Fact of the matter, I wasn’t to feel decent until I was dressed in my Sunday best – yellow, high-button shoes, California pants, polka-dot necktie and, yes, a derby (even though a hat on in the house was looked down on as ill-mannered to the extreme). The article went like this:
Dallas, Texas, March 28, 1893. Beautiful, refined, talented and winsome Miss Melissy Mitchell, late of Milford Female Institute, and presently wild West Texas’ most prominent and promising cattle princess, is currently favoring our fair city with her most alluring presence – strengthening old ties and securing new ones right and left.
As if her unlimited charms were not sufficient bait for scores of suitors, amongst whom are the most prominent young bachelors and widowers in the state, she is also niece and heir of the Right Honorable Senator Jefferson Q. McAndrews, an influential member of the state legislature as well as one of West Texas’ most prominent stock men.
Needless to say, Miss Melissy herself alone was sufficient thereof, thereafter to ensnare my whole heart; to enslave my total being. Wealth, blood ties, social standing, political connections were as sounding brass. As a consequence, from that day forward, not a three a.m. rolled around that I did not roll out with an incurable case of the “Go west young man, go west” fever.
Add to this fatal affliction of the heart a mortal love sickness, throw in ten thousand gnats, a couple hundred chiggers, add a impossible mule, mix together in 103 degrees deep East Texas temperature, and you have got yourself what I wound up with. Then, develop a sudden horrible pain in the upper right arm that leaves it dangling helpless at your side, and you will have yourself a double dose of what I wound up with that early May eighth morning in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and ninety three.
The affliction Papa diagnosed was a result of a clean break between shoulder and elbow, administered by Jasper’s right hind foot, which I maintain to this day was a lighter blow than what Cupid struck me the night previous. In fact, I still maintain that the Cupid lick was what done it in the first place. At any rate, I was forced to take an hour off while Papa set the bone. Worse yet, this forced Papa to force John Wesley to drive Jasper the rest of the day, whilst I plowed one-handed. And to borrow a expression from the Book of Psalms (90:4), a day in the presence of little John Wesley is as a thousand years. But to give the little dickens his due, he accomplished for me what me and the Lord Himself hadn’t been able to swing. He had inherited Papa’s brains, but seldom did his mind run along the same channel as Papa’s. More in the line of Jasper’s. Yet they were in no way related that I know of. Papa sizes up little John Wesley like this: “Thy thoughts dwelleth too long and too often on things of the flesh instead of the spirit.” By thees, thous, and thys, Papa hoped to sound enough like Jesus speaking to persuade the lad to mend his ways. But I doubt he would have mended them if the Lord had stepped up and delivered the message in person.
Be that as it was, I loved little John Wesley like a brother. Which he was. And still is for that matter. Now, lest you think I think more highly of myself than I ought, I throw this in to make my story more meaningful. Papa admonished the lad thusly, “Little John Wesley, why can’t you be the obedient, respectful child Basil Horace is – unspotted, unstained from the world…”