And now, Lord Dunmore, the last royal Governor of the State, having quarreled with the Legislature at Williamsburg, took to his ship, the Fowey man of war lying at York, and shortly afterwards, came down to this place with a small fleet, and anchored in the harbour of the town. Many of the officers visited at our house. Among the rest I remember particularly, Mr. Lane, sailing master of Lord Dunmore's ship, and a Mr. Calder, I believe, of one of the vessels under him. The former, especially, was very intimate with us, and when we expressed the fear that our Lord would bombard the town, said to us, "There is no danger of it at present, but when it is decided on, I shall know of it, of course, and give you a hint in time."
Accordingly, a few days after, he told us it was time for us to be moving, and we set about sending all our valuable articles of furniture &c. over to Max Herbert's at the point, where we took a room which he kindly let us have, and to which, we at least retreated ourselves to get out of the way of the balls, leaving a negro woman, old Sarah behind to take care of the house and lot, and look after a sow and pigs which she was raising for herself with great care. Scarcely was this done, when we saw the ships all drawn up in a line before the town, from the upper wharf to town point and heard the drums beating on board of them and presently afterwards they began to fire away on the town about four o'clock in the afternoon (Jan. 1st 1776).
In the midst of the cannonade we saw a small boat rowed by a single man, with another person in it, put off from the Norfolk side, and make for the Point where we were looking on, and could not imagine what could be in it. The enemy soon saw her, too, and concluding, no doubt, that she carried the Mayor, or some other personage of equal consequence, who was trying to make his escape, they dispatched a barge well manned after her. And who were the fugitives? Old Sarah and her sow and pigs. For it seems, being alarmed by the great guns, and trembling for the safety of her darlings, whom she loved as if they had been her own children, she abandoned the care of the property, and was trying to save her bacon in this way. Now, when the British Captain saw what a mistake he had made, and learned moreover, that she belonged to Mr. Maxwell, he ordered the man in the barge to take the prise over to him at the Point. Here, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert, and his sons, seeing the boat coming, and apprehending an attack on the house, armed themselves with their guns and went down to the landing to keep the barge off.
This was enough for me. I instantly caught up my daughter Helen in my arms, and taking little Max by the hand, I set off to make my escape with them to another Mr. Herbert's who lived some miles off and where, I thought, I should be more safe. By this time night was coming on, and the roar of the cannon was more and more dreadful in my ears. When I got to the great gate, I met a negro man named Jack belonging to the family, coming home. "Oh, mistress," said he, "where are you going?" "Indeed, Jack," said I, "I can hardly tell you, but I believe I am going to Mr. ...Herbert's though I do not know a step of the way. "Why, mistress," said he, " Mr. ...Herbert lives at least 8 miles off, and I am sure you can never get there this night. But there is a Mrs. Herbert who lives about two miles from here, up the river, and if you will wait a little till I can just go to the house and carry my bag, I will show you the way there, for you will never find it without. "Agreed," said I, and presently Jack was gone and come, and taking up Nelly in his arms, we set off to trudge our way through the wood and marsh, to Mrs. Herbert's.
We had not proceeded very far, however, when we were met by my mother in a chaise, with my brother Jonathan driving her. She knew my voice and called out, "Nelly, is that you?" So I told her what had happened and where I was going. Just then who should come up to us but Mrs. Herbert herself, who was flying from her house in the greatest alarm, saying that she had heard that the British were going to set fire that night to all the houses along the river, and she was flying to her brother's for safety. Of course we were now at a great loss to know what to do, but just then Mr. M. came up having succeeded in making peace with the barge men and the Herberts, and immediately set out after me. He assured Mrs. Herbert that the British would have enough to do that night with the town, and persuaded her to go back to her house, put down beds on the floor, and take us all in till next morning, when he would come up and carry me off to Kempsville. Accordingly, the next morning, he came with a fine barge, which he had borrowed from one of the ships and took me bag and baggage up the Branch to Kempsville. I took up my lodging in a room in Billy White's house, one of the largest and best in the village, where my sister Marsden was staying, or came soon after, I forget which, and where I made sure I would be safe.
Soon afterwards, however, Lord Dunmore took it into his head to make an excursion into the country, at the head of his troops, consisting of a fine body of grenadiers, and a large company of refugees, and carried all before him. A number of the militia, indeed, from Norfolk and all about commanded by Col. _____ (the son of the old Col.) had been drawn up in a field before Kempsville to stop his march, but when they saw the British coming, with colors flying, arms shining and drums beating, they all took to their heels and ran away as fast as their horses and legs could carry them, without staying to fire a single shot. I saw them myself racing off at a fine rate through Kempsville and Matthews among them, whipping up his horse and crying as loud as he could bawl take care of the powder, take care of the powder. The Colonel, however, being full of Dutch courage, staid behind and not being in a condition to keep up with him, fell into the hands of the enemy, and I heard some of the British officers laugh and say, that they had taken him lying flat on his back in the field, and crying out We'll die in the bed of honour, though they added that he was already dead--drunk, at least.
After this Lord Dunmore entered the town in triumph, at the head of his soldiers and proceeded at once to establish his headquarters at Mrs. Logans. Here he erected his Majestys standard and those who could not conveniently run away, went at once and took the oath of allegiance. Some of the poor Pungo people, too, who had particularly distinguished themselves in the flight of the militia, becoming alarmed less they should be pursued and overtaken, turned back in their flight and came to town to submit themselves to the Conquerors. All who thus declared themselves on the King's side, wore a badge of red cloth on their breasts, and the price of the article rose in the stores. Some wore a planning patch as large as your hand but others were content with a smaller piece. Never, I suppose since wars began, was there a victory more complete or won with so little loss of blood.
Seeing the town thus taken and alarmed again for our safety, my sister Marsden and myself went over in the afternoon to Charles Sawyers, who lived a little out of Kempsville, to stay with his family as he had kindly invited us to do. We had hardly got there, however, when a Negro man, dressed up in a full suit of British regimentals, and armed with a gun, came in upon us, and asked with a saucy tone--Have you got any dirty shirts here? (This is the name by which our soldiers were known) I want your dirty shirts. No said I, we have no dirty shirts here. But you have, said he, and I will find them. He went up stairs to look for them, as he said, but no doubt to see what he could steal. Presently he came in again and said, I am going away now, but I shall be back again by and by. So saying he went off. You see now, said I to my sister, this is no place of safety for us, and I think we had better go back to the town before that horrid wretch returns, as he has threatened to do. I then went to my trunk and took out a purse of gold, and filled my pockets with dollars, and we set off.
It was now dark, and as we entered the town, we found the houses all lighted up, and Mrs. Logans particularly appeared almost illuminated. Knowing that I had a friend at Court in her, the thought struck me that I would go over at once to her house to see Lord Dunmore, and complain to him of the insult I had just received. Mrs. Logan received me with great kindness, and introduced me to Lord Dunmore, who was sitting at his ease, and apparently highly pleased with his day's work. Why, madam, said he, this is a provoking piece of insolence indeed, but there is no keeping those rascals within bounds. It was but the other day that one of them undertook to personate Capt. Squires, and actually extorted a sum of money from a lady in his name. But we much expect such things whilst this horrid rebellion lasts. Yet he had excited the negroes himself. (See the history.) But pray, madam, continued he, where is your husband in all this time. Indeed, my Lord, said I, I cannot tell you where he is. For he left me this morning, and I do not know where he has gone. But you will see him soon? said he. I cannot say when I shall see him. Well, madam, when you do, you must be sure and tell him for me, that this is no time for a man like him to be out of the way. His Majesty wants his service, and I will give him any place he will name, if well come in and join us. But join us he must.
Shortly afterwards I rose to go home, when his Lordship followed me to the door, and offering me his arm, insisted on seeing me safe to my lodgings. I tried to decline the honor, especially as I thought there was some risk, saying, O! don't trouble yourself, my Lord, It is but a step--and, besides, I am afraid there is danger by the way, as some of our men may be lurking about and watching for a chance to shoot you,--though the truth is, I was only afraid they might miss their mark and shoot me. Oh! as to that, Madam, never fear--my sentries are all about, and I cant be caught napping. So I took his arm, and he escorted me very politely to Billy Whites door, where he bade me good night, but not till he had charged me again to be sure and tell Mr. Maxwell that he was very anxious to see him.
When I entered the house, I found it filled with refugees, some of whom knew me and was disposed to be very polite. They had a rousing fire below, and were very merry. My sister, however, had a room up stairs, and I another opposite to it, and we both went up and retired to our chambers. Soon afterwards, a servant girl came in to say that there was some one at the bottom of the garden, wanting to see me, and, she added, he says you must come to him directly. And who is it? said I. Why he told me not to tell any one said she, but he says he is your husband. So I followed the girl, and there I found Mr. Maxwell. I told him, of course, all the occurrences of the day. Well, said he, I see that I must still keep out of the way, for I am determined not to join Lord Dunmore in any event. Well, said I, at least you can be safe here to night, and you can come in privately and spend it with me, and tomorrow you may be off again. Well, said he, I believe I will take your advice.
So we went in together, and shortly afterwards retired to rest. Not long afterwards, however, I saw by the light of the moon shining into the room, two tall grenadiers, armed cap à pied, come in and make directly for the bed where he lay. In an instant Mr. Maxwell was up, and demanded, What do you want? Hush, said one of the men, Hush or you are a dead man. Still Mr. Maxwell persisted What do you want, I say? Leave the room this instant, or, your officers are below, and I will call them up. At this the fellow made a pass at him with his bayonet, which went through his shirt and even grazed his breast, and, turning then, they made for the door, and ran down stairs, and Mr. Maxwell after them. At this, I rose also, for I thought they had gone into my sister's room, and drawing on my gown, followed the chase, making but one step from the top to the bottom of the stairs. Here, I found my sister and several of the refugees with lights, crying Whats the matter? and Mr. M. pointing to a hoisted window and saying I saw the rascals go out of that window. But I know them, and I will have them punished for this outrage in the morning. So we all returned to our apartments again.
The next morning Mr. M. left me again, and I saw no more of him for several days. At last I saw him come in the house, with a bit of red cloth on the breast of his coat. Oh! said I, is it come to this? Believe me, I would rather have seen you dead than to have seen you with this red badge. Phast! said he, do you think it has changed my mind? Don't you see how Dunmore is carrying all before him, and, if I can save my property by this step, ought I not in common prudence wear it, for your sake and the children? But I tell you again you may be perfectly sure that I shall never join the enemy. Shortly afterwards, he told me that Billy White and Charles Sawyer were going to take their families out into North Carolina, and, if you choose, said he, I will join them and take you out too. Oh, well said I, any where so you take me where I cannot hear those great guns. So, he went and hired lodgings for me in the house of one Squire Evrigan in Pasquotank county in N. C. and, some time afterwards, I removed there.
In the mean time, Lord Dunmore, elated by his easy victory over the Norfolk and Pungo militia, determined to attack our troops at the Great Bridge, where we had about a thousand men who had been sent down under the command of Col. Woodford, and who were strongly posted behind a breastwork which they had thrown up at the further end of the long causeway which led to the village from the Norfolk side. It was, indeed, a foolhardy undertaking, but he thought his grenadiers were invincible. So, he ordered Capt. Fordyce to lead them on to the attack.
Capt. F. saw at once the folly and rashness of the order, but was too brave a man and too good a soldier to flinch from any duty. He was very intimate with Mr. Maxwell and had been at our house in Norfolk. He was not handsome, but very genteel, and I remember seeing him one day turn over Mr. M's music, of which he was very fond, and humming some of the tunes. It was said that he gave his watch to his friend, with a message for his wife, for he knew, as he said, that that he was going to his death.
It was reported, too, that Col. Woodford, to deceive the British, had sent a negro boy into their camp, who told them that our men were out of ammunition, had no powder, and had been obliged to melt up their shoe buckles for shot. This story, perhaps, duped Lord Dunmore and made him more confident of success. At length morning came when the gallant Fordyce led on his men to the assault, but our people opened a deadly fire upon them with their rifles and shot them down like sheep. Fordyce himself was killed among the first, having received no less than 17 or 18 balls in different parts of his body. The first was in the knee, but he tied a handkerchief round it, and marched on cheering his men. There was a song made upon it: Come my brave boys, the day is our own. But I forget it now.
There were a number killed and many wounded, whom they brought back to Norfolk in wagons and carts. I remember I had gone down that day to see my mother at Mr. Herberts, where she was still staying, and towards evening we saw them coming with the poor creatures in them, crying water, water,--and I and the young women, moved with pity went out and carried them pitchers of water which they drank with a rabid thirst which it seemed impossible to satisfy.
Shortly afterwards, my husband came in and took me out to my lodgings which he had taken for me in Pasquotank. Here I had Polly. Here we were quiet, and I liked our situation so well, that Mr. M. had thought of buying a farm there and settling us down on it, when he received a letter from Gen. Washington, I think, or some one--inviting him to come and take charge of the Navy Yard which it was proposed to establish, and he determined, at once, to accept the invitation and join the standard of the country, which I was both pleased and proud to have him do. We then came down and went to stay for a short time at the house on the farm on Tanners Creek, which belonged to my father. Thence, we went up to the Ship Yard on the Chickahominy River.
Some time after this, (the British having burned us out at the Ship Yard) I moved to a farm in New Kent, seven miles further up, belonging to Jerry Walden, where, I thought, it should be out of the way. Indeed, they all assured me that it was on the Middle Road (for it seems there was an upper and lower road also), which hardly anybody traveled, and where I should be safe and snug.
Here, shortly afterwards, my young brother Savage came up from Norfolk and joined me. He was about fifteen years old, and had a Coat...not like Joseph's of many colors...but furnished with a set of silver buttons;...for buttons were very scarce and hard to get then, and those who could afford it, got silver ones, which they could shift from Coat to coat, for whose sake he loved his Coat as he did his eyes. Indeed, he confessed, he had come so far, not simply to see me and to enjoy my good company but to save his darling Coat with silver buttons.
We had not been here long, however, before we learned that the British were coming down on their way to York, and one morning I looked out and saw turning the corner of the fence and coming straight up for the gate a company of refugees. "Oh, sister," cried Savage, in great alarm, "What shall I do with my Coat? Oh! I have thought of it. Here! just take up the child (little John) from the cradle, and I will take it off and put it under the clothes, and will keep rocking the cradle." So said, so done,--while I went to the door to attend to my new unbidden and most unwelcome guests.
Very soon, however, I was startled by a cry from poor Savage--"Oh, sister, he has got my Coat"--when I went back and found the lad in a tussle with one of the company, who had turned the child the first thing, without much ceremony, and seized upon the prize, which Savage was trying to get from him, but in vain, "Oh, sister," said he, with a despairing cry, "make him give up my Coat." At this I called out, "Who is the captain among you?"--when one of them, with a cowskin on his head (who had been a hog driver I suppose) stepped up and said, "I am captain here, Madam." "Well then, good Captain," said I, "do make this man give up my brother's Coat to him." "That I will, Madam," said he, and instantly began paying away with the cowskin on the fellow's back, in a merry style, till he was glad to let go the coat and leave it quietly in my brother's hands. "Well, well," said Savage, "I think I will never put my coat in the cradle again." "No," said I, "if you have a mind to save your silver buttons, you had better keep it on your back." "That I will," said he, "though I should get a cowskin over it for my pains."
Not long afterwards I looked out and saw a fine company of light horse coming round the corner of the fence, and making up to the great gate in front of the house. "Well, now," said I to myself, "I will pluck up a little courage this time and meet them boldly if I can." So I went at once to the door, where they were all drawn up before me in the yard. They were a foraging party. Every horseman had a soldier behind him. The captain was a genteel-looking man, with a form as fine as a well drawn pair of stays could make it (my sister Peggy told me afterwards that she knew him, and that he certainly wore stays). His name was Captain Evall.
"Well, Madam," he said, accosting me in a gay and careless manner--"Where is your husband? or have you any?" "Yes, Sir," said I, "I have a husband; at least I hope I have, for I have not seen him in some time. I really don't know where he is at present, but I believe with the Marquis La Fayette--as he went to join him after you people burned us out at the ship yard." "So he keeps good company. And have you any brush boys about here?" "Oh, yes!--plenty of them--two or three at least, to every bush." (I saw he did not like that.) "But to come to the point, come--my good madam," said he, "what have you got for us? for, we are beating about for provisions." "Indeed, sir," said I, "I am sorry to say I have got very little for you, for so many of your friends have been along before you, that they have left me hardly anything to spare." "Well, well," said he, ""but have you got some flour?" "Yes, I have a little flour." "And, some sugar?" "I have a little sugar, too." "And some bacon, no doubt?" "I have a little of that, too." "A little--and a little, and a little." "Here," he said, to one of his officers, "go along with this good lady, and see what she calls a little, and mind--don't take more than half of what she has got, for we must be generous to her."So the officer came in, and with the men to help him proceeded very politely to rob me of what he called half of all my provisions in the house--though I thought he took full two-thirds.
In the meantime, I found out that these people were only part of a larger body who were encamped on my very plantation, and were hid from my eyes only by a small forest of woods. I was of course, in great alarm, lest I should be exposed to further depredations from them, and requested the Captain (who was growing more soft and civil) in consideration of my supplies, to send me a guard, for the protection of my house. This, however, he assured me was not necessary, but shortly after he had gone away with his troops, there came two soldiers, a Hessian and a Scotchman, the latter of whom told me that the Captain had sent them over to take care of my property. The Hessian was a frightful-looking fellow who could not speak a word of English, and soon after, threw himself down, apparently overcome with fatigue, and slept profoundly. The Scotchman, who was a good-looking man, said to me, "Madam, these Hessians are devils, but I will protect you at the hazard of my life. Only don't go out of my sight, but keep always in my view, or I will not answer for your safety." He also said, "I am sick of this service. They tell us we are getting on, but I think we are going off every day--here a few and there a few--until we shall have few left."
After this several Hessian soldiers straggled over to the house, and some of them seemed well disposed to be rude, but my trusty Scot kept them off according to his word. The next morning, when the bugle blew, the Scotchman took his leave to join the troop who were under arms for a march, but all he could do, he could not wake up the Hessian, who still slept and moved again; and he was obliged to go and leave him. Shortly afterwards Savage came in with a hatchet in his hand, and flourishing it over the sleeping Hessian's neck, in a truly savage style: "Now, sister," said he, "say the word and I'll settle him while he is sleeping." "Oh, no," said I, "not for all the world, Savage, would I have the poor fellow killed here in my house, and in this state." So, I saved his life; and that afternoon, after sleeping all day, he woke up and went off to overtake the army as fast as he could.
Towards evening, Savage, who had gone out to reconnoitre, returned with the joyful news that the British had all passed over the Bridge (Dyer's or New began bridge) and broke it down after them to keep our people from following them too closely; and "Come, now, sister," said he, "you have slept none for several nights past, but now the enemy has gone, you may sleep quietly with no fears about your stays, and I shall have none about my Coat. Accordingly, I retired soon afterwards to rest, taking off my stays, in whose capacious breast I had carried the purse of gold for so many anxious nights, and composed myself for rest.
Just as I was falling asleep, however, I was roused by the trampling of a horse galloping towards the house, and starting up I called out to Savage, "There they are again." "No, indeed," said he, answering, "I promise you there is not a man of them on this side of the river. If it is anyone, it must be one of our own people." Just then listening with all my ears. I caught the sound of a well-known voice--it was my husband talking with the negroes who had come out to take his horse. In an instant he was in the room, and I was in his arms. "Oh!" said I, "are you come again? And what have you been about? Here is Cornwallis, has gone up the country and taken my trunk of valuables at the Point of Fork, and down the country, taking every thing his own way. And pretty fellows are you and the Marquis La Fayette, and all the rest of you, to let the British and Refugees come and harry poor women and children this way." "Hush," said he, "the Marquis knows what he is about. He has had but a handful of men with him all the time, and quite too few to join battle with. But our turn is coming. The country is rising around us. Our men are coming in from all quarters. The enemy are flying to York, where we shall catch them all as cleverly as you ever saw a partridge caught in a trap. Then hey! for Norfolk and happy times!" So, he cheered me up with his lively spirit, and I told him the story of Savage and his coat, and my other adventures since we had parted, at which he laughed very heartily. Indeed they were more pleasant to tell, than they had been to bear.
Some time before this, my Aunt Blake, who had been obliged to leave Charleston in consequence of the siege, and had gone with her husband and family somewhere to the North, was returning home again, and I received an invitation from my sister Marsden, then living in Hanover, to come up from New Kent to spend the Christmas with them all at her house. I went up, accordingly, and was highly gratified with my visit.
My aunt, especially, engaged my attention. She was a small woman, but of a neat straight figure and of a high spirit, as you may judge from what I shall tell you. I happened one day to say, in course of conversation, that I was so heartily tired of this war, that I believed I would consent to have peace on any terms. "What"! said my aunt, indignant at my poor, tame-spirited speech, and gathering herself up so as not to lose a single inch of her height: "What do you say, Nelly? Recall those words this instant. No! peace on our own terms or war forever"!
And, by the bye, she had a daughter almost as good stuff as herself, This Mrs. Linen, who during the siege of Charleston, had retired for safety with the rest of the ladies on board of a ship in the harbour; leaving her husband with the rest of the men to man the works, but aware of his passion for her, or suspecting his courage, perhaps, she told him that if he left his post to visit her, she would never see his face again. Still he could not refrain, but actually went swimming to the vessel in which she was, to get an interview with her; but she was true to her word, and positively refused to let him come on board, and he had to swim back again for his pains. I think I understood that he shot or otherwise killed himself in despair.
This same lady was once accosted by the famous Col. Tarleton with "Well, Madam, I expect to see Col. Washington or some others of your friends very shortly, and what shall I say to them for you?" "My compliments to them, Sir, if you please," said she, "and tell them I beg them not to believe one half of anything that Col. Tarleton says to them." This to so fierce an officer, who made everybody tremble far and near.
She was some years afterwards here on a visit, where she was much admired for her allegiance and spirit, and my poor brother Jonathan fell desperately in love with her, but my mother would not hear of a match between them because they were cousins, and they parted as they met, and she went back to Charleston.
But to return to my aunt Blake--the good lady did not live to see the glorious peace which she was determined to have on her own terms or none, but died in that very journey on her way to Charleston, and some distance from it on the road, and, I believe, of a fever contracted on the way...
Whilst I resided in New Kent, I got acquainted with a worthy gentleman of that county, who lived about a mile off--a Col. Bat Dandridge, the brother of Lady Washington--and who had a fine woman for his wife. The Col. came over to see me one day, and told me he had a great favor to ask of me, so great that he was almost afraid to name it, but I, begging him to tell me what it was, assured him that if it was anything in reason, I could not refuse him. "Why, ma'am," said he, "it is that you will take a young lady who is a ward of mine, and has a little fortune, to board with you, for I am anxious to have her well brought up, and I am sure that you will treat her as you do your daughters; you can make a fine woman of her." I thanked the Col. for his compliment, of course, though I felt very unwilling to take this new trouble upon myself, but, for my word's sake, and to oblige so worthy a man, I consented to take his ward, and he went away overjoyed. The young lady, however, very kindly undertook to relieve me from my expected burdens by running off with a young man, and getting married to him, for which I was not very sorry in my heart.
Not long afterwards, Mrs. Dandridge came over also to see me on a more pleasing business, for her object was to invite me to come and spend a day with Lady Washington, who had come down to pass some days at her house in the hopes of seeing her husband, the General, who was expected to pass by on his way to Yorktown. "So, you must all come over," said she, "and spend the day with us, and you must be sure and bring your little daughter Nelly with you, for my sister you must know, has a grand-daughter with her (Miss Custis) whom she thinks a nonsuch, and I want to let her see that there is one in our own county that is more than a match for her (for Nelly had just returned from boarding school at Williamsburg, with all Miss Hallams airs and graces and was, though I say it, a charming child indeed). "And perhaps also," said Mrs. D., "we may treat you to a sight of the General himself." Those were great inducements, and I promised her a course, to accept her invitation.
The next day, however, I was unfortunately sick, and unable to go myself, but I sent my little daughter over, and Mrs. D. told me afterwards, that Lady Washington had confessed that my little Nelly would bear the bell from any girl she had ever seen, not excepting her own darling and pet, which, you may suppose, was a great joy to my heart.
A few days after this, having recovered from my indisposition, I resolved to go over myself to see my kind neighbor, and her guest, and perhaps the hero into the bargain. So we set off, Mr. M. and I, on foot, as the distance was short, and I was a good walker, and we took my brother Savage with us, who had on his coat with silver buttons, and moreover, under his arm, a game cock which he was anxious to shew to the Col.'s boys Julius and Bat, who were about his own age. When we got over to the house, however, we were all greatly mortified to find that the General had gone to Yorktown without calling to see his wife, being more anxious to just then to see the British army; and she had, thereupon, returned home. Still, we continued to spend a pleasant day with our good friends and to make up for our disappointment, after we had taken our leave of them, and just as we had got through the great gate into the high road, what should we see but--not the old General, indeed--but the young Marquis La Fayette at the head of a large troop of horse--the finest sight I ever saw. The Marquis was then a fine looking young looking young man,--he could hardly have been more than twenty--with a ruddy face and light sandy hair, and rode on an elegant horse. He was delighted to see Mr. M. and stopped to shake hands with him and ask him a thousand questions. All the other officers, too, did the same, for they all knew Mr. M. and was glad to meet him here. They were on their way to York--in fine spirits. All this time the cock which Savage had under his arm (though he tried to keep him under his coat) kept crowing out at a merry rate, which you know, the troop might take as a good omen, and especially the Marquis, as the cock was an emblem of his own country too.
Some time after the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at York, we moved down to Norfolk, but as the
town was not yet rebuilt, and it was impossible to get a house in it, we accepted
the invitation of Mr. Plume who had a small house at Pattenween, near Fort
Norfolk, to take a part of it, until we could obtain one of our own. Here I had
my son William (1784). In the meantime, Mr. M. had bought a part of the
confiscated estate of Neil Jameison, a Scotch tory, who had gone off with Lord
Dunmore, and began to build a wharf with two or three warehouses on it, and also
a dwelling house, in little Water Street, at the head of it. He had become
owner, also, of two or three Hampton Boats, and become jointly concerned in the
Ferry with Capt. Hunter of that town. He was thus making money rapidly. About
this time Mr. Plume, who was in partnership with one Newton in the ropewalk which
they had established where it now stands, made an overture to Mr. Maxwell to go
out to the West Indies to collect debts owing to them there, and Mr. M., who was
also desirous of collecting whose which were due to the late firm of Marsden,
Maxwell, & Co., consented to go, provided they would build him a ship for the
purpose. This they did, and he superintended the building of her in Scott's
neck, near Fort Nelson, and afterwards sailed away in her, leaving me, with my
two small boys, Max and James, to manage the wharfs and boats and look after the
carpenters who were building our dwelling house. Accordingly Mr. Plume and I
used to go over to Norfolk every morning in a canoe, I often with William in my
arms, and look after our different engagements and return in the evening. When
Mr. M. returned from his voyage, we went into our new house.