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Short Story

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Pea story

Babs Miller was bagging some early potatoes for

me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and

feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising

a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the

display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for

creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the

peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation

between Mr. Miller and the ragged boy next to me.

"Hello Barry, how are you today?"

"H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin'

them peas. Sure look good."

"They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?"

"Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time."

"Good. Anything I can help you with?"

"No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas."

"Would you like to ta ke some home?"

"No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with."

"Well, what have you to trade me for some of



"All I got's my prize marble here."

"Is that right? Let me see it."

"Here 'tis. She's a dandy."

"I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one


blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a


one like this at home?"

"Not zackley. but almost."

"Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with

you and next trip this way let me look at that

red marble."

"Sure will Thanks Mr. Miller."

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came

over to help me. With a smile she said, "There


two other boys like him in our community, all

three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just

loves to bargain with them for peas, apples,

tomatoes, or whatever.

When they come back with their red marbles,


they always do, he decides he doesn't like red

after all and he sends them home with a bag

of produce for a green marble or an orange one,


I left the stand smiling to myself, impressed

with this man. A short time later I moved to

Colorado, but I never forgot the story of

this man, the boys, and their bartering.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the

previous one. Just recently I had occasion to


some old friends in that Idaho community and


I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died.


were having his viewing that evening and knowing


friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.

Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to

meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer

whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One


in an army uniform and the other two wore nice

haircuts, dark suits and white shirts...all very

professional looking.

They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed

and smiling by her husband's casket. Each of the

young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek,

spoke briefly with her and moved on to the


Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one

by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed

his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in

the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly,

wiping his eyes. Our turn came to meet Mrs.


I told her who I was and mentioned the story


had told me about the marbles. With her eyes

glistening, she took my hand and led me to the


"Those three young men who just left were the

boys I told you about. They just told me how they

appreciated the things Jim "traded" them.

Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind

about color or size .They came to pay their


"We've never had a great deal of the wealth of

this world," she confided, "but right now, Jim

would consider himself the richest man in Idaho "

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless

fingers of her deceased husband. Resting


were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

Moral: We will not be remembered by our words,

but by our kind deeds.

Life is not measured by the breaths we take,


by the moments that take our breath.

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