“Where’s Heckewelder?” asked Girty, curtly, as he stopped before the missionaries.
“He started out for the Indian towns on the Muskingong,” answered Edwards. “But we have had no word from either him or Zeisberger.”
“When d’ye expect him?”
“I can’t say. Perhaps to-morrow, and then, again, maybe not for a week.”
“He is in authority here, ain’t he?”
“Yes; but he left me in charge of the Mission. Can I serve you in any way?”
“I reckon not,” said the renegade, turning to his companions. They conversed in low tones for a moment. Presently McKee, Elliott and Deering went toward the newly erected teepees.
“Girty, do you mean us any ill will?” earnestly asked Edwards. He had met the man on more than one occasion, and had no hesitation about questioning him.
“I can’t say as I do,” answered the renegade, and those who heard him believed him. “But I’m agin this redskin preachin’, an’ hev been all along. The injuns are mad clear through, an’ I ain’t sayin’ I’ve tried to quiet ’em any. This missionary work has got to be stopped, one way or another. Now what I waited here to say is this: I ain’t quite forgot I was white once, an’ believe you fellars are honest. I’m willin’ to go outer my way to help you git away from here.”
“Go away?” echoed Edwards.
“That’s it,” answered Girty, shouldering his rifle.
“But why? We are perfectly harmless; we are only doing good and hurt no one. Why should we go?”
“’Cause there’s liable to be trouble,” said the renegade, significantly.
Edwards turned slowly to Mr. Wells and Jim. The old missionary was trembling visibly. Jim was pale; but more with anger than fear.
“Thank you, Girty, but we’ll stay,” and Jim’s voice rang clear.
“Jim, come out here,” called Edwards at the window of Mr. Wells’ cabin.
The young man arose from the breakfast table, and when outside found Edwards standing by the door with an Indian brave. He was a Wyandot lightly built, lithe and wiry, easily recognizable as an Indian runner. When Jim appeared the man handed him a small packet. He unwound a few folds of some oily skin to find a square piece of birch bark, upon which were scratched the following words:
“Rev. J. Downs. Greeting.
“Your brother is alive and safe. Whispering Winds rescued him by taking him as her husband. Leave the Village of Peace. Pipe and Half King have been influenced by Girty.
“Now, what do you think of that?” exclaimed Jim, handing the message to Edwards. “Thank Heaven, Joe was saved!”
“Zane? That must be the Zane who married Tarhe’s daughter,” answered Edwards, when he had read the note. “I’m rejoiced to hear of your brother.”
“Joe married to that beautiful Indian maiden! Well, of all wonderful things,” mused Jim. “What will Nell say?”