« ZurückWeiter »
to Virginia, married Miss Fairfax, and settling on the Potomac plantation his father had left him, built a house and called his place Mount Vernon, naming it for the gallant admiral with whom he had gone to the West Indies to fight the Spaniards. Near to Mount Vernon was a plantation of the Fairfaxes
called Belvoir. George Washington used to ride over to Belvoir to see George Fairfax, who was a few years older than himself, and there he met a man who had much to do with starting him out in life. This was a queer and odd old English nobleman, Thomas, the sixth Lord Fairfax. He was a descendant of that great Lord Fairfax who had fought with Crom
well against the first King Charles, and helped the second King Charles to get his crown again. This Lord Fairfax whom George Washington knew had, at one time, lived in the highest society in England. He was a scholar, a writer, a soldier and a fine gentleman; he was very rich and very high and mighty
at home, but, because the girl he was to marry suddenly decided to marry some one else, Lord Fairfax “got mad” (as great Lords and small boys will some times, you know). He left England forever and sailed across the sea to America, where he owned acres upon acres of land among the Virginia mountains. This great tract of country had been given by King Charles the second to Lord Fairfax's grandfather. And when this Lord Fairfax found out what a fine country Virginia was, and how rich the land was, he determined to live there and improve his property.
People had been going upon his lands without leave and settling upon it — “squatters,” they were called — and Lord Fairfax found that he needed some one who was bright and bold and strong, who could go all over his great possessions (which included nearly one-fifth of the present State of Virginia), determine their boundaries, mark down the pieces that the squatters had taken possession of, and get everything ready toward what
hat Beginning this Eleventh Day Fitambu8749
makes we call, to-day, “ develop-7 ing” the property.
Washinglon Lord Fairfax met George Washington at Belvoir and Mount Vernon. He talked with the young man, rode with him, hunted with him, took a fancy to him, and, discovering that he was a correct and reliable land-surveyor, asked him to “ take the job ” of going all over the Fairfax possessions in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and among
WASHINGTON'S HANDWRITING AT 17.
the Virginia Mountains. “ Locate the land,” he said, “ survey it, settle its boundaries, note down the roads and highways and report to me about the people who have settled themselves on my land without leave, and who must be either driven off, or satisfactorily arranged with. And you may have plenty of adventures, too. Land surveying has quite as. many risks as a sailor's life.”
It was a splendid opportunity for the sixteen-year-old boy. It was just the start in life he needed, for it was just what he understood, just what he could do, and just what he liked. It would make a man of him. And it did.
So, at sixteen, he became a land-surveyor. He was a handsome young fellow, almost six feet tall, well-shaped though a little lean, long-armed, strong and muscular. He had light-brown hair, grayish-blue eyes, a firm mouth, a frank and manly face and he had a way about him that made people like him, though he was so quiet and retiring, while there was a look on his face that made them obey him if he was in a position to counsel or direct.
Even as a boy, you see, George Washington had what we call the qualities of mind and brain, the courage, the caution and the determination to succeed that made him, in after years, a leader of men and the chieftain of America.