“Aye, that he was, child, although he showed other kinds of bravery, too. He endured the hardships and cold at Valley Forge during that long, hard winter. It must have been doubly hard on a highborn Frenchman used to the luxuries of life. But I never heard him complain.”
“Were you at Valley Forge that winter, sir?” Joss asked.
“Indeed, my boy. Those who tell of hardships there do not exaggerate by one jot. Over twenty-five hundred men died of exposure and starvation. Hundreds of horses perished there, too.”
I watched Joss reach for more chicken. Speaking of starving, that’s his fifth piece! I thought. Maybe Joss really is part starving horse and part empty pit, as Father said.
Then I noticed that Dickon was reaching for more chicken as well. Maybe Dickon is, too, I thought. He happened to look across the table at me. I noticed that he noticed that I was noticing him, and could feel a blush rising on my face.
Major Weeks went on. “If all that shared suffering at Valley Forge was not terrible enough to endure on its own, there was also backbiting and plotting enough to make your stomach turn!”
“Why, I have never heard of that, sir!” exclaimed Joss.
The major snorted with outrage at the memory. He explained that an Irish adventurer named Conway had gotten himself appointed inspector general at their encampment at Valley Forge. While there, he had plotted to get Congress to throw out Washington as commander-in-chief and replace him with the so-called “hero of Saratoga,” General Gates.
“But young Lafayette was one of the first to alert General Washington about this so-called Conway Cabal,” said the major. “Such deceit—not to mention wrong-headed foolishness! The only thing holding our troops together at that time was loyalty to Washington!
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