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“ 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.
“ Yes sir, as soon as I can."
“And you are a bright lad, I am told. No doubt, you will do credit to Oxford; but I have come to talk with you about America.
I may go there myself.”
The boy opened his bright blue eyes and said:
“ It is a glorious land. It has not so many people as England, nor such great houses; but the forests and plains and mountains are grand."
" There is a great country south of the Savannah River," said Oglethorpe.
Noah was well versed in Virginia geography and history and answered: “ Yes sir; but no one can
COL. OGLETHORPE. safely live there. It is the neutral ground between the Spaniards and English, and they are always at war.”
" The Spaniards view with increased jealousy the rapid increase of English settlements in America, especially in the region bordering on Florida, which Castilians claim by right of first discovery,” said Oglethorpe.
“ The English are also rapidly gaining a monopoly of the Indian trade, and are exercising a wide influence over the native inhabitants in the gulf region, who have been taught by past sad experiences to look on the Spaniards as their abiding enemies. No doubt the Castilians in Florida will cast all the obstacles they can in the way of any further English settlements at the south.”
"Do you contemplate a settlement in the south?” “I do." - Where?" asked Noah.
"South of the Savannah. When you are in London, come and see me, as I want to talk with you further about your country.”
Noah Stevens promised to accept the invitation, and Oglethorpe went away.
It was evident even to the lad that Colonel Oglethorpe was well posted on affairs in South Carolinia.
The dangers which menaced the people of that colony were fully understood and appreciated by the colonel, who, however, did not hesitate to brave them. That colony early in the eighteenth century was well stocked with slaves from Africa, who, in the rice-planting districts, performed nearly all the manual labor, and became essential to the prosperity of the colony. In order to cripple the advancement of the English settlements, the Spaniards enticed their slaves to run away, promising them freedom and the rights of citizenship if they would come to St. Augustine.
This plan worked so effectually, that a complete regiment of negroes was found at St. Augustine, who were taught to hate the English as their most
bitter and inveterate enemies. This was an alarming state of things for the South Carolinians, and they anxiously sought a remedy for the evil.
Selfishness and philanthropy went hand in hand in founding the great commonwealth of Georgia. Between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers, there