There remained therefore no alternative but to proceed south to Dixon, or, as it was then called, Ogie’s Ferry, the only certain means of crossing this broad and rapid stream. This route being so much out of our direct course that we could not hope to accomplish it in less than six days, it was necessary to prepare accordingly.
While the wardrobe and provisions were thus in preparation, arrangements were also being made as to our retinue and mode of conveyance.
Mr. Kinzie decided to take with him but two men: Plante and Pierre Roy,—the former to act as guide, on the assurance that he knew every mile of the way, from the Portage to Ogie’s Ferry, and from Ogie’s Ferry to Chicago.
The claims of the different saddle-horses were discussed, and the most eligible one was selected for my use. We hesitated for a time between “Le Gris” and “Souris,” two much-vaunted animals, belonging to Paquette, the interpreter. At length, being determined, like most of my sex, by a regard for exterior, I chose “Le Gris,” and “Souris” was assigned to young Roy; my own little stumpy pony, “Brunet,” being pronounced just the thing for a pack-saddle. My husband rode his own bay horse “Tom,” while Plante, the gayest and proudest of the party, bestrode a fine, large animal called “Jerry,” which had lately been purchased for my use; and thus was our cortege complete.
DEPARTURE FROM FORT WINNEBAGO.
Having taken a tender leave of our friends, the morning of the 8th of March saw us mounted and equipped for our journey. The weather was fine—the streams, already fringed with green, were sparkling in the sun—everything gave promise of an early and genial season. In vain, when we reached the ferry at the foot of the hill on which the fort stood, did Major Twiggs repeat his endeavors to dissuade us from commencing a journey which he assured me would be perilous beyond what I could anticipate. I was resolute.
Our party was augmented by an escort of all the young officers, who politely insisted on accompanying us as far as Duck Creek, four miles distant. Indeed, there were some who would gladly have prosecuted the whole journey with us, and escaped the monotony of their solitary, uneventful life. In our rear followed an ox cart, on which was perched a canoe, destined to transport us over the creek, and also an extensive marsh beyond it, which was invariably, at this season, overflowed with water to a considerable depth. We had much amusement in watching the progress of this vehicle as it bumped and thumped over the road, unconscious hitherto of the dignity of a wheeled carriage.