xt76ww76tb78 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt76ww76tb78/data/mets.xml Holt, Matt. J. (Matthew Joseph), b. 1866. 1922  books b92-110-27905362 English The Standard Printing Co., Inc., : Louisville : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Voices : Birth-marks : The man and the elephant  / Matt J. Holt. text Voices : Birth-marks : The man and the elephant  / Matt J. Holt. 1922 2002 true xt76ww76tb78 section xt76ww76tb78 





 Author of Chit-Chat, Nin'an



Copyrighted 1922
by The Author






 This page in the original text is blank.



       Knowest thou only the language of man
       Hast never heard the plaintive flute of Pan,
       Or those gladsome carols that greet the light
       Or the wild, strange voices of darkest night
       Each of earth's creatures when at work or play,
       Each of nature's force in some strange way,
       Has a manner of attaining to God's ear,
       And a voice which those attuned may hear.
       Voices of spring are love songs of the birds,
       Fragrant poems of lilacs, lacking words;
       Summer voices are of riper, mellower strain;
       Autumn's, sing of harvest and life not vain;
       Winter tells the story of what has been,
       Season of reflection, of the voice within,
       Promise of tomorrow, freedom from sin.

   Big Creek bisects the narrow valley and the road to
Hyden follows the bank, crossing from side to side as the
sheerness of the mountain side makes necessary. Here
and there the valley broadens until there is almost
enough level land for a farm; and always where there is
a little width of valley you find a mountain home. The
mountain tops and sides are great wildernesses, though
sometimes in a cove or on the plateau a hermit or out-
cast family makes its home.
   At old man Litman's place the valley is quite narrow,
except below the "Rock House," where there is an old
field cleared by his grandfather, who came from Virginia



in 1795. A sprawling rail fence, hedged about by thrifty
bush growth, encircles the old field; pawpaw bushes
growing in the fence corners encroach to the ruts of the
road; and each year new growth of sumac and persim-
mon appropriate yet more of the old field; which having
been cultivated for near a century and grown unproduc-
tive, is given over to a volunteer crop of broom sedge,
which furnishes meager pasturage for an old mule and
two cows.
   On the edge of the road at the fence corner nearest
the cabin, Litman's granddaughter has a doll house; if
mere tracings of pebbles and shells gathered from the
creek shallows can be called partitions and the bushes
and vines, walls and a roof. The white room is traced in
white pebbles the red room in red pebbles and the kitchen
in the commoner blue ones. The furnishings are bits of
broken crockery, glass and shell. The dolls are small
bleached bones or bits of peeled pawpaw sticks, dressed
in blouses made from a worn out sleeve of grandpa's
red undershirt and skirts from scraps of worn and faded
calico. She has never seen a doll house, never a real
doll, only pictures. This, her creation, was suggested by
instinctive motherhood and love for home.
   A passing traveler would have thought several chil-
dren were playing at the fence corner. The little make-
believe mother was talking to her babies and answering
for them in even thinner and more subdued voice than
her own; though she had the low voice of a child accus-
tomed to play alone.
  "Now Jeanne, let's make grandpa some nice pone
bread; the meal is fresh and sweet. When it is ready
you run to the spring and bring him a cup of cold milk. "
   "Granny, while you are mixing the bread maybe I
can find an egg in the loft. I heard Old Speck cackling. "




   "There is grandpa calling, I will go and see what he
wants. "
   "He says, would you mind moving him a wee bit
His bones shore do ache."
   Here the dialogue ended, the girl's attention having
been caught by the voice of an old friend; except for
which the valley had the quietude not alone of a warm
mid afternoon but of a great solitude, so profound that
you might even fancy hearing the smoke curling up from
the chimney of the cabin, a hundred yards away. Yet,
if you listen you may hear the chirping of the grass
creatures and the rippling water washing along the
pebbly bed of the creek.
   A lone tree, long dead, and bleached to bony white-
ness, stands in the center of the old field and from its
topmost snag a lark gives voice to a series of pensive,
dreamy, flute-like notes. The girl, after listening for
some time, resumes the dialogue.
   "Children, we will climb on the fence and hear what
Yellow Vest has to say. I think he is whistling to his
wife, who hunts crickets in the broom sedge."
   "Maw, tell us what he says"
   " 'Love, thou art safe! art safe! I watch for thee! for
thee.! and babies.' It is not so much what he says 'as the
way in which he says it."
   The feeble voice of the old grandmother calls:
"Jeanne, come help your granny;" and placing her dolls
in their little beds of sticks, moss and bird feathers, and
the little baby in its cradle, the half of a mussel shell, she
goes to the house.

   John Morgan Allen lived in Lexington, Kentucky.
His father was a lawyer of considerable prominence; his
mother, a Morgan, granddaughter of a distinguished sol-




dier; his grandmother was the daughter of John Calvin
Campbell, an eloquent pioneer preacher; her husband, a
lawyer when she married him, afterwards became a pro-
fessional gambler and, an exception to the rule, accumu-
lated a considerable fortune.
   It was young Allen's mother's desire that he should
be a soldier; his father's that he should be a lawyer, and
his grandmother's that he should be a preacher. When
he finished high school, his mother insisting, he was sent
to Culver Military Institute, where he remained a year.
Then his grandmother, having promised to give him
25,000.00 the day he should graduate at the Louisville
Presbyterian Theological Seminary; he was sent to that
institution. In the beginning of his senior year she died
intestate, leaving an estate of only 60,000.00 to be divided
between three living children and the heirs of three dead
children. As there was no chance of the fulfillment of
her promise when he should graduate at the seminary;
and his conduct had been such that his professors had
suggested a reformation in conformity with his prospeo-
tive calling, he wrote asking his father's consent to leave
the seminary and take the law course at the University
of Virginia; and he cheerfully consented. In spite of
the fact that he gave much of his time to a local military
company and enjoyed the reputation of being the best
poker player at the university, he graduated with class
honors in 1912.
   Several weeks after his return home, on his twenty-
second birthday, his father took him to the office and with
great gladness in his heart, pointed to the name, Allen 
Allen, which had been painted on the office door the day
before; showed him the new embossed stationery on
which his name appeared as a member of the firm; and
his own room, newly painted, carpeted and furnished,




with the name John Morgan Allen (Private) on the door.
Though John's face wore a smile of appreciation, it was
merely reflective of his father's love and enjoyment; dis-
position and temperament suggested rebellion, but were
overcome hy a sense 'of gratitude and duty.
   In the early summer of 1913 the firm were employed
by the Lockard heirs to clear the title to a large bound-
ary of land in Leslie county; and it became necessary for
John and the executor to go to Hyden for that purpose.
   Just at sundown as they were riding by Litman's old
field, John's horse shied and backed through the pawpaw
bushes into Jeanne's doll house. He dismounted and
patched the partition walls into shape; then parting the
bushes, showed it to Mr. Lockard.
   To John, the little bone and stick dolls, dressed in
rags and resting in their beds of moss and feathers were
pathetic. He picked several up, and was examining them
when a slender girl of twelve, in an outgrown, worn and
faded dress, which did not reach to her knees, ran up
crying: "Do not hurt my babies." John rose hastily,
somewhat disconcerted by the accusation, and lifting his
hat and gravely bowing, assured her he had no such
intention; whereupon without uttering another word, she
turned and ran into the Litman cabin.
   The cabin, built in the days when the family was
relatively prosperous, had a spare room for visitors. As
it was now sundown the men asked and were given shel-
ter for the night.
   Jeanne showed them where their horses were to be
stabled; and then went into the house to help with sup-
per. Her grandmother noted that she was very exact in
setting the table; getting out the only white cloth they
had and doing her best with their meager stock of china
to make it attractive. This special attention was due to




the lifted hat and formal bow with which John had
greeted the child. It was the first time a man had ever
tipped his hat to her.
   After supper John and Mr. Lockard seated them-
selves for a smoke on a great rock that jutted into the
creek and enjoyed not only the profound repose but the
mystic beauty of the scene, which was accentuated by
the light of a full moon and the deep shadows made by
the trees and mountain.
   John, a person of moods and imagination-possibly
due to his complex ancestry-gave expression to his
thoughts: "How soothing, how delightfully peaceful,
how homelike, is this humble home. There is no place
here for sorrow and tears, no room for envy, no cause
for covetousness or discontent. Some people, and I
believe I am one, might be happy here, happier than in a
city, just getting his part of the sunlight, just breathing
his part of this untainted air."
   While he was talking in this strain, Jeanne, coming
up, stood listening; and when he had finished said:
   "We have our troubles. You have not seen grandpa.
He's sick in bed. He can't move except his hands and
head and they shake all the time. He says he is a corpse
with a chill 'and lies in his bed with nothing to do but
wait. When I ask 'Wait for what' He answers,
'Tomorrow.' To me tomorrow is like today. The cows
will go to pasture, the creek will run over the same peb-
bles, the mail man will come at noon and stop for dinner,
the lark will sing the same song; but if I stump my toe
it will be well tomorrow. Go in and talk to grandpa. He
likes to hear things. He lies on his bed until his bones
ache. He looks out at the same trees and rocks and the
same reach of the creek. I hope when he sleeps there is
a change and he has dreams like mine and hears voices



sweeter than those of the day; though I love the voice of
the lark and the red bird and the wren; the murmur of
the water on the rocks and most of all the little creatures
we do not see and will not hear, unless we are very still.
They are hidden in the grass and in the rocks. Alone not
one of them can be heard, but together they make soft
music, a chorus of glad hearts. One little blackbird
makes a noise, but when a thousand speak at once it
makes a song. So it seems to me, if I should live here
always, with just grandpa and granny, what I said would
be as the chirp of one little bug or the call of a lost black-
bird; but if I chirp or call out with a thousand, my voice
is the thousandth part of a song."
   "Jeanne, we will go in and talk with your grandpa.
Can he read, or do you read to him"
   "He used to read before he broke his specks. I am
trying hard to learn to read good, so I can read to him.
The teacher sometimes boards with us; she says I will
soon know how. It will be nice then. I try to read his
Bible to him but the words are too big. Teacher says I
need a book to tell me the meaning of big words. I know
just the part of the Bible he loves and I am learning it
by heart. I stand and say it to him, looking in the book
and he thinks I read it."
   "What do you say to him, Jeanne"
   " 'And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and
there shall be no more death; neither sorrow nor dying;
neither shall there be any more pain.' And I know all
of the fourteenth chapter of John, which tells us not to
let our troubles worry us, because in the Father's house
there is a home of many rooms and one is for me. And
when I say, 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give
unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you;' he
makes me read it again.   "





   They went in and spent an hour with the old man.
Seeing them was a break in his bedridden monotony,
shifting scene and introducing new characters.
   His had been a calm, relatively happy life until he
was seventy years of age; then misfortune overwhelmed
him. He lost his savings; his son, Sylvester, Jeanne's
father, died; a few weeks later he had a stroke of apo-
plexy and now a shivering palsy possessed his limbs.
For more than five years he had lain in his bed, nursed
by wife and granddaughter.
   His wife by most rigid economy had managed to feed
the family of three; though they were poorly clad and
were frequently denied many things deemed essential to
                  S   S S S
   Simeon Blair for ten years had been carrying the mail
from the mouth of Big Creek to Hyden, going up one day
and returning the next. He usually ate his noon-day
meal at Litman's, which he called the "Half-way
   About ten days after Mr. Allen and his client had
spent the night at the Litman cabin, Blair rode up on his
old gray mare and seeing Jeanne coming from the
spring, took from a gunny sack a parcel post package
about a foot square; and holding it above his head called
out: "Guess whose this is"
   " Grandpa 's. "
   He shook his head, saying: "Guess again."
   " Granny's."
   "Wrong, guess again."
   "Is it for us"
   "Yes. "
   "Then it must be for me; but I have never had any-
thing before. It is not Christmas. 0! who could have
sent it"



   She took it with timid joy and examined it carefully,
reading aloud in a halting way-" Miss Jeanne-no it's
not Jeanne; what is it Simeon"
   "Miss Jeannette Litman, Big Creek, Leslie County,
   And in the upper left-hand corner-
   "From John M. Allen, Lexington, Ky."
   "Open it, let's see what's inside."
   "Not till grandpa wakes up."
   She went to his door, he was awake; so she called her
grandmother and Simeon.
   "Look, grandpa, see what's come by mail. Listen:
'Miss Jeannette Litman, Big Creek, Leslie County, Ken-
tucky. From John M. Allen, Lexington, Ky.' What can
it be"
   " Open it and find out."
   "Simeon, you untie the string."
   "Cut it, it's dinner time."
   (Granny) "No, it's a piece of good whip-cord, undo
the knot. "
   "Well, Miss Jeannette Litman, there it is."
   "Can you see, grandpa"
   "Yes, dear."
   "Watch close-O! this is for you, grandpa. See your
name Shall I open it-Some silver specks, in a bright
new case. Now I know why he asked me for the broken
   "Look! Look! this has granny's name on it, what
can it be"
  "You open it, dear."
  "No, granny, you must open your own bundle."
  "Just what I wanted. I remember saying that when
I went to Hyden I would have to buy a. pair of shears





and a black shawl with the money we got for the goose
feathers. Now we can get a sack of flour and goods for
Jeanne's dress."
   "It is my turn now, 'For Jeannette Litman,' such
purty shoes; how did he know my size 0! he had me
step in the dusty road and then he measured the track,
saying a fairy had passed this way; and here is a little
blue silk handkerchief and two books. What does this
spell,Simeon University Dictionary What
is a dictionary"
   "A book that tells what big words mean."
   "Here is the other book, ' The Little Colonel at Board-
ing School;' and here's more, two boxes-dolls! real
dolls! all dressed and asleep in their best clothes, shoes
and real hair. 0, you beautiful things! You sweet dar-
lings! Look granny ! the top dress is just like spider web
with dew on it. We will name this one after you, granny.
I bet you was as purty when you were a little girl. This
is Jane Wilson and the other I will call Ruth, Ruth Dixon,
after mother."
   Jeanne insisted on writing the letter thanking Mr.
Allen for the gifts; and it was a momentous undertaking.
Simeon brought a stamp, envelope and two sheets of
paper in a thread box from the general store at the mouth
of Big Creek. There was a pen and ink in the house,
though it was necessary to dilute the ink before using it.
   At a loss as to how to address the envelope and com-
mence her letter, she consulted her grandmother; but
would hear no other suggestions. At the end of the sec-
ond day's series of efforts on her slate she was suffi-
ciently satisfied to transcribe what she had printed to
paper. In her many attempts to find out how to spell
certain words she discovered that the new dictionary was



marvelously arranged in alphabetical order, and in pos-
session of this key, finally mastered it.
   In searching through the dictionary by chance she
came upon the word correspondence and learned its
meaning. The word had caught her eye, because among
their few books, all of which had belonged to her great
grandfather, there was a set in old sheep binding of
"Jefferson's Correspondence." She took down Volume
IV; and opening it at letter CXXVIII, was better pleased
with the style of address, in writing a person of Mr.
Allen's greatness; and concerning such matters of im-
portanme, than the one her grandmother had given her
and adopted it.
   So she began tediously to print:
"To John Allen.
"Dear Sir:
   " The simultaneous movements in our correspondence
have been remarkable on several occasions. It would
seem as if the state of the air, or the state of the times,
or some other unknown cause, produced a sympathetic
effect in our mutual recollections. i has to say grandpas
specks was the first thing we found in the box  you know
i could a got along with them bone dolls dressed in his
old red shirt but times would a been hard outen them
specks he lays on the bed with a chair under his head and
reads his bible now when onct he had to wait tell i had
time he says now the windows are open how did you
come to send granny a black shawl you had not seen her
shake with the cold like I has done my feet is tuf i could
a done outen the shoes but she jest had ter have the shawl
and the shears i know now why you had me step in the
dust granny says men are sly and gals must be shy but
why dident you jest say Jeannette let me see your feet
i keeps them purty clean.





   " o the dolls the purty dolls they is too fine for the fence
corner so i puts them in bed with me and holds them when
i says my prayers and sees them in my dreams they left
the words tuf and purty and outen outen the dictionary
you tell the man what made it i am shore he will hate it
he says ter means three ter with us means same as to i
knows now what correspondence, dictionary and Colonel
mean i spect when i read the book ter find out why they
calls a gal a little Colonel but i cant say now give me
time granny says i is set in my ways like grandpa and i
is set ter learn
   "correspondence is nice but hard work but let us cor-
respondence last year when Christmas come i had roast
chestnuts and to red apples granny told me a tale about
santaclaws i think you is it the paper is all gone i must
   "I salute you with all affection. T. J. whats the T. J.
fer i found it at the end of a letter in Jefferson's Cor-
respondence truly Jeannette i say that is my name sense
you writ it                               T. J."
   When Mr. Allen received the letter he was as proud
of it as if it had been written him by the recently inaugu-
rated Democratic president. He showed it to several of
his girl friends, including Miss Bradley, who insisted
upon keeping it, saying she wished to send some little
presents the following Christmas.
   At that time he felt the world would have been a bar-
ren waste except for that young lady. The letter passed
into her possession; was kept for several weeks and then
forgotten and misplaced. Memory of the little mountain
girl passed from her mind long before Christmas. John
remembered her, merely as one might a visit from a
dream fairy.



   An hour before John awoke on Christmas morning
his mother came to his room and placing a chair near his
bed, piled upon it his Christmas presents. There was a
cheek from his father, handkerchiefs, neckties, gloves, a
smoking jacket and even a stocking full of nuts and can-
dies from his mother-he was her only child; still her
little boy. There were several small remembrances from
relatives and friends, a box of cigars from Miss Bradley;
and beneath all a parcel in brown wrapping paper and
unadorned by either Christmas seal, holly or ribbon.
   The breakfast gong sounded; it scarcely disturbed his
dreams. Then the house boy came to his room and shook
him saying: "Mars John, it's near nine er'clock, your
maw says git up. Christmas gift !"
   "Christmas morning and a fine day, cool, clear, a
white Christmas! Sammy, you caught me, didn't youI
I will give you my last winter's overcoat; it's as good as
new, or three one dollar bills; which shall it be "
   "Boss, that's a mighty fine overcoat, but I's got ter
git that yaller gal Melinda something. I guess I better
take them three dollars."
   "Well, here it is, Sammy."
   Sammy went down the stairs muttering: "This hayr
nigger ain't no fool, not yit! Unless I gits drunk and
loses this place, I'll git that overcoat for a New Year's
   John, slipping on the new smoking jacket, sat on the
edge of the bed and with the pleased curiosity of a boy of
twelve inspected his presents.
   "Well Pip (meaning 'his father) must be feeling good
this Christmas; his check will come in handy. What
nice things mother buys; she's always thinking of my
comfort. Perfectos from Sally Bradley and strong black
ones; she should know by now I don't like that brand.





That 's the cigar that Jelly Bean ,Stoll smokes. He 's been
there quite a bit lately. I bet she sent the brand I like
to him; got things mixed up. Oh! what a beautiful cigar
case, and from Fannie Scott! She's the hot stuff! That
girl has some taste! She gets better looking every day.
I'll go to see her tomorrow night; but I really should go
to Sally's. Hello! here's a beefsteak or ten pounds of
nails; it looks like it just came from the butcher shop or
the hardware store. No, it's from Big Creek! Where's
Big Creek Oh, I remember that little girl, all legs and
arms. She looked like a mosquito and talked like a
preacher. Well! Well! Well! mittens and yarn socks;
the first I have seen in ten years, and a letter.

                               "Big Creek, Kentucky.
"John M. Allen, Esq.           "December 18th, 1914.
"Dear Friend:
   "It is seven months today since you were here and I
have grown a lot. My birthday was last month, Novem-
ber 7th. I am now thirteen. Miss Smith, the teacher,
says: 'Jeannette at last you know how to write a letter.
No wonder, you have spent half your time trying.'
The dictionary is nearly worn out. I look up every word.
   "Last summer I hunted 'Sang' on the mountain for
three days and when granny went to Hyden to sell the
feathers, the eggs and a basket of chickens, she sold it and
the store man gave her 1 dollar and 60 cents, all mine.
   "Hi Lewis lives up the creek. He has some sheep and
I bought 2 pounds of wool from him with part of my
money. I washed the wool until it was as white as the
whiskers of Santa Claus then I spun it into yarn on
granny's spinning wheel and gave Sim Blair the mail
man two bit to buy me some red and blue dyes and some
I made red and some blue. With the blue I made granny




some mits and grandpa some socks but I kept the red for
your Christmas gift and last night I finished it.
  "I hope you will like your red mittens and red and
black socks. They are just as purty as the red bird that
roosts in the cedar trees near the barn. Granny said
most of the men in the blue grass wore black socks but I
said they is not nice enough for you, so to please every-
body I made them red with black toes and tops. Maybe
my gay little soldier of the cedar trees was the cause I
made them red and black. He has so much to whistle
about even when it is cold and the snow is deep. Just
now he lit on the window sill, knocking off the snow. I
had la good look into his bright black face. How purty
and red his coat was against the snow. If it was not for
him and my dolls and the books you gave me I would be
lonesome. Granny says I am too old to play with dolls;
but she does not know what they whisper to me.
   "How still it is in the winter time. By day we hear
the red bird and the crows; at night if it storms, the
wind; if it is still and snowing, the murmur of the flakes;
if the moon is full a great owl calls; if I wake in the night
and it is dark and still I hear the whispers of either the
angels or of my dolls who sleep with me. One of the
dolls is granny and the other is my mother, and they tell
me what they used to do when they were girls like me.
Sometimes grandpa calls and when I go to him he asks:
'Did you hear that' 'What, grandpa' 'Someone call,
ing, it sounded like your pa.' Grandma says he is going
to die soon. I believe up here we hear voices you cannot
hear where there is so much noise.
   "I know Santa Claus will bring you nice things be-
cause you are so good.
                        "Yours truly,
                                   " JEANNETTE."




   "Well, it is nice to be remembered, even though the
remembrance is impossible. I will put them and the let-
ter away with other treasured and impractical things
that have been sent me by girl friends. I feel sorry for
that lonesome little half-starved thing. She will grow up
into a scrawny, tired-lobking woman; marry some man
who will work her to death. No telling what she might do
with advantages and in another environment."
   After breakfast, he telephoned a book store asking
that a dictionary and some appropriate books be sent to
Miss Jeannette Litman, Big Creek, Kentucky. The clerk
who took the order, having recently read Mark Twain's
Joan of Arc, mailed a copy of that book with the dic-
   A week later Mr. Allen received a letter from Jean-
nette thanking him for the books.
                             Verona, Italy.
                                   Hospital, Ward 11.
                                   December 2, 1917.
Dear Little Jeannette:
   To children like you nothing is unexpected. You be-
lieve witches are abroad on dark nights, while fairies
dance in the moonlight; and that angels protect you from
evil spirits.
   When you grow older experience plucks these pinions
of fancy; you can no longer soar but become an earth
stained materialist, surprised if your plans of the mor-
row miscarry and you find yourself in New York when
you expected to be in Washington.
   A year ago today I was defending a suit against the
Lexington Railway Company; had become reconciled to
law and expected to continue in that comparatively
thrill-less profession. I might have thought by now I



would be married-but I certainly did not think that I
would occupy a bed in Ward 11 of an army hospital at
Verona; so far away that it is impossible to send you
even a book for Christmas.
   Looking backward, it is easy enough to explain why
I am here. Not understanding what war was; not appre-
ciating what a government undertakes that declares war,
I grew impatient at our country's apparent criminal
slowness in getting into the war; and in February, 1917,
went to Montreal and enlisted. In March 1,500 of us were
loaded aboard the Burmah and that transport steamed
a thousand miles down the St. Lawrence to the ocean
and at the end of a two weeks' voyage by the northern
passage, over a, gray fog-burdened ocean by day, a phos-
phorescent billowy one by night, we landed at Liverpool.
   At a cantonment, a few miles from London, we were
subjected to four months' strenuous training; and pre-
sumedly because I had attended a military school for a
year, I was commissioned a lieutenant in the British army.
At the end of the four months our regiment rwas loaded
aboard a transport and many of us did not learn our
destination until we were landed at -, Italy. (We
are not allowed to name the port.)
   We reported to General, the Earl of Cavan, command-
ing the British forces in Italy; and after several weeks'
training were ordered to the Piave front.
   On the 24th of October at the battle of Caporetto, I
experienced the same sensation as though I had been
struck in the chest by a brick, when it was but a small
calibre, soft nosed bullet; and remember having been
loaded into, and it seemed riding for days in, an overfilled
ambulance, just enough alive to have a dull sense of pain
and to feel the concussion of the great guns, though the
reports seemed muffled and far away.





  I lost consciousness; was no longer near the battlefield,
but at your home in the mountains of Kentucky. I heard
no sounds save the murmur of running water and the
song of a wood thrush. All about was the implacable
serenity of the blue sky and the everlasting hills. The
face of nature was unscarred; there were no shell holes,
no splintered trees, no pools of blood, no dead and dying.
   Strange that I should think of you and your mountain
home in the midst of battle, violence and death. Strange
that when I went on my journey into the valley of the
shadow, falling, falling, falling, into a darkness that
seemed to freeze my soul, you, a little girl, were the only
one near. Strange that when I came back to conscious-
ness, it was by way of the creek valley and your home
and you were leading me by the hand. Returning to con-
sciousness I discovered it was not you but a soft-voiced,
patient, white-robed Italian nurse; and I was here. What
brought you so vividly to mind Can you tell It must
have been the contrast between your home as I saw it
that moonlit night and the battle field, with its barbari-
ties, vengeances, and human abominations.
   There is a sharp pain when I breathe or cough. I am
ill, homesick, among strangers, I feel deserted. To you,
a little girl, the acquaintance of a day, some influence
impels me to write, though I have heard nothing since
you sent the red socks and mittens, and wrote thanking
me for the books. Since I have been wounded I have
learned there are many things I may not know.
   Tell me of your own life and picture it in your own
way; and also of your part of Kentucky. Even now I
see your face and hear your voice; it seems nearer than
my mrother's-and she is a wonderful, much-loved




   I do not recover my strength as I should and will be
here for some time-if you care to write.
                         Your friend,
                                  JOHNS M. ALLEN.
Lieutenant John M. Allen,
            Hospital, Ward 11, Verona, Italy.
Dear Mr. Allen:
   For several years I have been waiting, not daring to
hope, but longing for a letter-and it came on Christmas
Eve. I am answering the afternoon of Christmas Day.
   The earth is mantled in white, and crystals of crisp
snow give back myriad rays of dazzling light stolen from
the sun. The cedar trees bend low with their fluffy white
burdens; and the creek is frozen, except the riffle just
above Big Rock. I was just going to say that all life had
taken to itself the silence of the mountain-which is a
speaking silence to its own people-when I saw a hungry
little nut-hatch bobbing up and down the elm; and my
red birds, thinking it time I served their dinner, flew
from the cedar trees and are now whistling for me from
the lilac bush.
   Granny is quite feeble; so she takes a nap each after-
noon in the great rocking chair, with its padded sheep-
skin back and bottom; and from the no