The Spirit of the Border
"I have been here before," said Joe to Whispering Winds. "I remember that vine-covered
stone. We crawled over it to get at Girty and Silvertip. There's the little knoll; here's the
very spot where I was hit by a flying tomahawk. Yes, and there's the spring. Let me see,
what did Wetzel call this spot?"
"Beautiful Spring," answered the Indian girl.
"That's it, and it's well named. What a lovely place!"
Nature had been lavish in the beautifying of this inclosed dell. It was about fifty yards
wide, and nestled among little, wooded knolls and walls of gray, lichen-covered stone.
Though the sun shone brightly into the opening, and the rain had free access to the mossy
ground, no stormy winds ever entered this well protected glade.
Joe reveled in the beauty of the scene, even while he was too weak to stand erect. He
suffered no pain from his wound, although he had gradually grown dizzy, and felt as if
the ground was rising before him. He was glad to lie upon the mossy ground in the little
cavern under the cliff.
Upon examination his wound was found to have opened, and was bleeding. His hunting
coat was saturated with blood. Whispering Winds washed the cut, and dressed it with
cooling leaves. Then she rebandaged it tightly with Joe's linsey handkerchiefs, and while
he rested comfortable she gathered bundles of ferns, carrying them to the little cavern.
When she had a large quantity of these she sat down near Joe, and began to weave the
long stems into a kind of screen. The fern stalks were four feet long and half a foot wide;
these she deftly laced together, making broad screens which would serve to ward off the
night dews. This done, she next built a fireplace with flat stones. She found wild apples,
plums and turnips on the knoll above the glade. Then she cooked strips of meat which
had been brought with them. Lance grazed on the long grass just without the glade, and
Mose caught two rabbits. When darkness settled down Whispering Winds called the dog
within the cavern, and hung the screens before the opening.
Several days passed. Joe rested quietly, and began to recover strength. Besides the work
of preparing their meals, Whispering Winds had nothing to do save sit near the invalid
and amuse or interest him so that he would not fret or grow impatient, while his wound
They talked about their future prospects. After visiting the Village of Peace, they would
go to Fort Henry, where Joe could find employment. They dwelt upon the cabin they
would build, and passed many happy moments planning a new home. Joe's love of the
wilderness had in no wise diminished; but a blow on his head from a heavy tomahawk,
and a vicious stab in the back, had lessened his zeal so far that he understood it was not
wise to sacrifice life for the pleasures of the pathless woods. He could have the last