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What Happened to Me

La Salle Corbell Pickett

118 pages
Library of Alexandria
There are some events with which we have become so familiar by report that we can scarcely believe they did not happen within our own recollection. Thus it is with my advent into earthly existence. Not long before the time at which I was expected to arrive in this vale of thorns and flowers my father's only brother was seriously ill. It became necessary for my father to accompany him to Philadelphia to consult an eminent surgeon. For months it had been definitely settled that I was to be a boy, for all was grist that came to my father's mill. No shadow of a doubt of my manhood clouded the family mind. My health had been drunk at the clubs and in the homes, and especially at the neighborhood functions, the fox hunts, and the name of Thomas La Salle had already been given me. "L'homme propose et Dieu surprend," and so did I, for, most unexpectedly, I made my arrival in the middle of the night, the middle of the week, the middle of the month, almost the middle of the year, near the middle of the century, and in the middle of a hail-storm. Confident that I was a boy, the family had all hoped that I would be considerate enough to postpone my coming at least until my father's return, but with perverse discourtesy and want of filial regard, I would not wait. Of course, there was no one ready to receive me. I have borne the blame for this untimely début, but it was really the fault of the barn which, in the early part of the evening, had caught fire and been burned to the ground. The excitement had passed and the sleep of exhaustion that follows disrupting events had settled over all when again there was confusion; this time owing to my inconsiderate haste to present myself. The keys to the stable door could not be found. There was no time to hunt for them, so the hinges were pried off and Fannie Kemble, the fleetest and safest horse in the stable, was hurriedly called from her dreams. My young uncle, afterwards a gallant Confederate officer, Colonel J. J. Phillips, was routed out and, barefoot and mounted upon the horse without saddle or bridle, rode post haste for our family physician, treasuring the grievance to reproach me with in after years when I would give evidence of a too impetuous disposition. In my eagerness to fly to the ills I knew not of, I would not await the arrival of the medical man and, spurning his assistance, defying them all, made my "ingress into life, naked and bare."