The Spirit of the Border HTML version

Chapter 6.
One evening, several day previous to the capture of the brothers, a solitary hunter stopped
before a deserted log cabin which stood on the bank of a stream fifty miles or more
inland from the Ohio River. It was rapidly growing dark; a fine, drizzling rain had set in,
and a rising wind gave promise of a stormy night.
Although the hunter seemed familiar with his surroundings, he moved cautiously, and
hesitated as if debating whether he should seek the protection of this lonely hut, or remain
all night under dripping trees. Feeling of his hunting frock, he found that it was damp and
slippery. This fact evidently decided him in favor of the cabin, for he stooped his tall
figure and went in. It was pitch dark inside; but having been there before, the absence of
a light did not trouble him. He readily found the ladder leading to the loft, ascended it,
and lay down to sleep.
During the night a noise awakened him. For a moment he heard nothing except the fall of
the rain. Then came the hum of voices, followed by the soft tread of moccasined feet. He
knew there was an Indian town ten miles across the country, and believed some warriors,
belated on a hunting trip, had sought the cabin for shelter.
The hunter lay perfectly quiet, awaiting developments. If the Indians had flint and steel,
and struck a light, he was almost certain to be discovered. He listened to their low
conversation, and understood from the language that they were Delawares.
A moment later he heard the rustling of leaves and twigs, accompanied by the metallic
click of steel against some hard substance. The noise was repeated, and then followed by
a hissing sound, which he knew to be the burning of a powder on a piece of dry wood,
after which rays of light filtered through cracks of the unstable floor of the loft.
The man placed his eye to one of these crevices, and counted eleven Indians, all young
braves, with the exception of the chief. The Indians had been hunting; they had haunches
of deer and buffalo tongues, together with several packs of hides. Some of them busied
themselves drying their weapons; others sat down listlessly, plainly showing their
weariness, and two worked over the smouldering fire. The damp leaves and twigs burned
faintly, yet there was enough to cause the hunter fear that he might be discovered. He
believed he had not much to worry about from the young braves, but the hawk-eyed chief
was dangerous.
And he was right. Presently the stalwart chief heard, or saw, a drop of water fall from the
loft. It came from the hunter's wet coat. Almost any one save an Indian scout would have
fancied this came from the roof. As the chief's gaze roamed everywhere over the interior
of the cabin his expression was plainly distrustful. His eye searched the wet clay floor,
but hardly could have discovered anything there, because the hunter's moccasined tracks
had been obliterated by the footprints of the Indians. The chief's suspicions seemed to be