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“ [112] forbade.” Dismissing their captive at night, they
chap. V.} 1753.
walked about half a mile, then kindled a fire, fixed their course by the compass, and continued travelling all night, and all the next day, till quite dark. Not till then did the weary wanderers ‘think themselves safe enough to sleep,’ and they encamped, with no shelter but the leafless forest-tree.

On reaching the Alleghany, with one poor hatchet and a whole day's work, a raft was constructed and launched. But before they were half over the river, they were caught in the running ice, expecting every moment to be crushed, unable to reach either shore. Putting out the setting-pole to stop the raft, Washington was jerked into the deep water, and saved himself only by grasping at the raft-logs. They were obliged to make for an island. There lay Washington, imprisoned by the elements; but the late December night was intensely cold, and in the morning he found the river frozen. Not till he reached Gist's settlement, in January, 1754, were his toils lightened.


Washington's report was followed by immediate activity. The Ohio Company agreed to build a fort at the Fork, and he himself was stationed at Alexandria to enlist recruits. In February, the General Assembly,1 unwilling to engage with France, yet ready to protect the settlers beyond the mountains, agreed to borrow ten thousand pounds, taking care to place the disbursement of the money under the superintendence of their own committee. ‘The House of Burgesses,’ Dinwiddie complained, ‘were in a republican way of thinking;’ but he confessed

1 Hening's Statutes at large, VI. 417.

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