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The Frontiersmen   By: (1850-1922)

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First Page:

THE FRONTIERSMEN

by

CHARLES EGBERT CRADDOCK

Author of A Spectre of Power , The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains , In the Tennessee Mountains , etc.

1904

CONTENTS

THE LINGUISTER

A VICTOR AT CHUNGKE

THE CAPTIVE OF THE ADA WEHI

THE FATE OF THE CHEERA TAGHE

THE BEWITCHED BALL STICKS

THE VISIT OF THE TURBULENT GRANDFATHER

NOTES

THE LINGUISTER

The mental image of the world is of individual and varying compass. It may be likened to one of those curious Chinese balls of quaintly carved ivory, containing other balls, one within another, the proportions ever dwindling with each successive inclosure, yet each a more minute duplicate of the external sphere. This might seem the least world of all, the restricted limits of the quadrangle of this primitive stockade, but Peninnah Penelope Anne Mivane had known no other than such as this. It was large enough for her, for a fairy like face, very fair, with golden brown hair, that seemed to have entangled the sunshine, and lustrous brown eyes, looked out of an embrasure (locally called "port hole") of the blockhouse, more formidable than the swivel gun once mounted there, commanding the entrance to the stockade gate. Her aspect might have suggested that Titania herself had resorted to military methods and was ensconced in primitive defenses. It was even large enough for her name, which must have been conferred upon her, as the wits of the Blue Lick Station jocularly averred, in the hope of adding some size to her. It was large enough also for the drama of battle and the tragedy of bloody death both had befallen within its limits.

There had been a night, glooming very dark in the past, an unwary night when the row of log houses, all connected by the palisades from one to the other, presenting a blank wall without, broken only by loopholes for musketry, had been scaled by the crafty Cherokees, swarming over the roofs, and attacking the English settlers through the easy access of the unglazed windows and flimsy batten doors that opened upon the quadrangle. Although finally beaten off, the Indians had inflicted great loss. Her father had been one of the slain settlers who thus paid penalty for the false sense of security, fostered by long immunity. Even more troublous times came later, the tumult of open war was rife in all the land; the station was repeatedly attacked, and although it held out stanchly, fear and suspense and grief filled the stockade, yet still there was space for Cupid to go swaggering hither and thither within the guarded gates, and aim his arrows with his old time dainty skill, albeit his bow and quiver might seem somewhat archaic in these days of powder and lead. For Peninnah Penelope Anne Mivane spent much of her time in the moulding of bullets. Perhaps it was appropriate, since both she and her young pioneer lover dealt so largely in missiles, that it was thus the sentimental dart was sped. Lead was precious in those days, but sundry bullets, that she had moulded, Ralph Emsden never rammed down into the long barrel of his flintlock rifle. Some question as to whether the balls had cooled, or perhaps some mere meditative pause, had carried the bits of lead in her fingers to her lips, as they sat together on the hearth and talked and worked in the fire lit dusk for their common defense. He was wont to watch, lynx eyed, the spot where these consecrated bullets were placed, and afterward carried them in a separate buckskin bag over his heart, and mentally called them his "kisses;" for the youths of those days were even such fools as now, although in the lapse of time they have come to pose successfully in the dignified guise of the "wise patriots of the pioneer period." More than once when the station was attacked and the women loaded the guns of the men to expedite the shooting, she kept stanchly at his elbow throughout the thunderous conflict, and charged and primed the alternate rifles which he fired.[1] Over the trigger, in fact, the fateful word was spoken... Continue reading book >>




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