Page:Boissonnas, Un Vaincu, English, 1875.djvu/17

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slightest encroachment on rules. And yet, it was discovered, when young Lee left the school in 1829, that a bad mark -- even for a mishap -- had never been associated with his name. This was a good omen for the future.

He was stationed at Cockspur Island, near Savannah. He was 22, and as sub-lieutenant in the Engineers, he was entering his active life. West Point is on the Hudson River, in the State of New York. The direct road from there to Savannah, in the State of Georgia, passed by his home. You can imagine the joy mother and son experienced at seeing one another after 4 years of separation. Unfortunately, that joy was to be disrupted.

Mistress Lee had at her service an old coachman whom Robert, as a small boy, had loved as one loves those who bring the great joys of one's childhood. It was Natty who had given him the reins to hold the first time. Natty had trained his first pony. Natty had been mingled with all his childhood, and Robert was looking forward to the joy the old servant would feel at seeing his charge wearing a uniform. Alas, poor Natty was seriously ill when his young man arrived ; he was coughing and suffering cruelly.

"What can we do for Natty," Robert asked the doctors. They considered the patient fatally ill. Only a softer climate would, perhaps, bring him some comfort. The decision was promptly taken. The young lieutenant succeeded in bringing his mother to accept the sacrifice of their reunion,