the frontiersmen

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THE FRONTIERSMENbyCHARLES EGBERT CRADDOCKAuthor of _A Spectre of Power_, _The Prophet of the Great SmokyMountains_, _In the Tennessee Mountains_, etc.1904CONTENTSTHE LINGUISTERA VICTOR AT CHUNGKETHE CAPTIVE OF THE ADA-WEHITHE FATE OF THE CHEERA-TAGHETHE BEWITCHED BALL-STICKSTHE VISIT OF THE TURBULENT GRANDFATHERNOTESTHE LINGUISTERThe mental image of the world is of individual and varying compass. Itmay be likened to one of those curious Chinese balls of quaintly carvedivory, containing other balls, one within another, the proportions everdwindling with each successive inclosure, yet each a more minuteduplicate of the external sphere. This might seem the least world ofall,--the restricted limits of the quadrangle of this primitivestockade,--but Peninnah Penelope Anne Mivane had known no other thansuch as this. It was large enough for her, for a fairy-like face, veryfair, with golden brown hair, that seemed to have entangled thesunshine, and lustrous brown eyes, looked out of an embrasure (locallycalled "port-hole") of the blockhouse, more formidable than the swivelgun once mounted there, commanding the entrance to the stockade gate.Her aspect might have suggested that Titania herself had resorted tomilitary methods and was ensconced in primitive defenses. It was evenlarge enough for her name, which must have been conferred upon her, asthe wits of the Blue Lick Station jocularly averred, in the hope ofadding some size to her. It was large enough also for the drama ofbattle and the tragedy of bloody death--both had befallen within itslimits.There had been a night, glooming very dark in the past, an unwary nightwhen the row of log houses, all connected by the palisades from one tothe other, presenting a blank wall without, broken only by loopholes formusketry, had been scaled by the crafty Cherokees, swarming over theroofs, and attacking the English settlers through the easy access of theunglazed windows and flimsy batten doors that opened upon thequadrangle. Although finally beaten off, the Indians had inflicted greatloss. Her father had been one of the slain settlers who thus paidpenalty for the false sense of security, fostered by long immunity. Evenmore troublous times came later,--the tumult of open war was rife in allthe land; the station was repeatedly attacked, and although it held outstanchly, fear and suspense and grief filled the stockade,--yet stillthere was space for Cupid to go swaggering hither and thither within theguarded gates, and aim his arrows with his old-time dainty skill, albeithis bow and quiver might seem somewhat archaic in these days of powderand lead. For Peninnah Penelope Anne Mivane spent much of her time inthe moulding of bullets. Perhaps it was appropriate, since both she andher young pioneer lover dealt so largely in missiles, that it was thusthe sentimental dart was sped. Lead was precious in those days, butsundry bullets, that she had moulded, Ralph Emsden never rammed downinto the long barrel of his flintlock rifle. Some question as to whetherthe balls had cooled, or perhaps some mere meditative pause, had carriedthe bits of lead in her fingers to her lips, as they sat together on thehearth and talked and worked in the fire-lit dusk for their commondefense. He was wont to watch, lynx-eyed, the spot where theseconsecrated bullets were placed, and afterward carried them in aseparate 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 thedignified guise of the "wise patriots of the pioneer period." More thanonce when the station was attacked and the women loaded the guns of themen to expedite the shooting, she kept stanchly at his elbow throughoutthe thunderous conflict, and charged....
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