The Spirit of the Border
Joe and Jim were singularly alike. They were nearly the same size, very tall, but so
heavily built as to appear of medium height, while their grey eyes and, indeed, every
feature of their clean-cut faces corresponded so exactly as to proclaim them brothers.
"Already up to your old tricks?" asked Jim, with his hand on Joe's shoulder, as they both
watched Nell's flight.
"I'm really fond of her, Jim, and didn't mean to hurt her feelings. But tell me about
yourself; what made you come West?"
"To teach the Indians, and I was, no doubt, strongly influenced by your being here."
"You're going to do as you ever have--make some sacrifice. You are always devoting
yourself; if not to me, to some other. Now it's your life you're giving up. To try to convert
the redskins and influence me for good is in both cases impossible. How often have I said
there wasn't any good in me! My desire is to kill Indians, not preach to them, Jim. I'm
glad to see you; but I wish you hadn't come. This wild frontier is no place for a preacher."
"I think it is," said Jim, quietly.
"What of Rose--the girl you were to marry?"
Joe glanced quickly at his brother. Jim's face paled slightly as he turned away.
"I'll speak once more of her, and then, never again," he answered. "You knew Rose better
than I did. Once you tried to tell me she was too fond of admiration, and I rebuked you;
but now I see that your wider experience of women had taught you things I could not
then understand. She was untrue. When you left Williamsburg, apparently because you
had gambled with Jewett and afterward fought him, I was not misled. You made the
game of cards a pretense; you sought it simply as an opportunity to wreak your
vengeance on him for his villainy toward me. Well, it's all over now. Though you cruelly
beat and left him disfigured for life, he will live, and you are saved from murder, thank
God! When I learned of your departure I yearned to follow. Then I met a preacher who
spoke of having intended to go West with a Mr. Wells, of the Moravian Mission. I
immediately said I would go in his place, and here I am. I'm fortunate in that I have found
both him and you."
"I'm sorry I didn't kill Jewett; I certainly meant to. Anyway, there's some comfort in
knowing I left my mark on him. He was a sneaking, cold-blooded fellow, with his white
hair and pale face, and always fawning round the girls. I hated him, and gave it to him
good." Joe spoke musingly and complacently as though it was a trivial thing to compass
the killing of a man.