Scouting with Daniel Boone by Tomlinson, Everett T. (Everett Titsworth)
file was produced from images generously made available by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)
SCOUTING WITH DANIEL BOONE
* * * * *
BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR
THREE COLONIAL BOYS
THREE YOUNG CONTINENTALS
WASHINGTON'S YOUNG AIDS
THE BOYS OF OLD MONMOUTH
A JERSEY BOY IN THE REVOLUTION
THE RIDER OF THE BLACK HORSE
THE RED CHIEF
MARCHING AGAINST THE IROQUOIS
THE CAMP-FIRE OF MAD ANTHONY
LIGHTHORSE HARRY'S LEGION
THE YOUNG SHARPSHOOTER
TECUMSEH'S YOUNG BRAVES
THE BOY SOLDIERS OF 1812
FOUR BOYS IN THE YELLOWSTONE
FOUR BOYS IN THE YOSEMITE
WARD HILL AT WESTON
WITH FLINTLOCK AND FIFE
THE FORT IN THE FOREST
* * * * *
[Illustration: "On the August air arose the reports of many rifles and the terrifying whoops of the Indians"]
_PIONEER SCOUT SERIES_
SCOUTING WITH DANIEL BOONE
BY EVERETT T. TOMLINSON
_Illustrated by_ NORMAN ROCKWELL
GARDEN CITY NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 1917
_Copyright, 1914, by_ THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA _For Boys' Life_
_Copyright, 1914, by_ EVERETT T. TOMLINSON
_All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian_
Perhaps not unnaturally in certain details there is a slight confusion or divergence in the various works that recount the heroic deeds of Daniel Boone. The men of that day were making history rather than recording what they did. There is, however, a striking uniformity in all the records as to the simple faith and almost fatalistic conviction of Daniel Boone that he was called to be a pathfinder for the new nation in America. His courage, reverence, rugged honesty, and unselfishness, his childlike simplicity that was mixed with a certain shrewdness, at least in his dealings with the Indians, are, however, qualities in which the historians mostly agree.
I have cast this record into story form and have used the license of a story-teller. I have incorporated a few adventures on the border which strictly do not belong to this tale. Every one of them, however, is true, and I hope will help in giving a true picture of those early and trying days.
In the midst of it all I have placed the great scout. The qualities he displayed are the same that are necessary for success in our day or any day. The problems may vary from generation to generation, but the elements of true manhood are ever the same.
I have made free use of the many historical works which portray the character of the great scout.
First of all is the diary of Daniel Boone himself. In addition to that fascinating story, the following works also should be read by those who are interested in his life:
"The Adventures of Colonel Daniel Boone," by General Filson;
"Life of Boone," by Timothy Flint;
"Daniel Boone and the Hunters of Kentucky," by W. H. Bogart;
"Daniel Boone, the Pioneer of Kentucky," by J. S. C. Abbott;
"The Adventures of Daniel Boone, the Kentucky Rifleman," by the author of "Uncle Philip's Conversations ";
"Four American Pioneers," by Frances M. Perry and Katherine Beebe.
The various publications of the Filson Club of Louisville, Kentucky, have also been helpful. "The Siege of Bryant's Station," by the President of the Club, Colonel Reuben Durrett, and "The Battle of Blue Licks," by Colonel Bennett H. Young, are most interesting.
McClung's "Sketches of Western Adventure," and Strickland's "Pioneers of the West" have provided many interesting details. The author also gratefully acknowledges the aid he has had from some of the lineal descendants of Boone himself.
If English boys are eager to hear about the heroic adventures of King Arthur, Robin Hood, and other characters, in part at least legendary, why should not American boys be equally interested in the true stories of the rugged heroes of their own land?
There never has been a time when the development of a true patriotism was more needed than it is to-day. Our perils and problems are not concerned with savages and wild beasts, but they may be no less dangerous than those which confronted our forefathers. How to meet them, what qualities ought to be strengthened in the life of an American boy, how best to inspire the younger generation with love and devotion for our country, are vital questions of the present.
The author believes there is no better way of doing this than by interesting our boys in such heroic men as Daniel Boone.
EVERETT T. TOMLINSON.
Elizabeth, New Jersey.
I. IN THE WILDERNESS 3
II. HUNTER SAM 13
III. THE HUNT FOR GAME 23
IV. THE GOBBLERS 33
V. PELEG'S NEW PLACE 42
VI. SCHOOLMASTER HARGRAVE 51
VII. TWO SCOUTS 61
VIII. PELEG'S ENCOUNTER 72
IX. AT THE SPRINGS 80
X. A TERRIFIED BAND 90
XI. THE ADVENTURE OF THE SCHOOLMASTER 100
XII. AN ATTACK 110
XIII. THE WHITE SHAWNEE 121
XIV. THE HIDDEN CANOE 131
XV. GATHERING CLOUDS 141
XVI. CAPTIVES 151
XVII. THE PURSUIT 161
XVIII. A BAND OF SCOUTS 171
XIX. THE CAPTURE 181
XX. AN OFFER OF RELEASE 190
XXI. FLIGHT 200
XXII. THE COMING OF BLACKFISH 211
XXIII. FOUR WARRIORS AND MORE 223
XXIV. A DECOY AND AN ATTACK 233
XXV. A FIELD OF CORN 242
XXVI. THE WHITE SHAWNEE AGAIN 251
XXVII. THE STRUGGLE IN THE RAVINE 260
XXVIII. AT THE LOWER BLUE LICKS 271
XXIX. TO THE MEETING-PLACE 282
XXX. CONCLUSION 293
"On the August air arose the reports of many rifles and the terrifying whoops of the Indians" _Frontispiece_
"'What is that?' At the question the two pioneer boys stopped abruptly" 10
"He was a tall, lean man, quiet in his bearing, and with every indication of self-control, as well as of strength, stamped upon his face and form" 28
"The Indian had been able to draw his knife and struck at her again and again while the bear held him in one of her most fervent hugs" 76
"Boone quickly rallied his startled followers and when the red men returned the hardy settlers were ready and awaiting their coming" 116
"One of the men who had been stationed as a guard was shot early in the morning" 126
"The scout, with his family, returned to Boonesborough" 220
"Silently the men crossed the ford" 276
SCOUTING WITH DANIEL BOONE
IN THE WILDERNESS
"What is that?"
At the question the two pioneer boys stopped abruptly. From within the forest they had heard the sound of a snapping branch. The sound itself had not been loud, but the quiet of that September day in 1773 had been sharply broken by the slight noise from the brush. For a brief time both boys listened intently and then one of them went back a short distance along the trail over which the little procession had advanced, carefully looking for signs of danger on either side.
And there was need for caution. Under the leadership of Daniel Boone five families besides his own had been making their way slowly through the unbroken wilderness from the settlement on the Yadkin in North Carolina. At Powell's Valley, through which they recently had passed, forty men had joined the little company, thereby adding greatly to its strength, and increasing the confidence of the hardy settlers.
As the little cavalcade spread out in a long line, an advance guard of five opened the way, while three rear guards, of two each at irregular intervals, were stationed to prevent surprises from the hostile Indians or attacks by the prowling beasts of prey that were wont to follow the trail of men in the wilderness.
At this time the band was crossing Powell's Mountain, and the extreme rear guard was made up of James, the oldest son of Daniel Boone, and his friend, Peleg Barnes, the latter being one of the number that had been added to the company when the settlers arrived at Powell's Valley. Persuaded that no enemy was near, the two boys resumed their positions and proceeded on their way.
Each boy was dressed in a hunting costume and wore leggings and fringed trousers made from the skin of the deer. Each also was armed with a rifle which he carried almost as naturally as if it was a part of himself. Powder-horns and bullet-pouches were swinging from their shoulders. It was manifest from the attitude and the manner of both young hunters that they were familiar with the ways of the wilderness and were alert to detect signs of the presence of friend or foe.
"I don't like that noise," suggested Peleg in a low voice. "'Tis the second time we have heard it since we have been the rear guard to-day."
His companion smiled and did not reply, and for a time Peleg also remained silent. He was a restless, dark-haired, muscular, and well-grown boy, perhaps seventeen or eighteen years of age, which also was the age of his more quiet comrade. The boys were warm friends, but like many men of the earlier days, they were prone to silence, though little that occurred in the nearby forest escaped their attention.
The wilderness through which they were advancing was almost untrodden. Confidence and hope were expressed on the rugged faces of the boys, however, for they early had learned to live in the presence of continual danger from the prowling beasts and the hostile red men.
"I never knew a man just like your father," suggested Peleg, at last breaking the silence.
"Neither did I," replied James Boone, with a smile that strongly lighted up his face, as he turned to his friend.
"He never seems to think about himself. He is taking this expedition to the land he has found because he believes it to be for our advantage for him to do so."
"He knows it is."
"I heard him tell about the wonderful sky and soil he had found there; and it must be worth while to go, else he would not be advising us to leave the Yadkin and cross all these mountains into the wilderness. I never saw such a strong man as your father is. I don't believe he has an ounce of fat on his body. Is it true that he is having a record kept of the places he has found and the journeys he has made?"
"I should like much to see it. I can read writing, and if some time you will ask him to grant me the privilege I shall want to read what he has had written----"
Peleg stopped abruptly and grasped his companion's arm, as both boys were startled once more by the sudden snapping of a branch apparently only a few yards to the left. Instantly both were listening breathlessly, and were holding their rifles in readiness, while they peered anxiously into the brush from which the threatening sound had come.
"I declare to you," whispered Peleg, "that there is some one following us."
"Verily," whispered James Boone, although he did not turn away his eyes from the forest as he spoke.
The alarm of the two young guards was not unnatural, as has been said. On the lower slopes of the mountain great trees were growing, but as the band of emigrants had steadily climbed, the timber diminished, and even underbrush had become somewhat thinned. Still, on every side of the trail there were sufficient bushes to hide the presence of an enemy that might be following the pioneers. Both boys knew that game of many kinds abounded in the wilderness. Many a time their skill had been tested long before they had left their homes on the Yadkin.
That their perils would be increased as they withdrew into the region in which the foot of no white men except Daniel Boone and his comrade had ever trod they both were well aware. On this September day the advancing settlers had been moving in a much longer and thinner line than had been adopted the preceding day. The difficulties of the ascent and the frequent great rocks in their way made their progress over the mountain more difficult and different from the easier march through the valley on the opposite side. Only an occasional white man had been seen since they had left their homes, and there was constant fear of the red men, almost all of whom were exceedingly hostile at this time and very jealous in guarding their own domains from the incursions of the whites.
Perhaps not unnaturally most of those who were in Boone's party looked upon the Indian as a natural enemy. Few were mindful of the fact that the red men were but doing their utmost to defend their own homes and retain their hunting grounds from the trespassing whites, who, they were fearful, would soon push them from the region, unless by determined warfare the Shawnees and other neighbouring tribes might be able to prevent their entrance and settlement.
It was well known that the region into which Daniel Boone was leading his company on that September day was considered by the Indians to be the best of all their hunting grounds. There the buffalo and the deer abounded. Wild turkeys were so numerous that the report which Daniel Boone had brought scarcely had been credited by his friends. There were times in the autumn when great flocks of wild pigeons sweeping through the woods might be felled with a club by a man standing in the way of their advance. It is true that where so much game was found dangerous animals also abounded. The panther and bear were much in evidence, and prowling wolves often made the night hideous with their weird and terrifying howls.
There was no one in the advancing company who did not fully understand what the cost of seeking and making a new home in the wilderness was likely to be. Doubtless some would fall victims to the cunning of the hostile red men. Others were certain to lose their lives in attacks by the treacherous panther, the deadliest four-footed foe of the white men in the new world.
When the two young pioneers, who formed the rear guard of the slowly moving procession, resumed their advance, both were silent for a time and keenly observant of the woods on either side of the trail left by those who had preceded them. In places the autumn foliage already was tinted with scarlet or gold. The soft air of the September day became slightly cooler as the party steadily approached the higher regions of Powell's Mountain.
In the midst of such surroundings it was impossible for the young hunters long to retain their anxiety, though neither ceased his keen watchfulness.
"How old is your father?" inquired Peleg at last.
"I wish much to hear him tell of his adventures in this land which he says the Indian calls Kantuckee. Do you know what that word means?"
"Do you think your father is fearful the redskins may attack us before we come to the Licks, where he affirms he will make our settlement?"
"You must ask him," replied young Boone. "I do not believe he thinks that we or any other band of settlers will ever build a home in such a country as he has found without having to fight for it. Peleg, I have almost decided that one never gets anything worth having without having to fight some kind of a battle."
"That is surely so," replied Peleg, laughing softly as he spoke. "I shall never forget how Schoolmaster Hargrave had to fight to teach me to use a quill. The letters somehow would not come, not even when he set his best copy for me. He told me one day that they looked like a whirlwind in distress. I was minded several times to give up the whole attempt, but he told me to fight on, and now I am glad that I did."
"I am told that the schoolmaster later expects to come where we are going."
"So I have heard. I hope he will leave his ferrule behind. Whew! My knuckles ache now with the mention! Still _he_ seemed to get some pleasure out of it, but----"
Peleg stopped suddenly as a faint cry was heard far in their rear. It was a sound not unlike that made by a child in distress. Weird, pathetic, startling as it was, neither of the boys was for a moment unaware of its meaning. It was the cry of a panther far in the distance.
[Illustration: "'What is that?' At the question the two pioneer boys stopped abruptly"]
And panthers not infrequently hunted in pairs. It might be possible that two of the treacherous creatures had been following the slowly moving caravan, for slow-moving it was indeed. The children and women were carried on the backs of the horses. The few heavy wagons were dragged with difficulty over the rough ground, and many a time the entire band was compelled to halt while the men felled a tree which blocked their advance.
"I tell you," said Peleg in a whisper, "that sound we heard before was made by a painter."
"It may be true."
"Will you stay here while I go back over the trail a little way to see if I can find any signs of the varmints? It is yet too light for them to attack us, but I should like to know if there is a pair on our trail."
"Do not go far," said James Boone hesitatingly.
"You may be sure that I shall not be over-venturesome. I shall return directly."
In a moment Peleg disappeared from the sight of his companion as he lightly and yet swiftly sped back over the way by which they had come.
Left alone, young Boone seated himself upon a fallen tree and awaited the return of his companion. Holding his rifle lightly in his hands after he had carefully looked to its priming, he was keenly observant of all about him. He had been disturbed more than he had acknowledged to Peleg by the sounds which they had heard. He had known of instances in which a panther had trailed a man for many hours. The conjecture of Peleg that a pair of the hated beasts might be following the slowly moving settlers was not improbable.
As the moments passed the anxiety of the young hunter for his companion increased. No sound to alarm him had broken in upon the silence, and yet somehow the son of the great pioneer scout was anxious for his friend.
Rising from his seat he ran swiftly in the direction in which Peleg had gone. In a few moments he discovered his friend standing beneath a spreading chestnut and holding his gun in such a manner that it was manifest that he had heard some sound to alarm him. A huge panther crouched upon the limb of the chestnut tree, almost directly above the place where Peleg was standing.
If the vision of James Boone had not been trained, and unusually keen, the sight of the crouching animal would have escaped him. Its tawny skin was of a colour not unlike that of the tinged foliage of the branches of the chestnut upon which it was lying. There was an occasional nervous twitching of its tail, but otherwise it was as motionless as if it had been carved of marble.
So intense was the interest of the savage beast in the young hunter directly beneath it that it was unaware of the approach of James Boone. Even as he perceived the animal, however, its muscles tightened, and it prepared for a leap upon the unsuspecting boy.
Instantly bringing his rifle to his shoulder, and taking careful aim, James fired at the motionless target. He ignored the exclamation of the startled Peleg, who leaped to one side at the report of the rifle, and then, glancing at his friend, followed the direction of his gaze, and became aware of the peril above him.
For a moment the beast seemed to be unharmed. It remained in the same position, motionless, and with its head leaning below the limb to which it clung.
Young Boone did not move from the place where he was standing, but instantly began to reload his rifle, all the time keeping careful watch upon the movements of the beast.
Suddenly the panther began to claw at the limb to which it had been clinging. It was manifest that its hold was broken or breaking. The long claws were driven savagely into the bark, but in spite of all its efforts the creature plainly was slipping. There were two or three snarls, and once it turned and snapped savagely at its side. The tail began to lash the branch, and then suddenly became motionless.
Slowly the ability of the savage beast to maintain itself was departing. A stream of red showed the effect which young Boone's bullet had taken. He had aimed just a little back of the fore-shoulder, and it was difficult for him now to understand how even a panther, tenacious of life as the beast was known to be, was still able to cling to the branch.
Struggling, snarling, the great beast turned and gradually but surely began to slip from its perch. For a moment it almost seemed that it would be able to maintain its grasp even after its body had turned to the underside of the huge branch. But all at once, without a sound, the long body fell, striking hard upon the ground twenty feet or more below.
Before the animal could show whether or not it was still alive, Peleg, who now had recovered from his first alarm, raised his rifle and fired at the prostrate body.
There was slight question now as to the approaching death of the savage beast. It lay almost motionless on the ground, but there was still an occasional nervous twitching of its long tail. Both boys, however, were too skilled in the art of the hunter to venture within reach of the terrible claws until they were satisfied that the dreaded enemy was indeed dead.
"There may be another," said Peleg nervously, as he glanced into the woods after he had hastily reloaded his rifle. "That cry we heard probably was the call of this one's mate."
"That may be so," said young Boone.
"What are you going to do?" inquired Peleg in surprise, as he saw his companion place his rifle against a tree and draw his hunting-knife from his belt.
"I am going to skin this big cat."
"Do you think we ought to stop for that?" asked Peleg.
"Then let me help."
"No, you keep guard. Our guns may have stirred up more trouble than we know."
Acting upon this suggestion, both boys became silent while young Boone began his task.
Swiftly and deftly he slit the beautiful skin the length of the body, and then did likewise on each leg. So skilful was the young hunter that in a brief time he had drawn back the skin sufficiently to cause him to call to his companion, "Come here and help me."
Together the two boys then tore the skin from the body, and young Boone rolled the panther's hide into a small, compact bundle. He tied this securely with a deerskin thong, and then added it to his burden.
At once the boys began to run swiftly to regain the distance they had lost. They had not advanced far, however, before they saw some one approaching them on the trail.
"'Tis as I thought," said James Boone with a smile. "Our guns have 'roused our friends."
"That's Sam Oliver."
"I see it is," replied James.
Neither of the boys spoke again as the man rapidly approached them. Both knew him as one of the hunters of the company, and as one whose labours chiefly were confined to that field.
Sam was perhaps fifty years of age, tall, rawboned, sunburned, with an expression of face not unpleasing, and a frequent twinkle in his eyes. As for felling the trees or building the houses of logs, Sam was willing for others to assume those labours, and whatever honours might accrue from such tasks. For himself he much preferred to do his part by supplying the band with game.
Frequently the two boys had gone with the trapper when he had made the rounds of his traps, and in the warm days of summer nothing had delighted either more than to accompany him into the forest, where they were interested in the weird, and at times fantastic, tales Sam related of his personal adventures, and also of the characteristics of the denizens of the forest.
"What's wrong, lads?" inquired the hunter as he approached.
"Nothing is wrong now," laughed Peleg. "We shot a painter back here. And there is its hide," he added as he pointed with pride to the bundle which was suspended from his companion's shoulders.
Glancing at the object to which his attention had been directed, Sam whistled and then said, "Seen any more?"
"Seen any signs o' redskins?"
"No, sir. Have you seen any?"
"That's for the King to say," replied the hunter, laughing in apparent heartiness, though no sound escaped his lips.
The expression, "that's for the King to say," was one that fell so frequently from the lips of Sam Oliver that both boys understood what he meant. It was his method of evading a direct reply to any question he did not wish to answer.
"All of which means," said James, "that you _have_ seen some redskins."
"A few signs. Nothing very bad, and nothing that should be spoken of by either of you. In course we are bound to find the varmints following us, but I don't think they will attack us if we are on our guard. We must do our best, and after that there is no good in trying to do anything more. Your father says everything that happens is right, or it wouldn't be. Strange," he added, as he again looked at the panther's skin which James Boone was carrying, "strange that you should have got him so easy. I have known the time when it would have taken half-dozen bullets to put an end to a fighting painter."
"Have you shot a good many of them?" inquired Peleg.
"Oh, a few, a few," replied the hunter. "The strangest sight I ever see was one time when I was followin' three o' the varmints. They led me a hard chase, and it was two days before I caught up with them, and when I did, I almost wished I had not."
"I will tell you. When I came near a big open space there in the woods I heard the worst screechin' I ever heard in my life. You simply cannot describe it. They were snarlin' and spittin' and screamin' and growlin', and sometimes it seemed as if they were doin' all four things at once. My first thought was that this was no place for Sam Oliver. It sounded like a hundred painters were fightin' to the death. I reckon I did turn back a little way, but the screechin' and the screamin' kep' up so that I finally decided that I must find out what was goin' on."
"What was it?" inquired Peleg.
"When I crep' up close to the clearin' and peeped out I saw two painters a-fightin'. They were crouchin' on the ground facin' each other and callin' each other every name they could think of in painter language. I did not know what had happened to the third painter, but I knew I ought not to stay there long. But all at once the two varmints leaped at each other and a minute later they were in such a plight that you would not have known what kind of beasts they was. They had ripped and torn and clawed and scratched and bit each other until it did not seem as if what was left could hang together. Then all at once one of them got the other fellow by the throat and it wasn't long before he said good-bye."
"Did you shoot him?" asked Peleg.
"No, for just then I heard a noise right behind me and when I looked back I see the third painter creepin' toward me and I fired at it and ran. Somehow I managed to get away, and next day I went back to the scene o' battle but I could not find anythin' there except the dead painter. The others had gone. I had been so long trailin' them that I thought I wouldn't follow any further. But if I live to be a hundred years old I shall never forget that there fight I saw between those two big cats! There are some animals," continued the hunter, "that seem to have reg'lar feuds, jest like fam'ly troubles. They may fight one another once in a while, but they will make up to fight the enemies of the fam'ly every time they get a chance."
"What do you mean?" asked Peleg.
"Well, for instance, there's the beaver and the otter. They seem to have had a declaration of war from the very beginning same as cats and dogs. I see a beaver house one day las' winter standin' right in the middle o' the pond which the beavers had made. You know they build a long tube right up through the centre o' the floor which looks somethin' like a chimney. The top o' this one was about four feet higher than the floor, and it was a good two feet through. The water round their house came almost to the top of the door. Mr. Beaver, when he wanted to go into his house, used to dive and come up through the tube, then he would shake himself, and slide down to his floor, which was always dry. It was always warm, too, for even in the coldest weather the water all round the house kep' it from freezin'. I reckon this particular fam'ly was pretty well provided for because they were all fat. Leastwise they looked as if they might have been, though they were dead when I saw them."
"How was that?" inquired Peleg.
"Why, the otter had gone after them."
"Into their house?"
"No! No! No otter would ever dare do that. In a fight in a place like that the beaver, which has such strong teeth and is such a strong little brute anyway, would have the advantage every time. The otter works in 'nother way. The beaver fam'ly had been busy all through the summer hidin' their strips o' poplar and birch and willows in the bottom o' the lake which they had made. They intended to have their easy time in the winter, and they do, too, unless some otters happen along.
"In this case I am tellin' you about, a couple o' otters had tried to break into the house, but the walls was hard as granite. If the otter can only get the beaver into the water he can catch him easily, because the otter is as quick as a fish. So the beaver simply works on the defensive and builds a house strong enough to keep out any otter that may happen along. But pretty soon the otters begin to look into the beavers' dam. By and by, when they find a weak spot, where they can work a hole straight through, they begin their job. When the weather is not too cold and the ice not too thick, just as soon as the water in the lake begins to drop a little, then the beavers begin to hunt for the leak. But when the water falls fast and there is a covering of ice all over the lake and sometimes the ice caves in, you see the beavers then cannot get their provisions, and the inside o' their houses is as cold as it is outside.
"The otters have a reg'lar course they follow, goin' from one place to 'nother and making their rounds 'bout every ten days to two weeks. I reckon in the case o' this beaver fam'ly I am tellin' you about that the otters came back in a fortnight or so and found the beavers all dead or in no shape to fight. Here comes Daniel Boone himself," the hunter exclaimed suddenly, "and I reckon you boys will have to explain to him what you meant by your shots back yonder."
THE HUNT FOR GAME
At the words of the hunter the boys looked up and saw the scout approaching. He was a tall, lean man, quiet in his bearing, in the prime of middle life, and with every indication of self-control, as well as of strength, stamped upon his face and form. His expression showed that he was anxious concerning the shots which had been fired, but as he drew near the boys he was not the first to speak. Peleg's admiration was manifest in the manner in which the young pioneer looked up to the great leader, though the boy, like others of his day and age, seldom spoke to his elders unless first they had spoken to him.
In response to the question which was expressed in the eyes of Daniel Boone, rather than in words, Sam Oliver said quietly, "The boys shot a painter."
There was a slight smile on the face of Daniel Boone as he said, "Did they? Was it necessary?" he added, as he turned to his son.
"Yes, sir," replied young Boone. "The varmint was just ready to spring on Peleg. He was crouching on the branch of a tree directly over him, and if I had not fired he would have had him."
"It must be right. You know," added Boone quietly, smiling again as he spoke, "I am one of those who believe that whatever happens is right."
"And yet," suggested the hunter, "you don't stop tryin' for yourself, nor for others, either."
"Not at all," answered the scout. "A man must follow the best light he can get and then, beyond that, where he cannot go, he must believe that things do not 'happen.' I have heard some men blame their 'luck' for what befell them. I have never thought there was any such thing as 'luck.' The trouble is we do not always see the connection in events, and in our ignorance we say a thing 'happens.' I am sorry the boys had to shoot the painter."
"I never knew," laughed the loquacious Sam, "that you had any sympathy to waste on those critters."
"I haven't," replied Daniel Boone, a trace of a smile again appearing on his face as he spoke. "I am not sorry that the painter was shot. I am sorry that the boys had to shoot it. Just now I am more afraid of their rifles than I am of painters."
The trio looked quickly into the face of the leader, but his quiet expression was unchanged, and what he may have implied by his statement he did not explain.
"I do not love the varmints," said Sam, shaking his head. "I shall put them out of the world every chance I get."
"So shall I," assented Boone, "although sometimes I feel sorry that I have to do so. I do not suppose that a painter is following anything else than the instinct which was given him, the same as a hound dog follows the track of a rabbit."
"How about men?" inquired Sam.
"I believe the same thing is true of men," said Daniel Boone seriously. "Fortunately for me, I had a good father and a good mother, so that when I was a child I was kept free from many of the things which drive some people I have known into divers sorts of evil."
The little party was advancing steadily during this conversation, and apparently, now that the explanation of the two shots had been given, the leader was no longer apprehensive. To Peleg, however, who was watchful of the man's every movement, it seemed as if he was continually listening for sounds which the others were unable to hear. The boy was aware of the threatening peril from the Indians, although not once had a red man been seen since the emigrants had departed from Powell's Valley. But the fact that the Shawnees kept themselves hidden from sight by no means proved that they might not be near. Frequently he and James Boone had talked over the possibility of an attack by their foes, but the presence of the additional forty men that had joined the expedition recently provided an added sense of security. They felt that it was doubtful if even a large band of warriors would venture to attack a party so well defended as was that now led by Daniel Boone.
When the sun set the entire band halted and preparations were made for the night. The few wagons were drawn toward one spot and left with their rear ends turned toward the forest. An enclosure was formed in this way, in the centre of which a fire was kindled and preparations for supper were speedily made. Meat from the deer which had been shot the preceding day was roasted on spits turned by some of the younger children. Only a scanty supply of vegetables was to be had, and for the most part the hardy settlers were compelled to rely upon the supplies of game which the boys and Sam Oliver and other hunters had no difficulty in obtaining in the forest.
Guards were assigned for the night, one man being stationed on each of the four sides of the camp and close to the encircling wagons. The dogs which accompanied the expedition were also used as aids in detecting the presence of enemies, but throughout the night nothing more dangerous than a deer or a curious night-bird was heard.
There were several young girls in the company whose duties consisted largely in looking after the younger children and in helping prepare the meals when the emigrants halted. There was an air of confidence in the bearing of almost all the members of the expedition, but Peleg Barnes was convinced that Daniel Boone himself was far from feeling at ease. The boy felt sure, of course, that the leader was anxious not for his own safety, but for those who were following him in their search for the wonderful land which he had found in Kantuckee.
Before sunrise preparations for the resumption of the journey were completed, and after an ample breakfast, though the food did not differ materially from that of the preceding evening, the word to depart was given.
The little children and many of the women rode on the backs of the horses, some of which were hauling the heavy wagons that contained the simple household possessions of the emigrants. As there were more horses than wagons, there was ample provision made for all who were unable to endure the hardships of the march. The sister of young Boone, however, frequently insisted upon walking with her brother, except when he was to be one of the guards. No fresh excitement occurred and no fears were aroused until after the band had passed Walden's Mountain.
"Cumberland Mountain is not far beyond," said Sam to Peleg and young Boone when the nightly camp had been made after a second mountain had been crossed. "When once we get beyond that we shall soon see the land o' promise. I think to-morrow I shall have to take you two boys with me and see if we cannot get some fresh venison. Our stores are runnin' low, and a few pa'tridges or wild turkeys would not be bad, either, and I am sure we shall find plenty o' both in the valley."
"There must be pigeons left from those we shot yesterday," suggested Peleg.
"There are some," replied the hunter, who was in general charge of the larder, "but it would be a change for us if we could get a few turkeys. We ought to find some fish, too, in the stream in the valley, and I think I shall set some o' the boys to catchin' them. We shall go ahead o' the main party to-morrow, or else let the band go ahead of us, so that if there happen to be any redskins on our trail they will not mistake us for the whole band."
"Have you seen any more signs?" inquired Peleg quickly.
[Illustration: "He was a tall, lean man, quiet in his bearing, and with every indication of self-control, as well as of strength, stamped upon his face and form"]
"Plenty o' signs, but we have not seen one o' the varmints. I know from the way Daniel Boone is watchin' that he is a bit fearful. I think I shall tell him to-morrow when we start for our game that we will let the rest o' the party go ahead of us and we will bring up the rear. It may save time to do that, because it will be easy to follow the trail they will leave. Most of this country is new to me and the only one that is sure of his way is the scout himself."
"I think that would be better," assented young Boone, "and, besides, if we hunt in the rear of the party we shall be able to do double duty by serving as a rear guard at the same time."
"That is right," laughed Sam. "Though that's for the King to say. The great trouble with him is that he does not say very much."
"You have never been troubled that way, have you, Sam?" laughed Peleg.
"I can't say that I have. I think o' so many things; and if I think o' them I want some one else to know what they are, too. You make your arrangements with the King and we will be ready to do our share on the morrow."
Accordingly, on the following day, when the advance was resumed, Sam Oliver and his two young comrades waited for the cavalcade to pass and then began their task of providing supplies and game for the company.
The emigrants now were nearing Cumberland Mountain. The three mountains were not far apart and looked almost as if they had been carefully planted at equal distances in the midst of the wilderness by some giant hand. Some of the cliffs were so wild and rugged that when the creaking wagons drew near the edge the children screamed in their terror. In the main, however, the trail was less difficult than had been expected. The huge masses of rock had been torn asunder in places by some volcanic action in preceding ages and had left narrow passageways through which the moving cavalcade was able to proceed without much difficulty.
October had come and the foliage which had been slightly tinted in the preceding days had turned to a deeper shade. The trees were now ablaze with colour. Sam Oliver in his enthusiasm declared that within a half hour he and his companions would be able to rejoin the company with ample supplies for the following day.
When the boys began their search for game his words seemed about to be verified: near the mountain brook they spied three deer, two of which fell at their first shot. Sam, who had preferred to hunt alone, also must have found game plentiful, the boys concluded, because twice within five minutes the report of his gun had been heard.
"We must get some turkeys before we go back," suggested Peleg.
"I am afraid you will have to wait until later in the day if you want to get them," responded young Boone.
"I don't know about that," began Peleg. He stopped abruptly when, as if in confirmation of his own opinion, a gobble was heard not far to their right. This was quickly followed by an answering gobble from their left.
"You take one and I will look for the other," eagerly suggested young Boone.
The plan was instantly adopted, and each of the boys, crouching low and stealthily making his way among the trees and through the brush, tried to steal upon the bird, which still was noisily announcing its presence.
James Boone moved forward thirty yards from the place where he had left his comrade and cautiously peered about him for a sight of the calling turkey. His feet, clad in moccasins, made little noise as he advanced over the moist ground. Deftly he parted the bushes in making his way, and they closed behind him with no more noise than as if they had been swayed by a gentle breeze.
Suddenly young Boone came to a place from which he was able to see plainly a short distance before him. The gobble now was so distinct that, he held his gun in readiness for instant use. Cautiously advancing, he peeped from behind a tree, hopeful that he might obtain a sight of the bird he was seeking. To his terror he saw an Indian directly before him leaning against the trunk of a huge tree. The mouth of the warrior was partly closed by his hands. His face was daubed with paint, and his discoloured cheeks seemed to be doubly disgusting as he emitted sounds which even the keenest of the wild turkeys would scarcely have detected as different from its own.
At the moment when the young pioneer discovered the Indian, the warrior also became aware of the presence of his enemy. Whether it was because James was amazed at the redskin's skill in mimicking the call of the wild turkey, or because his enemy was somewhat quicker in his movements than he, is not known. At any rate, before young Boone could raise his gun to his shoulder the Indian turned and with all his strength hurled his tomahawk.
True to its aim, the weapon struck the face of the young hunter, almost cleaving his head in twain.
As the body of the stricken boy fell forward, the Indian halted a moment and then in his shrillest tones imitated the call of the crow four times. He waited until there was a response similar to his own, and then, running to the prostrate young hunter, deftly removed his scalp. He then dashed into the woods and ran in the direction from which the answering call had been heard.
Meanwhile Peleg Barnes, who had been striving to locate the "turkey" which had been gobbling steadily in response to the calls of the one first heard, was more fortunate than his friend. Stealthily creeping through the bushes and darting from tree to tree, he discovered the warrior that was imitating the "gobbles" before the latter was aware of his presence.
The boy almost intuitively was aware of the purpose of the warrior, and without hesitation raised his gun and fired.
As the Indian fell to the ground Peleg did not wait to discover the effect of his shot, but ran back at his utmost speed toward the camp. Frequently, as he ran, the terrified young hunter shouted his warning of the presence of his enemies.
Before he had regained the camp he was joined by Sam Oliver, who was angry as well as startled by the wild shouts of his young companion.
"What's the trouble, Peleg?" he demanded.
"I shot a redskin! There must be a good many more!" replied the boy, almost breathless in his excitement. "The varmint was daubed with paint and gobbling like a turkey, trying to draw some one into his trap."
"Did young Boone go with you?"
"No, he heard another 'turkey.'"
"Where is he now?" demanded Sam sharply.
"I do not know. We must get word to the scout."
Nothing more was said until the returning hunters, both of whom were running at their utmost speed, came within sight of the place where the camp had been made. In a brief time they gained the open place in front, for the camp this time had been pitched on a small plateau, sheltered by a frowning cliff on one side and protected by a steep, rocky gulch on another, while in front of it was sufficient space to enable the watching guard to detect the approach of an enemy from that direction.
As soon as they were within hearing, both hunters shouted their warnings; but even as they raised their voices the sound of rifles was heard and a moment later there was a sudden cry and rush made by at least three score of the Indians. The suddenness of the attack as well as the lack of preparation, due to the faith of the emigrants in the security of the position which they had selected for their halt, and their confidence in the guards which had been stationed, prevented an immediate response.
The Indian warriors, hideously painted, crouching low and running swiftly, and at the same time emitting their terrifying whoops, fired at every paleface that they could see.
To the startled pioneers the region seemed to be filled with their foes. The screams of frightened children, the calls of the women, and the shouts of the men as they summoned their companions increased the confusion. For a time the din was almost deafening. Above the shouts and cries were heard the frequent reports of the rifles of the attacking party.
Peleg and Sam, who by this time had gained the shelter of the camp, instantly joined the few men that had rallied as soon as the warning was given. All now were doing their utmost to check the onslaught. Every man, without waiting for orders, fired at the shouting, leaping savages. As soon as their guns had been discharged, however, it was plain that the attacking party had many other weapons. Those who had emptied their rifles brandished their tomahawks and tried to make amends by the fierceness of their cries for their lack of more formidable ways of attacking. In a brief time the defenders were thrown into confusion, outnumbered as they were at the moment, and driven back toward the place where the camp was located.
It was speedily known that several had fallen before the fire of the warriors, but just who or how many there was no time to ascertain. It was now every man for himself as they sought protection behind the great trees or darted for the friendly shelter of rocks, which were numerous in the region.
It was at this time, however, that the great leader himself appeared upon the scene. Familiar with the ways of the Indians, Daniel Boone ordered every man to conceal himself behind some tree and make no attempt to flee from the place until the entire party had been driven away. The presence of Boone seemed to revive the courage of the retreating guards. As soon as sheltering places had been secured, every man reloaded his rifle and, following the example of the great scout, fired at the enemy, who now almost had crossed the open space before the camp.
The fierceness of the onslaught of the Indian warriors was well known, but it was also understood by every white man that the red men seldom persisted in a long attack. A stealthy and sudden dash was their favourite method of fighting, but if the resistance was determined or prolonged they would usually withdraw to the shelter of the forest.
In their present attack the Indians followed their customary plan. As soon as Boone and his companions ceased to flee and began to return the fire with vigour, the Indians faltered, and then, after they had given several unusually wild whoops and a final discharge of their weapons, they all fled back to the protecting forest from which they had so suddenly emerged.
As soon as the enemy had departed, Daniel Boone, who thoroughly understood Indian nature and ways, doubled the guards, assigned some of his followers to the task of bringing in the bodies of the fallen, and then ordered the others to withdraw within the camp itself, and hold themselves in readiness for a sudden call. Meanwhile they were told to do their utmost to quiet the frightened women and children, the latter still vocally expressing their terror.
It was soon learned that five of the whites had fallen. Their bodies were hastily borne within the protecting circle of the camp and two men who had been wounded were at once cared for.
Peleg, whose excitement during the short, sharp fight had been intense, now recalled that he had not seen young Boone since his comrades had returned. Without voicing his fears he made a hasty tour of the camp, searching in every conceivable place for his friend.
When at last the young hunter was convinced that James was nowhere to be found among the emigrants, he ran to Daniel Boone himself and said, "Have you seen James anywhere?"
"No," replied the scout, glancing keenly at the young hunter. "Was he not with you?"
"We were together until we heard the 'turkeys' gobbling. Then he followed the sound of one and I went after the other. When I came near the place I saw it was a warrior trying to decoy us."
"And James was not with you?"
"Did you call to him?"
"No, sir. I shot the redskin and then started for the camp as fast as I could go. Sam Oliver came with me, and if it had not been for our alarm I am afraid the redskins would have done more damage than they did."
The leader was silent as he gazed into the surrounding forest. He was well aware that the woods might conceal many more hostile Indians than had appeared in the sudden attack upon the camp. That he was deeply troubled by the message Peleg had brought him was manifest. Had his enemies already killed his son or had they made him a prisoner? What had become of James?
"Do you think they have taken him?" inquired Peleg in a low voice.
"That is what I hope," replied Daniel Boone; and then in response to the unspoken question of the young hunter he added: "If they have made him prisoner we may be able to get him again, but if they have not----"
What the pioneer scout left unsaid was fully understood by Peleg, whose face became pale as he saw the anxiety of the leader for his boy.
"A man must do his best, and it is useless to rebel," said Daniel Boone, almost as if he were speaking to himself. "If James has fallen, all that we may try to do will be useless. If he has escaped, he will not need all our help. If the Shawnees have made him their prisoner, then we shall do more to help him by quick action than in any other way."
Turning from the women, who were weeping over the bodies of the dead men that had been brought back to the camp, in a few words Daniel Boone related to his companions what Peleg had told him. A band of twenty or more was speedily formed, every one eager to join in the search for the missing boy.
"Peleg," inquired the scout just before the men departed from the camp, "do you think you can lead the way to the place where you and James heard the 'turkey'?"
"Yes, sir," replied Peleg.
"Then let us start at once."
No man in the band was without fear when they entered the forest lest he might be the target of some concealed Indian. And yet the little force was relying upon the very boldness of their venture for its success.
There was no trace of fright, however, when the men ran across the open space and followed Daniel Boone as he led the way in the direction indicated by Peleg, who was close behind him.
In a brief time the party came to the place where Peleg had shot the Indian that had been imitating the gobble of a turkey. There was no delay, however, and as soon as Boone was convinced that the red man was dead he turned with his companions in the direction in which the other "turkey" had been heard.
As yet not a sign of the presence of their enemy had been discovered, although every one was aware that dark eyes were doubtless watching their every movement. Why they had not been fired upon was as yet not understood.
In a few minutes, however, these things were forgotten when Peleg led the way to the place toward which his young companion had gone to seek the "turkey" which had so noisily announced its presence.
A low exclamation escaped the young hunter's lips when he and the leader halted a few minutes later and saw upon the ground before them the prostrate body of the missing boy.
PELEG'S NEW PLACE
Not a word escaped Daniel Boone's lips at the gruesome discovery of the body of his oldest son. He ran quickly forward, turned the body so that the face could be seen, and in this manner instantly realized the terrible fate which had overtaken James.
Peleg Barnes, who was close behind him, never was able to forget the sound of the one long, dry sob to which Daniel Boone gave utterance. Then, almost as if he still was unaware of the presence of any one except the dead boy, he lifted the body tenderly, and with exceeding care placed it across his shoulders. Then, turning about, the great scout started back toward the camp.
For a moment the other members of the party stood silent as they watched their suffering leader. There was not one of the men who would not have been glad to express his sympathy in words, but they were all aware of Daniel Boone's prejudices against giving full expression to one's feelings; and they had not yet recovered from the staggering surprise which the discovery of the body of James had created.
When Daniel Boone disappeared in the brush, Sam Oliver ran to the spot where this discovery had been made and, picking up the gun of James, turned to his companions and said: "We must follow him. We must keep close to him. The redskins might almost scalp him and he would not understand what they are doing, the way he feels now."
Acting upon this suggestion, the men all turned to follow the direction in which their leader had disappeared. Peleg had run in advance of the other members of the band, eager to help the scout in his task. Quietly the leader shook his head, but did not speak in response to the young hunter's offer to aid. Apparently he was hardly aware that his friends were so near him.
Without delay the party soon gained the open space in front of the camp. There Daniel Boone stopped, and, turning to his friends, whose presence apparently neither surprised nor startled him, said: "I shall take my boy to the place where the other bodies are lying. I desire you to say nothing of what has befallen him until first I shall break the news to my wife."
No reply was given to the request of the hunter, nor was any expected. There was no protest by the scout, however, when Sam Oliver and Peleg followed him as he bore his burden to the place where the bodies of the men who had fallen in the sudden attack by the Indians were lying, covered by blankets. There, still quiet, and as tender in his manner as a woman, Daniel Boone lifted the body of his boy from his shoulders and laid it beside those who were his fellow victims.
Peleg, whose eyes were watching every movement of the man for whom his feeling was little less than adoration, in spite of his grief, marvelled at the wonderful strength the scout displayed. There was no evidence of struggle on his part, and as soon as he had deposited the body, Daniel Boone turned away, and the two hunters required no word from him to inform them that he had gone to tell his wife of the great sorrow which had come into their lives. Peleg's eager look followed him even when he saw him beckon her to one side of the company, and then both withdrew from the sight of the entire band. The bearing of the scout was still unchanged. So great was his self-control that no one in the party, who did not know of the calamity, suspected that anything had befallen the leader beyond the common feeling of sorrow for the loss of the five men.
What was said by Daniel Boone to his wife in that heartbreaking interview no one ever knew. When the scout rejoined the band, which now had assembled behind the protecting barricade, he said simply: "We must prepare for a hasty burial. These bodies must not be left for the wolves to maltreat." The leader spoke as quietly as if he were referring to one of the ordinary experiences of life, instead of one that would have wrung the heart of the strongest man.
On the hillside, near the place where the camp had been pitched, the bodies of the fallen men were hastily buried. There were cries and sobs from many of those who had been bereaved, and the unutterable fear and horror which more or less possessed all the emigrant band were apparent in the glances of terror which were frequently cast toward the forest. Even some of the men gave way to their sorrow and anxiety. Not a trace of either emotion, however, was to be seen in the face of Daniel Boone when at last the leader turned away from the place of burial.
Later in the day Peleg chanced upon the scout when the latter believed himself to be alone. Seated upon a log looking steadily upon the ground, still without a cry, the man's frame was shaken in his agony of grief. Abashed by the discovery, Peleg, whose sorrow at the loss of his friend also had been keen, stealthily withdrew from the place and did not refer to his discovery when later he joined his companions. Before the scout returned, the boy had decided that at his first opportunity he would explain to him how strong had been the friendship between himself and James. Peleg was too modest to believe that the great man had ever been aware of the friendship between the two boys. Such matters were of too minor importance for him even to recognize, much less to remember, thought the lad.
Great then was the young hunter's surprise, and greater still his pleasure, when the scout stopped by his side the next day and, looking into his face, said calmly, "Peleg, you and James were great friends."
"Hereafter I shall have a special love for you, Peleg, because you loved my boy."
Tears, which the young hunter was unable to control, sprang into his eyes at the words which were evidence not only of the keen observation of Daniel Boone but also of his regard for one who had been the friend of his son. Still the scout's voice was quiet and calm. Peleg was convinced that he was not unaware of his inability to reply. "It is one of the things, Peleg, which cannot be changed," continued Daniel Boone. "James was a good son and I looked forward to a useful life for him, but he is not to be here. It does no one any good to rebel uselessly, and only children and savages complain when everything they desire is not arranged as they wish."
"Yes, sir," assented Peleg. At first he suspected that the words of the leader were intended as a rebuke to him for the display of his feelings. Perhaps it was a weakness, he thought, and yet, somehow, the young soldier was convinced that the father of his friend perhaps did not think any the less of him because he had been deeply moved by the tragic death of James Boone.
"It is not the first time," continued the scout, "that I have been compelled to face sorrow. Somehow I feel that one is like a leaf carried on the stream. It may whirl about and turn and twist, but it is always carried forward." As he spoke, the leader stooped, and taking a tiny branch which had fallen to the ground tossed it into the noisy little stream which went tumbling down the side of Cumberland Mountain on its way to the great river and the sea beyond. "It is somewhat like that, my lad," continued Daniel Boone, running his fingers through his hair as he spoke. "Man is borne onward by a Power which he does not understand, and yet which he must recognize as greater than his own. It is so that one is carried by the years. One is helpless to stop them in their course, as helpless as that little branch which I threw into the water. It does no one any good to rebel or complain. Every man must accept the facts of his life, believing that there is a Power that guides and controls far better than he knows how to do."
The scout spoke musingly, almost as if he thought himself to be alone. A brief silence followed his words, and then Daniel Boone turned once more to Peleg. "My lad," he said, "all I say is that one cannot turn back. However much I may sorrow over the loss of my boy, I cannot go back to him. The only direction in which I can move is forward. If one can only find the right way, that is not so bad."
"Yes, sir," said Peleg, hardly aware of the full meaning of Boone's words.
"You were a friend of my boy."
"Yes, sir," again responded Peleg, his voice breaking once more in spite of his efforts at self-control.
"You shall be _my_ friend from this time forward. You cannot take the place of James, but because you were his friend you shall have a share, if you so desire, such as he might have had, in my life and my plans. Your father is not living?"
"He has been dead three years."
"And your mother?"
"She died when I was a baby."
"Then there is no one to whom you can turn?"
"I have lived with my uncle, but I have no desire to go back to him."
Boone looked keenly into the face of the boy by his side and was silent a moment. "Peleg," he resumed, "I meant what I said just now. If you so desire, you shall be my friend."
"I do desire it," said Peleg impulsively. "There Is nothing I want so much as I do to be with you. It is good of you to think of me----"
"Say no more," interrupted Boone. "I shall not forget, though I may not speak to you soon of this matter again. When the time comes, I shall not fail to let you know."
When night fell the guards of the camp were doubled, for with the coming of darkness the terror of some of the emigrants increased. There were frequent cries heard from the little children, cries which the mothers were unable to quiet and in which some of them even joined. A feeling of terror had settled over the whole camp.
To Peleg was assigned a post of danger, as his position as guard was to be near the gulch. Steep as this was, it would have been possible for a warrior to climb its rocky sides if he were familiar with the spot.
Before Peleg departed for his station he was joined by Israel Boone, a younger brother of James, who insisted upon sharing the vigil. In the light of the campfire Peleg saw the face of the scout change colour when the suggestion was made by his son, but he did not offer any objection, and in spite of Sam Oliver's declaration that "One boy was a boy and two boys was half a boy," the leader quietly gave his consent.
When the silence of the outer night became more marked in the deepening darkness, the occasional cries of the children did not cease. They were cries not of suffering, but of terror. There were times when even the two young guards shared in the prevailing fear. The darkness that surrounded them might conceal painted warriors who were watchful of their every act. At any moment a bullet from some unseen enemy might find its way to the heart of a watching sentinel. Such a condition was not long to be endured. As the hours passed, both boys grew more eager for the coming of the morning, when, whatever plan might be formed, at least relief from the depressing silence would come.
To Peleg no thought of any change in the plans of the emigrants had occurred, and he was therefore the more astonished the following morning when, after he had been relieved from duty and had obtained a few hours of sleep, he was informed before breakfast that the men were assembling for a council. Even his feeling of hunger was ignored in the exciting announcement which soon was made by Boone.
Before breakfast had been prepared Peleg was aware of a certain partly suppressed excitement among the members of the band. The women, with tears in their eyes and with their children clinging to their skirts, frequently had been in conference with Daniel Boone or with other men of the party.
It was therefore not without some previous intimation that Peleg heard the scout summon the men to a new conference.
As soon as they were assembled Boone said, "It will not be possible for us to proceed at this time."
"Why not?" demanded Sam Oliver.
"The women are terror-stricken. I myself had not thought that we should so soon be attacked by the savages. I have reason to remember our stay on Cumberland Mountain----" For a moment the scout was silent, and an expression of sympathy ran through the entire assembly. Once more in control of his feelings, Boone continued: "It is not for myself, as you know, that I am asking this return. It is useless, however, now to go on with such fear among our womenfolk, and the redskins opposing us more strongly the farther we go into Kantuckee."
"Where can we go?" inquired one of the assembly.
"I have decided that our best plan is to return to the settlement on the Clinch River."
"How far is that from here?" asked the inquirer.
"About forty miles."
"I am not one to favour return just because we have been unfortunate----"
"There is no question," said Daniel Boone, his eyes flashing in spite of the quiet manner of his speech, "about what we shall do. We shall make our plans to return at once."
Whatever feeling of rebellion may have been aroused in the minds of some of his followers, the decision of the leader was not to be disputed. The confidence of every one in his courage, integrity, and judgment was so strong that no one at the time would have dared oppose the great scout.
Accordingly, hasty preparations were made for the return of the entire band, and within an hour the emigrants were on their way.
The same order was maintained which previously had been used. An advance party of five and three rear guards were formed, but now the scout had in addition a small body moving on each flank, parallel with the main body.
With the departure, renewed confidence came to all. As the band withdrew further from Cumberland Mountain their spirits in a measure revived, and when on the third day they arrived at the little settlement which they were seeking on the Clinch River, even the tragedy which had befallen them was seldom mentioned. Even the packhorses pricked up their ears and required no incentive to induce them to move rapidly down the mountainside.
When the emigrants at last arrived at their destination it was found necessary to erect several new houses. The nights already were cool, and a snowfall might be expected at any time. Even Sam Oliver, who seldom assisted in the labours of the settlements, was induced to aid his companions in felling the trees and cutting the logs for the little houses which must be the sole protection of the people throughout the coming winter.
Not many weeks after the return of Daniel Boone and his party, Schoolmaster Hargrave found his way into the settlement. He was a peculiar man in his appearance, exceedingly awkward and angular, a fact which was made more marked by the odd clothing he wore. Disdaining garments made from the skins of wild beasts, his clothes were of woollen material, and made, too, after a fashion that in itself was fearful and wonderful to behold. Even his cocked hat did not become him, but in some way seemed to make more prominent his long nose, which was covered with splotches of red, as were also his cheeks. That he was earnest and deeply interested in his tasks no one denied. The prime qualification for the work of the schoolmaster in that day, however, consisted in the fact that he was very muscular and able to compel the obedience of even the oldest boys in his school, who frequently were tempted to pit their strength against his.
At the suggestion of the scout, a schoolhouse of logs was erected soon after the coming of Master Hargrave. In this little schoolhouse there was a fireplace, or chimney, which extended nearly across one entire end of the building. When a huge log fire was burning there it sent out not only its genial heat, but at frequent intervals with the changing winds it drew clouds of smoke down the chimney and into the eyes of the children that were seated on the rude benches. The little building was equipped with more windows than the cabins which had been built for dwellings. The windowpanes were of paper and made transparent by oiling or greasing them.
Young Daniel Morgan Boone, the third son of Daniel, became a constant companion of Peleg in the days that followed the return of the emigrants. Daniel had begun to attend school as soon as the rude little building was erected, and many of his experiences with the awkward schoolmaster were gleefully related to Peleg, who now was no longer counted a pupil of the master.
"Master Hargrave," said Daniel one day, "makes us learn many verses of Scripture."
"Does he?" inquired Peleg.
"Indeed he does. To-day he gave us three: 'The rod and rule give wisdom,' 'A rod fits a fool's back,' and 'He that spoils the rod is not wise.'"
Peleg laughed and said: "I remember those verses myself. He taught them to me. Does he rap your knuckles with his ferrule?"
"Sometimes he uses a ferrule, but more often he stands there by one of the windows making a pen, and out of the corners of his eyes watches every one of the eighteen scholars. He always has a stout hickory in his hand or under his arm. The other day there was a disturbance on one of the benches, and without waiting to find who was guilty he laid his hickory across the backs of every one of us."
"So you have your share, too, do you?"
"Indeed I do. But the strangest part was day before yesterday, when Schoolmaster Hargrave chased Return Sharp. Return would rather go fishing or swimming or hunting any day than go to school. He says he does not care for learning."
"He is a stout, burly fellow. I suppose a beating does not trouble him much?"
"That's the strange part of it," laughed Daniel gleefully. "He doesn't seem to mind one at all. The other afternoon when the boys had been called in from recess, Return ducked around the corner of the house and began to run. Master Hargrave spied him, and, spitting on both his hands, he grasped his hickory and sallied forth to catch him. Return saw him coming and took to his heels. Every one in the school was out there in front of the schoolhouse watching the sport. We were ready to dodge back into our seats, but we wanted to see the race."
"What did he do? Did the master get him?"
"Return took a circuit and started for the meadow, and in a little while he was of course coming back toward the schoolhouse. Master Hargrave was gaining upon him at every jump, and just as Return cleared the fence Master Hargrave let him have it with the hickory. For once in his life Return made haste, I can tell you. He was not very long in reaching the ground from the top of that fence! The schoolmaster was on the other side, and as he saw that all the scholars were watching him he jumped over the fence and started after Return faster than ever. I would not have believed that he could run so fast. Return looked back to see how near the schoolmaster was, and just then he stumbled and fell, and Master Hargrave was so close behind that he, too, stumbled over Return and then tumbled to the ground. Return jumped up and took a back track, but the Master was after him in a minute, and before he got halfway to the schoolhouse he had caught up with him, and at every jump the master also let him have it with the hickory. Return got the last love pat just as he tumbled over the fence and crawled into the schoolhouse. We all thought when the master came in that he would use his hickory on Return plentifully, and also on all the rest of us; but for some strange reason he seemed to have given Return all that he had to spare that day. Strange how he seems to take delight in beating poor Return."
"He always took his whaling like an ox," laughed Peleg, "and grows fat on it every day. I have marks yet on my knuckles that the schoolmaster gave me."
"What are you doing?" demanded Daniel, apparently for the first time becoming aware of Peleg's occupation.
"I am making a new stock for this rifle-barrel."
"The gun looks like it might kick," commented Daniel sagely, looking critically at the rifle-barrel which was lying upon the rude little bench at which Peleg was working.
"It would if a boy like you should try to use it."
Daniel laughed derisively and said: "Pray, Mr. Venerable Barnes, how long since you were a boy yourself?"
"If you think you can fire this gun, I shall let you be the first one to try it. I have it almost ready now, and all I have to do is to fit the barrel into the stock----"
"Hello!" called Daniel, looking up sharply as he became aware of the approach of a man on horseback. "This is some stranger. I wonder what he can be wanting."
A visitor from any of the faraway settlements was a matter of moment, and Peleg advanced to the door to see who the newcomer might be.
The man was a stranger to both boys. As soon as he spied the lads he said, "Is Daniel Boone in this settlement?"
"He is, sir," answered Peleg promptly.
"Where can I find him? I would have word with him."
"Daniel, do you tell your father there is a gentleman here who desires to speak to him."
"I am a messenger," spoke up the stranger, "a courier from Governor Dunmore. 'Tis a matter of importance, and Mr. Daniel Boone will do well to report promptly."
Peleg looked at the messenger, who was not much older than he. His air of importance was not lost upon the young settler, who laughed slightly when, after Daniel's departure in search of his father, he turned again to the visitor.
"It is a great honour I have for Daniel Boone," suggested the courier.
"That depends somewhat, I fancy, upon who you are and what you have to bring him."
"I have told you already that I am a messenger from Governor Dunmore. It is meet in you, young man, to respect men who are high in authority."
"I do respect the Governor," said Peleg dryly.
"Then you should have respect for the Governor's messenger."
"I have respect for all who are respectable."
"What mean you by that?" demanded the visitor hotly; as he spoke he leaped from the seat on the back of his horse and advanced threateningly upon Peleg.
His attitude changed, however, when Peleg quietly stood his ground and even slightly smiled at the pompous words and manner of the visitor.
The return of young Daniel Boone interrupted the interview.
"My father will be pleased to see you," said the lad, glancing questioningly first at Peleg and then at the messenger.
"Of course he will see me," declared the courier. "Why did he not return with you?"
"He is awaiting your coming and bade me conduct you to our home."
"Is it far from here?"
"Very good. I shall be pleased to go with you and give my message to Daniel Boone."
Peleg was an interested observer of the departing visitor, and his interest would have been still keener had he known how much the message from Governor Dunmore concerned his own future.
Peleg resumed his congenial occupation, working steadily upon the rifle which he was fashioning. The barrel had been part of a gun which belonged to one of the men who had fallen in the recent attack by the Indians, its stock having been shattered by the blow of a hatchet. After the weapon had been found, instead of throwing it aside as its finder was tempted to do, Peleg had taken it for himself. All the way from Cumberland Mountain he had carried the barrel, which was all that he had saved of the rifle. He was aware of the confidence which its recent owner had in its qualities, and he had determined to fashion from it a gun for himself upon which he might rely.
A smile of satisfaction lighted up the countenance of the young hunter when after several hours had elapsed he critically examined his new weapon, the parts of which now had all been joined.
At supper time at the home of Daniel Boone, of whose family Peleg had been made a member since the death of James, the visitor of the afternoon was recalled by a question of Israel Boone, the second of the five sons of Daniel Boone.
"Why did not that man stay all night?" he inquired of his father when the family was seated about the rude table.
"He would not remain," replied his father quietly.
"Who was he?" continued Israel.
"A messenger from Governor Dunmore."
The lad was eager to continue his questioning, but evidently he saw something in the glance of his father which precluded further attempts, and he became silent.
It was not until the following morning that Peleg learned of the reason, and then only in part, for the coming of their recent visitor.
"Peleg," said Daniel Boone quietly, "would you prefer to remain here in the settlement, or go with me on a scout?"
"I would rather go with you," responded Peleg promptly.
"It is possible that we may be gone two months or more."
"And may have to travel something like eight hundred miles."
"I shall do my best."
"You are well aware, lad, that we shall meet many hard experiences."
"And you are not afraid?"
"Not if you are to find the way."
Daniel Boone smiled and reached for Peleg's new gun. He examined the weapon critically, raising it to his shoulder and sighting it several times.
"'Tis a handy rifle, lad," he remarked, when his inspection was ended. "Have you tried it?"
"And is it true?"
"It is as far as I am able to make it so."
"If you go with me, is this the gun you will take?"
"Why do you not prefer to remain in the settlement? There is work to be done here. The gardens are to be cared for and the game must be provided for the people. Here is where I should remain were it not that when I hear the call of Governor Dunmore I realize that there is work for me which I must not neglect."
Peleg was silent as he watched the great scout. Even while the man was speaking there came into his eyes an expression such as the boy had seen only when he and his friend had been together in the forest. It was the look of one seeing visions, and yet there was also in it the expression of a man of resolute purpose.
"'Twill not do," continued Daniel Boone turning again to Peleg, "to take any chances. I had thought at first to take Sam Oliver with me, but now it seems good to me for you to go, if you so desire."
"I suggest that you try out your new rifle several times before we leave. The time to prepare is before we start. After we have gone on our way a hundred miles or more 'twill be difficult then to correct any fault or change any plans. More than half the winning of any battle depends upon the preparations one makes, I care not whether it be a fight with the Indians or with one's own weaknesses. There are other rifles from which you may make a selection," Boone added.
"Yes, sir, but I think I prefer this. I have made it myself and have tested and tried it every way. I have chosen a name for it."
"What have you named it?" inquired Boone.
"And you have sufficient bullets?"
"Yes, sir," responded Peleg. As he spoke he showed a huge powder-horn which he had polished and upon which he had carved the following dire warning:
"Ye mann what steles this powd^r horne, Will go to helle as sure as y^re borne."
The scout slowly read the inscription and, shaking his head, said: "I think I should leave that horn behind. There are plenty more which are not so sharp in their warnings."
"But it is true, isn't it? If a man steals, isn't that the place where he belongs?"
Apparently the thoughts of the great leader were withdrawn to other matters, for, ignoring the question, he said: "Peleg, we shall start before sunrise to-morrow morning. These June days are long and we do not want to lose any of the hours."
"Shall we stop at night?"
"That will depend much upon events. There may be times when we shall be glad to have the night protect us in our advance, and when it will be necessary for us to hide in the daytime. There are some things to see to before we go. One of these is that you must learn how to follow my trail."
Peleg's eager manner expressed a question. His interest was keen.
"If you are lost or are not able to find me I shall mark my trail with five stones placed like this." As he spoke the pioneer arranged five small stones in a semicircle on the ground near him. "You may expect to find these near the springs or at the places where I may cross the rivers. We must plan to keep closely together, but I am referring to this in case anything should happen to separate us. There are some other things about which I shall tell you after we have started. I wish I felt a little more confidence in that rifle," he added. "What did you say you have named it?"
Boone said no more, and Peleg withdrew beyond the border of the settlement to make additional tests of his newly made rifle. Apparently these were satisfactory, for at three o'clock the following morning when he and Daniel Boone departed from the little settlement it was "Singing Susan," which Peleg was carrying over his shoulder.
As yet the boy did not know whither he and his comrade were going. Only in a general way had Boone explained how long they might be absent. However, it was clear to the mind of Peleg that the scout was moved by a feeling that he was engaging in an enterprise from which there was to be no turning back, and that he felt that he needed some one to accompany him.
To be near Boone was sufficient reward in itself, and buoyantly the young man carried himself as they moved in single file through the passes of the mountains. It was seldom that either spoke, and it was agreed that their guns were not to be fired except when it was necessary to secure game.
Many miles had been covered when the two hunters decided to rest, for night was at hand. Selecting a sheltered spot near a swiftly running brook, they were protected from peril from the rear of their camp by the huge walls of the hill which rose abruptly behind it. A fire was kindled with Peleg's flint and tinder and allowed to burn only long enough to roast the loin of deer which had been secured by a shot from the scout's rifle early that morning.
As soon as their supper had been eaten the fire was extinguished. The June air was warm and it was with a sense of comfort that Peleg seated himself upon the ground with his back against the protecting cliff. His companion had seldom spoken to him throughout their journey, and the pace at which they had been travelling had told more severely upon the younger hunter than upon Boone. Yet there was a feeling of deep comfort in Peleg's heart. The stars were twinkling in the sky, the gentle breeze that swept the treetops was softly musical in its sound, and beyond all these was the pleasure of being in the company of the man to whom he looked up as to no one else. All combined to make the young hunter happy.
To his surprise he found that Daniel Boone was willing to talk more freely than he ever had known him to do before.
"Yes," Daniel Boone was saying, "my grandfather came from England and settled in Pennsylvania. He had nine sons and ten daughters. My father he called Squire. I do not know just why, unless it was because he was more active than his brothers. I was born on the right bank of the Delaware in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1734. Not long after my father married he moved to another part of the colony, and when I was a little lad he took us overland through Maryland and Virginia and settled at the headwaters of the Yadkin."
"A fine place, too, that is," said Peleg.
"Indeed it is," assented the scout, "but it was not for me. Somehow I seem destined to find the way for others rather than to be able to enjoy much of quiet and rest myself. It was on the first day of May, 1769, that I left my family in quest of the country of Kantuckee. Five men travelled with me, all of us relying upon the reports of John Finley, one of our number, who had been trading with the Indians there. He averred that he had found the most beautiful of all lands. I shall not soon forget the seventh day of June that year, when John Finley and I, from the top of an eminence, looked out upon the beautiful land of Kantuckee. Buffalo were more numerous than are cattle in the settlements. They fed upon the grass that grows marvellously on those plains. We saw hundreds in a drove, and the numbers about the salt springs were amazing. On the 22d of December, John Stuart and I were having a pleasing ramble. We had passed through a great forest and were amazed at the variety of the blossoms we saw. As for game, why it almost seemed to seek us out instead of making us the hunters. It was near sunset and we were near the Kantuckee River, when a number of Indians rushed out of a canebrake and made us their prisoners."
"How long did they keep you?"
"Seven days. We did our utmost not to show any uneasiness, and gradually they became less suspicious of us. But in the dead of the night of that seventh day, when we were lying by a large fire and all the others were asleep, I gently shook my companion, whispered my plan, and we left the camp without disturbing any one. My brother and another man, who had started after us to explore the country, found the camp of our party, but it had been plundered and the other men in our band had fled. Strangely enough, we soon came upon one another in the forest. You may be sure that this meeting with my brother was most welcome. The man who was with him, however, soon went on a private excursion and was attacked and killed by wolves. John Stuart was killed by the Indians. There we were in a howling wilderness, hundreds of miles from our families and surrounded by Indians who were determined to kill us. All through that winter we had no trouble, however, and on the first of the following May my brother went home for a new recruit of horses and ammunition, leaving me alone. I had been without bread for a year; I had no salt nor sugar, and not even a horse or a dog for company.
"I knew I must not lament, however, and accordingly I undertook a tour which I thought might be of benefit to others who, I had no doubt, soon would follow me. Often I heard the hideous yells of the savages searching for me. On the 27th of July my brother returned, and together we went as far as the Cumberland River, scouting through that part of the country and giving names to the different rivers. In the following March I went back to my family, determined to bring them as soon as possible, even at the risk of life and fortune, to make a home in Kantuckee, which I esteemed a second Paradise.
"You know, my lad, how I sold my land on the Yadkin and disposed of such goods as we could not carry with us, and how with five other families we started on the 25th of September to journey to Kantuckee. You were one of us at that time.
"You well remember also what occurred on the 10th of October, when our company was attacked by the Indians, how I lost my boy, and how we all journeyed back to the settlement on the Clinch River."
"And now?" queried Peleg.
"And now," answered Daniel Boone, "you and I are to journey to the Falls of the Ohio. Our surveyors there are in great peril from the Indians. We shall, without doubt, find ourselves often in danger, and I am selecting you to accompany me because already I have found that I could rely upon you. You have been quick to learn what I have taught you, and I do not believe you will easily be taken unawares, because you have already learned how to prepare yourself for any event. Any one who has not learned that lesson can never become a successful man, to say nothing of succeeding as a scout."
The following morning dawned clear and warm, and as no signs of Indians had been seen the two scouts renewed their journey with lighter hearts. At least a part of Peleg's fear was gone, though it was impossible for him to determine by anything his companion said whether or not he shared his feeling.
Without an open declaration of war, the Shawnees, Wyandottes, Cherokees, and Delawares were working more or less together at this time and were untiring in their determination to prevent the whites from entering and establishing homes in the region which the Indians believed was entirely their own.
The second day passed, and the progress of the two scouts was unbroken. Still Daniel Boone was using great caution, forbidding the discharge of guns except when food was required, and insisting upon the fire being extinguished as soon as the meals had been prepared.
On the fourth day of their journey the anxiety of the great scout became more manifest. "I have seen some things," he explained to his companion, "which are troubling me."
"Are the Indians near us?"
"I have been convinced that they have been near us all our journey, but I fear now they are approaching still nearer. My suggestion is that we separate, and I will go to the south and you to the north of the path we would have taken and meet again in our camp here a few hours from this time. We may throw them off our trail."
"Shall we start now?" inquired Peleg, rising at once as he spoke.
"'Twill be well to do so. The sun is now two hours high, and we must both be back here in camp by noon."
As he finished speaking, Daniel Boone departed silently into the forest and his example was promptly followed by the younger scout.
The young hunter had been gone almost an hour and as yet had discovered only a few signs of the presence of their enemies. He was near the bank of a stream some twenty feet or more in width when, glancing behind him, he saw two Indians swiftly approaching.
His first impulse was to fire upon them, but holding his rifle in readiness he waited for them to come nearer. Suddenly one of the red men raised his gun and fired at Peleg. The young scout heard the bullet whistling close to his head, and, instantly taking aim, returned the fire, causing one of the Indians to fall forward upon his face. The other warrior, however, was armed, and was swiftly approaching.
Peleg's first impulse to use his gun as a club and strive to defend himself was quickly abandoned when in some consternation he became aware of the size of the advancing red man. Never before had he seen an Indian so large as the one who was now approaching. Not merely was the man tall, but his breadth of shoulder and every movement alike showed the great strength which he possessed.
Thinking this was a case where discretion was the better part of valor, Peleg darted swiftly into the woods. As he did so his enemy fired at him, but fortunately the boy escaped unhurt. He ran at his utmost speed, but as he glanced over his shoulder he saw that his pursuer was speedily gaining upon him. Peleg Barnes was considered the best wrestler and the strongest of the younger men in the little settlement on the Clinch River. He now was more than six feet tall and the muscles in his arms and legs were marvellously developed. If the man behind him had not been of such gigantic and ferocious aspect, the young hunter would have ventured a single combat; but Peleg had decided that flight was the safer course.
For several hundred yards he ran at his utmost speed, but every glance backward showed him that, swiftly as he was running, his pursuer was steadily gaining upon him.
The woods through which they were speeding consisted almost entirely of small trees, few of which were large enough to provide protection or even shelter.
Peleg had passed a large walnut tree, which he had noticed standing like a patriarch among the surrounding saplings, and suddenly he paused in his flight and ran back ten steps to gain it. This action of the young scout plainly startled the Indian, who halted a moment, thereby giving his adversary the advantage of reaching the shelter he was seeking.
If Peleg's gun had been loaded the solution of his troubles would not have been difficult. As it was, the huge warrior resumed his rapid advance. Again Peleg fled, but he was well aware that sooner or later he must stop and strive to defend himself by using his rifle as a club.
The moment for such action soon came, and, abruptly halting, Peleg seized his rifle by the barrel and raised it above his head. The Indian dropped his empty gun and advanced upon his victim with his tomahawk.
Instead of waiting to receive the attack, Peleg suddenly leaped forward and struck with the stock of his gun. The warrior at the same moment whirled his tomahawk and threw it.
In a manner both blows took effect. The stock of the rifle was dislocated by the blow which Peleg struck the Indian's skull, and at the same time the vicious blow of the tomahawk was deflected by the barrel of the rifle, though it cut deeply into Peleg's hand between his thumb and forefinger as it glanced.
As the Indian attempted to draw his knife, Peleg seized him and together both fell to the ground.
For a time the efforts of the Indian were by no means violent, and Peleg was hopeful that the blow which the warrior had received had partly disabled him; but it was soon manifest that the Indian had recovered, for, wrapping his long arms around Peleg's body, he pressed him to his breast with well-nigh crushing force.
[Illustration: "The Indian had been able to draw his knife and struck at her again and again, while the bear held him in one of her most fervent hugs"]
Peleg, powerful young scout that he was, had never felt an embrace like that of the huge warrior. Relaxing his efforts for a moment, he endeavoured to convince his enemy that his strength was well-nigh gone. The Indian apparently was deceived by his trick and made an attempt to reach for Peleg's gun, which had fallen on the ground nearby. The young hunter at the same moment made a sudden and desperate attempt to free himself from the arms of the giant.
Success crowned his efforts, but before he was able to escape from the place the Indian leaped to his feet, and, seizing Peleg with one hand and grasping the collar of his hunting shirt with the other, he drew his enemy steadily to his hip, and then by a sudden effort threw him at least ten feet into the air, much as he might have tossed a little child. Peleg fell upon his back at the edge of the stream, but before the savage could spring upon him, he was again upon his feet, and, stung with rage as well as desperation, instantly, and with a violence which for a time made up for his lack of strength, he renewed his attack upon his gigantic enemy.
The Indian, however, closed again with Peleg and hurled him to the ground, though the young hunter still doggedly clung to his foe. Together they rolled into the water, where the struggle continued unabated for a time, as each did his utmost to thrust and hold the head of his opponent beneath the surface.
It soon was plain that the Indian was unused to such long-continued and violent exertion, and Peleg felt sure that his enemy was weaker than when the struggle began.
Suddenly the young hunter by a supreme effort seized the warrior by his scalp-lock and thrust his head under the water, where he succeeded in holding it until the struggles of the Indian became faint and convinced Peleg that the contest was ended.
The cunning warrior, however, had been shamming, and as soon as Peleg released his hold he quickly regained his foothold and in turn forced Peleg under the water. In the struggle which followed both contestants were carried into the current of the stream beyond their depth, and were compelled to let go their hold and swim for their lives.
Peleg was the first to gain the shore. A low hill, partly wooded, was directly before him, and he ran as swiftly as his strength permitted up the long, sloping ridge. In a brief time he discovered that the Indian was gaining upon him so rapidly that all hope of escape departed.
At that moment the young scout saw at his side a large tree, which in some storm had been torn up by its roots and was lying prostrate on the ground.
Instantly he ran along the side of the tree, aware that his enemy was following upon the opposite side. Doubtless the red man expected to seize him when the huge roots of the tree had been gained.
On the warm ground at the roots of the tree, all unknown to the pursuer and the pursued, a huge she-bear was lying with her two cubs. The Indian was the first to arrive at the spot, and as he darted around the roots the savage animal with a snarl of rage instantly sprang upon him. The growls of the bear and the cries of the warrior instantly produced a deafening uproar.
The Indian had been able to draw his knife, and struck at her again and again while the bear held him in one of her most fervent hugs. Peleg, without waiting to learn the result of the startling and noisy contest, instantly turned and ran back over the way he had come.
AT THE SPRINGS
The young scout was breathless and exhausted when at last he arrived safely at the camp. His appearance was such that no explanation was required by Daniel Boone, who was already there. He instantly noticed the wound which Peleg had received on his hand and how blood-stained his clothing was. He asked no questions, however, and at once attended to the wants of his companion.
In a short time Peleg had recovered sufficiently to enable him to relate the story of the adventures which had befallen him.
"You have lost Singing Susan?" suggested Boone.
Peleg nodded in response, but did not speak.
"Can you find the place where you dropped her?"
"And the place where the Indian was hugged by the bear?"
Again Peleg nodded.
"If you will tell me where the places are I might go to both of them."
"Very well," said Peleg quickly, "but I shall go with you."
Boone said no more and busied himself in arranging the small packs which the two scouts were carrying. It was not long before Peleg declared he was ready to accompany his friend, and without a further word they departed from their camp.
It was not difficult for the young hunter to find his way to the place where the Indian had been seized by the angry mother-bear. Cautiously approaching, both men peered intently about them, but they were unable to discover any signs of either the warrior or the animal that had attacked him. When they advanced to the spot where the tree had been uptorn by the roots they found an abundance of footprints of the bear and also of the moccasined Indian, but that was all.
"They both got away," said Boone at last.
"Or ate each other up," suggested Peleg with a smile.
"We will look for Singing Susan. You lead the way, Peleg."
Wearied as Peleg was by his recent contest, he nevertheless responded promptly, and in a brief time the hunters arrived at the border of the stream near which Peleg had been compelled to drop his rifle. When he had cast it from him he had tossed it into the nearby bushes, dimly thinking that if by chance he should escape he might return and find the weapon which he prized so highly. A part of the scout's teachings already had taken effect in this forethought of his young comrade. To be prepared for any emergency was an essential part of life in the woods. As they drew near the spot, Peleg was thinking of the great lesson he had learned from Boone. He ran to the bushes, pushed aside the brush and drew forth his gun with some pride. A smile lighted the face of Boone as he nodded his head in approval of the forethought of his young friend, and advancing, he extended his hand to inspect the weapon.
"What happened to the gun?" he inquired, as he marked the condition of the stock.
"I struck the skull of the Indian."
"'Twas a hard blow, son, and I have slight doubt the Indian's head is aching."
"If it had not been for that, I should not be here to tell you about it now."
"No one can say about that. You _are_ here, Peleg, and we must act upon that which _is_ rather than upon what might have been. Indeed, I have long since learned to accept my life with that understanding. I had nothing to say about when I should come into the world, and I have as little to say about when I shall leave it. The only part I can guide is that which is in between. I can fix this stock," he added, "and soon we shall have Susan singing again. We will push forward a little farther and find some place where we can camp for the night. A good sleep will do you more good than anything else, though first I must attend again to that hand of yours."
Selecting a linen bandage, a small supply of which Boone always carried with him on his expeditions, he gathered some leaves of the witch-hazel plant and, pounding them to a pulp, spread them upon the cloth. Thoroughly washing the wounded hand of Peleg, he then bound the cloth and pulp of the leaves upon the wound, saying as he did so: "In a week you will be as good as new."
As soon as this task had been accomplished the journey was resumed, although only two miles was covered before Boone was convinced that his companion was too weary to proceed farther.
The following day, although Peleg's hand still was sore from his wound, he found little difficulty in carrying his rifle, for the great scout had been successful in restoring Singing Susan to her former efficient condition.
Increasing signs of the presence of the Indians were seen, and once Boone turned aside from his pathway when an old canoe was found, which with a little effort he was able to patch up.
"I am fearful of the water," he said, "for I cannot swim. Can you, son?"
"Yes, sir," replied Peleg, glancing up in astonishment at this acknowledgment of his friend's one weakness.
"It is well you can," said Boone with a smile. "I never was able to get the knack. You will have to be the leader now. We can go down this stream five or six miles, perhaps more, before we strike across the country again."
"How is it," inquired Peleg, "that you find your way through the forests? I am never afraid of being lost in any of the woods where I have been before, but I should not be sure of myself in trying to go to the Falls of the Ohio, although even now we must be within a few days of the place."
Boone smiled as he replied: "There are some things which a man can learn and some which must be born in him to help him in the forests. A man who can sing, if he will go to the singing schools faithfully, may become a better singer; but if he has no voice to begin with, there is little use in his saying _do, ra, me, fa, so, la, si, do_ over and over again. So it is in the woods. I watch the birds, the trees, and the leaves, as well as the lay of the land, but beyond all that there is a part which I cannot explain. It must be my nature, just the same as it is for a fish to live in the water or a bee to seek the flowers."
"Do you think I ever can learn?"
"I do, son. I have marked you often and know that you have the ability as well as the will to learn."
Signs of the presence of Indians increased as the two scouts proceeded. It seemed to Boone that the Indians were moving eastward, a matter which promised ill for the scattered settlements on the border.
However, the days passed, and Boone and his companion evaded their foes, and on the twenty-ninth day arrived at the Falls of the Ohio, whither Governor Dunmore had directed them to go.
Only once had Daniel Boone referred to the purpose of his journey, and then he had explained to Peleg how the Governor had become exceedingly anxious concerning the safety of the surveyors. Cut off as they were in their faraway camp from the help of others, they also were unaware that the hunters were bringing word of the increasing restlessness among the Indians. Some of the scattered settlers recently had been killed by the angry tribes, and the rumours and reports all had it that the Shawnees, Delawares, and Wyandottes were becoming more and more savage in their attacks upon the whites, upon whom they now looked with deadly hatred because they were making homes in their land.
The coming of Daniel Boone and his young companion aroused much interest among the band of surveyors whose headquarters were at the Falls of the Ohio. Several log houses had been erected by them there, and the little settlement bore more evidences of refinement than one usually found on the frontier. There were many questions asked and a deep interest shown in the doings of the great world beyond, with which the lonely men had had nothing to do for many long months.
When, however, Daniel Boone explained the purpose of his coming, most of the men received his word with incredulity. They acknowledged that occasionally they had seen a few Indians, but not yet had they been molested, nor had any threats been made against their remaining where they were.
To such statements the great scout made no reply except to repeat the reason for his coming, and the anxiety of Governor Dunmore in their behalf.
"We will sleep over it and let you know to-morrow," declared one of the men laughingly. "You don't think anything will happen to-night, do you?"
"I am willing to wait until the morrow," said Boone quietly. "You must decide, however, within two days what you will do."
There was one young member of the surveyors' party who apparently had not been long in the new world. He explained to Peleg, to whom he was drawn because they were nearly of the same age, that he had come to America to make a fortune. "I am the youngest son of Earl Russell. In England the younger boys do not have many opportunities, because all the property is left to the oldest son, so I have come to America, and hope to secure for myself some great tracts of land over here. They may not be valuable to-day or in the near future, but some time, as surely as the sun rises, they will be of great worth. You must come with me," he continued, "early to-morrow morning to Fontainebleau."
"Where?" demanded Peleg.
"Where is that, and what is it?" demanded the young scout.
"It is a name we have given to a spring about a mile from here on the opposite side of the river. Five or six of us go there every morning and drink the waters. We have an idea that they are better than the waters of the real Fontainebleau."
"Where is that?"
The young Englishman laughed as he said: "'Tis plain that you have never travelled in France."
"I never did," acknowledged Peleg. "I have travelled in the woods, though, and before we get back to the settlement some of you may be glad that Daniel Boone and I have had that experience."
The young Englishman again laughed, but made no reply.
In the morning, however, he, together with six other men, stopped at the little cabin in which Daniel Boone and Peleg had been spending the night, and in response to his invitation the young scout joined the party when they explained that they were going to Fontainebleau to drink of its marvellous waters.
The carelessness and indifference of the men somewhat alarmed Peleg, who was still under the influence of his recent companion, the scout. Daniel Boone had impressed upon the boy the need of continual vigilance and silence. No one could say when danger might suddenly present itself. Frequently he recalled the escape he had had through the shot which James Boone in the preceding year had fired at the panther crouching above his head. This always impressed the young woodsman afresh with the need of continual care. Nevertheless he enjoyed the conversation of the men with whom he was walking, though he himself seldom spoke.
When the little party arrived at the spring the waters caused Peleg to express his disgust. Heavily charged with sulphur and various other chemicals, the taste was one that did not appeal to the young scout. His companions, however, professed to enjoy the water, which was marvellously clear and sparkling, and drank deeply, casting themselves prostrate upon the ground as they did so, and drinking from the spring.
Three of them were in this position and the other four were urging their companions to make haste, when suddenly wild yells arose that seemed to come from every direction at once. Before the startled men were fully aware of what was occurring a band of Indians rushed from the woods, some armed with rifles and others using their bows and arrows.
Only part of the little band of surveyors had been armed when they had started that morning from the settlement for the spring at Fontainebleau. The young scout, however, who was mindful of the teachings of his leader, had brought Singing Susan with him. As Peleg was about to fire, an arrow pierced the young Englishman between the shoulder blades, and with a loud cry he fell to the ground.
A TERRIFIED BAND
It was Peleg's first experience in taking command of a party. The helplessness of the surveyors, however, and the fact that they all turned to him for directions, at once decided the young scout to lead, and he well knew there was no time to be lost.
In his position he was aware also that the Englishman was in dire distress, and apparently he was the only one who could aid him. The decision to act had come to the young scout promptly, and he had almost instinctively raised Singing Susan to his shoulder and fired at the Indians, whom he could see darting from tree to tree and plainly trying to come nearer the spring.
Before he reloaded his gun Peleg turned to his companions, two of whom were already disappearing among the trees in the distance.
"Come here," he said in a low voice. "Help me with this man."
Two of the young surveyors obeyed his word, and with all speed the trio carried the body of their fallen comrade within the shelter of the forest. When Peleg looked down into the face of the suffering man he was convinced that his wound was fatal.
It would never do, however, to leave the man in his misery. Turning to his companions he called: "Retreat cautiously! Use the tree trunks for shelter! Take this man with you!"
While speaking, the young scout hastily reloaded his gun. This task completed, he turned once more to his companions and said: "Take the man now and go! Do as I tell you! I shall bring up the rear and do my best to stave off the Indians. They are sure to follow us, though I do not think there are more than eight or ten in the whole band."
Three of the men who were members of the party which had visited the spring had brought their guns with them. Two of these weapons were in the hands of the men who were to carry the young surveyor back to the settlement.
Seizing these weapons and making certain that all were loaded and primed, Peleg darted behind a huge maple, from which he was able to see that the Indians were stealthily approaching. No cry had been heard from them since the loud whoop they had given when first they had darted into the open space and fired upon the unsuspecting men.
Peleg waited until the men who were carrying the surveyor had had an opportunity to withdraw to a considerable distance among the trees, and as he saw the red men were coming nearer he abruptly fired upon them. He first discharged Singing Susan, and then, before the smoke had cleared, he fired the other two guns in quick succession.
A low exclamation of pleasure escaped his lips when he saw that his shots had taken sufficient effect to cause the Indians hastily to disappear from sight and to send forth several of their noisy challenges.
Taking advantage of the favouring opportunity, the young scout reloaded his own rifle and, casting the other two guns from him, ran at his utmost speed in the direction in which his recent companions had disappeared.
As soon as he had overtaken them he was aware that the Indians were again closing in upon the retreating band. He was startled to find that the red men were moving in the form of a semicircle. By this means they doubtless hoped to cut off the men before they could regain the safety of the settlement.
Bidding his friends make haste with their burden, Peleg once more fired upon the yelling Indians. His main purpose was to try to impress upon their minds the fact that the retreating band was armed and prepared to defend itself. He was more and more disturbed, however, by his increasing fear that their retreat would be cut off, and all three might fall into the hands of the yelling savages.
Several times the same maneuvers were followed, Peleg bidding his friends, who still were carrying the young surveyor, to precede him on their way back to the settlement, while he himself remained behind to fire Singing Susan at such of the Indians as exposed themselves. After each shot he hastily reloaded his rifle and withdrew to join his companions.
After his third shot Peleg was almost persuaded that escape was impossible. The semicircle had been extended until he was fearful that if the warriors should rush upon them they would enclose the three white men.
Still the boy was determined to do his utmost to help the fallen surveyor and protect the two men who were bearing their unconscious comrade through the forest. In his zeal the young scout had almost forgotten his own peril. His attention was divided between the retreating party and the Indians who were pressing so swiftly upon them.
Suddenly Peleg said to himself, as he heard the report of a rifle far away, "There is Daniel Boone! If he and the other surveyors have come out to help us we may stand a little better chance of getting out of this alive."
The report of the rifle which had been heard by Peleg was speedily followed by the sound of other guns. Convinced by what he had heard that help was at hand, Peleg regretted the loss of the guns which he had cast aside in his fear that they might hinder him and his friends in their efforts to withdraw from the spring. Soon the reports of the guns were repeated, and as Peleg sent forth his wild halloo he was answered by a cry which he recognized as coming from Daniel Boone himself.
It was not long before Peleg saw the scout approaching through the forest. The silent man was thoroughly aroused. Usually quiet in his manner and deliberate in his actions, it now seemed as if his every nerve was tingling in his excitement. Sheltered behind nearby trees, Peleg watched the approaching surveyors, some of whom were loading their rifles rapidly, while others were firing at the enemy.
It was soon evident that the Indians, disheartened by this fresh attack, were withdrawing into the forest.
As soon as Daniel Boone saw Peleg and the two men approaching with their burden, his plan instantly changed. Summoning the young scout, he said, "Send all the rest of them back to the settlement as fast as they can go. You and I, lad, are the only ones prepared, so we are the only ones who can protect these men."
"Will the Indians leave?" inquired Peleg in a low voice.
"For a time, yes," answered Daniel Boone. "If the surveyors make haste they will be able to get back to the settlement. You and I, lad, must try to hold these Indians off until our friends have had time to carry back the man who was shot. Was he killed?"
"No. He was alive when I saw him last, but I do not think he will live long."
"Was it an arrow?"
Daniel Boone nodded his head and made no further reply. Darting from tree to tree, the two scouts stealthily made their way through the forest in the direction in which their friends had gone.
Apparently there was no longer any peril of an immediate attack by the Indians. None of them appeared within sight, and the sound of their wild cries no longer was heard.
Alternately stopping and retreating, Daniel Boone and his young companion at last regained the shelter of the settlement at the Falls of the Ohio.
The little houses of logs were well protected, and as there was an abundance of ammunition as well as of food on hand, the great scout said to Peleg: "We could hold out here two months if it should be necessary."
"But we are not to stay here, are we?" inquired Peleg anxiously.
"No. We must leave just as soon as we can do so safely."
The conversation was interrupted by the entrance of the surveyors in a body. Fear, and even panic, was manifest in the face of every one. The unexpected attack upon their comrade had confirmed the warning which Governor Dunmore had sent by the two scouts, and not only did no one want to remain, but all were eager to be gone at once.
"We must start to-night," said MacHale, the oldest of the party. "We must not remain!"
"Not to-night," said Daniel Boone quietly.
"It is as necessary for us to know our way as it is for us to retreat."
"But you found your way here! Why can you not find it when you go back?"
"I can," replied Boone quietly. "It is not for myself I fear. I would not be the leader of a party unfamiliar with the woods and facing what we must if we leave here in the night. You must be prepared to start as soon as the gray of dawn appears."
"But we want to go before!" persisted the surveyor.
Boone quietly shook his head and gave no further explanation. The matter was decided, and plainly the scout thought there was nothing more to be said. Ignoring the anger as well as the alarm of the surveyors, the great scout at once busied himself in preparing for the departure which would not take place until the following morning. The services of Boone, however, were not required in caring for the wounded surveyor, because life had fled before the party regained the settlement.
There was a hasty burial in the dim light, and then Boone bade his companions obtain such sleep as they could, he himself preparing to serve as guard throughout the night.
At last, however, he consented to the pleadings of Peleg and permitted the lad to keep watch during the earlier hours. As soon as this had been decided Boone cast himself upon the ground and, apparently confiding in the ability of Peleg to protect the camp, was soon sleeping soundly.
Just before daybreak the entire band departed from the Falls of the Ohio. In advance went Daniel Boone as guide, while Peleg was to serve as the rear guard.
"It is a long race," the scout explained to his companions. "We have four hundred miles to cross before we arrive at the settlement on the Clinch River. Our safety depends largely upon the promptness with which you do my bidding. If there is one of you who is not willing to obey me in every particular I shall greatly prefer to have him go by himself."
Every member of the party, however, assured the scout that his word was to be law and that every one would implicitly follow his directions throughout the long journey. When daylight came it was manifest in the faces of the surveyors that the terror of the forest was still strong upon them. Every man was armed, and every one carried a small pack upon his back.
It was impossible to make as good time on the return as had been made by Boone and Peleg in the journey to the Falls. However, both hunters were urgent and seldom stopped even when heavy storms came upon them.
At last, when the long journey had been safely made, and the settlement on the Clinch River had been gained, the spirits of the surveyors revived, although they were free to declare that it was the care and wisdom of Boone and his young companion which had brought them safely through the wilderness.
Nearly eight hundred miles had been covered by the two scouts in their long journey, and only sixty-two days had been required to complete it.
Boone and his companion, however, were not to be permitted to rest long. Less than a week had elapsed after their return when Boone called Peleg aside one morning and explained to him that a new project, and one still more perilous than that through which they had safely come, was now to be undertaken.
THE ADVENTURE OF THE SCHOOLMASTER
"Peleg," said the great scout, "Governor Dunmore has sent another request to me."
"Has he?" inquired Peleg eagerly.
In spite of the perils and labours of the long journey which had been made to the Falls of the Ohio, Peleg was eager to be with Daniel Boone wherever he might be. The boy's admiration for his friend had increased with every passing day. The coolness and calmness of the great scout, his gentleness and consideration of others, his fearlessness in time of peril, the readiness with which he met every event, and above all the conviction which held him that he was divinely called to be a pathfinder for the coming generations, all had made a deep impression upon his young companion. Peleg was not without hope, too, that somehow he was coming to hold a place in the interest and affection of the man which once had been held by his son James.
"Yes," continued Boone thoughtfully, "the Governor has given me the command of three garrisons in the campaign which is to be made against the Shawnees."
"When do you go?" queried Peleg.
"Immediately--that is, if I can persuade you to look after my family while I am absent. Israel is beginning to feel that he is almost old enough to take the place of his brother James, but I shall feel very much more at ease if I can go with the assurance that you will be looking out for the welfare of my wife and children."
Striving to repress the disappointment which he felt at the words of his friend, Peleg said quietly, "You know, sir, that I shall be willing to do all in my power for you at any time. I do not know, but----"
The rare smile known only to his closest friends appeared for a moment on the strong face of the hunter as he shook his head and said: "Nay, Peleg, not this time. I fancy there will be other and perhaps greater work soon to be done, and in that you shall have your share. The time is coming when I hope to take my family again to that marvellous region I have found in Kantuckee. No land I have ever seen can compare with it. There I would live and there I would die. Meanwhile I must do my part in trying to make the lives of these hardly beset settlers a little safer."
"You may depend upon me to do my best," said Peleg cordially.
"That is all I need to know, lad, and I shall be at ease while I am gone."
The great scout immediately departed from the little shop which Peleg had built and in which he was accustomed to make or repair the various utensils used by the household of Daniel Boone. Here he had fashioned Singing Susan, and in this place he had rebuilt his gun after his return from the long journey he had made with the scout and in which, as we know, the rifle had suffered from the blow of the tomahawk which the huge Indian had hurled at him.
A moment Peleg stood in the doorway watching the scout as he departed. The expression of the lad's face plainly showed his love and admiration for the man. The calm courage of Boone, softened as it was by his gentleness and guided by his prudence, was crowned by a marvellous modesty. His robust, somewhat uncouth body showed the great strength of the hunter, while it concealed his quickness. His manner was dignified, almost cold, so silent and quiet was he under ordinary circumstances. His face, however, homely though it was, was at times lighted by an expression that was exceedingly kind and tender. He seldom spoke, and almost never of himself, except in reply to direct questions.
Several times during the months that followed Daniel Boone returned to the little settlement on the Clinch, to visit his family and make certain of their safety. On each occasion he was warm in his expressions of gratitude to Peleg for the care which he was taking of those who were in a measure dependent upon him.
There was work to be done every day, and the time passed rapidly for the young scout. One day, while he was busy in his little shop fashioning a new hunting knife, he was suddenly interrupted by the voice of Mrs. Boone. "Peleg! Peleg!" she called. "Come! Come!"
Instantly running toward the log house, Peleg was met by the frightened woman, who, touching him on the arm, said: "Do you hear that sound? What is it?"
Peleg turned abruptly toward the log schoolhouse and listened intently. From within the rude little building sounds such as he never before had heard were issuing. There seemed to be snarls and growls such as a wild beast might have emitted, and mingled with these were cries and screams as of some one in dire distress.
A moment served to convince the young scout that either Schoolmaster Hargrave was in trouble, or some of the school children were in peril; and he darted into his little shop, returning with Singing Susan in his hands.
Swiftly as he ran toward the little building, which was not more than two hundred and fifty feet away, when he arrived he discovered that already several of the women from the settlement were there in advance of him, and with terror-stricken faces were looking first within the schoolhouse, and then to the road for help.
"What is it?" demanded Peleg, as he ran to the door.
"We do not know. We cannot tell," answered one of the women. "It may be evil spirits." She was almost hysterical, and convinced that he could obtain no information from her, Peleg pushed back the door and entered the room.
The sight which greeted his eyes was more perplexing than startling. He saw Schoolmaster Hargrave leaning against one corner of the rude desk over which he presided, his face plainly expressing agony or fear; Peleg was unable to determine which feeling predominated.
"What is it, Master Hargrave?" called the boy anxiously.
In reply no articulate words were spoken; but a scream was followed by a groan, and in the midst of it all were also sounds like the gasping and snarling of some wild beast. The suffering of the man was manifest, but the cause was nowhere to be seen.
There flashed into the mind of the young hunter the suggestion which Mistress Horan had made that evil spirits were the cause of the commotion. Such beliefs were not uncommon at the time, and although Peleg had never shared in the superstitions of the more ignorant people, nevertheless the mystery of the terrifying sounds, as well as the expression of Schoolmaster Hargrave's face, caused even the young hunter to hesitate.
"What is it, Master Hargrave?" he shouted, for the uproar still continued.
"Oh-h-h-h! Help me! Help me!"
The cries of the schoolmaster were interrupted by strange noises, that still appeared to come from within the desk. Moans and cries and snarls, such as a wild beast might have emitted, were plainly to be distinguished in the midst of the uproar.
Peleg had stopped a few feet in front of the desk, and in amazement was watching the man before him. Apparently the schoolmaster was struggling and striving with some unseen body or person, and with intense effort he had grasped both sides of the desk and held it with all his strength, as if he was fearful it might escape. In one hand he also held a cylindrical ruler.
At this moment Mrs. Horan, who had gained sufficient courage to enter the building, advanced to Peleg's side. "I fear 'tis sick the man is," she said. Turning to the schoolmaster she suggested in a loud whisper: "If 'tis colic you are suffering from, Master Hargrave, I would recommend----"
Her recommendation, however, was interrupted by a terrible scream from the suffering man.
"'Tis good for you," said the kind-hearted woman once more. The schoolmaster, however, still writhed as if in great agony and looked at the woman with an expression that might have quieted the tongue of a less courageous woman than Mrs. Horan.
"Why do you cling to the desk in that manner?" demanded the woman.
The agony in the expression of the schoolmaster's face seemed to be deepened by the question, but he made no response.
"What's the matter, Master Hargrave?" demanded the woman once more. "'Tis Peleg and I who are here to help you."
Suddenly from the lips of the tormented man came the cry, "I have caught a cat!" Perspiration was streaming from his face, and his manner, expressive of fright, agony, and fatigue combined, made his words scarcely recognizable.
Peleg glanced behind him and saw that many more of the neighbours had arrived and were curiously standing within the room at a safe distance from the desk, watching the actions of the man, who still writhed and twisted as he clung to the desk in front of him.
The young hunter darted around the corner of the rude desk, to discover the cause of all the trouble. He first saw that a part of the clothing of the unfortunate man had been torn from his body, which was pressed against the edge of the desk. Closer inspection showed that the teeth of a huge "cat," or lynx, were fastened in the side of the schoolmaster. Bringing his gun to his shoulder the scout was about to fire, when the fear of Master Hargrave became stronger even than his sufferings.
"Don't shoot! Don't shoot! You will hit me! Oh-h-h-h!" he screamed, still striving to hold his adversary against the edge of the desk.
Disregarding the appeal, Peleg fired, and after a few confused struggles, the huge cat was lifeless.
Still the schoolmaster held the body in its place, however, and when his sympathetic friends drew him back they were horrified to discover that the jaws of the dead lynx were locked about one of his ribs. Several minutes elapsed before the man was freed from this death grip.
Meanwhile the assembly in the room had increased, and several children that had been brought by their mothers lifted up their voices to add to the general confusion.
In the midst of it all, Mrs. Horan was not to be denied the satisfaction of her curiosity. Pressing more closely upon the man who now had been placed on one of the rude benches almost in a fainting condition, she said: "I thought at first, Master Hargrave, that it was spirits, but now I see it was just a cat. Why did you fight the lynx in that way?"
Ignoring his suffering, the schoolmaster managed to gasp out a tolerably full explanation:
"What do you suppose? I was sitting alone at my desk, writing copy for the children to use on the morrow, when I heard a noise at the door and saw this enormous cat with her forefeet upon the step, every hair standing erect and her eyes shining as if they were on fire. My position behind the desk at first concealed me from her sight, but a slight motion of my chair revealed my presence, and in a moment the cat and I were each looking into the eyes of the other."
Master Hargrave stopped to recover his breath, and aware of the interest of his hearers, for all the visitors now had gathered about him, he resumed his story: "I had heard much from hunters concerning the power of the human eye to quell the fury of wild beasts. Accordingly, I frowned savagely at my visitor. Apparently, however, she was not alarmed. Her eyes flashed fire and she began to gnash her teeth, seemingly bent upon serious hostilities. Aware of my danger, I immediately made great haste and snatched this cylindrical ruler from the desk, but the wildcat was too quick for me."
"Why didn't you hit her?"
"I had nothing but the ruler with which to strike; besides, she was too quick. Springing upon me with all the proverbial ferocity and activity of her tribe, she fastened upon my side with her teeth and began to rend and tear with her claws like unto a fury. In vain did I strive to disengage her. Her teeth seemed to be fastened about my ribs, and all my efforts served but to enrage her the more.
"When I saw the blood flowing so copiously from my wounded side I became seriously alarmed, and as a last resort threw myself upon the edge of the desk and with the entire weight of my body pressed the animal against a sharp corner. It was at this moment that the cat began to utter the most discordant cries to which I ever listened, and as doubtless I was somewhat excited at the time and lost a measure of my self-control, I have no question that we engaged in a duet that must have resounded loudly throughout the settlement."
"That's enough of the story," said Peleg. "We have killed the cat and we shall now take you and put you in bed."
Several weeks elapsed before the schoolmaster recovered sufficiently from his wounds to enable him to resume his task.
It was now March, 1775, and Daniel Boone had returned to the settlement on the Clinch. The task which Governor Dunmore had assigned him had been accomplished. He found Peleg and the members of his family engaged in their preparations for the spring work.
At the close of the first day after his homecoming, the great scout once more had an interview with Peleg. "I have just come from Watage," he explained when no one was near, "where there has been an assembly of the Cherokees. I went at the request of a gentleman named Henderson, who is acting for several other men as well as for himself. He desired me to represent him in the purchase of land south of the river of Kantuckee. I did as he requested, and arrangements for the purchase of all the land as far as the Tennessee River were completed."
"Why did Mr. Henderson----"
"Colonel Henderson," broke in the scout; "Colonel Richard Henderson."
"Why did Colonel Richard Henderson," repeated Peleg, "and the other gentlemen wish to purchase so much land?"
"Because they had learned of the fertility of the soil through the reports which my brother and I had given them. In a way I am to be their agent."
"Did the Cherokees sell to him?"
"They did. I fancy they were glad to part with an empty title for a solid though moderate recompense. Trouble arose, though, when Colonel Henderson and his friends prepared to take possession, relying upon the validity of the deed which the Indians had given them. Unfortunately, the land lies within the limits of Virginia, according to the old charter which King James gave, and I understand that the Virginians are claiming for themselves the privilege of purchasing the title to all land which the Indians held within the limits of their state. Already the treaty of Colonel Henderson has been pronounced null and void as far as he is concerned, but the Virginians declare that the title given by the Cherokees is valid, and that they will assume the rights. That is a very peculiar method of dealing, according to my light. But 'tis not concerning that, lad, that I would speak to you to-day."
The scout was silent a moment, and Peleg, interested far more than his quiet manner betrayed, looked eagerly into the face of his friend, waiting for him to explain.
"I agreed," resumed Boone, "to take a band of men with me and mark out or clear a road to this region in Kantuckee."
"A road?" asked Peleg in surprise.
"Yes, a road over which packhorses and wagons can be driven. It will require patience and much labour, but the reward will be great. Whenever I think of that marvellous country and of the possibilities contained in it for families like my own, I am eager to open the way to it. I am authorized by Colonel Henderson to say that he will pay thirty-three cents per day to every man whom I may select to be of our company."
"When do we go?" inquired Peleg eagerly.
"On the day after to-morrow. How is Singing Susan?" inquired Boone with a smile.
"She is doing famously. I have gained a reputation in the settlement for being a better shot than I would be warranted in claiming to be, unless I had the song of Susan to help me."
"That is good," said Boone cordially. "Now if you can secure an axe that will render you as efficient service in its way as Singing Susan does in hers, you will be well equipped for our expedition. It is important that we make haste, if the way is to be opened in time for settlers to sow any crops this spring."
Hard as it was for Daniel Boone to leave his family again in charge of Israel and Samuel, nevertheless his strong feeling that he was simply an instrument being used to further the advance of the rapidly growing nation in the American colonies was sufficient to induce him to accept this task. In addition, his wife shared the same conviction. She, too, was eager for him to continue his labours, and in spite of the anxiety she would suffer during his absence, she urged him to accept the offer which Colonel Henderson had made.
At the appointed time a band of twenty-five men, every one fully armed and all equipped with axes, departed from the settlement on the Clinch. Confidence in their leader and the hope that not only would they be able to open a way into the marvellous land, but that their own families also might share in the reward, made all the men eager to go. It was not believed that the task would require many weeks, but the necessity of preparing the soil and planting some crops before the summer came was an inducement for haste.
There were places where trees had to be felled, and the ringing of the axes was heard all the day long. In other regions, however, very little labour was required, because the road, as it was selected, led in its winding course around many open ledges and through sparsely wooded passes of the hills and mountains.
Nearly three weeks passed and the hardy band of hunters and woodsmen was drawing near the region which they were seeking. They had not been molested by the Indians, and were beginning to congratulate themselves that they were to escape the perils which every day threatened them.
Without warning, one day, however, above the ringing of the axes were heard the wild cries of the red men. Darting from the woods, shouting and brandishing their guns and hatchets, the Indians suddenly appeared. Dodging from tree to tree and firing upon the startled white men, they seemed to be on all sides at once.
Instantly the coolness and courage of Daniel Boone became invaluable. Though many of his comrades had been surprised and terrified by the sudden onslaught, the great scout had held himself prepared for the present emergency.
"Run for the trees!" shouted Boone. "Run! Hold your fire until you gain cover and then give the rascals your best!" As Boone looked out from his own shelter after his rifle had been discharged, he saw several of his companions lying dead or wounded upon the ground.
Calmly yet swiftly Boone darted from the protection of the forest, and lifting one of the men in his arms bore him back within shelter.
The example of the leader, mindful of the needs of others in the hour of his own peril, inspired his companions to similar action, and, in the midst of all the turmoil and danger, the other wounded men were rescued. It soon was discovered, however, that three of the fallen men were already dead.
The temporary withdrawal of the warriors to the forest left the field free once more, and Boone turned to his companions and said, "Come with me, every one!"
Instantly his followers responded, and, dashing to the place where their companions had fallen, they bore the bodies back to a place of safety, thankful to find that they had not yet been mutilated.
There was no time for ceremony or for lamentations, and the three who had fallen to rise no more were hastily buried in one grave by their comrades.
The unexpected attack, following as it had the long days of quiet, was seriously disturbing to the roadmakers. That evening there were no camp-fires, and guards were established to watch through the night.
When morning came the alarm had not been repeated, and many were persuaded that the assault of the previous day was merely the act of a desperate band which had attacked the settlers without any preconceived plan. Nevertheless Daniel Boone declared that it was necessary to maintain a guard throughout the day.
The labour was entered into with zeal, and though a renewal of the attack was not made, thoughts of the new peril were in the minds of every man, and made all serious. At the request of his followers Boone devoted most of his time to scouting in the nearby region, a duty which he insisted upon sharing with his younger companion, Peleg.
The sun had dropped below the borders of the forest, and the men were congratulating themselves that the day had passed without a renewal of hostilities, when suddenly both scouts were seen running swiftly toward the place where the men had encamped for the night.
This startling sight was sufficient to arouse every member of the party. Every man seized his gun and ran for the shelter of some huge tree.
[Illustration: "Boone quickly rallied his startled followers, and when the red men returned the hardy settlers were ready and awaiting their coming"]
Boone was wildly gesticulating as he drew near, but his gestures were misunderstood by his friends. Before either scout was able to regain the place where the pioneers were hiding, there was another wild whoop and a band of Indians larger than that which had been seen the previous day darted from the woods in the rear of the settlers. Before they were able to return the unlooked-for fire, two of their number fell dead from the bullets of their enemies, while three more were wounded.
Like a flash the Indians were gone again. But Boone quickly rallied his startled followers and when the red men returned, as they did within a few minutes, appearing from another section of the forest, the hardy settlers were ready and awaiting their coming.
Once more had the careful preparation of Boone for what he thought was likely to occur saved his followers and himself from peril.
Several of the Indians fell under the deadly fire of the white men, and with loud cries and lamentations the warriors dragged their fallen comrades into the forest and once more disappeared.
"Never have I seen the Indians so savage as in these two attacks," said Boone soberly to Peleg, after guards had been established for the night and the men had stretched themselves on their blankets to obtain such sleep as was possible in the midst of the threatening dangers. "They seem almost beside themselves with rage."
"Do you still plan to go on?"
"I shall go on," said Boone simply. "The way must be opened for our people to gain some of the advantages of this wonderful region toward which we are moving. The tribes hereabout are a strange people. I have never known Indians more hospitable than are the Cherokees and Shawnees. If one brave enters the wigwam of another, even if it be that of a stranger, he is deeply offended if he is not given an invitation to eat, though he may just have had a meal at his own wigwam. Nor is it sufficient on these occasions that the ordinary food be offered him. You know the Indians live mostly on venison and hominy, but when a visitor comes, sugar, bear's oil, honey, and rum, if they have it, are to be set before him."
"Suppose they do not have anything in the house to eat?"
"Then the fact is stated quietly. It is at once accepted as sufficient. I was in a wigwam not long ago where the visitor thought the host was not as hospitable as he ought to be and he took him severely to task. He said: 'You have behaved just like a Dutchman. I shall excuse you this time, for you are young, and have been brought up close to the white people, but you must remember to behave like a warrior and never be caught in such _little_ actions. Great actions alone can ever make a great man.' They are a strange people," added Boone thoughtfully. "I saw a white man some time ago trying to help in carrying some game which the warriors had shot. I shall never forget how the Indians laughed when, after the squaws and the boys had started to bring back the meat, this white man took a large piece of buffalo meat on his own back. After he had gone two or three miles he found it was becoming too heavy for him and he threw it down. Then I saw one of the squaws, laughing as if it was a huge joke, take the meat which the white man had dropped and put it on her own pack, which already was as large as that of the man, and carry the double burden back to camp."
"They are not as swift as our men, though," suggested Peleg.
"Not for a short distance," assented Boone, "but they can keep up a pace for an almost incredible length of time. I have known Indians who could run twelve or fourteen hours without a morsel of food, and then, after a light meal and a short rest, start again and go as far as they had before they stopped."
"They never do that in fighting, though."
"No, they may keep up a warfare for many years, but they never make a prolonged attack. They like a sudden dash such as they made upon us and in which those poor fellows were killed. Peleg, I fear the morrow. The Shawnees that are watching us see our axes, and they are sure now that we are trying to enter their hunting grounds and take away their lands. We shall have serious trouble, I fear."
And the following day Boone's fears were confirmed.
THE WHITE SHAWNEE
There was no open attack by the Indians such as had been made previously, though the yells of the warriors were frequently heard in the distance. It was plain that they were striving to terrorize the hardy settlers and make them turn back on their way.
One of the men who had been stationed as a guard was shot early in the morning and his mutilated body was not found until Daniel Boone, making a tour of the camp, discovered what had befallen his companion.
Returning to the camp, Boone summoned his men, and as soon as they were assembled, said to them: "We must stop our work on the road for a time and build a fort."
There was an expression of consternation on the faces of some of his comrades as they heard this quiet statement from the scout, and, aware of what was in their minds, though no one spoke, Daniel Boone continued; "It will not require many days. I think a fortnight will be sufficient for us to build such a fort as will protect us. We are now almost as far on our way as we wish to go. We will begin the work at once."
Whatever disappointment or fears may have been in the minds of his companions, no one made any open protest, and the task immediately was begun. Certain of the men were assigned to the felling of trees, others dug trenches and set the logs in the stockade, which was erected first.
When the stockade had been completed, various cabins were built wherein the men might live if they were compelled to seek the refuge of the fort.
The defences were erected near a spring of water that promised to be never-failing. Nearby was the river, so close to the fort as to enable the defenders to escape if flight became necessary. And yet the fort was sufficiently far from the banks to prevent an approach by their enemies without being discovered.
So steadily did the men labour that Boone's prophecy was fulfilled, and when fourteen days had elapsed the little fort was declared to be ready for occupancy. The stockade was strong and had been made of the stakes fashioned from the trees. One end of each log was sharpened and then all were driven into the ground side by side; portholes being provided at frequent intervals.
A feeling of intense relief came to the hardly beset men when the work was completed. The supreme thought, however, in the mind of the leader, was voiced when he explained to Peleg the following day: "It is now April, and I must go back to the settlement on the Clinch for my family."
"Alone?" inquired Peleg quickly.
"Yes, alone. I must not take one man away from the party here, and I shall be doubly anxious for you all while I am gone; but the time has come when I may think of my family and myself. In this wonderful land I, too, would make my home."
"But will you dare to come back with your family with only you and Israel to protect them?"
Boone's face lighted up with the rare smile which occasionally appeared upon it as he said: "There will be others, many others, I hope, who will join us on our way."
"I never knew the Indians to be so savage as they are now," suggested Peleg anxiously.
"That is true," said Boone, "and one cannot altogether blame them. They seem to be well-nigh mad in their hatred of us because we have begun to build our homes in the land which they planned to keep as their own. If it were not for their fear of the 'Long Knives,' as they term us, I fancy they would make a desperate assault very soon. As it is, however, they have a wholesome feeling of fear mingled with their anger, and although you will have to be continually on your guard, I do not believe they will venture to attack the fort while I am gone."
Peleg made no reply, and the scout, acting as if the last word had been spoken, soon after set forth on his long journey to the Clinch.
During the absence of their leader the men continued their labours, felling the trees and clearing the land, until in the immediate vicinity of the fort sufficient ground had been made tillable to enable them to plant the few seeds which Boone had insisted should be brought with them.
The days now were warm, and the delights of the marvellous climate were appreciated by all the men.
The only event of special interest that occurred during the absence of the scout was the coming of Sam Oliver. As unconcerned as if he had long been a member of the company and had earned his thirty-three cents per day for his labours, the hunter entered the fort one night and composedly received the warm greetings which were given him. It was well known that the newcomer was a famous shot, and the coming of even one man strengthened the little garrison not a little.
The general line of the defence of the fort was at once mapped out by Sam, who without a word assumed the position of leader. It was he who arranged the details and the nightly guards which were maintained, and it was his word which decided any dispute that arose among the men.
One day Peleg was on guard in the adjacent forest. His watch was almost ended and he was about to return to the fort, when he was startled to behold an Indian approaching with the palms of both hands extended.
Holding Singing Susan in readiness for instant use, and glancing keenly about him into the adjacent forest to make sure that his visitor was unaccompanied, Peleg waited patiently for the stranger to approach.
As the warrior drew near Peleg looked at him with increasing astonishment. Dressed in the Indian garb, the warrior, who seemed to be only about twenty years of age, nevertheless had no features like those of the neighbouring tribes. Tanned, the stranger undoubtedly was, but nevertheless his skin did not have the bronze colouring of the Indian. His figure and even his walk were more like the white man's. And yet in every other point the stranger apparently was of the Indian race.
As he drew near Peleg, his face was lighted by a smile as he said, "Me broder. Me white Shawnee."
Peleg did not respond, although his astonishment was increased by the speech of the approaching warrior.
"Me wan' go home. No fader. Me Shawnee fader. Me wan' white fader. White moder dead. White fader dead. No Shawnee fader some more."
The puzzling statements were followed by some words unintelligible to Peleg, though he concluded that they were spoken in the Shawnee tongue.
"Do you want to see Daniel Boone?" he inquired.
Gesticulating forcefully, the young man inquired, "He me fader?"
"White fader dead. White moder dead. Shawnee warriors kill me fader. Kill moder. Many moons ago."
A puzzled expression for a moment appeared on the stranger's face, and then, comprehending the meaning of the question, he opened and closed his hands so many times that, although Peleg was unable to count the number of moons indicated, he concluded that the Shawnee was approximately of his own age.
"Me live in Shawnee wigwam many moons. Me Shawnee. Me white Shawnee. Me have Shawnee fader and Shawnee broder," and he held up two fingers to indicate the number of his brothers.
[Illustration: "One of the men who had been stationed as a guard was shot early in the morning"]
"What are you doing here? What do you want?" demanded Peleg sharply. He was mystified by the statements which had been made and was fearful of some trap or treachery on the part of his visitor or his companions, who might even then be watching from the nearby forest.
"Me fader, me broder, me go," the visitor replied, pointing to himself. "All go trap many beaver, many mink, many muskrat," he added, making a circle with his hand to indicate his inability to count the pelts which had been taken. "Me broder he wan' go on warpath. He wan' help drive palefaces out Kantuckee. Me fader he say he go," nodding his head many times to emphasize his statement. "But one night many owls scream and cry. He say then no go. Me broder he say go. Me fader say yes."
"Where are they now?"
The young stranger gazed earnestly into the face of his questioner, and at last, apparently comprehending his question, turned and waved his hand toward the forest to indicate that the men to whom he had referred were far away.
"Why are you here? Why do you not go with them?"
"Me wan' see white faces some more. Me wan' find white broder. Me white Shawnee, where go? Must see paleface wigwam."
For a moment Peleg was silent as he gazed earnestly into the face of the young man who had so strongly impressed him. He was convinced that he was indeed white, and he concluded that he must have been adopted by the Indians many years ago. As a consequence of his association with the Shawnees, doubtless he had almost forgotten the language of his own people.
In his statement words unknown to Peleg were spoken, but he had understood enough to convince him that either the white Shawnee was speaking the truth, or else was trying to set some trap into which the defenders of the fort might be drawn.
"Come with me," said the young scout finally. As they turned toward the fort they met Sam Oliver, who stopped and gazed in surprise at Peleg's companion, and laughed scornfully when he heard the story of the stranger.
"You say you and your Shawnee father and brother buried the canoe in which you came down the river?" demanded the hunter brutally as he turned upon the visitor.
"Then you take us straight to the place where it is. I know well enough you are trying to play some sneaking game on us, and if you are, you will be the first one to suffer for it. If you try to lead us into any trap, no matter what happens to us, I will put a bullet into you."
"No go," pleaded the young warrior.
"You must go!" retorted Sam Oliver harshly.
Peleg sympathized with the stranger. He understood, he thought, the desire of the returning white man to shield his foster-father and brother. The young hunter was now convinced that his visitor had spoken truthfully.
"Sam," he ventured to suggest, "this young brave was stolen when he was a little child, and he has lived with his Shawnee father ever since. He doesn't want to betray him. You cannot blame him for that, can you?"
"There is only one way to deal with the varmints!" retorted Sam hotly. "You might just as well try to make a pet out of a nest of rattlesnakes as to try to be friends with an Indian. No, sir! This--whatever he is, white man, or red man--he must prove what he has said, and the only way for him to do it is to take us to the place where he pretends that canoe is buried in the ground."
The brutal manner of the hunter apparently had made a deep impression upon the stranger. With manifest reluctance he finally consented to conduct the party to the place where the canoe was buried. It was well known among the settlers that the Indians, after their voyages on the river, buried their light canoes to prevent them from being warped by sun and rain.
"You go where owl cry. Owl scream, me fader--iron----" The stranger stopped as if he was unable to recollect the word he wished to use, making motions with his hands to describe what he wished to say.
Peleg suggested, "Was it an iron kettle?"
A vigorous nod from the stranger indicated that was the word he was trying to recall, and he continued, "Me fader hide iron kettle in hole in tree. Me show you."
"You wait here," ordered Sam, "while I get two or three more men and we will soon look up that kettle."
Peleg suspected that the white Shawnee, in order to delay the quest of the hidden canoe and thereby give his foster-father and brother an opportunity to escape from the region, had suggested a visit to the tree where the cry of the owl had alarmed his father.
In a brief time, however, Sam and his companions returned, and the hunter roughly ordered the stranger to lead the way.
THE HIDDEN CANOE
While Sam Oliver had been gone to the fort to secure a few of his comrades to accompany him, the young Indian, or white, or white Indian--Peleg was uncertain to which class his visitor really belonged--entered with apparent confidence into conversation with the young scout. In his broken English he related many things concerning the life which he had lived in the wigwam of his foster father.
Peleg was impressed by the increasing facility with which the white Shawnee, as the young brave preferred to call himself, was using the language of the whites.
It may have been that the words he now heard recalled to his mind expressions which had almost faded from his memory. At all events he talked more freely and with an increasing ability to express himself.
"Me fader hear owl cry. He know from strange cry that some die or be pris'ner. He old man. He 'fraid. He say go back up river. Me broder he say no. Me say no. Me fader still 'fraid, but he keep him promise."
"What was his promise?" inquired Peleg.
"He say he take us on warpath to help keep palefaces from going into Kantuckee. He no wan' go, but he say he go. We all lie down sleep. Pretty quick me fader wake up. Me fader wake me broder. Wake me, too."
"What was the trouble?" asked Peleg.
"Me fader have sleep and see----"
"What do you mean, he had a dream?"
"That so," replied the visitor, nodding his head. "Me fader have dream."
"What did he dream?"
"He say we go to Kantuckee, we die. Me fader cry. He no wan' go on warpath."
"But you came," suggested Peleg.
His visitor nodded and continued: "Me fader say he keep him promise. But he say more. He say we go back to wigwam. Go quick. He good man. Heap good man. He keep him promise. Me broder say me fader mus' keep him promise now."
"So you came?"
"We go on warpath. Me fader say he go quick. No stay any more where we sleep."
"So you started right away, did you?"
"We go on warpath all night. When light come we turn to place where white man build fort."
"Are there many Shawnees here?"
The young visitor, nodding, said: "Pretty quick, heap Shawnee come."
He held up three and then four fingers to express the idea that the Indian bands were advancing in parties of three or more, and at some prearranged place or by some well-known signals the scattered little parties would be brought together and one large band formed.
The information was startling to the young scout and seemed to him to be altogether probable. It was in accordance with the well-known methods of Indian fighting, and agreed with experiences which the young hunter already had had.
He deeply regretted the absence of the great leader. The gentleness and firmness, the courage and resource of Daniel Boone would be greatly needed if the Shawnees attacked the little fort. Boone, however, was not near and his help could not be relied upon.
Meanwhile Peleg was awaiting the return of Sam Oliver. He was well aware of the excellent qualities which the hunter possessed, and he was familiar also with the intense bitterness with which Sam looked upon the Indians. For him they possessed no good qualities. They were simply enemies of the whites and to be exterminated like the rattlesnake and the panther. He recognized no feeling of patriotism on their part, and, because the method of their warfare was cruel, he judged their motives accordingly.
"Me no wan' go where canoe is," said the young brave earnestly. "Me love Shawnee fader. Me no betray him. Him good man. Me fader kind to me. No wan' him lose scalp."
"It is too bad," acknowledged Peleg. He was distressed by the fear that Sam Oliver and his companions would have little mercy upon the Indian father to whom they were compelling the young man to conduct them. In his heart there was a desire to help the young stranger who had felt the call of his own people so strongly that he had even deserted the family which had cared for him since his early childhood.
Peleg's thoughts were interrupted by the return of the hunter and four of his comrades. It was evident that all five were suspicious of treachery, and also that they were determined to put the strange visitor's words to the test.
"Now, then!" ordered Sam, as he turned sharply upon the white Shawnee. "You take us straight to that place where you say your canoe was hid."
Apparently unmoved by the brutal demand, the young visitor answered, "Me no wan' you hurt me fader. Him good fader. Him take care me."
"Why didn't you stay with him then?" laughed Sam.
"Me wan' see white fader's people, too. Me wan' find white moder's people," said the visitor simply.
"You will have time enough to look them up after we have found out whether you are telling us the truth or not," declared Sam. "I have my suspicions that you are trying to get us into some trap, and as I told you before, if you are I shall fill you full of lead the first thing. If I find you are trying to trap us, you cannot complain if I do just what I tell you I shall do."
"Me no wan' go," repeated the young man.
"You are going whether you want to go or not," retorted Sam Oliver brutally. "Are you coming with us, Peleg?" he inquired, turning to the young scout.
"I am," said Peleg quietly. He had made his decision instantly in his desire to protect or help the young visitor, whose suffering in the prospect of being compelled to betray his father had deeply stirred the heart of the young hunter. Aware that there was no escape from the demand, the white Shawnee turned and led the way into the forest.
The men who were following him were continually alert, suspicious as they were of the treachery of their guide, and fearful of the presence of other Shawnees in the forest through which they were moving.
The confidence of Sam Oliver, who followed close upon the heels of the stranger, in a measure strengthened the courage of his followers.
Peleg, who was next behind the leader, was as observant of the hunter as he was of the signs in the woods. He was convinced, too, that the young stranger was using time either to delay his followers or to give them an opportunity to abandon their demand for him to be false to the foster-father who had cared for him since his childhood.
If such thoughts had been in the mind of the young white Shawnee they were not expressed and certainly were not fulfilled. There was no escaping the demands of Sam Oliver and his companions.
At last, when an hour or more had elapsed, the guide stopped and, raising his hand in token of silence, in a low voice explained that they were approaching the tree in which the iron kettle had been concealed.
Instantly the demeanour of the settlers changed and they began to creep forward more stealthily. Every man was alert to discover the presence of the Indian who still might be near the place where the kettle had been hidden.
After a few moments Peleg perceived two Indians not far before him. Both were seated before a fire cooking some venison. One of the warriors was an old man and his companion not much more than a boy.
The guide discovered the two Indians at the same time that Peleg did and instantly he became greatly agitated. Once more he turned to Sam Oliver and in low tones begged him not to kill the man who had been his foster-father nor the other who had been his foster-brother.
"Sam," whispered Peleg, "it will be better for us just to make prisoners of these two men. I think we ought to do this. The boy plainly has spoken the truth. He did not want to betray his father and his brother, and you and I cannot blame him. Take both the Indians prisoners, but do not fire upon them."
Aware that Sam was somewhat moved by his plea, Peleg repeated his request more urgently and was almost as relieved as the guide when at last Sam reluctantly consented.
In accordance with the directions of the hunter the band scattered to surround the place where the two unsuspecting Indians were cooking their dinner. When all the preliminaries had been completed, Sam Oliver stepped forward and in his loudest tones demanded the surrender of both men. At the same time his companions darted forward, making a rush upon the unarmed warriors.
To the surprise of every one, the old Indian made a desperate resistance. With an almost incredible quickness the Indian boy dodged his enemies and escaped to the forest. The old man, apparently striving to hold back the attacking party, resisted to the utmost of his strength until in his rage Sam Oliver raised his rifle to his shoulder and shot him.
The recent guide, when he saw his foster-father fall, instantly rushed to the spot where the old man was lying. The aged warrior was bleeding profusely, but he was still conscious. Flinging himself upon the ground beside the prostrate body, with the tears streaming down his cheeks and his voice broken by sobs, again and again the white Shawnee spoke to the aged warrior. Even Sam Oliver was silent as he saw the grief of their guide.
His companions indifferently watched the bereaved boy, but Peleg looked away when he saw the old man raise his hand feebly and place it upon the head of his adopted son. It was a token of his forgiveness, although his few words were not understood by the listening group. The meaning of the act, however, was clear to every one.
Soon the old warrior breathed his last, and as soon as Sam Oliver was aware that the end had come his sympathy speedily departed. Turning once more to the guide and ignoring the grief of the boy, he roughly said: "Now take us where that canoe is buried. The other Indian has got away from us, and he will probably make straight for the canoe. You lead us there about as fast as you can travel and we will try to head him off before he can go down the river!"
In broken utterances the young white Shawnee begged the hunter not to enforce this last demand. "Me show where me fader was. Me fader dead. Me no show where broder is. Me wan' broder escape. No go broder! No go broder!" he besought the hunter earnestly.
Sam Oliver, however, was not to be turned from his decision. "You go with us or I shall make you!" he said, and in spite of Peleg's protests he turned the young guide's face to the forest and with many threats compelled him to lead the way.
Two hours elapsed before they came near the place where the canoe had been buried. Creeping cautiously among the trees, the settlers came within rifle shot of the spot, and as they peered keenly about them no one at first was able to discover the presence of the young Indian.
By the direction of Oliver every man remained in his hiding-place waiting for the arrival of the Indian boy, who, Sam was convinced, would soon come to the place. This expectation was fulfilled, as in about ten minutes the young Indian appeared and started to the sandy shore of the river.
Without hesitation he proceeded to the spot where the canoe had been hidden and, as he began to dig the sand, the hunter ordered his companions to fire upon him. The reports of the five rifles rang out together.
The young Shawnee leaped high into the air and fell dead upon the sand. Doubtless he never knew of the unwilling treachery of his foster-brother by which he and his father had lost their lives.
The grief of the white Shawnee at the death of his foster-brother was pitiful to behold. Even Sam Oliver and his companions, who seldom showed any sympathy for the Indians, were not unmoved by his agonized cries of grief.
In the Shawnee tongue, some words of which all the white men present understood, the young stranger poured forth his sorrows. He called upon the spirits of his foster-father and brother to wait for him in their journey to the happy hunting-grounds. He explained that in no way had his treachery been of his own choosing. In spite of his protest, he explained, he had been compelled to direct the white men to the place where those who were nearest and dearest to him had fallen before their fire.
Several minutes elapsed and no one of the settlers spoke. Then Sam Oliver said sharply: "We have had enough of this! I feel just about as guilty as I do when I shoot a panther cub." Without a further word the hunter stepped to the place where the body of the young Indian was lying and scalped his victim. Even Peleg, hardened though he was to the scenes that were enacted upon the border, shuddered as he saw his companion perform this act.
At the urgent request of Peleg the white Shawnee was permitted to return with his newly found friend to bury the body of his foster-father, after his brother also had received decent burial at his hands.
When this act, in which Peleg had aided, was completed, the young hunter turned to his heartbroken companion and said, "You must come to the fort with me."
"No go! No go!" wailed the visitor.
"I do not blame you very much," acknowledged Peleg, "but you have no other home, and you might just as well come with me. I am sure you will be treated kindly, and as soon as Daniel Boone comes back you need have no further fears. If you go back to the Shawnees they will think you have betrayed your father and brother. Of course I understand that you did not do anything of the kind."
"Me do! Me false to me fader," interrupted the white Shawnee, his lamentations breaking forth afresh.
"What is your name?" abruptly demanded Peleg.
The reply of his companion sounded to him very like Tontileaugo, but although it was repeated several times Peleg was unable to pronounce it distinctly.
"I might call you Tonti, and I might call you Henry. Which do you like better?"
"No call Tonti."
"Then I will call you Henry. Don't you remember what your name was when you were a white boy?"
"Henry" shook his head, although plainly he was striving to recall the name which belonged to the years that were now dim in his memory.
"You come with me," said Peleg.
Together the two boys returned to the fort. Neither of them spoke until they entered within the stockade, where the men of the settlement were assembled listening to Sam Oliver's dramatic description of the events which had just taken place.
The sight of the hunter seemed to revive the sorrow of Henry, as Peleg henceforth called the young stranger, and bring back recollections of his own, unwilling treachery to the family which had been kind to him since the time of his adoption into the tribe.
However, Peleg did his utmost to shield his friend, to whom his heart went out in strong sympathy.
"What you goin' to do with your friend?" laughed Sam as he spoke to Peleg when the group at last scattered.
"I am going to take care of him," replied Peleg quietly.
"Make a pet of him, are you? The next rattler I find or the next wolf's cub I run across I will bring back to you, lad, and let you make a pet of that, too. The only trouble is that a rattlesnake is kinder at heart than an Indian."
Peleg shook his head but did not reply to this statement of the hunter.
"It is true, what I am tellin' you," continued Sam, as if somehow he was striving to justify himself. "It's got to be extermination. Either you kill the redskins or they will kill you. There isn't room for both in the same land. They are trying to kill us off, and I am not one to sit down quietly and invite them to bring their tomahawks and brain me. If I can get the drop on them before they can get it on me, that's all to my advantage."
"I think Henry feels----" began Peleg.
"Henry? Who's Henry?" broke in Sam Oliver.
"That's the name I have given this boy. He told me what his name was in Shawnee, but I could not quite get it. It sounded like Tontileaugo, and I offered to call him Tonti for short but he didn't like that."
"You will live to regret the day you ever took him in," warned Sam.
"But he is a white boy," persisted Peleg.
"Born white, but raised an Indian. It doesn't make much difference where a man is born. He grows to be like what he sees and is used to. He has been brought up to look at things through Indian eyes and he thinks Indian thoughts. You will find he will play you false before you are done with him."
"I shall have to take my chance as to that," said Peleg. "Daniel Boone has told me to try to do something to help somebody every day. He told me to start out with that in my mind the first thing every morning."
"You are makin' a mistake, lad," said Sam Oliver more quietly.
It was plain to Peleg that the old hunter was convinced that what he said was true, and there had been many experiences along the border to justify him in his conclusion. What Sam Oliver had been unable to comprehend was that, much as the methods of the Indians in their warfare were to be condemned, they still were fighting for the protection of the lands which they believed to be their own.
A few days afterward Daniel Boone and his family arrived with their little caravan, which included two milch cows and several pack-horses. The scout was hilariously greeted by the settlers, and without opposition at once resumed his position as leader of the little community.
Every one that could share in the labour was busily engaged now throughout the long hours of the day. The sound of the axe was continually heard, and the few crops which had been planted were carefully tended, and, what is more, were giving promise of an abounding harvest from the small sowing.
Peleg had related to the great scout the events which had been connected with the coming of Henry to the settlements. The young scout's heart was still sore for his friend, who now had little to say to any one except Peleg. Together the boys toiled in the field or hunted game in the forests; but Henry was never stationed as a guard.
"It is this way, lad," said Boone, after he had heard the entire story. "Sam Oliver means right, but he has no understanding of the feelings of any one else. Because _I_ shoot an Indian and _he_ shoots an Indian, he thinks we both act from the same motive. Never yet have I raised my rifle to fire at an Indian without feeling in my heart that perhaps he might be as fully entitled to the land for which he is struggling as I am. I should be glad to share with him. The trouble is he will not share with me. There ought to be room enough here for us both; but, now I am sure, lad, through the actions of the Indians themselves, it must be either white man or red man who will dwell in this wonderful country." As he spoke, Daniel Boone looked around him at the wonderful vision that spread before his eyes. It was a day late in the summer and a slight haze rested over the forests and the fields. The silence which enveloped all things was in itself impressive. The cloudless sky and the colours of the trees below the hill where the scout and his companion were standing combined to impress upon their minds the marvellous beauty of the region. "This is destined to be a great land, lad," Boone said simply. "It is a wonderful thing that you and I should have a little part in opening it up. When I close my eyes, almost I see the homes that will be built here, the men and women who will find resting-places here; even the voices of the little children who will be born two hundred years from now are sounding in my ears." Changing his tone, Boone said: "Have you seen anything in your friend to make you feel suspicious of him?"
"Never!" said Peleg positively. "Have you?"
"No. There are some men in the settlement, however, who are fearful that he may try to betray us when trouble comes."
"He never will," said Peleg positively. "If you had been with me and seen him when Sam Oliver shot his foster-father and brother I am sure you would never suspect Henry of not being true."
"That is my feeling, lad," said Boone gently. "Do all in your power to prevent him from doing anything which might arouse the anger or even the suspicions of our men."
"He never talks to Sam Oliver and very seldom to any one else. He stays with me all through the day, except when I am on guard."
"You are welcome to bring him to our home any time."
"To stay there?" inquired Peleg.
"That is what I mean, lad," replied the great scout, his face lighting up with the occasional smile that appeared upon it. "My wife and daughters feel toward him as I do. Do you know that they were the first white women ever to stand on the banks of the Kantuckee River?"
"I had not thought of that," replied Peleg.
"There are many others coming soon. Already I have received word that Mrs. McGary, Mrs. Hogan, and Mrs. Denton are on their way here."
The arrival soon afterward of more than a score of white men to join the settlers aroused great enthusiasm, because now it was confidently believed that, after so many had passed safely over the roadway which Boone and his companions had opened to the beautiful region, many more would surely follow. These expectations were soon fulfilled.
The continued labours of the whites, however, had increased the intense hostility of the Indians, who naturally believed all these lands belonged to them. When they saw the settlers felling the trees and erecting their houses and planting their crops, a spirit of determination to drive the whites from the region spread among the tribes.
There was just now, however, a lull in the direct warfare. Dusky faces occasionally were seen in the forest, but there was no open attack.
Daniel Boone, however, was not to be deceived. He was confident that it was simply the hush which at times precedes the coming of the tempest. In his own mind he was convinced that the Indians simply were reserving their strength until they could rally a sufficient number to make an attack worth while. And Boone in the midst of all his labours--for he was toiling with the men of the settlement--was forming plans by which he hoped to meet the fierce attacks he expected the Shawnees to make.
Frequent sallies upon the men when they were at work in the fields now began to be made. While they were plowing, the stealthy warriors did their utmost to waylay and shoot them. When they were hunting they were chased and sometimes fired upon. Sometimes an Indian would creep up near the fort in the night and fire upon the first of the garrison to appear in the morning. The little settlement soon was in a state of continual and increasing alarm.
Even many of the ordinary duties of life were performed only at great risk. But the determination in the hearts of the hardy people to defend their new homes in the wonderful region strengthened with every passing day.
Many of the settlers every night assembled within the walls of the fort. It was the expressed desire of Boone that all should do this, for in this way only could the safety of every one be assured. For the most part the people responded willingly to his appeal, and after a certain eventful night all were willing to heed his counsel. On that particular night occurred a struggle with the prowling Indians which made the name of one of the heroic women long to be remembered.
As has been stated, the opening by Daniel Boone of the road through the wilderness to the new settlement, and the safety with which the journey thither had been accomplished, were strong inducements now to other families to make similar ventures.
Within a few months the little settlement had increased until it contained at least one hundred and fifty people. Trees had been felled, log houses had been built, and with great energy the new people were preparing to make permanent homes in the fertile valleys. Most of the newcomers were more than willing to follow the suggestion of Boone, who strongly advised all the settlers to seek safety in the shelter of the fort when night fell.
The great scout was convinced that the Shawnees were continually watching the little community, and that their anger at the determination of the settlers to make permanent abodes in the beautiful region was steadily increasing. Every day Boone was watchful. Occasionally the red men were seen, and not infrequently they crept close enough to the fort, or to the men when they were toiling in the forests or fields, to fire upon them; but as yet no concerted attack had been made.
Among the families which had come was one named Merrill. Mr. Merrill was a vigorous, active young man, and his wife was almost as large as he and as strong. So convinced were the two young people of their ability to withstand any attack that might be made upon their home that they had been somewhat unmindful of the request of the leader.
One morning in December Daniel Boone said to Peleg: "I wish you to go to Mr. Merrill's at once, and say to him that I have seen recently some signs of the Indians which greatly disturb me. It will not be necessary for you to say more, except that I strongly urge the Merrills to comply with my suggestion and come nightly to the fort."
Peleg, at the request of the scout, mounted a horse and rode in the direction of the little log cabin which the Merrills had erected on the extreme border beyond the settlement. He and Henry, accompanied by young Israel Boone, who now had become almost a man in size, had been frequent visitors at the friendly home of the Merrills. It was therefore with a feeling of personal interest as well as anxiety that the young hunter hastened to carry out the suggestion of the great scout.
Before he arrived at the little house its appearance suggested to him that something was wrong. It was early in the morning and yet no smoke was rising from the chimney. The silence which rested over the place seemed ominous. So anxious was the young scout that he dismounted before he entered the clearing, tied his horse to one of the trees, and then cautiously crept forward to discover what might be amiss with the household.
When Peleg approached the border of the little clearing he halted and peered anxiously before him. No one was seen about the place. Delaying only a brief time, and holding Singing Susan in his hands ready for instant use if occasion required, Peleg called to the inmates of the house.
"Hello!" he called. As no response was given to his hail, he raised his voice and called again, "Hello! Mr. Merrill!" Not even the dog, which was a great pet of Peleg's, made any response. Several minutes elapsed and the silence was still unbroken.
Troubled by his failure to arouse any one, Peleg darted swiftly across the clearing and, as he approached the door, stopped in astonishment when he beheld near the threshold the bodies of two dead Indians. As he looked about he saw bloody trails leading into the forest, which indicated that others also had been wounded. In the door a large breach had been made which was evidently the work of the Indian tomahawks.
The young scout, his flesh creeping at his discovery, glanced about him in every direction, but no sign of friend or enemy could he see. The door itself was partly open, and as Peleg stepped within the little cabin the odour of burned feathers greeted him.
There were many indications of a struggle which plainly had taken place within the room, but it was not until he had passed out to the rear of the little building and descried Mrs. Merrill approaching that his full courage returned. The resolute woman, her face pale, but otherwise not betraying any emotion, approached the young scout and said quietly: "I have just buried my husband."
The astonishment of Peleg was so great that he was unable to reply to the staggering statement, and then aware that the silent grief of his friend was almost more than she could bear, he assisted her within the house and soon was listening to her story.
"I did not like to bury my husband so soon," began the woman at last, "but I dared not wait to ask any one to come."
"Tell me about it," said Peleg quietly, "unless you think that we had better start for the fort right away."
Mrs. Merrill shook her head as she said: "I do not think there is need of immediate haste. It must have been about midnight when our dog began to growl so savagely that my husband thought something must be wrong. He got up, and when he opened the door to find out what the trouble was he received the fire of six or seven Indians. He sank to the floor, but managed to call me to close the door and let down the bars.
"I don't know that I ever had such a thrilling or awful moment in my life! I could hear the savages on the porch, and I was afraid they would get to the door before I could shut and bar it. Just as I managed to close it and let the bar fall, the Indians began to pound upon it with their tomahawks. If I had been one second later they would have got inside the house and I should now be where my husband is. They kept pounding on the door until they made a large hole in it. They did not know that I stood close by, waiting for them with an axe, and as fast as one after another--four of them--tried to crawl through, I killed or badly wounded every one that made the attempt. They could not force their way into the cabin," she added simply.
"How many Indians did you say there were at the door?" inquired Peleg in astonishment.
"Four, but only two of them were killed. At least there are only two left here, and the others may have got away."
"I saw two," said Peleg. "How many were there altogether?"
"Seven, I think. They kept away from the door after that, but pretty soon I heard them up on the roof. I knew then that they were trying to get into the house by coming down the chimney."
"I think I know how you kept them out," said Peleg, smiling slightly.
"Yes," replied the woman. "I grabbed the only feather bed we had in our cabin and ripped it open, in desperate haste, feeling just as I did when I was trying to close the door. I knew if I was not quick enough the Shawnees would be in the room. It was fortunate that there were coals on the fireplace, and just as soon as I put the feathers on them a blaze sprang up and such smoke as I never saw began to pour up the chimney. In less than one minute two of the redskins fell into the fireplace, and with the same axe with which I had defended the door I quickly put an end to both varmints."
"That made six of the seven, then," suggested Peleg.
"Yes. But the seventh wasn't ready to leave yet. He ran around to the door and tried to crawl through while I was busy at the chimney. It was fortunate that I chanced to see him. He got a gash in the cheek, and you ought to have heard him yell when he ran away from the door. Talk to me about the Indians never making any fuss! This man was yelling so that you might have heard him at the fort. He called me the 'Long Knife Squaw,' but I didn't care so long as he cleared out for good and all! And I don't believe any of them will come again very soon."
"What are you going to do now?" inquired Peleg.
"I haven't any plans."
"You must come with me to the fort."
"But I must not leave my clearing," said the heroic woman. "Now that my husband is dead, I shall have everything to do."
"Come with me, and I will find some one to do what ought to be done here."
Yielding to the persuasion of the young scout, Mrs. Merrill accompanied him to the fort, where at once some of the women offered her the solace of their sympathy.
Peleg at once assembled a little company of men, and led by Daniel Boone himself they returned to the scene of the brave woman's struggles. The dead Indians were buried and the two cows were driven within the stockade.
"It will not be safe," said Daniel Boone to Peleg, "for Mrs. Merrill to come back here alone. If she does insist upon coming, either you or Israel must be with her. She should be persuaded, however, not to expose herself to such dangers as she will meet here."
"She seems to be able to protect herself," said Peleg dryly.
"Indeed she does. I question if there is another woman in our settlement who would have been able to do what she did. Single-handed, to keep off seven Shawnees! I believe that the story of her bravery will be told to your grandchildren, Peleg."
Mrs. Merrill, however, was found to be more reasonable than the great scout's fear had warranted. She was quite willing to make her home for the present where the peril and the loneliness were not so great as in her cabin.
The attacks of the Indians continued, although no party as large as that which had attacked the home of the Merrills was seen. The plowmen in the fields, the men cutting the timber, and those who separated from their fellows while hunting game were continually in danger.
The determination of the whites was as great as that of the Indians, and although every one was anxious, no one thought of withdrawing from the settlement.
To Daniel Boone himself there came a little later an experience almost as thrilling as that which had befallen Mrs. Merrill.
Among the new families was one named Callaway. In this family there was a girl of nearly the same age as Daniel's Boone's daughter Jemima. One morning, early in the summer, the girls, taking the one canoe which was kept near the fort, paddled out upon the river.
"Do not go more than one hundred feet above or below the fort," warned Daniel Boone, who stood on the bank watching the girls. Both promised, and soon in their light-hearted way were paddling the canoe back and forth from shore to shore.
Satisfied that the girls were well within the protection they needed, Daniel Boone returned to his labours and no one was left upon the bank to watch them.
As the sport continued, and before either of the girls was aware of the fact, the light canoe had drifted beyond the points which had been designated by the scout as the limits of safety. Discovering some flowers along the shore, they pushed the little craft in among the tall rushes while they plucked the blossoms they were seeking. The canoe was well within the rushes and concealed, as the girls thought, from the sight of any one on the bank.
Suddenly the younger girl, emitting a piercing shriek, turned to Jemima Boone, and exclaimed: "Look there! Oh, look there!"
As Jemima sharply turned about she saw, creeping through the rushes and concealed from the sight of any one on the shore, a huge Shawnee warrior, who already had seized the painter of the little craft.
Scream followed scream when the Indian began to pull the canoe toward him. In a moment he was joined by several of his dusky comrades. The canoe was drawn to the shore and the girls, prisoners of the savages, were dragged up the bank.
The screams of the terrified girls were plainly heard at the fort. A little company of frightened women and frantic men quickly assembled upon the bank, but in spite of the piteous appeals it was too late to help the unfortunate prisoners. Four additional Indians appeared and, assisting their comrades, seized the girls and with them rushed into the wilderness.
The men from the fort who were standing on the bank of the stream were unable to cross, the only canoe being now on the opposite shore.
Calling to one another, the men endeavoured to find some one who would venture to swim to the other shore. No one volunteered, however, as all were afraid that the Indians might return if such an attempt should be made. Both Daniel Boone and the father of Miss Callaway were absent from the settlement at the time, and it was nearly night when they returned.
Stopping only a moment to comfort his heartbroken wife, Daniel Boone, as soon as he was informed, acted promptly and decisively, as was his habit. He was well aware that no time should be lost, and fortunately he discovered Peleg at that moment returning to the fort.
"The girls have been taken by the Indians," said Boone, suppressing his emotion.
"What girls? What do you mean?" inquired Peleg, aghast.
"Jemima and her friend, the Callaway girl."
"This noon. I have no time to explain. We must get a party to start right away. Find every man you can and I, too, will look about, and we will meet here at the fort just as soon as we can get our party together."
Darting into the house, Peleg secured Singing Susan, and then, finding Israel Boone, who was almost as aroused as his father, the two instantly began their search for men who would join the rescue party.
Soon afterward a band of eight men stood with the scout on the bank of the Kentucky River near the fort. The quiet of the summer evening was unbroken save by the occasional cry of some night-bird. It had been long since the screams of the disappearing girls had been heard, but the direction from which they had come indicated the way in which to start the pursuit.
"How many are here?" inquired Boone, as he glanced about the group.
"Eight," replied Peleg, "including you and Israel."
"We need more, but I shall not wait. We will start at once."
The canoe meanwhile had been secured by one of the boys of the settlement who swam across the river at dusk and returned in the little craft, paddling with his hand, for the blades had been broken by the Indians to delay pursuit.
The men now were ferried across the river, and as soon as every one was standing on the opposite bank Daniel Boone again inquired: "Is every one prepared?"
Every member of the party declared that he was ready to follow wherever the great scout might lead.
Instantly Daniel Boone led the way into the forest. The anxious scout was so quiet and self-controlled that an uninformed spectator would never have suspected that he was labouring under special stress. Even Peleg was astonished at the composed bearing of the man.
Turning to Israel, the young scout remarked: "Your father is saving every ounce of his strength for the work ahead of us. He is not wasting any time crying."
"He never does," responded Israel proudly. "Do you know, Peleg," young Boone said, "there are times when Parson John Lythe preaches to us that he speaks of the Great Father of us all, and somehow I always think of Him as if He looked somewhat as _my_ father does."
Deeply impressed as Peleg was by the reverence in which the son of Daniel Boone held his father, there was no opportunity at the time for further conversation.
In Indian file the pursuers advanced, and all soon were running, following the custom of the Indians. So skilled was the leader in this work that it was well known that he was able for many hours to maintain the pace at which he was now moving.
"One time," said Israel to Peleg, "my father ran like this for eight hours, then rested two hours, and then ran eight more, and after he had taken another rest he made the third stretch of the same number of hours."
The leader had not spoken except when in the dim light of the moon he was compelled to stop to search for the trail. Once when he halted he said to his companions: "The Shawnees are not moving in one body. They have broken up into ten parties and are moving in parallel lines."
"Did they expect to throw us off the trail in that way?" asked Israel scornfully.
"Doubtless they hoped to. Peleg," inquired Boone, turning to the young scout, "how many do you make out were in this band that stole Jemima?"
"About thirty, I should say," replied Peleg.
"It is more nearly thirty-five," declared Boone, as he turned to direct his followers to resume the pursuit.
Somehow the night did not prove to be a serious obstacle to the great leader. Almost as if by instinct Boone found his way, and the parallel trails made by the Indians, instead of throwing the pursuers into confusion, really aided them. If the trail was lost in one place it then became comparatively easy for the men to scatter and in a brief time discover it nearby.
"How far have we come?" Israel inquired of his father when a halt was made in the morning.
"Thirty miles," replied Daniel Boone.
"Do you find anything new?"
"Yes," replied the scout, nodding his head. "The Indians are less careful than they were. The trail is becoming plainer. I hope we shall overtake them before noon."
It was not long before the pursuit was resumed, and the pace of the entire party was increased when it was discovered that the Indians had entered a buffalo road and were following that clearly defined path.
The expression upon the face of Boone, who, with Peleg and Israel, was in advance of the little band, made every one aware that he expected soon to overtake the savages. The time of anxiety as well as peril was surely approaching.
"Peleg," whispered Israel, "what do you think will be done to the girls if the Indians see us before we get within rifle shot?"
Peleg shook his head and did not reply, although both he and his friend were aware that the Indians would doubtless tomahawk their captives and then flee if they should discover their pursuers close upon them.
Nearly ten more miles were covered before the escaping band was overtaken. Each party discovered the other almost at the same moment. The Indians were in the act of kindling a fire and preparing camp for the night. Almost as if it was one sound, the rifles of Daniel Boone, Peleg, and Israel rang out together.
Two of the Indians fell to the ground. All the other braves, as if driven by one impulse, instantly turned and fled from the spot, leaving the terrified girls behind them. So sudden had been the flight of the savages that when they darted into the adjacent forest they had been unable to don their moccasins. Not a man in the pursuing party had been injured.
The cry of Jemima Boone when in the dim light she beheld her father approaching at the head of the rescuing party was one that those who heard her never were able to forget. She sprang from the ground where she had been seated and threw herself into her father's arms. For a time not a word was spoken by any one, while the well-nigh exhausted girl clung to Daniel Boone sobbing as if her heart would break.
The pursuit which had been led by the great scout had been so swift and unrelenting that scarcely any time for rest had been given the band since its departure from the fort the preceding evening; and only a short time for recuperation could be allowed even now. This was some hardship for the men, but for the girls, who, in addition to the terror and despair which had possessed them, had been compelled to travel through the forests at a speed which exhausted their strength, it was doubly hard.
Jemima explained to her father that they had arrived at the place where they had been discovered only a few moments before the coming of the hunter and his friends. The girl shuddered as she said: "If the Shawnees had had two minutes more they would have killed both of us before they ran; and I do not understand why they ran, anyway."
"How many warriors were in the band?" inquired her father.
"We cannot stay here long. The varmints will be coming back, and they outnumber us so greatly that we may have serious trouble."
It was accordingly decided that the party should begin their return at once. For a time Daniel Boone carried his daughter in his arms, while her companion, almost exhausted, was also carried by one of the men.
When several miles had been covered word for rest was given, and then, after a hasty meal was made from the loin of a deer which Peleg shot, the flight toward the fort was resumed.
It was soon discovered, however, that the Indians were not pursuing, and when Boone became convinced that this was so, his anxiety was relieved, and he decided not to maintain the swift pace at which they had been moving.
Two days later the party arrived at the fort on the bank of the Kentucky, and the relief of the distracted mothers as well as the general rejoicing over the safe return of the rescuers was great. After a rest of a day, the scout and all the party resumed their accustomed summer tasks.
It was a few days afterward, while Peleg and Israel were engaged in hoeing a field of corn that belonged to Peleg, that the scout approached his friend.
"Peleg," he said, as he halted in front of the boy, "we are to have a meeting in the fort to-morrow at noon and I hope you surely will be present."
"What is the meeting for?"
"We are to pass some laws. We now have more than one hundred and fifty souls in this little settlement, and up to the present time every one has been a law unto himself. We now must pass some laws which shall govern us as a community."
"Is Sam Oliver here again?" inquired Peleg with a laugh.
"Not as yet," answered Boone quizzically, smiling as he appreciated the discovery his young friend had made as to one of the causes for his desire to pass some laws by which all should be regulated.
"Colonel Henderson will preside," said Boone. "He, as you know, was the original purchaser of this tract of land from the Cherokees, and he kindly consented to permit us to make a settlement here."
"I shall try to be there," promised Peleg, as the scout passed on to make further arrangements for the meeting, and the two boys resumed their task.
It was a serious assemblage of men that met the following noon. After accepting the chair, Colonel Henderson said: "I shall ask the Reverend John Lythe, our pioneer preacher, to address the Throne of Grace."
At the conclusion of the old minister's prayer, Colonel Henderson solemnly said: "This legislature is now opened in the name of his Majesty the King of Great Britain." In his address he reminded his hearers of the importance of laying a broad and strong foundation for the future. He declared that the secret of future success depended largely upon the carefulness of their present preparation. He also explained how good and wholesome laws, such as would command the respect and support of the people, would benefit not merely the settlement as a whole, but also every individual member.
Various laws then were proposed, discussed, and adopted by vote of the assembly.
In the midst of the meeting, which both Peleg and Israel were enjoying keenly, Daniel Boone arose and asked for recognition from the chairman.
"My father is going to make a speech!" whispered Israel in amazement, as he leaned toward Peleg. Never had either heard the scout speak under such circumstances. He was so self-contained in his manner and spoke so seldom that no one had thought of him as a man to make a public address. It was therefore with intense interest that every one present turned to listen to what Daniel Boone might say.
A BAND OF SCOUTS
"He would rather face three live painters," whispered Israel gleefully. "I never saw my father scared before."
In a moment, however, the boys were listening intently to what the great scout was saying.
"I am no speechmaker," began Daniel Boone, his voice trembling slightly as he spoke. "I know a little of the language of the deer and of the songs of the birds. The cry of the nighthawk has its meaning for me, to which it almost would be possible for me to reply. Even the scream of the painter is in a language which I understand, but when I look into the faces of my friends, who are much better fitted than I am to say what is best for this little community, I am at a loss how to proceed." The hunter paused a moment and the sympathetic interest of his hearers plainly encouraged him to go on. "It is true," he continued quietly, "I have a name for being somewhat successful as a scout and a hunter. I think you will all bear me witness, however, that never yet willingly have I inflicted pain upon even the weakest of God's creatures. Whenever I draw a bead on a deer I do so with the thought in my mind that here is the provision of the Almighty for food for His children. With all my might, mind, and strength I am opposed to any cruelty to dumb creatures, and also to any wanton waste of the game in our forests. I am sure I am giving voice to your convictions also when I say that we want no man within our settlement who does not have some such feeling as I have just described. Sometimes our boys are thoughtless and shoot perhaps more for the sake of killing than to secure provisions for our homes. We must be patient with them and strive to show them how mistaken they are. What I desire greatly just now is that a law shall be adopted to protect the game in our forests." The hunter took his seat and a murmur of applause at once came from the little assembly.
"Do you make that as a motion?" inquired Colonel Henderson.
"I do," responded the scout, rising and gravely bowing as he spoke.
The motion was seconded, and without one opposing vote the assembly agreed to the suggestion of Daniel Boone.
As soon as this motion was adopted the great scout once more arose and in his quiet and dignified manner again began to speak: "There is another matter in which I am deeply interested. I have never been able to understand how any man made in the image of his Creator could take his Creator's name in vain. In my experience I have noticed that profanity is limited to men who are either weak or vicious. I think, my friends, that you will agree with me that we want neither class in our little settlement on the banks of the Kentucky. I therefore move that we adopt a law prohibiting profanity."
It was manifest that not every one in the assembly agreed with these sentiments of the hunter, and there was a moment of hesitation. Peleg, however, always ready to further the efforts of his friend, whom he admired more than he did any living man, promptly arose and seconded the motion, which then was passed without any opposition, though not with the enthusiasm which had greeted the preceding motion.
Once more the tall scout arose and said: "I have still one other desire in my heart. As you all know, our little settlement has been unusually free from the brawls which occur in so many of the hamlets on the border. I am confident it is the desire of every one here that the same things shall continue to be true. If we must fight, then let us fight hard; but all petty quarrellings and brawls, let them not henceforth even be mentioned among us. With this peaceful desire in our minds, I greatly desire that a law shall be adopted to express the wish of this settlement that the Sabbath shall not be like other days. We surely toil so hard throughout six days of the week that if there were no other purpose in our minds we ought to rest on the Lord's Day. In order that this may be clearly understood, I move that a law be adopted which shall voice the sentiment of this community against the profanation of the Sabbath Day."
There was no openly expressed opposition to the desire of the scout, and Peleg having promptly seconded this motion, his third suggestion also was adopted.
Soon afterward, Colonel Henderson called upon the pioneer preacher to close the meeting with prayer, and the assembly dispersed.
Peleg, Israel Boone, and Henry departed together from the fort. The last named was now able to express himself in English and, though he was still reserved in his bearings toward the people in general, his friendship for Peleg and Israel had strengthened with every passing day.
"I never know such man like your father," said Henry to Israel.
"He is the best man that ever lived!" broke in Peleg enthusiastically. "He has been just like a father to me, and if he was my real father I should be the proudest man in all Kentucky."
"That would mean a great many people," suggested Israel with a smile. "I understand there are new settlers arriving every day. I have heard that Logan's Fort and Harrodsburgh are filling in very fast."
"So I have heard," responded Peleg.
"If the Indians would only leave us free!"
"But they will not," broke in Henry. "They say white people not make any more settlements, and it not long before they drive out those that are here."
"Let them try!" said Israel dryly.
"They have been trying," remarked Peleg. "There is not a day that we have not seen some signs of the Shawnees or Delawares prowling around the forts."
"They have not made any open attack for some time now," suggested Israel Boone.
Henry shook his head as he said: "That means they only wait. Pretty soon you see. They feel for white men like wolf feel for bear."
"And that is about the same love that a dog has for a cat," suggested Peleg with a laugh.
"That is it," acknowledged Henry soberly. "I never know why bear and wolf no like each other. They kill many other things, but when wolf find trail of bear he call to all his friends and they begin to chase Mr. Bear. One day I saw a pack of wolves chasing big bear."
"Was the bear running from them?" inquired Israel.
"Yes, he run much fast. By and by he come to place where he can go no more, then he stand up with his back to tree, and the way he cuff those wolves first one side, then on other, make me laugh."
"Yes," said Peleg, "I have seen the same thing myself. It is like the feeling that Sam Oliver says the otter has for the beaver."
"Or the mink for the ermine," suggested Israel.
"Both mink and ermine bad as they can be," said Henry, shaking his head. "They kill all things not so strong as they."
"Yes," suggested Peleg, "I think the mink and ermine are about the worst animals alive. The mink is three or four times as big as the ermine is and has a good deal more strength----"
"But the ermine so quick," interrupted Henry. "He so quick," he repeated, "and he most bloodthirsty little animal in the forest. When he begin to fight he always fight on until either he is killed or mink is killed."
"Sam Oliver was telling me the last time he was in the settlement," said Peleg, "that last winter he was trailing a fox that was chasing a rabbit, and when Sam came to his trap-line he heard, away off to one side, a mink scream. He says you can hear a mink scream almost a quarter of a mile away. He was trapping minks and he thought he had one caught, so he turned and started for his trap. When he got there he saw, so he said, the biggest fight he ever saw in the woods. A mink was caught in his trap and an ermine was fighting him.
"Pretty quick he saw that instead of there being only one there were two of the ermine. They kept walking around the mink in a circle and kept going faster and faster until by and by one of them, quick as lightning, right in front of the mink, jumped for him, and almost at the same time the other ermine jumped in, too, and tried to get a grip on the mink's neck. They must have tried that same thing before, because this time he heard the mink scream, too, though he was doing something besides. For about half a minute Sam said he couldn't hear or see much of anything except the fracas. Then just about as swiftly as the two ermine had jumped into the fight, they jumped out and began to circle around the mink again. The next time they tried to get the neck hold only one of them slipped back. The other got his teeth fastened right where he wanted them, and you know they are like needles. Then the other ermine came back and he, too, got a throat hold. In just a few minutes the whole affair was ended and the ermine came out ahead. Sam said he could have walked up to them and picked them up, they were so excited, squeaking like mice, and trying to tear the dead mink all to pieces."
"Sam got the two ermine then, didn't he?" inquired Israel.
"Yes. I told him, though, I thought they had earned their right to live, but Sam never feels that way about such things."
The reference to Sam Oliver had brought a scowl to the face of Henry and caused him to become silent as long as the hunter was a topic of conversation.
In the succeeding days reports of the presence of Indians steadily increased. Several men toiling in the fields were fired upon by Shawnees who had crept up to the border of the forest.
Steadily the Indians showed their determination to do their utmost to prevent the settlers from making homes in their hunting grounds. The hostilities of the Shawnees became more marked with every passing month. Indeed, so many were the manifestations of their plan to attack the settlements that finally Colonel Clark, who at this time had been given the command of all military forces in Kentucky, became so convinced that there was a plan in the minds of the Indians to assemble a great body of their warriors to destroy the border forts and their inhabitants that he begged the pioneer scout to act as a spy and to assume charge of other spies that were to be sent among the tribes to learn their numbers as well as their designs.
Daniel Boone, fully aware of the danger, and in spite of his desire to remain at home, responded to this new call because he looked upon himself as in a measure answerable for the safety of the people whom he had induced to come into Kentucky. At this time the region was known as the "dark and bloody ground," so many had been the attacks and conflicts between the incoming whites and their Indian foes.
Daniel Boone ordered his spies to start out in different directions, and after they had scoured the country for miles around, they were to meet at a time and place agreed upon and report what they had discovered and form their plans for the future.
Convinced at last that there was no immediate danger of a concerted attack by the Indians, the scout returned to Boonesborough and resumed his labours.
"Peleg," said Boone one day not long after his return, "we must have some salt. I shall take a party to Blue Licks. Will you come?"
"Yes, sir," replied Peleg promptly.
"I shall leave Israel at home to protect the family, but I shall want you and Henry to go with me. We ought to have a party of twenty-five or thirty men not only to make the salt, but to keep back the Shawnees, who are likely to make trouble for us if we are not strong enough to defend ourselves."
The following day Daniel Boone, together with Peleg and twenty-six other men, departed for the salt springs, or Blue Licks, as they were called by the settlers. Neither of the scouts, however, was aware that he was there to meet with the most thrilling adventure of his life.
Several days of hard work followed the arrival of the party at the salt springs. Fireplaces had to be made, boilers arranged, and the water evaporated, leaving its deposit of salt, so necessary in the life of the people of Boonesborough.
The process, however, was exceedingly slow, although the men toiled day and night because of their desire to return to their homes, and their fear of the prowling Indians. On the third day, when the supplies of food were low, Daniel Boone suggested that he should for a time leave his companions at their task while he secured some game which might be prepared for their dinner that night.
Taking his rifle and shaking his head when Peleg offered to accompany him, the hunter departed. No one expected him to be gone more than an hour. When, however, three hours had elapsed his friends became increasingly uneasy. They had relied on their numbers as being a sufficient protection against the prowling Indians. The savages were known to be near, and occasionally they had been seen skulking from tree to tree. Because of this condition, the decision of Daniel Boone to go alone had been opposed by his companions, and as his absence continued there was increasing anxiety for his safety.
Meanwhile, if Peleg and his companions had known what had befallen the scout, they would have had even stronger grounds for their fears.
For some reason Boone was unable to discover any game in the immediate proximity of the camp, so he proceeded several miles through the forest in his search. When he halted at last and looked about him he concluded that he must be at least four miles from the Blue Lick Springs. He was aware of the peril which might beset a lonely hunter at such times, and as the afternoon sun was steadily declining, decided to retrace his way toward camp.
As he turned abruptly he was startled to behold five young Indians swiftly approaching.
Without hesitating a moment Boone whirled about and ran. Exerting himself to the utmost, he sped through the forest, closely followed by his pursuers, who, for some reason which he did not understand, had not fired upon him.
Capable as Boone was of a long-continued race, speed could not be his main reliance. He was no longer a young man, and his pursuers were in the prime of their young manhood.
Glancing behind him, Boone was aware that his enemies were gaining upon him. Wheeling suddenly he darted into the brush, then leaped into a swiftly running stream and ran with the current for one hundred feet or more before he jumped to the bank on the opposite side and once more resumed his flight.
Apparently, however, it was impossible for him to shake off his pursuers. Doggedly they held to the chase, and the conviction was strengthening in Boone's mind that not only were the young warriors gaining steadily upon him, but also that they were maintaining a pace which would soon be too great for him to keep up. Indeed it was only a few minutes later when by an unusual burst of speed his enemies overtook and surrounded him.
Boone smiled in spite of his peril when he saw that their first demand was for his rifle. It was plain that they knew who he was and were proud of their success in capturing the great scout. One of the young Indians was able to speak a few words of English, and advancing to Boone he extended his hand as a token of friendship and shook hands after the manner of the white people.
"Big scout broder," said the young warrior, "No shoot. No kill."
Boone smilingly nodded his head in token of comprehension and without demur followed his captors as they led him rapidly through the forest. If he was chagrined or cast down his feeling was not betrayed by his countenance.
The Indians seldom spoke as they proceeded, and Boone's surprise was great when after an advance of an hour he was taken into the midst of a group of one hundred and fifty Shawnee warriors.
Here, too, the hunter was recognized, and there were many expressions of delight over the capture of the man whom all the Indians of the region knew and feared. Boone soon was to learn that they also entertained for him a feeling close to affection.
Apparently unmoved by the peril in which he now found himself, Boone looked quietly into the faces of the braves and awaited their action.
In a brief time, in the midst of the band, he was conducted back toward Blue Lick Springs. Surprised at first by the direction in which they were moving, his fears for his friends increased with every passing mile. They were outnumbered by the Indians in the approaching party, and were without his leadership. How would they be able to defend themselves from an attack?
This question was unanswered when the band arrived within a half mile of the place they were seeking. Then one of the younger chiefs approached Boone and said in his broken English: "Big hunter. No hurt. Broders of big hunter no hurt. No shoot."
"Do you mean," inquired Boone, "that my friends will be taken prisoners and not shot?"
The Indian laughed, for his pleasure at the apparent success of their undertaking was manifest, and he said: "No shoot. No kill white broder."
"Do you mean," asked Boone once more, "that if they do not shoot, you will not?"
"No shoot. No hurt," answered the Indian.
"Which means that you will take us all to your village?"
The Indian nodded in assent.
"And if they do not shoot and you make captives of them, do you promise that you will not harm them when you take them to your village?"
"No shoot. No hurt," repeated the Indian, nodding his head several times to add emphasis to his words. "Big scout go with Owaneeyo--tell broders."
"You want me to tell them that you are here, and that if they do not shoot then you will not shoot, either, and that you give your word that they will not be harmed if they go with you to your village?"
The Indian smiled broadly as he said: "Big scout go with Injun--tell broder. Shawnee no shoot. No hurt white broder. White broder shoot, Shawnee shoot. No take white broder to village, take white broder scalp."
For a few moments Boone silently considered. He well knew that it would be impossible for his friends to escape the united attack of the Shawnees. Every warrior was armed with a gun, and, as the band outnumbered the whites nearly five to one, it would be worse than useless for them to attempt to defend themselves. On the other hand, if they submitted quietly it might be possible partly to disarm the captors of their watchfulness, and as there were so many of the whites some opportunity might arise that would provide an avenue for escape. In the latter event the chances that more of the men would escape alive were much better than they would be if they attempted to defend themselves at the present time.
Accordingly, Boone said to the young chief: "I will go with you to tell my brothers what the chiefs say if you will come with me unarmed."
For a moment there was an expression of anger or suspicion in the eyes of the stalwart young Indian, but it quickly passed, and he said: "Big scout no lie. Owaneeyo go without gun. Tell broders what Owaneeyo say to scout."
Turning to his companions the young chief gave his command for them to encircle the springs where the white men were at work. As soon as his orders had been obeyed he stepped up to Boone and bowed low to indicate his readiness to accompany the scout.
Without a word both advanced, with Boone moving directly before his companion. They soon came to the spot where the whites were engaged in their task, all unaware of the peril that was threatening them.
Many curious glances were given the companion of the scout when Boone and the chief first appeared. In compliance with Boone's suggestion, the men gave up their labours and assembled to hear what the chief had to say.
The speech of Owaneeyo was not long, but every word held a meaning which strongly impressed the listening settlers.
When the chief ceased speaking Boone himself stepped forward and said: "My friends, there is nothing else to do. I am sure you would not credit me with being a coward. I am speaking that which I know. There are at least one hundred and fifty of the Shawnees here and they are in a circle all about us right now. We have no defences behind which to fight, and they are able to pick us off without exposing themselves. If we run we should find in whatever direction we went that we were going straight into their arms. They promise us that if we do not fire upon them they will not shoot any of us. The chief also has agreed to see that we have good treatment not only here and on our way to their village, but also after we arrive there."
There were some murmurs of disapproval, but the word and the example of the scout were both so influential that assent was soon given, and the chief was told that the white men would make no protest.
At his bidding their rifles were all deposited in one place. A moment later he emitted a loud call, and almost as if they had sprung from the ground itself the Shawnees came running to the place where the settlers were awaiting them.
The entire party soon left the springs, the white prisoners being scattered among the warriors in such a manner that no two were able to converse. In spite of the fierce glances of some of the braves, there was slight fear on Boone's part that the word of Owaneeyo would be broken. Cruel the Indian might be in his own way, and treacherous according to the standards of the whites, but his promise, once having been given, was binding.
The band moved rapidly, stopping only occasionally by night. Not one of the prisoners was aware what Indian village was to be their destination, although the scout, from his familiarity with the region through which they were conducted, was convinced that they were being taken to the place called Chillicothe.
His surmise proved to be correct, and on the fifth day the returning party with their prisoners arrived at the capital of the Shawnees. Their coming was greeted with cries and shouts and many expressions of delight by the Indians of Chillicothe. To these, however, the warriors gave slight heed, and the prisoners endeavoured to follow their example, though it was difficult for some of them completely to assume an air of indifference. What the fate of the captives was to be was not to be known until the following day.
AN OFFER OF RELEASE
There had been slight opportunity for Peleg to have any conversation with his friend throughout the march.
The Indians, rejoiced over their success in making a prisoner of the great scout, nevertheless appeared to be fearful lest the man whom they valued so highly should escape. Throughout the journey the prisoners were treated with consideration, although when night came and the halts were made for rest the white men were compelled to sleep within a circle formed by their captors. In this way they were deprived of every possibility of escape. When, however, they had arrived at the old village of Chillicothe, there were a few minutes when Daniel Boone and Peleg and several of their comrades were left together in the wigwam into which they had been thrust.
"Peleg," said Daniel Boone in a low voice, "what a mistake our enemies have made."
"What do you mean?" inquired Peleg quickly.
"If they had taken us to Boonesborough or to Logan's Fort and there had shown us to the settlers they could have demanded almost any price they might choose for our ransom."
"Will they not do it yet?" inquired Peleg.
"I hardly think so," replied the scout, shaking his head. "The Indians are like children in many ways. When they have been successful, either on the warpath or in the chase, they immediately return to their friends to celebrate their good fortune with them. They are easily elated, and are almost childish in seeking the praise of those whose opinions they value. That is the reason why they have come back to the village with their twenty-eight prisoners."
"What will happen to us?" inquired Peleg anxiously.
"That no man can say. All that I am sure of is that we must bear whatever comes in the spirit of those who know that it is the best thing that could happen for every one of us."
"If they burn us at the stake?" inquired Peleg bitterly.
"Yes, even if they burn us at the stake. It will be hard to bear if they do that, but I am not without hope that they will adopt some other course."
"They may make us run the gauntlet."
"Yes, they may," admitted Boone, "but there is one thing, Peleg, we do not have to do."
"What is that, sir?"
"We do not have to bear anything before it comes. All that any man can do is to prepare for what may befall him, and then, whatever comes, bear it like a man. But he who worries over his troubles before they arrive is in no condition to bear them after they come."
"I know that is your way of thinking," said Peleg, "but I have not learned it yet."
"That's the correct word, Peleg."
"What word?" inquired the younger scout quickly.
"The word 'learned,' No one has it at the beginning of his life. Even Preacher Lythe told us one time that he, like Paul, 'learned' in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content."
"So have you!" said Peleg cordially.
Boone smiled and shook his head as he replied: "I have learned not to reveal all my feelings. Beyond that I cannot say. But I am so fully convinced that whatever befalls me in this life is part of a great plan, that it would be foolish for me to complain or whine. Whatever happens, no one shall ever be able to say that he heard a whimper from Daniel Boone. Whate'er may come to us, lad, do not let any of these Shawnees see that you are in the least cast down."
"I shall do my best."
"I am hopeful," said Boone, "that we shall not be treated severely. Chief Owaneeyo gave us his promise when we surrendered that we should be treated with kindness both on our journey and after we arrived at the Indian village. I believe he spoke truly."
"What I am afraid of," said Peleg, "is that some of these braves will not listen to him. I think Owaneeyo will live up to his promise as far as he is able."
"There, Peleg, you are borrowing trouble again. What shall I do with you?" said Boone gently. "For myself, I shall look for the better side, and if the hard times come I shall bear them as I may be able, but I am expecting that things will not be as bad as you fear, and I shall keep myself ready if Providence reveals any opening for our release. I believe firmly that such an opening will come and that we shall yet go back to our friends."
"I hope so," said Peleg fervently.
"But whatever comes, Peleg, you must be cheerful, at least in your appearance. If the Indians see that you are cast down or afraid, they will immediately lose their respect for you, and no one can tell what may happen."
In a measure the words of the scout proved to be true. The prisoners were treated with kindness and were assigned to various members of the tribe in such a manner that they seldom had an opportunity of conversing with one another.
Mindful of the directions of the great scout, Peleg did his utmost to maintain a cheerful manner. He was confident, too, as the days passed, that however heavy his own heart might be the Shawnees were sure that he was adapting himself to the life of their tribe and was not unhappy in their midst.
A few days after the captives had been brought into the village, Owaneeyo came to Boone one morning and said: "Big scout shoot. No shoot brave, shoot----"
The word which he wished to use failed the young chief, but laughing heartily he conducted the hunter to a place where Daniel Boone saw that a target had been erected. He concluded that the plan of the Indian was for him to enter into a contest with some of the best shots among the Shawnees.
With apparent eagerness he accepted the invitation, and soon many of the warriors were assembled, keenly watching the contest between Boone and three of the braves.
Daniel Boone wisely was shooting well, but not too well. Two of his competitors he easily outdid, but the third, who was Owaneeyo himself, and no mean shot, he permitted to beat him. The glee of the Indian when the match was ended was so marked and childish that Boone instantly decided that if future contests of a similar character were held he knew what his own course of action must be.
The following day a second contest was arranged, and at Boone's suggestion Peleg also was summoned to share in it.
"Lad," whispered Boone, while he was apparently bending over his rifle and looking to its priming, "I am sure if we are careful we shall soon be permitted to have our own rifles. Perhaps you can get yours now for the match, if you want it, but my advice to you in any event is to let the Indians beat you, but not too easily."
The delight of the Indians was even greater than on the preceding day, when Owaneeyo and one of his warriors succeeded in making a better record than Peleg and were tied with the work which the scout did.
At frequent intervals throughout the autumn these contests were held. In every event the white scouts were careful to shoot well, but not too well. So manifest was the feeling of affection and confidence among the Shawnees, especially for Daniel Boone, that it was not long before the white men, one or two at a time, were permitted to accompany the Indians whenever they went on the hunting path.
In this manner the winter passed and already there were promises of the return of spring. March had come and the snows were beginning to disappear from the depths of the forest. It was in this month that Owaneeyo came to Daniel Boone one day, saying eagerly: "Broder go with Shawnees."
"Go where?" inquired Boone. His anxiety for his family in their faraway home by the Kentucky by this time had become almost unbearable. As they were unaware of the fate which had befallen him and his companions, and yet were fully aware of the cruelty of the Indians and the hatred which they had manifested for the settlers at Boonesborough, the scout was continually thinking of the anxiety which must possess his own family at this time. Not a word had come to them concerning his safety or his whereabouts, and there was no means by which such word might be sent. It was therefore with a feeling of consternation which it was difficult for him to conceal that he heard the statement of the young chief.
"Broder see where go," laughed the Indian, as if he was preserving some great pleasure for his friend.
Aware that protests were vain, Boone, with apparent cordiality, expressed his desire to accompany the Indians, although he was ignorant of the destination of the proposed journey.
To his surprise, the following day when the party set forth from the village, he found Peleg and nine other whites in the company.
There was no opportunity, however, for conversation among the captives, who, in spite of the freedom which of late had been granted them by the Shawnees, now were watched more carefully as the warriors sped through the forest.
When the band at last arrived at Detroit, Boone was not surprised at the destination. Here several days elapsed before Owaneeyo expressed his purpose to return. Just why Boone had been compelled to accompany the Indians the scout did not yet understand.
However, on the day before their departure, Governor Hamilton summoned Owaneeyo and Daniel Boone to his quarters.
After a few preliminary words the Governor said to the Indian: "I will give you £100 for the ransom of this man."
A scowl instantly appeared upon the face of the chief and he turned as if about to depart from the presence of the Governor.
Wheeling abruptly about, however, his eyes shining and an expression upon his face which showed how deep his feeling was, he said: "No sell broder. He my broder." As he spoke, Owaneeyo looked steadily into the eyes of the scout, and there was no question in the mind of Daniel Boone as to the sincerity of the young chief's feelings.
"But he is a white man," protested the Governor.
"He my broder," declared Owaneeyo, as if no further explanation need be made.
"Ask him if he would rather go with you or stay here."
"I would rather go," said Daniel Boone, "than have you pay so much gold for my release. The Shawnees have been good to me, and though I am a white man, my own friends and country could not deal more kindly with me than have Owaneeyo and his tribe."
"No take gold," said Owaneeyo, and strode from the Governor's quarters as he spoke.
Boone delayed a few minutes, explaining to the Governor that it would be impossible for him to accept such a ransom, saying in his simple way: "I am in the hands of a greater Governor than even you, Governor Hamilton, and I am sure that the right in the end will be done."
Apparently the commander was not yet fully persuaded, for on the following morning, before the Shawnees departed from Detroit, several of the Englishmen at the post, deeply touched with sympathy for the scout in his captivity, came to Boone himself with offerings of money for his release. The sturdy scout smiled, however, and shook his head, explaining that it would be impossible for him to accept such benefits which would forever be beyond his power to return or repay.
"But you need never return the money to us. It may be our turn to be prisoners of the Indians soon, and then some one will have to do for us what we now are trying to do for you," protested one of the men.
"I cannot take your gifts," said the hunter shortly. It was manifest that all efforts to induce him to change his decision would be fruitless.
In a few hours the entire band of Shawnees and their captives set forth on their return to Chillicothe. No reference was made by Owaneeyo to the offer which had been made by the Governor and his friends, but it was plain to Daniel Boone throughout their long march that the chief's feeling of affection for him had been greatly strengthened by what had occurred at Detroit.
However, when the party at last arrived at the Indian town, even Daniel Boone was startled by the proposition which was made by one of the Shawnee chiefs.
"What do you think, Peleg?" inquired Boone a few days after the return from Detroit. "Blackfish wishes to adopt me into his family."
"What!" exclaimed Peleg in amazement.
"Yes. One of his sons was killed not long ago and he wishes me to take his place. I do not know how much older my foster-father will be than I am. As a rule I think it is wise for a father to be a little older than his son," added Boone quizzically. "But it won't make any great difference in this case."
"You are not going to allow it, are you?" repeated Peleg.
"I must. Blackfish seems to be very fond of me, and since we came back from Detroit, Owaneeyo has spread many reports of my devotion to the tribe. He little realizes what restraint I have had to put upon myself, and how there are times when it seems to me that I would almost give my life for the privilege of looking upon the faces of my family once more. It will never do for me to refuse."
Peleg said no more, but in spite of the scout's information he was scarcely prepared for the "adoption" which followed in a short time.
In the presence of the family of Blackfish and of some of the leading warriors of the tribe, a good deal of hair was pulled from the head of Boone, leaving his scalp-lock not unlike that of the Indians. His body then was bathed in several waters, the medicine-men who performed the act claiming that in this way his white blood was washed away, and he became essentially a Shawnee in nature as well as in name. A feast followed the formality of adoption, and then Daniel Boone was given a name--"The Man with the Long Rifle"--and formally declared to be a son of the great Chief Blackfish.
There was a slight change in the treatment which Boone and his companions received after this event. The increasing confidence of the Indians was manifest, and found its most complete expression when a few days afterward they sent Boone, together with two or three white men and a score of warriors, to the springs of the Sciota to make salt.
Upon their return from this expedition Boone was alarmed as well as astonished by the appearance of the Shawnee braves. Many of them were daubed in their war paint, and it was apparent on every side that the warriors were preparing for battle.
It was not difficult for the great scout to learn that the object of the campaign was to take the little settlement on the Kentucky, where his home was located.
Familiar as he was with the Indian customs, Boone was aware that more extensive preparations than he had yet seen would be made before the warriors started on the warpath. Meanwhile, he was determined to escape from the Indian village, and return with his warning to his friends on the Kentucky.
In spite of the freedom he enjoyed, he knew that it would be extremely difficult for him to escape. At least one hundred and sixty miles of forest and wilderness intervened between the village and Boonesborough. To obtain supplies of food, or weapons by which he might defend himself from beasts and warriors, was well-nigh impossible.
Nevertheless the determined man decided to try to escape from the Shawnees at the first favourable opportunity. He was fully aware that he must not do anything to arouse the suspicions of the tribe. Yet the time of the departure of the warriors could not be far distant.
Meanwhile, he talked over these matters in the occasional interviews he was permitted to have with Peleg. Almost all the younger scout knew, however, was that his friend had determined, when the proper time arrived, to flee from the village and warn the settlers of their peril. It was also understood that, after the departure of the scout, if Peleg should see the least opportunity, he, too, would attempt to leave the Indian village.
When June came the great scout saw that the men were preparing for a march within a few days. Whatever he was to do must be done quickly. No opportunity had been granted for a further word with his young friend, when early one morning Boone fled from Chillicothe.
A small piece of jerked venison was all the food he had been able to take with him on his long journey. He was without rifle or knife and before him stretched a pathless forest through which he must flee one hundred and sixty miles before he again would be among his friends! No one knew better than Boone himself that it was to be a race for life, for pursuit on the morrow was as certain as the rising of the sun.
Nevertheless with the same quiet courage which had ever been the great scout's strong reliance, he struck out for the Ohio River. Through the deep forests, over the high crags and rocks, across the creeks and following the courses of the river, by day and by night, he forced his tireless way.
Success crowned his efforts at last, and he gained the shores of the Ohio. But when he arrived upon the bank he found the river full and at least a mile in width.
Unable to swim, for a time the scout was uncertain what his next move should be. Fortunately, he found, on the bank near the place where he was standing, an old canoe which had been driven against the shore. Although the little craft was untrustworthy, one end having been badly broken, the intrepid man succeeded in paddling his way in it to the opposite bank.
Four days and four nights the scout had been running with only an occasional brief respite. Throughout that time he had eaten but one meal. His strength was failing, but his hope was strong, for Daniel Boone was aware now that he was near to his home. At last the quaint fort was seen before him and the end of the journey had been gained.
The return of the scout was almost like that of one who had come back from the dead. Every man in the little settlement had believed that Daniel Boone was to be seen no more. No tidings had come from faraway Chillicothe, and no one in Boonesborough had any means of knowing what had befallen the party in their labours at Blue Licks.
"Where is my wife? Where are my children?" demanded Boone as soon as he entered the fort.
"Gone," answered Sam Oliver, who at the time was making one of his occasional visits at the settlement.
"'Gone!'" repeated Boone in astonishment. "'Gone!' Where?"
"Your wife and all your children except Jemima have gone back to North Carolina. They all believed you to be dead and your wife felt that she could no longer remain here. Jemima is the only one that stayed."
It was not long before the scout found his intrepid daughter, who in spite of the departure of the other members of the family had been strong in her conviction that either her father would return or some definite word concerning his fate would be received. For that reason she had remained in the fort.
Not a moment was to be lost. Weary, indeed almost exhausted by his long flight, as soon as food and a brief rest had been obtained Boone at once helped the little garrison to work day and night upon their fortifications. New gates were made and double bastions were speedily completed. The horses and cattle were driven in from the fields, and powder and balls prepared. Before ten days had elapsed the fort was in readiness for the coming of the enemy.
Early in the morning of the final day, while Daniel Boone was himself on guard, he discovered a man approaching from the forest. Keenly watching the indistinct figure and prepared for instant action, although as yet he had not summoned any of his companions, Boone soon was aware that the returning man was none other than his friend Peleg.
The young scout was admitted by Boone, and in response to his queries he was soon describing what had befallen him.
In the midst of the excitement which had followed the escape of Boone, Peleg found the opportunity for which he himself had been waiting, and he, too, fled from the little village. In some ways, however, he had been more successful than his friend, inasmuch as he had been able to secure both Singing Susan and some ammunition, together with a hunting-knife.
"Have they followed you, lad?" inquired Boone eagerly.
"I do not know. They were filled with the plan of attacking the fort and I do not know whether anything has been done to turn them aside from it. I have had many trials," continued the young scout. "If I had not found the circles of stones which you left I could not have followed your trail. I do not know how you crossed the Ohio."
"I found an old canoe," explained Boone.
"That makes everything plain, then," laughed Peleg, "for I used the same canoe. Some one must have brought it back or it had floated down stream; at any rate it saved me from getting Singing Susan wet. The first place I found your stones was about two miles from the river, at the spring where there is a little waterfall. I can't tell you what it meant to me, for I was not sure of my way. I tried to think of everything you had told me about the stars, the course of the streams, and the changes in the trees, and then every little while I climbed to the top of a hill when I came near one and got my bearings from there."
"You are here, lad," said Boone. "You were led as I was. That is enough. Now tell me about the Shawnees. Are they coming?"
"I think so, but the attack will be delayed several weeks."
"Why is that?"
"Because you escaped. They tried their best to overtake you, but when Owaneeyo and some of the other warriors of the tribe came back and said they had not found you, then Blackfish declared that you would come to the fort here to warn the settlers. They then decided, I think, to put off their march about three weeks."
Boone nodded his head several times as if the explanation Peleg had given was one that commended itself to his judgment. There was no alteration, however, in the plans of the scout for strengthening the defences of the little fort. By this time the alarm had spread throughout the little settlement and every man was alert.
The delay in the coming of the Shawnees, however, continued so long that Boone concluded that they might have become discouraged by the report of their spies concerning the condition of the fort.
Prowling Indians had been seen frequently in the vicinity of Boonesborough after the arrival of Peleg, and the scout now decided that it would be a good plan for him to turn the tables and with a party invade the country of the Shawnees themselves.
Choosing nineteen men from the little garrison, he led them swiftly and silently as far as Paint Creek on the Sciota. He had come within four miles of the little Indian village, when unexpectedly the band met a party of thirty warriors, who were marching to join the expedition against Boonesborough.
There was no opportunity for retreat or deliberation. Instantly Boone called upon his companions to follow his example and fired upon the astonished warriors.
The Shawnees without attempting to respond, and doubtless unaware of the numbers of their enemies, immediately turned and fled.
The scout now halted his forces and sent two spies to discover what was taking place in the village. The men returned with the information that it had been abandoned.
As soon as this information had been received, Boone summoned his followers and said to them: "I am convinced from the reports of our friends that a great army of the Indians is now marching against Boonesborough. Our friends are in almost as great danger as are we. There is nothing left for us except to return and make the best possible time in our march."
Every one assented to the suggestion and the return was begun, the men marching day and night, hoping to elude the Indians, who, the scout now believed, were between them and Boonesborough.
It was not long before the returning band discovered the trail of the advancing warriors. Thereupon the leader decided to make a detour and avoid his enemies. All unknown to the Indians, on the sixth day of the returning march the intrepid band passed the red men, and on the seventh arrived safely at Boonesborough.
The following day five hundred hideously painted, thoroughly armed Indians appeared at the fort.
The alarm of the little garrison would have been still greater had they known that Duquesne, for whom Fort Pitt was first named, was in command of the entire band. Even Blackfish for the time had resigned his position as leader, preferring to have the skilful Frenchman assume the command in the attack on the fort. Nor was Captain Duquesne alone, for twelve of his countrymen also were with him to assist in leading the savages in their attack.
THE COMING OF BLACKFISH
"Peleg," said Daniel Boone after the appearance of the enemy in front of the fort, "I understand now why it was that I was so long a prisoner of the Shawnees."
Peleg expressed his question without replying in words and the hunter continued: "If I had not been a captive I never should have known how strong they are nor what their plans might be. And I think, too, that I never should have known what the relation is between the Shawnees and the French."
"Do you think we can hold this place?" inquired Peleg anxiously.
"We shall do our best, lad, and the result is not altogether in our hands. I have sent messengers all through the settlements asking for reinforcements."
The conversation was interrupted by the appearance of a messenger from the attacking army--a white man. Before he arrived at the stockade he was hailed by Daniel Boone, who, with Peleg, was standing on one of the bastions.
After a few preliminary words the man said: "I am instructed by Captain Duquesne to state to you that he has received orders from Governor Hamilton at Detroit to take this fort, but to save the lives of the people, if it is possible so to do."
Boone gazed down into the face of the speaker, but did not reply.
"I am further instructed by Captain Duquesne," resumed the messenger, "to ask you to send nine men from the fort to arrange for a treaty. You can meet the men from our army wherever you desire."
"I shall report to you as soon as I have consulted my friends," said Daniel Boone as he and his companion retired to the fort.
When the defenders were assembled Sam Oliver declared hotly: "I should never send nine men out to meet the redskins! It is one of their tricks, and not one of the nine will ever come back."
"I do not feel that way about it," said Boone. "I suspect that it may be a trick, as you suggest, but it may help us to put off the beginning of the fight until some of the other settlers for whom we have sent can come to our aid. I favour sending a delegation of nine men to meet a delegation from the Indians, but the place must be within fire from the fort. I do not know how you feel, but for myself I am willing to say that we shall never surrender this place while there is one man left alive to defend it."
"That's the way we all feel," said Sam Oliver, who still opposed the proposed meeting.
Daniel Boone returned to the bastions and announced to the messenger that nine men would meet a party from the Indians in accordance with the proposition which had been made for the conference.
Selecting eight of his followers, the scout led the way to the appointed place of meeting, which was sixty yards from the fort. There the little band met Captain Duquesne and eighteen or twenty Indians. The red warriors were silent, but their flashing eyes impressed the scout more than any words could have done.
"What we propose," began Captain Duquesne, "is that every man in the fort shall swear allegiance to King George the Third and submit to our rule. If this can be done we can assure you that you may live in peace and retain all your property."
Boone, who was the spokesman of the settlers, arose to reply. He knew little of the great struggle which at that time was going on for the independence of the colonies. His life on the border was too remote from the battlefields of the north and east, and only occasional rumours of the long contest came to the pioneers.
Boone's speech, conditionally agreeing to Duquesne's proposal, was followed by one from Blackfish. The old chief, looking only once upon his adopted son, and by the gleam in his eyes expressing his hatred, asserted that when two great armies entered into a treaty it was customary for the men to shake hands, and in doing so for two Indians to shake the hands of each white man. There were smiles among the men from the fort as they heard the smooth words of the crafty old chief, but as all the warriors and white men were unarmed they were not unduly alarmed.
At that moment a gun was fired as a signal from the forest, and the Indian members of the council, advancing with open hands, grasped the hands of the white men. Instantly the warriors endeavoured to drag their white enemies toward the woods where many of the Shawnees were concealed. A desperate conflict followed, and the Indians from the main body begun to rush quickly toward the spot.
At the same time the watching men at the fort began to pour a fire upon the approaching enemy, and in a few minutes, under stress of the excitement, the scout and his friends tore themselves from the grasp of the Indians and fled back to the fort. The heavy gate was closed and bolted as soon as they were behind the defences. Fortunately only one man had been wounded by the fire of the savages.
Captain Duquesne and Blackfish now ordered an attack upon the fort. As the place was almost surrounded by woods except on the side toward the river, the attacking party was well protected. The advance was made from three sides at once.
Amid the wild yells of the Indians a volley of bullets was poured into the fort, and as soon as the guns were discharged they were again loaded and a steady fire maintained.
The defenders of the fort, however, were not wasting their scanty ammunition. Every man from his porthole, or the place which he was occupying on the bastions, was selecting his own special mark and every shot was telling in the work of death. The fight continued throughout the day, and when night fell, contrary to their custom, the Indians still maintained their attack.
Another day and another night followed, without any break in the struggle. Daniel Boone was aware that the Indians were now being guided by Captain Duquesne and were not following their usual custom of abandoning an attack when darkness fell. Meanwhile Boone was moving from place to place encouraging his men and making sure that all things were well.
Jemima Boone, by the direction of her father, was firing through one of the portholes. In the second day of the fight a negro, who had fled from the fort, climbed into a tree near by, fired at the girl and wounded her.
Daniel Boone, who at the moment was standing near his daughter, instantly peered through the porthole, discovered the deserter, and the report of his rifle was followed by the fall of the man from the tree in which he had hidden.
Day followed day and still the attack was maintained. The Indians were unable to force an entrance into the place, but they were unwilling to abandon the attack.
One afternoon Peleg came to Daniel Boone and, greatly excited, said: "Come with me!"
Leading the way to the side of the fort which faced the river, he called the attention of the scout to the colour of the water.
"What does that mean?" inquired Peleg.
"It means that the varmints are trying to dig a trench from the bank of the river to the fort," said Boone. "The earth they have thrown out has coloured the water. If they once get inside the fort they may compel us to surrender."
"What can we do?" inquired Peleg. "We must do something!"
"Come, I will show you," replied Boone quietly.
Selecting several men to aid Peleg in his task, he soon arranged for a counter trench to be dug which would cross that which the Indians were digging. Nor was it long before the discovery of the work of the defenders caused the red men to abandon their scheme.
More furiously than before, the siege was continued. A new device was tried by the Indians on the fifth day.
Arrows with burning brands attached to them were shot in such a manner that they struck the roofs of the houses within the fort. It was impossible for any one to prevent this work.
At last a cry was raised that the fort itself was on fire. The cry, terrifying as it was, instantly brought Henry to the front, who said calmly: "I put out flame."
For a moment every gun and voice within the fort was silent while the anxious inmates watched Henry as he made his way to the roof where the fire already was kindled. A wild yell from the Indians greeted the appearance of the young man and a shower of bullets fell all about him.
Undismayed by his peril, Henry succeeded in making his way to the blazing arrow, flung it to the ground, and succeeded in putting out the fire. As he turned to make his way back to his friends another shower of bullets fell about him, and a groan escaped the watching defenders when they saw the young hero suddenly lose his grasp upon the roof, and after a brief struggle roll to the ground outside the walls.
The numbers of those who had fallen within the fort had not been great, protected as they were by its wall and also by their own continued vigilance. The ranks of the assailants, however, steadily had been thinned, and on the ninth day, without any warning to the defenders, the attacking Shawnees withdrew from the place.
Peleg was engaged in his duties in the fort on the morning following the siege when the scout approached him and, in response to the enthusiastic words of the boy, smiled as he said: "Well, we did pretty well, lad. We lost only two and had only four wounded."
"And Henry was one of the killed," suggested Peleg.
"I do not know. He has not been found," replied Boone. "If one had to die I think Henry was the best one to go." In response to a look of inquiry from the boy, the scout continued: "He had no family; his white blood prevented him from being entirely at home among the Indians, while his Indian bringing-up would have prevented him forever from feeling that he was one of us. There were times when I was afraid for the life of Sam Oliver, so bitter was Henry's hatred of him."
"Do you know how many of the Indians were killed?"
"It is reported that thirty-seven were killed and a great many wounded. It is difficult to say just what the losses were, because the Indians always carry away their dead and wounded."
"Do you think they will come back again?"
The scout shook his head as he said: "The country hereabouts is increasing so rapidly in its population, and there are so many other stations now between Boonesborough and the Ohio, that I hardly think they will attack us again. Certainly not in the near future."
"How is Jemima this morning?" asked Peleg.
"She will be all right in a few days," replied Boone. "It was only a flesh wound in the shoulder that she received."
"What are you planning to do next?"
"If you agree," replied Daniel Boone, "I shall leave you in charge of my farm and start as soon as I can for North Carolina, to bring back my family."
It was not long before the scout set forth alone on his journey to the Yadkin, whither his wife had gone with all her children except Jemima, to find a refuge in her father's house, after she had become convinced that Daniel Boone had been killed by the Indians.
The journey was successfully made and the coming of Boone was to his wife almost like the return of one from the dead. There were some matters on the Yadkin, however, which prevented their immediate departure, and it was not until several weeks had elapsed that the scout with his family returned to Boonesborough.
Meanwhile Peleg had looked carefully after the farm which his friend owned, and he received warm words of praise for his efforts when Boone came back.
As soon as the scout saw that his family once more was established in the settlement, and the attacks of the Indians, for a time at least, had ceased, with his brother, who also now had joined the settlers, he once more started for Blue Licks to make salt, of which the settlers and their cattle were greatly in need.
"Are you not afraid to go to the Blue Licks?" inquired his brother when Boone was ready to set forth on his expedition.
"Why should I be?" inquired Boone.
"It was there that you were taken by the Indians."
[Illustration: "The scout, with his family, returned to Boonesborough"]
"They say," replied the scout with a smile, "that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. I am not afraid. I think the Shawnees have been taught a good lesson. Colonel Bowman and his one hundred and sixty men, though he was not very successful in his attack upon old Chillicothe, nevertheless showed the Indians that we were not unmindful of their plans. And Colonel Harrod at all events, when he made his attack with the horsemen, certainly scattered the Indians on every side. I think they will remember both men, although I wish that we might have inflicted greater damage upon their village. The report is that only two scalps were taken, but that may mean very little. The attacks which Colonel Bird, with his five hundred Indians and Canadians, made upon Riddle's Station and the little station upon the Licking River, seem to me to show that the Indians are not ready to give up yet."
Boone's assurance overcame the objections of his brother and persuaded him that there was no special danger attending their labours at Blue Licks.
The confidence of the scout seemed warranted when several days had passed, the necessary salt had been made, and the two men were preparing to return to the fort. Not an Indian had been seen, nor had there been any signs of their presence.
Hardly had the two men, however, set forth on their return when, without warning, they were attacked by a band of Indians. Boone's brother was killed and scalped. But the scout instantly darted into the thickest part of the forest. Owing to his superior knowledge of the country he was not overtaken at once; and running steadily and as swiftly as he was able, he at last sought refuge in a ravine, followed by a dog which the Indians were using to trail him. Boone waited quietly until the savage animal approached and then calmly shot it. Aware that the report of his rifle would reveal his presence to his enemies, the intrepid man, as the woods about him were dense and darkness was approaching, resolutely made his way into the forest again and resumed his flight toward Boonesborough.
FOUR WARRIORS AND MORE
With his usual coolness and fortitude, the great scout continued on his way, and without further trouble arrived at the fort.
"Peleg," he said the following day, when the two were labouring in the field together, "Blue Licks somehow seems to be destined to be a place of trouble and sorrow for me. Only a few days ago my brother was calling my attention to that fact and now his death has confirmed his words. It grieves me that I could not even bring away his body. That, however, is a part of the fortune of pioneers, and as no man ever yet has heard me whine, I do not intend to begin now. But my brother's death is a source of very heavy sorrow to me."
"Do you think the Indians are planning another attack?"
"Not right away. I suspect that they are trying to attack or capture me. Their anger against the settlement doubtless is as keen as ever, but they look upon me as one who has deserted their tribe. Some day they will find me. But I have one consolation, and that is that they will not find me unprepared."
The words of the scout concerning the further attacks by the Indians were confirmed during the year that followed. The little settlement at Boonesborough steadily increased in numbers and prosperity. For a time, free from the attacks of the Indians, the families toiled in their fields. More extensive clearings were made and in the marvellously fertile soil the crops were bountiful. There were many new homes established in the community, too, for among the continually arriving settlers were many young women.
In the quiet labours on his clearing Boone found peace and comfort such as he seldom had enjoyed. Peleg, who had secured some land adjoining the farm of his friend, worked with the scout and Israel, and as they assisted one another both places steadily improved.
The feeling of Boone, however, that he was still an object of hatred among the Shawnees was confirmed repeatedly. His most critical experience came one day when, all unknown to the scout, four athletic Shawnees were detailed by Blackfish to approach the settlement without arousing any suspicions of their presence, watch the movements of the scout, and either bring him back to the tribe or bring his scalp.
On his farm the scout had erected, not far from his cabin, a little house in which he dried the tobacco he cultivated. The little building stood in the midst of his tobacco patch. Within the house there were three tiers of timber from which the tobacco leaves were hanging to dry.
Boone and Peleg were busily engaged here one autumn day, almost unmindful of peril, the younger scout believing that the fears of his friend were without foundation.
"The tobacco on this lower tier," said Boone after he had made a careful investigation, "seems to be entirely dry."
"Then we had better change the sticks to the tier above," responded Peleg. "That will leave plenty of room for the leaves we have not brought in as yet."
"That's a good suggestion," answered Boone, and together the two scouts began to transfer the sticks from the lower to the second tier.
Peleg departed from the building to bring in more of the tobacco leaves and left Boone standing on the poles that separated the upper tiers.
Suddenly as the scout glanced below him he saw four Shawnee warriors stealthily enter through the door and laugh as they looked up to him.
"You no get away some more," said one of them whom Boone recognized as Owaneeyo, "We take you to Chillicothe this time. You no cheat us some more."
Every one of the savages was armed and looking up into Boone's face, while the direction in which the guns were aimed added force to this declaration.
Not for a moment losing his self-control, and aware that he was in the greatest peril of his life, Boone's careful preparation now showed its value. "Ah!" said he quietly. "Glad to see you, my friends. How have you been this long time?"
"Been heap mad," said Owaneeyo, frowning in a manner which betrayed his rising anger. "You come down."
"I shall be very glad to go with you, my friends. Tell me, how is Blackfish these days?"
"You come down!" repeated Owaneeyo.
"I just told you," said Boone, "that I shall be glad to come down. I prefer, however, to have you wait until I finish with my tobacco." In the hunter's heart there was hope that Peleg would discover his predicament and bring him aid before he should be seized by the angry warriors.
"Make yourselves comfortable," continued Boone pleasantly. "You see I cannot get down from here and I cannot get away from you." The scout paused a moment and glanced at his would-be captors.
"You like tobacco?" he resumed. "When I have this cured I will give some of it to you and we will smoke together."
The Indians were becoming impatient, and plainly were unaware of what the scout was doing. Continuing his conversation and making more inquiries concerning his friends in the Indian town, he did his utmost to hold the attention of his dangerous visitors while he gathered together some armfuls of tobacco.
Carefully arranging the bundles of the dry tobacco between the poles and standing where he was able to look directly down into the faces of his enemies, Boone suddenly cut the strings by which the sticks of tobacco were held. At the same moment, with his arms full of the dried leaves, he leaped down upon the Indians, and instantly filled their mouths and eyes with dry tobacco dust. The Shawnees were blinded and well-nigh suffocated in the little tobacco house. There were sneezes and shouts and cries from the startled warriors, who now were unable to see even the direction in which the door was located.
Darting from the little house, the scout made his escape and ran swiftly to his cabin. In a moment he seized his trusty rifle, but as he returned to the tobacco house he saw the Indians running blindly and staggering toward the woods.
Boone restrained his impulse to fire upon the fleeing warriors, and called to Peleg and Israel, who with several of the younger members of the settlement were now hurriedly approaching, all of them prepared to pursue the departing Shawnees.
"Do not go after them!" called Boone.
Reluctantly the young men halted, and Peleg said: "Why do you not want us to chase them? We might have had every one of them."
"If the Shawnees do not go on the warpath, why should we?"
"They were on the warpath for you!" said Israel. "It was lucky you got away."
Boone laughed silently as he recalled the appearance of the Indians when he had thrown the tobacco dust into their faces. "I am sure," he said, "the Shawnees will remember what I said to them and how they were treated by me. Perhaps it will do more good than it will to shoot them."
The months passed and the peace of the settlement remained unbroken. Few even suspected the terrible struggle which was awaiting them.
The game in the forest was becoming somewhat scarce. The settlers, increasing steadily in numbers, now were scattered from the Kentucky River to the Ohio. It was commonly believed that the Indians had finally accepted the coming of the whites as inevitable, and no longer were ready to dispute their occupation of the western forests.
The one marked exception was Daniel Boone. To all the assertions of his friends he replied by expressing his own conviction that the red men were simply biding their time. No one was more familiar with the Indian ways and thoughts than the scout and he was positive that they had not forgotten the injuries which they had sustained at the hands of the whites. Sooner or later they would strive to obtain vengeance and at the same time unite in a supreme endeavour to drive the hated people from the lands which they believed to be their own.
"I am more convinced than ever that trouble is brewing," said Boone one day to Peleg and Israel, who now were his frequent companions. "I know Simon Girty, and a worse man never lived. He is a renegade and a traitor. He has given up living among the whites, and in everything but colour and in their better qualities he has become an Indian. I am sure that we shall hear from him before many months have passed."
Little the great scout dreamed that even while he was expressing his opinion to the boys, runners at that very time had been sent by Simon Girty to many of the northwestern tribes, urging them all to lay aside the jealousy they felt for one another and unite in one common cause against the white invaders.
The following spring the storm burst. As the pattering raindrops sometimes fall at the beginning of a downpour, so among the scattered settlements a renewal of attacks by prowling bands of Indians indicated what was to follow.
One day when Daniel Boone returned to his home he was unusually cast down. He explained that he had just learned of an attack which a party of twenty-five Wyandottes had made upon Estill's Station. The warriors had stolen into a little cabin which was apart from the others in the settlement. They had seized the occupants--a woman and her two daughters--and tomahawked and scalped all three. The bodies were still warm when they were discovered upon the floor of the cabin by neighbours. The scout told what followed.
"Immediately Captain Estill collected a band of twenty-five daring men and followed the Indians more swiftly than I followed the band which took Jemima prisoner. The Wyandottes at first seemed to be frightened and began to run, but at last they made a stand on one side of a creek, while the whites were on the other. They were not more than fifty yards apart and every man was sheltered behind a tree or rock and firing at any enemy that could be seen. Captain Estill had lost one third of his men and had shot about as many of the Indians, but the braves were still returning his fire, and showed no signs of leaving. He thought if he should keep up that kind of a fight, every one at last would be killed, unless perhaps it should be the very last white or Indian.
"Mindful of this, Captain Estill sent out a party of six men, led by Lieutenant Miller, telling them to creep around and attack the Indians on their flank. But the chief was as shrewd as the captain, and as soon as he saw that the fire of the whites was slowing up in front of him, he instantly made a stronger attack upon the men that were left. Jumping into the water, they fell upon the captain and his men, driving them before them and killing a good many. Those who escaped finally got back to the Station, and you can readily see how alarmed the people are."
"What happened to Captain Estill?" inquired Israel, greatly shocked by the story of his father.
"He and eight more of his men were killed, and, besides, four were wounded."
"That's more than half that went out, isn't it?" inquired Peleg.
"Yes," answered Daniel Boone.
The report of the misfortune which had overtaken the men of Estill's Station was speedily succeeded by another report no less alarming. A band of Indians had crept up to Hoy's Station and there had stolen two little boys.
Quickly Captain Holder gathered a band of seventeen angry men and started in pursuit of the Indians. It was not long before he overtook them, but he and his men were driven back after more than half the party had fallen.
The alarm now became widespread. The success which had attended the plans of the Indians encouraged them to continue their efforts. Sometimes singly, frequently in small parties, they crept close to the settlements and by their stealthy attacks kept the people in continual alarm.
There was no one now to dispute the great scout's prophecy that more serious trouble was to come. Within a few weeks an army of Indians, made up of bands from many of the northwestern tribes and numbering nearly six hundred warriors, began its march from Chillicothe.
The renegade Girty was in command. The little army moved with great caution, and their approach was unsuspected by the whites. One August night they arrived at Bryant's Station, surrounded it, and prepared to dash upon the unsuspecting people the moment the gates should be opened the following morning.
A DECOY AND AN ATTACK
The fort at Bryant's Station was for the protection of forty cabins placed in parallel lines upon a little hill on the bank of the Elkhorn River.
All through the night the garrison had been preparing as soon as daylight came to depart from the fort to carry aid to the men at Hoy's Station. A messenger had brought word to Bryant's Station of the defeat which almost had overwhelmed Holder and his men. If Girty's band of six hundred Indians had arrived a few hours later they would have found in the fort only a few women and children, besides a small number of old men, unable to fight.
Afterward it was learned that the Indians were listening all through the night to the sounds of the activities within the fort, and when they saw the lights gleaming from the blockhouse and the cabins they must have suspected that news of their coming already had been received by the inmates.
However, they made no attempt to steal upon the fort in the darkness, although Girty and the Indian chiefs were planning and arranging their attack for the following day.
For some strange reason many of the forts on the border had been built at a considerable distance from the springs upon which the people depended for their water. The fort at Bryant's Station was no exception.
By Girty's direction many of the Indians placed themselves in hiding, within shot of the spring. One hundred selected warriors also were stationed at a distance from the spring. The latter were ordered to open a sharp fire and make their presence known to the garrison. Doubtless the hope of the red men was that the actions of this party would draw the white defenders from their place of safety.
If their plan succeeded Girty then expected that the other band of warriors instantly would rush upon the opposite gate of the fort and hew it down with their tomahawks while the men were chasing the little decoy force. In this manner all the leaders of the attacking force expected to make their way into the little cabins within the stockade.
When daybreak came the garrison was almost ready to open the gates and march to the assistance of their friends at Hoy's Station.
Suddenly there was a furious and continued discharge of rifles accompanied by such hideous yells and screams and whoops that they terrified not only the women and children of Bryant's Station, but alarmed even the men, accustomed though they were to the methods of Indian warfare.
Running to the stockade and peering out through the loopholes, the startled white men saw before them a small band of Indians. These warriors were plainly exposed, yelling and making the most insulting and furious gestures toward the fort.
All this was so different from their usual custom that some of the older men of the fort warned their comrades that a trick of some kind was being played upon them.
"It is a decoy party," said one of the men positively. "They will draw you out of the fort and before you know it you will find yourselves surrounded by more than a hundred of those howling savages."
"That is right" said another. "My suggestion is that we all make for the other side of the fort. I believe the Indians are trying to draw us out on this side and then attack us on the other."
The experiences which many already had had with the Indians of the border confirmed the impression made by the words of the last speaker. Even the younger men, who were eager to sally forth and attack the young warriors that were making such a commotion, were held back by the suggestion.
"We cannot protect ourselves very long in the fort," said one of the men when the defenders had been divided into two bands.
"Why not?" inquired another.
"Because we have no water. There is not enough water in the fort to last us thirty hours."
"What can we do?" inquired one of the older men after a tense silence had followed the statement of the speaker. "If we go down to the spring the Indians will pick us off, every one."
"Send the women," suggested another. "They go to the spring every morning. The Indians may not think we have any suspicion of what they are planning to do. If the women and girls go to the spring for water just as they usually do the Indians will not fire at them. They will want to save all their bullets for their attack on this side when our men have been drawn out to chase the savages who are yelling now on the other side."
"It seems cowardly," said another man "to ask the women to go down to the spring when we know it would be sure death for us to go."
"It will not be sure death for the women, and my opinion is that not one of them will be harmed," said the first speaker positively. "At all events we can ask them to go and let them say whether they will or not."
When the proposition was made to the women there were some who made replies not unlike those which their male defenders had suggested in the council. Some of them said: "If the men were afraid that they might be shot, why should they ask the women to go in their place?" Then it was explained just why the request was made. Immediately some of the bolder women and girls, taking their buckets, opened the gates and started toward the spring, which was only a short distance from the fort.
Frightened, the women undoubtedly were, and with good reason. But with unbroken lines they continued on their way to the spring. One by one they knelt and filled their buckets and then joined the line which was returning to the fort.
When the matrons and maids had arrived within a few yards of the open gate their terror became so overpowering that they all began to run for the shelter. Many a dusky face had been seen on the borders of the forest, but not a shot was fired at the bold girls and the women of Bryant's Station when they brought the water from the spring to the inmates of the fort.
"Now is our time," said one of the men, after the return of the women. "We ought to do two things: First we must get some one out of the fort to carry word to Boone of the trouble we are having."
"And second?" inquired one of the company.
"We must send out some of the younger men to attack that decoy party."
"That's right," suggested one of the young men eagerly. "We must go out and make all the noise we can. Then all the other men here in the fort can be ready for Girty when he comes, and I know he will come."
"I will carry the message to Boone," volunteered one of the younger men named Bell. It was arranged that he should depart with the young men who were to attack the decoy party, and then instead of returning to the fort he should make a dash into the forest and try to make his way to Boonesborough as speedily as possible.
The men in the fort were all serious when they saw thirteen of their younger companions depart from the fort through the gate which opened toward the place where the decoy party had been seen.
"Do not chase the varmints too far," charged one of the watching men.
No response was given to the warning, and as soon as the hardy, young settlers had departed the gate was closed and the remaining men, cocking their guns, took their positions to await the result of the expected attack as soon as it should be unmasked.
It was not long before the report of rifles was heard from the distant road, and gradually the sound indicated that the men were being decoyed farther and farther from the fort.
"Girty will order an attack on us soon, now that the boys have made so much noise," suggested one of the waiting defenders.
Scarcely had the man spoken when Simon Girty, springing from the forest at the head of five hundred of his painted warriors, rushed upon the western gate of the fort. It was plain that they were trying to force their way over the undefended palisade.
The men of the Station had been carefully arranged in small divisions; and at the word from their leaders they fired upon the approaching warriors. The determination of the white men and their anxiety for their wives and children served to steady the nerve of every man and make of him a sharpshooter.
The consternation of Girty's army cannot be described. Startled by the unexpected resistance and beholding their comrades falling on every side of them, with wild cries of anger and dismay the painted braves scattered, and in confusion all ran back into the sheltering forest.
Two minutes after the sally not an Indian was to be seen, and the party of thirteen young settlers returned to the shelter of the fort.
Every defender of Bryant's Station, however, was aware that this was but the beginning of the siege. The attack now was undertaken more in accordance with the usual methods of Indian warfare. From behind trees or protected by rocks the red men fired upon the defenders whenever any one showed himself. And the men of Bryant's Station were replying to the attack in kind. Not much time had elapsed before it was plain that this method of warfare was without marked effect on either party.
By the middle of the afternoon, however, a sudden change occurred which instantly altered the entire combat. The cause of this change was due to the messenger who had been sent from Bryant's Station as soon as the discovery of the Indians had been made. Upon the fleetest horse in the settlement young Bell had succeeded in making his way to Lexington, with news of the dire need of help at Bryant's Station.
The messenger, however, was keenly disappointed when he found only the women and children and a few old men in the place. He was informed that the able-bodied men had all marched to the rendezvous at Hoy's Station as soon as the knowledge of Holder's defeat had been received.
Following the direction in which he had been informed the fighting band had gone, it was not long before Bell overtook them and gave them his message.
In the band were sixteen mounted men and more than twice that number of men on foot. As they set forth in response to Bell's appeal, their courage was strengthened by the report of the coming of a force of men from Boone's Station, among whom were Peleg, Israel, and the great scout himself.
A FIELD OF CORN
At a good pace the band was moving steadily over the rough roadway that led to Bryant's Station. The men were silent for the most part, for they had serious work before them. What a siege by five hundred Indians was likely to be, led by such a man as Simon Girty, required no description. The mounted men, however, preceding the men on foot, found little on their way to indicate the peril of their friends.
It was late summer now, and already some of the leaves of the forest were tinged with the colours of autumn. The song of a bird was seldom heard, although the locusts were noisily announcing their presence in the treetops.
As the advancing men came nearer the end of their journey their precautions increased. The men on horseback still led, but were closer to their comrades than in the earlier part of the journey. The information which the courier had brought had been so meagre that the exact location of Girty's band of warriors was not known. Bell had reported only that Bryant's Station was besieged and that Girty was the leader of the howling horde of savages.
Bryant's Station was less than a mile and a half distant. The advancing men were in a bend in the road, on one side of which stretched the primeval forest, while on the other one hundred or more acres had been cleared and planted to corn. The stalks of corn were higher than the head of the tallest man in the band.
"Come on!" called Peleg to Israel and his friends. "Let the men who are riding go around by the road and we'll cut across lots through this cornfield."
The suggestion at once was acted upon, and the men on foot, among whom were most of the boys and younger men in the rescuing party, ran into the cornfield where they were soon concealed from the sight of their companions. Around them the stalks were standing so high that it would have been an easy matter for one not accustomed to such places to lose his way.
Meanwhile, the mounted men continued on their way. It was unknown to them, as it was also to their companions in the cornfield, that the keen-eyed Indians had been aware of the departure of the courier from Bryant's Station. Indeed, it was suspected afterward that intentionally the red men had permitted him to proceed through their lines. All the warriors apparently were eager for the messenger to return and bring the men who doubtless would respond to his appeal.
Consequently, when the mounted men drew near the forest opposite the cornfield, they had no information or even suspicion that Girty's warriors, concealed behind the trunks of the great trees, were awaiting their coming. Steadily advancing, the horsemen soon were drawing near the place where the ambuscade had been formed.
Meanwhile, Peleg and Israel, in advance of their comrades, had been moving through the cornfield. They had arrived at a point which they thought must be midway in the great field, when at the sound of a gun both young pioneers stopped short, and Israel seized Peleg's arm as his face became pale and he said, "What has happened?"
There was slight need for Peleg to reply to the startling question. On the August air arose the reports of many rifles and the terrifying whoops of the Indians.
It was impossible for the men in the cornfield to see what was occurring in the road. They were aware of the attack, of course, and there was slight doubt in the mind of any that the entrance of the men on foot into the cornfield had been seen by their watching enemies.
"Keep close to me," said Peleg to his companion. "It is every man for himself, now, but I want you to stay by me. We will take our chances that way."
Peleg started when a whoop wilder and fiercer than any that had preceded it came from the bend in the road.
"I wonder if they got every man," whispered Israel, his voice trembling in his excitement. "I do not believe one of our men suspected there was any danger here. Not even my father spoke of it."
"Your father does not always speak of his fears. If it is possible for any one to get away I am sure your father will be safe."
"What's that?" whispered Israel sharply. From the sounds it was evident that some at least of the mounted men were fleeing from the place. The shots of the Indians were plainly heard, and it was clear that they were following the fugitives. Perhaps a few had contrived to force their way around the bend.
The two anxious young settlers, however, soon were recalled to the perils of their own position. Suddenly, not far to their right, they heard a rustling sound, as of the furtive approach of some one moving through the standing corn.
"Drop!" whispered Peleg. "Don't move! Do not say a word!"
The two boys cast themselves upon the ground, each holding his rifle in readiness for instant use. The sound of some one moving in the midst of the corn might indicate the presence of an enemy or of a friend, and until the anxious boys could determine which was near, they remained motionless.
All at once the silence which had continued for moments was broken by whoops nearby, and the reports of rifles from within the field. Both boys were startled when each looked into the other's face and found his suspicions confirmed. The Indians were aware of the presence of the settlers in the cornfield and were stealthily entering from every side of the field at the same time. Already some of the unfortunate settlers had been found and their fate had been sealed. The summer stillness was broken by the wild whoops which indicated the success of some warrior in bringing his victim to the ground. There were also calls and cries from the wounded, mingled with the frequent reports of the rifles.
The standing corn, a few yards in advance of the place where Peleg and Israel were lying, now suddenly was drawn apart and the boys saw three painted Shawnee warriors in single file stealthily making their way between the tall stalks.
They concluded that discovery was not to be avoided, and after Peleg had whispered to his companion to follow his example, one after the other the boys raised their rifles and fired upon their enemies.
Aware that one and perhaps two of the approaching red men had fallen and that the third warrior had darted rapidly away at the discharge of the guns, both boys sprang to their feet, and, crouching low, began to run through the corn.
Both were too experienced to lose their way easily, and not many minutes had elapsed before Peleg, without speaking, laid his hand warningly on his friend's shoulder. Instantly both stopped and listened.
Peleg believed that they had arrived near the border of the field. He was fearful now that reserves had been stationed so that from whatever side the unfortunate settlers might attempt to escape they would be met by the bullets of the watching warriors. Both boys listened intently until several minutes had elapsed.
"We had better separate here," whispered Israel. Peleg hesitated a moment and then quietly nodded his assent. The possibility of escape, slight as it was, would be increased if they proceeded singly rather than together.
"You know the way to the Station?" whispered Peleg. Israel nodded his head, and, moving to a place twenty feet to his left, turned, and in a course parallel to the one Peleg was following, cautiously continued on his way toward the border of the field.
When Peleg came near to the edge of the field he stopped once more and peered cautiously all about him, listening for sounds that might indicate the presence of his enemies. From behind him still were heard the shouts and shrieks that were mingled with the reports of the guns and the whoops of the excited Indians.
Somehow, in spite of his peril, the beat of the young settler's heart seemed to be almost normal. He watched a little field mouse that fearlessly peered up at him from the ground. He even counted the swings of a spider making her web between the swaying branches of an enormous stalk of corn.
Apparently the fighting was confined to the farther side of the field. Only infrequent sounds of the conflict were heard at his right and left, while from the region before him there had been almost no sounds of conflict at all.
Was the border in front of him unguarded? Or was it doubly dangerous because the Indians were attempting from the other three sides to drive the unfortunate men into a trap?
Stealthily Peleg still crept forward. After each step he paused and looked keenly about him as he listened for sounds which might indicate renewed peril. He had seen nothing of Israel since his friend had left him.
Suddenly he was startled to hear what evidently were the sounds of a struggle between two men nearby. The laboured breathing and an occasional exclamation which he heard alike convinced him of this. With increasing anxiety Peleg crept forward.
He was not molested when he came to the end of the row, but before him he saw a contest which threatened to terminate speedily as well as fatally for Israel Boone.
The son of the great scout was in the hands of a white man, and was struggling desperately. His contestant, however, plainly was much the stronger. Peleg saw the face of the man distinctly, and he assured himself that never before had he looked upon so villainous a countenance. The man's face was distorted and discoloured by his efforts, and the perspiration streamed down his cheeks leaving furrows behind it. In spite of his excitement, Peleg asked himself if the man's face had ever been washed. The necessity for quick action, if his friend was to be rescued, caused Peleg instantly to raise his rifle to his shoulder and fire.
Israel's contestant dropped to the ground as Peleg had seen an ox collapse from the blow of an axe.
Instantly darting to the side of his friend, Peleg whispered, "Come!"
"That is Simon Girty!" gasped Israel, looking down into the face of the fallen man before him.
Startled as Peleg was by the words of his companion, he did not wait to verify them, but turned back at once into the cornfield. As soon as he had gone a short distance, bidding Israel follow him, he turned to his left, and, still running swiftly and silently, the boys advanced a hundred yards; they then turned abruptly to their right in the direction of the side of the field where they had first entered. Although mystified by the action of his companion, Israel did not protest as he followed Peleg in his flight.
THE WHITE SHAWNEE AGAIN
Again turning to his left, Peleg, still followed by his friend, ran swiftly toward the border of the cornfield.
The cries and whoops in a measure had died away, and from what he could hear Peleg concluded that some of his friends had escaped from the field and were being pursued in their flight toward the fort.
When Peleg and Israel found they were near the road, on the opposite side of which stood the forest where the Indians had made their ambuscade, they peered cautiously in all directions, but were unable to see any of their enemies. That another band of warriors had followed in pursuit of the men who had escaped from the first attack and from the fight in the cornfield was most likely, they concluded.
Peleg whispered: "The safest place for us is where the Indians were hidden. They have gone from there and will not come back to look for any of us."
Israel nodded his head in assent, and, firmly grasping their rifles, the boys darted across the road and gained the shelter of the trees. When the two young scouts were convinced that their immediate presence had not been discovered, Peleg said to Israel: "Are you sure you can find your way if we again separate?"
"Yes," answered Israel. "But the Indians are between us and the fort. Do you think we can ever get through?"
"We must," said Peleg. "The folk at Bryant's Station are in such danger that not one of us must fail them now."
The words hardly had been spoken when there was a sharp report of a rifle, and a bullet passed so near them that both boys heard it singing on its way.
Moved by a common impulse, they turned and dashed into the forest. Whether or no any of their enemies were hiding behind the trees toward which they were running neither knew.
They were chiefly intent upon speed now, and ran on for several minutes, well knowing that their lives depended upon the success of their efforts.
At last, breathless, both halted for a rest, and Peleg said to his companion, "I am sure it will be better for us to separate now. You know the way, and can look out for yourself. I shall come, too, and if we succeed In getting through, it had better be before night."
"Yes," assented Israel. "If we wait until dark and then creep up to the fort, the guards will be likely to fire upon us, mistaking us for Indians."
With these words Israel departed. Peleg watched his friend as long as he remained within sight, and then began with caution to retrace the way over which they had come. Keeping a firm grip upon Singing Susan, Peleg darted from tree to tree and did not venture from each refuge until he was convinced that no one was near him.
His attempt to proceed was interrupted, however, by the report of a rifle, and again a bullet whistled uncomfortably close to his head, tearing some splinters from the tree at his elbow. The young scout at his utmost speed darted into the wood at his right.
He was aware that a swift flight could not long be maintained because of his recent exertions. Where a refuge might be found he did not know. But just then he noticed the trunk of what appeared to be a huge hollow tree leaning over a shallow brook, across which he must leap if he continued his flight.
He entered the stream, ran swiftly a few steps with the current, and then retraced his way to the tree. It was but the work of a moment for him to climb to the broken top, and great was his relief when he saw that the tree indeed was hollow. Without thought of where he might fall he dropped into the welcome opening.
He fell several feet before the decayed wood provided a foothold strong enough to enable him to stand. Fortunately the hollow of the tree was larger than his body, and although he was cramped and almost blinded by the decayed mass, he nevertheless managed to reach his hunting-knife, and, making a small opening through the soft wood, peeped out to see if his enemies were within sight. As he did so his fears were aroused that the tree itself might fall. It was a mere shell and so decayed that he was surprised that his descent had not torn it asunder.
At that moment a wild cry, plainly from the road, came to his ears. Then shouts were followed by the reports of guns and answering whoops from the Indians.
Anxious for his friend Israel, Peleg turned once more to ascertain if any of his enemies were near his hiding-place. He was hopeful that his trail could not be followed farther than the bank of the little brook, although he was sufficiently familiar with Indian ways to know that the red men, if they really were pursuing him, would run in either direction along the banks until they found the place where he had left the water. He smiled as he recalled how he had been standing in the stream when he had thrown his arms around the trunk of the bending tree. Singing Susan was still held, but it would be impossible for him in his cramped position to make use of her musical voice.
Suddenly Peleg was startled to behold an Indian step forth from the forest and stand for a moment on the bank of the stream almost directly beneath him. His surprise increased when he recognized the warrior as Henry. He had believed that the white Shawnee, as Henry had loved to call himself, had been killed in the attack on Boonesborough. His brave deed in extinguishing the fire that had been kindled by the burning arrow had been followed, as Peleg and others had believed, by his death. At least every one had seen him fall from the roof and roll to the ground. It is true, his body had not been recovered, but there were other bodies which had similarly disappeared.
When his first feeling of astonishment had passed and Peleg was convinced that it indeed was Henry who was beneath him, a feeling of intense anger swept over the young settler. Henry was white, and yet had renounced his allegiance to his own people and gone back to the Shawnees, and with them he was now making war upon his own nation! There was little in his present appearance to distinguish him from other braves of the tribe. He wore the scalp-lock and was clad in the Indian garb.
Peleg's problem in part was solved when at that moment the rotten wood gave way beneath him, and the tree, unable longer to support the weight of the young scout, fell with a crash to the ground. As it struck the bank the tree was rent asunder, and to the white Shawnee's astonishment Peleg scrambled to his feet from out of the wreckage.
Before he could brush the dust from his eyes and bring Singing Susan to his shoulder Henry leaped forward and placed both hands upon the barrel of the rifle, saying, "No shoot broder."
"You are no brother of mine!" said Peleg. "You are a Shawnee and not a white Shawnee, either! You are fighting us!"
"No fight broder," repeated Henry. "Broder show way to fort."
For some strange reason which Peleg was unable to explain even to himself, he said abruptly: "Lead the way, then! If you can take me safely through the line of these savages, I shall never forget you."
The young scout was eager to inquire of his companion what had befallen him and why he had returned to the Shawnees. His present peril, however, was so great that he restrained his impulse, and in silence followed Henry as he led the way toward Bryant's Station.
Occasionally a halt was made when from some nearby place shots were heard indicating that the scattered settlers were being pursued either in small detachments or individually, for the terrified men had scattered when first the ambuscade had been discovered.
When Henry, who apparently was aware of the location of the besieging braves, drew near the fort he stopped and said: "Now go."
Peleg looked about him, and, unable to discover any of his enemies nearby, followed the advice which had been given him, and, placing his hat on the end of the barrel of Singing Susan as a token of his peaceful intentions, approached the gate.
He was at once admitted, and his relief was great when the first to greet him was Israel Boone.
"How many are here?" asked Peleg.
"I do not know," answered Israel. "I have heard that only six of our men were killed or wounded. When we all started toward Lexington they might have chased us all the way and taken the fort there, because there was nobody left to fight for it."
"How many Indians were in that ambuscade?" asked Peleg.
"I hear there were three hundred."
"How did you get to the fort?"
"I ran straight ahead for an hour," replied Israel with a smile. "How did you come?"
"Henry got me through the lines."
"Henry!" demanded Israel in surprise. "Henry! I thought he was dead."
"So did I, but he is very much alive. I had no time to ask him how he came to be here. I was thinking mostly of getting inside the fort."
"It is a comfort to know that at least Girty will not lead any more----"
Israel stopped speaking as a lusty shout was heard from a stump that stood near one of the bastions, and the two young defenders to their amazement beheld Simon Girty himself standing erect upon the stump and waving a cloth which at some time in its history may have been white.
In response to this hail every man ran to hear what the renegade leader of the Indians had to say.
They were soon to know the purpose for which Girty, on his hands and knees, had crept to the place where he now was standing.
"What do you want?" shouted one of the defenders.
"I have come," replied Girty in a loud voice, "to save your lives. We have more than six hundred warriors here, and by to-morrow we shall have more. Some of our friends will bring cannon, and when we have them we can blow every cabin in Bryant's Station into flinders. If we storm your fort, as we sure can do when we get our cannon, I will not promise that one life will be spared. You know the redskins well enough to understand how I shall not be able to hold them back. If you surrender now, I give you my word of honour that not a hair of the head of any one of you shall be hurt. I am Simon Girty, and you know you can rely upon every word I speak."
A derisive cry from several of the defenders greeted this assertion, but when Peleg and Israel looked about them they were aware that many of the men had been strongly moved by Girty's appeal.
THE STRUGGLE IN THE RAVINE
Before any conference of the defenders could be held, one of the younger men leaped to the wall to reply to Girty's plea.
"You know who I am, don't you?" called Girty.
"Indeed I do know!" shouted young Reynolds: "Everybody south of the Falls of Ohio knows that you are Simon Girty. I have a good-for-nothing cur dog which I have named Simon Girty, or Simon Dirty, he looks so much like you. If you have any reinforcements or artillery, bring them up! But let me warn you that if you or any of those naked rascals with you ever get into this fort we shall not use our guns upon them. We have no powder to waste on such wretches. We have cut some big bunches of birch switches and have scattered them all through the fort; and that is just what we cut them for--to thrash you and your rascally comrades. And let me tell you," he continued, "that you are not the only ones who are expecting reinforcements! We have received word that the whole country is aroused and marching to help us, Simon Girty!" he shouted. "If you and your gang of murderers stay twenty-four hours longer before the fort you will never be able to leave. Your scalps will be drying in the sun on the roofs of our cabins."
A loud laugh from his friends greeted the words of the young backwoods orator, and it was plain that the spirit which young Reynolds had displayed had aroused the drooping courage of his companions. Many of the men were aware that on more than one occasion the Indians had indeed brought cannon with them, and by their aid had succeeded in destroying two of the stations.
All became silent when Simon Girty once more stood up to reply. "It is too bad," began the renegade, "it's a pity that such people should be tomahawked and scalped! I can protect you now, if you will surrender, but I give you fair warning if you do not I shall not be able to hold back my warriors."
A derisive shout greeted this declaration, and in apparent sorrow Simon Girty at once withdrew.
It was not known within the fort that he instantly ordered preparations to be made for raising the siege. Throughout the night not a sound was heard, and when daylight came the Indian camp was deserted!
When Peleg and Israel sought the place where the warriors had encamped they found the fires still burning brightly and even pieces of meat left on the roasting-sticks.
"You see!" said Israel gleefully. "They left just a little while before daylight."
"Yes," said Peleg, "that is when they usually roast their meat. I wonder if they are all really gone?"
The rejoicing at Bryant's Station was great when it was known that the Indians had departed. Before noon the fighting force of white men was increased to one hundred and sixty-seven. Among those who entered came Daniel Boone, or Colonel Boone as some now called him, since he had received his commission from Colonel Clark.
"What does this mean?" demanded Israel when he saw his younger brother Daniel among the men in the assembly, "What are you doing here?"
"I think I have as good a right to come as you," retorted Boone's younger son. "I am almost seventeen."
"And old enough to know better," laughed Peleg, who was fond of the boy and many a time had taken him with him on his expeditions into the forest.
The officers, who had hastened to the place as soon as reports of its peril had been brought, now assembled, and at once called the men of Bryant's Station to a conference.
"It is known," explained Colonel Todd, "that Colonel Logan has collected a strong force in Lincoln and that it will be here within twenty-four hours. If we wait for his coming we shall be that much stronger when we start in pursuit of Girty and his savages. What do you think?" he asked, addressing Boone, who stood leaning upon his rifle in the rear of the assembly.
"It will be wise to wait," replied Boone quietly. "I have never found it to be a mistake to get ready before you attempt to do anything. Girty, according to his story, has treble our numbers. The trail which the Shawnees have left behind is so plain and so broad that I am suspicious that they have made signs which they hope will lead us to pursue them. My advice is to wait until Colonel Logan shall come with his men."
The younger members of the force, however, were unwilling to delay. To them appearances were convincing that the Indians had fled because they were alarmed. Now was the time, they declared, when the savages ought to be chased and taught a lesson! If there should be a delay even of a day in following them, the Indians would gain such an advance that they could not be overtaken and punished for their evil deeds.
The fiery zeal of the young men was not to be denied. Against the counsel of Boone and others of the older scouts, who had long experience in dealing with their Indian enemies, a swift pursuit instantly was begun. Many of the men were mounted on horses, but the entire mass, horse and foot, kept well together.
The eager party had not gone far from Bryant's Station before a halt was called, when it was discovered that the retiring Indians had turned into the buffalo road and, almost as if they were attempting to make their trail still more evident, it was noticed that they had chopped many of the trees, on either side with their hatchets.
Boone shook his head when he discovered these indications of apparent carelessness in the band they were following.
"My opinion is," he said soberly to Colonel Todd, "that Girty is trying to lead us on. Just as our men ran into their trap on the way to Bryant's Station, I am afraid now that they will be led into another."
"But it is too late to go back," said Colonel Todd.
"Yes, I am afraid our men will not go back now. My only word of advice to you is to go ahead cautiously."
"Will you be one of the advance guard?"
"If you so desire."
"At least you are not afraid, and you will not see what is not there."
"I shall do my best," said Boone quietly.
As Peleg, who was standing nearby and had heard the conversation, looked into the face of his friend he became aware that the years of anxiety had left their mark upon his rugged countenance. There was, however, a deeper expression of gentleness on the face of the great scout which in no way detracted from the impression of strength which his entire body still produced.
Orders were soon given to camp for the night in the forest, and on the following day the little army arrived at the Lower Blue Licks. Just as the force, proceeding without any form of order, arrived at the southern bank of the Licking, some of the men saw several Indians climbing the rocky ridge on the opposite side. The red men halted when the Kentuckians appeared, looked at them intently a few minutes in silence, and then, as calmly and leisurely as if no enemies were near, disappeared over the top of the hill.
A halt of the white men was made at once, and several of the officers held a consultation.
Apparently there were differences of opinion among the leaders, for after a few minutes had elapsed Colonel Todd summoned Daniel Boone and inquired his opinion as to what had best be done. All the officers were now very serious.
The great scout, leaning upon his rifle, spoke in the deep, quiet tones he usually used: "My opinion is that our situation is critical and difficult. The force before us without question is ready for battle and outnumbers us largely."
"Why do you think that?" inquired Colonel Todd.
"Because of the easy and slow retreat of the Indians who just went over the crest of yonder hill. I am familiar with all this region and I am fearful they are trying to draw us on. About a mile ahead of us there are two ravines, one on either side of the ridge. There the Indians can hide and attack us at the same time, both in front and on our flanks, almost before we could know they were there."
"What do you think is the best thing to do, then?" inquired Colonel Todd seriously.
"My advice," said Boone, "is to do one of two things: Either wait for the coming of Colonel Logan, who without doubt is on his way to join us; or, if it is decided to attack the Indians without waiting for him to come up, then my advice is that half our force ought to go up the river, cross the rapids, and fall upon the Indians from that side at the same time the others attack them from the front."
"I am afraid that cannot be done," said Colonel Todd, shaking his head.
"Whatever is done," said Boone quietly, "my advice to you is to go over the ground carefully before the men cross the river here. Send some scouts ahead. I have never found, Colonel Todd, that any man lost by being prepared for what might befall him."
Every man in the little assembly was listening with deep attention to the great scout who was a man of silence unless his advice was sought.
When he ceased some urged the adoption of his recommendation to wait for the coming of Colonel Logan and his men. There were others, however, who were strongly in favour of advancing at once.
In the midst of the warm discussion Major McGary, one of the young officers who was unable to endure the thought of being near an enemy and not fighting, let out a wild whoop. At the same moment he waved his hand over his head, spurred his horse into the river and then shouted in his loudest tone, "Let all who are not cowards follow me!"
Instantly the mounted men dashed into the river, every one apparently striving to be the first to gain the opposite shore. The men on foot also rushed into the stream, which for a time seemed to be a rolling mass of men and water. No order had been given and no order now was desired. Through the deep river horses and men staggered forward, with McGary still leading the way.
They gained the opposite shore where the unprotected nature of the ground seemed to forbid their advance. Trampled by the buffalo, every bush and low tree had been stripped bare. Multitudes of rocks blackened by the sunlight were to be seen on every side. No scouts were sent in advance and none acted on the flanks. The contagious example of Major McGary acted like magic, and men and horses went forward as if every one was doing his utmost to outstrip his neighbour.
Along with the others went Daniel Boone, his two boys, and Peleg. The expression of Boone's face had not changed since his sober advice had been disregarded by his impulsive comrades. But he was not one to draw back when his friends were rushing into action.
Suddenly the men in front halted. They had arrived at the place mentioned by the scout, where the two ravines met. A small body of Indians appeared for a moment and fired at the approaching settlers.
Instantly McGary and the men with him returned the fire, although they were at a great disadvantage because they were standing upon a bare and open ridge, while their enemies were in a ravine in which the bushes partly concealed the warriors.
As the reports of the guns were heard, the men in the rear rushed forward to assist their friends. But before they were able to gain the ridge they were stopped by a terrible fire from the ravine which was on their flank. They halted, and it was almost as if they had been shut in by the jaws of some enormous beast. There was no cover, and a terrible fire was being poured into them from front and side, while their enemies still were hidden from sight.
Gradually, however, the Indians pushed out from the ravine as the fire became fiercer. Indeed they were striving to extend their lines and turn the right of the Kentuckians so that their retreat would be cut off.
As soon as this was made clear by the increase of the firing from that quarter, the men in the rear attempted to fall back, and then by breaking through the attacking party, gain their only way of escape--to the river.
Their actions, in part misunderstood by their companions, created what was almost a panic. From the ravine to the river the sight was indescribable. Above the reports of the guns rose the shrieks and cries of the wounded and the wild and merciless whoops of the Indians.
Many of the mounted men escaped, but those who were fighting on foot were in deadly peril. Daniel Boone, in the thick of the fight, saw his boy, Israel, fall lifeless before the guns of the Indians. Even the death of his son, however, did not prevent the great scout from becoming aware that he himself was almost entirely surrounded by the frantic, howling, whooping mob of warriors.
AT THE LOWER BLUE LICKS
It was in such crises that the great scout best displayed the qualities which had made him a marked man among the pioneers. It had been impossible for him to rescue the body of his fallen son. Around him on every side were heard shouts and cries and the continual report of the rifles.
Whatever occurred, Daniel Boone was never long at a loss how to act. Controlling his feelings, he turned to the men who were near him and said quietly, "Come with me!"
As the men obediently followed, the scout, who was familiar with the entire region, instead of running toward the ford as most of the fugitives now were doing, dashed into the ravine where many of the Indians previously had been concealed. Apparently they had now left to join in the wild pursuit of the demoralized settlers.
Boone and his comrades were not to escape, however, without attracting the attention of some of the howling Indians. A half dozen or more discovered the fleeing settlers and with wild whoops started in swift pursuit.
It was here that Boone's knowledge of the region, as well as his coolness, came to his aid. Leading the way to a place in the ravine where there was a narrow passage between the rocks, he ordered his companions to precede him, while he himself raised his rifle with deliberation and fired at the approaching Indians.
The entire band halted, for their own rifles were not loaded at the time and they were depending upon a similar condition among the whites. The red men were now relying on their tomahawks.
As soon as the band halted, Boone waited a moment to assure himself that his companions were safe, and then, running swiftly, rejoined them. When the fleeing men came to the end of the ravine, once more they found a small band of their foes awaiting them, and with wild cries they started toward them. But the great scout, in spite of the need of haste, had bidden his companions to reload in preparation for this very emergency. After receiving the fire from their guns, the Indians dropped back, while the white men, quickly making use of the advantage thus afforded, were able to escape to the woods beyond.
"We shall now be able to make our way to Bryant's Station," said Boone. "There will be no Indians to interfere with us from this time on."
His words proved to be correct, and by the middle of the afternoon the half-dozen men with the great scout arrived safely at the fort.
Throughout the remainder of the day many of the men who had so confidently gone forth in the morning came straggling back to the fort.
Peleg, who had been among those who rushed to the ford, returned to Bryant's Station when it was nearly dusk. He had secured the aid of two others, and the three were carrying young Daniel Boone, who also had been shot in the fight at the Licks.
It was soon discovered that Boone's younger son was not seriously wounded. When the welcome information was received the face of the great scout remained unchanged in its expression, though the deathly pallor, that for a moment had spread over it when he had been informed of what had befallen his boy, disappeared.
"'Tis a wonder," said Peleg, "that any of us are left alive to tell the story. Some of us ran up the stream and swam across. Young Dan was as brave as any man in the crowd. Even after he had been shot in the shoulder he did not give up, but he swam across the stream, keeping up with the rest of us. The men who could not swim were the ones that were shot down or were made prisoners without being able to do anything to defend themselves."
"Were any shot after you had crossed the river?" inquired Boone.
"I do not know of any," replied Peleg. "But from the ravine clear down to the ford the loss was heavy. One of the bravest deeds I ever saw in my life was that of young Aaron Reynolds--he is the one who made us laugh when Simon Girty mounted the stump and gave us his speech. Reynolds was on horseback, and about halfway between the battle ground and the ford he found Captain Patterson completely worn out. The captain had dropped in his tracks, he was so exhausted, for you see he had been wounded three or four times in the fights we had with the Indians two or three years ago."
"I remember that he was," said Boone.
"The Indians were almost ready to close up on the captain, but just at that moment Reynolds saw what was going on. He jumped from his saddle, helped Captain Patterson to mount, and then turned and ran on foot as fast as he could go. He ran like a deer after he was out of the main road, then jumped into the river right where you said you crossed, and swam to the other side. There he had some serious trouble, though. He was wearing a pair of buckskin breeches and they became so heavy and full of water when he was in the river that he could not run very fast when he struck the shore. When he sat down and tried to get rid of a part of the water some of the Indians rushed up and before he knew it he was their prisoner."
"Did you say he is here now?" inquired Boone.
"Yes, sir. I was afraid the Indians would tomahawk him, but they kept to their regular plan of not putting any of their prisoners to death until they get back to their own country, so Reynolds wasn't troubled very much at the time. They left him in charge of three of the braves while the others started for some more of our men who were nearby. The three Indians were so excited when they saw our men that two of them left Reynolds in charge of the third while they ran to join in the chase with the others. Then the Indian that had Reynolds in his charge started for the woods."
"Were they both armed?" asked Boone.
"Reynolds had had his rifle taken away from him, but the Indian had a tomahawk and a rifle in his hands. After they had gone a little way the Indian stooped to tie the string of his moccasin and Aaron instantly jumped upon him, knocked him down with his fist and then ran for the woods. Captain Patterson has just come in and he says he is going to give Aaron two hundred acres of the best land he owns."
Such of the bodies as had been recovered were now being brought to the fort, and the fact that many of the men of Bryant's Station had been made prisoners by the attacking Indians increased the feeling of gloom that settled upon the place. Among the men who had fallen was Colonel Todd, who had sought the advice of the great scout and then did not follow it.
Long before nightfall Colonel Logan and his men arrived at Bryant's Station. In his force were no less than four hundred and fifty men. Upon their arrival they learned from the men who had succeeded in returning to the fort of the fate which had befallen the band which Colonel Todd had led against the Indians.
Waiting to hear no more, greatly alarmed for his friends and suspecting that only a part of the disaster had been reported, Colonel Logan at once led his men over the way by which the defenders of the fort had gone in their untimely pursuit of their wily foe.
[Illustration: "Silently the men crossed the ford"]
With Colonel Logan went Daniel Boone and Peleg, as well as many others of the defenders. The great scout showed plainly the suffering through which he was passing. Two of his boys had been shot by the relentless Shawnees and his third son had received a severe wound. Apparently Boone did not believe that his sufferings were to be relieved by anything his friends could do to aid him. He had seldom spoken since the men had departed from the Station, but Peleg was confident that he understood the purpose which was urging the gentle-hearted hunter forward.
The second day the advancing soldiers came near to the place where the fight had occurred. Long before they had arrived, however, Peleg had shuddered when he discovered flocks of circling buzzards that were hovering over the battle ground. He glanced into the face of his companion when the discovery had been made, and knew that the scout also understood the meaning of their presence.
When the advancing band approached the bank of the river they discovered many of the bodies still floating near the shore. They were the unfortunate victims that had been shot by the Indians after they had rushed into the stream.
A silence, indescribable, intense, awful, settled over all the men. There were tears in the eyes of some of the hardiest of the settlers at the fearful sight upon which they looked. No man was able to recognize among the putrid bodies the face of his lost friend.
Silently the men crossed the ford and advanced toward the ravine. In the scene of the recent fight the sight was even more heartbreaking. Here, too, the bodies of the many who had fallen could no longer be distinguished one from another.
Daniel Boone, unmindful of the presence of his comrades, had been searching quietly among the bodies for that of his missing boy. Even the men who were most eager in their search for their friends stopped a moment as they watched the man in his agonizing and fruitless quest.
The great scout soon turned to Colonel Logan and said: "'Tis no use, Colonel. We must give the poor fellows decent burial here and now."
The men at once carried out the bidding which their leader gave. Silently the settlers, for the moment all thoughts of vengeance gone from their minds, dug trenches wherever the soil permitted, and in these the bodies of their dead and mutilated friends were buried.
There were many faces in the band down which the tears were rolling while this task was being accomplished. The manner of the great scout, however, was unchanged. Only the deepening of the lines in his face and his unusual pallor gave indications of the strain through which he was passing. His manner still was silent and self-controlled, as in the days when the joyous things of life had more often been his portion.
When the gruesome task at last was finished, it was Daniel Boone himself who said to Colonel Logan in reply to the latter's inquiries: "It is useless now to try to follow the Shawnees."
"Why do you say that?" inquired the colonel.
"Because by this time they are far beyond our reach. They have lost no time, you may be sure."
"How many captives do you think they have taken with them?"
"Not many," said Boone.
"But there are some sixty-seven of our men missing."
"Yes," assented Boone, "but we have accounted for nearly sixty this day."
"I am told," suggested the colonel, "that they will put every prisoner to death, or so many of them as may be required to make good any loss they themselves have had."
The great scout shook his head as he replied: "The Indians have not lost as many as we."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because the advantage was all with them. They greatly outnumbered us, and in a good part of the fight they were sheltered by the rocks while our men were fighting in the open. It was the bloodiest fight I was ever in."
"And to you one of the saddest," suggested the colonel.
Boone nodded his head but did not speak.
"I cannot understand," continued the colonel, "why it is that you take your own troubles so quietly. You certainly have suffered more than most men on the border, and yet I fancy the man has yet to be born who has heard you complain."
"And why should I complain?" inquired Boone, smiling as he looked into the face of his friend. "It does not make my own griefs less to try to have another share them. That is something no one can do. My heart, at least, must bear its own burden. If any one thinks that his troubles are less than those that come to his friends, he is probably mistaken. My experience has led me to believe that almost every one has about all he can bear. There are only two classes of people, at least as far as I have observed--and I am well aware how little I know in this particular--but as I said--there are only two classes of people that cry and laugh easily."
"Who are they?"
"Children and savages. Neither class has learned to control itself. A strong man shows his strength, at least in my humble judgment," Boone added modestly, "by being able to refrain from useless words, and by not whining over his troubles."
"I think you are correct," said Colonel Logan musingly. "Now, then," he continued after a moment, "is it your judgment that the best thing for us to do is to return to Bryant's Station?"
"Then if it is a good thing to do it will be well for us to do it quickly. I shall see that the order is given. We have some stirring days before us because I am sure it will never do to let the Shawnees believe for any length of time that they have been able to defeat the white men."
TO THE MEETING-PLACE
The judgment of Daniel Boone was accepted by all the men in the band. Indeed there were many now who were blaming others as well as themselves for not having listened to the word of the wise old scout before they had entered into the unequal struggle with the Indians at Blue Licks.
Swiftly and seriously the men retraced their way to Bryant's Station, where they were dismissed by Colonel Logan with the understanding that they would respond if he should call for their help in the near future. This he fully expected to do.
In a rude wagon Daniel Boone and Peleg carried the wounded boy back to his home. The wound itself was not believed to be serious, although naturally after the tragedies which had occurred in his family Daniel Boone was anxious for his son. Daniel Morgan Boone, or "young Dan," as he sometimes was called by the settlers, to distinguish him from his father, made light of his experiences and even declared that he was prepared to ride his horse back to Boonesborough instead of being carried in the jolting wagon. His protest, however, was not heeded, and in a short time the Boonesborough men were back in their settlement.
To all it now was evident that Daniel Boone held a place in the regard of the settlers such as he never before had won. His deep sorrow over the distressing tragedies which had resulted in the loss of two promising sons, and his willingness to do all in his power to aid his friends: these qualities won him sympathy and affection in addition to the respect in which he was held because of his excellent judgment. The simple manner of the great scout, his skill as a hunter, his knowledge of the Indians, and his enduring friendship, were more highly appreciated with every passing day.
Shortly after the return of Boone and his companions, the scout said to Peleg, "I have just received word from Colonel George Rogers Clark from the Falls of the Ohio."
"What does he want?" asked Peleg quickly. The sturdy colonel in control of the forces of the entire region was known to be a man of action, and one whose activities were familiar to all the settlers.
"He sends me word," said Boone quietly, "that he plans to raise a force of one thousand men to go against the Indian towns."
"Why does he do that?"
"He has two reasons: One is that the people are so discouraged and disappointed by the recent successes of the Indians that many are thinking of withdrawing from Kentucky. The other reason is that he thinks the Indians ought not to be permitted to rest upon the victories which they have won, and that the battle of Blue Licks and the fight at Bryant's Station must be avenged, or the Shawnees and the Wyandottes will soon be more active than they have been."
"What do you think?" inquired Peleg.
"It is not for me to say," replied Boone, his rare smile lighting his face for a moment as he spoke.
"But you think what you do not say," persisted Peleg.
"I think Colonel Clark is doing the only thing which will bring help to our stations. Either the Indians or we are to live in this country. It is a pity that we cannot say, the Indians _and_ we; but from the feeling they have shown, and the way in which I know many of the whites look upon them, I am afraid such a plan will be impossible. There is then only one thing for us to do."
"What is that?"
"It must be decided once for all whether the country is to be occupied by the white men or by the red. There can be but one answer. However," continued Boone, "I have little time to discuss these matters with you, now. It is a time for action, and much as you and I may dislike to leave our homes, we cannot lightly regard such a summons as Colonel Clark has sent us."
"What is the plan?"
"He proposes to raise an army of one thousand men, as I said, and march to destroy the Indian villages."
"Where do we meet?"
"At the Falls of the Ohio. I have seen Colonel Logan, and he is to assemble his men and march in one body to the meeting-place. My own judgment is that it would be better for the force to split up into smaller parties, but that is not for me to say. I have, however, arranged with Colonel Logan for you and six other men to go as a band of scouts to the north of the route we are to take, and at the same time have several bands move to the south. I do not believe there will be any danger before we arrive at the meeting-place, but it is well to provide for what may happen before it comes to pass. As you know, that has always been my plan. I do not think I ever had a fight with an Indian that I did not try to think what he would do, or what I would do if I were in his place, before the real contest began."
"Are you to lead the scouts on the south?"
"That is for the King to say," replied Boone, smiling as he quoted the well-known saying of Sam Oliver.
The following morning Peleg, as leader of his little band of scouts, departed for the place of assembly. The advance to the Falls of the Ohio would require three days or more. It was not believed that there would be anything more than occasional attacks on the main body by small bands of Indians, for few braves would dare to oppose the coming of this great army.
In Peleg's little band was Sam Oliver, the hunter. Sam now was plainly showing the effects of the passing years. He was suffering from rheumatism acquired by exposure in the many winters during which he had been known throughout the settlements as a great hunter. His visits to the stations were more frequent than formerly, and he remained longer than in the preceding years. He was still sensitive, however, concerning his physical strength and skill, and refused to listen to any suggestion that he was not in condition to accompany the younger men on their way to the meeting-place of the army.
"Peleg," said Sam Oliver, when the party, all mounted, had set forth on their expedition, "I know a little Indian town about seventy-five miles from here where we can get some horses."
"Is it on our way?"
"It is not far from the river. If we can get a dozen or more horses it will make the heart of Colonel Clark rejoice."
In explanation of the hunter's words, it may be said that stealing horses from the Indians was not looked upon as any crime by the early pioneers. Such a conviction may have been due in part to the fact that the tribes and white settlers were usually in a state of war with one another. The Indians' intense distrust of the early settlers had, as we know, long ago deepened into enduring hatred.
There were few who believed the Indians were governed by any other than treacherous, bloodthirsty motives. So intense had become this belief along the border that it was well-nigh impossible for the men of that time to look upon the simple questions of right and wrong in any way that might favour the red men or even do them simple justice. To them they simply were enemies that must be driven from the region or exterminated.
Late in the following afternoon Sam Oliver, when his friends halted, donned his Indian garb. In his disguise he was scarcely to be distinguished from one of the warriors.
"I have learned the lingo, too," he said laughingly. "A good many times I have gone right into their villages and no one has suspected that I was a white man. I want to get about fifteen horses," continued Sam, "and I want almost as much to get one of the Indians alive."
"What for?" demanded Peleg in surprise.
It was seldom that prisoners were made of the warriors at that time, because whenever a fight occurred it was usually a struggle to the death. The Indians, however, occasionally, as we know from the experiences of the great scout himself, not only made captives of their prisoners, but at times adopted them into their tribes in place of young braves that had been killed in battle.
"I want one for a pet," laughed Sam Oliver.
"I would sooner have a rattlesnake," declared one of the party.
"That is what I used to say," said Sam, "but then that was years ago when I was young and slender. I know more about them now, and if I can get one alive I am going to make a pet of him."
"You will be making a mistake," declared Schoolmaster Hargrave, who also was one of Peleg's band. It had been long since he had wielded the ferrule or had taught the boys and girls in Boonesborough. In recent years he had been toiling in the fields, as had the great scout and Peleg. He was, however, scarcely more successful in raising tobacco than he had been in training the children in his school. The title of "Schoolmaster" still clung to him, and when Sam Oliver laughed loudly and turned to answer his protest, he said, "Well, Schoolmaster, I can understand how you do not like the Indians. You had some pretty wild experiences yourself, in the schoolhouse. I understand that two or three of the boys disguised themselves the way I have and put you out through the window. Is that true?"
Whether the statement was true or not it was never explained, for the hunter suddenly warned his companions to become silent as they were approaching the village he was seeking.
Advancing with three of his companions and leaving Peleg and the remainder of the party behind to await their return, Sam stealthily began to make his way toward the little Indian village which he said was located only a few yards distant from the spot where a halt had been made.
Sam was absent only two hours. His approach was heard by his waiting companions long before the hunter could be seen. It was plain, too, that he had been successful. The noise of snapping branches and an occasional whinny indicated that Sam was not returning empty-handed.
"Did I not tell you what I would do?" boasted the hunter, when he returned. "I said I wanted a dozen horses. I have six, so that I am only half as happy as I ought to be."
"You are happier now than you soon will be," retorted Peleg, "unless we leave this part of the country right away."
The horses which had been secured were all young and only partly broken. It was impossible for the party to mount them, and there were times when it was difficult even to lead them by the leathern straps which were fastened about their necks.
Sam acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, and no urging was required to make the men push forward rapidly.
When night fell they selected for their camp a spot on the bend of a little stream. Two of the men were assigned positions in the rear of the camp to watch for any pursuing Indians. There was no fear of an attack from the opposite side of the stream.
At midnight the guard was relieved, and as it was Peleg's turn to take the position, he said quietly, "I can do this alone. All the rest of you turn in and get your sleep."
His directions were speedily followed. The night passed without alarm, and the young scout was beginning to think that either the warriors of the village were aware of the plan of Colonel Clark, and had departed to join their own bands, or that they were absent from the village at the time, and had not yet learned of Sam's theft.
The first faint streaks of the dawn had appeared, and Peleg, taking a little bucket, stepped to the brook to secure some running water. The fire which had been kept alive throughout the night was burning low. When Peleg returned to the camp he was startled when he discovered by the dim light that the water in his bucket was muddy. There could be but one explanation, and the young scout hastily aroused his companions.
"The brook was not muddy last night, but it is now," said the young leader. "To my mind that shows that we are being followed, and the Indians are coming down the stream to creep close to us."
Just then the schoolmaster was seized with sharp pains and began to groan and writhe in his suffering. No one understood the nature of the attack, and the simple remedies which were used apparently produced no relief. At last the suffering man was covered with a blanket and placed near the ashes of the fire. All the men except Peleg then lay down once more upon the ground. A strenuous day was awaiting them, and whether Master Hargrave was ill or not, they must get their necessary rest. They were inclined to believe, too, after their long wait, that no Indians were near them. The stream might have been muddied by any one of half a dozen other means. Probably a 'coon had been the guilty party.
And yet all unknown to the little body of settlers a band of twelve warriors had been furtively approaching them in the very manner Peleg had suspected. Their noiseless footsteps had even brought them within a few yards of the camp. Only the coming of the morning was required to enable them to attack.
The light of the rising sun had appeared when the crouching Indians together fired upon the silent little camp.
By some strange chance almost all the bullets took effect in the body of the suffering schoolmaster. There was not even a cry from the stricken man, and as the Indians sent forth a wild whoop every one in the camp leaped to his feet and fled from the spot.
There had been no time for plans to be made, and consequently every man fled by himself. They were followed by the shots and the cries of the pursuing Indians, but no one knew what had befallen his comrade.
Peleg, who was fully dressed and better equipped than his friends for flight, with Singing Susan in his hand, suddenly fell as he ran along the border of a swamp which he had not noticed before.
The warriors swept past him, all believing that the young scout had been shot, and that his scalp might be secured when they returned.
Waiting only until the howling band had passed him, Peleg made his escape. He sped swiftly back in the direction of the camp, hoping to secure one of the stolen horses. When he arrived, however, his disappointment was keen when he found that not one of the horses was still there.
Exerting himself to the utmost, and still gripping Singing Susan, Peleg ran swiftly into the forest in the direction of the meeting-place which Colonel Clark had selected.
Several hours elapsed before the young scout arrived at the rendezvous. Before night fell three of his recent companions also appeared, but Sam Oliver was not of their number, and in fact he was never heard of again.
Daniel Boone was now present, and when he and Peleg were together as darkness fell over the camp Boone said: "I am more hopeful now that we shall soon have peace than I have ever been before."
"Just now," suggested Peleg with a laugh, "I am thinking more of something good to eat than I am of getting into the Indian villages."
"That suggests the one mistake which I fear has been made. In his eagerness, the colonel has assembled his men before he has secured supplies. The result is that almost every man is hungry to-night."
"I think I can endure it if the rest of the men do not complain," said Peleg sturdily. "I have not been with you through all these years without learning that I must not cry if everything I want does not come to me just when I want it."
"That is well. I do not think we will remain here long. It may be that we shall start within a few hours. All the men are eager to be gone, and there is nothing to be gained by delay. Without sufficient supplies for our horses as well as our men, the sooner we start the better it will be for us all."
"Are all here who are expected?" inquired Peleg.
"There are about one thousand here now, including the regulars."
This conversation was interrupted by the announcement that they would depart at once. There was a sufficient number of horses in the camp to provide one for Peleg and for others who had come on foot.
Just previous to the start the great scout explained to Peleg, "We are not far from one of the largest villages of the Indians. It may be that we shall come to it before morning. That will depend upon the pace at which our men advance."
The morning dawned, and still no sign of the first of the Indian villages had been seen. Not a trace of a warrior had been discovered throughout the night, nor had any been seen when several hours of the new day had passed. Whether or not the Indians had been informed of the approach of their enemies was not known.
Steadily the hungry men pressed forward, their conviction that the time had arrived for them to obtain lasting relief from the attacks of the treacherous Shawnees being even stronger than their feeling of hunger.
Peleg and the great scout were in the front lines, if indeed the advancing body could be said to be moving with any appearance of order. It is true the men kept closely together, but the nature of the ground over which they were moving and the forests through which they passed made any approach to military order well-nigh impossible.
The men near Peleg abruptly halted when not far before them on the opposite shore of a large pond they spied a solitary Indian. The warrior was standing as motionless as the nearby trees as he gazed steadily at his approaching enemies.
Suddenly he turned and fled into the forest, disregarding the calls of the men and even unmindful of the few scattered shots which followed him.
"Who was that?" whispered Peleg to Daniel Boone.
"It was Henry."
"I believe it was," declared Peleg excitedly. "What will he do now?"
"He will give the alarm to the village. We are not more than a mile from it now, and he will be there long before our horses can carry us over such ground as we have had for the past few miles."
Just at that moment there was a sharp call for an advance. The entire body at once responded, although the hungry horses were in no condition for swift action.
The words of the great scout were fulfilled when the force drew near the Indian village. Not one of its people was to be seen. Fires were still smouldering and even the meat which was being roasted and the corn that was boiling in the kettles had been abandoned in the precipitate flight of the Indians.
The discovery of the food was perhaps more welcome to the hungry men than would have been the sight of their foes. At all events, a halt was made, and such food as could be obtained was speedily allotted.
At the right of the village a large field of corn was seen, and the discovery that the corn was in the ear and ripe for food was good news indeed. It was not long before the hunger of every man was appeased, in a measure at least, and the entire force was ready for the further commands of Colonel Clark.
The village was set on fire in several places, and flames were also kindled in the field. In less than an hour the men departed, leaving behind them only the smoking embers of what a short time before had been a prosperous village of the red men.
Colonel Clark now urged his men forward with increasing speed. At times the force divided and the task of burning certain villages was assigned to the different bands. At other times the entire force proceeded as one body. But their enemies still had not been seen. Occasionally a solitary Indian would crawl within gunshot when the camp was pitched, discharge his gun, and then instantly flee; and once a small party of warriors, mounted upon superb horses, advanced boldly within gunshot. The red men coolly surveyed the little army, but when a force was sent to attack them they rode away so swiftly that pursuit was useless.
Village after village was burned to the ground, and rich fields of corn were left in ruins. The pioneers were determined to rid themselves once and for all of further possibilities of attacks by the ferocious Shawnees.
The alarm over the advance of Colonel Clark had spread throughout the entire region, and with one accord the red men had abandoned their homes and fled into the wilderness beyond.
When the attacking forces at last disbanded and the men returned to their homes, Daniel Boone and Peleg Barnes went back with their friends into Kentucky. The warfare with the Indians was ended. The Kentucky homes were now free from the attacks of the Shawnees or Cherokees.
Peleg was no longer a boy. The years that had passed during these pioneer days had made of him a man. He now had his own home and a tract of land adjoining that of his great friend, Daniel Boone.
Not a word was heard concerning Henry. There were occasional vague reports of the presence of a white man among the Shawnees, but whether or not this referred to "the white Shawnee" was never known.
As for Daniel Boone, it seemed as if the days of his peril were ended. The region which he had opened up for the incoming people had now become well settled. The sound of the axe was heard more frequently than the rifle. Prosperity smiled upon the efforts of the sturdy settlers, and the steadily advancing civilization and the spread of education wrought wonders among the people.
In the diary of Daniel Boone there occurs the following:
"Two darling sons and a brother I have lost by savage hands which have also taken from me 40 valuable horses and abundance of cattle. Many dark and sleepless nights have I spent, separated from the cheerful society of man, scorched by the summer's sun, and pinched by the winter's cold, an instrument ordained to settle the wilderness."
Another writer has left the following:
"He (Boone) has left behind him a name strongly written in the annals of Kentucky, and a reputation for calm courage softened by humanity, conducted by prudence, and embellished by a singular modesty of deportment. His person was rough, robust, and indicating strength rather than activity; his manner was cold, grave, and taciturn; his countenance homely but kind; his conversation unadorned, unobtrusive, and touching only upon the needful. He never spoke of himself unless particularly questioned."
As the years passed he showed more and more the spirit which has been described by one of his admirers in the following words:
"There never beat in man a kindlier or more philanthropic heart. While he was a stranger to selfish and sordid impressions he was alike above mean actions; and he lived and toiled for others, amid hardships and sufferings that would have crushed thousands of hearts."
The simple-hearted scout, shrewd in his dealing with the Indians, was honest and straightforward with the men of his own race, and looked for similar treatment from them. One can therefore imagine his surprise and indignation when he was informed that he had no legal right to an acre of the land which he had discovered, and into which he had led many families that already were sharing in the steadily increasing prosperity. The clearing he had made, the acres he had cultivated, he was informed, were not his property now, but belonged to a man _who had signed certain papers_!
Boone intensely loved Kentucky. Its rocks and trees, its rivers, its forests, its very soil, were dear to his heart. In Kentucky he had experienced his deepest sorrows and many of his highest joys. Perplexed as well as disheartened, the great scout departed from the settlement which in a large measure was his own work. He was homeless in a land in which he had helped so many to secure homes for themselves.
Deep as was Boone's sorrow, he was, as we know, a man whose feeling did not find expression in useless words. Quietly he returned to the banks of the Delaware where he had been born, and then went on to Virginia. On the borders of the great Kanawha he dwelt for five years in the woods with his dogs and gun.
Meanwhile his son and a brother had gone out into the remote and almost unknown land beyond the Mississippi River. Their reports and appeals were so strong, that at last, when the great scout was sixty years of age, once more accompanied by his faithful wife, he journeyed away from civilization and went to join his sons in the faraway wilderness.
The name of the great scout was so well-known and his character was so much admired that the Spanish Governor at once made him a present of eighty-five hundred acres of land in what is now the State of Missouri.
Here the great scout in a measure renewed the experiences of his early life. By working steadily and saving the money which he received from his crops and his furs he acquired a considerable sum. He then returned to Kentucky and looked up every man to whom he owed any money through the loss that had come to him by his inability to retain his land in the region he had loved. It was not long, however, before "he went back to Missouri, his heart lighter and also his pocketbook."
When the scout was seventy-five years of age, he still was a great hunter. Friendly with the Indians in the region, he paddled in his light canoe over the creeks and the little streams in the new territory, and it is said that even along the banks of the great Missouri River he set many of his traps for the beaver.
As long as the Spanish and French were in control of the Missouri country, Boone continued to hold his land safely; but when Napoleon sold the vast territory to the United States Boone once more suffered a heavy loss, for his own government refused to recognize his claim to any part of the region. It seemed almost as if the closing days of the great scout were to end in darkness.
Through his friends, Daniel Boone now appealed to the legislature of Kentucky to see that justice was done him. Eager to recognize the services of the man who had done so much for their state, the legislature urged Congress to do justice to the white-haired old scout. After some delay the petition was granted, and a gift of eight hundred and fifty acres of land was voted Daniel Boone.
It was in December, 1813, when Daniel Boone received word of this gift, but his relief and pleasure were lessened by the death of his wife. Selecting a choice spot that overlooked the river for her grave, the old scout said that when he, too, should die he wished to be buried by her side.
Seven years later, when he was eighty-five years old, this last request of Daniel Boone was granted.
Missouri, however, was not to be the final resting-place of the famous old scout and his wife. A quarter of a century later the legislature of Kentucky requested the children of Boone to permit the people of the state for which he had done so much to bring the bodies of the great scout and his wife to Frankfort, Kentucky.
To-day, on a beautiful site overlooking the banks of the Kentucky River, looking down upon the city of Frankfort, a fitting monument marks the place where all that is mortal of Daniel Boone lies resting.
THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS GARDEN CITY, N. Y.