Beneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

04 Apr


Summit, NJ
Oct 6, 1896

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell, % Mr A R Holbert, Lawton, Orange Co, NY

My Dear Ruth:

This has been a very long day for me, not tediously so, but as I look back it seems
like a long time since morning. It is now a few minutes past ten and I have just finished tea
or supper rather, so you see it has been a long day for me since 6.20 this morning, at least
so far as hours and minutes go.

Although it seems proper that I should spend the remainder of the 24 hours in
repose, I cannot refrain from stealing a few minutes from the slumber account and add it to
that of wakefulness, which I send to you in some of what you have chosen to name
silliness, and with which my heart is overflowing.

Permit me to thank you for the intensely interesting letter I received from you last
night. Like the summer sun, in the morning, your letter’s brightness shown in me for a long
time before I received it. You, having told me you would write on Sunday, made things ever
so bright on Monday, so happily expectant was I that evening would bring to me that loving

It does me good to read your pretty description of your trip thus far. From your clear
picture of the country you have passed through, I could almost imagine myself with you.
Well so I was, and am now, at least some indescribable part of me is, and it is that faculty, I
guess, which makes it so easy for me to follow you in your picturesque descriptions.
I can’t state fully my appreciation of that programme you enclosed with your letter. I
can only appreciate it for the fact that it came form you. As for any other virtue in itself, I
could not find it, being a very poor student of German.

The picture at lower end of it did awaken some pleasant recollections. The figure
sitting “Beneath the spreading chestnut tree,” (I’m glad you told me it was a chest nut tree,
for I wouldn’t have otherwise known), reminded me very much of the Old Hymn we sung
not long ago, about the “Wayworn Traveler in the tattered garments clad, struggling up the
mountain” etc., although in the picture the priest is taking a rest and we have no
knowledge of the hero of our song having taken a rest until he reached the goal. But
priests are lazy fellows, anyhow, and I suppose he will get to the top finally only it will take
him longer.

My dear Ruth, I would like to say a great deal more to you tonight but on account of
the late hour and my sleepy eyes, will have to defer it until another time. I’m very sorry the
weather isn’t brightening up, but what’s the use of complaining, it could be worse and we
have to take it as it comes.

At any rate, we have our personal sunshine, which is not affected by celestial
aspect, and that bright sunshine of our love will cast its glow about we two, no matter what
the outside conditions may be,

So my sweet ideal, I will bid you good night, not forgetting to ask God to take care of
my Ruth always.

Very sincerely yours,


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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Family History


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