My father stabled his horses at night in our lodge, in a little corral fenced off against the wall. “I do not want the Sioux to steal them,” he used to say. In the morning, after breakfast, he drove them out upon the prairie, to pasture, but brought them in again before sunset. In very cold weather my mothers cut down young cottonwoods and let our horses browse on the tender branches.
Indians, when journeying, made the campfire outside the lodge in summer; inside the lodge, in winter. Usually a slight pit was dug for the fireplace, thus lessening danger of sparks, setting fire to prairie or forest. The fire was smothered with earth when camp was forsaken.
The next morning when I went out of the lodge, I saw that the black-bear skin was bound to one of the posts at the entrance. This was a sign that my father was going to lead out a war party. I was almost afraid to pass the bear skin, for I knew it was very holy.
The small lodges we built for winter did not stand long after we left them in the spring. Built on low ground by the Missouri, they were often swept away in the June rise; for in that month the river is flooded by snows melting in the Rocky Mountains.
The loss of our winter lodges never troubled us, however; for we thought of them as but huts. Then, too, we seldom wintered twice in the same place. We burned much firewood in our winter lodges, and before spring came the women had to go far to find it. The next season we made camp in a new place, where was plenty of dead-and-down wood for fuel.
We looked upon our summer lodges, to which we came every spring, as our real homes. There were about seventy of these, earth lodges45 well-built and roomy, in Like-a-Fishhook village. Most of them were built the second summer of our stay there.
For cover buffalo skins, bound together at the edges, were drawn around the frame in two series, the lower series being laid first. The peak of the pole frame was left uncovered, to let out the smoke.
Instead of buffalo skins, gunny sacks may be used, fastened at the edges with safety pins or with wooden skewers; or strips of canvas or carpet may be used. Three or four heavier poles may be laid against the gunny-sack cover to stay it in place.
The door may be made of a gunny sack, hung on a short pole.
Indians often raised a piece of skin on a forked pole for a shield, to keep the wind from driving the smoke down the smoke hole.
Figure shows the finished lodge with gunny-sack cover, door, and wind shield. The last is made of a piece of oil cloth.
The “Swan with Two Necks,” whence many coaches set out, until the end of such things, was often known by waggish people as the “Wonderful Bird,” and obtained its name from a perversion of the “Swan with Two Nicks”: swans that swam the upper Thames and were the property of the Vintners’ Company being marked on their bills with two nicks, for identification. Lad Lane is now “Gresham Street,” but, apart from its mere name, is a lane still; but the old buildings of the “Swan with Two Necks” were pulled down in 1856.
A hundred and fifty years later than Piers Plowman we get another picture of an English ale-house, by no less celebrated a poet. This famous house, the “Running Horse,” still stands at Leatherhead, in Surrey, beside the long, many-arched bridge that there crosses the river Mole at one of its most picturesque reaches. It was kept in the time of Henry the Seventh by that very objectionable landlady, Elynor Rummyng, whose peculiarities are the subject of a laureate’s verse.
The famous “Seven Stars”, in Withy Grove, proudly bearing on its front the statement that it has been licensed over 560 years, and is the oldest licensed house in Great Britain.
The tottering, crazy-looking tavern called “Ye Olde Rover’s Return,” on Shude Hill, claiming to be the “oldest beer-house in the city,” and additionally said once to have been an old farmhouse “where the Cow was kept that supplied Milk to The Men who built the ‘Seven Stars"
The City of London’s oldest licensed inn is, by its own claiming, the “Dick Whittington,” in Cloth Fair, Smithfield, but it only claims to have been licensed in the fifteenth century, when it might reasonably—without much fear of contradiction—have made it a century earlier. This is an unusual modesty, fully deserving mention. It is only an “inn” by courtesy, for, however interesting and picturesque the grimy, tottering old lath-and-plaster house may be to the stranger, imagination does not picture any one staying either in the house or in Cloth Fair itself while other houses and other neighbourhoods remain to choose from; and, indeed, the “Dick Whittington”[Pg 6] does not pretend to be anything else than a public-house. The quaint little figure at the angle, in the gloom of the overhanging upper storey, is one of the queer, unconventional imaginings of our remote forefathers, and will repay examination.
The “Fighting Cocks” inn at St. Albans, down by the river Ver, below the Abbey, claims to be—not the oldest inn—but the oldest inhabited house, in the kingdom: a pretension that does not appear to be based on anything more than sheer impudence.
The Kitchen of a Country Inn, 1797: showing the Turnspit Dog. (From the engraving after Rowlandson)
In the picture in the French National Library, the beds are arranged at the side of the apartment in separate berths, like those of a ship’s cabin, or like the box beds of the Highlands of Scotland. It is necessary, perhaps, to explain that the artist has imagined one side of the room removed, so as to introduce into his illustration both the mounted traveller outside and the interior of the inn.