Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/285

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Jeb Stuart.

I knew, from his voice, that my interlocutor was the one who had played sheriff in my behalf, by calling-for "silence," but without "pain of imprisonment" last night, and I learned that his name was Stuart. That name interested me and led to some inquiries. I knew the Stuarts, of Staunton, and the Hon. A. H. H. Stuart was one of the trustees of the Virginia Female Institute who had invited me to be the first principal of that institution, of which, by the way, Mrs. Jeb. Stuart was, for years, the third.

As to his other connections, of whom he spoke of, Mr. William L. Pannill, of Pittsylvania county, had sent two of his daughters to the Home School, in my family, in Richmond, and I had visited him at his home, Chalk Level, where I met his mother-in-law, Mrs. Ranks. With these facts, I told him that I had a surprise for him, and that he might know whether or not it was an agreeable one, he must call and see my wife, who was his kinswoman, through the Pannills. Before we separated, I gave him my Richmond address. He had to wait for his stage, and I went to the court-house. But before he left he came to that place to see me and bid me good-bye. He could easily have omitted that, but would not.

Whether he was at my house before my return from Williamsburg is not positively recalled. But he was there repeatedly afterwards, and we all took a great fancy to him. Once he brought with him to show me a leather halter, with a fixture for very quick undoing, which he had invented and intended to patent In explaining it, he said that on the western frontier, where his service was to be with the United States Cavalry, they were liable to sudden raids and surprises from Indians, and a few seconds in mounting might be a matter of life or death. They were compelled to fasten their horses, in order to be sure of having them at hand, in case of an alarm, and that time was lost in untying them. He had, therefore, exerted his ingenuity in trying to get a secure fastener that could be loosened in the shortest possible time, and he had brought the result to show me. Whether he ever patented it is not known, but might be ascertained from the Patent Office. It might have been called "Stuart's lightning horse hitcher;" or, perhaps, unhitcher, as