"Speak Gently; Sorrow may be Hereabouts."
A train was hurrying along one of the main lines of the Western States of America. In one of the cars sat a young woman nursing a little babe, whose restlessness greatly annoyed some of the passengers.
Amongst these was a portly-looking farmer, whose appearance betokened comfort and plenty. Looking up from his paper, evidently irritated by the child's continued cry, he said, “Can't you keep that child quiet?” His eye met the gaze of the young woman, and he then noticed that her dress told of recent death. She looked toward him, and through her tears said: “I cannot help it. The child is not mine. I am doing my best.” “Where is its mother?” the farmer inquired, relenting somewhat in his tone. “In her coffin, sir; in the luggage car at the back of the train,” said the young woman, in her deep grief.
The big tears fell unbidden from the farmer's eyes. Rising up from his seat before all the passengers, he took the babe in his arms, kissed it, and, walking to and fro, did his rough best to soothe the motherless child, and make some reparation for his cold hard words. How many words and looks of unkindness would be changed into actions of sympathy and help did we but know more of others' sorrow!
From Terse Talk on Timely Topics,
By Henry Varley; London: James Nisbet & Co., 1884, pp. 22-23.