Betty Zane HTML version

Chapter 3
Any weeks of quiet followed the events of the last chapter. The settlers planted their
corn, harvested their wheat and labored in the fields during the whole of one spring and
summer without hearing the dreaded war cry of the Indians. Colonel Zane, who had
been a disbursing officer in the army of Lord Dunmore, where he had attained the rank
of Colonel, visited Fort Pitt during the summer in the hope of increasing the number of
soldiers in his garrison. His efforts proved fruitless. He returned to Fort Henry by way of
the river with several pioneers, who with their families were bound for Fort Henry. One
of these pioneers was a minister who worked in the fields every week day and on
Sundays preached the Gospel to those who gathered in the meeting house.
Alfred Clarke had taken up his permanent abode at the fort, where he had been
installed as one of the regular garrison. His duties, as well as those of the nine other
members of the garrison, were light. For two hours out of the twenty-four he was on
guard. Thus he had ample time to acquaint himself with the settlers and their families.
Alfred and Isaac had now become firm friends. They spent many hours fishing in the
river, and roaming the woods in the vicinity, as Colonel Zane would not allow Isaac to
stray far from the fort. Alfred became a regular visitor at Colonel Zane's house. He saw
Betty every day, but as yet, nothing had mended the breach between them. They were
civil to each other when chance threw them together, but Betty usually left the room on
some pretext soon after he entered. Alfred regretted his hasty exhibition of resentment
and would have been glad to establish friendly relations with her. But she would not give
him an opportunity. She avoided him on all possible occasions. Though Alfred was fast
succumbing to the charm of Betty's beautiful face, though his desire to be near her had
grown well nigh resistless, his pride had not yet broken down. Many of the summer
evenings found him on the Colonel's doorstep, smoking a pipe, or playing with the
children. He was that rare and best company--a good listener. Although he laughed at
Colonel Zane's stories, and never tired of hearing of Isaac's experiences among the
Indians, it is probable he would not have partaken of the Colonel's hospitality nearly so
often had it not been that he usually saw Betty, and if he got only a glimpse of her he
went away satisfied. On Sundays he attended the services at the little church and
listened to Betty's sweet voice as she led the singing.
There were a number of girls at the fort near Betty's age. With all of these Alfred was
popular. He appeared so entirely different from the usual young man on the frontier that
he was more than welcome everywhere. Girls in the backwoods are much the same as
girls in thickly populated and civilized districts. They liked his manly ways; his frank and
pleasant manners; and when to these virtues he added a certain deferential regard, a
courtliness to which they were unaccustomed, they were all the better pleased. He paid
the young women little attentions, such as calling on them, taking them to parties and
out driving, but there was not one of them who could think that she, in particular,
interested him.