“Hurrah for Kentucky!” cried the young man, exerting his remaining strength to give energy to the cry, so often uplifted, in succeeding years, among the wild woodlands around. It was the last effort of his sinking powers. He fell back, pressed his father’s and his brother’s hands, and almost immediately expired,—a victim not so much of his wounds, which were not in themselves necessarily fatal, nor perhaps even dangerous, had they been attended to, as of the heroic efforts, so overpowering and destructive in his disabled condition, which he had made to repair his father’s fault; for such he evidently esteemed the dismissing the travellers from the Station without sufficient guides and protection.
Thus fell the young Kentuckian,—a youth endeared to all who knew him, by his courage and good humour; and whose fall would, at a moment of less confusion, have created a deep and melancholy sensation. But he fell amid the roar and tempest of battle, when there was occasion for other thoughts and other feelings than those of mere individual grief.
The Indians had been driven from their village, as described, aiming not to fight, but fly; but being intercepted at all points by the assailants, and met, here by furious volleys poured from the bushy sides of the hill, there by charges of horsemen galloping through the meadows and cornfields, they were again driven back into the town, where, in sheer desperation, they turned upon their foes to sell their lives as dearly as they might. They were met at the edge of the village by the party of horse and footmen that had first dislodged them, with whom, being driven pell-mell among them by the shock of the intercepting bands, they waged a fierce and bloody, but brief conflict; and still urged onwards by the assailants behind, fought their way back to the square, which, deserted almost entirely at the period of young Bruce’s fall, was now suddenly seen, as he drew his last gasp, scattered over with groups of men flying for their lives, or struggling together in mortal combat; while the screams of terror-struck women and children gave a double horror to the din.
The return of the battle to their own immediate vicinity produced its effects upon the few who had remained by the dying youth. It fired, in especial, the blood of Captain Ralph, who, snatching up a fallen axe, rushed towards the nearest combatants, roaring, by way of consolation, or sympathy, to the bereaved father, “Don’t take it hard, Cunnel,—I’ll have a scalp for Tom’s sake in no time!” As for Tiger Nathan, he had disappeared long before, with most of the horsemen, who had galloped up to the stake with the younger Bruce and his father, being evidently too fiercely excited to remain idle any longer. The father and brother of the deceased, the two cousins and Pardon Dodge, who lingered by the latter, still on his horse, as if old companionship with the soldier and the service just rendered the maid had attached him to all their interests, were all that remained on the spot. But all were driven from a contemplation of the dead, as the surge of battle again tossed its bloody spray into the square.