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friend, strengthening the love which was already so strong, and deepening the shadow which his loss was to make in Washington's life.
In the summer-time of 1752, Lawrence came back to Mount Vernon and died. He left his wife and baby daughter partly to the care of George; but neither of them long survived him.
ABOUT this time affairs began to look threatening on the frontier. The French were preparing to make war to secure the country of Ohio. The Indians were ready to ally themselves in large numbers to the English. The Ohio Company had commenced their traffic, and had been attacked by the French and hostile Indians, and had appealed to the Governor of Virginia for help. Governor Dinwiddie fixed upon George Washington as the person most capable of undertaking the expedition to aid them. He was only twenty-one, it is true, but he held a military office of trust, and his surveying expeditions had given him some knowledge of the country and of the Indian life. therefore chosen. His mission was to go to the heads of the Indian tribes and assure them of the friendliness of the English ; then to present himself at the French head-quarters, and deliver to the commander a letter from Governor Dinwiddie, requesting an answer. He was also to make inquiries as to the strength of the French forces and the condition of their forts.
Prompt as usual, his arrangements were quickly made; and he started on the day he received the governor's letter On the way he procured horses, tents, &c., and in about a fortnight arrived at the frontier. Mr. Gist, the celebrated pioneer, joined him here, and undertook to be his guide; he also engaged an Indian interpreter, and he had brought
WASHINGTON AMONGST THE INDIANS.
his old master in the sword-exercise, Jacob Van Braam, with him.
The rivers were all swollen with the autumnal rains, and the horses had to swim them; all the baggage was sent down the Monongahela river in a canoe, and Washington waited for it at the fork of the river Ohio, where the two rivers Monongahela and Alleghany join.
While waiting for the baggage, he observed what a good place this fork of the Ohio would be on which to build a fort—the French afterwards did so; the famous Fort Duquesne stood on this very spot.
Washington was now in the Indian country, and when he arrived at Logstown he was amongst the very people whom he had come to see. The head of them (who was called the “half-king ") was away hunting, but quick runners were sent to tell him of the arrival of Washington, and he came to him directly. There was then a great meeting of chiefs, and a long talk, in the course of which they told Washington that he should have an escort, that the Indians were determined to renounce all alliance with the French, and meant to send back to them their wampum, “speech-belts,” which was their method of showing that friendship was at an end. There was some delay in getting the escort ready, which made Washington impatient; but at length, on the last day of November, he was allowed to set out, having for companions the half-king, an old sachem called Jeskakake, and a chief who was known by the name of “ White Thunder."
Before long they came to a French outpost, commanded by Captain Joncaire, who was an intriguing and dangerous character ; nevertheless, he was hospitable, and pressed Washington and his party to come to supper with him.
They did so, and the Frenchmen drank so much, while the young American kept perfectly sober, that from their excited and rambling talk he was able to extract much of the information he needed.
The next day was so wet that the party were unable to go on, and Joncaire employed the day in making the Indian chiefs drink too much. Washington had the greatest difficulty in getting them away, by reminding them of their promises to him.
At last, after a dreary journey through rain and snow, the party reached the French fort, and Washington was received with due courtesy by the Chevalier Legardeur de St. Pierre, who was in command. He delivered Governor Dinwiddie's letter, and awaited the French reply. His circumstances were very difficult for one so young; in the midst of foes, with a childish set of Indian chiefs to keep in order by tact and firmness, having an important mission to execute, and having, at the same time, to gather all the information he could about the strength of his enemies. One of his chief troubles proved to be the way
in which the French took advantage of his Indian companions' love of drink. Having plied them frequently, they had almost prevailed upon them to give up the very purpose for which they had come, and to believe that the French were their best friends; but young Washington saw his danger, and insisted on their keeping their promises to him ; he also refused to leave the French fort without them, though the French did all in their power to keep them, and even bribed them with a present of guns. Washington, in writing of this time, says, “I cannot say that ever in my life I suffered so much anxiety as I did in this affair."
At last, by firmness of purpose, he gained his point; he
A JOURNEY ON CHRISTMAS-DAY.
received the sealed letter which he was to take to the Governor of Virginia, and gathering all his companions in spite of the unwillingness of the half-king), set out on his homeward way.
The journey had been difficult enough in coming up, but it was far worse in returning. French Creek was full of pieces of floating ice, and the waters were swollen and turbulent, so that the canoes were sometimes nearly knocked to pieces; and very often “the voyagers had to leap out and remain in the water half an hour at a time, drawing the canoes over shoals, and at one place to carry them a quarter of a mile across a neck of land, the river being dammed by ice."
At Venango, Washington had to part with his Indian companions. He would have been glad to take them on to Logstown, so as to see them safe out of the reach of Captain Joncaire's influence, but White Thunder was ill, and the other two chiefs stayed to take him down the river in a canoe ; so with many charges on the one side, and many promises on the other, they parted.
It was on Christmas-day that Washington and his small tired band set out from Venango. The pack-horses were nearly worn out, and it seemed a question whether they could carry the baggage any farther. Washington dismounted, and gave up his saddle-horse to help them, and asked his companions to do the same, which they did.
The journey became more difficult with each day. It grew colder, and more snow tell, and froze in falling. The horses plodded on wearily, and Washington grew impatient. He was anxious after his many delays to give the French letter, and report what he had seen and done, to Governor Dinwiddie as soon as possible ; he therefore told Jacob Van