We left amid the good wishes and laughter of our few remaining acquaintances. Our wagon had been provided with a pair of excellent travelling horses, and, sister Margaret and myself being accommodated with the best pacers the country could afford, we set off in high spirits towards the Aux Plaines—our old friend, Billy Caldwell (the Sau-ga-nash), with our brother Robert, and Gholson Kercheval, accompanying us to that point of our journey.
There was no one at Barney Lawton's when we reached there, save a Frenchman and a small number of Indians. My sister and I dismounted, and entered the dwelling, the door of which stood open. Two Indians were seated on the floor, smoking. They raised their eyes as we appeared, and never shall I forget the expression of wonder and horror depicted on the countenances of both. Their lips relaxed until the pipe of one fell upon the floor. Their eyes seemed starting from their heads, and raising their outspread hands, as if to wave us from them, they slowly ejaculated, "Manitou!" (a spirit.)
As we raised our masks, and, smiling, came forward to shake hands with them, they sprang to their feet and fairly uttered a cry of delight at the sight of our familiar faces.
"Bon-jour, bon-jour, Maman!" was their salutation, and they instantly plunged out of doors to relate to their companions what had happened.
Our afternoon's ride was over a prairie stretching away to the northeast No living creature was to be seen upon its broad expanse, but flying and circling over our heads were innumerable flocks of curlews,
"Screaming their wild notes to the listening waste."
Their peculiar, shrill cry of "crack, crack, crack—rackety, rackety, rackety," repeated from the throats of dozens, as they sometimes stooped quite close to our ears, became at length almost unbearable. It seemed as if they had lost their senses in the excitement of so unusual and splendid a cortege in their hitherto desolate domain.
The accelerated pace of our horses, as we approached a beautiful, wooded knoll, warned us that this was to be our place of repose for the night. These animals seem to know by instinct a favorable encamping-ground, and this was one of the most lovely imaginable.
The trees, which near the lake had, owing to the coldness and tardiness of the season, presented the pale-yellow appearance of unfledged goslings, were here bursting into full leaf. The ground around was carpeted with flowers—we could not bear to have them crushed by the felling of a tree and the pitching of our tent among them. The birds sent forth their sweetest notes in the warm, lingering sunlight, and the opening buds of the young hickory and sassafras filled the air with perfume.
Nothing could be more perfect than our enjoyment of this sylvan and beautiful retreat after our ride in the glowing sun. The children were in ecstasies. They delighted to find ways of making themselves useful—to pile up the saddles—to break boughs for the fire—to fill the little kettles with water for Petaille and Lecuyer, the Frenchmen, who were preparing our supper.
Their amusement at the awkward movements of the horses after they were spancelled knew no bounds. To our little nephew Edwin everything was new, and Josette, who had already made more than one horseback journey to St. Joseph, manifested all the pride of an old traveller in explaining to him whatever was novel or unaccountable.
They were not the last to spring up at the call "how! how!" on the following morning.
The fire was replenished, the preparations for breakfast commenced, and the Frenchmen dispatched to bring up the horses in readiness for an early start.
Harry and Josette played their parts, under our direction, in preparing the simple meal, and we soon seated ourselves, each with cup and knife, around the table-mat. The meal was over, but no men, no horses appeared. When another half-hour had passed, my husband took Harry and commenced exploring in search of the missing ones.
The day wore on, and first one and then another would make his appearance to report progress. Petaille and Lecuyer at length brought two of the horses, but the others could nowhere be found. In time, Mr. Kinzie and Harry returned, wet to their knees by the dew upon the long prairie-grass, but with no tidings. Again the men were dispatched after having broken their fast, but returned unsuccessful as before.
The morning had been passed by our party at the encampment in speculating upon the missing animals. Could they have been stolen by the Indians? Hardly: these people seldom committed robberies in time of peace—never upon our family, whom they regarded as their best friends. The horses would doubtless be found. They had probably been carelessly fastened the preceding evening, and had therefore been able to stray farther than was their wont.
A council was held, at which it was decided to send Grignon back to Chicago to get some fresh horses from Gholson Kercheval, and return as speedily as possible. If on his return our encampment were deserted, he might conclude we had found the horses and proceeded to Fox River, where he would doubtless overtake us.
He had not been gone more than an hour before, slowly hopping out of a point of woods to the north of us (a spot which each of the seekers averred he had explored over and over again), and making directly for the place where we were, appeared the vexatious animals. They came up as demurely as if nothing had happened, and seemed rather surprised to be received with a hearty scolding, instead of being patted and caressed as usual.
It was the work of a very short half-hour to strike and pack the tent, stow away the mats and kettles, saddle the horses, and mount for our journey.
"Whoever pleases may take my place in the carriage," said our mother. "I have travelled so many years on horseback, that I find any other mode of conveyance too fatiguing."
So, spite of her sixty years, she mounted sister Margaret's pacer with the activity of a girl of sixteen.
Lieutenant Foster had left us early in the morning, feeling it necessary to rejoin his command, and now, having seen us ready to set off, with a serene sky above us, and all things "right and tight" for the journey, our friend the Sau-ga-nash took leave of us, and retraced his steps towards Chicago.
We pursued our way through a lovely country of alternate glade and forest, until we reached the Fox River. The current ran clear and rippling along, and, as we descended the steep bank to the water, the question, so natural to a traveller in an unknown region, presented itself, "Is it fordable?"
Petaille, to whom the ground was familiar, had not yet made his appearance Lecuyer was quite ignorant upon the subject. The troops had evidently preceded us by this very trail. True, but they were on horseback—the difficulty was, could we get the carriage through? It must be remembered that the doubt was not about the depth of the water, but about the hardness of the bottom of the stream.
It was agreed that two or three of the equestrians should make the trial first. My mother, Lecuyer, and myself advanced cautiously across to the opposite bank, each choosing a different point for leaving the water, in order to find the firmest spot. The bottom was hard and firm until we came near the shore; then it yielded a little. With one step, however, we were each on dry ground.
"Est-il beau?" called my husband, who was driving.
"Yes, John, come just here, it is perfectly good."
"No, no—go a little farther down. See the white gravel just there—it will be firmer still, there."
Such were the contradictory directions given. He chose the latter, and when it wanted but one step more to the bank, down sunk both horses, until little more than their backs were visible.
The white gravel proved to be a bed of treacherous yellow clay, which, gleaming through the water, had caused so unfortunate a deception.
With frantic struggles, for they were nearly suffocated with mud and water, the horses made desperate efforts to free themselves from the harness. My husband sprang out upon the pole. "Some one give me a knife," he cried. I was back in the water in a moment, and, approaching as near as I dared, handed him mine from the scabbard around my neck.
"Whatever you do, do not cut the traces," cried his mother.
He severed some of the side-straps, when, just as he had reached the extremity of the pole, and was stretching forward to separate the head-couplings, one of the horses gave a furious plunge, which caused his fellow to rear, and throw himself nearly backwards. My husband was between them. For a moment we thought he was gone—trampled down by the excited animals; but he presently showed himself, nearly obscured by the mud and water. With the agility of a cat, Harry, who was near him, now sprang forward on the pole, and in an instant, with his sharp jack-knife which he had ready, divided the straps that confined their heads.
The horses were at this moment lying floating on the water—one apparently dead, the other as if gasping out his last breath. But hardly did they become sensible of the release of their heads from bondage, than they made, simultaneously, another furious effort to free themselves from the pole, to which they were still attached by the neck-strap.
Failing in this, they tried another expedient, and, by a few judicious twists and turns, succeeded in wrenching the pole asunder, and finally carried it off in triumph across the river again, and up the bank, where they stood waiting to decide what were the next steps to be taken.
Here was a predicament! A few hours before, we had thought ourselves uncomfortable enough, because some of our horses were missing. Now, a greater evil had befallen us. The wagon was in the river, the harness cut to pieces, and, what was worse, carried off in the most independent manner, by Tom and his companion; the pole was twisted to fragments, and there was not so much as a stick on our side of the river with which to replace it.
At this moment, a whoop from the opposite bank, echoed by two or three hearty ones from our party, announced the reappearance of Petaille Grignon. He dismounted and took charge of the horses, who were resting themselves after their fatigues under a shady tree, and by this time Lecuyer had crossed the river, and now joined him in bringing back the delinquents.
In the mean time we had been doing our best to minister to our sister Margaret. She, with her little son Edwin, had been in the wagon at the time of the accident, and it had been a work of some difficulty to get them out and bring them on horseback to shore. The effect of the agitation and excitement was to throw her into a fit of the ague, and she now lay blue and trembling among the long grass of the little prairie which extended along the bank. The tent, which had been packed in the rear of the wagon, was too much saturated with mud and water to admit of its being used as a shelter; it could only be stretched in the sun to dry. We opened an umbrella over our poor sister's head, and now began a discussion of ways and means to repair damages. The first thing was to cut a new pole for the wagon, and for this, the master and men must recross the river and choose an iron-tree out of the forest.
Then, for the harness. With provident care, a little box had been placed under the seat of the wagon, containing an awl, waxed ends, and various other little conveniences exactly suited to an emergency like the present.
It was question and answer, like Cock Robin:
"Who can mend the harness?"
"I can, for I learned when I was a young girl to make shoes as an accomplishment, and I can surely now, as a matter of usefulness and duty, put all those wet, dirty pieces of leather together."
So we all seated ourselves on the grass, under the shade of the only two umbrellas we could muster.
I stitched away diligently, blistering my hands, I must own, in no small degree.
A suitable young tree had been brought, and the hatchets, without which one never travels in the woods, were busy fashioning it into shape, when a peculiar hissing noise was heard, and instantly the cry,—
"Un serpent sonnette! A rattlesnake!"
All sprang to their feet, even the poor, shaking invalid, just in time to see the reptile glide past within three inches of my mother's feet, while the men assailed the spot it had left with whips, missiles, and whatever would help along the commotion.
This little incident proved an excellent remedy for the ague. One excitement drives away another, and by means of this (upon the homoeopathic principle) sister Margaret was so much improved that by the time all the mischiefs were repaired, she was ready to take her place in the cavalcade, as bright and cheerful as the rest of us.
So great had been the delay occasioned by all these untoward circumstances, that our afternoon's ride was but a short one, bringing us no farther than the shores of a beautiful sheet of water, now known as Crystal Lake. Its clear surface was covered with loons, and Poules d'Eau, a species of rail; with which, at certain seasons, this region abounds.
The Indians have the genius of Aesop for depicting animal life and character, and there is among them a fable or legend illustrative of every peculiarity in the personal appearance, habits, or dispositions of each variety of the animal creation.
The back of the little rail is very concave, or hollow. The Indians tell us that it became so in the following manner:—
STORY OF THE LITTLE RAIL, OR Poule d'Eau
There is supposed, by most of the Northwestern tribes, to exist an invisible being, corresponding to the "Genie" of Oriental story. Without being exactly the father of evil, Nan-nee-bo-zho is a spirit whose office it is to punish what is amiss. He is represented, too, as constantly occupied in entrapping and making examples of all the animals that come in his way.
One pleasant evening, as he walked along the banks of a lake, he saw a flock of ducks, sailing and enjoying themselves on the blue waters. He called to them:
"Ho! come with me into my lodge, and I will teach you to dance!" Some of the ducks said among themselves, "It is Nan-nee-bo-zho; let us not go." Others were of a contrary opinion, and, his words being fair, and his voice insinuating, a few turned their faces towards the land—all the rest soon followed, and, with many pleasant quackings, trooped after him, and entered his lodge.
When there, he first took an Indian sack, with a wide mouth, which he tied by the strings around his neck, so that it would hang over his shoulders, leaving the mouth unclosed. Then, placing himself in the centre of the lodge, he ranged the ducks in a circle around him.
"Now," said he, "you must all shut your eyes tight; whoever opens his eyes at all, something dreadful will happen to him. I will take my Indian flute and play upon it, and you will, at the word I shall give, open your eyes, and commence dancing, as you see me do."
The ducks obeyed, shutting their eyes tight, and keeping time to the music by stepping from one foot to the other, all impatient for the dancing to begin.
Presently a sound was heard like a smothered "quack," but the ducks did not dare to open their eyes.
Again, and again, the sound of the flute would be interrupted, and a gurgling cry of "qu-a-a-ck" be heard. There was one little duck, much smaller than the rest, who, at this juncture, could not resist the temptation to open one eye, cautiously. She saw Nan-nee-bo-zho, as he played his flute, holding it with one hand, stoop a little at intervals and seize the duck nearest him, which he throttled and stuffed into the bag on his shoulders. So, edging a little out of the circle, and getting nearer the door, which had been left partly open, to admit the light, she cried out,—
"Open your eyes—Nan-nee-bo-zho is choking you all and putting you into his bag!"
With that she flew, but Nan-nee-bo-zho pounced upon her. His hand grasped her back, yet, with desperate force, she released herself and gained the open air. Her companions flew, quacking and screaming, after her. Some escaped, and some fell victims to the sprite.
The little duck had saved her life, but she had lost her beauty. She ever after retained the attitude she had been forced into in her moment of danger—her back pressed down in the centre, and her head and neck unnaturally stretched forward into the air.
RETURN JOURNEY, CONTINUED.
The third day of our journey rose brilliantly clear, like the two preceding ones, and we shaped our course more to the north than we had hitherto done, in the direction of Big-foot Lake, now known by the somewhat hackneyed appellation, Lake of Geneva.
Our journey this day was without mishaps or disasters of any kind. The air was balmy, the foliage of the forests fresh and fragrant, the little brooks clear and sparkling—everything in nature spoke the praises of the beneficent Creator.
It is in scenes like this, far removed from the bustle, the strife, and the sin of civilized life, that we most fully realize the presence of the great Author of the Universe. Here can the mind most fully adore his majesty and goodness, for here only is the command obeyed, "Let all the earth keep silence before Him!"
It cannot escape observation that the deepest and most solemn devotion is in the hearts of those who, shut out from the worship of God in temples made with hands, are led to commune with him amid the boundless magnificence that his own power has framed.
This day was not wholly without incident. As we stopped for our noon-tide refreshment, and dismounting threw ourselves on the fresh herbage just at the verge of a pleasant thicket, we were startled by a tender bleating near us, and presently, breaking its way through the low branches, there came upon us a sweet little dappled fawn, evidently in search of its mother. It did not seem in the least frightened at the sight of us. As poor Selkirk might have been parodied,—
It was so unacquainted with man, Its tameness was charming to us.
But the vociferous delight of the children soon drove it bounding again into the woods, and all hopes of catching it for a pet were at once at an end.
We had travelled well this day, and were beginning to feel somewhat fatigued, when, just before sunset, we came upon a ridge, overlooking one of the loveliest little dells imaginable. It was an oak opening, and browsing under the shade of the tall trees which were scattered around were the cattle and horses of the soldiers, who had got thus far on their journey. Two or three white tents were pitched in the bottom of the valley, beside a clear stream. The camp-fires were already lighted, and the men, singly or in groups, were busied in their various preparations for their own comfort, or that of their animals.
Lieutenant Foster came forward with great delight to welcome our arrival, and accepted without hesitation an invitation to join our mess again, as long as we should be together.
We soon found a pleasant encamping-ground, far enough removed from the other party to secure us against all inconvenience, and our supper having received the addition of a kettle of fine fresh milk, kindly brought us by Mrs. Gardiner, the hospital matron, who with her little covered cart formed no unimportant feature in the military group, we partook of our evening meal with much hilarity and enjoyment.
If people are ever companionable, it is when thrown together under circumstances like the present. There has always been sufficient incident through the day to furnish themes for discourse, and subjects of merriment, as long as the company feel disposed for conversation, which is, truth to tell, not an unconscionable length of time after their supper is over.
The poor Lieutenant looked grave enough when we set out in advance of him the next morning. None of his party were acquainted with the road; but, after giving him directions both general and particular, Mr. Kinzie promised to blaze a tree, or set up a chip for a guide, at every place which appeared more than usually doubtful.
We now found ourselves in a much more diversified country than any we had hitherto travelled. Gently swelling hills, lovely valleys, and bright sparkling streams were the features of the landscape. But there was little animate life. Now and then a shout from the leader of the party (for, according to custom, we travelled Indian file) would call our attention to a herd of deer "loping," as the Westerners say, through the forest; or an additional spur would be given to the horses on the appearance of some small dark object, far distant on the trail before us. But the game invariably contrived to disappear before we could reach it, and it was out of the question to leave the beaten track for a regular hunt.
Soon after mid-day, we descended a long, sloping knoll, and by a sudden turn came full in view of the beautiful sheet of water denominated Gros-pied by the French, Maunk-suck by the natives, and by ourselves Big-foot, from the chief whose village overlooked its waters. Bold, swelling hills jutted forward into the clear blue expanse, or retreated slightly to afford a green, level nook, as a resting-place for the dwelling of man. On the nearer shore stretched a bright, gravelly beach, across which coursed here and there a pure, sparkling rivulet to join the larger sheet of water.
On a rising ground at the foot of one of the bold bluffs in the middle distance, a collection of neat wigwams formed, with their surrounding gardens, no unpleasant feature in the picture.
A shout of delight burst involuntarily from the whole party, as this charming landscape met our view. "It was like the Hudson, only less bold—no, it was like the lake of the Forest Cantons, in the picture of the Chapel of William Tell! What could be imagined more enchanting? Oh I if our friends at the East could but enjoy it with us!"
We paused long to admire, and then spurred on, skirting the head of the lake, and were soon ascending the broad platform on which stood the village of Maunk-suck, or Big-foot.
The inhabitants, who had witnessed our approach from a distance, were all assembled in front of their wigwams to greet us, if friends—if otherwise, whatever the occasion should demand. It was the first time such a spectacle had ever presented itself to their wondering eyes. Their salutations were not less cordial than we expected. "Shaw-nee-aw-kee" and his mother, who was known throughout the tribe by the touching appellation "Our friend's wife," were welcomed most kindly, and an animated conversation commenced, which I could understand only so far as it was conveyed by gestures; so I amused myself by taking a minute survey of all that met my view.
The chief was a large, raw-boned, ugly Indian, with a countenance bloated by intemperance, and with a sinister, unpleasant expression. He had a gay-colored handkerchief upon his head, and was otherwise attired in his best, in compliment to the strangers.
It was to this chief that Chambly, or, as he is now called, Shaw-bee-nay, Billy Caldwell, and Robinson were dispatched, by Dr. Wolcott, their Agent, during the Winnebago war, in 1821, to use their earnest endeavors to prevent this chief and his band from joining the hostile Indians. With some difficulty they succeeded, and were thus the means, doubtless, of saving the lives of all the settlers who lived exposed upon the frontier.
Among the various groups of his people, there was none attracted my attention so forcibly as a young man of handsome face, and a figure that was striking even where all were fine and symmetrical. He too had a gay handkerchief on his head, a shirt of the brightest lemon-colored calico, an abundance of silver ornaments, and, what gave his dress a most fanciful appearance, one legging of blue and the other of bright scarlet. I was not ignorant that this peculiar feature in his toilet indicated a heart suffering from the tender passion. The flute, which 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 strongest.
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 stockings.
"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 assisted in.
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 ourselves.
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 demand consideration.
"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 horse.
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 Fort Howard.
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 Agency."
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 primitive appearance.
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 bourgeois?
"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 work.
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 Dandy," Four-Legs.
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 still.
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 persuasion.
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 men?"
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 work.
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 beautiful.
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 mutual congratulation.
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 violent passion.
"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 of mischief.
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 example.
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 Indian.
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 attendance altogether.
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 its value.
Meantime, week after week wore on, and still was the return of "the master" delayed.
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 remedied.
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 have attained.
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 a handful.
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 them.
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.
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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 plucked.
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 taken place.
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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 departed relatives.
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 dead."
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 general carouse.
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 concluded.
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 departed.
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.
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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 manner possible."
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 seething kettle.
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 head.
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 lodge.
"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 smoke."
"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 good news?"
"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 open.
"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 from you."
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 messenger arrived.
"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."