Really Rich

by Lisa Toner

Dalton looked. He looked again. Was it real? He picked up the wrinkled bill and smoothed it out.

“Whoa!” Dalton said to his friend Lizzie. “Look what I found!”

He stared at the man’s picture in the middle of the money. Benjamin Franklin stared back.

“Dalton!” Lizzie squealed. “That’s a $100 bill!”

They ran down the bread aisle to show Dalton’s mom.

“Look what Dalton found,” Lizzie said, pointing at Dalton’s hand tightly grasping the bill.

“Oh no,” Dalton’s mom said, looking around. “Someone’s going to be missing that.”

“But we’re the only people in this aisle,” Dalton said.

“What do you think we should do?” Dalton’s mom asked.

“Keep it! Keep it!” Dalton and Lizzie begged.

“What about the person who lost it?” Mom said. “What if that person can’t buy groceries because they lost their money?”

Dalton stared at the money. He had never touched a $100 bill before.

“We should tell the store manager,” Dalton’s mom said.

Dalton and Lizzie’s smiles disappeared as they followed her to the customer service counter. They showed the manager the money and told him where they had found it.

“Our store’s policy is to wait one month for someone to claim a lost item,” the manager explained. “If a month goes by and nobody calls, then it’s yours!”

Lizzie and Dalton looked at each other and grinned. Dalton’s mother gave the manager her phone number.

“Do you think the person who lost the money will call the store?” Dalton asked his mom on the ride home.

“I don’t know,” she said. “But just think how happy that person will be when they find out an honest kid turned it in,” she said, smiling at him in her rearview mirror.

“What date will it be in a month?” he asked.

“December fourth.”

“If the person doesn’t call by then,” Lizzie said, “then, cha-ching! Dalton’s rich!”

Week one passed. Weeks two and three passed.

The countdown to Christmas had begun. Dalton was unloading his book bag one day after school and pulled out a paper about his school’s Christmas toy drive.

“What’s a toy drive?” Dalton asked his mom.

“A drive is an event to collect something to help someone else,” she explained. “Your school is collecting toys for kids who may not get any presents this year.”

“No presents?” Dalton asked.

“Some families barely have enough money to fill their cars with gas, heat their homes and buy food,” Mom explained. “Speaking of money,” she said, “I almost forgot!”

Dalton’s mom unzipped her purse and pulled out a white envelope.

“I was at the grocery store and the manager recognized me,” she said, handing the envelope to Dalton.

He opened the envelope and found the $100 bill inside. “Wow! Nobody called?”

“I guess not,” Mom said, smiling. “What are you going to do with it?”

“I don’t know,” Dalton said. “There’s lots of stuff I could buy.”

That weekend Dalton and his mom went to the biggest toy store in town. Dalton looked up and down each aisle. There were so many choices. He studied them all and carefully selected just the right ones.

When he was finished, he pushed his cart, loaded with toys and games, to the checkout. He watched the clerk scan each item, until she gave him the grand total. He opened the white envelope and handed over his $100 bill. It was the most money he’d ever spent.

“We need to get home and wrap all these,” Dalton said, piling the toys into the trunk of their car. “The school’s Christmas toy drive ends next week!”

“There will be a lot of smiling kids this Christmas because of you,” Mom said. She gave Dalton a big hug.

“You know what’s weird, Mom?” Dalton said. “Even though I don’t have any money left, I feel really rich.”

This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazine. Copyright © 2009 Lisa Toner. Used by permission. Photo © 401(K) 2012/; used under Creative Commons license.