Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

took down his rifles, examined the priming, placed them within reach, and, without awaking his family, sat down to receive any other red foe who might offer himself. The party outside, however, were too well aware of the fate of their comrade to attempt a second trial, and quietly withdrew. This adventure showed Wilton the danger around him. He knew that this was but the first of a series of attacks, which must ultimately prove successful; and he resolved, if possible, to remove his family to some town or fort where there was greater security. It was now August, and he thought before the end of the month to remove his family, and come back, with men to assist him, and secure some valuable crops which were fast ripening. But before he could put any of these plans in operation, the event which our artist has portrayed in the engraving transpired, and hastened his departure under circumstances of great peril, but fortunately unaccompanied with any tragical consequences. One of the most relentless and unsparing of the Indian warrior-chiefs, who had marched along the frontier, leaving a train of smoking ruins and scalpless sculls, made an attack at the head of his warriors on Wilton's house, on a beautiful sabbath morning, at the break of day. Knowing the place well, and the extreme watchfulness of the dog, he attempted no secret entrance, but marched with all speed up to the house, and made a violent effort to break through the door. The dog, however, had “scented the battle afar off,” and Wilton, who had just risen, was prepared to receive them. The party was large, but as they had no guns, he feared not their efforts as long as the door resisted them; and before they succeeded in breaking through this, he hoped to do such execution among them with his rifles as would induce them to give up their object. Stationing himself at a loophole which commanded the doorway, he used his trusty weapons with deadly effect, and nearly a dozen of the Indians had fallen in death, when the remainder of the party suddenly drew off and held a short council, which resulted in a determination to fire the house. In a few minutes they returned, some bearing dry limbs and leaves, and other combustibles, and others with fire. In an instant this was heaped against the door and set in a blaze. Here was an unlooked-for and fearful auxiliary; and Wilton's heart stood still when he thought of the now-certain fate of his beloved wife and little ones. While he hesitated a moment, in doubt what course to pursue, his eye fell upon his dog, who was running to and fro from the back-door to Mrs. Wilton and her children, seeming to desire them to fly by this route. Wilton hastily glanced out on this side, and seeing no Indians (for they were all dancing and yelling like fiends around the fire, thinking their prey was sure), opened the door, and, commending his wife and children to Heaven, bade them escape to a boat on the river-side, some distance below, to which the dog would lead, and where he would almost instantly join

them. They departed, and he watched them with his rifle at his shoulder, to drop any Indian who might observe them. A moment seemed an age to Wilton; but it ended at last : they were in the woods, and comparatively safe— his little boy manfully bringing up the rear, with a loaded rifle, which the mother feared not to use, if occasion demanded. The fire was now beginning to blaze through the crevices of the door, and the joy of the Indians was almost unbounded at the prospect of vengeance upon one who had destroyed so many of their numbers, when Wilton suddenly opened the door, leaped over the flames, and, before the astonished red-men could recover from their surprise, he had got several rods away from them, in a direction nearly opposite to that taken by his family. About half a dozen of the savages were quickly in pursuit, headed by the chief, while the remainder rushed into the house, to murder those they expected to find there. For nearly an hour, Wilton led his enemies over the worst ground he could find; for, although he was remarkably swift of foot, he knew his only hope was in a better knowledge of localities, and by means of this he gained on his pursuers slowly, but surely. His wife and children, in the meantime, had reached the boat, got into it, and waited with the most intense anxiety for his arrival. They began to despair, and feared that his devotion to them had cost him his life, when the sound of his rifle brought hope again to their hearts—for the father, as if by a magnetic sympathy, began to imagine their feelings, and, recollecting that his rifle was loaded, fired it into the air to let them know that he was alive. In a few minutes he arrived, jumped into the boat, and pulled across, the dog swimming alongside. Before they reached the opposite shore, the Indians were on the water, in a canoe, in hot pursuit. The sun had just risen when they reached the shore, and all attempts to secrete themselves would be in vain. Directing his family what course to take, Wilton loadedhis rifle, and waited until the boat was within range, when he selected for his mark the Indian who had proved the best runner, pulled the trigger, and saw him fall over the canoe into the water. Loading again, he killed another just as the canoe touched the bank, and then ran, loading his rifle as he went. There were now four Indians in pursuit; too strong a force for close encounter. They were led by a chief whose indomitable perseverance had obtained for him the title of the Bloodhound, and who boasted that he never was foiled or defeated by the palefaces. Wilton's strength, too, was severely tried ; and had the stake been less, he would have been quite exhausted. His only hope was in killing his pursuers; and if the chief fell first, he presumed the chase would be abandoned. With this reflection, he “treed,” and waited for the Indians, who were out of sight. A moment after, the sharp crack of his rifle was the death-signal of another foe—but not the chief; he appeared invulnerable. Another flight became necessary; and now he began to fear that all was lost, for, by his last halt, he had greatly shortened the distance between his pursuers and himself.

Within a hundred yards of his family, Wilton turned and brought his rifle to his shoulder. All now depended upon his aim ; and he breathed a prayer for his beloved ones, while, with limbs of marble, and an eye of fire, he calmly awaited his enemy's approach. They saw him, wavered, hesitated, and appeared on the point of turning back, when the Bloodhound, whose pride was wounded, and spirit stung to madness, by this determined and successful resistance, waved them onward with an impatient gesture. A minute after, the ring of the rifle, and the death-cry of the Blootlhound, came to the fugitives' ears like sweet music of deliverance. The two surviving Indians gazed a moment on the form of their chief, and then fled precipitately toward the house, to join the main body of warriors, who were destroying everything that could be killed or burned, in revenge for their great disappointment. Wilton and his family arrived before dark at a small settlement, where they found welcome rest after their severe peril, and where the story of their escape raised up a strong party of friends, who proposed to go in pursuit of the savages. Indeed, they had arranged to start the next day; but before they left, a large force of Indians, headed by Tecumseh, made an assault upon the village; and had it not been for the preparation which every man had made for the expedition, the place would have been captured. When peace was restored, Wilton returned to his first lo

cation, now one of the most splendid farms in the West.

NEw York. June, 1846.

« AnteriorContinuar »