As the boats might be expected in a few days, it was thought best to begin at once what preparations were in my power towards housekeeping. These were simply the fitting and sewing of my carpets, in which I was kindly assisted by Mrs. Twiggs; and, the wife of one of our Frenchmen having come over from the Agency and made everything tidy and comfortable, the carpets were soon tacked down, and the rooms were ready for the reception of the rest of the furniture.
I had made many fruitless attempts, both in Detroit and Green Bay, to procure a servant-woman to accompany me to my new home. Sometimes one would present herself, but, before we could come to a final agreement, the thoughts of the distance, of the savages, the hardships of the journey, or, perhaps, the objections of friends, would interfere to break off the negotiation; so that I had at length been obliged to rest satisfied with the simple hope held out by my husband, that one of his French employes, with his wife, would be contented to take up their abode with us.
In this state of things, all difficulties seemed to be obviated by the proposal of Major Twiggs, that we should take into our service a young colored girl whom he had brought from Buffalo, in the spring, to wait on Mrs. T. until her own servants should arrive from the South.
Louisa was accordingly sent for, an uncommonly handsome young negress, with an intelligent but very demure countenance, who called herself fifteen years of age, but who, from the progress in vice and iniquity I afterwards discovered her to have made, must have been at least several years older. Be that as it may, she now seemed to have no fault but carelessness and inexperience, both of which I had great hopes she would get the better of, under careful training.
My first week’s visit with Mrs. Twiggs had just expired when word was given that the boats were in sight—the boats that contained our furniture—and the expected arrival of Louis Philippe to visit Queen Victoria could scarcely have created a more universal sensation, than did this announcement in our little community. Although we knew that some hours must yet elapse before they could reach the spot for disembarkation, we were constantly on the watch, and at length all the young officers, followed by as many of the soldiers as were off duty, accompanied Mr. Kinzie down the bank to the landing, to witness and, if necessary, to assist in helping everything safe to land.
Sad was the plight in which matters were found. The water poured out of the corners of the boxes as they were successively hoisted on shore. Too impatient to wait until they could be carried up to the fort, the gentlemen soon furnished themselves with, hammers and hatchets, and fell eagerly to work, opening the boxes to explore the extent of the damage. Alas for the mahogany! not a piece from which the edges and veneering were not starting. It had all the appearance of having lain under the Grande Chute for days. Poor Hamilton was load in his protestations and excuses.