Only a Blade of Palm

Only a Blade of Palm

One of the young men who acted on Horace Greeley's suggestion and went west to seek his fortune, was Leonard Williams. Born of poor parents, Williams had to quit school at an early age. To aid his family in the struggle for existence, he labored for years in the coal mines of Pennsylvania when other boys of his age were free from care. Being naturally studious and ambitious, the coal mine became both high school and university for young Williams. For by the time the family had become self supporting, he had mastered the science of geology and become a practical mining engineer. About that time the gold-fever of the Forty-niners had disappeared, and vague rumors of rich ore deposits in Colorado had been in circulation throughout the eastern states. Young Williams traced several of these rumors to their source, carefully sifted the information obtained, and finally decided to set out for the Pike's Peak region. After prospecting for a while, he finally staked his claim in a convenient locality, and began operations with the meager resources at his disposal. The result verified the correctness of his judgment, for in due time Mr. Williams struck a rich deposit of gold and silver ore. Instead of drinking and gambling to celebrate the dawn of prosperity, however, he persevered in the practice of his religion and redoubled his efforts to increase the output of his mine. And before many years had rolled by, Mr. Williams began to make regular trips to the Pueblo smelters with trainloads of precious ore.

On one of these trips an incident occurred that was destined by Providence to influence Mr. Williams' entire life. It had been his practice to arrange his trips to Pueblo so as to give him the opportunity of celebrating the principal feasts of the Church in town. This year Williams arrived during Passion week with the intention of remaining for the Easter celebration. On Palm Sunday he heard Mass in St. Ignatius Church. Being a stranger he naturally waited until most of the parishioners had received the blessed palm before approaching the altar railing. The members of the choir immediately preceded him.

As Mr. Williams approached, he observed a vacant space next to the organist and crowded into it. Perhaps he felt more awkward in this position than in the cramped quarters of his mine. Perhaps the organist paid more attention to the handsome man at her side than to the distribution of the palms. At any rate, as the celebrant approached with the long blades of palm for the faithful, Williams caught hold of one end of a blade, while the organist grasped the other. When both bowed reverently to kiss the blessed palm, their cheeks touched. To this day neither knows whether the celebrant observed their confusion, as he calmly proceeded with the distribution, but Mr. Williams is certain that he carried off the palm that day. After the services Mr. Williams lingered near the church door to offer his apologies to the young lady and to beg her pardon for the embarrassment his awkwardness had caused her. By the time the organist had collected the music and closed the organ, the faithful had already departed. "I wish to apologize for my stupidity and to offer you the palm I took from you," began Mr. Williams sheepishly. "It was all my own fault," protested the organist with a roguish smile. "Will you accompany me to the post-office? I expect a letter from my mother."

Instead of a brief apology, their meeting was thus protracted into a visit to an ice cream parlor and later to a dinner at the hotel. The young lady was Miss Cullorton of Missouri, who had come to Pueblo in the hope of saving some property her mother owned. Through the influence of friends she had secured a position as teacher in the city schools and devoted her talents on Sunday morning to enhance the divine services. Though married many years now, both Mr. and Mrs. Williams still treasure the piece of blessed palm they devoutly kissed at their first meeting in St. Ignatius' church.