Although, according to this calculation, we had sufficient remaining of our stores to carry us to the end of our journey, yet my husband took the precaution of begging Mrs. Kellogg to bake us another bag of biscuits, in case of accidents, and he likewise suggested to Mr. Kellogg the prudence of furnishing himself with something more than his limited allowance; but the good man objected that he was unwilling to burden his horse more than was absolutely necessary, seeing that, at this season of the year, we were obliged to carry fodder for the animals, in addition to the rest of their load. It will be seen that we had reason to rejoice in our own foresight.
My experience of the previous night had rendered me somewhat less fastidious than when I commenced my journey, so that, when introduced to our sleeping-apartment, which I found we were to share with six men, travellers like ourselves, my only feeling was one of thankfulness that each bed was furnished with a full suit of blue checked curtains, which formed a very tolerable substitute for a dressing-room.
ROCK RIVER—HOURS OF TROUBLE.
It was late on the following day (March 13th) when we took leave of our kind hostess. She loaded us with cakes, good wishes, and messages to her sister Dixon and the children. We journeyed pleasantly along through a country beautiful in spite of its wintry appearance.
There was a house at Buffalo Grove, at which we stopped for half an hour, and where a nice-looking young girl presented us with some maple-sugar of her own making. She entertained us with the history of a contest between two rival claimants for the patronage of the stage-wagon, the proprietors of which had not decided whether to send it by Buffalo Grove or by another route, which she pointed out to us, at no great distance. The driver, she took care to inform us, was in favor of the former; and the blush with which she replied in the affirmative to our inquiry, “Is he a young man?” explained the whole matter satisfactorily.
At length, just at sunset, we reached the dark, rapid waters of the Rock River. The ferry which we had travelled so far out of our way to take advantage of, proved to be merely a small boat or skiff, the larger one having been swept off into the stream, and carried down in the breaking-up of the ice, the week previous.
My husband’s first care was to get me across. He placed me with the saddles, packs, etc. in the boat, and as, at that late hour, no time was to be lost, he ventured, at the same time, to hold the bridles of the two most docile horses, to guide them in swimming the river.
When we had proceeded a few rods from the shore, we were startled by a loud puffing and blowing near us, and looking around, to our great surprise, discovered little Brunet just upon our “weather-bow.” Determined not to be outdone by his model, Jerry, he had taken to the water on his own responsibility, and arrived at the opposite shore as soon as any of the party.