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John Blanchard Stood Up From The Bench, Straightened His Army Uniform, And Studied The Crowd Of People Making Their Way Through Grand Central Station.

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 now
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?" she 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.
"Tell me whom you love," Houssaye wrote, "And I will tell you who you
are."

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