How Hiram Spent His Shrimp Money
“I wish my mother had a ring like those the ladies wear at the hotel,” said Hiram Green to himself one day. “There isn’t one of those ladies as pretty as my mother; she ought to wear rings too.”
Hiram was the son of a fisherman, but the fisherman had died when Hiram was a little boy. Hiram’s mother took in sewing and fancy work to earn money to support herself and her son. He helped her what he could out of school hours, and in vacation. He had two uncles who wad taught him how to catch shrimps. With the money he earned by selling them he could buy things for his own use or pleasure. He had a bank almost full of what he called his “shrimp-money.” He did not mean to count his money until the bank was full.
Now Hiram loved his mother more than anything else in the world. Whenever he dreamed of being rich some time, as boys often do, it was not for himself he wanted the money, but that his dear little mother might drive in a carriage, drawn by a pair of horses with clanking chains.
The sight of the flashing gems on the hands of some of the summer visitors at the fishing village in which he lived had added a new article to the list of beautiful things his mother was some day to own. He had heard that just one single diamond was sometimes worth five hundred dollars or more. This had discouraged him very much. But one day happening to pass a shop in the neighboring town he saw a number of rings displayed in the window. Diamond rings which flashed and sparkled, it seemed to him, just as those worn by the ladies in the hotels. He stopped fascinated, ana pressed his face against the glass eagerly to see if any prices were marked upon them. Imagine his surprise when he saw upon the largest one a tag marked $4.75. He looked again to see if he had not made a mistake. Perhaps it was $475.00. But no, he knew enough about figures to see that he was right the first time.
Home he went as fast as he could get there, and ran up into his bedroom. Then, for the first time since he had begun to save his “shrimp-money” he opened his bank and counted its contents. “Three dollars and twenty-two cents!” he cried, “almost enough. I was going to buy something for myself this time, but I’ll have that ring before another week.”
Hiram worked early and late for the next few days. He caught more shrimps than he had ever caught in the same length of time, and sold them readily.
“I think there must be something you are wanting, very much, my boy,” said his mother.
“Yes, there is,” replied Hiram.
At the end of the week he had the sum he desired. Hurrying to the shop where he had seen the ring, before going inside he gave one hasty, almost frightened look into the window. Could it be gone! No, there it was flashing and sparkling as before.
That evening, he placed it on his mother’s finger. She looked at it in surprise. “It is yours, mother,” he cried, proudly, “your very own, I bought it with my shrimp money. I was determined my mother should have a ring as handsome as those ladies wear.”
“My dear boy,” said his mother, while something as bright as the shining stone flashed in her eyes, “Not one of those ladies can value their rings as I shall value mine.”
Years afterwards Hiram learned that what he had bought for a diamond was only a bit of glass.
“Did you know it then, mother?” he asked.
His mother nodded. “And you never told me.”
“It was brighter to me than any real diamond,” she said, “the brightness I saw flash in it was the unselfish love of my boy.”