"For heaven's sake, stop it."

“You are our last hope, Dear Friend,” whispered Major Whittlesey, “else all’s lost.”

The flyer that the battalion commander was addressing sat quietly on a perch of broken timbers, nodding his head. He was a Brit by birth but had been attached to the communications group of the American 77th Infantry Division out of necessity. A shell exploded a dozen meters from the pair and showered them with rock and mud.

The 77th was trapped by a German division at the base of woody precipice and already had suffered the loss of 300 men. When the command learned of their predicament, they fired shells randomly towards the Argonne, hoping to somehow clear a route for their escape. But the shells instead became a deadly barrage, whistling atop the beleaguered soldiers. Word had to be sent to redirect the fire.

The messenger took off through smoke and screams.

As he gained altitude and flew slowly over the enemy combatants, several sharpshooters took aim at him. He was hit in the eye. And then in the breast. And then a bullet ripped through his leg and left it dangling.

He faltered and began to dip, nearly going into a tailspin. But miraculously, he regained control and steered clear of the battlefield. He made it to his destination and fell unconscious onto his back, the important dispatch wrapped tightly around his separated leg. The note read: "We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven's sake, stop it."

The remaining 200 men of the division were thus saved.

When he eventually died of his wounds the next year on June 13, 1919, Cher Ami, with his handmade wooden leg, became one of the most distinguished heroes of WWI – as a carrier pigeon.


"Everyone is more or less mad on one point"

“Good morning, Sam,” Rud said in a voice uncharacteristically cheerful for him since his arrival in San Francisco on May 29th, 1889. He was expecting some good news on this morning.

A door-boy was sitting at a desk, applying a coat of polish to a pair of wing-tips. He snapped up from his labor when he heard his name called.

“Yassir, what can I...”Sam began, but his voice caught in his throat when his eyes met Rud’s.

“Is your proprietor available?” Rud asked, jokingly formal.

Sam dropped his gaze to the floor as he replied, “Well... sir... I... I think your story is really good.”

“What? You’ve read it, have you?”

“Well sir, not exactly all of it. I been workin’ on it for five days now and I don’t, well I don’t read that fast...”

“Five days? I dropped it off only a week ago! Didn’t you give it to Mr. Hearst?” Rud was flabbergasted.

Tears formed at the corners of Sam’s eyes as he explained. “Well sir... they gave it back to me the day after they got it. They said to tell you not to bother makin’ no more submissions.” Sam started breathing a little harder as he continued, “But I think it’s the best story I ever read.”

He bent down below his desk to pick up the manuscript sitting by his shine-kit and handed it carefully, almost reverently, to the gentleman. The margins of it were covered with smudges of black polish.

Rud noticed the handwritten note from the editor of the San Francisco Examiner that was clipped to it. It read: "I'm sorry Mr Kipling, but you don't know how to use the English language."

Two years later, Rudyard Kipling’s The Light That Failed would be published, its author already becoming known the world-round.


Wonderful Things

Nature had thrust him into the world miserably incomplete. Uneducated, it was only through his stubbornness that his life had at least been interesting, remarkable even.

Forced to resign from his government post, he spent years struggling as a small-time antiquities dealer, selling drawings and watercolors on the side. Through his periods of doubt and difficulty, he somehow managed to maintain the support of the wealthy 5th Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert, that kept him busy traveling for months at a time.

And yet, at forty-eight years old, Howard seemed destined for obscurity. His benefactor was growing bored with the lack of successes and lately seemed more interested in his racehorses than in continuing their relationship. “Only one more year,” he said. “After that, I’ve got to find another hole into which I can throw my money.”

A few months later, on November 26, 1922, the Earl arrived in response to Howard’s telegraph regarding a possible discovery. He had brought his daughter and some friends with him, determined to at least make the trip a worthwhile vacation in the likely event that nothing else came of it. The little group met up with their host and huddled together by a decorative wall at the bottom of a flight of steps. A servant went chipping away at the upper left corner of the wall with a small chisel until a hole was made, large enough for an arm to reach through. He moved aside and Howard peered into the opening.

“Well,” the Earl asked, “can you see anything?”

By the light of a dim candle, Howard Carter whispered, “Yes... I see wonderful things...”

The discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen, in an area given up on by most experienced Egyptologists, continues to provide the world with “wonderful things” to this day.


The Wrangler

“Aristotle isn’t scripture,” the student said to himself. “Lord, I want to believe... teach me to believe...”

Watching from the upper gallery, his eyes followed two acolytes as they emerged from the sacristy and methodically began preparing for Mass. One cupped his hands over the taper at the end of a long brass lighting stick and followed his partner up the steps of the massive pulpit.

The teenager took his eyes off of the acolytes for a moment to look more closely at the pulpit. Nine reliefs were represented on it, beginning with the Nativity and ending in the Crucifixion. One of the depictions always troubled him, more so than even the portrayal of the Flagellation. There was a certain sympathy he always felt for those infants persecuted during the Massacre of the Holy Innocents and his mind began to drift, wondering how Herod could have been so barbarous.

He was snapped back to the present, sometime around February 26, 1583, when he noticed the acolytes standing at the edge of the rostrum. One leaned forward with arms outstretched, using a hook to pull the heavy chandelier above them a little closer so the other could light the candles.

When it was finally burning brightly, the chandelier was released and it swung freely. Back and forth.

Back and forth.

Something clicked in his mind as he stared at the swinging lights. It began to reach the center and as it did the swings slowed. He placed a finger over the artery in his neck and started to count. These observations made on the oscillation of the pendulum would later prove invaluable in the development of a more precise clock.

A soft murmur issued from young Galileo Galilei’s heart as he began his journey down the roads of faith and science.