Sunday, December 22, 2013

"More Precious Than Gold," a Short Story for Middle Grades


Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

“Mrs. Williams, this is Lacey Cotter. Your daughter baby-sits for us sometimes, and she did so yesterday. May I speak with her?”

“Sure. I’ll call her to the phone. Is anything wrong?”

“Well, we can’t find my diamond and gold ring. We’ve looked everywhere. Maybe Tess has seen it or has an idea where it might be.”

“Tess, pick up the phone! It’s Mrs. Cotter.”

“Hello, this is Tess.”

“Tess, we can’t find my gold diamond ring. It was not here last night when we came home. Did you see it while you were watching the kids?”

“No. Not at all.”

“Well, thank you. It will probably turn up, but I don’t know where.”

That was Sunday. On Monday, Tess learned that one of the Cotter kids had told his friend that Tess had stolen his mother’s ring. Tess was shocked.

When Tess and her mother met in the kitchen early that evening, Tess told her what had happened. Mrs. Williams knew that Tess would never steal, and she wanted Mrs. Cotter to stop her kids from saying something that could be so harmful to Tess’s reputation. Tess’s mother called Mrs. Cotter.

“Hello, this is Jane Williams, may I speak with Lacey.”

“This is Lacey.”

“Lacey, Tess is very upset. One of your children told some of your child’s friends that Tess had stolen your ring.”

“That’s terrible. We know Tess would never do such a thing. That’s one of the reasons we trust her with the kids. I will speak to them right now and get to the bottom of this. Please excuse us and give my apologies to Tess. I am very sorry this has happened.”

Within a day or two, Tess learned that the Cotter kid had told his friends that he had been wrong…and that his family did not think that Tess had stolen the ring, even though it was still missing. Tess did not know who else might have heard the first story, though.

Almost a week later, Mrs. Williams got another phone call from Mrs. Cotter.

“Jane, this is Lacey. I want you to know that we have found the missing ring. When I went to scrub the bathtub today, I put on a pair of rubber gloves that I use for such work. The ring was in the ring finger of the glove, where it must have come off the last time I used it, and I did not notice it immediately.”

“I’m sure you are glad to have it back, and I know Tess will be pleased, too.”

“Yes. Tell her again that we are sorry for the unpleasantness a few days ago. We hope she will continue to baby-sit for us.”

“I’ll tell her. Thanks.”

At dinner that night, the Williams family discussed what had happened. Tess still felt hurt, a bit. Everyone agreed that having her reputation harmed was unfair. It has been written that our reputations are “more precious than gold,” and Tess understood what that meant. She was not sure she would baby-sit for the Cotters again. Their carelessness had certainly hurt their reputation in the Williams household.

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