We could not wait for our breakfast, but gathered round La Grosse Americaine like a parcel of children while she cut and spread slices of bread-and-butter for us.
After our regular meal was finished, it was decided that sister Margaret should take Josette, and return with Mata to open the house and make it ready for our reception. It had been the head-quarters of militia, Indians, and stragglers of various descriptions during our absence, and we could easily imagine that a little “misrule and unreason” might have had sway for that period.
We had yet seventy-two miles, by the devious winding course of the river, over first the beautiful waters of Lac de Boeuf, and then through the low, marshy lands that spread away to the Portage. An attempt was made on the part of one of the gentlemen to create a little excitement among the ladies as we approached the spot where it had been supposed the Sauks might pass on their way to the Chippewa country.
“Who knows,” said he, gravely, “but they may be lurking in this neighborhood yet? If so, we shall probably have some signal. We must be on the alert!”
Some of the ladies began to turn pale and look about them. After an interval of perfect silence, a low, prolonged whistle was heard. There was so much agitation, and even actual terror, that the mischievous author of the trick was obliged to confess at once, and receive a hearty scolding for the pain he had caused.
Just before sunset of the second day from Gleason’s we reached our home. Every thing was radiant with neatness and good order. With the efficient aid of our good Manaigre and his wife, the house had been whitewashed from the roof to the door-sill, a thorough scrubbing and cleansing effected, the carpets unpacked and spread upon the floors, the furniture arranged, and, though last not least, a noble supper smoked upon the board by the time we had made, once more, a civilized toilet.
Many of our friends from the Fort were there to greet us, and a more happy or thankful party has seldom been assembled.
SURRENDER OF WINNEBAGO PRISONERS.
The war was now considered at an end. The news of the battle of the Bad Axe, where the regulars, the militia, and the steamboat Warrior combined, had made a final end of the remaining handful of Sauks, had reached us and restored tranquillity to the hearts and homes of the frontier settlers.
It may seem wonderful that an enemy so few in number and so insignificant in resources could have created such a panic, and required so vast an amount of opposing force to subdue them. The difficulty had been simply in never knowing where to find them, either to attack or guard against them. Probably at the outset every military man thought and felt like the noble old veteran General Brady. “Give me two infantry companies mounted,” said he, “and I will engage to whip the Sauks out of the country in one week!”