Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I do not recall the first time I read this short story, but it has never been far from me. Reading this reminds me of the quality of love & how it sets no limits to give of itself. True love is always a great sacrifice; but always greatly given.

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. A young woman was coming toward him, 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. He started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As he moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably he made one step closer to her, and then he 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. He felt as though he were being split in two, so keen was he desire to follow the girl, yet so deep was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned and upheld his own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. He did not hesitate. His fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify him to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which he had been and must ever be grateful. He squared his shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while he spoke he felt choked by the bitterness of his 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!"

written by: S.I. Kishor


Stephanie (Wolynes) Steinbart said...

Hey! I remember this story from somewhere, though I can't place where...I wonder if Chris will smooch me like that picture when he gets home from Iraq -- yikes!

Erin Neiner said...

Steph: I bet it was from Storytelling class...remember that HUGE project we spent HOURS in the library for, gathering endless short stories! What a class that was!

joy mccarnan | karagraphy.com said...

hey, hi. is this an adaptation? i seem to remember distinctly that the book in question was OF HUMAN BONDAGE (i remember it because i read the book because of the story). at any rate. the "test" is all that more interesting if you've ever read the book. (not that i recommend the book.) =}

Erin Neiner said...

Joy ~ I am not sure since I never read the original; although there are many variations out there! I'll have to look into the book. Thanks!

Joy said...

no i really don't recommend it. ;)
it's just sort of contra a test like that. in the end of the book, the hero gets the girl who'll put up with all his shortcomings (including promiscuity) and "love" him anyway.

Erin Neiner said...

Joy~ I love our little ongoing saga here! OK, I hear you loud & clear...and I totally trust your judgment, considering you were an English major, right, and no doubt have read WAY more literature than I have. (was that correct grammer???) Anyway, THANKS for the heads up! I will be sure to do a better background check next time! :)
Please say HI to Crystal for me!

Erin Neiner said...

HA! HA! My husband just pointed out to me that I spelled grammar wrong! ok, I feel like an idiot!! I was just telling my friend Steph on the phone how motherhood kills your brain cells. I am sure there is research to prove it!