Recollections, 1960: Samuel Elm


A great many people made the mistake of believing that Samuel Elm’s silence meant he was dim-witted. This was far from the truth.

He was a bright man, and one who believed if he didn’t have anything worthwhile to say, then he shouldn’t say anything at all. Unfortunately for us, he never spoke enough.

A true believer in the Stoic mindset, he rarely read more than the work of Marcus Aurelius and a few of the other Stoic authors. Samuel spoke both Latin and Greek, and he could write in them as well. Each day he could be seen walking to the post office to gather up his mail, which always included one or two packages. These contained books in need of translation, and so he earned his money doing just that. Generations of schoolchildren used his translations to further their own knowledge of the classic writers.

While Samuel never ceased his work, he did slow down a bit. There were only so many publishers in the world who needed his particular skill set. By the time he reached 85 in 1909, he kept mostly to himself, conversing with Sif, his raven, and with myself when the spirit moved him.

On August 1, as we sat in his kitchen, drinking coffee, Sif called to him, and Samuel stood up to peer out the window. I waited, mug in hand, for Samuel to inform me as to what was occurring.

For a moment, he stood there, then he walked to his fireplace, took his rifle down from above the fireplace, and when I looked at him, he smiled and shook his head.

I watched him step out onto the porch, raise the rifle to his shoulder, and then he squeezed off three quick shots. He remained perfectly still, rifle still tucked in place, then he fired twice more. Sif let out a sharp raucous cry, and Samuel nodded. He walked back into the house, reloaded the weapon and placed it above the fireplace again.

When he sat down, he smiled and spoke two words.

“Gods’ Hollow.”

I nodded. There was nothing else to say.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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