Four or five mornings a week I take a walk through the forest. Walnut, white oak, hickory and cedar trees always catch my eye, I don’t know why. There is a beauty in nature that man cannot match. The quiet of the morning just before the dawn is a moment of peace and if I am lucky enough to be in it I am lucky indeed. I walk the land and I understand why the Lakota and other Indians have fought so hard. I am no woodsman who knows the types of tree simply by touch and sight. I still appreciate the beauty inherent in the timber.

Last eve a traveling missionary stopped at my inn. He was quick to condemn my drink from my dinner table and then foolish enough to go on to complain that he was being served by a colored woman, my wife. The fool then went on to condemn the Indian for cowardice and the barbarity of the War of the Rebellion. I asked him if he had served and he was quite proud to say he had not. I told him if he was going to take that attitude with the Lakota he would find his scalp decorating a lodge pole. If he was damned fool enough to insult me while under my roof then had best leave while no blade resided between his ribs. My Mina was quick to see that the man had stepped too far over the line and that I was quite serious. A man of the cloth is due some respect, when he earns it, but this man continued to draw breath only upon the grace of my gracious wife. He protested that he was to sleep in the inn; the fool did not know I owned the place. He left my place of business with my boot placed squarely upon his backside and the very clear understanding that if I ever saw him again I would take an ax handle to him. I believe he understood that I was serious and was quick to retrieve his horse from my stable.

There were several ministers in my regiment during the War of Rebellion. All were good men who I never knew to complain about their service. The Captain of my Company was a minister by trade and a good man. Over the years I have known many men of the cloth, some were good men and some not worth the trouble to bury. Ministers and men of the cloth in general are just like any other profession with both good men and bad along with all the shades between.

I cannot abide a man who believes he is holier than thou. I am not a good man, I do not claim to be one. I will not have a man who wouldn’t make a pimple on the backside of any fighting man speak ill of them. That, unfortunately, is civilization. Hard men carve civilization from the wilderness and weak men with money come and take it from them. They tear down the trees to build their churches; I would have more respect for them if they would simply worship under those trees and move on.

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