At length they were discerned, emerging from the forest on the opposite or American side. Boats were sent across by the commanding officer, to bring the chief and his party. The father and mother, attended by all the officers and ladies, stood upon the grassy bank awaiting their approach. They had seen at a glance that the little captive was with them.
When about to enter the boat, the chief said to some of his young men, “Stand here with the horses, and wait until I return.”
He was told that the horses should be ferried across and taken care of.
“No,” said he; “let them wait.”
He held his darling by the hand until the river was passed—until the boat touched the bank—until the child sprang forward into the arms of the mother from whom she had been so long separated.
When the chief witnessed that outburst of affection, he could withstand no longer.
“She shall go,” said he. “The mother must have her child again. I will go back alone.”
With one silent gesture of farewell he turned and stepped on board the boat. No arguments or entreaties could induce him to remain at the council, but, having gained the other side of the Niagara, he mounted his horse, and with his young men was soon lost in the depths of the forest.
After a sojourn of a few weeks at Niagara, Mr. Lytle, dreading lest the resolution of the Big White Man should give way, and measures be taken to deprive him once more of his child, came to the determination of again changing his place of abode. He therefore took the first opportunity of crossing Lake Erie with his family, and settled himself in the neighborhood of Detroit, where he continued afterwards to reside.
Little Nelly saw her friend the chief no more, but she never forgot him. To the day of her death she remembered with tenderness and gratitude her brother the Big White Man, and her friends and playfellows among the Senecas.
At the age of fourteen the heroine of the foregoing story married Colonel McKillip, a British officer. This gentleman was killed near Fort Defiance, as it was afterwards called, at the Miami Rapids, in 1794. A detachment of British troops had been sent down from Detroit to take possession of this post. General Wayne was then on a campaign against the Indians, and the British Government thought proper to make a few demonstrations in behalf of their allies. Having gone out with a party to reconnoitre, Colonel McKillip was returning to his post after dark, when he was fired upon and killed by one of his own sentinels. Mrs. Helm was the daughter of this marriage.
During the widowhood of Mrs. McKillip, she resided with her parents, at Grosse Pointe, eight miles above Detroit, and it was during this period that an event occurred which, from the melancholy and mysterious circumstances attending it, was always dwelt upon by her with peculiar interest.