From Chap. 4, Indiana Terr., 1811
The soldiers could not have been more than a mile away--I was behind the cabin repairing a wagon axle--when the children came clamoring toward me, all trying to carry a copper kettle they had found in some weeds. I probably disappointed them by not reacting with surprise. Instead, I took the kettle by the bail and nodded.
"Where did it come from?" Rice asked breathlessly, his little chest still heaving.
"The soldiers left it," I answered.
"Should we try to catch 'em?"
"It's too late now. Besides, they didn't leave it accidentally; they wanted us to have it."
"For our hospitality." I handed it to Rice and resumed my work.
"Then why didn't they just give it to us?" he asked.
"Because . . . " I paused, choosing my words carefully. " . . . because they knew I wouldn't accept it."
"Why, Papa?" chimed in Mahala, "it's so pretty."
"Because it-it wasn't theirs to give, Mahala."
"Whose is it?" asked Josephus.
"It belongs to some Indians, way up north of here."
"Then couldn't we just keep it until we can give it back to them?" asked Mahala, wide-eyed.
My other children shouted in support of that naive proposition, while I laughed aloud at its absurdity.