"I will hear"

The long, brown line of the "Pacific Express" was drawing steadily over the great plains which stretch, in fertile farness, eastward from the foot-hills of the Rockies. They were traveling alone, the dear old couple in the section opposite; and they had thus far stood it well. The hopes and fears of eighty years had left their lights and shadows on the patient faces. "Father" had closed out the old home in the East, disposed of all his effects, and he and "Mother" were on their way to distant Washington, where they looked forward to passing the ripened autumn of their days with the baby of their flock. She had left the familiar scenes of her childhood, some little time before, to make, with her young husband, a new home in the golden West. But the journey was long; the rays of an unclouded sun had beaten mercilessly on the stifling coaches all day long; for it was midsummer, and road and field were parched and dry. The passengers had subsided into that peculiar silence which, on the part of humanity in general, betokens a stolid acquiescence in conditions which they would rather had not been, but which, for the time at least, they feel themselves quite powerless to alter. Late in the afternoon the porter was summoned; and in a few minutes, with his help, the old gentleman had taken refuge from the dust-worn throng about him, to seek shelter behind the curtains of his berth.

I had some hours earlier changed my seat, and was sitting farther down the car. Several times I had noticed the gray-haired wife passing back and forth through the aisle; and something in the expression of the pale, tired face had hinted to my mind that possibly all was not quite well. As I sat working against a growing feeling of foreboding, it became noised through the car that the old gentleman was very ill, and more than that, quite likely to succumb. It seems he had not been feeling well for hours, and now sinking spells had set in, and were following each other with alarming rapidity. The faithful wife, foreseeing the culmination of a thing she long had dreaded, made known her anxiety to those about her. At once the sympathy of her fellow-passengers was enlisted, and went out to her in every way, in her seeming helplessness and trouble.

An Appreciative Letter
October 21, 1905

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