PROLOGUE and CHAPTER I
Born on July 13, 1801 in Canada, the son of an English foot soldier.
I, William Featherstone, shakily ink my pen, early on this morning of the twenty-fifth day of February, in the year of eighteen hundred and eighty-eight, with mixed purpose and aged hand. I pray the prudently written words about to be spilt upon this journal lying blank before me, can somehow bridge the chasm too long existing between the offspring of my daughter I left behind in Tennessee and my children in Texas, for my blood flows through all your veins. Perhaps the words to come will reveal as much to myself as to those of you who read them when I am gone.
Aware that my sun is sinking low and that I have reached the end of my worldly pursuits, I have a few regrets. I have only one move left in me, that great mysterious exodus just over the horizon, so close now I expect I could reach it in a day or two, if I hurry. But I am weary, and choose instead to drag my feet a bit, to bide my time. I need to examine the choices I made in this life, ponder those I did not. I spend much time lately wondering about the role Fate played in it all, and whether the choices I made were ever really my own.
Just as I am being drawn away, I feel compelled to record my existence on this planet, and to expose myself, the good and the bad — to you, all my offspring, wherever you are, desiring, of this I am certain, to know and perhaps vindicate your own history.
My eyes, though dimmed, have seen all of what humanity has to offer, the best and the worst — the kindness of gentle folk and the brutality of the devil’s own. I have known good fortune, terrible loss, hardship, and recovery. Always recovery, for I am a man of strong will and resilience. I come from good people, as well as I can remember, although I, myself, have not always behaved accordingly. My greatest regret is my act of desertion, not of my country — no, for that I have no compunction — but the abandonment of my own, not once but twice, lies heavily on my heart.
My youthful quest for new adventure, shadowed later by a driven need to escape my own shameful past, drove me onward still, chasing that elusive ideal called freedom. Ill-conceived actions born out of anguish and fueled by rage set in motion deadly conflict and ruin. The bloody adversity left in my wake haunts me relentlessly, even after all these years. I fear the consequences of my mistakes will revisit you, my descendants, long after I am gone.
Perhaps old age is affecting my sensibility, leaving me superstitious, irrational, but I implore you, heed this warning: be knowledgeable of the sins of your ancestor, lest history repeat itself.
A Drummer Boy
Continue reading Choices: Prologue and Chapter 1