Abbildungen der Seite



TS there any boy who does not enjoy life 1 out-of-doors, especially if he is strong, healthy, active, adventurous and observing ?

George Washington and George Fairfax started out on their surveying expedition in high spirits, ready to face the hard work and

the rough life they knew lay before them, prepared to take things as they came and make the best of everything. That is the only way for any boy to “ tackle” a piece of work successfully; for fretting makes work all the harder and brings no enjoyment out of life. And George Washington never fretted.

The boys were out among the hills with the compass and the chain for five weeks, during the months of March and April, 1748. That is the time of year when Virginia streams are swollen and Virginia mud is plenty. The young fellows were often hungry, often wet, often cold and uncomfortable; they slept in flapping tents and smoky cabins; they faced dangers and risks and hardships; but none of these things worried them. They met with trappers and tramps and Indians; they worked and hunted and fished; they climbed mountains, forded rivers and made their way along roads that were “ execrable " and trails that were uncertain. But they were healthy, hearty, manly boys and they had “such a good time” that, when they returned to the settlements, George Washington was quite ready to try it gain.

[graphic][merged small]

He did his work as a surveyor so well and brought back such excellent results of his five weeks' trip that Lord Fairfax felt that the boy-surveyor had been a credit to him. He not only gave the lad more work of the same sort, but he so influenced the royal governor of Virginia, who had the“ say” in all such matters, that young George Washington was appointed as one of the “public surveyors ” of the colony.

This gave him plenty to do. For the next three years he was kept busy laying out tracts of land in the Shenandoah Valley and along the Potomac. Whenever a person buys a piece of land they either have it surveyed again or they accept the figures of the last survey as correct; and so good a surveyor did George Washington make, so correct were his measurements and so reliable his figures that, to this day, his surveys have stood unquestioned; and, long after his death, the lawyers whose duty it was to look up such matters, when land was passed from one owner to another, declared that the only old-time surveys in Virginia that could be depended upon as correct were those of George Washington. A pretty good record for a boy-surveyor, is it not?

And in all this hard, out-of-door life and work, Washington was laying the foundation for that future of health and strength, of decision and determination that helped him so much when he grew to be a man and had the affairs of an army and a nation to look after. His rough life in the forest and on the hills made him watchful and cautious; his mixing with all sorts of people made him study the ways of men and taught him how to act toward them; the keen air and the bright sunshine were better than medicine; he grew stronger and sturdier, his frame filled out and his muscles hardened, so that when he was nineteen, after three years' experience as a surveyor, he was one of the manliest and one of the stoutest and one of the handsomest young men in the whole colony of Virginia.

And now came a new experience. For the first and only time in his life, George Washington left his native land. His older brother, Lawrence Washington, to whom he was

indebted for help and counsel and kindness, had never really recovered from the fever that had attacked him when he was fighting the Spaniards at Carthagena. In 1751 his health broke down completely and he had to seek a warmer climate. So he went to Barbadoes, in the West Indies, and he had George go with him as helper and companion. But for a time he was obliged to do without his brother's

help, for George, who had never been vaccinated, caught the small-pox in Barbadoes and was very sick. His strong constitution helped him through, however, and when he was well again he sailed back to Virginia to bring Lawrence's wife to join her sick husband at Barbadoes. But before he could return the invalid himself came home to die.

Lawrence Washington's death was a great blow to his brother George. For young George loved Lawrence dearly



and was joined with him in numerous plans and enterprises, such as are always undertaken in a new country. Chief among these was a great land speculation known as the Ohio Company.

The Ohio Company was an association of rich men in England and in Virginia who bought great tracts of land beyond the Virginia mountains. They offered fine opportunities to people who would make their homes on these lands. For this would render the land so valuable that the owners would be able to get a great deal of money for the tracts left for sale after the new country had been thus “opened up” for settlement. The lands of the Ohio company were mostly in Western Pennsylvania. This region, it was claimed, was within the boundary of Virginia, as was also the vast stretch of western country which is now occupied by the great States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

But England was not the only nation that held possessions in North America. Canada belonged to France, and the French also had land in the South, so that they claimed all



« ZurückWeiter »