The Little Washingtons' Travels
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Late that same afternoon, as the travellers walked up the driveway, they spied Jim and old mammy waiting with the baby on the front veranda, to welcome them.
"Oh, George! I almost forgot we had a baby at home during all the wonderful travels and sights we have had since leaving home almost ten days ago!" sighed Martha, with compunction.
"And just see how funny Jim looks! Why, he isn't half as big as I thought he was. Jim, maybe we haven't a lot to tell you! Oh, Jim, what a fight we gave those Hessians when we drove them from Philadelphia!" cried George, as he went running up the pathway.
But Mrs. Parke had not forgotten she had a baby at home, as old mammy could testify, for long letters had reached her daily, advising and reminding her what to do for baby while she was away on this unusual visit.
That dinner was a happy reunion; not only for mother and baby, but also for the faithful colored help. And what do you suppose Jim did?
George and Martha were so eager to explain all about the historic sights and places they had visited, that they could not wait for the next morning, so Jim was invited to sit at the table when fruit and nuts were served, and there he rolled his widened eyes dangerously backward when he heard about the battle with the Hessians.
"Jim, that was a real fight! Not the make-believe kind we always play down here!" said Martha impressively.
"And, Jim, you can believe those Hessians knew how to fight, too. But it took Washington's army to lick them, didn't it, father?" gloated George, mentally patting himself on the back.
"Yes, and I remember the story of a great battle waged on Brooklyn Heights, when Washington had to cross the East River in the fog. That scene will never be forgotten by many of the New Yorkers who felt sure they had cornered the Black Hand and kidnappers of some very sweet little angels," remarked Mr. Parke.
"Father! Who told you about it?" asked Martha, who had felt quite sure that not one of the elders had discovered anything at all about that long-to-be-remembered escapade.
"Why, the American eagle whispered it in my ear when we came in from the theatre party that night!" teased Mr. Parke.
Then George had to tell Jim all about that battle on the roof when they were dressed in the bellboys' uniforms. And Jim sighed and sighed, and wondered why it was the lot of some folks to have all the joys of life, while others have bandy-legs and stay at home! Ah, Jim, such is life! I have never been able to explain the cause of such partiality, either.
"Oh, George, tell Jim about your wonderful dream, when the Germans captured you in the submarine and you escaped on the torpedo!"
Here was another marvelous tale for the most attentive of listeners, and Jim's eyes opened again, wider and wider as George described his experience, and it lost nothing of its weirdness and wonder in the telling, either.
Then he stopped the story just as the American eagle dropped to let him slide off from the cupola, but failed to explain to Jim that it was all a dream.
"Jim, do you know what saved George from bumping his head on the ground of City Hall Park that day?" asked Mr.Parke.
"No, sah, Ah don'. He diden bump, did he?" worried Jim.
"No, because we all came into the room in time to wake him out of his nightmare. He was on the floor, where he had rolled when he fell from the couch."
Jim pondered this information deeply, and that night in bed, as his mammy was turning over to see if it was daylight, he sat up and exclaimed:
"Why, mammy! Dat mus' hab been a dream Garge had!" Then he cuddled down again and was fast asleep in another moment.
"Now, whad's dat chile talkin' uv in his sleep? He shore is a queer lil' honey-boy!" sighed mammy, finding she still had an hour before it was time to rise and get breakfast for the master.
John came home from his visit to his great-aunt the day following the arrival of the Parkes, and many new and exciting experiences had to be retold. John had some of his own that were quite as exciting in their way as the battle with the Hessians, but he has to tell them in the next book of the little Washingtons.
Mrs. Parke wrote to thank Mrs. Davis for the lovely visit they all enjoyed in Philadelphia, and at the last, she had a revelation. Both ladies had wondered and wondered what caused the battle between Washington's army and the Hessians that day, and now that Mrs. Parke thought again over the event and retraced her steps mentally, she suddenly remembered the half-finished story told to the children on the cars from New York to Philadelphia. They had heard enough of the warfare between the Americans and British on the Delaware, that they needed no more of a cue to start on.
So she explained to her friend what had been the cause of the spirit of '76 showing itself so powerfully in the four cousins that day the wash was covered with mud from the back lot.
"And do you know, my dear, I am greatly relieved now, when I remember that the most dangerous period of George Washington's career is over. From now on I shall only touch lightly on the battles he fought with the British, so that the children cannot try them out in real life. But it will be a satisfaction to have them play President and Lady Washington in the White House, and later, when Washington returns to his farm to spend his days there, that will be very quiet, acceptable fun, I think."
But Mrs. Parke forgot that her children, as well as John and Jim, their playmates, were not of the kind that cared for quiet play. So she still had many experiences before her that resulted from the reading of George Washington's life history.
And naturally, the little Washingtons had loads of fun in applying this history, as you will see when you read the next book of their doings, called "Little Washington at School."
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