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Lewis & Quark

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In The Eye Of The Beholder

During World War II, there was a young lady who changed the life of a soldier. Now, I know what you are thinking. She plans on boring me to death with a typical, sappy, melodramatic romance. But hold your horses. Sit back down and take that finger off of the mouse on the big red "x" button on the tab. You'll want to hear this one, I assure you. So, get your cup of tea or coffee and settle down in your chair by the cozy fireplace as I tell you the story of a most faithful friend.

John stood up straight, adjusting his uniform and smoothing out the wrinkles as he intently scoured the crowd milling around him at Grand Central Station. His eyes searched each face and dress, readily and earnestly seeking for that girl. The one with the rose. The one whom he'd never met. The one who had captured his heart through her words. The one whose heart he loved so dearly.

Now, John Blanchard had fallen for this young lady about a year earlier when he was in a library and had encountered a book with penciled-in margin notes. Yes, many people often write notes in the margins of their favorite books, but these notes were different. They were introspective, reflective, and insightful and gave evidence of a thoughtful and kind soul. John had glanced at the front page of the book to discover the name of the previous owner written fluidly on it: Miss Hollis Maynell. After much effort and searching, John located Miss Hollis in New York City. Summing up the courage he so desperately needed, John wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to further correspondence.

A mere day after writing his letter, John was shipped overseas to serve in World War II. Over the course of the next year, John and Miss Hollis grew to know each other intimately through their letters. The letters were like flower seeds being planted in fertile soil, and soon there was no doubt that a romance was blossoming

Understandably, John began requesting a photograph of her, but Miss Hollis steadfastly refused. After all, if he truly cared, why should appearances matter? she thought.

Finally, John informed her that he was returning home from Europe, and the couple immediately scheduled their first meeting at 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. Cryptically, Miss Hollis wrote, "You'll recognize me by the rose I'll be wearing on my lapel."

Punctual as he had been trained in the Army, John stood in the bustling masses of Grand Central Station at 7:00 PM., searching for Miss Hollis, the girl whose heart was an open book to him but whose face was a mystery. As he stood searching with his bright eyes, his stomach churning with excitement and his hands anxiously kneading his Army hat, a tall, slim, beautiful young woman began approaching him - her blonde curls picturesquely framing her gorgeous face and resting behind her delicate ears, her flower-blue eyes twinkling merrily, her lips and chin gently but firmly set. Indeed, she was as though Spring had taken a human form and had come to personally greet John herself. Her features were complimented even more vividly by the pale green suit she wore so confidently.

Taken by a sudden urge, John began moving towards the girl, not realizing that she wasn't wearing a rose. The girl smiled seductively as she murmured, "Going my way, sailor?"

John took one more uncontrollable step towards her before he noticed a rose right behind the young woman. Then John saw her - Miss Hollis Maynell. Standing almost directly behind the young girl, Miss Hollis was a woman well past her 40's with graying, thinning hair tucked curtly under her worn hat. She was quite portly and possessed thick-ankled feet which seemed rather out of place in her low-heeled shoes.

The young woman was now walking quickly past him, and John discovered his heart was divided. He desired to follow the young woman, but he also yearned to find out about this woman who had so wholly captured his heart and upheld his spirit through those long months. The elderly woman's gentle and sensible gray eyes beckoned him kindly, twinkling warmly, and John didn't hesitate as he gripped the small, worn blue leather copy of the book that would signify to the woman who he was.

Perhaps this will not be love, but it will be something more precious and perhaps even better than love - a friendship for which I have been and always will be grateful beyond measure, John assured himself as he neared the woman. Standing tall and saluting smartly, John held out the little book to the woman, as he introduced himself almost bitterly because of the poignancy of his disappointment and the strength of his internal struggle, "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 lady's face broadened into a tolerant but surprised smile, "I don't know what this is about, Son, but the young lady in the green suit, who just went by, begged me to wear this rose on my coat, and she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"

In all his life, John had never met a wiser woman. Miss Hollis Maynell had truly and completely captured his heart - first with her words, then with her wisdom, and finally with her wondrous beauty.

So, you see, my dear reader, one's heart can be truly deceiving, but its true nature can be easily devised in its response to the unattractive. As Arsene Houssaye once wisely asserted, "Tell me what you love, and I will tell you who you are."
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