On March 23rd, a letter from Jay Geiger and a package of sulfur powder arrived at the Rock Island carriage station. Geiger wrote that what Rob J. had reported about the land in Holden’s Crossing was more than he and his wife had hoped. He has already transferred the money for the down payment to the land to Nick Holden, and he will make all further payments to the state land office. Unfortunately, they could not come to Illinois in the near future because Lillian was pregnant again: “An unexpected event that fills us with joy, but also delays our departure from here.” They wanted to wait until the second child was born and raised enough to survive the arduous journey across the prairie.
Rob J. read the letter with mixed feelings. He was pleased that Jay trusted his recommendation and would one day be his neighbor. But it also filled him with silent despair that this day was not yet in sight. He would have given a lot to sit with Jason and Lillian and make music that would comfort him and please his soul. The prairie was a huge silent prison, and most of the time he was alone in it. He decided to get a dog.
By the time of the winter solstice, the sauks were again distressed and hungry. Gus Schroeder wondered out loud why Rob J. wanted to buy two more sacks of corn again, but did not press him further when Rob did not respond. Like the first time, the Indians accepted the gift of corn in silence and without any visible expression of emotion. He brought Makwa-ikwa a pound of coffee and made it a habit to visit her occasionally and sit by the fire with her. She mixed the coffee with dried wild roots until it no longer tasted like the drink he was used to. They drank this coffee black; it wasn’t good, but it was hot, and it tasted kind of Indian. Over time, they got to know each other. Makwa-ikwa had attended school for four years on a mission for Indian children near Fort Crawford. She could read a little and had heard of Scotland, but corrected his suspicion that she was a Christian. Her people worshiped Sewanna, the chief god, and other Manitus, and she told them about the ancient rites.
He realized that she was above all a priestess and that helped her be a good healer. She knew all about the medicinal plants that grew in the area, and tufts of dried medicinal herbs hung from her tent poles. He watched her treat the sauks a few times.