A bus driver helps a little girl and her dog on a cold winter's day, and years later, when he falls on hard times, his kindness brings an unexpected reward.
Ben Jameson noticed the old lady and her granddaughter when they became regular passengers on his bus early one fall. The woman was sweet-faced and frail, and the little girl had big blue eyes.
The two were invariably polite and always greeted Ben with a smile. Eventually, they fell to chatting and Ben learned that the old woman, Evelyn, was looking after her granddaughter, Erin, since her mother had moved to another state with her new husband.
Then one day, Ben noticed that Evelyn and Erin hadn't been on the bus on their usual route to and from the school for a few days. It would be weeks before Ben saw little Erin again. Alone.
Ben was driving through the storm when he saw little Erin in the bus stop | Source: Shutterstock.com
It was two weeks until Christmas and it was one of the coldest days Ben had ever experienced. The snow fell in thick curtains and covered the roads and sidewalks.
There were very few people about and Ben was almost at the end of his shift when he saw a small figure huddled at a bus stop. He drew to a stop and opened the doors, but the figure didn't move.
Worried, Ben jumped down and approached the figure. It was a child wrapped in an overcoat several sizes too big, and when the figure lifted its head, Ben recognized little Erin, Evelyn's granddaughter.
Good deeds are like boomerangs, they always return.
"Child, what are you doing here alone?" Ben asked. "Where's your grandma?"
Ben was a city bus driver | Source: Unsplash
Erin raised those enormous blue eyes and whispered, "Grandma Evie is gone. Mr. Driver, she's gone to heaven."
Ben felt a pang of grief for the lovely old lady, and especially for little Erin. "Why are you here, child?" he asked.
Erin unfolded part of the overcoat and revealed a pair of liquid brown eyes, a twitchy black nose, and long silky ears. "Grandma Evie gave me Richie the week before she died, and now my aunt wants me to give him away, but I can't!"
Erin started sobbing as if her heart would break and hugged the squirming puppy fiercely. "The shelters kill them, Mr. Driver, I saw it on the internet, and I don't want Richie to die!"
He noticed Evelyn and her granddaughter Erin | Source: Unsplash
Gently, Ben caressed the silky ears and the puppy licked his hand. "Well now, not all shelters do that, Erin," he said, "But why don't we get on the bus where it's warm and I'll take you home?"
Erin shook her head. "Aunt Chris said Richie can't come back!" Ben picked up Erin and the puppy all wrapped up in the huge overcoat and carried them into the bus.
He started driving, but the closer they got to their destination, the more Erin sobbed. Eventually, Ben pulled over. "Honey," he said gently. "What about if I took care of Richie for you?"
Erin looked as if a light had suddenly been switched on inside her. "You would? You'd look after Richie for me? Seriously?"
Ben saw the girl by the bus stop | Source: Unsplash
"Yes," Ben promised. "I'll look after Richie until you can come to fetch him, OK?"
"It may take a long time," Erin said. "Maybe only when my mom comes back from Alaska..."
Ben took out a piece of paper and wrote out his phone number and his address. "Here, Erin," he said. "You can find me here, and call me to ask how Richie is doing, OK?"
Erin was smiling and nodding, and when Ben dropped her off, she said goodbye to Richie without tears and ran into the building clutching the paper with Ben's address and phone number.
Erin explained that Evie had given her the puppy | Source: Unsplash
It would be over 10 years before Ben saw her again, and by then his life had undergone some radical changes. It was as if a malignant tornado had hit his life. First, his wife had died, then he lost his job and his home.
For the last five years, Ben had been living on the streets, but he kept his word to Erin. He looked after Richie, although in truth, lately, it had been Richie looking after him, giving him a reason to get up each morning.
Ben and Richie were at their usual spot in the local business district panhandling when Richie suddenly started barking wildly, waving his tail fit to fall off and pulling at his leash, then with a tug, he was gone!
Ben ran after the dog and saw him jumping up and fussing over a tall, slender, beautifully-dressed woman. "Richie," Ben cried, "Bad dog! You come back here!" At the sound of his voice, the woman turned to look at him.
Ben and Richie were living on the streets | Source: Unsplash
The moment he saw those blue eyes, Ben recognized Erin, and he could see that she had recognized him and Richie too because she had the biggest smile he'd ever seen on a human face. "Mr. Driver!" she cried. "I called your number and I went to your house..."
Ben shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid things haven't been working out for me Erin!" he said. "I lost my house, and Richie and me, we've been living on the streets."
"Not anymore," Erin said. "You and Richie are coming home with me." And they did. As it turned out, Erin and her husband were very well off and owned a huge house with sprawling gardens.
Erin's husband hired Ben as his driver and he and Richie moved into a little cottage on the grounds. Since Erin had no family left, she became very attached to Ben and asked him to be the godfather of her first baby.
Richie recognized Erin straight away | Source: Unsplash
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