Wednesday, July 7, 2010



C2004 By Gracie Prior

Mary pushed Jimmy to the Junior High School in his wheel chair. Butch and Terry were by his side. Though things didn’t turn out the way everyone wanted, the Scribblers passed through the next arch of learning with hope.

The End

(This story is now complete. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. There will be more stories on this blog from time to time. Nancy)




C 2004 Gracie Prior

Doctor Dr. Quentin,

The summer is over and what a blast it was! Everything was so perfect until Jimmy had that accident. Dad has been doing so well that we just use the downstairs bed to put junk on. He hasn’t been coughing much at all. His medicine seems to be working.

I loved the Sesquicentennial. It was so great to hear the crowds cheering for us as the writers. That’s what I want to be when I grow up, some sort of writer. And Mary has been such help with the Scribblers. I don’t know how we ever managed without her. Well, school is looming over my future. I hope that is the worst thing I have to look forward to. Junior High should be fun. We’ll see. Thanks for caring Doctor, Dear. Terry

* * *

Diary Man,

Butch here. We finally got rid of Marabella and Connie. I get my room back for awhile, at least, till they figure out what to do. Marabella didn’t find a job so it’s back to Pennsylvania for them. I have tried to be nicer to Mom and Dad, but I don’t think they notice. They still treat me like I’m five. I think of Jimmy and how well he’s taking all his pain and woe. Then I just have to let the parents rant and rave. At least I can walk. Gosh, it’s been a great summer. I hate to see it end. Soon we four will be the youngest in school again. That stinks. Oh, well, new experiences loom on the horizon. That’s all, Diary Man

* * *

Dear Louisa,
Bitty just crawled across the floor tonight. She is so cute. Mom lets me take care of her and I love to do it. Now that school is starting, I’m going to be busy. I’m still planing to watch her in the evenings for a little so Mom can get a break. She misses the library. There’s no way she could watch Bitty and do that job, too. I will remember this summer the rest of my life. What was life before I met the Three Musketeers? I have so much to look forward to. I can write and I can act and we can plan activities. My world just opened up and I am so happy. Daddy says his revival went well. He has some new people in church and there are new members at other churches, too. I’m so glad we moved here. It just seems like destiny or something. One more thing. We are all hoping Jimmy’s new surgery goes well and he can walk again. That’s my only sorrow in all this glorious good news. Love, Mary

* * *

Dear Diary,
School is starting soon and I don’t know if I’ll be going in a wheelchair, crutches, or walking. Walking, I hope. The operation is scheduled for next week. I’ll miss a bit of school, but it can’t be helped. They wrote a story about my surgery in the newspaper. I’m a big celebrity I guess. I wish I could have gotten there another way. I am glad of school no matter what happens with the surgery. I love the classes and the kids everywhere and mostly the writing assignments. We’ll have to be even better for the new school.

I’m enjoying the Bible Mary loaned me. I am almost done with the New Testament. Maybe I can persevere like Paul, in good times and bad. That is my goal. Isn’t it wonderful, Diary, that Mary came to town? If we were the Three Musketeers, then Mary became our D’Artanyan.

Thursday, July 1, 2010



C 2004 By Gracie Prior

Summer was slipping away again. School started in a few weeks. Jimmy was to have his new operation at the end of August. Butch was expecting his aunt and cousin to leave for the school year. Terry’s dad was doing well and Bitty was growing so fast Mary could hardly keep up with her.

Butch saw in the paper that there was to be a meteor shower during the week. To see it required staying up till dawn or getting up at around two A.M. He would love to call up the Scribblers and see if they wanted to watch the stars together.

Mrs. McNeil said it was fine if they had a chaperon, but she was too old to stay out in the cool night air at her age. “I don’t expect any parent will agree to it.”

Butch called Terry first. He could come but he also needed a grown up to be with them and his parents weren’t in the running. Butch was getting nervous. He was nearly out of options. Mary sounded excited about seeing the stars and having a star party. To Butch’s surprise Mary’s mom said she would come and supervise if the kids kept quiet and didn’t wake up the neighborhood. He guessed she didn’t want ‘the neighborhood’ to know they were out there, but he kept that to himself. Butch called Jimmy to invite him, and Mrs. Falcon said she would like to join them.

The evening of the party the Scribblers quietly showed up with pillows, blankets, drinks and food. Butch brought an alarm clock in case everyone slept while the meteors were zooming across the sky. Jimmy and his mom, Terry, Mary and Mrs. Brewster all arrived and set up their places. The kids each had their blankets spread on the ground so they could look straight up at the stars. The moms sat in chairs, under the eaves of the roof of Havenward to keep bugs off and to give the kids some space.

The party started with food and giggles and all kinds of talk until about ten-thirty. Then the moms suggested some sleep while they kept watch. One small lantern was enough to read by. Mrs. Brewster was to guard her charges first and then at about twelve-thirty, Mrs. Falcon would take over. Butch heard whispers and rolled over. He saw the changing of the guard and heard Mrs. Brewster’s voice. “We don’t need to watch, because there is nothing to see, but I want to be able to say we kept good care over our precious charges.”

Butch’s alarm went off at two o’clock. All the Scribblers woke up and looked overhead. At first there was nothing to see but sky and stars. Clouds hid some of them. Butch fixed his gaze in one spot for a long time and then all of a sudden a white streak dashed across the sky. It went so fast that he wasn’t sure he saw it at all.

“Did you guys see that?” Butch asked. “It was awesome. Right across the sky.”

“I did, Butchie,” Mary said. “I saw it.”

They all lay still and looked straight up. Patience was the word for the hour. “There it is!” Jimmy shouted. “I saw one.”

“Where?” Terry asked. “Oh, I see one. It’s like an arc, like a swirling arc.”

It seemed that every five or ten minutes, one or the other of them would squeal and declare their latest find. They watched for about two hours. Butch wasn’t sleepy. He didn’t want to miss this unique experience.

They got very quiet and just stared as the expanse of heaven displayed her treasures. A huge light came at them from beyond the clubhouse and a dark shadow loomed over them.

“Ah ha!” the voice said. The Scribblers looked. It was Mrs. Frumpstead with a flashlight shining right on their blankets and into their faces.

“I knew I’d catch you sooner or later. Bet your folks don’t know about this little get together.” She stood with her hands on her hips and the flashlight pointed on the ground.

“As a matter of fact they do,” said a voice from under the roof and very near the intruder. “I am Mrs. Brewster, Mary’s mom and I am pleased she is so interested in science and the beauty of God’s creation. It is a sight, isn’t it Mrs. Frumpstead?”

The woman was so taken back that she took two steps away from the group. “Well, I never,” she said.

“You never, but you should,” Mrs. Falcon piped in. “Only once in awhile do we get to see something like this beautiful meteor shower and we don’t want to miss it. Won’t you join us?”

Mrs. Brewster got up and went to sit with Mary on her blanket. Mrs. Frumstead sat down heavily in the lawn chair and craned her neck upwards. At that moment a huge star shot clear across the sky as if to say, “I’ll make it worth your while.”

An hour later Butch watched as the other stargazers meandered home. He was sure he was the most amazed person in the world that night. His eyes fell on Mrs. Frumstead as she plodded to her door. She moved as one stunned, not by what she expected to see, Butch thought, but by something wholly supernatural.

(Next week, our story concludes. See you then.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010



C 2004 By Gracie Prior

The football field was draped in garlands of red, white, and blue. Streamers hung from the goalposts. The stage at the side of the field was all ready for act one of the big history of Harrisburg, all one hundred and fifty years, with a painted prairie background in place.

The Scribblers were honored and sat in the front row. All the parents were beside them, even Jimmy’s dad. It turns out that on the night of the tragedy, he had been detained at work. He had found out about the awful series of events the next day. He now sat beside Jimmy who was in his new wheelchair on a small platform so he could see. Right after the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, the writers were announced and they received a rousing applause.

Mary wore a long dress of blue and white calico and a sunbonnet hung from her neck. Terry was made up like a Daniel Boone-type character, Butch was a Sheriff and Jimmy was a cowboy.

The high school band came on the field and played several songs about frontier days. They marched in their blue and white uniforms and their instruments caught the last of the setting sun.

Lights came on stage and the first act began. It was a tale of a traveler, Cyrus McGee who had come from the east and settled the land in this part of Ohio. He brought his wife and ten children. McGee named the place Pleasant Ridge, but the town grew and a newspaperman named Frank Harris appeared. Having a paper was such a big deal; the town was changed to Harrisburg.

The play went on for about an hour. Mary was in the first act as a pioneer wife and Terry played her hunter husband. Then somewhere in the middle of the play, Sheriff Butch caught outlaws and Jimmy sat on hay bales and told some cowboy tales. The last act, the one the Scribblers were so excited about, had a panorama of transportation from the simplest walkers to the automobile. At the head of the line were the Mayor of Harrisburg, Ohio’s Governor, and then living relatives of Cyrus McGee. Next came Mary, Butch, and Terry. After the walkers came horses and horse conveyances. Then wheeled items like bicycles, scooters, and at the end waving and smiling came Jimmy in his wheel chair. He moved it all by himself. No one hurried him. He got the attention, the photos, and lots of verbal support as he made his way across the stage. By now, all the townspeople had heard of Jimmy’s accident and he was a minor celebrity. Not only because he was so innocent, but because of his good humor and cheerful outlook. Next on stage came motorcycles, ridden by Harrisburg’s finest police officers, and lastly, the model-T car driven by one of the McGees.

At the end there were fireworks and a wonderful band concert of patriotic songs. Miss Grace, the Scribbler’s former teacher, came and hushed the crowd.

“As you know, one of our writers, Jimmy Falcon, had an awful accident recently. He and his friends the Scribblers still managed to finish this script for tonight’s performance. We would like to donate all the proceeds of tonight’s activities, minus expenses, to the Jimmy Falcon Fund. We all want Jimmy to have a new operation that his doctors believe will help him to walk again.”

After the speech, people cheered and a few of them stood up. Then a few more. After awhile the whole crowd gave Jimmy a standing ovation. He looked around in his chair and waved his cowboy hat.

Later at home, Jimmy’s mom helped him to bed. “That was nice, all the cheering, and the money for my operation, but I felt sort of funny. I didn’t do anything to deserve all that. Mary, Butch, and Terry did just as much.”

Mrs. Falcon smiled. “That’s just the town’s way of giving you support, Jimmy. If I were you, I’d accept it.”

Jimmy pondered that for a moment. “I guess a guy would have to be stupid to refuse. And Mom, I may be a lot of things, but, Sir Jimmy is not stupid.”

(Next week: trouble with Mrs. Frumpstead. See you then.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010



C 2004 By Gracie Prior

Dear Louisa,

The most horrible thing ever has happened. To Jimmy of all people. A car hit him while he was crossing the street. He’s in the hospital now. His mom doesn’t know exactly how he’s doing. His legs are hurt. They did a quick operation on him yesterday, but they don’t know how that will help yet. I feel so awful and so helpless. Scribblers are getting together and sending, well, taking him flowers, Jimmy who always gives flowers on every occasion. We are writing a funny poem to cheer him up. I’m going to make a cute card out of it but there’s really nothing funny about all this and I don’t have anything to smile about right now.

Sometimes I don’t understand God at all. Mrs. Falcon and Jimmy were so eager to come to the revival and now here when they might be open to God’s love, He allows something like this to happen to someone as sweet as Jimmy. The Bible says not to “lean on my own understanding.” I am bound to keep that word in my heart and in my life. But it is hard. It is so hard. Love, Mary

* * *

Diary Man,
I am so miffed I can hardly see straight. My best buddy, Jimmy, got himself hit by a car. How can that happen? It seems Jimmy was just minding his own business when a car came around the corner and hit him. Isn’t anyone safe anymore? Isn’t there any sense of fairness? If any one should be hit it would be me. I have been so bad. Only to you D. Man can I say this. But I have treated Mom and Dad like dirt. I totally gave them grief about Marabella and Connie coming. It was bad, but I’m a big boy. I should have been nicer. At least I have a dad. Connie has no one now.

Back to Jimmy. We don’t know how he’s doing at all. He got an early operation, but it didn’t do much. He has to stay in the hospital till they find out what to do. Poor Jimmy. He was so gone on God. He thought everything he heard was all true. Is it? I remember God. What’s Jimmy going to think now, I wonder. Butch

* * *

Dr. Quentin,

I have some awful news. Jimmy was hit by a car. He is in the hospital and they don’t know what to do for him. Him mom is holding on, but I don’t know where his dad is. Nobody does. He hasn’t been heard from and Mrs. Falcon can’t worry about it right now. Dad, my dad, has been doing great. Ever since Mr. Brewster prayed that simple prayer, things have been better. Now, here’s Jimmy and he needs prayer, too. I’m going to call Mr. Brewster and see if he can get us Scribblers together and we can have a little prayer meeting or something. Jimmy would like that. We are all going to the hospital as soon as they let us and we’re going to take Jimmy some flowers and a card. Hope we can cheer him up. If I were in his shoes, I don’t think anything could cheer me up. Well, I have to go. Just thought you’d want to know about Jimmy. I’ll write more when I know something. Soon I hope. Terry signing off.

* * *

Dear Diary,

I got hit by a car. My legs and butt hurt so bad. They try to help me with pills and shots but everything still hurts. I already had an operation. I was whiny, so they stuck me with something and then I woke up and it hurt again. Cindy found you, dear diary, and snuck you in with my Bible and some books Mom brought. Not that it matters. I wonder where Dad is. Mom doesn’t know. I wonder if he knows about me. Does he care? They don’t know if I will be able to walk. I can’t be sad because I really don’t believe that. I’m going to get training soon. Know what I miss? The Scribblers. They probably know about me by now. Things have been happening to me that I don’t get. Nobody knows this, but when I was first in here, before the doctors came, I felt something in my room and it was a good something. There was light in one corner, it seemed like a man was there. I’m not sure what it was. It just seemed that after that, I wasn’t so scared anymore. I have been thinking about the shepherd with the long arm reaching out to the sheep. I love to look at that picture when I’m hurting. I want to talk to Mary about it. I’m so tired. Hope my friends can come soon. Till then, I’ll just wait and rest and hope. Jimmy

(Come back next week for the big finale.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010



C2004 By Gracie Prior

Jimmy was walking out the door of the drugstore when he saw a bright light appear in the sky. The sun was gleaming off the gilded dome of the courthouse. He stared at it for awhile. A passerby in a hurry knocked him down. Jimmy got up and dusted himself off, but the rude person was gone. Somewhat dazed he went to the crosswalk. He waited for his light and started across the street. A car came around the corner so fast that it knocked Jimmy off his feet and threw him into the air. He landed on the grass on the other side. The driver of the car stopped and got out to help.

Jimmy lay on his side and wailed loudly. His legs and hips were bloody where the car fender had hit them. He passed out.

It was later discovered that the erratic driver had called the police and now the ambulance was there ready to take the victim to the nearest hospital. That was only a few miles away.

* * *

Mrs. Falcon was sitting in a chair in her home reading the paper when the phone rang. She was about to receive the phone call that every parent dreads.

“Mrs. Falcon?”

“Yes, this is she.”

“This is Officer Mallard, Mrs. Falcon. I regret to inform you that your son, Jimmy has had an accident. He’s in Harrisburg Hospital.”

“What? How do you know? Are you sure?”
“Very sure, Ma'am. He came to and told us his name.”

“How badly is he hurt? Can you tell me?”

“It seems to be mostly his legs. I can’t tell you any more.”

“Thank you officer. I’ll be right there.”

It seemed like a dream when Lauren Falcon rounded up the girls, got them into the car and raced to the hospital. When she got there, she was told at the desk that Jimmy was in emergency waiting for a parent to begin treatment. She called Frieda McNeil, Butch’s mom and sat down to await help.

Mrs. McNeil arrived within five minutes and was sent home with the girls. She was assured of news as soon as possible.

Mrs. Falcon was escorted down to the room where Jimmy was lying. He looked so small and still. His legs were loosely covered with a sheet. There was much blood in that area.

“We have called your doctor, Mrs. Falcon. He will be here soon and then we can go ahead with any emergency procedure he thinks fit. Jimmy was fussing a lot when he came in. We gave him something for pain and he has been very quiet since.”

Jimmy rolled his eyes over and looked at his mother. “Mommy?”

Mrs. Falcon took his hand. She had such tears in her eyes she could hardly see. “I’m here baby. We’ll take care of you.”

Doctor Hedges came in and examined Jimmy’s legs, hips and abdomen. He cleaned up the legs and poked very gently and took a long time. He noticed the hips weren’t right. "There isn't a lot of blood on the hips, but they are very bruised and discolored. There may be multiple injuries here. The legs and hips both need to be x-rayed and then we can see where the damage is.”

"You sit here while we wheel Jimmy down to get those x-rays. We’ll arrange an operation right away if possible.”

The room seemed very alone. Mrs. Falcon felt as if this were unreal. It wasn’t happening to her. She noticed a Bible on the table. She picked it up and opened it up in the middle. She saw Psalm 121. She read: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence commeth my help. My help commeth from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” She sat thinking. Wasn’t she just about to embrace this Lord she didn’t know? How could he let something like his happen to her baby? She flipped to the back and read: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep.”

She didn’t know what to think, but she needed someone to help. There was no one to help her. “Yes, I need a Good Shepherd. Help me with my precious little lamb.”

Jimmy was wheeled back in on the table and Dr. Hedges said, “Let’s get him prepped for surgery. It’s going to be a long night.”

(Next week, the Scribblers weigh in on this tragedy.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010



C 2004 By Gracie Prior

Jimmy’s mom had her hat and gloves on and her envelope purse under her arm. She wore a lovely blue shirtwaist dress with a navy bow at the collar. Jimmy had his suit on again. At Mary’s house, everyone was excited and running around. Brother Mercer was sitting in an armchair reading the Bible. Every so often he looked up with his eyes closed. Mary came into the room and saw Jimmy coming up the walk. She opened the door to him and his mother. She had Bitty under her arm and was looking around for the diaper bag. Mom was gathering up necessities. Mr. Brewster came in and greeted everyone.

Mary was glad to be allowed to go with Jimmy and his mom. Mary handed Bitty to Mrs. Brewster and the others left for the fairgrounds. Terry and Butch were late. Mary checked her pretty chemise dress in the mirror. Just as she was about to call the boys on the phone, they arrived breathless from running. Butch wore a tweed suit and blue shirt. He looked handsome Mary thought. Terry had tan Chinos and a white and navy shirt with a maroon tie. “Wow, you all look great!”

“We should go,” Mrs. Falcon said. They all piled in her blue Buick. It was quite a way to the fairgrounds. So the Scribblers sang their favorite songs.

“Now I would like to teach you a new song,” Mary said. “It’s very easy. It goes like this: ‘Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho; Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.’ After we do it a few times, let’s sing it in a round.”

As they sang, they wound around beautiful countryside. There were maple trees and a few pines and lots of low hedges. They saw sheep and cows in the fields. Finally they were at the fairgrounds. They parked way out from the tent and had to walk in. Mary was getting nervous for her friends and full of joy for the wonders about to come.

Inside, Mary gathered her friends and family and they all went down front. A large wire skeleton held up the huge green tent. The ground was covered with sawdust, so people would not slip on the mud. The Brewsters had saved a whole row for them. They were so late that the music started. Two ladies came out with tambourines and played them while singing a joyous song. Mary didn’t know the words, but she clapped along. The others stood up with everyone else and just stared and looked around. Mrs. Falcon clapped along. Jimmy clapped and tried to sing some of the words.

Another singer came on and sang ‘He’s got the Whole World in His Hands.’ Everyone knew that one. Not only did everyone sing, but a huge line formed and wound around the outside of the chairs and people in line clapped and sort of danced up and down. Mary looked at her friends. She smiled. She looked at her mom. “May I?” she asked.

Mother nodded. Mary led out of the row and joined the line. She was so much into the song that she didn’t notice that Jimmy was in line until she turned a corner and saw him way behind. He was singing and dancing. The line slowed down and went to their seats. Then Preacher Brewster stood up and greeted everyone. He prayed and then he announced Brother Mercer, who was quite famous in lower Ohio.

The people became quiet and Brother Mercer read his Scripture: The Prodigal Son. He explained about the younger son’s youthful mistakes, about the older son’s faithfulness, but bitter heart. And he showed movingly how much the father had looked every morning for his lost son. The ending, where the son was greeted and welcomed home was such a moving picture of unconditional love. Then Brother Mercer explained how God is like the generous father in the story. He gave everyone opportunity to pause and meditate, explaining that more would be presented each night and he hoped everyone could come.

There were more songs with tambourines. Then Brother Mercer said that if anyone needed prayer, they could come forward and he would pray for them. Many people came up for prayer. Mary watched. When she was very little, a young girl had been healed of a crooked finger right in front of her. She didn’t see anything unusual this time. The people coming back seemed happy.

Mary glanced at Terry and Butch. They looked lost. Jimmy and his mom were smiling and watching everything that went on.

“When Mary’s group was allowed to get out and go home, Mary dared to ask, “Well, how was it?”

“I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like that in my life,” Terry said. “I might like to come again later in the week. We’ll see.”

“I really don’t know, Mary. It was all pretty weird to me. I mean funny. I mean different. I felt sort of funny. Is that good or bad?” Butch asked.

“Well, it could be either. If you feel funny like it’s getting to you, you need to come back. If you feel funny, like this isn’t for me, I’ll understand if you don’t want to come back.”

“I thought it was lovely, Mary,” said Mrs. Falcon. “Be sure to thank your parents for inviting us. I would like to come back. I’m not sure if I can. Jimmy, you want to come back?”

“Oh, yeah. I want to come every night. Will you take me, Mary?” Jimmy pleaded.

“I would be delighted, sir.” Mary didn’t want to sing on the way home. She just wanted to remember everything she had seen. That was good, because the others were sleeping, well not Mrs. Falcon.

(Be sure not to miss next week. There is danger ahead for one of our dear characters. Who? What will happen? Come and see.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010



C 2004 By Gracie Prior

The Scribblers had such fun walking to the pool each day. Sometimes they sang funny camp songs like ‘She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain When She Comes’, sometimes they played twenty questions, sometimes I spy, and occasionally they would talk of the club.

The sky was so blue as they entered Westlake Park and Pool. Mary checked into the girls’ side and got her suit on. She used a locker to put most of her things in. She kept her towel and suntan oil. She looked at the duck pin on her blue bathing suit and thought it looked cute. She was a little nervous about going out in her suit, but it was shirred in front and fit well. She took a deep breath and went outside. Terry and Butch were waiting on the bench. “You guys are so quick. Where’s Jimmy.”

“We threw him in the pool already,” Butch said.

“Mary’s mouth was open in astonishment for only a moment. “Oh, you,” she said.

Jimmy walked out and squinted at the sun. He was very white, so white that he almost looked ill. Mary tried not to notice. “Here you are. Let’s go put out towels down and go in.”

They all found grass by the food stand and lay their beach towels side by side in a neat row. Terry’s was next to the pool, and then Mary, Jimmy and Butch near the food stand.

“I am going to go ahead and do a few laps,” Terry said. “You comin’ Butch?”

“Sure thing,” He and Terry walked over to the deep edge and then one, two, they dove in.

Mary put on her oil. "Do you want some of this Jimmy? You might burn if you don’t.” She was truly worried about his fair skin.

“OK, but you put it on. I hate the feel of oily hands.”

Mary put a lot on his back, neck, face, and arms. “You have to do your front and legs. That’s icky.” She waited. “Go on.”

Jimmy did put it on. "I didn't think you cared," he said.

The two of them walked to the deep end. “Can you dive in, Jimmy?”

“Of course I can. What do you think I am, a sissy?” Jimmy held his hands in front of him, then took one and held his nose. Then he put them back together and sort of fell in. There was a big splash of water.

Mary laughed and clapped. “Very good form.” She dove in and swam to the shallow end. Jimmy was already there. Then they splashed and did headstands and turned somersaults and totally forgot Terry and Butch. When they went to their towels, Terry and Butch were dried off and eating candy bars.

“You didn’t wait for us,” Mary said. “How rude.”

“I’ll get you something, Mary,” Jimmy said. He walked over and got two Snickers bars.

“Jimmy, you are a true gentleman,” Mary said.

Jimmy blushed so much that he finally had a little color on him.

When Mary was in the changing room, she couldn’t help thinking what a loving person Jimmy was becoming. Or was he always that way? Oh, she still had a crush on Terry and admired Butch; he was such a guy. But Jimmy was unique in all the world.


Dear Louisa,

This was my first day at the pool. It was such fun. We all just laughed and swam and splashed. I am the luckiest girl in the world. What other girl has not one, not two, but three boyfriends? And to top it all off, I now have Bitty, my own. The boys are coming to revival. Jimmy’s mom is helping to drive. His dad is furious, but she is taking a stand and doing this for Jimmy. I’m so proud of her. Daddy is glad they are coming. We have to have Brother Mercer in our home for the week. Mommy will be so busy. I promised to help with Bitty. The boys will help, too. They just don’t know it yet. I can’t wait to see how Jimmy likes Brother Mercer and the whole revival thing. He has read John’s entire Gospel now and he said it was the best story he ever read. Brother Mercer will make it real for him. I know he will.

(See you next week.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010



C 2004 By Gracie Prior

The little spat between the Scribblers lasted about two weeks. During that time, Mary did baby sitting a lot and the others got end of the year schoolwork done. When the fight was over, it all seemed very silly. So foolish was it that none could remember how it had started. They all vowed a breakdown like that would never happen again. If anyone had a gripe, it was to be told immediately and dealt with.

The weather was getting warm and summer vacation was on all the group’s minds. Mary sat at one of the chairs at Havenword. She had a card of little yellow ducky diaper pins and was passing them out. “So these are just to announce our club, not to get new members right now. We may want to be well known so that we can get more writing jobs, like the one we got for the Sesquicentennial. So, what days do you go to the pool?”

“I thought we agreed no duckies,” Butch said.

“But these are very cute,” Mary answered. “Back to the pool, please.”

“We generally go to the pool every day in the summer. We get up early and do chores and spend the afternoon at the pool. Oh bring sun tan oil. That leaves evenings for TV and our club meetings,” Butch said.

“In case you guys care, the script is coming along great,” Jimmy said. We just have to check out a few details and then submit it to the official Sesquicentennial committee.”

“Then we’ll get called to start practice on the acting,” Terry said. “At least if our play is accepted, that is.”

“We have two days of school left. Then we start the schedule, with the pool and all?” Mary asked.

“Correct, Deary. We’ll all walk down together. It’s right by the pond where you fell in, Mary. “Oops, did you forget that?”

“I will never forget it Jimmy, because that’s when I realized what great friends I had and that my mom and dad actually liked you.”

“I have one more item on the agenda,” Butch said. “We need to clean this place up. The files have gotten messed up and the games have pieces missing. Let’s use a club day to work on the clubhouse, maybe paint it up.”

“Sure thing,” Terry agreed. “This is our Haven. We want it to stay that way and not turn into Pig Haven.”

“Any more comments before we adjourn? Anything else to do this summer?” Butch asked.

He was about to gavel the meeting to a close when Mary spoke up. “My dad is going to have a big tent revival at the fairgrounds in July. I’d love it if all you guys would come and support him.”

It got very quiet in the clubhouse. “What is a big tent revival? Is it some kind of circus?” Terry asked.

“Oh, no. It’s where a guest preacher comes and stays for about a week and gives a series of talks. It’s an old fashioned get-together. Sort of like outdoor church.”

“Then we’ll be there,” Jimmy said. The others just looked at him quizzically and back at Mary.

Mary smiled and said, “Then it’s settled.”

(Come back next week for summer fun.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010



C 2004 By Gracie Prior

It was June already and Butch’s household was in an uproar. Aunt Marabella and Cousin Connie were arriving soon to check out a new home since Uncle Herb left them. Butch’s room was turned into a very girly place. His mom had put up pink curtains and adorned the bed with a white chenille bedspread with pink roses. All Butch’s pennants were off the walls. He really didn’t care, but to be put out of his own room was a real sore point.

“Why do I have to sleep in this tiny closet?” he asked his mom. There’s hardly room to move and I might bump my head on this corner ceiling thing.”

“Butch, you know there’s no where else to put company in this house.”

“Then why did you have to invite them?” Don’t I count for anything?”

Mom briskly worked on the dishes while Butch played with his pencil at the table. His homework was overdue and he didn’t care. Let someone else get theirs in on time. He was tired of being perfect. Being good got you nowhere. Not in this family. “Well, why do they?”

“Do they what?”

“Why do they have to come here? They don’t even live in this state.”

That’s just it, Butch. There’s no one in Pennsylvania for them to stay with. Marabella has no other sisters and no brothers. Where can she go?”

“Beats me.” Butch looked at his math book and tried to concentrate. He was good at the times/distance/rate type problems and he gave them his all. Soon the paper was finished.

“I’m going to bed. I don’t want to watch TV tonight.”

* * *

Butch entered the Scribblers meeting with a red face and his hands in fists. Whenever Jimmy or Mary or Terry said anything about their new script, he just grumbled. The first draft and final chapter of the play was almost done. The group finally made a decision. That was to include all the forms of transportation they could get in the play: walkers, horse and carriage, bicycle, scooter, and small car.

“Now we will all go over the script, make corrections and suggestions and pool our ideas. I’ll do the pooling. I like to do it,” Jimmy said.

“Why does Jimmy get to do all the finished stuff?” Butch asked. “I want to put it all together.”

“Jimmy always does it,” Terry said. “Always has. Why break the record?”

“I don’t want to do it, but maybe Jimmy and Butch could do it together,” Mary suggested.

“Awe, forget it. I don’t care. You do it Jimmy.” Butch went to the lawn chair and slumped down.

The rest of the Scribblers organized the papers and gave them to Jimmy. “Let’s go guys,” Terry said. “Say are you going to join the swimming pool this year, Mary? We always get memberships and have a blast.”

“I’ll ask my mom and dad. Sounds great. Wouldn’t it be fun to keep our club going at the pool? We could wear badges or something. I know. We could use those cute blue and pink safety pins like Bitty has on her diapers.”

“I don’t see the point,” Jimmy said. “Why do we want to wear pins?”

“That way people will ask us about them and we can tell them about our club. We can be on the lookout for new members.”

“I think the pins are fine, that’s kind of kooky, but we don’t need any new members. I like things the way they are,” Butch announced from his corner. “Thought you guys were leaving.”

“We are,” Terry said.

“What’s with him?” Mary asked.

Butch knew he’d rubbed his friends the wrong way when he heard Mary ask.

“Butchie has a lot on his mind right now,” Terry defended him. “Ease up, Mary.”

“Who made you boss?” Butch asked.

“We need a break from each other,” Jimmy piped in.

When they were all gone, Butch lay down on the floor rug and cried.

(Next week: summer doings.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chapter XXIX. Tiny Treasure


C 2004 By Gracie Prior

Dear Louisa,

I saw Elizabeth today. She is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. No, really. She is pink and small, but not wrinkly. She has bluish eyes, but Mom says all babies have blue eyes. Her hair is like mine, but darker and redder. I got to hold her. She looked at me and threw her arm at my face. Mom and Dad are so happy. I guess they always wanted a big family. Well, two girls are nice. I am so tired. I’ll have to write more later. Mary.

* * *

Mary was sitting in the large green chair in the living room when the doorbell rang. She was holding Bitty so she let Mom get the door. Mom was moving slowly, but she said she felt good. After three rings, Mom opened the door and there stood Jimmy, with flowers naturally, Terry with a card and Butch with a small gift. Mrs. Brewster invited them in. “How nice to see you boys. Come right on in.”

“You can come see the baby,” Mary said. “Just don’t get too close.”

“Mary, the boys won’t hurt the baby,” Mom said. “You can look all you want.”

The boys gave Mrs. Brewster their gifts and sat down looking at Mary and Bitty. “She looks just like you, Mary,” Jimmy said as if in awe.

“Yeah, she’s very pretty. Only not as pretty as you, Mary, of course.” Terry gave Mary a side smile as if in jest, but Mary took the compliment to her heart.

"My mom says babies can’t smile. Has she smiled at you yet? If she does, it’s just gas, so don’t get too excited.” Butch reached out his hand to touch the baby’s hair and then drew it back. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a new baby up close like this.” He was acting nervous as if he wanted to get more involved, but didn’t know how.

“Mom, I think Butch wants to hold the baby. Is that O.K.?”

“No, I don’t.” Butch lied.

“That’s perfectly fine. Mary, you show him how to support the head and all.”

Butch sat on the green ribbed couch and Mary got up carefully and placed the baby in his arms. The baby raised her arms out wide and up. Then she settled down and looked at his face. Butch looked carefully at Bitty. “Mary, she smiled at me! She did. I saw it.”

“Awe Butch, that’s gas, remember?" Jimmy reached out his finger and the baby grasped it. “See that? She likes me.”

Terry didn’t want to be outdone. He started to sing Turra Lurra Lurra, the song he loved to sing to his own sister. Bitty spoke. “Snorfle, snorfle,” she said.

Mrs. Brewster came in and took Elizabeth. “Time to feed Bethie. It was so nice of you boys to come. Thank you for the gifts. And come and see her anytime. Mary’s going to be spending a lot of time with her. So please excuse her from some of the meetings for awhile.”

* * *

Dr. Quentin,

It’s so unreal. Here’s my dad who just got past a really scary coughing sickness. Now the baby comes on a trail of goodness. Mary was such a trooper in the gym show. Her reward was that she got through it without even one swat. And my tumbling is so great. I feel like the wind when I jump and turn. Things are going so well. What’s that the minister says? “Count your blessings.” Summer is coming. I have three of the best friends anyone could want. Our play is coming along great and we’ll get to act in it, too. This time is so special. Some day we’ll all scatter here and there. But right now, there is light and not darkness and I will rejoice. Terry

(Next week: what is going on in Butch's world?)

Thursday, April 29, 2010



C 2004 By Gracie Prior

Butch could hardly wait for Mary to get in her seat in homeroom. She arrived in a crisp cap-sleeved yellow dress and was smiling so wide all her teeth showed. When she sat down, Butch startled her in his eagerness to talk.

“I am so excited about the baby, Mary. How soon before you can see it?”

“When Mom comes home. In about a week, I hope. They won’t let little girls like me go up on the floor.” Mary looked sad but said, “It’s fine with me. Dad talks to me and I help him with dinner and it’s sort of nice. I am excited to see what Elizabeth Ann looks like, though. They are going to call her Beth, like in Little Women. I hope she is a lot healthier than that. She is so little, Mom says. About five pounds. Just a little bitty thing. I think I'll call her Bitty. Bitty Brewster. Isn’t that cute? That’s all I know so far.”

“Wow, that’s neat, though, Mary. Let us know when she gets home and we’ll all give her a visit. She’ll have lots of “uncles” to protect her.”

“She is a lucky girl all right.”

Terry and Jimmy came in together. Both were smiling. Both knew the news. Mary had been very busy the night before. “Does she have a name yet?” Jimmy asked.

“Did you get any sleep last night,” Terry wondered.

“Elizabeth Ann and no. I was far too happy to sleep.”

Miss Grace hushed the class when the bell rang. All four Scribblers grinned and looked at the front of the room, reluctantly.

* * *

Butch came home to an empty house. That was very unusual. Mom and Dad were always there when he got home, to ask as many questions as possible. He called and looked around. They were nowhere to be found. He went to the kitchen. There was no note. He got out an apple and milk. His mom had drilled healthy food into him from day one and he now preferred fruit to candy. As nice and quiet as it was, he was a bit concerned. He sat down on the couch where Mom sat every afternoon watching her one favorite soap opera, ‘The Guiding Light.’

Butch called Terry. “Terry, hey. Mom and Dad are gone. They never go anywhere at this time. Dad is usually done with work and Mom always goes to the store in the morning. You want to come over and hang out. It’s too early for Scribblers but I’m lonely. We could play cards or checkers or something.”

Terry was coming right over so Butch cleaned up his snack and put a few things away. Just as Terry rode up the driveway on his bicycle, Mom and Dad came in the back door.

Butch went to his parents first. Where were you? I was worried.”

Mom looked at him quizzically. “How sweet, Butchie. We had to go to the store for extra food. Aunt Marabella and her daughter, Connie are coming for a visit. You never met Cousin Connie. They’re going to be staying for a week. I’ll tell you all about it at dinner. Terry is here. Oh, we will need your room for them. We can move you out soon.”

Terry came in and Butch glared at him. “What did I do?” Terry asked. “You called me.”

"It's not you, Terry. I'm about to burst. My folks are driving me nus." He took a deck of cards out of a desk drawer and sat on the couch and shuffled and shuffled and shuffled. He was so upset, sweat was forming on his forehead.

“Take it easy, fella. Whatever it is. Fuming won’t help. Let’s play war. Get some of that aggression out on the card game. Or on me.” Terry grinned and messed up Butch’s short hair. “Let’s play.”

(Next time: what the boys really think of the new baby.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chaapter XXVII. Precious News


By Gracie Prior

The car across from Jimmy’s house sped out in the middle of the night. The headlights pierced the darkness. Jimmy was up at that hour because he couldn’t sleep. He was bothered by a remark his dad had made at the dinner table about him spending so much time with his nose in books. It did no good for his mom to defend him. She was always overruled. So Jimmy was up reading a wonderful book in his bedroom with a towel under the doorway to block the light. He heard the car rev up across the street and went to the window to have a look.

Mr. Brewster had come out with a suitcase and thrown it in the car. He went to the front door and escorted Mrs. Brewster carefully and slowly to the car. Then they were gone. It was an emergency of some kind and Jimmy figured it probably was the baby coming. Mary was so excited the last few weeks; she wasn’t much good working on the script. That wasn’t like Mary, he thought. With all this excitement, he wondered if he would ever get to bed.

His bed in his room was soft and inviting. He got in and fluffed up the pillows. Then Jimmy prayed a short prayed for Mary’s Mom and the baby. It was all he knew how to do. He had been reading stories from the black book called The Bible. A picture of a shepherd leaning way over a scraggly crevice and reaching his arm out to a sheep that was caught between the rocks especially touched him. The picture was frozen in that reach and Jimmy was moved by it and the caption, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd cares for his sheep.” Jimmy also read storybooks. Besides books about knights, he loved animals, and one of his favorite animal books was ‘The Wind in the Willows.’ He thought Mr. Toad was so funny, but he loved Mole and Ratty the most. They were different, but such good friends, just like he and Terry or he and Butch. As he reread his favorite part where Mole finds he is home for Christmas, Jimmy’s eyelids finally got so heavy that they would not stay open.

The birds chirped and sang the next morning. Jimmy’s head hurt from lack of sleep. The birds didn’t care. They just sang as though it were the most perfect day. Jimmy put on the clothes he had laid out for school last night. He went downstairs and nodded at Mom and Dad. Dad was drinking hot coffee and looking grim. His dark hair was combed and groomed so that the teeth marks of the comb could be seen. “Good Morning,” Jimmy said.

Dad looked up from his coffee and nodded at Jimmy. I’m going to be late tonight. You help your mom with Cindy and Beth. I want to hear a good report about you tonight. And don’t run off to that club till you have your chores and homework done.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Mrs. Falcon moved behind Jimmy and took her hand and pressed hard against his hair for awhile. She came in front of him and made sure he could see her smile. “We’ll do fine together, won’t we Jimmy?”

Before Jimmy could answer, the phone rang. He jumped to answer it. It was Mary. He smiled and jumped up and down. His prayers were answered. Mary had a new baby sister and she was beautiful, Mary said. Mrs. Brewster was fine. Mr. Brewster was tired and coming home. “Thanks for the call, Mary. Tell me more at school. You’re going aren’t you? Great. Oh, boy, oh boy. A new baby. See you Mary.”

Jimmy ran to get his books. Mr. Falcon looked at his wife and announced, “That boy is certainly not right.”

Jimmy heard his mom reply, "It’s true he’s not normal. He’s far above that and I’m going to see that he stays there." Then his ears picked up the clanking of dishes in the sink.

(Next week, come back as Butch has new problems coming his way.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chapter XXVI Mrs. Mable


C 2004 By Gracie Prior

Mrs. Mable Anderson sat under a wide green and white striped umbrella that was in the midst of a cement patio. Her hair was snow white. Her dress was white lace over pink satin. Butch thought the old lady was over dressed for the occasion. She looked very nice though, much younger than ninety. The Scribblers walked baby steps down the big hill, escorted to her table by a servant. “Mrs. Anderson, I am Butch NcNeil and these are my friends who are writing a script for the Sesquicentennial.”

Mary, Terry, and Jimmy came over and shook Mrs. Anderson’s hand. Jimmy gave her a lovely bouquet of spring flowers wrapped in green paper. “These are for you, My Lady,” he said.

Mrs. Mable turned a warm smile on Jimmy. “Why how lovely they are, young man.” She waved to the servant. “Adele, please put these in water and bring them right back. We shall get them spruced up so we can all enjoy them. Now then, children, what can I do for you? Please sit down and we’ll have a chat.”

They all sat down and Mary answered, “My mother, Mrs. Donald Brewster, called to ask if we could talk to you about your experiences in Harrisburg. What was it like to see the first cars? How have things changed? Tell us little stories about the businesses that would interest the town.” Mary had her notebook ready to take notes and the others followed suit.

“The first car.” Mrs. Anderson smiled and paused. “It was such a quiet little town when I was a girl. My sister and I walked from our house at the edge of town to the general store that is right where Murdock’s is now. We saved our money for a long time and bought a little bag of peppermint candy for a few pennies. It lasted a long time. Sometimes our mother would give us a list and we took a big canvas bag and got groceries for her. We always enjoyed the walk back. Once we got home, there were chores to do. Going to the big store was like a holiday for us.

I remember Mr. Farmer, the banker, was the first person in town to get that new fangled contraption called a car. It went up and down the streets making more noise than had ever been heard in these parts before. Great puffs of smoke came out the back, and it rumbled and shook and near scared the dickens out of Sister Maude and me. But in time, more cars came and we all did finally get used to the new monsters. I never drove one myself, but little Maude was a brave girl and when she was older, she gave in and got one.”

Mrs. Mable sipped her lemonade like the ones Adele had brought them all. The flowers made the table a visual feast.

The children listened and took notes for several hours till Mrs. Maude was tired and Adele said they had to go, but could come back at any time.

* * *

Diary Man,

Today was so cool. We met an old lady who was just amazing. She talked on and on about the old times in Harrisburg. I think she liked all of us. We’ll be going back again for more stories. We want to be sure we get all the good stuff she knows. We definitely want to work that noisy rattly car into our play. I just love that part.

Mom and Dad have been getting on my nerves lately. Even though we have the club and privacy, all I get when I go into the house is, “What did you do in your club today?” If we wanted them to know, we wouldn’t need a clubhouse. Not that we have anything to hide. We’re good as gold. It’s just - it would be nice to be treated that way. Suspicious grownups. I’ve had it up to here (note Diary Man I’m pointing to my head.) Mrs. Frumpstead brought cookies as a way to spy on us. Mary figured it out. I thought she was just being nice. Not much gets by Mary. Too bad she’s hung up on Terry. Still, I’m glad we’re all such good friends. I know she would do anything for me. She would. Butch

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chapter XXV. The Towel Game


C2004 By Gracie Prior

The trees were wearing their stark black coats and frost still hung in the air. It was late in April and time for the annual gym show. Terry was very happy because his group would be tumbling and he would also get to participate in his homeroom activity. This year Mrs. Osgood said it would be either partners’dancing or the towel game. He hoped it would be the towel game, but he really didn’t care. He loved all the parts of the program. His meet in Lindville in December had gone well and several small ones were a success. Each time, Mrs. Osgood added new, more difficult stunts. Terry’s favorite trick was to jump on the trampolette, snatch the open newspaper from Mrs. Osgood's assistant, and finish his flip. That looked flashy.

The living room was a mess. Dad had spent the day on the downstairs bed, and it hadn’t been cleared up. He was relieved that Dad spent most nights in his own bed. The miracle held, at least for now. He grabbed his jacket and called out, “Mom, I’m going to Havenword. See you at dinner.”

He walked to the clubhouse and found he was the last one to arrive. Mary sat on the lawn chair and Butch and Jimmy were on the straight chairs. “Guys,” he greeted.

“Hey, Terry,” Butch answered. “Mary is reporting on our progress about the Sesquicentennial. We are going to talk to a Mrs. Mable Anderson. She is ninety years old. The city was still pretty young when she was born. She remembers Harrisburg before cars came. She remembers it before there were trains.”

“We should bring her a present. If she is going to talk to us, perfect strangers, we should get her flowers or something.”

“We’re scheduled to meet her at two 0’clock tomorrow. I know it will take a Saturday, but we need to get busy. Jimmy, you go ahead and get the flowers. We’ll take the money out of our club fund.” Mary folded her notes and smiled.

“Great job, Mary. Who has something written for the script?” Butch looked around and waited.

“I have taken it on myself to write a preliminary, first draft, non- binding script. It’s all about pioneers, and ladies in long dresses and men with beards and straw hats. I’ll finish it and bring it to meeting next time,” Jimmy said.

“Now that were all here, does anybody know what Mrs. Osgood decided about the gym show?” Terry asked.

“I heard that we’re all going to do partners’ dances and the sixth grade girls will do the towel game.” Butch cleared up the table and arranged the papers in folders. “At least that’s what Barty at school told me. He wanted to do the towel game. He’s not happy.”

Mary had her head in her hands. Terry thought he could see a tear in her eye. “What’s up, Mary?”

“I wish I found this out when I was alone. But since you’re all here, you might as well know. When we did that game in gym, Big Betty took the taped towel and started around the circle, slow like. Then she started hitting me with it, on the bum, but she missed and hit my back. I screamed and ran around the circle but she kept coming at me. I was upset so I ran to the corner of the gym and there she stood swinging that thing in front of me until Mrs. Osgood called us back. If we’re doing that in the show, I’m out. And I wanted to do the Shottish dance, too. It’s my favorite.”

Terry put his hand on Mary’s head. “That isn’t the way the towel game is supposed to work. You were just supposed to go around the circle. “We’ll fix it. I can talk to the gym teacher.”

“No, don’t do that. I’d be even more shamed if you told her. I’ll tell her, but it won’t do any good. Once she’s decided something, it’s decided.”

* * *

Dr. Quentin,
I feel so bad. Mary has a huge problem and I can’t help her. I wish I could do the towel thing for her, but I can’t. Mary’s tough, she’ll be in the show. But too bad it has to be this way. Terry

(Next week. What Mrs. Mable has to say)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chapter XXIV. New Frontiers


C 2004 By Gracie Prior

Dear Diary, April, 1959
I am so excited. I went to church with Mary. It was in a spooky place, not like pictures I’ve seen of church. But they sang these songs. They didn’t have songbooks or anything. Everyone just sang. The music was so, I don’t know. It hit me. That’s all I know. I would have been happy to just sing and sing. Mary gave me a Bible book to look at. It had a story about a guy who killed a giant. I’m going to read as much as I can. It’s got tiny letters, but that’s all right. I already read a story about this big boat called an ark. Mary says the stories are true. It’s like my fairy tales coming true, or they were true first. I can’t wait to read more. First I’ll do all the stories that have pictures. Then I’ll just have to jump in somewhere else. Maybe Mary can show me the good ones. When I got home, Mom was nice and asked how I liked church. Dad nodded at me and didn’t make fun. That was good. Oh, Mary’s dad prayed a long prayer at church. I’m going to pray for Dad before bed. Maybe God will help him like he did Terry’s Dad. Only my Dad’s not sick. Just mean. Better hide this. Oops. That’s all.

* * *

Jimmy, Terry, Mary, and Butch got together at Havenword for an important meeting about the novel they were writing. “I think we should put this book away for awhile", Jimmy suggested. "Mary has an idea that’s better for us to work on.”

“I heard from Mom that Harrisburg is going to celebrate a Sesquicentennial this summer and we could write the play. They are going to do a big show at the football field and they will need actors and all sorts of stuff. Mom says they don’t have a play or a script yet. If we volunteer our services early, we could do it. We could show them our other plays, so they can see our writing.”

“That’s a great idea. I’ve always wanted to work on something with history in it. Where will we get all the stuff we need to know, to put in the play?” Butch asked.

“Mom has all that in a little book and she knows some old people we could talk to for details. Plus, we can use the old newspapers at the library. If we all help getting the info, we could do it.”

“We’ll make sure we all have good parts in our own play,” Terry said. It would be just as much fun to act in it as to write it.”

“We should do both. That’s why the book will have to wait. It’s a great book, but this is important now. I vote we go for it. We do both,” Jimmy said. “Who else votes yes?”

Butch, Terry, and Mary raised their hands. “The first thing to do is to tell my mom. She will help us go to the right people to ask to do the script. After that, we look up things up and get notes. Then we write.”

As the group was just breaking up, there was a knock on the door. Butch answered it. It was Mrs. Frumpstead. She held a plate of cookies. She turned her head to see as much as she could to the right and to the left.

“Won’t you come in, Mrs. Frumpstead?” Butch asked. He held the door wide open for her.
She entered and gave the cookies to Butch. Besides looking all around, she gave each Scribbler a fake smile. Mary got the strangest look, almost a smirk. “Are you children having fun?”

“Yes, we are, thank you Mrs. Frumpstead,” Mary answered. “Sit down and have a cookie.”

“Oh, I must be going. I just wanted to bring a little surprise.” She left and went back to her house.

When they were all alone together munching cookies, Mary answered, “Surprise noted, Mrs. Frumpstead.”

(Next week the Scribblers start their new enterprise.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chapter XXIII. Amazing Opportunity


C 2004 By Gracie Prior

The Easter sun came up fairly shouting as Jimmy looked out the window at the new crocuses. He was all excited because he was going to church with Mary and her parents. He had a suit on that he didn’t wear very often. It was a bit short in the legs, but not too bad. He had shined his shoes the night before. His mom put a handkerchief in the jacket pocket just before he left. He walked over to Mary’s. He called her and she appeared in a pretty dress printed with purple and peach butterflies. She wasn’t wearing socks, but had bare legs he thought, and shiny little shoes. “Mary, you look so pretty. I like the hat.” It was broad brimmed with a purple ribbon around it and trailing behind.

“Thanks, Jimmy. You look great too. Mr. and Mrs. Brewster came hurrying out of the house. They all got into the blue Chevrolet with Jimmy and Mary in back. It was Easter Sunday. Mr. Brewster had to get there early to set things up. The car passed all the familiar houses and then the school and on to a part of town Jimmy had rarely been in. The houses were somewhat shabby and the trees in the yards old and gnarled. They traveled on to a business section just past the Harrisburg City limits. Mr. Brewster came to a few storefronts. One had a dirty green awning. On top of the building, a cross was displaying the words “Jesus Saves”. Mr. Brewster pulled in behind these stores and parked. He and Mrs. Brewster got out and each carried in a huge box of plants, white trumpets with green leaves. Mary got out carrying a black book and Jimmy followed. They went in at the back of the building. Inside, even with the lights on, it was somewhat dark and dingy. Mrs. Brewster fixed the curtains on the stage and set the plants around. Mary and Jimmy set up the chairs. Mr. Brewster sat at the back and went over his notes. Mary went to a table along one side, brought Jimmy a black book and they sat down.

“I brought you a Bible to use. It has pictures. You can take it home and borrow it if you want to.”

Jimmy looked it over. He turned to a picture of David and Goliath. He was intrigued enough to look up the scripture reference listed on the picture. Mary helped him find it. He read and read until it was nearly time to start. “Mary, this is awesome. Is it true? This story can’t be true.”

“Yes, it is; it most certainly is. It’s all true.”

Jimmy read a bit more. He watched the people come in. They were all dressed up. They wore no expensive clothes, but hats and gloves, and fans and all sorts of finery. A woman went to the organ and began to play a hymn. She played, “Christ is Risen, Alleluia!” Jimmy didn’t know the song but it thrilled him nonetheless. Then they sang, “Amazing Grace.” Jimmy didn’t believe he had ever heard such a wonderful song. The tune made his heart ache in a strange way. He wanted to hear it again, but the singing stopped.

Mr. Brewster, they called him Preacher, stood up and talked a lot about Jesus giving people food and multiplication. Jimmy was a bit confused, but he knew people in the story were fed and happy. He liked what he heard. Then a huge gold plate was passed. He remembered the nickel his mom had given him and put it in with the other money. Then they sang some more. One song was called, “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder, I’ll Be There.” He heard a long prayed for soldiers, and the President, and the needy and on and on. Then it was time for the people to go home. Several ladies came up to Jimmy and said how wonderful it was for him to come today.

Mary’s mom and dad cleaned up, gathered the plants and went in the car. On the way home, Mr. Brewster stopped at the County Hospital and took the plants inside.

Jimmy was invited to stay at Mary’s for dinner, but he wanted to go home. He wanted to get comfy and read his new book and be left alone. If there were stories in there like the David one, he couldn’t wait to get started.

(Come back next week when the Scribblers start their greatest adventure.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

ChapterXXII: The Note


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


Jimmy went out the door with Butch. "What did you mean by this note?" Jimmy said.

Butch looked at the note he had written for Jimmy. "For a twerp, you're pretty cool," it said. "Oh, you mean the twerp part? You know how you act, silly-like. You do it on purpose. I know you're cool. It shows in what you do and say. You just do what, and say what, and dress like what comes to you. Don't you? Nobody forces you to do these things. Do they?" Butch stopped.

Jimmy turned his face away in shame.

"Well, I think you're so cool anyway and that's what I wanted to say. I'm sure sorry, Jimmy, if it came out wrong. You know I'd never hurt you for anything."

Jimmy smiled a real warm smile. "That was a very nice thing to say, Butch, and I accept your note. I shall treasure it always. Well, that's all I wanted. See you." Jimmy crossed the street and Butch walked across the street farther up and went home.

* * *

Dear Diary, March 14, 1959

I have so much going on in my head. Butch gave me a note that hurt my feelings, but he didn't mean to. He's great. He thinks I'm my own man. If he only knew. Someone is always on me: do this, do that, why can't you act like so and so? At least Butch and the others like me the way I am, even though the real Jimmy can't break through, not yet.

It is so great about Terry's dad. He is doing much better. He only coughs once in awhile. I'll never forget that little prayer. Mary's dad is taking me to her church Sun. Dad and Mom said I could go. Dad said no, but Mom talked him into letting me. She said he never took me, so if Mary's dad took an interest, I should be able to go if I wanted to. I do want to. I've never been to church, that I can remember. I don't know what they do, but I just have this feeling that it will be something new and wonderful. I have to stop writing. I hear Cindy and Beth coming to bed. I have to hide you, Dear Diary. If anyone knew I wrote in here they might laugh at me or even read it. That would be the worst of all. Then I would have nowhere to go with all the bad stuff.

* * *

Jimmy had just hidden his diary when Cindy - four,and Beth - two came into his room. They ran up to him and gave him a hug. "Good night, Jimmy," they called. Each gave him a wet kiss on his cheek. Then they ran out of the room and went to bed. Jimmy sat thinking about the girls and Mom. At least they loved him. At least they thought he was special, just as he was. He got out his Arabian Nights book and lost himself in pleasure.

(Next time: something very special for Jimmy. Come back and see.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chapter XXI . Hearts and Flowers


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


Dear Diary, February 7, l959

The Most wonderful thing has happened. Terry's dad was so sick he had to go to the hospital. We were all so worried about him. Mr. Brewster was at Terry's house and he prayed with us - Terry and me. It was amazing. He held our hands and it was a short prayer, but I felt something inside me. I don't know what it was. Then I had to go home. The next thing I knew, I heard that Mr. Raymond was getting better. Not just a little better, but he really seemed to feel good. Terry said the coughing stopped for awhile. Nobody knows how this happened. I do, but I can hardly believe it. Is it possible? Jimmy

* * *

Butch and the rest of the Scribblers were very excited. Valentine's Day was fast approaching and they were to have a party. Mrs. Brewster said she would give them one at Mary's house on the fourteenth. They were going to have their regular meeting and then the party. Every member decided to do something special. It was to be a secret. They could reveal their surprise at any time during the evening.

Butch was very early at Mary's house. "I just had to leave. My folks were bugging me," Butch explained. "I hope you don't mind."

"Of course I don't mind, Butch. Come in. You look nice." Butch was wearing a plaid shirt and dark jeans. He always felt that this outfit made his red hair look fabulous.

"Can I help with anything?" Butch asked.

"We are all ready. Come and see the room where the party will be." Mary led Butch downstairs. The basement had been converted to a red and white fantasy land. Pink and red hearts hung from strings from the ceiling. The refreshment table held a heart-shaped cake and there were pretzels and pop set out. On another table was a record player. Near it were several 45-rpm records. Butch looked amazed at all the preparations. Then the doorbell rang.

Jimmy appeared at the door in a a red sweater, gray wool shorts, knee socks, and shiny shoes. He had that impish grin that Mary loved. He held out to her some small African violets. "Mom gave me these. Oh, they're not for you, for your mom. Here, this is for you. He held out a pencil drawing of Mary on a white horse. It was a sketch, but he had the essence of the motion in the scene and determination in the girl's eyes.

"Jimmy, this is Congruent, isn't it? She held it out to get a better look.

"It's actually you, Mary. Do you like it?"

Mary gave Jimmy a squeeze on the shoulders. "I love it."

Terry was last but he came with a special wrapped gift for each of them. They all gathered in the basement and talked of Terry's dad and the miracle. They had their meeting where it was determined to do another chapter on 'Chosen Generation.' Each of them, on their own time would write the next chapter - what happened when Aaron and Congruent got through the tunnels. They would try this new technique and then blend the parts together and get a final version.

During party time Mr. and Mrs. Brewster came down every now and then and checked on beverages and food. At least that's what they said. Mary knew they were just being parents, but that was O.K.

Butch looked nervous. He finally reached in his pocket and gave each Scribbler a small note. "You can't read it now. It is just something I like about you, something I thought of. I hope it makes you happy."

Butch seemed jittery a few moments after that, and then it was Terry's turn. He passed out the small gifts. They were hearts with each member's name on them, hung from red ribbons. "My mom helped me make these. You can use them as bookmarks."

All were delighted with their gifts. Mary went away and came back with heart cookies. They were pink with sprinkles on top. I made them myself. Hope they are good."

The Scribblers finished up and said their good-nights. Butch felt a lot better than when he had come. On the way out, Jimmy caught Butch. "I read my note. I have to talk to you."
(Is there trouble ahead for Jimmy and Butch? Come back next Friday and visit.)


Friday, March 5, 2010

Chapter XX. Friends In Deed


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


Terry woke up as the phone rang. He looked at the clock. It was three-thirty P.M. He answered the phone next to him on the table. "Hello, Randolph's."

"Hey, this is Jimmy. You weren't at school. I was worried about you. Anything wrong? You sick?"

"No, my dad. They took him in an ambulance to the hospital last night. I can't talk long. Mom might call. She should have phoned by now."

"I'll come over and keep you company, O.K.?"

"That's great, Jimmy, I'd like that." He hung up the phone and went upstairs to the bathroom to wash his face. He had slept through till eleven A.M., gotten up, eaten something, and then called the hospital. There was no news, so he went back to bed. He hadn't called the school. He didn't care whether he was in trouble or not. He only cared about finding out about Dad. He called the hospital again. "Mercy Hospital? This is Terry Randolph. I'm calling about John Randolph. He came in an ambulance last night. He couldn't breathe. I'm calling to see how he's doing." Terry waited for the lady to find out. He waited and waited. Finally she came back on the phone. "Who's calling? How are you related?"

"This is his son, Terry. I have to know how he is."

"Of course you do, but the only information I can give you is that he's had a very bad night and there is no new information."

Terry tried to control his voice. He swallowed the stuff in his throat and managed to say, "Thank you." He was about to hang up when he remembered. "My number is 486-3255. Please call and ask for Terry if you know anything." He sat down on the bed and cried. He ran to the table for a tissue. He felt so alone. Then he heard Jimmy calling at the back door. He rose and opened it.

It was so good to see Jimmy. He had known him as far back as he could remember. They had always played together.

Jimmy came in and walked into the living room. He sat on a couch and crossed his legs. He didn't say anything at first. Then he said, "Do you know anything more?"

Terry sat beside Jimmy and cried right in front of his friend. Jimmy wouldn't care and he wouldn't tell. "They don't know anything."

Terry's sister, Kathy, came in the back and looked at Terry. "How's Dad?" she asked.

"I don't know. How did you get to school?"

"I walked of course. I had to go to school, didn't I?"

"Yeah, sure. You did the right thing. I'll tell you when I know anything. Go play or do homework or something. Phil should be home soon. Then we'll know."

The room grew quiet again. Jimmy asked, "Do you want something to eat? I think I can make you something?"

"No, no, I had something."

"While we're waiting, let's call Butch and Mary. They'll want to know, Terry. I know they will."

"You can if you want. I don't know what to do."

Jimmy dialed the Brewsters and talked to Mary's dad who happened to be home. "Terry and Kathy are here, but Terry hasn't heard anything." Jimmy looked at Terry. "Can Mr. Brewster come over? He wants to help and he will take you to the hospital."

"Let me have the phone. Hi Mr. Brewster, this is Terry. Yes, thank you. We all feel awful. I'd love to go to the hospital. Even if they won't let me in to see him, at least I'd be there. Come soon. Thanks."

Jimmy called Butch while Terry got cleaned up. "Butchie, I have really bad news. Terry's dad went in the hospital. No, don't come over. It's a long story. In fact, I'm leaving soon. I thought you would want to know. Pray? Yeah, I guess I could pray. Mr. Brewster is coming to help. He can pray for all of us."

The doorbell rang and Terry was ready to go. He invited Mr. Brewster in and said, "Can we go right away?" Mr. Brewster nodded. "Jimmy, thanks for coming. Oh, I forgot, I can't go yet. There's nobody to watch Kathy. I'll just have to wait. Sit down Mr.Brewster."

"May I?" Mr. Brewster said taking the phone. "Karen, can you and Mary watch and feed Kathy here while I take Terry to see his dad? That would be great. Hurry!"

While they were waiting, Mr. Brewster said. "Do you mind if I offer a prayer for your dad?"

Terry smiled. "We hoped maybe you would."

Mr. Brewster took hold of Jimmy and Terry's hands and said a simple prayer for healing. Then he smiled.

Karen Brewster knocked and walked in the house. "I'm here. You can go."

Terry and Mary's dad took off, Jimmy left, and Mary and Mrs. Brewster started to help Kathy. Just as Terry stepped onto the front porch, Butch called to him from the path by the back door. He sounded excited. "I want to help, too."

(Next time, something special for each Scribbler. See you then.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chapter XIX. Afterglow


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


Terry slept in after the big day. He felt so good about not making any mistakes. It was great having Dad, Mom, Philip, and Kathy there. He laughed to himself. They were sure surprised that I could do something like that. Well, I don't know whether I like that or not. Still he had the glow and just lingered awhile under the warm sheets.

Ordinarily, he had to get up early every morning for his paper route, but Philip volunteered to do it for him. It was nice having Phil back in the house. Sometimes they even had one of those big brother, little brother talks.

"Terry," Mom called from the kitchen. "Time to get up...even for you," she added.

Terry noticed the joy in her voice. He dressed in his dungarees and flannel shirt. He passed his dad's room and saw with satisfaction that he was not in bed. Terry was glad that the excitement and the cold weather of last evening hadn't been too much for him. He hadn't heard coughing in the night, either. Maybe his prayers were being heard and Dad was getting better.

"Today, I thought we would get in the car and look for a bed for Dad, for the living room," Mrs. Raymond said when Terry entered the kitchen. "Then he can see us and be in the group, even when he doesn't feel well. Philip will stay here. Maybe he and Dad can join us at Bernies Restaurant and we'll all have dinner out. How does that sound? It will be sort of a celebration of your gym show last night."

"That sounds great. Only I thought Dad was doing better. Where is he? He wasn't in bed."

"Sometimes he is better, but he has some bad spells, too once in awhile when you're not here. He's at the doctor. He may get new medicine. But I'm determined that he will not spend all his time upstairs, away from us. So that's why we're getting a nice, pretty, comfy bed for down here."

* * *

Dr. Quentin,

We had a great time getting a bed for Dad. We picked out a nice dark wood frame called mahogany and Mom got soft mattresses and a cool brown bedspread. We ate at Bernies and I had a hamburger and even a milkshake. That was good. We came home and Dad started coughing right away. He went to bed, while Philip and Mom and I got his downstairs bed ready. It looked nice in the corner of the living room, right under our Home Sweet Home picture. Dad got out of his bed, went to his new one and he fell asleep. I suppose that was the idea.

Mom doesn't tell me anything. She doesn't want to worry me I guess. How can I not worry? I hate it that Dad is bad when I'm away. I know it isn't my fault, but why do I feel guilty? There's not much I can do, but I still want to do something. Mary's dad is a preacher. He seems real nice. Maybe I can talk to him and see if I can figure this thing out.

I'm glad everyone liked my tumbling last night, but if something happens to Dad, and I just stand around here like a dunce, I don't think I'm good for much. There must be something I can do.


* * *

The ambulance came at two o'clock a.m. Terry heard the siren and was startled out of a very peaceful sleep. Dad was taken to the hospital nearly unable to breathe. Terry spent the rest of the night curled up on the new bed, crying and feeling forlorn.

(What will happen to Terry's father? Will Terry figure out a way to help? Come back next Friday and see.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chapter XVIII. The Star


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


(Terry had to leave Havenward to practice for the gym show. Let's see how he does.)

Butch sat with his parents at the gymnasium. He looked around for his friends. Jimmy and his parents were looking for a seat. Butch waved them over. "Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Falcon, how are you?"

Mr. Falcon looked at Butch and sat down without smiling. Mrs. Falcon said, "Butch, Frieda, George. We're excited to see Terry do his acrobatics. Have you seen his parents?"

"We just got here," Butch said. He looked around some more. He spied Mr. and Mrs. Raymond walking along the far end of the gym. The place was starting to fill up. Butch waved wildly at them.

"Butch, for heavens' sake. Let the Raymond's sit where they want. Don't look like an idiot." Mrs. McNeil said.

The Raymonds sat down on the bench on the first row. They were focused straight ahead. Philip and his little sister, Kathy, were there, too.

From the far corner of the gym, a small band began to play a march and the tumbling team ran in and lined up. Terry was about in the middle, height wise. They all wore white shorts and white tee shirts with the school name, Elsbeth Elementary, written on them. The program started with the pledge to the flag, and then an announcement of greeting by the principal and the location of refreshments afterwards.

An official checked the mats and placed a small device called a trampolette at the front of the first one. Mrs. Osgood, the gym teacher, had a teen aged assistant lay down on his back about half way down the mat. A very small girl gymnast walked up. She made a short run, jumped with both feet on the trampolette, put her hands on the teenager's knees, and he carried her over with a perfect landing on her feet. Several other small athletes repeated this maneuver. An older group did mid-air turns between the jump and the landing.

The mini-tramp was taken away and a girl went up to the mat. She had her run, did four handsprings in a row and landed on her feet. Then Terry came up and took a run. He did seven handsprings and just managed to land on his feet at the end. The audience loved it all and clapped heartily.

At intermission, Butch looked abound and saw Mary and her parents show up. "Sorry we were late. Daddy had to help one of his people at church. Mom said I had to wait. What did I miss?"

"Terry was so good." Butch said. "They were all great."

Mary looked at her mom and dad sideways, a move Butch knew was on the sly. He knew she dared not glare at them, though she would have liked to. "Maybe he'll do better stunts in the second half," she said.

The gymnasts returned. The crown watched as a large trampoline was set up in the middle of the gym. A group of gymnasts stood around the sides to protect the jumpers. When it was Terry's turn to jump on the trampoline, he did some sits and turns. Then he bounced and did a forward flip, landed and then right away a back flip. The other players were good, too. Butch thought Terry was the best. He was a loyal friend. After the show, they all met in the cafeteria and talked to each other and the parents.

Butch found the Raymonds. He ran over. "Terry was so good. I was so proud of him." Then he felt silly about the comment. "I mean you must be so proud of him."

Mr. Raymond was beaming. "I had no idea Terry could do anything like that. I was surprised and proud and amazed all at once."

Mrs. Raymond held her husband's arm. Butch thought she looked relaxed and happy. He thought Mr. Raymond looked well. He was glad because Terry was constantly upset about his dad being sick.

Finally Terry and the gymnasts showed up. Terry found his group and he got a hug from his mom and dad, and Butch and Jimmy just shook him. They didn't know what else to do. Mary went up and gave Terry a hug. "You were great," she said.

"We're going to travel to Lindville next week," Terry explained. "It will be our first away meet. Isn't that great?"

"You will wow them," Jimmy's mom said.

* * *

Diary, Man,

I just have to tell you about this gymnastic show Terry was in. I've never seen anything like it. I didn't know he was good at stuff like that. I always thought we were about the same, pretty average guys, just the two of us. But there's no way. Terry is a star. He is simply amazing. I guess he's still good old Terry, but I won't ever think of him the same way again. I don't feel bad. I mean I can do things. I just feel like there's someone I thought I knew that I really don't know at all. It's weird. I wonder who else is holding back on me. Jimmy? Could he be hiding some talent I don't know about? Whatever could it be? Mary? She doesn't seem any better at things than most of us. But what if Mary has something that will make her different? I'm confused. I like Terry to be great. Still, when things change, you feel so lost. I feel lost. I don't want to lose Terry or Jimmy or Mary. I won't, will I?

Butch, signing off

(Next time - does Terry get to bask in the limelight, or does something more shadowy lurk in his future? Come back next Friday and see.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chapter XVII. The Story Progresses


C 2004 By Gracie Prior


Mary sat on her bed and thought about what Mom had said yesterday. Not only was she shocked and disgusted with the facts of how babies were made, she just found out that her very own mom was going to have a baby in the spring. That was nice. Mary longed for a little brother or sister, but her parents - doing that, well not possible. But Mom doesn't lie. She wondered if she could face her friends now that she knew. She was just wondering this, when the phone rang downstairs.

"Mary, it's for you."

She rushed downstairs and answered. "Hello, this is Mary. Oh, Jimmy, I'm fine. I'm sure I can come over now. I'll see you soon."

On the way over to Jimmy's house, Mary tried to put her recent information out of her head. The Scribblers were going to go on with more chapters of their desert story, "A Chosen Generation." She was happy and relieved about that.

Jimmy greeted her and together they walked to Havenword. It would truly be a quiet place today, away from parents and her recent mistakes.

Butch greeted them heartily and the boys sat down. Mary went over and arranged the curtains she had painstakingly made for the clubhouse. She went around picking things up and putting them on shelves. She loved this place and wanted it to be a comfort, for all of them.

Terry hurried in and he began, "Jimmy has started the next chapter of our story. He has Conni and Aaron meeting Conni's father and then getting lost in tunnels below the ground. It's too exciting. We can read it through and add or take stuff out."

Jimmy passed out copies of the story that Terry had typed on his dad's Royal. They took turns reading through the chapter, page, by page.

"I love this part where Aaron blindly swings his club in the dark, to protect himself. He seems so wimpy and then he hauls off and knocks this guy for a loop," Jimmy said.

"It's important that he doesn't kill him, only put him out." Terry added. "He doesn't know it but the reader does."

"Oh, maybe we should tell him," Mary said. "He'd want to know."

"We'll see," Jimmy said. "See if you can fit it in here. That's why we're doing this, to work on it together and make it right."

The group corrected pages for another hour and then Terry said, "I have to go. We're having a practice tonight for the gym show and I have to be there."

"Yeah, good luck, Terry. We'll all see you tomorrow."

"We wouldn't miss it,"Mary said. "Take care of yourself. Don't get hurt."

"I don't plan to. They spot you pretty good. And the mats are soft. I'm not worried."

"I now call this meeting of the Scribblers to a close," Jimmy said. "See you all in school."

Terry, Butch, and Jimmy went home. Mary stayed and cleaned up the papers, filed them in the proper box, and looked around. Such contentment. Her own place. She pulled the curtains closed and put the lock on the door. As she walked in the gathering darkness, she looked back and caught her breath. There, framed in the light of her kitchen window, her hair sticking out all over, was the sour face of Mrs. Frumstead. Mary remembered her mom's words 'old busybody.' She sang to herself a song about "The Happy Wanderer" and walked on home.

(Next week, we'll see where Terry's gymnastic practices have been leading. Is he in for fame and fortune or disaster?)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chapter XVI. The Little Talk



Mary was just waking up. Remembering how the freezing water had shocker her whole system and recalling the one second, two seconds before she reached out for help made her head hurt. Mom was siting in a chair by her bed. Mary did not want to talk, but she had had enough sleep and couldn't pretend. "Well, Mom, let's have it. Give it to me."

"Mary," Mom said. "Your color looks good. Are you warming up now?"

"Yes, actually, I'm hot." Mary started throwing the covers back.

"No you don't, young lady. You've had a bad chill. Now here, keep this thin sheet over you." Her mom sat looking at her.

"All right," Mary said, "I'll tell you." She looked down. "I'm sorry for disobeying you. It was wrong. I'm really sorry."

"You said that already." Mom felt her forehead. "If you stay still for the rest of the day, you can get up tomorrow, if you have no fever."

"But Mom, I'm not tired. I want to get up now. I feel better."

Dad came just then and pulled in a chair from down the hall. "Mary, have you told your mother the story?"

"No, she didn't ask. I said I was sorry."

"Mary, I have just one question. Why, when you started turning away from Butch, did you decide to go ahead in stead of back to Jimmy?"

"I don't know. It all happened so fast. I wasn't on the curb exactly, and I wanted to keep up with Butch and the other kids."

"Well, you'll have to think harder next time. I've had a talk with the boys. I wanted to see what they were like. I've also learned that Butch's neighbor, Mrs. Frumpstead, is issuing rumors about your being 'cooped up in there for hours with boys.'"

"Oh, Dad, you didn't say that to them." Mary felt extremely embarrassed. Just to think of her dad thinking something like that. What was he thinking?

"What does Mrs. Frumpstead think we are doing? What do you think? This is awful." Mary pulled the covers over her head.

"Donald, really. Mary is eleven years old. She doesn't even know...anything."

"She may not know, but I'll bet those boys know, most of them."

"Donald Brewster, I'll not have my daughter the object of ridicule by some old busybody. I don't listen to gossip, and neither should you."

Mr. Brewster laughed softly. "Easy Karen, I told the boys the exact same thing. Those boys would do anything for Mary; its easy to see that. Meanwhile, tell Mary those simple facts she needs to know and we'll call it done."

Mary didn't know the facts, but she knew the general landscape of the journey this talk would take. As she thought of Jimmy, Butch, and Terry, and what she knew was coming, she was just mortified. Her parents couldn't have thought of any punishment that would be worse than this.

(Next Friday, more clubhouse news. See you then.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chapter XV. Consequences


C2004 By Gracie Prior


Butch reached Mary first. He knew that the water would be freezing. Mary reached out to grab the rail and he was able to pull her up and out of the pond. She was soaking wet from above her waist down. Together they got past the cement outcropping and onto the bank of the pond. Butch took his jacket off and wrapped Mary in it. He whistled at the line of skaters. Terry was coming toward them already. Jimmy was walking carefully on his skates across the ice to meet them.

"We saw you, Mary," Jimmy said. "We saw you go down. "Are you all right?"

"No, I'm freezing," Mary said.

"All we can do is get her home as quickly as possible," Butch said. So the four of them walked to where their shoes were and changed. Terry took Mary's skates. Butch and Terry tried to carry her.

"Put me down. I'm not a baby," she said. "Let's just go fast." So they walked briskly to Mary's house. Along the way, the boys shared jackets so Butch wouldn't be too cold.

As they approached Mary's house, Butch saw Mary's dad come out to meet them. "We're in for it now," Butch said under his breath. Mary was hurried inside. The boys were invited in.

"Will you fellows wait here while I look after Mary? I'd like to talk to you," the dad said.

The boys rolled their eyes at each other. There were no seats in the hall so they stood. Mary and her dad went upstairs.

* * *

Butch and the boys could hear doors slamming and water running. Mary's mom came down and was wringing her hands. "Hello boys," she said and went to a linen closet and took out two fluffy white towels. She hurried back upstairs and Mary's dad came down.

He looked at them and said, "Mary is getting a hot bath. Thank you for bringing her home. He handed the coat to Jimmy. "I just got a bit of the story but her mom can help better than I can upstairs. Will you fill me in on the details?"

Butch moved uncomfortably from one foot to the other. "Well," Butch started, "I was just going to the curbside for a short cut, to join the crack the whip. Mary was behind me..."

"Just a minute." Mr. Brewster said. "Come in here won't you and be comfortable." He led them to the kitchen, poured some milk and they sat down. "Now try again."

Butch again told the story of how Mary went to the cement outcropping, he didn't know why. "Then she fell in ," he finished.

"That's all I know," Jimmy said. "I was learning to skate when I saw her go in ."

"I was coming around the corner of the line when I saw her," Terry said. "We're awful sorry. Maybe we shouldn't have gone today."

"No, most of the ice was just fine. Mary disobeyed her mother, and now you boys have to go home early, and you are freezing. "I'll give you a ride home."

"No, that's O.K.," Terry said. "We live real close."

"I know. You are the Scribers or something, aren't you?"

"Yes, the Scribblers, Sir," Jimmy said.

"Well, it's nice to finally meet you. Which one of you is Butch?"

"I am," Butch said.

"Well, it looks like your neighbor, Mrs. Frumpstead has been doing some gossip about you and Mary and the clubhouse. What is it you do in there?"

Butch scratched his head, sipped his milk and said, "We write stories, plays, and act out scenes, and sometimes play board games. Stuff like that."

"And that's all yo do?"

"What else is there to do in there? We like writing and we write. Oh, I forgot something." Butch blushed a bit. "We read, too. And sometimes," he said, thinking about his mom,"we run around the clubhouse, for exercise. That's about it."

Jimmy and Terry smiled and nodded.

"Guys, I don't like busybodies. As long as you read and write and the other things, we'll get along just fine. It was nice to meet all of you. Which one is Jimmy?"

"I am, Sir."

"You like knights and castles?"

"Yes, very much."

"Terry," said Mr. Brewster looking right at him. "You are an athlete."

Terry smiled.

"I wasn't worried," Mr. Brewster said. "As far as I'm concerned, Mary has three excellent friends." A door slammed upstairs. "I'll go check on her. You are free to go. And thanks again."

The boys walked down the path to their homes. "That turned out better than I thought," Terry said. "Her parents sure ask a lot of questions."

"Mary must talk about us a lot," Jimmy said.

"Let's just get home, and Jimmy, gimme my coat," Butch said. He felt grumpy. He wondered why his parents never asked about his friends or tried to get to know them.

(Next time - more grief for Mary)