Keaton and Pug were best friends. They did everything together. One summer they decided to build a tree fort in the forest behind Pug’s home. Each Saturday they worked on their fort, using old pieces of wood and a hammer and nails Pug’s dad gave them.
One Saturday as Keaton and Pug worked on their fort, Pug’s mom called to them. They jumped down and went to the house.
“What’s up, Mom?” Pug asked.
“You boys are going to have another friend to play with today,” Mom said, pointing toward the back door.
Just then Jason came out of the house. “Are you my new best friends?” he asked, clapping his hands.
“Mommmm!” Pug protested.
Keaton rolled his eyes. “Oh, great!” he said under his breath. Jason was their age, but he was, well, different.
“Mom,” Pug whispered, “Jason won’t want to work on the fort. He won’t want to do anything but run around.”
Pug’s mom sighed. “Jason will be with us until after lunch when his mom gets back from the doctor. So you need to find something you can all do together. Now run along and play.”
Keaton and Pug walked away, glancing back at Jason as he followed them. “Now what are we going to do? Our day is ruined,” Keaton grumbled.
“Hey, I know,” Pug whispered. “Let’s play hide-and-seek and have Jason be it. We can run into the forest and work on our tree fort, and he’ll never find us.”
“Great idea!” Keaton exclaimed.
When they explained the game to Jason and told him that he got to be it, he waved his hands with excitement. “Now close your eyes and count to 20,” Keaton said. Jason put his hands over his eyes and started counting, saying each number loudly and carefully.
Keaton and Pug crept away. When they were out of sight behind the house, they raced to the edge of the forest, hid behind trees, and looked back to see if Jason was following. But they could still hear him counting—“13 … 14 … 15.”
They ran toward their fort, laughing and dodging trees. But soon Keaton slowed and fell behind. When he looked back and saw Jason searching around the house, he came to a complete stop. “This isn’t what the song says.”
Pug came back through the trees. “What song?”
“You know, that song we sing in Primary. ‘If you don’t walk as most people do, some people walk away from you. But I won’t! I won’t!’*“
“Oh, yeah,” Pug said. “I remember that song. ‘Jesus walked away from none. He gave his love to everyone. So I will! I will!’”
Keaton and Pug both stared at the ground, ashamed. Finally, Keaton looked up. “Why don’t we go back and hide someplace where Jason can find us?”
“Good idea,” said Pug. They ran back to the house and hid behind the swing set in the backyard.
Just then Jason ran around the corner of the house and spotted them. “I found you! I found you!” he yelled, clapping his hands.
“You sure did!” Keaton agreed.
“Way to go, pal!” Pug said happily, giving Jason a high five.
Jason looked back and forth between the two of them, beaming. “Are you my new best friends?” he asked.
Keaton grinned. “We sure are.”
“Why don’t we play again, and I’ll be it,” Pug suggested. Jason jumped up and down and cheered.
Keaton smiled at Jason. “Let’s hide together,” he whispered. “I know a perfect hiding place.” As soon as Pug started counting, he took Jason’s hand, and they walked together toward the tree fort.
“Having been so richly blessed by Christ’s friendship, I pray that we will now be to others what He is to us: a true friend.”
Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, “Friendship: A Gospel Principle,” Ensign, May 1999, 65.