"Yes, General, I stuck to the army, but if you had in your entire command a greater coward than I was, you ought to have had him shot."
My father, who was greatly amused at his candour, spoke of it when he got back from his drive saying "that sort of a coward makes a good soldier."
That the drive had fatigued him was quite apparent to Cousin Rebecca, who begged him to go and lie down to rest, but he declined, though, finally, at her request, he consented to take a glass of wine. Mrs. Tabb was anxious to give a general reception that day in his honour, so that all the old soldiers in the country could have an opportunity of shaking hands with him, but at the General's request the idea was abandoned.
Several persons were invited to meet him at dinner, among them the Rev. Mr. Phillips, an Englishman, the rector of Abingdon, an old Colonial church in the country. He and his wife were ardent admirers of General lee, and had often expressed a great desire to see him, so Mrs. Tabb kindly gave them this opportunity. They were charmed with him, and, writing to their friends in England, declared:
"The greatest event in our lives has occurred--we have seen General Lee."
One of his young cousins, in talking with him, wondered what fate was in store for "us poor Virginians." The General replied with an earnest, softened look:
"You can work for Virginia, to build her up again, to make her great again. You can teach your children to love and cherish her."
I was struck with the tenderness of his manner to all these cousins, many of whom he had never seen before, and the real affection and interest he manifested toward them. He seemed pleased and touched by their love and kindness. I think he enjoyed this visit, but it was plain that he was easily fatigued.