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dreaming that, in Captain Morris, he would find a rival to supplant him in the affections of Miss Philipse. An excellent opportunity soon presented itself. Mrs. Robinson gave a ball in honor of the southern officers, and, of course, an invitation was extended to all of the late General Braddock's staff in the city.
Morris was at the ball. Bridges had been coaching him before he made his appearance.
“Egad! you can down this militia general, Morris. Zounds! he is brave as a lion when it comes to battle; but he knows devilish little about women. He lacks that amount of polish necessary to be a lady killer. Egad! you have it.”.
The gilded halls of the grand old Robinson mansion were ablaze with light that night. Never had there been such an assemblage. The scarlet and blue coats, the epaulets of gold, the plumes and chapeaus, the gay uniform and rich costumes of the ladies present, all made up a grand scene of splendor.
Washington was ill at ease. He felt neglected and stood apart from the gay throng. His friend Morris led the beautiful and accomplished Miss Philipse through the dance so gracefully and so gallantly that the hero of the Monongahela felt his own insignificance in the ball room. Washington's heart was strong, and he was not inclined to yield, though, from the first, he realized his inferiority.
“I am a backwoodsman, a surveyor, a soldier and unfitted for the refined scenes of life," he thought. He was not lacking in intellectual qualities, for often, in the house of burgesses, he had made eloquent and stirring appeals for the people; but a sage in love (especially if it be his first attack) often becomes a foolish coward.
Noah Stevens, with Anne leaning on his arm, came to the general, sitting alone and apart from the others near a window. After greeting his friend and his affianced, Washington asked:
“ Have you decided yet to go with me to Boston?”
“No, general; on the contrary I have decided not to go.”
“In time? What do you mean?” asked Washington.
“ In time for my wedding.”
Washington smiled and, in the happiness of his friend, tried to forget his own fear and misery. Next day, accompanied by Mercer and Stewart, he set out for Boston. Washington feared that Miss
Philipse did not understand him. And she did not. Mary Philipse, like most foolish girls, was attracted by appearance rather than the intelligence. She had an opportunity to be the first lady in the land, the wife of the great man; the wife of the first president of the United States; but she threw the chance away, for the charms of a society man. As soon as Washington was gone, she called on her friend and confidant, Anne Montreville. Anne informed her of her coming marriage, and then asked her opinion of the Virginia general.
“I don't know. He seems to be a great, terrible man; but he is so awkward, so green, his hands and feet so large that he will never be a society man."
“God grant he may not,” answered the sensible Anne. “ His country needs his services."
“He don't begin to be so gallant as Captain Morris.”
“Yet there is no more comparison between General Washington and Captain Morris than between Alexander the Great and the king's jester.”
Her words had little or no effect on Mary, who continued to receive the addresses of the accomplished Captain Morris.
Washington's mission to General Shirley in Boston was entirely satisfactory as to the question of rank. A written order from the commander-in
chief determined that Dagworthy was entitled to the rank of a provincial captain only and, of course, must, on all occasions, give precedence to Washington, as a provincial field officer; but Washington was disappointed in another matter. It had long been bis dream to have himself and his officers put upon the regular establishment, with commissions from the king, a dream never realized. He was forced to remain only a militia officer, with no higher authority than a colonial governor's commission could give, subjected to all the mortifying questions of rank and etiquette when serving in company with regular troops.
From General Shirley, he learned that the main objects of the ensuing campaign would be the reduction of Fort Niagara, so as to cut off the communication between Canada and Louisiana; the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, as a measure of safety for New York; the besieging of Fort Du Quesne, and the menacing of Quebec by a body of troops, which were to advance by the Kennebec River.
The official career of General Shirley was nearing an end. He was soon after recalled to England and superseded, as has been stated, by the incompetent aristocrat, the Earl of Loudon and his equally incompetent lieutenant, Abercrombie, who, abandoning all the brilliant schemes planned by
Shirley, devoted their attention to billeting the regulars on the citizens of Albany and New York.
Washington's stay of ten days in Boston was pleasant. He received the most hospitable attentions from the polite and intelligent society of the place; but he had a two-fold desire to return to New York. He wished to be at the wedding of his friend Noah Stevens, and, above all other things, he wished to renew his acquaintance with Mary Philipse. He returned as he had come, on horseback, and was just in time for the wedding. On the eve of the wedding, Noah took the general aside and asked:
“ Are you going to return to Virginia ?”.
“I am, and at once, colonel, for I have received some letters of a very alarming nature in regard to the frontier. Those people must have protection.”
"I am greatly exercised at present about the poor Acadian whom we met in the snow. I feel that he has suffered by the unrighteous act of our people, and I am determined to find his bride-elect, if I can, and restore her to him. If one more powerful than I should at this moment tear Anne from my arms, I might appreciate his misery. I will help him find her.”
Washington, whose heart was tender as a woman's, answered:
“May God aid you !"