Goodman Pepperell and his wife rose early the next morning, and, leaving the two children still sleeping; crept down the ladder to the floor below. There lay Zeb, also sound asleep, with his toes toward the ashes like a little black Cinderella. The Goodwife's mother heart was stirred with pity as she looked down at him. Perhaps she imagined her own boy a captive in a strange land, unable to speak the language, with no future but slavery and no friends to comfort his loneliness.
"Poor lad—let him sleep a bit, too," she said to her husband.
They unbolted the door and stepped out into the sunlight of a perfect June morning. The dew was still on the grass; robins and bobolinks were singing merrily in the young apple trees, which, owing to a late, cold spring, were still in bloom, and the air hummed with the music of bees' wings.
The Goodman drew a deep breath as he gazed at the beauty about him. "'Tis good to be at home again," he said to his wife. "And 'tis a goodly land—aye, better even than old England! There's space here, room enough to grow." He looked across the river to the hills of Boston town. "I doubt not we shall live to see a city in place of yon village," he said; "more ships seek its port daily, and there are settlements along the whole length of the bay. 'Tis a marvel where the people come from. The Plymouth folk are scattering to the north and south, and already villages are springing up between Plymouth and New Amsterdam. God hath prospered us, wife."
"Praise be to his holy name," said the Goodwife, reverently. "But, husband," she added, "what shall we do with our increase? Thou hast brought home a horse and the black lad. The horse can stay out of doors during the summer, but there is not room for him in the cow-shed, and the lad cannot sleep always before the fire."
"I have thought of that," said the Goodman, "and when the crops are in I purpose to build a larger house."
"Verily it will be needed," she answered. "The crops grow like weeds in this new soil. If there were but a place for storage, I could put away much for winter use that now is wasted. Go thou and look at the garden, while I uncover the coals and set the kettle to boil."
"Wait a moment, wife," said the Goodman, "I have somewhat to tell thee. There is ever a black spot in our sunshine. Though the danger grows less all the while as the settlements increase, it is still true that the Indians are ever a menace, and I fear they are over watchful of us." Then he told her of the attack in the forest. "I have reason to think the red-skins spied upon us all the way to Boston town," he finished. "I did not tell Daniel, but twice I saw savages on our trail after we left Kittredge's. I wounded one in the encounter, and they will not forget that. I know not why they should plot against the black boy, unless it is to revenge themselves upon me, but it is certain they tried to drag him away with them into the woods." The Goodwife listened with a pale face.
"'Tis well, then, that we have a watchdog added to our possessions," she said at last. "Gran'ther Wattles's shepherd hath a litter of pups, and he hath promised one to the children. Nancy hath waited until Dan came home that he might share the pleasure of getting it with her."
"She hath a generous heart," said her father, tenderly. "Aye,—she is a good lass, though headstrong."
When their mother reached the cabin, she found the Twins up and dressed and Daniel trying to rouse the sleeping Zeb. "Wake up," he shouted, giving him a shake. Zeb rolled over with a grunt and opened his eyes.
"Take him outdoors while I get breakfast," said the Goodwife. "Mercy upon me, what shall I do with a blackamoor and a dog both underfoot!"
"A dog!" cried Daniel. "What dog? Where is he?"
"Nancy will tell thee," said his mother, and, not able to wait a moment to hear and tell such wonderful news, the two children rushed out at once, followed by Zeb. When their mother called the family to breakfast half an hour later, Zeb had been shown the garden, the corn-field, the cow-shed, the pig-sty, the straw-stack where eggs were to be found, the well with its long well-sweep, and the samp-mill. He had had the sheep pointed out to him, and been introduced to Eliza, the cow, and allowed to give Penny a measure of corn. The children had shouted the name of each object to him as they had pointed it out, and Zeb had shown his white teeth and grinned and nodded a great many times, as if he understood.
"I know he's seen eggs before, for he sucked one," Dan told his mother. Zeb was given his breakfast on the door-stone, and Dan tried to teach him the use of a spoon, without much success; and afterwards he was brought in to family prayers. His eyes rolled apprehensively as he looked from one kneeling figure to another, but, obeying Dan's gesture, he knelt beside him, and for ten minutes he stuck it out: then, as the prayer continued to pour in an uninterrupted stream from the Goodman's lips, he quietly crawled out on all fours and disappeared through the door. Dan found him afterwards out by the straw-stack, and as there was a yellow streak on his black face, concluded he had learned his lesson about the hen's nest altogether too well. He was given a hoe and taken to the corn-field at once. Here Daniel showed him just how to cut out the weeds with the hoe and loosen the earth about the roots of the corn. Zeb nodded and grinned so cheerfully that, after watching him a few moments, Daniel called Nancy and they started for Gran'ther Wattles's house in the village to get the puppy. They had gone but a short distance when Nancy, glancing around, saw Zeb following them, grinning from ear to ear.
"No—no—no—go back," bawled Daniel, pointing to the corn-field. Zeb nodded with the utmost intelligence and followed right along. "Oh, dear!" groaned Daniel. "I've taught him to do things by showing how, and now he thinks he must do everything that I do."
He sat down on a stone and gazed despairingly at Zeb. Zeb promptly sat down on another stone and beamed at him! In vain Daniel pointed and shouted, and shook his head. Zeb nodded as cheerfully as ever and conscientiously imitated Dan's every move. In spite of all they could do he followed them clear to Gran'ther Wattles's house.
"Oh, dear!" said Nancy, "it's just like having your shadow come to life! You'll have to work all the time, Dan, or Zeb won't work at all!"
Even with the wonderful new puppy in his arms Dan took a gloomy view of the situation. "I'm sick of being an example," he said. "I had to be one at Aunt Bradford's all the time, for she told Mercy and Joseph to watch how I behaved, and now here's this crazy blackamoor mocking everything I do! I guess Father'll wish he had n't bought him."
The days that followed were trying ones for everybody. The Goodwife was nearly distracted trying to house her family and do her work in such crowded quarters. Zeb followed Dan like a nightmare, and the Goodman delved early and late to catch up with the work which had waited for his return. Among other duties there were berries to be picked in the pasture and dried for winter use, and this task fell to the children. It was work which Zeb thoroughly enjoyed, but alas, he ate more than he brought home. On one occasion he ate green fruit along with the ripe, and spent a noisy night afterward holding on to his stomach and howling at each new pain. In vain the Goodwife tried to cure him with a dose of hot pepper tea. Zeb took just enough to burn his mouth and, finding the cure worse than the disease, roared more industriously than ever. She was at her wit's end and finally had to leave him to groan it out alone beside the fire. It was weeks before he learned to understand the simplest sentences, and meanwhile poor Dan had to go on being an example.
Finally one day the Goodman brought home a large saw from Boston, and he and Dan showed Zeb how to use it. Then day after day Dan and Zeb sawed together, making boards for the new house, while Nancy brought her carding or knitting and sat on a stump near by with the puppy at her feet or nosing about in the bushes. They had named the dog Nimrod, "because," as Nancy said, "he is surely a mighty hunter before the Lord, just like Nimrod in the Bible. He sniffs around after field mice all the time, and if he only sees a cat he barks his head off and tears after her like lightning!"
The summer passed quickly away, with few events to take them outside the little kingdom of home in which they lived. Twice the Captain stopped to see them when the Lucy Ann put in at Boston Harbor, and it was from him they got such news as they had of the world without. By October, Nimrod had grown to be quite a large dog and was already useful with the sheep, and Zeb could understand a good deal of what was said to him, though it was noticeable that he was very dull when it concerned tasks he did not like. With Dan to guide him he was able to help shock the corn and pile the pumpkins in golden heaps between the rows. He could feed the cattle and milk the cow and draw water for them from the well. While the Goodman and the two boys worked in the fields gathering the crops, Nancy and her mother dried everything that could be dried and preserved everything that could be preserved, until there was a wonderful store of good things for the winter.
One day when all the rafters were festooned with strings of crook-necked squashes, onions, and seed corn braided in long ropes by the husks, the Goodman appeared in the doorway with another load of seed corn and looked in vain for a place to put it.
"There is no place," said the Goodwife. "The Lord hath blessed us so abundantly there is not room to receive it. As it is, I can hardly do my work without stepping on something. If it is not anything else, it is sure to be either Zeb or Nimrod. Truly I can no longer clean and sand my floor properly for the things that are standing about."
The Goodman sat down on the settle and looked long and earnestly at the crowded room, whistling softly to himself. Then he rose and went to the village, and as a result the neighbors gathered the very next week to help build the new house. They came early in the morning, the men with axes and saws on their shoulders and the women carrying cooking-utensils. Then while the men worked in the forest felling trees, cutting and hauling timbers, and putting them in place, the women helped the Goodwife make whole battalions of brown loaves and regiments of pies, beside any number of other good things to eat. Nancy, Dan, and Zeb ran errands and caught fish and dug clams and gathered nuts to supply materials for them, and were promptly on hand when meal time came.
There were so many helpers that in a wonderfully short time the frame-work was up, the roof boards were on, and a great fireplace had been built into the chimney in the new part of the house. Also a door had been cut through to connect the new part with the old cabin, which was now to be used for storage and as a stable for Penny and Eliza, and a sleeping-space for Zeb. When all this was done and the roof on, the neighbors returned to their own tasks, leaving the Pepperells to lay the floors, cover the outside with boards, and do whatever was necessary to finish the house. It was late in the fall before this was accomplished and the family had settled down to the enjoyment of their new quarters.
One day as Dan and Zeb were bringing in boards to sheathe the room on the inside, they were startled to see two Indians peering out at them from the shelter of the near-by woods. Dropping the board they were carrying, they ran like deer to the house, and Dan told his father what they had seen. The Goodman looked thoughtful as he went on with his task of sheathing, and that very evening he worked late building a secret closet between the chimney and the wall. "It will be a handy place to hide thy preserves," he said to his wife, "and a refuge should the Indians decide to give us trouble." He cut a small square window high up in the outside wall and contrived a spring, hidden in the chimney, to open the door. When this spring was pressed a hole would suddenly appear in what seemed a solid wall, revealing the well-stored shelves. This closet was the Goodwife's special pride, but to Zeb it was a continuous mystery. At one moment there was the solid wall; the next, without touch of human hands, a door would fly open, giving a tantalizing glimpse of things to eat which he could never touch, for if he came near, the door would close again as mysteriously as it had opened. Dan loved to tease him with it, and Zeb, fearing magic, would take to his heels whenever this marvel occurred.
One day the Goodman said to his wife: "Thanksgiving draws near, and surely we have much cause for thankfulness this year, for the Lord hath exceedingly blessed us. There are yet some things to be done before the day comes, and I wish to meet it with my task finished. I hear there is a ship in the harbor loaded with English merchandise, and to-morrow I go to Boston, and if thou art so minded, thou canst go with me."
This put the Goodwife in quite a flutter of excitement, for she had not been away from home except to go to church for many months. She got out her best gown that very evening, to be sure it was in proper order, and while she got supper gave Nancy and Dan an endless string of directions about their tasks in her absence.
Early the next morning she mounted the pillion behind her husband, and the three children watched their departure, Dan clutching Nimrod, who was determined to go with them, and the Goodwife calling back last instructions to the little group until Penny was well on the road to Charlestown.
The house seemed strangely lonely without the mother in it, but there was no time for the children to mope, for there was all the work to do in their parents' absence. Dan took command at once. "You'll both have to mind me now," he said to Nancy and Zeb. "I'm the man of the house."
"If thou 'rt the man of it, I'm the woman, and thou and Zeb will both have to do as I say," retorted Nancy, "or else mayhap I'll get thee no dinner! Mother said I could make succotash, and thou lov'st that better than anything. Mother said above all things not to let the fire go out, for it would be hard to bring a fire-brand all the way from the village. So do thou bring in a pile of wood and set Zeb to chopping more."
Dan counted his chances. "Very well," he said at last, with condescension, "thou art a willful baggage but I'll give thee thy way! Only make the big kettle full."
All that day Nancy bustled importantly about the house, with her sleeves rolled up and her skirts looped back under her apron in imitation of her mother. She was better than her word and made johnny-cake besides the succotash for dinner, and after they had eaten it said to Dan, "If thou wilt go out to the field and bring in a pumpkin, I'll make thee some pies for supper."
Dan dearly loved pumpkin pie, and in his zeal to carry out the plan brought in two great yellow globes from the corn-field instead of the one Nancy had asked for. "Mercy upon us," said Nancy when he appeared, beaming, with one under each arm, "those would make pies enough for all Cambridge. Thine eyes hold more than thy stomach."
"There's no such thing as too many pies," said Daniel stoutly, "and if there's any pumpkin left over, I'll feed it to the pig."
"I'll tell thee what we will do," said Nancy. "We will make a great surprise for Mother and Father. When they come home they will be tired and hungry and ready for a grand supper. Do thou and Zeb run down to the bay and bring back a mess of clams. We'll have the table all spread and a bright fire burning to welcome them!"
Dan agreed to this plan and went out at once to call Zeb. He found him by the straw-stack with an egg in each hand. "Take them in to Nancy," commanded Dan, pointing sternly toward the house. Zeb had meant to dispose of them otherwise, for he had a bottomless appetite for eggs, but he trotted obediently to the house at Dan's order, and then the two boys started together for the bay, with Nimrod barking joyfully and running about them in circles all the way.
The fall days were short, and it was dusk before the evening chores were done, and Dan came in to the bright kitchen with Zeb and Nimrod both at his heels, and announced that he had a hole in his stomach as big as a bushel basket. For answer Nancy pointed to four golden-brown pies cooling on a shelf, and Dan smacked his lips in anticipation. Zeb came alongside and, copying Dan, smacked his lips too.
"Go away, both of you," said Nancy. "You can only look at them now, for I have everything ready for Father and Mother, and we must n't eat until they come."
Dan looked about the room to see what Nancy's surprise might be. It was a cheerful picture that met his eye. First of all there was Nancy herself with her neat cap and white apron, putting the finishing touches to the little feast she had prepared. She had spread the table with the best linen and decorated it with a bunch of red berries. She had even brought out the silver tankard from its hiding-place under the eaves of the loft and placed it beside her father's trencher. The clams were simmering on the fire, sending out an appetizing smell, and the brown loaf was cut. The hickory logs snapped and sputtered, and the flames danced gayly in the fireplace, setting other little flames dancing in the shining pewter dishes arranged on a dresser across the room. Nimrod was lying before the fire with his head on his paws, asleep, and Zeb, squatted down beside him, was rolling his eyes hungrily in the direction of the pies.
"I hope they'll come soon," said Daniel, lifting the cover of the kettle and sniffing. "If they do not't is likely they'll find me as dead as a salt herring when they get here."
Nancy laughed and, breaking a slice of brown-bread in two, gave a piece to each boy. "Take that to stay your stomachs," she said, "and, for the rest, have patience."
For a long time they waited, and still there was no sound of hoofs upon the road. Dusk deepened into darkness, and the harvest moon came out from behind a cloud and shed a silvery light over the landscape. Nancy went to the door and gazed toward the road.
"Dost think, brother, the Indians have waylaid them?" she asked Dan at last.
"Nay," answered Dan. "They are likely delayed at the ferry. Should the ferry-man be at his supper wild horses could not drag him from it, I'll be bound. They'll come presently, never fear, but it will doubtless grieve them much to see me lying stiff and cold on the hearth! Nancy, thou takest a fearful chance in denying thy brother food."
But Nancy only laughed at his woebegone face. "Thou art indeed a valiant trencher-man," she said. Then, suddenly inspired, she brought him the extra pumpkin, which she had not used for the pies, set it before him upon the hearth-stone, and gave him a knife. "Carve thyself a jack-o'-lantern," she said. "'T will take up thy mind, and make thee forget thy stomach." Dan took the knife, cut a cap from the top of the pumpkin, and scooped out the seeds. Then he cut holes for the eyes and nose, and a fearful gash, bordered with pointed teeth, for the mouth, and Nancy brought him the stub of a bayberry candle to put inside. Zeb watched the process with eyes growing wider and wider as the thing became more and more like some frightful creature of his pagan imagination. They were just about to light the candle when Nimrod gave a sharp bark; there was a creaking noise outside, and Nancy, springing joyfully to her feet, shouted, "They've come!—they've come!" She was halfway to the door, when suddenly she stopped, stiff with fright.
There, looking in through the open shutter, was the face of an Indian! Dan and Zeb saw it at the same moment, and Nimrod, barking madly, rushed forward and leaped at the window. Giving one of his wildcat shrieks, Zeb instantly went up the ladder to the loft with the agility of a monkey. The head had bobbed out of sight so quickly that for an instant Nancy hardly believed her own eyes, but in that instant Dan had been quick to act. He pressed the catch concealed in the fireplace, and, springing to his feet, seized Nancy and dragged her back into the secret closet. They nearly fell over the pumpkin, which lay directly in their path, and it rolled before them into the closet.
Once inside, they instantly closed the door, and, with wildly beating hearts, sank down in the darkness. About a foot above the floor there was a small knot-hole in the door, which the Goodman had purposely left for a peep-hole, and to this Dan now glued his eyes. In spite of Nimrod's frantic barking the house door was quietly opened, and when the dog flew at the intruder, he was stunned by a blow from the butt end of a musket, and his senseless body sent flying out of the door by a kick from a moccasined foot.
Then two Indians crept stealthily into the room. They were surprised to find it empty. Where could the children have gone? They prowled cautiously about, looking under the table and behind everything that might afford a hiding-place, and, finding no trace of them, turned their attention in another direction. Dan was already near to bursting with rage and grief over Nimrod, and now he had the misery of seeing the larger of the two Indians take his father's musket from the deer-horn on the chimney-piece, while the other, who already had a gun, with grunts of satisfaction took the silver tankard from the table and hid it under his deer-skin jacket. At first they did not seem to notice the ladder to the loft. Soon, however, they paused beside it, and after they had exchanged a few grunts the larger Indian began to mount. It was plain they meant to make a thorough search for the children who had so miraculously disappeared.
Dan remembered what his father had said about the Pequots; Nancy, with sick fear in her heart for Zeb, was shivering in a heap on the floor, her hands over her eyes, though that was quite unnecessary, since the closet was pitch dark. Dan found her ear and whispered into it a brief report of what he had seen. They could now hear the stealthy tread of moccasined feet above them on the floor of the loft.
"While they're upstairs," whispered Dan, "I'm going to slip out and get Father's pistol. It's hanging behind a string of onions, and they have n't found it."
"Oh, no!" gasped Nancy. She clung to him, and in trying to get up he struck the pumpkin, which rolled away toward the outside wall of the closet. Just then there was a fearful outburst of noise overhead. There was the sound of something being dragged from under a bed across the floor, something which clawed and shrieked and fought like a wildcat. There were grunts and the thump of moccasined feet dancing about in a lively struggle.
"Now is my chance," said Dan to himself, and, opening the door cautiously, he made a dash for the pistol and snatched it from its hiding-place. As he was leaping back to the closet, he saw the bayberry candle lying on the hearth, and in that instant a wonderful idea flashed into his mind. He picked up the candle, lit it from the flames, and scurried back to his hiding-place just as the legs of an Indian appeared at the top of the ladder. He shut the door swiftly behind him, and, giving the candle to Nancy, told her to set it inside the pumpkin. Crawling to the other end of the closet, Nancy did as she was bid, while Dan, with his eye at the peep-hole, watched the two Indians drag poor Zeb between them down the ladder and out the door.
Eager to see where they went, Dan climbed up to the little window of the closet and peered out into the night. By the moonlight he could see the two men dragging Zeb in the direction of the straw-stack. They were having a hard time of it, for Zeb struggled fiercely, and they had their guns and the tankard to take care of as well, and in addition, to Dan's horror, one of them was waving a burning brand which he had snatched from the fire in passing! Dan trembled so with excitement that he nearly fell from his perch, but kept his wits about him. "Give me the pumpkin," he said to Nancy, and when she reached it up to him, he set the lurid, grinning face in the window. "Now the pistol," he said, and, sticking the muzzle through the opening beside the jack-o'-lantern, he fired it into the air.
The shot was answered by a chorus of yells from the three figures by the straw-stack. Scared out of their wits by the unexpected shot and by the frightful apparition which suddenly glared at them out of the darkness, the Indians took to their heels and ran as only Indians can run, dragging poor Zeb with them.
"They're gone," shouted Dan, dropping to the floor, "but they've set the straw-stack afire!"
By the dim light of the jack-o'-lantern grinning in the window, he found the catch of the door, and the two children burst out of the closet. Seizing a bucket of water which stood by the hand-basin in the corner, Dan dashed out of doors, followed by Nancy, whose fear of Indians was now overmastered by fear of fire. If their beautiful new house should be burned! She ran to the well-sweep, and while Dan worked like a demon, stamping on burning straws with his feet, and pouring water on the spreading flames, she swiftly plunged first one bucket, then another, into the well and filled Dan's pail as fast as it was emptied. In spite of these heroic efforts the fire spread. All they could do was to keep the ground wet about the stack and watch the flying sparks lest they set fire to the house. Over the lurid scene the jack-o'-lantern grinned down at them until the candle sputtered and went out.
The straw-stack was blazing fiercely, lighting the sky with a red glare, when in the distance they heard the beat of a drum. Gran'ther Wattles had seen the flames and was rousing the village. Then there were hoof-beats on the road, and into the fire-light dashed Penny with the terrified Goodman and his wife on her back. Once they knew their children were safe, they did not stop for questions, but at once set to work to help them check the fire, which was now spreading among the dry leaves. The Goodwife ran for her broom, which she dipped in water and then beat upon the little flames as they appeared here and there in the grass. The Goodman mounted to the roof at once, and, with Dan to fetch water and Nancy to bring up buckets from the well, they managed to keep it too wet for the flying sparks to set it afire. At last the neighbors, roused by Gran'ther Wattles's frantic alarm, came hurrying across the pastures; but the distance was so great that the flames had died down and the danger was nearly over before they arrived.
There was now time for explanations, and, surrounded by an eager and grim-visaged circle, Nancy and Dan told their story. "There's a brave lad for you!" cried Stephen Day, when the tale was finished, patting Dan on the shoulder. "Aye, and a brave lass, too," added another. Their father and mother said no words of praise, but there was a glow of pride in their faces as they looked at their children and silently thanked God for their safety.
"We can do nothing to-night," said Goodman Pepperell at last, "but, neighbors, if you are with me, to-morrow we will go into the woods and see if we can find any trace of the black boy. Doubtless by stealing him and burning the house they thought to revenge themselves for the Indian whom I wounded on my way home from Plymouth. They must have been watching the house, and, seeing us depart this morning, knew well that they had naught but children to deal with."
"Aye, but such children!" said Stephen Day, who had been greatly impressed by the story of the jack-o'-lantern. "We'll follow them, indeed, and if we find them"—his jaw shut with a snap and he said no more.
While the men laid their plans for the morrow, the children and their mother stole round to the front of the house, and Dan began a search for Nimrod. He had been neither seen nor heard since the Indian had given him that fearful blow and thrown him out. They found him lying a few feet from the house still half stunned, and Dan lifted him tenderly in his arms, brought him into the house, and laid him down before the fire, where he had slept so peacefully only one short hour before. Nimrod licked his hand, and rapped his tail feebly on the hearthstone. Nancy wept over him, while Dan bathed his wounded head, and tried to find out if any bones were broken.
"Poor Nimrod," said the Goodwife, as she set a bowl of milk before the wounded dog, "thou art a brave soldier. Drink this and soon thou wilt be wagging thy tail as briskly as ever."
She stirred the fire and lit the candles, and when the Goodman came in a few moments later, the little family looked about their new home to see what damage had been done. Nancy's little feast was a sad wreck. There were the pies, to be sure, but the table-cloth was awry and the flowers were tipped over and strewn about the floor, which was covered with the tracks of muddy feet. In the scuffle with Zeb the spinning-wheel had been overturned and the settle was lying on its back on the floor. The room looked as if a hurricane had passed through it. The Goodman mourned the loss of his gun, and the Goodwife grieved for her tankard, but all smaller losses were forgotten in their distress about Zeb. Not only had he cost the Goodman a large sum of money, but in the weeks he had been with them he had found his own place in the household, where he would be sadly missed. Worst of all was their anxiety about his fate at the hands of the Indians.
"Come," said the Goodwife at last, when they had heard every event of the day twice over, "we must eat, or we shall have scant courage for the duties of the morrow. We have none of us tasted food since noon."
The clams were still simmering gently in the pot, and she gave them each a porringer of broth, which they ate sitting in a circle about the hearth-stone. Then she put the room in order, and though her heart was heavy, tried to talk of the events of their day in Boston as if nothing had happened.
"We saw Captain Sanders in town," she said to the children. "He hath brought the Lucy Ann to port with a load of cod for the market and with fish and game for Thanksgiving. I have his promise that he will dine with us if God wills. He hath not yet seen our new house. Alas! I shall have no tankard to set before him; yet, ungrateful that I am, we are still rich in blessings! 'Tis well we have a day set aside to remind us of them."
It was very late when at last the excitement had died down enough to think of sleep. The Goodman went out to make sure there was no fire left lurking in the grass, and to take a look at the horse and cow. As he passed the smoking ashes of the straw-stack, his foot struck something which rang like metal, and in the moonlight something glistened in the path before him. Stooping, he felt for it, and was overjoyed to grasp the tankard, which the Indian had lost in the struggle with Zeb. He carried it in to his wife at once. She seized it with a cry of joy.
"'Tis a good omen," she said. "Mayhap thou'lt find thy musket too." Her husband shook his head gravely. "I'll have need of one to-morrow," he said. "'Tis well I still have my fowling-piece and my pistol." Then he called the family together and, kneeling beside the settle, committed them to God's keeping for the night.