Isabella has been invited to eat her mid-day meal with a family in one of the Prairie Schooners. She provided tea, which they’d not had for at least a month.* They provided hominy.
The family has been on the road for three months and had come from Illinois. They expected the rest of the trip to Wet Mountain Valley to take another month. En route, they had lost several oxen and, heartbreakingly, one child.**
“Owing to their long isolation and the monotony of the march, they had lost count of events, and seemed like people of another planet,” Isabella says.
They invite her to travel with them but they are moving too slow for her timetable.
“We parted with mutual expressions of good will, and as their white tilt went ‘hull down’ in the distance on the lonely prairie sea, I felt sadder than I often feel taking leave of old acquaintances. That night they must have been nearly frozen, camping out in the deep snow in the fierce wind. I met afterwards 2,000 lean Texas cattle, herded by three wild-looking men on horseback, followed by two wagons containing women, children, and rifles.*** They had traveled 1,000 miles. Then I saw two prairie wolves, like jackals, with gray fur, cowardly creatures, which fled from me in long leaps.”
* I imagine going for a month without a sip of coffee or bite of chocolate. It makes me so sad that I stop imagining it.
** We forget how fragile childhood was.
*** I want to know this story.