By: Joan Gross
Rover was barking very loudly. Daniel and Nathan turned just in time to see Rover squeeze his big furry, red body through a hole in the fence and chase Mr. Grotsky down the street. Daniel and Nathan were laughing loudly. They tried to cover their mouths so no one would hear them.
They didn’t like Mr. Grotsky. He never said “hello,” and sometimes he yelled at them for making noise when they were playing outside.
Mr. Grotsky turned his head and yelled, “Darn dog. Get lost.” The dog growled at him and then jumped up and bit Mr. Grotsky’s behind.
Just then Rover’s owner came and whistled for Rover. Rover went running back to him. Mr. Grotsky’s face was covered with big red splotches and he yelled, shaking his finger, “Keep your dangerous dog locked up. Look what he did to my trousers.”
Rover’s owner said, “I am truly sorry. I will pay the cleaners to fix your pants.”
Mr. Grotsky muttered to himself and went back into his house.
Daniel said to Nathan, “I am going to be Rover and chase after you.” Nathan ran and Daniel scurried after him grabbing his belt, shaking it and making a growling noise.
Suddenly they both saw something peeking out of the bushes at the edge of the sidewalk. It was a wallet. Nathan picked it up. “It must belong to Mr. Grotsky.”
Daniel grabbed the wallet. “Let’s go to my house and see what’s in it.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Nathan. “I think we should ring his doorbell and give it back to him.”
“Aw, come on. As soon as we ring his bell he is going to yell at us. Let’s just see what Mr. Grotsky carries in his wallet. We can give it to him later.”
Daniel raced to his room with Nathan following slowly behind him. “Hurry up Nathan,” Daniel whispered, pulling him into his room and closing the door behind him.
They opened the wallet and saw a picture of a woman holding a baby. The baby stared straight ahead and wasn’t smiling. The woman looked very sad. Nathan said, “I think we should return the wallet right now. My parents will be very angry with me for doing this. They told me never to take what doesn’t belong to me.”
“Stop being a worry wart,” answered Daniel. “I want to see what else is in here.”
Daniel opened the wallet wide and saw two one hundred dollar bills.
“Hey, look at all this money! We could buy new bicycles. And lots of ice cream. Marbles too.”
Nathan said, “Are you crazy? Stop saying that. We have to give it back. Now!”
“Nope. I don’t want to. I want a new bicycle. I am going to tell mom and dad that I found this hundred dollar bill in the street.” He put one of the hundred dollar bills into Nathan’s hand.
Nathan put the money in his picket and went back to his house. He quickly went into his bedroom and hid the money in his pillow case.
When it got dark, Nathan wrapped the money in a tissue. He looked around and saw no one. He ran across the street and slipped the tissue-wrapped money through Mr. Grotsky’s mailbox slot.
The next morning, Daniel rang Nathan’s doorbell. When Nathan’s mom told him to come to the front door he said, “I don’t feel well. I don’t want to play outside.”
She told him to go to bed, took his temperature and made him some chicken soup. Nathan felt very sad.
Lying in his bed he had nothing to do and fell asleep. When he woke up, it was very dark. He wanted a drink of water and started to walk into the kitchen. He could hear his parents speaking.
“Mr. Grotsky lost his wallet today when Rover bit him,” said Nathan’s mom.
“Really! Did he have much money in there?” asked Nathan’s dad.
“Yes,” replied his mom.
“Who do you think took his wallet?
“Probably some children in the neighborhood,” answered Nathan’s mom.
“Well, I hope it wasn’t Nathan. We should ask him if he knows anything about it.”
“He’s sleeping now. We’ll ask him in the morning.”
Nathan hurried back into his room and pulled the covers over his head.
The next morning Nathan went to Daniel’s house and told him what he heard his parents say.
“Well, I don’t care. I am going to buy a bicycle today. My parents said I could. So there,” said Daniel.
“Then I’m not going to be your friend anymore,” replied Nathan. “I will play with Michael.”
Daniel said, “I don’t care. I would rather have a bicycle than be your friend.”
Nathan went home. He wanted to tell his parents but he didn’t know what to do. He stayed in the house all day and watched television. He could that his mother was worried about him. “Why aren’t you playing with Daniel,” she asked.
“I don’t like Daniel any more.”
“Oh, I guess you two had a fight. Don’t worry. Tomorrow you’ll probably be friends again.”
“Never,” said Nathan.
That afternoon Nathan watched as Daniel rode up and down the block on his brand new bicycle. Daniel’s mom called him and he ran into the house, leaving his bike on the sidewalk. Fifteen minutes later Nathan’s doorbell rang. Daniel was at the door crying, “My bike is gone.”
“Good. You didn’t deserve a new bike. You bought it with stolen money,” said Nathan. “Go away. I don’t like you.”
All week Nathan stayed in the house watching television and asking his mom to play checkers and Monopoly with him.
On Friday, Daniel knocked again.
Nathan said, “Go away.”
“But I want to be friends again,” pled Daniel.
“Then you had better tell your parents that you stole the money and the wallet,” said Nathan. “My parents even think I had something to do with it!”
Daniel turned and went home.
The next day he came again. “Why are you here? I told you to go away,” said Nathan.
“Wait,” said Daniel. I told my parents. I got permission to come here for just five minutes. I have to stay in my room for the whole week. My parents gave Mr. Grotsky some money and his wallet. Please be my friend again.”
“Maybe,” answered Nathan.
That night Nathan was thirsty again and headed towards the kitchen. He heard his parents talking and quietly listened.
“Yesterday Daniel’s parents returned Mr. Grotsky’s wallet and the other one hundred dollars. Mr. Grotsky visits his daughter every week, you know, the one with the sick little boy. Each time he visits he gives her $200 towards a special operation for her son. They have almost enough. Mr. Grotsky was so upset. The night the wallet was missing someone slipped one of the hundreds under his door, but the wallet and the rest of the money were still missing. He was so happy to get the other $100 back,” said Nathan’s mom. “And I think it was Nathan who returned the first half of the money.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Well, he’s been acting very strangely lately. He was angry with Daniel and wouldn’t play with him. It seems like we have a son that we can really be proud of.”
Nathan grinned so much, his cheeks hurt. And then he rushed back to bed, burying his head in the pillow. Maybe, he thought, just maybe, next week I will be friends with Daniel again. If, he promises me that he will never take anyone’s money ever again.”