Excerpt — The Power of One
We sat on the steps of one of the rose terraces, my grandpa tapping and tamping and lighting and staring squint-eyed through the blue tobacco smoke over the rusty roof into the pale blue beyond. After a long time he said, ‘All I know about the Bible is that wherever it goes there’s trouble. The only time I ever heard of it being useful was when a stretcher bearer I was with at the battle of Dundee told me that he’d once gotten hit by a Mauser bullet in the heart, only he was carrying a Bible in his tunic pocket and the Bible saved his life. He told me that ever since he’d always carried a Bible into battle with him and he felt perfectly safe because God was in his breast pocket. We were out looking for a sergeant of the Worcesters and three troopers who were wounded while out on a reconnaissance and were said to be holed up in a dry donga. In truth, I think my partner felt perfectly safe because the Boer Mausers were estimated by the British artillery to be accurate to eight hundred yards and we were at least twelve hundred yards from enemy lines. Alas, nobody bothered to tell the Boers about the shortcomings of their brand-new German rifle, and a Mauser bullet hit him straight between the eyes.’ He puffed at his pipe. ‘Which goes to prove, you can always depend on British Army information not to be accurate, the Boers to be deadly accurate, the Bible to be good for matters of the heart but hopeless for those of the head, and finally, that God is in nobody’s pocket.’ – Courtenay, Bryce. The Power of One. New York: Random House, Inc., 1996. 309-310.