What is the lamest excuse you've ever given for something you've done?
I do not believe in giving excuses, and looking back at my life, I cannot think of one. I always stood behind my actions, admitted my mistakes, not with guilt, but as tactical analysis. A gentleman may be wrong, but he surely does not lie. Giving an excuse, without sincerely regarding it as a reason, is lying. I calculate what is best, and there is no fault in error, simply learning for the next time.
Nevertheless, there is one occasion where I surely fear I fooled myself.
There was a time when I did the less brave and loyal thing, deeming it wise, and I have regretted it every day since. I do dwell on it and, as I should, admit it freely.
It was that terrible day at Iron Springs, on our vengeance ride after Morgan was killed. True, we were behind Wyatt - Texas Jack, Turkey Creek Johnson, Sherman McMasters, and I. Warren was so far behind he did not even take part in the fiasco. No, that is an excuse.
But we will leave Wyatt clearly in the lead, for that at least was the case. When the cowboys - as I will call them for others have done so - opened fire, we turned to retreat. All but Wyatt, who had dismounted. Did I think it prudent, rational? Perhaps I did, but perhaps I was fooling myself. Did I act automatically, on instinct? It would be so easy to say so, but that is surely excuse. I am still ashamed I did not stand at my friend's side. It was my whole raison d'être. It was everything, and I failed. As we retreated - routed perhaps, for I am happy to be hard on myself - Texas Jack's horse was shot, pinning him beneath it. So very sorry for my weakness, I did ride back through the line of fire, and I am proud to say I did save his life, but. But! In truth, Wyatt was taking the fire at that time. And yes, he let loose his own guns, yes, he rode back to us, having stood, all honour, all the discipline and steel of his character brought to bear. He was in trouble, his gunbelt slipped over his hips, pinning him, yet he fought. And when he did return to us, unharmed for a miracle, his clothes surely bore concrete witness to the rain of lead. Which I had fled. And ashamed, I offered then, far too late, having already lost, to go back and fight.
I offered. Was that offer in itself an excuse? Was I sincere? I was surely sorry, surely ashamed, but was I prepared to advance, in truth? Wyatt later said his troops had rallied belatedly, but he was being kind. He did not mention it, save as he had to, did not dwell on my failure. He knew, as a friend, as a comrade in arms, as... family... that it would embarrass us both. And later, writing long after I was dead, he said so. My friend, who I had failed, his own kindness and consideration pure and uncompromised.
And I think of my very papa even, in the war with Jackson, of the heroes of my childhood, and I am ashamed. I knew right away that I had done the wrong thing. Did it come between us - that terrible day? If it did, I take that to myself also, for he held nothing against me. But perhaps I held it against myself that I had failed and did not deserve our friendship as I had before.Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 596.
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Nulli Virtute Secundus