miles below Wilkesbarre.
Queen Esther was an old, cruel, half breed woman who came with the
Indians. She is sometimes known as Katharine Montour. A son of hers
was killed in the conflict, and she was so angered that she had sixteen
captives placed around the rock, and meant to slay them all, while the
warriors prevented them from escaping.

Nevertheless two of the young men jumped up and started on a run for
the river. The guards dashed after them. One caught his toe, and rolled
headlong down the bank into some bushes. Instead of springing up again,
as he first started to do, he lay still, and though the Indians almost
stepped upon him, he was not discovered, and got off without harm.

The other reached the river, took a running leap and dived, and swam
under water as far as he could. When he came up to breathe, the waiting
red men fired at him again and again. He was wounded, but not badly,
and, reaching the other side, caught a stray horse, made a bridle from a
hickory withe, and soon joined his friend.

Another fugitive, after running until he was so tired out he could
hardly stand, and hearing the Indians near, backed into a hollow log
and awaited his fate. He had been in the hollow but a few minutes when
a spider spun its web across the entrance. A few minutes later, two
warriors sat down on the log. They noticed how good a hiding place it
would be for the white man, and one of them leaned over to peep in. As
he did so, he saw the spider web. He was sure that it would not be there
if the man was inside, and did not search further. When the warriors
left, the man crawled out and got safely away.

You know that the home of the Ripleys was on the eastern shore, which
they left that same morning. They had crossed over in a large flatboat
with a number of other families, so that now they were near their own
home again. Omas had guided the canoe, too, so they landed not far from
the little structure.

"Omas," said the mother, "I understand you wish us to go to the
Delaware."

"Yes," he replied, "Iroquois won't hurt you there--must go."

"We haven't a particle of food with us; Ben has his gun and may have a
chance to shoot some game on the way--more than likely, he will have no
chance at all; it will take us several days to reach Stroudsburg, which,
I believe, is the nearest point. Don't you think it best that we should
stop at the house and get what food we can?"

"Yes, we do dat; come 'long; not great time."

There could be no safer guide than the Delaware, when his race were such
complete masters of the situation; though there was risk that a patriot
hiding somewhere in the neighborhood might take a shot at him, under the
belief that he meant harm to the captives.

The humble log structure was found just as it was left that morning.
If any of the marauding bands of Indians paid it a visit, they did not
linger after seeing it was tenantless.

There was a whole loaf of bread and part of another left beside some
cooked chicken, and a number of live ones were scratching the ground
outside, as if they had no concern in what was going on.

"The weather is warm now," remarked the prudent housewife, "but a cold
storm may set in before we reach shelter."

With which she folded a blanket from her bed and laid it over her arm.

"It will come handy to sleep on," added Ben, who did the same with a
second, despite the weight of his rifle, which (as they were made in
those days) was a good load of itself for a strong boy.

Omas showed some impatience, though his companions did not understand
the cause. His actions, indeed, were curious. They supposed he meant to
conduct them all or a greater part of the way to Stroudsburg, though at
times he appeared to be hesitating over it, or over some other scheme he
had in mind.

Ben Ripley had rambled among the rugged scenery, on the eastern shore of
the river, having gone with his father many times when he was on hunting
excursions; but he was not as familiar with the ins and outs of the
mountains as the Delaware, whose village was a good many miles away.

None of the party had eaten anything of account since the early morning
meal, before they crossed the Susquehanna. The dangers, excitement,
and suspense of the hours drove away the thought of food. Young as was
Linna, she had already learned not to ask for it when either of her
parents chose not to offer it to her. Doubtless she was hungry, but if
so, no one else knew it. Alice had been given bread when at Forty Fort,
and she now suggested that some more would not come amiss.

"We all need it," said Ben; "why not take our last meal in our old home?
You have no objection Omas?"

"Eat here," was his reply.

The guns were leaned against the walls, the blankets put aside and all
gathered round the board. The Delaware had done the same before when
visiting the family, and acquired the civilized form of eating, while
Linna picked it up during the brief time spent with her friends.

The meal lasted but a few minutes, when they once more gathered up their
luggage, as it may be called, left the house, and with Omas in the lead,
struck into the mountains on the long tramp to the Delaware.

The sun went down while they were picking their way through the rough
section. The Ripleys expected to do much hard travelling, but their
guide's knowledge of every turn enabled him to pick out paths which
none ever suspected. Sometimes the climbing was abrupt, but all, even to
Alice, were accustomed to that kind of work, and they kept up a steady
gait, which must have placed many miles to the rear if continued long.

Omas continued at the head. Directly behind him walked his child, the
path most of the time being so narrow that they were obliged to travel
in Indian file. Then came Alice and her mother, while Ben considered
himself the rearguard. When the space allowed, Alice took the hand of
her parent, but Linna never presumed to speak to or interfere with her
grim, silent parent.

Darkness closed around them before they had gone a couple of miles.
During all this time the tramp continued in silence, probably not a
dozen words being spoken. Each of the three elder was using eyes and
ears to the utmost.

The sharp crack of a rifle broke the silence, not more than a hundred
yards to the right of them. Everyone started except Omas, who acted as
if he did not hear the report. He made no change in his pace, and so
far as the others could see in the gloom, did not turn his head. They
concluded, therefore, that no cause for alarm existed.

Fairly through the mountain spur and among the deep woods, the journey
was pushed until the night was well along. Suddenly, Omas made a short
turn to the right and stopping in a hollow, where there were several
large boulders, he said--"We stay here all night."

The words were a surprise, for it was expected he would travel for
a long time. He, Mrs. Ripley and Linna could have done so without
inconvenience, but Alice was tired out. Her relatives were pretty well
burdened already, though either would have carried her had it been
necessary; but the party had gained so good a start that there seemed
little risk in making a long stop.

Omas reached down one hand and laid it on the bare head of Alice, saying
in a voice of strange gentleness--"Little girl tired--she can rest."

And then all knew he had ceased walking because of her. Had she not been
a member of the party, he would have kept the rest on their feet until
the sun appeared above the forest.

"Yes, I'm tired, Omas," said the little one wearily, holding the hand of
the Delaware in both her own; "I'm glad you stopped."

The gloom was so deep, for there was no moon until very late (and if
there had been, its rays could not have pierced the dense foliage), that
they could hardly see each other's figures. Omas hastily gathered some
leaves and dead twigs, which were heaped together against one of the
boulders. Then he produced his flint and steel--for he had learned the
trick long before of the whites--and by and by a shower of sparks was
flying from the swift, sharp blows of the metal against the hard stone.
A minute later one of the sparks "caught," and under his nursing a fire
was speedily under way.

While he was thus engaged, Mrs. Ripley spread the blankets on the ground
and Alice stretched her tired little body upon one of them.

"Mamma, I guess God will excuse me for not saying my prayers," she
murmured, as she closed her eyes and sank into slumber.

Linna was tired, too, but she kept her feet and looked at her father for
his permission, before presuming to lie down.

"Come, Linna, here is your place beside Alice," said the mother kindly.

Again she turned to her father, who was standing by the fire, looking
off in the gloom, as if he suspected something wrong.

He gave the permission in their native tongue and she cuddled down
beside her friend without further waiting.

"Mother," said Ben, "you had better lie down with them."

"Not yet," she replied, with a significant look at he Delaware, whose
back was toward them.

"What about him?" asked the surprised lad in a low voice.

"He is meditating something evil: he wants to leave us.

"What evil is there in that, if he thinks we have gone far enough to be
safe?"

"You have forgotten that he fought with the Iroquois today; he wants to
go back to Wyoming and join them in their work."

"If that is so, how can we hinder him?"

"I don't know that we can; but I shall try it."

Ben busied himself gathering more wood, so that the fire cast a glow
several yards from where it burned against the boulder.

When he had collected enough to last a long while, he came back and sat
down by his mother. All this time the Delaware remained motionless, with
his face away from them. He was debating some troublous question in his
mind. They watched him closely.

He turned about abruptly, and said--"Omas must go--he say 'goodnight' to
his friends."



CHAPTER SIX: PUSHING EASTWARD

No person in all the world is so quick to detect deception as a mother.
It is simply wonderful the way she will sometimes read one's thoughts. I
am sure you boys who have lagged on the road when sent on an errand, had
a scrimmage with some other boy, or done any one of the numerous acts
in which a mother persists in asking annoying questions, will agree with
me.

While Omas, the Delaware warrior, stood with his face turned away from
the camp fire and looking off in the gloom, as if he was trying to
discover something in the darkness, Mrs. Ripley was sure she knew what
the trouble was: he was trying to decide whether he should stay longer
with the little party or leave them to make the rest of their way
through the woods without him.

He might well say they were now so far from Wyoming that they were in
little danger. They had but to keep on tramping for several days and
nights, and they would reach the little town of Stroudsburg, which, you
may know, is near Delaware Water Gap. There they need have no fear of
the red men.

Mrs. Ripley knew all this as well as Omas himself, but she did not wish
him to go back and join the hostile Iroquois, as he wanted to do. She
felt it would be far better if he would stay with them, for then he
would do no further harm to the white people.

When, therefore, he turned about and bade them goodbye, all doubt was
gone. Ben did not reply, but his mother rose from the other blanket on
which she had been sitting, walked quietly to where the Delaware was
standing, and laid her hand kindly on his arm.

"Omas, I do not wish you to leave us," she said.

He looked at her, for both stood where the firelight fell upon their
faces, and replied--"No danger--walk towards the rising sun--need not
walk fast--Iroquois won't hurt--soon be safe."

The lady was too wise to let her real objection appear.

"A while ago we heard the noise of a gun; our people are fleeing through
the woods, and the red men are following them. Alice is tired, and we
have stopped to rest. When we start again tomorrow, some of the red men
will be ahead of us. What shall we do without our friend Omas?"

"He have gun." he replied, indicating Ben.

"So have the red men, and there are more of them."

Now, if Mrs. Ripley was skilful in reading the thoughts of the Delaware,
it may be that he, too, suspected the real cause for her objections. Be
that as it may, it was plain he was not satisfied. He held the Ripley
family in too high regard to offend them openly; but Omas was set in his
ways.

He made no reply to the last remark, but stepped a little nearer the
fire and sat down, moody and silent.

"You have said enough, mother," remarked Ben in a low voice; "it will
anger him to say more. I will sit with my head against the rock; do you
lie down on the blanket and let your head rest in my lap. I think it
will be safe for us all."

With some hesitation the mother complied, the Delaware apparently paying
no heed to them. He kept his seat on the ground, looking gloomily into
the fire and in deep thought. A struggle was going on in his mind, and
no one could say whether the good or evil would win.

Ben Ripley was anxious that his mother should sleep. She had undergone
the severest of trials since early morning, and none had wrought harder
than she. The morrow would make further demands on her strength. As for
himself, he was young, sturdy, and could stand more and rally sooner
than she.

When, therefore, she said something in a low tone, he placed his hand
softly over her mouth and whispered--"S--h! go to sleep, baby."

He smoothed the silky hair away from the forehead so gently and so
soothingly that she could not resist the effect. She meant to keep
awake until Omas made his final decision; but no person can resist the
approach of slumber, except by active movement.

Before long, and while Ben's hand was still gliding like down over the
forehead, the faint, regular breathing showed she was asleep.

The son smiled.

"Good! The best mother that ever lived! Heavenly Father, watch over her
and spare her for many years. Watch over us all."

He looked across at Omas, on the other side of the camp fire, and saw
the Delaware gazing fixedly at him.

He arose as silently as a shadow and stepped nearer, peering down on the
pale, handsome face with its closed eyes.

"She sleep?" asked the Indian.

"Yes," replied Ben, softly, with a nod of his head.

He looked at her a moment and then across to the other blanket, where
the round, chubby cheeks of the little girls reflected the firelight. He
waited a moment, and then the gentler side of his nature triumphed. He
bent over the forms, kissed each in turn, straightened up, and pointing
to the eastward, said to Ben--"Go dat way--you safe--goodbye."

"Goodbye," replied the lad, knowing it was useless to protest.

Like the gliding of the shadow of a cloud, the Delaware passed beyond
the circle of light thrown out by the fire into the deep gloom of the
wood. The moccasins pressed the dry leaves without giving back any
sound, and he vanished.

"That makes a change of situation," was the conclusion of Ben Ripley;
"he's gone, and I become the general of this army; there's no telling
what danger may be abroad tonight, so I will keep my eyes open till
sunrise, to make sure that no harm comes to these folks."

And ten minutes after this decision the lad was as sound asleep as his
mother and the two little ones.

But there was One who did not slumber while all were unconscious. He
ever watches over His children, and,--though there were many perils
abroad that night, none of them came near our friends.

The camp fire which had been burning so brightly grew dimmer and lower
until the figures could hardly be seen. They gradually became more
indistinct, and finally the gloom was as deep as anywhere in the dense
woods. Only a few smouldering embers were left, and they gave out no
glow.

Ben was still sleeping, when something tickled his nose. He rubbed
it vigorously with his forefinger and opened his eyes, confused and
bewildered.

An odd, chuckling laugh at his elbow drew his gaze hither. There stood
Linna, with the sprig of oak which she had been passing back and forth
under the base of his nose, making it feel for all the world like a fly
titillating his nostrils.

Ben made an attempt to catch the mischievous girl, but she deftly
eluded him, and laughed so heartily that the others awoke and looked
wonderingly to learn what it all meant.

"I'll pay you for that!" exclaimed the lad, as his mother raised her
head from his lap. Bounding to his feet, he darted after Linna, but she
was so nimble, and dodged back and forth and from right to left so fast,
that it took much effort to run her down.

Like all little girls, she was very "ticklish," and when he dallied with
his fingers about her plump neck, she dropped to the ground and kicked
and rolled over to get away from him. He let her up, and said with
pretended gravity that he never allowed any trifling with him without
punishing the person therefore.

Linna did not seem to notice the absence of her father, and asked no
questions. Ben told his mother how he went off after she fell asleep,
and the good woman saddened, for she was sure she understood it all.

The first thing done, after a few minutes' talk, was to kneel in prayer,
Mrs. Ripley leading in a petition to Heaven that all might be preserved
from harm and reach the distant settlement safely. She did not forget
the absent Omas, or the hundreds of hapless people whom they had left
behind, who were still in great danger.

It was Mrs. Ripley's custom always to offer prayer in the little
household at the beginning of each day. Linna, who had gained a dim idea
of what the touching act meant, bent on her knees beside Alice; and who
shall say the petition which went up from her heart was not heard and
remembered by Him who notices the fall of every sparrow.

And now came the serious business of the day. Many long miles of
trackless forest lay before them and the delay caused all to feel the
need of hurry.

Mrs. Ripley gave to each a moderate portion of the food brought with
them, carefully preserving what was left, for they were sure to need
that and much more before reaching the end of their journey. The day
promised to be sultry like the preceding one, and each sadly missed the
water with which to quench their thirst and splash upon their faces and
hands.

"We shall come across some before long," said Ben hopefully when he and
his mother had divided the luggage between them and set out toward
the rising sun; "we are a great deal better off than the poor folks of
Wyoming."

The mother pinched the clothing of Linna, and found it dried of the
moisture gained by her swim in the Susquehanna.

It is a curious practice among not only the Indians, but with many white
people, not to change wet stockings or garments for dry ones. I knew
a fisherman's boy whose father once punished him for removing his
saturated stockings and shoes for others.

"Always let 'em dry on you, and you won't catch cold," was his doctrine.
"Keep moving if you can, but don't change 'em."

I don't believe in the practice; but be that as it may, the little
Delaware girl showed no ill effects from sleeping in the clothing that
had been wet. As for her father, he would have been insulted at the
mention of such a thing to him.

Ben's belief about finding water proved true. They had gone hardly a
half mile from camp when they came upon a sparkling brook, cold and
clear, and abundant enough to serve all. Having no vessels with them,
they lay down and quaffed their fill. Then they bathed their faces and
hands in the delicious fluid, and were much refreshed.

The expectation was that they would travel a good many miles before
night again overtook them. The way, while rough and broken in many
places, was not hard, and all, even to the smaller children, were used
to being on their feet. There was little fear indeed that Linna would
not do her part as well as the older ones. Young as she was in years,
she had been trained to hardship from the time she could walk. Not
only that, but, like all her race, she had learned to bear suffering in
silence and without sign of pain.

She would have to become very tired before her companions would know it.

By and by the ground was found to be rising, and in the course of an
hour they gained an elevation which, having few trees, gave them an
extended view of the surrounding country.

Looking back in the direction of Wyoming, the sky was seen to be soiled
by the heavy smoke not only from the burned Fort Wintermoot, but from
other buildings that had been fired by the Tories and Indians. The sight
was a sorrowful one, and caused the mother and son some uneasiness.
They seemed nearer to the scene of the conflict than they had supposed,
and--since the people had been continually swimming the river, and
taking flight in the woods for the same point that was the destination
of the Ripleys--it was quite certain that some of the pursuers were not
far off.

"We must make as little noise as we can," said Ben, when the party were
about to start forward again: "for there can be no telling how close we
are to Indians that are looking for us.'

"I think it better for you to walk a little way in front," suggested the
mother, "so as to warn us in time."

"The plan is a good one. I will keep in sight of you, and the minute I
see anything amiss, will make a sign, so you can stop at once."

This course was adopted. Ben carried one of the blankets flung over his
left arm as if it were an extra garment, and steadied the heavy rifle on
his shoulder with the other. As you remember, he was tall for his years,
strong, and with rugged health.

Had the weather been cooler he could have Kept up this method of
traveling for hours without fatigue; but the heat made it trying. True,
at that season of the year the foliage was dense on the trees and shut
out the sun's rays, except in the open spaces and natural clearings
which they now and then crossed; but the vegetation also stopped
whatever breeze was stirring, and obliged the members of the party to
halt many times to rest and cool themselves.

Mrs. Ripley had but few extra things to carry, and showed less fatigue
than anyone, excepting the Delaware child. The latter and Alice walked
most of the time side by side, and generally with clasped hands. There
was no use of their trying to keep their tongues still, but they were
wise enough to speak in whispers and such soft undertones that no one
else could tell what they said, and therefore nothing was to be feared
on that account from any enemies in the neighborhood.

"Why not he make sign?" was the startling question of Linna, pointing at
Ben, before the party had gone far after their brief rest.

"What do you mean?" asked the puzzled Mrs. Ripley; "he isn't to make any
sign to us till he sees or hears something wrong."

"People off dere!" replied Linna, pointing ahead and to the right of
their course. "Me hear dem speak."

It was true. The keen ears of the child had discovered a peril that
no one else suspected. She alone had caught the sound of voices that
escaped all other ears.



CHAPTER SEVEN: JABEZ ZITNER

At this moment Ben Ripley was about a hundred feet in advance of the
party and ascending a ridge in the woods, which were so open that he was
in plain sight of the others.

Mrs. Ripley, on hearing the alarming words of the little Delaware girl,
came to a stop. It seemed strange that Linna should have caught the
sounds noticed by no one else, and that, too, while she was whispering
to her companion, Alice; but even at that tender age the inherited
sharpness of hearing had been trained to a wonderfully fine degree.

Mrs. Ripley was too prudent to argue with her. It was not wise to take
any chances. Above all, it was important that Ben should know the truth,
for he was still walking away from them with no knowledge of their
discovery.

"S--h!" The sibilant noise made by the mother's lips crossed the space
and the listening lad halted and looked round. She did not speak, but
beckoned him to come back. He obeyed at once.

"Linna says she heard voices a minute ago, over yonder," whispered Mrs.
Ripley, as her son joined them.

"So me did," added Linna, in answer to the inquiring look of the lad.

"You have sharp ears, little one; but are you sure?"

"Me am," was the confident reply.

"Where were they?"

She again pointed out the direction.

"That must be looked into: wait till I come back, and--"

"S--h!" interrupted the mother.

All caught an indistinct murmur, which proved Linna was right.

"Me tell you--eh?" she said in a proud undertone, her black eyes
sparkling with triumph.

"You are right: wait till I learn whether they are friends or enemies. I
will not be gone long."

Leaving the anxious group clustered together, Ben faced in the direction
of the sounds, which had stopped, and were so faint when heard that he
could not tell whether they belonged to friends or foes.

As nearly as he could find out, the parties were just beyond the crest
of the ridge, and, but for the warning of Linna, he would have run into
the danger before knowing it.

With the utmost care he went up the slope. He leaned forward and stepped
more slowly, avoiding, so far as he could, making any noise on the
leaves or against the bushes and limbs which he had to push aside to
allow him to advance.

At the instant of reaching the highest point he heard the voices again,
so close that he knew they were made by white people, who were in a
clump of dense undergrowth. A faint wreath of smoke filtering through
the branches overhead showed they had started a small fire, beside which
they were probably sitting or reclining on the ground.

Now that he was certain they belonged to his own race, he had less fear.
Still, they might prove unpleasant neighbors when they came to know one
of the party was a daughter of Omas. Turning toward his friends, who
were watching him, Ben made a sign for them to stay where they were
while he went forward.

He moved with the same care as before, but an unexpected accident
spoiled everything. His foot caught in a wire-like vine, and he almost
fell on his hands and knees. Aware that he had betrayed himself, he
threw aside further caution, hurried down the slope, and called out in a
guarded undertone--

"Helloa there, friends!"

"Who are you?" was the demand that instantly followed, and from the
undergrowth, beside a small fire, two men suddenly rose upright, each
with rifle in hand.

Ben recognized them. One was Jabez Zitner and the other Horace
Burwink--both middle aged, sturdy, and strong. They were neighbors, and
had taken part in the engagement the day before, but, escaping without
harm, were now on their way to the settlements of the Upper Delaware.

A meeting of this kind would have been pleasing in the highest degree,
for it added great strength to the party; but a misgiving came to
the lad when he recognized Zitner. He was the man who, when partially
intoxicated the previous afternoon, had tried to take Linna from him and
was vigorously shoved aside by her friend.

"Helloa, Ben! where did you come from?" asked Zitner, who was now
entirely himself.

"Glad to see you," added Burwink, and the two extended their hands. "You
gave us a great scare, for the woods are full of redskins."

"You startled me, too," replied Ben. "I am travelling with my mother and
sister to Stroudsburg. I suppose you are aiming for the same place?"

"Yes--if we ever get there. What become of that little sarpent you had
with you yesterday?"

It was Zitner who asked the question. Ben's face flushed, for he did not
like to hear Linna spoken of in that way.

"She is with us," he quietly replied.

"What are you going to do with her?"

"She is in our care, and goes wherever we go."

"You seem mighty fond of the people who played the mischief with us
yesterday."

"Jabez Zitner, I fought just as hard as you, and did all I could to
drive back the Iroquois and Tories, but I don't fight little children
six years old."

"Who's talking about fighting 'em?" demanded Zitner angrily. "Their
people didn't spare our women and children."

"They are savages, but you and I claim to be civilized."

"That's all well enough, but my motto is--fight fire with fire." Burwink
was listening to this sharp interchange of words, the meaning of which
he caught. Wishing to make a friend of him, for Ben foresaw trouble, he
asked--"Am I not right, Mr. Burwink?"

"I should say--on general principles you are; but, after yesterday, I
don't feel much love for any of the varmints. Who is this Injin gal that
you are talking about?"

Ben was too wise to give the name of Linna's father, knowing he would be
instantly recognized as one of the fiercest warriors that had taken part
in the invasion and battle. He therefore replied--

"She is a girl named Linna; she is of the same age as our Alice, and was
visiting her when we crossed the river to Forty Fort yesterday morning.
We could do nothing but take her with us, and I will defend her with my
life."

"You are talking big," remarked Zitner, with a scornful look at the
sturdy lad. "Who is the gal's father?"

"That makes no difference; but I will say he belongs to the Delaware
tribe, most of whom are friends to our people."

"There were plenty of them with the Senecas and Oneidas yesterday, and
they fought like wild cats, too. But why don't you bring your folks
forward?" added Zitner, looking inquiringly around.

"I will do so. Wait a few minutes."

He strode back and over the top of the ridge, until he caught sight of
the frightened group.

"Come on!" he called, beckoning to them. "Mr. Zitner and Burwink are
here, and want to see you."

With an expression of thankfulness, Mrs. Ripley, clasping a hand of
each of the children, walked up the slope, and passed over to where the
couple awaited their approach by the camp fire. She shook hands with
each, and expressed her pleasure at meeting them. They did the same
toward her, and then all, with the exception of the children, seated
themselves on the fallen tree beside which the small fire was burning.

Mrs. Ripley had observed the little incident the preceding afternoon,
when Zitner tried to stop Linna. She was ill at ease, for she noticed
how sharply he looked at the child. She hoped, however, that now he was
fully himself, he would be ashamed of his action, or at least make no
reference to it.

No fear of her doing so. She showed her tact by leading the conversation
in another direction.

"When did you leave Wyoming?"

"Burwink and I didn't get a chance to swim over until nearly midnight,
and then we had a rough time of it. There were plenty of others that
tried to do the same and never got to this side."

"When did you leave?" asked Burwink of the lady.

"We crossed before it was dark."

"How did you manage it? Swim?"

"No; we came over in a canoe. A Delaware Indian, the father of Linna,
swam behind the boat and pushed it across. But for him, we never could
have gotten away."

Mrs. Ripley, like her son, meant to keep the name of their friend from
these men. There was no danger of either her or Ben telling it; but
neither thought of another means they had of learning it.

At this point, Alice went to her mother and leaned against her knees,
with her gaze on the faces of the men. She had been standing beside
Linna, whose eyes were never once removed from the displeasing
countenance of Zitner.

She must have noticed the incident referred to, for the expression on
her round face was of dislike and distrust. She stood further off from
the men than anyone else--silent, watchful, and suspicious.

Zitner now looked at her.

"Come here," he said coaxingly, extending his hand.

"No; me won't. Me don't like you," she replied, with an angry flirt and
backward step.

"Jingo!" exclaimed the surprised Zitner; "I didn't think she could talk
our lingo. Say, Miss Spitfire, what is your father's name?"

Before either Mrs. Ripley or her son could interpose, Linna answered
defiantly--"He Omas--great warrior--kill good many white people--kill
you!"

The reply caused consternation on the part of Mrs. Ripley and Ben, but
the boy shut his lips tight. He could not but admire the bravery of the
child, and he was determined to stand by her to the end.

The mother was in despair, but she relied mainly on persuasion and
prayer.

With no idea of what all this meant, Alice looked in the face of each
person in turn while speaking.

"She's a chip off the old block," said Burwink, with a laugh. "She
doesn't seem to have much fear of you, Jabez."

"I am hopeful she will feel different when she grows older," soothingly
remarked Mrs. Ripley.

"I'd like to know what you build your hope on," replied Zitner, still
curiously watching the child.

"I expect to have her a good deal under my care, and I shall do all I
can to instruct her aright. This morning she knelt with us in prayer.
You must remember she is very young, and has heard little, if anything,
of Christianity."

Zitner shook his head.

"It's born in 'em, and you can't get it out."

"But, Mr. Zitner, you will not deny that we have a good many Christian
Indians. There are plenty of them at Gnadenhutten, and the Moravian
missionaries have been the means of turning hundreds from darkness to
light. If they can do that with full grown warriors and women, may we
not hope for the best from those of tender years?"

"I don't know about that," was the dogged reply. "I never believed in
this conversion business."

"What can you mean by such a remark?" asked the shocked lady.

"I mean, religion is good enough for white people, but don't work with
Injins. They will pretend they're good, but are only waiting for a
chance to do mischief."

"The converted Delawares have never taken part in the wars against us.
You know that as well as I."

"How about Omas?"

"He makes no pretence of Christianity."

"And therefore has no claim on our indulgence."

"No one has said he has," observed Ben, coming to his mother's help; "he
will never ask quarter from you or any white man."

"Where is he now? He brought you over the river, but seems to have
deserted you."

"He left because he didn't think we had further need of his aid; we can
get along without him."

"Now, see here," added Zitner, straightening up on the log and slapping
his knee; "I'll tell you what I've made up my mind to do. I am
willing to give in to Mrs. Ripley that far, that I won't harm that
youngster--that is, I will leave it to her father whether I shall or
shan't."

Neither mother nor son could understand the meaning of this strange
remark. They waited for the man to explain.

"I'm going to take her with us as a hostage. We're not clear of the
varmints yet. I believe Omas himself ain't far off, and the rest will
be on our heels all the way to Stroudsburg. If they get us in a tight
place, I'll let 'em know we've got the gal of Omas with us, and if they
harm a hair of our heads it'll be all up with her. We'll take her clean
to Stroudsburg, and then turn her loose, for we won't have any further
need of her; but she must go with us."

"Jabez Zitner," said Ben Ripley--"the moment you lay your hand on that
child I will shoot you!"



CHAPTER EIGHT: LINNA'S WOODCRAFT

No one could have looked into the face of Ben Ripley without seeing he
meant just what he said.

Jabez Zitner supposed, when he made known that he intended to take the
little Delaware girl with him as a hostage, that though it might be
displeasing to the Ripleys, they would not dare object; but he was
mistaken.

The lad was sitting furthest away on the fallen tree, with his rifle
resting across his knees, when he warned the man that if he laid a hand
on Linna he would shoot him.

Ben spoke low, but mingling with his words were two faint clicking
sounds. They were made by the hammer of his rifle, as with his thumb
he drew it back ready for use. His face was slightly pale, but his eyes
glittered, and he rose to his feet and looked at the startled man.

Mrs. Ripley gave a gasp of fright and clasped her hands, while the
children mutely stared.

Even Zitner was silent. He knew Ben's pluck, but did not believe it
would take him thus far, for it looked as if there were two adults
against a single boy.

Burwink however, was more of a man than his companion. He looked
smilingly at Ben and said--"Jabez, I reckon this has gone far enough."

"What do you mean?'" angrily asked the other.

"You must leave the little gal alone."

"Oh, thank you! thank you!" exclaimed Mrs. Ripley. "I might have known
you would see that right is done."

Zitner had a few sharp words with his friend, but the latter was
immovable. He would not listen to his proposition, and that ended the
matter.

"Well," finally said Zitner, rising to his feet, "I intended to see you
folks safe to the Delaware; but I won't have anything to do with you
now. Come, Horace."

He strode off without another word or looking to the right or left.
Burwink waited a minute, and then, with a quizzical look at Mrs. Ripley
and her son asked--

"Do you think you can stand it?"

"We shall have to," replied Ben.

"Well, goodbye, and good luck to you;" and he followed his friend among
the trees.

"That was a luckier ending than I expected," remarked Ben, letting down
the hammer of his rifle.

"If Mr. Burwink had sided with him, there would have been no help for
it," said his mother.

"Such people are always cowards. I wasn't afraid of him."

Now that they had departed, Linna came over to her champion--though she
could not have fully understood all that had passed--and placed her hand
confidingly on his shoulder.

"Linna, I have two sisters," he said tenderly; "yonder is one, and her
name is Alice: can you tell me the name of the other?"

"Yes--she name be Linna."

"You are right. Now, if you will kiss me, I won't tickle you any more
for making my nose itch this morning."

The lips were put up to his, and with deep affection on the part of
both, the salute was exchanged.

"If any more white people show themselves, and they ask you your
father's name, let mother and me answer for you."

"Me do what you say," was the obedient response.

It need not be said that our friends were greatly relieved by the
departure of Zitner. While as I have already said, they ought to have
been glad of the company of him and Burwink, they would have been ill at
ease so long as the surly fellow was with them. He surely held no good
will toward the little girl, and would have found some chance to show
it.

"But are we really rid of him?" asked Ben of his mother. The two sat
close to each other on the tree, and the children were playing a few
steps away.

"I am quite sure we are."

"He may steal back tonight, if we camp near."

"Why should he? He does not want to harm Linna, but to use her as a
means of safety against her own people."

"That was what he said, but I don't believe him. It seems to me we ought
to change our course, to be certain of not meeting him again."

"As you think best."

"We have had a good rest. Come, girls, we must be off." Taking the lead
as before, Ben strode down the incline, bearing more to the left than he
had been doing.

All smiled at Linna, for she noticed the change on the instant.

"You go wrong," she said; "dat not right way."

"Which is the right way, Miss Smartness?"

She pointed it out.

"You are right, but that is the course of that bad man, who doesn't like
you. We will go around, so as not to see him again."

She was satisfied, and gave her attention to Alice, who thought it odd
that she and Ben should have so many disputes.

Over the varying surface, turning aside now and then to pass some
obstacle in the shape of rocks or ravines--now up hill and down, among
the dense trees, where the briars and bushes scratched their hands and
faces, across small rippling streams and natural clearings--they pushed
on until the sun was far beyond meridian and the halt and rest were
grateful.

"I don't think we need give any more thought to Zitner," said Ben; "and
I am sure we are all glad. He could not find us now, if he tried."

"If they kept to their course, we must be several miles apart."

"I have been working my way back, so that, after all, I do not think we
have lost much ground. I hope Miss Linna is satisfied."

"She would make complaint if she was not."

They had stopped near another of the small running streams, for it was
harder to do without water than food.

"I'm hungry, mother."

"So we all are," she added, producing half a loaf, which was the last of
their food.

"To leave any portion of this will only aggravate all your appetites, so
we will finish it."

The bread was divided among the four, and when eating ceased not a crumb
was left.

"It isn't a good time of the year for hunting, mother, but if I can get
sight of any game, I'll bring it down, whether it is a deer, bear, wild
turkey, quail, or anything that will serve for a meal."

"It isn't a time to be particular--in watching for danger look also for
game."

"That's what I have been doing for the last few hours."

With the passage of time and the increase of the distance between them
and Wyoming the hopes of the little party naturally rose. They were now
a good many miles from their old home, and as yet had not seen a single
red man. That numbers were abroad there could be no doubt, although it
is a fact that a great many people did not start eastward until several
days after the battle.

But it was a long, long way to the Delaware, with the travelling such as
they had to face. I have spoken of the forest as being trackless and
a wrong impression may have been given. An old trail led from the
Susquehanna to the Delaware, and was followed by many of the fugitives;
but great risk was run by those who did so, for most of the pursuers
used the same path. As a consequence, some were overtaken and slain.

Those who avoided the beaten route of necessity suffered greater
hardships; but none was equal to that of meeting their enemies. Omas
took care to steer wide of this trail when leading the party into the
wild section to the east of the river, and he showed them that he wished
them to do the same. Ben was too wise to forget his wishes.

The location of the sun in the sky, the appearance of the bark and
moss, and the tops of certain trees, enabled the young woodman to keep
a pretty true course. He remarked, with a laugh, that if there was any
likelihood of going wrong, Linna would correct him.

The afternoon was well past before they came upon any more water, and,
with the warm weather and their long tramp, all suffered from thirst.
They were not traversing a desert country, however, and soon found what
they wanted in abundance.

"But," said Ben, "I am worried about food, mother. It is nearly night,
and we haven't a mouthful. I suppose if there was plenty, I wouldn't
feel half as bad, but it seems to me I was never so hungry in all my
life."

"That is natural; but, if necessary, we can go all night without food."

"If necessary, of course we can, but I dread it. Alice and Linna will
suffer, though I'm not so sure about Linna. I would give almost anything
for a wild turkey."

The dusky child looked up from where she was sitting on the ground,
playing with Alice.

"Want turkey--eh?" she asked.

"Yes; have you any to sell?"

"Me get you one."

Mother and son stared in amazement. They could not believe she was in
earnest. She saw it and, with a grin, added--"Omas showed Linna how get
turkey."

"What can she be driving at?" asked the puzzled Ben. "She surely would
not say what she does without reason. Linna, teach Ben how to get a wild
turkey; we want one for supper, for if we don't have it, we shall all
have to go without food."

"Me hungry," she ventured; "so be Alice--so be you."

"You are right. Come, sister, show me how to catch a turkey."

She gravely rose from the ground. Her face appeared serious, but those
who looked at her closely detected a sparkle of the black eyes, for all
the world as if she meditated some prank upon her confiding friends. Ben
was suspicious. She added--

"Go wid me--me show you." Then he was sure she was up to something.

He rose from where he was sitting, and, rifle in hand, walked a little
way in the wood. She looked round once or twice, and continued advancing
a few minutes after they were out of sight of Alice and her mother.

She held the hand of the youth, who acted as if he was a bad boy being
led to punishment. He started to ask a question, but she checked him by
raising her forefinger and a "S--h!" and he did not presume again.

Finally she stopped among a number of trees where several trunks were
two or three feet in diameter. Stepping behind one, she motioned him to
do the same with another a few yards off. Surveying him a moment, as
if to make sure he was doing right, she suddenly emitted a sound from
between her lips, which caused Ben Ripley to utter the exclamation under
his breath--"Well, by gracious! If that doesn't beat everything!"

"Why don't shoot?" she abruptly asked.

The call made by Linna was the exact imitation of a wild turkey when
lost in the woods. Perhaps you may know that the body of every one of
those birds contains a bone which a hunter can so use as to make the
same signal; but it is hard to produce the sound without such help,
though it has been done.

Linna had succeeded to perfection.

"Who would have thought it possible for one so young as she to learn
the trick?" Ben asked himself. "I have tried it many a time without the
bone, but never could do it."

He looked at her admiringly, and was certain she was the smartest girl
he had ever seen.

"If there are any turkeys within hearing, that is bound to fetch them,
but I have seen no signs of them."

Linna continued the signalling at intervals for fifteen minutes or
more, peeping meanwhile from behind the tree and around her in every
direction. Ben did the same, and saw nothing.

"Why don't shoot?" she abruptly asked.

He noted the direction of her gaze, and there, not fifty feet away, was
a big hen turkey, walking slowly over the leaves, with head aloft and
glancing here and there for the lost one.

The target was a good one, and taking careful aim, Ben toppled it
fluttering to the ground at the first fire.

"Dat all want?" queried Linna.

"Yes; that will do for tonight, Linna."

"Den go back--play wid Alice."

And off she ran to rejoin her companion, while the delighted lad picked
up his prize and brought it to camp.

Turning that and his knife over to his mother, he made a fire ready
to pass the night, full of thankfulness that all had gone so well. Ben
agreed to stand watch until near midnight, and then allow his mother to
help him at the necessary duty.

While the simple preparations were going on, Linna knelt on the bare
ground with her ear pressed to the earth. Almost instantly she raised
her head and whispered:

"Somebody comin' dis way--guess be Injins!"



CHAPTER NINE: IN A CIRCLE

This was alarming news. Ben Ripley imitated the action of Linna.
Kneeling down, he pressed his ear to the earth.

Yes; he heard faint footfalls. Persons were moving about not far away.

"She is right," he said in a low tone; "likely they are Indians, though
we cannot be certain."

"It won't do to wait till they come to us," remarked his mother.

"Shall I put out the fire?" asked Ben, disconcerted by the suddenness of
the danger.

"No; we can't spare the time. Let us leave. Come, children."

She took the hand of each girl and walked quickly off, while Ben caught
up the blankets and followed. They had no particular point in view, but
wished to reach a safe place without delay.

The gloom of the gathering night helped them, and when they paused they
were confident they had not been seen by anyone.

Without any thought on their part, they made their way to a mass of
rocks and boulders, more extensive than any seen through the day. It was
a hundred yards from their starting point.

They sat down for a whispered consultation.

"They must have heard the report of my rifle," said Ben.

"That was a considerable while ago, and they may have been a good way
off at the time."

"Then, being so much nearer, it was the report which brought them.
What would become of us but for Linna?" added Ben placing his arm
affectionately around her. "It was she that got us our supper, and now
she warns us of danger."

"They may be Zitner and Burwink."

"Not likely, but if they come to our fire we shall soon find out. Look!"

To their astonishment, the little fire which they had left only a few
minutes before burned up brightly, showing that a lot of fuel had been
thrown on it.

Too many trees and too much undergrowth obtruded for them to detect
anything more than the great increase in brightness.

"The darkness will prevent their following our footprints," whispered
the mother.

"I will go a little nearer and find out what it means: it may be, after
all, that they are friends."

"Be careful, my son."

"I will."

It was not a hard task Ben Ripley gave himself. He had not far to go,
and he proceeded with so much caution that no risk was involved. Only
half the distance was passed when he gained a full view of the camp fire
and its surroundings.

The sight was disquieting. Three Indian warriors were there. One had
been gathering dry sticks which he flung on the blaze; another was
helping himself to what was left of the cooked turkey; while the third,
bent low, moved slowly around the lit up portion of the ground with his
eyes fixed on it.

It was plain he was scrutinizing the footprints made by the party that
had left just in time to escape them. It was a fortunate discovery made
by Linna!

With the aid of the bright glare, it could not take him long to identify
the little party as fugitives fleeing eastward, though it may be
questioned whether they learned that it consisted of one large boy, an
adult woman, and two small children.

They were in the battle yesterday. They have left others to look after
those in Wyoming, while they are hunting the poor creatures that have
taken to the woods.

The Iroquois who had been studying the ground straightened himself up
and said something to the others. One of them then flung more fuel on
the flames, and he who was ravenously eating suspended his operations,
but quickly resumed again, as if he liked his occupation better than
anything else to which he could turn his attention.

Then the first stooped down and caught up a burning brand. Several quick
circles over his head fanned it into a vigorous blaze. Holding it aloft,
with his shoulders bent forward, he moved slowly towards Ben Ripley.

He was tracing the footprints by the aid of the torch!

"Gracious! he will be among us in a minute," was the terrifying thought
of the lad, who turned and ran back to his friends, in such haste that
he was in danger of betraying his movements.

"Leave--quick!" he said; "they are after us!"

"No, they are not," replied his mother, who nevertheless stood ready to
do as he said.

Ben looked back. The warrior with a torch, after walking a rod or so
from the fire, had stopped, and was now in plain sight, with the flaming
brand held above his head, while he peered out in the gloom in the
direction of the fugitives, as if expecting to discern them.

Could he have known how near they were, he and his companions would have
rushed down upon them; but they must have thought they had fled much
further. It was impossible to trail them by torchlight as fast as they
could travel, and the Indians did not waste time in the effort. The one
with the torch went back to his companions.

The incident warned our friends of a new form of danger, which until
then had not been counted among the probabilities.

The Indians, as you know, can trace a person through the woods with
wonderful skill, seeing signs where the untrained eye observes nothing.
If these three chose to wait where they were until daylight, there was
nothing to prevent their taking up the trail and tracing the fugitives
wherever they went.

"It won't do to stay here," said Ben, "for they will be right upon us at
daylight."

"Providing they wait where they are."

"Why should they not do so? They are looking for us."

Mrs. Ripley dared not answer the question as her heart prompted. At the
same time, she could think of no means of throwing them off their track.

"It might have been better had we stayed with Zitner and Burwink--no, it
would not have been," she corrected herself, "for they were unfriendly
to Linna. But we must go."

The only hope that presented itself was that they might travel so far
during the darkness that the Indians would not keep up the pursuit when
the trail was revealed to them.

The moon did not rise until very late, and there being no path, while
all were in total ignorance of the neighborhood, it will be understood
that they had set to work to do a very hard, if not impossible thing.

Ben as usual took the lead, and, before he had gone twenty steps, was
caught under the chin by a protruding limb that almost lifted him
off his feet. Then he went headlong into a hollow and bruised himself
against some stones. Still, he did not give up, and by and by the ground
became more level and his mishaps less frequent.

Alice and Linna, like little heroines, never murmured. All persevered
until it was agreed that they were at least two miles from the camp
fire.

In making this hard journey, every one of the party met with several
narrow escapes, and it was agreed that it was best to go no further
until daylight.

"As soon as we can see, we'll be off again, and ought to be able to
travel as fast as they will do. Where they must watch all the time for
our footprints, they cannot go off a walk."

"We may as well wait."

Throughout their haste, the blankets had been preserved. Indeed, the one
over Ben's arm had served to break his fall more than once. These were
placed on the ground, and the children lay down beside each other,
quickly sinking to sleep; but the others, though pretty well worn, were
too anxious to rest yet awhile.

"I have no idea where we are," said the son; "but one place is as good
as another at such a time, and the weather is so warm that blankets are
not needed. Now, mother, I wish you would lie down beside the children
and rest. You need it badly, I know."

"And so do you, my son."

"Not for some time yet."

"But, if you intend to watch until daylight, you will be worn out by
morning. Besides, you cannot stay awake unless you move about. I will
agree to lie down if you will promise to call me when you think it is
midnight, and let me take a turn."

"I will agree to call you when I feel the need of you, and I will pace
the ground like a sentinel on duty."

The mother was forced to accept this proposition and, after some more
cautious conversation, she did as her boy wished, and he was left alone.

Ben did not forget his slip of the night before. It was necessary that
one of the company should maintain watch while the others slept, and
only these two could do it. He meant to guard the others through the
short summer night, trusting to a chance of getting what slumber he
needed on the morrow when the others were awake.

"I would like to catch myself waking her," he mused, after he had groped
around until he found a space a couple of rods in length over which he
could pace back and forth.

Then, with his rifle resting on his shoulder, he began his patient beat,
surrounded by impenetrable gloom, and with the lives of three loved ones
in his keeping.

By and by a lighting of the sky showed the moon had risen. This,
however, was of little or no help, since the abundance of leaves
prevented its rays piercing between and lighting up the ground beneath.

It would be hard to imagine a more gloomy occupation than that of Ben
Ripley while engaged with this duty. The solemn murmur of the vast woods
around him, the world of darkness in which he slowly paced to and fro,
the memory of the sad scenes he had seen in the lovely Wyoming Valley,
the certainty that a good many miles must yet be traversed before they
could sit down in safety, the consciousness that several of the cruel
red men were near them, and the belief that they would start in pursuit
as soon as it was light--all this oppressed him with crushing weight,
and made him feel at times as if there was no escape for him and his
loved ones.

"There is only one way of hiding our trail," he mused. "If we could come
upon some river or large stream of water, where there was a boat, or we
could make a raft, we should be safe. A big rainstorm would do as well,
for it would wash out all signs of our footprints."

He paused in his walk and peeped up at a speck of sky shown through a
rift among the limbs.

"There is hardly a cloud; it looks as if it wouldn't rain for a week,
and I don't know of any river between here and the Delaware."

His senses were never more alert. He avoided the fatal mistake of
sitting down for a few minutes, or so much as leaning against a tree to
rest. He stopped, however, now and then and listened intently.

"I wonder whether I am mistaken, or whether I did hear something moving
over the leaves out there?"

The fact that the almost inaudible rustling was noticed only when
he himself was in motion inclined him to suspect it was a delusion,
accounted for by his tense nerves. But after a time he became certain of
a fact hardly less startling in its nature.

When walking back and forth with his face away from the spot where his
friends lay something gleamed a short distance off among the trees. Its
location showed it was on the ground, and, as nearly as he could judge,
less than a hundred feet off.

His first supposition was that it was a fungus growth known in the
country as "foxfire," which gives out a phosphorescent glow in the
darkness; but after watching and studying it for a long time, he was
convinced it was something else.

"I'm going to find out," he decided; "it won't take me long, and I ought
to know all about it, for it may concern us."

Stealing forward, he was not a little astonished to find it a real fire,
sunken to a glowing ember, left by someone.

"It must be as Zitner said--the woods are full of Indians, and some of
them have camped there."

Not wishing to stumble over any of their bodies, he manoeuvred until
assured that whoever kindled the fire had left, when he kicked aside the
ashes.

The act caused a twist of flame to spring up and throw out a tiny glare,
which illumined several feet of surrounding space.

And then the astonished youth made the discovery that this was the very
spot where they had cooked their turkey hours before, and from which
they had fled in hot haste before the approach of the three Iroquois.

He and his friends had travelled in a circle, and come back to their
starting point.



CHAPTER TEN: NEAR THE END

Anyone who is used to the woods knows how apt he is to wander in a
circle unless he keeps his wits about him. There have been many causes
named for this curious fact, and the one that strikes me as the most
reasonable is that we are all either right or left handed. It is rare
that you meet a person who is ambidextrous,--that is, who uses both
hands equally well. When, therefore, he sets out to travel through the
woods without any guide, he unconsciously exerts his right or left
limb, as the case may be, more than the other, and this makes his course
circular.

There are three "signboards" by which a hunter can keep trace of the
points of the compass when in the woods, without noticing the sun, which
of itself is often a great help. Three fourths of the moss on trees
grows on the north side; the heaviest boughs on spruce trees are always
on the south side, and the topmost twig of every uninjured hemlock tree
tips to the east.

Now, while these signs never err, you can see that it is almost
impossible to turn them to account at night.

Ben Ripley had led his friends in an irregular circle, and brought them
back to within a brief distance of the starting point. This was the camp
fire from which they fled in such panic before the approach of the three
red men.

The discovery filled him with dismay, and he darted out in the darkness
for the rocks where the others were sleeping. His first intention was to
rouse them and plunge into the woods again, but a few minutes served to
make him cooler and more collected in mind.

The night was well spent, and a flight of that kind could not do much
for them. It might be all in vain. It would be trying to the last
degree. He decided not to disturb the sleepers.

By and by he persuaded himself that matters were not as bad as they
first appeared. Inasmuch as the fugitives had not returned over their
own trail, the Indians, in case they took it in the morning, must make
the same circuit, and thus be forced to go just as far as if the flight
had been in a direct line.

It was a mystery, however, what had become of the three warriors. They
could not be near the camp, or they would have appeared when the lad
returned to it. They had left, but who could say whither they had gone?

While Ben was debating the painful question, a growing light in the
direction of the Delaware told him the night was ended and the new day
dawning.

The fourth day of July, the second anniversary of the Declaration of
Independence, had passed. He thought of it, standing alone in the dismal
forest with danger on every hand, and oppressed by the great fear that
those whom he loved more than his own life must perish in that gloomy
wilderness.

He did not dare, however, to give way to his sad thoughts. At the first
streakings of light among the trees, he roused his mother and told her
the alarming truth.

"I do not understand it," she replied, alluding to the absence of the
Iroquois; "it must be they are in the neighborhood."

The children were still sleeping quietly on the blanket. No food or
water was at command, and they could not take the time to look for any.
Indeed, the two elder ones felt no hunger or thirst.

The mother rose to her feet and looked around, her interest centring
on the rock and boulders, which stretched away to the rear further than
they could penetrate with the eye.

"I know they are skilful in following footprints," she remarked; "but
if we walk carefully over those rocks, I think they will not be able to
track us. We will try it."

The children were roused and quickly learned what was to be done, the
mother adding that the prayer which she was accustomed to offer up every
morning would be given when they reached a spot where it was safe to do
so.

For fully a hundred yards the four were able to make their way without
resting their feet on the ground. Then the boulders ended as abruptly as
they began.

All now kneeled on the granite floor and asked Heaven to deliver them
safely out of the dangers by which they were surrounded.

If the Indians chose to make search, after tracing the little party to
the stony place, they must eventually come upon the new trail, where it
began again on the ground; but unless they struck it by accident, they
must use a good deal of time in hunting for it.

"Come on," called Ben in a low voice, but with a renewal of hope; "we
shall get somewhere one of these days."

To their surprise, not far from the rocks they came upon a faintly
marked path among the trees.

"What is the meaning of that?" Ben asked, looking inquiringly at his
mother and Linna.

"Men don't do dat--wild beasts," replied the dusky child.

"She is right," added the mother; "the animals follow it to water; let
us do the same."

The haunting fear of the red men made the words between the fugitives
few, and all their movements guarded. They kept glancing to right and
left, in front and to the rear, Linna being probably the most active. It
was as if she inherited from her parents their surprising woodcraft, and
was now calling it into play for the benefit of her friends.

Suddenly something flickered in the path ahead, and Ben stopped short,
those behind him doing the same.

Just in advance--less than fifty yards indeed--a beautiful fawn had come
to a halt. Its graceful head, with its soft brown eyes, was lifted high,
and it looked wonderingly at the people, as if not knowing the meaning,
and too innocent to feel fear. Ben drew up his rifle, for it was a
tempting chance for a delicious breakfast. But almost instantly he
lowered the weapon again.

The fawn was so trusting, so unsuspicious, that a feeling of pity came
to the young hunter. The animal suggested his own little sister, for it
was wandering through the unfriendly woods, with none to protect it from
cruel enemies.

"Go," whispered Ben; "I haven't the heart to harm you; I will starve
first."

"Remember the result of the shot yesterday," said his mother warningly.
"We are in too much peril to increase it."

The lad advanced along the path, and every one of the company smiled at
the fawn, when it stood motionless, staring until they were almost to
it. Then the timid creature turned nimbly and trotted over the trail,
its head so high that, as it turned it from side to side, it saw every
thing done by the strange beings following.

Had the situation been less serious, Ben would have had some sport
with the lovely creature, but he dared not give it much attention. It
continued trotting a short way, and then sprang gracefully aside among
the trees, leaving no scent on the leaves by which the most highly
trained hound could trace it.

A little way beyond they came upon the largest stream seen since leaving
the mountains east of the Susquehanna. It was a dozen feet in width,
quite deep, rapid, and clear.

"Here is enough drink for us all," said Ben, and they proceeded to help
themselves in the primitive fashion described elsewhere.

"That must contain fish," observed the mother; "but we are without the
means of catching them."

"Unless Linna will jump in and haul them out for us. But if we are to
continue our journey, we must find some way of getting to the other
side; it is too deep and wide to ford or jump."

"It must be narrower in other places."

"Oh! look mamma!"

It was Alice who first saw a terrifying sight. An immense black bear,
the largest any of the party had ever seen, swung from among the trees
and came to the water's edge on the other side.

He was so enormous that all started and recoiled a step, even Linna
uttering an exclamation in her own tongue. Ben grasped his rifle, and
held it ready to use the instant it became necessary.

But Bruin was in a gracious mood that morning. He looked at the party
with stupid curiosity, then reared on his hind legs, and swung his
beam-.like paws in an odd way.

"He is inviting us to come over and be hugged to death," laughed Ben.

"He will come over and eat us all up," said Alice, clinging to the dress
of her mother.

"No," replied the parent, soothingly patting her head; "Ben won't let
him do that. Do not be frightened."

"Climb tree," suggested Linna; "not big tree, 'cause bear climb dat
too--climb little tree, den he can't climb it."

"You are right, but we will wait and see what he does. I don't want to
fire my gun unless I have to, and if he will let us alone we won't hurt
him. There! he is going to drink."

The huge creature bent his head down to the water and helped himself.
When he had had enough, he raised his snout and again looked at the
party, who were closely watching him.

This was the critical moment. If he meant to attack them, he would
plunge into the water and either swim or wade across. Ben raised the
hammer of his rifle and awaited his action.

Had Bruin been hungry, he would not have dallied so long; but he did not
seem to see anything specially tempting in the group, and lumbered off
among the trees.

"A lucky move for you." remarked Ben.

"And just as lucky for us," added the mother; "for though you might have
slain him, as I have no doubt you would, the report of the gun must have
brought more dangerous enemies to us."

"I would give a good deal to know what has become of them. It begins to
look as if they did not consider us worth bothering with."

"I wish I could believe that, but I cannot. I think it more likely that
they know where we are, and are trifling with us, as a cat does with a
mouse."

"That makes me anxious to push on. We must find some place where we can
cross the stream. Let's go further up the bank."

He took the course named, leading away from the great bear with which
they had so narrowly escaped an encounter.

To their surprise, they had not far to go before the spot they were
seeking was found. The stream narrowed between some rocks, so much that
even Alice could spring across without wetting her feet.

"I am afraid Linna can't leap it," remarked Ben with a smile.

"Me show you."

And, without recoiling a step, the nimble little one made a graceful
bound, which landed her several feet beyond the other margin.

"Well done!" said Ben; "I couldn't do much better myself. Now, Alice,
you are not going to let her beat you?"

Alice was timid at first, but with a good start she cleared the space.
She landed, however, so near the water that had not the watchful Linna
caught one of the hands thrown up to save herself, she would have fallen
back in the stream.

Mother and son imitated them, and all stood on the other side of the
obstruction without having suffered any inconvenience.

While they were congratulating themselves, a startling reminder of their
danger came in the near report of a rifle. It was from the direction
in which they had seen the bear, and in the stillness of the woods all
heard a snarling growl, which proved that the beast had received his
death wound.

"The Indians are there!" whispered the frightened Ben; "what shall we
do, mother?"

"What can we do?" she asked, helpless and at her wits' end for the
moment; "there seems to be no escaping them."

"Me go talk with them," was the amazing remark of the little Delaware
girl.

"You talk with them!" repeated Mrs. Ripley; "what can you do?"

"Don't know--me try."

And without waiting for permission, Linna started on a light run toward
the point whence came the report of the rifle that gave Bruin his death
wound. Mother and son looked in each other's face in mute wonderment for
a full minute after the departure of the girl.

"She's a remarkable child," finally said the mother; "she has done us
more than one good turn, and, it may be, Heaven intends to make use of
her again, though I cannot see how."

"The Iroquois will recognise her as one of their own race. Perhaps one
or more of them belong to her tribe: they will know her as the child of
Omas, and may listen to her pleadings."

"Alas! they will give little heed to them; my heart misgives me, son: I
feel that the end is at hand."

Meanwhile, let us follow Linna, the Delaware, upon her strange mission.



CHAPTER ELEVEN: ALL IN VAIN

I am at some disadvantage in giving an account of the remarkable
interview between the little Delaware girl, Linna, and the three hostile
warriors who had trailed the Ripleys to the stream in the wilderness
across which they had just leaped in the effort to continue their flight
from Wyoming to the Upper Delaware.

There were no witnesses to the interview except the parties named,
but when Linna in after years had become a woman, with her very strong
memory she gave a description of what passed, and it has come down
through the descendants of the pioneers to the present day.

You will permit me to found my narrative upon her testimony, and to be
quite liberal in the interpretation of what took place.

The fears of the fugitives were well founded. The three red men were
near them for a long while before they showed themselves. It was very
much as Mrs. Ripley had said. They were so sure of the prize that they
trifled with them.

Linna reached the spot where the warriors were standing directly after
one of the number had sent a bullet through the bear. Young as she was,
she understood the peril of her friends, and set out to do all she could
for them.

She knew that Omas, her father, was a great warrior. He belonged to
the Delaware tribe, which years before had been soundly beaten by the
Iroquois and reduced almost to slavery; but among the conquered people
were many without superiors in bravery, skill, and prowess. Omas was one
of the most noted examples.

The first thrill of hope came to the young child when she recognised
the one that had killed the bear. He was Red Wolf, a member of her own
tribe, who often had been in her father's wigwam, and was therefore well
known to his child. The others were of the Seneca tribe, one of those
composing the Iroquois, or Six Nations, the most powerful confederation
of Indians that ever existed on the American continent.

The three looked at the little girl in amazement, as she came running
between the trees. She dropped to a rapid walk, and did not stop until
she was among them.

"Where do you come from?" asked Red Wolf, in the Delaware tongue.

"My father, the great Omas, brought me to see my friend Alice. He left
me with her people, and you must not harm them."

"Why did Omas leave you with them?"

"They are my friends."

It should be said the Senecas, who calmly listened to the conversation,
understood all that was said.

"Where are you going?"

"A long way through the wood."

"Why does Omas leave you with the palefaces? You should be in your own
wigwam many miles away."

"He knows I am safe with them. He led us through the woods until
he could leave us; then he went back to the great river between the
mountains to help the other warriors fight."

None of the three could doubt that the child was speaking the truth.
They held the prowess of Omas in high respect; but they were not the
ones to surrender such a prize as was already theirs.

"We will take them back to Wyoming with us," said Red Wolf; "then Omas
may do as he thinks best with them."

With a shrewdness far beyond her years, Linna said--"He wants them to go
to the other big river, off yonder"--pointing eastward. "Why do you wish
to take them back to Wyoming?"

"If he wants them to go to the other big river, he can send them after
he sees them again."

"You will make Omas angry; he will strike you down with his tomahawk,"
said Linna.

Although these words were the words of a child, they produced their
effect. Red Wolf knew how deeply the grim warrior loved his only
daughter, and he knew, too, how terrible was the wrath of the warrior.
Omas had chosen to spare this family from the cruelty visited upon so
many others. If Red Wolf dared to run the risk of rousing the vengeance
of Omas, he must take the consequences. He shrank from doing so.

The Delaware beckoned to one of the Senecas, and they stepped aside and
talked a few minutes, in tones too low for the listening Linna to hear
what was said. Subsequent events, however, made clear the meaning of
their conversation.

Red Wolf proposed to spare the fugitives. He wished to go away with his
companions and leave them to pursue their flight without molestation, so
far as they were concerned.

But the Senecas held Omas in less dread than did Red Wolf. They were
unwilling to let the whites escape. The third warrior, who joined them,
was as strenuous as the first. While one might have shrunk from stirring
the anger of the famous Delaware, the two together did not hesitate to
run counter to his wishes. They refused to be dissuaded by Red Wolf.

They remained apart from the girl for ten minutes, earnestly conversing,
while she could not overhear a word.

Finally one of the three--a Seneca--turned about and walked away, as if
impatient with the dispute. He took a course leading from the stream,
and deeper into the woods.

Linna noticed the curious act, but, great as was her acumen for one of
her years, she did not suspect its meaning. It would have been passing
strange had she done so, for the movement was meant to deceive her and
bring the disputation to an end.

The couple remaining walked to where Linna awaited them. The Seneca
turned aside and sauntered to the carcass of the bear as if that had
more interest just then for him.

"What will Omas do if my brother warriors take your friends back to the
other river, but Red Wolf does not help?"

"He will strike them down with his tomahawk; my father, Omas, is a great
warrior."

The black eyes flashed as the girl proudly uttered these words, and she
looked defiantly in the painted face towering above her.

"But what will he do with Red Wolf?"

"He will strike down Red Wolf, because he is a coward, and did not keep
all harm from his white friends."

This intimation that the Delaware could not shelter himself behind the
plea of neutrality, but must be either an active friend or foe, was a
little more than he could accept. While he held Omas in wholesome dread,
he dared not array himself against the two Senecas, who were determined
not to spare the hapless fugitives.

Red Wolf was a fair specimen of his tribe, who, as I have stated, were
beaten by the Iroquois. These conquerors, indeed, carried matters with
so high a hand that they once forbade the Delawares to use firearms, but
made them keep to the old fashioned bow and arrow.

Red Wolf, therefore, having squared accounts, so to speak, with his
present companions, was anxious to win the good will of Linna, and
thereby that of her fierce parent, who was a hurricane in his wrath, and
likely to brain Red Wolf before he could explain matters.

"Omas is the greatest warrior of the Delawares," he said to Linna; "Red
Wolf and he are brothers. But the Senecas will not listen to the words
of Red Wolf: they love not Omas as does Red Wolf."

The Delaware child now found herself in a quandary. She had made her
plea, but, so far as she could see, it was in vain, since the friendship
of Red Wolf alone was not enough. One of the Senecas was studying the
body of the dead bear and paying no heed to her words; the other had
gone off, she knew not where.

What remained for her to do?

While the little one asked herself the question, and was trying, to
think what course she should follow, the absent Seneca was working out
the mischievous plot he had formed, and which was fully known to his
companions.

An uprooted tree lay extended on the ground, near where Mrs. Ripley and
her children saw Linna run off to plead with the Indians. Since they
could do nothing but wait, helpless and almost despairing, for the
return of the child, they sat down on the prostrate trunk.

Ben was near the base, close to the mass of upturned roots, which spread
out like an enormous fan, with its dirt and prong-like roots projecting
in all directions. He was tired, depressed, and worn out. It will be
remembered he had not slept a wink during the preceding night, or eaten
a mouthful of food since then. Strong, sturdy, and lusty as he was, he
could not help feeling the effects of all this.

He leaned his rifle against a huge, gnarled root, within arm's length of
where he half reclined, with his feet extended along the trunk. He had
but to reach out his hand, without moving his body, to grasp the weapon
whatever moment it might be needed.

Exhausted as he was, his condition was too nervous to permit slumber.
His mother had said she thought the end was at hand, and he believed the
same.

She was but a few feet away, sitting more erect on the tree, with Alice
leaning against her.

The eyes of all were turned toward the point where Linna had vanished,
and whence she was expected every minute to come into view again.

She was not far off. Once or twice the mother and son caught the sounds
of their voices, though the exuberant vegetation shut them from sight.

"It was idle for her to go," said Ben; "and I cannot see any chance of
her helping us."

"They will not harm her, nor will they be denied the pleasure of doing
what they choose with us."

"Some persons might believe the delay was favorable, but I cannot think
that way."

Neither felt like conversation. It was an effort to say anything; but
mother and son, in their unselfishness, pitied each other, and strove
vainly to lift the gloomy thoughts that were oppressing both.

Had Ben Ripley seen the departure of the Seneca, he might have suspected
its meaning; but, unaware of it, he never dreamed of the new form which
the ever present danger thus assumed.

The Seneca, after leaving Red Wolf and the other warrior, walked
directly over the path leading away from the stream until well beyond
the sight of those thus left behind. He looked back, and, seeing nothing
of them, turned aside and moved off, until he arrived at a point beyond
the group of three resting on the fallen tree.

Thus, as will be seen, the Ripleys were between the two and Linna on
the one hand, and the single Seneca on the other. He knew the precise
location of the fugitives as well as if they had been in his field of
vision from the first.

He now began approaching them from the rear. Their faces turned away
from him, and everything favored his stealthy advance.

The huge spread of dirt and roots made by the overturning of the big
tree served as a screen, though even without this help he would probably
have succeeded in his effort to steal upon them unawares.

He stepped so carefully upon the dried leaves that no sound was made,
and the most highly trained ear, therefore, would not have detected him.

If Ben had once risen from his reclining posture and looked around,
if Mrs. Ripley had stood up and done the same, or if little Alice had
indulged in her natural sportiveness, assuredly one of them would have
observed that crouching warrior, gradually drawing closer, like the
moving of a hand over the face of a clock; but none saw him. Nearer and
nearer he came, step by step, until at last he stood just on the other
side of the mass of roots, and not ten feet from the boy.

With the same noiselessness, the crouching form bent over sideways and
peered around the screen. Then the dusky arm glided forward until the
iron fingers clasped the barrel of the rifle leaning against the root,
and the weapon was withdrawn.

He now had two guns, and Ben Ripley none.

Then the Seneca advanced, a weapon in either hand, and, presenting
himself in front of the amazed group, exclaimed--"Huh! how do,
bruder?--how do sister?"

Ben Ripley sprang up as if shot, and his startled mother, with a gasp of
affright, turned her head.

For one moment the boy meditated leaping upon the warrior, in the
desperate attempt to wrench his gun from his grasp; but the mother,
reading his intention, interposed.

"Do nothing, my son: we are in the hands of Heaven."



CHAPTER TWELVE: CONCLUSION

The point, at last, had been reached where it was useless to struggle
any longer. The little party of fugitives, after safely crossing the
Susquehanna on the day of the battle, and penetrating more than a score
of miles on their way eastward to the Delaware, were overtaken, and made
captive by three Indians.

Warning Ben against any resistance, the mother bowed her head in
submission, and awaited her fate. Only once, when she clasped her arm
around the awed and silent Alice, laying the other affectionately upon
the shoulder of her brave son, did she speak--"Murmur not at the will of
Heaven."

The Seneca was surprised at the action, or, rather, want of action, on
the part of the captives. Receiving no response to his salutation, he
stood a moment in silence, and then emitted a tremulous whoop. It was
a signal for Red Wolf and the other Seneca. They understood it, and
hurried to the spot, with Linna close behind them.

It would have been expected that she would indulge in some outburst when
she saw how ill everything had gone; but, with one grieved look, she
went up to the sorrowing, weeping mother and buried her head between her
knees.

And then she did what no one of that party had ever before seen her
do--she sobbed with a breaking heart. The mother soothed her as best she
could, uttering words which she heard not.

Ben Ripley when the blow came, stood erect, and folded his arms. His
face was pale, but his lips were mute. Not even by look did he ask for
mercy from their captors.

In the midst of the impressive tableau, Linna suddenly raised her head
from the lap of the mother, her action and attitude showing she had
caught some sound which she recognized.

But everyone else in the party also noted it. It was a shrill,
penetrating whistle, ringing among the forest arches--a call which she
had heard many a time, and she could never mistake its meaning.

Her eyes sparkled through her tears, which wet her cheeks; but she
forgot everything but that signal.

"Dat Omas!--dat Omas--dat fader!" she exclaimed, springing to her feet,
trembling and aglow with excitement.

There was one among the three who, had his painted complexion permitted,
would have turned ashy pale. Red Wolf was afraid that when the fearful
Delaware warrior thundered down on them, he would not give his brother
time to explain matters before sinking his tomahawk into his brain.
Manifestly, therefore, but one course was open for him, and he took it
without a second's delay.

He fled for his life.

The Senecas, however, stood their ground. The signal of Omas sounded
again, and Linna answered it. Her father was near at hand, and quickly
came to view.

But, lo! he had a companion. It was To-wika, his faithful wife.

The reunion of the Delaware family was an extraordinary one. Had no
others been present, Linna would have bounded into the arms of her
mother, been pressed impulsively to her breast, and then received the
same fervent welcome from her father.

But never could anything like that take place before witnesses.

When the child saw her parents she walked gravely up to them, having
first done her utmost to remove the traces of tears, and took her place
by their side. The mother said something in her native tongue, but it
could not have been of much account, for the child gave no reply.

Omas did not speak. One quick glance was bestowed upon his child, and
then he addressed himself to the work before him.

Omas was as cunning as a serpent. He would not have hesitated to assail
these two Senecas, for, truth to tell, he could never feel much love for
the conquerors of his people. He did not fear them; but he saw the way
to win his point without such tempestuous violence.

His words, therefore, were calculated to soothe rather than irritate. He
asked them to explain how it was they were in charge of his friends, and
listened attentively while one of them answered his inquiry.

Then, as is natural with his race, he recounted in somewhat extravagant
language his own deeds of the last few days. There is reason to believe
he gave himself credit for a number of exploits against the palefaces of
which he was innocent.

Then he said the only ones he loved among the palefaces were the three
there present--he had entrusted his only child to them, and they had
saved her from the anger of their people. He had slept under their roof,
and eaten of their bread. They were his best friends; and they his brave
Seneca brothers, when they knew of this, would be glad. He had set out
to conduct them to the settlements, and his brothers would wish all a
safe arrival there.

This speech, delivered with far more address than I am able to give it,
worked as a charm. Not the slightest reference was made to the cowardly
Red Wolf, though Omas knew all about him.

The Senecas were won by the words of the wily Delaware. They indulged
in the fiction of saying that they had no thought of how matters stood
between him and these palefaces, and their hearts were glad to hear the
words fall from his lips. They would not harm his friends, and hoped
they would reach in safety the settlement for which they were looking.

Not only that, but they offered to go with them all the way.

This was too kind, and the offer was gratefully declined. Then the
Senecas withdrew, first returning Ben's rifle to him. Whether they
ever succeeded in overtaking Red Wolf cannot be known, and it is of no
moment.

The peril had burst over the heads of the little party like a
thundercloud; and now it had cleared, and all was sunshine again.

It was some minutes before the Ripleys could fully understand the great
good fortune that had come to them. Then their hearts overflowed with
thankfulness.

With her arms clasping her children Mrs. Ripley looked devoutly upward,
and murmured:

"I thank Thee, Heavenly Father, for Thy great mercy to me and mine.
Bless Omas and To-wika and Linna, and hold them for ever in Thy precious
keeping."

The events which had taken place were strange; but Mrs. Ripley
maintained, to the end of her life, that those which followed were
tenfold more remarkable.

You will remember that when Omas, after conducting the little company
some distance from Wyoming, showed a wish to leave them, the good woman
had no doubt what his purpose was: he wanted to take part in further
cruelties against the hapless settlers.

Omas had fought hard in the battle of July 3rd, 1778, and his friendship
for the Ripleys drew him away before the dreadful doings were half
completed. He yearned to go back and give rein to his ferocity. Mrs.
Ripley tried to restrain him, but in vain.

Such were her views; but she was in error. She did not read the heart of
the terrible warrior aright.

For weeks Omas had been sorely troubled in mind. He had visited the
Christian brethren of his own tribe at the Moravian settlement of
Gnadenhutten. He had listened to the talk of the missionaries, and heard
of One who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; who, when He was
smitten and spat upon, bore it meekly; and who finally died on the
cross, that the red men as well as the white children might be saved.

All this was a great mystery to the Delaware. He could not grasp the
simple but sublime truths which lie at the foundation of Christianity.
But he longed to do so. At midnight he lay trying to sleep in the silent
woods, looking up at the stars and meditating on the wonderful Being who
had done all this. In the simplicity of his nature, he talked to that
awful and dimly comprehended Father of all races and peoples, and asked
Him to tell Omas what he should say, and do, and think.

Unknown to him, To-wika his wife had listened to the teachings of the
missionaries, and she had traversed further along the path of light than
he.

When, therefore, he told her of his longings, his questionings, his
distress, his wretchedness, and his groping in the dark, she was able to
say a great deal that helped to clear away the fogs and mists from his
clouded brain.

But Omas was in the very depth of darkness, and almost despair, when the
fearful episode of Wyoming came. It was in desperation he went into
that conflict, as a man will sometimes do to escape, as it were, from
himself.

He fought like a demon, but he could not hush the still small voice
within his breast. He felt that he must have relief, or he would do that
which a wild Indian never does--make away with himself.

It was on his tongue more than once, while threading his way through
the wilderness with his friends, to appeal to Mrs. Ripley; but with a
natural shrinking he held back, fearing that with his broken words he
could not make her understand his misery.

The only recourse was to go to To-wika, his wife. He had asked her to
talk further with the missionaries, and then to repeat their words to
him.

So it was that when he stole from the camp fire like a thief in the
night, it was not to return and take part in the scenes of violence
in which he had already been so prominent an actor, but to do the very
opposite.

It was a long tramp through the forest to his own wigwam, and his people
were aflame with excitement because of Wyoming; but the warrior hardly
paused night and day until he flung himself at the feet of To-wika and
begged that he might die.

From this remarkable woman Linna had inherited more mental strength than
from her iron hearted father. To-wika talked soothingly to him, and for
the first time in his blind groping he caught a glimmer of light. The
blessed Word which had brought comfort and happiness to her is for all
people and conditions, no matter how rude, how ignorant, and how fallen.

But To-wika felt the need of human help. She had never met Mrs. Ripley,
but her husband had told of his welcome beneath that roof, and of what
she said to him about the Saviour and God, who was so different from the
Great Spirit of the red men. She knew this woman was a Christian, and
she asked her husband to lead her to her.

He set out with her to overtake the little party who, with never
a thought of what was going on, were struggling through the gloomy
wilderness, beset by perils on every hand.

Since they were following no beaten path, except for a little way,
the most perfect woodcraft was necessary to find them. Omas knew the
direction they had taken, and calculated the time needed to reach the
Delaware. It was easy, too, to locate the camp where he had parted from
them, after which his wonderful skill enabled him to keep the trail,
along which he and his wife strode with double the speed of the
fugitives.

When he discovered that three warriors were doing the same, all the old
fire and wrath flamed up in his nature. The couple increased the ardor
of their pursuit. And yet, but for the favoring aid of Heaven, they
hardly could have come up at the crisis which brought them all together.

Under the blest instruction of Mrs. Ripley, the doubts of Omas finally
vanished, never to return. The once mighty warrior, foremost in battle
and ferocity and courage, became the meek, humble follower of the
Saviour--triumphant in life, and doubly triumphant in death.

On the third day after the meeting in the woods, the party arrived
at the little town of Stroudsburg, on the Upper Delaware, none having
suffered the least harm. The skill of Omas kept them supplied with food,
and his familiarity with the route did much to lessen the hardships
which otherwise they would have suffered.

Omas stayed several weeks at this place with his friends, and then
he and his wife and little one joined the Christian settlement of
Gnadenhutten, where the couple finished their days.

After a time, when it became safe for the Ripleys to return to Wyoming
Valley, they took up their residence there once more, and remained until
the husband and father came back at the close of the Revolution; and the
happy family were reunited, thankful that God had been so merciful to
them and brought independence to their beloved country.

Omas and To-wika and Linna were welcome visitors as long as the lived.
In truth, Linna survived them all. She married a chieftain among her
own people, and when she at last was gathered to her final rest, she had
almost reached the great age of a hundred years.





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