The Spirit of the Border HTML version
Joe went to bed that night with a promise to himself to rise early next morning, for he had
been invited to take part in a "raising," which term meant that a new cabin was to be
erected, and such task was ever an event in the lives of the settlers.
The following morning Joe rose early, dressing himself in a complete buckskin suit, for
which he had exchanged his good garments of cloth. Never before had he felt so
comfortable. He wanted to hop, skip and jump. The soft, undressed buckskin was as
warm and smooth as silk-plush; the weight so light, the moccasins so well-fitting and
springy, that he had to put himself under considerable restraint to keep from capering
about like a frolicsome colt.
The possession of this buckskin outfit, and the rifle and accouterments which went with
the bargain, marked the last stage in Joe's surrender to the border fever. The silent,
shaded glens, the mystery of the woods, the breath of this wild, free life claimed him
from this moment entirely and forever.
He met the others, however, with a serene face, showing no trace of the emotion which
welled up strongly from his heart. Nell glanced shyly at him; Kate playfully voiced her
admiration; Jim met him with a brotherly ridicule which bespoke his affection as well as
his amusement; but Colonel Zane, having once yielded to the same burning, riotous
craving for freedom which now stirred in the boy's heart, understood, and felt warmly
drawn toward the lad. He said nothing, though as he watched Joe his eyes were grave and
kind. In his long frontier life, where many a day measured the life and fire of ordinary
years, he had seen lad after lad go down before this forest fever. It was well, he thought,
because the freedom of the soil depended on these wild, light-footed boys; yet it always
made him sad. How many youths, his brother among them, lay under the fragrant pine-
needle carpet of the forest, in their last earthly sleep!
The "raising" brought out all the settlement--the women to look on and gossip, while the
children played; the men to bend their backs in the moving of the heavy timbers. They
celebrated the erection of a new cabin as a noteworthy event. As a social function it had a
prominent place in the settlers' short list of pleasures.
Joe watched the proceeding with the same pleasure and surprise he had felt in everything
pertaining to border life.
To him this log-raising appeared the hardest kind of labor. Yet it was plain these hardy
men, these low-voiced women, and merry children regarded the work as something far
more significant than the mere building of a cabin. After a while he understood the
meaning of the scene. A kindred spirit, the spirit of the pioneer, drew them all into one
large family. This was another cabin; another home; another advance toward the
conquering of the wilderness, for which these brave men and women were giving their