Betty Zane HTML version
absence of ungentle lines in his face; the men, by the good nature, and that indefinable
something by which a man marks another as true steel.
He brought nothing with him from Fort Pitt except his horse, a black-coated, fine limbed
thoroughbred, which he frankly confessed was all he could call his own. When asking
Colonel Zane to give him a position in the garrison he said he was a Virginian and had
been educated in Philadelphia; that after his father died his mother married again, and
this, together with a natural love of adventure, had induced him to run away and seek
his fortune with the hardy pioneer and the cunning savage of the border. Beyond a few
months' service under General Clark he knew nothing of frontier life; but he was tired of
idleness; he was strong and not afraid of work, and he could learn. Colonel Zane, who
prided himself on his judgment of character, took a liking to the young man at once, and
giving him a rifle and accoutrements, told him the border needed young men of pluck
and fire, and that if he brought a strong hand and a willing heart he could surely find
fortune. Possibly if Alfred Clarke could have been told of the fate in store for him he
might have mounted his black steed and have placed miles between him and the
frontier village; but, as there were none to tell, he went cheerfully out to meet that fate.
On this is bright spring morning he patrolled the road leading along the edge of the
clearing, which was distant a quarter of a mile from the fort. He kept a keen eye on the
opposite side of the river, as he had been directed. From the upper end of the island,
almost straight across from where he stood, the river took a broad turn, which could not
be observed from the fort windows. The river was high from the recent rains and brush
heaps and logs and debris of all descriptions were floating down with the swift current.
Rabbits and other small animals, which had probably been surrounded on some island
and compelled to take to the brush or drown, crouched on floating logs and piles of
driftwood. Happening to glance down the road, Clarke saw a horse galloping in his
direction At first he thought it was a messenger for himself, but as it neared him he saw
that the horse was an Indian pony and the rider a young girl, whose long, black hair was
flying in the wind.
"Hello! I wonder what the deuce this is? Looks like an Indian girl," said Clarke to himself.
"She rides well, whoever she may be."
He stepped behind a clump of laurel bushes near the roadside and waited. Rapidly the
horse and rider approached him. When they were but a few paces distant he sprang out
and, as the pony shied and reared at sight of him, he clutched the bridle and pulled the
pony's head down. Looking up he encountered the astonished and bewildered gaze
from a pair of the prettiest dark eyes it had ever been his fortune, or misfortune, to look
Betty, for it was she, looked at the young man in amazement, while Alfred was even
more surprised and disconcerted. For a moment they looked at each other in silence.
But Betty, who was scarcely ever at a loss for words, presently found her voice.
"Well, sir! What does this mean?" she asked indignantly.