Abbildungen der Seite

Virginians. But the English government had learned wis. dom through defeat, and things were better done this time. Soldiers were sent to fight the French in Canada, too, and the gallant Frenchmen found their hands so full that they had to give up some of the things they hoped to keep. So when the British and Virginians, in the Ohio country, came to the fort they had been so long trying to capture, the French had gone away, and Washington and his men marched into the ruined and smouldering fort, where, not many years after, the town of Pittsburg was built.

Then he went home again. He was now the leading man in Virginia and, though only twenty-six, he was famous throughout all the Colonies as a brave and daring leader, a wise and safe adviser, a cautious and clear-headed man.

Soon after his return to Mount Vernon he married a wife. This was Mrs. Martha Custis of White House. She was a wealthy, charming, browneyed widow of twenty-six. To her Wash

ington had become engaged, just before MRS. MARTHA WASHINGTON of his last march against the French.

MOUNT Vernon. They were married on the sixth of January, 1759, and if any boy or girl wishes to know what a fitting wife to a great man this Virginian woman proved, let them read, when they are older, Washington Irving's long life of George Washington and his wife, Martha.

Three months after his marriage, Colonel Washington


took his seat in the Virginia legislature, then called “The House of Burgesses.” He had been elected a member while with the troops at Fort Duquesne, and when he took his seat, the speaker, or presiding officer of the House of Burgesses, publicly thanked him for his honorable record in the war.

Washington was surprised, but feeling that he ought to

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

say something, he rose to reply. He was never a ready or what is called “ extemporaneous" speaker; so he hesitated, and blushed and did not know what to say; whereupon the speaker said: “ Sit down, Mr. Washington. Your modesty equals your valor, and that surpasses the power of any lan

guage I possess;” which was a very pretty and very just compliment, was it not ?

Washington and his wife, and the two little children of Mrs. Custis, Martha and John Parke Custis, began life at Mount Vernon. The property had grown very valuable. Mrs. Washington was wealthy, and the farmer's son of the Rappahannock plantation was now Colonel Washington of Mount Vernon, and one of the richest men in Virginia.

Mount Vernon was a real Virginia mansion. It was a large, two-story house with four rooms on each floor; a high and broad piazza ran along the front and looked down upon the beautiful Potomac, flowing past the estate. Across the river were the fields and forests of Maryland, and all about the house stretched the broad acres of the Mount Vernon plantation. Here with his dearly-loved wife and her children, with a large estate to look after and care for, with health and wealth and friends and the respect of his neighbors and fellow-citizens, George Washington settled down, as he thought, to the life of a country gentleman, of which he wrote, “ I hope to find more happiness in retirement than I ever experienced in the wide and bustling world.”

And, for a time, he did find much happiness there. He loved the busy life indoors and out. He was fond of riding and hunting, and we hear of his splendid horses — Magnolia, the Arabian, and Blueskin, his favorite iron-gray, and his hunting-horses, Chinkling, and Valiant and Ajax; we hear of his dogs Vulcan and Ringwood and Music, Sweetlips and

[graphic][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »