Jeff shrank back into the shadows when he heard the voices of the teenagers. Maybe they’d go right by the cave.
But they didn’t. They stopped outside the cave opening.
“Hey, you think he’s in here?” One of the teenagers entered but didn’t come in very far. Jeff was glad of that.
“I don’t think so,” said the kid, nervously. “Could be other things in there, though. Can’t see a thing. Let’s get going. I don’t know who that bike belongs to but he’s long gone—and the money, too.”
“Too bad. I sure could have used it.”
They left the cave and disappeared into the woods.
It was some time before Jeff ventured from his hiding place. He still hadn’t come to a decision about the wallet. He crawled out and made his way back to the scene of the accident. With some difficulty, he wheeled his bike up the bank. He had to rest a couple of times and pull himself up by clutching pine boughs and small trees but he finally made it.
Jeff had debated on putting the wallet back where he’d found it and finally decided against that. He’d figure out what to do with it when he got home.
“Where have you been!” Aunt Harriet was out on the porch, hands on her hips, lips puckered into a scowl. “You’re an hour late! And what happened to your bike!”
He was not in the mood for questions today. But he caught himself just as a sharp retort came to his lips. He knew he should think kindly toward her and speak kindly, too, but it was about all he could do to keep his temper.
“I had an accident.”
“Fooling around, I suppose! Well, get in here and get to work. There’s cleaning to be done. I don’t care what your mother thinks about her precious little boy working. You can get going on it now. Before dinner!”
“Aunt Harriet, look, there’s something wrong with my knee. I messed it up pretty bad when I fell. Do you mind if I just rest for a minute and check it out?” He was so tired that he was about ready to collapse.
But Aunt Harriet didn’t seem to notice his exhaustion and pain. “And look at you, you’re filthy. I don’t believe you for a minute. Any accident was probably your own carelessness. You’re grounded for the weekend. You’re going to learn to take better care of your bicycle and clothes. I need you here anyway. I’ve got a lot I want done this weekend.”
Jeff could barely limp by now. He felt like shouting back at the old woman but he saw his mother at the window, a worried look on her face, and for her sake he made a supreme effort to keep quiet.
“And don’t think I’m getting you a new bike either. You can walk to school from now on.”
He trudged into the house. Did she even notice or care that he was hurt? He made it to his room and dropped onto the bed where he examined his knee—which could be seen quite clearly through the huge rip in his jeans. There was no blood but it had swollen up like a balloon and was turning some very nasty colors.
His mother wheeled herself in shortly with bandages and a wet washcloth. “Oh, Jeff, what did you do? Let me see.”
It was so stiff by this time that he could hardly bend it.
“Tell me what happened.”
He poured out the story—except for the wallet part. “And now I’m grounded! I didn’t even do anything!”
“I know, Jeff. I’ll talk to her.”
“But how can I clean her old house when I can’t even bend my knee!”
“Just do the best you can.”
Dinner was lousy. All of Jeff’s least favorite foods. After dinner was worse. He washed windows, which Aunt Harriet informed him that he could do standing, without bending his poor knee. Mom’s suggestion that it might necessary to get it x-rayed brought howls of laughter and scorn. Jeff was glad to get into bed that night and get away from Aunt Harriet.
He tried to read his Bible, as he’d gotten into the habit of doing, but found he didn’t care much about it tonight. Not with the wallet heavy in the pocket of the jacket that hung on the chair. He could see the lump from where he lay.
He had already examined the wallet carefully and found the information he needed; license, business card, and all. He’d hoped there wouldn’t be any identification but now he knew exactly who the wallet belonged to. A Dr. James Conner.
As he tossed the Bible on the shelf, he wondered why God hadn’t just stopped the whole thing.
God could have fixed it so he didn’t hit that wet spot. It would have made everything a lot easier. And all this with Aunt Harriet was getting harder and harder to take. He knew Mom wouldn’t be able to talk her out of grounding him.
It just wasn’t fair. He’d been trying harder lately and it didn’t even seem to matter.
His Bible Club teacher had been talking about fruit in the Bible–the fruit of the Spirit. He didn’t understand much of it but he wondered why it came to mind now–after this crazy day. She seemed to think this fruit could help kids out when bad things happened. maybe he’d ask her about it….
He finally dropped off to sleep, hoping that things would look better in the morning.
To Be Continued….
By Carol Bennett