Page images

country road that looked exactly like this old tomb. Doesn't anybody know what a culvert is? Well, there is the dictionary in the library, and papa himself sitting before the fire. Won't he be glad to have you climb his knee to ask ?

Mrs. Gray told Patty that the General left orders in his will for the building of a new tomb, but no one heeded them. His coffin really lay in this old one for thirty years, and then some foolish person broke in and tried to steal the body.

" Why, what could anybody have done with it?” said Patty, opening her eyes wide.

"I am sure I don't know,” said Mrs. Gray; " but then they built the new tomb at the foot of this vineyard, just where Washington desired. Until he lay in the old tomb it had no door. After every burial it was walled up with brick; but when Washington died, his Secretary, Mr. Lear, had a door put up.”

" Mamma,” said Patty, after a moment's thought, "how did Washington come by Mount Vernon, any how? Didn't one of his brothers give it to him?"

" He got it because of his sweet temper and

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

self-control,” said Mrs. Gray. "His father had two sons by a first wife — Laurence and Augustine. He died when George was eleven years old, and he was rich enough to leave a farm to each of his boys. He left the Hunting Creek farm to Laurence, who married pretty Annie Fairfax, and went there to live. But he was even then dying. His sickness was called consumption; but it made him very irritable, and his brother Augustine had so little patience with his whims and sufferings, that Laurence soon learned to care more for his half brother. George went to Barbadoes with him, and watched by him when he was dying. Laurence had one little daughter, and when she died, Mount Vernon came to George by her father's will."

At this moment they came within a full view of the house, as it looks out upon the river. Patty saw a plain two-storey house, painted yellow. A piazza, as high as the eaves of the house, ran across the whole front; and the roof of the piazza was railed in, so that it was safe to

As the carriage moved a little, Patty saw that there was a group of houses behind,

walk on.

which seemed connected with it by a sort of arched walk. The house had a centre and two wings; but it was of the same height throughout, and had a sort of cupola on the roof.

"Mamma,” said Patty, looking up, "what is that? It can't be an observatory, for I see something inside, and it is all open. There is no glass in the windows.”

It was meant for a belfry,” said Mrs. Gray. " When Laurence Washington built the house, there were only two crossed beams, and the bell hung by them ; but when George Washington fitted it up for himself, he built that little belfry to cover it.”

" What was the bell for?” said Patty.

"All old Southern houses have bells upon them,” said Mrs. Gray. "They gave notice of insurrection, or fire, or any other alarm. When there were no near neighbors, they were very necessary.”

"Mamma,” said Patty, suddenly, "how odd it must have been for Washington to have been dressed up in fine clothes in such a plain old house as that !”

" It has never been kept up since Washington

« PreviousContinue »