A BOY'S WORKING HOLIDAY IN THE WILD WOOD
 WE wish to say something here about a curious old man who lived in Virginia when George
Washington was a boy, and who was wise enough to see that young Washington was anything
but a common boy. This man was an English nobleman named Lord Fairfax. As the nobles of
England were not in the habit of coming to the colonies, except as governors, we must tell
what brought this one across the sea.
It happened in this way. His grandfather, Lord Culpeper, had at one time been governor of
Virginia, and, like some other governors, had taken care to feather his nest. Seeing how
rich the land was between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, when he went home he asked
the king to give him all this land, and the king, Charles II., in his good easy way of
giving away what did not belong to him, readily consented, without troubling himself about
the rights of the people who lived on the land. A great and valuable estate it was. Not
many dwelt on it, and Lord Culpeper promised to have it settled and cultivated, but we
cannot say that he troubled himself much about doing so.
When old Culpeper died the Virginia land went to his daughter, and from her it descended
 son, Lord Fairfax, who sent out his cousin, William Fairfax, to look after his great
estate, which covered a whole broad county in the wilderness, and counties in those days
were often very large. Lord Fairfax was not much concerned about the American wildwood. He
was one of the fashionable young men in London society, and something of an author, too,
for he helped the famous Addison by writing some papers for the "Spectator."
But noblemen, like common men, are liable to fall in love, and this Lord Fairfax did. He
became engaged to be married to a handsome young lady; but she proved to be less faithful
than pretty, and when a nobleman of higher rank asked her to marry him, she threw her
first lover aside and gave herself to the richer one.
This was a bitter blow to Lord Fairfax. He went to his country home and dwelt there in
deep distress, vowing that all women were false-hearted and that he would never marry any
of them. And he never did. Even his country home was not solitary enough for the
broken-hearted lover, so he resolved to cross the ocean and seek a new home in his
wilderness land in America. It was this that brought him to Virginia, where he went to
live at his cousin's fine mansion called Belvoir, a place not far away from the Washington
estate of Mount Vernon.
Lord Fairfax was a middle-aged man at that time, a tall, gaunt, near-sighted personage,
who spent much of his time in hunting, of which he was very fond. And his favorite
companion in these hunting
 excursions was young George Washington, then a fine, fresh, active boy of fourteen, who
dearly loved outdoor life. There was a strong contrast between the old lord and the
youthful Virginian, but they soon became close friends, riding out fox-hunting together
and growing intimate in other ways.
Laurence Washington, George's elder brother, who lived at Mount Vernon, had married a
daughter of William Fairfax, and that brought the Mount Vernon and Belvoir families much
together, so that when young George was visiting his brother he was often at Belvoir. Lord
Fairfax grew to like him so much that he resolved to give him some important work to do.
He saw that the boy was strong, manly, and quick-witted, and anxious to be doing something
for himself, and as George had made some study of surveying, he decided to employ him at
Lord Fairfax's Virginia estate, as we have said, was very large. The best-known part of it
lay east, but it also crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains, and ran over into the beautiful
valley beyond, which the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe had visited more than thirty
years before. This splendid valley was still largely in a wild state, with few inhabitants
besides the savage Indians and wild beasts. Before it could be fairly opened to settlers
it must be measured by the surveyor's chain and mapped out so that it would be easy to
tell where any tract was located. It was this that Lord Fairfax asked young Washington to
do, and which the
 active boy gladly consented to undertake, for he liked nothing better than wild life and
adventure in the wilderness, and here was the chance to have a delightful time in a new
and beautiful country, an opportunity that would warm the heart of any live and healthy
This is a long introduction to the story of Washington's wildwood outing, but no doubt you
will like to know what brought it about. It was in the early spring of 1748 that the
youthful surveyor set out on his ride, the blood bounding warmly in his veins as he
thought of the new sensations and stirring adventures which lay before him. He was not
alone. George William Fairfax, a son of the master of Belvoir, went with him, a young man
of twenty-two. Washington was then just sixteen, young enough to be in high spirits at the
prospect before him. He brought his surveyors' instruments, and they both bore guns as
well, for they looked for some fine sport in the woods.
The valley beyond the mountains was not the land of mystery which it had been thirty-four
years before, when Governor Spotswood and his gay-troop looked down on it from the green
mountain summit. There were now some scattered settlers in it, and Lord Fairfax had built
himself a lodge in the wilderness, which he named "Greenway Court," and where now and then
he went for a hunting excursion.
Crossing the Blue Ridge at Ashby's Gap and fording the bright Shenandoah, the young
 made their way towards this wildwood lodge. It was a house with broad stone gables, its
sloping roof coming down over a long porch in front. The locality was not altogether a
safe one. There were still some Indians in that country, and something might stir them up
against the whites. In two belfries on the roof hung alarm-bells, to be rung to collect
the neighboring settlers if report of an Indian rising should be brought.
On the forest road leading to Greenway Court a white post was planted, with an arm
pointing towards the house, as a direction to visitors. As the post decayed or was thrown
down by any cause another was erected, and on this spot to-day such a post stands, with
the village of White Post built around it. But when young Washington and Fairfax passed
the spot only forest trees stood round the post, and they rode on to the Court, where they
rested awhile under the hospitable care of Lord Fairfax's manager.
It was a charming region in which the young surveyors found themselves after their brief
term of rest, a land of lofty forests and broad grassy openings, with the silvery river
sparkling through their midst. The buds were just bursting on the trees, the earliest
spring flowers were opening, and to right and left' extended long blue mountain-ranges,
the giant guardians of the charming valley of the Shenandoah. In those days there were
none of the yellow grain-fields, the old mansions surrounded by groves, the bustling
villages and towns which now
 mark the scene, but nature had done her best to make it picturesque and beautiful, and the
youthful visitors enjoyed it as only those of young blood can.
Up the banks of the Shenandoah went the surveyors, measuring and marking the land and
mapping down its leading features. It was no easy work, but they enjoyed it to the full.
At night they would stop at the rude house of some settler, if one was to be found; if
not, they would build a fire in the woods, cook the game their guns had brought down, wrap
their cloaks around them, and sleep heartily under the broad blanket of the open air.
Thus they journeyed on up the Shenandoah until they reached the point where its waters
flow into the Potomac. Then up this stream they made their way, crossing the mountains and
finally reaching the place which is now called Berkeley Springs. It was then in the depth
of the wilderness, but in time a town grew up around it, and many years afterward
Washington and his family often went there in the summer to drink and bathe in its
wholesome mineral waters.
HOME OF MARY WASHINGTON, FREDERICKSBURG, VA.
The surveyors had their adventures, and no doubt often made the woodland echoes ring with
the report of their guns as they brought down partridge or pheasant, or tracked a deer
through the brushwood. Nothing of special note happened to them, the thing which
interested them most being the sight of a band of Indians, the first they had ever seen.
The red men had long since disappeared from the part of Virginia in which they lived.
 These tenants of the forest came along one day when the youths had stopped at the house of
a settler. There were about thirty of them in their war-paint, and one of them had a fresh
scalp hanging at his belt. This indicated that they had recently been at war with their
enemies, of whom at least one had been killed. The Indians were given some liquor, in
return for which they danced their war-dance before the boys. For music one of them
drummed on a deer-skin which he stretched over an iron pot, and another rattled a gourd
containing some shot and ornamented with a horse's tail. The others danced with wild
whoops and yells around a large fire they had built. Altogether the spectacle was a
singular and exciting one on which the boys looked with much interest.
While they had no serious adventures, their life in the forest was not a very luxurious
one. In many ways they had to rough it. At times they were drenched by downpours of rain.
They slept anywhere, now and then in houses, but most often in the open air. On one
occasion some straw on which they lay asleep caught fire and they woke just in time to
escape being scorched by the flames.
"I have not slept above three or four nights in a bed," wrote George to a friend, "but
after walking a good deal all the day I have lain down before the fire on a little straw
or fodder, or a bear-skin, whatever was to be had, with man, wife, and children, like dogs
and cats; and happy is he who gets the berth nearest the fire."
 Their cooking was often done by impaling the meat on sharp sticks and holding it over the
fire, while chips cut with their hatchet took the place of dishes. But to them all this
was enjoyment, their appetites were hearty, and anything having the spice of adventure was
gladly welcomed. It was the event of their young lives.
It was still April when they returned from their long river ride to Greenway Court, and
here enjoyed for some time the comforts of civilization, so far as they had penetrated
that frontier scene. Spring was still upon the land, though summer was near by, when
George and his friend rode back across the Blue Ridge and returned to Belvoir with the
report of what they had done. Lord Fairfax was highly pleased with the report, and liked
George more than ever for the faithful and intelligent manner in which he had carried out
his task. He paid the young surveyor at the rate of seven dollars a day for the time he
was actually at work, and half this amount for the remaining time. This was worth a good
deal more then than the same sum of money would be now, and was very good pay for a boy of
sixteen. No doubt the lad felt rich with the first money he had ever earned in his pocket.
As for Lord Fairfax, he was in high glee to learn what a valuable property he had across
the hills, and especially how fine a country it was for hunting. He soon left Belvoir and
made his home at Greenway Court, where he spent the remainder of his life. It was a very
different life from that of
 his early days in the bustle of fashionable life in London, but it seemed to suit him as
well or better.
One thing more we have to say about him. He was still living at Greenway Court when the
Revolutionary War came on. A loyalist in grain, he bitterly opposed the rebellion of the
colonists. By the year 1781 he had grown very old and feeble. One day he was in
Winchester, a town which had grown up not far from Greenway, when he heard loud shouts and
cheers in the street.
"What is all that noise about?" he asked his old servant.
Dey say dat Gin' ral Washington has took Lord Cornwallis an' all his army prisoners.
Yorktown is surrendered, an' de wa' is ovah."
"Take me to bed, Joe," groaned the old lord; "it is time for me to die."
Five years after his surveying excursion George Washing on had a far more famous adventure
in the wilderness, when the governor of Virginia sent him through the great forest to
visit the French forts near Lake Erie. The story of this journey is one of the most
exciting and romantic events in American history, yet it is one with which most readers of
history are familiar, so we have told the tale of his earlier adventures instead. His
forest experience on the Shenandoah had much to do with making Governor Dinwiddie choose
him as his envoy to the French forts, so that it was, in a way, the beginning of his