The Doctor and the Snake

24 May

dec1897 letter

Summit, NJ
Dec 6, 1897

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell

My Dearest Ruth:

Unfortunately, I did not receive either of your letters the day you intended I should
for the same old reason of nobody having called at the P.O. for the afternoon mail.
However, they arrived in good time, so long as they reached me finally and very grateful I
am to you, my Dearest, for them.

How glad I would have been tonight to have come home to be met at the threshold
by you, Dear, and to have had in prospect one of those happy evenings together, of which
we have had so many.

But setting aside the imaginative; your loving letter awaited me and I found in it, if
not Ruthy herself, the very truest exemplification of her admirable traits.

In reading about the soldiers, I longed to have been with you when you made your
inspection of the ranks. Am sorry the sharpshooter on the turret of the fort succumbed in
the weather of the last few days. I hope you were his guardian angel to the extent of
restoring him to his dignity and position. It was rather cruel of you, and short sighted to
try to drown a couple of the gallant fellows. The idea of thinking such a thing possible with
wooden soldiers. In this connection, I cannot help thinking of “ivory soap.”  

I heard a true incident told by a doctor which comes near equaling some of Bobs:

This certain physician, while on a ramble in the woods, one day came upon a snake that
by its peculiar actions seemed to be in great pain. True to his calling, the Doctor at once
was interested, and the snake submitted gracefully to his examination to ascertain the
cause of the serpents torture. He found it to be a very long thorn and quickly withdrew it
without the use of surgical instruments, much to the relief and apparent pleasure of the
snake. The seeming intelligence and affectionately grateful disposition of the reptile
induced the M.D. to take his new acquaintance home with him, and in the course of time it
became a great pet and remained in the doctors office all day and at night was given the
liberty of the house. One night the doctor was awakened by strange noises down stairs
and convinced that burglars were ransacking the house, armed himself and went
downstairs. Upon reaching the dining room the cause of the commotion was apparent.
There was a man (burglar) and the snake was tightly entwined around his legs and the tail
of the serpent was out a window rattling for a policeman.

Well Ruth, work keeps up at the office and I am still very busy, but hope to get away
early Saturday and if you would like to, meet me at the 3:20 from NY, if the weather
permits. Shall be very happy to have you do so. Have been bothered some for the past few
days with this old cold of mine. Not the cough, but disagreeable feelings in the head. It
made me kind of sick all over and was glad to get to bed Tuesday night just after eating a

It troubles me less tonight and I feel much better. Am taking medicine every three
hours which ought to break it up soon.

Now my Dear, Precious Ruth, I must say goodnight to you for it is getting late and
there are some things I must do before retiring. I thank you very much for the kisses and I
am going to enjoy them all just before going to bed. I send you many in return and still
have thousands upon thousands left for you all through life.

Tomorrow will be a busy day and will go quickly. Then will come Saturday and with
it our delightful holiday afternoon and Sunday.

Ruth, my lovely Ruth, I understand you perfectly and all your letter of Monday
contained sank deeply into my heart and there is held sacred. Had I been with you
Monday, Dearest, all I could have done would have been to have drawn you to my heart
and kissed you again and again. This world is far too rude and rough in its treatment of my
Ruth, and when I have you in my arms Pet, I feel you are away from all of it. Perhaps it is
presumptuous of me to think so, but I cannot help having that feeling.

Once more goodnight my happy Ruth and one last kiss.

I am Yours


Pardon failings of this letter written in haste.



Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Family History


Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “The Doctor and the Snake

  1. Theresa Casteel

    May 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Interesting story about the snake. I doubt you’d actually ever find a ‘loyal’ snake like that. 🙂
    Reptiles are not known for their bonding abilities; especially ones with rattles on their tails!
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

    • Jenny

      May 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      Yes, one of Will’s stranger stories for sure 🙂 Thanks for visiting!


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