"For we are saved by hope."—St. Paul.
MY YOUNG FRIEND,
RACHEL E. BAKER,
IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.
THE WOODVILLE STORIES.
IN SIX VOLUMES.
A LIBRARY FOR BOYS AND GIRLS.
BY OLIVER OPTIC.
The fifth volume of the Woodville stories contains the experience of Fanny Grant, who from a very naughty girl became a very good one, by the influence of a pure and beautiful example, exhibited to the erring child in the hour of her greatest wandering from the path of rectitude. The story is not an illustration of the "pleasures of hope;" but an attempt to show the young reader that what we most desire, in moral and spiritual, as well as worldly things, we labor the hardest to obtain—a truism adopted by the heroine in the form of the principal title of the volume, Hope and Have.
The terrible Indian massacre which occurred in Minnesota, in 1862, is the foundation of the latter half of the story; and the incidents, so far as they have been used, were drawn from authentic sources. Fanny Grant's experience is tame compared with that of hundreds who suffered by this deplorable event; and her adventures, in company with Ethan French, are far less romantic than many which are sufficiently attested by the principal actors in them.
Once more, and with increased pleasure, the author tenders to his juvenile friends his thanks for their continued kindness to him and his books; and he hopes his present offering will both please and benefit them.
WILLIAM T. ADAMS.
Harrison Square, Mass.,
July 16, 1866.
|Chap. I.||The Naughty Girl.||11|
|Chap. II.||Thou shalt not steal.||25|
|Chap. III.||Letting the Cat out.||39|
|Chap. IV.||Fanny the Skipper.||52|
|Chap. V.||Down the River.||66|
|Chap. VI.||Kate's Defection.||79|
|Chap. VII.||The Soldier's Family.||93|
|Chap. VIII.||The Sick Girl.||107|
|Chap. IX.||Hope and Have.||120|
|Chap. X.||Good out of Evil.||135|
|Chap. XI.||Penitence and Pardon.||148|
|Chap. XII.||The New Home.||162|
|Chap. XIII.||The Indian Massacre.||176|
|Chap. XIV.||The Indian Boy.||190|
|Chap. XV.||The Conference.||204|
|Chap. XVI.||The Young Exiles.||218|
|Chap. XVII.||The Night Attack.||231|
|Chap. XVIII.||The Visitor at the Island.||244|
|Chap. XIX.||The Indian Ambush.||257|
THE NAUGHTY GIRL.
"Now you will be a good girl, Fanny Jane, while I am gone—won't you?" said Fanny Grant, who has several times before appeared in these stories, to Fanny Jane Grant, her namesake, who has not before been presented to our readers.
"O, yes, Miss Fanny; I will be ever so good; I won't even look wrong," replied Fanny Jane, whose snapping black eyes even then beamed with mischief.
"I am afraid you don't mean what you say," added Miss Fanny, suspiciously.
"Yes, I do; I mean every word of it, and more too."
"You make large promises; and I find when you promise most, you perform least."
"But, certain true as I live, I won't do a single thing this time," protested Fanny Jane. "Won't you believe me?"
"You have deceived me so often that I do not know when to trust you."
"I have turned over a new leaf, and I mean to be just as good as ever I can be."
"If you are not good, Fanny Jane, I shall feel very bad when I return. I have done a great deal for you, and I hope you will think of it if you are tempted to do wrong during my absence. This time, in particular, I wish you to behave very well, and not do any mischief. You know what father says about you?"
"He don't like me," pouted Fanny Jane.
"When you are good he likes you."
"He scolds me all the time."
"He never scolds you; he reproves you when you do wrong, and I am sorry to say that is very often indeed. He says, if you do not behave better, he shall send you back to your uncle at the west."
"I don't want to go there."
"But you must, if you do not do better. He would have sent you before if I had not interceded for you."
"If I hadn't begged him not to do so."
"I won't be sent back to my uncle's, any how," replied Fanny Jane, sharply; for the intimations of what might be, roused a spirit of resentment, rather than of penitence, in her mind.
"We will not talk about that now, Fanny Jane. We are going to Hudson to spend a week. The strongest objection to our visit was, that you would not behave well while we were gone."
"O, I will behave well!"
"We intend to trust you once more. If you disappoint me this time, I shall not be able to say another word in your favor; and I am quite sure father will send you off to Minnesota just as soon as we get back."
The carriage was waiting at the door; Bertha was already seated, and Fanny, having done all she could to insure the good behavior of the troublesome young miss who had become her peculiar charge, hastened to join her sister, and they were driven away towards the railroad station.
In the two tall and elegant ladies, seated in the Woodville family carriage, our readers would hardly recognize Bertha and Fanny Grant, for eight years have elapsed since they were introduced, as children, to our young friends. Bertha maintains her pure and beautiful character, and is still a blessing to the family, and to the neighborhood in which she resides. Fanny is taller and prettier than her sister; and, having put away her childish follies, she is quite a dignified personage.
Mighty events had transpired since they were children, and the country was entering upon the second year of the great civil war, which desolated the sunny South, and carried mourning to almost every household of the free North. Richard Grant had already distinguished himself as a captain in a popular New York regiment, of which the Rev. Ogden Newman, whilom Noddy, was the chaplain.
Mr. Grant had retired from active business, and had been succeeded by Mr. Sherwood, his clerk, who, having a high appreciation of the excellent character of Bertha, was about to enter into more intimate relations with his employer and predecessor in business. Bertha was to become Mrs. Sherwood in June, and, as Mr. Grant had reluctantly accepted a financial mission from the government, which compelled him to visit Europe, it had been arranged that the bridal tour should be a trip across the Atlantic, in which Fanny was to accompany them. If the general conduct of Miss Fanny Jane Grant had been sufficiently meritorious to warrant the extending of the privilege to her, doubtless she also would have been one of the party, for she had been for two years a member of the family.
Fanny Jane was a distant relative of the Grants of Woodville. Mr. Grant had two cousins, John and Edward, the latter of whom—the father of the wayward girl—had died three years previous to her introduction to the reader. At the time of his decease, he was in the employ of the wealthy broker, as a travelling agent. Just before his death, which occurred in a western city, while conscious that his end was near, he had written a letter to Mr. Grant, begging him to see that his only child was properly cared for when he could no longer watch over her.
Edward Grant's wife had been dead several years. At her decease Fanny Jane had been committed to the care of her father's brother, then residing in Illinois. Mr. Grant, impressed by the solemn duty intrusted to him by his deceased cousin, promptly wrote to the child's uncle, who was dependent upon his own exertions for his daily bread, offering any assistance which the orphan might need; but no demand was made upon him.
A year after the father's death, Mr. Grant's business affairs required him to visit the west, and he improved the opportunity to satisfy himself that the charge committed to him by the dying father was well cared for. On his arrival he was not pleased with the relations subsisting between Fanny Jane and her aunt. Mrs. Grant declared that the child was stubborn, wilful, and disobedient, needing frequent and severe punishment. On the other hand, Fanny said that her aunt abused her; worked her "almost to death;" did not give her good things to eat, and whipped her when she "did not do anything."
Mr. Grant was a prudent and judicious man. He conversed with each party alone, and, being then in doubt, he consulted the uncle. John Grant's testimony, in the main, confirmed that of his wife, though he was willing to confess that the aunt "might have been a little hard on the child." Mr. Grant was far from satisfied; he thought it more than probable that Fanny was wilful, but he could not endure to think of her being abused. The sacred duty imposed upon him could not be trifled with, and, as the only method by which he could meet the demands of his conscience, he decided to take the orphan to Woodville with him.
The uncle and the aunt, who had no children of their own, objected to this procedure, both because they did not wish to part with the child, and because her withdrawal from their care implied a condemnation of their former treatment of the orphan. Mr. Grant, however, succeeded in overcoming both of these objections, and they consented that Fanny should remain at Woodville for two years; Mrs. Grant assuring the benevolent broker that he would be glad to get rid of her in less than six months.
Fanny had behaved so well during the stay of Mr. Grant at her uncle's house, that he was completely deceived in regard to her real character. The presence of so important a person as the wealthy broker, who had been represented to her as a person hardly less dignified than the President of the United States, had overawed her, and put her on her best behavior. Her kind friend, therefore, was unable to realize that the orphan girl was half so bad as she was described to be by her aunt.
Edward Grant, while in the employ of the broker, had often visited Woodville, and being especially pleased with the person and the manners of Miss Fanny, had named his own daughter after her. On the arrival of the orphan at her new home, it was deemed fitting that Miss Fanny should have the especial care of her namesake, then only ten years of age. Fanny Jane, amid the novelties of the great house, and the beautiful grounds, was so much occupied for a few weeks that she behaved very well; but when she grew weary of horses and boats, house and grounds, she astonished her young mistress by conduct so outrageous that Miss Fanny wept in despair over the miserable failure she made in governing her charge.
Miss Bertha was called in to assist in taming the refractory subject; but it was soon found that Fanny Jane had none of the chivalrous reverence which had rendered the wild Noddy Newman tolerably tractable, and her failure was as complete and ignominious as that of her sister. Mr. Grant was finally appealed to; and the sternness and severity to which he was compelled to resort were, for a time, effectual. But even these measures began to be impotent, and the broker realized that the uncle and aunt had understood the case better than himself.
As a last resort, he threatened to send the wayward girl back to her uncle, who had now removed to Minnesota; for it would be better for such a child to put her down to hard work, and to keep her constantly under the eye of her guardians. This threat was more efficient than all the other means which had been used to keep the child within the bounds of common decency; but even this had grown stale upon her.
Miss Fanny, finding that her failure involved no disgrace, renewed her exertions to reform her pupil and charge. With the utmost diligence she instructed her in her moral and religious duties, and endeavored by love and gentleness to win her from the error of her ways. Sometimes she felt that there was much to encourage her, at other times she despaired of ever making any impression upon her pupil. Her father induced her to persevere, for he had hope. He remembered what Edward Grant, her father, had been when a child; that he was accounted the worst and most hopeless boy in the town where he resided; but in spite of this unpromising beginning, he had become a very worthy and respectable man. Such a change might in due time come over the daughter, and Mr. Grant frequently impressed upon Fanny the necessity of perseverance, and of remitting no effort to reach her pupil's moral and spiritual nature.
If Miss Fanny did not improve her pupil, she did improve herself, for the more of love and truth we impart to others, the more we have for ourselves; making the very pretty moral paradox, that the more of love and truth we subtract from our store, the more we have left in our own heart.
Fanny Jane was undoubtedly a very naughty girl. We do not mean to say that she was merely rude and unlady-like in her manners; that she was occasionally angry without a just cause; that she had a few bad habits, and a few venial faults: she was impudent to her benefactors; she was untruthful, and even dishonest. Not only to Fanny and Bertha, but also to Mr. Grant, she was openly defiant. She used bad language, told falsehoods by wholesale, and had several times been detected in stealing valuable articles from the house.
Yet with all her faults and failings, there were some good traits in Fanny Jane, though they seemed like the two grains of wheat in the bushel of chaff. What these redeeming features of her character were, we shall let our story disclose. One meeting the wayward girl on the lawn for a moment, or spending a few hours in the house with her, would have been deceived, as Mr. Grant had been, for her black eyes were full of animation; her manner was spirited, and her answers were quick and sharp. She was light and rather graceful in form; she did not appear to walk; she flashed about like a meteor. She was bold and daring in her flights, and as strong as most boys of her years. She would not run away from a rude boy; she laughed in the thunder storm, and did not fear to go through the glen at midnight.
Bertha and Fanny had gone up to Hudson to spend a few days with the family of Mr. Sherwood's father, previous to their departure for Europe. This visit had been talked about for a fortnight, and the wayward girl knew that it was to take place. Contrary to her usual custom, she made the fairest of promises to her kind mistress, who, from this very readiness, suspected her sincerity; and her fears were more than realized.
Fanny Jane stood at the open door gazing at the carriage until it disappeared beyond the hill. Her black eyes snapped under the stimulus of certain exciting thoughts which agitated her mind. When the carriage could no longer be seen, she slammed the front door, and bounded like a gazelle across the entry to the library of Mr. Grant, which she entered, closing the door behind her.
"O, yes! I'll be good!" laughed she; "I'm always good! Send me to my uncle's? I should like to see them do it! I won't go! There are not men and women enough at Woodville to make me go!"
Then she bounded to the windows in the library, one after another, and looked out at each. She closed the inner blinds of one, before which the gardener was at work on the lawn.
"I can do as Miss Berty did, if worse comes to worst," said she, throwing herself into a great armchair. "She went to live out, and had her own way, and I can do the same; but I won't be as poor as she was. Ha, ha, ha! I know their secrets," she continued, as she crawled under the desk, in the middle of the room, and pushing the middle drawer out, took from a nail behind it a key. "They needn't think to cheat me."
She sprang to her feet again with the key in her hand, laughing with delight at her own cunning.
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.
Fanny—as we shall call her when she is not in the company of her namesake—revelled in the possession of the key, and congratulated herself on her own shrewdness in obtaining it. She applied it to one of the drawers of the desk. Though her devoted young mistress had been faithful to the last degree in her efforts to instil good principles in the mind of her pupil, Fanny appeared to have no scruples of conscience. She did not hesitate, did not pause to consider the wickedness of her acts.
The drawer was unlocked and opened with an eager rather than a trembling hand. She seemed to fear nothing, and to be intent only on obtaining possession of some coveted treasure. As she pulled out the drawer, she was startled by a very unexpected incident. A great black cat, suddenly released from imprisonment, sprang out of the drawer, and, terrified by the appearance of the naughty girl, ran around the room several times, and then disappeared through an open window. The cat was a stranger to her; it was not a Woodville cat; and, though Fanny was not frightened, the presence of the animal in the drawer was suggestive.
"I am not so sharp as I thought I was," said she to herself, quite soberly. "The housekeeper must have seen me when I was looking for that key; but she needn't think I am afraid of a cat!"
Fanny sneered at the thought, and after glancing at the window through which the cat had made her escape, she turned to the drawer again, but it was empty; or it contained only a great card, such as those used in the Sunday school, on which was painted, in large black letters,
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL!
This card, which must have been placed there for her especial benefit by some member of the family, rendered it certain that her intentions were suspected, if not known.
"That's a gentle hint not to take anything from that drawer," said Fanny to herself. "There is nothing there, and of course I must take the hint; but they can't cheat me. There is money somewhere in this desk, and I must have it."
Perhaps, under ordinary circumstances, she would have been moved by the expedient which had been used to deter her from stealing. The commandment of God, staring her in the face at the very moment when she expected to place her hand upon the forbidden treasure, might have reached her conscience if she had not been engaged in a deeply-laid plan for revelling in stolen joys. As it was, she was only disappointed at not finding the money which the drawer had been supposed to contain.
"Fanny Jane!" called Mrs. Green, the housekeeper, from the entry.
It was not prudent to be seen in the library, and, hastily closing the drawer, and restoring the key to the nail under the desk, she stepped out at one of the long windows upon the piazza.
"Fanny Jane!" repeated the housekeeper.
"Here I am," said the guilty girl, entering the front door.
"It is time for you to get ready for school," added Mrs. Green.
"I'm not going to school to-day."
"Not going to school? Why not, miss?"
"Because I don't want to go."
"I think you are going," said the housekeeper, firmly.
"And I think I am not going!"
"Very well; then I will send for Mr. Long," added Mrs. Green, with a coolness and decision which were not without their effect upon the stubborn girl.
Mr. Long was a constable, and outside of his official duties, he was often employed in various miscellaneous offices by Mr. Grant. He lived in a small cottage adjoining the Woodville estate. This man was a great bugbear to Fanny, who had a very proper and wholesome regard for the strong arm of the law.
"I don't care for Mr. Long," said Fanny, shaking her shoulders in defiance; but this was only a vain boast.
Mrs. Green rang a bell for the man-servant who was employed in the house. This was more than the naughty girl could endure, for she knew that Mrs. Green would do all she promised.
"You needn't send for Mr. Long," interposed Fanny, doggedly. "I'll go to school."
"I thought you would; but you may do as you please."
"I'll go, but I want fifteen cents to buy a new copy-book."
As Mrs. Green knew that Fanny needed a new copy-book, she did not object to this request, and went into the library to procure the money. Instead of going up stairs to prepare herself for school, as the housekeeper had told her to do, Fanny went out upon the piazza again, and looking through the window, saw Mrs. Green open a closet in the library, and, from a drawer there, take out the money she had asked for. The housekeeper locked the drawer and the closet door, placing the key of the latter in a vase on the mantel-piece, and the key of the drawer under one of a row of volumes on a book shelf. All these precautions had been rendered necessary by the presence of the dishonest girl in the house.
Fanny, having carefully observed where the keys were placed, ran up stairs, and presently appeared, dressed for school. Mrs. Green gave her the money for which she had asked, and having satisfied herself that the refractory girl had actually departed for school, she went up stairs to attend to her usual duties. Fanny went as far as the road, and then, instead of turning to the left, she went to the right, and keeping in the shadow of the trees, reached the rear of the mansion. From this point she crept round to the piazza, from which she passed into the library.
"She can't cheat me!" said Fanny, again congratulating herself upon her own cunning. "She'll find, before night, that I'm too much for her."
The wicked girl then went to the vase, and taking from it the key, opened the closet. From the place where she had stood, she could not determine exactly under which book the key of the drawer had been placed; but after raising half a dozen of them, she found the object of her search. The drawer was opened, and on the top of several bundles of papers lay a pocket-book. Her eyes snapped with unwonted fire as she discovered the prize.
She opened it, and found a great roll of bills; in one of the pockets there was a mass of currency. There was no great staring placard, with "Thou shalt not steal" printed upon it, but the words seemed to be spoken from her own breast—seemed to be thundering in her soul. But Fanny was excited by the prospect of the stolen joys, in which she had been revelling in anticipation for a fortnight, and she heeded not the voice from her breast, and silenced the thunder-tones that rolled through her soul.
"Shall I take it all?" whispered she, as she gazed on the great pile of "greenbacks and currency." "I may as well be hung for an old sheep as a lamb," she added, as she gathered up the money, and thrust it into her pocket.
A noise in the entry startled her. She closed the drawer, locked it, and restored the key to the place where she had found it. The closet door was secured in like manner, and the key returned to the vase. Passing out of the library as she had entered, she made her way back to the road, and walked towards the school-house. Before she reached it, however, she turned down a lane leading to the river. It was a lonely avenue, completely shaded by trees, which concealed her from the view of the people in the adjoining houses. Increasing her pace to a bounding run, she soon reached the Hudson.
Seated on a stone, near the river, was a girl of fourteen, who had evidently been waiting for Fanny. In her hand she held a couple of books, which indicated that she also had been sent to school.
"Where have you been? Why didn't you come before?" asked the girl, as she rose at Fanny's approach.
"I couldn't come before," replied Fanny.
"Why not?" demanded the other, whose name was Kate Magner.
"No matter why not," answered Fanny, rather testily, for she was not yet quite willing to confess what she had done in the library of the mansion-house.
"Haven't the folks gone away?"
"Yes; they all went off in the morning train. Where is Tom?"
"I don't know."
"But we want him; we can't get along without him."
"He said he would come."
"But he is late."
"So are you."
"I couldn't help it."
"I suppose he can't, either. But what are we going to do, Fan?" asked Kate, who did not seem to be satisfied with the present prospect of the enterprise, whatever it was.
"We are going to have a good time."
"You said that before; but I want to know what we are going to do. You asked me to meet you here at half past eight. You come at nine, and I don't see that anything is to be done. I shall catch it for playing truant from school, and all for nothing."
"You shall have the best time you have had in your life."
"I don't know about that. Why don't you tell me what you mean to do?"
"I am almost afraid to tell you, Kate."
"Afraid of what?"
"I'm afraid you won't dare to go with me."
"Did you ever do anything I was afraid to do?" said Kate, with a sneer.
"But this is a greater thing than we ever did before. We may be gone a long time, and we are certain to be found out."
"What do you mean?" demanded Kate, apparently appalled by this frank statement of the difficulties of the enterprise.
"I thought it would scare you," laughed Fanny.
"But it don't scare me."
"Yes, it does."
"I will do anything that you dare to do," replied Kate, stung by the flings of her companion.
"You shall have the greatest time that ever was, but you must take the consequences after it is all over."
"If you can, I can."
"Come with me, then," continued Fanny, as she moved along the bank of the river towards the Woodville landing pier.
"I won't go a step till I know what you are going to do."
"I'm afraid you will back out."
"No, I won't; I solemnly promise you that I will go with you anywhere you please."
"I have got some money," added Fanny, in a very mysterious manner.
"Pooh! that ain't much!" sneered Kate.
"Well, I've got five dollars."
"Where did you get it?"
"I found it."
"On the floor."
Kate probably had her doubts in regard to the finding of the money, but she did not ask any troublesome questions, and repressed whatever of righteous indignation might have risen in her soul.
"What are you going to do with it?" she asked.
"We will have a good time with it."
"But where are you going?"
Fanny glanced at her companion, and hesitated to reveal the brilliant project, fearful that it might be disapproved.
"We will go over to Whitestone, or down to Pennville, and buy something. But where is Tom? We must have him."
"What do you want of him?" asked Kate, rather petulantly.
"We must go over in a boat, and we want him to manage it for us."
"Perhaps he will come; he promised to do so."
"We will go up to the landing-place; perhaps he is up there."
The two girls walked up to the Woodville pier; but Tom Magner was not there. He seemed to have no relish for the society of the interesting young ladies engaged in a brilliant enterprise; and if he had made any appointment to meet them, he neglected to keep it. Fanny was very much disappointed at his non-appearance, much more so than the young gentleman's sister, who, not knowing the extent of the enterprise, was in blissful ignorance of its perils and difficulties. Tom Magner was an almost indispensable part of the plan; but the young knight did not come, and the project must be abandoned or carried out without him.
"I am afraid he won't come," said Fanny, after impatiently waiting for half an hour.
"I know he won't now. I don't believe he intended to come at all," replied Kate.
"He is a mean fellow, then."
"We can get along without him. We shall have more money to spend ourselves."
"But how shall we get over to Whitestone?"
"We can go up the river and take the ferry."
"Yes; and the first person we meet may be your father, or some of the Woodville folks. No, Kate, we must not be seen; if we are, all our fun will be spoiled."
"For my part I don't want Tom, or any other boy with us. I think boys are hateful!"
"So do I; but I only want him to manage the boat. Don't you think you could go up and find Tom?"
"I don't think I could," said Kate, indignantly.
"Where is he?"
"At school, I suppose."
"Couldn't you tell the teacher that your father wants him?" suggested Fanny.
"No, I could not! I should be caught myself. I believe you want to get me into trouble."
"I'm sure I don't, Kate, for that would get me into trouble. What shall we do?"
"We will go up to the ferry. We can see who is in the boat before we go on board."
"I won't do that if we don't go at all."
And so the brilliant scheme seemed to be defeated for the want of a boatman; but Fanny was too bold and enterprising in mischief to give up without a struggle.
LETTING THE CAT OUT.
"Pooh! I shall not give it up so!" exclaimed Fanny, when it was certain that Tom Magner did not intend to join the party.
"What will you do?" asked Kate.
"Go to Pennville, of course."
"How will you get there?"
"In the boat; we will take the Greyhound."
"You know we can't do anything of the kind, Fanny Grant."
"I know we can," replied the resolute girl.
"But who will manage her?"
"I will manage her myself."
"Yes; I know how to manage a boat as well as any of them. I have sailed enough to understand the whole thing," added Fanny, as she led the way to the pier, off which the sail-boat was moored.
"Do you think I will risk my life in a boat with no one but you to manage it?"
"But I know how to handle the boat as well as any one," persisted Fanny. "There isn't much wind, and I'm sure there is no danger."
Kate Magner had a great many doubts, but the vision of cakes and candy, lemonade and ice-cream, which her companion's money would purchase, tempted her to yield. The breeze was apparently very light, and it seemed hardly possible that the boat could be upset. She wavered, and Fanny saw the advantage she had gained.
"If we don't get along very well, we can hire some boy or man to manage the boat for us," continued the resolute girl, pressing the point upon her yielding companion. "There are some men and boys fishing over there, and they will be very glad to make some money."
"That will be the best way. If you will get one of those men to manage the boat, I will go with you; for there isn't any fun in being drowned, or in being run over by a steamboat."
"Very well, I will do that," replied Fanny, her black eyes snapping with renewed vigor.
Ben, the boatman, who usually haunted the pier and the boat-house like a familiar spirit, had added many infirmities to his burden of cares during the eight years which have intervened since we first knew him, and he was now confined to his house by an attack of rheumatism. There was no one near, therefore, to interfere with the execution of Fanny's plan. The Greyhound was moored a short distance from the pier, at which the small skiff, which served as her tender, was fastened. The two girls were about to embark in the little boat, when footsteps were heard at the upper end of the pier.
Fanny started, released her hold of the painter of the skiff, and at once realized that her brilliant project was in imminent danger of being defeated. She turned to observe who the intruder was, and to her horror and consternation, discovered that it was Mr. Long, the constable, the greatest bugbear in the world to her on ordinary occasions, and especially so in the present instance, when her conscience accused her of a very wicked deed.
There was no opportunity to retreat, for the enemy was between her and the main land. She had been so intent upon the argument with her more cautious companion, that she had not noticed the approach of the constable until his feet struck upon the planking of the pier. The money she had stolen was in her pocket, and it felt just like a coal of fire, which was soon to create a conflagration that might burn her up. She very much desired, just then, to get rid of this evidence of her crime, and she would have dropped the roll of bills into the water if it would have sunk to the bottom, and disappeared from the sight of the terrible man who was approaching.
Fanny did not doubt that the loss of the money had been discovered by Mrs. Green, and that she had sent for the constable to arrest her and put her in prison—a threat which the housekeeper had injudiciously made on a former occasion, when the naughty girl had been guilty of a similar fault, but a threat which Mr. Grant would not have permitted to be carried out. This terrible punishment appalled Fanny, but she did not entirely lose her self-possession. She had done a very great wrong; she had staked everything upon the success of the present venture. She was entirely satisfied that Mr. Grant, on his return, would send her to her uncle in Minnesota, and she had prepared herself for the worst. Her object, therefore, was to escape present defeat, and she hoped, cornered as she was by the constable, that some means of getting out of the dilemma might be presented to her.
"We are caught," said Kate, as Mr. Long moved down the pier.
"Not yet," replied Fanny, with more confidence than she actually felt.
The consciousness of being the leader in the enterprise led her to put on a bold face in order to inspire her friend with confidence, if for no other purpose.
"What shall we do?" demanded Kate, nervously.
"Keep still; don't you say a word."
"What are you doing here, Fanny, at this time of day?" asked Mr. Long, as he approached the girls.
"I'm not doing anything," replied Fanny, boldly.
"Why are you not at school?"
"The teacher sent us down to get some green branches to put over the clock. We are going to have some visitors in school this afternoon," replied Fanny, promptly.
"Did she send the other girl, too?"
"Yes; she sent both of us."
"I want to see you, Fanny; come with me," continued the terrible constable, beckoning her to follow him up the pier.
"What do you want of me?"
"I wish to speak with you a moment."
"I can't stop long, for we must hurry back with the boughs," added Fanny, who had no relish for a confidential conversation with such a man, for she at once surmised its topic.
"Are you looking for green boughs out on the end of that pier?" said he.
"We only went out there for a moment," pleaded Fanny, as she followed Mr. Long, but it was with the intention of darting away from him at a favorable moment.
But the constable stopped before he reached the head of the pier, which effectually prevented her retreat unless she jumped into the water.
"What do you want of me, Mr. Long?" she asked, with increasing boldness.
"Fanny, you have been very bad again," began the tormentor.
"No, I haven't."
"Yes, you have; and you needn't attempt to deny it."
"What have I done?"
"You know what you have done."
"I haven't done anything," protested she, speaking for the sake of speaking, rather than because she had any confidence in the impression her words would produce upon the mind of her tormentor, and all the while thinking how she could break away from the constable.
"'Thou shalt not steal,'" said Mr. Long, impressively.
"What do you mean by that?" demanded Fanny. "Do you mean to say that I steal? If you do, you are very much mistaken."
"Fanny, if you didn't steal anything, it was only because you did not find anything to steal."
What could he mean by that? She was perplexed, but she began to hope that he did not know what she had done.
"I do not want to steal," said she; and now she spoke for the purpose of drawing out her accuser, to ascertain how much he did know.
"You have been guilty of stealing several times," continued the constable, assuming a very stern and virtuous aspect.
"I never meant to steal anything."
"But you meant to steal this time: the cat is out of the bag."
The constable's stern features relaxed a little, and there was something like a smile playing upon his face, as if in faint appreciation of a joke.
"The cat is out of the drawer, if that is what you mean," said Fanny, laughing, and now greatly encouraged by the new aspect of the case.
"That is what I mean."
"But I didn't let the cat out," protested Fanny.
"Fanny, you are lying to me, and you know you are," added Mr. Long, sternly.
"I hope to die if it isn't just as I say!" persisted the wicked girl, earnestly. "Mrs. Green let the cat out of the drawer, and I had a good laugh over it."
Fanny began to laugh very heartily. The constable was staggered, and it was evident that he was not smart enough to deal with one so shrewd and clever as the wayward girl.
"What are you laughing at?" asked Mr. Long.
"I was laughing to think of the poor cat as she jumped out of the drawer and ran away. What did you put her in there for? Were you afraid she would steal the meat or the milk? Could that cat read, Mr. Long? Were you trying to teach her one of the ten commandments?"
"Do you mean to tell me, Fanny, that Mrs. Green let the cat out of the drawer?"
"Yes, she did. Poor pussy mewed awfully in the drawer, where you put her. Perhaps she was saying over the commandment you gave her to learn; but Mrs. Green didn't understand her lingo, and let her out."
"Fanny, I am going up to see Mrs. Green, and if you have told me a lie, it will be all the worse for you," said Mr. Long.
"You can ask Mrs. Green herself."
"I will ask her. You meant to steal: you were seen watching Mr. Grant when he had the key of the drawer."
"And you set a trap to catch me; but you caught Mrs. Green!" laughed Fanny.
"I don't believe a word of your story; but I am willing to be sure before I do anything."
"What are you going to do?"
"I shall take care of you; you will know what I mean when I have proved the case."
"You ought to have told Mrs. Green where you put the cat, for the poor creature would have starved to death before I let her out."
"We shall see. Mr. Grant told me to take care of you if you did not behave yourself while the family were away. I will go up and ask Mrs. Green about this matter, and if I find you have not told me the truth,—and I don't believe you have,—I shall take care of you."
"When shall I see you again?" asked Fanny, with the most brazen impudence.
"You will see me sooner than you will want to see me, if you have been doing wrong."
"But I shall not be here when you come back. We are going right up to school now."
"I can find you, wherever you are," replied the constable, confidently, as he walked away towards the mansion.
Fanny was entirely relieved of all her fears; she was even jubilant over her success in cheating her persecutor. Her conscience did not trouble her now. She readily comprehended the details of the plan by which she was to be detected, if she attempted to steal from the library. Of course, the constable would soon find out that she had not told the truth, and that Mrs. Green knew nothing about the cat in the drawer.
After the announcement that the family were to be absent a week, had been made, it was observed that Fanny was in unusually good spirits. Miss Fanny had detected her in the act of looking through one of the library windows, while her father was paying a bill in the room. Mr. Grant, wealthy as he was, had always been very methodical in his business affairs. He kept a sum of money in a drawer for household expenses, to which Mrs. Green and his daughters had access. When anything was paid out by any member of the family, the amount was put down on a paper in the drawer. After the advent of Fanny Jane, and after she had been detected in some small pilfering, the key of this drawer was concealed as we have described.
Miss Fanny at once suspected the motive of her wayward charge, and told her father of the fact, on the day before the departure of the family for Hudson. Mr. Grant, more desirous of reforming the wicked girl than of anything else, consulted Mr. Long. Mrs. Green was told where she might find money for the payment of the household bills, and admonished to be very careful in concealing the keys; but nothing was said to her about the cat and the commandment. If Fanny did attempt to steal, the case was to be managed by the constable, who had been instructed to take her to his own house, and keep her in close subjection until the return of the family.
The cat belonged to Mr. Long, who was confident that the animal, when released by the act of the thief, would run home, when her presence would inform him of the culprit's deed. The cat—true to her domestic instinct—had run home; but the constable had not immediately seen her. As soon as he discovered the tell-tale pussy, he hastened over to Woodville, expecting to find Fanny penitently studying the commandment, which was the moral of Mr. Grant's stratagem; but before he reached the house he saw two girls on the pier, and recognized Fanny as one of them.
Willing to be entirely fair, and deeming it possible that Mr. Grant's plan had failed, he went up to the house to consult Mrs. Green, while Fanny rushed down the pier to join her companion in mischief.
FANNY THE SKIPPER.
"What did he want of you, Fan?" asked Kate Magner, with a curiosity not unmixed with anxiety, as her leader in mischief joined her at the foot of the pier.
"O, never mind that," exclaimed Fanny, in reply. "We have no time to talk about it now."
"But what did he say?" demanded Kate, who thought her present action ought to be governed in some measure by the words of the constable.
"He didn't say much; it is all right now. Come, jump into the boat. We haven't a moment to lose."
"I want to know what he said before I get any deeper into the mud," persisted Kate; but we are compelled to acknowledge that her scruples were mere worldly prudence, and were not called forth by the upbraidings of an awakened conscience.
"You can't back out now, Kate. I made it all right with Mr. Long," replied Fanny, with energy, as she drew the skiff up to the steps, ready for her more timid companion to embark. "Now, get in, and don't waste another instant in talking about nothing."
"You are keeping everything to yourself. If you don't tell me what Mr. Long wanted of you, I won't get into the boat. Was it about the money you found?" asked Kate.
"No; he didn't say a word about that. He only asked me why I was not at school."
"What did you tell him?"
"I told him the teacher sent us down to get some green branches to put over the clock, for we were to have visitors at school this afternoon."
"Did he believe you?"
Kate laughed; she appreciated what she regarded as the joke of a clever deception; the wickedness of the act did not disturb her.
"Of course he believed me—why shouldn't he? He has gone up to ask Mrs. Green if I went to school."
"But he will find out all about it."
"No, he won't; besides, if he does, we shall be a mile off when he gets back here again."
"Didn't he say a word about the money you found?"
"Not a word, Kate. Now, jump in, or we shall certainly get caught. We shall have time enough to talk about these things when we get away from the pier."
Kate was satisfied, and stepped into the skiff. All her fears related to the money in the possession of her friend, which, she was almost certain, had been stolen. She was moralist enough to understand that even if the money had been found on the floor, as Fanny represented, it was just as much stolen as though it had been taken from Mr. Grant's pocket-book. Kate had not engaged in this theft, and she was not willing to bear any of the blame on account of it. If the crime had already been discovered, she did not wish to expose herself to the peril of helping to spend the money. According to Fanny's statement, nothing had been found out, and she got into the skiff.
Fanny had been among the boats a great deal during her residence at Woodville, and rowing and sailing were suited to her masculine taste. She was a girl of quick parts; her faculty of imitation was highly developed, and generally what she had seen done she could do herself. She could row cross-handed very well, and she had no difficulty in pulling the skiff out to the Greyhound's moorings. Kate stepped on board of the sail-boat, and Fanny, fastening the painter of the skiff at the stern, began to bustle around with as much confidence as though she had been a skipper ever since she left her cradle.
She had often sailed in the Greyhound with Ben and others, and she knew precisely what was to be done in order to get the boat under way. She understood how to move the tiller in order to make the craft go in a given direction, and had an indistinct idea of beating and tacking; but she was very far from being competent to manage a sailboat.
The stops were removed from the sails, under the direction of the adventurous Fanny, and the foresail hoisted. It was a more difficult matter to cast off the moorings, but their united strength accomplished the feat, and the Greyhound, released from the bonds which held her, immediately drifted to the shore, for her unskilful skipper had not trimmed the foresail so that it would draw.
"I thought you knew how to manage a boat," said Kate, contemptuously.
"So I do," replied Fanny, as she gathered up the fore-sheet, and trimmed the sail.
"What are you doing in here, then?"
"I only came in here to get a fair start," added the skipper, not at all disconcerted by the mishap.
"Folks don't generally run the boat ashore before they start," sneered Kate, who certainly had no confidence in the seamanship of the feminine skipper.
"That's the way they do it!" exclaimed Fanny, triumphantly, as the sail began to draw, and the boat moved off from the shore. "Now, we are all right. That's just the way I meant to make her go."
The wind came from the Woodville side of the river, but it was very light, and the Greyhound moved but slowly. Fanny was entirely satisfied with herself now, and was confident that she could manage any boat that ever floated. It was a very easy thing, she thought, and she did not see why folks made such a "fuss" about sailing a boat; anybody could do it, if they only thought they could. But the Greyhound did not move fast enough for her impatient temperament, and, against the remonstrances of her more prudent companion, she insisted upon setting the mainsail.
"Mr. Long may be after us soon, and we must get along as fast as we can," said she, as she took the throat halliard, and gave the peak to Kate. "Now, hoist away. We are as good sailors as any one need be."
The mainsail was set, and the Greyhound began to travel through the water pretty rapidly, much to the delight of Fanny. She had been deceived in regard to the force of the wind; under the lee of the shore, where it was obstructed by the bank, by the trees, and by the buildings, the breeze was very light: out in the middle of the river the wind was quite strong; but the boat had not yet begun to feel its full force.
"Now she goes beautifully!" exclaimed Fanny, as she observed the effect by the added sail.
"She goes very well; but don't you see how rough the water is out in the middle of the river?" replied Kate, rather anxiously, though she was not willing to acknowledge the full extent of her fears.
"But why don't you go down the river more, and keep out of that rough place?"
"I like the waves! It's splendid to hear them beating against the boat."
"It may be when you have a man in the boat with you," answered Kate, sceptically.
"What are you afraid of?"
"I'm not afraid; but I think folks ought to be very careful when they don't know anything about boats."
"But I know all about boats. Don't you see how beautifully she goes? I wish she would go a little faster."
"She goes fast enough," said Kate, as she listened to the ripple of the waves against the bow.
"She might go a little faster; besides, we are in a hurry."
"We are going fast enough, Fan."
"The faster the better! I suppose, when Mr. Long goes over to the school and finds we are not there, he will come down to the pier after us. We want to be out of sight when he gets there."
"Why should he come after us? I thought you said it was all right," demanded Kate, nervously.
"He will go over to the school to find out whether the teacher sent us after the boughs."
"I wish I had not come," continued Kate, gloomily.
If she had known the whole truth, and understood the full extent of her bold companion's plans, she would have been still more dissatisfied with the situation.
"Here, Kate, you take the tiller a moment," said Fanny, as she rose from her seat in the stern-sheets.
"What are you going to do now?" asked Kate, nervously.
"I'm going to hoist the other sail."
"We don't want it hoisted. We are going fast enough."
"We can just as well go faster; and I want to get out of sight before Mr. Long sees us," replied Fanny, persuasively, though her bright eyes snapped with increasing lustre under the excitement of the moment.
"I won't touch the tiller; I say we go fast enough. You want to drown me—don't you?"
"If I drown you, I must drown myself—mustn't I?"
"I won't touch the tiller; I don't want the other sail hoisted," persisted Kate.
"What are you afraid of? I didn't think you were a coward. If I had, I shouldn't have asked you to come with me."
"I'm not a coward, any more than you are. I don't see what you want to hoist the other sail for; we are going like fury through the water now."
"We need more head sail," answered Fanny, using an expression she had borrowed from the nautical speeches of Ben, the boatman.
"No, we don't need more head sail," replied Kate, who, however, had not the most remote idea of the meaning of her friend's language.
"Take the tiller, Kate, and don't bother me."
"I will not."
"Then I will hoist the sail, and let the boat take care of herself while I do it. If she is upset, it will be your fault,—not mine."
Fanny was resolute; she had a will, as well as a way, of her own. She did not want any advice, and she was not willing to take any. She looked upon her companion as a weak-minded, poor-spirited girl, and she treated her opinions and her wishes with the utmost contempt, now that she had her completely in her power. It was useless for Kate to attempt to oppose her.
"I don't know anything about the tiller, as you call it. I don't even know what it is, and I'm sure I couldn't tell what to do with it," continued Kate.
"That's a good girl!" replied Fanny, in patronizing tones, when she saw that her companion was disposed to yield.
"I don't want to touch it."
"But you must."
"Must! Who says I must?"
"I say so; if you don't, we may be upset."
"I have gone far enough, Fan Grant; I don't want to go any farther: I want to go on shore again!" exclaimed Kate, now completely disgusted with the venture, for in addition to the perils of wrong doing, she found she must submit to the impudence and the arrogance of her friend.
"Well, why don't you go on shore?" replied Fanny, with the utmost coolness and self-possession.
"You know I can't. Turn the boat round, and let me go back to the land."
"I think not."
"I have had enough of this thing."
"Will you take the tiller, or will you let the boat upset?" added Fanny, with firmness and decision. "You can't go on shore again till I get ready to let you. I command this vessel, and if you ever want to put your foot on the dry land again, you must mind what I say."
"Please to let me go back," pleaded Kate.
"I won't please to do anything of the kind. Take the tiller, I say."
"What shall I do with it?" asked the poor girl, cowed down and subdued by the force and decision of her companion.
"Sit here," replied Fanny, pointing to the corner of the stern-sheets, where the helmsman usually sits. "This is the tiller," she added, indicating the serpent-shaped stick attached to the rudder, by which the boat is steered. "Keep it just as it is, until I tell you to move it."
"I don't know how to move it."
"When I say right, move it this way;" and Fanny pointed to the starboard side. "When I say left, move it the other way."
Fanny watched her a moment to see that her instructions were obeyed.
"We don't want this any longer," said she, unfastening the painter of the skiff and throwing it into the water, thus permitting the boat to go adrift.
"What did you do that for?" demanded Kate, as the Greyhound dashed on, leaving the skiff behind to be borne down the river by the tide.
"We don't want the skiff, and dragging it behind keeps us back some."
"What did you bring it for, then?"
"To keep Mr. Long from chasing us in it. All the rest of the boats are hauled up, and he will have to find one before he can come after us."
Fanny went forward, and having fearlessly removed the stops from the jib, which required her to crawl out a little way on the bowsprit, she hoisted the sail, and carried the sheet aft to the standing-room, as she had often seen the boatmen do. The effect of this additional canvas was immediately seen, for the Greyhound had now reached the middle of the river, where she felt the full force of the wind, which was fresh from the north-west, and came in puffs and flaws.
When the Greyhound went out from the shore, her sails were over on the right hand side; that is, she took the wind abaft the port beam. The boat was now careened over nearly to her rail, and was darting through the water like a rocket. Kate trembled, but Fanny was delighted.
"Now we will go down the river," said Fanny, as she took the tiller.
Suiting the action to the word, she put the helm up just as a flaw of wind came sweeping over the waves. The boat came round; the three sails, caught by the flaw, suddenly flew over, filled on the other side, and the Greyhound careened till she was half full of water.
DOWN THE RIVER.
Putting a boat about, as Fanny had turned the Greyhound, is nautically termed gybing her. It is a dangerous manœuvre when the wind is fresh, and should never be attempted by young or inexperienced boatmen. By putting the boat about in the opposite direction, hauling in the sheet as the sail flutters, the danger may be wholly avoided. The boat's head should always be turned in the direction from which the wind comes. But a person who does not understand the management of a boat should no more attempt to handle one than an unskilful person should attempt to run a steam engine.
Fanny Grant knew but little about a boat, and it was fortunate for her and her companion in mischief that the wind was not strong enough to carry the Greyhound wholly over. If she had careened only a little more, she would have filled with water and sunk, for she was heavily ballasted. As it was, she was half full of water, and the situation of the young ladies, if not perilous, was very uncomfortable.
"O, Fanny!" screamed Kate, in mortal terror, as the Greyhound heeled over, and the water rushed in over the washboard.
"Don't be scared," replied Fanny, with wonderful self-possession. "It's all right, and there is no harm done."
"We shall be drowned!" gasped Kate.
"No, we shall not be drowned. Don't you see the boat stands up like a major? Don't be frightened. I understand it all."
"No; you don't know anything about it. The boat is almost full of water, and we shall sink to the bottom."
"I tell you she is doing very well. Pooh! that wasn't anything! She often takes in the water like that."
"What shall we do?" moaned Kate.
This was a question which appealed even to Fanny's prudence. Without answering in words, she let go the halliards, and hauled down the foresail. After the boat came about, she had not righted the helm, and the Greyhound had been thrown up into the wind as she heeled over and took in the flood of water. She now lay with her sails flapping, and Fanny cast off the main-sheet, rather to stop the fluttering than to avoid further peril. Fortunately, this was the proper course to pursue.
"What shall we do?" repeated Kate, expecting every moment that the treacherous sails would carry them over again, and that they would soon find their way to the bottom of the river.
"Bale out the water," replied Fanny, taking a pail and a dipper from the cuddy forward. "Now go to work, and we shall soon be ready to sail again."
"I don't want to sail any more," whined Kate.
"Dip away as fast as ever you can. Don't stop to talk about it now."
Fanny took the pail herself, and gave the dipper to Kate, and both of them went to work with a zeal which promised soon to free the Greyhound from the burden under which she was laboring. There was a large quantity of water in the boat, and the process of dipping it out was very slow. Fanny was afraid that this accident would throw her into the power of her great enemy, the constable; and this was the only fear which troubled her. The perils of the mighty river had no terrors to her while she had a plank under her feet.
Kate was utterly disconsolate and hopeless, and Fanny was obliged to use all her ingenuity to keep her in working condition. To show her confidence, she sang like a nightingale, as she dipped out the water; and Fanny was an excellent singer. She labored hard to prove to her desponding companion that there was no danger, and at last she succeeded in restoring Kate to a tolerable degree of self-possession.
When about half the water had been dipped out, Fanny trimmed the sails, and headed the boat down the river, to the utter consternation of her timid associate, who was heartily sick of the adventure, and longed to put her feet on the dry land again.
"Now, Kate, you take the pail, and I will use the dipper; I can work and steer the boat at the same time," said Fanny, when the Greyhound was under headway again.
"The boat is going down the river, Fanny!" exclaimed Kate, as she took the pail.
"Of course she is," replied the bold skipper. "Where did you expect her to go?"
"But you are not going any farther—are you?"
"To be sure I am. Do you think I am going to back out now?"
"We shall certainly be drowned!"
"I don't want to go any farther," moaned Kate, who felt like one going to execution.
"I can't help it if you don't. I'm going down to Pennville," answered Fanny, still dipping up the water from the bottom of the boat.
"I won't bale out any more then," ejaculated Kate, as she dropped the pail, and looked as though she actually meant what she said.
"Very well; then I won't," added Fanny, throwing down the dipper.
"If you will go back, I will bale out the water as hard as ever I can."
"But I will not go back," replied Fanny, firmly. "Do you think I am going home to be shut up for a week, or sent back to my uncle, without having any fun at all? If you won't bale, I won't. I guess I can stand it as long as you can."
"Do go back, Fanny," begged Kate.
"I tell you I will not. You don't know what I am going to do yet."
"I can't stop to talk about it now. If you don't take the pail and bale out the boat, I will hoist the other sail."
"If you will keep still, and mind what I say, I won't hoist the sail. We go along with only these two sails just as easy as anything can be, and there isn't a bit of danger."
Kate, to avoid the greater evil, submitted to the less; and, as the Greyhound, now going very steadily under her jib and mainsail, continued on her course, she was soon freed from the water within her. The boat went along so well that Kate gathered a little courage, and ventured to hope that they might not be drowned, after all.
"You mustn't turn her round again, Fan," said she.
"What shall we do? We shall run ashore if I don't turn her."
"Can't we lower the sails when you turn her?"
"There is no need of that," replied Fanny, cheerfully. "I made a little mistake before, but I understand all about it now."
"What was the mistake, Fan?"
"I didn't turn her the right way," replied the confident skipper, who had been studying up the cause of the mishap and had reasoned out the correct solution. "I shall know just how to do it next time, Kate, and you needn't be the least grain scared. See here," said she, putting the helm down, and bringing the boat round till her head was thrown up into the wind.
"That's the way it is done," continued Fanny, proudly. "Don't you see how easily she does it? There isn't a bit of danger now;" and she brought the boat round to her course again.
Kate was terrified at the very mention of turning the boat; but when she saw that the feat was accomplished without upsetting or even taking in any more water, her confidence was in a great measure restored. Fanny's exhibition of her skill produced the intended effect upon her companion, and the feminine skipper's easy and self-reliant way confirmed the impression. Fanny had learned more about the management of a boat in that brief half hour than she had ever known before, for the consciousness that her own life and that of her passenger depended upon her skill, sharpened her perceptions and quickened her judgment to such an extent that those moments of thrilling experience became equivalent to months of plodding study when the mind is comparatively dull and heavy.
Mr. Long, the constable, evidently did not hurry himself in the investigation of Fanny's case; for when he had satisfied himself that the wicked girl had deceived him, and had reached the Woodville pier, having first visited the school, as the shrewd girl had intended he should, the boat was not in sight; or, at least, nothing could be seen of her but the white sails, which he could not identify, and the fugitives were in no present danger on account of his movements. He did not know whether the Greyhound had gone up or down the river; and he had no boat in which to follow her.
Fanny felt that she had won a victory, for she did not realize that success in a wicked cause is failure and defeat. She congratulated herself on the feat she had accomplished, and she was vain enough to boast to her associate of what she had done; of her skill in managing the boat, and her shrewdness in planning the enterprise; and it is quite certain that if she had been less resolute and courageous, the expedition would have ended in failure almost at the beginning.
"But you haven't told me what you are going to do yet," said Kate, when she had sponged out the bottom of the well, dried the seats in the standing-room, and taken her place by the side of Fanny.
"I will tell you now," replied Fanny. "What do you suppose your father will do to you when he finds out that you played truant, and went on the river with me?" she added, apparently, but not really, avoiding the subject.
"He'll kill me!" answered Kate, with emphasis.
"No, he won't."
"I don't know what he will do, then."
"He will punish you in some way—won't he?"
"Yes. I don't know what he will do."
"Well, Kate, we must bring him to terms," added Fanny, with the most impudent assurance. "If you will mind what I say, he will not punish you at all. Will you do it?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know! Do you want to go back and be whipped like a baby, be shut up for a week, or something of that kind?"
"Of course I don't."
"And I will tell you how to get rid of all these things, and make your father as glad to see you as though you had been a good little girl all your life, and had been away on a long journey."
"You said you would tell me."
"And so I will, if you are strong enough to bear it."
"Well, I am."
"Don't go home for a week or ten days. Your folks won't know where you are. When they find out you went with me in a boat, they will think you are drowned; and when you go back, they will be so glad to see you that they won't say a word."
It would have been impossible for a girl who had been brought up by a loving mother to conceive of such a cold-blooded and diabolical proposition. Fanny had no mother, no father. Even the remembrance of the former had passed from her mind; and her father, while he was living, had been away from her so much that she hardly knew him as a parent. Her antecedents, therefore, did not qualify her to comprehend the loathsome enormity of the course she proposed to her companion.
"I can't stay away from home a week, let alone ten days," replied Kate, who, bad as she was, was shocked at the proposition.
"Yes, you can."
"Where shall I stay?"
"Stay with me."
"Where will you stay?"
"We will go down to New York city."
"To New York city!"
"That's where I intend to go," replied Fanny, coolly.
"You don't mean so, Fan?"
"Yes, I do; and I have meant it all the time."
"But you said we were going to Pennville."
"We are; and when we get there we will take the cars for New York city. We shall be there before twelve o'clock."
"But what shall we do when we get there?" demanded Kate, who was absolutely appalled at the magnitude of Fanny's scheme.
"We will have a good time, in the first place. There are plenty of shops where we can get cakes, and candy, and ice-cream; we can go to the museum, the theatre, and the circus; we can go to Central Park, and all the fine places in the city."
"But where should we live?"
"There are hotels enough."
"What should we do at a hotel? Besides, it would take lots of money."
"I've got money enough."
"Five dollars wouldn't pay for our living a week. They ask three or four dollars a day for living at a hotel."
"I've got more than five dollars," answered Fanny, rather cautiously.
"Have you? How much have you got?"
"I don't know exactly."
"You don't know!" repeated Kate, very confident now in regard to the means by which the money had been obtained, which, with this added revelation regarding the amount, she did not believe had been found on the floor. "You don't know!"
"I haven't counted it."
"Fan, you didn't find that money on the floor!" exclaimed she.
"I found it, anyhow," said Fanny, turning her head away from her companion.
"Where did you find it?"
"In the drawer, if you must know," replied Fanny, desperately.
"Fanny Grant, you stole that money!" said Kate, as though she had made a great discovery.
It was no discovery at all. She had been reasonably confident that the five dollars, which Fanny acknowledged to be in her possession, had been stolen, or, if not actually stolen, that it had been obtained in a manner entirely at variance even with a very low ideal of common honesty. She was willing to enjoy the good things which might be bought with the five dollars, but she was not disposed to bear the responsibility of the theft, either as principal or accessory. If, when the day of reckoning came, she could make it appear that she did not know the money had been stolen, she would escape the penalty and the odium of being a thief, or a receiver of stolen goods.
Like many others, she could hold up her hands in holy horror at the crime made public, while she was willing to wink at or compromise the crime for her own benefit in the secret chambers of her own heart. If she had been taught in ancient Lacedæmonia that it is not a crime to steal, but a crime to be found out, she could not have been more faithful to its base policy.
Fanny heard the charge, but made no reply, pretending to be occupied in watching the course of the boat.
"You stole that money, Fanny Grant!" repeated Kate, with even more emphasis, and more holy horror than before.
"Well, what if I did?" answered Fanny, who was disposed to have her associate as deep in the mud as she herself was in the mire; and she knew that it would be impossible to deny the fact when she exhibited the great roll of bills in her pocket.
"I didn't think you would steal money, Fanny."
"You would yourself, if you got a chance."
"No, I wouldn't; I'm bad enough, I know, but I wouldn't steal."
"Yes, you would! You needn't pretend to be so good. You will never be hung for your honesty. I know you."
"Do you mean to say I would steal?" demanded Kate, not a little mortified to be thought so meanly of.
"I know you would. Who stole the strawberries the other day?"
"That wasn't money," pleaded Kate.
"It was all the same."
"I wouldn't take money. I'm not a thief."
"You flatter yourself."
"I wouldn't. But, Fanny," she added, willing to change the subject, "I shouldn't dare to go to New York city."
"Something might happen to us."
"What can happen to us?"
"I don't know; but I'm afraid to go. What should we do with ourselves for a whole week?"
"Have a good time; that's what we are going for?"
"I can't go, Fan."
"Yes, you can; and you must. You have got into the scrape so far, and you are not going to leave me alone now. You promised to go with me."
"But you did not tell me what you were going to do."
"I have told you now; and if you attempt to back out, you shall bear half the blame."
"I didn't steal."
"I don't care if you didn't; you shall bear your share of the blame. You shall go with me."
"What will my mother say?"
"She will say you are a naughty girl, and punish you for what you have done. If you go with me, she will be so glad to see you when you get back, that she won't say a word. She will find out what you are made of then; if you go back now, she will see that you are nothing but a chicken at heart, and she will punish you, as you deserve to be for deserting your friend."
"My mother would feel awfully if I did not come back to-night," continued Kate, thoughtfully, even sadly; and she was sincere now.
"She will get over it."
"She would feel dreadfully."
"So much the better; the worse she feels the more glad she will be to see you when you do go back."
Kate saw that it was useless to reason with her companion on this point; besides, there was a certain sacred feeling in her heart which Fanny could neither understand nor appreciate, and she was unwilling to expose it to the rude reproaches of one who seemed to have no heart. She was too timid, rather than too conscientious, to engage in such a gigantic scheme of wickedness as that which Fanny had indicated; and we must do her the justice to add, that the blessed influence of a mother's love, stronger and deeper in her heart than principle, asserted its sway, and to give her mother a week of pain and anxiety was revolting to her.
She was fully determined not to go to New York city, and to get home as soon as she could. But Fanny had so much to say about "backing out," and "deserting her friend," that she deemed it prudent not to mention anything about her resolution. She knew her companion well enough to believe that it would be useless to attempt to persuade her to abandon her brilliant scheme; and Fanny was so resolute and self-willed that she might find a way to compel her to go with her, whether she was willing or not.
"Do you want to know how much money I have got?" asked Fanny, after a silence of some minutes, during which Kate had been thinking what she should do.
"I should like to know," replied Kate, who, however, was really indifferent after she had decided not to partake of the good things which the stolen money could purchase.
"You take the tiller then, and I will count it. Keep it just as it is," said Fanny, resigning her place to her fellow-voyager.
The boat was going along very easily with the wind on the starboard quarter, and did not need much attention. She was approaching Pennville, and the cruise was nearly finished. Fanny took the roll of bills from her pocket, and proceeded to count it. The notes were nearly all "greenbacks," with a few small bills on the state banks. There were twenties, tens, and fives, and the thief was almost frightened herself when she ascertained the amount she had obtained.
"One hundred, one hundred five, one hundred and ten," said Fanny, as she counted the money; "one hundred and ten——"
"Why, Fanny Grant!" cried Kate, horrified at the greatness of the sum.
"Fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty——"
"They will send you to the state prison for stealing so much money!" added Kate, trembling as the large numbers were mentioned.
"The more the better," replied Fanny, trying to keep cool, though she was much agitated herself, as, measuring the crime by the amount of the money, she realized how guilty she had been.
She finished the counting; and the whole sum was one hundred and seventy-three dollars and eighty-five cents.
"There is a great deal more than I thought there was," said she.
"Why did you take so much?" asked the terrified Kate.
"I didn't know how much there was."
"You will have all the constables in the county after you before night."
"And after you, too."
"I didn't steal it."
"Well, you were with me, and I will give you some of it."
"I don't want any of it."
"No, I don't; I don't think it is fair for you to try to make it out that I helped you steal the money, when I didn't, and when I didn't know anything about it."
"You knew I had some money before you got into the boat. You are scared—that's all."
"I am scared, and I wish I hadn't come."
"I wish you hadn't, because you are so frightened; but now you have gone so far, you can't back out. You want to return to Woodville, and tell them I stole the money."
"No, I don't."
"I'm never going back to Woodville again. They have been talking about sending me to my uncle's, in Minnesota, and I'm not going to be sent there."
"What shall I do, then?" demanded Kate, awed and astonished at the desperate purpose of her friend.
"I will see that you get back home all right. Here is some money to pay your passage," added Fanny, counting out a portion of the bills.
"I don't want that."
"Very well," answered Fanny, putting the bills in her pocket; and she looked so firm and so "ugly" that Kate was actually afraid of her.
The Greyhound had nearly reached the pier at Pennville; but Fanny did not intend to land at any public place, and she ran the boat up to the bank of the river, a short distance above the village, grounding it lightly on a kind of beach she had chosen as a landing-place. Fanny took the boat-hook in her hand, and jumped ashore.
"Now, Kate Magner, before we go any farther, we must come to an understanding. If you think you are going to leave me to bear all the blame, you are mistaken."
"I don't mean any such thing," replied Kate.
"Yes, you do; you mean to betray me."
"No, I don't."
"Why didn't you take the money I offered you, then?"
"I don't want it."
"You are in the boat, and I am on the land. If you don't take the money, I will push the boat off, and she will carry you away—I don't know where."
"Don't do that."
"Will you take the money?"
"Yes, I will," answered Kate, who was more afraid of the boat than she would have been of a demon.
"Take it, then," said Fanny, handing her the little roll of bills she had taken from the package for this purpose. "There is twenty-one dollars."
Kate took the money, and thrust it into her pocket.
"Now we are both just the same. You have taken some of the money, and you are just as bad as I am. You can't back out now, if you want to do so."
This was only an expedient on the part of the resolute mistress of the expedition to prevent her companion from deserting her, rather than to insure an equal division of the punishment for stealing.
"What shall we do now?" asked Kate, as she landed from the boat, which Fanny held with the boat-hook.
"We will go up to the railroad station, and take the train for New York city."
"But what are you going to do with the boat?"
"I don't care anything about the boat. I have had all I want of her. But I think I will let the sails down, and fasten her to the bank. If they should find her, she might betray us."
Fanny lowered the sails, and fastened the painter to a stake on the bank. The two girls then started for the village, which was about a quarter of a mile below the place where they had landed. When they had gone a short distance, they saw a man mending a boat on the bank of the river. Kate took particular notice of him, for she was already planning the means of her deliverance from the arbitrary sway of her companion.
The two girls were very well dressed, and it was not an uncommon thing for young ladies to manage their own boats on the Hudson; so, if they had been seen to land from the Greyhound, no notice was taken of the circumstance. They were not likely to be molested, except by their own guilty consciences. They walked directly to the railroad station, and ascertained that the train would leave in half an hour. Fanny, anxious to conciliate her associate, and accustom her to her new situation, invited her to a saloon, where they partook of ice-creams; but partial as Kate was to this luxury, it did not taste good, and seemed to be entirely different from any ice-cream she had ever eaten before.
When it was nearly time for the train to arrive, Fanny bought two tickets, and they joined the crowd that was waiting for the cars. Kate seemed to be so fully reconciled to the enterprise, that her friend did not doubt her any longer; she had no suspicion of her intended defection.
"I am almost choked," said Kate, when the whistle of the locomotive was heard in the distance. "I must have a drink of water."
"You have no time."
"I won't be gone but a second," replied Kate.
"I will wait here—but be quick."
Kate went into the station-house, and passing out at the door on the other side, ran off towards the river as fast as her legs would carry her. She reached the outskirts of the village before she slackened her pace, and then, exhausted and out of breath with running, she paused to ascertain if Fanny was in pursuit of her. No one was to be seen in the direction from which she had come, and taking courage from her success, she walked leisurely towards the place where the Greyhound had been left.
The man she had passed on her way down was still at work on his boat, and Kate, telling him such a story as suited her purpose, engaged him to sail the Greyhound up to Woodville. They embarked without any interruption from Fanny, and in a couple of hours she was landed at the pier from which she had started. Kate paid her boatman three dollars from the money which Fanny had given her, and then walked up to the mansion.
She told Mrs. Green the whole truth, and gave her the eighteen dollars remaining in her possession. She then went home to make peace with her mother, to whom also she told the whole story, blaming Fanny for everything except her own truancy, and pleading that she had been led away in this respect.
Mr. Long was still engaged in the search for Fanny, though the loss of the money in the closet had not been discovered till Kate appeared.
THE SOLDIER'S FAMILY.
Fanny stood on the platform in front of the station-house, waiting for the return of Kate. She had no suspicion that her friend had deserted her, and was at that moment running away as fast as she could. The train was approaching, and with the nervousness of one not accustomed to travelling, she feared they might be left. The cars stopped, and Kate did not return. Fanny rushed into the station-house in search of her. She was not there! she was not in the building; she was not to be seen from the open door.
Then Fanny realized that her companion's courage had failed, and that she had deserted her. The bell on the locomotive was ringing, and the train was in the act of starting. Fanny was quick and decisive in her movements, and she bounded out of the building, and stepped upon the train after it was in motion. She was angry and indignant at the defection of Kate, and, taking a seat in the car, she nursed her bitter feelings until her wrath had expended itself.
Kate's desertion affected the plans of the runaway, for in a few hours, at most, what she had done, and what she intended to do, would be known at Woodville. Mr. Long would take one of the afternoon trains for the city, and the whole police force of the great metropolis would be on the lookout for her before dark. Constables and policemen were now more than ever Fanny's especial horror, and she trembled at the very thought of being arrested for the crime she had committed.
Fanny was a girl of quick, bright parts. She had read the newspapers, and listened to the conversation of her elders. She was better informed in regard to the ways of the world than most young persons of her age with no more experience. She knew all about the telegraph, and the uses to which it was put in the detection and arrest of rogues. Though it was hardly possible for Kate to reach Woodville, and inform the people there where she had gone, yet circumstances might conspire against her so as to render the telegraph available. Mr. Long might have discovered in what direction the fugitives had gone, and followed them down to Pennville. He might have met Kate there, and learned her destination. It was possible, therefore, that a despatch might reach the city before she did, and an officer be waiting for her at the railroad station.
She was too cunning to be entrapped by any such expedients; and when the train stopped at Harlem, she got out, with the intention of walking into the city. Deeming it imprudent to follow the principal street, in which some of the terrible policemen might be lying in wait for her, she made her way to one of the less travelled thoroughfares, in which she pursued her way towards the city. The street she had chosen led her through the localities inhabited by the poorer portions of the population. The territory through which she was passing was in a transition state: broad streets and large squares had been laid out, in anticipation of vast improvements, but only a little had been accomplished in carrying them out. There were many tasty little houses, and many long blocks of buildings occupied by mechanics and laborers, and occasionally a more pretentious mansion.
In some of the most ineligible places for building, there were houses, or rather hovels, constructed in the roughest and rudest manner, apparently for temporary use until the march of improvement should drive their tenants into still more obscure locations. Fanny passed near one of these rude abodes, which was situated on a cross street, a short distance from the avenue on which she was journeying to the city. In front of this house was a scene which attracted the attention of the wanderer, and caused her to forget, for the time, the great wrong she had committed, and the consequences which would follow in its train.
In front of the house lay several articles of the coarsest furniture, and a man was engaged in removing more of the same kind from the hovel. He had paused for a moment in his occupation, and before him stood a woman who was wringing her hands in the agonies of despair. Fanny could hear the profane and abusive language the man used, and she could hear the piteous pleadings of the woman, at whose side stood a little boy, half clothed in tattered garments, weeping as though his heart would break.
Fanny was interested in the scene. The woman's woe and despair touched her feelings, and perhaps more from curiosity than any other motive, she walked down the cross-street towards the cottage. Being resolute and courageous by nature, she had no fear of personal consequences. She did not comprehend the nature of the difficulty, having never seen a tenant forcibly ejected from a house for the non-payment of rent.
"You'll kill my child! You'll kill my child!" cried the poor woman, in such an agony of bitterness that Fanny was thrilled by her tones.
"Isn't it a whole year I've been waiting for my rint?" replied the man, coarsely. "Didn't ye keep promisin' to pay me for a twelvemonth, and niver a cint I got yet?"
"I would pay you if I could, Mr. O'Shane."
"If ye could! What call have I to wait any longer for me money?"
"My husband has gone to the war, and I haven't heard a word from him for a year; but I'm sure he will send me some money soon—I know he will."
"What call had he to go to the war? Why didn't he stay at home and take care of his childer? Go 'way wid ye! Give me up me house!"
Mr. O'Shane broke away from her, and, rushing into the house, presently returned bearing a dilapidated table in his hands.
"Have mercy, Mr. O'Shane. Pity me!" pleaded the woman, when he appeared.
"I do pity ye; 'pon me sowl, I do, thin; but what can a poor man like me do?" replied the landlord. "I live in a worse house nor this, and work like a mule, and I can't make enough, for the high prices, to take care of me family. Didn't I wait month after month for me rint, and sorra a cint I iver got? Sure it isn't Mike O'Shane that would do the likes of this if he could help it."
"But I will pay you all I owe, Mr. O'Shane."
"That's what ye been sayin' this twelvemonth; and I can't wait any longer. Why don't ye stir yoursilf, and go among the rich folks?"
"I can't beg, Mr. O'Shane."
"But ye better beg than chate me out of me honest dues. Go 'way wid ye! Pay me the rint, or give me the house; and sorra one of me cares which you do."
"I would move if I could. You know that my poor child is very sick. For her sake don't turn me out of the house to-day," added the woman, in the most beseeching tones.
"Didn't I wait six months for the child to die, and she didn't die? She won't die. Sure, don't she sit in the chair all day? and what harm would it do to move her?"
"I have no place to move her to."
"That's what's the matter! Now go 'way wid your blarney, and don't be talking to me. It's Mike O'Shane that has a soft spot in his heart, but he can't do no more for ye. That's the truth, and ye must move to-day."
The landlord went into the house again, for more of the furniture. As he had represented, it was, doubtless, a hard case for him; but it was infinitely harder for the poor woman, and Fanny was too deeply interested now to leave the spot. What she had known of human misery was as nothing compared with the suffering of this poor mother.
"What's the matter, ma'am?" asked Fanny of her, when the harsh landlord had gone into the house.
"This man is my landlord, and he is turning me out of the house because I cannot pay him the rent," sobbed the woman. "I wouldn't care, if it wasn't for poor Jenny."
"Who is Jenny?"
"She is my daughter. She has been sick, very sick, for nearly a year, and she cannot live much longer. The doctor gave her up six months ago."
"How old is Jenny?"
"She is fourteen; and she is such a patient child! She never complains of anything, though I am not able to do much for her," replied the afflicted mother, as her tears broke forth afresh at the thought of the sufferer.
"Haven't you any place to go if this man turns you out of the house?" asked Fanny.
"No, no!" groaned the woman, bursting out into a terrible paroxysm of grief.
"I know it's hard for you, Mrs. Kent, but it's harder for me to do it than it is for you to have it done," continued Mr. O'Shane, as he came out of the house with a rocking chair in his hands.
"O mercy! that is poor Jenny's chair!" almost screamed Mrs. Kent. "What have you done with her?"
The mother, in her agony, rushed into the house to ascertain if any harm had come to her suffering daughter, who had been deprived of the easy chair in which she was accustomed to sit. Fanny was moved to the depths of her nature—moved as she had never been moved before. She couldn't have believed that such scenes were real. She had read of them in romances, and even in the newspapers; but she had never realized that a man could be so hard as Mr. O'Shane, or that a woman could suffer so much as Mrs. Kent. Between her grief and indignation she was almost overwhelmed.
"You are a cruel man," said she, with something like fierceness in her tones.
"That's very foine for the likes of you to say to the likes of me; but it don't pay me rint," replied Mr. O'Shane, not as angry as might have been expected at this interference.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself to do such a mean thing!" added Fanny, her black eyes snapping with the living fire of her indignation.
"Shall I let me own childer starve for another man's childer?" answered the landlord, who, we must do him the justice to say, was ashamed of himself.
"How much does the woman owe you?" demanded Fanny.
"A matther of a hundred dollars—for a whole year's rint. Sure, miss, it isn't many min that would wait a twelvemonth for the rint, and not get it thin."
"And her daughter is sick?"
"Troth she is; there's no lie in that; she's got the consoomption, and she's not long for this world," replied the landlord, moving towards the door of the house, again to complete the work of desolation he had begun.
"Stop, sir!" said Fanny, in tones so imperative that the man could not help obeying her.
"What would I stop for?" asked Mr. O'Shane, rather vacantly.
"You shall not do this cruel thing."
"The saints know how it breaks me heart to do it, but I can't help it."
"Now you put all these things back into the house just as you found them."
"Faix, I'd like to do it, miss," said the man, taking off his hat and rubbing his tangled hair.
"You must do it."
"And not git me rint?"
"You shall have your money—every cent of it. Put the furniture back, and you shall have your due just as soon as you have done it," said Fanny, as haughtily as though she had been a millionaire.
Mr. O'Shane looked at her, and seemed to be petrified with astonishment. The deed he was doing, harsh and cruel as it was, he regarded as a work of necessity. Though he owned the house occupied by Mrs. Kent, and another in which he lived himself with two other families, both of them were mortgaged for half their value, and he was obliged to pay interest on the money he owed for them. He certainly could not afford to lose his rent, to which he was justly entitled. He had indulged his tenant for a year, and nothing but the apparent hopelessness of obtaining what was due had tempted him to this cruel proceeding. Nothing but starvation in his own family could justify a landlord in turning a mother with a dying child out of the house. He looked at Fanny with astonishment when she promised to pay him, but he was sceptical.
"Why don't you put back the furniture?" demanded Fanny, impatiently.
"It's meself that would be glad to do that same," replied he. "Would you let me see the color of your money, miss?"
"Put the things back, and you shall have your money as soon as you have done it," added Fanny, moving down the street. "I will be back in a few moments."
The landlord looked at her, as she walked away. He was in doubt, but there was something about the girl so different from what he had been accustomed to see in young ladies of her age, that he was strongly impressed by her words. Fanny sat down on a rock in the shade of a lone tree. Mr. O'Shane looked at her for a moment, and then decided to obey the haughty command he had received. He went to work with more energy than he had before displayed, and began to move the furniture back into the house, greatly to the surprise and delight, no doubt, of the grief-stricken mother.
Fanny counted out a hundred dollars from the stolen bills in her pocket, and returned to the house. Mr. O'Shane had by this time completed his work, and was awaiting the result.
"They be all put back, miss," said he, doubtfully.
"There is your money," replied Fanny, proudly.
Mr. O'Shane's eyes opened, and he fixed them with a gloating stare upon the bills. He counted them; there was a hundred dollars.
"God bless you, miss, for a saint as ye are!" ejaculated he, as he put the money in his pocket. "Ye saved me from doing the worst thing I ever did in me life. I'll send the receipt to Mrs. Kent to-day;" and he walked away towards his own house.
THE SICK GIRL.
The last part of the interview between Fanny and Mr. O'Shane had been witnessed by Mrs. Kent, who came out of the house when she had attended to the wants of her sick child. The dark cloud which menaced her a few moments before had rolled away, and, if the sunshine did not beam upon her, she was comparatively happy in having one trouble less to weigh her down. She was calm now, but the tears—they were tears of relief—still rolled down her wan and furrowed cheek.
"I have prayed for help, and help has come," said she to her deliverer, as the harsh landlord walked away.
Fanny could not make any reply to a statement of this kind. She was a fugitive and a wanderer; she was a thief, shunning the gaze of men, and she could not conceive of such a thing as that she had been sent as an angel of relief to the poor woman in answer to her prayers. As she thought what she was and what she had been doing, a blush of shame suffused her cheek. She was silent; there was nothing which she could say at such a moment.
"Heaven will bless you for your good, kind heart. You are an angel," continued Mrs. Kent.
Fanny knew how far she was from being an angel, and she had no heart for deceiving the poor woman. It might be fun and excitement to deceive the people at Woodville, but Mrs. Kent seemed to be sanctified by her sorrows.
"I hope you haven't robbed yourself by your good deed, miss," added the poor woman, wondering why Fanny did not speak.
"O, no! I have some more money."
Perhaps Mrs. Kent thought it singular that a young girl, like Fanny, should happen to have so much money about her, but she did not ask any questions; and perhaps she did not think that one who had been so kind to her could do anything wrong.
"Now, you will come into the house and see poor Jenny. She will want to thank you for what you have done," said Mrs. Kent, leading the way to the door.
Fanny could not refuse this reasonable request, but she felt very strangely. She found herself commended and reverenced for what she had done, and she could not help feeling how unworthy she was. Conscious that she had performed a really good deed, she could not reconcile it with her past conduct. It was utterly inconsistent with the base act she had done in the morning; and in the light of one deed the other seemed so monstrous that she almost loathed herself.
She followed Mrs. Kent into the room where the sick girl was reclining upon the bed. There was no carpet on the floor, and the apartment was very meagerly furnished with the rudest and coarsest articles. Jenny was pale and emaciated; the hand of death seemed to be already upon her; but in spite of her paleness and her emaciation, there was something beautiful in her face; something in the expression of her languid eyes which riveted the attention and challenged the interest of the visitor.
"Jenny, this is the young lady whom God has sent to be our friend," said Mrs. Kent, as they approached the bedside.
Fanny shuddered. "Whom God had sent"—she, a thief! She wanted to cry; she wanted to shrink back into herself.
"May I take your hand?" asked Jenny, in feeble tones.
Fanny complied with the request in silence, and with her eyes fixed on the floor. The sick girl took the offered hand in her own, which was almost as cold as marble.
"Mother has prayed to Our Good Father, and I have prayed to Him all the time for help," said Jenny, whose accents were hardly above a whisper. "He has sent you to us, and you have saved us. Will you tell me your name?"
"Fanny, I am going to heaven soon, and I will bear your name in my heart when I go. I will bless you for your good deed while I have breath, and I will bless you when I get to heaven. You are a good girl, and I know that God will bless you too."
Poor Fanny! How mean she felt! As she stood in the presence of that pure-minded child, already an angel in simple trust and confiding hope, she realized her own wickedness. The burden of her sins seemed to be settling down upon her with a weight that would crush her.
"I love you, Fanny," continued the invalid, "and I will pray for you to the last moment of my life. Won't you speak to me?"
"I was very glad to do what I did," stammered Fanny, almost suffocated by the weight which pressed down upon her.
"I know you are; for it is more blessed to give than to receive."
"I am very sorry you are so sick. Can I do anything to help you?"
"You have done all that could be done, Fanny. I like to speak your name. It sounds like music to me. After what you have done, Fanny will always mean goodness to me. You cannot do anything more; you have already done enough."
"Don't you want anything?"
"No; I am happy now. I shall soon pass away, and go to my Saviour."
Mrs. Kent sobbed.
"Don't cry, mother," continued Jenny. "God will take care of you, and we shall meet again."
"Can't I get anything for you, Jenny? Isn't there anything you want?" asked Fanny, who felt that she must do something, or she would soon be overwhelmed by the emotions which agitated her soul.
"Nothing, Fanny. I don't think much of the things around me now. I feel just as though I didn't belong here. This is not my home. Can you sing, Fanny?"
"I do sing, sometimes," replied she.
"Will you sing to me?"
"I will; what shall I sing?"
"Something about heaven?" answered Jenny, as she sank back upon the pillow, and fixed her gaze upon the ceiling, as though beyond it she could see the happy home which, was ever in her thoughts.
Fanny, as we have said before, was a remarkable singer, not in the artistic sense, though, with proper cultivation of her talent, she might have been all this also. She had a fine voice, and sang as naturally as the birds sing. But this was not an occasion for artistic effects. Never before had the soul of the wayward girl been so stirred. She was a Sunday-school scholar, and familiar with most of the beautiful and touching melodies contained in children's song-books.
She was asked to sing "something about heaven;" and she began at once, as though it had been selected by some invisible agency and impressed upon her mind, with the beautiful hymn:—
"There's a home for the poor on that beautiful shore
When life and its sorrows are ended;
And sweetly they'll rest in that home of the blest,
By the presence of angels attended.
There's a home for the sad, and their hearts will be glad
When they've crossed over Jordan so dreary;
For bright is the dome of that radiant home
Where so softly repose all the weary."
The "home for the poor on that beautiful shore" seemed to be almost in sight of the singer, for the pale, dying girl spread heaven around her; and Fanny sang as she had never sung before. She could hardly keep down the tears which struggled for birth in her dim eyes, and her sweet voice was attuned to the sentiment of the words she sang, which were wedded to a melody so touching as to suggest the heaven it spoke of.
There was a seraphic smile on the wan face of Jenny as the singer finished the first verse, and she clasped her thin white hands above her breast in the ecstasy of her bliss. Fanny sang the four verses of the hymn, and every moment of the time seemed to be a moment of rapture to the dying girl.
"How beautiful!" cried Jenny, after a period of silence at the conclusion of the hymn. "I have never been so happy, Fanny. Let me take your hand in mine again."
"Can I do anything more for you?" asked Fanny, as she gave her hand to the invalid.
"No, nothing. It will make you tired to sing any more now."
"O, no! I could sing all day."
"But the sweet strains you have just sung still linger in my soul. Let me hold your hand a moment, and then I will go to sleep if I can. I like to hold your hand—you are so good."
Fanny despised herself. She wanted to tell Jenny what a monster of wickedness she felt herself to be, and she would have done so if it had not been for giving pain to the gentle sufferer.
"I would like to go to heaven now, holding your hand, and mother's, and Eddy's; for it seems to me I could carry you up to the Saviour with me then, and give you all to him; and he would love you for my sake, and because you are so good. But I shall never forget you; I shall bear your name to heaven with me, Fanny."
The wicked girl shuddered. "Depart from me," seemed to be the only message the Saviour had for her.
"Let me do something more for you," said Fanny, who could not endure to be called good by one who was so near heaven that there could be no hypocrisy or shadow of deceit in her heart.
"You may sing me one more hymn, if you are not too tired," replied Jenny.
"O, no! I am never tired of singing;" and she sang the song containing the refrain, "There is sweet rest in heaven," with exquisite taste and feeling.
Mrs. Kent whispered that Jenny must be weary now, and Fanny took the hand of the sick girl, to bid her good by.
"Good by, Fanny. I shall never see you again; but we shall meet in heaven," said Jenny, with her sweetest smile.
"I will come and see you again, if I can."
"How happy it would make me!"
"Perhaps I will come again to-day."
"I'm afraid if you don't, I shall never see you in this world again."
"I will come to-day."
"Good by," added Jenny, languidly, as Fanny followed Mrs. Kent out of the room.
"Isn't there anything I can bring to her?" asked Fanny, when they had passed into the other room.
"I don't know. Poor child! she knows how little I can do for her, and she never says she wants anything. She is very fond of flowers, and Eddy used to bring her dandelion blossoms, but these are all gone now."
"I will bring her some flowers," replied Fanny, who could not help wishing for some of the beautiful flowers which grew in such profusion at Woodville.
But to her Woodville now seemed as far off as the heaven of which she had been singing to the dying girl; but she thought she could obtain some flowers in the city; and she felt as though she would give all the rest of her ill-gotten treasure for a single bouquet.
Fanny begged Mrs. Kent to tell her if there was anything she could do for the sick daughter, or for the family; and the poor woman confessed that she had nothing in the house to eat except half a loaf of bread, which was to be their dinner. Lest her visitor should think her destitution was caused by her own fault, she related the story of hardships she had undergone since her husband departed with his regiment.
Mr. Kent was a mechanic, and having been thrown out of employment by the dull times at the commencement of the war, he had enlisted in one of the regiments that departed earliest for the scene of hostilities. He had left his family with only a small sum of money, and had promised to send all his pay to his wife, as soon as it was received. Mr. Kent's regiment had been engaged in the disastrous battle of Bull Run, since which he had not been heard from. It was known that he had been taken prisoner, but when exchanges were made he did not appear. His wife was unwilling to believe that he was dead, and still hoped for tidings of him.
Jenny was sick when her father departed, but it was not supposed to be a dangerous illness; perhaps it would not have been if she had been supplied with the comforts of life. The family had been driven from the more comfortable abode, in which Mr. Kent had left them, to Mr. O'Shane's miserable hovel. The poor woman had gone out to work until Jenny's condition demanded her constant attention. She had then obtained what sewing she could; but with all her exertions she was hardly able to obtain food for her family, to say nothing of procuring clothes, and paying the rent.
Mrs. Kent lived by herself, having little or no communication with the world around her. She had heard of the provision for soldiers' families, and had made an effort to obtain this aid; but she was unable to prove that she was a soldier's wife, and being delicate and sensitive, she had not the courage to face the rebuffs of the officials a second time.
Fanny listened to this story with but little interest. She was thinking of Jenny, whose sweet smile of holy rapture still lingered in her mind. Promising to do something for the family, she took leave of Mrs. Kent, who had no words to express the gratitude she felt towards her benefactor. Fanny went to the nearest store, and purchased a liberal supply of provisions and groceries, which she sent back to the house. She felt better then, and walked down the street till she came to a horse car, in which she rode down to the Park.
HOPE AND HAVE.
Fanny got out of the horse car at the Park. She was in the midst of the great city, but she felt no interest in the moving, driving scene around her, for the thought of poor Jenny still engrossed her. She had even forgotten Mr. Long, and the dreaded policemen who might be on the watch for her. This was the good time for which she had stolen the money and run away from her happy home at Woodville. It was a mockery, and she even wished she had been caught before she left Pennville.
It was now two o'clock in the afternoon, though hours enough seemed to have elapsed since she left Woodville to make a week. She had eaten nothing but an ice-cream since breakfast, and she was faint from the excitement and the exertion of the day. She found a saloon for ladies, and entered; but the nice things of which she had dreamed in the morning no longer existed for her. She ate a simple dinner, and walked down Broadway till she came to the Museum, which she had regarded as an important element in the enjoyment of her week in the city.
She paid the admission fee, and went in. She wandered from room to room among the curiosities, hardly caring for anything she saw, till she came to the exhibition-room, where plays were acted. She had never seen a play performed, and she had looked forward with brilliant anticipations to the pleasure of seeing one. She was disappointed, for it had not entered into her calculation that a clean conscience is necessary for the full enjoyment of anything. The actors and the actresses strutted their brief hour before her; but to her the play was incomprehensible and silly. It had no meaning, and even the funny things which the low comedian said and did could not make her laugh. Before the performance was half finished, she had enough of it, and left the place in disgust.
Jenny Kent was rapturously happy, dying in a hovel, in the midst of poverty and want, while she was miserable with health and strength, with plenty to eat, drink, and wear. Fanny tried to shake off the strange depression which had so suddenly come over her. She had never been troubled with any such thoughts and feelings before. If she had occasionally been sorry for her wrong acts, it was only a momentary twinge, which hardly damped her spirits. She was weighed down to the earth, and she could not rid herself of the burden that oppressed her. She wanted to go into some dark corner and cry. She felt that it would do her good to weep, and to suffer even more than she had yet been called upon to endure.
"I'll bear your name to heaven with me," had been the words of the dying girl to Fanny; but what a reproach her name would be to the pure and good of the happy land! In some manner, not evident to our human sight, or understood by our human minds, the words of Jenny had given the wayward girl a full view of herself—had turned her thoughts in upon the barrenness of her own heart. Her wrong acts, so trivial to her before, were now magnified into mountains, and the crime she had committed that morning was so monstrous and abominable that she abhorred herself for it.
In spite of the reproaches which every loving word of the dying girl hurled into the conscience of Fanny, there was a strange and unaccountable fascination in the languid look of the sweet sufferer. Wherever she turned, Jenny seemed to be looking at her with a glance full of heaven, while the black waters of her own soul rose up to choke her.
Fanny struggled to get rid of these strange thoughts, but she could not; and she was compelled to give herself wholly up to them. Something, she knew not what, drew her irresistibly towards the dying girl, and she started up Broadway to find the flowers she had promised to carry to her. In a shop window she saw what she wanted. The flowers were of the rarest and most costly kinds; but nothing was too good for Jenny, and she paid four dollars for a bouquet. In another store she purchased some jelly and other delicacies such as she had seen the ladies at Woodville send to sick people. Thus prepared to meet the dying girl, she took a horse car, and by six o'clock reached the humble abode of Mrs. Kent.
"How is Jenny?" asked she, as she entered the house, without the ceremony of knocking.
"She don't seem so well this afternoon," replied Mrs. Kent.
"Does she have a doctor?"
"Not now; we had one a while ago, but he said he could do nothing for her."
"Don't you think we had better have one?"
"He might do something to make her easy, but Jenny don't complain. She never speaks of her pains."
"I have come to stay all night with Jenny, if you are willing I should," continued Fanny, doubtfully.
"You are very kind."
"I will only sit by her; I won't talk to her."
"I should be very glad to have you stay; and Jenny thinks ever so much of you."
"If you please, I will go after a doctor."
Mrs. Kent consented, and Fanny, after sending in her bouquet, went for a physician whose name she had seen on a fine house near Central Park, judging from the style in which he lived that he must be a great man. She found him at home, and he consented to return with her to Mrs. Kent's house. He examined Jenny very carefully, and prescribed some medicine which might make her more comfortable. He did not pretend that he could do anything more for her, and he told Fanny that the sufferer could not live many days, and might pass away in a few hours. Fanny offered him his fee; he blushed, and peremptorily refused it. Physicians who live in fine houses are often kinder to the poor than the charlatans who prey upon the lowest strata of society.
Fanny procured the medicine which the kind-hearted doctor had prescribed, and administered it with her own hands. Jenny gave her such a sweet smile of grateful encouragement, that she was sorry there was nothing else to be done for her.
"Now sit down, Fanny, and let me take your hand. I feel better to-night than I have felt for a long time."
"I am glad you do," replied Fanny.
"You have made me so happy!"
"I wish I was as good as you are, Jenny," said Fanny, struggling with the emotions which surged through her soul.
"You are better than I am."
"You are an angel! You have been as good as you could be. Fanny, we shall meet in heaven, for I feel just as though I could not live many days. We shall be friends there, if we cannot long be here."
"I hope you will get better," added Fanny, because she could think of nothing else to say.
"No, I may die before morning, Fanny; but I am ready. You are so good——"
"O, Jenny! I am not good! I cannot deceive you any longer!" exclaimed Fanny, bursting into tears.
"Now I know that you are good. The blessed Bible says, 'He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.' I'm glad you don't think you are good."
"But I am not good, indeed I am not," sobbed Fanny.
"Don't weep, dear Fanny. I know how you feel; I have felt just so myself, when it seemed to me I was so wicked I couldn't live."
"You don't know how wicked I have been; what monstrous things I have done," added Fanny, covering her face with her hands. "If you knew, you would despise me."
"You wrong yourself, Fanny. Such a good, kind heart as you have would not let you do anything very bad."
"I have done what was very bad, Jenny; I have been the worst girl in the whole world; but I am so sorry!"
"I know you are. If you have done anything wrong,—we all do wrong sometimes,—you could not help being sorry. Your heart is good."
"Shall I tell you what I did?" asked Fanny, in a low and doubtful tone.
"O, no! Don't tell me; tell it to God. He will pity and forgive you because you are really sorry."
"You would despise me if you knew how wicked I have been. It was seeing you, and thinking how good you are, which made me feel that I had done wrong."
"I'm sure, after all you have done for mother and for me, I can't help believing that you are an angel. I love you, and I know that you are good."
"I mean to be good, Jenny. From this time I shall try to do better than I ever did before."
"Then you will be, Fanny."
"I don't think I ever tried to be good, but I shall now," replied the penitent girl, as she wiped away her tears.
Jenny seemed to be weary, and Fanny sat by the bedside gazing in silence at her beautiful and tranquil expression. The sufferer was looking at the rich flowers of the bouquet, which had been placed on a stand at the side of the bed. They were a joy to her, a connecting link between the beautiful of heaven and the beautiful of earth.
"Will you sing me a hymn, Fanny?" asked the sick girl, without removing her gaze from the flowers.
Without any other reply to the question, Fanny immediately sang this verse:—
"If God hath made this world so fair,
Where sin and death abound,
How beautiful, beyond compare,
Will Paradise be found!"
"How beautiful!" murmured Jenny, her eyes still fixed upon the flowers. "Will you take out that moss-rose, Fanny, and let me hold it in my hand?"
Fanny gave her the flower, and then sang another hymn. For an hour she continued to sing, and Jenny listened to the sweet melodies, entranced and enraptured by the visions of heaven which filled her soul. Then she asked Fanny to read to her from the Bible, indicating the book and chapter, which was the eighth chapter of Romans.
"'For we are saved by hope,'" Fanny read.
"Now, stop a moment: 'For we are saved by hope,'" said the sufferer. "Do you know what the emblem of Hope is, Fanny?"
"Will you hand me that little box on the table?"
Fanny passed the box to her, and she took from it a little gold breastpin, in the form of an anchor.
"This was given to me by my father when I was a little girl. My Sunday-school teacher told me years ago what an anchor was the emblem of, and told me at the same time to remember the verse you have just read—'For we are saved by hope.' That anchor has often reminded me what was to save me from sin. Fanny, I will give you this breastpin to remember me by."
"I shall never forget you, Jenny, as long as I live!" said Fanny, earnestly.
"But when you remember me, I want you to think what the anchor means. You say you are not good, but I know you are. You mean to be good, you hope to be good; and that will make you good. Do you know we can always have what we hope for, if it is right that we should have it? What we desire most we labor the hardest for. If you really and truly wish to be good, you will be good."
Fanny took the breastpin. If it had been worth thousands of dollars, it would not have been more precious to her. It was the gift of the loving and gentle being who was soon to be transplanted from earth to heaven; of the beautiful girl who had influenced her as she had never been influenced before; who had lifted her soul into a new atmosphere. She placed it upon her bosom, and resolved never to part with it as long as she lived.
"Hope and have, Fanny," said Jenny, when she had rested for a time. "Hope for what is good and true, and you shall have it; for if you really desire it, you will be sure to labor and to struggle for it."
"Hope and have," repeated Fanny. "Your anchor shall mean this to me. Jenny, I feel happier already, for I really and truly mean to be good. But I think I ought to tell you how wicked I am."
"No, don't tell me; tell your mother."
"I have no mother."
"Then you are poorer than I am."
"And no father."
"Poor Fanny! Then you have had no one to tell you how to be good."
"Yes, I have the kindest and best of friends; but I have been very ungrateful."
"They will forgive you, for you are truly sorry."
"Perhaps they will."
"I know they will."
Jenny was weary again, and Fanny sang in her softest and sweetest tones once more. It was now the twilight of a long summer day, and Mrs. Kent, having finished her household duties, came into the room. Soon after, the sufferer was seized with a violent fit of coughing, which seemed to weaken and reduce her beyond the possibility of recovery. When it left her, she could not speak aloud.
"I am going, mother," said she, a little later. "Fanny!"
"I am here," replied Fanny, almost choked with emotion.
"We shall meet in heaven," said the dying one. "Have you been very naughty?"
"I have," sobbed Fanny.
Jenny asked for paper and pencil, and when her mother had raised her on the bed, she wrote, with trembling hand, these words:—
"Please to forgive Fanny, for the sake of her dying friend, Jenny Kent."
"Take this, Fanny: God will forgive you."
It was evident to the experienced eye of Mrs. Kent that Jenny was going from earth. The sufferer lay with her gaze fixed upon the ceiling, and her hands clasped, as in silent prayer. She seemed to be communing with the angels. She struggled for breath, and her mother watched her in the most painful anxiety.
"Good by, mother," said she, at last. "Good by, Eddy: I'm going home."
Mrs. Kent took her offered hand, and kissed her, struggling all the time to be calm. Little Eddy was raised up to the bed, and kissed his departing sister.
"Fanny," gasped she, extending her trembling hand.
Fanny took the hand.
"Good by, Jenny," she answered, awed and trembling with agitation at the impressive scene.
The dying girl closed her eyes. But a moment after she pressed the hand of Fanny, and murmured,—
"Hope and Have."
She was silent then; her bosom soon ceased to heave; the ransomed spirit rose from the pain-encumbered body, and soared away to its angel-home!
GOOD OUT OF EVIL.
Peacefully, on what had been her couch of pain, lay the silent form of Jenny. The room resounded with the sobs of the mother and the brother, and hardly less with the wailings of the stranger, who, in a few brief hours had found and lost the truest and best of earthly friends. The darkness gathered, and still they wept—the darkness from which Jenny had fled to the brightness of the eternal world, where there is no night or sorrow. There was woe in that humble abode, while heaven's high arches rang with pæans of rejoicing that a ransomed soul had joined the happy bands above.
There were no kind and sympathizing friends to go into that hovel and deck the marble form in the vestments of the grave. Fanny was the first to realize that there was something to be done: she was a stranger to such a scene; she knew not what to do; but she told Mrs. Kent that she would go out and obtain assistance. With hurried step she walked down to the residence of the physician who had so gently and feelingly ministered to the sufferer. She found the doctor at home, and informed him of the sad event. Since his return he had told his wife and daughter of the beautiful girl who was dying in the cottage up the street. He called them into his library, and Fanny, with tearful eyes and broken voice, repeated her narrative of the passing away of poor Jenny.
The ladies promptly expressed their intention to visit the bereaved mother, and discharge the duties the occasion required. A carriage was called, in which the benevolent physician, his wife and daughter, and Fanny, proceeded to the house of Mrs. Kent. They were the kindest and tenderest of friends, and the sorrowing mother, grateful to them for their good offices, and grateful to God for sending them to her, was relieved of a great load of pain and anxiety. At a late hour they departed, with the promise to come again on the following day.
Hour after hour Mrs. Kent and Fanny sat in the chamber of death, talking about the gentle one who had passed away, and was at rest. It was nearly morning before Fanny, worn out by excitement and fatigue, could be prevailed upon to take the rest she needed. Mrs. Kent made a bed for her on the kitchen floor, and she slept for a few hours. When she awoke, her first thought was of Jenny; and all the events of the previous day and evening passed in review before her. Her soul had been sanctified by communion with the sainted spirit of her departed friend. On the day before, her current of being seemed suddenly to have stopped in its course, and then to have taken a new direction. Her thoughts, her hopes, her aspirations had all been changed. She had resolved to be good—so solemnly and truly resolved to be good, that she felt like a new creature.
She prayed to the good Father, who had been revealed to her by the dying girl; and from her prayers came a strength which was a new life to her soul. From her strong desire to be good—to be what Jenny had been—had grown up a new faith.
In the forenoon came the wife and daughter of the good physician again upon the mission of mercy. They had requested the attendance of an undertaker, and assumed the whole charge of the funeral of Jenny, which was to take place on the third day after her death.
Fanny had hardly thought of herself since the angel of death entered the house, though she had been weighed down by a burden of guilt that did not embody itself in particular thoughts. In her sincere penitence, and in her firm and sacred resolve to be good and true, she had found only a partial peace of mind. She had not a doubt in regard to her future course: she must return to Woodville, and submit to any punishment which her kind friends might impose upon her. She was willing to suffer for what she had done; she was even willing to be sent to her uncle's in Minnesota; and this feeling of submission was the best evidence to herself of the reality of her repentance.
She was not willing to return to Woodville till she had seen the mortal part of Jenny laid away in its final resting-place. But Mr. Grant, who was at Hudson with his daughters, might already have been informed of her wicked conduct; and Mr. Long was probably still engaged in the search for her. There was a duty she owed to her friends which her awakened conscience would not permit her to neglect. The family would be very anxious about her, for wayward and wilful as she had been, she felt that they still loved her. Procuring pen and paper, she wrote a letter to Mrs. Green, informing her that she should return home on Friday; that she would submit to any punishment, and endeavor to be good in the future. She sealed the note, and put it in the post-office, with a feeling that it was all she could do at present as an atonement for her faults. If it was not all she could do, it was an error of judgment, not of the heart.
On Thursday the form of Jenny was placed in the coffin. It was not a pauper's coffin; it was a black-walnut casket—plain, but rich—selected by Mrs. Porter, the physician's lady, who could not permit the form of one so beautiful to be enclosed in a less appropriate receptacle. The choicest flowers lay upon her breast, and a beautiful wreath and cross were placed upon the casket before the funeral services commenced.
The clergyman was a friend of Dr. Porter, and he was worthy to be the friend of so true a man. The service was solemn and touching; no word of hope and consolation was omitted because they stood in the humble abode of poverty and want. He spoke of the beautiful life and the happy death of Jenny, and prayed that her parents might be comforted; that the little brother might be blessed by her short life, and that "the devoted young friend, who had so tenderly watched over the last hours of the departed," might be sanctified by her holy ministrations. The father, living or dead, wherever suffering, or wherever battling against the foes of his country, was remembered.
Fanny wept, as all in the house wept, when the good man feelingly delineated the lovely character of her who was still so beautiful in her marble silence; when he recalled those tender scenes on the evening of her death, which had been faithfully described to him by Fanny. The casket was placed in the funeral car, and followed by two carriages,—one of which contained Mrs. Kent, Eddy, and Fanny, and the other the family of Dr. Porter,—to Greenwood Cemetery. Sadly the poor mother turned away from the resting-place of her earthly treasure, and the little cortège returned to the house from which the light had gone out. The last solemn, sacred duty had been performed; Jenny had gone, but her pure influence was still to live on, and bless those who had never even known her.
When the little party reached the house, Dr. Porter, after some remarks about the solemn scenes through which they had just passed, inquired more particularly than he had been permitted to do before into the circumstances of the family. He promised to procure for her the money due to her as a soldier's wife, and to obtain some light employment for her. Mrs. Kent was very grateful to him for his kind interest in herself, and in her lost one, assuring him that she did not ask for charity, and was willing to work hard for a support.
"You have been a blessing to me, Fanny," said Mrs. Kent, when the physician and his family had departed. "I am sure that God sent you here to save me from misery and despair. What should I have done if you had not come?"
"I think I was sent for my own sake, rather than for yours, for I know that it has been a greater blessing to me than to you," replied Fanny.
"That can't be."
"It is so. When I told Jenny that I had been a very wicked girl, I meant so."
"I'm sure that one who has been so kind can't be very bad," added Mrs. Kent, rather bewildered by the confession of her benefactor. "Where did you say you lived, Fanny?"
The wanderer had been obliged to invent a story in the beginning to account for her absence from home, and the poor woman's heart had been too full of gratitude to permit any doubt to enter there.
"I have deceived you, Mrs. Kent," replied Fanny, bursting into tears. "I do not live in the city; my home is twenty-five miles up the river. But I did not mean to deceive poor Jenny. I wanted to tell her what a wicked deed I had done, but she would not let me."
"She was too good to think evil of any one, and especially of you, who have been so generous to us."
"You know the paper she wrote and gave to me?"
"I know from that she believed I had done something very bad."
"Perhaps she did."
"She told me how to be good. The very sight of her made me feel how wicked I was. I mean to be good."
"Then I am sure you will be."
"I shall always think of Jenny, and the anchor she gave me, when I am tempted to do wrong. I feel that Jenny has saved me, and made me a new being."
"I'm sure I hope so; and I am glad you came here for your own sake, as well as for mine. But I can't believe that one who has been good to my dear lost one can be very bad," replied Mrs. Kent, gloomily.
"I am—at least, I was; for I know I am ever so much better than I was when I came here. I ran away from home!"
"Ran away!" exclaimed Mrs. Kent, appalled at the words.
"Yes; and I did even worse than that."
"Dear me! I hope not. I thought it was strange that a young lady like you should have so much money; but my heart was so full that I didn't think much about it."
"Mrs. Kent, I stole that money!" added Fanny, her face crimson with the blush of shame.
"Mercy on me! I can't believe it."
"It is true."
"It was wrong of me to take the money," added Mrs. Kent, actually trembling with apprehension at the thought. "I will pay it all back some time, Fanny. I can work now. I'm sure I wouldn't have taken the money if I had thought you did not come rightly by it."
Fanny then told the whole story, and described her feelings from the time she had first seen Mrs. Kent in front of the house.
"I am so sorry!" said the poor woman, wringing her hands as she thought of her own participation in the use of the stolen property. "I would rather have been turned out of the house than be saved by such money."
"Don't cry, Mrs. Kent. I am almost sorry I told you anything about it."
"I'm glad poor Jenny didn't know it."
"So am I; but I am sure she knew how guilty I had been, though she didn't know exactly what I had done."
"I think there is hope for you, Fanny. You must have a kind heart, or you couldn't have done what you did for Jenny. I'm sure I feel very grateful to you."
"Now you know me as I am, Mrs. Kent; but I tell you most solemnly, that I mean to be good always after this. I am sorry for my wicked deeds, and I am willing to be punished for what I have done. I shall always bless poor Jenny for saving me from error and sin—if I am saved."
"What are you going to do, Fanny?"
"I am going back to Woodville to-morrow morning. I will give up all the money I have, confess my fault, and let them do with me as they think best."
"You can tell them I will pay back all the money you spent for me, just as soon as I can."
"Mr. Grant is very rich, and he will not ask you to do that. He is very kind, too."
"But I must do it, and I shall have no peace till it is done," protested the poor woman. "I'll tell you what I will do. I will give you a note for the money."
Mrs. Kent was in earnest. She was sorely troubled by the fact that she had even innocently received any of the stolen money. In the evening she wrote the note, which was made payable to Mr. Grant, and insisted that Fanny should take it. They talked of nothing but the guilt of the runaway, though rather of the means of making reparation for the wrong, than of the consequences of the wrong acts. Mrs. Kent was fully convinced that Fanny was sincerely penitent; that her intercourse with Jenny had ushered her into a new life. She was even willing to believe, before they retired that night, that it was all for the best; that He who brings good out of evil, would bring a blessing out of the wrong which Fanny had done.
The next morning the wanderer bade farewell to Mrs. Kent, and took the train for Woodville.
PENITENCE AND PARDON.
Fanny arrived at the station near Woodville by the early train from the city. On the way, she had been thinking of her own guilt, and considering what she should do and say when she stood in the presence of her injured friends. She was not studying how to conceal or palliate her offence, but how she could best tell the whole truth. She gave herself no credit for any good deed she had done during her absence; she did not flatter herself that she had been benevolent and kind in using the stolen money as she had used it; she did not believe that her tender vigil at the bedside of the dying girl made her less guilty.
She felt that she deserved a severe punishment, and that it would do her good to suffer for what she had done. She was even willing to be sent to prison, to be disgraced, and banished from the happy home at Woodville, whose hospitality she had abused. She felt that the penalty of her errors, whatever it might be, would do her good. She was filled with contrition and shame as she left the station; she hung her head, and did not dare to look the people she met in the face. The Fanny who went from Woodville a few days before had returned an entirely different being.
Slowly and gloomily she walked down the road that led to the residence of Mr. Grant. It seemed as though she had been absent a year, and everything looked strange to her, though the change was all in herself. All the currents of her former life had ceased to flow; the movements of the wheel of events had been abruptly suspended. What gladdened her before did not gladden her now, and what had once been a joy was now a sorrow. She felt as though she had been transferred from the old world, in which she had rejoiced in mischief and wrong, to a new world, whose hopes and joys had not yet been revealed to her.
She approached the cottage of Mr. Long, the constable, who had probably been engaged in the search for her since her departure. She went up to the door and knocked. Mr. Long had just finished his breakfast, and she was shown into the little parlor.
"So you have got back, Fanny Grant," said he, very coldly and sternly, as he entered the room where she stood waiting for him.
"I have," she replied, just raising her eyes from the floor.
"Where have you been?"
"In New York city."
"Where did you stay?"
"At the house of a poor woman in the upper part of the city."
"I thought so; or I should have found you. You have been a very bad girl, Fanny."
"I know it, sir. You may send me to prison now, for I deserve the worst you can do to me," replied Fanny, choking with her emotions.
"You ought to be sent there. What did you come here for?"
"I stole the money, and I suppose you were sent to catch me. I am willing to be sent to prison."
"You are very obliging," sneered the constable. "We don't generally ask people whether they are willing or not when we send them to prison."
"I give myself up to you; and you can do with me what you think best."
"I know I can."
"You didn't catch me. I come here of myself; that is what I meant by saying that I was willing to be sent to prison."
"What have you done with the money you stole?" asked the constable, who was very much astonished at the singular conduct of Fanny.
"I have spent most of it."
"I suppose so," replied Mr. Long, who deemed it his duty to be stern and unsympathizing. "How did you spend it?"
"I will tell Mr. Grant all about it," answered Fanny, who did not care to repeat her story to such a person as the constable; and she felt that he would be fully justified in disbelieving her statements.
"Perhaps you will tell me, if I wish you to do so."
"I will, but I would rather tell Mr. Grant first, for it is a long story, and you will think it is a very strange one."
"No doubt it is," said the constable, perplexed by the replies of the culprit, and doubtful what course he should pursue.
"I suppose Mr. Grant has not got home yet," added Fanny. "You can put me in prison till he gets back; or I will solemnly promise you I will not run away."
"Your promises are not worth much. Mr. Grant has got home. He came home just as soon as he heard that you had gone off. You have given him a heap of trouble, and you must settle the case with him. I will take you over to the house, and I promise you I won't lose sight of you again."
"I will not attempt to get away," replied Fanny, meekly.
"I won't trust you," said Mr. Long, putting on his hat.
"I don't ask you to trust me."
"Come with me," he added, taking her by the arm.
"You need not hold me; I will not run away," said Fanny, as she left the house with the constable, who seemed determined to hold on to her as though she were some desperate ruffian, instead of a weak and self-convicted girl.
"You won't get away from me, you may depend upon it," continued Mr. Long, as they walked towards the mansion of Mr. Grant.
The constable seemed to be actuated by the vanity to make people believe that he had made a capture, and he did not release his grasp upon his prisoner till they reached their destination. They met several people, who stopped and stared at them, and evidently thought the constable had done a great thing. Mr. Long rang the bell at the front door. The man-servant, who admitted them, started with astonishment when he saw Fanny. They were shown to the library, and informed that Mr. Grant was at breakfast.
"You can sit down in that chair," said the constable, pointing to a seat. "If you attempt to get away, I shall put the handcuffs on you."
"I don't want to get away. I came back of my own accord," replied Fanny, astonished rather than indignant at the absurd behavior of the constable.
"You are bad enough to do almost anything."
"I hope I am not so bad as I was."
"Perhaps you do hope so; but we shall see."
"Can you tell me where Kate Magner is now?" asked Fanny, as Mr. Long relapsed into silence and pompous dignity.
"She is at home, I suppose. She wasn't quite bad enough for you, it seems."
"I hope she was not punished for what she did, for it was all my fault."
"That's a fact. You have told the truth for once."
"I mean always to tell the truth now, Mr. Long," said Fanny.
"When you have done it a while, perhaps we can believe you. The Magner girl told the whole story, and delivered up the money you gave her; that saved her."
"I am glad she was not punished."
"She was punished."
"Then I am sorry, for it was I who led her away."
"We all know that. Now, be still; Mr. Grant is coming," said the constable.
Mr. Grant entered the library, and walked towards the chair where Fanny sat, taking no notice of the constable. He paused before her, looking very sad, but very stern. Fanny's bosom was bounding with emotion. She trembled; her heart was rising up into her throat, and choking her. She raised her eyes from the floor and glanced at him,—only one glance at that sad, stern face,—and then burst into tears. She did not mean to weep; did not mean to do anything which could appeal to the sympathy of her kind friend and benefactor, but she could not help it.
"I have brought her up to you, Mr. Grant," said the constable.
"Where did you find her?"
Mr. Long would have preferred to let Mr. Grant believe that he had caught her himself; but the question was so direct that he could only give a direct answer.
"She came to my house this morning."
"Very well, Mr. Long; I will not trouble you to remain any longer," added Mr. Grant.
"I hope you will not let her get away from you, sir," said the constable, who thought his official position was slighted by this intimation; and he was curious to hear what the culprit had to say for herself.
"I will not try to get away, Mr. Grant," interposed Fanny.
"There is no fear of her getting away, even if she is disposed to do so."
Mr. Long found himself obliged to leave, his office ignored, and his curiosity ungratified.
"Where have you been, Fanny Jane?" asked Mr. Grant, when the constable had gone, his tones being the counterpart of his stern, sad face.
"In New York," replied Fanny, still sobbing.
"What have you done with the money you took from the drawer in the closet?"
"I spent most of it."
"For what did you spend it?"
"I have come back to tell the whole truth, Mr. Grant. I have been very wicked and ungrateful to you. I am very sorry for what I have done; I don't ask you to forgive me, for I know you can't. I am willing to be punished as you think best, for I deserve the worst you can do to me."
Mr. Grant was a tender-hearted man. Perhaps his own children had suffered from the gentleness of his nature; if they had, the injury had been more than compensated for in the blessings imparted by his tenderness. He was more than astonished at the attitude of the returned wanderer. Fanny had never before been known to be in such a frame of mind. The sternness of his expression passed away; there was nothing but the sadness left. Probably he doubted the sincerity of the culprit's contrition; at least he did not realize the depth and earnestness of it.
"I will hear whatever you wish to say," replied he, seating himself in his easy chair.
"I have been so wicked that I know you will find it hard to believe me; but I mean to tell the whole truth," sobbed Fanny.
"I hope you do. You may wait till you are better able to speak. The letter you sent to Mrs. Green informed us where you were, but we were unable to find you."
"I came home as soon as I could; and I did not wish you to find me till I had done what I had to do," answered Fanny, drying her tears.
She then commenced the narrative of her adventures from the time she had parted with Miss Fanny. She told how she had let the cat out of the drawer, and how she had found where the money was actually concealed; she related very minutely every incident that had occurred up to the time she had seen Mr. O'Shane and Mrs. Kent in front of the house in New York. At this point Mr. Grant became intensely interested in the story, and when Fanny said that she had paid the poor woman's rent with one hundred dollars of the stolen money, a slight smile gathered upon his sad face.
Then she related the particulars of her interview with the sick girl, mentioning even the hymns she had sung to her. She described as well as she could the impression made upon her by the beautiful and patient sufferer; the sense of her own guilt and wickedness, which had then and there dawned upon her; and the oppressive burden she had borne in her soul when she went down into the city, which did not permit her to enjoy the pleasures of the great metropolis for which she had stolen the money, and run away from her home. Fanny was eloquent, but the simple truth was her only inspiration.
Mr. Grant evidently understood the frame of mind which she described, and when she came to her final interview with the dying girl, he could hardly repress a tear in his own eyes. Fanny omitted nothing, but told every incident, and repeated all she could remember of the conversation of poor Jenny,—and hardly a word of it was forgotten,—confirming her statement by exhibiting the anchor on her bosom, and the paper given her by the dying saint.
Mr. Grant read the paper, and the tears came to his eyes in spite of his efforts to suppress them.
"For her sake, Fanny, I forgive you," said he.
"I do not deserve to be forgiven, sir," sobbed Fanny.
"I could not resist such an appeal as this," answered Mr. Grant, glancing at the paper again.
"I would have come home then, when poor Jenny was gone, but I thought I ought to stay and do what I could for the poor woman;" and Fanny continued her narrative, describing everything that took place at Mrs. Kent's till her departure, including her visit to Dr. Porter's, the funeral, and her confession to the bereaved mother.
"Mrs. Kent felt very bad when I told her that I had stolen the money; and she promised to pay you all I had spent for her. She gave me this note for you," continued Fanny, handing him the paper.
Mr. Grant glanced at it, and put it in his pocket.
"Fanny, if your penitence is sincere, as I hope and believe it is, I shall be thankful that this event has happened," said he. "I should have been glad of an opportunity to do what you have done with my money. It would have been wrong for you to steal it, even to relieve the distress of so needy and deserving a person as the soldier's wife; but you have put it to a good use. It is impossible for me to doubt your story, but I wish to confirm it. When you have had your breakfast, you may go to the city with me, and we will visit Mrs. Kent."
"I have told the whole truth, Mr. Grant; and I am willing to do anything you say. I did not ask or expect to be forgiven."
"I could have forgiven you, even without the request of the dying girl."
"I do not deserve it. I expected to be sent to prison," sobbed the penitent.
"I never thought of sending you to prison, or to any such place. I say I forgive you, but I shall be compelled to send you to your uncle's in Minnesota."
"I am willing to go," replied Fanny, who, a week before, would have deemed this a greater hardship than being sent to prison.
Fanny went to her breakfast. Mrs. Green and the servants were surprised, not to say disgusted, to see Mr. Grant treat her with so much tenderness.
THE NEW HOME.
When Fanny had finished her breakfast, she put on her best clothes, and started for New York with Mr. Grant, who, perhaps, was more desirous of assisting the mother of Jenny than of confirming the story to which he had just listened with so much interest and sympathy. We need not say that the narrative of the returned wanderer was found to be true in every respect, or that Mr. Grant destroyed the poor woman's note of hand, by which she promised to pay the sums Fanny had expended in her behalf.
Mrs. Kent, while she condemned and regretted the misdeeds of Fanny, was enthusiastic in the praise she bestowed upon her kindness to the dying girl, and of her tenderness and devotion in those last trying hours. Mr. Grant could not doubt that a great change had come over Fanny; that she earnestly intended to lead a true and good life. Whether she would persevere, and in any degree realize her present high aspirations, remained yet to be demonstrated; but he was hopeful. The solemn and impressive scene through which she had passed had left deep impressions upon her mind and heart, which he hoped would prove as lasting as they were strong.
Mr. Grant called with Fanny to see Dr. Porter; and the benevolent physician gladdened his heart by the warm commendations he lavished upon Fanny; and, without knowing of her misdeeds, he declared she was a treasure in whom her friends ought continually to rejoice. It was not necessary that he should know what evil she had done, for he might never see her again, and Mr. Grant's business with him related solely to the future comfort of the soldier's family. The doctor had done everything that could be done for Mrs. Kent, and his family were so deeply interested in the poor woman that she was not likely to suffer in the future. Mr. Grant promised to see him again, and coöperate with him in doing what might be needed for her comfort and happiness.
Mr. Grant and Fanny returned to Woodville by the noon train. The penitent girl felt that she had been forgiven, and the kindness of her friend made her all the more determined to be faithful to the resolutions she had made. She had not hoped to escape the punishment she merited, and had not been prepared for the tender words which had been addressed to her when it was evident that her penitence was real.
"Fanny," said Mr. Grant, as they entered the library, on her return, "I shall, as I said before, be obliged to send you to your uncle in Minnesota."
"I am willing to go, sir," replied she, humbly.
"I understand you have frequently declared that you would not go."
"I have, but I am sorry I said anything of the kind."
"But I do not intend to send you there as a punishment for what you have done. I freely forgive you."
"You are very kind to me, Mr. Grant, and I will do anything you wish without complaining."
"I am glad to see so excellent a spirit in you, which makes me sorry to send you away at this time. If your conduct had warranted it before, I might have made different arrangements; but it is too late now. I have written to your uncle, informing him that you would be with him next week. I promised him and your aunt, when I brought you here, that you should be returned to them in two years; and that time has now expired. We shall be absent in Europe about six months; when we return, if your uncle is willing, I should be very glad to have you come back to Woodville. I hope you will like your aunt better than you used to like her."
"I shall, sir."
Mr. Grant did not think it necessary to indulge in any long lectures. He had forgiven Fanny, and he hoped her future conduct would justify his clemency. Mrs. Green and the servants saw that she was a different being. She was no longer rough, disobedient, and impertinent, for she entered at once upon her effort to be kind and obliging to all in the house. In the afternoon Mr. Grant went up to Hudson, where he had left Bertha and Fanny. When he had gone, the reformed girl paid a visit to Ben the boatman, still confined to his bed with the rheumatism. She surprised him by offering to read to him from the Bible—an offer which he gladly accepted.
The next day she went to school, carrying a note to the teacher, which Mr. Grant had written for her. She expected to be reproached and reproved here, but the teacher did not allude to her past conduct, prompted in this course by the note; her companions were astonished and awed by her quiet dignity, and even Kate Magner said less than might have been expected. Fanny told her what had happened after the separation at Pennville, and solemnly assured her that she intended always to be a good girl in the future.
Fanny spent Saturday afternoon with Ben, seated by his bedside till dark, reading and singing to him, giving him his medicine, and supplying all his wants. She told him the story of her wanderings in New York, of the death and the funeral of Jenny, all of which the kindness and tenderness of Fanny to himself made real. He commended her good resolutions, and hoped that, in her new home in the West, she would be able to carry them out.
On Monday the family returned from Hudson, and Fanny repeated her story to Bertha and her sister. They were moved to tears by her narrative. It had seemed to them that nothing short of a miracle could reform the wayward girl; but the miracle had been wrought, as was fully proved during the remainder of Fanny's stay at Woodville. It did not seem possible that the gentle and obliging girl, who was a blessing to all in the house, had ever been the grief and the sorrow of her friends, a thorn and a torment to all who came in contact with her.
When the time for Fanny to leave for Minnesota arrived, it was hard for the family to part with her. Miss Fanny begged that the arrangements might be altered; that she might be permitted to remain at Woodville, or even to go to Europe with them; but her father thought it best that the original plan should be carried out; he believed that it would be better for Fanny herself. There were many tears shed when they parted. Miss Fanny was sorry to lose her protégée just as her teachings, quickened into life by her visit to the city, were beginning to bear their fruits.
Mr. Grant had decided to attend the young traveller to her new home, for he was unwilling to trust her to the care of any chance friend who might undertake the charge of her, fearful lest the good impressions which were beginning to take root in her soul might be weakened during the long journey. They travelled leisurely, and at the end of a week reached Mankato, at the great bend of the Minnesota River, in the southern part of the state.
John Grant, Fanny's uncle, lived at a settlement near the southern line of the state, about seventy miles from Mankato; and thither Mr. Grant and Fanny proceeded in a wagon, hired for the purpose. They were warmly welcomed by the settlers, who seldom saw any one from the busy walks of civilization. Mr. Grant remained but one day, which he used mainly in informing the future guardians of Fanny in regard to her moral, mental, and spiritual needs. He told them of the change which had come over her, and hoped they would do all they could to foster and encourage the growth of her good principles. When he had faithfully discharged his duty to his late charge, he took an affectionate leave of her, and departed for his home, returning to Mankato in the wagon by which he had come.
Fanny now entered upon her new life, and had an opportunity to take a survey of her future home. The settlement consisted of about fifty persons, most of whom had emigrated from states east of the Mississippi. Among them were a few Germans, Swedes, and Norwegians. The country was a perfect garden by nature, and the rich, deep soil produced the most abundant crops. The settlement was located on one of those beautiful lakes for which Minnesota is distinguished, whose bright, clear waters abound in fish. The lake was eight miles in length, with an average width of about three miles. From it flowed a small stream, and after receiving other tributaries, discharged its waters into the Watonwan, which in its turn entered the Minnesota.
John Grant was one of the most important persons at the settlement. He had cleared up a large farm on the border of the lake, and, with more means at the beginning than most of his neighbors, had realized a high degree of prosperity. As he had no children of his own, he was glad to have Fanny as a member of his family, especially since he had learned of the improvement in her conduct.
About one third of the population of the settlement were children, and a school had been established for their benefit. The instructor, Mr. Osborne, a young man, brother of one of the settlers, had lost his right leg and his left arm by a terrible railroad accident. He was a graduate of an Ohio college, and had been engaged in preparing himself for the ministry when the calamity occurred which rendered him unfit for the active duties of life. From choice rather than from necessity, he remained with his brother at the settlement, being both teacher and preacher.
Fanny immediately entered his school, and devoted herself with great earnestness to her studies. She soon became a favorite of Mr. Osborne, who had learned a portion of her history, and felt a strong interest in her welfare. She was a good scholar, and her progress was entirely satisfactory to her teacher.
In the home of her uncle, Fanny found, on her arrival, a boy of her own age. His name was Ethan French; and he had come from Illinois with Mr. Grant to work on the farm. He had no parents living, and was expected to remain with his employer till he was twenty-one. He was an uncouth fellow, and though he could read, write, and cipher, he seemed to be as uncultivated and bearish as the wild Indians that roamed through the country. Fanny tried to be his friend, and never neglected an opportunity to do him a kindness; but the more she tried to serve him, the more the distance between them seemed to be increased.
"I don't want nothin' to do with gals," was a favorite maxim with Ethan; and Fanny found it impossible to be very sociable with him. He did not repel or resent her well-meant advances; but he edged off, and got out of the way as fast as he could.
Fanny had made up her mind, before she came to her uncle's home, to be contented and happy there; and she was surprised to find that she liked her new residence very much. Her aunt was by no means the person her former experience had taught her to believe she was. Fanny was docile and obedient, and Mrs. Grant was no longer unjust and tyrannical. They agreed together remarkably well, and during the short period they were permitted to be together, no hard thoughts existed, and no harsh words passed between them.
Though Fanny had not been accustomed to work at Woodville, she readily adapted herself to her new station. There were no servants at the settlement; people did their own work; and Fanny, true to the good principles she had chosen, did all she could to assist her aunt.
Let it not be supposed that Fanny had no temptations; that the new life upon which she had entered was free from peril and struggles. She was tempted from within and without; tempted to be unjust, unkind, wilful, and disobedient. We cannot even say that she did not sometimes yield to those temptations; but she prayed for strength to resist them. She labored to be true to her high purpose. The anchor which she always wore on her breast frequently reminded her of her short-comings—frequently recalled the memories of the dying angel who had spoken peace to her troubled soul.
"Hope and Have," she often said to herself; and the words were a talisman to keep her in the path of duty. Continually she kept before her what she hoped to be, and continually she labored to attain the high and beautiful ideal of a true life.
She was happy in her new home, and her friends were happy in her presence there; but not long was this happiness to continue, for even then was gathering in the distance the storm which was to overwhelm them with woe and desolation. An experience of the most awful and trying character was in store for Fanny, for which her growth in grace and goodness was the best, and indeed the only preparation.
By treaty and purchase the United States government had obtained vast tracts of the lands of the various sub-tribes of the Sioux and Dakotah Indians. By the original treaty the natives had reserved for their own use the country on both sides of the Minnesota River, including a tract one hundred and fifty miles in length by twenty in breadth. When the Senate of the United States came to act upon the treaty, it was made a condition of the approval that this reservation should also be ceded to the whites. The Indians assented to the condition, but no lands being appropriated for their use, as agreed, they had moved upon the reservation, and their right to it was recognized.
A portion of this reservation was subsequently acquired by purchase, but the Indians continued to occupy the rest of it. By the various treaties, the Indians were paid certain sums of money every year, and supplied with quantities of goods, such as blankets, clothing, tools, and arms. But the money was not paid, nor the goods delivered, when due. The Indians were cheated by traders, and the debts due the latter were taken from the money to be paid the former. The neglect of the government,—fully occupied in suppressing the rebellion at the South,—and the immense frauds practised upon the simple natives, roused their indignation, and stirred up a hatred which culminated in the most terrible Indian massacre recorded in the annals of our country.
THE INDIAN MASSACRE.
Though there were no Indians residing very near the Lake Settlement, they frequently visited the place, and the settlers were on familiar terms with them. At the house of John Grant they were always treated with kindness and a generous hospitality. Among those who sometimes came was a chief called Lean Bear. Fanny was much interested in these denizens of the forest, and she exerted herself to please them, and particularly the chief of the Red Irons, as his tribe was called. She sang to him, brought him milk and bread, and treated him like a great man. He was a brawny fellow, morose and savage, and though he smiled slightly, he did not seem to appreciate her kindness.
About the 15th of August, when Fanny had been at the settlement less than two months, Mr. Grant started for one of the Indian Agencies, on the Minnesota River, for the purpose of procuring supplies of the traders in that vicinity. He went with a wagon and a span of horses, intending to be absent ten days.
One morning, when he had been gone a week, Mrs. Grant was milking the cows, of which they kept twenty. Ethan was helping her, and Fanny, not yet a proficient in the art, was doing what she could to assist. Doubtless she was rather bungling in the operation, for the cow was not as patient as usual.
"Seems like you gals from the east don't know much," laughed Ethan. "You are on the wrong side of the creetur."
"So I am! I thought there was something wrong, for the cow don't stand quiet," replied Fanny.
"No wonder; cows allers wants things did accordin' to rule," added Ethan.
"I didn't mind that I was on the wrong side."
"What do the gals do out east that they don't know how to milk?"
"They don't milk there."
"They don't do nothin'—do they?"
"Not much; at least, they didn't at Woodville."
"Well, gals isn't good for much, nohow," said Ethan, philosophically, as he commenced milking another cow.
"They can do some things as well as boys."
"Perhaps they kin; but you couldn't milk a cow till you kim out hyer."
"I could not."
"Hokee!" suddenly exclaimed Ethan. "What's all that mean?"
"Don't you see all them hosses up to the house? Hokee! Them's Injins, as sure's you live!"
Fanny looked, and saw about twenty Indians ride up to the house and dismount. The sight did not alarm her, though it was rather early in the morning for such a visit.
"D'ye see all them Injins, Miss Grant?" said Ethan to his mistress.
"Dear me! What can they want at this time in the morning? I must go into the house, and see to them, for they'll steal like all possessed."
Mrs. Grant put her milk-pail in a safe place, and hastened to the house, which she reached before any of the savages had secured their horses. Five or six of the visitors entered by the front door, and the rest assembled in a group, a short distance from the dwelling.
"I wonder what them redskins wants here so airly in the mornin'," mused Ethan, when Mrs. Grant had gone. "I wonder ef they know there ain't no one to home but women folks and boys."
"Suppose they do know,—what then?" asked Fanny.
"Nothin'; only I reckon they kim to steal sunthin'."
"They wouldn't steal from aunt Grant."
"Wouldn't they, though!" exclaimed Ethan, incredulously.
"She has been very kind to them."
"They'd steal from their own mothers," added Ethan, as he finished milking another cow, and moved towards a third.
As he crossed the yard he stopped to look at the horses, and to see what had become of the riders.
"Hokee!" cried he, using his favorite expression when excited.
"What's the matter, Ethan?" asked Fanny.
"As true as you live, one of them hosses is 'Whiteskin,'" replied he, alluding to one of Mr. Grant's animals.
"One of the Indian horses?"
"Yes; as true as you live! I kin see the old scar on his flank."
"Where could the Indians get him?"
"That's what I want to know," continued Ethan, now so much excited that he could not think of his milking. "Creation hokee!" he added—his usual expression when extraordinarily excited.
"What is it?"
"Creation hokee!" repeated Ethan.
"What do you see, Ethan?" demanded Fanny, who was now so much interested that she abandoned her occupation.
"There's the t'other hoss!" replied Ethan. "They've got both on 'em."
"Where could they get them?" said Fanny, who regarded the fact indicated by her companion as sufficiently ominous to excite her alarm.
"That's what I'd like to hev some 'un tell me. Fanny, I tell you sunthin' hes happened."
At this moment a shrill and terrible scream was heard in the direction of the house, followed by the sharp crack of a rifle. Ethan and Fanny, appalled by the sounds, looked towards the house. They saw Mrs. Grant rush from the back door, and then fall upon the ground. Two or three Indians followed her, in one of whom Fanny recognized Lean Bear, the stalwart chief she had endeavored to conciliate. He bent over the prostrate form of the woman, was seen to strike several blows with his tomahawk, and then to use his terrible scalping-knife.
At the sound of the rifle, which seemed to be a signal for the purpose, the savages who had grouped together outside of the house rushed in, yelling and hooting like demons.
"Creation hokee!" gasped Ethan, his face as nearly white as its sun-browned hue would permit.
Fanny's blood was chilled in her veins; she could not speak, and her limbs seemed to be paralyzed. And now in the distance harsh and discordant sounds rose on the still morning air. They came from the direction of the other portions of the settlement. The shrill screams of women, the hoarse cries of men, and the unearthly yells of the savages, mingled in horrible confusion. It was evident to the appalled listeners that a fearful Indian massacre had commenced. They had seen Mrs. Grant fall; had seen the fierce Lean Bear tomahawk and scalp her.
It was madness to stand still in the midst of so much peril, but both Ethan and Fanny seemed to be chained to the spot where they stood, fascinated, as it were, by the anguished cries of agony and death that were borne to their revolting senses by the airs of that summer morning. The savages were at that moment busy in ransacking and plundering the house, but Fanny realized that she might be the next victim; that the tomahawk of the terrible Lean Bear might be glaring above her head in a few moments more. She trembled like an aspen leaf in the extremity of her terror, as she heard the terrific cries uttered by the mangled, mutilated, dying men, women, and children, far enough off to be but faintly heard, yet near enough to be horribly distinct.
"It's time sunthin' was did," said Ethan, with quivering lips.
"What can we do?" asked Fanny, in a husky whisper.
"We must git out of sight fust. Come along with me, Fanny," added Ethan, as he led the way into the barn.
"They will find us here," said Fanny.
"P'rhaps they will; but there ain't nowhere else to go to."
"Why not run away as fast as we can?"
"We kin run, but I reckon bullets will travel faster 'n we kin."
Ethan went up a ladder to the top of the hay-mow, and Fanny followed him. He carried up with him a small hay-fork, with which he went vigorously to work in burrowing out a hole in the hay. Fanny assisted him with her hands, and in a few moments they had made an aperture deep enough to accommodate them. This hiding-place had been made in the back part of the mow, next to the side of the barn, where there were wide cracks between the boards, through which they could receive air enough to prevent them from being stifled.
"Now, you get in, Fanny, and I'll fix the hay so I kin tumble it all down on top on us, and bury us up."
"Suppose they should set the barn afire," suggested Fanny.
"Then they will; we must take our chances, such as they be. We hain't got much chance nohow."
Fanny stepped down into the hole; Ethan followed her, and pulled the mass of hay over so that it fell upon them. They were four or five feet below the surface of the hay.
"I would rather be killed by a bullet than burned to death in the fire," said Fanny, with a shudder, when her companion had adjusted the hay so as to afford them the best possible means of concealment.
"P'rhaps they wouldn't kill you with a bullet. Them redskins is awful creeturs. They might hack you all to pieces with their knives and tomahawks," whispered Ethan.
"It's horrible!" added Fanny, quivering with emotion.
"I've hearn tell that there was some trouble with the redskins up on to the reserves; and I knowed sunthin' had happened when I see them two hosses. I was kind o' skeery when the varmints rid up to the house."
"Do you suppose they have killed my uncle?" asked Fanny, sick at heart.
"I s'pose they hev," answered Ethan, gloomily. "I reckon we'd better keep still, and not say nothin'. Some o' the redskins may be lookin' for us. They're pesky cunnin'."
This was good advice, and Fanny needed no persuasion to induce her to follow it. Through the cracks in the side of the barn she could see a few houses of the settlement; and through these apertures came also the hideous sounds which denoted the progress of the massacre. Great piles of curling smoke were rising from the burning buildings of the devoted settlers, and the work of murder and pillage still continued, as the relentless savages passed from place to place in the execution of their diabolical mission.
The greater part of the detachment which had halted at the house of Mr. Grant had now departed, though the sounds which came from the dwelling indicated that the rest were still there. Lean Bear knew the members of Mr. Grant's household. With his own hand he had slain the woman who had so often fed him, and ministered to his necessities, thus belying the traditional character of his race; and it was not probable that he would abandon his object without a diligent search for the missing members of the family.
Fanny was safe for the present moment, but the next instant might doom her to a violent death, to cruel torture, or to a captivity more to be dreaded than either death or torture. She trembled with mortal fear, and dreaded the revelations of each new second of time with an intensity of horror which cannot be understood or described.
"They are comin' out of the house," said Ethan, in a tremulous whisper. "There's seven on 'em."
"Are they coming this way?"
"No; they are lookin' round arter us. They are going down to the lake."
"I hope they won't come here."
"But they will kim here, as sure as you live."
"Do you ever pray, Ethan?" asked Fanny, impressively.
"Not much," replied he, evasively.
"Let us pray to God. He can help us, and He will, if we ask Him in the right spirit."
"I dunno how," added Ethan.
"I will pray for both of us. The Indians can't hear us now, but God can."
Fanny, in a whisper, uttered a brief and heart-felt prayer for protection and safety from the savage monsters who were thirsting for their blood. She prayed earnestly, and never before had her supplications come so directly from her heart. She pleaded for herself and for her companion, and the good Father seemed to be very near to her as she poured forth her simple petition.
"Thy will, not ours, be done," she murmured, as she thought that it might not be the purpose of "Him who doeth all things well" to save them from the tomahawk of the Indians. If it was not His will that they should pass in safety through this ordeal of blood, she asked that they might be happy in death, or submissive to whatever fate was in store for them.
Ethan listened to the prayer, and seemed to join earnestly in the petitions it contained. With his more devout companion, he felt that God was able to save them, to blunt the edges of the weapons raised to destroy them, or to transform their savage and bitter foes into the warmest and truest of friends.
"I feel better," said Fanny, after a moment of silence at the conclusion of the prayer.
"So do I," replied Ethan, whose altered look and more resolute tones confirmed his words. "I feel like I could fight some o' them Injins."
"We can do nothing by resistance."
"I dunno; if they don't burn the house, I reckon I know whar to find some shootin' fixin's."
"Mr. Grant sort o' hid his rifle and things, for fear some un might steal 'em, I s'pose. I know where they be; and I reckon them redskins won't find 'em."
"Let us not think of resistance. There must be hundreds of Indians at the settlement."
"'Sh!" said Ethan, impressively. "They're comin'."
The light step of the moccasoned feet of the savages was now distinctly heard in the barn. Their guttural jargon grated harshly on the ears of the fugitives in their concealment, as they tremblingly waited the issue.
THE INDIAN BOY.
Above the voices of the other savages, the harsh and heavy tones of Lean Bear were prominent. He spoke in the Indian dialect, and of course the anxious fugitives could not understand what he said; but he seemed to be angry and impatient, disappointed and chagrined; and Ethan and Fanny readily inferred that, as he was searching for them, he was the more ferocious because he could not find them. They lay silent and motionless in their hiding-place, hardly daring to breathe, lest a sound should reach the quick ears of their relentless foes.
The Indians searched in every nook and cranny of the barn where a human being could possibly be concealed. They climbed to the top of the mow, pulled over the hay, jumped upon it, and thrust their knives deep down. The fugitives felt the weight of the pursuers pressing heavily down upon them; they realized that the points of the bloody knives were within a short distance of their vital organs; but, breathless and silent, they lay in the most agonizing suspense, expecting to be dragged from their retreat, and subjected to atrocities which it froze their blood to think of.
The remorseless miscreants howled with disappointed rage as the search was abandoned. Fanny and Ethan drew a long sigh of relief when they heard their foes on the floor beneath them. The good Father to whom they prayed so earnestly had dimmed the eyes of the savages so that they could not see, and the danger of that terrible moment passed by them. Fanny breathed her thanks to God for her safety—she did not dare to speak them.
The savages consulted together, using brief, sharp, and exciting sentences. Their words were not understood, and no clew to their future purposes could be obtained. Lean Bear spoke in tones even more savage than he had used before, and the steps of the Indians were heard as they left the barn.
"Hev they gone?" asked Ethan, in a convulsive whisper.
"Yes, I think they have," replied Fanny, in a tone not less agitated. "Let us thank God that we are still safe."
"Don't whistle till you get out o' the woods," added Ethan, who referred, not to the thanks, but to the exultation which his companion appeared to feel at their apparent safety.
"We must be thankful and submissive, Ethan. We have been saved this time, whatever may happen next."
"I am thankful."
"I know you are. We must trust in our Father in heaven if we expect him to hear our prayer."
"'Sh!" interposed Ethan, as he became silent and motionless again.
The voices of the Indians were heard near the barn again, and other moments of agonizing suspense were in store for the fugitives. The gruff tones of Lean Bear rose above those of his companions, and it was evident that they had not yet given up the search.
"Ho, ho, ho! He, he, he!" yelled the monsters, which cries were to them expressions of satisfaction.
It was painfully clear to Ethan and Fanny that the Indians had made some important discovery, or done some act which would accomplish their purpose. More agonizing than the thought came the reality, a few moments afterwards, while the wretches outside of the barn were still shouting their hideous yells. A smell of smoke, accompanied by a sharp, crackling sound, assured the waiting, trembling couple in the hay-mow that their worst fears were realized. The Indians had set fire to the barn.
"We are lost!" exclaimed Fanny. "They have set fire to the barn!"
"'Sh! Don't say a word," interposed Ethan.
"We shall be burned to death!"
"Don't give up; keep still."
"Keep still?" repeated Fanny, amazed at the self-possession of her companion. "We shall be burned to death in a few minutes."
"Don't say nothin', Fanny."
It was not easy to keep still in that terrible moment of peril, but Ethan seemed to know what he was about, and his coolness and courage acted as inspiration upon his terrified companion. Fanny prayed again, in a hardly audible whisper; but this time, Ethan, though perhaps his heart was with her, was thinking of something else. She felt more calm after her prayer, though the dense smoke and the snapping flames admonished her that death was close at hand. The rough prairie boy looked resolute, and seemed to have conquered his fears. She wondered whether he had discovered any possible avenue of escape, for nothing but the promptings of a strong hope, whether real or delusive, could have produced such a change in his bearing.
"Better be burned up, than butchered by the redskins," said he, at last.
Was this the explanation of his new-born courage? It was a terrible alternative, but Fanny was forced to believe that what he said was true.
"Is there no escape for us?"
"Don'no; whar's the Injins now?"
"I don't hear them," replied Fanny.
"Nuther do I. We must stay here jest as long as we kin."
"But the barn is on fire! If we are going to get out at all, we must do so at once."
"Don't hurry. The fire's all out to t'other end o' the barn. It won't hurt us jest yit," said Ethan, with wonderful coolness. "I s'pose the Injins is in a hurry, and they won't stop no longer'n they want to. Jest as soon as they move off we'll git out."
"How shall we get out after the barn is all in a blaze?"
"That's easy enough. I ain't a bit afeered of the fire, but I am pesky skeered of the Injins."
The confidence of Ethan increased the courage of Fanny. She had more to dread from the Indians than he had, and if he preferred to die by the flames, she ought to be willing to share his fate. She commended her soul and that of her companion to God, and tried to be calm and resolute, and she succeeded to an extent which astonished herself.
The fire was rapidly leaping upward, and the barn was soon enveloped in flames. The Indians could not now be seen through the cracks, nor could their voices be heard, and the fire-besieged fugitives supposed they had gone to new fields of blood and rapine.
"We can't stand it much longer—kin we?" said Ethan, as they heard the crash of some falling timbers at the other end of the building.
"We are not burned yet, but I am nearly suffocated by the smoke," replied Fanny. "Do you suppose the Indians are gone?"
"I reckon they be; but they hain't gone fur yit," added Ethan, as he applied his shoulder to one of the boards on the side of the barn.
"Let me help you," said Fanny.
"You ain't nothin' but a gal, and you can't do much," replied Ethan.
He was a stout boy, and the board, only slightly nailed, gave way before the pressure he applied to it; but it required a great deal of labor to detach it from the timbers above and below. He had not begun this work a moment too soon, for the flames were sweeping over the surface of the mow, and the roof was falling in upon them. The barn was stored full of new hay, which, being partially green, did not burn very readily, especially the solid masses of it. The heat was intense, and nothing but a greater peril without could have forced them to remain so long in the building.
The first board was removed, and then a second, leaving an opening wide enough for them to get out. They were about fifteen feet above the level of the ground, but there was no difficulty, even to Fanny, in the descent, though some young ladies might have regarded this minor obstacle as one of some importance. Ethan thrust his head out at the aperture, and looked in every direction his position commanded a view of, in search of the Indians, but none of them were in sight.
"Be quick, Ethan, or the fire will be upon us," said Fanny, who began to feel the near approach of the flames above her.
"Where shall we go when we get out? We must understand matters a leetle grain aforehand."
"I think we had better go down to the lake. We can take the boat and go over to the island."
"That's fust rate," replied Ethan, with enthusiasm. "The Injins hain't got no boats, and can't foller us. Now we'll go down; but be keerful. It would be miser'ble to break your neck here, arter gittin' clear of the fire and the Injins both."
Ethan descended, holding on at each side of the aperture with his hands, and thrusting his feet into the solid mass of hay in the mow. Fanny, adopting the same method, also reached the ground in safety.
"'Sh!" said Ethan, as he took her arm. "Run for them bushes!" and he pointed to a little thicket near the barn.
Fanny ran with all her speed to the bushes, and concealed herself behind them. She was immediately followed by Ethan. The barn was now nearly consumed; the portion of the roof which had not before fallen in, now sunk down with a crash upon the masses of burning hay. The lake was beyond the house, which they were obliged to pass in order to reach their destination.
"I s'pose the sooner we start, the sooner we'll git there," said Ethan, after he had carefully surveyed the ground to ascertain if any savages were near.
"I am ready, Ethan. I will do whatever you say."
"We'll go now, then. Foller me, Fanny."
Ethan led the way, but they had hardly emerged from the bushes before they were appalled to find that they were discovered by their savage foes.
"Ho, ho, ho!" yelled the Indians from behind them.
It appeared that Lean Bear and his companions had waited in the vicinity until the burning barn was so far consumed that it was not deemed possible for a human being to remain concealed in it, and then moved off towards another part of the settlement. With watchful eyes behind as well as before them, they had discovered the young fugitives when they left the clump of bushes.
"Ho, ho, ho!" shouted the painted wretches, as they gave chase to Fanny and Ethan.
"Run for the house!" cried Ethan.
"Why not for the lake?" asked Fanny, in an agony of despair.
"They'll ketch you afore you git half way there. Run for the house!"
They were both running with all their might; and Fanny, though against her judgment, directed her steps to the house. As they approached the back door, an Indian boy and a squaw came out of the building, where they had probably been searching for such valuables as might have escaped the hasty observation of the party who had sacked the premises. The boy was apparently about ten years old, and the woman appeared to be his mother.
Fanny, not suspecting any harm from a woman and so young a boy, still ran towards the door, being in advance of Ethan, who was chivalrous enough to place himself in position to cover the retreat of his companion in case of need. To the surprise of Fanny, the squaw placed herself in her path, and attempted to seize her, uttering yells hardly less savage than those of her male companions. The terrified girl paused in her rapid flight till Ethan came up. The resolute fellow had already picked up a heavy cart stake, and when he saw the new and unexpected peril which menaced Fanny, he rushed forward, and though the squaw drew a long knife and stood her ground, he dealt her a heavy blow on the head, which felled her to the ground.
"Run into the house as fast as you kin, Fanny," said Ethan.
She obeyed, and, in doing so, passed the scalped and mutilated form of her aunt, which lay near the door. The sight made her sick at heart, and she had almost fainted under the horror induced by a single glance at the ghastly spectacle. Such might, and probably would be her own fate, for it was hoping against hope to expect any other issue.
She reached the door, and clung to the post for support. Then she saw that Ethan, instead of following her, was pursuing the Indian boy. It was but a short chase, for he immediately overtook the youth, and in spite of his yells, dragged him into the house with him. Ethan seemed then to have a savage spirit, for he handled the boy without mercy, dragging him by the hair of the head, and kicking him to accelerate his movements.
The capture of the young Indian had been witnessed by the whole of the pursuing party, who yelled with renewed vigor when they saw him borne into the house. When they reached the place where the squaw had fallen, they paused. The tall form of Lean Bear was seen bending over her, and it was plain that there was confusion in the counsels of the savages.
"Hold this boy, Fanny," said Ethan, out of breath with the violence of his exertions, as he took from the belt of the little prisoner a small scalping-knife, and offered it to Fanny. "Don't let him go, no-how; stick him ef he don't keep still."
"I can hold him; I don't want the knife," replied she, as she grasped the boy by the arms, bending them back behind him.
Taking her handkerchief, she tied his arms behind him, so that he was powerless to do her any mischief. She then cut off a portion of the clothes line, which hung up in the kitchen, and tied his feet together. In this condition, he was secured to a door. The boy looked cool and savage; he did not cry, and ceased to struggle only when the bonds prevented him from doing so.
"Now we are ready for sunthin'," said Ethan, as he appeared with two guns and a revolver, which he had taken from their place of concealment behind the oven.
Mr. Grant, like all settlers and backwoodsmen, had a profound respect and veneration for his weapons. They were absolutely necessary for purposes of defence in a new country, and upon their skilful use often depended the supplies in the family larder. More coveted than any other property by the Indians, trappers and strollers of the prairies, he was obliged to secure them carefully, so that they should not be stolen; and Mr. Grant, in building his house, had provided the place behind the oven for their reception.
One of the guns was a fowling-piece, and the other a rifle. The appropriate ammunition for each was kept in the secret closet with the weapon. For the revolver there was a plentiful supply of patent cartridges. Mr. Grant owned two of these arms, but the other he had taken with him.
Like all western boys, Ethan French was accustomed to the use of the rifle and the fowling-piece, though he had never particularly distinguished himself as a marksman. It was a bold idea on his part to think of defending Fanny and himself from the attacks of the savages; but, desperate as was the thought, it was his only hope, for the Indians were murdering all who fell into their hands. There was a slight chance for him, which he was disposed to improve.
Ethan evidently had some other purpose in view than that of merely defending himself and his companion from the savages—a purpose indicated by his capture of the Indian boy, though he had not had time to explain it to Fanny. He was firm and resolute, exhibiting a courage which no one would have supposed he possessed; indeed, we can hardly know what is in any person until he is tried in the fiery furnace.
Fanny, too, had ceased to tremble. The firmness and determination of Ethan had inspired her with courage, and without stopping to consider the odds against him, she ventured to hope that his efforts would be crowned with some measure of success. The occupation of the last few moments was calculated to increase her courage, for "something to do" is always the best antidote for fear. She had bound the young savage, and secured him to the door, when Ethan appeared with the weapons; and now she anxiously waited the development of his next movement.
"What are you going to do, Ethan?" she asked, as her companion walked to the door.
"I don't know jest exactly what I'm go'n to do; but I'm go'n to do sunthin', as sure as you're alive. I reckon I've done sunthin' already, for them Injins hes come to a dead halt."
"Can you see them?"
"Yes, I kin. They look kinder anxious."
The group of savages had gathered around the prostrate form of the squaw. She could not have been killed, or even very badly injured, by the blow she had received. Two of the party appeared to be at work over her, while the others, among whom Lean Bear was prominent, were holding a consultation near the spot.
"I reckon I got 'em whar the har 's short," added Ethan, with something like a chuckle at his own cleverness.
"What do you mean, Ethan?" asked Fanny, not yet able to comprehend the situation.
"D'ye see that little Injin?" replied he, pointing at the prisoner.
"Yes; and I wondered what you dragged him into the house for."
"Don't you see his fine fixin's—his necklaces and his moccasons? I reckon that boy belongs to the big Injin."
"You mean Lean Bear."
"Yes, if that's his name. He looks enough like him to be his son. Gittin' him 's what made 'em stop short jist whar they was. I tell you we've got 'em whar the har 's short."
"What are you going to do with him?"
"Don't ye see?" replied Ethan, as he finished loading the last of the weapons. "I'm go'n to shoot some of them Injins; and ef they don't keep off I'm go'n to shoot the boy."
"You wouldn't do that, Ethan."
"You bet!" replied he, firmly, using more western slang than was necessary, though he was dependent upon such expressions for the force of his language.
"But it would be wicked to kill the poor boy."
"What's them Injins doin' to all the white folks?"
"That is no reason why you should kill a harmless boy."
"I don't want to kill him; it would make me feel bad to do any sech thing. Ef any of them Injins come near us, I'm go'n to show 'em what I kin do. Keep still now; one on 'em is comin' up this way."
Ethan placed himself at one of the open windows, and cocked the rifle. One of the party was moving towards the house, apparently sent thither by Lean Bear, who appeared suddenly to have become very quiet and harmless.
"See hyer, Fanny," said Ethan, still keeping his eye fixed on the approaching foe.
"What shall I do?" asked Fanny.
"Did you tie that little Injin's hands strong?"
"As well as I could with my handkerchief."
"Better do it better with the clothes line. Then undo his feet, and put a rope round his neck."
"Around his neck!" exclaimed Fanny, horrified at the suggestion.
"Jest to lead him by. We may want to quit this house reyther suddin."
Fanny obeyed, satisfied that Ethan did not intend to hang the boy. The Indian, approaching the house, moved very slowly and cautiously, frequently stopping, and examining the house with great care. Ethan was on one of his knees, pointing the rifle at the single Indian, resting it on the sill of the window. When Lean Bear's messenger saw him, he came to a halt, and began to make earnest gestures, pointing to his belt, and throwing out his arms to indicate that he had no weapons.
"What does that creetur want?" mused Ethan.
"He wants to talk with you," replied Fanny, correctly interpreting his gestures.
"I can't talk Injin—kin you?"
"No; but some of the Indians talk English."
"What ye want?" shouted Ethan, satisfied that the man's intentions were peaceful.
"Talk! talk!" replied the messenger.
"Kim along, then," replied Ethan. "That's jest what I want, too," he added, to Fanny. "I want to tell them Injins that this hyer boy will ketch fits if they don't let us be."
The Indian, still gesticulating, continued to approach the house with cautious step. Ethan put aside the rifle, and took the revolver, which he was careful that the messenger should see.
"Stop thyer!" said he, when the Indian had come within twenty feet of the house; and, at the same time, he elevated his pistol to enforce obedience to his order.
"Me talk," said the messenger.
"Well! what ye got to say?" asked Ethan.
"You got Wahena—little Wahena."
"Yes, sir!" replied Ethan, with emphasis. "I've got him, and I mean to keep him."
"No keep! We want Wahena," continued the messenger.
"No git him," added Ethan, who was inclined to be facetious at times, especially when the advantage was on his side.
"Lean Bear's son. Big Lean Bear—little Wahena."
"You can't hev him, nohow," said Ethan, decidedly.
"Me get Wahena—you go 'way—no kill, no hurt."
"You can't fool me."
"No kill, no hurt."
"No, yer don't!"
"Give Wahena—no kill, no hurt," repeated the messenger, impressively.
"You git out!"
"No give Wahena, Lean Bear kill!"
"Two kin play at that game," added Ethan, shaking his head. "Ef you don't quit, I'll kill the boy."
"No kill Wahena!" cried the savage, evidently horrified at the threat.
"Yes, I will, old boy, ef you don't all go off, and quit right away. I know what's what, 'n you can't fool me, nohow."
"Why not give up the boy, if they will let us go?" asked Fanny.
"You can't trust one o' them Injin creeturs no more'n you kin trust a rattlesnake, nohow. Jest fetch the boy here, and I'll show 'em what I mean."
Fanny had fastened Wahena's hands more securely behind him, and attached one end of the line to his neck. She had removed the cord from his ankles, so that he could walk, while by the rope at his neck he could be kept under perfect control. Ethan took the line, and led the boy out at the door, where he was placed in full view of the savages. His captor still held the leaded pistol in his hand.
"No kill Wahena!" shouted the messenger, fiercely.
"I won't hurt him ef you all go off—go 'way—clear out—quit the ranch."
"No hurt?" asked the Indian.
"All go 'way," answered Ethan, pointing to the west with the revolver.
"Give Wahena—all go."
"No give Wahena?"
"I'll kill him ef them creeturs come hyer," said Ethan, sternly, as he pointed the pistol at the boy's head.
"No kill Wahena!" shouted the messenger.
"Tell 'em to keep back, then."
This demonstration on the part of Ethan had been caused by the sudden movement of the savages towards the house. Their spokesman fortunately understood his meaning, and turning round, he shouted out a few words in the Indian dialect, accompanying them with violent gestures, which had the effect to stop the nearer approach of the band. As they moved back, Ethan lowered his weapon. Wahena did not flinch, nor exhibit any signs of terror while he was menaced with the pistol, though he looked stern and resolute, as he had probably been taught to be by his savage father.
Ethan, finding that he had the power all in his own hands, walked a few paces nearer to the messenger, dragging his prisoner after him. It was not an easy matter to carry on a conversation with the savage, whose knowledge of the English language was limited to a few words; but after a long time, and a great deal of effort, he succeeded in making the Indian spokesman understand his intention. He refused to give up Wahena, but he promised that the boy should not be injured if the Indians would retire, and not attempt to molest Fanny or himself. He assured the messenger that he would kill the boy if the savages followed, or fired upon himself or his companion.
It was a long and trying conference, and when the parties came to an understanding, the Indian withdrew to communicate the result to his chief. Ethan returned to the house with his prisoner, and from the window watched the movements of the foe, while he related to Fanny what had passed between himself and the messenger during the interview.
"I reckon they'll do it, Fanny," said Ethan.
"I hope they will."
"When we are safe, they kin hev the Injin boy; I don't want him. I reckon it was a smart idee o' mine, ketchin' the young cub."
"I think it was a very good idea. They would certainly have butchered us before this time if it hadn't been for him."
"I reckon they would; but ef I knows myself, some on 'em would hev gone down fust."
"I suppose the Indians have murdered a great many people."
"I reckon they hev."
"It's awful!" exclaimed Fanny, shuddering, as she glanced at the place where poor Mrs. Grant lay cold and still in death.
"So 'tis, but 'tain't no use to think on't now; it makes a feller feel kind o' weak and sickly. We must figur' it out now."
"Thanks to your good management, we may yet escape."
"I reckon we will. Did you ever fire a pistil, Fanny?"
"No, but I'm not afraid to do so."
"Better take this, then, and I'll use the guns. I reckon it may be of use to you," added he, handing her the weapon. "Hokee!" suddenly exclaimed he, as he glanced out of the window.
"What is it, Ethan?"
"Them Injins is go'n off!"
"So they are."
"Mebbe they're comin' round to try us on t'other side of the house. Ef they be, I'm thar. You hold on to the little Injin, and I'll watch 'em."
Ethan went to a window on the front of the house, and soon returned with the gratifying intelligence that the redskins were actually moving off in the direction of the burning buildings to the west of them.
"How thankful we ought to be that we have been saved!" said Fanny. "Let us thank God with all our hearts, Ethan."
"We can't stop to do no more prayin' now, Fanny. Besides, we ain't out o' the woods yet."
"We need not stop to pray," replied Fanny, devoutly. "If the prayer is in our hearts, God will understand it."
"I'm thankful, I'm sure, as a body kin be. Now, you git together everything you kin find to eat, and I'll git a wheelbarrer to fetch 'em down to the lake. Ef we kin only git on the island, I don't keer for all the redskins this side o' sundown."
Wahena was tied up in such a way that he could not escape, and Fanny hurriedly collected everything in the shape of provisions which had escaped the depredations of the Indians. Ethan brought from the chambers an armful of blankets and bed-quilts, and the wheelbarrow was loaded with all it would contain. A bushel of potatoes, a leg of bacon, a bucket of corn-meal, a small supply of groceries, and a few cooking utensils, constituted the stock upon which they were mainly to depend for sustenance during their banishment from civilized life for they knew not how long a time. But both of the exiles were hopeful, though very sad, when they thought of the death and desolation they were leaving behind them.
THE YOUNG EXILES.
Wahena, with his hands still tied behind him, was led by Fanny, while Ethan trundled the wheelbarrow, across the handles of which lay the two guns, ready for use if occasion should require. The Indians had halted on one of the little eminences of the prairie, and appeared to be watching the departure of the fugitives from their once happy home. Lean Bear was evidently very fond of his little son, who was a boy of bright promise, measured by the Indian standard. He had exhibited no concern for the mother while she lay senseless upon the ground, but he seemed to be willing to make any sacrifice, even to the curbing of his ferocious nature, for Wahena's sake.
The party of Indians on the knoll appeared to be impressed with the misfortune of their leader in the loss of his favorite son. Though the work of rapine and death was still going on in the settlement, they did not heed it. The messenger had probably represented to Lean Bear that Wahena would certainly be killed if he attempted to molest the little party, and the chief had withdrawn far enough to remove all temptation on the part of Ethan to execute his threat.
The wheelbarrow was heavily loaded, and it was hard work for the prairie boy to move it along over the soft soil. On a hill, just before the descent to the lake commenced, he paused to rest for a moment. He was in excellent spirits, and was proud of the success which had thus far attended his stratagem. He was confident that he should reach the island in safety, where, having the only boat on the lake in his possession, he was satisfied that he should be able to defend himself and his companion, especially with Wahena as a guaranty for the good behavior of the Indians.
Ethan was entirely satisfied with himself, and he was about to resume the march towards the lake, when his attention was attracted by a noise in the direction opposite to that in which Lean Bear and his party had retreated.
"Creation hokee!" shouted Ethan.
"What's the matter?" asked Fanny.
"Don't you see the Injins comin' out of the woods?" replied he, as he grasped the rifle, and raised it to his shoulder.
"Ho, ho, ho! He, he, he!" yelled the band of savages, as they rushed out of the covert of the trees, and ran towards the spot where Ethan stood.
"We are lost!" gasped Fanny, almost overcome by this new peril.
"No, we ain't lost, Fanny. You keep a stiff upper lip. Lay right down on the ground, behind the wheelbarrer, and don't let the varmints see you. If they kim hyer, use that ere pistil."
One of the new enemies was considerably in advance of the others, as if anxious to drink the first blood of the victims before him. Suddenly he came to a halt, raised his rifle, and fired.
"Creation hokee!" exclaimed Ethan, as the ball whistled frightfully near his head.
"Hadn't we better run?" asked Fanny, in trembling tones.
"'Tain't no use to run; them redskins kin beat you all to pieces runnin'," replied Ethan, as he retreated behind the wheelbarrow, and resting the rifle upon it, took careful aim at the savage who was in advance of the others.
He fired; the Indian fell, and lay still on the ground.
"That's sunthin' towards it, anyhow," continued Ethan, encouraged by the success of his first shot. "Ef I kin fetch down one more on 'em, it will make the rest a leetle grain skeery."
"The other Indians are coming too, Ethan," said Fanny.
"Let 'em kim; if they do we are safe."
The immediate followers of Lean Bear were rushing towards the spot with all their might. The swiftest runner of the party had far outstripped his companions, but it was evident to Ethan and Fanny that he was moving towards the other band of savages, rather than towards them. He was shouting in his own tongue words which were unintelligible to the white boy and girl. But if the words were not understood, their effect was, for the hostile band presently halted, and awaited the arrival of the messenger.
In the mean time Ethan placed Wahena in a position where he could be seen by all the savages, and with the revolver in his hand, stood in readiness to make another demonstration at the life of the boy if it should be necessary. It was not needed, for all these Indians belonged to the tribe of Lean Bear, whose command was law to them.
"We are safe, Ethan," said Fanny.
"So we are; but I've killed one Injin, and I reckon I could kill some more."
"Don't you feel sorry you killed him?" asked Fanny.
"Not ef I knows myself, I don't. I'd like to kill the whole boodle on 'em, after what they've did, consarn thar picters! I reckon we'd better be go'n along."
"I think we had. It is really terrible to think of killing a man."
"'Tain't no more terrible 'n killin' all them women 'n childern up to the settlement," replied Ethan, as he raised the handles of the barrow and moved on. "I hope they'll send the sogers up here, and kill off all the Injins this side o' sundown."
"I hope it won't be necessary to do that," added Fanny.
"It ought to be did. What's them Injins good for but to be shot? I kinder wish they'd kim, so I could have fetched down some more on 'em, consarn 'em!"
"It is lucky the party of Lean Bear was near enough to turn them back. We might have been killed before this time."
"I dunno," replied Ethan, shaking his head.
"You have done nobly, Ethan; but Wahena has saved us so far."
"I know that; I ketched him for jest what he has did for us."
The rest of the way to the lake was down a gentle declivity, and the wheelbarrow moved more easily than before. In a short time they reached their destination, on the shore of the beautiful sheet of water at which was moored a boat. It was not such a craft as the Greyhound, in which Fanny had been accustomed to sail; it was a bateau, or flat-bottomed boat, with very sharp slopes under the bow and stern. It had a keel and rudder, and was provided with a sail.
The stores and utensils from the wheelbarrow were quickly transferred to the boat, and then the barrow itself was placed on board. The wind now blew tolerably fresh, and was fair for reaching the island; but Ethan, with all his other accomplishments, knew no more about the management of a boat than of a ship, which he had never even seen. This boat had been built by Mr. Grant and a carpenter of the settlement during the preceding winter, and Ethan had never sailed in it but once.
"I don't know nothin' about this hyer thing," said Ethan. "I kin paddle, but I reckon the sail would tip us over."
"I can manage it," replied Fanny, confidently.
"Kin ye? Did ye ever manage a boat with a sail?"
"Yes, once," answered Fanny, and she thought with shame of the cruise she had made in the Greyhound. "Let us hoist the sail, and we can run over to the island in a few moments."
Fanny, assisted by Ethan, hoisted the sail, and the bateau darted out of the little cove where she had been moored. Wahena, who had been as stoical in danger as his race, uttered an exclamation of alarm, perhaps called forth by the novelty of the situation and of the peril. Ethan was not entirely satisfied with the movements of the boat under sail, for she careened under the fresh breeze, till her gunwale was within an inch of the surface of the lake. Fanny took the helm, and, as she eased off the sheet, which her previous experience had taught her to do in such an emergency, the boat came up to an even keel, and the confidence of the prairie boy was fully restored.
"I don't want to be tipped over and drownded, arter we've got away from the Injins," said he, in apology for his timidity.
"I'm sure I don't fear the water, after the terrible scenes we have passed through," replied Fanny; "but there is no danger."
"I dunno 's there is; but even the little Injin boy was skeered when she tipped so."
"I ought to have unfastened this rope before we hoisted the sail," added Fanny, pointing to the sheet.
"I ain't afeerd, if you ain't, Fanny. I don't reckon we could 'a paddled her over to the island in seven year."
"It would have taken a long time," said Fanny, glancing back at the smoking buildings of the settlement.
She was sad at heart when she thought of the murder and destruction which had occurred that morning. It was pleasant on the lake, but neither Fanny nor Ethan was in a condition to enjoy the sail. Each was thinking of friends in the settlement who had probably been slain by the remorseless savages. Fanny steered the bateau in silence, till she reached the shore of the island, which was about two miles from the point where the party had embarked. It was very small, containing not more than half an acre of land. A single tree grew on the highest part, and all of it was covered with grass, like the ground on the western shores of the lake.
A landing was effected under the lee of the land, and the cargo of the bateau removed to the shore. Wahena was taken to the middle of the island, and fastened to the tree. From this point a view of all the surrounding country could be obtained, and with ordinary care on the part of the exiles, it would be impossible for an enemy to approach without their knowledge. The provisions and other articles were transported on the wheelbarrow to the tree.
"I should kinder like this, ef the folks hadn't all been killed off," said Ethan, when the work was done, and he had seated himself at Fanny's side, in the shade of the tree.
"We were very fortunate to escape with our lives, Ethan, and I feel very thankful," replied Fanny.
"So do I; and ef you want to say your prayers now, we hain't got nothin' else to do."
"I have said them many times; God can hear us even when we do not speak aloud."
"I s'pose so; well, I said mine, too; and that's a thing I don't do very often."
"I have no doubt they strengthened your arm, and made you feel brave."
"I dunno but they did; but I feel as though a leetle grain o' breakfast would strengthen my arm most jest now."
Fanny was not very well pleased with the manner in which her rude companion spoke of serious things, and she improved the opportunity to embody the prayer of her heart in words. It was a fervent utterance, and Ethan seemed to join her in spirit. Both of them were grateful—not abstractly grateful, but grateful to God for his mercy in saving them from torture and death at the hands of the savages.
They sat in silence for a moment after the prayer, and then Fanny suggested that they should prepare their breakfast. Ethan had brought with him a shovel and a sharp axe, and while Fanny was peeling the potatoes and cutting the bacon, he dug out a kind of fireplace in the side of the hill. Some dead branches from the tree supplied them with dry fuel. Fried ham and fried potatoes were soon provided, and they sat down to their morning meal.
"I should like this fust rate if we hadn't been druv away from hum jest as we was," said Ethan.
"It would be very pleasant if we could forget the poor people who have been killed and mangled by the savages," replied Fanny, sadly.
"I reyther like campin' out, and travellin' over the peraries, as we did when we kim up hyer."
"What is to become of us, after all, Ethan?"
"I dunno; we must stop hyer, I s'pose."
"We cannot remain here a great while."
"Our provisions will not last many days."
"We kin git more."
"I don't think it is safe for us to go over to the settlement again."
"We've got plenty o' powder'n shot, and thyers ducks and birds enough. And this lake's full of fish."
"But we must leave some time. We could not stay here through the winter."
"We kin git off somewhar bime-by. I dunno what all this business means—whether the Injins is killin' off everybody or not. Sunthin' 'll happen one o' these days."
It was impossible to plan for the future, for no one could tell what a day might bring forth. It was evident to the young exiles that the lake settlement had been destroyed, and the greater portion of the people killed, though they had no positive knowledge of the extent of the horrible massacre. They did not know, what was really true, that the onslaught of the savages extended over hundreds of miles of territory, and that its victims were numbered by hundreds.
When Ethan and Fanny had finished their breakfast, Wahena was unbound and permitted to eat all he wanted. His appetite did not seem to be at all impaired by his imprisonment, for he ate with a greediness which threatened to make serious inroads upon the scanty stock of provisions. While he was thus occupied, Fanny sang one of her Sunday school hymns, a sad and plaintive air, which not only moved Ethan to the depths of his heart, but visibly affected the little savage. Noticing the effect, she followed up the impression until she was surprised to see Wahena offer her his hand.
THE NIGHT ATTACK.
Fanny sang "Sweet Home" to the young Indian, with the feeling that there was no longer a spot on earth which she could call by that endearing name. By this time, Mr. Grant, with Bertha and Fanny, were in Europe, and it would be months before she could see them again. Her uncle had probably been killed by the war party of Lean Bear, while returning to his home, as the possession of his horses by the Indians indicated. Her aunt lay mangled and unburied near the house which had been her happy home. The settlement was doubtless broken up and deserted; for all who had not been killed or captured by the Indians must have fled to the woods and the prairies for safety.
The feeling of loneliness in Fanny gave to her song a touching pathos, which, with the sad sweetness of the melody itself, made the great tears roll down the bronzed checks of Ethan, and touched the heart of even the young savage. Wahena looked long and earnestly at Fanny, when he had finished his breakfast. The music pleased him, and its charms literally soothed his savage breast. She sang other songs, and he began to make friendly demonstrations towards her, which ended in the offer of his hand. She accepted the proffered token of friendship.
Wahena spoke to her, but of course she could not understand a word of his language. He made signs, using the earnest gestures peculiar to the Indians. He shook his head, pointed to her, and then to the shore of the lake in the direction of the settlement. She thought he meant to say that he would not permit his father to injure her; but she was not very sure. The young savage was certainly disposed to be her friend, and manifested his interest in her by all the means within his power.
"Well, Fanny, it's about time for me to go to work," said Ethan, after he had observed the demonstrations between her and Wahena for a time.
"What are you going to do, Ethan? I thought you had no work."
"Plenty of it, I reckon. 'Tain't no use to groan over what can't be helped. We may as well make the best on't."
"Of course we will not complain of what we cannot help. Ethan, do you know what my motto is?"
"Your what?" asked Ethan, with a vacant stare.
"That's sunthin' in Latin, or some outlandish lingo—ain't it?"
"Mine is in plain English."
"I've hearn tell of some Latin stuff they called a motto out in Illinois; I forgit what it was now."
"'Hope and have,' is my motto."
"What does that mean? 'Tain't Latin, but it might as well be."
"It means hope for the best, and then you will work the harder to have it."
"Thet jest fits my case."
"The motto was given me by a very good girl in New York, who was dying of consumption. They were the last words she spoke, and they were engraved on her tombstone. I will tell you the whole story about her some time."
"I should like to hear it, fust rate; but I reckon we've got sunthin' else to do jest now. I hope we shall hev sunthin' like a house for you to sleep in to-night."
"Hoping alone will not build the house, Ethan; besides, we don't hope much for that which we are not willing to work for."
"I know thet; and I'm go'n to work on the house right away now," replied Ethan, as he rose from the ground, and took his shovel.
"I will help you, for I hope we shall have a house to keep us out of the wet if it should happen to rain."
"You are nothin' but a gal," said Ethan, rather contemptuously.
"But I can help you. How shall you build a house?"
"Well, I don't quite know."
"I can help you think, if nothing more, Ethan."
"So you kin, Fanny. You are right down smart. I don't know as we should ever hev got over to this island ef't hadn't been for you."
"Do you think we could get the boat out of the water, Ethan?"
"I reckon we could," replied Ethan, rubbing his head to stimulate his ideas. "I kin cut some rollers, and kinder pry it along."
Fanny minutely detailed her plan for a house, which, after much explanation, was adopted. As soon as Ethan comprehended her idea, he became very enthusiastic for its execution.
"I reckon we must tie up the young Injin afore we go to work," said he, taking the cord, and moving towards Wahena.
The little savage looked appealingly at Fanny, placed his hand upon his breast, shook his head violently, and frequently pointed to the shore of the lake. She interpreted his signs to mean that he would not attempt to escape, and she so informed Ethan.
"I dassent trust him," said he.
"He can't get away if he tries," replied Fanny.
"But he may take one of the guns and kill one on us."
"Put all the weapons out of the way, then, and I will keep watch of him," added Fanny, who wished to conciliate Wahena.
Ethan consented, and climbing the tree with his axe, he commenced cutting off the large branches which were to be used in the construction of the house.
The plan which Fanny had devised was a very simple one. The slope of the land on the island was about four feet to a rod. The bateau was to be rolled up the acclivity about thirty feet, and turned bottom upward. The lower end was then to be gradually pried up until it was level with the upper end, leaving a space of four feet under the higher part. Stakes were to be set in the ground under the gunwale to support the boat, and form the sides of the house. The smaller branches of the tree were to be interlaced in the stakes, beginning at the bottom, and the sods and the dirt thrown from the inside against this network, leaving the ground level under the roof.
The bateau was sixteen feet long and five feet wide, and the most difficult part of the work was getting it out of the water, and moving it up the hill. Ethan and Fanny worked as hard as they could till sundown with rollers and levers, when they had the boat in position, and the end elevated to the required level. Wahena showed his gratitude for the freedom granted to him by assisting in the labor, and made himself very useful.
After the party had taken their suppers, Ethan made a bed of the blankets and quilts for Fanny, under the boat, covering the open sides with the sail and a coverlet.
"Where are you going to sleep, Ethan?" she asked.
"I ain't go'n to sleep nowhar," replied he.
"You are not going to stay up all night."
"That's jest what I'm go'n to do."
"S'pose'n them Injins should kim over in the night."
"I thought you said they could not get over here."
"I reckon they can't, ef I keep my eyes open."
"But you must sleep."
"Ef I do, I must do my sleepin' in the daytime. Ef we should all go to sleep hyer, we might wake up in the mornin', and find our throats cut. 'Tain't safe, nohow."
"You have worked hard to-day, Ethan, and you must be very tired."
"I am kinder tired."
"We will take turns keeping watch, as they do on board a ship."
"I don't know nothin' about a ship."
"I will keep watch the first half of the night, and you may the other half."
"S'pose'n the Injins should kim; what would you do then?"
"I can call you."
"Well, Fanny, ef you ain't very tired, I agree to it, for I feel jest as ef I should go to sleep now."
"I am not so tired as I have been, and not so tired as you are. I will take the first watch. But do you really think the Indians will come to the island?"
"I hope not, but they might."
"How do you expect them to come?"
"I dunno; but I shouldn't wonder ef Lean Bear sent some of his redskins over arter that boy."
Fanny did not see how the savages could reach them at this distance from the main land, but she agreed with Ethan that it would be better to keep watch, and be on the safe side. Wahena's hands were tied together, and he was bound to one of the posts under the boat, in such a manner that he could lie down and sleep comfortably. Ethan stretched himself on the bed he had prepared for his companion, and was soon asleep.
Fanny seated herself under the tree at the top of the hill. It was not yet dark, and she had a full view of the water on every side. Until a later hour there was no possibility of a hostile approach by the Indians, and she gave herself up to the melancholy reflections excited by the tragic events of the day. Though a great many thoughts passed through her mind, there was only one which it is important to record here; and that was, the feeling that she was better prepared for the bitter experience upon which she had now entered than she would have been a few months before. If her friends knew that she was a changed being, the fact was still more evident to her own consciousness.
A religious faith and hope had sustained her in those terrible hours, when the shrieks of the mangled and the cries of the dying had pierced her heart, and when torture and death stared her full in the face. Ethan, in his own quaint terms, had confessed that her prayers and her unwavering trust in God had awed him and solemnized his mind, thus raising him to a level with the momentous issues he was to meet. She felt that her prayers for herself and the brave prairie boy had been answered, not only in their effect upon themselves, but more directly in the turning aside of the knife which had been pointed at their hearts. Renewedly she thanked God for his goodness; and renewedly, as she thought of the dying Jenny, she felt that to hope was to have.
Thus thinking of the past, thus hoping and praying for the future, the darkness gathered upon her, and with her mind thus illuminated by divine wisdom, the words of the Psalmist seemed to be literally verified, and even the darkness became light about her. As the shades of evening deepened over her, cutting off her view of the distant shores of the lake, she felt the necessity of a more vigilant watchfulness.
Hour after hour wore heavily away, and still Ethan slept. Fanny had no idea of the time of night, and could not tell whether or not it was time to call her companion. She knew how hard he had worked during the day, and she resolved not to call him as long as she could keep awake herself. Her position was by the tree; but in order to rouse her torpid faculties, she took a walk around the island. When she reached the side of their narrow domain where they had landed in the morning, she was startled by what she thought was a slight splashing in the water, at a considerable distance from her. After the manner of the Indians, she lay down upon the ground, and placed her ear near the surface of the lake, listening with trembling interest for any sounds which might be borne over the still waters.
This expedient satisfied her that she had not been mistaken in the sound. She distinctly heard the light dip of a paddle in the water, worked with the utmost caution. She was almost paralyzed with terror at the thought of a night visit from the savages, and dreaded the sharp crack of the rifle and the flashing of the knife. She strained her eyes to discover any object on the water, but she could see nothing. She hastened to the house, and roused Ethan.
"I'm comin'," said he, only half awake, and turned over to finish his nap.
"Ethan, Ethan!" gasped Fanny, shaking him with all her might, "the Indians are almost upon us."
If she had said Indians before, it would have awakened him in a moment. He sprang to his feet, and rushed out of the house.
"What's the matter?" he demanded.
"The Indians are coming—at least some one is coming, for I heard a paddle on the lake."
"The pesky sarpints! I was afeerd they'd kim. Whar be they?"
"They are coming from the settlement."
"Consarn 'em!" added Ethan, as he grasped his two guns, and ran down to the shore.
He listened, and soon satisfied himself that Fanny's fears were not groundless. He sent his companion for the revolver, and proceeded with great coolness and self-possession to make his preparations for repelling the assault, for he had no doubt that one was intended. It was a full hour—an hour of the most intense anxiety and suspense to the young exiles—before they discovered the wily foe stealthily approaching their retreat.
A little later they could see enough to determine that the assailants consisted of four Indians, on a raft. Two of them, on their knees, were paddling the unwieldy craft, and the others appeared to be gazing at the island.
Ethan had made a rest for the rifle of a crotched stick, for the piece was too heavy for him to hold up to his shoulder. He took careful aim at the group of dark forms on the raft, and fired.
THE VISITOR AT THE ISLAND.
"Ho, wo, wo!" yelled the savages on the raft; and their tones sounded much like the barking of a large mastiff.
Ethan saw one of their number fall, and the commotion in the group indicated that the savages had been thrown into confusion by Ethan's well-directed shot. They ceased paddling, and appeared to be consulting in regard to their next movement.
"Lay right down flat on the ground, so thet they can't see you, Fanny," said Ethan, as he hastily loaded the rifle, on which he principally depended.
"Won't they go away now you have found out they are coming?" asked she, as she obeyed the requirement.
"I dunno; we shall see. I don't keer much whether they go or kim. Keep still, and don't move. I reckon they can't see us, and don't know jest whar to fire."
"They can see you, Ethan."
"No, they can't," replied the resolute boy, as he took careful aim a second time with the rifle.
He fired, but apparently without any result, except another yell from the savages. Three of them could still be seen standing and kneeling on the raft. As soon as the second shot had been fired, they reached their conclusion, and commenced paddling with all their might towards the island. Ethan now took the fowling-piece, which he had charged with duck-shot, and fired again. The Indians yelled as before, and one of them seemed to be wounded, for he ceased to paddle, and the third man immediately took his place.
Both of Ethan's guns were now empty; but he had the revolver, which was good for six shots, though the fire could hardly be effective at the present distance of the raft from the island. Keeping this weapon in reserve, he loaded the two guns again. It was very strange that the Indians did not fire at him, and he could not tell whether it was because they had no guns, or because they were afraid of killing Wahena. The party had probably been sent by Lean Bear to recover his son, and the success of the expedition was to depend upon finding the exiles asleep. The good judgment of Ethan had therefore saved them from the calamity of a surprise.
When Ethan had completed the loading of the guns, the raft was within four or five rods of the shore of the island, and the Indians were paddling vigorously, though the unwieldy craft they navigated moved very slowly through the water.
"Don't you stop here no longer, Fanny; 'taint no place for you, nohow. Jest crawl up to the tree, and keep behind it. Keep both eyes wide open tight, but don't let the redskins see you."
"But what will become of you?" asked Fanny, unwilling to leave her bold defender even for a moment.
"Never you mind me; go right off quick. Crawl up to the tree, and I'll soon fix 'em."
"Ho, wo, wo!" yelled the Indians, apparently satisfied that their work was accomplished, for the raft was within two rods of the shore.
Then one of them dropped his paddle, and, with an unearthly scream, leaped into the water, which was now so shallow that he could wade ashore. Ethan took good aim at this one, and fired. Though not killed, the sharp cry the savage uttered convinced Ethan that he was wounded. Without waiting to learn the effect of his shot on the rest of the party, he fired again at the same man, who was only partially disabled. The savage in the water, who had been the most dangerous assailant, uttered another yell of pain, and his companions seemed to be paralyzed by the continuation of the fire upon them. Probably they supposed the boy had but one gun, and, when he fired it, that he would not have time to load again before they could reach him. Ethan then discharged one ball from the revolver, which added still more to their confusion, for they were jabbering like wild turkeys.
"Go 'way!" shouted Ethan. "Go 'way, or I'll kill Wahena."
"No kill," replied one of the Indians, whose voice sounded like that of the messenger Ethan had met in the morning.
"Go 'way then!"
"Go then—consarn ye!" muttered Ethan, as, taking advantage of the confusion in the ranks of the enemy, he loaded the two guns again.
The two Indians on the raft helped the wounded one in the water to mount the platform again. Two of the three were evidently wounded, and it was not an easy thing for them to paddle the clumsy craft away from the island. One of the savages worked at the paddle for a while; but it was not till the more able of the other two assisted him that any sensible progress was made.
"Creation hokee!" exclaimed Ethan, when he was fully conscious that he had won the victory. "I've done 'em, Fanny!"
"Have they gone?" she asked, when she had joined him.
"They are go'n as fast as they kin; but I reckon they won't git back to the settlement till some time into mornin'. We're all right now, Fanny, and you kin go to sleep as soon as you've a mind to."
She was too excited to think of sleeping, and she sat with Ethan on the shore for an hour, talking about their deliverance from the peril that had menaced them. Fanny was devoutly grateful to God, who had again preserved them; and when she had uttered the prayer her heart would not permit her to keep back, she felt more composed, and retired to the cabin, where she soon dropped asleep from sheer exhaustion.
This was the only attempt made by the savages to capture the exiles on the island. The next day, they continued to work upon the house, interrupted only by a heavy shower in the forenoon; but the boat roof afforded them a perfect shelter from the pouring rain. It was three days before the house was finished; but when it was completed, the wanderers were as proud of it as though it had been a Fifth Avenue mansion. At night they took turns in keeping the watch; and when the house was done, both of the exiles were nearly worn out by the hard work they had done, and the loss of sleep to which they had been subjected. They decided that it would be best to rest a few days before they commenced upon certain additions which they contemplated.
The stock of provisions was already much reduced, and the question of supplies for the future demanded attention. There were plenty of fish in the lake, but none could be caught in the shallow water which bordered the island. It was necessary to go out a short distance, and Ethan found a couple of logs among some drift wood, gathered on the beach, with which he constructed a raft, just large enough to accommodate himself.
To prevent accidents, he tied together all the lines which had been used about the sail, and pushed off the length of his rope. There were fish-lines in the boat, and bait was obtained on the island. In an hour Ethan returned to the shore with a large muskellunge and half a dozen large lake trout. The problem of supplies, therefore, seemed to be solved, especially as there were abundant opportunities to shoot the wild duck, plover, and grouse, that visited the little domain of the exiles.
However pleasant it would be to follow out in detail the daily life of the residents of the isle, our space prevents us from doing so. A fortnight of severe labor and constant watchfulness was passed by the exiles, when a great event occurred to them. Ethan had one day moored out his raft the length of the line from the shore, on the side of the island where they had first disembarked, when his attention was attracted by an object on the water, in the direction of the settlement. He watched it with interest and anxiety, and soon ascertained that it was a raft, on which stood a single person, who was paddling towards the island.
Ethan immediately pulled in his raft, and went for his fire-arms, which he carefully loaded, in readiness for a hostile visit from a foe. The stranger approached very slowly, and the exiles were at last satisfied that he was not an Indian. As he drew nearer to the island, he waved a white rag, which was intended and understood as a sign of peace.
"Who can it be?" asked Fanny, greatly excited by the incident.
"I dunno; can't tell yet," replied Ethan.
"Do you think it is an enemy?"
"I don't reckon it is."
Both of them continued to watch the approaching visitor, until he had come within twenty rods of the shore. He did not look like any human being that Fanny had ever seen before. His clothes were tattered, and of all colors. Great patches of tent canvas were sewed over a tunic made of red and yellow blankets. He wore Indian leggins, and his head was covered with a coon-skin cap. His hair and beard, of grizzly gray, were tangled and matted in knots and snarls. Crossed on his breast were the straps by which were supported his powder-horn and shot-flask.
"What a strange-looking man!" exclaimed Fanny, when the raft had come near enough to enable her to make out the uncouth object upon it.
"I know him now," replied Ethan, "though I hevn't seen him afore for more 'n a year."
"Who is he?"
"Rattleshag—leastwise that's the only name anybody knows him by. He's a hunter 'n trapper that goes roamin' round over the peraries."
"Where does he live?"
"He don't live nowhar; he goes travellin' round, livin' on the white folks and Injins. They say he is the best shot west of the Miss'sip."
"He won't shoot us—will he?"
"No; he won't hurt nothin'."
The raft came up to the shore, and the trapper landed.
"How d'ye do, Rattleshag?" said Ethan.
The strange visitor made no reply, but walked deliberately up to the young exiles, gave his hand first to Ethan, then to Fanny.
"Toler'ble, considering," said he, at last.
"Whar did you kim from?"
"Over thar," he answered, pointing to the settlement, and shaking his head.
"Anybody thar?" asked Ethan, anxiously.
"No white folks?"
"All gone: some on 'em's killed, and some on 'em's kerried off. Awful times, everywhar," added the trapper, shaking his head mournfully. "Whar's the Injin boy?"
"Up thyer," answered Ethan, pointing to the cabin where Wahena had been secured as soon as the raft was discovered, for another attack from the Indians had been anticipated. "You may let him loose again, Fanny."
She was always glad to perform this office for her captive friend, and she soon returned to the shore with Wahena.
"He's all safe—ain't he?" asked Rattleshag.
"Yes; we hain't hurt him; and he's as fond of Fanny as a pet puppy dog."
"Glad on't. I was tooken by the Injins over thar, and got nigh bein' skelped. Lean B'ar let me go to kim over here arter the boy," added the trapper.
"We can't let him go," said Ethan.
"I reckon you mought."
Ethan explained in what manner the presence of Wahena had saved them from the Indians.
"We can't spare him till we get out of the woods ourselves," added Ethan.
"Then I must go back and be skelped," replied Rattleshag, solemnly. "I promised Lean B'ar thet I'd git the boy, or else I'd kim back myself; and old Rattleshag never broke his word to Injin or white man."
"Thet's so," said Ethan, who knew the reputation of the trapper for simple honesty and fidelity.
"Hev you got a boat?" asked Rattleshag.
"Then I reckon we kin go down to Mankato. The sogers is drivin' the Injins back. Thyer's ben awful times all through the country; more 'n a thousand men, women, and children hes ben killed. I've trevelled all through from Big Stone, dodgin' the Injins all the way. They are as savage as painters. I kim down hyer to git away from 'em, but I found they'd ben hyer too," added the trapper, with another melancholy shake of the head. "It's awful."
Rattleshag over-estimated the number of victims to this terrible massacre, though it has been stated as high as seven hundred. He related to the young exiles his adventures in his long journey through the devoted region which had been the scene of so much cruelty and bloodshed. He told of the men, women, and children he had seen lying dead and mangled in the deserted settlements; of the wounded, starving, and dying fugitives he had met in their flight; and of the desolation which lay in the track of the merciless savages.
The listeners were appalled and horrified at the sad and bloody tale. Fanny wept, and Ethan with difficulty choked down the emotions which agitated him.
"What shall be did?" asked the trapper, at last. "Kin you let the boy go, or shall I go back and be skelped?"
"You certainly shall not go back!" exclaimed Fanny.
An earnest consultation followed, and a plan was soon agreed upon by which Rattleshag could be saved.
THE INDIAN AMBUSH.
Fanny was the originator of the scheme by which it was expected to save the party from the ferocity of the Indians, and enable the trapper to keep his plighted faith with them. The exiles, accompanied by their new-found friend, were to descend the river in the bateau to Mankato. Wahena was to be taken with them to some point above their destination, where he was to be delivered to his friends, when his presence as a hostage was no longer necessary to the safety of his captors.
This was thought to be the only safe plan, for even Rattleshag did not pretend to believe that the Indians would not be treacherous when Wahena was no longer in peril. It was arranged that the trapper should return to Lean Bear, and inform him of the terms on which his son could be saved. He was instructed to tell the savage chief that Ethan could fire eight shots a minute, and that Wahena would surely atone with his life for any treachery on the part of the Indians.
Rattleshag put off on his raft again, and paddled towards the settlement. It was late in the evening when he returned with the intelligence that Lean Bear had accepted the terms, though very reluctantly, for they compelled him to send a party of his braves on a journey of seventy miles to receive Wahena when he was delivered up. Rattleshag had been obliged to argue the point with him; but the assurance that the boy would certainly be shot if he did not yield, induced him to comply. Six Indian horsemen were deputed to follow the boat on the banks of the river, and insure them against any attack from the wandering savages whom the exiles might encounter.
The next morning the bateau was lowered from its position, rolled down to the lake, and launched. The muscular arm of the trapper rendered this a comparatively easy task, and it was accomplished in a few hours. The mast was stepped, the sail bent on, and the rigging adjusted under the direction of Fanny, who was more familiar with such matters than either of her companions. Such provisions as remained were stowed on board, cooked ready for use.
At noon, with a fresh breeze from the westward, the party embarked, and, with Fanny at the helm, sailed for the outlet at the north-east corner of the lake. The party were very much fatigued after the hard work required in making preparations for their departure, and independently of the exciting circumstances of leaving the island home, and the prospect of soon being in a place of entire safety, they enjoyed the rest afforded by the voyage.
"What we go'n to do when we get to Mankato, Fanny?" asked Ethan.
"I'm sure I don't know."
"We hain't got no friends thar."
"Nor anywhere," replied Fanny, sadly. "I have no near relations now that my uncle and aunt are gone."
"I never had none; but I s'pose I kin go to work, as I allers did," added Ethan, cheerfully.
"I doubt not we shall find plenty of friends. I am sure that Woodville, where I have lived the last two years, will be open to me."
"I reckon we needn't borrow any trouble arter we git out of this scrape. Ef we could stand what we've gone through with, we hain't got nothin' to fear."
"I have no clothes but those I wear, and not a cent of money," added Fanny, rather disturbed by the prospect before her.
"I reckon 'twill be all right," said Ethan.
"I have no doubt it will. I do not mean to complain. We have so much to be grateful for, that it would be wicked to repine at our lot."
"Thet's my notion; and we won't think what we're go'n to do till we get to Mankato."
This was a wise resolve, though it would be rather difficult to carry it out. In a short time the bateau arrived at the outlet of the lake, and on the bank of the river the exiles discovered their Indian escort, which had been waiting since the middle of the forenoon for them. At this point the serenity of the voyage was interrupted, for the river was crooked, and the navigation often very difficult. The boat did not draw more than a foot of water, but in some places it was not easy to find even this depth.
Fanny found that all her slender knowledge of boating was called into use, for the bends in the river were so frequent that the boat was headed towards nearly every point of the compass within a single hour. Her progress was necessarily very slow, and the Indians on the shore soon began to manifest their impatience by grunting and growling. As the bateau proceeded, Fanny became more skilful in its management. She soon learned where the deepest water might be found, and instead of attempting to cut across the bends, she followed the current round the broadest sweep; but, with the best she could do, it was occasionally necessary for Ethan and Rattleshag to resort to the poles to push her over the shoal places.
At dark the question came up whether the party should continue the voyage during the night, or moor the boat, and sail only by daylight. Of course the Indians on the shore could not continue the journey without stopping to rest and feed their horses; but a consultation was had with them, and it was decided that the escort should divide into two parties, one on each side of the river, and ride forward ten or fifteen miles, then halt and await the coming of the boat. The river had received two or three large tributaries above the point they had reached, and the navigation was less difficult as the stream became broader and deeper.
"Now, Fanny, I reckon I kin steer this boat," said Ethan, after the arrangements had been made, and the escort had gone forward. "I will make up a bed for you for'ad, and you shall go to sleep. One on us kin sleep jest as well as not, all the time."
"I was thinking of that myself," replied Fanny. "We shall save a great deal of time if we can go by night as well as day."
"I reckon we shall; and the sooner we git to Mankato, the better we shall like it. The little Injin's gone to sleep now."
"Do you think you can steer the boat, Ethan?"
"I know I kin. I've been kinder watchin' the thing ever sence we started, and I reckon I know sunthin' about it," replied Ethan, as he went forward to prepare a bed for Fanny.
"Are you not tired, Rattleshag?" asked Fanny of the trapper, who sat forward of her, gazing intently down the river, and seldom speaking a word.
"No, miss, I'm never tired," he replied.
"Where do you sleep when you are travelling over the broad prairies?"
"Sometimes in an Indian tepee, but generally allers on the ground."
"While the boat goes along so well, two of us might sleep, for it is only necessary to have one at the helm."
"I kin stand it without much sleep, miss. I kin ketch a nap while I set here. I've often slep standin' up agin a tree when the wolves was thick about me. Old Rattleshag is tough and hard."
"Now your bed is ready, Fanny," said Ethan, coming aft.
"Thank you, Ethan; you are very kind, and I am tired enough to sleep like a log. Now, if you will take the tiller, I will see what kind of work you make of it."
Ethan took the helm, and at first made the usual miscalculations of an unexperienced steersman; but Fanny soon instructed him so that he steered very well, and she went forward to her couch. In a whisper she said the prayer which she never omitted, and covering herself with blankets, was soon fast asleep.
After dark, the wind was very light and baffling, but the river was not so tortuous in its course, and the progress of the boat was rather more satisfactory than it had been during the afternoon. Ethan was very considerate of his fair companion, and neglected her injunction to call her in a few hours. He had given the helm to Rattleshag in the middle of the night, and gone to sleep himself. At daylight the trapper was at his post, and both the young exiles were still sleeping away the fatigues of the preceding day. The boat had not yet come up with the escort, who had probably gone more than the fifteen miles agreed upon.
Rattleshag sat at the helm, gazing fixedly down the river. He looked like a statue, and he sat so still that it was hard to believe he ever had moved, or ever would do so. His long rifle lay at his side, at rest like himself.
The bateau was approaching a clump of trees which grew on the bank of the river, when the crack of a rifle was heard, and a bullet whizzed over the water. Rattleshag started, sprang to his feet, and grasped the tiller with his left hand, while the blood trinkled down the ends of his fingers from a wound in his right arm. He glanced hastily around him, and then, putting the helm up, ran the boat alongside the shore opposite that from which the shot had come. The bateau grounded in the shallow water, and her grating upon the gravel roused Ethan from his slumber.
"The Injins is firin' on us," said Rattleshag, coolly, as he took up his long rifle.
"Whar be they?" demanded Ethan, seizing his weapons.
"Over thar," replied the trapper, pointing to the clump of trees.
The first shot was now followed by a second, which fortunately hit none of the party. By this time Fanny was awake; but Ethan peremptorily bade her lie still, so that the hostile Indians could not see her. Near the point where the boat had grounded there was a group of trees, which promised to afford the voyagers a partial shelter from the bullets of the enemy, and Rattleshag thought they had better take a position there.
"Now run for it," said Ethan to Fanny, as he gave her the revolver.
"I am not afraid," she replied, as she took the pistol and ran to the covert of the trees.
Ethan and the trapper followed her; but the moment they showed themselves, the report of several rifles was heard, followed by the whistling of the bullets through the air, though the distance was so great that the shots were harmless.
"Now, we'll give 'em some," said Ethan.
"'Tain't no use," answered Rattleshag, seating himself on the ground behind one of the trees. "Don't waste your lead for nothin'. You can't hit 'em."
"But they have hit you. Are you hurt much?"
"No; 'tain't wuth mindin'."
"Let me do up your wound, Rattleshag," interposed Fanny, tearing off a piece of her calico dress for the purpose.
"The blood kinder bothers me, and you may," said the trapper, as he bared his muscular arm.
The ball had ploughed through the fleshy part of the arm, inflicting a severe, though not dangerous, wound. Fanny bound it up as well as she could, with lint made from her linen collar, and Rattleshag declared that it felt "fust rate."
Wahena was still in the boat, where Ethan had taken the precaution to tie him to the mast, after first binding his arms behind him. He still lay in the bottom of the boat, the consciousness of his own danger preventing him from showing himself.
"We mought hev to stop here all day," said the trapper, after they had waited some time for a further demonstration on the part of the Indians.
"As long as we are safe, we need not mind that," replied Fanny.
"I reckon we ain't safe much," added Ethan.
He had scarcely uttered the words before a savage yell was heard from the enemy on the other side of the river.
"They're jumpin' inter the water to kim over here," said Rattleshag. "I don't like to shoot 'em, but I s'pose I must."
"I like it," replied Ethan, who had not yet conquered his hatred of the redskins.
"Don't be 'n a hurry, boy. Don't waste your lead," interposed the trapper, as Ethan was taking aim. "There ain't no more 'n six on 'em in the water, and we kin afford to wait till they git a little nearer. We kin fire shots enough to kill the whole on 'em without loadin' up."
"Who be they?" asked Ethan, trying to be as cool as the hardy trapper.
"Be they Lean B'ar's men?"
"I reckon they ain't."
"I was afeerd the redskins that kim down to keep us safe had turned agin us."
"I reckon they hain't. They'd be afeerd we'd shoot the boy."
The half dozen savages in the water were wading across the river towards the bateau, evidently in the belief that the party had deserted her. They continued to hoot and yell, while they advanced, as though they intended to storm a garrisoned fortress, instead of capturing a deserted bateau.
"I reckon thet'll do now," said Rattleshag, as he raised his long rifle to his shoulder, and aimed at one of the savages. "Don't you fire, Ethan, till I've done."
He discharged his piece, and fully sustained his reputation as a dead shot, for the foremost of the Indians dropped, and was carried down the stream by the current.
"Don't you fire, Ethan," repeated the trapper, as the enthusiastic boy raised his gun. "No need o' killin' no more on 'em."
The remaining Indians in the water had discovered their mistake, and were making towards the opposite shore with all possible haste. They had not expected such a reception, and appeared to be glad to escape with no greater loss.
"Ho, ho, ho!" shouted other Indians on the shore.
"We are gittin' into a bad scrape," said Ethan, dissatisfied because Rattleshag had prevented him from firing at the savages. "There's more 'n a million on 'em over thar."
"Them's Lean B'ar's Injins that's yellin'. Don't you see 'em? They was nigh enough to hear the shootin' and the yellin', and they've kim back to keep them redskins from hurtin' on us—don't you see?" added Rattleshag, pointing over at the three mounted savages who had just dashed up to the bank on the other side of the stream.
"So they be; and hyer kims the rest on 'em."
At this instant the other three of the escort galloped wildly over the prairie, and before the voyagers could reach the boat the Indians intercepted them. Like those on the other side, they uttered wild yells, and seemed to be as much excited as though they had been actually engaged in battle.
The exiles had not intended to hold any communication with their escort, dreading the treacherous nature of the savages; and when the three Indians approached, Ethan promptly placed himself in a defensive attitude. Though the escort continued to yell, they did not offer to attack the voyagers. They stopped on the bank of the river, where the bateau lay. One of them dismounted, and leaped into the boat. With his scalping-knife he cut the bonds of Wahena, and taking the boy in his arms, bounded to the shore again.
Ethan's heart sank within him, when he saw that the captive, upon whose presence he had relied for the safety of the party, was wrested from them. Rushing forward with his rifle, he took aim at Wahena, disregarding the earnest remonstrances of Rattleshag.
"No shoot! no shoot!" exclaimed one of the savages—the one who had before acted as Lean Bear's messenger. "No kill, no hurt."
"Don't fire," pleaded Fanny. "If you should kill Wahena, they would butcher us all."
The Indian boy saw her as she stepped forward, and immediately began to talk in the most earnest manner to the savage who held him.
"No hurt!" shouted the spokesman of the Indians. "You go—no kill; no kill, no hurt."
Wahena, after struggling for some time with the brawny savage who held him, escaped from his grasp, and, to the surprise of the voyagers, rushed over to the spot where Fanny stood. Seizing her hand, he shook it warmly, and then began a series of violent gesticulations, which were at first unintelligible. He dropped on his knees, clasped his hands, looked up to the sky, and then beat his breast. He pointed to the boat, intimating by his signs that she was to go on board. She obeyed, and was followed by Ethan and the trapper. The party stepped on board, and to the astonishment of all, Wahena followed them, and took the seat he had occupied during the voyage.
Ethan and Rattleshag pushed off, and when the bateau began to move down the river, Wahena shouted to the Indians, and pointed down the river, indicating that they were to follow, as they had done before. The Indian boy's signs on shore were now interpreted to be an expression of his gratitude to Fanny for her kindness to him, and a prayer to the Great Spirit for her safety.
If the party in the boat were surprised at the singular conduct of Wahena, the Indians on shore were still more astonished; but he spoke a language which they could understand, and they sullenly resumed their march down the river.
The captive was now treated as a friend. Though he could not have known what the contract between his father and the voyagers had been, except so far as he had learned it from the subsequent events, he had voluntarily surrendered himself, and insisted upon seeing Fanny conveyed to a place of safety. Almost every day while they had been on the island, she had sung her sweet songs to Wahena, and he had listened to them with rapt attention. As the boat slowly went its way, he begged her by signs to sing, and she complied. He expressed his pleasure, which was shared by Ethan and Rattleshag, by the most eloquent signs.
During the day, Ethan and Rattleshag slept, while Fanny steered the boat. Wahena, no longer in bonds, kept close to her. He intimated in his dumb language that he wanted to take the helm, and gently took the tiller from her. He was soon proficient in steering, for there was now nothing to do but keep the boat in the middle of the river, and occasionally to trim the sail.
At night Fanny and Wahena went to sleep again, and the management of the boat was divided between Ethan and the trapper. The next morning the bateau had entered the Big Woods, and the sail was nearly useless, for the forest obstructed the wind, and the voyagers were mainly dependent upon the current of the river for the little progress they made; but on the afternoon of the third day of the journey, they came in sight of a town, which Rattleshag said was not more than twelve miles from Mankato. The Indian escort then hailed the boat.
"No go more," said the spokesman.
"I reckon 'twon't be safe for 'em to go any further," added Rattleshag.
Fanny ran the boat up to the shore, and Ethan, always dreading the treachery of the savages, kept his gun and revolver in readiness for immediate use. The time had come for Wahena to take leave of the party. He was profoundly affected at the thought of bidding adieu to Fanny; he did not appear to like Ethan or the trapper. He pressed her hand, looked very sad, and made his demonstrative gestures. She kissed him on the cheek, pointed up to the sky, and laid her hands upon his head. If she could have spoken to him, she would have expressed the wish that he would abandon the savage life of his people, and become a true man; and she would have been glad to teach him the religion of the Saviour, now so dear to her, and to show him how to hope and have.
Wahena turned slowly and sadly away from her, and walked to the Indians who were waiting for him. A stout fellow lifted him on the horse in front of him, and dashed away; but Fanny could see him trying to obtain a last view of her, as the savages entered the forest. She missed him very much as the boat continued on her course. The Indian boy was much attached to her, and she found herself much interested in him. She has not seen him since they parted, and probably they never will meet again in this world; but her blessing will go with him, and perhaps her gentle influence will soften his savage nature, and be reflected in his kindness to the white people with whom he may come in contact.
At sundown the bateau passed into the Minnesota, and at dark the party landed at Mankato, only three miles below the mouth of the Blue Earth, on which the last part of the voyage had been made.
We need not say that the party found plenty of warm friends; for when it was known that they were fugitives from the Indian massacre, every house and every heart was open to them. Troops in large numbers had gone forward for the suppression of the insurrection, and confidence was in a great measure restored. The place was full of people who had escaped, and the savages were being captured and sent hither for trial.
The party were accommodated at the house of a trader, who supplied them with all they wanted, both of food and clothing. It was now time to think of the future. By the merciful interposition of Providence, the exiles had been saved from death and captivity; but they had no home, and no relations. Fanny knew what a warm welcome awaited her at Woodville, and she was desirous of going there; but she had no money to pay for such a long journey. She mentioned her wish to the trader, and he promptly offered to advance her a sufficient sum to enable her and Ethan to reach their destination.
"Where are you going, Rattleshag?" asked Fanny, when her own and Ethan's future movements had been arranged.
"Why don't you join the sogers, and help put down the Injins?" asked Ethan. "You are a dead shot, and they'd like to hev you."
"I can't do thet," replied Rattleshag, shaking his head.
"Why not? They want all the good men they kin git, and you'd be wuth a heap to 'em, for you know all about the Injins,—whar to find 'em, and how to trap 'em," added Ethan, with considerable warmth; and he was a little inclined to offer his own services.
"The Injins hes allers ben my friends, and I don't want to help kill 'em. They've ben abused, and thet's what made 'em rise up agin the whites. They've ben cheated out of their land, and then cheated out of the money they ought to hev fur it. I pity 'em, and I shan't help kill 'em. I shall go back to the woods when the fightin' 's over, and live like I allers did."
The next day Ethan and Fanny shook hands with Rattleshag, and bidding him a cordial good by, started upon their long journey to the eastward. The prairie boy was greatly excited at the prospect of seeing the great cities of the country through which he was to pass. On cars and steamers where it was known that the boy and girl were refugees from the great Indian massacre, they were the lions of the hour. They were often called upon to tell their story of peril and death, and every one was kind and generous to them. They were frequently invited to private houses on the journey; but they declined all invitations, and hurried on as fast as steam could convey them to their destination, and arrived at Woodville without even stopping to sleep a night on the way.
Mrs. Green gave the exiles a motherly welcome. The fact that the massacre had extended to the settlement where Fanny's uncle resided had been published in the newspapers, and the housekeeper and servants believed that she had been one of its victims. She was welcomed, therefore, as one who had come from the grave. Ethan was regarded as a hero at the mansion and in its vicinity, and became a person of no little distinction.
Ethan French was a young man of no little manliness and independence. After he had spent a week in idleness, and had told the story of his escape from the Indians till it had become tiresome to him, he began to look about him for a situation in which he could earn his own living. But Mrs. Green induced him to remain at Woodville until the return of Mr. Grant; and he worked in the garden and stable.
Without waiting for instructions from Mr. Grant, the housekeeper forwarded to the kind-hearted trader the sum of money which he had advanced to pay the expenses of Fanny and Ethan from Mankato to Woodville. The money was accompanied by a letter of thanks from Fanny.
In November, the family returned from Europe. Mrs. Green had already informed them by letter of the safety, and of the arrival at Woodville, of Fanny Jane, as she was called in the house. Mr. Grant and his daughters had suffered a great deal of anxiety on her account, after they read the intelligence of the massacre, and they were heartily rejoiced to meet her again, after believing for months that she was dead, or worse than dead—a captive in the hands of the barbarous Indians.
Ethan, awkward and unaccustomed to good society, was overwhelmed by the kindness of what he called the "grand people." He was invited into the drawing-room, and from him and Fanny a very correct account of their adventures was obtained.
"Fanny Jane, I can hardly believe you are the same girl I had in my charge," exclaimed Miss Fanny, when both stories had been told and discussed.
"But I am," said the orphan girl, with a blush.
"I am sure none of us would have behaved so well in the midst of such trials," added Mrs. Sherwood. "It is terrible to think of."
"You cannot tell how thankful I am that all this happened after my visit to New York," continued the returned wanderer. "I could not, if I would, banish from my thoughts the image of Jenny Kent, who led me to believe in truth and goodness, and to strive to live for them."
"I should hev been skeered to death ef't hadn't been for Fanny. She was so good that she made me feel strong."
"And this is our Fanny Jane!" added Mr. Grant.
"I have tried to be good all the time," replied Fanny, wiping away a tear she could not repress.
"And you hev been!" ejaculated Ethan, with emphasis. "Creation hokee! nobody couldn't do no better, nohow!"
The family could not help laughing at the earnestness of Ethan.
"She's been the makin' o' me, ef I ever do come out anywhere," he continued.
"I have taught him to believe in goodness, to hope for it, and then labor to have it," said Fanny Jane.
"Hope and have," added Miss Fanny.
Mr. Grant promptly decided that Ethan's greatest need was a better education, and the prairie boy went to school with Fanny during the following winter. In the spring he talked like a civilized being; did not say "hyer" for here, nor "kim" for come, and has banished "creation hokee" from the list of his pet phrases. In the summer he went to learn the trade of a machinist, for which he has decided taste and ability, and the prospect is, that he will become a good and useful man, if not a brilliant one.
Mrs. Kent's husband returned home during Fanny's absence, having been "sick and in prison" in the rebel country. When he had drawn his pay, he insisted upon returning to Mr. Grant the sums advanced to his wife by her kind friends; but they persistently refused to accept them. He wept over his lost child, and thanked God for raising up such friends for her while he was absent.
Fanny still resides at Woodville; and having now completed her school course, she assists Mrs. Green in the management of the house. She is still true to her high resolves; still wears the emblematic anchor, and strives to be as pure and good as Jenny was. She occasionally visits the grave of her departed young friend, and always gathers new inspiration and new strength for the battle of life, as she reads on the marble tablet her dying words—Hope and Have.