Friday, February 10, 2012
Made for Each Other
Nettie Dawson stopped by the Post Office on her way to the antique shop one sunny morning. Awaiting her was a letter from her dear friend, Edna Best. Nettie and Edna grew up next door to each other in Greensboro. Edna's family moved to Springville when the girls were just beginning 7th grade. They remained close all these years through letters and occasional visits.
Edna wrote that it had been way too long since Nettie had come to visit and wouldn't it be wonderful if they could share a cup of tea together. Nettie agreed and made arrangements to visit the following week.
Oscar Crowley admitted to himself that he didn't want his best friend to leave Camden Corners if even for a few days. He had grown accustomed to being with her every possible moment of every day. It still amazed him that at his age he had fallen in love again.
Nettie was packed and ready to go when Oscar came calling for her on the day of her trip. He made sure she was on the train and waited until the train was rolling down the tracks before he turned to walk away.
He noticed Lionel Cotton as he walked off the train with a glum look on his face. Lionel was a rather timid fellow whose life revolved around the train station and every train that arrived and departed from Camden Corners. He had been the railroad station manager for 15 years. He was very diligent in his job and took a special interest in all the passengers boarding the train on any given day. After issuing the last ticket he would board the train himself to be sure every rider was comfortable and in the proper seat.
Every Wednesday for the last 10 years, sitting in coach class was Miss Millie Newman. She never missed a week and always sat in the same seat. Ten years earlier Lionel was doing his routine stroll through the train when he spotted Millie sitting demurely by the window in seat 3B. She looked up at him just as he was looking down at her. He tipped his cap and she smiled softly. Lionel didn't know what to make of the flutter he felt in his heart at that moment.
“If only I weren't quite so cowardly, I would engage this young woman in conversation.” he thought to himself.
Millie was having the same strange feeling in her heart but was much too bashful to even say hello to this handsome gentleman. Lionel determined that Millie traveled from Covington to Springville on Wednesday and returned to Covington on Saturday each and every week. He wondered who she was meeting in Springville but was not bold enough to ask.
Nettie sat by the window in seat 3D in order to wave goodbye to Oscar as the train pulled away from the station. Lionel greeted her as he walked by her seat and she noticed he barely looked in her direction but across the aisle at the pretty young woman seated there. The young people nodded to each other and Lionel continued through the passenger car and on to the next. Nettie noticed a tear falling down the young woman's cheek. Just then the train started pulling away from the station and she waved and blew kisses to Oscar as he waved and blew kisses back to her. She was going to miss that man even though she was only going to be away from him for a few days.
Nettie knew she should probably mind her own business but another look at the young woman next to her made her determined to attempt to comfort her. It was Nettie's nature so there was no use in fighting it.
Meanwhile, Oscar was concerned about Lionel. The young man, although rather shy had always been smiling and cheerful.
“Is something the matter, Lionel?”
“No, Oscar. Everything is fine except I am just a spineless fool.” Lionel replied.
Oscar encouraged Lionel to take a break and join him in the station's coffee shop. Oscar had a way of making people open up and Lionel was no exception. Lionel confessed he had been in love with Miss Millie Newman since he first saw her on the train ten years before and he never had the nerve to even speak to her in all this time. He didn't know who she was seeing each week but it was probably a beau. He had imagined all different kinds of scenarios and none of them were to his liking. Oscar couldn't believe Lionel had kept his feelings to himself for all these years and decided then and there he was going to find out who Miss Millie Newman was. If she wasn't the sweet, beautiful woman Lionel had imagined, it was best he find out and the sooner the better.
Nettie moved to the seat next to Millie and asked if there was anything she could do to help. With that Millie burst into tears. Nettie wrapped her arm around the girl and let her cry it out. Millie told Nettie she was on her way to visit her aunt in Springville. Her Aunt Thelma was very special to her and she visited her once a week to help with the household chores. Nettie mentioned that she knew a Thelma Newman in Springville. She had met her a time or two when she visited her friend Edna.
Nettie recalled Edna telling her about Thelma's young niece. Thelma was worried about the girl because she had a secret crush on a fellow she saw twice a week in Camden Corners but had never even spoken to. Thelma wondered why this young man was leading her niece on. He must be a scoundrel to inflict such pain on poor Millie.
Remembering the way Lionel and Millie looked at each other, she wondered if Lionel was the scoundrel Thelma had been talking about. Nettie could think of many words to describe young Lionel but scoundrel wasn't one of them. Nettie asked Millie if she by any chance knew Lionel Cotton. With that Millie burst into tears again.
“Oh Miss Nettie, every week I plan that I will say something to him when he comes through the passenger car and every time he does I can't even speak. He is so handsome and worldly I can never get up the courage to even say hello.”
Nettie wanted to chuckle at the thought of Lionel Cotton being worldly but she controlled the urge. Nettie had a plan.
“How would you like to visit with me on your way back to Covington? I have an extra bedroom in my apartment and since I am acquainted with your aunt, I'm sure it would be proper for you to spend a few days with me in Camden Corners. I will formally introduce you to Lionel and maybe that will make it easier for you to speak to him.”
Millie was filled with anticipation and trepidation with the prospect of meeting the man she had dreamed of all these years, but she was determined to go through with it and if she didn't, she had a feeling Miss Nettie would see to it that she did.
Nettie thoroughly enjoyed her visit with her old friend Edna and they spent a good bit of their time with Thelma and Millie Newman. Thelma was happy to hear Lionel Cotton was a fine upstanding young man and trusted Nettie's instincts that he felt the same way about her niece as she did about him.
Saturday arrived and the ladies were on their way to Camden Corners. Millie was as nervous as a cat and Nettie was tempted to order some sherry to calm the girl down. The ride was a smooth one and they arrived in Camden Corners in no time at all. Millie put a big smile on her face and held onto Nettie's arm more for her support than Nettie's. They walked off the train and Lionel was the first one to greet them.
“Lionel Cotton, I would like you to meet Miss Millie Newman. Millie will be my house guest for a few days and I would appreciate it very much if you would help me to acquaint her with our fair town.”
Lionel's mouth flew open and then he grinned.
“How do you do Miss Millie, it is a pleasure to meet you.”
Millie replied “Thank you Mr. Cotton, it is my pleasure to meet you also”.
The first words spoken between them in ten years were just the beginning. Lionel and Millie both came out of their shells. The people of Camden Corners were astonished to see the change in Lionel. He was no longer the shy young man who seldom spoke more than a few words. The town welcomed Millie with open arms. She rented a room in Mrs. Wharton's boarding house until her marriage to Lionel. They didn't waste any time getting married. After all, they had known each other for ten years.