Fact Check

The Price of a Miracle

Little girl seeks aid for her sick brother and learns the price of a miracle?

Published Oct 15, 2000


Claim:   A little girl seeks aid for her sick brother and learns the price of a miracle.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2000]

Tess was eight years old when she heard her Mom and Dad talking about her little brother, Andrew. All she knew was that he was very sick and they were completely out of money. They were moving to an apartment complex next month because Daddy didn't have the money for both the doctor bills and for the house payment.

Only a very costly surgery could save her brother now and it was looking like there was no one to loan them the money. She heard her Dad say to her Mom, "Only a miracle can save him now."

Tess went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured all the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. She counted it three times. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes.

Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.

Tess waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was too intently talking to another man to be bothered by an eight year old at this moment. She twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise.


She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good.

Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!

"And what do you want?" the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. "I'm talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven't seen in ages," he said without waiting for a reply to his question.

"Well, I want to talk to you about my brother," Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. "He's really, really sick, and I want to buy a miracle."

"I beg your pardon?" said the pharmacist.

"His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So, how much does a miracle cost?"

"We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you," the pharmacist said, softening a little.

"Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs."

The pharmacist's brother stooped down and asked the little girl, "What kind of a miracle does you brother need?"

"I don't know," Tess replied with her eyes welling up. "I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation, but my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money.

"How much do you have?" asked the pharmacist's brother.

"One dollar and eleven cents," Tess answered barely audible. "And it's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to."

"Well, what a coincidence," smiled the man. "A dollar and eleven cents . . . the exact price of a miracle for little brothers." Then he said "Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the kind of miracle you need."

The pharmacist's brother was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon from Chicago who specialized in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed without charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Later, mom and dad were talking about the chain of events that had led them to this.

Her mom said, "That surgery was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?"

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost . . . one dollar and eleven cents.

Origins:   Another popular anonymous parable containing just enough detail for people to circulate it as a "true


Information about the gallant Dr. Carlton Armstrong (who fortuitously happened to be the very type of specialist little Andrew needed) has proved elusive. So far the only Carlton Armstrongs of note we've turned up are the weatherman who was charged with blowing up the University of Wisconsin, and the Vibe's bass player.

Still, true story or not, we have to wonder what sort of religious principles Tess's parents instilled in her. When told that her brother needed a miracle, the first place Tess headed was not to a church to pray for a miracle, but to a pharmacy to buy a miracle? What denomination were these people, anyway? Pharmaceuticalian?

(Yes, a pharmacy is a place one might go in order to acquire medicine, but in the story as told Tess's parents don't say anything about little Andrew's needing medicine. Tess hears about their needing money, surgery, and a miracle, but nothing about medicine.)

Last updated:   5 March 2007

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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