“’My son, I am sent for all the children of men and not for America alone. You will find me in France for my task is in many lands.’
“I left the brave old fighter, Solomon, with tears in his eyes. What a man is Solomon! Yet, God knows, he is the rank and file of Washington’s army as it stands to-day—ragged, honest, religious, heroic, half fed, unappreciated, but true as steel and willing, if required, to give up his comfort or his life! How may we account for such a man without the help of God and His angels?”
IN FRANCE WITH FRANKLIN
Jack shipped in the packet Mercury, of seventy tons, under Captain Simeon Sampson, one of America’s ablest naval commanders. She had been built for rapid sailing and when, the second day out, they saw a British frigate bearing down upon her they wore ship and easily ran away from their enemy. Their first landing was at St. Martin on the Isle de Rhe. They crossed the island on mules, being greeted with the cry:
“Voila les braves Bostones!”
In France the word Bostone meant American revolutionist. At the ferry they embarked on a long gabbone for La Rochelle. There the young man enjoyed his first repose on a French lit built up of sundry layers of feather beds. He declares in his diary that he felt the need of a ladder to reach its snowy summit of white linen. He writes a whole page on the sense of comfort and the dreamless and refreshing sleep which he had found in that bed. The like of it he had not known since he had been a fighting man.
In the morning he set out in a heavy vehicle of two wheels, drawn by three horses. Its postillion in frizzed and powdered hair, under a cocked hat, with a long queue on his back and in great boots, hooped with iron, rode a lively little bidet. Such was the French stagecoach of those days, its running gear having been planned with an eye to economy, since vehicles were taxed according to the number of their wheels. The diary informs one that when the traveler stopped for food at an inn, he was expected to furnish his own knife. The highways were patrolled, night and day, by armed horsemen and robberies were unknown. The vineyards were not walled or fenced. All travelers had a license to help themselves to as much fruit as they might wish to eat when it was on the vines.
They arrived at Chantenay on a cold rainy evening. They were settled in their rooms, happy that they had protection from the weather, when their landlord went from room to room informing them that they would have to move on.
“Why?” Jack ventured to inquire.
“Because a seigneur has arrived.”
“A seigneur!” Jack exclaimed.
“Oui, Monsieur. He is a very great man.”