The Spirit of the Border HTML version

Chapter 11.
The, sultry, drowsy, summer days passed with no untoward event to mar their slumbering
tranquillity. Life for the newcomers to the Village of Peace brought a content, the like of
which they had never dreamed of. Mr. Wells at once began active work among the
Indians, preaching to them through an interpreter; Nell and Kate, in hours apart from
household duties, busied themselves brightening their new abode, and Jim entered upon
the task of acquainting himself with the modes and habits of the redmen. Truly, the
young people might have found perfect happiness in this new and novel life, if only Joe
had returned. His disappearance and subsequent absence furnished a theme for many
talks and many a quiet hour of dreamy sadness. The fascination of his personality had
been so impelling that long after it was withdrawn a charm lingered around everything
which reminded them of him; a subtle and sweet memory, with perverse and half bitter
persistence, returned hauntingly. No trace of Joe had been seen by any of the friendly
Indian runners. He was gone into the mazes of deep-shadowed forests, where to hunt for
him would be like striving to trail the flight of a swallow. Two of those he had left behind
always remembered him, and in their thoughts followed him in his wanderings.
Jim settled down to his study of Indians with single-heartedness of purpose. He spent part
of every morning with the interpreters, with whose assistance he rapidly acquired the
Delaware language. He went freely among the Indians, endeavoring to win their good-
will. There were always fifty to an hundred visiting Indians at the village; sometimes,
when the missionaries had advertised a special meeting, there were assembled in the
shady maple grove as many as five hundred savages. Jim had, therefore, opportunities to
practice his offices of friendliness.
Fortunately for him, he at once succeeded in establishing himself in the good graces of
Glickhican, the converted Delaware chief. The wise old Indian was of inestimable value
to Jim. Early in their acquaintance he evinced an earnest regard for the young minister,
and talked with him for hours.
From Glickhican Jim learned the real nature of the redmen. The Indian's love of freedom
and honor, his hatred of subjection and deceit, as explained by the good old man, recalled
to Jim Colonel Zane's estimate of the savage character. Surely, as the colonel had said,
the Indians had reason for their hatred of the pioneers. Truly, they were a blighted race.
Seldom had the rights of the redmen been thought of. The settler pushed onward,
plodding, as it were, behind his plow with a rifle. He regarded the Indian as little better
than a beast; he was easier to kill than to tame. How little the settler knew the proud
independence, the wisdom, the stainless chastity of honor, which belonged so truly to
many Indian chiefs!
The redmen were driven like hounded deer into the untrodden wilds. From freemen of the
forests, from owners of the great boundless plains, they passed to stern, enduring
fugitives on their own lands. Small wonder that they became cruel where once they had