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TO THE PUBLIC.
THOUGH it be true that a preface is the dullest thing on earth, and seldom or never read, it is sometimes necessary, in this instance unavoidable; since those who shall take the trouble to look through the following pages, may wonder what could induce the author to obtrude a volume upon the public at a period when the press is teeming with works of such superior merit. To those I would simply state, that the story of 'The Emigrants,' was commenced in a periodical, but being considered too long for such a publication, was discontinued. My friends having expressed a wish to see it finished, I was by them induced to complete and publish it, and thought I would add other stories in sufficient number to make a volume; which, imperfect as it is, would have been more so without them. This then is my apology for printing 'Tales of the Fireside,' which is humbly dedicated to a generous and enlightened public, with the gratitude and respect of
TALES OF THE FIRESIDE.
THE FORTUNE TELLER:
A TALE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY,
FOUNDED ON FACT.
A threadbare juggler and a fortune teller,
MORE than half a century ago, there resided in the county of Westmoreland, Virginia, a gentleman by the name of Montgomery, whose plantation was the most valuable and extensive for many miles around it. His wealth was said to be immense, and he had but two children to inherit it. Constance, his daughter, was now in her sixteenth year, and as lovely and amiable as the fondest parent could wish her to be. Charles was nearly twenty, and possessed a face and figure that might be taken as models of manly grace and elegance.
Mr Montgomery, who was a widower, determined, for the happiness of his beloved children, to remain single, regarding himself as possessing in them no common blessing. Feeling that it was in his power to endow them with large portions, he bestowed on them every advantage of education that wealth could procure.
Charles Montgomery had a strong inclination to be a soldier, and an opportunity very unexpectedly offered itself. France had formed a plan for connecting her possessions in America by a line of forts between the Canadas and Louisiana, and for that purpose seized a tract of country within the province of Virginia. The governor of that province fixed upon the immortal Washington, then in his twentyfirst year, as the most proper person to demand the meaning of their hostile conduct. This dangerous and difficult enterprise he performed to the entire satisfaction of the government, and was immediately appointed lieutenant colonel, and put in command of the Virginia forces.
Charles Montgomery, with the consent of his father, volunteered his services and was presented with the command of a company under Colonel Washington, and displayed great courage and bravery in the attack upon the French encampment of Great Meadows, on which occasion the enemy surrendered. He also distinguished himself in resisting the attack on Fort Necessity, soon after which the French troops evacuated Fort Du Quesne, which was taken possession of by the British forces, and thus ended the French war in Virginia.