She chatted of this and that, placing dishes and utensils on the table while pointing him to the wash basin and a hanging towel.
He didn't talk much, spending his energy on the food in front of him, but mumbled politely when he felt a response of some kind was required. His hostess, seated at last with her own cup of coffee, thought she saw him send a fleeting glance of longing toward the tiny decorated fir tree in the dim parlor. If so, it was quickly supressed. Then, as he was finishing up the last scraps of the meal, she watched as his eyes wandered to the back door window. There was a large card there, suspended by a string and facing the outside.
"I know," she said, though he hadn't asked, "We can't see it from in here. I just never got it turned around. It's what the angels told the shepherds, "Peace on earth, good will to men."
The sojourner put down the checkered napkin an asked without much interest, "What is good will anyway?"
Allie massaged one arthritic hand with the other, thinking carefully about her answer. "Well, it's wanting to be helpful," she said, "It's looking for, beingg aware of--no, it's looking for opportunities to be giving, even when it isn't so easy. It's a willingness, an attitude. Yes. That's it. It's an attitude of kindness."
The visitor answered, "Hm."
Suddenly Mrs. Moore spotted a sack on the chair by the door. She rose as quickly as her 78-year-old body would allow, put her hand to her cheek and keened, "Oh, dear! My poor husband has forgotten his lunch!" She glanced at the clock on the shelf. It showed 11:45. There was still time, if...her company saw the clock also.
"You see," the woman continued, flustered and frowning, "My husband had a chance to make a little money today repairing a neighbor's fence, but he isn't even over being sick and he just can't go without this meal. What in the world can I do.?"
The faded blue eyes looked straight at the man sitting at her table.
He asked,"Well, how far is this neighbor?"
"A mile or so down the road," was the hopeful answer, as she pointed in the opposite direction from the halted train.
Rising to shrug into his coat, the man replied, "Sure do thank you for the food, Ma'am, but I can't do that. Gotta get that train. I'd have to walk clean into Tacoma otherwise."
The lady sat back down, holding tightly to the sack and sighed. "Yes, well goodbye then."
A gust of frigid air came in as the man went out, "So long, Ma'am. Sorry."
He walked 10 paces in the crunchy snow and stopped. Slowly, by small jerks, he turned his head and looked over his shoulder. He could see that sign as if it had a built in light. that one word sure seemed brighterthan the rest. GOODWILL. He couldn't figure out how he missed seeing it on his way in.
He growled, ,"Dog gone it." as if somebody was giving him an arguement, and kicked at t mound of snow. Finally, he turned reluctantly all the way around and began to retrace is steps.
The door opened before he knocked and Mrs. Moore handed him two sacks. "Straight down this road, Son. Mr. McGreggor's place. You can't miss it. Biggest barn you ever
saw. Oh, yes, and that large bag is for you. I wrapped up the rest of that ham shank, some bread and a few winter apples for later."
The fellow shook his head and took the bags, "How did you know I would go?"
"Just thought I saw a lot of goodwill in you, young man."
"Yeah, and I'll regret it when I find myself shiverin' in somebody's haystack tonight."
"No," she said firmly, "You won't."
He surely did shiver that night, but there was a warm spot somewhere near the area of his heart that kept regret from getting in at all