American History Stories—Volume IV - Mara L. Pratt

Lillie's Five-Dollar Gold Piece

A lady at the head of one of these relief societies tells this story:

A little girl not nine years old, with sweet and timid grace, came into the rooms, and laying a five-dollar gold piece on our desk, half frightened, told us its history. "My uncle gave me that before the war, and I was going to keep it always; but he's got killed in the army, and mother says now I may give it to the soldiers if I want to—and I'd like to do so. I don't suppose it will buy much for them, will it?" We led the child to the store-room, and showed her how valuable her gift was, by pointing out what it would buy—so many cans of milk, or so many bottles of ale, or pounds of tea, or codfish, etc. Her face brightened with pleasure. But when we explained to her that her five-dollar gold piece was equal to seven dollars and a half in greenbacks, and told her how much comfort we could carry into a hospital, with the stores that sum would buy, she fairly danced with joy.

"Oh, it will do lots of good, won't it?" And folding her hands before her, she begged, in her charmingly modest way, "Please tell me something that you've seen in the hospitals?"

We told her a few little stories—taking care to tell this little child nothing of the horrors of hospital life and death.

Then with tears in her eyes, she said, "Lady, I am going to save every single penny I have for the soldiers; and I'm going to ask all the little girls I know to save theirs, too." Dear Little Lillie! Who can tell what a world of good her five-dollar gold piece with all her love behind it, did for some poor soldier.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - IV by Mara L. Pratt