The Little Washington's Relatives by Roy, Lillian Elizabeth
The Little Washingtons’ Relatives
Lillian Elizabeth Roy
CONTENTS CHAPTER I—THE CITY COUSINS CHAPTER II—THE CUSTIS WEDDING PARTY CHAPTER III—MARTHA CUSTIS’ STORY CHAPTER IV—WASHINGTON THE GENERAL CHAPTER V—THE BOSTON TEA PARTY CHAPTER VI—THE BATTLE OF BOSTON CHAPTER VII—BATTLES ABOUT NEW YORK CHAPTER VIII—EARNING THE PRIZES CHAPTER IX—THE ARMY WINS UNIFORMS
[Illustration: “OH, I’VE GOT IT ALL PLANNED OUT”—DECLARED GEORGE.]
THE LITTLE WASHINGTONS’ RELATIVES
LILLIAN ELIZABETH ROY
GROSSET & DUNLAP
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK
Made in the United States of America
Copyright, 1918, by
THE PLATT & NOURSE COMPANY
THE LITTLE WASHINGTONS’ RELATIVES
THE CITY COUSINS
“I heard the automobile horn, Martha!” shouted George Parke, jumping from the newel post of the front veranda steps, where he had perched himself to await the Philadelphia cousins who were expected that morning.
“I didn’t hear anything but Jim squealing ’cause his mammy won’t let him peek around the corner of the house,” scorned Martha Parke, his sister, a year and a half younger than George.
“Well, it’s time for them to be here, anyway,” argued George, with the usual finality of a boy past ten years of age.
“I wonder what they look like. Can you remember either one when we visited Philadelphia five years ago?” ventured Martha.
“All I can remember is Anne having yellow hair and her pinafore always twisted in her hands, and Jack going around with that little paper mat that he wove in kindergarten school his first day. Don’t you remember how he took it to bed with him, and all the red paper came off on his pillow during the night when he breathed on it, and his mother thought he was bleeding at the nose and mouth?” and George laughed at the dim recollections of five years ago.
“Oh, yes, I remember that! Wasn’t it funny when his nurse scrubbed and scrubbed to get the red dye from his face, and all the soap-suds got in his mouth so’s he yelled and fought!” laughed Martha also.
“And don’t you remember the day we were left alone to play while aunty took mother to the opera—we couldn’t go out ’cause it rained so hard, and we began sliding down the marble end of the bath tub? That was fun—just like winter when the snow is on the ground,” reminded Martha.
“Yes, and then two of us tried to slide down at the same time and got stuck in the bottom of the tub. Jack was bigger, so he pulled himself out, and in doing so managed to turn on the faucet. My, but wasn’t I wet that day!” roared George, slapping his knee.
“Oo-oh, but do you remember how Uncle Fred scolded when he saw the scratches our shoes had made in the porcelain tub?” breathed Martha, still fearful of that escapade.
“Ha, ha! Martha, do you remember the day we went to the zoo and fed peanuts to the monkeys? Wasn’t that funny when the chimpanzee caught Anne’s little straw hat and carried it to the top of the cage and put it on his own head? I’ll never forget how we all screamed to him to bring it back—as if the monkey understood us.”
“Even the animal trainer couldn’t make him give it back, and Aunt Ally begged him to leave it, as she would not take it again, anyway,” chuckled Martha, picturing the scene again.
“That was a fine visit, Martha—eh?” said George, looking at his sister for smiling approval.
“Yes, and I’ve been thinking, George, we ought to give our cousins just as good a time while they visit us here,” said the little girl.
“Oh, I’ve got it all planned out—you wait and see!” declared George.
“You have? Oh, you never said a word to me about it! Do tell me what it is.”
“Well, in the first place, we have to take them all over and introduce them to John Graham and his place,” said George, counting off the plan on his fingers.
“Uh-huh—and don’t forget Jim. We must introduce Jim, you know,” reminded Martha.
“Da’s right! Yo’ all jus’ cough when yo’ want’s me an’ Ah’ll pop right out. I’se hidin’ heah now whar mammy cain’t see me,” came a hoarse whisper from the Virginia creeper vine at the side of the porch.
“Oo-oh, you there, Jim—come out and let’s plan things,” called George, running over to drag out a seven-year-old pickaninny who was their constant shadow and general factotum,—especially so when there was mischief brewing, for Jim always was the scapegoat.
Jim resisted for a few moments, as he feared his mammy’s large, flat hand; but George assured him that as he was invited to be present at the reception of the city cousins it was all right with mammy.
“As I was telling Martha—we must plan some great fun for our cousins’ visit here, ’cause they gave us such a good time when we were little children,” explained George, now an _old man_ past the age of ten.
“First we’re going to show them all over the place—take them over to John’s and everywhere,” added Martha, explaining.
“An’ show dem whar we-all had th’ homestead fire at th’ back uv th’ lot,” reminded Jim, feeling tenderly of his now fuzzy new crop of hair grown since his other locks had been sizzled off.
“And don’t forget to tell them all about the battle we had with John and his cousins at Fort Duquesne that day. Of course they will see the broken-down hedge and wonder at it—then we can tell them all about the fun without bragging,” giggled Martha.
“We’re not through with that affair yet, either,” added George. “I read in our history this morning that Braddock was _not_ killed that same day, but Washington pulled him out of the fight and tried to save his life, and for that great deed, General Braddock bequeathed his wonderful charger and also his body-servant, Bishop, to Washington. After that Washington always rode that favorite horse and Bishop went everywhere the general went.”
“I’se kin be Bishop, Marser Garge! Cain’t we borrer John’s pony for th’ charger some day when we-all play tha’ battle agin?” asked Jim eagerly.
“Sure! That’s what I planned,” quickly added George, to cover any delighted surprise he felt at Jim’s novel idea.
“Then, when we get all through with showing our cousins how we fought that ambush of Indians, when Jim hit John on the stiff beaver with the hatchet, we can finish the play. There’s lots to be played out in that battle. For instance, we buried Braddock right off, you see, and we ought to have dragged him away while the Indians tried to scalp him. We can let him die after we get him to a settlement, and bury him decently with a fine funeral. Think of all the fun we can have putting John down in a real hole and throwing flowers on top of him!” planned George zealously.
“No, George, that won’t be nice! We mustn’t play things like that at all! I hate to see funerals and hear people cry, and I never want to make-believe any such thing!” objected Martha.
“‘Sides, Garge, yo’ mommer’ll punish yo’ agin ef we put John in the groun’ and play he’s daid!” warned Jim ominously.
“And we can kill John by just pretending we did and jump that grave scene,” quickly suggested Martha.
“We-el, you two are too young for such play, I s’pose, but it would have been great to creep out to the back hedge some dark night and do that Braddock death-bed scene with John! I’d be reading the service from a book, and the rest of you could be weeping and wringing your hands while Jim dropped John in the grave. Then we’d cover him with bushes and things so’s the Indians couldn’t find him—they wanted his scalp, you know,” sighed George, as he reluctantly sacrificed the impressive scene at the urgent request of his two companions.
“Then what? When we finish Braddock what shall we play?” asked Martha.
“Then it will be time for us to use those old-fashioned costumes we found in the attic the day Jim came down the rope and thought he was killed. We must have George getting married now—’cause he must begin the American Revolution and do lots of things that he did after he was married. Of course, I could play all he did without getting married, but as long as you’re here and will want to play with us, I’ll marry you, and then leave you at Mount Vernon while I go and have a good time fighting with the boys,” generously said George to Martha.
“She didn’t! Martha Custis didn’t stay at home! She followed the general when he camped in the winters, and did lots of fine things for the soldiers in the army. I’m going to play the same thing, and if you won’t let me I won’t marry you at all. I’ll get Jack to play husband instead, and I’ll marry him, so there!”
“But, Martha, you can’t! Don’t you see no one but Washington would do for Martha Custis?—and besides, Jack must act another part, so he couldn’t marry you even if I’d let him!” argued George, anxious over a possible refusal of his suit to Martha.
“Ah don’ see dat dat’s any fun—jes’ gettin’ dressed up in dat finery in de attic an’ gettin’ married. It’s heaps moh fun playin’ war and bein’ Injuns!” sneered Jim, who always was the Indian in these wars.
“Oh, Jim! It will be lots of fun! You’ll be the cook to fix the fine party dinner, and Jack can play minister. John and Anne will be my children and Washington’s step-children, you know,” explained Martha.
“Kin we-all git some cookies an’ watermelyon fer de party?” asked Jim with sudden interest.
“Sure! I’ll get mother to ask mammy for some, and besides I’ll find some more good things to eat. John can bring some, too, and we can have a make-believe stove and cook lots of fine things that they had at that wedding supper,” replied George.
“Den Ah’ll play cook!” agreed Jim.
“S-sh! I know I heard a horn that time!” cried Martha.
“So’d I! And see—down by the road that runs over the bridge of the creek—there comes the car!” shouted George, forgetting his wedding arrangements and wars in the imminent joy of seeing his cousins who were coming to have a long visit at the Parkes’ home.
As you remember, George and Martha Parke were the two children who played the youthful life of George Washington, in the first book called “Little Washingtons.”
Their home was situated in the beautiful country suburbs of Washington, D. C., and being descended in one line of the illustrious Parke family of Washington fame, naturally these children loved to hear all about the great American general’s life. In September of that year Mrs. Parke began reading the history of George Washington’s life—beginning with his introduction when he chopped down the cherry tree.
In the first book George and Martha Parke had heard read, and then applied to their play, the destruction of the homestead where George was born, the boy’s education, his surveying trips and camp, and finally the battle under General Braddock, when the latter was killed at Fort Duquesne.
Then, just as the two children found the old-fashioned costumes (while being shut in the attic for punishment for ruining the hedge at that momentous battle) and Jim crept out of the attic window and found himself on the ground, the story ended. But it starts again in this book with the Parke children watching for their cousins’ arrival.
John Graham, the next-door neighbor of the Parke children, had not been heard from or seen that morning, but Jim, the only child of mammy, the cook in the Parkes’ household, was on hand to welcome the expected visitors; then, just as the machine turned in at the stone gateway to roll up the driveway, John Graham rushed breathlessly up from the side lawn.
“Aren’t they here yet?” called John eagerly.
“Just comin’!” cried George, never taking his eyes from the fast-approaching automobile.
“Heigh—hello there!” shouted a boy’s voice, as a smiling face showed beaming over the side of the limousine.
“Hello, Jack! We’re glad to see you!” cried George, jumping down the steps to reach the terrace where the car stopped.
Martha followed after her brother, but Jim and John stood in the background, watching and wondering at the two strangers. The four cousins found they were not shy at all, and in fact, as they still retained the looks of former times, they soon felt very much at home with one another. Jack was a year the senior of George, and Anne was about a year older than Martha.
The Philadelphia children had lost none of their fun-loving dispositions, although Mrs. Parke had hoped they had developed into models of perfection. So this visit promised to be of great importance to the “Little Washingtons” in many ways. Hence the warm welcome bestowed by George and Martha, and later by John Graham and the factotum, Jim.
Mrs. Davis greeted her little niece and nephew affectionately, then she followed Mrs. Parke up the veranda steps and into the house.
“Have you got to change your clothes before we do anything?” asked George, who wore his second-best suit and clean blouse-shirt.
“Oh, I guess not. We’re all dusty from travelling anyway, so a little more dust won’t hurt any,” laughed Jack.
“And mother said my dress had to go straight in the tub, ’cause I upset a glass of choklate soda all down the front,” added Anne, spreading out the dimity ruffled dress to show her companions.
“Come on then and see the place. Jim’s got a rabbit hutch at the barns, and John’s going to lend us his pony when we want to use it in our play,” explained George, leading the group over the lawn by walking backward in front of them.
Martha skipped on one side of the two new arrivals, and John Graham on the other side, while Jim, the dark shadow, followed closely at their heels.
“Say, you’ve got a dandy place for fun, haven’t you?” admired Jack, gazing around at the wide expanse of lawns and gardens at the rear of the estate.
“Yes, but they always find us out just when we’re having the finest time!” sighed John dolefully.
Jack laughed. “I’m sure they wouldn’t find me if I lived here! But Anne and I only have a yard in a city block. The front steps from the door go right down to the sidewalk, and there’s a little patch of grass in front of the basement windows, with an area-way going to the back kitchen. We have only as much open space on each side of our house as from here to there.” As he explained, Jack showed a distance of five feet in front of him.
“But you have the loveliest park only a few blocks away—and the museums, and zoo, and lots of things we haven’t!” said George enviously.
“You can’t have fun in the zoo or a museum as you can in the open like this place; but we’ll make up here for not having the place in Philadelphia, won’t we, Anne?” laughed Jack.
“Yes, if George and Martha won’t have to spend all the time at lessons,” said Anne anxiously.
“Oh, no, we were going to have a private teacher at home because the only school is so far away from us in winter, but the house-teacher mother engaged was taken sick and couldn’t come as soon as expected, so mother has been hearing our lessons and reading history to us. Now that your mother is visiting here, mother won’t have as much time to hear our lessons, see?” explained Martha eagerly.
“And we can have all the more time for fun,” added George.
“How about you, John?” asked Jack, turning to the little neighbor boy.
“Oh, I was going to join George and Martha at their house for lessons this year—my mother and their mother arranged it, you see, ’cause we are distantly related, too, but now I don’t have to study, either!” said John with satisfaction.
“Then we’re all free for a fine time! You see, it just happened that the same week our school opened, the measles broke out so bad that they had to close again for a short time; and as every one we knew got the measles, mother hurried us off for a visit until the thing is over again,” laughed Jack, feeling very happy over the consequences of the epidemic.
“Fine!” declared George, turning to lead the way to the last scene of battle—the broken-down hedge between the Grahams’ and Parkes’ country estates.
THE CUSTIS WEDDING PARTY
“Now that we’ve been all over the place, come up to the attic and let us show you the old trunk full of costumes,” urged Martha, as the five children returned from the inspection of the grounds.
“Maybe the folks’ll be looking for us to change our clothes,” ventured Anne, looking carefully at the windows of the house, as they came into view from the path where the children skipped or ran.
“How long will it take you?” questioned Martha.
“Oh, we’ll have to take a bath, and my curls will have to be done over fresh, and a clean dress put on—dear me, we can’t have a speck of fun all starched up, you know!” complained Anne.
“Let’s get in without any one seeing us!” whispered George.
“How?” chorused the others.
“Mother and Aunt Ally will be on the front piazza or in the library. We’ll climb up on the balcony under the dining-room windows and get through that room to the pantry. There’s a back stairs in the butler’s pantry for the help to use. We can get to the third floor that way without being seen or having to go to the front at all,” explained George.
“Good! You scout about first while we wait under the lilac bushes,” whispered John, pushing George into the open.
Soon the anxious watchers saw George scramble over the railing of the low balcony and carefully open the outside shutters that were generally kept closed when the dining-room was unoccupied. Then he disappeared through the open window, and shortly after reappeared to beckon his friends to follow him.
One at a time, Indian fashion, they rushed over the grass and climbed the balcony. When all but Jim were inside the room, they breathed easier, but Jim’s bowed legs could not scramble up and over the rail as agilely as the others had and they had to venture out again to haul him up and over by his arms.
Once safely sheltered by the darkened dining-room, they tiptoed toward the pantry. The swing door was hardly still upon the five figures that passed through, when ladies’ voices were heard as Mrs. Parke and Mrs. Davis came from the library to go out on the veranda and see where the children were.
In the pantry, on the table, stood a plate filled with iced cookies for afternoon tea. Chopped walnuts were thickly sprinkled on the icing and most tempting did the cakes smell. Naturally the children could not pass by without a sniff and that was their undoing.
“My, but I’m hungry after that trip from Washington!” sighed Jack, eying the cakes.
“We all are, I reckon! May as well carry these cookies with us as to wait to eat them later,” suggested George, looking to Martha for approval of the plan.
“May as well! Carry dish and all to the attic—it will save Mary the work of washing extra plates,” came from thoughtful Martha, but had Mary been present she would have scorned the helpful suggestion.
Quick as a flash, therefore, George and the dish disappeared up the back stairway followed by his four devoted friends.
Safely harbored in the large attic room, the hungry children sat and ate the delicious cakes, till but two—the very smallest and scorched ones—remained on the plate for the two ladies.
“They’ll want some with their tea,” suggested Martha generously, picking a large piece of walnut from the one she determined for her mother.
“But they are not fond of sweets like we are,” hinted Anne, wistfully smacking her lips.
“We’ve each had four—all but Jim; he had that broken half and three!” declared John manfully.
“And we must not overeat cakes—there will be bread and jam with tea, you know,” cautioned George.
“Set the dish outside the door and that will end the thing!” said Anne sensibly, as she picked up the plate and did as she suggested.
The door was closed and locked to insure safety to the two cakes, in case any one of the five friends felt like venturing forth and taking a look at them.
“Here’s the chest of clothes,” now called Martha, lifting the lid to display the strange-fashioned garments.
“Try on the flowered silk—and the powdered wig,” cried Anne eagerly, as she lifted the articles from the folds of paper.
While the girls dressed in the quaint garments, the two boys, George and Jack, arrayed themselves in clothes worn at the time of the Civil War. John and Jim assisted enthusiastically and the laughter sounding from the attic drew the attention of old mammy the nurse, as she was passing down the second-floor hallway. She smiled and looked up the stairway, wondering what the youngsters were doing to make such a noise.
“Ah rickon Ah’ll jes’ creep up an’ see ef der all right,” murmured mammy, dropping her mending on a chair and going up.
Outside the room door she spied the dish with the two small cakes in it. She picked this up with a surprised expression on her face, for she knew her daughter had baked delicious cakes for tea.
“Ah wonner! Rickon Ah’ll tek dis right down in de kitchen an’ fin’ out ef them cakes is all safe an’ soun’ befoh Ah do anudder thing.”
Old mammy followed her own suggestion, and the cook was shocked.
“What! Dem fine cakes gone an’ nuttin for tea—an’ dat fine comp’ny heah, too!”
“Now, Ah’m tellin’ yoh! Jes’ fix dem rapscalions fo’ onct! Tek dat ice cream yo fixed foh dinnah an’ serve it fer affernoon tea ’stead uv dose cakes. Tell Missus Parke why an’ den leave nuff ice cream fer de grown-ups fer dinner to-night!” advised old mammy.
The cook pondered this suggestion, and as a smile gradually spread over her wide face, she clapped her hands on the table.
“Jus’ what Ah’ll do. You jus’ wait an’ see!”
“Now, don’ go an’ deprive dem chilluns uv nuff to eat—Ah means some goodies,” warned old mammy.
“See heah, mammy! Dis end uv de wuk am mine—an’ yoh’s is takin’ care uv de baby. Dem little limbs ain’ goin’ t’ eat up all de fancy eatin’s Ah bake, an’ mek de missus b’live Ah forgot t’ prepare fer her comp’ny!”
So old mammy ascended the kitchen stairs again, fearing she had made a great mistake by warning her daughter in time that the cakes were gone and there was nothing for tea! As she shook her gray head over the conflicts between the cook and the children, she reached the second floor where the mending had been left.
A voice calling from the library changed her current of despondency, and she leaned over the balustrade to reply.
“Ah hear’n dem chilluns up in de attick, Mis Parke. Shall Ah tell ’em yoh wants ’em?”
“Oh, please, mammy! And see if they are all dressed and ready for tea. I wish to ring for the tray,” replied Mrs. Parke.
Mammy climbed the stairs once more and opened the door of the room whence sounds of merriment came. She stood in the doorway, taking in at a glance the extraordinary scene that met her eyes.
John was robed in a long black cloth draped over his shoulders. He had on a maid’s white bib and shoulder straps cut from an old apron. The black material was the remnant of a felt table cover, very popular a score of years before; but most of the wool embroidery had been eaten off by moths, so the gay colors could easily be hidden by the folds.
He stood by the window with the great book on “Life of George Washington” in his hands, reading aloud from it.
Right before him stood Jack Davis and Martha—one robed in old-fashioned clothes worn by Parke ancestors before the Civil War, and the other dressed in the lavender flowered Watteau silk gown of her great-great-grandmother.
George was “best man” in a black swallow-tail coat with velvet cuffs, collar and pocket lapels. The buttons were gold-embroidered on black velvet. A high stock collar and a pot-shaped beaver hat gave him quite a Colonial appearance.
Jim took the left-overs, and to make the best of the assorted items, donned as many of them as he could keep on. The effect was very funny, and caused the principals in the scene to burst out in laughter every time they took notice of his raiment.
The rehearsal of the Washington wedding scene was taking place when old mammy quietly opened the door and stood watching.
“You didn’t come up right that time, Martha; try it again. And, Anne, don’t stumble over her dress when you carry the train!” ordered George, waving back the two girls to try again.
“How can I carry her train and drop flowers on the path at the same time? And if we’re to do it again, you’d better pick up the flowers,” complained Anne.
“Here, Jim—Hercules, I mean! You’re the servant now and you must do the chores,” ordered George, pointing to some faded artificial flowers sprinkled on the floor before the black-gowned minister.
Martha backed away, catching her satin high-heeled shoe in the very long Watteau pleats as she did so, and frantically catching at Anne to keep from falling.
“Now, then, begin again,” said George, looking for Jack, the groom, to march slowly out from behind the high bookcase. As both bride and groom appeared, George played on a mouth-organ to delude the actors into a belief that it was a wedding-march.
Martha, with bowed head covered with a piece of heavy lace window-curtain, marched across the floor, and Anne followed, holding the train with one hand and scattering the stiff old hat-trimmings with the other. Jim had to walk beside her and carry the basket.
Old mammy couldn’t contain herself—she chuckled at the sight, but quickly dodged out of the door the moment she realized that she would be discovered.
Sharp ears had heard the amused giggle, however, and Anne turned quickly to see who was at the door. As she did so, she stepped on Martha’s skirt, thus bringing the bride suddenly to a halt. Jim and Anne collided with Martha and the rehearsal almost ended disastrously for that day, as George was disgusted, and Jack threw himself on a near-by lounge to laugh.
But the lounge had both back legs broken off, unseen or unknown to the children, and when Jack’s weight came against the upholstered back, the whole piece toppled over backward, rolling the occupant over with it.
Jack yelled, George laughed, John dropped the heavy history book on his toe and cried, and the others stood in surprise waiting for Jack to crawl out from under the lounge and appear again, this time with cobwebs and dust covering him.
Old mammy ran in at the clamor and helped the groom to his feet. Then all stood and laughed at the outcome of the first rehearsal of the great Washington-Custis wedding.
“Yoh mama says to come t’ tea! Mammy-cook baked some fine choklate cakes fer yo’ all,” said mammy seriously.
The wedding party exchanged looks with each other and it was seen that Jim appeared to be most uncomfortable. He looked back of him and then at his granny, then at his companions-in-disgrace, but they seemed not to feel the same dismay at a possible punishment such as Jim had reasons to anticipate.
Old mammy helped the wedding party free itself of the many and entangling articles of dress, and then they all hurried down to tea, regardless of mammy’s pleading to wash and brush up.
In the library, both mothers were waiting and chatting when the juvenile party rushed in. They never entered a room—it was either a mad rush from the hallway or a stealthy entrance through a window.
“Why, children! Haven’t you been up in the bathroom washing and dressing after the journey, and preparing to come down to tea?” asked Mrs. Davis in surprise.
“Oh, we prepared somewhat for tea, aunty, but not with soap and water,” replied Martha.
“What have you been doing all this time?—and here is John, too. How do you do, John? Come here and meet George and Martha’s aunt from Philadelphia,” said Mrs. Parke sweetly.
As John shuffled over to shake hands with Mrs. Davis, a woolly head peeped from between the folds of the velour portières, where a lean little body was completely hidden. Jim felt that, as Hercules the man-servant, he had a right to watch the toothsome refreshments disappear even if he couldn’t partake of the same.
“Well, mother, we really hadn’t a moment’s time in which to wash and dress. We’ve visited the whole place, met John and Jim, and rehearsed for the wedding. So, you see, we have been a bit crowded for time in which to brush up,” explained Jack.
“Wedding? What wedding?” asked Mrs. Davis, in surprise.
Mrs. Parke thought she saw light, however, and turned to George. “Is the Custis wedding coming off soon?”
“Yes, but Martha says she won’t marry me as Washington. She thinks Jack looks better in the cocked hat,” grumbled George.
“But looks never make the general!” laughed Mrs. Parke.
Then, turning to the still amazed guest, she explained.
“I have lately been reading the life of George Washington to the children and they have a great deal of fun playing the chapters as I read them. Only they sometimes have very realistic fun—for instance when they burned down the old homestead, and again when they went on a survey trip. Last week they had the dreadful battle between the French and British at Fort Duquesne, and as a result, our entire hedge is broken down for more than thirty feet in length.”
“Thank goodness, then, that history has reached the point where Martha Custis subdues the fighting inclination of George,” laughed Mrs. Davis.
The maid appeared with tea just then, and in the deep dish where so many tempting cakes had reposed in the early afternoon, there now were two lonely scorched cookies. Thin slices of buttered bread _without jam_, and hot waffles sugared but with _no honey_, caused consternation in all present.
“Katy, is there any jam?” asked Martha.
“Mammy say dat jam’s goin’ t’ stay locked up fer anudder day!”
“Katy!” gasped Mrs. Parke. “What are these scorched cakes doing here?”
“Cook say ast Marse George an’ Martha. Dey knows better’n we-all.”
“Oh, yes, I remember, mother. When our cousins arrived they felt very weak and hungry, so I suggested a little bite, to keep them up till tea was served. I found the dish of cookies the most convenient, and, not wishing to disturb the cook, who was busy, I insisted upon their having a few,” explained George.
And Martha hastily added: “Naturally, not wishing to make our visitors feel that they were giving us any trouble, we ate some cakes, too, to make them feel at home.”
“Well, the cakes felt very much at home, I’m sure!” laughed Mrs. Davis, who was accustomed to these escapades, as well as Mrs. Parke.
“But that need not deprive you ladies of the jam, you know!” hinted Jack.
“Nor uv dis ice cream dat cook sent up fer de two ladies t’ tek de place uv dem cakes!” added Katy significantly, placing a deep dish of French cream before each one of the ladies.
The children stared aghast at such partiality, and then looked at each other, wondering if they would have had ice cream, had they not eaten the cakes.
At the discovery that no cakes or jam were to be served at that tea, Jim silently disappeared from the friendly portières, and soon after appeared in the culinary department, watching for an opportunity to snatch a slice of bread and butter when his mammy’s back was turned. And, oh joy! An apple was right there by the homely chunk of bread. In another moment Jim and the apple were gone, and when mammy turned to put the apple in the barrel, the place knew it no more!
MARTHA CUSTIS’ STORY
Many eager eyes opened the following morning to a dismal sight. Rain fell as if it meant to wash away everything on top of the earth. It continued to rain all morning, and it thus behooved the ladies to provide amusement indoors for the active children.
“I think I will read another chapter of Washington’s life,” suggested Mrs. Parke.
“Read a quiet, uneventful chapter,” hinted Mrs. Davis.
“Read about the battle of Bunker Hill!” cried George.
“On a dreary day like this we ought to read about the dying of the first child of Martha Custis and then later, the death-bed scene of Colonel Custis. Then we can fill in time with reading of Mrs. Custis’ life with her two remaining children after she was widowed,” ventured Mrs. Parke.
But the objections violently raised against such mournful readings, soon quieted both ladies and led them to see the wisdom of a more active tale for that day.
“If you do not care to hear me read of Martha Custis’ bereavement perhaps you will like to hear of her second marriage?” said Mrs. Parke, turning over the pages of the book slowly.
“Oh, aunty, do tell us how Washington met Martha Custis and fell in love!” sighed Anne, the sentimental one of the group.
“If the boys will keep quiet I will read that chapter, and then you girls must promise to listen to a battle scene which I will read to them.”
They all promised to be model listeners, so Mrs. Parke began:
“‘In the month of May, 1758, Washington journeyed from Fort Loudoun to Williamsburg, and in the course of travelling, he first met Martha Custis, the fair widow who was later to be his wife.
“‘The Virginia regiment had great need of necessities, so Washington was sent with dispatches to urge and explain to the Council and Assembly the imperative need of fitting the regiment properly before sending it to the capture of Fort Duquesne.
“‘So George Washington, riding the magnificent horse bequeathed him by Braddock, and accompanied by his servant also acquired in the same manner, was passing the county of New Kent, Virginia, when he met an elderly gentleman riding and looking about as if familiar with the scenery.
“‘Both riders halted, saluted and then rode on together. As they approached the avenue leading to a stately mansion, the elder man placed a detaining hand on the reins, and said:
“‘“Colonel, let it never be said that you passed the house of your father’s old friend without dismounting.”
“‘“But, my dear sir, I ride in haste to bear letters to our Governor in Williamsburg,” objected Washington.
“‘“Nevertheless, my dear colonel, you will dine with me, and borrow some of the fine moonlight to show you the way to the Governor. You will reach Williamsburg ere break of day.”
“‘“Do you promise to excuse me immediately after dinner?” asked Washington.
“‘“With all the promptness of military discipline!” agreed the host.
“‘Thus the young and gallant colonel resigned the reins of his spirited horse to Bishop, the English servant, with orders for him to be ready to pursue the journey the moment he, Washington, came forth.
“‘The name and fame of the young colonel was dear to all Virginians, and the moment the family of the courteous Chamberlayne heard of the arrival of the military guest, each and every one vied to make it a delightful evening.
“‘When Washington was introduced to the guests at dinner and he first met Widow Custis, he was fascinated by her. Both were mutually pleased with each other, nor is this strange. The lady was fair to behold, of gracious manners, and well-endowed with worldly benefits. The hero, famous, and with a form fit for the gods, was just the man to impress this lady.
“‘The morning passed, dinner was concluded, and evening came, while Bishop, true to orders, stood at his post holding the charger which champed at the bit and tossed his mane impatiently.
“‘The sun sank and yet the colonel appeared not. The old and well-trained servant wondered, for his master was never late or behind in his appointments.
“‘Meantime, the host smiled at the scene of the old veteran on duty at the gate while the young colonel was completely entangled with the graces of the fair widow in the parlor of the mansion.
“‘After sunset, Chamberlayne declared that no guest ever left his hospitality at dark, so Washington was easily persuaded to remain over night. Bishop was told to put up the horses for the night and partake of much-needed refreshment in the servants’ hall.
“‘That night, the conversation, the manners, the appearance and the reputation of the colonel, impressed the fair widow Custis as no ordinary mortal had done before.
“‘As the enamored soldier sought again and again the side of the lady who had taken his heart by storm, he felt that fate had at last been kind to him, could he win with what he had to offer.
“‘The sun rode high in the heavens the following day ere Washington mounted for the continuance of the journey. And arrived at Williamsburg to deliver the messages, he tarried but a brief time. Retracing his steps with haste, the ardent colonel again stopped at the home of Chamberlayne.
“‘Becoming a frequent visitor at the home of the late Colonel Custis, he laid siege to the heart and hand of the widow, till she capitulated.
“‘Then there were eager and happy preparations at the White House, the home of Mrs. Custis, for the approaching bridal. Rare indeed was the revelry at that wedding feast in the palmy days of Virginia’s festal age.
“‘The good, the great, the gifted and the gay were assembled at that nuptial ceremony, but of all the grand gentlemen gathered there, not one could aspire to the manners and appearance of the groom himself.
“‘The bride, well-formed, somewhat below the medium size of a woman, was in the bloom of life, handsome, winsome and aristocratic in every way. She had perfect taste in matters regarding the toilette, and was always suitably gowned.
“‘It is recorded that the ceremony took place at the old St. Peter’s Church near the White House. Imagination will better picture this scene of pomp and splendor of the times. The reader can then behold the fairest of Virginia’s daughters arrayed in superb brocades, costly laces, and sparkling jewels supplied by the Old World; and gallant cavaliers in the elaborate and elegant costumes of the time, attending the ladies through the brilliant apartments to the bountiful board in the dining-hall, where glittering with massive plate, loaded with rich viands, old wines, and delicate conserves, the friendly words, merry laughs and witty repartee but enhanced the loveliness of the happy bride, and the triumphant rapture of the love-crowned hero-soldier.
“‘Soon after the marriage, Colonel and Mrs. Washington removed from the White House to Mount Vernon which was henceforth to be the permanent family residence.
“‘The life of Martha Washington thereafter became a part of the history of her country. She entered into the plans and confidences of her husband, and in every way proved the helpmeet for such a noble and great man.
“‘Mrs. Washington was an early riser at all seasons of the year, and after breakfast always repaired for an hour to her chamber where she read from the Bible and prayed, and this practice was never omitted during the half century of her varied life.
“‘In the papers and correspondence left by Colonel Washington it appears that his efforts too, were to augment the comforts and happiness of his home, and everything that could be done for the fair and gentle lady of his heart was accomplished.
“‘It must be remembered that at this period of time, everything in the way of luxury, and even many articles of household necessity, were imported from Europe, and were possible only to the wealthy. Even the clothing and many kinds of food were ordered twice a year by Washington from his English agents.
“‘The affairs of John and Patsy Custis, his stepchildren, were ordered with the utmost care and precision, and reports made and forwarded regularly to the English firm of Robert Gary & Co.
“‘After her removal to Mt. Vernon, Mrs. Washington often accompanied her husband on his official visits to Williamsburg, but her greatest joy was the time passed at home with the congenial work and pleasures of a wife and mother.
“‘At this time, the pursuits of Colonel Washington were those of a retired farmer, yet the social intercourse with people of refinement and position was continued, and a large circle of agreeable and intelligent friends could generally be found enjoying the hospitality of this generous and delightful couple.
“‘But the melancholy event of the passing away of the gifted and favored young daughter from the home of the Washingtons suddenly bereft the family of joy and gladness. The brother, who had walked hand in hand with his beloved sister in all the years of childhood, was grief-stricken beyond words. The mother, who had tenderly watched and planned over the child of many hopes, found her sole help in prayer and reading of her Bible. And the stepfather, as fond of the children as their own father could have been, found solace in work and study.’”
As Mrs. Parke reached this serious part of the history, George sighed loudly. His mother glanced up from the book and he took it for granted that he might speak.
“Don’t you think the girls have had their share for this time?—It’s been all love-making and marrying and funerals! Not a word about Indians or about war.”
“I was just coming to a part of Washington’s life, where it describes his fifteen years of life on his farm, and his membership on the Virginia House of Burgesses,” ventured Mrs. Parke.
“Oh, good gracious! Please don’t give us any more of his quiet life to-day. Look at the way that rain spatters on the windows, and then stop to think how we feel with Washington parading out of a book while he’s planting or hoeing his farm! Give us a fight!” declared George.
Every one laughed and Jack seconded his cousin’s plan for a more active story than the one that had just been read.
“If you insist upon having war when there was no war, I must skip the fifteen years of quiet life on his estate, to get Washington in the midst of fresh battle scenes,” argued Mrs. Parke.
“Why not read us about the Boston Tea Party?” said Anne.
“That will satisfy the boys and interest us girls, too,” added Martha.
Without further remonstrance, Mrs. Parke turned back to the chapter desired and began reading.
“‘During the years between 1765 and 1775, the cry of “Liberty, Property, No Stamps!” sounded from New Hampshire to Georgia. Even when the act—all except the tax on tea—was repealed, the populace concentrated its wrath on tea as the symbol of an intolerable sovereignty which would no longer be endured.
“‘It was but a little more than two years from the time of the first whiff of the delightful beverage, to the time when millions of teakettles steamed merrily on millions of hearths, and the consumption of tea reached more than 5,000,000 pounds a year. Tea houses had sprung up like mushrooms all over the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and of the 5,000,000 pounds imported from China, at least 1,500,000 pounds were sent to the American colonies.
“‘Tea, in short, formed a harmless luxury indulged in by the thousands who, despite the high price and tax, contrived to have it for a delectable drink of an evening when company had to be entertained. Or again it was enjoyed by many as a beverage not willingly sacrificed.
“‘But the harmless drink now started the just and patriotic people to revolt against the tyranny of the Crown. For the next three years after England imposed the high tax on tea, it became the symbol with which men conjured. As for trying to ship tea from England at this time, one would as soon have introduced the Black Plague.
“‘So the contention went on—England remaining proud and defiant in her attitude that British sovereignty must never yield, and the young American colony holding that a great principle underlay the act—that freemen should only be taxed by a representative. And during this time seventeen million pounds of tea had heaped itself in the store-houses of the East India Company.
“‘The northeastern colonies were strenuous examples of precocious political development; Massachusetts embraced the vast territory of Maine, and from this northern boundary to the shore where the Pilgrim Fathers landed, were dotted the decent little villages, and these buzzed and hummed with zealous activities of the people.
“‘It had required a hundred and fifty years from the first step of Plymouth Rock to the beginning of the Revolution. Boston, now a town of 18,000 folk, sent forth a tongue of flame that bespoke defiance to the mother country across the sea. The highest sense of public duty grew in these people as weeds flourish in others. What a time that must have been: Heroes springing up over-night to live forever in the history of the nation. English spies, traitorous Indians, tea parties and tea-ships riding the waves of Boston Bay, not dreaming it was the open mouth of the dragon.
“‘When the _Dartmouth_, the _Eleanor_, and the _Beaver_, therefore, laden with 342 chests of tea, sailed into Boston harbor, the hitherto loosely-membered colonies became welded together, for they were determined to stand together for their principle—Taxation with Representation. Thus the tea that lay scattered one night on the bosom of the sea off Boston, was much the same tea that rotted in the cellars of Charlestown and the South, or mouldered in Philadelphia and New York stores.
“‘Tea stood for Toryism, and no tea meant Independence. All over the land activities started up such as were never before heard of. Looms and spindles whirred as fabrics were woven of home-grown flax and wool, and material hitherto imported from England now began to be made by the colonists at home. Even weapons and ammunition began to be spoken of, and old recipes for manufacturing gunpowder were brought out and experimented with.
“‘Then the “glove” was dropped and the struggle began.’”
WASHINGTON THE GENERAL
“I think the rain will soon stop—the sun seems to be breaking through. While we wait for it to clear shall I read about the first battle of the Revolution for the boys?” said Mrs. Parke.
“Now that you’ve got us as far as the Boston Tea Party, keep right on and finish it up, even if the sun does shine,” remarked Jack.
“Don’t go through all those meetings and letters that everybody exchanged with Washington, but skip over to the fight!” requested George, curling up on the couch, ready and waiting to enjoy the war.
“Then I’ll read to you about Lexington and Concord,” replied Mrs. Parke, turning the pages of the book till she found the one that recorded the Revolution.
“‘Great Britain took arbitrary measures with the American colonists, and when Boston stood upon the rights of an independent colony, she was immediately punished by having the government removed to Salem, and the harbor closed. There were other unfair measures made and acted upon, so that finally the colonists decided to hold a general assembly at Philadelphia, to consider ways and means of protecting themselves and property.
“‘When the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776, was issued, the colonists were prepared for it, and hailed it as the first step in their upward march. About the same time the Earl of Chatham did everything in his power to make the English Parliament understand certain things to which they stubbornly closed their eyes and minds; but all intervention and measures for conciliation were of no avail.
“‘In this gathering storm no one felt the solemnity of the crisis more than did George Washington. He had been a loyal subject of Great Britain, but his sense of justice and right was too true to be blinded by sentiment. Thus he came out firmly for his own country—America.
“‘In his many letters and messages sent to every influential personage in England or the colonies, it will be seen that he moved heaven and earth to obtain honorable rights to the colonists without resorting to force. But the individuals holding the reins of government refused to recognize or think of any other result from this outbreak than suppression by might and power of the human will.
“‘Thus it came about that every separate colony in the country came together and formed an unbreakable link of fellowship that would stand against every force to dissolve or break it.
“‘Five of the most distinguished patriots from Massachusetts and representatives from other colonies met in the month of September to outline rules and acts. General Gage was sent to dissolve this assembly, but the colonists kept the doors locked until the meeting was closed.
“‘General Gage had followed instructions and avoided any act which would lead to hostilities between his men and the colonists, but feeling the lack of provisions and other necessities, he sent out secret detachments to capture what was needed; but the people resented these raids, and offered every resistance to the pilferers.
“‘Having learned that a considerable magazine of stores had been formed at Concord, the governor attempted to seize them. On the night of April 18, 1775, he sent 800 picked men under Smith, to secretly confiscate these supplies.
“‘But in some way the colonists had been warned of the proposed raid, and as the British troops marched along the road which they expected to find almost deserted at that time of night, they were surprised to meet horsemen, and men on foot, hurrying along also. As no one offered opposition to the soldiers, they never dreamed of trouble.
“‘So arriving at Lexington about five o’clock, the troops were surprised to find about a hundred militiamen drawn up on the green before the meetinghouse.
“‘Major Pitcairn galloped up and ordered them to disperse, but they refused, so he ordered his men to fire, discharging his own pistol as the signal. Three or four men were killed and the others retreated behind the church.
“‘After this skirmish, the opening tragedy of the war, the British marched on to Concord where they soon took possession. Detached parties were placed to guard various approaches to the town, while the main body of soldiers proceeded to destroy the arms, ammunition and provisions found in store.
“‘But a body of militiamen, having approached the bridge, which was guarded by a detachment of soldiers, surrounded and fired upon them. A general skirmish took place, and the British retreated with confusion to their main body in the town.
“‘Smith ordered a retreat, but the militia, constantly increasing in numbers, opened a galling fire upon the British, at the same time being protected by houses, stone walls and trees.
“‘When the British arrived at Lexington, in an exhausted state, they would have been totally destroyed had not Gage, apprehensive for the expedition, sent out Lord Percy with sixteen companies on foot, a corps of marines, and two pieces of artillery to support Smith.
“‘This aid checked the first pursuit of the provincials, but the latter kept up an incessant fire upon the British as they marched on their way to Boston.
“‘The news of this event excited every one in Massachusetts, and soon the whole country was in warlike array. The first blood had been shed by the British without provocation, and the proud army of England had been met by provincial men and made to retreat.
“‘The Provincial Congress of Massachusetts was in session at the time of this battle at Lexington, and it immediately passed a vote to raise 13,600 men. It also called upon the other colonies to increase the army to 30,000; but this request was unnecessary, as the colonists crowded to the standard raised in their defence—more than could be maintained.
“‘The fortifications of Boston were considered strong enough to resist an attack, and the garrison of the British was increased by the 10,000 men who arrived about the same time as Lord North’s conciliatory message.
“‘But the provincials formed a line of thirty miles in extent on the peninsula where the city stood, thus cutting off all communication with the country. Surrounding them was the ocean where the British vessels of war rode at anchor to protect the troops and, if need be, to reduce the town to ashes in an hour’s time.
“‘The British in the besieged city laughed at the foolish attempts to bring them to submission, for had they not everything needed—war munitions, food stores and everything required for use?
“‘On the other side there seemed to be nothing more than a tremendous zeal and willingness to sacrifice all for principle. Untrained men in the ranks, no arms, no resources for war, no ships or field-pieces—in fact, nothing such as the British thought absolutely necessary to win in a fray. Nothing but _Principle_!
“‘But the colonists realized what they were standing for, and every man accepted the work for ultimate salvation from the yoke. Each stood in his place obedient to his superior, and each chief confined his action to his own sphere, while all felt the bond of brotherhood in the furtherance of a grand plan for all.
“‘Meantime, while the British were penned up in Boston, Arnold and Allen planned a brilliant scheme. With a small body of men they proceeded against the forts of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, the key to Canada. They completely surprised and captured these places without the loss of a man, thus securing valuable and much-needed supplies of military stores.
“‘Then Arnold was successful against a sloop of war lying at St. John’s, and obtained the command of Lake Champlain. This vessel was the very first one to belong to the American navy.
“‘In Virginia, much the same spirit animated the people. As soon as war was apprehended, they solicited Washington to take command of their troops, and he readily consented to this.
“‘The hasty step of Governor Dunmore, causing the powder to be secretly removed from the magazine at Williamsburg to one of his majesty’s ships in the river, caused the whole colony to fly to arms. They resolved to march to the Governor and compel him to restore it.
“‘Dunmore hastily agreed to arrange the matter as requested, so the men returned home, but all held themselves in readiness to march at any future alarm.
“‘The Second Continental Congress, represented by twelve of the colonies, met at Philadelphia on the 10th of May, 1775, and at this convention Georgia sent delegates and was admitted as the thirteenth member.
“‘The account of hostilities at Concord and Lexington, and the capture of Crown Point and Ticonderoga was laid before the Congress. The majority of members, seeing no other way to preserve liberty, urged the necessity of defensive operations.
“‘John Hancock, from Massachusetts, was president of the Congress, and the master stroke of the convention was the election of Washington as commander-in-chief of the United States forces.
“‘The fires of rebellion were now burning steadily in every town and hamlet where patriotic freemen collected, and the launching of the first and greatest nation of Liberty on the earth was accomplished.
“‘June 18, 1775, Washington, now known as General Washington, wrote to his wife to acquaint her with all that had taken place at the Congress. He explained his duty in accepting the position of general of the American army, and he also mentioned family and personal affairs which needed advice.
“‘On the 26th of June, Washington proceeded from New York to Cambridge, where he arrived on the 2nd of July. He was welcomed with joyful acclamations by the men, who felt the greatest hope and success of their mission safely placed with this general.
“‘Washington found the army stationed about Boston to consist of 16,000 men, deeply distressed for lack of war munitions, and many of them insubordinate to officers through lack of military training. Thus it behooved the general to remedy the latter trouble and seek a means of providing for the former.
“‘Reinforcements from England had arrived for General Gage, and about the time that the Continental army was told that the possession of Bunker Hill, a commanding eminence on the north side of Charlestown peninsula, and nearly opposite the British camp, was of great importance, the British also realized that the colonists meant business.
“‘On the night of June 16th a detachment of a thousand men was ordered to take possession of the hill, and throw up with the greatest expedition, fortifications to defend the position; but by some mistake the men took their station on Breed’s Hill, another eminence to the right and nearer the enemy’s lines.
“‘So silently and rapidly did they work that at dawn the British were alarmed to see a redoubt constructed on the brow of the hill, nearly under the guns of their vessels.
“‘Orders were given to open fire from ships and batteries upon the men and works, but this cannonading only served to stimulate the soldiers’ activities and zeal; nor did they cease work until a line of breastwork was completed from the right of the redoubt to the bottom of the hill.
“‘General Gage, finding all efforts to dislodge the men from this vantage point unavailing, ordered two squadrons under Howe and Pigot, to drive out the Continentals. While the British forces landed and formed on shore, the Americans continued work on the fortifications. The British proceeded up the hill, while constant fire was poured in upon the colonists and the newly-built works. Orders were given to burn Charlestown lest the provincials find refuge there when they should be driven from the hill-works. As the town was built of wood, it soon blazed high and covered the surrounding land with its smoke and fire.
“‘The terrible spectacle was witnessed by unengaged soldiers, men at camp, and the now homeless people of the burning town; but the attention of all was soon engaged in watching the advance of the British army up the slope to the place where the Americans calmly awaited the disciplined men.
“‘Major Putnam charged his men to withhold fire until they could see “the white of their assailants’ eyes,” and then fire low. So well was this order obeyed that the first volley from the men in the redoubt was so deadly that the advancing troops reeled, wavered and suddenly turned to flee. But the courage of the officers rallied the men, and they again charged up the hill to have the same unerring fire poured into their midst. Then their lines broke and they fled precipitately.
“‘General Clinton, seeing this defeat from his camp, volunteered to lead a fresh company to the aid of the retreating men. The third attack was more cautious than the first two had been, and artillery had raked the entire length of the breastworks before the troops reached it. Also, the ammunition of the defenders was nearly exhausted, so that they had to reserve their last fire until the enemy was right at the works.
“‘This fire was telling, but had not the same effect as at first, and the redoubt was carried by storm, the Americans dealing death at every step of retreat, and when the powder was gone they used the butt end of their guns to such effect that the redoubt was filled with slain enemy.
“‘Although the victory was with the British, they were so dismayed at the result of the battle that they offered no resistance to the retreat of the Americans, and the latter soon joined their friends.
“‘The British hastily threw up defences on Bunker Hill, and the Americans took a position directly opposite them on Prospect Hill, where they built fortifications that nevermore were approached by the enemy.
“‘This battle was one of the most destructive and bloody recorded in the wars of the Revolution.
“‘News of the fight at Bunker Hill reached Washington as he journeyed on horseback to Cambridge to take command of the army. The slaughter of nearly 1,500 men—450 Americans and 1,054 British was omen to the whole world that the fight was on to a finish for Liberty and Democracy.
“‘When Washington reached Cambridge, Boston was already in a state of siege, so that the new commander had his hands full. From his first headquarters in the house of the president of Harvard College, he moved them to Craigie House, later known as the Cambridge residence of Longfellow.’”
“Oh, look! The sun’s out!” shouted George at this point.
“Sure enough! Come on and play! We can read history another rainy day,” abetted Jack, jumping up from the rug.
“Mother, thank you for the story, but we’re off now for some fun,” declared Martha, helping Anne to her feet.
THE BOSTON TEA PARTY
“What shall we play?” asked Jack the moment the four were out on the veranda.
“Play—why, war of course!” responded George, placing his fingers between his lips and giving a shrill whistle.
“What’s that for?” wondered Anne.
“That’s the signal for Jim that we are going to have an engagement with the British!” replied George, watching eagerly the side of the house where the kitchens were located.
“Hist!” sounded from a thick arbor of clematis that shaded the kitchen porch.
“There he is! Come on now,” ordered George, starting for the lilac bushes across the lawn.
“Children! Come and get your overshoes! Everything is soaking wet!” cried Mrs. Davis from the library window when she saw them race through the wet grass.
“Oh, dear me! Martha, you go and bring them to us, will you?” asked George impatiently.
“I’m not Mrs. Washington yet, and she didn’t run errands for George before she was married to him,” objected Martha.
“Send Jim for them!” whispered Jack, as he saw the little fellow running with might and main to join his adored commander-in-chief.
“What will you play with if the weapons and uniforms are in the attic?” asked Anne.
At this they all stopped short, as no one had thought of the army equipment till then.
“Guess Jack and I had better go for the overshoes and then we can bring along some things for the Continental army,” ventured George.
“And send Jim on to John’s house to call him out,” added Martha.
“Yes, that’s a good plan. You, Jim, see here!” explained George. “Climb over the hedge and look for John. If you don’t see him, whistle, and when he comes out, tell him we are going to the creek to have the Boston Tea Party—see?”
“Yeh, Ah see all right!” eagerly replied Jim, nodding his woolly head energetically as he started off for the hedge that separated the Grahams’ from the Parkes’ estate.
The two girls were told to go to the barn and find some tools—axe, nails, hammers, or hatchets, and a saw, if possible.
“What for?” asked Anne.
“Don’t we have to have warships out in Boston harbor if we want a tea party like that real one was?” scorned George, as he caught hold of Jack’s hand and ran for the house.
The lilac bushes were abandoned for a time, while the girls sought for and captured various tools in the barn when the gardener was absent. The two boys tied up whatever uniforms they could conveniently carry, and Jim hid them near the Grahams’ house and gave the familiar cat-call for John.
These important errands completed, they all went to the creek that crossed the private road leading to the Parke estate.
Again assembled for play, they examined the items on hand and John said: “You can’t have ships without material.”
“I thought maybe we could rope together some of these logs the men chopped down last spring; but they look kind of heavy to handle,” replied George calculatively.
“Humph! They’d take a tackle and derrick to move. What we need is just boards and some crosspieces to tie together like a raft. I’ve made ’em in camp,” said Jack.
“Then you can help us make one now,” said Martha eagerly.
“We’ll have to find some boards and small logs then,” replied Jack, looking about in the timber heap for suitable lengths for crossbeams.
“We’ve got some boards about six feet long in the lumber house near here that I heard father say he wouldn’t use till next summer. Then he’s going to lay a new boardwalk from the garage to the barn,” suggested John.
“Just what we need. Come and show me where they are, and we four boys will bring them here while the girls roll those small lengths of timber down to the water-edge,” said Jack.
Soon all hands were working eagerly, nailing boards to some crosspieces, and then roping loose ends securely to the logs so they would not slip off when launched in the creek. The water of the stream was nearly a foot deeper than usual, owing to the heavy rains of the night and morning, so the raft would float easily if it was well built.
The battleship was ready to sail when the luncheon bell sounded over the lawns to call the British and Continental armies to mess. The children looked at each other in disgust, for now it seemed a wholesale waste of time to go home and eat!
“What have you got for tea?” asked Martha at this moment.
“We’ll have to make-believe tea,” said John.
“That won’t be as much fun as if you had some chests and boxes stacked on the boat. Maybe Jim can find some empty boxes in the store-room for us to fill with sand,” ventured Anne.
“I’se got some broomsticks hided away in a alley under de pantry. Dey kin be for guns,” remarked Jim, who hoped his news would divert the thoughts of his friends from the raid on store-room boxes. Jim felt that would be a dangerous attempt.
“Fine! Bring them out and leave them under the lilacs while you go back for the empty boxes. We’ll eat lunch and meet you where you leave the guns,” said George conclusively.
“Cain’t some uv yo’ all hep me in de store-room?” asked Jim plaintively.
“What for? You can creep in and empty some boxes out better than if a lot of us went with you,” countered Martha.
“But onny one uv yo’ all will hep a lot! Not all uv yo’. One uv us kin han’ down dose boxes an’ anudder kin shift it outen de store-room winder. Den Garge kin stan’ unner dat winder an’ run wid ’em t’ de lilacs,” explained Jim, who really was very cunning in self-defence.
“Good stunt! Martha, you go with Jim right after lunch and Jack and I will carry away the goods,” said George, waving a hand at John, who started in the opposite direction for home and luncheon.
“I’ll try to bring some things, too,” said John.
At the table that noon, the ladies suggested that they all take a nice drive about the country in the automobile. The amazed children looked at each other and then at their elders.
“Goodness me! We don’t care about scenery, mother!” objected George.
“Of course not! We want to play nice outdoor games,” added Martha.
“What have you been doing since we stopped reading?” asked Mrs. Davis.
“I didn’t hear a sound from you, so I thought you were pining for something to do; that is why I proposed the drive,” said Mrs. Parke.
“Oh, no, we never pine. First we found Jim, and then we went to John’s side of the hedge to get him. After talking over the best thing to play, we decided to build something Jack knows all about ’cause he has camped, and we are going to carpenter just as he tells us this afternoon, so you see we haven’t time to admire the scenery,” explained George.
“That is very nice, and constructive play is always to be encouraged, Kate,” remarked Mrs. Davis to Mrs. Parke.
“But there is generally something doubtful under all of the quiet and constructive plays George favors so readily,” doubted Mrs. Parke.
“Mother, if you don’t believe we are going to build something great and worth while, ask Jim. He never tells fibs!” said George, with such a disappointed expression in his eyes that said ‘My own mother hesitates to trust me,’ that both ladies hastened to assure him that they fully trusted him.
So the mothers were sent off on the drive, and the two armies continued their plans for a grand fight.
The moment luncheon was over Martha crept to the back door and thence to the store-room that was built out from the butler’s pantry. The servants were all downstairs eating lunch and talking, so the time was most opportune for a raid. Jim was already there trying to pry up lids of cereal cartons and other boxes.
“Heah’s some mos’ empty,” said he, the moment Martha appeared in the store-room.
“They’re all right! Even if there is a little oatmeal and rice in some of ’em—so much the better, cause we must try to fish ’em out of the water when the Yanks throw the cargo in,” said Martha, carrying the three boxes to the window, and dropping them out on the grass where George stood waiting.
Besides the three boxes used for cereal, Jim found a real tea-caddy, but it was more than half full, so Martha emptied the contents on a newspaper spread on the floor behind the door.
Also they found a soap box and the contents was emptied on top of the tea for want of a better place. A cardboard drum that had held dried fruit or other viands, stood on the shelf with some stuff in it—lumpy and pulverized together.
“What is this?” asked Martha, taking up a lump.
“Ah donno, but maybe yo’ kin tell ef yo’ tas’ it,” suggested Jim.
So Martha carefully touched the lump to her tongue, but the moment it came in contact with the pink tip, the washing-soda burned and smarted horribly.
Martha dropped it and held her mouth frantically, while Jim implored her not to make a noise or they would be “ketched.” But the venture was enough for Martha, who hurried out of the room to seek a drink of cooling water.
Jim, thinking it a shame to leave a nice drum there after such a painful experience, emptied the soda upon the soap and orange pekoe tea and dropped the drum from the window. He then climbed up and dropped himself out upon the grass, where George waited.
“Where’s Martha?” queried Jack.
“Makin’ soap-suds, Ah reckon,” giggled Jim.
“Making what?” demanded George, surprised.
“Wall, she’s went fer a drink an’ ef dat sody sticks to her tongue she’ll have suds all inside her mouf, won’t she?” said Jim.
Martha’s appearance quieted any fears for her safety, however, and soon after all were running to the creek with their burdens of boxes and broomstick guns.
The raft was heavy and hard to move, but finally all hands heaved and tugged and moved it inch by inch nearer the water. The bank of the stream was about three feet above the surface of the water, so when the raft was half over the bank they expected to see it plunge headlong in with a splash, but it stuck on the jagged trunk of a tree, and the children tried in vain to dislodge it.
Then Jack had an inspiration.
“We’ll use the broomsticks and pry her off!”
“Fine idea! Here, John, you stand there and pry under her with this stick. Jim can stand there just opposite you, while Jack and I, being strongest, will pry and shove from the back to shove her over,” said George.
Obediently, John took his place and Jim stood on a flat stone opposite, but on the lower side of the raft. When the signal was given by Martha, all four shoved and worked together and the raft moved an inch more nearer the water.
“Fine! Now, boys, once more!” shouted Jack.
Again the signal sounded, and all four pried and pushed. Suddenly the weight of the raft carried it forward with great momentum, dislodging the stone upon which Jim stood and pushed with his broomstick. He lost his balance and fell upon the raft just as it submerged in the creek.
Jim went with it, and as the mud that was stirred up from the bottom of the sluggish stream when the heavy corner of the raft dug down through the water immediately clung to him, Jim was an object for pity when he sputtered up from the water.
“Dear me! The first man overboard and neither side ready for the act!” sighed Anne seriously.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, Jim, to go and spoil the battle like that?” demanded Martha, justly angry.
“Huccome Ah feel ’shamed? Diden’ dat ole warship give me struggle enough widdout yo’ all blamin’ me fer a wettin’?” cried Jim defensively, trying to rub the mud from his eyes.
“Well, now that you’re wet, you’d better be the captain on the ship. Get the raft back here to shore so we can load her up with tea,” ordered Jack.
“Whose going to be British and who the Yanks?” asked John.
“I’m always George Washington in these fights,” hinted George.
“Then you’re out of this battle, ’cause Washington hadn’t a thing to do with the tea party,” returned Martha.
“You ought to be a Lord Somebody who sailed with the captain on the _Dartmouth_ when that tea was brought over from England,” said Jack.
“Guess I will. Jim can tow the raft over to the bank, and those of you who are colonists must hurry across the bridge to the other side. We British will stay here and pile up the cargo of tea and sail the raft across the creek.
“When we sail into Boston harbor you must try to keep us out, and that is the way the fight will begin. Whichever side wins can take the raft, and cargo and sail it wherever they like,” explained George.
It had not been Jack’s plan to have George take the first ride on the raft, nor, indeed, command the warship, but having said it he could not very well change the order, so the next best plan was to sail with Lord Somebody, with Jim the captain.
The captain, so proud of his title and position, forgot about his muddy appearance, and eagerly hauled the cumbersome raft to the bank.
“S’posin’ you girls and John be the colonists on the other bank. You must use the guns and anything you can to keep us from landing the tea,” said Jack.
As neither Anne nor Martha wished to risk their dry clothes on the tipsy-looking raft, this suggestion met with their fullest approval; but John grew sulky, as he wanted to try the raft.
“It’s made of my father’s boards, too!” grumbled John.
“What’s that?” shouted Jack, now engaged in loading the ship with chests.
“Nothing much! I don’t see any fun in this fight, that’s all,” complained John.
“Oh, but there will be! Just wait till we get in that row in Boston harbor! Hurry across and be ready for us,” cried George, who half-suspected John of jealousy, and, at the same time, felt he was guilty of selfishness himself.
The tea was stacked in its boxes on the ship _Dartmouth_, and the three, Captain Jim and the English baronets, as passengers, set sail for Boston harbor.
On the American side, Martha had found an old apple tree near the bridge, the fruit of which had lain so long on the damp ground that the apples were rotted within and soft as pulp, the skins being the only sound part of the fruit.
“Wouldn’t they make fine cannon-balls?” exulted Martha.
“Oo-oh, let’s!” cried Anne, and John, coming up just then, felt a secret joy in planning how he would fire those cannon-balls at the men on the ship.
So, without a hint of the ammunition being quickly transferred from the apple tree to the site of Boston, the three brave and eager colonists awaited the coming of the tea cargo.
THE BATTLE OF BOSTON
“We’re stuck!” declared Jack, as they tried to shove off from the bank now said to be England.
“And every time I push the water comes up over my shoes,” said George, looking dolefully at his soaked shoes and stockings.
“Let’s pull them off and fling them over on the bank,” suggested Jack.
George, forgetting he was not on dry ground, instantly followed Jack’s idea and sat down on the raft to remove his shoes. At the same time, Jim tried to climb aboard from the creek where he had been pushing, and the result was that the water swept over the top surface of the raft and submerged everything under six inches of water.
“Ah, say! See what you did to me!” cried George, now soaking wet to the waistline.
“Quick! Never mind the wet—there go our tea chests!” yelled Jack, trying to save the drum as it floated away from the raft.
Jim and George, over-anxious to save their cargo, suddenly leaned out to catch the bobbing cartons and boxes, when the unbalanced raft tilted treacherously over with the weight of the three boys and shot them all into the stream.
The screams and shouts of dismay brought the three Americans running to the Boston port, and as they stood laughing unfeelingly at the scene in the water, the British declared they’d get even when they landed in Boston.
“Better get here first!” called Anne.
“We’ll salute you with guns all right!” added John grimly.
“So’ll we! We’ll go back to London and find some guns and shot, too,” promised George, looking at the Americans and then at Jack, who was wallowing through the mud to gain the bank again.
“Jim, haul up your ship for us to load with ammunition,” ordered George, as soon as Jim’s head appeared from under the raft, where he had rolled when the warship keeled over.
But the clever Yanks kept all news of their ammunition from the eyes and ears of the British. Then, having found some long sticks that would answer for guns, the three mariners set sail again on their dangerous journey across the sea—a distance of thirty feet from bank to bank.
This time the raft was kept balanced, while the three stood hugging each other in the center of the boards. Their shoes and coats had been left on the woodpile, so they were not hampered with overmuch clothing.
Now, John had bided his time very patiently, and, feeling that he had been supplanted in the fun and affections of George by his cousin Jack, he determined not to wait till the ship came into port, when the boys could jump from the vessel, to land and find the pyramid of bad apples ready to fire.
So he waited until the loosely-constructed raft reached midstream, where the current of the sluggish water turned it partially around so that the boys faced back at England, and dared not turn about for fear of another submersion.
Taking careful aim, John threw a large and wonderfully squashy apple at Jack. It landed on top of his head, and the juicy, brown contents of the apple-skin ran down over his face, ears and neck.
“Ouch! What’s that?” screamed Jack, the acid of the juice blinding his eyes. He threw out his hands for help as he cried, and thus catching Jim, both slid off the raft a second time, as the craft went under on that side.
George could afford to laugh at the sight, for he still held his footing on the wet and slippery raft; but he laughed too soon. John took another aim and fired a second shot. It hit the boards of the raft just back of George, who was not aware of it, as it simply squashed all over without making a noise.
He moved back a trifle to gain a surer footing, and that action was his own undoing. His foot slipped on the slippery mush, and down he came upon the planks. Again the tipsy raft dove, and again George slid off into the stream.
The middle of the stream was swollen by the rains to a depth of four feet, and Jim only being three feet high, could not be seen, but he could paddle a bit with legs and arms in poor imitation of swimming, so George and Jack found him wildly kicking and striking the water in a vain endeavor to float.
John doubled over in glee at his marksmanship, and the two girls, running to see what the new commotion was about, saw the three boys in the creek, trying to board the raft. With every pull and extra weight on the warship, it dipped gracefully and slipped the children’s eager, clutching hands from its edges.
“You’ll have to wade back to England and sail again,” yelled John comfortingly.
“You just wait till we get over there!” threatened Jack, who suspected the power back of that apple.
“We’ll wait all right! Long time comin’, too!” roared John, slapping his knees.
While Jack pulled Jim to shallow water, George managed to haul the now water-logged raft back to the English shore. The pasteboard cartons and drum were thoroughly soaked by this time and showed signs of collapse, but the soap-box withstood the elements in a fine manner.
During the third trial to cross the tempestuous seas, the cartons holding oatmeal and hominy spread out and the cereals floated down on the face of the creek. The pasteboard sides, now flattened out and soaked, were of no use, so they were kicked off; but in the sudden jerking Jack and George clutched each other madly, or they would have slid into the water for the third time.
“I guess Boston will never get a speck of that cargo!” laughed John, both hands behind his back holding large-sized decayed cannon-balls from the apple tree.
“What’ll you bet?” challenged Jack.
“Bet you three shots to your every one that you won’t land it!” taunted John.
“Take you up! If we land anything we take three shots at you. If you keep us from landing, you have three at us,” cried George, the fire of battle shining in his eyes.
“Here, John, you wade out and upset them,” whispered Anne mischievously.
“They won’t count that as fair!” exclaimed Martha.
“I’ve got a better idea. I’ll get up on that tree-trunk leaning out over the creek and you girls can hand me some heavy clumps of dirt, wood or rocks. I’ll drop it over on the raft so it will tip and roll off the rest of the cargo,” whispered John.
The three sailors were fully occupied in balancing and bringing the raft across the stream where it should go, so they failed to see John scale the overhanging willow tree and lean down to get the rocks and fragments of tree-trunks the girls passed up to him. Not until a stone fell upon the side of the raft where the remaining boxes stood did they dream of danger from a fort.
“Ah, say, that isn’t fair!” complained Jack, not daring to look up or around.
“All’s fair in play!” laughed Anne from the bank.
A second rock landed on the edge of the raft, and then a mass of dirt and dead leaves. After this, the girls assisted in the fusillade, and the boys were not only kept busy avoiding the ammunition of the Americans; but they found the raft tilting so dangerously that another added bit of weight would roll the single remaining soap-box from the ship.
“Jack, it’s dare or die!” said George, nodding to the débris thrown on the raft and the slant of the ship under water.
“What do you say?” wondered Jack.
“Jim’s the lightest—he must take the soap-box and try to reach shore with it while we fight them for a landing out here. If they go for Jim, we can land, and if they keep up with us Jim can scramble up the bank.”
Jim was willing, and Jack thought it was a fighting chance, so the captain of the _Dartmouth_ sidled off into the water and grabbed the box which he had to safely carry up on shore—in the face of the American cannonading.
Had the creek been clear of mud and roots, the British might have landed their sea forces, and thus the history of the American colonists might never have been written as such; but which one of the combating parties could dream of the unseen menace that took a part in this tragic fight?
The two girls and John saw Jim slide off and push the soap-box in front of him, but they felt a sympathy for him, for it was apparent that Jack and George preferred to remain on the raft and let Jim try to land. Then they would claim the right to fire three shots to one at the Americans.
But the three Americans determined to fire as many of the soft apples at the two remaining sailors as they could land, so Jack and George were kept busy ducking and objecting, and Jim had gone half the distance between the raft and the gnarled root, where he hoped to climb up, when a blood-curdling yell was heard, which seemed to rise from his very toes.
British and Yanks alike forgot their enmity and shouted out: “What’s happened, Jim?”
But the little pickaninny, beating the water frantically with both hands, while continuing to howl, tried to jump up from the water.
Jack and George, too wet to mind more water, and John, with the two girls on shore, rushed for the captain to try and save him, for they firmly believed he was about to yell his last earthly breath.
Jack and George reached him first, and instantly caught his wildly waving arms to drag him up on shore. They thought that if it was his time to “climb the golden stairs” he was always singing about, he ought to begin on dry land.
But Jim’s yells grew more appalling as he was half-carried and half-dragged out of the water. Just as John and his two confederates ran up, the cause of all this frenzy was found.
A huge mud-turtle had snapped onto one of Jim’s brown, upcurling toes, and as resistance was brought to bear against this grip, the turtle held on the tighter.
George knew what to do, so he quickly broke its shell with a sharp stone, and Jim almost fainted with relief at his freedom. The girls tried to pet him and offer sympathies, but Jack and George took advantage of the situation.
“Ha! We brought meat to shore! We landed all right!” yelled Jack, dancing like a wild Indian.
“Three-to-one shot,” added George, rushing away to find the ammunition John had plied so thickly.
But most of the apples had been fired, and Jim whispered: “Ah wan’ t’ go hum!”
“Ah, don’t go home now! Your toe will soon feel better, and besides, mammy will ask you where the boxes went from the store-room,” advised Martha.
Jim looked up at her wistfully and said: “Ah’ll tell her dem British sunk ’em all!”
“That would be mixin’ American history, ’cause it was us Yanks that sunk the cargo,” corrected Anne.
“All but the fish!” chuckled Jack, pointing at the turtle.
“If Jim can’t go home, and you girls won’t let us shoot as you agreed, what shall we do, anyway?” sulked George, who felt it was an unlucky day, because no more apples could be found.
“Why not play the Battle of Lexington? That’s fun!” suggested Martha.
“We can use the raft to sail up Lake Champlain, where it can be the first warship of the American navy,” added Anne.
“All right—come on!” declared John, who was glad to postpone his being shot at by two good aims like George and Jack.
“Here, or on the other side?” asked George.
“Well, here’s a good tree for the earthworks on the hill near Boston,” ventured John.
“We won’t need it for Lexington or Concord, but we really ought to have something that would pop like shot, or it won’t seem real,” replied Jack consideringly.
“Can’t we skip those two first fights, and start right in with the burning of Charlestown and the fight on the hill? We can build a dandy bonfire for Charlestown,” said Anne.
“Umm! Never again! We had a fire once when Washington’s homestead burned down, and Jim’s just raisin’ a new crop of wool since then. My hair was frizzled to the roots, too, and our eyebrows were all gone. We looked awfully funny without winkers on our eyes or brows over them,” laughed George, the memory of his burns too fresh to attempt a second fire even in play.
“Then we can’t do it! We may as well go home and wait for the automobile to come back,” said Martha resignedly.
“I don’t see why. We can build earthworks and fight down the British as they come up the hill, and then the British can win the battle and fight us all the way back to Charlestown; and General Washington can come along and pat us on the back for courage and bravery, and then we can all plan together how to get back at the British,” exclaimed George eagerly.
“I’m wet and soggy, and Jim’s going to cry all afternoon, so I guess I’ll go back and change my clothes,” said Jack, suddenly feeling discouraged over the failure of his nation to win an easy battle.
“If we keep away from the store-room, and creep up the front stairs to change our clothes, we can be sitting on the lawn under the canopy when mother gets back,” ventured Martha.
“What about Jim?” worried several voices.
“Let John take him home and dry his clothes, then they both can join us on the lawn, and sit quietly while the sun sets. Mother says she wants us to watch the fall sunsets, as they are always so beautiful,” offered George.
The others stared in unbelief at this daring commander, who suggested quietly admiring sunsets, but each felt that it would be as well to seem meek and quiet after the raid on the boxes in the store-room.
So the good advice was followed, but Martha did not dream that Jim had dumped the washing-soda over the orange pekoe tea, so that it was impossible to sift or wash it out. Hence, the Parkes had no tea that afternoon, nor, did the cook have her fragrant beverage at each meal until the new chest came from Washington.
“Well, didn’t the Yanks sacrifice tea to their patriotism that time in Boston?” asked Jack of his mother, when the story was told.
BATTLES ABOUT NEW YORK
“What shall we play to-day?” asked Anne Davis, as the four cousins emerged from the breakfast-room.
“Anything you like,” replied Martha politely.
“Did Jim come home last night?” asked Jack.
“Sure! And his mammy doesn’t know he had anything to do with that tea,” laughed George.
“Well, let’s call him and decide on some game,” said Jack. So Jim was whistled for, and his shining face soon appeared from the kitchen-areaway.
As the five playmates wandered across the lawn to the ever-welcome meeting-place of lilac bushes, they heard a shrill call and John soon appeared from the hedge through which he crept.
“We don’t know what to play,” explained Martha to John, as the latest member to the party wondered at the calm and quietness of the warriors.
“Let’s finish Bunker Hill,” he suggested.
“Oh, we’re sick of Boston! It’s all right in a way, but not for a second time,” said George, thinking of the battle of the day before.
“Then let’s have a fight on Long Island, when the British drove the Americans from Brooklyn, to cross the East River to their main army,” said John.
“I don’t want that either! Can’t we go somewhere or do something different?” asked Martha.
“If Washington’s army had only used submarines or airships like they do at present, we could have heaps of fun that way,” hinted Jack meaningly.
“Oh, say, why can’t we build an aeroplane and try it?” cried George eagerly.
“What of?” asked John.
“Where can we fly?” said Anne.
“Well, we might experiment back of the barns. There’s a telegraph wire which runs across our property there, and we can run a plane down the wire that steadies the pole,” explained George.
“Or we could stretch a wash-line near the ground from the barn-eaves to the pole, and toboggan an airship down that way,” added Jack.
“I’d rather play Washington crossing the Delaware, or at his farm when he was through being president of the United States,” said John, tenaciously clinging to the times of his ancestors.
“No one can cross the ice on the river when it’s fall!” scorned George conclusively.
“Then we can have the farm!” insisted John.
“Hoh, we have farm enough—no one wants to _play_ farmer!” objected George.
“Oh, well! Play anything then—I don’t care!” snapped John.
But a call from the veranda settled all such troubles. “Children, who wants to go on a picnic?”
“I do! I do!” sounded from every throat, and the children speedily rushed over to ask questions about the proffered treat.
“Everybody secure permission at home, and meet us here in half an hour. I’ll look after the luncheon, so hurry up,” said Mrs. Parke.
Everything else was forgotten in the bustle of preparing for the unexpected outing.
“Where are we going, mother?” asked Martha.
“Why, aunty wishes to see Mount Vernon, so I thought it would be a fine drive there in the machine. We can have lunch in the woods along the road, and be home again before night,” explained Mrs. Parke.
Before she had quite finished speaking the children were shouting and jumping with delight. Jim alone stood silently by, his face expressing his state of mind, for he had no idea that he was to be included in this joyous party.
“Hey, Jim! What’s the matter? Aren’t you glad and excited about it?” cried George, catching him by his thin little arms and whirling him around in a dizzy dance.
“Whad should Ah be glad affer?” mourned Jim.
“Because you’re going, too, if mammy will consent,” said Mrs. Parke kindly.
“Me! Kin Ah ride wid yo’ all to dat Mount Wernon?” yelled Jim shrilly. Then not waiting for a reply he rushed away, and was soon out of sight around the corner of the house.
Every one laughed, and John was told to run home and get his coat and cap. In a few moments Jim was back again, talking six ways at once.
“Mammy say, da’s fine! Is Ah goin’ t’ dress up lak fo’ chu’ch? Is we goin’ right off quick? Has Ah got time t’ have granny sew buttons on m’ boiled shirt an’ get a baff?”
“Yes, yes, yes! Run along and do everything you say,” laughed Mrs. Parke, giving Jim a gentle push in the direction of the kitchen.
In half an hour’s time every one was waiting on the veranda steps for Jim. The large car was puffing impatiently to be on the road, when a gayly bedecked personage emerged from the areaway.
“Oo-oh! It’s Jim!” yelled George, clapping Jack’s back.
“So ’tis!” breathed Martha as if a louder tone would dispel the illusion.
“Is Ah dressed enuff?” asked Jim, beaming.
“I should think so—the best of the lot of us!” admired Jack.
Jim minced over to display his fine feathers to the eyes that comprised his world. He had on a pair of patent leather pumps outgrown by George, a pair of Scotch plaid socks such as were worn by children some years ago. Between the top of the socks and his claret-colored velveteen breeches, his dark-brown bowed legs made a somber break. His starched shirt was too tight, but to obviate this failure, young mammy had pinned a lace jabot in front, where the black cloth Eton opened. A straw alpine hat presented to Jim’s father by Mr. Graham, topped this unusual costume.
Although some of the children felt like giggling, they were too polite, and thought too much of Jim to let him see what they thought of his travelling costume. So, with heart bounding joyously, he climbed in “wid dee comp’ny” in the automobile.
It was a long but delightful drive to Mount Vernon, and on the way there, Mrs. Parke told the children many interesting things in connection with the Washingtons.
“Of course we all know how Mount Vernon came to belong to George Washington, don’t we?”
“We do!” exclaimed George, looking at Martha and his cousins.
“I don’t, Mrs. Parke—and I don’t b’lieve Jim does,” said John.
“Ah knows that Garge General Washerton was the fust fadder uv dis country, but Ah nebber hearn who its mudder was,” replied Jim seriously.
Every one shouted with laughter at the unexpected remark, and the chauffeur smiled, too.
“I’ll tell you about Mount Vernon first, and then we may have time to explain to Jim about the parentage of America,” said Mrs. Parke, patting the woolly head beside her.
“I have read to you how Augustine Washington, father of our famous George Washington, was twice married. Two sons of the first marriage and six children of the second marriage. At the father’s death, his estate was divided among the children. The oldest son inherited an estate near Hunting Creek, afterward called Mount Vernon by him, after his friend and beloved hero, Admiral Vernon.
“This estate consisted originally of 2,500 acres, but later considerable land was added to it, until it became one of the best country estates in Virginia.
“The second son by the first marriage inherited an estate in Westmoreland. George Washington was left the land and mansion where his parents lived at the time of the father’s death. Each of the other children inherited farms of from six to eight hundred acres.
“Soon after leaving school George went to live with his brother at Mount Vernon, the mistress of which was a sister of William Fairfax, distantly related to Lord Fairfax. In this way George became acquainted with William Fairfax, who invited the youth to visit him at Belvoir.
“During this visit George made the acquaintance of the sons and daughters of his host, and also received a recommendation to Lord Fairfax for a position of surveyor.
“The study of practical surveying formed an important part of Washington’s career, as it stood him in such good stead later in life.
“Lawrence Washington had pulmonary trouble and was told to seek a milder climate. George was a great favorite with the oldest member of the Washington family, and he induced him to accompany him to the Barbadoes to recuperate his health, but as it did no good he returned home, and shortly after passed away.
“In his will he appointed George Washington one of his executors, and the estate of Mount Vernon was bequeathed to his daughter. In case of her death without heirs the property was to pass to George. Thus it was that at the early death of the daughter of Lawrence, Mount Vernon became the property of George Washington.”
“But he didn’t need it when he married Martha Custis, ’cause you told us one day that she had a big estate of her own,” said Martha.
“Yes, she was the mistress of a fine plantation called ‘White House,’ and from this home she was married to her second husband, George Washington. But soon after this union she removed to Mount Vernon, which was ever after known as her home and family residence.
“To make this house a fitting home for the bride George ordered many items of art and luxury from his agent in England. Among other things he ordered a bust of Frederick the Great, little dreaming that not many years hence his walls would be adorned by a portrait sent him by the monarch himself and autographed with the words, ‘From the oldest general in Europe to the greatest general in the world.’
“Among the memoranda of his estate, business and house bookkeeping there can still be seen in the library or study at Mount Vernon many of the aged papers filed away since the day he first entered the items on his accounts.
“We will also see some of the ‘tabby-colored’ gowns sent to Martha Washington from England, and the laces, fans, shell combs and satin slippers worn by her and never dreaming at that time that a group of distant descendants would visit the place to gaze at the articles she once wore or handled as we do everyday things.”
“Mother, will we see some of Washington’s swords and guns?” asked George, plainly showing the bent of his desire.
“Yes, we will see many interesting things belonging to General Washington, from the time he first became owner of Mount Vernon to the day he passed away forever. Since the organization formed to protect and hold this place sacred to the memory of the illustrious Washington many things not originally belonging to the estate were received and placed on exhibition there for the public to see. Among some of these relics are the treasured articles belonging to descendants of the friends of Washington, and the interesting narratives of how they came into the possession of the articles furnished historical stories.”
Questions and answers about the general and his home so soon to be seen by the children occupied much time, and when these historical facts began to lose interest for the juvenile members of the party Mrs. Davis suggested that they stop and have their picnic lunch, after which they would conclude the trip.
This met with great approval, and soon every one was busy munching chicken sandwiches or enjoying juicy fruit. Half an hour was the time allotted for lunch, and then Mrs. Parke gave the signal for every one to climb back in the automobile.
When they arrived at the stately mansion they were impressed by the elegance of the place, and the children were overawed to find visitors there from every known part of the world.
They followed the official guide about and heard the descriptions of the articles exhibited. In the kitchen, the old-fashioned fireplace, the crane, the pot-hangers, iron pots and teakettles amused the girls. The ladies admired the old china kept in the cumbersome cupboards, and the boys smiled at the heavy solid chairs and tables once used by the slaves and servants of the Washingtons.
In the general’s private den, or study, were still found the yellow-aged papers, pens, ink horns and other items used by him in the management of his properties.
In the chambers the visitors found many interesting things to see—four-posted beds, quaint chairs, low rockers with most uncomfortable straight backs, queer dressers and wardrobes.
The garments and toilette articles were carefully protected in glass cases, and everything was labelled plainly so all could read the descriptions and dates when used.
On the homeward ride Martha said: “Well, both those ancestors seem more real to me now than ever before.”
“Yes, but it won’t be any fun playing war with broomsticks again, after seeing the great swords and other weapons shown there,” said George, feeling that he had lost much of the delusion of boyhood.
“Why don’t you ask your father for real guns—I mean the pea-shooters you can buy at a toy shop,” suggested Jack.
“Why, of course, mother. Will you ask him about it?” said George eagerly.
“If I were you, Kate, I would. Jack has a rifle that shoots peas or beans, and it takes a load of care from my mind, for I know he can’t injure anything with a dried pea. And boys will have some form of gun, you know, especially if they are forever playing George Washington, in the days of Indian wars and revolutions,” said Mrs. Davis.
“I’ll ask father and we’ll see what he thinks,” replied Mrs. Parke.
“One won’t be enough! Martha and Jim each need one, and John will have to get one, too,” reminded George anxiously.
“John had better ask his father if he will consent to this new plan of defense,” laughed Mrs. Parke.
“Ah rickon mah mammy won’t ’ject to a pea-gun ’cause it hain’t so bad as an axe, yo’ knows,” murmured Jim.
“Hoh, I guess not! And John’s folks will be glad to know he won’t be scalped again, even if we play Braddock and the Indians, like that other time,” added George, thinking of the great battle between the French and British at the time the hedge was broken down.
“If we could only have those guns while Jack and Anne are visiting us we could have the real battles of Long Island, Harlem and Jersey,” sighed John.
“Mother, you must try and have father tend to it next time he passes a toy shop in Washington, won’t you?” begged George eagerly.
“I’ll tell him what aunty said, and leave it to his own good judgment whether you should have a pea-shooter or a new form of punishment,” teased Mrs. Parke.
But George and Martha understood their mother so well that they felt sure she would advise the guns at once, so they chattered all about the forthcoming battles to be fought the moment the rifles arrived from the store.
That night Mr. Parke heard all about Mount Vernon from four excited children and the two ladies, who now and then were permitted to add a word or explain a remark; but the most interesting topic of conversation was the question of pea-shooters.
Finally Mr. Parke admitted he was defeated in his arguments against rifles in days of disarmament, so the children felt quite sure he would order the proper weapons for home defense.
A few days after the visit to Mount Vernon a large box came from a shop devoted entirely to toys and games for children. The excited juvenile members of the family stood impatiently waiting while the lid was removed, for they had expected guns, but not in such a packing case.
The first thing taken out was a long envelope addressed to “Soldiers and Defenders of America.” Upon opening it Mrs. Parke smiled and read aloud:
“‘The contents of this box to be presented to the different members of the Continental army, to wit: George and Martha Parke, Jack and Anne Davis, John Graham and Jim (Jackson) as addressed on each package herein, upon the satisfactory recital, learned by heart, of the maxims and rules learned and followed by George Washington from the time he attended Mr. Williams’ school, and written by Sir Matthew Hale under the title of “Contemplations.” As each student satisfactorily recites these “Contemplations” to Mrs. Parke and Mrs. Davis, he or she may take and become the owner of the package addressed to him or her.’”
EARNING THE PRIZES
As may be imagined, no time was lost in play or other occupations as long as those packages remained unopened in the case. From the examination of the outside George said he was sure they contained complete outfits for the army. If this surmise was correct, what a glorious time they would have when all dressed up in suitable uniforms!
“Mother, how can we all learn those maxims by heart when we have only one book to study from?” asked George.
“I thought of that, too, and asked father to have his secretary copy them on paper, so each of you could have a set to study,” said Mrs. Parke.
“Oh, then you knew all about these prizes before they came, eh?” said Martha.
“Yes, and now I’ll get the papers for you. Jim will have to have you read his aloud and help him memorize them,” replied Mrs. Parke, going over to the desk, where she took up a bundle of typewritten sheets to distribute to the children.
“I wish to read a short introduction to these rules that were such a guide to our great general. These ‘Contemplations’ formed the subject of Washington’s early study and devotions. They exerted a direct influence in the formation of his principles of action. His well-known habits of private devotion to Deity were formed somewhat by imprinting on him mind such passages as the following:
“‘An humble man leans not to his own understanding; he is sensible of the deficiency of his own power and wisdom, and trusts not in it; he is also sensible of the all-sufficient power, wisdom and goodness of almighty God, and commits himself to Him for counsel, guidance, direction and strength.
“‘I can call my own experience to witness that in the external actions, occurrences and incidents of my whole life I was never disappointed of the best guidance and direction when in humility and sense of my own deficiency, or inability to direct myself, or to grapple with the difficulties of my life, I have with humility and sincerity implored the secret direction and guidance of the Divine Wisdom and Providence.
“‘And I dare appeal to the strict observation of any man’s experience—whether those counsels and purposes which have been taken up after an humble invocation of the Divine Direction have not always been most successful in the end.
“‘Consider what it is that thou pridest thyself in and examine well the nature of the things themselves, how little and inconsiderable they are; at least how uncertain and unstable they are.
“‘Thou hast fine clothes, and this makes children and young men and women proud, even to admiration; but thou art not half so fine and gay as the peacock, ostrich or parrot, nor is thy finery so much thine as theirs is, but it is borrowed from the silkworm, the gold mines, the industry of the embroiderer, weaver, tailor, and is no part of thyself. And hast thou the patience to suffer thyself to be abused into this childish, pitiful, foolish pride?
“‘Thou hast, it may be, wealth, stores of money; but how much of it is of use to thee? That which thou spendest is gone; that which thou keepest is as insignificant as so much dirt or clay; only thy care about it makes thy life the more uneasy.
“‘Thou hast honor, esteem; thou art deceived, for thou hast it not; he hath it that giveth it thee, and which he may detain from thee at pleasure; but suppose it were as fixed a reputation as a rock of marble, and that it were the best kind of honor imaginable—the result of virtue or worth—canst thou think it reasonable to be proud of the shadow, where thou oughtest not to be proud of that worth that causeth it?
“‘Again: Thou art in great power, or place and authority; but thou art mistaken in this; the power thou hast is not inherent in thyself. One of the meanest of those whom it may be thou oppressest is as powerful as thee, and could, it may be, overmatch thee in strength, wit or policy; but thy power is invested in thee by those men whose promises, faith, or voluntary assistance thou hast. This power depends upon the fidelity or assistance of others, which, if withdrawn, leaves you like Samson shorn of his locks. _Thy strength will go from thee, and thou wilt become weak, and be like another man._’”
“Mother, you have read quite enough for one day. It will likely take us a week to learn all that by heart, and that will be a week of this visit lost!” cried George disconsolately.
“But suppose I entreat father to have you learn some verses from ‘Mother Goose’ to recite to us instead of these maxims—do you think you could memorize them quickly?” suggested Mrs. Parke.
“Oh, yes, mother! Do ask him that. We can learn ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ or anything like that in no time,” hastily replied Martha.
“Ah! then it shows that the only trouble with memorizing these truly great sayings is that you won’t bother to study what is good and helpful! ‘Mother Goose’ is funny and amusing, and you promise to learn any such verses quickly; that is why father wishes you to learn these ‘Contemplations’ and afterward wear the uniform of an American soldier; because one cannot be frivolous and inclined to constant fun if he is to be the custodian of his country’s safety,” declared Mrs. Parke.
“But can’t you see that ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?’” argued George impatiently.
“Have you any proposal to make better than the one father planned for the earning of the prize packages?” asked his mother.
“Well, we might arrange it this way: For every set of contemplations or maxims we learn each day we are to receive something from those packages as a reward. If we learn a long paragraph like some you read to us just now we ought to have some big item in the package. For a short verse or paragraph you are to give us a glove or a shoe or a cap—if there are any in the boxes,” said George.
“Yes, yes! That is a fine idea!” shouted the other children in chorus, so that the ladies smiled.
“Well, as the main thing is to have you learn these valuable sayings by heart, it may be better to serve them out to you one a day, and pay the reward as you suggest. But remember, the prize is not what we are aiming at—it is the memory of the great words, that will have its effect on your after lives,” responded Mrs. Parke.
“Yes, yes, we know! We’ll let it affect our after life if you will but let us have the soldiers’ outfits right now!” retorted George, so that every one laughed at his reply.
“Well, then take the first paragraph and learn it well. As each one knows it without error we will hear it recited and give the reward for the study,” sighed Mrs. Parke, who feared the wonderful words would fail to leave an impression such as her husband hoped for.
For the rest of that day very little commotion was heard about the Parke house, but Jack appeared about four o’clock with the assurance that he had mastered the first maxim.
Mrs. Davis heard him recite it while both ladies held a copy of the paper. He had memorized the words, but seemed to have failed in understanding them, so his recital was more like that of a parrot’s speech.
“Just what I thought,” said Mrs. Parke, in an aside.
“Kate, we must add to this method of memorizing; each child should be able to explain what the words mean and how they individually interpret them.”
“Please give me my prize now and talk over the best way to impress our minds when I am gone,” cried Jack, disappointed that he had not been handed his package immediately upon rendering the maxim correctly.
With a sigh of despair his mother gave him the first reward—a khaki army coat trimmed with blue braid and brass buttons. It was a very elaborate affair, that any youthful general might be proud to wear.
The moment Jack saw it he gave a wild cheer and raced from the room to call to his companions. From the lilac bushes, from the summer house, from the cool back porch and from the hammocks swung under the maple trees ran the friends who were eager to admire the prize won by the first member of their army.
The boys had to try it on, and there followed many exclamations of delight and approval. Then, as each wished it was his they remembered the way to earn one, so they hurried back to their papers.
Thus, by learning the paragraphs in order as they came on the pages, the children not only won rewards, but also imbibed the high and excellent maxims followed by General Washington.
When the first few rules were learned Mrs. Parke gave the children new ones. As she distributed them she said: “Before you go I wish to read some splendid things Washington wrote as he supposes himself to be standing before the Seat of Judgment, answering to God for the charges given him to account for:
“‘I have given unto you all understanding and reason, to be a guide of your actions, and to some of you more eminent degrees thereof.
“‘I have given you a conscience to direct you, and to check you in your miscarriages, and to encourage you in well-doing; and I have furnished that conscience of yours with light and principles of truth and practice conformable to my will.
“‘I have given you the advantage of speech, whereby to communicate your thoughts to one another and to instruct and advantage one another by the help thereof.
“‘I have given you counsel and advice of faithful and judicious friends; good laws in the place and country where you live; the written word of God acquainting you with my will and the way to eternal life; the word preached thereof; the sacrament both for your initiation and confirmation.
“‘And the man who stands at the bar of judgment answering his God must give a true and faithful accounting of all he did or hoped to accomplish with the talents thus given him on earth.’
“Now, children, this last section of Washington’s words are to me most important, as they embody the whole basis of his religious attitude. And every one knows what an account he could render the Master for being a Good Steward in the field.
“I am sure that his harvest must have been very acceptable to God, for there were no tares mixed with his wheat,” said Mrs. Parke seriously.
“If our children—descendants of that noble character, Washington—can render as good a record of works accomplished on earth when they appear before the Throne of the Great Judge it will be a cause for great rejoicing and thanksgiving for all,” added Mrs. Davis.
“Yes, I suppose it would, aunty, but you see times change and so do folks, and ways change with them. George Washington just had to be good ’cause it was born in him, and God made him feel that he had to be an example for America. Doesn’t it show it was so, when he never wanted to quarrel in school, he never told a lie—even kept his mouth shut when something was being asked that he knew all about—and the way he sacrificed fun and good times just to study old dry stuff like these maxims? Oh, he was, indeed, a queer boy!” sighed George, rolling his eyes upward in earnest contemplation of the ceiling.
The ladies had great difficulty in maintaining serious faces at these remarks, but they felt all would be ruined if they laughed outright, so they managed, both of them, to remain stern and respectful.
“Haven’t we occasion to thank God that he was such a serious-minded boy? What would the United States have done if he had been otherwise?” asked Mrs. Parke.
“But it didn’t! If Washington wasn’t that kind God would have raised up another Moses in the Land of Bondage, to lead the poor colonists out of Egypt!” declared Martha triumphantly.
“You said yourself, while explaining some Bible reading the other day, that it wasn’t the name or mortal man that did all the great and glorious things, but the power of the Principle that influenced and operated through a being. Then I could be as great as General Washington if the test came and I was being moved to do glorious deeds through the help of God,” said George, frowning over such a theological problem.
“Yes, you could, if you understood enough of the Truth and operation of God, who _is_ Principle, to apply what you knew; but the Truth does not operate blindly, remember, and Washington would never have been guided as he was if he hadn’t applied his _thoughts_ seriously to finding out the ‘deep things of God’,” said Mrs. Parke earnestly.
The children showed an eagerness to get away from further preaching, so the ladies rose as a signal that the meeting was over. With grateful sighs the youngsters hurried away to learn the next dry and, to them, senseless maxim of Washington’s.
THE ARMY WINS UNIFORMS
It took a full week to win every prize contained in the packing case, but only half of the maxims had been learned, as there were more “Contemplations” than rewards. When the children heard there was no more prize clothing to be won they lost interest in the learning of Washington’s rules of life.
To insure continued interest in the maxims Mrs. Davis suggested a plan.
“Now that Mr. Parke bought and gave the army uniforms, I think I’ll ‘do my bit’ also. These children ought to begin to make things and earn money for War Relief in Europe. I had thought of getting them a lightweight boat that would float on the creek, but now that every one ought to do something I think I will send for wool and needles, that the girls may learn to knit vests, caps and mittens for our boys at the front. What do you think of it?”
“Oh, George and Martha have plenty of those things, but somehow they never sit still long enough to knit more than one row a day, and the war will end before they complete a single sock. Besides, they feel as if knitting was worse than going in the trenches, so I haven’t insisted upon the work as yet. Better supply them with the boat, where they can frolic and keep healthy out-of-doors without danger to themselves,” advised Mrs. Parke.
“Quite a difference in cash between a boat and knitting outfits,” laughed Mr. Parke.
“Yes, and quite a margin in health, too, as Kate says,” replied Mrs. Davis.
“Better let us share the cost of the boat together,” ventured Mrs. Parke.
“Indeed not! I have been wondering what to buy the two children as a gift when I came through Washington, but I determined to wait and see what they would enjoy most. Now that they have the General Washington idea in their minds, I think the boat is just the thing. They can have fights at sea and use it for crossing and recrossing the Hudson, the Delaware, or Lake Champlain, as they wish—all on the creek, where the water is not half as deep or dangerous as the Hudson,” explained Mrs. Davis.
“If you wish me to select one that I think will answer all purposes for the children I will do so, as I am going down to a building concern that specializes in canoes and pleasure crafts. I have to interview them about an insurance policy which they wish to increase. At the same time I can inquire as to the price of a light-weight boat,” said Mr. Parke.
So the next evening he returned home with news for Mrs. Davis. “I saw my man who handles boats and canoes and, fortunately, he had just the thing needed for the creek. He made the boat six months ago for some children, but the father lost a great deal of money in bad speculations and couldn’t pay the balance due on it. Now, you can have that same boat for the price still owing on the bill. In this way the children get a fine boat for the same cost as a cheap or poorer one.”
“I hope you ordered it sent on?” asked Mrs. Davis eagerly.
“Yes, I did so, for now that you have spoken of the idea I wonder that I never thought of a boat before,” replied Mr. Parke.
The Davises expected to remain about three weeks, but the first week had passed so quickly and the second week was so entirely taken up with studying maxims and winning prizes that it was not until the beginning of the third week that the plan was arranged to buy the Parke children a toy which they could enjoy for a long time.
All during the third week the Provincial army dressed in its hard-earned uniforms and paraded or drilled faithfully.
As usual, George was the commander-in-chief, John was Marquis de Lafayette, Jack was General Howe, although the Englishman wore the American uniform; Jim was the whole regular army, for Martha and Anne took turns in being General Sullivan, Nathan Hale, Allen, Schuyler, and others, just according to the battles fought or the places where the army camped.
Jim’s uniform was the same as that of the general, but his hat was different, and this constituted the rank. While George had a yellow tri-cornered hat trimmed with gold braid and tassels, Jim was made to wear a cap found in the attic chest. This was a sorry trial to Jim, who fondled the gold-trimmed hat he had won by learning maxims, but was not permitted to parade with it on. As Jack sternly told him when he protested, “We’ve got to keep discipline in the ranks, and if we should let you wear any fancy hat you wanted what would the army do?”
“Ah’m shore Ah donno, cuz dey ain’t no udder ranks den me!” retorted Jim rebelliously.
That made Jack think over the situation. And the result was: “Say, general, what’s the use of having so many officers and no regulars? Make Anne and Martha play the soldier once in a while; I need some one on my side besides myself.”
But Martha and Anne felt as much pleasure in their army uniforms, which were made exactly like the boys’, as the officers did in theirs, and they would not consent to wear common caps while gay cocked hats were put on the shelf.
So the argument over proper headgear in the army and the great need of more soldiers in the ranks continued all week, but the drilling with fife and drum and the rifle practice with dried peas or beans kept up, to the great amusement of the two ladies.
Saturday a telephone message came to the house while the army was on the lawn questioning Washington’s right to choose Englishmen to help Jack. It had been decided that John take turns being first French and then British to help out General Howe, and the girls were supposed to each take a side, but they declined the honor and preferred to remain American.
In the midst of an excited explanation from George why and wherefore, stating the reason the army never amounted to anything, Jim jumped up and pointed a trembling index finger at the driveway.
The others jumped up from the grass to see the cause of his surprise, and all stood still in wonderment.
On a long-framed wagon drawn by two truck horses lay a fine boat gayly painted in red, white and blue stripes. The ladies, Mrs. Parke and Mrs. Davis, walked behind the wagon as it slowly went down a side road that led over the bridge.
But the army did not remain long in a paralyzed state. Before the teamster had covered more than five yards of the side road crossing the creek British and American officers and men yelled and ran up to tug at the two ladies, demanding to know how the boat happened to be there.
So loud was the clamor that no one heard what any one else said, and the driver reached the creek, where many hands were eager to assist him in lifting the wonderful craft from the wagon to the creek.
“No, I sent for the gardener and chauffeur to help this man. He is responsible for the safe delivery of the boat, and it is not fair to him to risk its safety by letting excited boys help carry it from the wagon,” said Mrs. Davis firmly.
The two men soon arrived and helped transfer the boat to the water, where it rode gracefully on the slow surface of the stream. The teamster and the help went away, but the army was not aware of their going—all eyes were fixed on the boat.
Mrs. Parke told the children that it was a gift from aunty, so that they could play American history with a warship better than without any.
“Who can row? Can you, Jack?” asked George.
“No, but it’s easy. You just pull back and forth on the upper end of the oar and away she goes,” said Jack.
“Well, please take off the general’s uniform before you begin practice. A bathing suit would be better to wear while you are learning,” laughed Mrs. Parke.
“Why, we won’t fall out,” said Anne.
“There isn’t any reason why you should, but there is no telling when such experts in rowing as Jack, take a hand,” said Mrs. Davis.
George, John and Jack were already in the boat, but there was but one pair of oar-locks and one set of oars, so only one could row. Seeing that Jack’s mother presented the boat, George relinquished his prerogative as commander-in-chief, and sat down to watch his cousin row.
In spite of Jack’s explanation that all you did was “to just pull back and forth,” it seemed difficult to move the boat in the right direction. After many futile attempts, he turned over the oars for George to try.
The ladies stood on the bank laughing at the general’s failure to row properly, and then John also failed.
“Do you girls want to try?” asked Mrs. Davis.
Jim stood by grinning delightedly at the boys in the boat, but not daring to hope that he would ever be invited to row. Martha saw his intense attitude and whispered to her mother, “Let’s ask Jim if he wants to try?”
Mrs. Parke nodded smilingly. “Jim, do you want to try and see if you can move the boat?”
With a start of amazed joy, the “rank and file” of the American army stuttered and stammered that it would!
George and Jack jumped out, leaving John in the prow, and then Jim climbed in. He turned and said: “Does de lady officers wanta come in?”
“Not till you have your trial, Jim. Then they are going to try, too,” replied Mrs. Parke.
Now Jim had often accompanied his daddy on fishing trips for the day, and upon these excursions on the river, the little fellow had been taught how to manage a pair of oars and a boat. But the oars and boats found tied up to old tree stumps along the sluggish river banks were cumbersome, unmanageable affairs in comparison to this eggshell craft, with its ash blades to propel it on the bosom of the quiet creek.
Hence, Jim sat down and admired the oars to his heart’s content, and then examined the ribbed sides and deck-flooring of the inside of the boat. The shiny varnish and brass-studded wood enchanted his soul so that he forgot to take up the oars.
“Hurry up, Jim! Take your turn and then let the rest have theirs!” shouted George impatiently.
Jim grinned so that every glistening tooth in his wide mouth showed distinctly, and he bent to pick up the oar-blades. After fitting them methodically in the oar-locks, he sat down. But the boys noticed that he sat on the next seat to the one they had occupied when trying to row. They also saw him try to brace his feet against the foot-rack, but he was too short. They found, however, that Jim very well knew what he was about.
While the spectators held their breath in surprise, Jim bent back on the oars and slowly let the blade sink under water. He then bent forward, and as the flat sides of the oars pushed against the water, the boat began moving. With surprisingly regular and serviceable strokes for such a little shaver, Jim soon rowed the boat across the creek and started back for the landing, where his friends stood waiting to congratulate him.
“Behold, the conquering hero comes!” sang Mrs. Parke, as Jim brought the nose of the boat up against the mossy bank.
“My goodness! Jim knows more about a ship than any of us!” declared George, willing to give praise when it was deserved.
“He is the real captain—not the play-kind we made him on the raft that day!” admired Jack, looking Jim up and down to find out how such a miracle could happen.
“Ef yo’ all say Ah am a reel cap’n, den Ah ain’t goin’ t’ be no common solger no moh! Ah kin be a cap’n uv a warship!” said Jim daringly.
“He must be an admiral of the navy!” suddenly exclaimed Jack.
“And wear a sword from his belt—they all did!” added John, not to be outdone in magnanimity.
“And teach all the common seamen and marines how to row and manage a ship at sea!” laughed Mrs. Parke.
But Jim was overcome with so many unexpected honors, and he might have started for the barn to hide, had not General Howe challenged him.
“Admiral Dewey, I dare you to sail to Cuba and fight the Spanish fleet there!”
Jim looked around for explanations, and Jack laughed. “I mean, we will run over to John’s side of the creek while you sail the ship across the sea to attack us there.”
“No, Jim isn’t going to enter into any such plan as that! The boat is not to be used for a sea-fight till every one knows how to manage and row it,” interjected Mrs. Davis.
During the next week armies and uniforms were forgotten, while the children spent their entire time at the creek learning to row the boat. It had been named “The Washingtons,” and many wonderful cruises were planned by the American army that week.
Mrs. Davis had been persuaded to extend her visit over a fourth week, but now she said she must go home again. Mr. Davis wrote he was lonesome without the children, and the cook had gone the day after the mistress left. He had been eating at his club, but being a family man, he missed his home.
When Mrs. Davis learned of the cook’s leaving, she was annoyed, for the woman had promised faithfully to remain during her mistress’s absence.
“Dear me, I wish we had such faithful servants as you Virginia people have!” sighed she, thinking of the devoted help her cousin always had.
“Environment has much to do with it. If I lived North and you lived South, the tables would be turned. But do not let the loss of a cook make you hurry away from us,” said Mrs. Parke.
“It won’t, but I have already over-stayed my time a week, and I did want to stop off at New York on my homeward way and show the children some of the historic places there. Now, I suppose I’ll have to go straight home and find a cook!”
“If you will listen to me, I’ll make a suggestion,” said Mr. Parke, lowering his newspaper.
“We always listen to the men, but we seldom follow their advice,” laughed Mrs. Parke.
“I was about to say: Why not wire Sam to meet you in New York, and in that way forget his club dinners for a few days? I am going to New York on a business trip, and I had a vague idea of inviting my wife to accompany me. Now, if you will consider such a plan, we may as well take George and Martha, too, and make a family party of it. The children will be greatly improved by visiting all the points of interest mentioned to them in the history of George Washington’s life, and I am sure you ladies will enjoy taking them about during the day while I am busy with my New York branch of business.”
The ladies looked at each other with pleased surprise, for such a trip always met with approval from all concerned.
“I see you offer no objections, but it still remains for me to consult the four younger members of the family and hear their verdict!” laughed Mr. Parke.
“Oh, no—no! If you love peace and quiet at home, do not drop a hint of this proposed treat to them. Why, they’d have the whole place in an uproar until the time to leave for the train,” remonstrated Mrs. Parke.
“Just wire Sam and arrange it with him. We’ll fix up matters here, and, without a word to the children, prepare for a visit to New York,” added Mrs. Davis.
So it was done, but the party was not to start till Monday. On the Friday preceding, Mrs. Graham called at the Parke house to invite George and Martha to go with John on a visit to a great-aunt living in New York.
“I haven’t said a word to John about it, but I knew your visitors were going on Monday, and I thought the children would enjoy a trip if I promised to watch them well,” explained Mrs. Graham.
Then she heard of the secret plan and as she and John expected to start Tuesday morning, it was decided that she would change her plans and go with the others on Monday.
It is quite impossible to describe the excitement and deafening chorus that greeted the announcement of the New York trip. Mr. Parke was most grateful that he had not mentioned the event sooner; for even at that late hour he was not given a minute’s rest until the four wild travellers were safely seated in a Pullman chair going north to New York.