A case of a love that developed through correspondence . . . each a stranger to the other. Over time, every word they wrote to each other was like a seed onto a fertile heart. Of course, they should finally meet . . . but without any picture of each other except Miss Hollis to bear a rose and John a book for identification at Grand Central Terminal . . .
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 pencilled 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 recognise 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 greying 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 grey 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.”
One thought on “The Love Test Story”
Many of us still know that our grandparents and even our parents (it all depends how old we are) were married without knowing each other. I know my parents did. They married for more than 50 years till death did them part. When they married they were not even Christians. Why? We often wonder.
My father was born in Lumajang, East Java, while my mom was born in Kudus, Central Java. They never met before. My Mom used to say: “I saw your father’s face was when he opened my veil…” We could hardly believe her. But my Dad said the same thing. Why…?
Well, many years ago I particapted in a church conference in Hong Kong. I was young then. It was a conference on Christian Marraige and Fidelity. During tea time, as I walked aroung I overheard two ladies were talking to one another. The young one was an American. The other one was an elderly Chinese lady. I couldn’t help but eavesdropping.
I want to share what they said. The American lady was asking: “Is it still true that among your people the parents are doing the matchmaking for their children…”
“Well, time has changed. But there are some who still do it. But why did you ask?”
“If your children were to marry his spouse without his or her own choice, how come that many of them stay married to the same life partners…?”
The old lady paused for a while and then answered, “You marry the ones you love, but we love the ones we marry”
I never forget that wise answer.
Paul, marriage is a life long commitment. If we were already married to whom we think is the most beautiful woman, sooner or later we’ll meet some more beautiful women, and vice versa. So marriage is to be worked out together. Love is not just a mere feeling.
I believe that as I grow older together with Lisa, we love each other in a deeper way.
Yes, I agree that we love the ones we marry. Of course love is one of what each couple need. But even love is to be cared for in order to grow and last.