Connecticut Boys in the Western Reserve A Tale of the Moravian Massacre
A TALE OF THE MORAVIAN MASSACRE
James A. Braden.
“FAR PAST THE FRONTIER,” ETC.
W. Herbert Dunton
THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING CO.
NEW YORK CHICAGO
MADE IN U. S. A.
The Saalfield Publishing Company
- I. A RAINY NIGHT. 9
- II. TALL TODD’S WARNING. 23
- III. A MYSTERY OF THE FOREST. 38
- IV. THE LONE INDIAN. 52
- V. HIDDEN TREASURE. 67
- VI. THE CABIN BY THE RIVER. 84
- VII. THE REWARD OF VIGILANCE. 101
- VIII. THE FATE OF BLACK EAGLE. 117
- IX. THE CAMP IN THE TREE-TOP. 134
- X. THE QUAKER’S STORY. 148
- XI. HELPING THE DELAWARES—DANGER. 165
- XII. BANDS OF BLACK. 181
- XIII. A CRY FROM THE DARKNESS. 197
- XIV. CAPTURED. 212
- XV. THE SEARCH. 227
- XVI. THE CAVE OF THE FORTUNE HUNTERS. 242
A RAINY NIGHT.
A dismally wet and cold September day hadcome early to a close and thick darkness hadsettled down an hour since, when the horse attachedto a heavy, canvas-covered, two-wheeledemigrant wagon stopped, at its driver’s command,before an inhospitable looking house,from one window of which a feeble light wasshining. The rain splashed drearily, the windmoaned in a ghostly way about the structurewhose dim outlines were just visible, and flappedthe canvas over the wagon fitfully.
The barking of a gruff-voiced dog from somewherenear the house gave certain sign that thearrival of the cart had been noticed by thatanimal, as a tall, broad shouldered boy spranglightly down from the vehicle and walked brisklytoward the door of the gloomy building.
“Now, never mind, Ring,” spoke a young,but full and pleasant voice from the front ofthe wagon, as a large dog that stood beneathgrowled deep in its throat in answer to thebarking of the other canine. Instantly the dogwas quieted and at the same moment came thesound of knocking at the door of the partiallylighted house. A full minute passed, and theknocking was vigorously repeated before therewas a response.
“This ain’t a tavern any more; we can’tkeep ye,” said a man who put his head out,before the caller could speak.
“This is the Eagle tavern, isn’t it?” the boyinquired calmly, and the light through the half-opendoor showed him to be a muscular youthof probably eighteen years, though the seriouslook about his eyes and mouth, and his darkhair gave him a somewhat older appearance.
“It used to be the Eagle tavern, but it ain’tnow. Is that all?” the man in the doorway repliedgruffly.
“Why, no, it is not all,” the lad returned.“There are two of us with a horse and wagonand we want to stay all night. The storm isgrowing worse, and though we had intended tocamp by the roadside, we pushed on throughthe mud and darkness to reach this place. Weexpect to pay for our lodging.”
“It don’t make no difference, I tell ye! Weain’t keeping a public house.”
“Come, come, Mr. Tavern-keeper, my friendand I have both been here before, and if we arewilling to stay, you should surely be willing tokeep us.”
“That’s the talk!” called the one who remainedin the wagon, “and let’s have a lanternout here, and lose no further time about it!”
The man in the door moved aside to let thelight fall more directly on his caller’s face.
“Yes, I rec’lect ye,” he said slowly. Andthen, his face brightening suddenly, he addedmore pleasantly, “Wait a jiffy.”
He closed the door and a murmur of voicessounded for a short time from within. Presently,however, the man reappeared with a tallowcandle set in a round tin box full of smallholes, which he carried by a ring in its top, asa lantern, and followed the young men who hadsummoned him, to the cart drawn up by theroadside.
“The Eagle tavern’s been closed all summerand we hadn’t ought to keep ye,” the man explained,standing by while the two boys unhitchedtheir horse and led the animal into thelog barn across the road from the house. “Yekin pull yer cart under this shed out o’ therain,” he went on, indicating a lean-to besidethe barn.
In a few minutes the horse had been fed andthe host led the way into the house, enteringa long, low room, where, in a fireplace, asmoky, cheerless blaze was flickering. On atable set against the wall opposite the fireplace,a candle was burning, and toward the fartherend of the dingy apartment two men wereseated, their chairs tilted back in careless attitudes.
“There ain’t much here to eat,” the landlordsaid, as he motioned his guests to a settlein the chimney corner. “My wife died an’ Iquit keepin’ a tavern. I’ll git ye what I kin.”
The two boys he thus ushered in did not sitdown, but stood before the blaze to allow theirclothes to dry; the one who had remained inthe wagon while the other went to the door,turning about after a minute or two and stirringthe fire till it burned more brightly. Hewas seventeen years old or thereabout, moreslender than his companion and not so tall. Hisbrown hair grew long, and about his blue eyesthere was a twinkle of merriment, as he said:“Wood is cheap; we may as well have enoughfire to do some good.”
“Right you are, young man,” spoke one ofthe two strangers still sitting in the semi-darkness.“It’s a nasty night.”
“Right you are,” said the lad, still stirringthe fire, adopting the stranger’s own words.
One of the two men arose and stepping upto the blaze seated himself on the settle. Hewas a villainous looking fellow, his curly blackhair cut short, his nose very large, red andsharp pointed, his chin unnaturally prominent,his eyes small, black, and deep-set, marks ofsmallpox adding further to make his face an unpleasantone. His age was not less than forty-fiveyears.
So disagreeable, indeed, did the two boysfind this man’s appearance that instinctivelyboth looked more closely to see what his companionwas like. They beheld a man ten yearsyounger than the other, though his hair wasturning gray, and his hardened leather-likeskin made him seem older than he was. He hadfairly honest eyes, however, though he turnedthem away and looked steadily in another directionwhen he found that he was observed.
“I was just tellin’ my friends here aboutIchabod Nesbit bein’ killed, when you chapscome along,” said the landlord a few minuteslater, as he came bringing in some cold meatand a loaf of bread, which he placed on thetable. Then asking his young guests to sitdown and help themselves, which they proceededto do, he went on:
“I rec’lect that you boys was sort o’ interestedin Nesbit, an’ I heard that it was you twothat brought the news East of how he waskilled.”
“Yes,” said the older of the two lads in adisinterested way, while the other gave him aquiet pinch under the table.
“Killed by an Indian, you said, didn’t you?”put in the villainous looking man.
“An Injun named Black Eagle,” said thelandlord.
Neither boy made any move to join in theconversation and the tavern-keeper took anothertack.
“Most forgot how to be polite,” he said. “Idon’t rec’lect your names, young men, butmake you acquainted with Mr. Samuel Duffand Mr. Lon Dexter, travelers same as you be.My name’s Quilling, ye know that.”
It was to the name Samuel Duff that the villainouslooking man answered. His better appearingcompanion arose as the name Lon Dexterwas pronounced.
“My name is Kingdom,” said the older ofthe two boys, rising to shake hands as the mencame forward.
“And mine is Jerome,” said the more slenderlad, with none too much friendship in histones.
“Going West, I take it,” said Duff, trying tospeak pleasantly.
“Yes,” said the young man named Kingdom,as both boys reseated themselves andwent on with their supper.
“So are we,” he of the evil appearance continued—“Dexterand I.”
“It is a great country—the Ohio country, Imean,” said Kingdom, his keen, dark eyesscrutinizing the fellow who had seemed to suggestthat they might travel together, while hementally decided that he would like no sucharrangement.
“Yes, a great country and a big country.We’re just going to look around and seewhether there would be a good chance to gethold of first-rate land to settle on when the Indiantroubles are over,” Duff answered.
No immediate reply being made to his words,the fellow went on in a careless tone which anyonecould have seen was assumed:
“But you won’t catch us staying around longwhere the Redskins have war paint on. Thatman Ichabod Nesbit, we were speaking of,would probably have been living yet if hehadn’t gone off to that blasted wilderness.What part of the country was he killed in, anyhow?”
“Beyond Pittsburg. Why?” quickly put inthe lad Jerome, his interest aroused. For thethought came to him that Ichabod Nesbit wasjust such an outlaw as the fellow now inquiringabout him looked to be.
“Ho! nothing in particular! You seem tobe mighty suspicious, the way you ask‘Why,’” Duff exclaimed, with anger he triednot to show.
“No harm ain’t be’n done, I don’t see. Jesthear it rain though!” put in the other of thetwo men, Dexter, speaking for almost the firsttime. His voice was a hoarse whisper, andgave the impression that he was frightened andafraid to speak louder.
“Why,” said Kingdom, “there is no secretabout when and how and where the man Nesbitwas killed. He had followed us all the wayfrom this very tavern, clear across the mountainsand the Ohio river. On the way West, hefired at us one night, as we were in camp, andhappened to kill Northwind, the son of the Indian,Black Eagle. The long and short of itall is, that Black Eagle, after burying his son,found the trail of Nesbit and followed it—trackedhim through woods and over mountains,though how he could do it is wonderful,and at last came up with him only a few minutesafter Nesbit had fired on our camp a secondtime, killing our horse. They fought, andNesbit was killed, but just how or where we donot know. We did not see the fight or knowanything about it until Black Eagle told it himself,months afterward, and showed the man’sskull as certain evidence that he was dead.”
For a little time nothing more was said. Thewind howled dolefully outside and the rainbeating on the roof and windows added to thefeeling of melancholy which seemed to pervadethe whole place. Little wonder is it thatthe thoughts of the two boys went back to theterrible experiences they had had in a formertrip from their home in Connecticut to thewilderness beyond the western frontier ofPennsylvania. They remembered how a robberand cut-throat by occupation, Ichabod Nesbit,had attempted to relieve them of theirmoney at this very inn—the Eagle tavern—howthey had shot at him and he had then secretlyfollowed them, mile after mile, weekafter week, firing at them from a distance ontwo occasions and at last killing their horsewhen they were but a few miles from the spotwhere, beside the Cuyahoga river, they locatedand built a cabin.
They remembered, too, that Nesbit had beenin search of a cousin, named Arthur Bridges,whom he would have killed had he found him,in order to palm himself off as Bridges, whomhe closely resembled, and secure his property.And Nesbit was responsible from the beginningfor Arthur Bridges’ never having returnedhome after the Revolutionary war, inwhich he was a soldier. They had met on theroad and Nesbit told Bridges that his(Bridges’) mother had died and his father wascursing him and hoping never to see him againbecause he had joined General Washington’sarmy. And it was only by chance that Bridgeshad discovered through Tom Fish, a friendwho had gone in search of him, that Nesbit haddeceived him most cruelly.
“The Indian—did you say his name wasBlack Eagle?—is quite civilized, I understand,”said Duff, at last. “His home is in theEast.”
“More civilized than some white folks,”spoke up young Jerome, remembering that theRedskin had been kind to him and Kingdom.
Duff growled an inaudible reply, in responseto this