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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Ranger; Or, The Fugitives Of The Border - Chapter 4. The Captives
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The Ranger; Or, The Fugitives Of The Border - Chapter 4. The Captives Post by :gefsmith Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Sylvester Ellis Date :May 2012 Read :1027

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The Ranger; Or, The Fugitives Of The Border - Chapter 4. The Captives

CHAPTER IV. THE CAPTIVES

When Rosalind Leland felt herself seized by the savage, she fainted in the arms of her swarthy captor, and so remained for a long space of time. When she recovered, she found that she was a secure prisoner in the hands of her enemies. She was grieved to see that Zeb was a companion in captivity. She felt that, could she alone suffer, she would willingly bear it. Although acquainted with many Indians, she was unable to recognize any of those around. This, of course, was a gratification. It showed that the kindness of her parents and herself had not been lost upon them. Although the recipients of her kindness might not strive to prevent violence being done her, yet they refused to participate in it themselves.

The whole Indian force numbered about thirty. As soon as they had done all in their power, and were convinced that there were no more captives to be secured, they took up the line of march. In the course of their journey, Rosalind found that she was near enough to hold a conversation with Zeb, and after a few minutes' silence, she ventured:

"How do you feel, Zeb?"

"Bless you, missus, if dese niggers doesn't get the all-firedest walloping when I gets de chance, dey may feel glad."

"Yes, but I'm afraid that you will not get the chance very soon."

"Oh, dey daresn't kill me; fur if dey did, I'd hang ebery one ob dem."

Despite Rosalind's painful situation, she could not but smile at the earnestness of tone in which Zeb delivered himself of this. She resumed:

"Are you bound, Zeb?"

"Not much; only a dozen ropes tied around one leg, and as many round de rest ob me body."

"Oh, Zeb, don't tell such stories."

"Fact, Missus Leland. I counted 'em when dey's puttin' 'em on, and dey cut like forty, too."

"Forty-two what?" asked a gruff voice by Zeb's side, in very good English.

"Gorra mighty, _who's dat_?"

No answer was given.

"Who de debbil was dat?" asked Zeb, speaking to Rosalind.

She made no answer and appeared to be lost in a reverie. Zeb repeated his question but failed to elicit any reply. Muttering something to himself, he permitted her silence to remain undisturbed.

There were two horses in the party, and upon one of these Rosalind had been placed. The other was bestrode by a savage, who appeared to be the leader of the band. Zeb's hands were pinioned behind his back, and he was compelled to walk behind the horse of Rosalind, with a guard that kept a close eye upon his movements.

(Illustration: There were two horses in the party, and upon one of these Rosalind had been placed.)

Silently yet rapidly the body moved along through the forest of impenetrable darkness, where a perfect knowledge was required in order to make the least progress. Rosalind's horse was a powerful creature, and carried her with comparative comfort. Now and then the cold leaves brushed her face, or her body grazed some tree, yet the animal carried her safely and unharmed. Several times the thought of escape flashed upon her. It seemed easy to turn her horse's head and gallop beyond the reach of her enemies. But one of them was mounted, and she believed she could elude him. She could ride down those immediately around her, and what was there to prevent her making good her escape?

And yet, after a few more minutes of thought, she abandoned all hopes of liberty for the present. Her brother was free, and would leave no means untried until she was again restored to him; and there was _another one_, who, she knew in her heart, would exert himself to the utmost to save her. This thought caused her heart to beat faster and faster. There was a slight tremor in her voice as she spoke:

"Zeb, come a little nearer to me."

He made a movement, but was unable to approach much nearer.

"Are you listening?" she asked, in a subdued tone.

"Yes, missus; mouth, ears and eyes is open."

"Then," said she, bending toward him and lowering her voice still more, "I wish to ask you, Zeb, whether you would do me a favor?"

"Lord bless you, missus, you knows I'd die a hundred times for you."

"I believe you would," returned Rosalind, touched by his tone and words; "but it is no hardship that I ask of you."

"Well, out with it quick, fur dese fellers don't like to see yer horse's side rubbin' all de wool off ob my head."

"You are acquainted with Roland Leslie, Zeb?" asked Rosalind, bending lower and speaking in a whisper which she scarcely heard herself.

"Yes," answered Zeb, breathing hurriedly.

"Well, should you see him, tell him of my situation; and--and--tell him not to run into danger for my sake."

"I will," rejoined Zeb, fervently.

Here a savage, judging that matters had gone far enough, jerked the negro rudely back.

"You needn't be so spiteful," retorted Zeb; "she's told me all she's agwine to."

Rosalind had done so; nothing further passed between them.

Toward morning they reached the banks of a stream, where the savages divided into two parties. The one which retained the negro started down the Ohio, while those who held Rosalind continued their journey in a southerly direction.

The course of the former has already been given, and also a part of their doings. The latter, which numbered twenty, experienced nothing worthy of record for a considerable time. They moved forward rapidly, as they had some fears of pursuit. This was their reason for retaining Rosalind with them. They were cunning enough to know that what efforts might be made would be for her sake, while probably the negro would be left to himself.

Their progress south continued until Rosalind knew that she was many miles in Kentucky. They had kept along the banks of a river during the whole time, which she also knew to be the Big Sandy. From this she judged that her captors were a tribe, or at least a part of one, which belonged many miles distant from where her home had been.

Throughout all her trials, Rosalind relied upon Providence with a firm, unshaken faith. Although hope dawned but faintly upon her, she murmured not. Her fears were great for others beside herself. She was young, and her youthful blood coursed through her veins, bearing with it the pleasures and hopes of life just commenced. It was hard to die, hard to give up the hopes which had only begun to dawn in her bosom; yet, if it was His will, she felt that she could go without a murmur. "Thy will be done," was the prayer which but herself and Heaven heard.

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