Finders, Keepers


Choose the right! There is peace in righteous doing. Choose the right! There’s safety for the soul. … Let God and heaven be your goal. (Hymns, no. 239.)

Jackie didn’t like Mrs. Baxter very much.

When Jackie and her friend Tara played in the street, Mrs. Baxter shouted at them to be quiet. She chased Tara’s kitten away with her newspaper. And when Jackie’s Frisbee landed in the grumpy neighbor’s window box, she wouldn’t give the Frisbee back.

So when Jackie and Tara saw Mrs. Baxter come out of the grocery store and something flutter from her open purse, they didn’t run to pick it up for her.

“She’s mean,” Tara said.

“The meanest lady in town!” agreed Jackie. “She wouldn’t even listen when I said I was sorry that the Frisbee broke her flowers.”

They watched Mrs. Baxter put her sack of groceries on the hood of her car and rummage in her purse. She pulled out her keys, unlocked the car, put the groceries in the trunk, and drove away.

“She doesn’t know she dropped anything!” Tara exclaimed, watching the big black car turn the corner.

Jackie ran to see what Mrs. Baxter had dropped. “It’s a five-dollar bill!”

“Too bad for her!” Tara said. “Finders, keepers—losers, weepers!”

“We can’t keep it!” Jackie looked at her friend in surprise. “We saw her drop it. We have to give it back!”

“What about your Frisbee that she kept?” Tara said. “She owes you for a new one! It isn’t stealing!”

“Wellll …” Jackie looked at President Lincoln’s picture on the five-dollar bill. He seemed to be looking back at her. Quickly she stuffed the money into her pocket. “I guess it wouldn’t be stealing if I get a new Frisbee with it. Come on, let’s look for one.”

There was a sports store nearby. The girls squeezed past a display of gleaming bikes and headed toward the Frisbees.

“I wish she’d dropped a five-hundred-dollar bill!” whispered Tara. “Then we could both get new bikes!”

That would really be stealing, Jackie thought. Keeping five dollars is a lot different from keeping five hundred dollars! Or is it? She tried to ignore the tight feeling in her stomach. Of course it wasn’t stealing—Mrs. Baxter owed it to her.

“How about this one?” Tara held up a fluorescent pink Frisbee.

Jackie put her hand in her pocket, twisting the five-dollar bill around her fingers. She thought about President Lincoln. He was known as “Honest Abe.” What would he think of her if she spent the money?

Tara was waiting for her answer. “I’m not getting a Frisbee,” Jackie said. “It’s Mrs. Baxter’s money.”

“Wait—”

Tara tried to say something, but Jackie didn’t listen. She knew that her friend was saying that it was stupid to give the money back.

Hurrying out of the store, Jackie unlocked her bike and rode off. As she turned into her street, she saw Mrs. Baxter climbing the two front steps to her apartment building, struggling to get out her key with one hand while still clutching the grocery sack.

Jackie hesitated. She’ll probably just yell at me, she thought. Maybe Tara’s right.

Mrs. Baxter was inside by the time Jackie set her bike down and walked slowly toward the door. As she passed the window box, she noticed the broken geraniums. They had been propped up on sticks and tied in place with green yarn. Mrs. Baxter may not like children and kittens, but she loves her flowers.

Jackie stared at the doorbell. Slowly she lifted her finger and pushed. Was that thumping sound her heart pounding, or was it Mrs. Baxter’s footsteps? It was Tara running up the path to stand beside her. Jackie smiled at her friend.

The door opened two inches and Mrs. Baxter peered out from behind the security chain. “What do you want?”

“You dropped this by the supermarket.” Jackie held out the five-dollar bill. As she passed it through the gap in the door, Mrs. Baxter grabbed it, then slammed the door.

She didn’t even thank me for returning the money! She’ll probably always chase the kitten and shout at us and keep our Frisbees, Jackie thought.

Jackie still didn’t like Mrs. Baxter. But she liked herself. Mrs. Baxter may not like me, but I’m glad that I returned the money. She was sure that Heavenly Father was pleased with her, too, and that was what mattered.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh