When the “Wind of Death” blows through the forest an Indian will die!
Fort Henry still stands as a bastion for the settlers on the frontier along the Ohio River. More pioneers are now moving west to carve new lives out of the wilderness. Among them—the Wells sisters and the Downs brothers—are seized by the zeal to create a kingdom of peace for white man and Indian alike. Some fired the spirit of adventure in an untamed land. Lewis Wetzel, the Death Wind, still patrols the forest seeking hostile enemies—the warriors of fierce tribes, but also, now, the Girty brothers and their gang of white renegades are his quarry. This is an adventure of massacre, abduction, murder and battle on the early frontiers of an emergent America. Those who enjoyed The Northwest Passage and Drums Along the Mohawk will find much to satisfy them in these pages.
Volume 1 Betty Zane and volume 3 The Last Trail are available in Leonaur editions now!
At last the top of the knoll was reached. The Avenger placed his hand on his follower’s shoulder. The strong pressure was meant to remind, to warn, to reassure. Then, like a huge snake, the first glided away.
He who was left behind raised his head to look into the open place called the glade of the Beautiful Spring. An oval space lay before him, exceedingly lovely in the moonlight; a spring, as if a pearl, gemmed the centre. An Indian guard stood statuelike against a stone. Other savages lay in a row, their polished heads shining. One slumbering form was bedecked with feathers and frills. Near him lay an Indian blanket, from the border of which peered two faces, gleaming white and sad in the pitying moonlight.
The watcher quivered at the sight of those pale faces; but he must wait while long moments passed. He must wait for the Avenger to creep up, silently kill the guard, and release the prisoners without awakening the savages. If that plan failed, he was to rush into the glade, and in the excitement make off with one of the captives.
He lay there waiting, listening, wrought up to the intensest pitch of fierce passion. Every nerve was alert, every tendon strung, and every muscle strained ready for the leap.
Only the faint rustling of leaves, the low swish of swaying branches, the soft murmur of falling water, and over all the sigh of the night wind, proved to him that this picture was not an evil dream. His gaze sought the quiet figures, lingered hopefully on the captives, menacingly on the sleeping savages, and glowered over the gaudily arrayed form. His glance sought the upright guard, as he stood a dark blot against the grey stone. He saw the Indian’s plume, a single feather waving silver-white. Then it became riveted on the bubbling, refulgent spring. The pool was round, perhaps five feet across, and shone like a burnished shield. It mirrored the moon, the twinkling stars, the spectre trees.
An unaccountable horror suddenly swept over the watching man. His hair stood straight up; a sensation as of cold stole chillingly over him. Whether it was the climax of this long night’s excitement, or anticipation of the bloody struggle soon to come, he knew not. Did this boiling spring, shimmering in the sliver moon-rays, hold in its murky depths a secret? Did these lonesome, shadowing trees, with their sad drooping branches, harbour a mystery? If a future tragedy was to be enacted here in this quiet glade, could the murmuring water or leaves whisper its portent? No; they were only silent, only unintelligible with nature’s mystery.
The waiting man cursed himself for a craven coward; he fought back the benumbing sense; he steeled his heart. Was this his vaunted willingness to share the Avenger’s danger? His strong spirit rose up in arms; once more he was brave and fierce.
He fastened a piercing gaze on the plumed guard. The Indian’s lounging posture against the rock was the same as it had been before, yet now it seemed to have a kind of strained attention. The savage’s head was poised, like that of a listening deer. The wary Indian scented danger.
A faint moan breathed low above the sound of gently splashing water somewhere beyond the glade.
The guard’s figure stiffened, and became rigidly erect; his blanket slowly slid to his feet.
“Ah-oo-o,” sighed the soft breeze in the tree tops.
Louder then, with a deep wail, a moan arose out of the dark grey shadows, swelled thrilling on the still air, and died away mournfully.
The sentinel’s form melted into the shade. He was gone like a phantom.
Another Indian rose quickly, and glanced furtively around the glade. He bent over a comrade and shook him. Instantly the second Indian was on his feet. Scarcely had he gained a standing posture when an object, bounding like a dark ball, shot out of the thicket and hurled both warriors to the earth. A moonbeam glinted upon something bright. It flashed again on a swift, sweeping circle. A short, choking yell aroused the other savages. Up they sprang, alarmed, confused.
The shadow-form darted among them. It moved with inconceivable rapidity; it became a monster. Terrible was the convulsive conflict. Dull blows, the click of steel, angry shouts, agonized yells, and thrashing, wrestling sounds mingled together and half drowned by an awful roar like that of a mad bull. The strife ceased as suddenly as it had begun. Warriors lay still on the grass; others writhed in agony. For an instant a fleeting shadow crossed the open lane leading out of the glade; then it vanished.