Betty Zane HTML version
smoking ruins of the home, the mangled remains of father and mother, the naked and
violated bodies of their sisters, and the scalped and bleeding corpse of a baby brother.
Lewis Wetzel swore sleepless and eternal vengeance on the whole Indian race. Terribly
did he carry out that resolution. From that time forward he lived most of the time in the
woods, and an Indian who crossed his trail was a doomed man. The various Indian
tribes gave him different names. The Shawnees called him "Long Knife;" the Hurons,
"Destroyer;" the Delawares, "Death Wind," and any one of these names would chill the
heart of the stoutest warrior.
To most of the famed pioneer hunters of the border, Indian fighting was only a side
issue--generally a necessary one--but with Wetzel it was the business of his life. He
lived solely to kill Indians. He plunged recklessly into the strife, and was never content
unless roaming the wilderness solitudes, trailing the savages to their very homes and
ambushing the village bridlepath like a panther waiting for his prey. Often in the gray of
the morning the Indians, sleeping around their camp fire, were awakened by a horrible,
screeching yell. They started up in terror only to fall victims to the tomahawk of their
merciless foe, or to hear a rifle shot and get a glimpse of a form with flying black hair
disappearing with wonderful quickness in the forest. Wetzel always left death behind
him, and he was gone before his demoniac yell ceased to echo throughout the woods.
Although often pursued, he invariably eluded the Indians, for he was the fleetest runner
on the border.
For many years he was considered the right hand of the defense of the fort. The Indians
held him in superstitious dread, and the fact that he was known to be in the settlement
had averted more than one attack by the Indians.
Many regarded Wetzel as a savage, a man who was mad for the blood of the red men,
and without one redeeming quality. But this was an unjust opinion. When that restless
fever for revenge left him--it was not always with him--he was quiet and peaceable. To
those few who knew him well he was even amiable. But Wetzel, although known to
everyone, cared for few. He spent little time in the settlements and rarely spoke except
Nature had singularly fitted him for his pre-eminent position among scouts and hunters.
He was tall and broad across the shoulders; his strength, agility and endurance were
marvelous; he had an eagle eye, the sagacity of the bloodhound, and that intuitive
knowledge which plays such an important part in a hunter's life. He knew not fear. He
was daring where daring was the wiser part. Crafty, tireless and implacable, Wetzel was
incomparable in his vocation.
His long raven-black hair, of which he was vain, when combed out reached to within a
foot of the ground. He had a rare scalp, one for which the Indians would have bartered