Read CHAPTER I of The Forest King Wild Hunter of the Adaca , free online book, by Hervey Keyes, on

In the romantic days of the frontier settlers of Tryon County, there lived in the valley of the Mohawk River a young man by the name of Mayall. He was by nature strong, courageous and active, always foremost in pursuit of the Indians that lurked about the advanced settlements of the whites. Mayall was young and handsome, and would have been considered a prize for a young lady of merit, who was not looking for a companion that possessed lands and money. He seemed to be a favorite among the young ladies of the Mohawk Valley who dressed in linsey-woolsey I mean that class

“Who slept on down their early rising bought,
And wore the garments their own hands had spun”

but was looked upon with suspicion by some of the more aristocratic and wealthy, who possessed broad farms and extensive grants of land, and wished to trace the pedigree of their relatives to some old ancestral pile, surrounded with wide-spread manors.

Mayall was a hero by nature, and had all the quickness of perception to carry it out successfully; and yet he had cultivated the most refined manners of that wild, romantic age. He was fond of hunting, as the abundance of game and furred animals gave the hunter a rich reward. Mayall had reached his majority, and had become enamored of a beautiful young lady of a wealthy family, the only daughter and heir to a rich inheritance, by the name of Nelly G., who returned his advances in the same warmth of love and fidelity. As soon as the parents of the young lady became aware of Mayall’s intentions and their daughter’s attachment to young Mayall, they commenced a furious and determined opposition, and refused to allow Mayall to visit their daughter or even enter their house. Mayall took the matter calmly, and was no longer seen at the house of the farmer, but found many opportunities to meet the lady of his choice at evening parties and places of amusement. Their love was mutual, and every reasonable means was used to overcome the objections of the lady’s parents but all seemed in vain. They had promised the heart and hand of their daughter to the son of a wealthy farmer (a distant relative), who was void of merit, and one who was despised by the young lady, on account of his awkward manner of behavior, and his ignorance of what constituted a well-bred gentleman. Nelly G. informed her father and mother that she chose a companion and protector without money, in preference to money and lands without a companion and protector.

One sunny morning, in summer’s golden days, when the Valley of the Mohawk appeared like an Eden outstretched in loveliness, and bowed in summer’s rosy bloom, the father of Mayall’s intended wife saw Mayall coming with hurried steps towards his house, dressed in a green hunting-frock and cap with a green plume shading his forehead, a double-barreled carbine in his hand, with a tomahawk and hunting-knife sheathed in his belt, which was the favorite dress of a hunter when rambling through the green, overgrown forests of the Valley of the Mohawk, to prevent being noticed by wild game or Indians.

Fearing he might have some message for his daughter, whom he did not intend he should see, he started hastily towards him, to intercept him and turn him back before he reached his house. He met Mayall some distance from his house, and forbid his nearer approach.

“I have a message for you and your daughter, which will freeze her young blood and wring her heart with pain, and make your eyes start like stars from their spheres, whilst each hair upon your head will stand erect like the quills of the affrighted porcupine.”

The farmer’s courage failed, and his knees began to tremble and smite each other like Belshazzar’s; for he had heard of the undaunted courage and manly bearing of young Mayall in times of danger.

“Look yonder,” said Mayall, as he pointed his carbine up the Valley of the Mohawk. “Do you see the smoke and flames that light up the concave of the skies? That is the funeral pile of your friend and neighbor. Around that fire stands the savage band that have come to plunder and burn your houses and barns, lay waste your fields, and murder and scalp your wife and daughter, Nelly G.; and now where can I find her?”

“She is at the house,” said the farmer, “and her horse is in the stable.”

“Then come with me,” said Mayall; “there is not a moment to lose; flee for your life, and the life of your wife and daughter. I will guard and defend your property.”

Mayall ran to the stable, and in a few moments appeared before the farmer’s house with Nelly’s horse, saddled and bridled, and called for Nelly, who quickly appeared at the door in a plain homespun dress.

“Mount this horse,” said Mayall, “and flee for your life to the fort, a place of safety.”

“Wait a moment,” said Nelly, “until I change my dress.”

“No,” said Mayall, “your retreat may be intercepted; there is death in delay. The Indians are near, your father and mother will soon follow you to the fort. Tell the commander to fire the alarm-gun, for the valley is swarming with Indians.”

Mayall kissed Nelly’s hand and said, “My prayer is that Heaven may protect you. There is no time to lose in useless words.”

Nelly leaped upon the saddle, and the spirited animal took the nearest road for the fort, and in a few moments was lost from sight by the thick grove through which she had to pass. Mayall’s eyes followed her lovely form until it vanished in the sylvan shade, and then hastened to get her father and mother on the way to a place of safety.

Mayall, fearing that he might have been discovered by the Indians, made a hasty retreat to the nearest woods in the direction of the fort, until he disappeared among the shrubbery. Then, returning by a circuitous route, hid in a thicket from which he could have a view of the road leading to the farmer’s house. He had scarcely reached his hiding-place before he heard the booming of the alarm-gun at the fort, which thrilled through his bosom with a joyful sound and gave a fresh impulse to all his energies, as it echoed from mountain-top to mountain and glen, on all the forest hills that bordered the then wild Valley of the Mohawk, and seemed to say, “Nolly is safe.”

Mayall had but a few minutes to reflect on what had been accomplished, before he espied from his hiding-place five Indians coming up the road leading to the house. Mayall fired both barrels of his carbine, bringing down the two foremost Indians, and without loss of time had his gun in readiness for two more. Then, looking out from his hiding-place, he saw the three remaining Indians retreating in great haste, leaving young Mayall master of the farm and buildings. The inhabitants of the valley rushed for the fort at the sound of the alarm-gun; but several were overtaken by the Indians, and scalped and murdered in the most inhuman manner. But Mayall kept guard over the farm and buildings. The Indians made quick work in plundering and burning dwellings, and murdering all the helpless women and children that fell in their way, and then made a quick retreat towards Canada. After the Indians had left, and the terror-stricken inhabitants had returned to their farms and once-loved homes, only to find many of them a heap of ashes, the old farmer returned with his wife and daughter, and found Mayall walking about keeping guard over his farm and dwelling. He had buried the two Indians and was enjoying a season of rest. Mayall greeted them all with the warmest friendship, and felt happy when he saw them once more safe in their own house, which he had saved from the Indians’ torch. But the ungrateful farmer and his wife treated Mayall with cold neglect, if not contempt. The old farmer had seen his intended son-in-law and spent a few days with him at the fort, and renewed his promise to give him his daughter in marriage without her consent, and in spite of her most earnest protest.

And now, reader, put yourself in her place, and meditate awhile, and see if you would have done as she did.

Nelly was a wild, lovely girl by nature, and had added to her store of knowledge many of the accomplishments of education. She had pledged her hand and heart to Mayall, and said she would go with him to some deep, unknown valley of the wilderness, before she would live with a man she hated and could not love, and informed Mayall that her father was determined to have the wedding take place the next Wednesday. She said she once knew a lady who was separated from her lover, and yielded to her parents’ choice, who lived in perpetual torment, surrounded by a profusion of wealth. In a few years she pined away, and died broken-hearted, entered Charon’s boat with her first love, and sailed over the River of Death together, to join their friends on the Elysian Fields of Paradise, and left her parents and the man of their choice digging in the mud and dust for gold. But that lady was not Nelly Gordon. She would sooner seek the wild wood’s shade; for, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” “I would yield all due respect to my parents, remain single, and cheer them in the winter of their declining years; make downy pillows for their aching heads, and ring their funeral knell; but, oh, misery! when they attempt to force me to take a partner for life, not worthy the name of a man, for his property, I shudder at the thought, and my better judgment compels me to rebel against parental authority. They have gone thus far without my consent have even invited the guests; and I assure you the groom may come, but the bride will be absent.”

Mayall’s mind was made up at a glance, for he had long known Nelly’s love and fidelity to him, which, he had returned with the kindest respect, and said to Nelly: “If you dare trust yourself in my care, meet me at the large gate that leads to the highway as soon as your father and mother retire to rest, with such articles of clothing as you may need on your journey, and we will fly to some green valley of the West. I will see that your horse is in readiness. I have a friend that will accompany us to Cherry Valley, and return with the horses before the morning star rises, which will prevent our place of retreat being discovered.”

As soon as Nelly’s father and mother were lost in dreamless slumbers, Nelly passed out of her chamber with noiseless steps, carrying her wearing apparel in a bundle, closely packed, and found Mayall and his friend in readiness, with three horses saddled and equipped for the journey. The company were quickly mounted on three spirited horses, and reached Cherry Valley at eleven o’clock P. M. a place Nelly had never seen before. No cottage window showed the light of a taper; but the light of the full moon fell in tranquil loveliness upon the rounded hill-tops, and the glittering stars added their beauty to the heavens, while the green forest and flowering shrubbery clothed the earth with beauty, and the sweet-scented clover perfumed the surrounding air. The company dismounted under a broad, spreading forest tree at the south end of the village, near which ran a little rivulet, that meandered in graceful curves southward. Here Mayall and Nelly G. gave the hand of their friend a hearty shake, and an affectionate farewell, enjoining on him the strictest secrecy as he started on his return journey to the Valley of the Mohawk, which he reached just in time to return Nolly’s horse to her father’s stable and his own to the pasture, before the morning sun dashed her light on all the western hills, and painted the surrounding groves in all the glory of summer.

The father of Nelly awoke with the morning light, and called for his lovely daughter to rise and behold the beauties of the morning. No voice gave back the welcome response. He called again. The voice that used to cheer him with her morning song was far away with her lover. Her bedchamber was as silent as the house of death. He rushed wildly about his outbuildings, calling for his Nelly. No answer came, as usual, floating on the morning breeze, to greet his listening ear. He returned to the house. His wife had searched in vain for her daughter; but found her most valuable wearing apparel was missing, which told a sad tale, whilst no traces could be found of her place of retreat. Next the stable was examined, and Nelly’s horse was found as he had left him the night previous. He rode to every place where he thought she would be likely to go, but no trace could be found. He inquired for Mayall, and was told that he was seen the evening before equipped for a hunting excursion. He returned home in grief and loneliness. His house no longer echoed to the musical voice of his lovely daughter. His wife, who had been the most anxious for her daughter to marry a farm instead of a man of worth, now began to murmur and find fault with her husband for his unkindness to Mayall, who had saved their lives and the life of their daughter, and protected their property. She could then see how nobly he had acted, and shielded them from the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the Indians; and now their only daughter had flown to his arms for protection, and to reward him for his noble deeds of humanity flown from a man she was determined never to marry.

“Has she not frequently told you she had rather have a brave and noble youth without money, than to have a coward she hated with his land and money that, should his money be lost by misfortune, she would only have the wreck of a man left? And now she is gone, perhaps we shall never see her face again; and, what is worse than all, we have been the cause of our own misfortunes by our own folly and blindness. Had we heeded her warnings we might have enjoyed a pleasant life, with our daughter to cheer us in our declining years; and the brave young man to defend us.”

From cloudy turrets evening crept
To watch the day’s retreating light,
Then o’er the heavenly pavement swept
The trailing garments of the night,
By God’s own hand was quick unfurled;
Then came the mighty roll-call of the skies,
And Nelly, at her father’s gate,
Quickly answered, “Here am I!”

On the appointed day the man possessed of land and money came to receive his lovely bride but, oh, what grief! the bird had flown to the wilderness there to dwell in some green valley, there to build her nest and rear her young, far from the haunts of men, and cook the hunter’s savory fare, and wear the beaver’s richest furs, when sullen winter there may frown.

The day was turned into a day of sadness and mourning, and at evening the guests returned home gloomy and disappointed. A month of grief and loneliness passed away, and Nelly’s father learned, from one of the early settlers of Cherry Valley, that, on the day following the evening that Nelly left her father’s home, she was married at Cherry Valley, by a clergyman of that place, to a young man by the name of Mayall, and had not been seen or heard from since. A search was made to discover Mayall’s place of residence; but it all proved useless, as no trace of his place of retreat could be found. The father and mother of Nelly G. lived and died without seeing again the face of their lovely daughter. Soon after Nelly G. changed her name to Nelly Mayall her father and mother met with many reverses of fortune, their property vanished away like dew before the morning sun. The Revolutionary war broke out, a party of Tories and Indians visited the Valley of the Mohawk for plunder, their buildings were burned, their property taken, and they fell a sacrifice to the tomahawk and scalping-knife. After the war had ended, and one adventurer after another came to the Valley of the Adaca to select homes, Nelly Mayall learned of the sad fate of her parents. She dressed her hat with the dark plumes of the birds of the forest, and for a time mourned their sad fate. Time passed on the changing beauties of the forest scenery, the kind attention of her devoted husband and the prattling of her children, once more revived her drooping spirits, and she was again Nelly Mayall, with all her youthful charms.