6  G E N E R . S TA R K robe could not keep the wind from prying its cold, steely fingers into my worn and thin black suit. Ropes of steam rolled from the old mare’s nostrils as she plodded along, my only saving grace, keeping me from going alone, afoot. Snowflakes stuck to the back of the stalwart horse as I prod- ded her onward. I was fearful of this trip, and the apprehension had not gone away. Even with my heavy buffalo robe, I shivered, both from the cold and because of the tense feeling within me. “Lord be with me,” the breath of the cold north wind touched my face as God either reassured me or warned me of the danger. The services in Perham and Frazee were scheduled, my parishio- ners would be there. I reached the Luedke farm and their warm hospitality. My night’s rest was fitful at best. I felt alone, over- come by desolation. My mind was tormented with fear of the next day’s crossing. My faith waned, and the relentless thought that now I, too, was godforsaken, chased sleep from my night. Otto Luedke helped me early in the morning to get the horse hitched and ready. In his broken mix of English and German I was again warned, “You don’t want to cross the river in the dark. You must find the right spot to cross; there are some deep spots that are impossible to cross.” So Otto helped me hitch up the horse long before daylight, with the idea that I could get to the river about sunrise. After a bit of food for both myself and the horse, we were plodding for the river. On that early Sunday morning the snow lay before me, untouched and level. Its white- ness and innocent smoothness was deceiving. Previous thaws had left mud beneath the snow, and my old gray labored as she heaved against the harness. It was supposed to be the beginning of spring, yet the snow lay as thick as I had ever seen! The way was icy and no one had broken the trail before me. The river bank would be slippery, but with the bridge burned out, I knew we would have to negotiate our way into the water to make the crossing. Half-light greeted me at the Ottertail River, the water having risen from snowmelt and recent rain.