Betty Zane/Chapter 6
WHEN the first French explorers invaded the northwest, about the year 1615, the Wyandot Indians occupied the territory between Georgian Bay and the Muskoka Lakes in Ontario. These Frenchmen named the tribe Huron because of the manner in which they wore their hair.
At this period the Hurons were at war with the Iroquois, and the two tribes kept up a bitter fight until in 1649, when the Hurons suffered a decisive defeat. They then abandoned their villages and sought other hunting grounds. They travelled south and settled in Ohio along the south and west shores of Lake Erie. The present site of Zanesfield, named from Isaac Zane, marks the spot where the largest tribe of Hurons once lived.
In a grove of maples on the banks of a swift little river named Mad River, the Hurons built their lodges and their wigwams. The stately elk and graceful deer abounded in this fertile valley, and countless herds of bison browsed upon the uplands.
There for many years the Hurons lived a peaceful and contented life. The long war cry was not heard. They were at peace with the neighboring tribes. Tarhe, the Huron chief, attained great influence with the Delawares. He became a friend of Logan, the Mingo chief.
With the invasion of the valley of the Ohio by the whites, with the march into the wilderness of that wild-turkey breed of heroes of which Boone, Kenton, the Zanes, and the Wetzels were the first, the Indian's nature gradually changed until he became a fierce and relentless foe.
The Hurons had sided with the French in Pontiac's war, and in the Revolution they aided the British. They allied themselves with the Mingoes, Delawares and Shawnees and made a fierce war on the Virginian pioneers. Some powerful influence must have engendered this implacable hatred in these tribes, particularly in the Mingo and the Wyandot.
The war between the Indians and the settlers along the Pennsylvania and West Virginia borders was known as "Dunmore's War." The Hurons, Mingoes, and Delawares living in the "hunter's paradise" west of the Ohio River, seeing their land sold by the Iroquois and the occupation of their possessions by a daring band of white men naturally were filled with fierce anger and hate. But remembering the past bloody war and British punishment they slowly moved backward toward the setting sun and kept the peace. In 1774 a canoe filled with friendly Wyandots was attacked by white men below Yellow Creek and the Indians were killed. Later the same year a party of men under Colonel Cresop made an unprovoked and dastardly massacre of the family and relatives of Logan. This attack reflected the deepest dishonor upon all the white men concerned, and was the principal cause of the long and bloody war which followed. The settlers on the border sent messengers to Governor Dunmore at Williamsburg for immediate relief parties. Knowing well that the Indians would not allow this massacre to go unavenged the frontiersmen erected forts and blockhouses.
Logan, the famous Mingo chief, had been a noted friend of the white men. After the murder of his people he made ceaseless war upon them. He incited the wrath of the Hurons and the Delawares. He went on the warpath, and when his lust for vengeance had been satisfied he sent the following remarkable address to Lord Dunmore:
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin and he gave him not meat: if ever he came cold and naked and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate of peace. Such was my love for the whites that my countrymen pointed as they passed and said: 'Logan is the friend of the white man.' I had even thought to have lived with you but for the injuries of one man, Colonel Cresop, who, last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relatives of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called upon me for vengeance. I have sought it: I have killed many; I have glutted my vengeance. For my country I will rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear; he could not turn upon his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one." The war between the Indians and the pioneers was waged for years. The settlers pushed farther and farther into the wilderness. The Indians, who at first sought only to save their farms and their stock, now fought for revenge. That is why every ambitious pioneer who went out upon those borders carried his life in his hands; why there was always the danger of being shot or tomahawked from behind every tree; why wife and children were constantly in fear of the terrible enemy.
To creep unawares upon a foe and strike him in the dark was Indian warfare; to an Indian it was not dishonorable; it was not cowardly. He was taught to hide in the long grass like a snake, to shoot from coverts, to worm his way stealthily through the dense woods and to ambush the paleface's trail. Horrible cruelties, such as torturing white prisoners and burning them at the stake were never heard of before the war made upon the Indians by the whites.
Comparatively little is known of the real character of the Indian of that time. We ourselves sit before our warm fires and talk of the deeds of the redman. We while away an hour by reading Pontiac's siege of Detroit, of the battle of Braddock's fields, and of Custer's last charge. We lay the book down with a fervent expression of thankfulness that the day of the horrible redman is past. Because little has been written on the subject, no thought is given to the long years of deceit and treachery practiced upon Pontiac; we are ignorant of the causes which led to the slaughter of Braddock's army, and we know little of the life of bitterness suffered by Sitting Bull.
Many intelligent white men, who were acquainted with the true life of the Indian before he was harassed and driven to desperation by the pioneers, said that he had been cruelly wronged. Many white men in those days loved the Indian life so well that they left the settlements and lived with the Indians. Boone, who knew the Indian nature, said the honesty and the simplicity of the Indian were remarkable. Kenton said he had been happy among the Indians. Col. Zane had many Indian friends. Isaac Zane, who lived most of his life with the Wyandots, said the American redman had been wrongfully judged a bloodthirsty savage, an ignorant, thieving wretch, capable of not one virtue. He said the free picturesque life of the Indians would have appealed to any white man; that it had a wonderful charm, and that before the war with the whites the Indians were kind to their prisoners, and sought only to make Indians of them. He told tales of how easily white boys become Indianized, so attached to the wild life and freedom of the redmen that it was impossible to get the captives to return to civilized life. The boys had been permitted to grow wild with the Indian lads; to fish and shoot and swim with them; to play the Indian games—to live idle, joyous lives. He said these white boys had been ransomed and taken from captivity and returned to their homes and, although a close watch has kept on them, they contrived to escape and return to the Indians, and that while they were back among civilized people it was difficult to keep the boys dressed. In summer time it was useless to attempt it. The strongest hemp-linen shirts, made with the strongest collar and wrist-band, would directly be torn off and the little rascals found swimming in the river or rolling on the sand.
If we may believe what these men have said—and there seems no good reason why we may not—the Indian was very different from the impression given of him. There can be little doubt that the redman once lived a noble and blameless life; that he was simple, honest and brave, that he had a regard for honor and a respect for a promise far exceeding that of most white men. Think of the beautiful poetry and legends left by these silent men: men who were a part of the woods; men whose music was the sighing of the wind, the rustling of the leaf, the murmur of the brook; men whose simple joys were the chase of the stag, and the light in the dark eye of a maiden.
If we wish to find the highest type of the American Indian we must look for him before he was driven west by the land-seeking pioneer and before he was degraded by the rum-selling French trader.
The French claimed all the land watered by the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The French Canadian was a restless, roaming adventurer and he found his vocation in the fur-trade. This fur-trade engendered a strange class of men—bush-rangers they were called—whose work was to paddle the canoe along the lakes and streams and exchange their cheap rum for the valuable furs of the Indians. To these men the Indians of the west owe their degradation. These bush-rangers or coureurs-des-bois, perverted the Indians and sank into barbarism with them.
The few travellers there in those days were often surprised to find in the wigwams of the Indians men who acknowledged the blood of France, yet who had lost all semblance to the white man. They lived in their tepee with their Indian squaws and lolled on their blankets while the squaws cooked their venison and did all the work. They let their hair grow long and wore feathers in it; they painted their faces hideously with ochre and vermilion.
These were the worthless traders and adventurers who, from the year 1748 to 1783, encroached on the hunting grounds of the Indians and explored the wilderness, seeking out the remote tribes and trading the villainous rum for the rare pelts. In 1784 the French authorities, realizing that these vagrants were demoralizing the Indians, warned them to get off the soil. Finding this course ineffectual they arrested those that could be apprehended and sent them to Canada. But it was too late: the harm had been done: the poor, ignorant savage had tasted of the terrible "fire-water," as he called the rum and his ruin was inevitable.
It was a singular fact that almost every Indian who had once tasted strong drink, was unable to resist the desire for more. When a trader came to one of the Indian hamlets the braves purchased a keg of rum and then they held a council to see who was to get drunk and who was to keep sober. It was necessary to have some sober Indians in camp, otherwise the drunken braves would kill one another. The weapons would have to be concealed. When the Indians had finished one keg of rum they would buy another, and so on until not a beaver-skin was left. Then the trader would move or when the Indians sobered up they would be much dejected, for invariably they would find that some had been wounded, others crippled, and often several had been killed.
Logan, using all his eloquence, travelled from village to village visiting the different tribes and making speeches. He urged the Indians to shun the dreaded "fire-water." He exclaimed against the whites for introducing liquor to the Indians and thus debasing them. At the same time Logan admitted his own fondness for rum. This intelligent and noble Indian was murdered in a drunken fight shortly after sending his address to Lord Dunmore.
Thus it was that the poor Indians had no chance to avert their downfall; the steadily increasing tide of land-stealing settlers rolling westward, and the insidious, debasing, soul-destroying liquor were the noble redman's doom.
Isaac Zane dropped back not altogether unhappily into his old place in the wigwam, in the hunting parties, and in the Indian games.
When the braves were in camp, the greatest part of the day was spent in shooting and running matches, in canoe races, in wrestling, and in the game of ball. The chiefs and the older braves who had won their laurels and the maidens of the tribe looked on and applauded.
Isaac entered into all these pastimes, partly because he had a natural love for them, and partly because he wished to win the regard of the Indians. In wrestling, and in those sports which required weight and endurance, he usually suffered defeat. In a foot race there was not a brave in the entire tribe who could keep even with him. But it was with the rifle that Isaac won his greatest distinction. The Indians never learned the finer shooting with the ride. Some few of them could shoot well, but for the most part they were poor marksmen.
Accordingly, Isaac was always taken on the fall hunt. Every autumn there were three parties sent out to bring in the supply of meat for the winter. Because of Isaac's fine marksmanship he was always taken with the bear hunters. Bear hunting was exciting and dangerous work. Before the weather got very cold and winter actually set in the bears crawled into a hole in a tree or a cave in the rocks, where they hibernated. A favorite place for them was in hollow trees. When the Indians found a tree with the scratches of a bear on it and a hole large enough to admit the body of a bear, an Indian climbed up the tree and with a long pole tried to punch Bruin out of his den. Often this was a hazardous undertaking, for the bear would get angry on being disturbed in his winter sleep and would rush out before the Indian could reach a place of safety. At times there were even two or three bears in one den. Sometimes the bear would refuse to come out, and on these occasions, which were rare, the hunters would resort to fire. A piece of dry, rotten wood was fastened to a long pole and was set on fire. When this was pushed in on the bear he would give a sniff and a growl and come out in a hurry.
The buffalo and elk were hunted with the bow and arrow. This effective weapon did not make a noise and frighten the game. The wary Indian crawled through the high grass until within easy range and sometimes killed several buffalo or elk before the herd became alarmed. The meat was then jerked. This consisted in cutting it into thin strips and drying it in the sun. Afterwards it was hung up in the lodges. The skins were stretched on poles to dry, and when cured they served as robes, clothing and wigwam-coverings.
The Indians were fond of honey and maple sugar. The finding of a hive of bees, or a good run of maple syrup was an occasion for general rejoicing. They found the honey in hollow trees, and they obtained the maple sugar in two ways. When the sap came up in the maple trees a hole was bored in the trees about a foot from the ground and a small tube, usually made from a piece of alder, was inserted in the hole. Through this the sap was carried into a vessel which was placed under the tree. This sap was boiled down in kettles. If the Indians had no kettles they made the frost take the place of heat in preparing the sugar. They used shallow vessels made of bark, and these were filled with water and the maple sap. It was left to freeze over night and in the morning the ice was broken and thrown away. The sugar did not freeze. When this process had been repeated several times the residue was very good maple sugar.
Isaac did more than his share toward the work of provisioning the village for the winter. But he enjoyed it. He was particularly fond of fishing by moonlight. Early November was the best season for this sport, and the Indians caught large numbers of fish. They placed a torch in the bow of a canoe and paddled noiselessly over the stream. In the clear water a bright light would so attract and fascinate the fish that they would lie motionless near the bottom of the shallow stream.
One cold night Isaac was in the bow of the canoe. Seeing a large fish he whispered to the Indians with him to exercise caution. His guides paddled noiselessly through the water. Isaac stood up and raised the spear, ready to strike. In another second Isaac had cast the iron, but in his eagerness he overbalanced himself and plunged head first into the icy current, making a great splash and spoiling any further fishing. Incidents like this were a source of infinite amusement to the Indians.
Before the autumn evenings grew too cold the Indian held their courting dances. All unmarried maidens and braves in the village were expected to take part in these dances. In the bright light of huge fires, and watched by the chiefs, the old men, the squaws, and the children, the maidens and the braves, arrayed in their gaudiest apparel, marched into the circle. They formed two lines a few paces apart. Each held in the right hand a dry gourd which contained pebbles. Advancing toward one another they sang the courting song, keeping time to the tune with the rattling of the pebbles. When they met in the center the braves bent forward and whispered a word to the maidens. At a certain point in the song, which was indicated by a louder note, the maidens would change their positions, and this was continued until every brave had whispered to every maiden, when the dance ended.
Isaac took part in all these pleasures; he entered into every phase of the Indian's life; he hunted, worked, played, danced, and sang with faithfulness. But when the long, dreary winter days came with their ice-laden breezes, enforcing idleness on the Indians, he became restless. Sometimes for days he would be morose and gloomy, keeping beside his own tent and not mingling with the Indians. At such times Myeerah did not question him.
Even in his happier hours his diversions were not many. He never tired of watching and studying the Indian children. When he had an opportunity without being observed, which was seldom, he amused himself with the papooses. The Indian baby was strapped to a flat piece of wood and covered with a broad flap of buckskin. The squaws hung these primitive baby carriages up on the pole of a tepee, on a branch of a tree, or threw them round anywhere. Isaac never heard a papoose cry. He often pulled down the flap of buckskin and looked at the solemn little fellow, who would stare up at him with big, wondering eyes.
Isaac's most intimate friend was a six-year-old Indian boy, whom he called Captain Jack. He was the son of Thundercloud, the war-chief of the Hurons. Jack made a brave picture in his buckskin hunting suit and his war bonnet. Already he could stick tenaciously on the back of a racing mustang and with his little bow he could place arrow after arrow in the center of the target. Knowing Captain Jack would some day be a mighty chief, Isaac taught him to speak English. He endeavored to make Jack love him, so that when the lad should grow to be a man he would remember his white brother and show mercy to the prisoners who fell into his power.
Another of Isaac's favorites was a half-breed Ottawa Indian, a distant relative of Tarhe's. This Indian was very old; no one knew how old; his face was seamed and scarred and wrinkled. Bent and shrunken was his form. He slept most of the time, but at long intervals he would brighten up and tell of his prowess when a warrior.
One of his favorite stories was of the part he had taken in the events of that fatal and memorable July 2, 1755, when Gen. Braddock and his English army were massacred by the French and Indians near Fort Duquesne.
The old chief told how Beaujeu with his Frenchmen and his five hundred Indians ambushed Braddock's army, surrounded the soldiers, fired from the ravines, the trees, the long grass, poured a pitiless hail of bullets on the bewildered British soldiers, who, unaccustomed to this deadly and unseen foe, huddled under the trees like herds of frightened sheep, and were shot down with hardly an effort to defend themselves.
The old chief related that fifteen years after that battle he went to the Kanawha settlement to see the Big Chief, Gen. George Washington, who was travelling on the Kanawha. He told Gen. Washington how he had fought in the battle of Braddock's Fields; how he had shot and killed Gen. Braddock; how he had fired repeatedly at Washington, and had killed two horses under him, and how at last he came to the conclusion that Washington was protected by the Great Spirit who destined him for a great future.
Myeerah was the Indian name for a rare and beautiful bird—the white crane—commonly called by the Indians, Walk-in-the-Water. It had been the name of Tarhe's mother and grandmother. The present Myeerah was the daughter of a French woman, who had been taken captive at a very early age, adopted into the Huron tribe, and married to Tarhe. The only child of this union was Myeerah. She grew to be beautiful woman and was known in Detroit and the Canadian forts as Tarhe's white daughter. The old chief often visited the towns along the lake shore, and so proud was he of Myeerah that he always had her accompany him. White men travelled far to look at the Indian beauty. Many French soldiers wooed her in vain. Once, while Tarhe was in Detroit, a noted French family tried in every way to get possession of Myeerah.
The head of this family believed he saw in Myeerah the child of his long lost daughter. Tarhe hurried away from the city and never returned to the white settlement.
Myeerah was only five years old at the time of the capture of the Zane brothers and it was at this early age that she formed the attachment for Isaac Zane which clung to her all her life. She was seven when the men came from Detroit to ransom the brothers, and she showed such grief when she learned that Isaac was to be returned to his people that Tarhe refused to accept any ransom for Isaac. As Myeerah grew older her childish fancy for the white boy deepened into an intense love.
But while this love tendered her inexorable to Isaac on the question of giving him his freedom, it undoubtedly saved his life as well as the lives of other white prisoners, on more than one occasion.
To the white captives who fell into the hands of the Hurons, she was kind and merciful; many of the wounded she had tended with her own hands, and many poor wretches she had saved from the gauntlet and the stake. When her efforts to persuade her father to save any one were unavailing she would retire in sorrow to her lodge and remain there.
Her infatuation for the White Eagle, the Huron name for Isaac, was an old story; it was known to all the tribes and had long ceased to be questioned. At first some of the Delawares and the Shawnee braves, who had failed to win Myeerah's love, had openly scorned her for her love for the pale face. The Wyandot warriors to a man worshipped her; they would have marched straight into the jaws of death at her command; they resented the insults which had been cast on their princess, and they had wiped them out in blood: now none dared taunt her.
In the spring following Isaac's recapture a very serious accident befell him. He had become expert in the Indian game of ball, which is a game resembling the Canadian lacrosse, and from which, in fact, it had been adopted. Goals were placed at both ends of a level plain. Each party of Indians chose a goal which they endeavored to defend and at the same time would try to carry the ball over their opponent's line.
A well contested game of Indian ball presented a scene of wonderful effort and excitement. Hundreds of strong and supple braves could be seen running over the plain, darting this way and that, or struggling in a yelling, kicking, fighting mass, all in a mad scramble to get the ball.
As Isaac had his share of the Zane swiftness of foot, at times his really remarkable fleetness enabled him to get control of the ball. In front of the band of yelling savages he would carry it down the field, and evading the guards at the goal, would throw it between the posts. This was a feat of which any brave could be proud.
During one of these games Red Fox, a Wyandot brave, who had long been hopelessly in love with Myeerah, and who cordially hated Isaac, used this opportunity for revenge. Red Fox, who was a swift runner, had vied with Isaac for the honors, but being defeated in the end, he had yielded to his jealous frenzy and had struck Isaac a terrible blow on the head with his bat.
It happened to be a glancing blow or Isaac's life would have been ended then and there. As it was he had a deep gash in his head. The Indians carried him to his lodge and the medicine men of the tribe were summoned.
When Isaac recovered consciousness he asked for Myeerah and entreated her not to punish Red Fox. He knew that such a course would only increase his difficulties, and, on the other hand, if he saved the life of the Indian who had struck him in such a cowardly manner such an act would appeal favorably to the Indians. His entreaties had no effect on Myeerah, who was furious, and who said that if Red Fox, who had escaped, ever returned he would pay for his unprovoked assault with his life, even if she had to kill him herself. Isaac knew that Myeerah would keep her word. He dreaded every morning that the old squaw who prepared his meals would bring him the news that his assailant had been slain. Red Fox was a popular brave, and there were many Indians who believed the blow he had struck Isaac was not intentional. Isaac worried needlessly, however, for Red Fox never came back, and nothing could be learned as to his whereabouts.
It was during his convalescence that Isaac learned really to love the Indian maiden. She showed such distress in the first days after his injury, and such happiness when he was out of danger and on the road to recovery that Isaac wondered at her. She attended him with anxious solicitude; when she bathed and bandaged his wound her every touch was a tender caress; she sat by him for hours; her low voice made soft melody as she sang the Huron love songs. The moments were sweet to Isaac when in the gathering twilight she leaned her head on his shoulder while they listened to the evening carol of the whip-poor-will. Days passed and at length Isaac was entirely well. One day when the air was laden with the warm breath of summer Myeerah and Isaac walked by the river.
"You are sad again," said Myeerah.
"I am homesick. I want to see my people. Myeerah, you have named me rightly. The Eagle can never be happy unless he is free."
"The Eagle can be happy with his mate. And what life could be freer than a Huron's? I hope always that you will grow content."
"It has been a long time now, Myeerah, since I have spoken with you of my freedom. Will you ever free me? Or must I take again those awful chances of escape? I cannot always live here in this way. Some day I shall be killed while trying to get away, and then, if you truly love me, you will never forgive yourself."
"Does not Myeerah truly love you?" she asked, gazing straight into his eyes, her own misty and sad.
"I do not doubt that, but I think sometimes that it is not the right kind of love. It is too savage. No man should be made a prisoner for no other reason than that he is loved by a woman. I have tried to teach you many things; the language of my people, their ways and thoughts, but I have failed to civilize you. I cannot make you understand that it is unwomanly—do not turn away. I am not indifferent. I have learned to care for you. Your beauty and tenderness have made anything else impossible."
"Myeerah is proud of her beauty, if it pleases the Eagle. Her beauty and her love are his. Yet the Eagle's words make Myeerah sad. She cannot tell what she feels. The pale face's words flow swiftly and smoothly like rippling waters, but Myeerah's heart is full and her lips are dumb."
Myeerah and Isaac stopped under a spreading elm tree the branches of which drooped over and shaded the river. The action of the high water had worn away the earth round the roots of the old elm, leaving them bare and dry when the stream was low. As though Nature had been jealous in the interest of lovers, she had twisted and curled the roots into a curiously shaped bench just above the water, which was secluded enough to escape all eyes except those of the beaver and the muskrat. The bank above was carpeted with fresh, dewy grass; blue bells and violets hid modestly under their dark green leaves; delicate ferns, like wonderful fairy lace, lifted their dainty heads to sway in the summer breeze. In this quiet nook the lovers passed many hours.
"Then, if my White Chief has learned to care for me, he must not try to escape," whispered Myeerah, tenderly, as she crept into Isaac's arms and laid her head on his breast. "I love you. I love you. What will become of Myeerah if you leave her? Could she ever be happy? Could she ever forget? No, no, I will keep my captive."
"I cannot persuade you to let me go?"
"If I free you I will come and lie here," cried Myeerah, pointing to the dark pool.
"Then come with me to my home and live there."
"Go with you to the village of the pale faces, where Myeerah would be scorned, pointed at as your captors laughed at and pitied? No! No!"
"But you would not be," said Isaac, eagerly. "You would be my wife. My sister and people will love you. Come, Myeerah save me from this bondage; come home with me and I will make you happy."
"It can never be," she said, sadly, after a long pause. "How would we ever reach the fort by the big river? Tarhe loves his daughter and will not give her up. If we tried to get away the braves would overtake us and then even Myeerah could not save your life. You would be killed. I dare not try. No, no, Myeerah loves too well for that."
"You might make the attempt," said Isaac, turning away in bitter disappointment. "If you loved me you could not see me suffer."
"Never say that again," cried Myeerah, pain and scorn in her dark eyes. "Can an Indian Princess who has the blood of great chiefs in her veins prove her love in any way that she has not? Some day you will know that you wrong me. I am Tarhe's daughter. A Huron does not lie."
They slowly wended their way back to the camp, both miserable at heart; Isaac longing to see his home and friends, and yet with tenderness in his heart for the Indian maiden who would not free him; Myeerah with pity and love for him and a fear that her long cherished dream could never be realized.
One dark, stormy night, when the rain beat down in torrents and the swollen river raged almost to its banks, Isaac slipped out of his lodge unobserved and under cover of the pitchy darkness he got safely between the lines of tepees to the river. He had just the opportunity for which he had been praying. He plunged into the water and floating down with the swift current he soon got out of sight of the flickering camp fires. Half a mile below he left the water and ran along the bank until he came to a large tree, a landmark he remembered, when he turned abruptly to the east and struck out through the dense woods. He travelled due east all that night and the next day without resting, and with nothing to eat except a small piece of jerked buffalo meat which he had taken the precaution to hide in his hunting shirt. He rested part of the second night and next morning pushed on toward the east. He had expected to reach the Ohio that day, but he did not and he noticed that the ground seemed to be gradually rising. He did not come across any swampy lands or saw grass or vegetation characteristic of the lowlands. He stopped and tried to get his bearings. The country was unknown to him, but he believed he knew the general lay of the ridges and the water-courses.
The fourth day found Isaac hopelessly lost in the woods. He was famished, having eaten but a few herbs and berries in the last two days; his buckskin garments were torn in tatters; his moccasins were worn out and his feet lacerated by the sharp thorns.
Darkness was fast approaching when he first realized that he was lost. He waited hopefully for the appearance of the north star—that most faithful of hunter's guides—but the sky clouded over and no stars appeared. Tired out and hopeless he dragged his weary body into a dense laurel thicket end lay down to wait for dawn. The dismal hoot of an owl nearby, the stealthy steps of some soft-footed animal prowling round the thicket, and the mournful sough of the wind in the treetops kept him awake for hours, but at last he fell asleep.