A Pocketful of Pie

By Marie Shephard

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    Every summer Davey and his family drove to Huckleberry Hill Campground in their camper. Tim’s family went at the same time, and the boys had become good friends.

    They fished and swam in the lake, picked wild huckleberries on the hill, and sometimes went to the little grocery store near the campground. They liked going to the grocery store. It had a candy case with a great many kinds of candy. They would look through the glass at pink and yellow marshmallow chicks, bananas with creamy filling, and wax bottles of cherry juice. A little bell suspended over the screen door jingled whenever it was opened.

    One day as Davey went up the road to the store, he kept touching the dollar bill in his pants pocket. His mother had said, “Davey, take this money and buy two pounds of potatoes. You may have ten cents for candy, and bring back the change.”

    Why did she tell me to bring back the change? he wondered. I always bring it back.

    When Davey passed Tim’s camper, he called, “Tim! Want to go to the store? I have ten cents for candy!”

    Tim bounded out of the camper. “Sure,” he said.

    At the store Davey and Tim opened the door and smiled as the bell jingled. No one was in the store and they raced to the candy case. “Boy! I want one of those big jawbreakers,” Tim declared.

    “I want a red licorice whip. Wonder where Mrs. Beady is.”

    They looked toward the curtained doorway at the back of the store, which Mrs. Beady always came through when the bell jingled.

    On the counter, Davey saw a huckleberry pie covered with plastic wrap. A knife lay beside it. “Wowie!” he cried hungrily. “I like huckleberry pie better than anything.”

    “Not me,” Tim said. “I like huckleberries best when you eat them right off the bush.”

    “I like huckleberries any way, but pie is best—even better than candy.”

    Tim grinned. “I dare you to take a piece.”

    “That’s stealing!”

    “Double dare you!”

    The pie looked so good that it made the juices in Davey’s mouth run. Oh, how he wanted a taste of that pie!

    Tim said, “I don’t think Mrs. Beady is here. All you have to do is lift a corner of the plastic and take a piece.”

    Maybe just one teeny slice, Davey decided. No one will know. I’ll do it! Davey had the pie about an inch from his mouth when the boys heard a rustling sound behind the curtain. He stuffed the pie into his pants pocket.

    Tall, thin Mrs. Beady came through the curtain. She looked down her long nose at them. Davey wondered if she ever smiled.

    “Well?” she questioned.

    “T-two pounds of p-potatoes,” Davey stammered.

    Picking up a bag, Mrs. Beady went over to the potato bin. She weighed the potatoes and said, “That’ll be thirty-four cents.”

    Behind her, Davey wiped his sticky huckleberry fingers on the back of his T-shirt. Then he remembered that the dollar was under the pie in his pocket.

    “I forgot the money,” he lied.

    “Tut, tut, tut,” Mrs. Beady clicked her tongue against her teeth. “You boys from the campground?”

    They both nodded and murmured, “Yes’m.”

    “Then you don’t have far to go for the money.” She put the bag of potatoes under the counter.

    “Yes’m. I mean no’m,” said Davey. He tried to get in front of Tim so Mrs. Beady wouldn’t see the huckleberry on the back of his shirt. They fell over each other going out the door.

    “Why did you dare me to take that pie?”

    “Well, I didn’t make you take it. Aren’t you going to eat it now you have it?”

    Davey pulled the gooey mess from his pocket. “Right now I hate huckleberry pie,” he said. “Wonder how much a piece of pie costs.”

    “A quarter. But you didn’t take a big piece. Bet Mrs. Beady doesn’t even know you took it.”

    Davey said sadly, “I know I took it. And I only have the ten cents we didn’t spend for candy. Do you have any money?”

    “Nope. Say, the front of your pants are beginning to turn kind of purple.” Tim pointed to the large spot soaking through Davey’s pocket.

    “Wowie! My new pants! My mom’s going to be really upset.”

    “Maybe she can dye your pants purple. My sis got huckleberries on a dress once and my mom dyed it purple.”

    Tim’s suggestion didn’t make Davey feel a bit better.

    When they reached his camper, Tim said, “Mom wants me to pick huckleberries for supper. Want to come?”

    “I’m sick of huckleberries. I’ll never—” Then Davey had an idea. “Sure. I’ll get a pail. See you on the hill.” And off he ran to his camper for his mother’s largest pail.

    On his way to the hill, Davey pulled out the dollar. George Washington had turned purple! Holding the bill under a campground spigot, he washed out most of the huckleberry juice. He shook it and tried to blow it dry.

    Halfway up the hill, Davey could see Tim popping berries into his mouth. Not one huckleberry will I eat, Davey promised himself. I’ll bet I can pick at least half a pailful before Mom calls me home.

    While he picked, Davey thought how dumb he’d been to take Tim’s dare. But I shouldn’t blame Tim, he decided. I knew better than to steal. He remembered something he had read aloud just last week in Primary, something about not stealing or lying. He felt awful. And now I’ve stolen and lied to Mrs. Beady, he worried.

    Tim shouted, “The berries are thicker over here!”

    But Davey wanted to pick by himself. He had to gather a lot of berries to half fill the pail, and the sun had almost dropped into the lake.

    In a short time, Davey’s arms were purple and scratched from the berry bushes. And his blue pants were now huckleberry-spotted all over.

    “Davey! Da-a-vey!” his mother called.

    “Oh-oh,” Davey muttered. “She’ll be wanting her potatoes. I’ll have to quit. Anyway, the pail’s over half-full.” He struggled down the hill with his heavy load until he reached the road. Then he lugged the pail to the grocery store.

    Mrs. Beady was still there. “Time you came back after those potatoes,” she chided.

    Davey showed her the pail of huckleberries. “I picked them for you,” he said.

    Mrs. Beady smiled.

    Davey put the damp dollar on the counter. “Will the berries and ten cents pay for the piece of pie I took?” he asked.

    She smiled again and nodded. “It wasn’t a full-size piece. You must have worked real hard picking all those berries. Just look at you! I do thank you, young man.”

    “Thank you,” said Davey.

    He scooped up the bag of potatoes and dashed out the door, pausing to give it an extra jingle. He felt a wonderful sense of relief as he sped back to the camper. I’ll never, ever take a dare like that again, he promised himself. then the next thought made him smile: What if I really do have to wear purple pants!

    Illustrated by Colleen Hinckley