August 13, 2020
This story comes from American Folklore and Legend by Reader’s Digest.
“Tory cutthoats are drinking and feasting in a farmhouse near Valley Forge, as they wait for 2 o’clock at night to kill Washington, whom they know will be passing then. Mary, the daughter of Jacob Manheim, one of the Tories, has been reared by her mother to revere this man Washington next to God. Yesterday afternoon, she went four miles, over roads of ice and snow, to tell Captain Williams the plot of the Tory refugees. She did not reach Valley Forge until Washington had left on one of his lonely journeys; so this night, at 12, a partisan captain will occupy the rocks above the neighboring pass, to “trap the trappers” of George Washington. Yep, that pale slender girl, remembering the words of her dying mother, had broken through her obedience of her fater after a long and bitter struggle. How dark that struggle in a faithful daughter.”
“And now, as father and child are sitting there, hark! There is a sound of horses’ hooves and the door opens – a tall stranger enters, advances to the fire, and in brief words solicits some refreshments and an hour’s repose. Why does the Tory Manheim start aghast at tler”, rush wildly into the next room? he sight of that stranger’s blue and gold uniform – then, mumbling something to his daughter about “getting food for the traveler,” rush wildly into the next room?”
It was Washington himself, if we are to believe the legends…he was exhausted from a long journey that had brought him here earlier than expected. There was a storm, which had forced him to take refuge. In no time at all, Washington is sitting at the table, eating food that had been prepared by the girl. She stands beside him, trembling, her lips moving but making no sound. It is as if she is trying to warn Washington of the danger he is in. It wasn’t that long ago that he heard dice rattling, the men casting lots “who should stab George Washington in his sleep!”
The girl showed Washington into a separate room so he could sleep, and told to go to bed herself. There are seven half-drunken Tories, sitting before the fire. Jacob Manheim is among these men, the knife that was to be used in his hand. The lot had fallen on him. He is pale at the thought, of murdering Washington, the knife trembling in his hand.
He goes into Washington’s chamber and reemerges with a bloody knife. “Look!” he shrieks, “It is his blood – the traitor Washington!” With yells of joy, his comrades gather round, fantasizing the gold they will be paid for this deed. Then, low and behold, the chamber door opens…it is George Washington, without a drop of blood on him. No visible wounds.
While Washington looks on, the door is flung open, and in rush the troopers from Valley Forge. A horrid thought enters the Tories head, he grabs the light and rushes upstairs. His blood is curdling in his veins. He reaches the door, enters and walks toward the bed that he struck at so blindly. “There, in the full light of the lamp, her young form but half covered, bathed in her own blood – lay his daughter.”
While the men were downstairs, talking about the deed that was to be done, Manheim’s daughter had switched places with Washington. His daughter had saved Washington’s life, her father killing her instead.
“Then that girl – that hero woman – dying as she was, not so much from the wound as from the deep agony which had broken the last chord of life, spread forth her arms, as though she beheld a form floating there above her bed, beckoning her away. She spread forth her arms as if to enclose that angel form. “Mother!” she whispered. “Mother, thank God! For with my life I have saved him – “. That word, still quivering on the lips of the Hero Woman – that word choked by her death rattle – that word was – “Washington!”
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