As the waters of the Platte River were high at that season of the year, fording was not safe and we stayed on the north bank. Later in the season emigrants saved many miles of travel by fording and re-fording the river.
One evening after our camp had been made we saw the scout riding out into the river to see if a crossing could safely be made. Florence and I, with many others, watched him as the beautiful bay waded deeper and deeper into the water. Suddenly the horse began to flounder. Instantly Mr. George turned him and he quickly regained his footing and waded to the bank. "We won't try it," the scout said. "Better to travel a few days longer than to take the risk. There's quicksand there."
Later in the evening a small train that had been traveling with us for a day or two drove past us and headed toward the river. Mr. Daily and Mr. George hurried to them. "Are you thinking of trying it?" Mr. Daily asked.
"Yes, we'll camp on the other side and save that big bend tomorrow. This is a good ford."
"I just tried it and found quicksand," Mr. George said. "It is very unsafe. I don't like to see you take such a chance."
"Where did you go in?" asked one of the men.
"Out there, following that sand bar," Mr. George pointed. "The quicksand is very bad, you'd have a poor chance of getting across. "
"We'll go upstream a bit," the man said, and followed by the other wagons, eight or ten of them, he drove into the water.
The river there, swollen by melted snows, was perhaps three hundred yards wide. Near the middle stood a small island. We watched them anxiously as they tried to follow the upper edge of the sand bar and pass above the island. They got on well, though the water was deep for fording, until they were nearly across.
Suddenly the leading team went down. We couldn't see them very well from the distance, but presently a man was on the bank. Somehow he got his horses out. By that time the other teams were floundering. Powerless to help, we watched them. One team, cut loose from the wagon, swam ashore, and a man swam out and fastened a rope to the end of the wagon tongue. Then with his horses he drew the floating wagon to the land. By this time most of the teams were swimming or struggling in the quicksand. Ropes were carried from the bank by swimming men, tied to the struggling teams, and with help from the men and horses on shore, they were finally all rescued. As the last wagon was drawn up the bank, a cheer rang across the water. We waved our congratulations. A tragedy had been narrowly averted.
I heard Mr. George say as he left the bank, "We'll keep to the north side. That sort of thing won't do."
One morning as we were hurrying to break camp and get started, I ran into the tent to roll up our bedding. We girls slept in a little room curtained off from the main part of the tent. As I shook the blankets apart and began folding them, getting them ready to roll, something dropped from the one I was holding - a slim reddish-brown creature about three inches long, with many, many legs. It darted wildly about and crawled under a blanket. I screamed for Father. He came running, carrying the hatchet with which he happened to have been working. Uncle Isaac and the others followed him. Father pulled back the blanket, and when he saw the thing, he chopped it in two with the hatchet. I screamed anew, for the ends ran, one each way, trying, I thought, to find each other and join together again. Father mashed them into bits too small to wiggle and told us it was a centipede and it might have stung us badly. Though I knew it was probably the only one I should se, it was hard to go to bed for a long time. A centipede is a poor bedfellow and I always fancied one was crawling in to keep me company.
A few days later Florence awoke one morning and complained that her jaws were sore. Father looked at her when she came to breakfast and said, "So! You are taking your turn, are you?"
"I don't know what you mean," Florence answered.
"You will have to be my girl for sure for a while. If you haven't a nice case of mumps, I never saw one." Father went over and talked a moment with Uncle Isaac and Aunt Caroline. They all came back together and, after looking at Florence's jaws, decided it would be best for her to stay with us entirely until she was well. Little Eoline was the only one of us all who had not had the mumps and it was not necessary to expose her.
Florence slept with me at night and rode in our wagon, holding her poor sore jaws with her hands and trying hard not to feel the jar of the wagon. It was a poor time to choose for that ailment, and though we made her as comfortable as possible, she had some unhappy days.