The Trail of The Sword by Gilbert Parker
My Dear Father:
Once, many years ago, in a kind of despair, you were impelled to say that I would "never be anything but a rascally lawyer." This, it may be, sat upon your conscience, for later you turned me gravely towards Paley and the Thirty-nine Articles; and yet I know that in your deepest soldier's heart, you really pictured me, how unavailingly, in scarlet and pipe-clay, and with sabre, like yourself in youth and manhood. In all I disappointed you, for I never had a brief or a parish, and it was another son of yours who carried on your military hopes. But as some faint apology--I almost dare hope some recompense for what must have seemed wilfulness, I send you now this story of a British soldier and his "dear maid," which has for its background the old city of Quebec, whose high ramparts you walked first sixty years ago; and for setting, the beginning of those valiant fightings, which, as I have heard you say, "through God's providence and James Wolfe, gave England her best possession."
You will, I feel sure, quarrel with the fashion of my campaigns, and be troubled by my anachronisms; but I beg you to remember that long ago you gave my young mind much distress when you told that wonderful story, how you, one man, "surrounded" a dozen enemies, and drove them prisoners to headquarters. "Surrounded" may have been mere lack of precision, but it serves my turn now, as you see. You once were--and I am precise here--a gallant swordsman: there are legends yet of your doings with a crack Dublin bully. Well, in the last chapter of this tale you shall find a duel which will perhaps recall those early days of this century, when your blood was hot and your hand ready. You would be distrustful of the details of this scene, did I not tell you that, though the voice is Jacob's the hand is another's. Swordsmen are not so many now in the army or out of it, that, among them, Mr. Walter Herrim Pollock's name will have escaped you: so, if you quarrel, let it be with Esau; though, having good reason to be grateful to him, that would cause me sorrow.
My dear father, you are nearing the time-post of ninety years, with great health and cheerfulness; it is my hope you may top the arch of your good and honourable life with a century key-stone.
Believe me, sir,
Your affectionate son,
15th September, 1894,