This file was submitted by Lanette Currington.
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?" 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. T
his 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
"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."