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The Helping Hand
by [?]

The helping hand is often held out by the man on the road. Away from home he is dependent upon the good will of others; he frequently has done for him an act of kindness; he is ever ready to do for others a deed of friendship or charity. Road life trains the heart to gentleness. It carries with it so many opportunities to help the needy. Seldom a day passes that the traveling salesman does not loosen his purse strings for some one in want–no, not that; he carries his money in his vest pocket. Doing one kind act brings the doer such a rich return that he does a second generous deed and soon he has the habit. The liberality of the traveling man does not consist wholly of courting the favor of his merchant friends–he is free with them, but mainly because it is his nature; it is for those from whom he never expects any return that he does the most.

A friend of mine once told this story:

“It was on the train traveling into Lincoln, Nebraska, many years ago. It was near midnight. It was, I believe, my first trip on the road. Just in front of me, in a double seat, sat a poor woman with three young children. As the brakeman called ‘Lincoln, the next station! Ten minutes for lunch!’ I noticed the woman feeling in her pockets and looking all around. She searched on the seats and on the floor. A companion, Billie Collins, who sat beside me leaned over and asked: ‘Madam, have you lost something?’

“Half crying, she replied, ‘I can’t find my purse–I want to get a cup of coffee; it’s got my ticket and money in it and I’m going through to Denver.’

“‘We’ll help you look for it,’ said Billy.

“We searched under the seats and up and down the aisle, but could not find the pocket book. The train was drawing near Lincoln. The poor woman began to cry.

“‘It’s all the money I’ve got, too,’ she said pitifully. ‘I’ve just lost my husband and I’m going out to my sister’s in Colorado. She says I can get work out there. I know I had the ticket. The man took it at Ottumwa and gave it back to me. And I had enough money to buy me a ticket up to Central City where my sister is. They won’t put me off, will they? I know I had the ticket. If I only get to Denver, I’ll be all right. I guess my sister can send me money to come up to her. I’ve got enough in my basket for us to eat until she does. I can do without coffee. They won’t put me off, wi–ll–?’

“The woman couldn’t finish the sentence.

“One of the boys–Ferguson was his name–who sat across the aisle beside a wealthy looking old man, came over. ‘Don’t you worry a bit, Madam,’ said he. ‘You’ll get through all right. I’ll see the conductor.’ The old man–a stockholder in a big bank, I afterward learned–merely twirled his thumbs.

“The conductor came where we were and said: ‘Yes, she had a ticket when she got on my division. I punched it and handed it back to her. That’s all I’ve got to do with the matter.’

“‘But,’ spoke up Collins, ‘this woman has just lost her husband and hasn’t any money either. She’s going through to Colorado to get work. Can’t you just say to the next conductor that she had a ticket and get him to take care of her and pass her on to the next division?’ “‘Guess she’ll have to get off at Lincoln,’ answered the conductor gruffly, ‘our orders are to carry no one without transportation.’ All railroad men have not yet learned that using horse sense and being polite means promotion.

“The poor woman began to cry but my friend Billie, said: ‘Don’t cry, Madam, you shall go through all right. Just stay right where you are.’