Sarah Weeks was a frail, happy child. Although being born into a rather poor family, Sarah kept her head high and looked towards the brightest sides of things.

When winter rolled around again, poor Sarah found her coat had grown too small and decided to go to her mother, who was a widow.

"Mother, my coat has grown to small for me. What shall I do?" Sarah held the old gray coat out to her mother, who was darning a sock.

The woman sighed and took the coat. "Give this coat to your younger sister and find your older brother Turk."

Sarah nodded and took the coat to her younger sister Olivia, who took it gratefully, having outgrown her last threadbare coat.

Next Sarah went to find Turk, who was reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. "Turk, Mother wants you."

"Aw, I just got to the good part," Turk protested.

"Come on, she's waiting," Sarah called over her shoulder as she left.

Turk groaned and rolled his eyes, throwing his book on his bed and following Sarah.

"Now Turk, I want you to watch your sister and the baby while Sarah and I go to get her a new coat from the second-hand store. We'll be back as soon as we can," Mother instructed, putting the darned sock in his hand as she put away her things.

"And Sarah, you can wear my old-old coat for going to the store."

Sarah nodded and ran to the closet, where she found Mother's moth-eaten coat. As she tried to button it up, she found several of the buttons falling off and cracked.

Half buttoned-up, Sarah went with Mother downtown to the second-hand store. Their breath hung in clouds in the air as they crunched quickly over the frosted ground, shivering.

As they entered the store, a bell above jingled, and an unseen half-hearted voice said, "Welcome to the Tristen's Twice-Used Store."

Mother made her way to the back counter, clutching Sarah's hand. Behind the desk sat an older woman, looking very sad and unhappy.

Sarah noticed her name tag. She always felt that if she were to become somewhat social, that she'd have to notice and remember people's names.

"Good day. Yes, we'd like to look at some coats for Sarah here," Mother said gently.

"Back in the corner, to the left," the older woman sighed. "We just got a huge donation from a rich family with six girls. Gave us quite the hard time, they did."

Mother smiled knowingly. "Thank you. Come, Sarah," she said making her way to the back.

In the back was a metal rack, strung with coats of all sizes and colors.

"Now, dear, remember," Mother began.

"I know, I know, 'warmth, price, and biggish fit, not color and fashion'," Sarah recited, staring at the many coats.

"Yes, that's right dear. Why, this one's quite nice, and it seems practically new!" Mother said, picking out a dingy brown leather coat. Sarah pointed to a price tag.

"Oh, dear. Always too much," Mother sighed, putting it back just as Sarah pulled out a blue one.

"This one's nice and big, but not too big, Mother. And almost cheap!" she exclaimed, holding it up to herself.

It was a dark light gray blue cotton coat, with buttons down the front and a soft hood. There was a small stain on the sleeve, but it was otherwise in good condition. The price tag read four dollars, under the five dollar price limit that had been set since Sarah could remember.

"Hmm, just not right," Mother said. "What about this one?" She held up a faded hot pink coat with blue buttons, and stars all over. "It's only two fifty, too!"

"Rip in the back," Sarah said, cringing at the thought of having to wear the ugly coat to school and back. And to church; what a disgrace!

"How about this one?" she asked again, holding up the blue one.

"Oh, Sarah, be sensible. The wind would cut right through that coat, right through it!" Mother protested. She held up an orange and gray coat. "This one is nice and cozy."

"And six dollars," Sarah retorted, holding out the blue coat.

"Shop closes in five minutes, ladies," the older woman named Abigail called in a monotone voice.

"You know what? Fine. Take the coat. But you can't complain," Mother agreed.

"Yes!" Sarah cheered.

"But consider this coat first," Mother added, holding up a tan jacket.

"Jacket, not warm enough. This one," Sarah said, thrusting the blue coat out.

They made their way back home through the icy weather, now starting to snow lightly. By the time that they had unlocked the door and hurried in the kitchen, it was sheets of snow, so white you could barely see your hand in front of you.

"Hullo," Turk said as they came into the dining room. "Olivia nearly ruined your supper by turning the oven up after I checked the casserole."

Mother picked the baby up out of her playpen after dumping her coat onto the table with her purse. She then sighed and fell into her rocking chair. "Bring her out here when you go to your bedroom, Sarah. Stay here, Turk. I want you to explain the story."

Sarah went to her bedroom after sending Olivia to Mother, and twirled around in her coat, pretending she was a princess who just got a new coat, tailor made. She thrust her hand into the pocket, and to her horror, heard a ripping noise.

Sarah took the coat off and inspected the pocket. She had torn the lining, which had a picture and a note in it. Sarah then realized it had to have been sewed there, and opened the note to read it.

Dear Abigail,

Fall is such a pretty color here, isn't it?

I have written to you because enclosed in this note is a few billfolds for you to use to save your farm. There is also a picture of Benny and Johnny for you to frame due to your special request during your last visit.

Stay safe and warm, dear Abby!

Your Aunt Petunia

Sarah frantically undid the paper that had been sewed together at the bottom, hoping to find...the money! Sarah counted the billfolds, her hands trembling in excitement. One, two, three, What would Mother buy with the money? Four, five, ten, fifteen, Would she attempt to return it? Twenty, thirty, forty, Would she use it at all or save it in the sock under her mattress? Fifty.

Sarah recounted the money once, twice, and one time more to make sure she had the right amount. Then she ran out to tell Mother, Turk, and Olivia.

In the living room, they were arguing away. Olivia was near tears. "Mother! Turk! Olivia! I've solved our problem!" Sarah yelled, bursting with happiness.

"Sarah, please don't interrupt us while we're-" Mother sighed impatiently.

"Mother!" Turk exclaimed. "Sarah's got money!"

"Sarah! How did you...? Where did it...?" Mother sat back, aghast in awe and wonder, opening her hands for Sarah to empty the money into.

"I found it in my pocket. Someone sewed it into the lining of the pocket, with this note and photograph!"

"One, two, three, four, five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty dollars!" Mother gasped. "Oh, Sarah, we should try to return it," she said darkly, looking at the photo and reading the letter.

"But, Mother, this coat was donated by someone. Doesn't it seem likely that they found enough money to save their house anyway? Besides, the owner must be very old if this picture is so worn," Turk protested.

"They lady at the second-hand store's name was Abigail!" Sarah exclaimed.

"We'll return it tomorrow," Mother said firmly, tucking the money in her blouse pocket.

"But what if she doesn't work there tomorrow?" Sarah pointed out.

"Not in this weather!" Mother exclaimed. "Way too cold. We'll got tomorrow. Well, no. You may have a point. Bundle up, Sarah. We're headed back into town."

So, Mother and Sarah scurried back through the snow and into town. They pushed through the door, and sighed with relief as they heard Abigail's depressed voice say, "We're closed, folks. Scat..." Her voice faded away as she noticed them.

"Abigail, dear, sit down," Mother said gently, gesturing to a ten dollar orange couch.

"Alright, what's the holdup?" Abigail asked suspiciously.

"No holdup. You see, Abigail, I was in my coat when I stuck my hand in it and ripped the lining. And, this is what I found," Sarah explained, handing her the money, picture, and photograph that Mother handed her out of her blouse pocket.

"My...I thought I'd never see this! You see, my Aunt Petunia sent me a letter, asking if I had gotten the money. I hadn't, of course, and called her on the telephone.

"The reason for it, I suppose, is that the Briddengale's girls keep intercepting my mail, hoping for another letter from my old beau. Then they donated the coats, and became very snotty when they entered the store and saw me here."

There were tears in Abigail's eyes as she clutched the money. "Thank you. The bank is sending a man out to my house today after work. It's my last chance. You saved my home, and my job. I am very beholden to you."

Mother smiled. "It's the least we could do, Abigail."

Abigail thanked them once more, and they hurried home, Abigail smiling all the while as they left. She never cried, not even when the bank finally took her home and she moved in with the Weeks. Because she knew someone was finally there for her, to be her friend.

December 02, 2019 22:19

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