Death and a Beckoning Mission
AS GEORGE WASHINGTON took his first self-reliant steps to escape from financial stringency and his mother, there began to fall on him the darker shadow of the deepest personal tragedy he lived through in all his long life. His brother Lawrence, his "best friend," was advancing into what might prove a mortal consumption.
Lawrence had opened to George whatever of the great world the youth had experienced. With his good humor, his charm, his not too aggressive stick-to-itiveness, the older brother had fitted perfectly into the Fairfax world which he had made his own. Although he could be careless, when his attention was really caught he reasoned things out in all their complications and implications much as his brother was to do on a greater stage. He was fond of remembering the military life he had briefly known; he talked of horses and hunts and land speculations; he served as a Burgess and lived the public life of a hospitable planter; yet his long, sallow face was the face of a dreamer, a minor poet given to musing and melancholy. Effective yet sweet and gentle, he inspired in his younger brother passionate devotion. 1
A trip to England and the well-informed doctors of the Old World had brought no alleviation of the illness that seemed to