Betty Zane HTML version

Chapter 13
Morning found the settlers, with the exception of Col. Zane, his brother Jonathan, the
negro Sam, and Martin Wetzel, all within the Fort. Col. Zane had determined, long
before, that in the event of another siege, he would use his house as an outpost. Twice
it had been destroyed by fire at the hands of the Indians. Therefore, surrounding himself
by these men, who were all expert marksmen, Col. Zane resolved to protect his
property and at the same time render valuable aid to the Fort.
Early that morning a pirogue loaded with cannon balls, from Ft. Pitt and bound for
Louisville, had arrived and Captain Sullivan, with his crew of three men, had demanded
admittance. In the absence of Capt. Boggs and Major McColloch, both of whom had
been dispatched for reinforcements, Col. Zane had placed his brother Silas in command
of the Fort. Sullivan informed Silas that he and his men had been fired on by Indians
and that they sought the protection of the Fort. The services of himself and men, which
he volunteered, were gratefully accepted.
All told, the little force in the block-house did not exceed forty-two, and that counting the
boys and the women who could handle rifles. The few preparations had been completed
and now the settlers were awaiting the appearance of the enemy. Few words were
spoken. The children were secured where they would be out of the way of flying bullets.
They were huddled together silent and frightened; pale-faced but resolute women
passed up and down the length of the block-house; some carried buckets of water and
baskets of food; others were tearing bandages; grim-faced men peered from the
portholes; all were listening for the war-cry. They had not long to wait. Before noon the
well-known whoop came from the wooded shore of the river, and it was soon by the
appearance of hundreds of Indians. The river, which was low, at once became a scene
of great animation. From a placid, smoothly flowing stream it was turned into a muddy,
splashing, turbulent torrent. The mounted warriors urged their steeds down the bank
and into the water; the unmounted improvised rafts and placed their weapons and
ammunition upon them; then they swam and pushed, kicked and yelled their way
across; other Indians swam, holding the bridles of the pack-horses. A detachment of
British soldiers followed the Indians. In an hour the entire army appeared on the river
bluff not three hundred yards from the Fort. They were in no hurry to begin the attack.
Especially did the Indians seem to enjoy the lull before the storm, and as they stalked to
and fro in plain sight of the garrison, or stood in groups watching the Fort, they were
seen in all their hideous war-paint and formidable battle-array. They were exultant. Their
plumes and eagle feathers waved proudly in the morning breeze. Now and then the
long, peculiarly broken yell of the Shawnees rang out clear and strong. The soldiers
were drawn off to one side and well out of range of the settlers' guns. Their red coats
and flashing bayonets were new to most of the little band of men in the block-house.
"Ho, the Fort!"