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THE DEBTORS' PRISON.
To Carolinia be a Georgia joined :
ONE of the most posperous and wealthy planters of Virginia was Elmer Stevens, whose plantation joined the extensive farm of Mr. Augustine Washington, then a modest, cultured gentleman of Virginia. In the year 1721, Elmer Stevens' son Noah was born. Ile was destined to take a prominent part in the future struggles of the colonies and even to see them amalgamated into one comprehensive nationality, to enter upon the arena of the world's politics, and take a place among the foremost nations of the earth.
The little blue eyes which gazed in wonder upon the Potomac, or the tall, wide-spreading chestnuts, whose shades formed the playground of his child
hood, were to gaze on the first star-spangled banner ever unfurled by the sons of freedom.
Noah Stevens, even when a child was fond of sitting on his father's knee and listening to the wild stories of his life at sea. Those tales made such an impression on him that, almost as soon as he could talk, he declared:
"I am going to be a sailor."
Whenever he saw the white-sailed sloops gliding up the Potomac, he clapped his bands in glee and cried :
“I am going to sea! Oh, I am going to sea !
He was eight years old when his father told him of the terrible fight on board the New England privateer in which his brother, then but a lad, was wounded, and how he was taken to Boston and left with some relatives to recover. He told how while at Deerfield he was captured with many others by Indians and taken away to the great north woods.
“ And did you never see him more?” asked the child.
Where is he? ”
Undoubtedly they did.”
"George.” “And he would be my uncle?” “He would, Noah." Then little Noah sat for a long time with his head bowed in his small hands, lost in deep thought. Young as he was, he had heard more stories of captivity than the average man of forty at this day and age. The frontier teemed with romance and adventure. Novels were lived and acted, rather than imagined. Men and women had disappeared for years and then, all of a sudden, had returned from a life of captivity in the forest. Why might not this man also be a captive?
Father, uncle George may be alive yet,” said Noah.
Impossible, my son.
Only a few days ago Solomon Daniels, who was twelve years a captive of the Tuscaroras, made his escape and came home. Might not he?”
“But we heard that your uncle George was dead." “ Did we not hear that Mr. Daniels was dead?”
Yes." “But he still lives.' " True, true, my son. “ And so uncle George may live."
Mr. Stevens sighed and shook his head sadly, as he answered:
"I have tried to hope so, Noah; but it was hoping against hope. I gave it up. .
It has been so long that he must be dead.”
He had no dread of having to divide the vast estate which he inherited from his father with his younger brother.
Under the English law the estate of the father passed to the eldest son; but, could George have been found, Elmer Stevens would willingly have given him half the fortune he inherited from his father Robert Stevens, who by will had so directed.
Robert Stevens was in his time the wealthiest man in Virginia, having inherited his fortune from his father and jointly shared it with his sister, who lived in New England. He died when Noah Stevens, his grandson, was but one year old, and Elmer being his only surviving son inherited his fortune. When Elmer Stevens surveyed all those broad acres and magnificent plantations, he was constrained to say:
I have enough and more than enough. If my poor brother George were alive, how willingly would I give him half of all this wealth."
As Noah grew older, his desire to go to sea became stronger. He heard much of England, the mother country from whence came nearly all the inhabitants of Virginia. One day he said:
Father, I want to go to England.”
“You shall go, Noah, when you are old enough; but why do you wish to go to England ?” “ It is the home of
my ancestors.” No, my son; the home of your ancestors on your father's side is Spain. My father was the son of John Smith Stevens a son of Philip Stevens or Philip Estevan, who was the son of Francisco Estevan, who lived at St. Augustine, and was born in Cuba, the son of Christopher Estevan, who went with Pizarro to Peru and with De Soto discovered the Mississippi. He was the son of Hemando Estevan, who came with Columbus on his first voyage to America two hundred and thirty-five years ago.
How long our people have lived !" the lad answered.
The boy wanted to go to England to college. The mother approved the plan of her ambitious son, and favored sending him to Oxford.
Two or three years later Noah Stevens was sent to England, and entered a school preparatory to taking a course at the world-renowned university of Oxford. Being an American youth, he excited the attention of many. One day he had a visitor in the person of Colonel James Edward Oglethorpe, a graduate of Oxford, a brave soldier and a member of Parliament.
“ You want to enter Oxford ?” said Colonel Oglethorpe to the boy.