News of the World

Just finished reading this lovely little story by Paulette Jiles (2016, HarperCollins). It is set in 19th century Texas and concerns an elderly man, a veteran of the American Civil War, who travels the state reading newspaper articles to paying audiences. At one stop Captain Kidd takes on the job of returning a 10-year-old girl to her remaining family. The child, who four years earlier was captured by a band of Kiowa raiders who killed her parents and sister, has been raised by the Kiowa, speaks no English and has no wish to return ‘home’.

The point of this post is to share a quote which struck me between the eyes – Captain Kidd has been wounded and is calming himself by thinking of his time as an army messenger, a runner:

Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we just have one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.

I’m pleased to say that, unlike so many novels, the book has a happy ending, at least the happiest it could be given that time doesn’t stand still.