"What was that?" said Betty, who was sitting on the doorstep.
"Sh-h!" whispered Col. Zane, holding up his finger.
The night was warm and still. In the perfect quiet which followed the Colonel's
whispered exclamation the listeners heard the beating of their hearts. Then from the
river bank came the cry of an owl; low but clear it came floating to their ears, its single
melancholy note thrilling them. Faint and far off in the direction of the island sounded
"I knew it. I told you. We shall know all presently," said Col. Zane. "The first call was
Jonathan's, and it was answered."
The moments dragged away. The children had fallen asleep on the bearskin rug. Mrs.
Zane and Betty had heard the Colonel's voice, and sat with white faces, waiting, waiting
for they knew not what.
A familiar, light-moccasined tread sounded on the path, a tall figure loomed up from the
darkness; it came up the path, passed up the steps, and crossed the threshold.
"Wetzel!" exclaimed Col. Zane and Capt. Boggs. It was indeed the hunter. How startling
was his appearance! The buckskin hunting coat and leggins were wet, torn and
bespattered with mud; the water ran and dripped from him to form little muddy pools on
the floor; only his rifle and powder horn were dry. His face was ghastly white except
where a bullet wound appeared on his temple, from which the blood had oozed down
over his cheek. An unearthly light gleamed from his eyes. In that moment Wetzel was
an appalling sight.
"Col. Zane, I'd been here days before, but I run into some Shawnees, and they gave me
a hard chase. I have to report that Girty, with four hundred Injuns and two hundred
Britishers, are on the way to Ft. Henry."
"My God!" exclaimed Col. Zane. Strong man as he was the hunter's words had
The loud and clear tone of the church-bell rang out on the still night air. Only once it
sounded, but it reverberated among the hills, and its single deep-toned ring was like a
knell. The listeners almost expected to hear it followed by the fearful war-cry, that cry
which betokened for many desolation and deaths.