I recently received a strange and interesting package. Within a crate addressed to me was this mirror purchased from a firm in New York. It is splendidly etched and beautiful to look upon. Such a thing seems out of place in my simple tavern but beauty is always welcome. When I received the mirror I had some question as to how and where it should be displayed. I had some thought of placing it upon the wall in our common room for my Mrs. Mina and her friends to admire but she insisted it had been a gift to me and my tavern and that was where it belonged.
A carpenter who was staying with us created the frame in exchange for a month of room and board. I am quite happy with the work he did as I believe it complements the mirror in a splendid fashion. The craftsmanship is of the kind I can fully appreciate and admire.
In with the crate was a well written thank you from a young man, Timothy Walker. I only vaguely remember him and likely would not recognize him in a crowd of one. I do remember the incident he spoke of. He was a freshly captured Rebel cavalryman and I was in charge of a detail escorting this young man and some of his fellow prisoners to the rear where he and others would be placed on a train bound for Rock Island. Upon arrival in Chattanooga members of the quartermasters department heaped abuse upon the prisoners. I have no doubt the verbal abuse would have rapidly escalated to physical had I not put a stop to it. I have never had time for those who avoid the sharp end mistreating those who have looked upon the work of the Angel of Death. This group of prisoners were the enemy but they were men who had the courage to face the enemy across the field of battle. The mirror was his thanks for my doing the honorable thing of protecting prisoner.
Young Timothy did not long suffer the POW camp at Rock Island. He gladly took the opportunity to join the US Army and became a “Galvanized Yankee.” He was shipped west to form part of the garrisons in the west where he faced Lakota and Cheyenne warriors instead of US rifles and artillery.
After the war and his discharge he went home and took up life as a salesman. After a few years he made good and built a family that he could be proud of. He also felt that he owed me a debt and spent some time seeking me out. It took him some time to discover if I survived the war and where I had gone after. When he learned that I had opened a tavern he decided to thank me in a very material way. I can say that I believe I merely did my duty as what any good soldier is supposed to do. But this young man thought otherwise and believed I deserved a thank you for doing my duty.
I admit that I sometimes stand in front of the mirror and study my reflection wondering if I truly deserve such. The mirror is a thing of grace and beauty and it will hold a cherished place upon the wall in my tavern so long as I live.