It was the fault of the men, of the weather, of the way the things were packed. “Confound it! he had taken the best care of the things he possibly could—better than he had ever taken before—it would get done!”
There was nothing but to be patient and make the best of it. And when the pretty sideboard and work-table had been thoroughly rubbed and set up, and all the little knick-knacks arranged on the mantel-piece—when the white curtains were hung at the windows, and the chairs and dining-table each in its proper place in relation to the piano, our parlor was pronounced “magnificent.” At least so seemed to think Hamilton, who came to give one admiring look, and to hear the music of the piano, which was a perfect novelty to him. His description of it to the young officers, after his return to the Bay, was expressive of his admiration and wonder—“There it stood on its four legs! Anybody might go up and touch it!”
In due time the dinner- and tea-sets were carefully bestowed in the “Davis,” together with sundry jars of sweetmeats that I had prepared in Detroit; the iron and tin utensils were placed in a neat cupboard in the kitchen, of which my piano-box supplied the frame; the barrel of eggs and tubs of butter, brought all the way from Ohio, were ranged in the store-room; a suitable quantity of salt pork and flour was purchased from the commissary; and, there being no lack of game of every description, the offering of our red children, we were ready to commence housekeeping.
The first dinner in her own home is an era in the life of a young housekeeper. I shall certainly never forget mine. While I was in the lower regions superintending my very inexpert little cook, my husband made his appearance, to say that, as the payment (then the all-absorbing topic of interest) would not commence until afternoon, he had invited M. Rolette, Mr. Hempstead, and four other gentlemen to dine with us.
“So unexpected—so unprepared for?”
“Never mind; give them anything you have. They have been living for some days in tents, and anything will taste well to them.”
My dinner had been intended to consist chiefly of a venison pasty, and fortunately the only dish among my store was of very large proportions, so that there was already smoking in the oven a pie of a size nearly equal to the famous Norwich pudding; thus, with some trifling additions to the bill of fare, we made out very well, and the master of the house had the satisfaction of hearing the impromptu dinner very much commended by his six guests.
INDIAN PAYMENT—MRS. WASHINGTON.
There were two divisions of the Winnebago Indians, one of which was paid by the Agent, at the Portage, the other at Prairie du Chien, by General Street. The first, between four and five thousand in number, received, according to treaty stipulations, fifteen thousand dollars annually, besides a considerable amount of presents, and a certain number of rations of bread and pork, to be issued in times of emergency throughout the year.