(Christine remarked to me that this Summer story would be appropriate for those over age three; if I was telling this to my own family I probably would mark it for my five and a half/ six year olds if they were the oldest in the family).
Magic Pennies by Christine Natale
Once upon a time, when a penny was worth a dollar and a dollar was worth a great fortune, there were three poor friends.
Being poor back in those times was very common. There were very rich people, like kings and dukes, a few wealthy merchants and landowners and almost everyone else was poor. Being poor back in those times meant that a person had to work hard to have a small house or cottage, some furniture and a few clothes and their daily bread. There was never very much left over for anything else. Even so, people managed to have fun playing music, dancing and playing games.
One night, it happened to be Midsummer’s Eve, these three friends were at a dance. There was a full moon shining, summer stars were twinkling brightly and the June night was already warm. When the music stopped for a little while, the three friends went to the well to get a drink of cool water. There, they had a little conversation.
The first friend said, “I am worried about my mother. She has been getting sick pretty often this past year. Each time she is a little bit sicker. I wish I had enough money to take her to see a doctor and to buy her some medicine if she needs it.”
“I am sorry to hear about your mother,” said the second friend. “No one in my family is sick right now, but our house seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Maybe it’s because there are new babies all the time. I wish I had enough money to get us all our own houses.”
“I don’t know what I would do with so much money,” said the third friend with a laugh, “But I would sure like to find out!”
Now there happened to be a Nixie living in this well. The three friends couldn’t see her, but she saw and heard them. The full moon was making her a little bit tipsy and she thought it would be great fun to grant all three of them their wishes.
When the party was over, the three friends said good-bye and went to their homes.
The first friend came to his house and to his great surprise, he found a purse lying right there on his doorstep! When he opened it, he found it was full of small gold pennies!
The same thing happened to the second friend and to the third. The next morning all three friends met again at the well. Each had a purse of gold tucked into his pocket.
“I had something wonderful happen to me last night,” said the first friend.
“So did I”
They all reached into their pockets and pulled out their purse.
“There must have been a good fairy listening to us last night,” said the second friend.
The Nixie giggled, but they couldn’t hear her.
“Let’s wait a week or two to see if anyone claims to have lost their purses. If not, I suppose we can keep them,” said the third friend.
They agreed to this and went on their way.
After a few weeks, when there was no announcement of any missing purse, the first friend took his mother to the doctor. He gave her some medicine which worked very well and she got healthy and strong again. To his great surprise, after paying the doctor his fee and paying for the medicine, his purse was just as full of gold coins as it was when he found it.
“Well, it surely must have been a good fairy who gave me this purse!” he thought. “But I better not be foolish. I will put it away in a safe place in case there is another emergency.”
So he put the purse away in a secret place and went on as before.
After a few weeks, the second friend began to give his relations money to buy their own houses. He noticed that each time he gave away a few coins, there were still the same number in his purse. He was very pleased with this and he was happy to give his family money to buy whatever they needed.
The third friend kept the purse in his pocket in case he wanted to buy something. But there was nothing he really wanted or needed for himself or his relations.
Time went by and life became a little more difficult. There was a drought that summer and very little rain fell. The wheat did not grow and food was harder to come by.
The first friend had put aside some extra food for his mother and himself, so he continued to keep his magic purse in its secret place. Since he never opened it, he couldn’t see that the coins inside began to disappear slowly, one by one.
The second friend bought food for his relations when they needed it. Each time he took out a coin, another appeared to take its place.
The third friend began to see people in the town who were having a hard time getting enough to eat. He thought of a way to help them. He took a journey and came back with bags of flour and good things to make soup. He made a great big kettle of soup and baked loaves of bread each day and fed all of the hungry people who came. He was so busy that he didn’t notice that every time he bought more flour and food, the purse grew a little heavier than it had been before.
One day, a family came into the village. There was an old man with a young wife and a beautiful child. They were dressed in rags and they had no shoes. They all looked like they had not eaten in many days.
The family knocked on the door of the first friend and asked for a little help. The young man had become so fearful about losing his money that he had not bought any food for a long time. There was almost nothing left for his mother and himself, so he had to turn the family away.
The family knocked on the door of the second friend and asked for a little money to find a place to spend the night. The young man felt sorry for them, but he thought to himself, “I already have so many relations I am taking care of. Who knows if the purse will keep refilling itself? I better be careful.” So he refused to help the beggars.
Finally, the family knocked on the door of the third friend. He invited them in and gave them his own bed to sleep in. Of course, there was plenty of food to share and when they were ready to go on their way, he gave them a big handful of gold coins to take with them.
After the beggars left the town, the first friend decided to use just one coin to buy bread for his mother and himself. But when he took the magic purse out of its hiding place, it was completely empty!
The next time the second friend looked into his purse, it was also empty.
But the third friend never even had time to notice that his purse kept getting fatter and fatter with magic pennies. Luckily, it was a magic purse and it grew bigger each day. Otherwise it would have burst and those magic pennies would have rolled all over the floor!
July 1, 2010
Many blessings and thank you to Christine,