‘Shot of Short’ #34: Telegraph Dog by Mark Twain

Title: Telegraph Dog by Mark Twain
Date Read: 02 May 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009)

Briefly: A cavalry company find themselves under siege on a small island surrounded by Indians. As their numbers lessen and their situation becomes more and more dire, a saviour in the ranks begins to show himself. But it turns out that it may not be the saviour that they first thought it was.

Afterthoughts: Although I’m quite a fan of Mark Twain, the thought of reading a story focused around the theme of cowboys cavalry ‘n’ injuns didn’t enthrall me. Thankfully this turns out to be quite a good story, one that holds the tension throughout – think Zulu Dawn but on another continent, and with a canine addition. I wasn’t too enamoured with the ending, but not all stories have to end on a happy note, although in reality this one seems to touch both ends of the emotional spectrum.

Notable Quote: “At the end of three weeks the soldiers were in sorry case. Their commander was lying in the protection of a pit hollowed in the sand, helpless, with both legs broken by balls; eight of his men were dead, twelve were wounded, five of them to disablement; of the twenty-nine still ranking as effectives one was departing under cover of the night to try and carry word to the fort, and the rest were weak from insufficient nourishment and from want of due rest and sleep; the horses were all dead and were serving as breast works and food.”

Rating: ★★★½☆

*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).