Part 5 out of 7
he carried in his hand, added confirmation to the fact, while the
joyous, animated expression of his countenance showed with equal
plainness that he was not a despairing lover.
I could have imagined him to have recently returned from the chase,
laden with booty, with which he had, as is the custom, entered the lodge
of the fair one, and thrown his burden at the feet of her parents, with
an indifferent, superb sort of air, as much as to say, "Here is some
meat--it is a mere trifle, but it will show you what you might expect
with me for a son-in-law." I could not doubt that the damsel had stepped
forward and gathered it up, in token that she accepted the offering, and
the donor along with it. There was nothing in the appearance or manner
of any of the maidens by whom we were surrounded, to denote which was
the happy fair, neither, although I peered anxiously into all their
countenances, could I there detect any blush of consciousness; so I was
obliged to content myself with selecting the youngest and prettiest of
the group, and go on weaving my romance to my own satisfaction.
The village stood encircled by an amphitheatre of hills, so precipitous,
and with gorges so steep and narrow, that it seemed almost impossible to
scale them, even on horseback; how, then, could we hope to accomplish
the ascent of the four-wheeled carriage? This was the point now under
discussion between my husband and the Pottowattamies. There was no
alternative but to make the effort, selecting the pass that the
inhabitants pointed out as the most practicable. Petaille went first,
and I followed on my favorite Jerry. It was such a scramble as is not
often taken,--almost perpendicularly, through what seemed the dry bed of
a torrent, now filled with loose stones, and scarcely affording one
secure foothold from the bottom to the summit! I clang fast to the
mane, literally at times clasping Jerry around his neck, and, amid the
encouraging shouts and cheers of those below, we at length arrived
safely, though nearly breathless, on the pinnacle, and sat looking down,
to view the success of the next party.
The horses had been taken from the carriage, the luggage it contained
being placed upon the shoulders of some of the young Indians, to be
_toted_ up the steep. Ropes were now attached to its sides, and a
regular bevy of our red friends, headed by our two Frenchmen, placed to
man them. Two or three more took their places in the rear, to hold the
vehicle and keep it from slipping backwards--then the labor commenced.
Such a pulling! such a shouting! such a clapping of hands by the
spectators of both sexes! such a stentorian word of command or
encouragement from the bourgeois! Now and then there would be a slight
halt, a wavering, as if carriage and men were about to tumble backwards
into the plain below; but no--they would recover themselves, and after
incredible efforts they too safely gained the table-land above. In
process of time all were landed there, and, having remunerated our
friends to their satisfaction, the goods and chattels were collected,
the wagon repacked, and we set off for our encampment at Turtle Creek.
The exertions and excitement of our laborious ascent, together with the
increasing heat of the sun, made this afternoon's ride more
uncomfortable than anything we had previously felt. We were truly
rejoiced when the whoop of our guide, and the sight of a few scattered
lodges, gave notice that we had reached our encamping-ground. We chose a
beautiful sequestered spot by the side of a clear, sparkling stream,
and, having dismounted and seen that our horses were made comfortable,
my husband, after giving his directions to his men, led me to a retired
spot where I could lay aside my hat and mask and bathe my flushed face
and aching head in the cool, refreshing waters. Never had I felt
anything so grateful, so delicious. I sat down, and leaned my head
against one of the tall, overshadowing trees, and was almost dreaming,
when summoned to partake of our evening meal.
The Indians had brought us, as a present, some fine brook trout, which
our Frenchmen had prepared in the most tempting fashion, and before the
bright moon rose and we were ready for oar rest, all headache and
fatigue had alike disappeared.
* * * * *
One of the most charming features of this mode of travelling is the
joyous, vocal life of the forest at early dawn, when all the feathered
tribe come forth to pay their cheerful salutations to the opening day.
The rapid, chattering flourish of the bob-o'-link, the soft whistle of
the thrush, the tender coo of the wood-dove, the deep, warbling bass of
the grouse, the drumming of the partridge, the melodious trill of the
lark, the gay carol of the robin, the friendly, familiar call of the
duck and the teal, resound from tree and knoll and lowland, prompting
the expressive exclamation of the simple half-breed,--
"Voila la foret qui parle!"
It seems as if man must involuntarily raise his voice, to take part in
the general chorus--the mating song of praise.
Birds and flowers, and the soft balmy airs of morning! Must it not have
been in a scene like this that Milton's Adam poured out his beautiful
hymn of adoration,--
"These are thy glorious works, Parent of Good"?
This day we were journeying in hopes to reach, at an early hour, that
broad expanse of the Rock River which here forms the Kosh-ko-nong. The
appellation of this water, rendered doubly affecting by the subsequent
fate of its people, imports "_the lake we live on_."
Our road for the early part of the day led through forests so thick and
tangled that Grignon and Lecuyer were often obliged to go in advance as
pioneers with their axes, to cut away the obstructing shrubs and
branches. It was slow work, and at times quite discouraging, but we were
through with it at last, and then we came into a country of altogether a
different description,--low prairies, intersected with deep, narrow
streams like canals, the passage of which, either by horses or
carriages, was often a matter of delay and even difficulty.
Several times in the course of the forenoon the horses were to be taken
from the carriage and the latter pulled and pushed across the deep
narrow channels as best it might.
The wooded banks of the Kosh-ko-nong were never welcomed with greater
delight than by us when they at length broke upon our sight. A ride of
five or six miles through the beautiful oak openings brought us to
_Man-Eater's_ village, a collection of neat bark wigwams, with extensive
fields on each side of corn, beans, and squashes, recently planted, but
already giving promise of a fine crop. In front was the broad blue lake,
the shores of which, to the south, were open and marshy, but near the
village, and stretching far away to the north, were bordered by fine
lofty trees. The village was built but a short distance below the point
where the Rock River opens into the lake, and during a conversation
between our party and the Indians at the village, an arrangement was
made with them to take us across at a spot about half a mile above.
After a short halt, we again took up our line of march through the
woods, along the bank of the river.
A number of the Winnebagoes (for we had been among our own people since
leaving Gros-pied Lake) set out for the appointed place by water,
paddling their canoes, of which they had selected the largest and
Arrived at the spot indicated, we dismounted, and the men commenced the
task of unsaddling and unloading. We were soon placed in the canoes, and
paddled across to the opposite bank. Next, the horses were swum
across--after them was to come the carriage. Two long wooden canoes were
securely lashed together side by side, and being of sufficient width to
admit of the carriage standing within them, the passage was commenced.
Again and again the tottering barks would sway from side to side, and a
cry or a shout would arise from our party on shore, as the whole mass
seemed about to plunge sideways into the water, but it would presently
recover itself, and at length, after various deviations from the
perpendicular, it reached the shore in safety.
We now hoped that our troubles were at an end, and that we had nothing
to do but to mount and trot on as fast as possible to Fort Winnebago.
But no. Half a mile farther on was a formidable swamp, of no great width
it is true, but with a depth of from two to three feet of mud and water.
It was a question whether, with the carriage, we could get through it at
all. Several of the Indians accompanied us to this place, partly to give
us their aid and counsel, and partly to enjoy the fun of the spectacle.
On reaching the swamp, we were disposed to laugh at the formidable
representations which had been made to us. We saw only a strip of what
seemed rather low land, covered with tall, dry rushes.
It is true the ground looked a little wet, but there seemed nothing to
justify all the apprehensions that had been excited. Great was my
surprise, then, to see my husband, who had been a few minutes absent,
return to our circle attired in his duck trousers, and without shoes or
"What are you going to do?" inquired I.
"Carry you through the swamp on my shoulders. Come, Petaille, you are
the strongest--you are to carry Madame Kinzie, and To-shun-nuck there
(pointing to a tall, stout Winnebago), he will take Madame Helm."
"Wait a moment," said I, and, seating myself on the grass, I
deliberately took off my own boots and stockings.
"What is that for?" they all asked.
"Because I do not wish to ride with wet feet all the rest of the day."
"No danger of that," said they, and no one followed my example.
By the time they were in the midst of the swamp, however, they found my
precaution had been by no means useless. The water through which our
bearers had to pass was of such a depth that no efforts of the ladies
were sufficient to keep their feet above the surface; and I had the
satisfaction of feeling that my burden upon my husband's shoulders was
much less, from my being able to keep my first position instead of
changing constantly to avoid a contact with the water.
The laugh was quite on my side when I resumed my equipment and mounted,
_dry-shod_, into my saddle.
It will be perceived that journeying in the woods is, in some degree, a
deranger of ceremony and formality; that it necessarily restricts us
somewhat in our conventionalities. The only remedy is, to make ourselves
amends by a double share when we return to the civilized walks of life.
By dint of much pulling, shouting, encouraging, and threatening, the
horses at length dragged the carriage through the difficult pass, and
our red friends were left to return to their village, with, doubtless, a
very exaggerated and amusing account of all that they had seen and
We had not forgotten our promise to Lieutenant Foster to put up a
"guide-board" of some sort, for his accommodation in following us. We
therefore, upon several occasions, carried with us from the woods a few
pieces, of three or four feet in length, which we planted at certain
points, with a transverse stick through a cleft in the top, thus marking
the direction he and his party were to take.
We therefore felt sure that, although a few days later, he would find
our trail, and avail himself of the same assistance as we had, in
getting through the difficulties of the way.
Our encamping-ground, this night, was to be not far distant from the
Four Lakes. We were greatly fatigued with the heat and exercise of the
day, and most anxiously did we look out for the clumps of willows and
alders which were to mark the spot where water would be found. We felt
hardly equal to pushing on quite to the bank of the nearest lake.
Indeed, it would have taken us too much off our direct course.
When we, at a late hour, came upon a spot fit for our purpose, we
exchanged mutual congratulations that this was to be our last night upon
the road. The next day we should be at Winnebago!
Our journey had been most delightful--a continued scene of exhilaration
and enjoyment; for the various mishaps, although for the moment they had
perplexed, yet, in the end, had but added to our amusement. Still, with
the inconstancy of human nature, we were pleased to exchange its
excitement for the quiet repose of home.
Our next morning's ride was of a more tranquil character than any that
had preceded it; for at an early hour we entered upon what was known as
the "Twenty-mile Prairie,"--and I may be permitted to observe that the
miles are wonderfully long on the prairies. Our passage over this was,
except the absence of the sand, like crossing the desert. Mile after
mile of unbroken expanse--not a tree--not a living object except
The sun, as if to make himself amends for his two months' seclusion,
shone forth with redoubled brilliancy. There is no such thing as
carrying an umbrella on horseback, though those in the wagon were able
to avail themselves of such a shelter.
Our mother's energies had sustained her in the saddle until this day,
but she was now fairly obliged to give in, and yield her place on little
Brunet to sister Margaret.
Thus we went on, one little knoll rising beyond another, from the summit
of each of which, in succession, we hoped to descry the distant woods,
which were to us as the promised land.
"Take courage," were the cheering words, often repeated; "very soon you
will begin to see the timber."
Another hour would pass heavily by.
"Now, when we reach the rising ground just ahead, look _sharp_."
We would look sharp--nothing but the same unvarying landscape.
There were not even streams to allay the feverish thirst occasioned by
fatigue and impatience.
At length a whoop from Shaw-nee-aw-kee broke the silence in which we
were pursuing our way.
"Le voila!" (There it is!)
Our less practised eye could not at first discern the faint blue strip
edging the horizon, but it grew and grew upon our vision, and fatigue
and all discomfort proportionably disappeared.
We were in fine spirits by the time we reached "Hastings's Woods," a
noble forest, watered by a clear, sparkling stream.
Grateful as was the refreshment of the green foliage and the cooling
waters, we did not allow ourselves to forget that the day was wearing
on, and that we must, if possible, complete our journey before sunset;
so we soon braced up our minds to continue our route, although we would
gladly have lingered another hour.
The marsh of Duck Creek was, thanks to the heat of the past week, in a
very different state from what it had been a few months previous, when I
had been so unfortunately submerged in its icy waters.
We passed it without difficulty, and soon found ourselves upon the banks
of the creek.
The stream, at this point, was supposed to be always fordable; and even
were it not so, that to the majority of our party would have been a
matter of little moment. To the ladies, however, the subject seemed to
"This water looks very deep--are you sure we can cross it on horseback?"
"Oh, yes! Petaille, go before, and let us see how the water is."
Petaille obeyed. He was mounted on a horse like a giraffe, and,
extending his feet horizontally, he certainly managed to pass through
the stream without much of a wetting.
It seemed certain that the water would come into the wagon, but that was
of the less consequence as, in case of the worst, the passengers could
mount upon the seats.
My horse, Jerry, was above the medium height, so that I soon passed
over, with no inconvenience but that of being obliged to disengage my
feet from the stirrups and tuck them up snugly against the mane of the
Sister Margaret was still upon Brunet. She was advised to change him for
one of the taller horses, but while the matter was under debate, it was
settled by the perverse little wretch taking to the water most
unceremoniously, in obedience to the example of the other animals.
He was soon beyond his depth, and we were at once alarmed and diverted
at seeing his rider, with surprising adroitness, draw her feet from the
stirrups and perch herself upon the top of the saddle, where she held
her position, and navigated her little refractory steed safely to land.
This was the last of our adventures. A pleasant ride of four miles
brought us to the Fort, just as the sun was throwing his last beams over
the glowing landscape; and on reaching the ferry we were at once
conducted, by the friends who were awaiting us, to the hospitable roof
of Major Twiggs.
FOUR-LEGS, THE DANDY.
The companies of the First Infantry, which had hitherto been stationed
at Fort Winnebago, had before our arrival received orders to move on to
the Mississippi as soon as relieved by a portion of the Fifth, now at
As many of the officers of the latter regiment were married, we had
reason to expect that all the quarters at the post would be put in
requisition. For this reason, although strongly pressed by Major Twiggs
to take up our residence again in the Fort until he should go on
furlough, we thought it best to establish ourselves at once at "the
It seemed laughable to give so grand a name to so very insignificant a
concern. We had been promised, by the heads of department at Washington,
a comfortable dwelling so soon as there should be an appropriation by
Congress sufficient to cover any extra expense in the Indian Department.
It was evident that Congress had a great spite at us, for it had delayed
for two sessions attending to our accommodation. There was nothing to be
done, therefore, but to make ourselves comfortable with the best means
in our power.
The old log barracks, which had been built for the officers and soldiers
on the first establishment of the post, two years previous, had been
removed by our French engages and put up again upon the little hill
opposite the Fort. To these some additions were now made in the shape
of dairy, stables, smoke-house, etc., constructed of tamarack logs
brought from the neighboring swamp. The whole presented a very rough and
The main building consisted of a range of four rooms, no two of which
communicated with each other, but each opened by a door into the outward
air. A small window cut through the logs in front and rear, gave light
to the apartment. An immense clay chimney for every two rooms, occupied
one side of each, and the ceiling overhead was composed of a few rough
boards laid upon the transverse logs that supported the roof.
It was surprising how soon a comfortable, homelike air was given to the
old dilapidated rooms, by a few Indian mats spread upon the floor, the
piano and other furniture ranged in their appropriate places, and even a
few pictures hung against the logs. The latter, alas! had soon to be
displaced, for with the first heavy shower the rain found entrance
through sundry crevices, and we saw ourselves obliged to put aside,
carefully, everything that could be injured by the moisture. We made
light of these evils, however--packed away our carpets and superfluous
furniture upon the boards above, which we dignified with the name of
attic, and contentedly resolved to await the time when Government should
condescend to remember us. The greatest inconvenience I experienced, was
from the necessity of wearing my straw bonnet throughout the day, as I
journeyed from bedroom to parlor, and from parlor to kitchen. I became
so accustomed to it that I even sometimes forgot to remove it when I sat
down to table, or to my quiet occupations with my mother and sister.
Permission was, however, in time, received to build a house for the
blacksmith--that is, the person kept in pay by the Government at this
station to mend the guns, traps, etc. of the Indians.
It happened most fortunately for us that Monsieur Isidore Morrin was a
bachelor, and quite satisfied to continue boarding with his friend Louis
Frum, _dit_ Manaigre, so that when the new house was fairly commenced we
planned it and hurried it forward entirely on our own account.
It was not very magnificent, it is true, consisting of but a parlor and
two bedrooms on the ground-floor, and two low chambers under the roof,
with a kitchen in the rear; but compared with the rambling old
stable-like building we now inhabited, it seemed quite a palace.
Before it was completed, Mr. Kinzie was notified that the money for the
annual Indian payment was awaiting his arrival in Detroit to take it in
charge and superintend its transportation to the Portage; and he was
obliged to set off at once to fulfil this part of his duty.
The workmen who had been brought from the Mississippi to erect the main
building, were fully competent to carry on their work without an
overseer; but the kitchen was to be the task of the Frenchmen, and the
question was, how could it be executed in the absence of the
"You will have to content yourselves in the old quarters until my
return," said my husband, "and then we will soon have things in order."
His journey was to be a long and tedious one, for the operations of
Government were not carried on by railroad and telegraph in those days.
After his departure I said to the men, "Come, you have all your logs cut
and hauled--the squaws have brought the bark for the roof--what is to
prevent our finishing the house and getting all moved and settled to
surprise Monsieur John on his return?"
"Ah! to be sure, Madame John," said Plante, who was always the
spokesman, "provided the one who plants a green bough on the chimney-top
is to have a treat."
"Certainly. All hands fall to work, and see who will win the treat."
Upon the strength of such an inducement to the one who should put the
finishing stroke to the building, Plante, Pillon, and Manaigre, whom the
waggish Plante persisted in calling "mon negre," whenever he felt
himself out of the reach of the other's arm, all went vigorously to
Building a log house is a somewhat curious process. First, as will be
conceived, the logs are laid one upon another and jointed at the
corners, until the walls have reached the required height. The chimney
is formed by four poles of the proper length, interlaced with a
wicker-work of small branches. A hole or pit is dug, near at hand, and,
with a mixture of clay and water, a sort of mortar is formed. Large
wisps of hay are filled with this thick substance, and fashioned with
the hands into what are technically called "_clay cats_," and these are
filled in among the frame-work of the chimney until not a chink is left.
The whole is then covered with a smooth coating of the wet clay, which
is denominated "plastering."
Between the logs which compose the walls of the building, small bits of
wood are driven, quite near together; this is called "chinking," and
after it is done, clay cats are introduced, and smoothed over with the
plaster. When all is dry, both walls and chimney are whitewashed, and
present a comfortable and tidy appearance.
The roof is formed by laying upon the transverse logs thick sheets of
bark. Around the chimney, for greater security against the rain, we took
care to have placed a few layers of the palisades that had been left
when Mr. Peach, an odd little itinerant genius, had fenced in our
garden, the pride and wonder of the surrounding settlement and wigwams.
While all these matters were in progress, we received frequent visits
from our Indian friends. First and foremost among them was "the young
One fine morning he made his appearance, accompanied by two squaws, whom
he introduced as his wives. He could speak a little Chippewa, and by
this means he and our mother contrived to keep up something of a
conversation. He was dressed in all his finery, brooches, wampum, fan,
looking-glass and all. The paint upon his face and chest showed that he
had devoted no small time to the labors of his toilet.
He took a chair, as he had seen done at Washington, and made signs to
his women to sit down upon the floor.
The custom of taking two wives is not very general among the Indians.
They seem to have the sagacity to perceive that the fewer they have to
manage, the more complete is the peace and quiet of the wigwam.
Nevertheless, it sometimes happens that a husband takes a foolish fancy
for a second squaw, and in that case he uses all his cunning and
eloquence to reconcile the first to receiving a new inmate in the lodge.
Of course it is a matter that must be managed adroitly, in order that
harmony may be preserved.
"My dear, your health is not very good; it is time you should have some
rest. You have worked very hard, and it grieves me that you should have
to labor any longer. Let me get you some nice young squaw to wait upon
you, that you may live at ease all the rest of your life."
The first wife consents; indeed, she has no option. If she is of a
jealous, vindictive disposition, what a life the new-comer leads! The
old one maintains all her rights of dowager and duenna, and the
husband's tenderness is hardly a compensation for all the evils the
young rival is made to suffer.
It was on Sunday morning that this visit of the Dandy was made to us. We
were all seated quietly, engaged in reading. Four-Legs inquired of my
mother, why we were so occupied, and why everything around us was so
My mother explained to him our observance of the day of rest--that we
devoted it to worshipping and serving the Great Spirit, as he had
commanded in his Holy Word.
Four-Legs gave a nod of approbation. That was very right, he said--he
was glad to see us doing our duty--he was very religious himself, and he
liked to see others so. He always took care that his squaws attended to
their duties,--not reading, perhaps, but such as the Great Spirit liked,
and such as he thought proper and becoming.
He seemed to have no fancy for listening to any explanation of our
points of difference. The impression among the Winnebagoes "that if the
Great Spirit had wished them different from what they are, he would have
made them so," seems too strong to yield to either argument or
Sometimes those who are desirous of appearing somewhat civilized will
listen quietly to all that is advanced on the subject of Christianity,
then, coolly saying, "Yes, we believe that too," will change the
conversation to other subjects.
As a general thing, they do not appear to perceive that there is
anything to be gained by adopting the religion and the customs of the
whites. "Look at them," they say, "always toiling and striving--always
wearing a brow of care--shut up in houses--afraid of the wind and the
rain--suffering when they are deprived of the comforts of life! We, on
the contrary, live a life of freedom and happiness. We hunt and fish,
and pass our time pleasantly in the open woods and prairies. If we are
hungry, we take some game; or, if we do not find that, we can go
without. If our enemies trouble us, we can kill them, and there is no
more said about it. What should we gain by changing ourselves into white
Christian missionaries, with all their efforts to convert them, had at
this day made little progress in enlightening their minds upon the
doctrines of the Gospel. Mr. Mazzuchelli, a Roman Catholic priest,
accompanied by Miss Elizabeth Grignon as interpreter, made a missionary
visit to the Portage during our residence there, and, after some
instruction from him, about forty consented to be baptized. Christian
names were given to them, with which they seemed much pleased; and not
less so with the little plated crucifixes which each received, and which
the women wore about their necks. These they seemed to regard with a
devotional feeling; but I was not sufficiently acquainted with their
language to gather from them whether they understood the doctrine the
symbol was designed to convey. Certain it is, they expressed no wish to
learn our language, in order that they might gain a fuller knowledge of
the Saviour, nor any solicitude to be taught more about him than they
had received during the missionary's short visit.
One woman, to whom the name of Charlotte had been given, signified a
desire to learn the domestic ways of the whites, and asked of me as a
favor through Madame Paquette that she might be permitted to come on
"washing-day," and learn of my servants our way of managing the
business. A tub was given her, and my woman instructed her, by signs and
example, how she was to manage. As I was not a little curious to observe
how things went on, I proceeded after a time to the kitchen where they
all were. Charlotte was at her tub, scouring and rubbing with all her
might at her little crucifix. Two other squaws sat upon the floor near
her, watching the operation.
"That is the work she has been at for the last half-hour," said Josette,
in a tone of great impatience. "_She'll_ never learn to wash."
Charlotte, however, soon fell diligently to work, and really seemed as
if she would tear her arms off, with her violent exertions.
After a time, supposing that she must feel a good deal fatigued and
exhausted with the unaccustomed labor, I did what it was at that day
very much the fashion to do,--what, at home, I had always seen done on
washing-day,--what, in short, I imagine was then a general custom among
housekeepers. I went to the dining-room closet, intending to give
Charlotte a glass of wine or brandy and water. My "cupboard" proved to
be in the state of the luckless "Mother Hubbard's"--nothing of the kind
could I find but a bottle of orange shrub.
Of this I poured out a wineglassful, and, carrying it out, offered it to
the woman. She took it with an expression of great pleasure; but, in
carrying it to her lips, she stopped short, and exclaiming, "Whiskey!"
immediately returned it to me. I would still have pressed it upon her;
for, in my inexperience, I really believed it was a cordial she needed;
but, pointing to her crucifix, she shook her head and returned to her
I received this as a lesson more powerful than twenty sermons. It was
the first time in my life that I had ever seen spirituous liquors
rejected upon a religious principle, and it made an impression upon me
that I never forgot.
Among the women of the tribe with whom we early became acquainted, our
greatest favorite was a daughter of one of the Day-kau-rays. This
family, as I have elsewhere said, boasted in some remote generation a
cross of the French blood, and this fact might account for the fair
complexion and soft curling hair which distinguished our friend. She had
a noble forehead, full, expressive eyes, and fine teeth. Unlike the
women of her people, she had not grown brown and haggard with advancing
years. Indeed, with the exception of one feature, she might be called
She had many years before married a Mus-qua-kee, or Fox Indian, and,
according to the custom among all the tribes, the husband came home to
the wife's family, and lived among the Winnebagoes.
It is this custom, so exactly the reverse of civilized ways, that makes
the birth of a daughter a subject of peculiar rejoicing in an Indian
family. "She will bring another hunter to our lodge," is the style of
The Mus-qua-kee continued, for some few years, to live among his wife's
relations; but, as no children blessed their union, he at length became
tired of his new friends, and longed to return to his own people. He
tried, for a time, to persuade his wife to leave her home, and accompany
him to the Mississippi, on the banks of which the Sauks and Foxes lived,
but in vain. She could not resolve to make the sacrifice.
One day, after many fruitless efforts to persuade her, he flew into a
"Then, if you will not go with me," said he, "I will leave you; but you
shall never be the wife of any other man--I will mark you!"
Saying this, he flew upon her, and bit off the end of her nose. This,
the usual punishment for conjugal infidelity, is the greatest disgrace a
woman can receive--it bars her forever from again entering the pale of
matrimony. The wretch fled to his own people; but his revenge fell short
of its aim. Day-kau-ray was too well known and too universally respected
to suffer opprobrium in any member of his family. This bright, loving
creature in particular, won all hearts upon a first acquaintance--she
certainly did ours, from the outset.
She suffered much from rheumatism, and a remedy we gave her soon
afforded her almost entire relief. Her gratitude knew no bounds.
Notwithstanding that from long suffering she had become partially
crippled, she would walk all the way from the Barribault, a distance of
ten miles, as often as once in two or three weeks, to visit us. Then, to
sit and gaze at us, to laugh with childish glee at everything new or
strange that we employed ourselves about--to pat and stroke us every
time we came near her--sometimes to raise our hand or arm and kiss
it--these were her demonstrations of affection. And we loved her in
return. It was always a joyful announcement when, looking out over the
Portage road, somebody called out, "The _Cut-Nose_ is coming!" In time,
however, we learned to call her by her baptismal name of Elizabeth, for
she, too, was one of Mr. Mazzuchelli's converts.
She came one day, accompanied by a half-grown boy, carrying a young fawn
she had brought me as a present. I was delighted with the pretty
creature--with its soft eyes and dappled coat; but having often heard
the simile, "as wild as a fawn," I did not anticipate much success in
taming it. To my great surprise, it soon learned to follow me like a
dog. Wherever I went, there Fan was sure to be. At breakfast, she would
lie down at my feet, under the table. One of her first tokens of
affection was to gnaw off all the trimming from my black silk apron, as
she lay pretending to caress and fondle me. Nor was this her only style
One day we heard a great rattling among the crockery in the kitchen. We
ran to see what was the matter, and found that Miss Fan had made her way
to a shelf of the dresser, about two feet from the ground, and was
endeavoring to find a comfortable place to lie down, among the plates
and dishes. I soon observed that it was the shelter of the shelf above
her head that was the great attraction, and that she was in the habit of
seeking out a place of repose under a chair, or something approaching to
an "umbrageous bower." So after this I took care, as the hour for her
morning nap approached, to open a large green parasol, and set it on the
matting in the corner--then when I called "Fan, Fan," she would come and
nestle under it, and soon fall fast asleep.
One morning Fan was missing. In vain we called and sought her in the
garden--in the enclosure for the cattle--at the houses of the
Frenchmen--along the hill towards Paquette's--no Fan was to be found. We
thought she had asserted her own wild nature and sped away to the woods.
It was a hot forenoon, and the doors were all open. About dinner-time,
in rushed Fan, panting violently, and threw herself upon her side, where
she lay with her feet outstretched, her mouth foaming, and exhibiting
all the signs of mortal agony. We tried to give her water, to soothe
her, if perhaps it might be fright that so affected her; but in a few
minutes, with a gasp and a spasm, she breathed her last. Whether she had
been chased by the greyhounds, or whether she had eaten some poisonous
weed, which, occasioning her suffering, had driven her to her best
friends for aid, we never knew; but we lost our pretty pet, and many
were the tears shed for her.
* * * * *
Very shortly after the departure of my husband, we received a visit from
"the White Crow," the "Little Priest," and several others of the
principal chiefs of the Bock River Indians. They seemed greatly
disappointed at learning that their Father was from home, even though
his errand was to get "the silver." We sent for Paquette, who
interpreted for us the object of their visit.
They had come to inform us that the Sauk chief Black Hawk and his band,
who, in compliance with a former treaty, had removed some time previous
to the west of the Mississippi, had now returned to their old homes and
hunting-grounds, and expressed a determination not to relinquish them,
but to drive off the white settlers who had begun to occupy them.
The latter, in fact, the chief had already done, and having, as it was
said, induced some of the Pottowattamies to join him, there was reason
to fear that he might persuade some of the Winnebagoes to follow their
These chiefs had come to counsel with their Father, and to assure him
that they should do all in their power to keep their young men quiet.
They had heard that troops were being raised down among the whites in
Illinois, and they had hopes that their people would be wise enough to
keep out of difficulty. Furthermore, they begged that their Father, on
his return, would see that the soldiers did not meddle with them, so
long as they remained quiet and behaved in a friendly manner.
White Crow seemed particularly anxious to impress it upon me, that if
any danger should arise in Shaw-nee-aw-kee's absence, he should come
with his people to protect me and my family. I relied upon his
assurances, for he had ever shown himself an upright and honorable
Notwithstanding this, the thoughts of Indian troubles so near us, in the
absence of our guardian and protector, occasioned us many an anxious
moment, and it was not until we learned of the peaceable retreat of the
Sauks and Foxes west of the Mississippi, that we were able wholly to lay
aside our fears.
We were now called to part with our friends, Major Twiggs and his
family, which we did with heartfelt regret. He gave me a few parting
words about our old acquaintance, Krissman.
"When I went into the barracks the other day," said he, "about the time
the men were taking their dinner, I noticed a great six-foot soldier
standing against the window-frame, crying and blubbering. 'Halloo,' said
I, 'what on earth does this mean?'
"'Why, that fellow there,' said Krissman (for it was he), 'has scrowged
me out of my place!' A pretty soldier your protege will make, madam!"
added the Major.
I never heard more of my hero. Whether he went to exhibit his prowess
against the Seminoles and Mexicans, or whether he returned to till the
fertile soil of his native German Flats and blow his favorite boatman's
horn, must be left for some future historian to tell.
There is one more character to be disposed of--Louisa. An opportunity
offering in the spring, the Major placed her under the charge of a
person going to Buffalo, that she might be returned to her parents. In
compliment to the new acquaintances she had formed, she shortened her
skirts, mounted a pair of scarlet leggings embroidered with
porcupine-quills, and took her leave of military life, having deposited
with the gentleman who took charge of her sixty dollars, for safe
keeping, which she remarked "she had _saved up_, out of her wages at a
dollar a week, through the winter."
* * * * *
A very short time after we were settled in our new home at the Agency,
we attempted the commencement of a little Sunday-school. Edwin, Harry
and Josette were our most reliable scholars, but besides them there were
the two little Manaigres, Therese Paquette, and her mother's
half-sister, Florence Courville, a pretty young girl of fifteen. None of
these girls had even learned their letters. They spoke only French, or
rather the Canadian _patois_, and it was exceedingly difficult to give
them at once the sound of the words, and their signification, which they
were careful to inquire. Besides this, there was the task of correcting
the false ideas, and remedying the ignorance and superstition which
presented so formidable an obstacle to rational improvement. We did our
best, however, and had the satisfaction of seeing them, after a time,
making really respectable progress with their spelling-book, and, what
was still more encouraging, acquiring a degree of light and knowledge in
regard to better things.
In process of time, however, Florence was often absent from her class.
"Her sister," she said, "could not always spare her. She wanted her to
keep house while she herself went over oil Sunday to visit her friends
the Roys, who lived on the Wisconsin."
We reasoned with Madame Paquette on the subject. "Could she not spare
Florence on some hour of the day? We would gladly teach her on a
week-day, for she seemed anxious to learn, but we had always been told
that for that there was no time."
"Well--she would see. Madame Alum (Helm) and Madame John were so kind!"
There was no improvement, however, in regularity. After a time Manaigre
was induced to send his children to Mr. Cadle's mission-school at Green
Bay. Therese accompanied them, and very soon Florence discontinued her
We were obliged, from that time forward, to confine our instructions to
our own domestic circle.
INDIAN CUSTOMS AND DANCES.
Before we had any right to look for my husband's return, I one day
received a message inviting me to come up to the new house. We all went
in a body, for we had purposely stayed away a few days, expecting this
summons, of which we anticipated the meaning.
Plante, in full glee, was seated astride of a small keg on the roof,
close beside the kitchen chimney, on the very summit of which he had
planted a green bough. To this he held fast with one hand, while he
exultingly waved the other and called out,--
"_Eh ban, Madame John! a cette heure, pour le regal!_"
"Yes, Plante, you are entitled to a treat, and I hope you will not enjoy
it the less that Pillon and Manaigre are to share it with you."
A suitable gratification made them quite contented with their
"_bourgeoise_," against whom Plante had sometimes been inclined to
grumble, "because," as he said, "she had him called up too early in the
morning." He might have added, because, too, she could not understand
the philosophy of his coming in to work in his own garden, under the
plea that it was too rainy to work in Monsieur John's.
It was with no ordinary feelings of satisfaction that we quitted the old
log tenement and took possession of our new dwelling, small and
insignificant though it was.
I was only too happy to enjoy the luxury of a real bedchamber, in place
of the parlor floor which I had occupied as such for more than two
months. It is true that our culinary arrangements were still upon no
greatly improved plan. The clay chimney was not of sufficient strength
to hold the trammel and pot-hooks, which at that day had not been
superseded by the cooking-stove and kitchen-range. Our fire was made as
in the olden time, with vast logs behind, and smaller sticks in front,
laid across upon the andirons or _dogs_. Upon these sticks were placed
such of the cooking-utensils as could not be accommodated on the hearth;
but woe to the dinner or the supper, if through a little want of care or
scrutiny one treacherous piece was suffered to burn away. Down would
come the whole arrangement--kettles, saucepans, burning brands, and
cinders, in one almost inextricable mass. How often this happened under
the supervision of Harry or little Josette, while the mistress was
playing lady to some visitor in the parlor, "'twere vain to tell."
Then, spite of Monsieur Plante's palisades round the chimney, in a hard
shower the rain would come pelting down, and, the hearth unfortunately
sloping a little the wrong way, the fire would become extinguished;
while, the bark on the roof failing to do its duty, we were now and then
so completely deluged, that there was no resource but to catch up the
breakfast or dinner and tuck it under the table until better times--that
is, till fair weather came again. In spite of all these little adverse
occurrences, however, we enjoyed our new quarters exceedingly.
Our garden was well furnished with vegetables, and even the
currant-bushes which we had brought from Chicago with us, tied in a
bundle at the back of the carriage, had produced us some fruit.
The Indian women were very constant in their visits and their presents.
Sometimes it was venison--sometimes ducks or pigeons--whortleberries,
wild plums, or cranberries, according to the season--neat pretty mats
for the floor or the table--wooden bowls or ladles, fancy work of
deer-skin or porcupine-quills. These they would bring in and throw at my
feet. If through inattention I failed to appear pleased, to raise the
articles from the floor and lay them carefully aside, a look of
mortification and the observation, "Our mother hates our gifts," showed
how much their feelings were wounded. It was always expected that a
present would be received graciously, and returned with something twice
Meantime, week after week wore on, and still was the return of "the
The rare arrival of a schooner at Green Bay, in which to take passage
for Detroit, made it always a matter of uncertainty what length of time
would be necessary for a journey across the lakes and back--so that it
was not until the last of August that he again reached his home. Great
was his surprise to find us so nicely moved and settled; and under his
active supervision the evils of which we had had to complain were soon
My husband had met at Fort Gratiot, and brought with him, my young
brother Julian, whom my parents were sending, at our request, to reside
with us. Edwin was overjoyed to have a companion once more, for he had
hitherto been very solitary. The boys soon had enough to occupy their
attention, as, in obedience to a summons sent to the different villages,
the Indians very shortly came flocking in to the payment.
There was among their number, this year, one whom I had never before
seen--the mother of the elder Day-kau-ray. No one could tell her age,
but all agreed that she must have seen upwards of a hundred winters. Her
eyes dimmed, and almost white with age--her face dark and withered, like
a baked apple--her voice tremulous and feeble, except when raised in
fury to reprove her graceless grandsons, who were fond of playing her
all sorts of mischievous tricks, indicated the very great age she must
She usually went upon all-fours, not having strength to hold herself
erect. On the day of the payment, having received her portion, which she
carefully hid in the corner of her blanket, she came crawling along and
seated herself on the door-step, to count her treasure.
My sister and I were watching her movements from the open window.
Presently, just as she had, unobserved, as she thought, spread out her
silver before her, two of her descendants came suddenly upon her. At
first they seemed begging for a share, but she repulsed them with angry
gestures, when one of them made a sudden swoop, and possessed himself of
She tried to rise, to pursue him, but was unable to do more than clutch
the remainder and utter the most unearthly screams of rage. At this
instant the boys raised their eyes and perceived us regarding them. They
burst into a laugh, and with a sort of mocking gesture they threw her
the half-dollars, and ran back to the pay-ground.
In spite of their vexatious tricks, she seemed very fond of them, and
never failed to beg something of her Father, that she might bestow upon
She crept into the parlor one morning, then straightening herself up,
and supporting herself by the frame of the door, she cried, in a most
piteous tone,--"Shaw-nee-aw-kee! Wau-tshob-ee-rah Thsoonsh-koo-nee-noh!"
(Silver-man, I have no looking-glass.) My husband, smiling and taking up
the same little tone, cried, in return,--
"Do you wish to look at yourself, mother?"
The idea seemed to her so irresistibly comic that she laughed until she
was fairly obliged to seat herself upon the floor and give way to her
enjoyment. She then owned that it was for one of the boys that she
wanted the little mirror. When her Father had given it to her, she found
that she had "no comb," then that she had "no knife," then that she had
"no calico shawl," until it ended, as it generally did, by
Shaw-nee-aw-kee paying pretty dearly for his joke.
* * * * *
When the Indians arrived and when they departed, my sense of "woman's
rights" was often greatly outraged. The master of the family, as a
general thing, came leisurely bearing his gun and perhaps a lance in his
hand; the woman, with the mats and poles of her lodge upon her
shoulders, her pappoose, if she had one, her kettles, sacks of corn, and
wild rice, and, not unfrequently, the household dog perched on the top
of all. If there is a horse or pony in the list of family possessions,
the man rides, the squaw trudges after.
This unequal division of labor is the result of no want of kind,
affectionate feeling on the part of the husband. It is rather the
instinct of the sex to assert their superiority of position and
importance, when a proper occasion offers. When out of the reach of
observation, and in no danger of compromising his own dignity, the
husband is willing enough to relieve his spouse from the burden that
custom imposes on her, by sharing her labors and hardships.
The payment had not passed without its appropriate number of
complimentary and medicine dances. The latter take place only at rare
intervals--the former whenever an occasion demanding a manifestation of
respect and courtesy presents itself.
It is the custom to ask permission of the person to be complimented, to
dance for him. This granted, preparation is made by painting the face
elaborately, and marking the person, which is usually bare about the
chest and shoulders, after the most approved pattern. All the ornaments
that can be mustered are added to the hair, or headdress. Happy is he
who, in virtue of having taken one or more scalps, is entitled to
proclaim it by a corresponding number of eagle's feathers.
The less fortunate make a substitute of the feathers of the wild turkey,
or, better still, of the first unlucky "rooster" that falls in their
way. My poor fowls, during the time of payment, were always thoroughly
When their preparations are completed, the dancers assemble at some
convenient place, whence they come marching to the spot appointed,
accompanied by the music of the Indian drum and shee-shee-qua or rattle.
They range themselves in a circle and dance with violent contortions and
gesticulations, some of them graceful, others only energetic, the
squaws, who stand a little apart and mingle their discordant voices with
the music of the instruments, rarely participating in the dance.
Occasionally, however, when excited by the general gaiety, a few of them
will form a circle outside and perform a sort of ungraceful, up-and-down
movement, which has no merit, save the perfect time which is kept, and
for which the Indians seem, without exception, to possess a natural ear.
The dance finished, which is only when the strength of the dancers is
quite exhausted, a quantity of presents are brought and placed in the
middle of the circle, by order of the party complimented. An equitable
distribution is made by one of their number; and, the object of all this
display having been accomplished, they retire.
The medicine dance is carried on chiefly to celebrate the skill of the
"Medicine-man" in curing diseases. This functionary belongs to a
fraternity who are supposed to add to their other powers some skill in
interpreting the will of the Great Spirit in regard to the conduct of
his people. He occasionally makes offerings and sacrifices which are
regarded as propitiatory. In this sense, the term "priest" may be deemed
applicable to him. He is also a "prophet" in so far as he is, in a
limited degree, an instructor; but he does not claim to possess the gift
of foretelling future events.
A person is selected to join the fraternity of the "Medicine-man" by
those already initiated, chiefly on account of some skill or sagacity
that has been observed in him. Sometimes it happens that a person who
has had a severe illness which has yielded to the prescriptions of one
of the members, is considered a proper object of choice from a sort of
claim thus established.
When he is about to be initiated, a great feast is made, of course at
the expense of the candidate, for in simple as in civilized life the
same principle of politics holds good, "honors must be paid for." An
animal is killed and dressed, of which the people at large
partake--there are dances and songs and speeches in abundance. Then the
chief Medicine-man takes the candidate and privately instructs him in
all the ceremonies and knowledge necessary to make him an accomplished
member of the fraternity. Sometimes the new member selected is still a
child. In that case he is taken by the Medicine-man so soon as he
reaches a proper age, and qualified by instruction and example to become
a creditable member of the fraternity.
Among the Winnebagoes there seems a considerable belief in magic. Each
Medicine-man has a bag or sack, in which is supposed to be inclosed some
animal, to whom, in the course of their _pow-wows_, he addresses
himself, crying to him in the note common to his imagined species. And
the people seem to be persuaded that the answers which are announced are
really communications, in this form, from the Great Spirit.
The Indians appear to have no idea of a retribution beyond this life.
They have a strong appreciation of the great fundamental virtues of
natural religion--the worship of the Great Spirit, brotherly love,
parental affection, honesty, temperance, and chastity. Any infringement
of the laws of the Great Spirit, by a departure from these virtues, they
believe will excite his anger and draw down punishment. These are their
principles. That their practice evinces more and more a departure from
them, under the debasing influences of a proximity to the whites, is a
melancholy truth, which no one will admit with so much sorrow as those
who lived among them, and esteemed them, before this signal change had
* * * * *
One of the first improvements that suggested itself about our new
dwelling, was the removal of some very unsightly pickets surrounding two
or three Indian graves, on the esplanade in front of the house. Such,
however, is the reverence in which these burial-places are held, that we
felt we must approach the subject with great delicacy and consideration.
My husband at length ventured to propose to Mrs. "Pawnee Blanc," the
nearest surviving relative of the person interred, to replace the
pickets with a neat wooden platform.
The idea pleased her much, for, through her intimacy in Paquette's
family, she had acquired something of a taste for civilization.
Accordingly, a little platform about a foot in height, properly finished
with a moulding around the edge, was substituted for the worn and
blackened pickets; and it was touching to witness the mournful
satisfaction with which two or three old crones would come regularly
every evening at sunset, to sit and gossip over the ashes of their
On the fine moonlight nights, too, there might often be seen a group
sitting there, and enjoying what is to them a solemn hour, for they
entertain the poetic belief that "the moon was made to give light to the
The reverence of the Indians for the memory of their departed friends,
and their dutiful attention in visiting and making offerings to the
Great Spirit, over their last resting-places, is an example worthy of
imitation among their more enlightened brethren. Not so, however, with
some of their customs in relation to the dead.
The news of the decease of one of their number is a signal for a general
mourning and lamentation; it is also in some instances, I am sorry to
say, when the means and appliances can be found, the apology for a
The relatives weep and howl for grief--the friends and acquaintance bear
them company through sympathy. A few of their number are deputed to wait
upon their Father, to inform him of the event, and to beg some presents
"to help them," as they express it, "dry up their tears."
We received such a visit one morning, not long after the payment was
A drunken little Indian, named, by the French people around, "Old
Boilvin," from his resemblance to an Indian Agent of that name at
Prairie du Chien, was the person on account of whose death the
application was made. "He had been fishing," they said, "on the shores
of one of the little lakes near the Portage, and, having taken a little
too much '_whiskee_,' had fallen into the water and been drowned."
Nothing of him had been found but his blanket on the bank, so there
could be no funeral ceremonies, but his friends were prepared to make a
great lamentation about him.
Their Father presented them with tobacco, knives, calico, and
looking-glasses, in proportion to what he thought might be their
reasonable grief at the loss of such a worthless vagabond, and they
There was no difficulty, notwithstanding the stringent prohibitions on
the subject, in procuring a keg of whiskey from some of the traders who
yet remained. Armed with that and their other treasures, they assembled
at an appointed spot, not far from the scene of the catastrophe, and,
sitting down with the keg in their midst, they commenced their
affliction. The more they drank, the more clamorous became their grief,
and the faster flowed their tears.
In the midst of these demonstrations, a little figure, bent and
staggering, covered with mud and all in disorder, with a countenance
full of wonder and sympathy, approached them, and began,--
"Why? what? what? Who's dead?"
"Who's dead?" repeated they, looking up in astonishment. "Why, you're
dead! you were drowned in Swan Lake! Did not we find your blanket there?
Come, sit down and help us mourn."
The old man did not wait for a second invitation. He took his seat and
cried and drank with the rest, weeping and lamenting as bitterly as any
of them, and the strange scene was continued as long as they had power
to articulate, or any portion of the whiskey was left.
STORY OF THE RED FOX.
The Indians, of whatever tribe, are exceedingly fond of narrating or
listening to tales and stories, whether historical or fictitious. They
have their professed storytellers, like the Oriental nations, and these
go about, from village to village, collecting an admiring and attentive
audience, however oft-told and familiar the matter they recite.
It is in this way that their traditions are preserved and handed down
unimpaired from generation to generation. Their knowledge of the
geography of their country is wonderfully exact. I have seen an Indian
sit in his lodge, and draw a map, in the ashes, of the Northwestern
States, not of their statistical but their geographical features, lakes,
rivers, and mountains, with the greatest accuracy, giving their relative
distances, by days' journeys, without hesitation, and even extending his
drawings and explanations as far as Kentucky and Tennessee.
Of biography they preserve not only the leading events in the life of
the person, but his features, appearance, and bearing, his manners, and
whatever little trait or peculiarity characterized him.
The women are more fond of fiction, and some of their stories have a
strange mingling of humor and pathos. I give the two which follow as
specimens. The Indian names contained in them are in the Ottawa or
"Courte-Oreilles" language, but the same tales are current in all the
different tongues and dialects.
* * * * *
STORY OF THE RED FOX.
This is an animal to which many peculiarities are attributed. He is said
to resemble the jackal in his habit of molesting the graves of the dead,
and the Indians have a superstitious dread of hearing his bark at night,
believing that it forebodes calamity and death. They say, too, that he
was originally of one uniform reddish-brown color, but that his legs
became black in the manner related in the story.
There was a chief of a certain village who had a beautiful daughter. He
resolved upon one occasion to make a feast and invite all the animals.
When the invitation was brought to the red fox, he inquired, "What are
you going to have for supper?"
"_Mee-dau-mee-nau-bo_," was the reply. (This is a porridge made of
parched corn, slightly cracked.)
The fox turned up his little sharp nose. "No, I thank you," said he; "I
can get plenty of that at home."
The messenger returned to the chief, and reported the contemptuous
refusal of the fox.
"Go back to him," said the chief, "and tell him we are going to have a
nice fresh body, and we will have it cooked in the most delicate
Pleased with the prospect of such a treat, the fox gave a very hearty
assent to the second invitation.
The hour arrived, and he set off for the lodge of the chief to attend
the feast. The company were all prepared for him, for they made common
cause with their friend who had been insulted. As the fox entered, the
guest next the door, with great courtesy, rose from his place, and
begged the new-comer to be seated. Immediately the person next him also
rose, and insisted that the fox should occupy his place, as it was still
nearer the fire--the post of honor. Then the third, with many
expressions of civility, pressed him to exchange with him; and thus,
with many ceremonious flourishes, he was passed along the circle, always
approaching the fire, where a huge cauldron stood, in which the good
cheer was still cooking. The fox was by no means unwilling to occupy the
highest place in the assembly, and, besides, he was anxious to take a
peep into the kettle, for he had his suspicions that he might be
disappointed of the delicacies he had been expecting.
So, by degrees, he was ushered nearer and nearer the great blazing
fire, until by a dexterous push and shove he was hoisted into the
His feet were dreadfully scalded, but he leaped out, and ran home to his
lodge, howling and crying with pain. His grandmother, with whom,
according to the custom of animals, he lived, demanded of him an account
of the affair. When he had faithfully related all the circumstances
(for, unlike the civilized animals, he did not think of telling his
grandmother a story), she reproved him very strongly.
"You have committed two great faults," said she. "In the first place,
you were very rude to the chief who was so kind as to invite you, and by
returning insult for civility you made yourself enemies who were
determined to punish you. In the next place, it was very unbecoming in
you to be so forward to take the place of honor. Had you been contented
modestly to keep your seat near the door, you would have escaped the
misfortune that has befallen you."
All this was not very consolatory to the poor fox, who continued to
whine and cry most piteously, while his grandmother, having finished her
lecture, proceeded to bind up his wounds. Great virtue is supposed to be
added to all medical prescriptions and applications by a little dancing;
so, the dressing having been applied, the grandmother fell to dancing
with all her might, round and round in the lodge.
When she was nearly exhausted, the fox said, "Grandmother, take off the
bandages and see if my legs are healed."
She did as he requested, but no--the burns were still fresh. She danced
and danced again. Now and then, as he grew impatient, she would remove
the coverings to observe the effect of the remedies. At length, towards
morning, she looked, and, to be sure, the burns were quite healed. "But,
oh!" cried she, "your legs are as black as a coal! They were so badly
burned that they will never return to their color!"
The poor fox, who, like many another brave, was vain of his legs, fell
into a transport of lamentation.
"Oh! my legs! My pretty red legs! What shall I do? The young girls will
all despise me. I shall never dare to show myself among them again!"
He cried and sobbed until his grandmother, fatigued with her exercise,
fell asleep. By this time he had decided upon his plan of revenge.
He rose and stole softly out of his lodge, and, pursuing his way rapidly
towards the village of the chief, he turned his face in the direction of
the principal lodge and barked. When the inhabitants heard this sound in
the stillness of the night, their hearts trembled. They knew that it
foreboded sorrow and trouble to some one of their number.
A very short time elapsed before the beautiful daughter of the chief
fell sick, and she grew rapidly worse and worse, spite of medicines,
charms, and dances. At length she died. The fox had not intended to
bring misfortune on the village in this shape, for he loved the
beautiful daughter of the chief, so he kept in his lodge and mourned and
fretted for her death.
Preparations were made for a magnificent funeral, but the friends of the
deceased were in great perplexity. "If we bury her in the earth," said
they, "the fox will come and disturb her remains. He has barked her to
death, and he will be glad to come and finish his work of revenge."
They took counsel together, and determined to hang her body high in a
tree as a place of sepulture. They thought the fox would go groping
about in the earth, and not lift up his eyes to the branches above his
But the grandmother had been at the funeral, and she returned and told
the fox all that had been done.
"Now, my son," said she, "listen to me. Do not meddle with the remains
of the chief's daughter. You have done mischief enough already. Leave
her in peace."
As soon as the grandmother was asleep at night, the fox rambled forth.
He soon found the place he sought, and came and sat under the tree where
the young girl had been placed. He gazed and gazed at her all the
livelong night, and she appeared as beautiful as when in life. But when
the day dawned, and the light enabled him to see more clearly, then he
observed that decay was doing its work--that instead of a beautiful she
presented only a loathsome appearance.
He went home sad and afflicted, and passed all the day mourning in his
"Have you disturbed the remains of the chief's beautiful daughter?" was
his parent's anxious question.
"No, grandmother,"--and he uttered not another word.
Thus it went on for many days and nights. The fox always took care to
quit his watch at the early dawn of day, for he knew that her friends
would suspect him, and come betimes to see if all was right.
At length he perceived that, gradually, the young girl looked less and
less hideous in the morning light, and that she by degrees resumed the
appearance she had presented in life, so that in process of time her
beauty and look of health quite returned to her.
One day he said, "Grandmother, give me my pipe, that I may take a
"Ah!" cried she, "you begin to be comforted. You have never smoked
since the death of the chief's beautiful daughter. Have you heard some
"Never you mind," said he; "bring the pipe."
He sat down and smoked, and smoked. After a time he said, "Grandmother,
sweep your lodge and put it all in order, for this day you will receive
a visit from your daughter-in-law."
The grandmother did as she was desired. She swept her lodge, and
arranged it with all the taste she possessed, and then both sat down to
await the visit.
"When you hear a sound at the door," said the fox, "you must give the
salutation, and say, Come in."
When they had been thus seated for a time, the grandmother heard a
faint, rustling sound. She looked towards the door. To her surprise, the
mat which usually hung as a curtain was rolled up, and the door was
"Peen-tee-geen n'dau-nis!" cried she.
Something like a faint, faint shadow appeared to glide in. It took
gradually a more distinct outline. As she looked and looked, she began
to discern the form and features of the chief's beautiful daughter, but
it was long before she appeared like a reality, and took her place in
the lodge like a thing of flesh and blood.
They kept the matter hid very close, for they would not for the world
that the father or friends of the bride should know what had happened.
Soon, however, it began to be rumored about that the chief's beautiful
daughter had returned to life, and was living in the Red Fox's lodge.
How it ever became known was a mystery, for, of course, the grandmother
never spoke of it.
Be that as it may, the news created great excitement in the village.
"This must never be," said they all. "He barked her to death once, and
who knows what he may do next time?"
The father took at once a decided part. "The Red Fox is not worthy of my
daughter," he said. "I had promised her to the Hart, the finest and most
elegant among the animals. Now that she has returned to life, I shall
keep my word."
So the friends all went in a body to the lodge of the Red Fox. The
bridegroom, the bride, and the grandmother made all the resistance
possible, but they were overpowered by numbers, and, the Hart having
remained conveniently waiting on the outside where there was no danger,
the beautiful daughter of the chief was placed upon his back, and he
coursed away through the forest to carry her to his own home. When he
arrived at the door of his lodge, however, he turned his head, but no
bride was in the place where he expected to see her. He had thought his
burden very light from the beginning, but that he supposed was natural
to spirits returned from the dead. He never imagined she had at the
outset glided from her seat, and in the midst of the tumult slipped
back, unobserved, to her chosen husband.
One or two attempts were made by the friends, after this, to repossess
themselves of the young creature, but all without success. Then they
said, "Let her remain where she is. It is true the Red Fox occasioned
her death, but by his watchfulness and care he caressed her into life
again; therefore she rightfully belongs to him." So the Red Fox and his
beautiful bride lived long together in great peace and happiness.
STORY OF SHEE-SHEE-BANZE.
There was a young man named Shee-shee-banze (the Little Duck) paddling
his canoe along the shore of the lake.
Two girls came down to the edge of the water, and, seeing him, the elder
said to the younger, "Let us call to him to take us a sail."
It must be remarked that in all Indian stories where two or more sisters
are the _dramatis personae_, the elder is invariably represented as
silly, ridiculous, and disgusting--the younger, as wise and beautiful.
In the present case the younger remonstrated. "Oh, no," said she, "let
us not do such a thing. What will he think of us?"
But the other persevered, and called to him, "Ho! come and take us into
your canoe." The young man obeyed, and, approaching the shore, he took
them with him into the canoe.
"Who are you?" asked the elder sister.
"I am _Way-gee-mar-kin_," replied he, "the great chief."
This Way-gee-mar-kin was something of a fairy, for when surrounded by
his followers, and wishing to confer favors on them, he had a habit of
coughing slightly, when there would fly forth from his mouth quantities
of silver brooches, ear-bobs, and other ornaments, for which it was the
custom of his people to scramble, each striving, as in more civilized
life, to get more than his share.
Accordingly, the elder sister said, "If you are Way-gee-mar-kin, let us
see you cough."
Shee-shee-banze had a few of these silver ornaments which he had got by
scrambling, and which he kept stowed away in the sides of his mouth in
case of emergency. So he gave some spasmodic coughs and brought forth a
few, which the girl eagerly seized.
After a time, as they paddled along, a fine noble elk came forth from
the forest, and approached the water to drink.
"What is that?" asked the spokeswoman; for the younger sister sat silent
and modest all the time.
"It is my dog that I hunt with."
"Call him to us, that I may see him."
Shee-shee-banze called, but the elk turned and fled into the woods.
"He does not seem to obey you, however."
"No; it is because you inspire him with disgust, and therefore he flies
Soon a bear made his appearance by the water's edge.
"What is that?"
"One of my servants."
Again he was requested to call him, and, as the call was disregarded,
the same reason as before was assigned.
Their excursion was at length ended. There had been a little magic in
it, for although the young girls had supposed themselves to be in a
canoe, there was, in reality, no canoe at all. They only imagined it to
have been so.
Now, Shee-shee-banze lived with his grandmother, and to her lodge he
conducted his young friends.
They stood outside while he went in.
"Grandmother," said he, "I have brought you two young girls, who will be
your daughters-in-law. Invite them into your lodge."
Upon this, the old woman called, "Ho! come in," and they entered. They
were made welcome and treated to the best of everything.
In the mean time, the real Way-gee-mar-kin, the great chief, made
preparations for a grand feast. When he was sending his messenger out
with the invitations, he said to him, "Be very particular to bid
Shee-shee-banze to the feast, for, as he is the smallest and meanest
person in the tribe, you must use double ceremony with him, or he will
be apt to think himself slighted."
Shee-shee-banze was sitting in his lodge with his new friends, when the
"Ho! Shee-shee-banze," cried he, "you are invited to a great feast that
Way-gee-mar-kin is to give to-night, to all his subjects."
But Shee-shee-banze took no notice of the invitation. He only whistled,
and pretended not to hear. The messenger repeated his words, then,
finding that no attention was paid to them, he went his way.
The young girls looked at each other, during the scene, greatly
astonished. At length the elder spoke.
"What does this mean?" said she. "Why does he call you Shee-shee-banze,
and invite you to visit Way-gee-mar-kin?"
"Oh," said Shee-shee-banze, "it is one of my followers that always likes
to be a little impudent. I am obliged to put up with it sometimes, but
you observed that I treated him with silent contempt."
The messenger returned to the chief, and reported the manner in which
the invitation had been received.
"Oh," said the good-natured chief, "it is because he feels that he is
poor and insignificant. Go back again--call him by my name, and make a
flourishing speech to him."
The messenger fulfilled his mission as he was bid.
"Way-gee-mar-kin," said he, pompously, "a great feast is to be given
to-night, and I am sent most respectfully to solicit the honor of your
"Did I not tell you?" said Shee-shee-banze to the maidens Then, nodding
with careless condescension, he added, "Tell them I'll come."
At night, Shee-shee-banze dressed himself in his very best paint,
feathers, and ornaments--but before his departure he took his
"Be sure," said he, "that you watch these young people closely until I
come back. Shut up your lodge tight, _tight_. Let no one come in or go
out, and, above all things, do not go to sleep."
These orders given, he went his way.
The grandmother tried her best to keep awake, but finding herself
growing more and more sleepy, as the night wore on, she took a strong
cord and laced across the mat which hung before the entrance to the
lodge, as the Indians lace up the mouths of their bags, then, having
seen all things secure and the girls quiet in bed, she lay down and soon
fell into a comfortable sleep.
The young girls, in the mean while, were dying with curiosity to know
what had become of Shee-shee-banze, and as soon as they were sure the
old lady was asleep, they prepared to follow him and see what was going
on. Fearing, however, that the grandmother might awake and discover
their absence, they took two logs of wood, and, putting them under the
blanket, so disposed them as to present the appearance of persons
sleeping quietly. They then cut the cords that fastened the door, and,
guided by the sounds of the music, the dancing, and the merry-making,
they soon found their way to the dwelling of Way-gee-mar-kin.
When they entered, they saw the chief seated on a throne, surrounded by
light and splendor. Everything was joy and amusement. Crowds of
courtiers were in the apartment, all dressed in the most brilliant
array. The strangers looked around for their friend Shee-shee-banze, but
he was nowhere to be seen.
Now and then the chief would cough, when a shower of silver ornaments
and precious things would fly in all directions, and instantly a
scramble would commence among the company, to gather them up and
As they thus rushed forward, the brides-elect saw their poor little
friend crowded up into a corner, where nobody took any notice of him,
except to push him aside, or step on him whenever he was in the way. He
uttered piteous little squeaks as one and another would thus maltreat
him, but he was too busy taking care of himself to perceive that those
whom he had left snug at home in the lodge were witnesses of all that
was going on.
At length the signal was given for the company to retire, all but the
two young damsels, upon whom Way-gee-mar-kin had set his eye, and to
whom he had sent, by one of his assistants, great offers to induce them
to remain with him and become his wives.
Poor Shee-shee-banze returned to his lodge, but what was his
consternation to find the door open!
"Ho! grandmother," cried he, "is this the way you keep watch?"
The old woman started up. "There are my daughters-in-law," said she,
pointing to the two logs of wood. Shee-shee-banze threw himself on the
ground between them. His back was broken by coming so violently in
contact with them, but that he did not mind--he thought only of revenge,
and the recovery of his sweethearts.
He waited but to get some powerful poison and prepare it, and then he
stole softly back to the wigwam of Way-gee-mar-kin. All was silent, and
he crept in without making the slightest noise. There lay the chief,
with a young girl on each side of him.
They were all sound asleep, the chief lying on his back, with his mouth
wide open. Before he was aware of it, the poison was down his throat,
and Shee-shee-banze had retreated quietly to his own lodge.
The next morning the cry went through the village that Way-gee-mar-kin
had been found dead in his bed. Of course it was attributed to
over-indulgence at the feast. All was grief and lamentation. "Let us go
and tell poor Shee-shee-banze," said one, "he was so fond of
They found him sitting on a bank, fishing. He had been up at peep of
day, to make preparation for receiving the intelligence.
He had caught two or three fish, and, extracting their bladders, had
filled them with blood, and tied them under his arm. When the friends of
Way-gee-mar-kin saw him, they called out to him,--
"Oh! Shee-shee-banze--your friend, Way-gee-mar-kin, is dead!"
With a gesture of despair, Shee-shee-banze drew his knife and plunged
it--not into his heart, but into the bladders filled with blood that he
had prepared. As he fell, apparently lifeless, to the ground, the
messengers began to reproach themselves: "Oh! why did we tell him so
suddenly? We might have known he would not survive it. Poor
Shee-shee-banze! he loved Way-gee-mar-kin so."
To their great surprise, the day after the funeral, Shee-shee-banze came
walking towards the wigwam of the dead chief. As he walked, he sang, or
rather chaunted to a monotonous strain, the following:--
"Way-gee-mar-kin is dead, is dead,
I know who killed him.
I guess it was I--I guess it was I."
All the village was aroused. Everybody flew in pursuit of the murderer,
but he evaded them, and escaped to a place of safety.
Soon after, he again made his appearance, mincing as he walked, and
singing to the same strain as before,--
"If you wish to take and punish me,
Let the widows come and catch me."
It seemed a good idea, and the young women were recommended to go and
entice the culprit into the village, so that the friends of the deceased
could lay hold of him.
They went forth on their errand. Shee-shee-banze would suffer them to
approach, then he would dance off a little--now he would allow them to
come quite near; anon he would retreat a little before them, all the
"Come, pretty widows, come and catch me."
Thus he decoyed them on, occasionally using honeyed words and flattering
speeches, until he had gained their consent to return with him to his
lodge, and take up their abode with him.
The friends of the murdered chief were scandalized at such inconstancy,
and resolved to punish all three, as soon as they could catch them.
They surrounded his lodge with cries and threatenings, but
Shee-shee-banze and his two brides had contrived to elude their
vigilance and gain his canoe, which lay in the river, close at hand.
Hardly were they on board when their escape was discovered. The whole
troop flew after them. Some plunged into the stream, and seized the
canoe. In the struggle it was upset, but immediately on touching the
water, whether from the magical properties of the canoe, or the
necromantic skill of the grandmother, they were transformed into ducks,
and flew quacking away.
Since that time the water-fowl of this species are always found in
companies of three--two females and a male.
* * * * *
The _Canard de France_, or Mallard, and the _Brancheuse_, or Wood Duck,
are of different habits from the foregoing, flying in pairs. Indeed, the
constancy of the latter is said to be so great that if he loses his mate
he never takes another partner, but goes mourning to the end of his
A VISIT TO GREEN BAY--MA-ZHEE-GAW-GAW SWAMP.
The payment over, and the Indians dispersed, we prepared ourselves to
settle down quietly in our little home. But now a new source of
My husband's accounts of disbursements as Agent of the Winnebagoes,
which he had forwarded to the Department at Washington, had failed to
reach there, of which he received due notice--that is to say, such a
notice as could reach us by the circuitous and uncertain mode of
conveyance by which intercourse with the Eastern world was then kept up.
If the vouchers for the former expenditures, together with the recent
payment of $15,000 annuity money, should not be forthcoming, it might
place him in a very awkward position; he therefore decided to go at once
to Washington, and be the bearer himself of his duplicate accounts.
"Should you like to go and see your father and mother," said he to me,
one morning, "and show them how the West agrees with you?"
It was a most joyful suggestion after a year's separation, and in a few
days all things were in readiness for our departure.
There was visiting us, at that time, Miss Brush, of Detroit, who had
come from Green Bay with Mr. and Mrs. Whitney and Miss Frances Henshaw,
on an excursion to the Mississippi. Our little India-rubber house had
contrived to expand itself for the accommodation of the whole party
during the very pleasant visit they made us.
The arrival of two young ladies had been, as may be imagined, quite a
godsend to the unmarried lieutenants, and when, tired of the journey, or
intimidated by the snow, which fell eight inches on the 4th of October,
Miss Brush determined to give up the remainder of her excursion, and
accept our pressing invitation to remain with us until the return of her
friends, we were looked upon as public benefactors. She was now to
accompany us to Green Bay, and possibly to Detroit.
Our voyage down the river was without incident, and we reached Green Bay
just as all the place was astir in the expectation of the arrival of one
of Mr. Newbery's schooners. This important event was the subject of
interest to the whole community, from Fort Howard to "Dickenson's." To
some its arrival would bring friends, to some supplies--to the ladies,
the fashions, to the gentlemen, the news, for it was the happy bearer of
the mails, not for that place alone, but for all the "upper country."
In a few days the vessel arrived. She brought a mail for Fort Winnebago,
it being only in the winter season that letters were carried by land to
that place, via _Niles's Settlement_ and Chicago.
In virtue of his office as Postmaster, my husband opened the mail-bag,
and took possession of his own letters. One informed him of the
satisfactory appearance at the Department of the missing accounts, but
oh! sad disappointment, another brought the news that my parents had
gone to Kentucky for the winter--not to any city or accessible place,
but "up the Sandy," and over among the mountains of Virginia, hunting up
old land-claims belonging to my grandfather's estate.
It was vain to hope to follow them. We might hardly expect to find them
during the short period we could be absent from home--not even were we
to receive the lucid directions once given my father by an old settler
during his explorations through that wild region.
"You must go up _Tug_," said the man, "and down _Troublesome_, and fall
over on to _Kingdom-come_."
We did not think it advisable to undertake such an expedition, and
therefore made up our minds to retrace our steps to Fort Winnebago.
No boats were in readiness to ascend the river. Our old friend Hamilton
promised to have one in preparation at once, but time passed by, and no
boat was made ready.
It was now the beginning of November. We were passing our time very
pleasantly with the Irwins and Whitneys, and at the residence of
Colonel Stambaugh, the Indian Agent, but still this delay was
inconvenient and vexatious.
I suggested undertaking the journey on horseback. "No, indeed," was the
answer I invariably received. "No mortal woman has ever gone that road,
unless it was some native on foot, nor ever could."
"But suppose we set out in the boat and get frozen in on the way. We can
neither pass the winter there, nor possibly find our way to a human
habitation. We have had one similar experience already. Is it not better
to take it for granted that I can do what you and others of your sex
Dr. Finley, the post-surgeon at Fort Howard, on hearing the matter
debated, offered me immediately his favorite horse Charlie. "He is very
sure-footed," the doctor alleged, "and capital in a marsh or troublesome
By land, then, it was decided to go; and as soon as our old Menomonee
friend "Wish-tay-yun," who was as good a guide by land as by water,
could be summoned, we set off, leaving our trunks to be forwarded by
Hamilton whenever it should please him to carry out his intention of
sending up his boat.
We waited until a late hour on the morning of our departure for our
fellow-travellers, Mr. Wing, of Monroe, and Dr. Philleo, of Galena; but,
finding they did not join us, we resolved to lose no time, confident
that we should all meet at the Kakalin in the course of the evening.
After crossing the river at what is now Depere, and entering the wild,
unsettled country on the west of the river, we found a succession of
wooded hills, separated by ravines so narrow and steep that it seemed
impossible that any animals but mules or goats could make their way
Wish-tay-yun took the lead. The horse he rode was accustomed to the
country, and well trained to this style of road. As for Charlie, he was
perfectly admirable. When he came to a precipitous descent, he would set
forward his forefeet, and slide down on his haunches in the most
scientific manner, while my only mode of preserving my balance was to
hold fast by the bridle and lay myself braced almost flat against his
back. Then our position would suddenly change, and we would be scaling
the opposite bank, at the imminent risk of falling backward into the
It was amusing to see Wish-tay-yun, as he scrambled on ahead, now and
then turning partly round to see how I fared. And when, panting and
laughing, I at length reached the summit, he would throw up his hands,
and shout, with the utmost glee, "Mamma Manitou!" (My mother is a
Our old acquaintances, the Grignons, seemed much surprised that I should
have ventured on such a journey. They had never undertaken it, although
they had lived so long at the Kakalin; but then there was no reason why
they should have done so. They could always command a canoe or a boat
when they wished to visit "the Bay."
As we had anticipated, our gentlemen joined us at supper. "They had
delayed to take dinner with Colonel Stambaugh--had had a delightful
gallop up from: the Bay--had seen no ravines, nor anything but fine
smooth roads--might have been asleep, but, if so, were not conscious of
it." This was the account they gave of themselves, to our no small
From the Kakalin to the Butte des Morts, where lived a man named Knaggs,
was our next day's stage. The country was rough and wild, much like that
we had passed through the spring before, in going from Hamilton's
diggings to Kellogg's Grove, but we were fortunate in having
Wish-tay-yun, rather than "Uncle Billy," for our guide, so that we could
make our way with some degree of moderation.
We had travelled but forty miles when we reached Knaggs's, yet I was
both cold and fatigued, so that the cosy little room in which we found
Mrs. Knaggs, and the bright fire, were most cheering objects; and, as we
had only broken our fast since morning with a few crackers we carried in
our pockets, I must own we did ample justice to her nice coffee and
cakes, not to mention venison-steaks and bear's meat, the latter of
which I had never before tasted.
Our supper over, we looked about for a place of repose. The room in
which we had taken our meal was of small dimensions, just sufficient to
accommodate a bed, a table placed against the wall, and the few chairs
on which we sat. There was no room for any kind of a "shakedown."
"Where can you put us for the night?" inquired my husband of Mr. Knaggs,
when he made his appearance.
"Why, there is no place that I know of, unless you can camp down in the
old building outside."
We went to look at it. It consisted of one room, bare and dirty. A huge
chimney, in which a few brands were burning, occupied nearly one side of
the apartment. Against another was built a rickety sort of bunk. This
was the only vestige of furniture to be seen. The floor was thickly
covered with mud and dirt, in the midst of which, near the fire, was
seated an old Indian with a pan of boiled corn on his lap, which he was
scooping up with both hands and devouring with the utmost voracity.
We soon discovered that he was blind. On hearing footsteps and voices,
he instinctively gathered his dish of food close to him, and began some
morose grumblings; but when he was told that it was "Shaw-nee-aw-kee"
who was addressing him, his features relaxed into a more agreeable
expression, and be even held forth his dish and invited us to share its
"But are we to stay here?" I asked. "Can we not sleep out-of-doors?"
"We have no tent," replied my husband, "and the weather is too cold to
risk the exposure without one."
"I could sit in a chair all night, by the fire."
"Then you would not be able to ride to Bellefontaine to-morrow."
There was no alternative. The only thing Mr. Knaggs could furnish in the
shape of bedding was a small bear-skin. The bunk was a trifle less
filthy than the floor; so upon its boards we spread first the skin, then
our saddle-blankets, and, with a pair of saddle-bags for a bolster, I
wrapped myself in my cloak, and resigned myself to my distasteful
The change of position from that I had occupied through the day,
probably brought some rest, but sleep I could not. Even on a softer and
more agreeable couch, the snoring of the old Indian and two or three
companions who had joined him, and his frequent querulous exclamations
as he felt himself encroached upon in the darkness, would have
effectually banished slumber from my eyes.
It was a relief to rise with early morning and prepare for the journey
of the day. Where our fellow-travellers had bestowed themselves I knew
not, but they evidently had fared no better than we. They were in fine
spirits, however, and we cheerfully took our breakfast and were ferried
over the river to continue on the trail from that point to
Bellefontaine, twelve miles distant from Fort Winnebago.
The great "bug-bear" of this road, Ma-zhee-gaw-gaw Swamp, was the next
thing to be encountered. We reached it about nine o'clock. It spread
before us, a vast expanse of morass, about half a mile in width, and of
length interminable, partly covered with water, with black knobs rising
here and there above the surface, affording a precarious foothold for
the animals in crossing it. Where the water was not, there lay in place
of it a bed of black oozy mud, which looked as if it might give way
under the foot, and let it, at each step, sink to an unknown depth.
This we were now to traverse. All three of the gentlemen went in advance
of me, each hoping, as he said, to select the surest and firmest path
for me to follow. One and another would call, "Here, madam, come this
way!" "This is the best path, wifie; follow me," but often Charlie knew
better than either, and selected a path according to his own judgment,
which proved the best of the whole.
On he went, picking his way so slowly and cautiously, now pausing on one
little hillock, now on another, and anon turning aside to avoid a patch
of mud which seemed more than usually suspicious, that all the company
had got some little distance ahead of me. On raising my eyes, which had
been kept pretty closely on my horse's footsteps, I saw my husband on
foot, striving to lead his horse by the bridle from a difficult position
into which he had got, Mr. Wing and his great white floundering animal
lying sideways in the mud, the rider using all his efforts to extricate
himself from the stirrups, and Dr. Philleo standing at a little distance
from his steed, who was doing his best to rise up from a deep bog into
which he had pitched himself. It was a formidable sight! They all called
out with one accord,--
"Oh, do not come this way!"
"Indeed," cried I, "I have no thought of it. Charlie and I know better."
And, trusting to the sagacious creature, he picked his way carefully
along, and carried me safely past the dismounted company. I could not
refrain from a little triumphant flourish with my whip, as I looked back
upon them and watched their progress to their saddles once more.
Three hours had we been thus unpleasantly engaged, and yet we were not
over the "Slough of Despond." At length we drew near its farthest verge.
Here ran a deep stream some five or six feet in width. The gentlemen, as
they reached it, dismounted, and began debating what was to be done.
"Jump off, jump off, madam," cried Mr. Wing, and "Jump off, jump off,"
echoed Dr. Philleo; "we are just consulting how we are to get you
"What do you think about it?" asked my husband.
"Charlie will show you," replied I. "Come, Charlie." And as I raised his
bridle quickly, with a pat on his neck and an encouraging chirp, he
bounded over the stream as lightly as a deer, and landed me safe on
Poor Mr. Wing had fared the worst of the company; the clumsy animal he
rode seeming to be of opinion when he got into a difficulty that he had
nothing to do but to lie down and resign himself to his fate; while his
rider, not being particularly light and agile, was generally undermost,
and half imbedded in the mire before he had quite made up his mind as to
his course of action.
It was therefore a wise movement in him, when he reached the little
stream, to plunge into it and wade across, thus washing out, as much as
possible, the traces of the morning's adventures from himself and his
steed; and the other gentlemen, having no alternative, concluded to
follow his example.
We did not halt long on the rising ground beyond the morass, for we had
a long stretch before us to Bellefontaine, forty-five miles, and those
none of the shortest.
Our horses travelled admirably the whole afternoon, Charlie keeping a
canter all the way; but it was growing dark, and there were no signs of
the landmarks which were to indicate our near approach to the desired
"Can we not stop and rest for a few moments under one of the trees?"
inquired I, for I was almost exhausted with fatigue, and, to add to our
discomfort, a cold, November rain was pouring upon us.
"If it were possible, we would," was the reply; "but see how dark it is
growing. If we should lose our way, it would be worse than being wet and
So we kept on. Just at dark we crossed a clear stream. "That," said my
husband, "is, I think, two miles from Bellefontaine. Cheer up--we shall
soon be there." Quite encouraged, we pursued our way more cheerfully.
Mile after mile we passed, but still no light gleamed friendly through
"We have certainly travelled more than six miles now," said I.
"Yes--that could not have been the two-mile creek."
It was eight o'clock when we reached Bellefontaine. We were ushered into
a large room made cheerful by a huge blazing fire. Mr. Wing and Dr.
Philleo had arrived before us, and there were other travellers, on their
way from the Mississippi. I was received with great kindness and
volubility by the immense hostess, "la grosse Americaine," as she was
called, and she soon installed me in the arm-chair, in the warmest
corner, and in due time set an excellent supper before us.
But her hospitality did not extend to giving up her only bed for my
accommodation. She spread all the things she could muster on the hard
floor before the fire, and did what she could to make me comfortable;
then, observing my husband's solicitude lest I might feel ill from the
effects of the fatigue and rain, she remarked, in tones of admiring
sympathy, "How kind your _companion_ is to you!"--an expression which,
as it was then new to us, amused us not a little.
Our travelling companions started early in the morning for the Fort,
which was but twelve miles distant, and they were so kind as to take
charge of a note to our friends at home, requesting them to send Plante
with the carriage to take us the rest of the distance.
We reached the Portage in safety; and thus ended the first journey by
land that any white woman had made from Green Bay to Fort Winnebago. I
felt not a little raised in my own esteem when my husband informed me
that the distance I had the previous day travelled, from Knaggs's to
Bellefontaine, was sixty-two miles!
COMMENCEMENT OF THE SAUK WAR.
A few weeks after our return, my husband took his mother to Prairie du
Chien for the benefit of medical advice from Dr. Beaumont, of the U.S.
Army. The journey was made in a large open boat down the Wisconsin
River, and it was proposed to take this opportunity to bring back a good
supply of corn for the winter's use of both men and cattle.
The ice formed in the river, however, so early, that after starting
with his load he was obliged to return with it to the Prairie, and wait
until the thick winter's ice enabled him to make a second journey and
bring it up in sleighs--with so great an expense of time, labor, and
exposure were the necessaries of life conveyed from one point to another
through that wild and desolate region!
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