Some people in this world have a marvellous gift. It’s hard to say exactly what this quality is: serenity, an inner strength, a generosity of spirit.

Whatever it is, when you’re in trouble, or have some aching problem, you turn to these people instinctively. Something in them draws you like a magnet.

I have a friend like that.

So, the other night, when something was weighing on my mind, I telephoned him. “Come on over,” he said. “Alma’s gone to bed, and I was about to heat up some coffee.”

So I went over, and at the end of an hour — just as I knew I would — I felt a lot better. The problem was still there, but somehow it didn’t seem so frightening. Not with Ken sitting in his old swivel chair, feet up on the desk, hands locked behind his head, not saying much, just listening...and caring.

Suddenly the gratitude and affection I felt seemed to need expression. “Ken,” I said, “when it comes to smoothing out wrinkles in troubled minds, you’re wonderful. How do you

do it?” He has a slow smile that seems to start in his eyes. “Well,” he said, “I’m a good deal older than you.” I shook my head. “Age has nothing to do with it. There’s calmness in you that goes very deep. Where did you get it?” He looked at me pensively for a few seconds, as if trying to make up his mind whether to tell me something. Finally, with the toe of his shoe, he pulled open one of the desk drawers. From it he took a small cardboard box. He put it on the blotter. —