It was a freezing day, a few years ago, when I stumbled on(偶然发现) a wallet in the street. There was no identification(身份证明) inside. Just three dollars, and a crumpled(揉皱的) letter that looked as if it had been carried around for years.
The only thing legible(可辨认的) on the torn envelope was the return address. I opened the letter and saw that it had been written in 1924——almost 60 years ago. I read it carefully, hoping to find some clue to the identity of the wallet’s owner.
It was a “Dear John” letter((女给男的)绝交信). The writer, in a delicate script(娟秀的字迹), told the recipient, whose name was Michael, that her mother forbade her to see him again. Nevertheless, she would always love him. It was signed Hannah ．
It was a beautiful letter. But there was no way, beyond the name Michael, to identify the owner. Perhaps if I called information the operator could find the phone number for the address shown on the envelope.
“Operator, this is an unusual request(不同寻常的询问). I’m trying to find the owner of a wallet I found. Is there any way you could tell me the phone number for an address that was on a letter in the wallet?”
The operator gave me her supervisor(主管上级), who said there was a phone listed at the address, but that she could not give me the number. However, she would call and explain the situation. Then, if the party wanted to talk, she would connect me. I waited a minute and she came back on the line. “I have a woman who will speak with you.”
? I asked the woman if she knew a Hannah.?
“Oh, of course! We bought this house from Hannah’s family thirty years ago.”?
“Would you know where they could be located now?” I asked.?
“Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home(养老院) years ago. Maybe the home could help you track down(寻找…踪迹) the daughter.”?
The woman gave me the name of the nursing home. I called and found out that Hannah’s mother had died. The woman I spoke with gave me an address where she thought Hannah could be reached.
I phoned. The woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home. She gave me the number. I called and was told, “Yes, Hannah is with us.”?
I asked if I could stop by to see her. It was almost 10 p.m. The director said Hannah might be asleep. “But if you want to take a chance, maybe she’s in the day room(活动室) watching television.”
The director and a guard greeted me at the door of the nursing home. We went up to the third floor and saw the nurse, who told us that Hannah was indeed watching TV.?
We entered the day room. Hannah was a sweet, silver-haired old- timer(老人) with a warm smile and friendly eyes. I told her about finding the wallet and showed her the letter. The second(瞬间) she saw it, she took a deep breath. “Young man,” she said, “this letter was the last contact I had with Michael. ” She looked away for a moment, then said pensively(沉思地), “I loved him very much. But I was only sixteen and my mother felt I was too young. He was so handsome. You know, like Sean Connery(肖恩·康奈利〈008扮演者〉), the actor.”
We both laughed. The director then left us alone. “Yes, Michael Goldstein was his name. If you find him, tell him I still think of him often. I never did marry,” she said, smiling through tears that welled up(涌起) in her eyes. “I guess no one ever matched up to Michael...”
I thanked Hannah, said good-by and took the elevator to the first floor. As I stood at the door, the guard asked, “Was the old lady able to help you?”
? I told him she had given me a lead(提示).“ At least I have a last name. But I probably won’t pursue it further for a while.” I explained that I had spent almost the whole day trying to find the wallet’s owner.