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we wanted to get back to our ships which were preparing to leave. You had gone off into the woods rather mysteriously, and we feared it was your intention to betray us."
Then the two old men sat for a long time in silence. It was the way
forced calmness, "answer me truly. Did you not recognize in the person who built the beacon fire, one, who by right should share these broad acres, fruitful fields and comfortable houses with you? Did you not reason that, by leaving him alone in the wilderness to die, you would have all, instead of half?"
Elmer Stevens had risen to his feet and, with eyes widely distended in wonder, cried:
"Iu God's name, sir, what do you mean?"
"Elmer Stevens, we are both growing old. We cannot live long, let us above all be honest and truthful now, for we must soon be called to account for the deeds done in the body. Answer me truly; did you not recognize that wounded man, whose beacon'fire on that dark night guided your bark ashore?"
"No, as God is my judge, I did not. His face was bandaged from a wound in the head until it was almost concealed."
"And you knew not who he was?"
"No; so help me heaven, I did not."
"He recognized you."
"But I was not wounded—my face was not concealed with bandages; who was he?" "Your brother." "And you?"
"I am he. I am George Stevens."
A few moments later, when a negro passed the piazza, he was amazed to see his master and an old white-haired man embracing each other and weeping tears of joy. The brothers had met.
Of all the torments, all the cares,
Of all the plagues a lover bears,
By partners in each other kind,
Afflictions easier grow;
Companions in our woe.
"General Washington, Captain Dagworthy refuses to obey your orders," said Noah Stevens one day, on entering the tent of his superior.
"He served in Canada in the preceding war and received a king's commission," answered Noah.
"That is quite true; yet he since commuted it to half pay and, of course, thereby virtually parte 1 with its privileges," returned Washington.
"Nevertheless, he assumes to act under royal commission and refuses to obey the orders of any officer, however high his rank, who merely holds 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.