Skeeter Lagree pulled himself from his bed like a reluctant butterfly from its cocoon. It isn’t fair! his thoughts told his reflection in his dresser mirror. I’m just a twelve-year-old boy.
When he pulled back the curtain at his window and gazed out, he decided it was more than just unfair. “I’m not going to collect fast offerings on a day like this, Bernard!” he said out loud to his pet goldfish in the little fishbowl on his dresser. “It’s snowing! Mom’s in St. George, taking care of Grandma. And Dad’s sick in bed, so he can’t drive me around the neighborhood.”
The boy watched a dog amble down the street, appearing almost suspended by the icy wind, then crawled back into bed. “It won’t hurt if I miss collecting fast offerings just this once, Bernard. The other deacons will tend to it. They probably have rides. I’d have to walk all the way around the block to the meetinghouse just to pick up a route!”
Bernard’s “gaze” began to bother Skeeter. He wondered if his conscience had eyes like that—big and round and unblinking. “Didn’t your mother ever tell you that it isn’t polite to stare?” He rolled over and faced the wall.
What greeted him there was even worse! It was a picture of a family pulling their handcart across the plains in the dead of winter. The woman was straining at the crossbar. Her husband lay in the cart, too sick to walk, his hollow eyes gazing painfully at their child, about Skeeter’s age, crawling beside the cart. The pioneer boy was too weak and cold to stand. His bedraggled clothes were caked with ice, and his feet were bleeding.
The handcart pioneers were engaged in a noble cause, too, his conscience told him, like the other deacons who’ll be fulfilling their duty to the Lord this morning. But these pioneers, his father had read from a worn book during a recent family home evening, had traveled on foot more than 1300 miles! And all I have to do is walk around the block.
Suddenly he heard a tapping. He rolled over to discover a bare limb of a tree tapping and scraping against his window. A moment later, he was kneeling beside his bed, asking Heavenly Father for forgiveness.
Skeeter jumped up and quickly dressed in his Sunday clothes, slipped into his winter coat, told his dad where he was going, and started back down the hall toward the front door. He paused and poked his head into his own room. “Shouldn’t you be about your duties, Bernard?” he asked his pet. “And don’t pretend that you don’t know what they are!” he added at the fish’s seemingly blank look. “You’re a fish, aren’t you? So, do something … fishy. Besides staring! Remember who feeds you,” he warned with a chuckle. “Except today, of course—it’s fast Sunday!”
Skeeter’s father heard his chuckling. The next thing he heard was the front door opening and closing as his son went out into the cold, snowy morning on the Lord’s errand. He rested his head back on his pillow and smiled. “That’s my boy,” he said softly. “That’s my boy.”