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
* * * * *
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.
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.
"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.