The Spirit of the Border HTML version

Chapter 13.
As the summer waned, each succeeding day, with its melancholy calm, its changing
lights and shades, its cool, damp evening winds, growing more and more suggestive of
autumn, the little colony of white people in the Village of Peace led busy, eventful lives.
Upwards of fifty Indians, several of them important chiefs, had become converted since
the young missionary began preaching. Heckewelder declared that this was a wonderful
showing, and if it could be kept up would result in gaining a hold on the Indian tribes
which might not be shaken. Heckewelder had succeeded in interesting the savages west
of the Village of Peace to the extent of permitting him to establish missionary posts in
two other localities--one near Goshhocking, a Delaware town; and one on the
Muskingong, the principal river running through central Ohio. He had, with his helpers,
Young and Edwards, journeyed from time to time to these points, preaching, making
gifts, and soliciting help from chiefs.
The most interesting feature, perhaps, of the varied life of the missionary party was a
rivalry between Young and Edwards for the elder Miss Wells. Usually Nell's
attractiveness appealed more to men than Kate's; however, in this instance, although the
sober teachers of the gospel admired Nell's winsome beauty, they fell in love with Kate.
The missionaries were both under forty, and good, honest men, devoted to the work
which had engrossed them for years. Although they were ardent lovers, certainly they
were not picturesque. Two homelier men could hardly have been found. Moreover, the
sacrifice of their lives to missionary work had taken them far from the companionship of
women of their own race, so that they lacked the ease of manner which women like to see
in men. Young and Edwards were awkward, almost uncouth. Embarrassment would not
have done justice to their state of feeling while basking in the shine of Kate's quiet smile.
They were happy, foolish, and speechless.
If Kate shared in the merriment of the others--Heckewelder could not conceal his, and
Nell did not try very hard to hide hers--she never allowed a suspicion of it to escape. She
kept the easy, even tenor of her life, always kind and gracious in her quaint way, and
precisely the same to both her lovers. No doubt she well knew that each possessed, under
all his rough exterior, a heart of gold.
One day the genial Heckewelder lost, or pretended to lose, his patience.
"Say, you worthy gentlemen are becoming ornamental instead of useful. All this
changing of coats, trimming of mustaches, and eloquent sighing doesn't seem to have
affected the young lady. I've a notion to send you both to Maumee town, one hundred
miles away. This young lady is charming, I admit, but if she is to keep on seriously
hindering the work of the Moravian Mission I must object. As for that matter, I might try
conclusions myself. I'm as young as either of you, and, I flatter myself, much handsomer.
You'll have a dangerous rival presently. Settle it! You can't both have her; settle it!"