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Her Need
by [?]

She was just a girl with a foreign name, a foreign face and a bit still of a foreign dress. But she was a girl, just the same, and her face was full of longing. Her home was near to a settlement where many girls came for lessons and for play. But somehow they had never asked her to come, though often she had sat on the steps at night where they must pass her. She had seen them come with their arms about each other, talking and laughing and singing–and when they had passed, she had gone to her lonely hall bedroom and hidden her face in the pillow.

Oh, no, she didn’t cry. She was too brave to cry. She just suffered alone and longed for help.

It had been a year since she had left the home across the sea and had come to join her father in the land where “work was plenty and friends were easily made.” But she had found her father living where she could not and would not live. The friends he had made in America she could not and would not have for hers. So when she had grown proficient enough in the factory, she had gone to live in that loneliest of all lonely places–a boarding house.

The days had passed one by one. Some of the boarders called her fussy; some said she was cold; some said she was “stuck-up” and none of them had found that beneath the surface there was a sweet, gentle, lonely heart.

Then came the strike–and she was out of work. In the bank she had a few dollars but they had soon fled and now–oh, what could she do? The way was so black ahead. She couldn’t go to her father and his friends. What could she do?

The girls passed her as they went to the settlement house but no one noticed her sad little face. So she slowly rose and wended her way down the street. Out of the poorer section she went, then down a long avenue till she came to a great church. The altar lights were lighted. All was quiet and restful, so she sat, and looked, and listened for the still, small voice that she longed to hear.

A long, long time she sat there, counting her beads. Then she slowly rose and entered the confessional, but when she came out there was still the look of longing in her face. Toward the altar she went. Perhaps in the communion she might find help for her troubled soul, and again she counted her beads.

But, somehow, there was no prayer on the beads that seemed just what she wanted to say. Again, she went to the altar. But this time she lifted a face, white with suffering and thin from lack of food, to the face of the Christ above the altar and from the depths of her heart she prayed,

“O God! My God! I do not ask for money, though I am hungry. I do not ask for a home, though I am oh! so very lonely. I do not ask for work, though I have none. For only one thing I ask. Give me a friend. Oh, give me a friend! For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

Again she walked back through the avenue and down the narrow street to her only home. The doors of the settlement were opened and the girls came out, happy as birds in the springtime. Quietly she watched them as they came nearer. Then suddenly one of them stopped.

“Excuse me for speaking to you,” she said, “but our guardian heard that you lived in this house, so she asked us to come and invite you to come to Camp Fire with us next Tuesday. We are to have a supper together so that you will soon know us all and then we are to go for a hike together. Shall we stop for you as we go?”

For a moment she could not answer. In her throat was a lump so big that she could not swallow. Then she said in a low, sweet voice,

“Indeed I should like to go. Thank you for asking me.”

And the girls passed down the street, singing their Camp Fire song.

But up in the little hall bedroom there was a girl with a foreign name, and a foreign face, and a bit of a foreign dress. She was on her knees, looking up at the heavens full of stars and over and over she was saying, “Oh, I thank thee. I thank thee. I have a chance to be a friend.”

And her heart was content.