While this strong-house at Brandon must have been built after the terrible Indian massacre of 1622, yet it doubtless served as a place of refuge in later attacks. Many a time that dread alarm may have spread over this plantation. We thought of the hurrying to and fro; of the gathering of weapons, ammunition, bullet-molds, food, and whatever necessities there may have been time to catch up; and of the panic-stricken men, women and children fleeing from field and cabin to the shelter of the stockade and of the strong-house.
Back again in the manor-house, we spent our last hour at Brandon; for Gadabout was to sail away next day. It was a colonial hour; for Brandon clocks tick off no other, nor would any other seem natural within those walls.
Sitting there in the old home, we slipped easily back into the centuries; back perhaps to the day of the great mahogany sofa that we sat upon. It all seemed very real. The afternoon sun—some eighteenth century afternoon sun—came in through deep-casemented windows. It lighted up the high, panelled room, falling warmly upon antique furniture about us, upon by-gone worthies on the wall, and (quite as naturally, it seemed) upon a colonial girl, who now smilingly appeared in the doorway. Bringing the finishing touch of life to the old-time setting, she came, a curl of her dark hair across a white shoulder and her gown a quaintly fashioned silk brocade.
This eighteenth century presentment was in kindly compliance with a wish that we had expressed on that rainy day when we were looking over Brandon treasures. It was Brandon’s daughter in the court gown of her colonial aunt, Evelyn Byrd. And we thought in how few American homes could this charming visitor from the colonies so find the colonial waiting to receive her.
[Illustration: Miss Harrison in the court gown of her colonial aunt, Evelyn Byrd.]
Nowhere in the world, it is said, are there so many new, comfortable homes built for the passing day as in America; but also in no civilized country are there so few old homes. More and more, as this fact comes to be realized, will Americans who care for the permanent and the storied appreciate such colonial homesteads as Brandon, the ancestral home of the Harrisons.
A ONE-ENGINE RUN AND A FOREST TOMB
By the time we had finished our visit at Brandon, we were in the midst of the beautiful Virginia autumn. Though much of the warmth of summer was yet in the midday hours, the mornings were often crisp and the evenings seemed to lose heart and grow chill as they saw the sun go down.
Part of the houseboat was heated by oil stoves, but the forward cabin had a wood stove, and above it on the upper deck was our little sheet-iron chimney. It had a hood that turned with the wind and creaked just enough for company. So, during mornings and evenings and wet days, Gadabout smoked away, cozy and comfortable.