Salute to Adventurers HTML version

10. I Hear An Old Song.
When we sailed at daybreak next morning I had the glow of satisfaction with my own
doings which is a safe precursor of misfortunes. I had settled my business with the Free
Companions, and need look for no more trouble on that score. But what tickled my
vanity was my talk with Ringan and Lawrence at the Monacan lodge and the
momentous trust they had laid on me. With a young man's vanity, I saw myself the
saviour of Virginia, and hailed as such by the proud folk who now scorned me. My only
merits, as I was to learn in time, are a certain grasp of simple truths that elude cleverer
men, and a desperate obstinacy which is reluctant to admit defeat. But it is the fashion
of youth to glory in what it lacks, and I flattered myself that I had a natural gift for finesse
and subtlety, and was a born deviser of wars. Again and again I told myself how I and
Lawrence's Virginians--grown under my hand to a potent army--should roll back the
invaders to the hills and beyond, while the Sioux of the Carolinas guarded one flank and
the streams of the Potomac the other. In those days the star of the great Marlborough
had not risen; but John Churchill, the victor of Blenheim, did not esteem himself a wiser
strategist than the raw lad Andrew Garvald, now sailing north in the long wash of the
Atlantic seas.
The weather grew spiteful, and we were much buffeted about by the contrary spring
winds, so that it was late in the afternoon of the third day that we turned Cape Henry
and came into the Bay of Chesapeake. Here a perfect hurricane fell upon us, and we
sought refuge in a creek on the shore of Norfolk county. The place was marshy, and it
was hard to find dry land for our night's lodging. Our provisions had run low, and there
seemed little enough for two hungry men who had all day been striving with salt winds.
So, knowing that this was a neighbourhood studded with great manors, and
remembering the hospitality I had so often found, I left Shalah by the fire with such food
as remained, and set out with our lantern through the woods to look for a human
I found one quicker than I had hoped. Almost at once I came on a track which led me
into a carriage-road and out of the thickets to a big clearing. The daylight had not yet
wholly gone, and it guided me to two gate-posts, from which an avenue of chestnut
trees led up to a great house. There were lights glimmering in the windows, and when I
reached the yard and saw the size of the barns and outbuildings, I wished I had
happened on a place of less pretensions. But hunger made me bold, and I tramped over
the mown grass of the yard, which in the dusk I could see to be set with flower-beds, till
I stood before the door of as fine a mansion as I had found in the dominion. From within
came a sound of speech and laughter, and I was in half a mind to turn back to my cold
quarters by the shore. I had no sooner struck the knocker than I wanted to run away.
The door was opened instantly by a tall negro in a scarlet livery. He asked no questions,
but motioned me to enter as if I had been an invited guest. I followed him, wondering
dolefully what sort of figure I must cut in my plain clothes soaked and stained by travel;
for it was clear that I had lighted on the mansion of some rich planter, who was even