Content of the article: "My memory of Arthur"
I knew hardly anything about Arthur Morgan’s story. I’d read briefly somewhere that he’d met his end from sickness, perhaps earlier than he should. But he was otherwise an unknown. Almost immediately it was understood this was his nature; he was private and independent, and sadly it seemed this was due to a dark history.
He spent as much time as he could wandering alone. He was comfortable in the wild and was very fond of the area along the Dakota river near Donner Falls or Calumet Ravine. He would spend days at a time hunting, camping, and exploring there. He’d turn up randomly at Horseshoe Overlook and would help out the others at camp if it seemed urgent, but as soon as he could get away he’d disappear again without warning.
One day while trying to be helpful, but in a moment of uncharacteristic clumsiness, his horse was stolen from him by a stranger just outside of Strawberry. In hindsight this seemed to be a catalyzing moment. From then on he was much, much less trusting of others. And he became best described as mean.
His attention and focus turned toward taking things from others at any cost, and vengeance to any who got in his way. There was a lot of vengeance. And for a time it seemed to be the right path for him. And he saw that a way out of the madness was within reach.
Until, suddenly it wasn’t. And he found himself with a trail of blood behind him, from a plan based on selfishness and greed gone-wrong. He was left stranded on the shores of Van Horn with nothing. And once more defaulted to taking what he wanted for himself, just the same as that stranger outside of Strawberry had done to him. Without knowing what he might find of his friends that he’d neglected, he rode south back to Shady Belle.
The air felt different without the familiar weight of his shotgun. His pace was intentionally slow. Throughout the night and into morning, for the first time in awhile he was again comforted by the beauty of the outdoors around him, and he felt blessed to be alive. But he was regretful and shaken. His own choices had disappointed him.
He grew sick, and withdrew again returning to North Ambarino looking for something familiar that he’d lost somewhere in his past. He was directionless, uncertain of himself. He befriended some people that in a different life he might have grown old with; a veteran, Hamish, and a widower, Charlotte. But they both reminded him in some way of what he once could have had with Mary. He realized there was only one thing that was worthwhile with the time he had left. And so he returned to Beaver Hollow with a final sense of purpose.
Years after he was gone, I returned to Beaver Hollow on my way to look for Hamish and Charlotte to say goodbye, and in the daylight retraced Arthur’s final ride across the Kamassa River, and up into the mountains. I waited through the night and watched the sunrise the same as Arthur had, and hoped that in the end he didn’t feel totally alone.
Somehow Charles knew just how much peace Arthur found in the area around Donner Falls. I waited there too at his resting spot, this time to watch the sun set. Then I turned, and found my way back down to the river banks of the Dakota and followed it south.
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