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dog-kennels, its garden and its “ preserves” were filled with animals and with the rare and beautiful things that came as gifts to Washington from his admirers all over the world.
“ Tut," as Nellie's brother, George Washington Parke Custis was nicknamed, was a bright little fellow — “a clever
boy” his grandmother, Mrs. Washington, called him — and “the general ” in his leisure hours looked carefully after his bringing up. He was educated at Princeton College and at Annapolis, and General Washington, then President, wrote the boy many
letters of advice, suggestion and help. That they did him good, we know; for he grew to be a man of gentle manners and fine tastes, the author of “The Life and Letters of Washington ” and the owner of the beautiful mansion now known as Arlington, on the Potomac, just across from Washington City. It was the home of his son-in-law, Robert E. Lee, and is now the National Burying Ground of a host of the soldiers who fell in the Civil War. Both Nellie and Washington Custis lived to be old people; and, when Washington Custis died in 1857, in him passed away the last male representative of the family of George Washington.'
So many years of Washington's life were public ones, passed in the service of the people as leader of their armies or as the head of the nation, that the home-life he loved so much was largely denied him. But, whenever possible, he had the children with him. They made a “ triumphal progress ” to his inauguration, and during his term as President they were frequently with him. And when Nellie became the wife of Lawrence Lewis, the general's private secretary, she made Mount Vernon her home, and was there with her new little baby the sad night that Washington died.
There were other boys and girls, not of the immediate Mount Vernon household, who were always welcomed there and who were dear to Washington and his wife. If any preference existed — and with “ the general” it must be confessed that such a preference did exist — it was in favor of girls. Mr. Moncure Conway tells us how he loved to have the little Custis girls with him and adds, “it was so through life. In the most critical week of his presidency, that in which the British treaty was decided — the second week of August, 1795 — Washington went to the house of Randolph, Secretary of State, and played with his little daughters.”
He would walk up and down the great portico at Mount Vernon with a little toddling girl holding his finger — that great finger that the baby hand could scarcely encircle, and many a dollar went for toys and keepsakes for the children and grandchildren of the various Custis' households. Some of those very keepsakes are now preserved as heirlooms by the descendants of the little folks to whom they were given so many years ago. As Washington grew older and more famous, young peo
ple had that awe of him that boys and girls are apt to feel for great men, and were not easy in his presence. This made Washington feel badly, for he liked a good time; he
liked to dance and play (Where Washington played with the children.)
games, and he did not like to feel that his presence put a damper on sport. There is a story told that, at a young people's party, when the fun was “ fast and furious,” President Washington came into the room ; at once the fun stopped, and every boy and girl were on their good behavior. Like dear old Colonel Newcome in Thackeray's story, Washington saw that his pres