The Spirit of the Border
"Please do not preach to-day," said Nell, raising her eyes imploringly to Jim's face.
"Nellie, I must conduct the services as usual. I can not shirk my duty, nor let these
renegades see I fear to face them."
"I have such a queer feeling. I am afraid. I don't want to be left alone. Please do not leave
Jim strode nervously up and down the length of the room. Nell's worn face, her
beseeching eyes and trembling hands touched his heart. Rather than almost anything else,
he desired to please her, to strengthen her; yet how could he shirk his duty?
"Nellie, what is it you fear?" he asked, holding her hands tightly.
"Oh, I don't know what--everything. Uncle is growing weaker every day. Look at Mr.
Young; he is only a shadow of his former self, and this anxiety is wearing Mr.
Heckewelder out. He is more concerned than he dares admit. You needn't shake your
head, for I know it. Then those Indians who are waiting, waiting--for God only knows
what! Worse than all to me, I saw that renegade, that fearful beast who made way with
poor dear Kate!"
Nell burst into tears, and leaned sobbing on Jim's shoulder.
"Nell, I've kept my courage only because of you," replied Jim, his voice trembling
She looked up quickly. Something in the pale face which was bent over her told that now,
if ever, was the time for a woman to forget herself, and to cheer, to inspire those around
"I am a silly baby, and selfish!" she cried, freeing herself from his hold. "Always thinking
of myself." She turned away and wiped the tears from her eyes. "Go, Jim, do you duty;
I'll stand by and help you all a woman can."
The missionaries were consulting in Heckewelder's cabin. Zeisberger had returned that
morning, and his aggressive, dominating spirit was just what they needed in an hour like
this. He raised the downcast spirits of the ministers.
"Hold the service? I should say we will," he declared, waving his hands. "What have we
to be afraid of?"