With Kinsfolk in Illinois.—1854-5
THE farm was situated five miles from Belleville in a rolling prairie region, and consisted of about one hundred acres of well-cultivated land. There was a rather small two-story frame house painted white, and with green shutters, with an extension — upon the crown of a hill, in the shade of some lofty trees, and commanding a fine view; also, a large barn and stable combined, and half a dozen other outbuildings used for various purposes. In front of the house was a large vineyard, and behind it a flower- and vegetable-garden. It being winter, the ensemble did not look as attractive as in the greenness of summer, yet was altogether pleasing.
My uncle Theodor and aunt, whom I had never seen, were awaiting our coming. The former received me rather stiffly, but the face of the latter fairly beamed upon me with kindness. My uncle was the next youngest of my father's brothers, and was then about forty-six years old. He was a thick-set man, rather under middle stature, with a strong, round head covered with curly hair, and a broad face framed by a full beard. Both hair and beard were already tinged with gray. His face had a set, stern expression in repose, but he had a pleasant smile, which showed that he was really very good-natured. My aunt won my heart at once. She was of good height, and, though already of matronly proportions, still had a graceful figure and movements. The shape of her head was beautiful and her hair still jet-black. Her brilliant, soft black eyes and gentle mouth imparted much light and sweetness to her face (though her features could not be called handsome),