Emma and Her Sixpence
by Timothy Shay Arthur
Emma's aunt had given her a sixpence, and now the question was, what should she buy with it? "I'll tell you what I will do, mother," she said, changing her mind for the tenth time.
"Well, dear, what have you determined upon now?"
"I'll save my sixpence until I get a good many more, and then I'll buy a handsome wax doll. Wouldn't you do that, mother, if you were me?"
"If I were you, I suppose I would do just as you will," replied Emma's mother, smiling.
"But, mother, don't you think that would be a nice way to do? I get a good many pennies and sixpences, you know, and could soon save enough to buy me a beautiful wax doll."
"I think it would be better," said Mrs Lee, "for you to save up your money and buy something worth having."
"Isn't a large wax doll worth having?"
"Oh, yes! for a little girl like you."
"Then I'll save up my money, until I get enough to buy a doll as big as Sarah Johnson's."
In about an hour afterward, Emma came to her mother, and said —
"I've just thought what I will do with my sixpence. I saw such a beautiful book at a store, yesterday! It was full of pictures, and the price was just sixpence. I'll buy that book."
"But didn't you say, a little while ago, that you were going to save your money until you had enough to buy a doll?"
"I know I did, mother; but I didn't think about the book then. And it will take so long before I can save up money enough to get a new doll. I think I will buy the book."
"Very well, dear," replied Mrs Lee.
Not long after, Emma changed her mind again.
On the next day, her mother said to her —
"Your Aunt Mary is quite sick, and I am going to see her. Do you wish to go with me?"
"Yes, mother, I would like to go. I am so sorry that Aunt Mary is sick. What ails her?"
"She is never very well, and the least cold makes her sick. The last time she was here, she took cold."
As they were about leaving the house, Emma said —
"I'll take my sixpence along, and spend it, mother."
"What are you going to buy?" asked Mrs Lee.
"I don't know," replied Emma. "Sometimes I think I will buy some cakes; and then I think I will get a whole sixpence worth of cream candy, I like it so."
"Have you forgotten the book?"
"Oh, no! Sometimes I think I will buy the book. Indeed, I don't know what to buy."
In this undecided state of mind, Emma started with her mother to see her aunt. They had not gone far before they met a poor woman, with some very pretty bunches of flowers for sale. She carried them on a tray. She stopped before Mrs Lee and her little girl, and asked if they would not buy some flowers.
"How much are they a bouquet?" asked Emma.
"Sixpence," replied the woman.
"Mother! I'll tell you what I will do with my sixpence," said Emma, her face brightening with the thought that came into her mind. "I will buy a bouquet of flowers for Aunt Mary. You know how she loves flowers. Can I do it, mother?"
"Oh, yes, dear! Do it, by all means, if you think you can give up the nice cream candy, or the picture book, for the sake of gratifying your aunt."
Emma did not hesitate a moment, but selected a very handsome bouquet of flowers, and paid her sixpence to the woman with a feeling of real pleasure.
Aunt Mary was very much pleased with the bouquet Emma brought her.
"The sight of these flowers, and their delightful perfume, really makes me feel better," she said, after she had held them in her hand for a little while; "I am very much obliged to my niece, for thinking of me."
That evening, Emma looked up from a book which her mother had bought her as they returned home from Aunt Mary's, and with which she had been much entertained, and said —
"I think the spending of my sixpence gave me a double pleasure."
"How so, dear?" asked Mrs. Lee.
"I made aunt happy, and the flower woman too. Didn't you notice how pleased the flower woman looked? I wouldn't wonder if she had little children at home, and thought about the bread that sixpence would buy them when I paid it to her. Don't you think she did?"
"I cannot tell that, Emma," replied her mother; "but I wouldn't at all wonder if it were as you suppose. And so it gives you pleasure to think you have made others happy?"
"Indeed it does."
"Acts of kindness," replied Emma's mother, "always produce a feeling of pleasure. This everyone may know. And it is the purest and truest pleasure we experience in this world. Try and remember this little incident of the flowers as long as you live, my child; and let the thought of it remind you that every act of self-denial brings to the one who makes it a sweet delight."