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Salute to Adventurers

6. Tells Of My Education
I had not been a week in the place before I saw one thing very clear-- that I should
never get on with Mr. Lambie. His notion of business was to walk down the street in a
fine coat, and to sleep with a kerchief over his face in some shady veranda. There was
no vice in the creature, but there was mighty little sense. He lived in awe of the great
and rich, and a nod from a big planter would make him happy for a week. He used to
deafen me with tales of Colonel Randolph, and worshipful Mr. Carew, and Colonel
Byrd's new house at Westover, and the rare fashion in cravats that young Mr. Mason
showed at the last Surrey horse-racing. Now when a Scot chooses to be a sycophant,
he is more whole-hearted in the job than any one else on the globe, and I grew very
weary of Mr. Lambie. He was no better than an old wife, and as timid as a hare forbye.
When I spoke of fighting the English merchants, he held up his hands as if I had uttered
blasphemy. So, being determined to find out for myself the truth about this wonderful
new land, I left him the business in the town, bought two good horses, hired a servant,
by name John Faulkner, who had worked out his time as a redemptioner, and set out on
my travels.
This is a history of doings, not of thoughts, or I would have much to tell of what I saw
during those months, when, lean as a bone, and brown as a hazelnut, I tracked the
course of the great rivers. The roads were rough, where roads there were, but the land
smiled under the sun, and the Virginians, high and low, kept open house for the chance
traveller. One night I would eat pork and hominy with a rough fellow who was carving a
farm out of the forest; and the next I would sit in a fine panelled hall and listen to
gentlefolks' speech, and dine off damask and silver. I could not tire of the green forests,
or the marshes alive with wild fowl, or the noble orchards and gardens, or even the salty
dunes of the Chesapeake shore. My one complaint was that the land was desperate flat
to a hill-bred soul like mine. But one evening, away north in Stafford county, I cast my
eyes to the west, and saw, blue and sharp against the sunset, a great line of mountains.
It was all I sought. Somewhere in the west Virginia had her high lands, and one day, I
promised myself, I would ride the road of the sun and find their secret.
In these months my thoughts were chiefly of trade, and I saw enough to prove the truth
of what the man Frew had told me. This richest land on earth was held prisoner in the
bonds of a foolish tyranny. The rich were less rich than their estates warranted, and the
poor were ground down by bitter poverty. There was little corn in the land, tobacco
being the sole means of payment, and this meant no trade in the common meaning of
the word. The place was slowly bleeding to death, and I had a mind to try and stanch its
wounds. The firm of Andrew Sempill was looked on jealously, in spite of all the bowings
and protestations of Mr. Lambie. If we were to increase our trade, it must be at the
Englishman's expense, and that could only be done by offering the people a better way
of business.
When the harvest came and the tobacco fleet arrived, I could see how the thing worked
out. Our two ships, the Blackcock of Ayr and the Duncan Davidson of Glasgow, had