The Rose

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform,
and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central
Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he
didn't, the girl with the rose.

His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida
library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with
the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The
soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the
front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis
Maynell. With time and effort he located her address.

She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and
inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for
service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew
to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a
fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph,
but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter
what she looked like. When the day finally came for him to return from
Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central
Station in New York. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose
I'll be wearing on my lapel." So at 7:00 he was in the station looking
for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen. I'll let
Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde
hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as
flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green
suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely
forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a
small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" sh e
murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I
saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A
woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was
more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The
girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was
split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my
longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my
own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible,
her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle.

I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy
of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but
it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love,
a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful. I squared my
shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman , even though
while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. "I'm
Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you
could meet me; may I take you to dinner?" The woman's face broadened into
a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered,
"but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to
wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to
dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big
restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"

It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom. The
true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive.

Unknown author


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