Betty Zane HTML version

Chapter 8
Winter dragged by uneventfully for Betty. Unlike the other pioneer girls, who were kept
busy all the time with their mending, and linsey weaving, and household duties, Betty
had nothing to divert her but her embroidery and her reading. These she found very
tiresome. Her maid was devoted to her and never left a thing undone. Annie was old
Sam's daughter, and she had waited on Betty since she had been a baby. The cleaning
or mending or darning--anything in the shape of work that would have helped pass
away the monotonous hours for Betty, was always done before she could lift her hand.
During the day she passed hours in her little room, and most of them were dreamed
away by her window. Lydia and Alice came over sometimes and whiled away the
tedious moments with their bright chatter and merry laughter, their castle-building, and
their romancing on heroes and love and marriage as girls always will until the end of
time. They had not forgotten Mr. Clarke, but as Betty had rebuked them with a dignity
which forbade any further teasing on that score, they had transferred their fun-making to
the use of Mr. Miller's name.
Fearing her brothers' wrath Betty had not told them of the scene with Miller at the
dance. She had learned enough of rough border justice to dread the consequence of
such a disclosure. She permitted Miller to come to the house, although she never saw
him alone. Miller had accepted this favor gratefully. He said that on the night of the
dance he had been a little the worse for Dan Watkins' strong liquor, and that, together
with his bitter disappointment, made him act in the mad way which had so grievously
offended her. He exerted himself to win her forgiveness. Betty was always tender-
hearted, and though she did not trust him, she said they might still be friends, but that
that depended on his respect for her forbearance. Miller had promised he would never
refer to the old subject and he had kept his word.
Indeed Betty welcomed any diversion for the long winter evenings. Occasionally some
of the young people visited her, and they sang and danced, roasted apples, popped
chestnuts, and played games. Often Wetzel and Major McColloch came in after supper.
Betty would come down and sing for them, and afterward would coax Indian lore and
woodcraft from Wetzel, or she would play checkers with the Major. If she succeeded in
winning from him, which in truth was not often, she teased him unmercifully. When Col.
Zane and the Major had settled down to their series of games, from which nothing short
of Indians could have diverted them, Betty sat by Wetzel. The silent man of the woods,
an appellation the hunter had earned by his reticence, talked for Betty as he would for
no one else.
One night while Col. Zane, his wife and Betty were entertaining Capt. Boggs and Major
McColloch and several of Betty's girls friends, after the usual music and singing,
storytelling became the order of the evening. Little Noah told of the time he had climbed
the apple-tree in the yard after a raccoon and got severely bitten.