“Wow, what an army!” David looked excited as he knelt next to the small trenches and plastic men Brady was playing with.
“Yeah,” Brady said, grinning proudly. “I’ve been digging these trenches for an hour. I wondered where you were.”
“You should’ve called. I was helping Mom sort some books for her bookstore. She got an order in yesterday.”
“Oh, you are always reading a book!” Brady knew that David didn’t mind his teasing. David was the best reader in the third grade and he was proud of it.
David started digging in the warm dirt with his hands, and soon he was busy building trenches too. Books were forgotten as the boys worked in silence for several minutes. The only sound was Brady’s loud sneeze when he stirred up too much dust.
“What’s your general’s name?” David asked, pushing a lock of hair back with a grimy hand. “I think I’ll call mine General Lee.”
“Mine’s General Moroni,” Brady said without looking up. He moved a plastic man in uniform into position at the front of the battle line.
“Moroni? What kind of name is that? Lee was a famous general. I’ve read a lot of history books, and I know a lot of real generals’ names. There’s Alexander the Great and Napoleon and–”
“I like Moroni.” Brady looked up then. He looked quickly at David and the trench he was digging, then went back to his own work. “Moroni was the best.”
“You mean there was really a general named Moroni? I’ve never heard of him.”
“Yes, there was. He once fought the Lamanites, or Indians, but only when he had to. He liked to live in peace.”
“He fought against Indians? Was he a cowboy?” David had read a lot of cowboy stories too.
“No, he was a Nephite.” Brady smiled and proudly held up the plastic man. “He was strong and brave, and he made his own flag and everything.”
“Who told you about him?” David was curious now. He didn’t know anything about Nephites or a general named Moroni.
“My Primary teacher. Dad and Mom told me a lot more about him, too.” Brady had asked David to come to Primary when his friend first moved in several months ago, but David had said no. He liked to read on Sunday.
“They tell you stories like that in Primary? I thought it was just prayers and bible stuff.”
“Oh, sure, we have those things. But we also have the Book of Mormon, and it has a lot of good stories in it.” Brady could see that David was interested. He had put down his men, and his hands were still. “Do you want to come to Primary with me next Sunday?”
“No.” David bent his head and started digging extra fast. He wasn’t going to let Brady trick him into going to church. Nobody mentioned Moroni again while they played.
On Saturday Brady and David went exploring at the old park. They kicked a soccer ball around for a while, played hide-and-seek in the overgrown bushes, and climbed up on the old rock wall at the east corner of the park.
“Hey, look!” Brady shouted. He spread his arms wide and lowered his voice dramatically: “Behold, I am Samuel the Lamanite. …”
David asked, “Who are you talking about now?”
“Samuel the Lamanite. He once preached from a high wall that surrounded the city because the Nephites had chased him out of the city.”
“Why did they chase him away? I thought Moroni was a Nephite and that the Nephites were the good guys.” David scratched his head and lay back on his elbows. He squinted his eyes half-shut and watched Brady standing on the wall.
“Yes, Moroni was a Nephite when the Nephites were righteous. But Samuel was preaching to a group of Nephites who were wicked. He told them to repent and quit doing wrong. So they chased him from their city. That’s when he climbed up on the wall and preached from there. The Nephites shot arrows and threw rocks at him, but they couldn’t hit him. Good, huh?”
David didn’t answer for a minute. He picked up the soccer ball and passed it from one hand to another. “Another Primary story, right?”
“Yes. I think Samuel was great, and he didn’t give up easily.”
Brady didn’t ask David again to go to Primary with him. They played soccer until the sun got too hot, then rode their bicycles back to Brady’s for a drink of lemonade. Mom even let them put up a tent in the backyard.
Three weeks later was David’s birthday. He got a new fishing pole from his dad, a baseball mitt from his older brother, and a book about trains from his mom. Brady gave him some building blocks that snapped together, just like the set Brady had received last Christmas. Brady knew that David would like them. The next day they played for hours with the blocks, making trucks and buildings and even a huge tower.
When David had finished his tower, he ran to his closet for a plastic man. He put him on top of the tower and grinned mysteriously at Brady. “Do you know who that is?”
“Who?” asked Brady. He wasn’t paying much attention to David, because he was busy linking his ship together with some yellow blocks.
“King Benjamin.” David paused to wait for Brady to listen. “I built a tower for King Benjamin.”
Brady looked at the tower. It was sturdy, tall, and magnificent. “Wow!” Brady whistled through his teeth. “Nice job!” Then a puzzled expression replaced Brady’s smile. “But how did you know about King Benjamin?”
David smiled a smile that covered his whole face. “Mom got me a copy of your Book of Mormon. We’ve been reading it together. I really like the story of King Benjamin.”
Brady left his ship and went over to study the tower. “Wow! A tower for King Benjamin.”
“You know,” David said, “I like Moroni too. The missionaries told us about him. I can see why you used him to lead your army. I can’t wait till we get to that part in our reading. He was the best.”
Brady agreed. He didn’t have to ask David if he wanted to come to Primary on Sunday. He knew he would come.