It was midnight before we reached East St. Cloud, and the ferry-boat had stopped running, so that it was a bright morning the 7th of June when I found myself in half a dozen pairs of loving arms. In a few days we made an excursion to the site of my cabin. It was more beautiful than I had thought. On the opposite side of the lake lived Captain Briggs, with a head full of sea-stories, and a New England wife. My hermitage would be greatly improved by such neighbors only one mile distant, and as the captain had lately killed two large bears between his house and the site of mine, there would soon be no more bears. But I must have the loft of my cabin large enough for several beds, as the children insisted on spending their summers with me. Brother Harry bespoke a second room, for he would want a place to stay all night when out hunting with his friends, and my hermitage began to grow into a hotel.
I had commenced arrangements with workmen, when Harry said to me:
“Sis, Elizabeth and I have talked this matter over, and if you persist, we will take out a writ of lunacy. There is not a man in this territory who would not say on oath, that you are insane to think of going where the bears would eat you if the Indians did not kill you. The troops are ordered away from the forts; you’ll get frontier life enough with us, for we are going to have music with the Indians.”
Next day the troops from Fort Ripley marched past, on their way to Kansas, to put down the Free State party. Bleeding Kansas was called on for more blood, and United States soldiers were to sacrifice the friends of freedom on the altar of slavery. The people of Minnesota were left without protection from savages, that the people of Kansas might be given over to the tender mercies of men no less barbarous than the Sioux.
I had run away from the irrepressible conflict, feeling that my work was done; had fled to the great Northwest—forever consecrated to freedom by solemn act and deed of the nation—thinking I should see no more of our national curse, when here it confronted me as it had never done before.
My cabin perished in a night, like Jonah’s gourd—perished that liberty might be crushed in Kansas; for without a garrison at Fort Ripley, my project was utterly insane.
THE MINNESOTA DICTATOR.
Every day, from my arrival in St. Cloud, evidence had been accumulating of the truth of that stage-whisper about Gen. Lowrie, who lived in a semi-barbaric splendor, in an imposing house on the bank of the Mississippi, where he kept slaves, bringing them from and returning them to his Tennessee estate, at his convenience, and no man saying him nay.