Isabella has left the Plum Creek ranch — the one that she says has a “screw loose” — but only makes it four miles before the storm makes travel impossible. Fortunately, there is a boarding house, where she and 11 other “wretched travelers” are able to take shelter.
Because she has learned the fine art of making herself useful, she spent the two hours she is there “paring potatoes and making scones.” When she left, her hosts would accept no money in exchange for her time indoors.
The storm did let up long enough for Isabella to re-saddle Birdie and ride four more miles. When she crossed a frozen creek, “the ice … broke and let the pony through, to her great alarm.* I cannot describe my feelings on this ride, produced by utter loneliness, the silence and dumbness of all things, the snow failing quietly without wind, the obliterated mountains, the darkness, the intense cold, and the unusual and appalling aspect of nature. There was nothing to be afraid of; and though I can’t exactly say I enjoyed the ride, yet there was the pleasant feeling of gaining health every hour.”
Who hasn’t been there?
Fortunately, Isabella found a “most romantically situated” cabin in which to spend the night. There were 11 men, plus the family, all in the cabin. Plus all the dogs and some of the smaller livestock because it was so cold.
“And still the snow fell softly,” she wrote, “and the air and earth were silent."