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“When you meet Washington, egad! you'll see a soldier as fears not death. Zounds! shall I ever forget how he saved the remnant of our army after Braddock was struck down with a French musket ball?"
Mr. Beverly Robinson, the husband of Mary Philipse's sister, was an early friend and schoolmate of George Washington. His father, John Robinson, was once speaker of the Virginia house of burgesses. At this time, Washington's early friend was living happily and prosperously with his young and wealthy bride, having married one of the nieces and heiresses of Mr. Adolphus Philipse, a rich landholder. Mary Philipse was residing with her brother-in-law at the time, and, on hearing him sound the praises of his early schoolmate, she asked him to bring Washington to the house, that she might see him, a request any mischievous jolly girl might make.
Mary Philipse, though not exactly frivolous,. was far from possessing the keen perspicacity which enables one to pierce rough exteriors and read noble souls. She was more apt to be moved by external appearances than noble qualities.
The next day after Washington's arrival, Mr. Beverly Robinson made him a call, and invited him to his house. The bashful young general accepted the invitation, little dreaming that he was
to encounter greater danger from a pair of black eyes, than he ever had from French bullets. Leading a life of constant activity and care, passed for the most part in the wilderness, far from the refin. ing influence of female society, had left Washington with little mood or leisure for the cultivation of the frivolities and politeness which fashionable young ladies demand.
When Washington appeared at the Robinson house, he was a disappointment to Mary Philipse. He was so large, so awkward, so bronzed by his out-door life, that, though his ruddy cheeks glowed with health, she thought there was something uncouth about him. His conversation was too practical for a society lady. He could discuss military and state matters as well as any statesman or general in America; but he knew little of society. He was in utter ignorance of the foibles and fashions of the day; he could not dance well, nor sing at all, and, with Mary Philipse, what did all his military fame amount to, if he lacked these essentials to polite society?
Washington was even awkward and embarrassed in the presence of this bright, sparkling woman, whose wit and dark eyes were more feared than French bayonets or Indian rifles, and early in his first conversation with Mary Philipse he actually stammered and became confused. Mary did not actually vote him a bore, or clown; but she decided that there was great room for improve ment in his manners.
No wonder the general was embarrassed. Never before in his eventful life had he felt the tender sentiment of love. While he was brave as a lion when threatened with physical danger, he trembled under the fire of those soft, dark eyes, and he became as confused as an awkward, bashful schoolboy. His former camp life and exclusion from ladies' society made him more sensible, in the present interval of gay and social life, to the attractions of this elegant woman brought up in the polite circle of New York.
They still tarried at New York, where Captain Morris and Major Bridges, his fellow aids under Braddock, were lingering. One day he met Morris on the street and, in course of conversation, spoke of the charms of Miss Philipse.
“Ah, you know her, do you, general ?” cried Morris. “Egad! I am glad to learn that, for I've been yearning for an introduction to Miss Philipse.”
“You have never seen her, then?” remarked Washington.
“Seen her? yes; but, by zounds! I have never had an opportunity to speak with her.”
“You shall have the opportunity, my friend,” said the generous warm-hearted Washington, little