The Spirit of the Border
One evening a week or more after the disappearance of Jim and the girls, George Young
and David Edwards, the missionaries, sat on the cabin steps, gazing disconsolately upon
the forest scenery. Hard as had been the ten years of their labor among the Indians,
nothing had shaken them as the loss of their young friends.
"Dave, I tell you your theory about seeing them again is absurd," asserted George. "I'll
never forget that wretch, Girty, as he spoke to Nell. Why, she just wilted like a flower
blasted by fire. I can't understand why he let me go, and kept Jim, unless the Shawnee
had something to do with it. I never wished until now that I was a hunter. I'd go after
Girty. You've heard as well as I of his many atrocities. I'd rather have seen Kate and Nell
dead than have them fall into his power. I'd rather have killed them myself!"
Young had aged perceptibly in these last few days. The blue veins showed at his temples;
his face had become thinner and paler, his eyes had a look of pain. The former expression
of patience, which had sat so well on him, was gone.
"George, I can't account for my fancies or feelings, else, perhaps, I'd be easier in mind,"
answered Dave. His face, too, showed the ravages of grief. "I've had queer thoughts
lately, and dreams such as I never had before. Perhaps it's this trouble which has made
me so nervous. I don't seem able to pull myself together. I can neither preach nor work."
"Neither can I! This trouble has hit you as hard as it has me. But, Dave, we've still our
duty. To endure, to endure--that is our life. Because a beam of sunshine brightened, for a
brief time, the gray of our lives, and then faded away, we must not shirk nor grow sour
"But how cruel is this border life!"
"Nature itself is brutal."
"Yes, I know, and we have elected to spend our lives here in the midst of this ceaseless
strife, to fare poorly, to have no pleasure, never to feel the comfort of a woman's smiles,
nor the joy of a child's caress, all because out in the woods are ten or twenty or a hundred
savages we may convert."
"That is why, and it is enough. It is hard to give up the women you love to a black-souled
renegade, but that is not for my thought. What kills me is the horror for her--for her."
"I, too, suffer with that thought; more than that, I am morbid and depressed. I feel as if
some calamity awaited us here. I have never been superstitious, nor have I had
presentiments, but of late there are strange fears in my mind."
At this juncture Mr. Wells and Heckewelder came out of the adjoining cabin.