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From the Journals of John Reid...

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  • From the Journals of John Reid...

    Abilene, Texas
    October 25, 1902

    My dearest Abigail,

    It’s a beautiful fall night and you’re safely asleep tucked in your featherbed and wrapped in the quilt your mother and grandmother put together for you before you were even born. That thing is so thread worn now that it’s pretty much held together by good intentions but you won’t give it up. You’re stubborn that way. I suppose you get that from me. I have the window cracked a bit down here in my study since your mother has the stove burning so hot in our bedroom that I can’t sleep. I guess I did so much sleeping outdoors on the ground that I still haven’t gotten used to what it’s like to sleep with my head on a pillow instead of a rolled up coat or saddle and my body on a mattress made of something other than dirt, grass, or, if I was lucky, moss. I’ll tell you, back then finding a big patch of moss was like finding a little bit of heaven for a change.

    It’s quiet, now, although, earlier, I could hear echoes of the party up at the Willis house on Poplar Street. Tom and Sallie must have had one Hell of a to-do up their way. Your mother said they had strung up Oriental paper lanterns and had some mariachis in from San Angelo. We were invited, of course, so you and your mother got all prettied up and had yourselves a grand time. I sent you with my regards but chose to stay home, telling your mother to use the explanation that I wasn’t feeling very well, which isn’t exactly true, but isn’t exactly a lie, either. I’m not one for socializing. Never was. When you got home you were so excited and kept telling me about how the music was beautiful and the food was, to use your choice of words, “exquisite”.

    I wish I were more the party-going type. I would have loved to dance with your mother. It’s been a long time since we’ve danced together. Part of me is especially angry that I wasn’t there to see your face when the Willis’ son, John Todd, asked you to step out onto the promenade with him.

    Yes, Abigail. Your mother tells me everything.

    He’s been sweet on you for years, that boy, but you’re headstrong and set in your ways and don’t see him as any more than the playmate he’s been since you two were schoolchildren. You also have said, in the past, that the young man resembles a turtle and if you wanted to marry a turtle, you’d go down to the river and get one. Your mother says you’re being too critical. That he looks more like a salamander than a turtle. Since I have yet to meet the lad, I cannot say one way or the other.

    You get your sense of humor from your mother.

    The truth is, though, I wanted to take some time out to write to you. I’ve been meaning to for quite a while. It may seem silly of me to write a letter to my daughter when I could just as soon talk to you, but letters are more permanent. They’re something you can take with you and hold in your hand even once the person has gone. Even after time has passed. The idea of remembrance is very important to me. Traditions, symbols, those things live on much longer than any man could. It’s also important that a child know their father and I’ve begun to realize that, at age fourteen, you know very little about me and, since I’m not getting any younger, I reckon it’s time I told you some and the best way I can think of to do so is to give you this book.

    Your grandfather, Texas Ranger Jacob Reid, gave this journal to me in 1870 when I went away to law school. I didn’t start writing in it until much later, though. My studies took up most of my time and, honestly, I had very little to say. I thought I knew where I was going. I thought it was all laid out for me: I would be the first Reid to go off to college and become a lawyer and open my own firm. Maybe become a judge. If there’s one thing I learned growing up it was that the world we lived in needed good, honest lawmen to bring justice to the West. He was a Texas Ranger since before I was born. My older brother Dan (your cousin Daniel’s father whom you never met and, sadly, neither did he) had followed on in dad’s footsteps. I chose to uphold the law as well, but I chose to do so with books and not with guns.

    I was never a good shot. I was horrible, truthfully. In fact, I was so poor with a rifle that my father never permitted me to fire a pistol. Said I was meant for something else. Dan and I had to grow up a bit more quickly than other boys since your grandmother, who you are named after, passed away from Scarlet Fever. I was six years old, then, and Dan was fourteen. Since our Pa had his duties as a Ranger, we spent a lot of time alone and Dan looked after me the best he could.

    We lived in a typical frontier home a couple dozen miles outside of San Antonio surrounded by sand and rock and a spattering of brush, nothing at all fancy like where we live now. We had chickens and a milk cow, a small crop of vegetables that none of us were really very good at tending, and three horses: A gray we named Todd, a Painted we called Thundercloud, and an Appaloosa named Silverheels.

    Earlier I mentioned the importance of symbols? One of the better lessons my father ever taught me involved a dollar coin.

    It'll have to wait until next time, though. It seems I've written all throughout the night as I just heard your mother call out that breakfast is ready and God knows the Hellfire I catch if I don't get to the table promptly.
    Last edited by LetsRollKato; 12-03-2012, 03:05 PM.

  • #2
    (well, this little experiment backfired )