They are the greatest of friends, Mollie and Lucie. Their minds are like two pieces of flint: when they rub together, it produces a spark, and soon a wildfire. This is how it happens, so often—their imaginations know no bounds. In a walk down the street of their small town, they both see, at the same time, a doll in an antiques shop window. It’s a porcelain doll with an old, old face that looks somehow young. And she has clothes—old, raggedy clothes, but a clean petticoat. Mollie and Lucie count their money, and go in and buy the porcelain doll together, because they know it has, in that one minute, meant something to both of them. And in any of their imaginary romps, upon arriving at a paradox, they stop and say: “Let us consult the Doll.” For it has no other name. Other people see the doll and call it ugly, but not so Mollie and Lucie! They d0 nothing to improve her looks, but love her as she is.
One day, a man comes to the small town were Lucie and Mollie live. He has an old face, and it is distorted with all sorts of abuse and pain. His smile is crooked, his teeth broken, and his legs wobble and shake underneath him as he walks. He is despised wherever he goes for his age and ugliness. And when Mollie and Lucie see him they don’t know what to do about him, because he looks at them with eyes that are so blue and penetrating that they cannot turn on their heels and walk away. He seems to ask them something. And so they say to themselves: “Let us consult the Doll.” They go to the Doll and look at her face for a long, long time, and suddenly Lucie cries: “That’s it! He’s the doll! Or the doll is him, I’m not sure which—but I know that’s how it is!” and Mollie stares and laughs because she knows Lucie is right. Rushing out to the street, they see the old man standing alone, and Lucie runs up to him, throwing her arms around his neck, smiling. “Please come with us, home, to dinner, because I’ve just made an apple pie, and I need the very best of people to taste it and help me improve it.” And Mollie insists herself, so he accepts and eats with them. In the evening he sits by the fire, telling stories, his eyes deep and knowing, letting the beauty of his soul pour out on them, so that they feel everything and love him completely. Lucie and Mollie return to the attic when he is gone. They know why the doll looked so old, and yet so new.
It is because behind every seemingly old face, there is something eternal. Something that never dies.
And that in order to love, one must first love the unlovable.
END NOTE: Mollie and Lucie are real people, real friends. This was an impromptu story that Mollie told Lucie one night.