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a dead silence, an immense, crushing loneliness pervaded the mountains. They journeyed slowly for three or four days, suffering considerably from cold and hunger.
Then there came a shower of rain, which beat the snow off the trees and washed most of it from the ground, and the party proceeded to Logstown.
The headquarters of M. De St. Pierre were only one hundred and twenty miles from Logstown. A bold and patriotic chief named Half-King, who had vehemently protested against the invasion of the French and had been treated with disdain, volunteered with two other chiefs to escort Washington and his seven English followers to the headquarters of the French.
After braving many perils and hardships, the little company found themselves, early in December, at Fort Venango (now Franklin), the French outpost commanded by M. Joncaire, who received the English civilly, but tried to detain and proselyte the Indians, though he failed. Thence Washington went to St. Pierre, who was farther up the creek at Fort Le Boeuf, and thus ended the journey of the ambassador after forty-one days in the wil. derness.
With the politeness characteristic of a Frenchman, St. Pierre received Major Washington and his companions.
“ You have come to bring me a letter from Governor Dinwiddie?” said the French commander.
“I have,” Washington answered and handed him the letter. What effect the governor's letter had on the Frenchman neither Washington nor his companions were ever able to determine. After entertaining the Englishmen four days as friends, he placed in the major's hands a sealed letter, saying:
“This is my answer to Governor Dinwiddie.”
Washington with his little band started on his return, and shortly after passing Fort Venango, as the party was riding leisurely along, Noah Stevens at Washington's side, suddenly the sharp report of a rifle broke the stillness, and a bullet hummed through the air, passing within a few inches of the beardless major's head..
“ Ambuscade!” cried Washington.
At this moment a rattling crash of fire-arms sounded on the air, and bullets whistled like hail. Fortunately for the English, they were in low ground, and the bullets of the ambushed enemy passed over their heads. They put spurs to their horses and escaped unhurt. The shots were evi. dently fired by Indians incited by Joncaire, the commandant at Fort Venango.
Washington and Gist, on the return, became separated from the others, and they went to Vir. ginia alone, crossing rivers full of floating ice, on rafts, and undergoing perils and hardships almost incredible.
At last the perilous journey was over, and St. Pierre's letter was delivered to the governor, who at once laid it before his council. The letter was soldierly and courteous in tone and expression. He said it did not become him, as a soldier, to discuss civil matters; that Dinwiddie's letter should have been sent to the Marquis Du Quesne, then governor of Canada, by whose orders he acted, and whose instructions he should carefully obey, and that the summons of the governor of Virginia to the French to retire immediately could not be complied with.
As the burgesses had been slow to take action, the governor and council determined not to await the tardy actions of the legislative body but proceed at once under general instructions from the king to enlist two hundred men to march to the Ohio River and build two forts there, before the French could descend the stream or its tributaries in the spring
George Washington was commissioned a lieutenant-colonel and placed in chief command of the troops to be raised. While Governor Dinwiddie was convening the legislature and sending appeals to the colonies for help, Washington established his headquarters at Alexandria and authorized Captain Trent to enlist men among the traders and frontier settlers.
All the colonies hesitated about voting men or money save North Carolinia, whose assembly patriotically responded at once. The royal governors and colonial assemblies were then wrangling fiercely about the supremacy of parliament and the rights of Americans, which caused, for the time being, a general apathy.in regard to foreign matters. The former insisted upon the exclusive right of parliament to fix quotas, direct taxation and disburse moneys through the agents of the crown in the colonies, while the latter insisted on the right to those things themselves. Thus a general jealousy produced dangerous inactivity. While the royal governors and legislatures were quarrelling over their rights, danger was drawing nearer every moment. The warm spring days were coming, when snows and ice would disappear, and then the barks of the French would be seen floating on the placid waters of the “ Beautiful River.”
Noah Stevens went to Alexandria, where he found his young friend busy recruiting, drilling and preparing for an active campaign. He asked Noah whither he was bound.
“I am on my way to New York,” Noah answered.
“To New York ?” cried Colonel Washington in amazement. “Pray, why are you going to New York, my friend ?”
“Do you remember, colonel, when you were a boy, coming to Williamsburg for me to accompany your brother on an expedition against the Indians ? '
“I remember,” the young colonel answered. “It was a trying ordeal for a boy, as I was, browned by winds and suns, to enter a fashionable ball-room. I am not now much of a society man, for my days have been spent on the frontier; but what could my call six years ago have to do with your going to New York now?”
Noah hesitated a moment before answering, and then began:
“Just before the event at Mrs. Wilberforce's, I had met with my fate in the form of a young lady, the most remarkable personage I ever saw. You are a practical man, colonel, and, though younger than I, have little or no romance in your soul. You do not know what it is to meet with one who moves your inmost soul. I cannot say this was a case of love at first sight; it was more like meeting the object of a delightful dream. I wanted to know more of her. Her face was like a painting of childhood. I was suddenly called away. I intended to renew her acquaintance and did so on