From Chap. 34, Carey Mission, Michigan Terr. 1826

With rainfall uncommonly heavy that spring, I spent most of the time writing. On a Saturday afternoon in June, I allowed the children to interrupt me with occasional reports on the rising Saint Joseph's and various damages caused by surface water. Around four o'clock three girls came running in to my desk. "The outhouse is washing out!" they squealed, shaking their hands around.

"All right, all right," I said, somewhat impatiently. "Settle down. It's not the end of the world."

Five minutes later I heard so much screaming I went to the back door to give everybody a good talking to. On opening the door I bumped into little Christiana, who was nothing less than hysterical. Since she was unable to speak, I let her lead me toward the outhouse area, where an ever-growing crowd was gathering into a circle. Their silence was broken only when a new person entered the circle and gasped or screamed, then slapped hand over mouth. I splashed my boots through the saturated yard while grumbling. "I can't imagine so much commotion over a washed-out toilet."

I worked my way through the crowd until reaching the object of hysteria. The sight of it sickened me, made me dizzy. In spite of its covering of feces and mud, there was no mistaking--it was the decomposing body of a baby. Whether it was a white baby or an Indian baby or mixed blood, I couldn't determine. It could have been born full term or a month or two early.

"Bring me two small boards," I commanded, and waded into the stream of waste. Using the smaller piece of wood as an aide, I carefully slipped the fragile remains onto the larger slab, then lifted it up. "If anybody would like to talk to me about this, I'll be in my office." Walking on weak legs, I carried the tiny body to a porch.

After Christiana and the other women tied handkerchiefs over their noses and mouths, they gently washed it in clean water blended with their own tears.