Selections from "Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May" by Jean Fritz
[ A 47-page childrens book on the life of Patrick Henry,published in 1975 by Coward, McCann and Geoghegan].
... In a few years, of course, it would be different. Come anice spring day with redbirds calling and Patrick would be off to the nearest creek, a fishing pole over his shoulder. (The creeks quivered with life in those days, Bullheads, redeyes, flatbacks, rockfish to mention only a few.) Or he'd be off to the woods, a gun in his hand and a dog or two at his heels. (There were still wolves in Hanover County when Patrick was young. And of course fox,deer, possum, coon and other Game.) Sometimes he would just go off. He'd mosey about, barefoot, through the woods or lie down by acreek and listen. Mostly to birdsong.
.... It was a small, cheerful world that Patrick lived in with many pleasures, but school was not one of them. Patrick had, of course, to fit school into growing up, but he gave it no more attention than was necessary. Come a nice spring day day with redbirds calling and he might not even make it to the schoolhouse door. But generally he was there, waiting for the day to end so he'd be free again, running barefoot and wild on the land. It was as if Patrick Henry had soaked up through the bottoms of his bare feet the two things he prized most all his life -- freedom and the good Virginia land. Not that he thought much about them. He took his days for granted and as for the future, he had no plans.
... On May 29th, 1752, Patrick became sixteen. He was six feet tall, a lanky, sharp-boned young man with flashing blue eyes, generally dressed in checked breeches and a jumpshirt, generally in his bare feet. ...
[ the story of Patricks life continues, as he becomes a well-known lawyer and on to the famous "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" speech, being elected governor and on to his retirement]
.. He lived just as he liked to live -- knee-deep in dogs and children. Dorothea added eleven children to the family and, ofcourse, by this time there were grand-children too. Patrick encouraged them all to go barefoot. He didn't like to see children in shoes until they were six or seven years old and he believed that, if possible, they should avoid the inside of a schoolhouse until they were twelve. Nature, itself, was the best teacher, he said, and in his old age, as in his younger years he took every opportunity to enjoy it. ....
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