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A penny's worth
A child with a grubby face and tattered bows stooped over a cracked gutter. Her delicate, little fingers reached out to the dull shine of an old penny, as her innocent eyes widened with delight.
Her thumb brushed the edge of the copper wonder, so softly, and the penny, which had been precariously perched there, slid into the damp depths of the gutter.
Her face still joyous, only fell to disappointment as the light twinkle of the penny’s demise echoed back to her.
She stood, hand still outstretched to her lost treasure. A tear sprang into the gutter to unite with the penny, as she in vain reached as far into the gutter as her small arms would allow.
She sighed, straightening up, her blessed childhood allowing her to be oblivious to the muck imprinted onto her clothes and skin.
She turned away, wiping away her sorrow with the backs of her hand, leaving trails of clean, pink skin on her face.
A man, dressed in a grim, crisp overcoat and shiny leather shoes, watched her give a final, remorseful look at the wretched gutter which swallowed her joy.
He reached into his pocket, to pull out a few gleaming coins and creased bills.
He glanced at them, making sure it was enough to buy a treat which would relieve him of his pity for her.
The he gently tossed them behind the receding child. The tinkling noise that had at first brought sadness to the child’s face, now brought elated surprise.
The child knelt at the spot where the coins danced and bills fluttered, the miracle of their sudden appearance going unquestioned, as the wonder of their beauty set in.
She absently set the dull, green bills aside, staring in awe at the coins now in her palm.
Slowly, she set coin by coin to her side, until the only coin she cradled, glinted copper.
She carefully stood, her eyes shining with joy and tears, and she ran off, hand clenched as not to lose her treasure twice.
The rich man stared dumbfounded at the abandoned silver coins and runaway bills. He hurried over to them and picked them up, tucking each hurriedly into his pocket.
He dismissed the child foolish, for picking the lone penny over the bills. He laughed to himself, how could the simple shine of brass be more valuable than six dollars? He laughed again, quietly. Foolish child.