THE LOST ORPHANS.
The prospective journey was the same that we saw Suzanne and Francoise, Joseph and Alix, take with toil and danger, yet with so much pleasure, in 1795. The early company went in a flatboat; these went in a round-bottom boat. The journey of the latter was probably the shorter. Its adventures have never been told, save one line. When several weeks afterwards the boat returned, it brought word that Daniel Mueller had one day dropped dead on the deck and that his little son had fallen overboard and was drowned. The little girls had presumably been taken on to their destination by whoever had been showing the way; but that person’s name and residence, if any of those left in New Orleans had known them, were forgotten. Only the wide and almost trackless region of Attakapas was remembered, and by people to whom every day brought a struggle for their own existence. Besides, the children’s kindred were bound as redemptioners.
Those were days of rapid change in New Orleans. The redemptioners worked their way out of bondage into liberty. At the end of a year or two those who had been taken to plantations near by returned to the city. The town was growing, but the upper part of the river front in faubourg Ste. Marie, now in the heart of the city, was still lined with brick-yards, and thitherward cheap houses and opportunities for market gardening drew the emigrants. They did not colonize, however, but merged into the community about them, and only now and then, casually, met one another. Young Schuber was an exception; he throve as a butcher in the old French market, and courted and married the young Eva Kropp. When the fellow-emigrants occasionally met, their talk was often of poor shoemaker Mueller and his lost children.
No clear tidings of them came. Once the children of some Germans who had driven cattle from Attakapas to sell them in the shambles at New Orleans corroborated to Frank Schuber the death of the father; but where Salome and Dorothea were they could not say, except that they were in Attakapas.
Frank and Eva were specially diligent inquirers after Eva’s lost godchild; as also was Henry Mueller up in or near Woodville, Mississippi. He and his boys were, in their small German way, prospering. He made such effort as he could to find the lost children. One day in the winter of 1820-21 he somehow heard that there were two orphan children named Miller—the Muellers were commonly called Miller—in the town of Natchez, some thirty-five miles away on the Mississippi. He bought a horse and wagon, and, leaving his own children, set out to rescue those of his dead brother. About midway on the road from Woodville to Natchez the Homochitto Creek runs through a swamp which in winter overflows. In here Mueller lost his horse. But, nothing daunted, he pressed on, only to find in Natchez the trail totally disappear.