This is a story of Kentucky, in a settlement known as "Kingdom Come." It is a life rude, semi-barbarous; but natural and honest, from which often springs the flower of civilization."Chad," the "little shepherd" did not know who he was nor whence he came—he had just wandered from door to door since early childhood, seeking shelter with kindly mountaineers who gladly fathered and mothered this waif about whom there was such a mystery—a charming waif, by the way, who could play the banjo better that anyone else in the mountains.
glory, calmly watching the mist part, like the waters, for the land, and the day break, with one phrase, "Let there be light," ever in his mind--for Chad knew his Bible. And, most often, in soft splendor, trailing cloud-mist, and yellow light leaping from crest to crest, and in the singing of birds and the shining of leaves and dew--there was light.
But that morning there was a hush in the woods that Chad understood. On a sudden, a light wind scurried through the trees and showered the mistdrops down. The smoke from his fire shot through the low undergrowth, without rising, and the starting mists seemed to clutch with long, white fingers at the tree-tops, as though loath to leave the safe, warm earth for the upper air. A little later, he felt some great shadow behind him, and he turned his face to see black clouds marshalling on either flank of the heavens and fitting their black wings together, as though the retreating forces of the night were gathering for a last sweep against the east. A sword flas
A highly romanticized version of old Kentucky
An orphan in the hills of Kentucky wanders down to the Blue Grass country, finds he is the long lost relative of one of the local gentry, learns the chivalry and good manners of Southern culture ....
The only problem is, in the author's attempt to glorify southern tradition the book becomes a parody of itself as he then attempts to justify slavery as well.
This is the version of southern history where owners understand the limitations of, the other race, and yet generously feed and house them, while allowing them to work. Where slaves are sleek, healthy, well-fed and grateful for their generous masters. Where slaves cheerfully answer to names like Snowball. And yet amidst the bliss of the slaves, hangs the dark cloud of being freed by well-intentioned but misinformed northerners forever destroying their happy, care-free lives.
A morality tale steeped in bigotry
My father gave me a copy of this book when I was a mere lad of eight. Quite naturally I found the title somewhat unmanly and resolved never to read such a fey book. But one night, when I had reached the venerable age of ten, in a not unusual fit of insomnia, I took it up. I was captivated and sat up all night reading. As my father came up the stairs the following morning to get me and brother up, I was finishing the final chapter. I wept as Chad sent his old dog Jack home before riding to the West. My father sat beside my bed and told me he had reacted the same way when his mother had given him the book in 1931. He too had resolved never to read it, but had a few years later. The novel created a bond between us, one that will never be sundered. I have now read that book at least a dozen times and continue to urge it upon my own sons who can't get beyond the title. I hope someday they will take it up, for it is a book that transcends generations and drills to the heart of the divisions that still threaten this republic of ours a century and a half after the Civil War. It is a classic American tale, at once a coming-of-age story, a study of a time long past, a tale full of a hearfelt love for a paradise now lost to our empty culture of consumerism, electronic alienation, and spiritual despair. I would urge anyone who still reads to pick it up and enter a world of honor and betrayal, beauty and horror, chivalry and savagery. As a postscript, I found a first edition of The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come in a bookstore near the Chesapeake and am harboring it until I give it to my father for his 85th birthday.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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