He barely made it back into the car when the front door slowly opened. The widow's hair was not corralled into the familiar braids, and she pulled a threadbare shawl close over her thin housedress. I realized that the wilted dresses she wore to church must have been her very finest.
Old widow Thibodeaux looked up and down her little dirt road, puzzled. We kept our heads low, hardly breathing. She took another look around. Finally she glanced down at the doormat and stiffened, and we knew she'd seen the envelope. As she stooped to pick it up, we drove away, giggling and clapping.
And that was that. Until the next Wednesday night, when we heard a tearful testimonial at church, about a miracle from God. The widow Thibodeaux's face was filled with light and joy, her tears making her eyes shine like brilliant stars. Her astonishing story thrilled the congregation. Our family cried and clapped and praised the Lord with everyone else, reveling in the widow's miraculous good fortune!
No one ever guessed. And we kept our secret. Even the kids.
None of us remembers what we bought with the cash we saved for our holiday that year, but the joy that was shining in the eyes of the widow Thibodeaux that night lights our way, still.