Major and Mrs. Twiggs, and a few of the younger officers (for nearly all of the older ones were absent), with our brother Robert, or, as he is called throughout all the Indian tribes, “Bob,” gave us a cordial welcome—how cordial those alone can know who have come, like us, to a remote, isolated home in the wilderness. The Major insisted on our taking possession at once of vacant quarters in the fort, instead of at “the Agency,” as had been proposed.
“No—we must be under the same roof with them. Mrs. Twiggs had been without a companion of her own sex for more than four months, and would certainly not hear of a separation now. But we must be their guests until the arrival of the boats containing our furniture,” which, under the care of our old acquaintance, Hamilton Arndt, was making its way slowly up from Green Bay.
A dinner had been prepared for us. This is one of the advantages of the zigzag approach by the Fox River—travellers never take their friends by surprise; and when the whole circle sat down to the hospitable board, we were indeed a merry company.
After dinner Mrs. Twiggs showed me the quarters assigned to us, on the opposite side of the spacious hall. They consisted of two large rooms on each of the three floors or stories of the building. On the ground-floor the front room was vacant. The one in the rear was to be the sleeping-apartment, as was evident from a huge, unwieldy bedstead, of proportions amply sufficient to have accommodated Og, the King of Bashan, with Mrs. Og and the children into the bargain. We could not repress our laughter; but the bedstead was nothing to another structure which occupied a second corner of the apartment.
This edifice had been built under the immediate superintendence of one of our young lieutenants, and it was plain to be seen that upon it both he and the soldiers who fabricated it had exhausted all their architectural skill. The timbers of which it was composed had been grooved and carved; the pillars that supported the front swelled in and out in a most fanciful manner; the doors were not only panelled, but radiated in a way to excite the admiration of all unsophisticated eyes. A similar piece of workmanship had been erected in each set of quarters, to supply the deficiency of closets, an inconvenience which had never occurred, until too late, to the bachelors who planned them. The three apartments of which each structure was composed, were unquestionably designed for clothes-press, store-room, and china-closet; such, at least, were the uses to which Mrs. Twiggs had appropriated the one assigned to her. There was this slight difficulty, that in the latter the shelves were too close to admit of setting in even a gravy-boat, but they made up in number what was wanting in space. We christened the whole affair, in honor of its projector, a “Davis,” thus placing the first laurel on the brow of one who was afterwards to signalize himself in Cabinet making of quite a different character.