HOW RICH ARE YOU?
They huddled inside the storm door–two children in ragged outgrown coats.
“Any old papers, Lady?”
I was very busy, I wanted to say no, until I looked down at their feet. Thin little sandals, sopped with sleet. Their soggy sandals left marks on the clean hearthstone. “Come in and I’ll make you a cup of cocoa.” Cocoa and cake would fortify them against the chill outside.
After serving them, I went back to the kitchen and started on my household budget as they sat enjoying the room’s warmth. After a few minutes the silence in the front room struck through to me. I looked in.
The little girl held her empty cup in her hands looking at it. The boy asked in a flat voice: “Lady, are you rich?”
“Am I rich? Mercy no!” I looked at my shabby slipcovers.
The girl put her cup back in its saucer carefully. “Your cups match your saucers.” Her voice was old with a hunger that was not of the stomach.
Then they left holding their bundles of papers against the wind. They hadn’t said thank you. They didn’t need to. They had done much more than that. Plain blue pottery cups and saucers. But they matched. I tested the potatoes and stirred the gravy. Potatoes and brown gravy, a roof over our heads, my husband with a good steady job–these things matched too.
I moved the chairs back from the fire and tidied the living room. The muddy prints of small sandals were still on my hearth. I let them be. I wanted them to remain as long as possible so I would not forget how very rich I am.
(The original author and/or publisher of the above material is unknown.)
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