Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Christmas Present to a Horse

unattributed story from The Youth's Companion magazine, July 10, 1924. Digitized by Doug Frizzle, Feb. 2013.

WHO in the world is Demas?" the senior officer must have said as he read the address on the package that had just arrived. It was during the war,—so we learned from Maj. Gen. Sir George Younghusband in Forty Years a Soldier,—and the senior officer was with the British forces stationed at Cairo, Egypt.
He read the address again—"Demas, care of Senior Officer"—and then opened the parcel. It contained one pound of sugar and one pound of biscuits. There were also two letters in it. One was from a woman and read:
Dear Demas:
This is to wish you a Happy Christmas, and be a brave good old horse, and after the war come home to us.
The other was in a child's handwriting and read:
Dear Demas,—
A very Happy Christmas and New Year. I send you some sugar and biscuits for a Christmas present. Fight bravely and after come home for Hurst Show in July.
From your loving Joan.

Some months before when the remount officers were collecting every available horse for the war it seems that they visited a little home in Lancashire, where there was a treasured hunter named Demas. He was so called apparently as a result of an old adventure, when he and his rider had parted company over a fence, and the horse had gone home. "Demas hath forsaken me."
The people of the little home, far from resenting their pet horse's being taken, were proud that he could go and fight for old England. Through the kindness of the remount officer the mistress of the horse and her little girl had heard that Demas had been drafted to Egypt. So at Christmas they sent the little parcel with their loving wishes and hoped that by some miracle it might reach their dear old horse.
Now horses are bought by the thousand in war and are drafted here and there and entirely lose their identity. But by some strange chance Demas retained his name; wherever drafted he was not merely a number but also Demas. He was a nice horse and well mannered; so it came about that he was chosen to be a general officer's charger, and that officer, General Prendergast, happened to be in Cairo that Christmas. Thus Demas got his sugar and biscuits, and in his name a letter was written thanking his big mistress and his little mistress in England, and, yes, he would come back to them after he had won the war!

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.