Illustration by Brad Teare
“Twinkle, twinkle …” Caleb’s fingers slowly moved over the piano keys as he searched for the next note. He’d only been taking lessons for a few weeks, and playing the piano was harder than it looked. This one, he thought as he pressed a white key. Wrong! He frowned and hunched over the piano as he tried again. Oh, this one, he thought, pressing another key. Right!
“That song is challenging,” said Mrs. Lee, his piano teacher, when he finished playing. “But it sounds better than it did last week! I can tell you’ve been practicing really hard. I think you deserve a trip to the treasure chest.”
The treasure chest! Caleb’s eyes turned to the big golden box in the corner of the room. It glittered with sparkly jewels and was filled with granola bars, pads of yellow paper, stickers, candy, and other fun prizes. This would be Caleb’s first trip to the treasure chest.
As Mrs. Lee started to teach her next student, Caleb searched through the treasure chest. Should he take the pad of paper, the dog stickers, or the orange gum? Then he saw it—a neon green folder. It was his favorite color, and he could use it to carry his drawings. He reached for it.
But then he saw the fruit snacks. They were strawberry, his favorite flavor. That would be a great prize too.
The folder or the fruit snacks? Caleb knew his mom would be there soon to pick him up, but he still couldn’t decide what to pick. The folder would be perfect for his drawings, but he could almost taste the fruit snacks. His hand hovered between the two prizes as he tried to make up his mind.
Then Caleb had another thought. Maybe he could take both. Mrs. Lee had so many prizes in the chest that she would never notice. It wouldn’t even be stealing, really—next time Mrs. Lee sent him to the treasure chest, he just wouldn’t take anything. That would be OK, wouldn’t it?
Caleb looked at Mrs. Lee. She was busy helping her student with his scales. Quietly Caleb slipped the fruit snacks and the folder into his bag and crept out of the room.
But Caleb didn’t feel very good. When he left Mrs. Lee’s piano room, he felt a small knot in his stomach. By the time he reached her front door, he felt like he had swallowed a bowling ball. He looked at his prizes, hoping that would help, but seeing them only made him feel worse.
Usually Caleb said a prayer when he felt bad, but he knew Heavenly Father couldn’t make him feel good about a bad choice. And taking both prizes, he knew, was a bad choice.
He looked at the prizes again. His question wasn’t Folder or fruit snacks? anymore. It was Choose the right or choose the wrong? Caleb knew what he had to do.
Honk! That must be Mom. He opened the door and waved. “Just a minute!” he called. He took out the green folder and started back to Mrs. Lee’s piano room. Apologizing wouldn’t be easy, and he still wanted the green folder, but already he felt more peaceful. Honesty turned out to be the best prize of all.
During recess at school I went to buy a pencil. When I put in the quarter and turned the knob, I suddenly saw two pencils come out. I started to walk away, but then I turned back and walked to the office. I said, “I only paid for one pencil, and two came out.” I gave the lady in the office the pencil, and she said I was very honest. When I walked out I had a very good and warm feeling.
Savannah R., age 10, Colorado, USA