Blessed with crystal clear skies and a full moon,
they had pressed on through the night, opting to finish the journey rather than
make and strike camp yet another time. She’d soon be surrounded by her brothers.
In no other place did she feel so loved, so appreciated, and so accepted. Betty
found it difficult to forgive her mother for sending her away. She understood
why the stern woman acted as she did, even if she did not agree with her
After the many weeks of travel, Betty thought she’d emotionally prepared herself
to be reunited with family, but the crush of her brothers nearly overwhelmed
her. They whooped and swept her off her feet in big bear hugs. "Betts!" shouted
over and over amidst joyous laughter. All were now full-grown men, with families
of their own, yet their reunion brought out the exuberant and rowdy adolescent
behavior Betty so fondly remembered.
Ebenezer stood quietly to the side, arms crossed, smiling indulgently as Silas,
Jonathan, and Andrew each greeted her with enthusiasm. He, being far too serious
for that sort of display, allowed them their celebration before solemnly
welcoming Betty home.
"You’ve grown into a beautiful woman, Betts. We’ll have a tough time keeping the
randy frontiersmen away from you. I’m surprised you managed to escape
Philadelphia without a husband."
"Oh, stop it, Eb!" she blushed. "Where’s Isaac? Why isn’t he here?" Betty
noticed the fifth, and youngest, brother’s absence immediately. Her question
silenced the revelry, and for a few heart beats, Betty feared they knew. Only
mother knew, she reminded herself. And mother would never, ever tell a
"Injuns took ‘im, again, Betts," Silas, the oldest, finally admitted, "Not long
after you left, actually. I’m surprised you didn’t know of it. Did mother never
mention Isaac in her letters?"
Betty’s world grew dark, and she did something she, until that very moment,
believed only an affectation of the frail: she fainted. She regained
consciousness in her mother’s bedroom, swimming in fear. Eb’s wife sat beside
the bed and a young girl with stunning red hair paced impatiently.
"Fetch me some broth," Elizabeth instructed the girl, who hastened to oblige.
Betty waited until they were alone and accepted her sister-in-law’s embrace.
"Why didn’t you write me about Isaac?" she demanded, the pain making her voice
crack. "Nothing would have prevented my immediate return."
"That’s precisely what your mother said when she insisted I not to tell you, and
Eb agreed. I’m sorry, Betts. I also thought it best that you be spared the news
since there was really nothing you could do. The danger here cannot be denied. A
handful of warriors came across the river in the night and took him straight
from his bed. An obvious struggle, but no bloodshed. A hunting party tracked
them for days, but returned saying they were sure the Indians would kill Isaac
in any rescue attempt. It is widely held that that half-breed princess wanted
him back. They say she’s very beautiful, and by all accounts, closely resembles
you. Her mother was a French woman by way of Canada, I’m told."