"What a difference do our circumstances make in us! Once when I was younger, I used to believe (with a child's naive, bold certainty) that a person's self was themself through and through, and their misadventures might fine-tune them a bit, but who they actually werewould come through unchanged, no matter what was thrown at them. I was, as I said before, quite naive when I conjured up this opinion. I have since changed my mind, and there is no better example of why than the history (or to me, the future tale) of one John Holliday, DDS...
Those who have known him personallyseem uniform in their assessments -- that this man was possessed of manners, a neat and elegant bearing in both himself and his attire, a distinct intelligence and an unshakable loyalty to those dear to him. Loyalty! A keen mind educated in the arts of oral health, and the manner of a gentleman! What is there about him that would not make him a desirable husband, and upstanding citizen and welcome guest --suitable for the company of all. A cultured man, who might be a proper dining companion or travelling compatriot!
And yet...in the wilds of the American frontier, the mention of his name causes the casual listener to envision a murderer. A man more known for the drawing of blood with gunshots, rather than the tools for extracting teeth. A cardman in gambling hells, smelling of whiskey. A man wracked with coughs and pain, upon whom Infirmity and Death have cast their long shadows. A man with no fear of that 'Undiscovered Country - from whose bourn no traveller returns', because he knows that soon enough he shall be a sojourner in that dark land. And at the same time, this man has cheated death -- when given only months to live, back he came with a valiant will that stretched those months into years before having to fold his hand in deference to his Dark Opponent.
What a dramatic, tragic tale this story seems! And yet how different it might have been, if the malady of consumption had not fallen upon him! He might have remained in the East, a practitioner of the dental arts, perhaps a family man...he might have been happy, but unknown through the ages. Or would the temperament that made him notorious in the West still have driven him? None shall ever know. The rest, as the Bard says, is silence."