THE FOUR SOUS
LITTLE Marie lived in a tiny village in northern France. They were a very happy family, little Marie, her father and mother, grandmother and dear little baby brother. But one day war came to France and the father had to go to the front, for nearly every French father was a soldier. It was very lonely at home without the dear, kind father. Mother and grandmother, and even little Marie, had to work very hard tending the garden, and harvesting the crops on their strip of land. Like almost every family in the villages of France, they owned their house, their pretty garden and their bit of land in the near-by country-side.
Then one sad day the war came to their own village and their red-roofed cottage was burned. After that little Marie and her mother and baby brother and poor grandmother had only the cellar to live in, with a pile of rags and straw in one corner for a bed. Those were sad days for little Marie. The weather grew very cold, baby brother cried and grandmother coughed all night. Something must be done. So one day, with six sous in her pocket (six pennies in our money), she slipped out of the cellar and walked down the long-deserted street.
Suddenly she came upon a tall man in a gray suit with a black-and-red star on his sleeve. She had heard of the Friends who built homes for the French peasants, and besides, she was feeling very rich with the six sous in her pocket. Going up to the man in gray, she said, "Will you build a house for mother and grandmother and baby brother and me? I'm tired of living in the cellar, where brother cries all day, and grandmother coughs all night. Could you make me a house with a bedroom, a living-room and a nice warm kitchen? See, I have six sous! Do you think you could do it for that?"
The tall man in gray did not smile, but looking down kindly at the tiny girl, said: "Let me see. Yes, I think we can build you a house. Indeed, I'm sure we can do it for four sous." So the little house was built and into it were put a stove, a table, some chairs, and the necessary articles for housekeeping. When all was finished and the family had moved in, the tall man in gray collected the four sous, and little Marie was happy to think that she had paid with her own four sous for the cosy house, which would keep them warm and comfortable, until Father should come back from the war.