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From Laura Ingall's-Wilder's book Farmer Boy about the boyhood
experiences of her husband Almanzo. In this scene, Almanzo has been double-dared to ask his father for a nickel to buy lemonade.
When he asks, his father gives him a lesson in the value of money:
Father looked at him
a long time. Then he took out his wallet and opened it, and slowly he took out a round, big silver half-dollar. He asked:
"Almanzo, do you know what this is?" "Half a dollar," Almanzo answered. "Yes. But do you
know what half a dollar is?" Almanzo didn't know it was anything but half a dollar. "It's work,
son," Father said. "That's what money is; it's hard work. You know how to raise potatoes, Almanzo?" "Yes," Almanzo said. "Say you have a seed potato in the spring, what do you do with it?" "You
cut it up," Almanzo said. "Go on, son." "Then you harrow - first you manure the field, and plow
it. Then you harrow, and mark the ground. And plant the potatoes, and plow them, and hoe them. You plow and hoe them twice." "That's right son, and then?" "Then you dig them and put them down cellar." "Yes.
Then you pick them over all winter; you throw out all the little ones and the rotten ones. Come spring, you load them up and
haul them here to Malone, and you sell them. And if you get a good price, son, how much do you show for all that work? How
much do you get for half a bushel of potatoes?" "Half a dollar," Almanzo said. "Yes," said
Father. "That's what's in this half-dollar, Almanzo. The work that raised half a bushel of potatoes is in it." Almanzo looked at the round piece of money that Father held up. It looked small, compared with all that work. "You
can have it, Almanzo," Father said. Almanzo could hardly believe his ears. Father gave him the heavy half-dollar. "It's yours," said Father. "You could buy a suckling pig with it, if you want to. You could raise it
and it would raise a litter of pigs, worth four, five dollars apiece. Or you can trade that half-dollar for lemonade, and
drink it up. You do as you want, it's your money."
"Why had they been so anxious to believe that any government could
solve problems for them which had been pridefully solved, many times over, by their fathers? Had their characters become so
weak and debased, so craven and so emasculated, that offers of government dole had become more important than their liberty
and their humanity? Had they not known that power delegated to government becomes the club of tyrants? They must have known.
They had their own history to remember, and that history of five thousand years. Yet, they had willingly and knowingly, with
all this knowledge, declared themselves unfit to manage their own affairs and had placed their lives, which belonged to God
only, in the hands of sinister men who had long plotted to enslave them, by wars, by "directives," by "emergencies."
In the name of the American people, the American people had been made captive."
- Taylor Caldwell, from her novel The Devil's Advocate, 1964