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Marbles and Peas

        


During the waning years of the depression in a small southeastern 
Idaho community, I used to stop by my brother Miller's roadside stand 
for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and 
money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used extensively. 
One particular day Mr. 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' admiring' 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' admiring' them peas."
"Would you like to take some home?"
"No Sir Got nuthin to pay for em with."
"Well. what have you to trade me for some of those peas?"
"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. HMMMM, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of 
go for red. Do you have a red 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 the 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 are 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, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after 
all and sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or 
an orange one, perhaps."
I left the stand, smiling to myself impressed with this man. A short 
time later I moved to Utah, 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 visit some old 
friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that 
Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and 
knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.
Upon our 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 was in an army 
uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white 
shirts...very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, 
standing smiling and composed, 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 casket.

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. Miller. I told her who I was and 
mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes 
glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket.
"Those three young men that just left were the boys I told you 
about. They just told me how much 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 debt. We've never had a 
great deal of wealth in 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 underneath were three. magnificently shiny, 
red marbles.




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Editor's note:
  "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have 
love one to another." John 13:35
  "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To 
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep 
himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27


"Neither doctrinal purity nor diligent labor will ever be a substitute for passionate devotion to God."

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