THE JOURNEY’S END.
“Yes, he’s a minister,” Ester repeated, even more decidedly, as, being seated in the swift-moving train, directly behind the old lady and the young gentleman who had become the subject of her thoughts, she found leisure to observe him more closely. Mr. Newton was absorbed in the Tribune; so she gave her undivided attention to the two, and could hear snatches of the conversation which passed between them, as well as note the courteous care with which he brought her a cup of water and attended to all her simple wants. During the stopping of the train at a station, their talk became distinct.
“And I haven’t seen my boy, don’t you think, in ten years,” the old lady was saying. “Won’t he be glad though, to see his mother once more? And he’s got children—two of them; one is named after me, Sabrina. It’s an awful homely name, I think, don’t you? But then, you see, it was grandma’s.”
“And that makes all the difference in the world,” her companion answered. “So the old home is broken up, and you are going to make a new one.”
“Yes; and I’ll show you every thing I’ve got to remember my old garden by.”
With eager, trembling fingers, she untied the string which held down the cover of her basket, and, rummaging within, brought to light a withered bouquet of the very commonest and, perhaps, the very homeliest flowers that grew, if there are any homely flowers.
“There,” she said, holding it tenderly, and speaking with quivering lip and trembling voice. “I picked ’em the very last thing I did, out in my own little garden patch by the backdoor. Oh, times and times I’ve sat and weeded and dug around them, with him sitting on the stoop and reading out loud to me. I thought all about just how it was while I was picking these. I didn’t stay no longer, and I didn’t go back to the house after that. I couldn’t; I just pulled my sun-bonnet over my eyes, and went across lots to where I was going to get my breakfast”
Ester felt very sorry for the poor homeless, friendless old woman—felt as though she would have been willing to do a good deal just then to make her comfortable; yet it must be confessed that that awkward bunch of faded flowers, arranged without the slightest regard to colors, looked rather ridiculous; and she felt surprised, and not a little puzzled, to see actual tears standing in the eyes of her companion as he handled the bouquet with gentle care.
“Well,” he said, after a moment of quiet, “you are not leaving your best friend after all. Does it comfort your heart very much to remember that, in all your partings and trials, you are never called upon to bid Jesus good-by?”
“What a way he has of bringing that subject into every conversation,” commented Ester, who was now sure that he was a minister. Someway Ester had fallen into a way of thinking that every one who spoke freely concerning these matters must be either a fanatic or a minister.