We were speaking of a woman in the community who was ignoring the conventions, thereby bringing joy to the gossips’ hearts and a shock to those persons who always think first of what people will say.
“Well of course,” said my friend; “it is all perfectly harmless and she has the satisfaction of doing as she pleases, but I’m wondering whether it’s worth the price.”
There are very few things in this world that we may not have if we are willing to pay their price. You know it has been said that “Every man has his price,” which may or may not be true, but without doubt nearly every other thing has its market value and we may make our choice and buy. We must pay, in one way or another, a greater or less amount for everything we have and sometimes we show very poor judgment in our purchases.
Many a woman and girl has paid her good eyesight for a few pieces of hand embroidery or her peace of mind for a new gown, while many a man’s good health or good standing in the community, goes to pay for his indulgence in a bad habit.
Is there something in life that you want very much? Then pay the price and take it, but never expect to have a charge account and avoid paying the bills. I know a woman who is paying a debt of this kind on the installment plan. She wanted to be a musician and so she turned her children into the streets and neglected her husband that she might have more time for practice. She already had paid too high a price for her musical education and the worst of it is that she will keep on paying the installments for the rest of her life.
There are persons who act as if the things life has to offer were on sale at an auction and if someone else is likely to secure an article, they will raise their bid without regard to the value of the goods on sale. Indeed the most of us are like people at an auction sale in this respect, that during the excitement and rivalry we buy many things we do not need, nor want, nor know just what to do with, and we pay for them much more than they are worth.
Is it your ambition to outshine your neighbors and friends? Then you are the foolish bidder at the auction sale, raising your bid just because someone else is bidding. I knew a man like this. He owned a motor car of the same size and make as those his friends had but decided he would buy a larger, more powerful, and much more expensive one. His old car was good enough for all his needs, he said, but he was going to have a car that would be “better than the other fellow’s.” I suppose he figured the cost of the car in dollars and cents, but the real price he paid was his integrity and business honor, and for a bonus, an old and valued friendship. He had very poor judgment as a buyer in my opinion.
Do you desire an education? No matter who pays the money for this, you cannot do it unless you also pay with long hours of study and application.
Do you wish to be popular? Then there is a chance to buy the real lasting thing which means to be well thought of and beloved by people worth while, or the shoddy imitation, a cheap popularity of the “hail fellow well met” sort depending mostly on one’s ability to tell a good story and the amount one is able to spend on so called pleasure. As always, the best is the cheapest, for poor goods are dear at any price. The square dealing, the kindness and consideration for others, the helpfulness and love which we must spend if we wish lasting esteem enrich us in the paying besides bringing us what we so much desired. On the other hand, in buying a cheap popularity, people sometimes bankrupt themselves in things, the value of which cannot be estimate. If popular favor must be paid for by the surrender of principles or loss in character, then indeed the price is too high.
“Buy Goods Worth the Price” by Laura Ingalls Wilder, published in The Missouri Ruralist, April 5, 1917