National Geographic : 1953 Nov
666 National Geographic Photographer John E. Fletcher A Guard with His Ember-eyed Dogs Checks the Mansion Accompanied by Doberman pinschers, watchmen make their rounds all through the night. Searchlights flood the lawns and electric eyes guard against intruders. A high wall surrounds the estate (page 679). Parke Custis Law. In it Mrs. Law, then herself a grand mother, recalls the trunk's past: "It was that in which the cloaths of my Sainted Grand mother were always pack'd by her own hands when she went to visit. . . the General, when ever the Army were in quar ters. I have stood by it... sadly distress'd at her going away-& oh how joyfully when she returned did I look on to see her cloaths taken out, & the many gifts she always brought for her grandchil dren!" Most Prized Article But the most prized article that has come home to Mount Vernon is the huge four-poster mahogany bed, in George and Martha Washington's room, on which the General died. Washington's last illness fol lowed exposure to snow, sleet, and rain as he went about his usual outdoor activities. His last chore was to mark a new gravel walk by the Potomac. His sore throat that devel oped grew steadily worse. Though three doctors were called in from near-by cen ters, Washington's life ebbed quietly away at 10:20 p.m., December 14, 1799. The moment was recorded for history by one of the phy sicians, Dr. Elisha C. Dick, who stopped the mantel clock by cutting its weight cord. This clock left Mount Vernon as a gift from Mrs. Washington to Dr. Dick, who in turn presented it to his and Washington's fraternal or ganization, Alexandria-Wash ington Masonic Lodge No. 22. It is now in the new George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria. After Washington's death Martha closed up their bed room, as was then the custom, and moved to a small third floor room from which she could see the old family tomb. Through the dormer window of this room, unfurnished and unexhibited today, I, too, looked out toward the tomb.