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his commission from a governor. Now that Colonel Jones, who commanded at Fort Cumberland, has been called away to North Carolinia, he has taken upon himself the command of the fort and insists upon his right.”
Washington bit his lips in vexation and gravely answered:
“There will be trouble over this yet.” “I know it.”
“The provincials will not always put up with such indignities. They will some day assert themselves.”
“General Washington, don't you see in the near future trouble between the colonies and the mother country?”
Washington smiled and answered:
“Sages seem to read the future; but I am content to take things as I find them.”
“What will you do in this matter?”
Washington quietly considered the matter for a moment before answering. He was careful and deliberate in all he said and did.
“I have avoided taking any part in these quarrels between the colonial and royal authorities. Collisions and conflicts will come between them; but, in my position, I deem best to keep out of the discussions.”
General Washington proved correct. Parties arose, and quarrels ensued among the inferior officers. Grave questions were agitated between the governors of Maryland and Virginia as to the fort itself, the former claiming it as within its province, the latter insisting that, as it had been built according to orders sent by the king, it was the king's fort and could not be subject to the authority of Maryland.
Washington refrained from mingling in this dispute, though he felt his chagrin most keenly, and intimated that if the commander-in-chief of the forces of Virginia must yield precedence to a Maryland captain of thirty men, he should have to resign his commission, as he had on one other occasion been compelled to do by a question of military rank.
The governor of Virginia and members of the house of burgesses persuaded Washington, before resigning, to appeal the case to Major-General Shirley, for this was before Shirley was succeeded by Loudon. Shirley was at this time at Boston, and Washington determined to make the journey on horseback.
One evening, late in January, 1756, he sent for Noah to come to his quarters. He also summoned a cousin of Noah's father, Colonel Adam Stevens, and informed the two of his intention to set out for Boston to get the decision from General Shirley. “ What I want, is to ask you, Captain Stevens, to accompany Captains Stewart and Mercer and myself to Boston.”
“ I shall certainly be delighted to be one of the party,” Noah quickly answered, for he was all eagerness to set out for New York to pay his affianced a visit.
“And will you, Colonel Adam Stevens, be willing to assume command in my absence?"
Accordingly, on the 4th of February, 1756, with his three companions, he set out travelling in Virginia style on horseback. The ground was covered with snow, and the horses sometimes waded through drifts above their knees. They halted a short time at Philadelphia and pushed on for New York.
The road between New York and Philadelphia was considerably travelled. Sledges and horses had frequently traversed the thoroughfare, until there was a well beaten path. At the rivers they found bold, strong boatmen ready to ferry them across the half frozen streams, which, at this season of the year, were nearly filled with floating ice. It required courage, skill and strength to cross those dangerous streams.
They were about half way between New York and Philadelphia, jogging slowly along the beaten thoroughfare. Washington and Captain Stewart rode in the advance. The sun was gleaming like a ball of ice, through a cold, weird mist, on the glittering snow. The trees along the roadside hung thick with snow and ice, and the frost flakes, blown about by a gentle breeze, floated in the air. Suddenly they discovered in advance of them a solitary man. He was on foot, and as he approached they discerned something haggard and agonizing in his features, which touched the great heart of George Washington.
The party met the traveller, and Washington, drawing rein, asked:
“Whither are you going?”
The pedestrian was a young man, but pale and haggard, his clothes faded and worn. His eyes betrayed a wildness almost amounting to insanity. He leaned on his long staff and answered:
"I don't know.”
“Don't know where you are going?” asked the general. “Have you no object in view ?”
It only needed a glance at the dark eyes and costume, and a sound of the slightly foreign accent for Washington, keen judge of character as he was, to determine that the stranger was not an American.
“To find whom?” he asked.
“ Adrianne,” was the answer, in a low, melancholy tone, while the head sank on the chest. “ They came and drove me away.”
“ Captain Stewart, this man interests me,” said Washington.
“ Can you not see, general, that he is a madman?”
“If he be mad, there is an underlying cause to his madness.”
The melancholy stranger, thinly clad as he was, seemed wholly indifferent to the intense cold. He leaned upon his staff, not even shivering as the wind played with his scanty clothing. Washington again asked:
“ How long have you been travelling in this manner?”
“Since they drove us away at Grand Pre,” he answered.
“So you are an Acadian?”. He nodded his head mournfully in answer. “ Had you not better go home?—you seem ill.”
“ Home!” he said, looking up. “I have no home now. I tried to return to Grand Pre; but she was gone, the house destroyed and only British bayonets met me everywhere. I have no home!”