The old man squinted down at the page, on which his handwriting scrawled, spider-like. He sighed and set his pen down, leaving a blotch of ink near the upper right hand corner. Reaching over, he lifted a smudgy paper from near his elbow and scanned across the boyishly bold lettering.
I have arrived. As you know, I did not want to come, but Papa said it was a good school and I must go. So, here I am. I have already been snickered at for sounding like a backwoods hick. I wish I were back in the hills of Alabama, Grandpa! Someone started singing "Dixie" in a mocking tone of voice and I had all I could do to keep from striking him in the mouth. However, I do not think the teasing is all really mean-spirited.
On a different note, I do find the difference in the air--the trees--even the grass! to be interesting. Did you have any idea that the wind blows so much more here...and that the air smells different than it does at home? I wonder, does Europe smell even different yet?
I do look forward to starting studies come Monday; history most particularly. I have always loved history. You know you told me once, Grandfather, that the "winner's write the history books". I do not know if the late war will be one of the topics they will teach, but for my own sake Grandpa, I do wish I knew more about it. You were there. Would you consider telling me about the causes, the battles, the men?
Ah! These fellows think I am a homesick 'chile writing to his mama'! I must admit the idea is amusing me, Grandpa. I am homesick, of course, but am determined to make the best of it and not weep at being away from my home. It would not be befitting for a lad of my age to whimper because he has had to go to boarding school.
Dear Grandpa...do write soon! I shall miss you greatly. Scratch Buck between the ears for me, will you?
Your most affectionate grandson,
Fredrick B. Jameson "
The old man placed his chin into his hand thoughtfully, staring unseeingly at the wall before him. Suddenly, he smiled and picking up his pen, he began to scratch his response with the quickness born of surety of purpose.
"My Dearest Freddy,
I did receive your most welcome letter this afternoon at the usual time. You know how Mr. O'Brian does like to stand and talk for a good quarter hour before moving off on his route. He had much to say about how much he'll miss seeing you "pop 'round the corner o' the house" to carry the lastest newspapers into your father.
'Tis a sad thing about those lads, Fred, but stand ye fast and nevermind them. You have a proud heritage and it is nothing to be ashamed of. With that in mind, I have determined that I shall, as I am able, send off to you every day, from here on out, a letter with a piece of our South-land's history, and most particularly concerning our late war for independence, for you to study. Be wise in how you use the information, dearest boy. Do not use it pridefully; do not use it to stir up trouble. Freddy, you are not the hot head your grandfather was at your age, praise our Lord, but you do have a wide streak of sinful pride. Bring that under the law of the Lord and do not, I beg you, do not use the fact that the late war was a just one on our side, to drive a wedge between the friendships I pray you will develop at school. These lads may have started themselves out on the wrong foot with you, but be a lad to be emulated and you will gain the goodwill and friendship of these fellows.
Expect the first of your letters the day after you receive this one.
I pray that you grow into a man of God.
Your loving grandfather,
James B. Hamilton"
Mr. Hamilton sealed the letter and laying upon his desk, rose and shuffled out of the room. Half an hour later or so, he returned with a few books, most prominent among them being a leather bound journal. Setting these down near his desk, he flipped open the old journal to reveal newspaper clippings wedged between the pages, themselves filled with the spidery writings of his younger days. Even then, it appeared, he had been prone to blotting his pages with ink. He smiled a little sadly, then sat down to examine his collection.