Monday, January 17, 2011

One More...

I was pleased to receive a couple of very nice comments regarding the story I wrote about my wife's great, great grandfather, Sydney Davis.

Sydney Davis
That’s all the encouragement I needed to offer one more incident from those 2,000 handwritten pages handed down “ from attic to attic.”

It’s obvious that the Civil War dictated that he spend 5 years of his young life as a soldier, because he was anything but a “natural” warrior. But, as a writer, he was excellent.

His schooling was minimal; eight grades in a one room schoolhouse near Pittsburgh.

His letters to publishers......AND rejection slips....were found with his Civil War manuscript.

His notes reek with disappointment as his desire to be a published author was rejected time and time again.

Nevertheless, I digress.

In his manuscript he describes an incident about the time he was sent on a detail to find meat for some of his men:

By and by, I came upon a flock of sheep, to which I gave chase. I was rather fleet of foot and kept close to them and driving them into fence corners and over all sorts of obstructions.
Finally, one of them, made an effort to jump through a fence but became fastened, and I caught it.

Out came my knife and I felt for its throat; while thus engaged, however, I felt its heart beat wildly against my leg. “Poor old fellow,” thought I, “how hard it must be for even an animal to yield up its innocent life!”

I hesitated, I put down my hand and stroked its head; and then, returning my knife to my pocket, dismissed the sheep with my blessing.

Did the creature really understand me? It really seemed loath to go away, and instead of appearing frightened followed me all around that field.

Usually, I am not of a superstitious temperament, but there was something about that animal that made me uneasy. It was bound to be about my legs, rubbing its head against me whenever I permitted it to do so. 

At last curious thoughts came into my head. Those solitudes which surrounded me…the hour of the night…the groups of dead that I had seen on fields of battle now rising in imagination about me…that sheep and his actions…..were too much for me.

I turned my face towards camp, and traveled faster than usual until I saw the lights of its myriad fires.

The foraging expedition was a failure that night.

The last I saw of that sheep was after I had crossed the fence out of the field. I looked back after I had traveled about two rods, and there he was, mounted on his hind feet, and with his fore feet upon the upper rail, and his white head up in the air, and his eyes peering after me.

If I make it to Heaven some day, I’m going to look Sydney up and let him know that it took a while, but his manuscript was finally published!

On the CHS54 website!

Then I guess I’ll spend the rest of eternity trying to explain to him what a website is. -Ed