Evoking Emotion: Most Moving Moments
Have you read something that has brought tears to your eyes? Have you flipped the page to see something that, for a moment, left you breathless? Have you finished a chapter only to ask yourself if you dare to read another page? Has a book’s plot line ever inspired such strong emotion that you wanted to hurl it across the room just to resume turning it’s pages after you have had a good cry?
In the reading of select titles, I confess, I have experienced each of these. It is perhaps some of these very same characters, plots, and worlds that nurture my own desire to create as well as write.
Something That I Read That Made Me Cry
As a reader of classics, there is a particular title that still amazes me when I consider my reaction to it. Of all the books that may make a person cry, I found tears at the conclusion of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
What is it that brings about this feeling? Why is it that I am brought to tears at the end of this book? To sum it up in a single word, death. In that one possible, fleeting moment of victory comes the bittersweetness of tragedy in sacrifice.
Mr. Morris, who had sunk to the ground, leaned on his elbow, holding his hand pressed to his side. The blood still gushed through his fingers. I flew to him, for the Holy circle did not now keep me back; so did the two doctors. Jonathan knelt behind him and the wounded man laid back his head on his shoulder. With a sigh he took, with a feeble effort, my hand in that of his own which was unstained.
He must have seen the anguish of my heart in my face, for he smiled at me and said, “I am only too happy to have been of service! Oh, God!” he cried suddenly, struggling to a sitting posture and pointing to me. “It was worth for this to die! Look! Look!”
The sun was now right down upon the mountain top, and the red gleams fell upon my face, so that it was bathed in rosy light. With one impulse the men sank on their knees and a deep and earnest “Amen” broke from all as their eyes followed the pointing of his finger.
The dying man spoke, “Now God be thanked that all has not been in vain! See! The snow is not more stainless than her forehead! The curse has passed away!”
And, to our bitter grief, with a smile and in silence, he died, a gallant gentleman.
~Bram Stoker, Dracula, Chapter 27~
Something That Left Me Breathless
There are moments in life, things we hope for that when happen can leave us without words or breath. I recall experiencing this in my childhood as well as my adolescence in the reading and rereading of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.
I was led to my new home, placed in a comfortable stable, fed, and left to myself. The next day, when the groom was cleaning my face, he said:
“That is just like the star that `Black Beauty’ had; he is much the same height, too. I wonder where he is now.”
A little further on he came to the place in my neck where I was bled and where a little knot was left in the skin. He almost started, and began to look me over carefully, talking to himself.
“White star in the forehead, one white foot on the off side, this little knot just in that place;” then looking at the middle of my back — “and, as I am alive, there is that little patch of white hair that John used to call `Beauty’s three-penny bit’. It must be `Black Beauty’! Why, Beauty! Beauty! do you know me? — little Joe Green, that almost killed you?” And he began patting and patting me as if he was quite overjoyed.
I could not say that I remembered him, for now he was a fine grown young fellow, with black whiskers and a man’s voice, but I was sure he knew me, and that he was Joe Green, and I was very glad. I put my nose up to him, and tried to say that we were friends. I never saw a man so pleased.
“Give you a fair trial! I should think so indeed! I wonder who the rascal was that broke your knees, my old Beauty! you must have been badly served out somewhere; well, well, it won’t be my fault if you haven’t good times of it now. I wish John Manly was here to see you.”
In the afternoon I was put into a low park chair and brought to the door. Miss Ellen was going to try me, and Green went with her. I soon found that she was a good driver, and she seemed pleased with my paces. I heard Joe telling her about me, and that he was sure I was Squire Gordon’s old “Black Beauty”.
When we returned the other sisters came out to hear how I had behaved myself. She told them what she had just heard, and said:
“I shall certainly write to Mrs. Gordon, and tell her that her favorite horse has come to us. How pleased she will be!”
After this I was driven every day for a week or so, and as I appeared to be quite safe, Miss Lavinia at last ventured out in the small close carriage. After this it was quite decided to keep me and call me by my old name of “Black Beauty”.
I have now lived in this happy place a whole year. Joe is the best and kindest of grooms. My work is easy and pleasant, and I feel my strength and spirits all coming back again. Mr. Thoroughgood said to Joe the other day:
“In your place he will last till he is twenty years old — perhaps more.”
Willie always speaks to me when he can, and treats me as his special friend. My ladies have promised that I shall never be sold, and so I have nothing to fear; and here my story ends. My troubles are all over, and I am at home; and often before I am quite awake, I fancy I am still in the orchard at Birtwick, standing with my old friends under the apple-trees.