Children’s Corner: Three in a Row, Part II

The Story to Now: Hiram, Nettie, and Tony reluctantly left the bedside of their sick mother and, taking their small boxes of mineral “speciments,” made their way to the train station, hoping some of the incoming train’s passengers would pay them a few pennies for some of the rock samples. Then Nettie had an idea! Why could they not sing for the passengers?

Up through Clear Creek Canyon puffed the “Gulf” train, with two observation cars full of passengers. There was a mixed company, composed mostly of sightseers for the day, who would return with the train after two hours’ halt in Silver Plume. There was a gentleman from Boston and two lively girls from Texas, and a number of young couples, evidently belonging in Colorado, who were out for a little excursion. But different from the others, and most noticeable of them all, were two, a gentleman and a lady, who sat near each other and looked alike—he pale and sick, and she pale and sad. They were brother and sister—Mr. and Miss Lawrence, from somewhere in the East. He was looking for health in the mountains, and she, in spite of deadly homesickness, would not leave him alone among strangers.

The train ran up to the mine, passed the switch, and then moved back again to the station. Here the engine and some of the passengers abandoned the cars, leaving those who objected to the high altitude to wait in patience. Among the latter were the Lawrences. The invalid was tired, and tried to rest with his head on his sister’s shawl in spite of the shrill call of “Speciments!” which seemed to come from all sides of the train. After a while, the noisy little venders grew tired, or discouraged, and quieted down; then, suddenly, Miss Lawrence started and listened intently. The little song was wonderfully sweet and fresh and true, something about . . . “A robin one morning in May.”

And the voices might have been those of the birds themselves. Everybody turned to the windows and waited expectantly. This time it was a quaint old hymn for children:

“God made my life a little song
“That comforteth the sad.
“That helpeth others to be strong
“And makes the singer glad.”

Miss Lawrence looked out the window and saw Hiram, Nettie, and Tony standing “three in a row,” the blue eyes and the brown looking up wistfully, half-pleadingly, at the faces above them. A minute’s pause, and then pennies, nickels, and even dimes rained upon them. There was an ecstatic shout from Tony and a hasty scramble on the part of all three for the money. Their hearts beating fast with excitement and gratitude, the children drew into line again, and with a word from Hiram began their sweetest song, “Anywhere with Jesus.”

Something in the words and the surroundings went straight to the heart of the stranger lady just above them, and when there came the refrain, “Anywhere with Jesus will be home sweet home,” her eyes brimmed over, and she turned hastily away that her brother might not see.

“The lady wants to speak to you, Nettie; go on,” said Hiram, pushing his sister before him, like the coward he was.

“I was so pleased to hear you sing,” said Miss Lawrence, smiling down into the eyes under the pink sunbonnet. “Won’t you tell me where you live and what you are going to do with so much money?”

Nettie looked up shyly, but searchingly, into this “different” face from any of her acquaintances, then bent her eyes to the ground and told the whole story of their need and experiment. Miss Lawrence listened in surprise, and looked over to the tiny cabin on the side of the mountain.