Give Something

Give Something

Linda was a new girl in school, and she was rather shy. At first the girls had been friendly, but when she hurried home after school each day, offering no explanation, and taking no interest in them, they gradually let her alone.

"But I can't tell them I have to hurry home after school to baby-sit. They don't have to and they wouldn't understand," Linda said to her­self. But way down deep Linda knew that she was partly ashamed, and that was why she was not friendly.

Linda's father was overseas and her mother, a nurse, left for work each day as soon as Linda came home, returning a little after eight at night. After her mother left, Linda took the twins for a walk in the park in the warm sunshine. Then she got them their supper and put them to bed.

It was almost time for her mother to return one night when Linda got out her scrapbook and pasted some poems in it that she had cut from her Sunday school papers. Turning the leaves slowly, she found a poem she had put in a long time before. The words seemed to jump right out at her: "Give something of yourself—"

And suddenly Linda's face grew warm thinking of the many times she had walked away from the girls; and how she had never offered to clean erasers after school, or taken any interest in her schoolroom.

"Tomorrow I'll be friendly," she promised herself. "I'll tell them I baby-sit and I'll help clean erasers at recess." She went to bed then, feeling good inside.

When Linda walked into her classroom next morning a group of girls stood by the blackboard talking.

"Hi," Linda called gaily, as if that were her usual morning greeting.

"Hello," they answered. Then, "What do you know!" one of the girls whispered loudly.

All day her attempts to be friendly met with no success. Lingering a moment after school, hoping to walk down the steps with some of the girls, she was again disappointed, for they brushed past her, talk­ing and laughing.

Linda hurried on home, then, and took her small brothers to play in the park. She also tried to keep an eye on a small boy who wanted to climb a large oak tree.

When Linda started for home with the twins, she heard a cry for help from the oak tree, where the small boy sat almost at the top, crying.

"What's the matter?" she called.

"I can't get down," he wailed.

Linda almost said, "I told you not to climb up there," when she remembered! She could help him, and that was "giving something".

"Stand right there while I climb the tree," she told her brothers.
"I won't be long."

She helped the boy down, and when his feet touched the ground, he scurried away like a frightened squirrel.

Linda was almost down, when she stepped on a dry branch that snapped, and before she could catch a limb to cling to she tumbled out of the tree. She limped home and called her mother. In a little while her mother came bringing a doctor. He examined her foot and told her she had sprained it and would probably miss a day or two of school.

Next morning Linda called her teacher and told her why she would be absent. Then she lay down on a davenport in the living room, watching the twins.

The day was the longest she had ever known. Glancing at the dock once, she thought, "School is out now and everybody will be going to Marion's party." Linda felt so badly not to be invited.

Then suddenly, above the twins' noisy play, Linda heard her name. Coming across the lawn were all the boys and girls in her schoolroom.

Linda's mother hurried from the kitchen and opened the door.

"Surprise!" they shouted, swarming into the large room, depositing two cartons of ice cream, frosted cakes, candy, and paper plates and spoons on the table.

Linda could not speak.

"We didn't know you baby-sat every day after school until teacher told us," Elva smiled shyly. "I'm an expert sitter, and I'd like to help you, if you'll let me."

"I would love it," Linda answered, wondering why she had ever thought they would not understand.

Marion came out from the kitchen carrying a basket of flowers and set them on a table beside Linda.

"Jackie lives next door to Elva and he told her how you helped him down from the tree. It was wonderful." Marion looked down at the floor. "We thought you were different, Linda, and—"

They all crowded around Linda. "We missed you today."

Linda smiled. "I missed everyone, too." She looked at the smiling, friendly faces of her new-found friends, and realized that she would not be lonely anymore.—Adapted from a story by Marie A. Morrison, in Juniors.

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