“Mom! When do we get to eat those cookies, huh?” Stanley interjected.
“You just hold your horses young man”, replied Mrs. Johnson. “It’s polite to serve our guests first and I want to take a good look at those hands of yours before you touch any of these cookies, are they clean?” she said as she leaned over toward Stanley who quickly wiped his hands on the back of his jeans and then slowly put his hands out for his mother to see. “Stanley, when was the last time you washed those hands?” He looked up at her with wide open eyes and said, “last night, just before dinner. Can I have a cookie now, Mom?” He started to reach for a cookie and was halted by his mother’s voice. “Stanley, you march yourself right up those stairs and wash those hands with plenty of soap and warm water, right now. You have been playing dig to China again and your hands are filthy.” Stanley slumped down in his chair, looked at his hands and said pleadingly, “Oh, Mom, I wiped ‘em off. They’re clean enough.” Mrs. Johnson straightened herself up to her full height, pointed toward the stairwell and said in her firmest voice, “March, young man!”
Stanley knew that the road of resistance to his mother’s will had come to an end. He quietly and sadly said, “Yes Ma’am” slid down from his chair and slowly headed toward the stairs. Mrs. Johnson, still pointing at the stairs and her firm voice said, “Now, Stanley.” He suddenly became a blur and was halfway up the stairs before her arm was back at her side. The other children who had sat silently during all of this laughed quietly amongst themselves and started talking about how to catch the thief again.
Andrea was the first to speak up, “Hey guys, Mrs. Johnson, I’ve been thinking. How about if we purposely leave valuable things out that might be stolen and keep a watch on them? That way we could see who the thief might be?” Jon responded enthusiastically, “That’s a great idea! Whoever it is went after my Bible while there was a crowd of kids in the hallways. We can do it at the same time and place and just leave something else each day, hide and watch to see who it is.”
Mrs. Johnson spoke up, “You kids need to also keep in mind that whoever picks up what you leave may be intending to take it to the lost and found. You need to be careful how you do this.” Sue, who had been listening thoughtfully responded, “That’s right Mom, but it is a great idea and I think that we should try it. In fact, I have a blue cashmere sweater that I could leave tomorrow.” Mrs. Johnson said quickly, “Sue, that sweater was a gift to you from Gram Susie, don’t you think that you ought to choose something a little less valuable?” Sue looked at he mother and responded, “I’ll be right there hiding and watching all the time Mom, we have to leave something that someone would really want. And besides, leaving a pretty girl’s sweater will help us to narrow down whether we are dealing with a boy or girl.” Jon piped up, “That’s a great idea. I hadn’t thought of that part.” Andrea said excitedly, “I’ll go to the school office and talk to a friend of mine that works there and ask for a list of the things that have been stolen already. Maybe that will also help us figure out more about the thief.” Jon looked at Andrea with enthusiasm in his eyes and said, “Wow, Andrea that’s another great idea! Where do you guys think that we ought to leave the sweater and won’t the three of us standing around be kind of a clue to the thief that the sweater is a trap?” Sue responded, “I have thought about all of that and, you’re right Jon , three of us would be too many. I am thinking that only one of us should wait and hide and since, it will be my sweater that is being left, I want to be the one to do it. I, also think that leaving it on the same bench that you left your Bible on would be a good idea. What do you guys think?”
Mrs. Johnson stopped what she was doing and spoke up, “Sue, I know that your heart is in the right place here, but I want you to promise me that you will be very careful when you do this. A confrontation with the thief could be very dangerous.”
“I promise Mom, I don’t want to be in any danger either. I just want to find out who is doing this and, hopefully, help them out. There must be a really good reason for a person to steal a Bible. I think that we could really help whoever it is. Will you pray for us Mom? Pray that we are successful and safe?”
“Of course I will dear,” responded her mother with an uneasy smile.