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INTO THE WILDERNESS—THE STORY OF REBECCA BOONE.
AFTER the discovery and first settlement hoofs was heard. The young nimrods of of America, as after Babel, the Creator that region had a rather cruel method of seemed to whisper anew to the spirit of hunting after dark and finding the deer by man, "go scatter abroad and possess the “shining the eyes," as it was called. That earth,” and every breast stirred with the is, one of them would ride in front carrydesire to push forward into some undis- ing a pan of blazing pine knots, while the covered country.
Many a man moved other followed with his gun. The gentle by this spirit, together with the love of the animal resting in some quiet shelter would chase, gave up a comfortable home and be startled into stupidity by the blinding well-improved farm to carry his family light, and instead of fleeing would remain into uncleared territory, with everything motionless gazing upon it as if charmed to begin over again. “What folly!" we to its own doom ; thus that it was readily exclaim ; and yet, suppose it had not discovered and shot by the gleam of its been so.
soft, bright eyes. Into the valley of the Yadkin, in North Rebecca Bryan did not know of this Carolina, while still quite frontier-like in singular custom, so hearing sounds and its primitive simplicity of life, came the seeing the light, with a warning of silence family of Mr. Bryan. And soon a thrifty to her companion she drew close into the farm bespoke his energy and good man- thicket and peered through it to see what agement. He had a daughter, a blithe- it all might mean. She saw the foremost some lassie with rosy cheeks and laughing horseman with the blazing pine knots, and lips, and withal as fleet of foot and bright then she saw a second one quickly alight of eye as the deer which lurked at their and point his rifle directly at her. Little doors. Their simple home was on the dreaming he had mistaken her for a deer, crest of a pretty knoll, surrounded by she yet fully realized her danger. Motionpoplar trees and laurels. At the foot of ing her brother to follow she leaped the the hill flowed a mountain stream, beyond fence and sped acruss the field in the diwhich stretched dense forests, the home rection of the house, followed in hot purof wild game and the delight of the hunts- suit by the young hunter, who, having a
One evening Rebecca Bryan presentiment that it was a different kind strayed down to the banks of this stream of deer from what he had been seeking, with her little brother to while away some was yet none the less anxious to see the leisure moments. They had not been end of the chase. He reached the house long there when a bright glare of light almost as soon as she did, for she was still flashed across the stream, far into the panting from fright and her rapid race, forest, and presently the sound of horses' and her little brother, who had only seen the dark figure following them across the was invited to spend the winter, which he field, was giving his own version of the did. What wonderful stories he had to affair—that they had been chased by a tell of the vast country beyond the mountpanther—when she stood face to face with ains. He himself had trod the enchanted her terrible pursuer. For a moment they land, and most pleasantly he beguiled the looked into each other's eyes, his bold long winter nights with tales of the Indians, heart quailing at thought of the deed he the buffalo, the abundance of game which might have done, and then received the he had seen with his own eyes, and Boone father's brief introduction, "Rebecca, this was filled with longing. The springing is young Boone, our neighbor's son." up of human habitations close about him
But this was not the end of that hunt- fettered and fretted his soul. He had no ing exploit. By and by young Boone taste for luxury nor for the absorbing inmanaged to convince the fair Rebecca terests of commerce, society and the like. that her shining eyes had pierced his All he wanted was free vent for his hardy heart. So there was a mutual surrender vigor. This restless beating against the -a wedding, and a new home made a lit- cage of approaching civilization was no tle farther out towards the frontier, and accident. Boone felt that he must go and Rebecca Boone entered upon her womanly see this marvelous land for himself, and destiny of housekeeping, home-making, go he did. ministering to the comfort, and helping We of this silken-hose generation who in every possible way him for whose love scare at the sight of a tramp or faint at she had left father, mother and all that the sound of a gun, wonder what the was dear to her. As Daniel Boone was as
of those days were made of. active and diligent and careful as she, Perhaps of the same material as ourthey had soon gathered around them selves, but then!-ah, well, they did not every comfort attainable or desirable in have to meet the severe exactions of that that region of country, and he could, be- tyrant, society, which so often tries the sides, indulge as time permitted in his temper and dilutes the affections. They favorite pastime of hunting.
were strangers to the depressing computaSome years had passed in happy con- tions of the visiting list—to the problem of tent; baby voices babbled about the how to have the longest and keep them house and welcomed the father's incom- all in friendly humor with the least exing steps, and little helpful lads followed penditure of entertainment and linguistic the mother eager to do her bidding. To powers. Their nervous systems suffered the eldest the father had already deputed no drain from late hours and over-panmany of his own lighter duties, and as a dered appetites. Their brains were not reward for good behavior would some- taxed until memory reeled with keeping times take him hunting. In 1768 they six hired helpers, half as many seamstresses had a visitor-a wandering adventurer and a couple of dressmakers constantly named Finlay. He proved immensely employed. But quietly serving thementertaining, especially to his host, and selves and those dear to them, with
untroubled thoughts they filled the spell of this wild, untrammeled liberty of measure of their daily tasks and were life, the unfettered, untamed beauty of naready to enjoy whatever social pleas- ture, and her unfailing, ever ures came. As there were no super.
Eight or nine months longer refined pleasures, there were no exagger- they remained. Then there was ated trials or terrors; so after all, life has glad woman in North Carolina that all the its compensations. Yes, Rebecca Boone changes, the roughnesses, the uncouth let her husband go. It is doubtful whether dress could not move. she could have prevented it if she had And now the hero who had the wondertried; but for all her strength she was a ful tales tell was the husband-the woman, and her heart ached to see him father. Imagine how those boys would depart. Her two sons were old enough to drink in the story of his encounter with help her a good deal in those sturdy times, the ferocious bear, his race for life with and her wee girlie would be company; the four Indian pursuers, of his captivity but there were no mails to tell her daily and escape, and how his wife's heart would or weekly of her husband's safety, and it ache again as he told of the lonely weeks would be easy, if there were time, for a of his brother's absence, when, as far as he woman, a wife, to brood over the horrible knew, he was the only white man within fates he was rashly daring. How glad she hundreds of miles. In fact, for three was when she found his brother was going years he had not beheld a white face save to join him! She little knew how utterly that of his brother and the friends who alone her husband would else soon have had been killed. been. Stuart, his last companion, was About two years he lingered in the old killed soon after his brother's arrival. neighborhood, and then-he had sold his
Long months again roll round and in farm and was ready to start back to KenMay the brother feturns for ammunition. tucky with his family. The boys were He had left her determined pioneer alone more eager than he, and his wife nothing in the vast wilderness of Kentucky, sur- loth, for anything were better than the rounded by unnumbered savage foes, dreadful absence with its unbroken silence whom he might meet at any moment, and and suspense. having no ammunition could only escape The little party set out September 25, by flight, and with only the memory of 1773. Their route lay across the corners his dead friends for company. After a of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virfew weeks Squire Boone returned to his ginia. Mountains and valleys lay in their brother. One would think the loving path, with only the landmarks left by the messages, clothed though they may have Boone brothers to guide them. But this been in unpolished language, with the expedition was not for glory or fame, and more substantial tokens of her unceasing no record was kept for the world to read. care for his comfort, would have drawn In Powell's valley, in the extreme southhim irresistibly back to his wife, old home western corner of Virginia, they stopped and friends. But who can measure the to rest awhile, and here in some hospitable home, perhaps that of Mr. Martin, they And this was Cain-tuck-ee, the boasted aired their enthusiasm and gathered up paradise ! new recruits for the expedition. Five Who will blame, if a mother's heart families, we are told, and forty well-armed cowered on the threshold, for there lay men joined them here. This was encour- her first born son in the agony of death, a aging, especially to the women, who could victim to savage hate. And as they knelt not but feel that in numbers was greater beside the body, Daniel Boone, the fearstrength and safety. A week or ten days less, and his brave, true wife, he had not a more brought them almost to the land of word to say, for this was the first break in their hopes.
his home circle, and “the beginning of “ "Once through the gap and beyond his strength ” lay lifeless before him. this range of mountains and you will see When they had paid the last duties to the Cain-tuck-ee for yourself,” said the leader dead, unable to resist the mother's pleadof the party as with untiring feet he walked ing glance that rested upon their little beside his wife, his face all aglow with the tribe, he who had been the moving spirit gladness of return to his beloved wilds. of the whole party turned aside in full conBut even as he spoke a warning of danger sent with the others from their purpose of was wafted to his acute and ever alert ear. colonizing the wilds of Cain-tuck-ee, and Was it a broken twig dropped from some went back to the nearest settlement on the distant tree by the restless breeze, or was Clinch river. For with all their enthusiasm it the crafty, noiseless foot of the savage this sad adventure warned them it was not that he knew so well?
best to introduce women and children Ere he could signal silence to the rest into a new country until some provision of the party, a wild, unearthly yeli broke had been made for their safety. Here on upon the still solitude of the mountain the Clinch, Rebecca Boone remained with forests, and several of their number fell as her children for some two years.
But her if pierced by mocking, invisible demons of husband could no longer be content under the air. Then dusky forms, made hide- the restraints of settlement life. Besides, ous with gleams of war paint, darted from his fame had reached the governor of tree to tree discharging showers of deadly Virginia, and when a guide was needed to arrows from every direction. However, conduct a party of surveyors home from the Boone brothers, whom no surprise the falls of the Ohio, where could one be could deprive of self-possession, quickly found better qualified than the cool, inarranged the party for the defence of the trepid pioneer hunter ? One expedition women and children, and the unerring of this kind followed another. Nobody rifles gave back their quick response, knew so well how to fortify a station to watching for the dark faces to peer from fight the subtle foe, or to treat with them behind the trees and giving them deadly for the purchase of their lands. The newelcome, until the savages fled in terror gotiation of a treaty with the Indians was from the fatal fire.
at length entrusted to him by a new com. pany just leaving North Carolina under ominously in the distance, she had but to Colonel Richard Henderson, with the inten- look at the trusty rifle, alert eye and tion of making another attempt to settle the sinewy form of her husband and fear was beautiful country of which they had heard gone. so much.
The company succeeded in Perhaps the home which Daniel Boone purchasing from the Indian claimants all had prepared for his family would not aplands south of the Kentucky river, and pear very inviting to us in these days Daniel Boone, with a small party, was of super comfort in house-building and then dispatched to mark a road and select house-furnishing, for it was only a cabin a location for the adventurers. Sojourn- of rough logs with the daylight peeping in ing thus for nearly two years on the bor- through all the cracks. And as for furnider land of the Indian country, Rebecca ture, it had, as yet, little or none; but a Boone became somewhat immured to woman's willing hands can soon bring a thoughts of danger and to the scenes and measure of comfort out of very small behardships of a borderer's life. So when ginnings, and evolve an atmosphere of her husband once more came back and home out of almost any surroundings—if told of the trace they had marked and cut, her heart be there; and Rebecca Boone and the fort they had built in the fairest was second to none in housewifely skill, portion of the beautiful land, she was will else the inveterate hunter, the independing, like the true wife she was, to follow ent pioneer would not have so longed for him again whithersoever he might lead. her presence and her deft womanly
And truly, as their small cavalcade filed handicraft about his wilderness home. along the narrow roadway so carefully They had not forgotten to bring bedticks marked by her husband, she could not but with them and these were soon filled with acknowledge that he had in no wise over- the fresh fragrant leaves from the forests rated the delights of this new region. and covered with the bear and buffalo Noble forest trees of every kind, still in the skins already provided by the husbandglory of their summer prime, overshadowed most luxurious beds to people as tired as them, breaking away at times into scenes they must have been when ready to try of wild and picturesque beauty as they them. They even managed, by a simple crossed some rock-begirt stream. Gentle. contrivance, to raise them from the floor eyed deer came fearlessly to drink from by the help of a pronged support at one the babbling brook near the path, then corner and making the logs of the cabin sped away into their native depths startled do duty on two sides. A few threeby the unwonted sights and sounds. legged stools and a rough table was all Flock after flock of wild turkeys, all look- that was considered necessary to begin on ing as if they had been fattened for a in those days. This was one of a number Christmas dinner, went scurrying off into of cabins and what were called block the thickets at their approach. If less houses, built around a large open square pleasant sounds occasionally greeted them with tall, close palisades where the cabins as the dusk drew on, and fiery eyes glared did not meet, and large, strong gates.