They huddled inside the storm door - two children in ragged outgrow coats

"Any old papers, lady

" I was busy

I wanted to say no - until I looked down at their feet

Thin little sandals, sopped with sleet

"Come in and I'll make you a cup of hot cocoa

" There was no conversation

Their soggy sandals left marks upon the hearthstone

Cocoa and toast with jam to fortify against the chill outside

I went back to the kitchen and started again on my household budget

The silence in the front room struck through to me

I looked in

The girl held the empty cup in her hands, looking at it

The boy asked in flat voice, "Lady

are you rich

" "Am I rich

Mercy, no

" I looked at my shabby slipcovers

The girl put her cup back in its saucer - carefully

"Your cups match your saucers

" Her voice was old with a hunger that was not of the stomach

They left then, holding their bundles of papers against the wind

They hadn't said thank you

They didn't need to

They had done more than that

Plain blue pottery cups and saucers

But they matched

I tested the potatoes and stirred the gravy

Potatoes and brown gravy - a roof over our heads - my man with a good steady job - these things matched, too