Part 2 out of 6
in the lad, and a liking for some of the old man's pursuits, the first of
the twins was the grandfather's favourite and companion, and would laugh
and talk out all his infantine heart to the old gentleman, to whom the
younger had seldom a word to say. George was a demure, studious boy, and
his senses seemed to brighten up in the library, where his brother was so
gloomy. He knew the books before he could well-nigh carry them, and read
in them long before he could understand them. Harry, on the other hand,
was all alive in the stables or in the wood, eager for all parties of
hunting and fishing, and promised to be a good sportsman from a very
early age. The grandfather's ship was sailing for Europe once when the
boys were children, and they were asked what present Captain Franks would
bring them back? George was divided between books and a fiddle; Harry
instantly declared for a little gun; and Madame Warrington (as she then
was called) was hurt that her elder boy should have low tastes, and
applauded the younger's choice as more worthy of his name and lineage.
"Books, papa, I can fancy to be a good choice," she replied to her
father, who tried to convince her that George had a right to his
opinion, "though I am sure you must have pretty nigh all the books in
the world already. But I never can desire--I may be wrong--but I never
can desire, that my son, and the grandson of the Marquis of Esmond,
should be a fiddler."
"Should be a fiddlestick, my dear," the old Colonel answered. "Remember
that Heaven's ways are not ours, and that each creature born has a little
kingdom of thought of his own, which it is a sin in us to invade. Suppose
George loves music? You can no more stop him than you can order a rose
not to smell sweet, or a bird not to sing."
"A bird! A bird sings from nature; George did not come into the world
with a fiddle in his hand," says Mrs. Warrington, with a toss of her
head. "I am sure I hated the harpsichord when a chit at Kensington
school, and only learned it to please my mamma. Say what you will, I
cannot believe that this fiddling is work for persons of fashion."
"And King David who played the harp, my dear?"
"I wish my papa would read him more, and not speak about him in that
way," said Mrs. Warrington.
"Nay, my dear, it was but by way of illustration," the father replied
gently. It was Colonel's Esmond's nature always to be led by a woman,
and he spoiled his daughter; laughing at her caprices, but humouring
them; making a joke of her prejudices, but letting them have their way;
indulging, and perhaps increasing, her natural imperiousness of
character, which asserted itself to an unusual degree after her
The Colonel's funeral was the most sumptuous one ever seen in the
country. The little lads of Castlewood, almost smothered in black trains
and hat bands, headed the procession, followed by Madame Esmond
Warrington (as she called herself after her father's death), by my Lord
Fairfax, by his Excellency the Governor of Virginia, by the Randolphs,
the Careys, the Harrisons, the Washingtons, and many others, for the
whole county esteemed the departed gentleman whose goodness, whose high
talents, whose unobtrusive benevolence had earned for him the just
respect of his neighbours.
The management of the house of Castlewood had been in the hands of his
daughter long before the Colonel slept the sleep of the just, for the
truth is little Madame Esmond never came near man or woman but she tried
to domineer over them. If people obeyed, she was their very good friend;
if they resisted, she fought and fought until she or they gave in, and
without her father's influence to restrain her she was now more despotic
than ever. She exercised a rigid supervision over the estate; dismissed
Colonel Esmond's English factor and employed a new one; built, improved,
planted, grew tobacco, appointed a new overseer, and imported a new tutor
for her boys. The little queen domineered over her little dominion, and
over the princes her sons as well, thereby falling out frequently with
her neighbours, with her relatives, and with her sons also.
A very early difference which occurred between the queen and crown prince
arose out of the dismissal of the lad's tutor, Mr. Dempster, who had also
been the late Colonel's secretary. Upon his retirement George vowed he
never would forsake his old tutor, and kept his promise. Another cause of
dispute between George and his mother presently ensued.
By the death of an aunt, the heirs of Mr. George Warrington became
entitled to a sum of six thousand pounds, of which their mother was one
of the trustees. She never could be made to understand that she was not
the proprietor, but merely the trustee of this money; and was furious
with the London lawyer who refused to send it over at her order. "Is not
all I have my sons'?" she cried, "and would I not cut myself into little
pieces to serve them? With the six thousand pounds I would have bought
Mr. Boulter's estate and negroes, which would have given us a good
thousand pounds a year, and made a handsome provision for my Harry." Her
young friend and neighbour, Mr. Washington of Mount Vernon, could not
convince her that the London agent was right, and must not give up his
trust except to those for whom he held it.
George Esmond, when this little matter was referred to him, and his
mother vehemently insisted that he should declare himself, was of the
opinion of Mr. Washington and Mr. Draper, the London lawyer. The boy said
he could not help himself. He did not want the money; he would be very
glad to give the money to his mother if he had the power. But Madame
Esmond would not hear of these reasons. Here was a chance of making
Harry's fortune--dear Harry, who was left with such a slender younger
brother's pittance--and the wretches in London would not help him; his
own brother, who inherited all his papa's estate, would not help him. To
think of a child of hers being so mean at _fourteen years of age_!
Into this state of mind the incident plunged Madame Warrington, and no
amount of reasoning could bring her out of it. On account of the
occurrence she at once set to work saving for her younger son, for whom
she was eager to make a fortune. The fine buildings were stopped as well
as the fine fittings which had been ordered for the interior of the new
home. No more books were bought; the agent had orders to discontinue
sending wine. Madame Esmond deeply regretted the expense of a fine
carriage which she had from England, and only rode in it to church,
crying out to the sons sitting opposite to her, "Harry, Harry! I wish I
had put by the money for thee, my poor portionless child; three hundred
and eighty guineas of ready money to Messieurs Hatchett!"
"You will give me plenty while you live, and George will give me plenty
when you die," says Harry gaily.
"Not until he changes in _spirit_, my dear," says the lady grimly,
glancing at her elder boy. "Not unless Heaven softens his heart and
teaches him _charity_, for which I pray day and night; as Mountain knows;
do you not, Mountain?"
Mrs. Mountain, Ensign Mountain's widow, who had been a friend of Rachel
Esmond in her school days, and since her widowhood had been Madame
Esmond's companion in Castlewood house, serving to enliven many dull
hours for that lady and enjoying thoroughly the home which Castlewood
afforded her and her child. Mrs. Mountain, I say, who was occupying the
fourth seat in the family coach, said, "Humph! humph! I know you are
always disturbing yourself about this legacy, and I don't see that there
is any need."
"Oh, no! no need!" cries the widow, rustling in her silks; "of course I
have no need to be disturbed, because my eldest born is _a disobedient
son and an unkind brother;_ because he has an estate, and my poor Harry,
bless him, but a _mess of pottage_."
George looked despairingly at his mother until he could see her no more
for eyes welled up with tears. "I wish you would bless me, too, O my
mother!" he said, and burst into a passionate fit of weeping. Harry's
arms were in a moment round his brother's neck, and he kissed George a
score of times.
"Never mind, George. I know whether you are a good brother or not. Don't
mind what she says. She don't mean it."
"I do mean it, child," cries the mother. "Would to Heaven--"
"_Hold your tongue, I say_!" roars out Harry. "It's a shame to speak so
to him, ma'am."
"And so it is, Harry," says Mrs. Mountain, shaking his hand. "You never
said a truer word in your life."
"Mrs. Mountain, do you dare to set my children against me?" cries the
widow. "From this very day, madam--"
"Turn me and my child into the street? Do," says Mrs. Mountain. "That
will be a fine revenge because the English lawyer won't give you the
boy's money. Find another companion who will tell you black is white, and
flatter you; it is not my way, madam. When shall I go? I shan't be long
a-packing. I did not bring much into Castlewood house, and I shall not
take much out."
"Hush! the bells are ringing for church, Mountain. Let us try, if you
please, and compose ourselves," said the widow, and she looked with eyes
of extreme affection, certainly at one, perhaps at both, of her children.
George kept his head down, and Harry, who was near, got quite close to
him during the sermon, and sat with his arm round his brother's neck.
From these incidents it may be clearly seen that Madame Esmond besides
being a brisk little woman at business and ruling like a little queen in
Castlewood was also a victim of many freaks and oddities, among them one
of the most prominent being a great desire for flattery. There was no
amount of compliment which she could not graciously receive and take as
her due, and it was her greatest delight to receive attention from
suitors of every degree. Her elder boy saw this peculiarity of his
mother's disposition and chafed privately under it. From a very early
day he revolted when compliments were paid to the little lady, and
strove to expose them with his youthful satire; so that his mother would
say gravely, "the Esmonds were always of a jealous disposition, and my
poor boy takes after my father and mother in this."
One winter after their first tutor had been dismissed Madame Esmond took
them to Williamsburg for such education as the schools and colleges there
afforded, and there they listened to the preaching and became acquainted
with the famous Mr. Whitfield, who, at Madame Esmond's request, procured
a tutor for the boys, by name Mr. Ward. For weeks Madame Esmond was never
tired of hearing Mr. Ward's utterances of a religious character, and
according to her wont she insisted that her neighbours should come and
listen to him and ordered them to be converted to the faith which he
represented. Her young favourite, Mr. George Washington, she was
especially anxious to influence; and again and again pressed him to come
and stay at Castlewood and benefit by the spiritual advantages there to
be obtained. But that young gentleman found he had particular business
which called him home or away from home, and always ordered his horse of
evenings when the time was coming for Mr. Ward's exercises. And--what
boys are just towards their pedagogue?--the twins grew speedily tired and
even rebellious under their new teacher.
They found him a bad scholar, a dull fellow, and ill-bred to boot. George
knew much more Latin and Greek than his master; Harry, who could take
much greater liberties than were allowed to his elder brother, mimicked
Ward's manner of eating and talking, so that Mrs. Mountain and even
Madame Esmond were forced to laugh, and little Fanny Mountain would crow
with delight. Madame Esmond would have found the fellow out for a vulgar
quack but for her son's opposition, which she, on her part, opposed with
her own indomitable will.
George now began to give way to a sarcastic method, took up Ward's
pompous remarks and made jokes of them so that that young divine chafed
and almost choked over his great meals. He made Madame Esmond angry, and
doubly so when he sent off Harry into fits of laughter. Her authority was
defied, her officer scorned and insulted, her youngest child perverted by
the obstinate elder brother. She made a desperate and unhappy attempt to
maintain her power.
The boys were fourteen years of age, Harry being now taller and more
advanced than his brother, who was delicate and as yet almost childlike
in stature and appearance. The flogging method was quite a common mode
of argument in these days. Our little boys had been horsed many a day by
Mr. Dempster, their Scotch tutor, in their grandfather's time; and
Harry, especially, had got to be quite accustomed to the practice, and
made very light of it. But since Colonel Esmond's death, the cane had
been laid aside, and the young gentlemen at Castlewood had been allowed
to have their own way. Her own and her lieutenant's authority being now
spurned by the youthful rebels, the unfortunate mother thought of
restoring it by means of coercion. She took counsel of Mr. Ward. That
athletic young pedagogue could easily find chapter and verse to warrant
the course he wished to pursue,--in fact, there was no doubt about the
wholesomeness of the practice in those days. He had begun by flattering
the boys, finding a good berth and snug quarters at Castlewood, and
hoping to remain there. But they laughed at his flattery, they scorned
his bad manners, they yawned soon at his sermons; the more their mother
favoured him, the more they disliked him; and so the tutor and the
pupils cordially hated each other.
Mrs. Mountain warned the lads to be prudent, and that some conspiracy was
hatching against them; saying, "You must be on your guard, my poor boys.
You must learn your lessons and not anger your tutor. Your mamma was
talking about you to Mr. Washington the other day when I came into the
room. I don't like that Major Washington, you know I don't. He is very
handsome and tall, and he may be very good, but show me his wild oats I
say--not a grain! Well, I happened to step in last Tuesday when he was
here with your mamma, and I am sure they were talking about you, for he
said, 'Discipline is discipline, and must be preserved. There can be but
one command in a house, ma'am, and you must be the mistress of yours.'"
"The very words he used to me," cries Harry. "He told me that he did not
like to meddle with other folks' affairs, but that our mother was very
angry, and he begged me to obey Mr. Ward, and to press George to do so."
"Let him manage his own house, not mine," says George very haughtily. And
the caution, far from benefiting him, only made the lad more scornful and
On the next day the storm broke. Words were passed between George and Mr.
Ward during the morning study. The boy was quite disobedient and unjust.
Even his faithful brother cried out, and owned that he was in the wrong.
Mr. Ward bottled up his temper until the family met at dinner, when he
requested Madame Esmond to stay, and laid the subject of discussion
He asked Master Harry to confirm what he had said; and poor Harry was
obliged to admit all his statements.
George, standing under his grandfather's portrait by the chimney, said
haughtily that what Mr. Ward had said was perfectly correct.
"To be a tutor to such a pupil is absurd," said Mr. Ward, making a long
speech containing many scripture phrases, at each of which young George
smiled scornfully; and at length Ward ended by asking her honour's leave
"Not before you have punished this wicked and disobedient child," said
"Punish!" exclaimed George.
"Yes, sir, punish! If means of love and entreaty fail, other means must
be found to bring you to obedience. I punish you now, rebellious boy, to
guard you from greater punishment hereafter. The discipline of this
family must be maintained. There can be but one command in a house, and I
must be the mistress of mine. You will punish this refractory boy, Mr.
Ward, as we have agreed, and if there is the least resistance on his part
my overseer and servants will lend you aid."
In the midst of his mother's speech George Esmond felt that he had been
wronged. "There can be but one command in the house and you must be
mistress. I know who said those words before you," George said slowly,
and looking very white, "and--and I know, mother, that I have acted
wrongly to Mr. Ward."
"He owns it! He asks pardon!" cries Harry. "That's right, George! That's
enough, isn't it?"
"No, it is _not_ enough! I know that he who spares the rod spoils the
child, ungrateful boy!" says Madame Esmond, with more references of the
same nature, which George heard, looking very pale and desperate.
Upon the mantelpiece stood a china cup, by which the widow set great
store, as her father had always been accustomed to drink from it. George
suddenly took it, and a strange smile passed over his pale face.
"Stay one minute. Don't go away yet," he cried to his mother, who was
leaving the room. "You are very fond of this cup, mother?" and Harry
looked at him wondering. "If I broke it, it could never be mended, could
it? My dear old grandpapa's cup! I have been wrong. Mr. Ward, I ask
pardon. I will try and amend."
The widow looked at her son indignantly. "I thought," she said, "I
thought an Esmond had been more of a man than to be afraid, and--" Here
she gave a little scream, as Harry uttered an exclamation and dashed
forward with his hands stretched out towards his brother.
George, after looking at the cup, raised it, opened his hand and let it
fall on the marble slab before him. Harry had tried in vain to catch it.
"It is too late, Hal," George said. "You will never mend that
again--never. Now, mother, I am ready, as it is your wish. Will you come
and see whether I am afraid? Mr. Ward, I am your servant. Your servant?
Your slave! And the next time I meet Mr. Washington, Madame, I will thank
him for the advice which he gave you."
"I say, do your duty, sir!" cried Mrs. Esmond, stamping her little foot.
And George, making a low bow to Mr. Ward, begged him to go first out of
the room to the study.
"Stop! For God's sake, mother, stop!" cried poor Hal. But passion was
boiling in the little woman's heart, and she would not hear the boy's
petition. "You only abet him, sir!" she cried. "If I had to do it
myself, it should be done!" And Harry, with sadness and wrath in his
countenance, left the room by the door through which Mr. Ward and his
brother had just issued.
The widow sank down in a great chair near it, and sat a while vacantly
looking at the fragments of the broken cup. Then she inclined her head
towards the door. For a while there was silence; then a loud outcry,
which made the poor mother start.
Mr. Ward came out bleeding from a great wound on his head, and behind him
Harry, with flaring eyes, and brandishing a little ruler of his
grandfather, which hung, with others of the Colonel's weapons, on the
"I don't care. I did it," says Harry. "I couldn't see this fellow strike
my brother; and as he lifted his hand, I flung the great ruler at him. I
couldn't help it. I won't bear it; and if one lifts a hand to me or my
brother, I'll have his life," shouts Harry, brandishing the hanger.
The widow gave a great gasp and a sigh as she looked at the young
champion and his victim. She must have suffered terribly during the few
minutes of the boys' absence; and the stripes which she imagined had been
inflicted on the elder had smitten her own heart. She longed to take both
boys to it. She was not angry now. Very likely she was delighted with the
thought of the younger's prowess and generosity. "You are a very naughty,
disobedient child," she said in an exceedingly peaceable voice. "My poor
Mr. Ward! What a rebel to strike you! Let me bathe your wound, my good
Mr. Ward, and thank Heaven it was no worse. Mountain! Go fetch me some
court-plaster. Here comes George. Put on your coat and waistcoat, child!
You were going to take your punishment, sir, and that is sufficient. Ask
pardon, Harry, of good Mr. Ward, for your wicked, rebellious spirit. I
do, with all my heart, I am sure. And guard against your passionate
nature, child, and pray to be forgiven. My son, oh my son!"
Here with a burst of tears which she could no longer control the
little woman threw herself on the neck of her first born, whilst Harry
went up very feebly to Mr. Ward, and said, "Indeed, I ask your pardon,
sir. I couldn't help it; on my honour, I couldn't; nor bear to see my
The widow was scared, as after her embrace she looked up at George's pale
face. In reply to her eager caresses, he coldly kissed her on the
forehead, and separated from her. "You meant for the best, mother," he
said, "and I was in the wrong. But the cup is broken; and all the king's
horses and all the king's men cannot mend it. There--put the fair side
outwards on the mantelpiece, and the wound will not show."
Then George went up to Mr. Ward, who was still piteously bathing his eye
and forehead in the water. "I ask pardon for Hal's violence, sir," he
said in great state. "You see, though we are very young, we are
gentlemen, and cannot brook an insult from strangers. I should have
submitted, as it was mamma's desire; but I am glad she no longer
"And pray, sir, who is to compensate me?" says Mr. Ward; "who is to
repair the insult done to _me_?"
"We are very young," says George, with another of his old-fashioned bows.
"We shall be fifteen soon. Any compensation that is usual amongst
"This, sir, to a minister of the Word!" bawls out Ward, starting up, and
who knew perfectly well the lad's skill in fence, having a score of times
been foiled by the pair of them.
"You are not a clergyman yet. We thought you might like to be considered
as a gentleman. We did not know."
"A gentleman! I am a Christian, sir!" says Ward, glaring furiously, and
clenching his great fists.
"Well, well, if you won't fight, why don't you forgive?" says Harry. "If
you won't forgive, why don't you fight? That's what I call the horns of a
dilemma." And he laughed his jolly laugh.
But this was nothing to the laugh a few days afterwards, when, the
quarrel having been patched up along with poor Mr. Ward's eye, the
unlucky tutor was holding forth according to his custom, but in vain. The
widow wept no more at his harangues, was no longer excited by his
eloquence. Nay, she pleaded headache, and would absent herself of an
evening, on which occasions the remainder of the little congregation were
very cold indeed. One day Ward, still making desperate efforts to get
back his despised authority, was preaching on the necessity of obeying
our spiritual and temporal rulers. "For why, my dear friends," he asked,
"why are the governors appointed, but that we should be governed? Why are
tutors engaged, but that children should be taught?" (Here a look at the
boys.) "Why are rulers--" Here he paused, looking with a sad, puzzled
face at the young gentlemen. He saw in their countenances the double
meaning of the unlucky word he had uttered, and stammered and thumped the
table with his fist. "Why, I say are rulers--rulers--"
"_Rulers_," says George, looking at Harry.
"Rulers!" says Hal, putting his hand to his eye, where the poor tutor
still bore marks of the late scuffle. "Rulers, o-ho!" It was too much.
The boys burst out in an explosion of laughter. Mrs. Mountain, who was
full of fun, could not help joining in the chorus; and little Fanny
Mountain, who had always behaved very demurely and silently at these
ceremonies, crowed again, and clapped her little hands at the others
laughing, not in the least knowing the reason why.
This could not be borne. Ward shut down the book before him; in a few
angry but eloquent and manly words said he would speak no more in that
place; and left Castlewood not in the least regretted by Madame Esmond,
who had doted on him three months before.
After the departure of her unfortunate spiritual adviser and chaplain,
Madame Esmond and her son seemed to be quite reconciled: but although
George never spoke of the quarrel with his mother, it must have weighed
upon the boy's mind very painfully, for he had a fever soon after the
last recounted domestic occurrences, during which illness his brain once
or twice wandered, when he shrieked out, "Broken! Broken! It never,
never, can be mended!" to the silent terror of his mother, who sat
watching the poor child as he tossed wakeful upon his midnight bed. That
night, and for some days afterwards, it seemed very likely that poor
Harry would become heir of Castlewood; but by Mr. Dempster's skilful
treatment the fever was got over, the intermittent attacks diminished in
intensity, and George was restored almost to health again. A change of
air, a voyage even to England, was recommended, but the widow had
quarrelled with her children's relatives there, which made that trip
impossible. A journey to the north and east was determined upon, and the
two young gentleman, with Mr. Dempster reinstated as their tutor, and a
couple of servants to attend them, took a voyage to New York, and thence
up the beautiful Hudson River to Albany, where they were received by the
first gentry of the province; and thence into the French provinces, where
they were hospitably entertained by the French gentry. Harry camped with
the Indians and took furs and shot bears. George, who never cared for
field sports, and whose health was still delicate, was a special
favourite with the French ladies, who were accustomed to see very few
young English gentlemen speaking the French language so readily as our
young gentleman. He danced the minuet elegantly. He learned the latest
imported French catches and songs and played them beautifully on his
violin; and to the envy of poor Harry, who was absent on a bear-hunt, he
even had an affair of honour with a young ensign, whom he pinked on the
shoulder, and with whom he afterwards swore an eternal friendship.
When the lads returned home at the end of ten delightful months, their
mother was surprised at their growth and improvement. George especially
was so grown as to come up to his younger-born brother. The boys could
hardly be distinguished one from another, especially when their hair was
powdered; but that ceremony being too cumbrous for country-life, each of
the lads commonly wore his own hair, George his raven black, and Harry
his light locks, tied with a ribbon.
Now Mrs. Mountain had a great turn for match-making, and fancied that
everybody had a design to marry everybody else. As a consequence of this
weakness she was able to persuade George Warrington that Mr. Washington
was laying siege to Madame Esmond's heart, which idea was anything but
agreeable to George's jealous disposition.
"I beg you to keep this quiet, Mountain," said George, with great
dignity. "Or you and I shall quarrel, too. Never to any one must you
mention such an absurd suspicion."
"Absurd! Why absurd? Mr. Washington is constantly with the widow. She
never tires of pointing out his virtues as an example to her sons. She
consults him on every question respecting her estate and its management.
There is a room at Castlewood regularly called Mr. Washington's room.
He actually leaves his clothes here, and his portmanteau when he goes
away. Ah, George, George! The day will come when he won't go away!"
groaned Mrs. Mountain, and in consequence of the suspicions which her
words aroused in him Mr. George adopted toward his mother's favourite a
frigid courtesy, at which the honest gentleman chafed but did not care to
remonstrate; or a stinging sarcasm which he would break through as he
would burst through so many brambles on those hunting excursions in which
he and Harry Warrington rode so constantly together; while George,
retreating to his tents, read mathematics and French and Latin, or sulked
in his book-room.
Harry was away from home with some other sporting friends when Mr.
Washington came to pay a visit at Castlewood. He was so peculiarly
tender and kind to the mistress there, and received by her with such
special cordiality, that George Warrington's jealousy had well-nigh
broken out into open rupture. But the visit was one of adieu, as it
appeared. Major Washington was going on a long and dangerous journey,
quite to the western Virginia frontier and beyond it. The French had
been for some time past making inroads into our territory. The
government at home, as well as those of Virginia and Pennsylvania, were
alarmed at this aggressive spirit of the lords of Canada and Louisiana.
Some of our settlers had already been driven from their holdings by
Frenchmen in arms, and the governors of the British provinces were
desirous of stopping their incursions, or at any rate to protest against
We chose to hold our American colonies by a law that was at least
convenient for its framers. The maxim was, that whoever possessed the
coast had a right to all the territory in hand as far as the Pacific; so
that the British charters only laid down the limits of the colonies from
north to south, leaving them quite free from east to west. The French,
meanwhile, had their colonies to the north and south, and aimed at
connecting them by the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence, and the great
intermediate lakes and waters lying to the westward of the British
possessions. In the year 1748, though peace was signed between the two
European kingdoms, the colonial question remained unsettled, to be opened
again when either party should be strong enough to urge it. In the year
1753 it came to an issue on the Ohio River where the British and French
A company called the Ohio Company, having grants from the Virginia
government of lands along that river, found themselves invaded in their
settlement's by French military detachments, who roughly ejected the
Britons from their holdings. These latter applied for protection to Mr.
Dinwiddie, lieutenant governor of Virginia, who determined upon sending
an ambassador to the French commanding officer on the Ohio demanding that
the French should desist from their inroads upon the territories of his
Majesty King George.
Young Mr. Washington jumped eagerly at the chance of distinction which
this service afforded him, and volunteered to leave his home and his
rural and professional pursuits in Virginia, to carry the governor's
message to the French officer. Taking a guide, an interpreter, and a few
attendants, and following the Indian tracks, in the fall of the year 1753
the intrepid young envoy made his way from Williamsburg almost to the
shores of Lake Erie, and found the French commander at Fort Le Boeuf.
That officer's reply was brief; his orders were to hold the place and
drive all the English from it. The French avowed their intention of
taking possession of the Ohio. And with this rough answer the messenger
from Virginia had to return through danger and difficulty, across lonely
forest and frozen river, shaping his course by the compass, and camping
at night in the snow by the forest fires.
On his return from this expedition, which he had conducted with an heroic
energy and simplicity, Major Washington was a greater favourite than ever
with the lady of Castlewood. She pointed him out as a model to both of
her sons. "Ah, Harry!" she would say, "think of you, with your
cock-fighting and your racing matches, and the Major away there in the
wilderness, watching the French, and battling with the frozen rivers! Ah,
George! learning may be a very good thing, but I wish my elder son were
doing something in the service of his country!"
Mr. Washington on his return home began at once raising such a regiment
as, with the scanty pay and patronage of the Virginian government, he
could get together, and proposed with the help of these men-of-war to put
a more peremptory veto upon the French invaders than the solitary
ambassador had been enabled to lay. A small force under another officer,
Colonel Trent, had already been despatched to the west, with orders to
fortify themselves so as to be able to resist any attack of the enemy.
The French troops greatly outnumbering ours, came up with the English
outposts, who were fortifying themselves at a place on the confines of
Pennsylvania where the great city of Pittsburg now stands. A Virginian
officer with but forty men was in no condition to resist twenty times
that number of Canadians who appeared before his incomplete works. He was
suffered to draw back without molestation; and the French, taking
possession of his fort, strengthened it and christened it by the name of
the Canadian governor, Du Quesne. Up to this time no actual blow of war
had been struck. It was strange that in a savage forest of Pennsylvania a
young Virginian officer should fire a shot and waken up a war which was
to last for sixty years, which was to cover his own country and pass into
Europe, to cost France her American colonies, to sever ours from us, and
create the great Western Republic; to rage over the old world when
extinguished in the new; and of all the myriads engaged in the vast
contest, to leave the prize of the greatest fame with him who struck the
He little knew of the fate in store for him. A simple gentleman, anxious
to serve his king and do his duty, he volunteered for the first service,
and executed it with admirable fidelity. In the ensuing year he took the
command of the small body of provincial troops with which he marched to
repel the Frenchmen. He came up with their advanced guard and fired upon
them, killing their leader. After this he had himself to fall back with
his troops, and was compelled to capitulate to the superior French
force. On the 4th of July, 1754, the Colonel marched out with his troops
from the little fort where he had hastily entrenched himself, and which
they called Fort Necessity, gave up the place to the conqueror, and took
his way home.
His command was over, his regiment disbanded after the fruitless,
inglorious march and defeat. Saddened and humbled in spirit, the young
officer presented himself after a while to his old friends at Castlewood.
But surely no man can have better claims to sympathy than bravery, youth,
good looks, and misfortune. Mr. Washington's room at Castlewood was more
than ever Mr. Washington's room now. Madame Esmond raved about him and
praised him in all her companies. She more than ever pointed out his
excellences to her sons, contrasting his sterling qualities with Harry's
love of pleasure and George's listless musing over his books. George was
not disposed to like Mr. Washington any better for his mother's
extravagant praises. He coaxed the jealous demon within him until he must
have become a perfect pest to himself and all his friends round about
him. He uttered jokes so deep that his simple mother did not know their
meaning, but sat bewildered at his sarcasms.
Meanwhile the quarrel between the French and English North Americans,
from being a provincial, had grown to be a national quarrel.
Reinforcements from France had already arrived in Canada, and English
troops were expected in Virginia. It was resolved to wrest from the
French all the conquests they had made upon British dominion. A couple of
regiments were raised and paid by the king in America, and a fleet with a
couple more was despatched from home under an experienced commander. In
February, 1755, Commodore Keppel, in the famous ship "Centurion,"
anchored in Hampton Roads with two ships of war under his command, and
having on board General Braddock, his staff, and a part of his troops.
Mr. Braddock was appointed by the Duke. A fleet of transports speedily
followed him bringing stores, and men and money in plenty.
The arrival of the General and his little army caused a mighty excitement
all through the provinces, and nowhere greater than at Castlewood. Harry
was off forthwith to see the troops under canvas at Alexandria. The sight
of their lines delighted him, and the inspiring music of their fifes and
drums. He speedily made acquaintance with the officers of both regiments;
he longed to join in the expedition upon which they were bound, and was
a welcome guest at their mess.
We may be sure that the arrival of the army and the approaching campaign
formed the subject of continued conversation in the Castlewood family. To
make the campaign was the dearest wish of Harry's life. He dreamed only
of war and battle; he was forever with the officers at Williamsburg; he
scoured and cleaned and polished all the guns and swords in the house; he
renewed the amusements of his childhood and had the negroes under arms,
but eager as he was to be a soldier, he scarcely dared touch on the
subject with George, for he saw to his infinite terror how George, too,
was occupied with military matters, and having a feudal attachment for
his elder brother, and worshipping him with an extravagant regard, he
gave way in all things to him as the chief, and felt that should George
wish to make the campaign he would submit. He took note that George had
all the military books of his grandfather brought down from his
book-shelves, and that he and Dempster were practising with the foils
again; and he soon found that his fears were true. Mr. Franklin of
Philadelphia, having heard that Madame Esmond had beeves and horses and
stores in plenty, which might be useful to General Braddock, recommended
the General to conciliate her by inviting her sons to dinner, which he at
once did. The General and the gentlemen of his family made much of them,
and they returned home delighted with their entertainment; and so pleased
was their mother at the civility shown them that she at once penned a
billet thanking his Excellency for his politeness, and begging him to fix
the time when she might have the honour of receiving him at Castlewood.
Madame Esmond made her boys bearers of the letter in reply to his
Excellency's message, accompanying her note with handsome presents for
the General's staff and officers, which they were delighted to accept.
"Would not one of the young gentlemen like to see the campaign?" the
General asked. "A friend of theirs, who often spoke of them--Mr.
Washington, who had been unlucky in the affair of last year--had already
promised to join him as aide-de-camp, and his Excellency would gladly
take another young Virginian gentleman into his family."
Harry's eyes brightened and his face flushed at this offer. He would like
with all his heart to go, he cried out. George said, looking hard at his
younger brother, that one of them would be proud to attend his
Excellency, whilst it would be the other's duty to take care of their
mother at home. Harry allowed his senior to speak. However much he
desired to go, he would not pronounce until George had declared himself.
He longed so for the campaign that the actual wish made him timid. He
dared not speak on the matter as he went home with George. They rode for
miles in silence, or strove to talk upon indifferent subjects, each
knowing what was passing in the other's mind, and afraid to bring the
awful question to an issue.
On their arrival at home the boys told their mother of General
"I know it must happen," she said; "at such a crisis in the country our
family must come forward. Have you--have you settled yet which of you is
to leave me?" and she looked anxiously from one to another, dreading to
hear either name.
"The youngest ought to go, mother; of course I ought to go!" cries Harry,
turning very red.
"Of course, he ought," said Mrs. Mountain, who was present at their talk.
"The head of the family ought to go, mother," says George, adding: "You
would make the best soldier, I know that, dearest Hal. You and George
Washington are great friends, and could travel well together, and he does
not care for me, nor I for him, however much he is admired in the family.
But, you see, 'tis the law of honour, my Harry. I must go. Had fate given
you the benefit of that extra half hour of life which I have had before
you, it would have been your lot, and you would have claimed your right
to go first, you know you would."
"Yes, George," said poor Harry; "I own I should."
"You will stay at home, and take care of Castlewood and our mother. If
anything happens to me, you are here to fill my place. I should like to
give way, my dear, as you, I know, would lay down your life to serve me.
But each of us must do his duty. What would our grandfather say if he
The mother looked proudly at her two sons. "My papa would say that his
boys were gentlemen," faltered Madame Esmond, and left the young men, not
choosing perhaps to show the emotion which was filling her heart. It was
speedily known amongst the servants that Mr. George was going on the
campaign. Dinah, George's foster-mother, was loud in her lamentations at
losing him; Phillis, Harry's old nurse, was as noisy, because Master
George, as usual, was preferred over Master Harry. Sady, George's
servant, made preparations to follow his master, bragging incessantly of
the deeds which he would do; while Gumbo, Harry's boy, pretended to
whimper at being left behind, though at home Gumbo was anything but a
But of all in the house Mrs. Mountain was the most angry at George's
determination to go on the campaign. She begged, implored, insisted that
he should alter his determination; voted that nothing but mischief would
come from his departure; and finally suggested that it was his duty to
remain at home to protect his mother from the advances of Colonel
Washington, whom she assured him she believed to desire a rich wife, and
that if George would go away he would come back to find George Washington
master of Castlewood. As a proof of what she said she produced part of a
letter written by Colonel Washington to his brother, in which his words
seemed to the romantic Mrs. Mountain to bear out her belief. This
fragment, which she had found in the Colonel's room and with none too
much honesty appropriated, she now showed to George, who after gazing at
the document gave her a frightful look, saying, "I--I will return this
paper to Mr. Washington." Mrs. Mountain was thoroughly scared then at
what she had done and said, but it could not be taken back, so she was
obliged to adjust herself to taking in good part whatever consequences
might come of her dishonest act.
On the day set for Madame Esmond's entertainment to General Braddock the
House of Castlewood was set out with the greatest splendour; and Madame
Esmond arrayed herself in a much more magnificent dress than she was
accustomed to wear, while the boys were dressed alike in gold-corded
frocks, braided waistcoats, silver-hilted sword, and wore each a
The General's new aide-de-camp was the first guest to arrive, and he and
his hostess paced the gallery for some time. She had much to say to him,
and also to hear from him a confirmation of his appointment as
aide-de-camp to General Braddock, and to speak of her son's approaching
departure. At length they descended the steps down to the rough lawn in
front of the house, and presently the little lady re-entered her
mansion, leaning upon Mr. Washington's arm. Here they were joined by
George, who came to them accurately powdered and richly attired, saluting
his parent and his friend alike with respectful bows, according to the
fashion of that time.
But George, though he made the lowest possible bow to Mr. Washington and
his mother, was by no means in good humour with either of them, and in
all his further conversation that day with Colonel Washington showed a
bitter sarcasm and a depth of innuendo which the Colonel was at a loss to
understand. A short time after George's entrance into the Colonel's
presence Harry answered back a remark of George's to the effect that he
hated sporting by saying, "I say one thing, George."
"Say twenty things, Don Enrico," cries the other.
"If you are not fond of sporting and that, being cleverer than me, why
shouldst thou not stop at home and be quiet, and let me go out with
Colonel George and Mr. Braddock? That's what I say," says Harry, flushing
"One of our family must go because honour obliges it, and my name being
number one, number one must go first," says George, adding, "One must
stay, or who is to look after mother at home? We cannot afford to be both
scalped by Indians or fricasseed by French."
"Fricasseed by French," cries Harry; "the best troops of the world are
Englishmen. I should like to see them fricasseed by the French! what a
mortal thrashing you will give them!" and the brave lad sighed to think
he should not be present at the combat.
George sat down to the harpsichord and was playing when the Colonel
re-entered, saying that his Excellency's coach would be here almost
immediately, and asking leave to retire to his apartment, to put himself
in a fit condition to appear before her ladyship's company. As the widow
was conducting Mr. Washington to his chamber, George gave way to a fit of
wrath, ending in an explanation to his astonished brother of the reason
of it, and telling him of Mrs. Mountain's suspicions concerning the
Colonel's attitude towards their mother, which he confirmed by showing
Harry the letter of Colonel Washington's which Mrs. Mountain had found
But to go back to Madame Esmond's feast for his Excellency; all the birds
of the Virginia air, and all the fish of the sea in season, and all the
most famous dishes for which Madame Esmond was famous, and the best wine
which her cellar boasted, were laid on the little widow's board to feed
her distinguished guest and the other gentlemen who accompanied him. The
kind mistress of Castlewood looked so gay and handsome and spoke with
such cheerfulness and courage to all her company that the few ladies who
were present could not but congratulate Madame Esmond upon the elegance
of the feast and upon her manner of presiding at it. But they were
scarcely in the drawing-room, when her artificial courage failed her, and
she burst into tears, exclaiming, "Ah, it may be an honour to have Mr.
Braddock in my house, but he comes to take one of my sons away from me.
Who knows whether my boy will return, or how? I dreamed of him last night
as wounded, with blood streaming from his side."
Meanwhile Mr. Washington was pondering deeply upon George's peculiar
behaviour towards him. The tone of freedom and almost impertinence which
young George had adopted of late towards Mr. Washington had very deeply
vexed and annoyed that gentleman. There was scarce half a dozen years'
difference of age between him and the Castlewood twins; but Mr.
Washington had always been remarked for a discretion and sobriety much
beyond his time of life, whilst the boys of Castlewood seemed younger
than theirs. They had always been till now under their mother's anxious
tutelage, and had looked up to their neighbour of Mount Vernon as their
guide, director, friend, as, indeed, almost everybody seemed to do who
came in contact with the simple and upright young man. Himself of the
most scrupulous gravity and good-breeding, in his communication with
other folks he appeared to exact, or, at any rate, to occasion, the same
behaviour. His nature was above levity and jokes: they seemed out of
place when addressed to him. He was slow of comprehending them: and they
slunk as it were abashed out of his society. "He always seemed great to
me," says Harry Warrington, in one of his letters many years after the
date of which we are writing; "and I never thought of him otherwise than
as a hero. When he came over to Castlewood and taught us boys surveying,
to see him riding to hounds was as if he was charging an army. If he
fired a shot, I thought the bird must come down, and if he flung a net,
the largest fish in the river were sure to be in it. His words were
always few, but they were always wise; they were not idle, as our words
are; they were grave, sober and strong, and ready on occasion to do their
duty. In spite of his antipathy to him, my brother respected and admired
the General as much as I did--that is to say, more than any mortal man."
Mr. Washington was the first to leave the jovial party which were doing
so much honour to Madame Esmond's hospitality. Young George Esmond, who
had taken his mother's place when she left the dining-room, had been free
with the glass and with the tongue. He had said a score of things to his
guest which wounded and chafed the latter, and to which Mr. Washington
could give no reply. Angry beyond all endurance, he left the table at
length, and walked away through the open windows into the broad veranda
or porch which belonged to Castlewood as to all Virginian houses.
Here Madame Esmond caught sight of her friend's tall frame as it strode
up and down before the windows; and gave up her cards to one of the other
ladies, and joined her good neighbour out of doors. He tried to compose
his countenance as well as he could, but found it so difficult that
presently she asked, "Why do you look so grave?"
"Indeed, to be frank with you, I do not know what has come over George,"
says Mr. Washington. "He has some grievance against me which I do not
understand, and of which I don't care to ask the reason. He spoke to me
before the gentlemen in a way which scarcely became him. We are going to
the campaign together, and 'tis a pity we begin such ill friends."
"He has been ill. He is always wild and wayward and hard to understand,
but he has the most affectionate heart in the world. You will bear with
him, you will protect him. Promise you will."
"Dear lady, I will do so with my life," Mr. Washington said heartily.
"You know I would lay it down cheerfully for you or any you love."
"And my father's blessing and mine go with you, dear friend!" cried
As they talked, they had quitted the porch and were pacing a walk before
the house. Young George Warrington, from his place at the head of the
table in the dining-room, could see them, and after listening in a very
distracted manner for some time to the remarks of the gentlemen around
him, he jumped up and pulled his brother Harry by the sleeve, turning him
so that he, too, could see his mother and the Colonel.
Somewhat later, when General Braddock and the other guests had retired to
their apartments, the boys went to their own room, and there poured out
to one another their opinions respecting the great event of the day. They
would not bear such a marriage--No. Was the representative of the Marquis
of Esmond to marry the younger son of a colonial family, who had been
bred up as a land surveyor--Castlewood and the boys at nineteen years of
age handed over to the tender mercies of a step-father of three and
twenty? Oh, it was monstrous! Harry was for going straightway to his
mother, protesting against the odious match, and announcing that they
would leave her forever if the marriage took place.
George had another plan for preventing it, which he explained to his
admiring brother. "Our mother," he said, "can't marry a man with whom one
or both of us has been out on the field, and who has wounded us or killed
us, or whom we have wounded or killed. We must have him out, Harry."
Harry saw the profound truth conveyed in George's statement, and admired
his brother's immense sagacity. "No, George," says he, "you are right.
Mother can't marry our murderer; she won't be as bad as that. And if we
pink him, he is done for. Shall I send my boy with a challenge to Colonel
"We can't insult a gentleman in our own house," said George with great
majesty; "the laws of honour forbid such inhospitable treatment. But,
sir, we can ride out with him, and, as soon as the park gates are closed,
we can tell him our mind."
"That we can, by George!" cries Harry, grasping his brother's hand, "and
that we will, too. I say, Georgie--" Here the lad's face became very
red, and his brother asked him what he would say.
"This is _my_ turn, brother," Harry pleaded. "If you go to the campaign,
I ought to have the other affair. Indeed, indeed, I ought." And he prayed
for this bit of promotion.
"Again the head of the house must take the lead, my dear," George said
with a superb air. "If I fall, my Harry will avenge me. But I must fight
George Washington, Hal; and 'tis best I should; for, indeed, I hate him
the worst. Was it not he who counselled my mother to order that wretch,
Ward, to lay hands on me?"
"Colonel Washington is my enemy especially. He has advised one wrong
against me, and he meditates a greater. I tell you, brother, we must
The grandsire's old Bordeaux had set George's ordinarily pale countenance
into a flame. Harry, his brother's fondest worshipper, could not but
admire George's haughty bearing and rapid declamation, and prepared
himself, with his usual docility, to follow his chief. So the boys went
to their beds, the elder conveying special injunctions to his junior to
be civil to all the guests so long as they remained under the maternal
roof on the morrow.
The widow, occupied as she had been with the cares of a great dinner,
followed by a great breakfast on the morning ensuing, had scarce leisure
to remark the behaviour of her sons very closely, but at least saw that
George was scrupulously polite to her favourite, Colonel Washington, as
to all the other guests of the house.
Before Mr. Braddock took his leave he had a private audience with Madame
Esmond, in which his Excellency formally arranged to take her son into
his family; after which the jolly General good-naturedly shook hands
with George, and bade George welcome and to be in attendance at
Frederick three days hence; shortly after which time the expedition
would set forth.
And now the great coach was again called into requisition, the
General's escort pranced round it, the other guests and their servants
went to horse.
As the boys went up the steps, there was the Colonel once more taking
leave of their mother. No doubt she had been once more recommending
George to his namesake's care; for Colonel Washington said: "With my
life. You may depend on me," as the lads returned to their mother and the
few guests still remained in the porch. The Colonel was booted and ready
to depart. "Farewell, my dear Harry," he said. "With you, George, 'tis no
adieu. We shall meet in three days at the camp."
George Warrington watched his mother's emotion, and interpreted it with
a pang of malignant scorn. "Stay yet a moment, and console our mamma,"
he said with a steady countenance, "only the time to get ourselves
booted, and my brother and I will ride with you a little way, George."
George Warrington had already ordered his horses. The three young men
were speedily under way, their negro grooms behind them, and Mrs.
Mountain, who knew she had made mischief between them and trembled for
the result, felt a vast relief that Mr. Washington was gone without a
quarrel with the brothers, without, at any rate, an open declaration of
love to their mother.
No man could be more courteous in demeanour than George Warrington to his
neighbour and name-sake, the Colonel, who was pleased and surprised at
his young friend's altered behaviour. The community of danger, the
necessity of future fellowship, the softening influence of the long
friendship which bound him to the Esmond family, the tender adieux which
had just passed between him and the mistress of Castlewood, inclined the
Colonel to forget the unpleasantness of the past days, and made him more
than usually friendly with his young companion. George was quite gay and
easy: it was Harry who was melancholy now; he rode silently and wistfully
by his brother, keeping away from Colonel Washington, to whose side he
used always to press eagerly before. If the honest Colonel remarked his
young friend's conduct, no doubt he attributed it to Harry's known
affection for his brother, and his natural anxiety to be with George now
the day of their parting was so near.
They talked further about the war, and the probable end of the campaign;
none of the three doubted its successful termination. Two thousand
veteran British troops with their commander must get the better of any
force the French could bring against them. The ardent young Virginian
soldier had an immense respect for the experienced valour and tactics of
the regular troops. King George II. had no more loyal subject than Mr.
Braddock's new aide-de-camp.
So the party rode amicably together, until they reached a certain rude
log-house, called Benson's, where they found a rough meal prepared for
such as were disposed to partake.
A couple of Halkett's officers, whom our young gentlemen knew, were
sitting under the porch, with the Virginian toddy bowl before them, and
the boys joined them and sent for glasses and more toddy, in a very
George called out to Colonel Washington, who was at the porch, to join
his friends and drink, with the intention of drawing Mr. Washington into
some kind of a disagreement.
The lad's tone was offensive, and resembled the manner lately adopted by
him, which had so much chafed Mr. Washington. He bowed, and said he was
"Nay, the liquor is paid for," says George; "never fear, Colonel."
"I said I was not thirsty. I did not say the liquor was not paid for,"
said the young Colonel, drumming with his foot.
"When the King's health is proposed, an officer can hardly say no. I
drink the health of his Majesty, gentlemen," cried George. "Colonel
Washington can drink it or leave it. The King!"
This was a point of military honour. The two British officers of
Halkett's, Captain Grace and Mr. Waring, both drank "The King." Harry
Warrington drank "The King." Colonel Washington, with glaring eyes,
gulped, too, a slight draught from the bowl.
Then Captain Grace proposed "The Duke and the Army," which toast there
was likewise no gainsaying. Colonel Washington had to swallow "The Duke
and the Army."
"You don't seem to stomach the toast, Colonel," said George.
"I tell you again, I don't want to drink," replied the Colonel. "It seems
to me the Duke and the Army would be served all the better if their
healths were not drunk so often."
"A British officer," said Captain Grace, with doubtful articulation,"
never neglects a toast of that sort, nor any other duty. A man who
refuses to drink the health of the Duke--hang me, such a man should be
tried by a court-martial!"
"What means this language to me? You are drunk, sir!" roared Colonel
Washington, jumping up and striking the table with his first.
"A cursed provincial officer say I'm drunk!" shrieks out Captain Grace.
"Waring, do you hear that?"
"_I_ heard it, sir!" cried George Warrington. "We all heard it. We
entered at my invitation--the liquor called for was mine; the table
was mine--and I am shocked to hear such monstrous language used at it
as Colonel Washington has just employed towards my esteemed guest,
"Confound your impudence, you infernal young jackanapes!" bellowed out
Colonel Washington. "_You_ dare to insult me before British officers, and
find fault with my language? For months past I have borne with such
impudence from you, that if I had not loved your mother--yes, sir, and
your good grandfather and your brother--I would--" Here his words
failed him, and the irate Colonel, with glaring eyes and purple face, and
every limb quivering with wrath, stood for a moment speechless before his
"You would what, sir," says George, very quietly, "if you did not love
my grandfather, and my brother, and my mother? You are making her
petticoat a plea for some conduct of yours! You would do what, sir, may
I ask again?"
"I would put you across my knee and whip you, you snarling little puppy!
That's what I would do!" cried the Colonel, who had found breath by this
time, and vented another explosion of fury.
"Because you have known us all our lives, and made our house your own,
that is no reason why you should insult either of us!" here cried Harry,
starting up. "What you have said, George Washington, is an insult to me
and my brother alike. You will ask our pardon, sir!"
"Or give us the reparation that is due to gentlemen," continues Harry.
The stout Colonel's heart smote him to think that he should be at mortal
quarrel, or called upon to shed the blood of one of the lads he loved. As
Harry stood facing him, with his fair hair, flushing cheeks, and
quivering voice, an immense tenderness and kindness filled the bosom of
the elder man. "I--I am bewildered," he said. "My words, perhaps, were
very hasty. What has been the meaning of George's behaviour to me for
months back? Only tell me, and, perhaps--"
The evil spirit was awake and victorious in young George Warrington; his
black eyes shot out scorn and hatred at the simple and guileless
gentleman before him. "You are shirking from the question, sir, as you
did from the toast just now," he said. "I am not a boy to suffer under
your arrogance. You have publicly insulted me in a public place, and I
demand a reparation."
"As you please, George Warrington--and God forgive you, George! God
pardon you, Harry! for bringing me into this quarrel," said the Colonel,
with a face full of sadness and gloom.
Harry hung his head, but George continued with perfect calmness: "I, sir?
It was not I who called names, who talked of a cane, who insulted a
gentleman in a public place before the gentlemen of the army. It is not
the first time you have chosen to take me for a negro, and talked of the
whip for me."
The Colonel started back, turning very red, and as if struck by a sudden
"Great heavens, George! is it that boyish quarrel you are still
"Who made you overseer of Castlewood?" said the boy, grinding his teeth.
"I am not your slave, George Washington, and I never will be. I hated you
then, and I hate you now. And you have insulted me, and I am a gentleman,
and so are you. Is that not enough?"
"Too much, only too much," said the Colonel, with a genuine grief on his
face, and at his heart "Do you bear malice, too, Harry? I had not thought
this of thee!"
"I stand by my brother," said Harry, turning away from the Colonel's
look, and grasping George's hand. The sadness on their adversary's face
did not depart. "Heaven be good to us! 'Tis all clear now," he muttered
to himself. "The time to write a few letters, and I am at your service,
Mr. Warrington," he said.
"You have your own pistols at your saddle. I did not ride out with any;
but will send Sady back for mine. That will give you time enough, Colonel
"Plenty of time, sir." And each gentleman made the other a low bow, and,
putting his arm in his brother's, George walked away. The Virginian
officer looked towards Captain Benson, the master of the tavern, saying,
"Captain Benson, you are an old frontier man, and an officer of ours,
before you turned farmer and taverner. You will help me in this matter
with yonder young gentleman?" said the Colonel.
"I'll stand by and see fair play, Colonel. I won't have any hand in it,
beyond seeing fair play. You ain't a-goin' to be very hard with them poor
boys? Though I seen 'em both shoot; the fair one hunts well, as you
know, but the old one's a wonder at an ace of spades."
"Will you be pleased to send my man with my valise, Captain, into any
private room which you can spare me? I must write a few letters before
this business comes on. God grant it were well over!" And the Captain led
the Colonel into a room of his house where he remained occupied with
gloomy preparations for the ensuing meeting. His adversary in the other
room also thought fit to make his testamentary dispositions, too,
dictated by his own obedient brother and secretary, a grandiloquent
letter to his mother, of whom, and by that writing, he took a solemn
farewell. She would hardly, he supposed, pursue _the scheme which she had
in view_, after the event of that morning, should he fall, as probably
would be the case.
"My dear, dear George, don't say that!" cried the affrighted secretary.
"As probably will be the case," George persisted with great majesty. "You
know what a good shot Colonel George is, Harry. I, myself, am pretty fair
at a mark, and 'tis probable that one or both of us will drop--I scarcely
suppose you will carry out the intentions you have at present in view."
This was uttered in a tone of still greater bitterness than George had
used even in the previous phrase, and he added in a tone of surprise:
"Why, Harry, what have you been writing, and who taught thee to spell?"
Harry had written the last words "in view," in _vew_, and a great blot of
salt water from his honest, boyish eyes may have obliterated some other
"I can't think about the spelling now, Georgy," whimpered George's clerk.
"I'm too miserable for that. I begin to think, perhaps, it's all
nonsense; perhaps Colonel George never--"
"Never meant to take possession of Castlewood; never gave himself airs,
and patronised us there; never advised my mother to have me flogged;
never intended to marry her; never insulted me, and was insulted before
the King's officers; never wrote to his brother to say that we should be
the better for his parental authority? The paper is there," cried the
young man, slapping his breast-pocket, "and if anything happens to me,
Harry Warrington, you will find it on my corpse!"
"Write, yourself, Georgie, I _can't_ write," says Harry, digging his
fists into his eyes, and smearing over the whole composition, bad
spelling and all, with his elbows.
On this, George, taking another sheet of paper, sat down at his brother's
place, and produced a composition in which he introduced the longest
words, the grandest Latin quotations, and the most profound satire of
which the youthful scribe was master. He desired that his negro boy,
Sady, should be set free; that his "Horace," a choice of his books, and,
if possible, a suitable provision should be made for his affectionate
tutor, Mr. Dempster; that his silver fruit-knife, his music-books, and
harpischord should be given to little Fannie Mountain; and that his
brother should take a lock of his hair, and wear it in memory of his ever
fond and faithfully attached George. And he sealed the document with the
seal of arms that his grandfather had worn.
"The watch, of course, will be yours," said George, taking out his
grandfather's gold watch and looking at it. "Why, two hours and a half
are gone! 'Tis time that Sady should be back with the pistols. Take the
watch, Harry, dear."
"It's no good!" cried out Harry, flinging his arms round his brother. "If
he fights you, I'll fight him, too. If he kills my Georgie, he shall
have a shot at me!" cried the poor lad.
Meanwhile, Mr. Washington had written five letters in his large resolute
hand, and sealed them with his seal. One was to his mother, at Mount
Vernon; one to his brother; one was addressed M.C. only; and one to his
Excellency, Major-General Braddock. "And one, young gentlemen, is for
your mother, Madame Esmond," said the boys' informant.
It was the landlord of the tavern who communicated these facts to the
young men. The Captain had put on his old militia uniform to do honour to
the occasion, and informed the boys that the "Colonel was walking up and
down the garden a-waiting for 'em, and that the Reg'lars was a'most
sober, too, by this time."
A plot of ground near the Captain's log house had been enclosed with
shingles, and cleared for a kitchen-garden; there indeed paced Colonel
Washington, his hands behind his back, his head bowed down, a grave
sorrow on his handsome face. The negro servants were crowded at the
palings and looking over. The officers under the porch had wakened up
also, as their host remarked.
There, then, stalked the tall young Colonel, plunged in dismal
meditation. There was no way out of his scrape, but the usual cruel one,
which the laws of honour and the practice of the country ordered. Goaded
into fury by the impertinence of a boy, he had used insulting words. The
young man had asked for reparation. He was shocked to think that George
Warrington's jealousy and revenge should have rankled in the young fellow
so long; but the wrong had been the Colonel's, and he was bound to pay
A great hallooing and shouting, such as negroes use, who love noise at
all times, was now heard at a distance, and all heads were turned in the
direction of this outcry. It came from the road over which our travellers
had themselves passed three hours before, and presently the clattering of
a horse's hoofs was heard, and now Mr. Sady made his appearance on his
foaming horse. Presently he was in the court-yard, and was dismounting.
"Sady, sir, come here!" roars out Master Harry.
"Sady, come here, confound you!" shouts Master George.
"Come directly, Mas'r," says Sady. He grins. He takes the pistols out of
the holster. He snaps the locks. He points them at a grunter, which
plunges through the farm-yard. He points down the road, over which he has
just galloped, and says again, "Comin', Mas'r. Everybody a-comin'." And
now, the gallop of other horses is heard. And who is yonder? Little Mr.
Dempster, spurring and digging into his pony; and that lady in a
riding-habit on Madame Esmond's little horse--can it be Madame Esmond?
No. It is too stout. As I live it is Mrs. Mountain on Madame's grey!"
"O Lor'! O Golly! Hoop! Here dey come! Hurray!"
Dr. Dempster and Mrs. Mountain having clattered into the yard, jumped
from their horses, and ran to the garden where George and Harry were
walking, their tall enemy stalking opposite to them; and almost ere
George Warrington had time sternly to say, "What do you here, Madame?"
Mrs. Mountain flung her arms round his neck and cried: "Oh, George, my
darling! It's a mistake! It's a mistake, and is all my fault!"
"What's a mistake?" asks George, majestically separating himself from
"What is it, Mounty?" cries Harry, all of a tremble.
"That paper I took out of his portfolio, that paper I picked up,
children; where the Colonel says he is going to marry a widow with two
children. Well, it's--it's not your mother. It's that little Widow Custis
whom the Colonel is going to marry. It's not Mrs. Rachel Warrington. He
told Madame so to-day, just before he was going away, and that the
marriage was to come off after the campaign. And--and your mother is
furious, boys. And when Sady came for the pistols, and told the whole
house how you were going to fight, I told him to fire the pistols off;
and I galloped after him, and I've nearly broken my poor old bones in
coming to you."
"What will Mr. Washington and those gentlemen think of my servant
telling my mother at home that I was going to fight a duel?" growled Mr.
George in wrath.
"You should have shown your proofs before, George," says Harry,
respectfully. "And, thank Heaven, you are not going to fight our old
friend. For it was a mistake; and there is no quarrel now, dear, is
there? You were unkind to him under a wrong impression."
"I certainly acted under a wrong impression," owns George, "but--"
"George! George Washington!" Harry here cries out, springing over the
cabbage garden towards the bowling-green, where the Colonel was stalking,
and though we cannot hear him, we see him, with both his hands out, and
with the eagerness of youth, and with a hundred blunders, and with love
and affection thrilling in his honest voice, we imagine the lad telling
his tale to his friend.
There was a custom in those days which has disappeared from our manners
now, but which then lingered.
When Harry had finished his artless story his friend the Colonel took
him fairly to his arms, and held him to his heart; and his voice faltered
as he said, "Thank God, thank God for this!"
"Oh, George," said Harry, who felt now he loved his friend with all his
heart, "how I wish I was going with you on the campaign!" The other
pressed both the boy's hands in a grasp of friendship, which, each knew,
never would slacken.
Then the Colonel advanced, gravely holding out his hand to Harry's elder
brother. But, though hands were joined, the salutation was only formal
and stern on both sides.
"I find I have done you a wrong, Colonel Washington," George said, "and
must apologise, not for the error, but for much of my late behaviour,
which has resulted from it."
"The error was mine! It was I who found that paper in your room and
showed it to George, and was jealous of you, Colonel. All women are
jealous," cried Mrs. Mountain.
"'Tis a pity you could not have kept your eyes off my paper, Madame,"
said Mr. Washington. "You will permit me to say so. A great deal of
mischief has come because I chose to keep a secret which concerned only
myself and another person. For a long time George Warrington's heart has
been black with anger against me, and my feeling towards him has, I own,
scarce been more friendly. All this pain might have been spared to both
of us had my private papers only been read by those for whom they were
written. I shall say no more now, lest my feelings again should betray me
into hasty words. Heaven bless thee, Harry! Farewell, George! And take a
true friend's advice, and try to be less ready to think evil of your
friends. We shall meet again at the camp, and will keep our weapons for
the enemy. Gentlemen! if you remember this scene tomorrow, you will know
where to find me." And with a very stately bow to the English officers,
the Colonel left the abashed company, and speedily rode away.
We must fancy that the parting between the brothers is over, that George
has taken his place in Mr. Braddock's family, and Harry has returned home
to Castlewood and his duty. His heart is with the army, and his pursuits
at home offer the boy no pleasure. He does not care to own how deep his
disappointment is, at being obliged to stay under the homely, quiet roof,
now more melancholy than ever since George is away. Harry passes his
brother's empty chamber with an averted face; takes George's place at the
head of the table, and sighs as he drinks from his silver tankard. Madame
Warrington calls the toast of "The King" stoutly every day; and on
Sundays when Harry reads the Service, and prays for all travellers by
land and by water, she says, "We beseech Thee to hear us," with a
Mrs. Mountain is constantly on the whimper when George's name is
mentioned, and Harry's face frequently wears a look of the most ghastly
alarm; but his mother's is invariably grave and sedate. She makes more
blunders at piquet and backgammon than you would expect from her; and the
servants find her awake and dressed, however early they may rise. She has
prayed Mr. Dempster to come back into residence at Castlewood. She is not
severe or haughty, as her wont certainly was, with any of the party, but
quiet in her talk with them, and gentle in assertion and reply. She is
forever talking of her father and his campaigns, who came out of them all
with no very severe wounds to hurt him; and so she hopes and trusts will
her eldest son.
George writes frequent letters home to his brother, and, now the army is
on its march, compiles a rough journal, which he forwards as occasion
serves. This document is read with great eagerness by Harry, and more
than once read out in family councils on the long summer nights as Madame
Esmond sits upright at her tea-table; as little Fanny Mountain is busy
with her sewing, as Mr. Dempster and Mrs. Mountain sit over their cards,
as the hushed old servants of the house move about silently in the
gloaming and listen to the words of the young master. Hearken to Harry
Warrington reading out his brother's letter!
"It must be owned that the provinces are acting scurvily by his Majesty
King George, and his representative here is in a flame of fury. Virginia
is bad enough, and poor Maryland not much better, but Pennsylvania is
worst of all. We pray them to send us troops from home to fight the
French; and we propose to maintain the troops when they come. We not only
don't keep our promise, and make scarce any provision for our defenders,
but our people insist upon the most exorbitant prices for their cattle
and stores, and actually cheat the soldiers who are come to fight their
battles. No wonder the General swears, and the troops are sulky. The
delays have been endless. Owing to the failure of the several provinces
to provide their promised stores and means of locomotion, weeks and
months have elapsed, during which time no doubt the French have been
strengthening themselves on our frontier and in the forts they have
turned us out of. Though there never will be any love lost between me and
Colonel Washington, it must be owned that _your favourite_ (I am not
jealous, Hal) is a brave man and a good officer. The family respect him
very much, and the General is always asking his opinion. Indeed, he is
almost the only man who has seen the Indians in their war-paint, and I
own I think he was right in firing upon Mons. Jumonville last year."
Harry resumes: "We keep the strictest order here in camp, and the orders
against drunkenness and ill behaviour on the part of the men are very
severe. The roll of each company is called at morning, noon, and night,
and a return of the absent and disorderly is given in by the officer to
the commanding officer of the regiment, who has to see that they are
properly punished. Each regiment has Divine Service performed at the head
of its colours every Sunday. The General does everything in the power of
mortal man to prevent plundering, and to encourage the people round about
to bring in provisions. He has declared soldiers shall be shot who dare
to interrupt or molest the market people. He has ordered the price of
provisions to be raised a penny a pound, and has lent money out of his
own pocket to provide the camp. Altogether he is a strange compound, this
General, and shows many strange inconsistencies in his conduct.
"Colonel Washington has had the fever very smartly, and has hardly been
well enough to keep up with the march. When either of us is ill, we are
almost as good friends again as ever, and though I don't love him as you
do, I know he is a good soldier, a good officer, and a brave, honest man;
and, at any rate, shall love him none the worse for not wanting to be our
"'Tis a pretty sight," Harry continued, reading from his brother's
journal, "to see a long line of red coats threading through the woods or
taking their ground after the march. The care against surprise is so
great and constant that we defy prowling Indians to come unawares upon
us, and our advanced sentries and savages have on the contrary fallen in
with the enemy and taken a scalp or two from them. They are such cruel
villains, these French and their painted allies, that we do not think of
showing them mercy. Only think, we found but yesterday a little boy
scalped but yet alive in a lone house, where his parents had been
attacked and murdered by the savage enemy, of whom--so great is his
indignation at their cruelty--our General has offered a reward of L5 for
all the Indian scalps brought in.
"When our march is over, you should see our camp, and all the care
bestowed on it. Our baggage and our General's tents and guard are placed
quite in the centre of the camp. We have outlying sentries by twos, by
threes, by tens, by whole companies. At the least surprise, they are
instructed to run in on the main body and rally round the tents and
baggage, which are so arranged themselves as to be a strong
fortification. Sady and I, you must know, are marching on foot now, and
my horses are carrying baggage. The Pennsylvanians sent such rascally
animals into camp that they speedily gave in. What good horses were left
'twas our duty to give up; and Roxana has a couple of packs upon her back
instead of her young master. She knows me right well, and whinnies when
she sees me, and I walk by her side, and we have many a talk together on
"July 4. To guard against surprises, we are all warned to pay especial
attention to the beat of the drum; always halting when we hear the long
roll beat, and marching at the beat of the long march. We are more on the
alert regarding the enemy now. We have our advanced pickets doubled, and
two sentries at every post. The men on the advanced pickets are
constantly under arms, with fixed bayonets, all through the night, and
relieved every two hours. The half that are relieved lie down by their
arms, but are not suffered to leave their pickets. 'Tis evident that we
are drawing near to the enemy now. This packet goes out with the
General's to Colonel Dunbar's camp, who is thirty miles behind us; and
will be carried thence to Frederick, and thence to my honoured mother's
house at Castlewood, to whom I send my duty, with kindest remembrances,
as to all friends there, and how much love I need not say to my dearest
brother from his affectionate George E. Warrington."
The whole land was now lying parched and scorching in the July heat. For
ten days no news had come from the column advancing on the Ohio. Their
march, though it toiled but slowly through the painful forest, must bring
ere long up with the enemy; the troops, led by consummate captains, were
accustomed now to the wilderness, and not afraid of surprise. Every
precaution had been taken against ambush. It was the outlying enemy who
were discovered, pursued, destroyed, by the vigilant scouts and
skirmishers of the British force. The last news heard was that the army
had advanced considerably beyond the ground of Mr. Washington's
discomfiture in the previous year, and two days after must be within a
day's march of the French fort. About taking it no fears were
entertained; the amount of the French reinforcements from Montreal was
known. Mr. Braddock, with his two veteran regiments from Britain, and
their allies of Virginia and Pennsylvania, was more than a match for any
troops that could be collected under the white flag.
Such continued to be the talk, in the sparse towns of our Virginian
province, at the gentry's houses, and the rough road-side taverns, where
people met and canvassed the war. The few messengers sent back by the
General reported well of the main force. It was thought the enemy would
not stand or defend himself at all. Had he intended to attack, he might
have seized a dozen occasions for assaulting our troops at passes through
which they had been allowed to go entirely free. So George had given up
his favourite mare, like a hero as he was, and was marching a-foot with
the line. Madame Esmond vowed that he should have the best horse in
Virginia or Carolina in place of Roxana. There were horses enough to be
had in the provinces, and for money. It was only for the King's service
that they were not forthcoming.
Although at their family meetings and repasts the inmates of Castlewood
always talked cheerfully, never anticipating any but a triumphant issue
to the campaign, or acknowledging any feeling of disquiet, yet it must be
owned they were mighty uneasy when at home, quitting it ceaselessly, and
forever on the trot from one neighbour's house to another in quest of
news. It was prodigious how quickly reports ran and spread. For three
weeks after the army's departure, the reports regarding it were cheerful;
and when our Castlewood friends met at their supper their tone was
confident and their news pleasant.
But on the 10th of July a vast and sudden gloom spread over the province.
A look of terror and doubt seemed to fall upon every face. Affrighted
negroes wistfully eyed their masters and retired, to hum and whisper with
one another. The fiddles ceased in the quarters; the song and laugh of
those cheery black folk were hushed. Right and left everybody's servants
were on the gallop for news. The country taverns were thronged with
horsemen, who drank and cursed and brawled at the bars, each bringing his
gloomy story. The army had been surprised. The troops had fallen into an
ambuscade, and had been cut up almost to a man. All the officers were
taken down by the French marksmen and the savages. The General had been
wounded, and carried off the field in his sash. Four days afterwards the
report was that the General was dead, and scalped by a French Indian.
Ah, what a scream poor Mrs. Mountain gave when Gumbo brought this news
from across the James River, and little Fanny sprang crying to her
mother's arms! "Lord God Almighty, watch over us, and defend my boy!"
said Mrs. Esmond, sinking down on her knees and lifting her rigid hands
to heaven. The gentlemen were not at home when the rumour arrived, but
they came in an hour or two afterwards, each from his hunt for news. The
Scotch tutor did not dare to meet the widow's agonising looks. Harry
Warrington was as pale as his mother. It might not be true about the
manner of the General's death--but he was dead. The army had been
surprised by Indians, and had fled, and been killed without seeing the
enemy. An express had arrived from Dunbar's camp. Fugitives were pouring
in there. Should he go and see? He must go and see. He and stout little
Dempster armed themselves and mounted, taking a couple of mounted
servants with them.
They followed the northward track which the expeditionary army had hewed
out for itself, and at every step which brought them nearer to the scene
of action, the disaster of the fearful day seemed to magnify. The day
after the defeat a number of the miserable fugitives from the fatal
battle of the 9th of July had reached Dunbar's camp, fifty miles from the
field. Thither poor Harry and his companions rode, stopping stragglers,
asking news, giving money, getting from one and all the same gloomy tale.
A thousand men were slain--two-thirds of the officers were down--all the
General's aides-de-camp were hit. Were hit--but were they killed? Those
who fell never rose again. The tomahawk did its work upon them. Oh,
brother brother! All the fond memories of their youth, all the dear
remembrances of their childhood, the love and the laughter, the tender
romantic vows which they had pledged to each other as lads, were recalled
by Harry with pangs inexpressibly keen. Wounded men looked up and were
softened by his grief; rough men melted as they saw the woe written on
the handsome young face; the hardy old tutor could scarcely look at him
for tears, and grieved for him even more than for his dear pupil, who, he
believed, lay dead under the savage Indian knife.
At every step which Harry Warrington took towards Pennsylvania the
reports of the British disaster were magnified and confirmed. Those two
famous regiments which had fought in the Scottish and Continental wars
had fled from an enemy almost unseen, and their boasted discipline and
valour had not enabled them to face a band of savages and a few French
infantry. The unfortunate commander of the expedition had shown the
utmost bravery and resolution.
Four times his horse had been shot under him. Twice he had been wounded,
and the last time of the mortal hurt which ended his life three days
after the battle. More than one of Harry's informants described the
action to the poor lad,--the passage of the river, the long line of
advance through the wilderness, the firing in front, the vain struggle of
the men to advance, and the artillery to clear the way of the enemy; then
the ambushed fire from behind every bush and tree, and the murderous
fusillade, by which at least half of the expeditionary force had been
shot down. But not all the General's suite were killed, Harry heard. One
of his aides-de-camp, a Virginian gentleman, was ill of fever and
exhaustion at Dunbar's camp.
One of them--but which? To the camp Harry hurried, and reached it at
length. It was George Washington Harry found stretched in a tent there,
and not his brother. A sharper pain than that of the fever Mr. Washington
declared he felt, when he saw Harry Warrington, and could give him no
news of George.
Mr. Washington did not dare to tell Harry all. For three days after the
fight his duty had been to be near the General. On the fatal 9th of July
he had seen George go to the front with orders from the chief, to whose
side he never returned. After Braddock himself died, the aide-de-camp had
found means to retrace his course to the field. The corpses which
remained there were stripped and horribly mutilated. One body he buried
which he thought to be George Warrington's. His own illness was
increased, perhaps occasioned, by the anguish which he underwent in his
search for the unhappy volunteer.
"Ah, George! If you had loved him you would have found him dead or
alive," Harry cried out. Nothing would satisfy him but that he, too,
should go to the ground and examine it. With money he procured a guide or
two. He forded the river at the place where the army had passed over; he
went from one end to the other of the dreadful field. The horrible
spectacle of mutilation caused him to turn away with shudder and
loathing. What news could the vacant woods, or those festering corpses
lying under the trees, give the lad of his lost brother? He was for
going, unarmed, with a white flag, to the French fort, whither, after
their victory, the enemy had returned; but his guides refused to advance
with him. The French might possibly respect them, but the Indians would
not. "Keep your hair for your lady-mother, my young gentleman," said the
guide. "Tis enough that she loses one son in this campaign."
When Harry returned to the English encampment at Dunbar's it was his turn
to be down with the fever. Delirium set in upon him, and he lay some time
in the tent and on the bed from which his friend had just risen
convalescent. For some days he did not know who watched him; and poor
Dempster, who had tended him in more than one of these maladies, thought
the widow must lose both her children; but the fever was so far subdued
that the boy was enabled to rally somewhat, and get on horseback. Mr.
Washington and Dempster both escorted him home. It was with a heavy
heart, no doubt, that all three beheld once more the gates of Castlewood.
A servant in advance had been sent to announce their coming. First came
Mrs. Mountain and her little daughter, welcoming Harry with many tears
and embraces; but she scarce gave a nod of recognition to Mr. Washington;
and the little girl caused the young officer to start, and turn deadly
pale, by coming up to him with her hands behind her, and asking, "Why
have you not brought George back, too?"
Dempster was graciously received by the two ladies. "Whatever could be
done, we know _you_ would do, Mr. Dempster," says Mrs. Mountain, giving
him her hand. "Make a curtsey to Mr. Dempster, Fanny, and remember,
child, to be grateful to all who have been friendly to our benefactors.
Will it please you to take any refreshment before you ride, Colonel
Mr. Washington had had a sufficient ride already, and counted as
certainly upon the hospitality of Castlewood as he would upon the shelter
of his own house.
"The time to feed my horse, and a glass of water for myself, and I will
trouble Castlewood hospitality no farther," Mr. Washington said.
"Sure, George, you have your room here, and my mother is above stairs
getting it ready!" cries Harry. "That poor horse of yours stumbled with
you, and can't go farther this evening."
"Hush! Your mother won't see him, child," whispered Mrs. Mountain.
"Not see George? Why, he is like a son of the house," cries Harry.
"She had best not see him. I don't meddle any more in family matters,
child; but when the Colonel's servant rode in, and said you were coming,
Madame Esmond left this room and said she felt she could not see Mr.
Washington. Will you go to her?" Harry took Mrs. Mountain's arm, and
excusing himself to the Colonel, to whom he said he would return in a few
minutes, he left the parlour in which they had assembled, and went to the
upper rooms, where Madame Esmond was.
He was hastening across the corridor, and, with an averted head, passing
by one especial door, which he did not like to look at, for it was that
of his brother's room; and as he came to it, Madame Esmond issued from
it, and folded him to her heart, and led him in. A settee was by the bed,
and a book of psalms lay on the coverlet. All the rest of the room was
exactly as George had left it.
"My poor child! How thin thou art grown--how haggard you look! Never
mind. A mother's care will make thee well again. 'Twas nobly done to go
and brave sickness and danger in search of your brother. Had others been
as faithful, he might be here now. Never mind, my Harry; our hero will
come back to us. I know he is not dead. He will come back to us, I know
he will come." And when Harry pressed her to give a reason for her
belief, she said she had seen her father two nights running in a dream,
and he had told her that her boy was a prisoner among the Indians.
Madame Esmond's grief had not prostrated her as Harry's had when first it
fell upon him; it had rather stirred and animated her; her eyes were
eager, her countenance angry and revengeful. The lad wondered almost at
the condition in which he found his mother.
But when he besought her to go downstairs, and give her a hand of welcome
to George Washington, who had accompanied him, the lady's excitement
painfully increased. She said she should shudder at touching his hand.
She declared Mr. Washington had taken her son from her; she could not
sleep under the same roof with him.
"No gentleman," cried Harry, warmly, "was ever refused shelter under my
"Oh, no, gentlemen!" exclaims the little widow; "well let us go down, if
you like, son, and pay our respects to this one. Will you please to give
us your arm?" and taking an arm which was very little able to give her
support, she walked down the broad stairs and into the apartment where
the Colonel sat.
She made him a ceremonious curtsey, and extended one of the little hands,
which she allowed for a moment to rest in his. "I wish that our meeting
had been happier, Colonel Washington," she said.
"You do not grieve more than I do that it is otherwise, Madame," said
"I might have wished that the meeting had been spared, that I might not
have kept you from friends whom you are naturally anxious to see, that my
boy's indisposition had not detained you. Home and his good nurse
Mountain, and his mother and our good Dr. Dempster will soon restore him.
'Twas scarce necessary, Colonel, that you who have so many affairs on
your hands, military and domestic, should turn doctor too."
"Harry was ill and weak, and I thought it was my duty to ride by him,"
faltered the Colonel.
"You yourself, sir, have gone through the _fatigues_ and _dangers_ of the
campaign in the most wonderful manner," said the widow, curtseying again,
and looking at him with her impenetrable black eyes.
"I wish to Heaven, Madame, someone else had come back in my place!"
"Nay, sir, you have ties which must render your life more than ever
valuable and dear to you, and duties to which, I know, you must be
anxious to betake yourself. In our present deplorable state of doubt and
distress Castlewood can be a welcome place to no stranger, much less to
you, and so I know, sir, you will be for leaving us ere long. And you
will pardon me if the state of my own spirits obliges me for the most
part to keep my chamber. But my friends here will bear you company as
long as you favour us, whilst I nurse my poor Harry upstairs. Mountain!
you will have the cedar room on the ground floor ready for Mr. Washington
and anything in the house is at his command. Farewell, sir. Will you be
pleased to present my compliments to your mother, who will be thankful to
have her son safe and sound out of the war?--as also to my young friend,
Martha Custis, to whom and to whose children I wish every happiness.
Come, my son!" and with these words, and another freezing curtsey, the
pale little woman retreated, looking steadily at the Colonel, who stood
dumb on the floor.
Strong as Madame Esmond's belief appeared to be respecting her son's
safety, the house of Castlewood naturally remained sad and gloomy. To
look for George was hoping against hope. No authentic account of his
death had indeed arrived, and no one appeared who had seen him fall, but
hundreds more had been so stricken on that fatal day, with no eyes to
behold their last pangs, save those of the lurking enemy and the comrades
dying by their side. A fortnight after the defeat, when Harry was absent
on his quest, George's servant, Sady, reappeared, wounded and maimed, at
Castlewood. But he could give no coherent account of the battle, only of
his flight from the centre, where he was with the baggage. He had no news
of his master since the morning of the action. For many days Sady lurked
in the negro quarters away from the sight of Madame Esmond, whose anger
he did not dare to face. That lady's few neighbours spoke of her as
labouring under a delusion. So strong was it that there were times when
Harry and the other members of the little Castlewood family were almost
brought to share in it. No. George was not dead; George was a prisoner
among the Indians; George would come back and rule over Castlewood; as
sure, as sure as his Majesty would send a great force from home to
recover the tarnished glory of the British arms, and to drive the French
out of the Americas.
As for Mr. Washington, she would never, with her own good will, behold
him again. He had promised to guard George's life with his own, and where
was her boy.
So, if Harry wanted to meet his friend, he had to do so in secret. Madame
Esmond was exceedingly excited when she heard that the Colonel and her
son absolutely had met, and said to Harry, "How you can talk, sir, of
loving George, and then go and meet your Mr. Washington, I can't
So there was not only grief in the Castlewood House, but there was
disunion. As a result of the gloom, and of his grief for the loss of his
brother, Harry was again and again struck down by the fever, and all the
Jesuits' bark in America could not cure him. They had a tobacco-house and
some land about the new town of Richmond, and he went thither and there
mended a little, but still did not get quite well, and the physicians
strongly counselled a sea-voyage. Madame Esmond at one time had thoughts
of going with him, but, as she and Harry did not agree very well, though
they loved each other very heartily, 'twas determined that Harry should
see the world for himself.
Accordingly he took passage on the "Young Rachel," Virginian ship,
Edward Franks master. She proceeded to Bristol and moored as near as
possible to Trail's wharf, to which she was consigned. Mr. Trail, who
could survey his ship from his counting-house windows, straightway took
boat and came up her side, and gave the hand of welcome to Captain
Franks, congratulating the Captain upon the speedy and fortunate voyage
which he had made.
Franks was a pleasant man, who loved a joke. "We have," says he, "but
yonder ugly negro boy, who is fetching the trunks, and a passenger who
has the state cabin to himself."
Mr. Trail looked as if he would have preferred more mercies from Heaven.
"Confound you, Franks, and your luck! The 'Duke William,' which came in
last week, brought fourteen, and she is not half of our tonnage."
"And this passenger, who has the whole cabin, don't pay nothin',"
continued the Captain. "Swear now, it will do you good, Mr. Trail,
indeed it will. I have tried the medicine."
"A passenger take the whole cabin and not pay? Gracious mercy, are you a
fool, Captain Franks?"
"Ask the passenger himself, for here he comes." And as the master spoke,
a young man of some nineteen years of age came up the hatchway. He had a
cloak and a sword under his arm, and was dressed in deep mourning, and
called out, "Gumbo, you idiot, why don't you fetch the baggage out of the
cabin? Well, shipmate, our journey is ended. You will see all the little
folks to-night whom you have been talking about. Give my love to Polly,
and Betty, and little Tommy; not forgetting my duty to Mrs. Franks. I
thought, yesterday, the voyage would never be done, and now I am almost
sorry it is over. That little berth in my cabin looks very comfortable
now I am going to leave it."
Mr. Trail scowled at the young passenger who had paid no money for his
passage. He scarcely nodded his head to the stranger, when Captain
Franks said: "This here gentleman is Mr. Trail, sir, whose name you have
"It's pretty well known in Bristol, sir," says Mr. Trail, majestically.
"And this is Mr. Warrington, Madame Esmond Warrington's son, of
Castlewood," continued the Captain.
The British merchant's hat was instantly off his head, and the owner of
the beaver was making a prodigious number of bows, as if a crown-prince
were before him.
"Gracious powers, Mr. Warrington! This is a delight, indeed! What a
crowning mercy that your voyage should have been so prosperous! You have
my boat to go on shore. Let me cordially and respectfully welcome you to
England! Let me shake your hand as the son of my benefactress and
patroness, Mrs. Esmond Warrington, whose name is known and honoured on
Bristol 'Change, I warrant you. Isn't it, Franks?"
"There's no sweeter tobacco comes from Virginia," says Mr. Franks,
drawing a great brass tobacco-box from his pocket, and thrusting a quid
into his jolly mouth. "You don't know what a comfort it is, sir; you'll
take to it, bless you, as you grow older. Won't he, Mr. Trail? I wish you
had ten shiploads of it instead of one. You might have ten shiploads;
I've told Madame Esmond so; I've rode over her plantation; she treats me
like a lord when I go to the house. She is a real-born lady, she is; and
might have a thousand hogsheads as easy as her hundreds, if there were
but hands enough."
"I have lately engaged in the Guinea trade, and could supply her ladyship
with any number of healthy young negroes before next fall," said Mr.
"We are averse to the purchase of negroes from Africa," said the young
gentleman, coldly. "My grandfather and my mother have always objected to
it, and I do not like to think of selling or buying the poor wretches."
"It is for their good, my dear young sir! We purchased the poor creatures
only for their benefit; let me talk this matter over with you at my own
house. I can introduce you to a happy home, a Christian family, and a
British merchant's honest fare. Can't I, Captain Franks?"
"Can't say," growled the Captain. "Never asked me to take bite or sup at
your table. Asked me to psalm-singing once, and to hear Mr. Ward preach:
don't care for them sort of entertainments."
Not choosing to take any notice of this remark, Mr. Trail continued in
his low tone: "Business is business, my dear young sir, and I know 'tis
only my duty, the duty of all of us, to cultivate the fruits of the earth
in their season. As the heir of Lady Esmond's estate--for I speak, I
believe, to the heir of the great property?"
The young gentleman made a bow.
"I would urge upon you, at the very earliest moment, the duty of
increasing the ample means with which Heaven has blessed you. As an
honest factor, I could not do otherwise: as a prudent man, should I
scruple to speak of what will tend to your profit and mine? No, my dear
"My name is not George; my name is Henry," said the young man as he
turned his head away, and his eyes filled with tears.
"Gracious powers! what do you mean, sir? Did you not say you were my
lady's heir, and is not George Esmond Warrington, Esq.--?"
"Hold your tongue, you fool!" cried Mr. Franks, striking the merchant a
tough blow on his sleek sides, as the young lad turned away. "Don't you
see the young gentleman a-swabbing his eyes, and note his black clothes?"
"What do you mean, Captain Franks, by laying your hand on your owners?
Mr. George is the heir; I know the Colonel's will well enough."
"Mr. George is there," said the Captain, pointing with his thumb
to the deck.
"Where?" cries the factor.
"Mr. George is there!" reiterated the Captain, again lifting up his
finger towards the topmast, or the sky beyond. "He is dead a year, sir,
come next 9th of July. He would go out with General Braddock on that
dreadful business to the Belle Riviere. He and a thousand more never came
back again. Every man of them was murdered as he fell. You know the
Indian way, Mr. Trail?" And here the Captain passed his hand rapidly
round his head.
"Horrible! ain't it, sir? Horrible! He was a fine young man, the very
picture of this one; only his hair was black, which is now hanging in a
bloody Indian wigwam. He was often and often on board of the 'Young
Rachel,' and would have his chests of books broke open on deck before
they landed. He was a shy and silent young gent, not like this one, which
was the merriest, wildest young fellow, full of his songs and fun. He
took on dreadful at the news; went to his bed, had that fever which lays
so many of 'em by the heels along that swampy Potomac, but he's got
better on the voyage: the voyage makes everyone better; and, in course,
the young gentleman can't be forever a-crying after a brother who dies
and leaves him a great fortune. Ever since we sighted Ireland he has been
quite gay and happy, only he would go off at times when he was most
merry, saying, 'I wish my dearest Georgie could enjoy this here sight
along with me,' and when you mentioned t'other's name, you see, he
couldn't stand it." And the honest Captain's own eyes filled with tears,
as he turned and looked towards the object of his compassion.
Mr. Trail assumed a sad expression befitting the tragic compliment with
which he prepared to greet the young Virginian; but the latter answered
him very curtly, declining his offers of hospitality, and only stayed in
Mr. Trail's house long enough to drink a glass of wine and to take up a
sum of money of which he stood in need. But he and Captain Franks parted
on the very warmest terms, and all the little crew of the "Young Rachel"
cheered from the ship's side as their passenger left it.
Again and again Harry Warrington and his brother had pored over the
English map, and determined upon the course which they should take upon
arriving at Home. All Americans of English ancestry who love their mother
country have rehearsed their English travels, and visited in fancy the
spots with which their hopes, their parents' fond stories, their friends'
descriptions, have rendered them familiar. There are few things to me
more affecting in the history of the quarrel which divided the two great
nations than the recurrence of that word Home, as used by the younger
towards the elder country. Harry Warrington had his chart laid out.
Before London, and its glorious temples of St. Paul's and St. Peter's;
its grim Tower, where the brave and loyal had shed their blood, from
Wallace down to Balmerino and Kilmarnock, pitied by gentle hearts; before
the awful window at Whitehall, whence the martyr Charles had issued, to
kneel once more, and then ascended to Heaven; before playhouses, parks,
and palaces, wondrous resorts of wit, pleasure and splendour; before
Shakespeare's resting-place under the tall spire which rises by Avon,
amidst the sweet Warwickshire pastures; before Derby, and Falkirk, and
Culloden, where the cause of honour and loyalty had fallen, it might be
to rise no more: before all these points in their pilgrimage there was
one which the young Virginian brothers held even more sacred, and that
was the home of their family, that old Castlewood in Hampshire, about
which their parents had talked so fondly. From Bristol to Bath, from Bath
to Salisbury, to Winchester, to Hexton, to Home; they knew the way, and
had mapped the journey many and many a time.
We must fancy our American traveller to be a handsome young fellow, whose
suit of sables only makes him look the more interesting. The plump
landlady looked kindly after the young gentleman as he passed through the
inn-hall from his post-chaise, and the obsequious chamberlain bowed him
upstairs to the "Rose" or the "Dolphin." The trim chambermaid dropped her
best curtsey for his fee, and Gumbo, in the inn-kitchen, where the
townsfolk drank their mug of ale by the great fire, bragged of his young
master's splendid house in Virginia, and of the immense wealth to which
he was heir. The post-chaise whirled the traveller through the most
delightful home scenery his eyes had ever lighted on. If English
landscape is pleasant to the American of the present day, who must needs
contrast the rich woods and growing pastures and picturesque ancient
villages of the old country with the rough aspect of his own, how much
pleasanter must Harry Warrington's course have been, whose journeys had
lain through swamps and forest solitudes from one Virginian ordinary to
another log-house at the end of the day's route, and who now lighted
suddenly upon the busy, happy, splendid scene of English summer? And the
high-road, a hundred years ago, was not that grass-grown desert of the
present time. It was alive with constant travel and traffic: the country
towns and inns swarmed with life and gaiety. The ponderous waggon, with
its bells and plodding team; the light post-coach that achieved the
journey from the "White Hart," Salisbury, to the "Swan with Two Necks,"
London, in two days; the strings of pack-horses that had not yet left the
road; my lord's gilt post-chaise and six, with the outriders galloping on
ahead; the country squire's great coach and heavy Flanders mares; the
farmers trotting to market, or the parson jolting to the cathedral town
on Dumpling, his wife behind on the pillion--all these crowding sights
and brisk people greeted the young traveller on his summer journey.
Hodge, the farmer's boy, took off his hat, and Polly, the milk-maid,
bobbed a curtsey, as the chaise whirled over the pleasant village-green,
and the white-headed children lifted their chubby faces and cheered. The
church-spires glistened with gold, the cottage-gables glared in sunshine,
the great elms murmured in summer, or cast purple shadows over the
grass. Young Warrington never had had such a glorious day, or witnessed a
scene so delightful. To be nineteen years of age, with high health, high
spirits, and a full purse, to be making your first journey, and rolling
through the country in a post-chaise at nine miles an hour--Oh, happy
youth! almost it makes one young to think of him!
And there let us leave him at Castlewood Inn, on ground hallowed by the
footsteps of his ancestors. There he stands, with new scenes, new
friends, new experiences ahead, rich in hope, in expectation, and in the
enthusiasm of youth--youth that comes but once, and is so fleet of foot!
And still more glad would he have been had he known that the near future
was to verify his mother's belief; to restore to him the twin-brother now
mourned as dead. And glad are we, in looking beyond this story of boyhood
days, to find that though in the Revolutionary War the subjects of this
sketch fought on different sides in the quarrel, they came out peacefully
at its conclusion, as brothers should, their love never having materially
diminished, however angrily the contest divided them.
The colonel in scarlet and the general in blue and buff hang side by side
in the wainscoted parlour of the Warringtons in England, and the
portraits are known by the name of "The Virginians."
BECKY SHARP AT SCHOOL
[Illustration: BECKY SHARP LEAVING CHISWICK.]
While the last century was in its teens, and on one sunshiny morning in
June, there drove up to the great iron gate of Miss Pinkerton's Academy
for young ladies, on Chiswick Mall, a large family coach, with two fat
horses in blazing harness, driven by a fat coachman in a three-cornered
hat and wig, at the rate of four miles an hour. A black servant, who
reposed on the box beside the fat coachman, uncurled his bandy legs as
soon as the equipage drew up opposite Miss Pinkerton's shining brass
plate; and as he pulled the bell at least a score of young heads were
seen peering out of the narrow windows of the stately old brick house.
Nay, the acute observer might have recognised the little red nose of
good-natured Miss Jemima Pinkerton herself, rising over some
geranium-pots in the window of that lady's own drawing-room. "It is Mrs.
Sedley's coach, sister," said Miss Jemima. "Sambo, the black servant, has
just rung the bell; and the coachman has a new red waistcoat."
"Have you completed all the necessary preparations incident to Miss
Sedley's departure, Miss Jemima?" asked Miss Pinkerton, that majestic
lady, the friend of the famous literary man, Dr. Johnson, the author of
the great Dixonary of the English language, called commonly the great