While at the "White House," we had consulted together as to the best method of accomplishing this trip, and we determined to make it from "Romancoke." So I drove him to West Point, and there got aboard the Baltimore steamer, taking my horse and trap with us. At Cappahoosic, a wharf on the York, we landed and drove the nine miles to "White Marsh," arriving at "supper time," as we still say in Virginia--i.e., about 7:30 P. M.
When General Lee got off on the wharf, so great was the desire of the passengers and crew to see him, that they all went to the side of the boat, which caused her to list so that I was unable to get my horse out through the gangway until the captain had ordered every one to the other side. As the sun went down, it became chilly and I drove quite rapidly, anxious to get my father out of the night air as soon as possible. He said nothing at the time, nor did I know that he noticed my unusual speed. But afterward he remarked on it to several persons, saying:
"I think Rob drives unnecessarily fast."
We were expected, and were met at the door by all the family and guests. A hearty welcome was given us. After supper he was the centre of the circle in the drawing-room, and made the acquaintance of the children of the house and of the friends and relatives of the family who were there. He said little, but all listened eagerly to what he did say, and were charmed with his pleasant smile and gracious manner. "Cousin Rebecca" introduced him to her son-in-law, Captain Perrin, mentioning that he had been wounded in the war and was still lame from the effects. The General replied that at any rate he was all right now, for he had a pair of strong young feet to wait upon him, indicating his young wife.
As was customary in this section of Virginia, the house was full of visitors, and I shared my father's room and bed. Though many a year had passed since we had been bedfellows, he told me that he remembered well the time when, as a little fellow, I had begged for this privilege. The next day he walked about the beautiful gardens, and was driven over the plantation and shown the landscapes and water views of the immediate neighborhood. Mr. Graves, Dr. Tabb's overseer, who had the honour of being his coachman, fully appreciated it, and was delighted when my father praised his management. He had been a soldier under the General, and had stoutly carried his musket to Appomatox, where he surrendered it. When told of this by Dr. Tabb, my father took occasion to compliment him on his steadfast endurance and courage, but Graves simply and sincerely replied,
"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.