The moral of the following story: in every sow's ear, there's a silk purse.

A letter came last week from a woman who lives on 54th Street SE. Last year, she wrote, she wanted to send a donation to the Children's Hospital free-care fund, "but I didn't have anything to send."

"This year, it's different, praise be to God," she said. "God gave me three healthy sons and I know that if anything should happen to them, Children's Hospital is minutes away. So I'm enclosing $ 5 for each of my children and an extra $ 5 for the one I hope to have someday in the distant future."

"Great," I thought, as I flipped over the woman's check, expecting to see it made out for $ 20.

The written-out part of the check did indeed say "Twenty." But in the upper right hand corner, my correspondent had mistakenly written: "$ 25.00."

Rather than have the bank return the check because of the inconsistency, as it surely would have, I called the woman. "Oh, my heavens," she said. "I meant to make it for $ 20. Well, I guess everybody makes mistakes. I'm writing you another check right this minute."

The next day, the envelope bearing the second check was on top of the stack. I tore it open, again expecting to find a check for $ 20.

It was for $ 30.

Thanks to the most generous woman on all of 54th Street, and maybe lots of other streets as well. If only my mistakes ended so happily.