“Wow, what an army!” Jamie’s eyes were big as he excitedly knelt next to the small trenches and plastic men Brady was playing with.
“Yeah,” Brady said, grinning proudly. “I’ve been digging these trenches for an hour, wondering where you were.”
“You should’ve called. I was helping Mom sort some books for her bookstore. She got an order in yesterday.”
“You always have your nose in a book, you bookworm!” Brady knew that Jamie didn’t mind his teasing. Jamie was the best reader in the third grade and proud of it.
Jamie started plowing in the warm dirt with his hands, and soon he was busy building trenches too. Books were forgotten as the boys worked in silence for several minutes. The only sound was Mr. Morris’s lawn mower next door and Brady’s loud sneeze when he stirred up too much dust.
“What’s your general’s name?” Jamie asked, pushing a lock of hair back with a grimy hand. “I think that I’ll call mine General Lee.”
“Mine’s General Moroni,” Brady said without looking up. He moved a plastic man in uniform into position at the front of the battle line.
“Moroni? What kind of name is that? Lee was a famous general. I’ve read a lot of history books, and I know a bunch of real cool names. There’s Alexander the Great and MacArthur and—”
“I like Moroni.” Brady looked up then. His green eyes quickly skimmed Jamie and his trench progress, then moved back to his own work. “Moroni was the best.”
“You mean there was really a general named Moroni? I’ve never heard of him.”
“Yeah, there was. He once fought the Lamanites, or Indians, but only when he had to. He liked to live in peace.”
“He fought against Indians? Was he a cowboy?” Jamie had read a lot of cowboy stories too.
“No, he was a Nephite.” Brady smiled and proudly held up the plastic man. “He was strong and brave, and he made his own flag and everything.”
“Who told you about him?” Jamie was curious now. He didn’t know anything about Nephites or a general named Moroni.
“My Primary teacher. Dad and Mom told me a lot more about him too.” Brady had asked Jamie to come to Primary when his friend first moved in several months ago, but Jamie had said no. He liked to read on Sunday.
“They tell you stories like that in Primary? I thought it was just prayers and Bible stuff.”
“Oh, sure, we have those things. But we also have the Book of Mormon, and it has a lot of neat stories in it.” Brady could see that Jamie was interested. He had put down his men, and his hands were still. “Do you want to come to Primary with me next Sunday?”
“Nope.” Jamie bent his head and started digging extra fast. He wasn’t going to let Brady trick him into going to church. Nobody mentioned Moroni again while they played.
On Saturday Brady and Jamie went exploring at the old ballpark. They kicked a soccer ball around for a while, played “hut” in the overgrown bushes, and climbed up on the old rock wall that bordered the east corner of the park.
“Hey, look!” Brady hollered. He spread his arms wide and lowered his voice dramatically: “Behold, I am Samuel the Lamanite. …”
Jamie asked, “Who are you talking about now?”
“Samuel the Lamanite. He once preached from a high wall that surrounded the city because the Nephites had chased him out of the city.”
“Why did they chase him away? I thought that Moroni was a Nephite and that Nephites were the good guys.” Jamie scratched his head and lay back on his elbows. He squinted his eyes half-shut and watched Brady gesturing from the wall.
“Yeah, Moroni was a Nephite when the Nephites were righteous. But Samuel was preaching to a bunch of Nephites who were wicked. He told them to repent and quit doing wrong. So they chased him from their city. That’s when he climbed up on the wall and preached from there. The Nephites shot arrows and stuff at him, but they couldn’t hit him. Neat, huh?”
Jamie didn’t answer for a minute. He palmed the soccer ball and passed it from one hand to another. “Another Primary story, right?”
“Yeah. I think that Samuel was great, and he didn’t give up easily.”
Brady didn’t ask Jamie again to go to Primary with him. They played soccer until the sun got too hot, then rode their bikes back to Brady’s for lemonade. Mom even let them make a tepee in the backyard.
Three weeks later was Jamie’s birthday. He got a new fishing pole from his dad, a mitt from his older brother, and a book about trains from his mom. Brady gave him some building blocks that snapped together just like the huge set that Brady had received last Christmas. Brady knew that Jamie would like them. The next day they played for hours with the blocks, making trucks and buildings and even a huge tower.
When Jamie had made his tower secure, he ran to his closet for a plastic man. He put him on top of the tower and grinned mysteriously at Brady. “Do you know who that is?”
“Who?” asked Brady. He wasn’t paying much attention to Jamie, because he was busy linking his ship together with some yellow blocks.
“King Benjamin.” Jamie paused to give it emphasis. “I built a tower for King Benjamin.”
Brady looked at the tower. It was sturdy, tall, and magnificent. “Wow!” Brady whistled through his teeth. “Nice job!” Then a puzzled expression replaced Brady’s smile. “But how did you know about King Benjamin?”
Jamie smiled a smile that covered his whole face, the kind he wore when he hit a home run. “Mom got me a copy of your Book of Mormon. We’ve been reading it together. I really like the story of King Benjamin.”
Brady left his ship and went over to study the tower. “Wow! A tower for King Benjamin.”
“You know,” Jamie said, “I like Moroni too. The missionaries told us about him. I can see why you used him to lead your army. I can’t wait till we get to that part in our reading. He was the best.”
Brady agreed. He didn’t have to ask Jamie if he wanted to come to Primary on Sunday. He knew that he would.