Five Little Pennies

By Rachel Barnard

Five Little Pennies by Rachel Barnard

Once upon a time there lived a very old man who was very fond of omelets. One day the old man looked in his fridge and saw that he had run out of eggs. He decided to go to the market to buy some more. The old man put five little pennies into his pocket and hobbled out of his humble home. He sang softly to himself, "one little penny for market, and four little pennies for me." The pennies clanked merrily together as he ambled down the road to the market.​​ 

After walking for a while he noticed a cat was following him. The cat sat down next to an old, old lady. She was clothed in cobwebs; they were so tattered and worn. Her face was wrinkled in sorrow and lined in regret and shame. She held out her hands and quietly spoke to the old man; "I have nothing to eat in my house and no way of getting any food to feed my children for supper tonight." The old man, without a second thought, pulled out one of his little pennies and set it down gingerly in the beggar-woman's outstretched palm. She thanked him and he tipped his hat to her and continued on the path to the market, followed by the cat. After several moments of reflection, the old man began to sing again, "One little penny for market, three little pennies for me," and he rubbed his hand against the pennies possessively.​​ 

He walked purposefully until he came to a lemonade stand. A small boy was squeezing lemons. "Only one penny for a cup of lemonade" the boy pleaded. The old man took out one little penny and handed it to the boy. The old man drank down the lemonade and was instantly refreshed and began to sing, "One little penny for market, two little pennies for me." He continued his journey down the path to the market, waving goodbye and good luck to the small boy.​​ 

Soon, he came to a wishing well. Beside the well sat a young maiden who was crying. The cat that had been following the man jumped up onto her lap. The old man asked her, "Why are you crying, there is nothing more beautiful than youth." She began to cry harder and pet the cat while sobbing "but I don't want to be young, I want to be grown up so that I don't have to do any chores!" The old man sat down next to the girl and told her that old people had to do chores too. Surprised, she stopped crying, but she was still upset so the old man took a little penny out of his pocket and handed it to the girl. "You can make a wish." She smiled and threw the penny into the well. She thanked the man and walked back home to do her chores. The old man rested for a while and then started walking to the market again. Happy that he was able to help the girl he started to sing, "One little penny for market, one little penny for me."​​ 

He saw in the distance a peculiar bridge. It looked haphazardly put together, yet sturdy. As the old man and the cat approached the bridge, a portly man appeared. His beard was as long as his greed, for he said, "The toll for my foot bridge is one copper." The old man gazed longingly at the other side of the bridge and despairingly at the steep bank and river separating him from the market just beyond. He grudgingly pulled out one little penny and handed it over to the portly man who pocketed it and disappeared. The old man strode across the sighing bridge and pulled his remaining penny out of his pocket and stared at it in the sun. He remarked softly to himself, "One little penny for market."​​ 

The old man marched resolutely across the bridge and gazed at the market on the other side. As he was staggering across, a boy bumped into him, knocking the old man to the ground. His penny fell out of his pocket and the boy grabbed it and ran away. The old man picked himself up, looked after his last chance at breakfast and hung his head in despair. The cat that had been following him was suddenly transformed into a young man. The cat-that-was-now-a-person said to the old man, "I have seen how you gave to the old woman, bought from the young boy, helped the girl with her troubles, paid the toll honestly, and did not chastise the boy that robbed you. For these good deeds I will give you a nickel. The Old man laughed and sang jubilantly as he sauntered toward the market and his breakfast. He sang, "One little penny for market, and four little pennies for me."​​ 



About The Author

Rachel Barnard’s greatest accomplishments have been eating an entire half gallon of ice cream in one sitting, winning a boot toss, and writing a novel about herself. Rachel Barnard wishes she were taller, that chocolate had no calories, and that books could be eaten after they were read. Rachel Barnard resides in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dress up, talk about writing and books, and dance. Rachel Barnard primarily writes young adult books, including Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams, At One’s Beast, and Donuts in an Empty Field (For the Love of Donuts Book 1).