The Search (Chapter 5, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 5

The letter was written in a fine beautiful hand and even before he saw the silver monogram at the top, he knew who was the writer, though he did not even remember to have seen the writing before:


I have hesitated a long time before writing because I do not know that I have the right to call you a friend, or even an acquaintance in the commonly accepted sense of that term. It is so long since you and I went to school together, and we have been so widely separated since then that perhaps you do not even remember me, and may consider my letter an intrusion. I hope not, for I should hate to rank with the girls who are writing to strangers under the license of mistaken patriotism.

My reason for writing you is that a good many years ago you did something very nice and kind for me one day, in fact you helped me twice, although I don't suppose you knew it. Then the other day, when you were going to camp and I sat in my car and watched you, it suddenly came over me that you were doing it again; this time a great big wonderful thing for me; and doing it just as quietly and inconsequentially as you did it before; and all at once I realized how splendid it was and wanted to thank you.

It came over me, too, that I had never thanked you for the other times, and very likely you never dreamed that you had done anything at all.

You see I was only a little girl, very much frightened, because Chuck Woodcock had teased me about my curls and said that he was going to catch me and cut them off, and send me home to my aunt that way, and she would turn me out of the house. He had been frightening me for several days, so that I was afraid to go to school alone, and yet I would not tell my aunt because I was afraid she would take me away from the Public School and send me to a Private School which I did not want. But that day I had seen Chuck Woodcock steal in behind the hedge, ahead of the girls. The others were ahead of me and I was all out of breath--running to catch up because I was afraid to pass him alone; and just as I got near two of them,--Mary Wurts and Caroline Meadows, you remember them, don't you?--they gave a scream and pitched headlong on the sidewalk. They had tripped over a wire he had stretched from the tree to the hedge. I stopped short and got behind a tree, and I remember how the tears felt in my throat, but I was afraid to let them out because Chuck would call me a crybaby and I hated that. And just then you came along behind me and jumped through the hedge and caught Chuck and gave him an awful whipping. "Licking" I believe we called it then. I remember how condemned I felt as I ran by the hedge and knew in my heart that I was glad you were hurting him because he had been so cruel to me. He used to pull my curls whenever he sat behind me in recitation.

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