A Devon cow and a red ox - that's all Teigue O'Dae wanted for his forest homestead. But a moss-soft heart made him throw his stake with a six-gun shrew--and a pen-full of Shawnee scalp trouble!
THE LOG CABIN WAS FIFTEEN by eighteen feet, nine feet to the rough hewn plates and fourteen to the gable roof of split pine shakes. Teigue O'Dae had built this wilderness home, with no other tools than an axe in his strong hands, an auger and an iron vrou. Now he tucked a long Deckard rifle under his left arm and whistled to a wolfish Seizer hound. The lean hard man was in his early thirties.
Slight and finely drawn from years of hard Army life and the hard work of reclaiming wild land on the frontier, O'Dae was tall, almost gangling. His hair was neither red nor gold, but somewhere between the two, waving down from the black squirrel skin cap to the leather cape of a deerskin hunting frock.
"Come on Pat," to the big black dog. "We hurry to see the beasties."
The beasties existed potentially in the leather pouch swinging at his belt between the big hunting knife and the tomahawk, in the form of various silver coins. He had saved the money to purchase a cow and an ox. A red cow for milk, butter and cheese, for buttermilk cooling in the spring to kill the thirst of hot days in the cornfield. A red-and-white ox to help with the work.
He walked three miles to a small tributary of the Little Muskingum where he had hidden away a dugout canoe.
HERDING their trail weary prisoners before them the Shawnees came out of the forest into the stump dotted clearing before Gebhard's Station on the Little Muskingum.
Riding in the lead was Flying Head, war chief of the Wolf Clan, looking the killer that he was. A dark, heavy-featured warrior, gaily bedecked in bright colored trader strouds, a blue and scarlet blanket draped about his lean waist. Behind him a straggling line of white women and children. Then a rear guard of armed warriors.
The wide gates of the high log stockade swung open. A guard of leather clad frontiersmen came out, long rifles on their arms, as Captain Elihue Gebhard went forward and signalled with uplifted hand for the savage cavalcade to halt a rifle-shot away.
"We are here," announced Flying Head, arrogantly and in a loud voice, speaking in Shawnee. "We bring the prisoners as we agreed."
"We receive the prisoners," replied the Captain,
"They remind you," explained the interpreter, "that the agreement was for an exchange of prisoners."
"We never took any Injun prisoners."
"They say if you have no prisoners to exchange, that after a drink of Strong Water they will talk trade."
A rough board trestle table was set up in the clearing a safe distance from the stockade. Captain Gebhard placed on it an earthenware pitcher of raw whisky and a pewter mug. He took out of his coat pocket a small canvas bag of silver. His clerk brought an armful of trade goods, a sheet of paper and a pencil for the record. Two riflemen advanced and stood behind him, with instructions to shoot Flying Head at the first sign of treachery.
"Let trade begin," the Captain sat down on a folding camp stool.
Flying Head dismounted and swaggered forward in all his barbaric splendor, standing across the table from the Captain. He drank a mug of the potent liquor without flinching, although tears watered his little bloodshot black eyes.
"Let those who claim ownership bring up their prisoners in turn," ordered the Captain. "One at a time."
The bargaining continued until all the prisoners were ransomed except a woman who sat in the background through it all, restrained by a surly old veteran of many Shawnee raids. Half a dozen Leather Shirts, who had come down to the Station hoping there would be women to be ransomed, pressed forward eagerly to have a look as the shouting Indian dragged his prisoner to her feet and hustled her along to the place where the Captain sat.
"Head up, gal-let's see how ye favor."
She stood tall for a woman, in a single garment of worn and dirty deerskin, sleeveless, reaching to her bony knees. It had once been the overdress of a buxom Shawnee squaw. Bare feet and thin legs were grimed with the sweat and dust of a long trail. Black hair was tangled and windblown about her head. Big blue eyes' seemed over large for her thin face.
"What might your name be, Missie?" questioned the Captain.
Broken Face was trader enough to know that where there are many buyers a good price is to be had.
"Five double hands in dollars," he demanded.
The canvas bag was nearly empty of silver.
"What in trade?" questioned the Captain.
"He doesn't want any trade-silver," said the interpreter.
"There isn't that much silver."
Broken Face started to drag his prisoner away.
"Wait a minute," called one of the guards, "here comes Teigue O'Dae, he should be lookin' fer a woman, and he always has some money."
When Teigue came up from the river to the station the big black dog at his side caught sight of Indians and voiced a roaring challenge, long hackles bristling, eyes blazing with rate.
"God save all here," greeted Teigue. "What is all this about?"
"These Shawnees have brought prisoners as the Philadelphia treaty demanded," explained Captain Gebhard, "but we have to buy every last one of them back."
"We're tryin' t' trade for this here woman now," a Rifleman indicated the gaunt woman standing barefoot beside her owner, "but the painted rascal wants more'n we all got."
BROKEN FACE knew all the tricks of trading. With another prospect on the scene he pretended that he wasn't anxious to sell.
"Come on you... he shouted in Shawnee, dragging the girl back. "Come on!"
She struggled and fought back, weak and helpless in his big hands.
"Don't let him take me back," she called. "Shoot me! You men with guns, shoot me now!”
Teigue strode forward. "Keep your dirty paws off that girl," he rasped at Broken Face.
The Shawnees scattered, ready to drop behind the stumps. The two men who had been instructed to shoot Flying Head cocked their rifles. Flying Head shouted a harsh command and Broken Face released the girl, throwing her angrily to the ground, where she lay sobbing.
"It is his prisoner," said Flying Head. "He will have his price."
"And what may his price be?" asked Teigue.
Big Noise told the price.
"I will pay it," volunteered Teigue, "I won't see her dragged away. "
He emptied his belt pouch on the table, a little pile of bright silver coins. They were the coins he had intended to use to buy the red Devon cow and the red and white ox.
"Faith, I know not how much it might be, but it's all I've got."
Broken Face considered the pile of silver a great bargain, without being able to appraise its value, and hurriedly swept the money into a fold of his blanket.
"You've bought yourself a woman, Teigue," said the Captain.
The trading over, Flying Head leaped to the back of the gray mare, dug moccasined heels into her tender flanks, and with a wild Shawnee warwhoop, galloped away, disappearing into the forest, the warriors trailing after.
For a long bitter moment Teigue stood there, more than a little sick at heart. The leather pouch at his belt was flat and empty. Gone the reward of two hard winters of exposure---chopping through thick ice on beaver dams, reaching down arm's length into the icy water to set his traps; wallowing through deep snow to the windy heights for martin sets; scrambling over slippery rocks along mountain streams to mink pens.
The red Devon cow and the red-and white ox were no longer an image, but wistful thinking for the dim and distant future. He felt the loss of his beasties as though they had existed in the flesh. Thrown away in a sentimental, sympathetic moment to ransom a strange woman, with never a thought of who she might be, what she was, or why she was there.
Now for the first he lifted his eyes and looked at her with something of loathing and disgust. He saw a tall, bony woman of uncertain age in dirty buckskin. In all his years of war never had he seen among camp followers and trollops a more unpromising and disreputable female.
"Now you are free." The words came with difficulty. "Go home."
She answered sadly and slowly. "I haven't any home."
Against his will her words again touched sympathetic chords within his being. "do back to your people."
"I haven't any people."
Her words reminded him that they had this much in common.
"You can go back where you came from."
"I came from England
He who hated England, and everything English, had spent his last dollar to free an English woman The very thought almost overwhelmed him.
"Then why didn't you stay there?" he demanded brusquely.
For answer she thrust out her right hand, slim and bony, grimy and calloused from work in the Shawnee cornfields. Teigue's eyes widened-burned deep in raised scar cicatrix was the letter "T".
"G'bless me! A thief!"
"It is the mark of a thief," she admitted.
"What did you steal?"
"Bread," she answered simply. "I was starving."
Too well he knew the cruelties and injustice of outmoded English laws. Her branding was a mark of fellowship between them.
"I have been hungry," he admitted. "And when I was starving I took things to eat at Valley Forge, and other places, chickens, pigs, calves-we called it necessity-foraging.”
"It was not in England," said she. "Two loaves of black bread. They could have hung me. The judge was lenient with a young girl-ten years of servitude in the Colonies."
"The white wigged old devil"
"I was sold at public auction in Philadelphia, to a fat German farmer. After two years of that, I ran away to the west."
"'Tis well for you that I'm runaway myself," he smiled grimly. "All across Connemara to Galway harbor and a ship, or I wouldn't be here today. When you get cleaned up and a bit rested there are plenty men here fair starving for women and no questions asked."
"I wish to repay you-" she began.
"Faith now, the money is gone, and that's an end on it."
"Money does not come easy, out here."
"There's more to be bad. I was going to buy a red cow and an ox, but it's well spent to save you. Come you with me into the Station, I'll see that they take care of you."
She followed meekly through the stockade gate.
"Mom!" he called. "Oh, Mom!"
"What is it, Teigue?"
A plump matron, the wife of Captain Gebhard, detached herself from a group of frontier women near the well.
"God bless ye, Mom, but here's a young woman needs a bit o' care till something can be done with her."
"Best keep her for yourself, Teigue. You'll be needing a woman in that new cabin of yours."
"A wild woman," grinned a Rifleman, "for your wild land."
"You can have her!"
"You've got a claim there, Irishman."
"'Tis a wedding present to the man who marries her."
But Teigue did not go back immediately to his wild land.
He sat up most of the night reminiscing with Captain Gebhard. The two had fought together through most of the Southern Campaign. They were at Saunder's Creek that August day in 1780 when General Gates, who dreamed of superseding Washington, abandoned his little army, defeated disgraced, and foundered his horse acing back to Virginia and oblivion. And they were with General Nat Greene at Guilford Court House in March, at Hobirk's Hill in April, at Ninety Six in May and Eutah Springs in September. In a dozen skirmishes, as Cornwallis chased them all the way to Yorktown.
"The war is over-for folks back east," said the Captain, "but we haven't settled with the Indians yet, even if they did sign papers at Philadelphia. They have found a way to get some easy silver and they'll be back for more. Land hungry veterans won't be bound by a treaty with savages who bloodied the frontier for so many years. They will take what land they want, Indians or no Indians."
A streak of day showed in the eastern sky.
"A nightcap and then to bed," the Captain said. He sat his empty glass down on the table and wiped his face on a white handkerchief.
"That woman you ransomed, Teigue, what do you want done with her?"
"Mom will clean her up. She will find plenty of men hereabouts who will look after her."
"She holds herself indebted to you."
"Sure, and she can forget it. I won't be handicapped with a woman. I'll be on my way before she sees me again."
"A great humanitarian gesture, but it emptied your purse. Any supplies you need, get them at the store-your credit is good."
TEIGUE was in the Station store when it opened, early in the morning, and used his credit to buy a sack of cornmeal, salt, powder, lead, extra flints, a little tobacco. He gave no thought to the English girl. There were plenty of men in need of wives in that almost womanless frontier. He was down by the waterside, loading his things into the canoe, when Pat's wagging tail announced a visitor.
"Good morning, Teigue O'Dae."
He straightened up, astounded at the overnight change in this young woman.
"Wisha, God bless ye, Missie! 'Tis another person you be, for sure."
"Now that I am clean would you consider me a fair exchange for a red cow and an ox."
He noted an English twist to her words, her big eyes were very blue, and her wavy brown hair had been combed and braided.
"Missie, seeing you free is worth all it cost."
"Mom found a shift, a petticoat, and this calico dress, but no one had any shoon for my feet."
"'Tis no matter. Sure now, woman's fee carry the future of the world. Most of the hereabouts go barefoot-'till snow."
The big dog was nuzzling her hand.
"His name is Pat."
"You were going away without me," she accused.
"Faith, and I was-and why shouldn't I”
"A bad bargain, no?" she smiled.
"'Twas no part of the bargain that I take you along."
"I brought twenty pounds at the Philadelphia sale," she sighed in mock seriousness, "now reduced to forty dollars, and you don't want me at that price."
"The Omadhaun didn't know your worth," he grinned, "and well for you, Missie, 'twas no more. Sure, 'twas all the money I had."
"You'll be needing a woman in your new cabin."
"Plenty of men here who need a woman worse than I do."
"I haven't seen any I liked better."
“... Tis wild land where I live . . ." he began. "My pay for the freedom I helped win."
"Freedom for our country," said she, "but you did not free the slaves. The blacks are still chattels. Bond men and women must serve their time. The soldiers will come-bringing the law-where can I go?"
"God's love, woman, I know not."
"I am strong. I can work. I was to repay you. I do not ask you to take me as your woman, but as your servant. I have fought men since I can remember-"
"You will not have to fight me."
"Then I can go!" Her was eager.
"Until a better place can be found. It will be a long time before the law gets to where I live."
TEIGUE paddled the loaded dugout well out in the middle of the Little Muskingub. Once when he was coming down river for supplies, be had been shot at by a lurking Indian.
"Keep down, Missie," he ordered, without alarming her with the reason. "It's a help to steady the canoe."
The June morning was warm and sunny. All along both shores nesting birds were in full song, happy little brown song sparrows in the low willows, piping their sweet trill over and over; orioles calling joyously from the tall trees; red winged blackbirds whistling from the rushes. As though this song of living were contagious the girl reclining forward in the canoe, her head on the big dog, began to sing.
"As I was walking down the street,
A pretty girl I chanced to meet,
Said I to her, 'What is your trade?'
Said she to me, 'I'm a weaver's maid.' Heigh-o
"Faith, 't is good to bear a woman singing.”
"It's good to be able to sing, I never thought I would again. But now I am free, thanks to you, Teigue O'Dae."
"It's free you are with my name, without tellin' me your own."
"In truth I do not know. At the Charity School they called me Marcia of the Lane. Then I was Marcia the Thief. Marcia the Bond Girl. Now I am Marcia the Run Away."
"And think nothing of that. Faith, it's a runaway I am myself. Wasn't I hand an' foot with Shawn Ruadh Gearagh in the Whiteboy risings in '70, and all that trouble with the Magistrates? The Redcoats with a rope in hue and cry behind, runnin' me across Connemara to Galway Harbor and a ship to America."
He told her of Ireland, the desolate moors of Galway, the little stone houses and the peat fires, the poverty and oppression.
And she, in turn, told him of her life on the streets of London, begging, singing for pennies . . .
He turned the canoe into a small stream and drew up beside a flat rock.
"We unload here. I'll hide the canoe. Then we pack over to the cabin-home."
While he was away up stream with the canoe Marcia arranged the load into carrying packs.
"No need f or that," explained Teigue when he returned. "'Tis not woman's work and no more than I can manage myself."
"You should have seen the loads of wood I packed into the Shawnee fires."
"If I needed help Pat has been trained to carry his load. And in the winter he pulls out meat on a bark sleigh."
Despite his protest she picked up her load without difficulty and followed him on the trail. Hardly more than an old bear path along the ridges, up out of the wet swamps and lowland thickets, through a forest of giant hardwoods, mostly maple and walnut. The big dog went on before them, watching and listening, sniffing the air for any scent of game or danger. At the forest edge, where his small clearing began, Teigue eased his burden on a tall stump and looked down upon his corn and his cabin.
"It isn't much," said he, "but it is home-the only home I ever had." .
"It's nice," said she. "For two years I have been living in a bark lean-to, winter and summer."
"I never had a home."
"There's one here for you, Colleen-donn, till you find a better."
Teigue left the cabin door open behind them so there would be light within.
"The floor is but good clay," he explained, apologetically, "but it will be puncheon, soon as I can find time to split out the slabs."
“... Tis the roof and a fire that make a home," she said, thoughtfully.
"This is a way of life, a beginning . . . In less than no time at all folks will catch up with us and then we'll have neighbors, maybe a village-"
"A place is people," said she.
"You have the truth of it."
"And a home."
"'Tis more of a blockhouse than a home as yet," he sighed. "That's why there are no windows. "
"There will have to be another stool, now that you have a servant in the house."
"I will make one tomorrow," he promised.
"I see a kettle and frying pan-"
"Aye, and there is an old tin for the baking. Four plates and two mugs of pewter. Three spoons of bright metal and two of wood. An iron cooking fork--”
"They will do with a bit of cleaning."
"I'm not much of a housekeeper and less of a cook."
"It's something you won't have to think about now."
"It will give me more time in the fields."
"There's a loft and a ladder." Her blue eyes widened to the shadows.
"It's where you will be keeping yourself when not busy below."
"I will be the one going up and coming down."
"Sure, I have no business up there."
"I will take care of the house," said she, "and the garden patch."
"That will be something off my own shoulders."
"And when you get the red cow I will take care of her."
"You're looking a long way into the future, I fear."
Marcia took over the cabin. She made herself comfortable quarters in the loft, with a pile of dried grass for a bed, covered with a tanned bearskin. She washed and polished the few household things, swept the cabin with a twig broom and dusted the corners with the wing of a wild goose.
Teigue and Pat supplied plenty of wild meat, mostly turkey and venison. Marcia had lived long enough with the Shawnee squaws to know where the find edible roots and "greens,” deerfoot, milkweed, solonion seat and other weeds. In a few weeks the garden patch, under Marcia's care and attention, added fresh vegetables to the table, green peas, new potatoes, carrots, turnips.
WITH plenty of good nourishing food the girl gained in health and strength. Sitting across the table one evening, in the light of the fire and a betty-lamp burning bear grease, Teigue looked up from the wooden bowl he was cutting from a block of curly maple to note, for the first time, that she was good to look at. A fair complexion, a nice smile showing good teeth. Not a talkative woman but one who could listen and make a man feel comfortable and content in a cabin home. She was working up some tanned doeskins into clothing. He had to admit to himself that a man needed a woman to do the work in his cabin.
Pat raised up growling and; listening, they could hear the rallying call of a wolf pack in the nearby hills.
"Hark to the wild dogs," said she, a bit alarmed.
"It's the wolves," he explained, "running a buck."
"I hope they don't catch it."
"They have to eat, 'too. But they won't get this one, if he can make the river ahead of them."
"I worry about you and Pat when you are out in the big woods hunting, with so many wolves, bears and panthers."
"We have a truce with the big killers," he explained. "They leave us alone and we leave them alone."
"Something like the treaty with the Indians."
I "No treaty will keep the moccasins of young warriors out of the old war trails."
"You mean they might come here."
"They might," he admitted. "But if they do, I will fill the yard with dead Indians."
"But, suppose you are not home."
"You will stay indoors and keep the door barred until I come."
Time was when he could kill all the wild meat he wanted almost from the door step. But wild creatures have a keen sense of danger and they were learning to avoid the vicinity of the cabin. Often he and Pat would be gone the better part of a day to kill, dress out and pack in the wild meat they required.
"I should be for sending you back to a safer place," said he.
"I am not a-feared with you and Pat."
"We are not always here."
He stirred up the fire and trimmed the lamp. He brought out a pair of silver mounted pistols from his army chest.
"They were made in London town for a young lord who rode knee to knee with Tareton at Cowpens-after that he didn't need them ever again."
"I'm afraid of guns."
"I'd better be after showin' you how to handle them."
He bade her bring her stool and sit beside him close against the west wall.
"Now watch-see that black knot in the third log from the bottom."
He raised the pistol and fired quickly. It cracked loud and sharp within the room, a puff of bluish smoke drifting up against the rough hewn ceiling.
"I want you should learn how to use them."
He demonstrated with the empty pistol how the weapon should be held, how to cock the piece, to aim and squeeze the trigger. Then he gave her the loaded one to shoot. The flashing pan frightened her, she all but dropped it-he caught her hand, and held it a moment, Then, blushed with embarrassment, he showed her in great detail how to load the pistol, using the powder charger; how to ram the lead ball down the grooved muzzle.
Thereafter for several days he gave her half hour lessons with the pistol, indoors and out, until she-could handle them with sufficient skill and accuracy to defend herself at close range in case of need.
“HALLOO-cabin!" Rufe Nellison shouted from the forest edge, as frontier etiquette demanded.
Pat began to roar.
Teigue threw down his hoe and stood with rifle ready. Marcia came to the cabin door, a pistol in her hand.
"Call off your dog!"
"Come on down, Rufe," Teigue shouted. "Pat, keep in."
A tall, thin man in buckskin, scantily bearded to hide the scars where a musket ball had passed through his face in the preliminary skirmish at Monmouth, knocking out his teeth.
"Jest stopped t' tell you all," he explained, "I'm on my way out."
"Scared by owls?"
"Too many moccasin tracks in the woods to suit me."
Rufe had 150 acres of bounty land on the flats at Sucker Creek, several miles north, where he lived alone in a pole shack until he could get his fields cleared and a cabin built.
"Come on in for a bit of tea and a bite to eat," urged Teigue. "We'll be glad to hear th' trail news."
... Tain't much I hears, 'cept on th' grapevine."
Rufe stood his long rifle up against the wall, not far from the reach of his long arm, and pulled a stool up to the table as Marcia brought in hot johnnycake and boiled meat.
"So this's th' woman you bought, eh? I wouldn't a knowed her."
"I didn't buy her-I only paid her ransom," corrected Teigue. "She is staying here until we can clear her papers.
"A bargain, if I ever seen one, an' a looker-"
"There's a woman here, as you can see for yourself," Teigue's voice took on a harder tone, "but it's somethin' for you to forget when you go."
"Plenty o' folks out here we don't remember seein' when a stranger questions."
"A woman's past is her own property."
"Truer words were never spoken. But, this is hardly a safe place for a woman, Teigue, way out here in th' woods-wolves an' painters an' sichlike about."
"Help yourself," indicating the wooden trenchers, "and give us the news."
"It's all bad." He speared a large piece of meat on his long hunting knife. "Dutchie Klein wus through, pickin' up fur on his way downriver. He says as how th' Injuns are makin' mighty strong medicine. A young Shawnee buck called Tectuntha has started beatin' th' big war drum. He' stirrin' up th' tribes west t' th' Mississip."
"We're on treaty land here," argued Teigue.
"Any Imaginary line you've got t' find with a telescope an' a compass won't stop a passel o' Injuns with hair an' hosses on their minds."
"Captain Gebhard told me that Government was sending out Major Clark and a strong force-"
"Let's hope they get here in time. Dutchie says as how th' tribes are bein' stirred up, iff en they ever needed any stirrin', by renegade Mohawks and Senecas from York State, driven out of th' Genesee an' Mohawk Valleys. Th' Eries an' Wyandotties are gettin' restless fer more plunder. Settlers are crowdin' in on Injun lands. Th' whole west is a-bilin'. 'Tain't all Injuns neither. Flatboats 'are being attacked by pirates on th' big river. Th' Natches Trace is crawlin' with outlaws. We've got t' clean up this country 'fore it'll be fitten t' live in."
"We'll clean it up, no fear."
"Looks like Government wus tryin' t' starve us out. They've clapped excise on whiskey, knowin' there ain't no other way we can market corn. They're refusin't' pay th' tax. Claim it's lest th' same as taxin' corn."
"You didn't actually see any Indians?" questioned Teigue.
"No, but I sure seed 'nough moccasin tracks t' make my hair lift without a scalpin' knife."
"Pat will let us know if they start prowling around here."
"Dutchie says th' Eries an' Wyandotties have got plenty guns an' are gettin' powder an' ball from down river. Th' big war chiefs are brewin' some kind o' magic so bullets won't touch 'em."
"If they show up here they will have a chance to test it.”
"Injuns are easy believers. We'll have t' kill a lot o' 'em before they're convinced."
"If they get too thick we'll drop back to the station for a spell."
"Major Clark will need guides an' riflemen. We can pick up some easy money fer a few months, an' I could do with a few drinks."
"If it's hintin' you are," grinned Teigue, "you'll have to save your thirst till you get down to the station."
"Well, well-I'd expect an Irishman t' have a store o' lickker."
TEIGUE was dressing out a deer. He had a spikehorn buck hung up by the gambrels in a walnut tree, cutting out the best of the meat to be wrapped in the hide for the long carry home.
A low warning growl from Pat froze him motionless, alert, listening. The big dog stood head high, ears pricked to the east. By the low rumble in the dog's heavy throat and raised hackers Teigue knew that something was amiss. He sank slowly to the ground, out of sight, behind tall ferns, instinctively reaching for his rifle.
"What is it, Pat?" he whispered.
For answer the dog moved slowly, forward, listening, his nose not rattling to locate faint Indian scent, and thus Teigue knew that the dog heard something not audible to human ears. Pat looked back to see if his master was following, stopped to wait-walked on again. Then Teigue realized for the first that whatever sound the dog heard it came from the direction of home.
"Holy Mother! Marcia and the cabin!" Abandoning the deer and the meat he began to run. The first half mile was down through a low hollow and then up a steep ridge. At the top he stopped to listen. Faintly to his ears, above the whisper of a breeze in the tree tops, came the sound of distant gun-fire.
"Keep close, Pat," he ordered. "Keep in."
Teigue timed his pace for a long run. He knew that it was at least three miles to the cabin, much of it difficult going and all of it through the big woods. With every rise of ground the intermittent firing became ever more distinct, He was thankful that the cabin was strongly built and that he had taught Marcia to use the pistols. He remembered that after Rufe called, he had thrown a thin layer of dirt over the shake shingles so they could not be easily ignited with fire arrows. Sweat ran down his face as he leaped over logs and rocks, as he raced up steep little hills. His breath wheezed faster and faster. Before he reached the home clearing he realized that, however desperate the need, he must take cover to get his wind and carefully reconnoiter the situation.
From behind a screen of low bushes, gripping Pat's collar, Teigue looked out and down at the cabin, breathing a little prayer of thankfulness that it still stood and grateful for the puff of bluish smoke from one of the loopholes, evidencing that Marcia was still alive and defending herself. Well out of range from the cabin stood two small groups of Indians, one east of the cabin on higher ground and another beyond the brook. Occasionally puffs of smoke from the cornfield marked where hidden warriors were concealed to shoot at the cabin loopholes at short range.
As Teigue watched, recovering his breath and strength, he saw that the Indians on the high ground were preparing a heavy log to batter down the cabin door. He realized that when they were ready, eight of them, racing forward with the log, Marcia's two pistols would not stop them.
With Pat beside him he slipped down into the standing corn and began to work his way across the field to the cabin. Any disturbance they might make would be credited to the Indians already there, a menace but he hoped to get near the edge of the corn without encountering one. Suddenly, the stalks parted and he was on his hands and knees, face to face with a Shawnee. He shoved his rifle forward and fired from his hands, in time to stifle an alarm. Among other shots from the corn his own went unnoticed. Reloading he smiled grimly as a pistol ball from the cabin lashed at the stalks near him, where smoke from his lucky shot eddied up.
At the edge of the cornfield, less than two hundred yards from the cabin, he halted to consider how he would get across the open space to the cabin.
There seemed to be but one way, a quick dash across the open, calling for Marcia to unbar the door. But, unless the Indians were thrown into some confusion, the run would be through a hail of bullets and arrows. He was within good range of the war chief who seemed to be directing the attack. He decided to shoot, and without stopping to reload, run for the cabin.
At the crack of his rifle the Indian staggered back into the arms of those about him. For a moment the warriors faced the other way, expecting an attack. Teigue leaped out and rail for it.
The big dog, roaring a challenge, raced for the nearest Indians, but sheared off when guns were leveled and tomahawks thrown.
"Marcia! Marcia! Open--open quick."
Recovering from their surprise the nearest Indians began to shoot, hurriedly and at a most difficult mark as Teigue ducked, crouched and dodged toward the cabin.
A powerful young Shawnee with a heavy bow launched a war arrow in a long flight at the cabin doorway, allowing for the drop and the speed of the runner.
Pat ran like a black wolf rousing a deer herd, roaring before the Indians, confusing them, distracting their attention, diverting their aim.
Bullets whipped Teigue's leather hunting shirt-one seared his left arm above the elbow.
Marcia saw him coming, opening the door as he reached the cabin. Just as he dashed inside he felt a heavy blow beneath his right shoulder and knew that he had been hit.
"Teigue" she exclaimed. "You came!"
"As soon as Pat told me there was trouble."
He laid his unloaded rifle down carefully on the table, fear of death in his face.
"I'm hit," he muttered hoarsely, "in the back."
"My God, an arrow!”
She stepped around him to look. Protruding from his back, beneath the right shoulder, was the feathered shaft of a Shawnee war arrow.
"Pull it out."
"No, no," she warned, as he tried to reach it.
She had lived long enough with the Indians to know that if the shaft of a war arrow is withdrawn from a wound the iron point will not come with it, but will remain to fester and kill.
"How bad is it?"
Outside he could hear the Indians yelping their rallying call. They did not know that he was dangerously wounded but they knew and respected the superior range and accuracy of the white man's rifle.
"Pull it out-"
"Don't be afraid of hurting me-I've had bad wounds before."
"It isn't that-"
She saw that the arrow was low under whether or not it touched the lung she his right shoulder, cutting a rib, but could not know. By the short length of shaft protruding she judged the point must be near the surface in the big muscle of his right breast.
"We can't pull it out," she explained, "the point is made to come loose, to stay in the wound, to kill you. I will have to push it on through."
"It will hurt."
"Go ahead, do something. Get it over with."
"I can stand it now." He gripped the table edge until his fingers were white. "Maybe not later."
SHE eased him down on a stool. With his sharp hunting knife she slit the sleeve of his hunting frock to the collar, and then across to the arrow, stripping it off. His linen undershirt was cut away. She got his razor and dipped it in hot water. Marking the spot where the arrow point would emerge she cut a slit through the skin. Quickly she pushed the arrow on through, cut off the point and withdrew the shaft. .
"Any air bubbles?" he asked anxiously.
"Then I haven't got it in the lungs. Does it spurt--?”
"No, but it bleeds-badly."
"I wanted to live, for my home."
"You must fight, Teigue, fight to live."
"I have always fought to live, fighting for life, fighting for freedom, fighting for home-"
"We mustn't give up now."
"What can a man do, way out here in the woods-what can we do? I've seen too many bad wounds."
"You will, Teigue-you must get well. Fight it.”
She stood there helpless, impotent, not knowing what to do, telling him he must fight to live, bleeding to death before her eyes. She had washed a cotton shirt. Quickly she tore it into bandages. She stripped off her clean calico dress, wrapping layer upon layer of bandage, only, to see it quickly redden through.
"Teigue, we must have help."
"There isn't any help."
The nearest settlement of any kind was thirty miles away, three of it by overland trail through the woods, and she lacked the strength to carry him even a few yards. Certainly there was no time for her to make the long journey out and back with assistance.
"The Indians?" he questioned.
"And I am going-“
"I wanted to live for you, Marcia."
"Then you will live."
She helped him to the bunk, lowering him down carefully on his left side, wondering how long it would take a strong man to bleed to death. From shock and loss of blood, he passed into a coma, breathing heavily, while drop by drop his life blood flowed out into a dark pool on the clay floor beneath the bunk
All through this the big dog stood by,. anxiously watching.
"Pat-oh, Pat!" in desperation. "He is dying! We've got to save him! He wanted so to live, for his home--for me!"
Marcia realized that the only hope of saving Teigue's life, slender at best, was to bring him back to the Station, where there were those who understood the care of bad wounds, and where a dispatch boat could be sent down to Marietta for a surgeon.
Get him out! The man weighed nearly two hundred pounds. There wasn't a cart, not even a wheelbarrow, neither horse nor ox. Then, in this moment of desperation, she remembered that the Indians had solved their transportation problems without the aid of wheels. Long before they had horses they hitched their wolfish dogs to light poles, that dragged along the ground, the burden lashed to cross pieces. This idea was carried out on a larger scale after they secured horses from the whites. Many a time in the Shawnee villages she had seen squaws bringing in buffalo and elk kills loaded on these rude, drags, or travois, hauled by horses. She remembered that Pat had been trained to carry a pack and to haul on a loaded bark toboggan in the winter.
She picked up the axe and opened the door cautiously. No Indians were in sight. Pat raced around the cabin in wide circles, without barking a warning.
She hurried to the forest edge and cut several light poles. Back in the cabin she cut these to proper lengths and lashed cross pieces in place with strips of rawhide to form a small travois. A carrying strap was fastened to one end of the poles. She found Pat's winter harness.
Fortunately, when the time came to move him, Teigue was still unconscious. Placing the travois near the bunk, one end on the table she rolled him onto it as carefully as possible and lashed him securely in place. She harnessed the dog and adjusted the strap to her shoulders, holding and supporting the ends of the two poles in her hands.
"Come on Pat-pull-pull!"
It proved easier than she thought. The big dog was strong. He had stamina. Had there been snow on the ground he could have hauled his wounded master alone. Across the clearing it was easy enough. On the steeped grades they had to pull and stop, pull and stop, moving forward but a few yards at a time. On the down grades they moved at a smart pace. Teigue was riding easily, in a hammock. Though she glanced back from time to time to see that he was all right she wasted no time to examine his condition. Alive Pr dead she would take him out.
How long it took to reach the flat rock by the brook Marcia never knew, but it was almost dark when they arrived at the waterside. She did not know where Teigue had hidden the canoe but he had not been gone long in the hiding. It was dusk when she found it, under some over-hanging willows, and dragged it down through the shallow water to the rock. Blocking the canoe with stones she rolled Teigue carefully from the travois into the bottom of the canoe, thankful that he had survived the trail. Pat jumped in and they pushed out into the wide water.
The little river was a broad band of silver beneath the stars. As though in sympathy with her haste the north wind puffed up to hurry them and the current pushed them gently along. She tried to paddle, the canoe went in circles, but after awhile she caught the rhythm of it and put her strength to the task of getting the wounded man to the station as quickly as possible.
She knew that it was a race with death.
THE RIVER under a night mist was like flowing ink, pricked by a few of the larger stars, stirred and rippling by rising fish and swimming masquash. Marcia kept the canoe near to the left shoreline, hoping to see the little log docking at the landing place, or a light from the Station, anything to guide her, being unfamiliar with the river landmarks. When she was almost certain that she had passed it in the darkness she was relieved to see, against the night sky, the shadowy outline of one of the guard towers on the log stockade. She beached the canoe, hauling it to safety, and ran toward the gate shouting.
"Guard! Guard! Guard!"
"Stand where you bc," came a sharp command. "Who are you? What do you want?"
"It's Teigue O'Dae, down in the canoe-wounded, dying."
"We ain't t' be fooled by no Injun tricks."
"You know me. I'm the girl Teigue ransomed from the Shawnees."
It seemed a long time before a light showed through chinks in the stockade and she heard the voices of men aroused from sleep. Then a candle lantern was lowered from the stockade.
"Show yourself in th' light!"
"You know me-"
She held her face to the light.
"It's that gal, sure enough. You say it’s Teigue, hurted?"
"Wounded-down in the canoe--quick."
"Open the gate on the chain," came the order. "Let her in."
Inside she could only implore them to hurry.
"Quick-go get him-Teigue-bleeding to death-"
Riflemen were slipping out in the darkness. A voice called back from the river.
"It's Teigue all right. He ain't dead, but mighty nigh it. Lend a hand here."
They carried him in, bled white, still unconscious, and laid him on the table in Captain Gebhard's kitchen. They cut away the blood soaked temporary bandages and were relieved to find that, while he had lost a lot of blood, the wound was no longer bleeding dangerously.
'They packed the wound with clean tow pads and bandaged him anew with fresh homespun linen.
"Will he be all right?" asked Marcia anxiously
"He's alive yet, thanks to YOU."
The surgeon from Major Clark's battallion of Volunteer Riflemen, on their way from Pennsylvania to check the Indian raids on the Ohio, looked Teigue over very carefully.
"He is young, healthy and Irish,-all in his favor. If the wound is clean, and no poison gets into it, and complication don't set in, he may get well."
"You mean he still has a chance," said Captain Gebhard.
"He has, while he continues to draw breath, and pneumonia and peritonitis leave him alone. And to tell you the truth, Captain, all the doctors in the land couldn't do anything to help him if they were here. All he needs is good care, nourishing food
and a pretty nurse."
"He has a nurse," announced Marcia, coming into the room.
"Ahem-ha-I’ll say he has! And a very pretty one. Almost makes me wish I had a nursing wound."
Her hair was braided and coiled about her head. She had found another dress, of sprigged calico, and a white linen apron.
"He will get well," said the surgeon wryly, "if he doesn't succumb to serious heart trouble."
It was three days before Teigue gained sufficient strength to recognize . anything or anyone. Marcia sat by his bed holding his hand, when he opened his eyes and recognition came.
"Yes," releasing his fingers hurriedly. "What is it Teigue?"
"Where am I?"
"At the Station-please don't talk."
"How did I get here?"
"Pat and I brought you out."
"How?" he sighed.
"We dragged you on a travois to the canoe."
"The arrow-you took it out-I was bleeding so.”
"Hush-the doctors say you are all right now."
As though the effort to talk had exhausted his weakened strength, Teigue closed his eyes and dropped back to sleep.
THE FIRST day Teigue was strong enough to be propped up in bed, safely on the road to recovery, he questioned Marcia about the Indian attack.
"It shames me to tell-I disobeyed your orders not to go out-"
"God's mercy! you might have been killed!"
"I looked, I didn't see any Indians-"
"One never does until too late!"
"Please don't scold now. Wait till you're well and strong enough-then you can have a good go at it. Anyway, I promise to obey in the future."
"You left the cabin?"
"I went down to the brook after a pail of water-"
"To be sure!"
"I kneeled and dipped the pail-when I stood up and turned,-there was Broken Face."
"A mercy he didn't kill you the moment you saw him!"
"He said in Shawnee. "I take you back-sell you again-men pay better for you now!"
"And you escaped?" Teigue was puzzled.
"I shot him. I was holding one of the' pistols under my apron."
"Then the others jumped out of the corn, I beat them to the cabin-just."
"After that I shot and prayed for you to come."
She held up before his eyes a weasel skin Indian belt pouch.
"A present to you from Broken Face," she laughed.
Pouring out on the quilt a stream of bright I silver coins.
"Your money, Teigue-my ransom money," she exclaimed. "Broken Face still had it. Now you can buy the red cow and the red-and-white ox."
"Aye," he smiled, "but it's a sick man that I am, and will be for a longish bit of time. I'll have to have someone to care for those beasties."
"When I am no longer needed as a nurse," said she, "I can be a dairy maid, if you asked me."
Captain Gebhard interrupted with a discreet cough.
"Major Clark is collecting the ransomed prisoners to send back to Fort Pitt," he announced. "All will have to go who have not found someone responsible to care for them."
"They can't take me back," cried Marcia. “I won't go!"
"I live because of you, Marcia," said Teigue. "And all the rest of my life I will live for you. I won't let them take you back."
"If your name was changed-ah-say to Mrs. O'Dae," grinned the Captain, "I could tell the Major that Mary Lane, the bond girl, one of the ransomed prisoners, had disappeared."
"I will take care of that," promised Teigue, "and buy her papers if the law ever comes to claim her."
"What have you got to say, to that, Missie?"
"I will have to look after Teigue for a long time-" she began.
"A lifetime," he added.
"Well, God's saving Grace," chuckled the Captain, "I am a justice of the Peace."