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Illustrator: L. F. Wilford

Release date: October 2, 2023

Original publication: New York: McClure Publishing Company, 1923

Credits: Roger Frank and Sue Clark


A Gripping Romance of Indian War and Pioneer Life in Kentucky

On the banks of the Elkhorn River, not far from Frankfort, stand what is left of two rough stone chimneys, in a still-thriving cornfield. A century and more ago these were the chimneys of the log cabin which Ezra Todd and his groomsmen built for his bride, Polly.

It was furnished in those days, the one room and lean-to of it, with stout puncheon tables and stools, also the handicraft of his groomsmen; with a bed made in the pioneer fashion, a forked branch supporting a pole whose other end stuck into a chink of the logs, a second pole crossing it transversely, and this framework covered by a straw-filled tick and a fine, thick feather bed--for Polly came to her husband with a fair plenishing. There was a spinning wheel, too; and a hooded cradle stood beside the high-backed settle at the hearth, and the board shelves, laid on pegs stuck into the walls, held good earthenware dishes, and even some plates and cups and candlesticks of shining pewter.

At the back was a batten door, thickly studded in nails, that had peepholes on either side, high and low. There was a musket in a rack behind the door, and a flintlock rifle hung beneath the high, paneless window, whose solid wooden shutter, with two small apertures in it, opened inward. It seemed to Ezra Todd, on a particular afternoon early in the past century, as pleasant and as safe a home as man ever prepared reluctantly to leave for the uncertainties and discomforts of Kentucky travel.

His wife waited upon him in silence; a lithe, graceful girl, almost wild in her movements, and barefoot, although dressed otherwise rather finely for a frontier woman, in a sprigged bedgown or overdress, cambric frills to her sleeves and cap. His eyes followed her lovingly, a little anxiously, as she brought him his belt, tied it behind over his fringed leather hunting shirt, handed him the long knife and tomahawk to place in it, and lastly the red handkerchief to bind about his forehead in place of a cap--it was too warm for caps.

Granny Estill looked up quickly from her knitting--a gray, bent creature, twisted with rheumatism, older than women are nowadays at her age, yet with the youthful, laughing eyes of a girl.

"What a pretty, gay tune it is," she said, tapping her foot and humming after him. "I do like to hear a new tune now and then. Be sure you bring me one from the town, Ezra."

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