Soon my husband joined us. He had been engaged in attending to the comfort of his horses, and assisting his men in making their fire, and pitching their tent, which the rising storm made a matter of some difficulty.
From the Indian he learned that we were in what was called the Big Woods, or “Piche’s Grove,” from a Frenchman of that name living not far from the spot—that the river we had crossed was the Fox River—that he could guide us to Piche’s, from which the road was perfectly plain, or even into Chicago if we preferred—but that we had better remain encamped for that day, as there was a storm coming on, and in the mean time he would go and shoot some ducks for our dinner and supper. He was accordingly furnished with powder and shot, and set off again for game without delay.
I had put into my pocket, on leaving home, a roll of scarlet ribbon, in case a stout string should be wanted, and I now drew it forth, and with the knife which hung around my neck I cut off a couple of yards for each of the little girls. They received it with great delight, and their mother, dividing each portion into two, tied a piece to each of the little clubs into which their hair was knotted on the temples. They laughed, and exclaimed “Saum!” as they gazed at each other, and their mother joined in their mirth, although, as I thought, a little unwilling to display her maternal exultation before a stranger.
The tent being all in order, my husband came for me, and we took leave of our friends in the wigwam, with grateful hearts.
The storm was raging without. The trees were bending and cracking around us, and the air was completely filled with the wild-fowl screaming and quacking as they made their way southward before the blast. Our tent was among the trees not far from the river. My husband took me to the bank to look for a moment at what we had escaped. The wind was sweeping down from the north in a perfect hurricane. The water was filled with masses of snow and ice, dancing along upon the torrent, over which were hurrying thousands of wild-fowl, making the woods resound to their deafening clamor.
Had we been one hour later, we could not possibly have crossed the stream, and there would have been nothing for us but to have remained and starved in the wilderness. Could we be sufficiently grateful to that kind Providence that had brought us safely through such dangers?
The men had cut down an immense tree, and built a fire against it, but the wind shifted so continually that every five minutes the tent would become completely filled with smoke, so that I was driven into the open air for breath. Then I would seat myself on one end of the huge log, as near the fire as possible, for it was dismally cold, but the wind seemed actuated by a kind of caprice, for in whatever direction I took my seat, just that way came the smoke and hot ashes, puffing in my face until I was nearly blinded. Neither veil nor silk handkerchief afforded an effectual protection, and I was glad when the arrival of our huntsmen, with a quantity of ducks, gave me an opportunity of diverting my thoughts from my own sufferings, by aiding the men to pick them and get them ready for our meal.