“Well, now we have had enough of the women,” said Kinnison.
“Yes,” said Hand, “and now we must have something more of the men of the Revolution. Come, which of you will tell something about George Washington—the Father of his Country?”
“I can tell you of an important incident in the career of Washington, which was told to me by a man who witnessed a part of it, and heard the rest,” said Colson.
“Then strike up, old boy,” said Kinnison, familiarly.
“What I am now about to tell you occurred in the fall of 1782,” began Colson. “General Washington was then at West Point. One evening he was invited to a party given at the house of one Rugsdale, an old friend. Several other officers were invited to accompany him. The general seldom engaged in festivities at the period, but in respect to an old acquaintance, and, it is whispered, the solicitations of the daughter of Rugsdale, he consented to honour the company with his presence. He started from West Point in a barge, with some officers and men. As the barge gained the opposite bank, one of the rowers leaped on shore, and made it fast to the root of a willow which hung its broad branches over the river. The rest of the party then landed, and uncovering, saluted their commander, who returned their courtesy.
“‘By ten o’clock you may expect me,’ said Washington. ’Be cautious; look well that you are not surprised. These are no times for trifling.’
“‘Depend on us,’ replied one of the party.
“‘I do,’ he responded; and bidding them farewell, departed along the bank of the river.
“After continuing his path some distance along the river’s side he struck off into a narrow road, bordered thickly with brushwood, tinged with a thousand dyes of departed summer; here and there a grey crag peeped out from the foliage, over which the green ivy and the scarlet woodbine hung in wreathy dalliance; at other places the arms of the chestnut and mountain ash met in lofty fondness, casting a gloom deep almost as night. Suddenly a crashing among the trees was heard, and like a deer an Indian girl bounded into the path, and stood full in his presence. He started back with surprise, laid his hand upon his sword—but the Indian only fell upon her knee, placed her finger on her lips, and by a sign with her hand forbade him to proceed.
“‘What seek you, my wild flower,’ said the General.
“She started to her feet, drew a small tomahawk from her belt of wampum, and imitated the act of scalping the enemy; then again waving her hand as forbidding him to advance, she darted into the bushes, leaving him lost in amazement.