Monday, November 28, 2011

IN QUEST OF THE SUNSET; by F. Roney Weir; part 1 of 4; June 1915

A woman of sixty-six does not like to be “grandma-ed” indiscriminately. Back in the country where Mrs. Herron came from, it would have been different. There were grandpas as well as grandmas there and great aunts and uncles. Here, on Tolby Street, there were men—just men—girls and imitation young women.

Ah, how different from the days on the farm where life went leisurely and was not one long breathless effort to keep up; when people met together for friendship's sake and there were grandfathers as well as grandmothers!

As Mrs. Herron thought it all over she was strengthened in her determination to run away that evening from Vesta's dinner party. Vesta would be provoked and the girls would be angry but it would all blow over when at the end of the month grandma, as usual, helped out with the bills.

Tolby Street was supposed to be very neat and beautiful, but the bank of towering buildings at its foot shut it in at the west. Mrs. Herron longed to see the red flame of the sun low on the horizon. She would run away and go hunting the sunset!

The electric car seemed fairly to bore its way into the brightness of the afterglow. The evening wind, dead ahead, smote Alvira's cheeks pleasantly. It seemed to blow away the years and leave her young again. She was Alvira Herron now, not “Grandma Herron.”

Ahead loomed a great building set in a pleasant ring of shrubbery.

“Hospital?” Alvira Herron inquired of the woman who shared the car-seat with her.

“No, Soldiers' Home.”

“End of the line!” sang out the conductor and Alvira left the car with the other passengers.

Inviting benches line the broad walks under the trees. Alvira saw a woman with two little girls wander off among the greenery. If outsiders were allowed in the grounds, she would squander an hour here watching the yellow sky.

Her mind was filled with the mellow peace of the place. Up near the buildings a veteran in a wheel chair was being pushed by an attendant. Another mowed the lawn. His machine made a cheerful clatter suggesting hominess and content. The car which had brought Mrs. Herron went back to the city and presently another arrived. Two or three people descended, among them a veteran with a springy, youthful gait unusual in an old soldier. His cheeks were age-withered but rusty-red with health. A stubby, snowy beard concealed the contour of his chin but his sharp blue eyes were clear, alert and kindly.

He was about to pass on with a respectful glance of interest at the lonely figure on the bench when Mrs. Herron glanced up and their eyes met. He stopped in front of her suddenly when advanced with outstretched hand.

“Alvira Dole, or I'm dreaming again!”