Bess looked down at her shoes. Although made in a sensible, teacher style, they were no match for the ten miles that stretched between the two of them and town.
She looked at her friend and fellow teacher Ebbie and groaned a little. " I can't even think of that, Ebbie." She looked up at the sky. "Lord, please send a ride our way into town, " she implored.
Ebbie added hastily, "And please let it not be in the back of a chicken truck!"
They both shook their heads as if to banish the memory. In the early 1920's, hitchhiking was still a fairly safe, if erratic, mode of transportation for two brand new teachers, and it was the only way they could make it into town from their rural teacherage to buy groceries and do a little shopping. Their last ride to town had been in the back of a large truck hauling cages and cages of chickens. They themselves resembled chickens when they finally arrived in town after several stops picking up more fowl along the way.
They trudged down the road, sticking out their thumbs at the lone vehicle headed north, but it was a farmer in a Model T and he called out as he chugged past, "Sorry girls, got a cow in labor! Can't stop today!"
Bess pushed her long curls out of her face. The dust from the road coupled with the already oppressive humidity was decimating the care she'd put into her hair and makeup that early morning. Ebbie was limping slightly, even though they'd only walked the first two miles.
"Bess, I..." Ebbie began before she was cut off by a car that slid quietly in behind them and slowed to a stop. It was a sleek and shiny black, longer and larger than any they'd ever seen. Had they known anything about cars at that time, they would have identified it as a 1924 Pierce- Arrow, one of the premier luxury touring cars of the day.
A small, elderly woman in the back seat, dressed in black from her hat all the way through her exquisitely made leather shoes, beckoned to them. "Come on, girls. We'll give you a ride into town."
The chauffeur held the door as the girls stepped gingerly into the back with their benefactor. "Are you the new teachers?" she asked as they settled in, dumbfounded at the turn of events.
"Yes, ma'am, we are," Bess replied. "I am Bess and this is Ebbie."
"I am Henrietta King, " she told them. "I live in Corpus Christi now, but I still come down from time to time to check on my ranch. We can drop you in town on our way back."
The girls' eyes widened. The King Ranch was the largest ranch in the world and Mrs. King, one of the richest women in America and owner of the ranch, was almost a mythical figure. Her acumen and largesse were legendary. They never thought they'd have the opportunity to meet, much less ride, with her.
A staunch Presbyterian, Mrs. King talked with the girls of the Bible, her first foray into Texas with her missionary father, and how happy she was they were teachers. The ride was over before they knew it, but the impact of her act of kindness seared into Bess and Ebbie for the rest of their lives.
When Mrs. King passed away the next year, her coffin flanked by 200 vaqueros (cowboys) on horseback, Bess and Ebbie were there to pay tribute as well.
And when my Grandma Bess and her lifelong friend Ebbie would tell us this story, they always ended with, "You'll be more remembered for your kindness than for your wealth."
This is my first blog hop,The Random Acts of Kindness bloghop, sponsored by Wayman Publishing. They are giving away some great free ebooks today. And if you buy any of the .99 ebooks, you will automatically be entered into an iPad Mini-Sweepstakes. Visit this link: Wayman Publishing to find out more.