But more than gazing and admiring had to be done that day, so after a hasty dinner, a sheltered spot was sought for the erection of the shanties, which were to serve them as sleeping-rooms until the house should be built. This was soon found, and in a couple of hours two good-sized ones were made; the walls were formed of interwoven branches, and the roofs of bark; the fourth side of the men’s was to be left open, as a fire was kept up every night in front of it, to scare away the wolves, and other wild beasts, should there be any in the neighborhood.
The next morning a council was held as to their future proceedings; to prepare a house was, of course, a work to be commenced immediately, but it required some deliberation as to how they should set about it. Mr. Jones had taken a great liking to the family, and he now proved his goodwill by declaring that he would “stay awhile, and help them a bit.” But first of all, the goods must be unpacked, and a shed of some kind made to receive them. This was set about at once, and by dinner time it was completed, the wagon and cart unloaded, and their contents arranged as most convenient to Mrs. Lee. The rest of the day was occupied in chopping down trees for the principal building, and very hard work it was, especially to Tom, whose young arms and back ached sadly when he went to bed that night. By the end of a week of this toil, a good number of logs had been prepared, and Uncle John proposed that he and Tom should make their way to the settler’s, about ten miles distant, and see if there were any men he could ask to help put up the house, as the raising of the great logs would prove a slow and laborious task to so few workmen as they now numbered. He was provided with a pocket-compass, a rifle, and a good map of the country, and there was no real danger to be feared, so Mrs. and Mr. Lee readily consented, and accordingly Uncle John mounted on one of Mr. Jones’s horses, and Tom on his father’s, which was one of the four that had drawn the wagon, with a bag of provisions slung behind him, and an axe to blaze the track, started the next morning by day-break. Although they were not expected to return until the next day, the night passed anxiously with the little family, and it was a joyful relief to them when about three in the afternoon they heard Tom’s well-known halloo from the western wood, and presently saw him appear, followed by two strangers, and his uncle driving a fine cow.
“Here we are, mother, safe and sound!” exclaimed the boy, as he jumped from his horse, and ran to kiss her, “and a fine time we’ve had!”
“We’ve been successful you see, sister,” said Uncle John, who had also dismounted, and came up with the cow; “Mr. Watson and his son have very kindly consented to help us; and isn’t this a beauty?”
“Indeed, ma’am,” said Mr. Watson, shaking her hand heartily, “it’s but a trifling way of showing how well pleased we are to get neighbors. We have been living some six years out here, and never had a house nearer than Painted Posts, a good thirty miles off. My wife says she hopes to be good friends with you, and when you are fairly settled she will come over. She’s English, too, and longs sadly to talk about the old country with some one just from it.”