Chapter XX The New Home in Lexington
Numerous guests--Further sojourns at different Baths--Death of the General's brother, Smith Lee--Visits to "Ravensworth" and "The White House"--Meetings with interesting people at White Sulphur Springs-- Death of Professor Preston
On my father's return to Lexington the new house was ready. It adjoined the one he had been occupying, so the distance was not great and the transfer was easily accomplished. It was much larger and more comfortable than the one given up. My mother's room was on the first floor and opened out on the veranda, extending three sides of the house, where she could she could be rolled in her chair. This she enjoyed intensely, for she was very fond of the open air, and one could see her there every bright day, with Mrs. "Ruffner," a much petted cat, sitting on her shoulder or cradled in her lap. My father's favourite seat was in a deep window of the dining-room, from which his eyes could rest on rolling fields of grass and grain, bounded by the ever-changing mountains. After his early and simple dinner, he usually took a nap of a few minutes, sitting upright in his chair, his hand held and rubbed by one of his daughters. There was a new stable, warm and sunny, for Traveller and his companion, "Lucy Long," a cow-house, wood-shed, garden, and yard, all planned, laid out, and built by my father. The increased room enabled him to invite a great number to visit him, and this summer the house was full.
In answer to a letter from me on business, which reached him during commencement week, he writes:
"Lexington, Viriginia, June 19, 1869.
"My Dear Son: I have just receive your letter of the 10th, and have only time for a word.... I hope all things are going well with you both. With the improvement of your farm, proceeds will increase, and, with experience, judgment, and economy, will augment greatly. You will have to get married if you wish to prosper, and must therefore make arrangements to build your house this fall. If I live through this coming week, I wish to pay you and F--- a visit the week following, about July 1st. I am trying to persuade Custis to accompany me, but he has not yet responded. I am very much occupied with examinations, visitors, arrangements, etc.
"All are well, and would send love if accessible. Mildred is full of housekeeping and dresses, and the house is full of young ladies--Misses Jones, Albert, Burwell, Fairfax, and Wickham; others in expectation. Good-bye,
Ten days later, he writes to his son, Fitzhugh, giving up his proposed visit to him at this time, expressing his regrets at the necessity, and telling his reasons for so doing: