The Saturday before the graduation party, Christine heard a knock on her bedroom door as she sat reading before lunch. “Come in,” she answered.
In strode Miss Martin herself. In her hand she held an open letter.
“Christine, a letter has arrived addressed to you.” The letter was handed over and Miss Martin remained standing. Christine took the letter. She was not surprised that it had been opened and read; all the girls’ mail was. But as she read she became very surprised. The letter read:
I am dictating this letter since I am unable to move. I fell from a tree this morning and landed on my back. The doctor said my spine is badly injured. He is going to attempt a surgery on me this afternoon in hopes that I will recover. But he is doubtful of it’s success. In either event, I wish strongly to see you before my surgery in case I do not come out alive. If your head mistress will let you, and if you yourself are willing, please send a reply with the carrier of this letter and meet me at the Lardon Hospital as soon as you are able.
Christine was stunned by this note. She looked up quickly to Miss Martin. “May I?” She pleaded.
Miss Martin nodded. “Follow me.” Christine hurried after her into her office. There, in a subdued manner, sat a tall young boy. He stood as they entered.
“Christine will go,” Miss Martin told him. “She will leave within a half an hour.”
The boy seemed much relieved. He looked at Christine and tried to smile. “Thank you. I am a good friend of Charlie’s; I am glad you can come.” He then took his leave.
Christine turned to the head mistress. “Thank you, Miss Martin! I am ever grateful to you for your permission to go see Charlie.”
Miss Martin turned away, waving her hand. “Never mind, Christine.” She then sat at her desk and looked at her. “I was watching you at the party a few weeks ago. You seemed to get along very well with this young man. But besides that, you are the most obedient, respectful, and appropriate young lady at the academy, and have been ever since your arrival. I trust you above all the other girls and know you will not disappoint me.”
Christine looked down while she was being praised but at the end she looked up. “Thank you, Miss Martin, but I am afraid I am not as good as you think. I have sins of the heart that are hidden.”
“Be that as it may, I believe your motives are right and your actions sincere. Now, go get ready to leave. I will have our driver, Mr. Brady, drive you to the hospital. He will wait for you, and then bring you back.”
Christine bit her lip. “Thank you, but Miss Martin, may I wait until the surgery is over? You know, to see–I mean, well–”
Miss Martin smiled slightly. “So, now you ask favors after you’ve been praised, is that it?”
“Oh, no, not at all!” Christine said hurriedly.
The head mistress chuckled. “I am only jesting. Yes, Christine, you may wait until the surgery is finished. I would suggest that you bring along some subjects to study in preparation for your final tests, but as I am sure your mind will be much distracted, I will not require it.”
“Thank you, Miss Martin. Oh, thank you very much!” Christine then hurried out of the room and into her own. She changed her dress and fixed her hair, much to the surprise of her roommates.
“Christine,” asked Connie. “Where are you going?”
Christine pulled on one shoe and then the other. Knowing that she would be unmercifully teased, she only said, “If you wish to know, you may ask Miss Martin.”
“Humph!” Connie turned and walked out of the room. The girls knew only too well that prying was a sin in Miss Martin’s eyes.
Standing, Christine saw Geneva looking at her with eyebrows raised. “I’m sorry, Geneva. I’d rather not tell anyone at this point.” She smiled and Geneva nodded.
Taking a sweater along with her, Christine went back to Miss Martin’s office. Entering quietly, she said, “I’m ready, Miss Martin.”
“Good,” she said. “Mr. Brady is waiting for you at the front door. Good-bye.”
As Christine made her way to the front door (quite the walk, since their academy was so large), she thought about Charlie and his accident. She thought of the upcoming surgery. Her heart beat quicker as everything sunk in. But now she was at the door.
Mr. Brady helped her into the carriage. As they left, Christine asked, “Mr. Brady, how long to the hospital?”
The middle-aged man furrowed his brows. “Oh, I’d say about an hour.”
Christine sighed and sat quietly.
“I don’t mean to pry,” Mr. Brady spoke up. “But it’s awfully rare for Miss Martin to allow one of you young ladies out by yourself. May I ask the reason for this exception?”
Christine hesitated, but then decided that this man was trustworthy, him being a Christian as well. Besides, she did want to talk about it to someone. And Mr. Brady would not tease her, she knew.
“Well, here’s the story. I met a young man named Charlie at the Trenton Boy’s Academy Spring party. He seemed very nice, very sincere and honest. Well, I got a letter from him this morning. He fell and has hurt his spine terribly. The doctor fears for his life and sees a surgery as his only chance. But it is also doubtful that Charlie will survive the surgery. So Charlie wrote and said he wished to see me before the surgery. I asked Miss Martin if I may stay until it is over and she said I may.”
Mr. Brady seemed thoughtful by the end of this short story. “I’m afraid this story has a sad ending. But perhaps the end is not yet. It may yet end in joy; we have yet to wait and see.”
Christine was surprised by this strange reply. “I don’t know,” she replied. “But the more I think of it, the more my heart–” She suddenly realized how much she was saying.
Mr. Brady chuckled and smiled at her. “Now Miss, you needn’t be nervous around me. I was once a young man and I understand these things more than you know. Now, speak your mind, or perhaps, your heart, if you like.”
Christine did, to her own surprise. “Well, I’m not sure what I think about him, besides the fact that he is a Christian and the most amazing man I have ever met. Perhaps I like him, I don’t know. But regardless, I can’t bear the thought of his–dying.” Christine turned her head as she felt tears fill her eyes.
The driver nodded understandably. “I know as well as you that there is no fear of God in the eyes of any in this academy. You must have been quite overjoyed at finding he loved the Lord.”
“Yes, I was indeed.”
Mr. Brady went on. “Well, I suppose there’s not much to be said as it is before the surgery. But after, well, perhaps after there will be.”
To be continued next week…