The Spirit of the Border HTML version
Joe lounged in the doorway of the cabin, thoughtfully contemplating two quiet figures
that were lying in the shade of a maple tree. One he recognized as the Indian with whom
Jim had spent an earnest hour that morning; the red son of the woods was wrapped in
slumber. He had placed under his head a many-hued homespun shirt which the young
preacher had given him; but while asleep his head had rolled off this improvised pillow,
and the bright garment lay free, attracting the eye. Certainly it had led to the train of
thought which had found lodgment in Joe's fertile brain.
The other sleeper was a short, stout man whom Joe had seen several times before. This
last fellow did not appear to be well-balanced in his mind, and was the butt of the settlers'
jokes, while the children called him "Loorey." He, like the Indian, was sleeping off the
effects of the previous night's dissipation.
During a few moments Joe regarded the recumbent figures with an expression on his face
which told that he thought in them were great possibilities for sport. With one quick
glance around he disappeared within the cabin, and when he showed himself at the door,
surveying the village square with mirthful eyes, he held in his hand a small basket of
Indian design. It was made of twisted grass, and simply contained several bits of soft,
chalky stone such as the Indians used for painting, which collection Joe had discovered
among the fur-trader's wares.
He glanced around once more, and saw that all those in sight were busy with their work.
He gave the short man a push, and chuckled when there was no response other than a lazy
grunt. Joe took the Indians' gaudy shirt, and, lifting Loorey, slipped it around him, shoved
the latter's arms through the sleeves, and buttoned it in front. He streaked the round face
with red and white paint, and then, dexterously extracting the eagle plume from the
Indian's head-dress, stuck it in Loorey's thick shock of hair. It was all done in a moment,
after which Joe replaced the basket, and went down to the river.
Several times that morning he had visited the rude wharf where Jeff Lynn, the grizzled
old frontiersman, busied himself with preparations for the raft-journey down the Ohio.
Lynn had been employed to guide the missionary's party to Fort Henry, and, as the
brothers had acquainted him with their intention of accompanying the travelers, he had
constructed a raft for them and their horses.
Joe laughed when he saw the dozen two-foot logs fastened together, upon which a rude
shack had been erected for shelter. This slight protection from sun and storm was all the
brothers would have on their long journey.
Joe noted, however, that the larger raft had been prepared with some thought for the
comfort of the girls. The floor of the little hut was raised so that the waves which broke
over the logs could not reach it. Taking a peep into the structure, Joe was pleased to see
that Nell and Kate would be comfortable, even during a storm. A buffalo robe and two