The Spirit of the Border
Simon Girty lolled on a blanket in Half King's teepee. He was alone, awaiting his allies.
Rings of white smoke curled lazily from his lips as he puffed on a long Indian pipe, and
gazed out over the clearing that contained the Village of Peace.
Still water has something in its placid surface significant of deep channels, of hidden
depths; the dim outline of the forest is dark with meaning, suggestive of its wild internal
character. So Simon Girty's hard, bronzed face betrayed the man. His degenerate brother's
features were revolting; but his own were striking, and fell short of being handsome only
because of their craggy hardness. Years of revolt, of bitterness, of consciousness of
wasted life, had graven their stern lines on that copper, masklike face. Yet despite the
cruelty there, the forbidding shade on it, as if a reflection from a dark soul, it was not
wholly a bad countenance. Traces still lingered, faintly, of a man in whom kindlier
feelings had once predominated.
In a moment of pique Girty had deserted his military post at Fort Pitt, and become an
outlaw of his own volition. Previous to that time he had been an able soldier, and a good
fellow. When he realized that his step was irrevocable, that even his best friends
condemned him, he plunged, with anger and despair in his heart, into a war upon his own
race. Both of his brothers had long been border ruffians, whose only protection from the
outraged pioneers lay in the faraway camps of hostile tribes. George Girty had so sunk
his individuality into the savage's that he was no longer a white man. Jim Girty stalked
over the borderland with a bloody tomahawk, his long arm outstretched to clutch some
unfortunate white woman, and with his hideous smile of death. Both of these men were
far lower than the worst savages, and it was almost wholly to their deeds of darkness that
Simon Girty owed his infamous name.
To-day White Chief, as Girty was called, awaited his men. A slight tremor of the ground
caused him to turn his gaze. The Huron chief, Half King, resplendent in his magnificent
array, had entered the teepee. He squatted in a corner, rested the bowl of his great pipe on
his knee, and smoked in silence. The habitual frown of his black brow, like a shaded,
overhanging cliff; the fire flashing from his eyes, as a shining light is reflected from a
dark pool; his closely-shut, bulging jaw, all bespoke a nature, lofty in its Indian pride and
arrogance, but more cruel than death.
Another chief stalked into the teepee and seated himself. It was Pipe. His countenance
denoted none of the intelligence that made Wingenund's face so noble; it was even
coarser than Half King's, and his eyes, resembling live coals in the dark; the long, cruel
lines of his jaw; the thin, tightly-closed lips, which looked as if they could relax only to
utter a savage command, expressed fierce cunning and brutality.
"White Chief is idle to-day," said Half King, speaking in the Indian tongue.
"King, I am waiting. Girty is slow, but sure," answered the renegade.