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10: Romance of the Border

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The romance of border-life is inseparably associated with woman, being her natural attendant during her wanderings through the wilderness. A distinguished American orator has suggested that a series of novels might be written founded upon the true stories of the border-women of our country. Such a contribution to our literature has thus far been made only to a limited extent. The reason for this deficiency will be obvious on a moment's reflection. The true stories of the pioneer wives and mothers are often as interesting as any work of fiction, and need no embellishment from the imagination of a writer, because they are crowded with incidents and situations as thrilling as those which form the staple out of which novels are fabricated; love and adventure, hair-breadth escapes, heart-rending tragedies on the frontier, are thus woven into a narrative of absorbing and permanent interest, permanent because it is part of the history and biography of America. Some of the truest of these stories are those which are most deeply fraught with tenderness and romance. What is more calculated to move the mind and heart of man for example than a story of two lovers environed by some deadly danger, or of separation and reunion, or a love faithful unto death?

Many years ago a young pioneer traveling across the plains met a lady to whom he became attached, and after a short courtship they were united in marriage. A trip over the plains in those days was not one to be chosen for a honey-moon excursion but the pair bore their labors and privations cheerfully; perils and hardships only seemed to draw them closer together, and they were looking forward to a home on the Pacific slope where in plenty and repose they would be indemnified for the pains and fatigues of the journey. But their life's romance was destined, alas! to a sudden and mournful end. While crossing one of the rapid mountain streams their boat filled with water, and though the young man struggled manfully to gain the shore with his bride, the rush of the torrent bore them down and they sank to rise no more. An hour later their bodies were found locked together in a last embrace. The rough mountaineers had not the heart to unclasp that embrace but buried them by the side of the river in one grave.

The Indian was of course an important factor in the composition of these border romances. He was generally the villain in the plot of the story, and too often a successful villain whose wiles or open attacks were the means of separating two lovers. These tales have often a tragical catastrophe, but sometimes the denouement is a happy one, thanks to the courage and constancy of the heroine or hero.(1)

Among the adventurers whom Daniel Boone the famous hunter and Indian fighter of Kentucky, describes as having re-inforced his little colony was a young gentleman named Smith, who had been a major in the militia of Virginia, and possessed a full share of the gallantry and noble spirit of his native State. In the absence of Boone he was chosen, on account of his military rank and talent, to command the rude citadel which contained all the wealth of this patriarchal band, their wives, their children, and their herds. It held also an object particularly dear to this young soldier—a lady, the daughter of one of the settlers, to whom he had pledged his affections. It came to pass upon a certain day when a siege was just over, tranquillity restored, and the employment of husbandry resumed, that this young lady, with a lady companion, strolled out, as young ladies in love are very apt to do, along the bank of the Kentucky River.

Having rambled about for some time they espied a canoe lying by the shore, and in a frolic stepped into it, with the determination of visiting a neighbor on the opposite bank. It seems that they were not so well skilled in navigation as the Lady of the Lake who paddled her own canoe very dexterously; for instead of gliding to the point of destination they were whirled about by the stream, and at length thrown on a sandbar from which they were obliged to wade to the shore. Full of the mirth excited by their wild adventure they hastily arranged their dresses and were proceeding to climb the bank, when three Indians rushed from a neighboring covert, seized the fair wanderers, and forced them away. Their savage captors evincing no sympathy for their distress, nor allowing them time for rest or reflection, hurried them along during the whole day by rugged and thorny paths. Their shoes were worn off by the rocks, their clothes torn, and their feet and limbs lacerated and stained with blood. To heighten their misery one of the savages began to make love to Miss ———, (the intended of Major S.) and while goading her along with a pointed stick, promised in recompense for her sufferings to make her his squaw. This at once roused all the energies of her mind and called its powers into action. In the hope that her friends would soon pursue them she broke the twigs as she passed along and delayed the party as much as possible by tardy and blundering steps. The day and the night passed, and another day of agony had nearly rolled over the heads of these afflicted girls, when their conductors halted to cook a hasty repast of buffalo meat.

The ladies meanwhile were soon missed from the garrison. The natural courage and sagacity of Smith now heightened by love, gave him the wings of the wind and the fierceness of the tiger. The light traces of feminine feet led him to the place of embarkation; the canoe was traced to the opposite shore; the deep prints of the moccasin in the sand told the rest of the story.

The agonized Smith, accompanied by a few of his best woodsmen, pursued the spoil-encumbered foe. The track once discovered they kept it with that unerring sagacity so peculiar to our hunters. The bended grass, the disentangled briars, and the compressed shrubs afforded the only, but to them the certain indication of the route of the enemy. When they had sufficiently ascertained the general course of the retreat of the Indians, Smith quitted the trace, assuring his companions that they would fall in with them at the pass of a certain stream-head for which he now struck a direct course, thus gaining on the foe who had taken the most difficult paths.

Having arrived at the stream, they traced its course until they discovered the water newly thrown upon the rocks. Smith, leaving his party, now crept forward upon his hands and knees, until he discovered one of the savages seated by a fire, and with a deliberate aim shot him through the heart. The women rushed towards their deliverer, and recognizing Smith, clung to him in the transport of newly awakened joy and gratitude; while a second Indian sprang towards him with his tomahawk. Smith, disengaging himself from the ladies, aimed a blow at his antagonist with his rifle, which the savage avoided by springing aside, but at the same moment the latter received a mortal wound from another hand. The other and only remaining Indian fell in attempting to escape. Smith with his interesting charge returned in triumph to the fort where his gallantry no doubt was repaid by the sweetest of all rewards.

The May flower, or trailing arbutus, has been aptly styled our national flower. It lifts its sweet face in the desolate and rugged hillside, and flourishes in the chilly air and earth of early spring. So amid the rude scenes of frontier-life, love and romance peep out, and courtship is conducted in log cabins and even in more untoward places.

A tradition of the early settlement of Auburn, New York, relates that while Captain Hardenberg, the stout young miller, was busy with his sacks of grain in his little log-mill, he was unexpectedly assaulted and overwhelmed with the arrows not of the savages but of love. The sweet eyes as well as the blooming health and courage of the daughter of Roeliffe Brinkerhoff who had been sent by her father to the mill, made young Hardenberg capitulate, and during the hour while she was waiting for the grist he managed thoroughly to assure her of the state of his affections; the courtship thus well begun resulted soon after in a wedding.

The imagination of the poet garnering the anecdotes and early traditions of the frontier around which lingers an aroma of love, has clothed them with new life, adorned them with bright colors, endowed them with fresh and vernal perfume and then woven them into a wreath with the magic art of poesy. From out of a group of stern features on Plymouth rock, graven with the deep lines of austere and almost cruel duty, the sweet face of Rose Standish looks winningly at us. The rugged captain of the Pilgrim band wooes Priscilla Mullins, through his friend John Alden, and finds too late that love does not prove fortunate when made by proxy; and Evangeline, maid, wife and widow comes back to us in beauty and sorrow from the far Acadian border. These romances of our eastern country have been fortunate in having a poet to make them immortal. But the West is equally fruitful in incidents which furnish material, and only lack the poet or novelist to work them up into enduring form.

The western country seems naturally fitted in many ways for love and romance. In that region the mind is uncramped and unfettered by the excessive schooling and over-training which prevails in the older settlements of the East. The heart heats more freely and warmly when its current is unchecked by conventionalities. Life is more intense in the West. The transitions of life are more frequent and startling. Both men and things are continually changing. In such a society impulse governs largely: the cooler and more selfish faculties of man's nature are less dominant. When we add to these conditions, the changes, hardships, and enforced separations of the frontier as frequent concomitants, we have exactly a state of society which is fruitful in romantic incidents—brides torn from their husband's embrace and hurried away; but restored as suddenly and strangely; two faithful lovers parted forever or re-united miraculously; and thrilling scenes in love's melodrama acted and re-acted on different stages but always with startling effect.

The effects of the romantic incidents in the lives of our pioneer women are also heightened by the extraordinary freshness and ever-changing scenery of the wilderness. Nature there spreads out like a mighty canvas: the forest, the mountains, and the prairies show clear and distinct through the crystal air so that peak and tree and even the tall blades of grass are outlined with a microscopic nearness. Over this vivid surface bison are browsing, and antelopes gambolling; plumed warriors flit by on their ponies, as the pioneer-men and women with wagons, oxen and horses are moving westward. This is the scene where love springs spontaneously out of the close companionship which danger enforces.

The story of the Chase family is an illustration of the adage that truth is often stranger than fiction, and might readily furnish the groundwork upon which the genius of some future Cooper could construct an American romance of thrilling interest.

The stage whereon this drama of real life was acted lay in that rich, broad expanse between the Arkansas and the South Platte Rivers. The time, 1847. The principal actors were the Chase family, consisting of old Mr. Chase, his wife, sons, and grandsons, Mary, his daughter, La Bonte and Kilbuck two famous hunters and mountaineers, Antoine a guide and Arapahoe Indians.

The scene opens with a view of three white-tilted Conestoga wagons or "prairie schooners," each drawn by four pair of oxen rumbling along through a plain enameled with the verdure and many tinted flowers of spring. The day is drawing to its close, and the rays of the sinking sun throw a mellow light over a waving sea of vernal herbage. The wagons are driven by the sons of Mr. Chase and contain the women and the household goods of the family. Behind the great swaying "schooners" walk the men with shouldered rifles, and a troup of mounted men have just galloped up to bid adieu to the departing emigrants. From out this group, the mild face of Mary Chase beams with a parting smile in response to rough but kindly farewells of these her old friends and neighbors. The last words of warning and God-speed are spoken by the mounted men, who gallop away and leave them making their first stage on a journey which will carry them northward and westward more than two thousand miles from their old home in Missouri.

And now the sun has set, and still in the twilight the train moves on, stopping as the darkness falls, at a rich bottom, where the loose cattle, starting some hours before them, have been driven and corralled. The oxen are unyoked, the wagons drawn up, so as to form the sides of a small square. A huge fire is kindled, the women descend and prepare the evening meal, boiling great kettles of coffee, and baking corn-cakes in the embers. The whole company stretch themselves around the fire, and having finished their repast, address themselves to sweet sleep, such as tired voyagers over the plains can so well enjoy. The men of the party are soon soundly slumbering; but the women, depressed with the thoughts that they are leaving their home and loved friends and neighbors, perhaps forever, their hearts filled with forebodings of danger and misfortune, cast only wakeful eyes upon the darkened plain or up to the inscrutable stars that are shining with marvelous brightness in the azure firmament. Far into the night they wake and watch, silently weeping until nature is exhausted, and a sleep, troubled with sad dreams, visits them.

With the first light of morning the camp is astir, and as the sun rises, the wagons are again rolling along across the upland prairies, to strike the trail leading to the south fork of the Platte. Slowly and hardly, fifteen miles each day, they toil on over the heavy soil. At night, while in camp, the hours are beguiled by Antoine, their Canadian guide, who tells stories of wild life and perilous adventures among the hunters and trappers who make the prairies and mountains their home. His descriptions of Indian fights and slaughters, and of the sufferings and privations endured by the hunters in their arduous life, fix the attention of the women of the party, and especially of Mary Chase, who listens with greater interest because she remembers that such was the life led by one very dear to her—one long supposed to be dead, and of whom, since his departure, fifteen years before, she has heard not a syllable. Her imagination now pictures him anew, as the most daring of these adventurous hunters, and conjures up his figure charging through the midst of yelling savages, or as stretched on the ground, perishing of wounds, or of cold and famine.

Among the characters that figure in Antoine's stories is a hunter named La Bonte, made conspicuous by his deeds of hardihood and daring. At the first mention of his name Mary's face is suffused with blushes; not that she for a moment dreamed that it could be her long lost La Bonte, for she knows that the name is a common one, but because from associations which still linger in her memory, it recalled a sad era in her former life, to which she could not revert without a strange mingling of pleasure and pain. She remembers the manly form of La Bonte as she first saw him, and the love which sprang up between them; and then the parting, with the hope of speedy reunion. She remembers how two years passed without tidings of her lover, when, one bitter day, she met a mountaineer, just returned from the far West to settle in his native State; and, inquiring tremblingly after La Bonte, he told how he had met his death from the Blackfeet Indians in the wild gorges of the Yellowstone country.

Now, on hearing once more that name, a spring of sweet and bitter recollections is opened and a vague hope is raised in her breast that the lover of her youth is still alive. She questions the Canadian, "Who was this La Bonte who you say was such a brave mountaineer?" Antoine replies, "He was a fine fellow—strong as a buffalo-bull, a dead shot, cared not a rush for the Indians, left a girl that he loved in Missouri, said the girl did not love him, and so he followed the trail to the mountains. He hasn't gone under yet; be sure of that," says the good natured guide, observing the emotion which Mary showed, and suspecting that she took a more than ordinary interest in the young hunter.

As the guide ceased to speak, Mary turns away and bursts into a flood of tears. The mention of the name of one whom she had long believed dead, and the recital of his praiseworthy qualities, awake the strongest feelings which she had cherished towards one whose loss she still bewails.

The scene now changes to the camp of a party of hunters almost within rifle-shot of the spot where the Chase family are sitting around their evening fire. There are three in this party: one is Kilbuck, so known on the plains, another is a stranger who has chanced to join them, the third is a hunter named La Bonte.

The conversation turning on the party encamped near them, the stranger remarks that their name is Chase. La Bonte looks up a moment from the lock of his rifle, which he is cleaning, but either does not hear, or, hearing, does not heed, for he resumes his work. "Traveling alone to the Platte valley," continues the stranger, "they'll lose their hair, sure." "I hope not," rejoins Kilbuck, "for there's a girl among them worth more than that." "Where does she come from, stranger," inquires La Bonte. "Down below Missouri, from Tennessee, I hear." "And what's her name?" The colloquy is interrupted by the entrance into the camp of an Arapahoe Indian. The hunters address him in his own language. They learn from him that a war-party of his people was out on the Platte-trail to intercept the traders on their return from the North Fork. He cautions them against crossing the divide, as the braves, he says, are "a heap mad, and take white scalp." The Indian, rewarded for his information with a feast of buffalo-meat, leaves the camp and starts for the mountains. The hunters pursue their journey the next day, traveling leisurely along, and stopping where good grass and abundant game is found, until, one morning, they suddenly strike a wheel-track, which left the creek-bank and pursued a course at right angles to it in the direction of the divide. Kilbuck pronounces it but a few hours old, and that of three wagons drawn by oxen. "These are the wagons of old Chase," says the strange hunter: "they're going right into the Rapahoe trap," cries Kilbuck. "I knew the name of Chase years ago," says La Bonte in a low tone, "and I should hate the worst kind to have mischief happen to any one that bore it. This trail is fresh as paint, and it goes against me to let these simple critters help the Rapahoes to their own hair. This child feels like helping them out of the scrape. What do you say, old hos?" "I think with you, my boy," replies Kilbuck, "and go in for following the wagon-trail and telling the poor critters that there's danger ahead of them." "What's your talk, stranger?" "I'm with you," answered the latter; and both follow quickly after La Bonte, who gallops away on the trail.

Returning now to the Chase family, we see again the three white-topped wagons rumbling slowly over the rolling prairie and towards the upland ridge of the divide which rose before them, studded with dwarf pines and cedar thickets. They are evidently traveling with caution, for the quick eye of Antoine, the guide, has discovered recent Indian signs upon the trail, and with the keenness of a mountaineer he at once sees that it is that of a war-party, for there were no horses with them and after one or two of the moccasin tracks there was the mark of a rope which trailed upon the ground. This was enough to show him that the Indians were provided with the usual lassoes of skin with which to secure the horses stolen on the expedition. The men of the party accordingly are all mounted and thoroughly armed, the wagons are moving in a line abreast, and a sharp lookout is kept on all sides. The women and children are all consigned to the interior of the wagons and the former also hold guns in readiness to take part in the defense should an attack be made. As they move slowly on their course no Indians make their presence visible and the party are evidently losing their fears if not their caution.

As the shadows are lengthening they reach Black Horse Creek, and corrall their wagons, kindle a fire, and are preparing for the night, when three or four Indians suddenly show themselves on the bluff and making friendly signals approach the camp. Most of the men are away attending to the cattle or collecting fuel, and only old Chase and a grandson fourteen years of age are in the camp. The Indians are hospitably received and regaled with a smoke, after which they gratify their curiosity by examining the articles lying around, and among others which takes their fancy the pot boiling over the fire, with which one of them is about very coolly to walk off, when old Chase, snatching it from the Indian's hands, knocks him down. One of his companions instantly begins to draw the buckskin cover from his gun and is about to take summary vengeance for the insult offered to his companion, when Mary Chase, courageously advancing, places her left hand on the gun which he is in the act of uncovering and with the other points a pistol at his breast.

Whether daunted by this bold act of the girl, or admiring her devotion to her father, the Indian, drawing back with a deep grunt, replaces the cover on his piece and motioning to the other Indians to be peaceable, shakes hands with old Chase, who all this time looks him steadily in the face.

The other whites soon return, the supper is ready, and all hands sit down to the repast. The Indians then gather their buffalo-robes about them and quickly withdraw. In spite of their quiet demeanor, Antoine says they mean mischief. Every precaution is therefore taken against surprise; the mules and horses are hobbled, the oxen only being allowed to run at large; a guard is set around the camp; the fire is extinguished lest the savages should aim by its light at any of the party; and all slept with rifles and pistols ready at their side.

The night, however, passes quietly away, and nothing disturbs the tranquility of the camp except the mournful cry of the prairie wolf chasing the antelope. The sun has now risen; they are yoking the cattle to the wagons and driving in the mules and horses, when a band of Indians show themselves on the bluff and descending it approach the camp with an air of confidence. They are huge braves, hideously streaked with war-paint, and hide the malignant gleams that shoot from their snaky eyes with assumed smiles and expressions of good nature.

Old Chase, ignorant of Indian treachery and in spite of the warnings of Antoine, offering no obstruction to their approach, has allowed them to enter the camp. What madness! They have divested themselves of their buffalo-robes, and appear naked to the breech-clout and armed with bows and arrows, tomahawks, and scalping knives. Six or seven only come in at first, but others quickly follow, dropping in by twos and threes until a score or more are collected around the wagons.

Their demeanor, at first friendly, changes to insolence and then to fierceness. They demand powder and shot, and when they are refused begin to brandish their tomahawks. A tall chief, motioning to the band to keep back, now accosts Mr. Chase, and through Antoine as an interpreter, informs him that unless the demands of his braves are complied with he will not be responsible for the consequences; that they are out on the war-trail and their eyes red with blood so that they cannot distinguish between white man's and Utah's scalps; that the party and all their women and wagons are in the power of the Indian braves; and therefore that the white chief's best plan will be to make what terms he can; that all they require is that they shall give up their guns and ammunition on the prairie and all their mules and horses, retaining only the medicine-buffaloes (the oxen) to draw their wagons. By this time the oxen have been yoked to the teams and the teamsters stand whip in hand ready for the order to start. Old Chase trembles with rage at the insolent demand. "Not a grain of powder to save my life," he yells; "put out boys!" As he turns to mount his horse which stands ready saddled, the Indians leap upon the wagons and others rush against the men who make a brave fight in their defence. Mary, who sees her father struck to the ground, springs with a shrill cry to his assistance at the moment when a savage, crimson with paint and looking like a red demon, bestrides his prostrate body, brandishing a glittering knife in the air preparatory to plunging it into the old man's heart. All is wild confusion. The whites are struggling heroically against overpowering numbers. A single volley of rifles is heard and three Indians bite the dust. A moment later and the brave defenders are disarmed amid the shrieks of the women and the children and the triumphant whoops of the savages.

Mary, flying to her father's rescue, has been overtaken by a huge Indian, who throws his lasso over her shoulders and drags her to the earth, then drawing his scalping-knife he is about to tear the gory trophy from her head. The girl, rising upon her knees, struggles towards the spot where her father lies, now bathed in blood. The Indian jerks the lariat violently and drags her on her face, and with a wild yell rushes to complete the bloody work.

At that instant a yell as fierce as his own is echoed from the bluff, and looking up he sees La Bonte charging down the declivity, his long hair and the fringes of his garments waving in the breeze, his trusty rifle supported in his right arm, and hard after him Kilbuck and the stranger galloping with loud shouts to the scene of action. As La Bonte races madly down the side of the bluff, he catches sight of the girl as the ferocious savage is dragging her over the ground. A cry of horror and vengeance escapes his lips, as driving his spurs to the rowels into his steed he bounds like an arrow to the rescue. Another instant and he is upon his foe; pushing the muzzle of his rifle against the broad chest of the Indian he pulled the trigger, literally blowing out the savage's heart. Cropping his rifle, he wheels his trained horse and drawing a pistol from his belt he charges the enemy among whom Kilbuck and the stranger are dealing death-blows. The Indians, panic-stricken by the suddenness of the attack, turn and flee, leaving several of their number dead upon the field.

Mary, with her arms bound to her body by the lasso, and with her eyes closed to receive the fatal stroke, hears the defiant shout of La Bonte, and glancing up between her half-opened eyelids, sees the wild figure of the mountaineer as he sends the bullet to the heart of her foe. When the Indians flee, La Bonte, the first to run to her aid, cuts the skin-rope, raises her from the ground, looks long and intently in her face, and sees his never-to-be-forgotten Mary Chase. "What! can it be you, Mary?" he exclaims, gazing at the trembling maiden, who hardly believes her eyes as she returns his gaze and recognizes in her deliverer her former lover. She only sobs and clings closer to him in speechless gratitude and love.

Turning from these lovers reunited so miraculously, we see stretched on the battle-field the two grandsons of Mr. Chase, fine lads of fourteen or fifteen, who after fighting like men fall dead pierced with arrows and lances. Old Chase and his sons are slightly wounded, and Antoine shot through the neck and half scalped. The dead boys are laid tenderly beneath the prairie-sod, the wounds of the others are dressed, and the following morning the party continue their journey to the Platte. The three hunters guide and guard them on their way, Mary riding on horseback by the side of her lover.

For many days they pursued their journey, but with feelings far different from those with which they had made its earlier stages. Old Mr. Chase marches on doggedly and in silence; his resolution to seek a new home on the banks of the Columbia has been shaken more by the loss of his grandsons, than by the fatigues and privations incident to the march. The unbidden tears often steal down the cheeks of the women, who cast many a longing look behind them towards the southeastern horizon, far beyond whose purple rim lay their old home. The South Fork of the Platte has been passed, Laramie reached, and for a fortnight the lofty summits of the mountains which overhang the "pass" to California have been in sight; but when they strike the broad trail which would conduct them to their promised land in the valley of the Columbia, the party pause, gaze for a moment steadfastly at the mountain-summits, and then as if by a common impulse, the heads of the horses and oxen are faced to the east, and men, women, and children toss their hats and bonnets in the air, hurrahing lustily for home as the huge wagons roll down along the banks of the river Platte. The closing scene in this romantic melodrama was the marriage of Mary and La Bonte, in Tennessee, four months after the rescue of the Chase family from the Indians.

The following "romance of the forest" we believe has never before been published. The substance of it was communicated to the writer by a gentleman who received it from his grandfather, one of the early settlers of Michigan.

In the year 1762 the Great Pontiac, the Indian Napoleon of the Northwest, had his headquarters in a small secluded island at the opening of Lake St. Clair. Here he organized, with wonderful ability and secrecy, a wide-reaching conspiracy, having for its object the destruction of every English garrison and settlement in Michigan. His envoys, with blood-stained hatchets, had been despatched to the various Indian tribes of the region, and wherever these emblems of butchery had been accepted the savage hordes were gathering, and around their bale-fires in the midnight pantomimes of murder were concentrating their excitable natures into a burning focus which would light their path to carnage and rapine.

While these lurid clouds, charged with death and destruction, were gathering, unseen, about the heads of the adventurous pioneers, who had penetrated that beautiful region, a family of eastern settlers, named Rouse, arrived in the territory, and, disregarding the admonitions of the officers in the fort at Detroit, pushed on twenty miles farther west and planted themselves in the heart of one of those magnificent oak-openings which the Almighty seems to have designed as parks and pleasure-grounds for the sons and daughters of the forest.

Miss Anna Rouse, the only daughter of the family, had been betrothed before her departure from New York State to a young man named James Philbrick, who had afterward gone to fight the French and Indians. It was understood that upon his return he was to follow the Rouse family to Michigan, where, upon his arrival, the marriage was to take place.

In a few months young Philbrick reached the appointed place, and in the following week married Miss Rouse in the presence of a numerous assemblage of soldiers and settlers, who had come from the military posts and the nearest plantations to join in the festivities.

All was gladness and hilarity; the hospitality was bounteous, the company joyous, the bridegroom brave and manly, and the bride lovely as a wild rose. When the banquet was ready the guests trooped into the room where it was spread, and even the sentinels who had been posted beside the muskets in the door-yard, seeing no signs of prowling savages, had entered the house and were enjoying the feast. Scarcely had they abandoned their post when an ear-piercing war-whoop silenced in a moment the joyous sound of the revelers. The soldiers rushed to the door only to be shot down. A few succeeded in recovering their arms, and made a desperate fight. Meanwhile the savages battered down the doors, and leaped in at the windows. The bridegroom was shot, and left for dead, as he was assisting to conceal his bride, and a gigantic warrior, seizing the latter, bore her away into the darkness. After a short but terrific struggle, the savages were driven out of the house, but the defenders were so crippled by their losses and by the want of arms which the enemy had carried away, that it was judged best not to attempt to pursue the Indians, who had disappeared as suddenly as they came.

When the body of the bridegroom was lifted up it was discovered that his heart still beat, though but faintly. Restoratives were administered, and he slowly came back to life, and to the sad consciousness that all that could make life happy to him was gone for ever.

The family soon after abandoned their new home and moved to Detroit, owing to the danger of fresh attacks from Pontiac and his confederates. Years rolled away; young Philbrick, as soon as he recovered from his wounds, took part in the stirring scenes of the war, and strove to forget, in turmoil and excitement, the loss of his fair young bride. But in vain. Her remembrance in the fray nerved his arm to strike, and steadied his eye to launch the bullet at the heart of the hated foes who had bereft him of his dearest treasure; and in the stillness of the night his imagination pictured her, the cruel victim of her barbarous captors.

Peace came in 1763, and he then learned that she had been carried to Canada. He hastened down the St. Lawrence and passed from settlement to settlement, but could gain no tidings of her. After two years, spent in unavailing search, he came back a sad and almost broken-hearted man.

Her image, as she appeared when last he saw her, all radiant in youth and beauty, haunted his waking hours, and in his dreams she was with him as a visible presence. Months, years rolled away; he gave her up as dead, but he did not forget his long-lost bride.

One summer's day, while sitting in his cabin in Michigan, in one of those beautiful natural parks, where he had chosen his abode, he heard a light step, and, looking up, saw his bride standing before him, beautiful still, but with a chastened beauty which told of years of separation and grief.

Her story was a long one. When she was borne away from the marriage feast by her savage captor, she was seen by an old squaw, the wife of a famous chief who had just lost her own daughter, and being attracted by the beauty of Miss Rouse, she protected her from violence, and finally adopted her. Twice she escaped, but was recaptured. The old squaw afterwards took her a thousand miles into the wilderness, and watched her with the ferocious tenderness that the tigress shows for her young. At length, after nearly six years, her Indian mother died. She succeeded then in making her escape, traveled four hundred miles on foot, reached the St. Lawrence, and after passing through great perils and hardships, arrived at Detroit. There she soon found friends, who relieved her wants and conveyed her to her husband, whom she had remembered with fondness and loved with constancy during all the weary years of her captivity.


(1) Potter's Life of Daniel Boone

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