By Fannie E. Coe

A Half Forgotten Incident Over one hundred years ago when our country was fighting against England there came to help us a young French nobleman named Lafayette.

General Lafayette

Although only a boy of nineteen years he had run away from his country because he longed to fight for liberty. He said that he came to learn not to teach and from the first he took George Washington for an ideal.

Lafayette and Washington became lifelong friends Lafayette named his son for Washington and on his return to America in 1787 he paid a delightful visit to Washington at Mount Vernon. He promised soon to return but almost forty years passed by before he kept his word.

He came at last in 1824 a bent old man with a heart loyal as ever to his adopted country. He visited every State and Territory in the Union and was welcomed everywhere with the warmest enthusiasm. Receptions dinner parties and balls followed each other in brilliant succession always with Lafayette the chief figure The welcome of the people was voiced in a song of the time

We bow not the neck

We bend not the knee

But our hearts Lafayette

We surrender to thee

The incident that I am to relate occurred during the visit of 1824.

A brilliant reception was under way. A slowly moving line of stately guests passed by the noble old marquis who greeted each with courtly grace. Presently there approached an old soldier clad in a worn Continental uniform. In his hand was an ancient musket and across his shoulder was thrown a small blanket or rather a piece of blanket. On reaching the marquis the veteran drew himself up in the stiff fashion of the old time drill and gave the military salute. As Lafayette returned the salute tears sprang to his eyes. The tattered uniform the ancient flintlock the silver haired veteran even older than himself recalled the dear past.

“Do you know me asked the soldier?” Lafayette’s manner had led him to think himself personally remembered.

“Indeed I cannot say that I do,” was the frank reply.

“Do you remember the frosts and snows of Valley Forge?”

“I shall never forget them,” answered Lafayette.

“One bitter night, General Lafayette you were going the rounds at Valley Forge. You came upon a sentry in thin clothing and without stockings. He was slowly freezing to death. You took his musket saying ‘Go to my hut. There you will find stockings a blanket and a fire After warming yourself bring the blanket to me. Meanwhile I will keep guard.”

“The soldier obeyed directions. When he returned to his post you General Lafayette cut the blanket in two. One half you kept the other you presented to the sentry. Here General is one half of that blanket for I am the sentry whose life you saved.”

Fanny E Coe 

Taken from “The Book of Stories for the Story Teller

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