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The Strawberries

2006-07-14 00:18

  A war veteran with a wooden leg came to a town and suddenly he became very sick. He could not continue his journey and had to seek shelter in the attic of a barn. Stretched out on the straw he suffered a great deal. Little Aggie, the daughter of a poor basket-maker, took care of the sick man in a most extraordinary manner. She visited him every day and each time she gave him some money.

  But one day the soldier, who was an honest man, said to his young nurse very gravely: “My dear child, from what I found out, your parents are very poor. Will you please tell me where you receive all this money? I would prefer to go hungry than accept money which you could not give me with a clear conscience.”

  “Oh,” replied Aggie, “you don't have to worry at all, because I earn those few pence honestly. Every morning I go to school in the nearby village and to reach the school I have to pass through the woods where there are many strawberries. At every visit I gather a basketful of strawberries and I sell them in the village. My parents know this and are happy. They often say: ”There are people who are worse off than we are and it is our duty to help them as much as we are able'.“

  The old soldier's eyes were full of tears and they rolled slowly down his cheeks. “My dear child,” he said, “may God bless you and your parents for this work of mercy.”

  A few days later a magnificent coach stopped in the main street of the village, and inside this coach sat a very distinguished military officer who wore several decorations. His horses had to be shod and while the general was in town he heard about the sick soldier and soon he went to visit him.

  The veteran received him with joy and spoke enthusiastically of his little benefactress.

  “What is this?” exclaimed the general. “A poor child has done so much for you? I'll have you placed in a hotel immediately where you will be treated properly.”

  When this was done the officer went to see little Aggie.

  “My dear child,” he said to her, “your goodness has moved my heart and brought tears to my eyes. You have with your little works of charity given quite a sum of money to the old soldier and to reward you for such generosity here is that amount of money in gold.”

  Aggie's parents did not know what to say: “Sir, it is too much for such a small matter.”

  But the general replied: “It is certainly not too much, it is a very insignificant reward for her goodness, but she will have a better reward in heaven.”

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