It was too early in the year for Christmas gifts, but Susan was in the den wrapping a small compact package. She had fixed it up in brown paper, which she’d cut from a grocery bag.
Her younger sister, Patti, walked in just as she finished wrapping the parcel. “What are you doing, Susan? Please let me see. May I help?”
“No, it’s just an address book with some pictures and a little money in it. That’s all.”
“Where did you get it? What are you doing with it?”
“I was shopping down at the circle, and I saw a little black book lying in the middle of the walk,” Susan explained. “I went over to see what it was, and some money fell
out. I looked inside, and there were all kinds of important things in it–more money, some pictures, some golf scores, and addresses. I just thought Mr. Jenkins would like to have all this stuff back, so I’m wrapping it up to send it to him.”
“What are you talking about?” asked their older sister, Carol, who had just wandered into the room. “Who’s Mr. Jenkins? And what are you sending him?”
“Susan found this little black notebook,” Patti explained. “She’s going to send it back to Mr. Jenkins because it belongs to him and he might need the money!”
“How much money?” Carol asked.
“I don’t know exactly, but I think Mr. Jenkins will want it back,” Susan replied.
“Let’s open it up and count it.”
Susan and Patti opened the package, and Carol counted the money. “There’s a whole $40 in here!” Carol exclaimed. “Let me see the rest.”
As Carol searched the little book, she noticed that some addresses had checkmarks by them. “Mr. Jenkins is probably on vacation here in Florida. He probably wrote down the addresses of friends back home in Illinois so he could send them greetings. Some
of them are checked off, so maybe he’s already sent them a postcard or something. There are five names that haven’t been checked.”
“Now he won’t be able to send them postcards,” Susan said.
“It looks like he won three games in golf, and the other person that he was playing with won two. Mr. Jenkins must be a good player–he won three out of five games.”
Patti held up a picture of a pretty woman. “Who do you think this is? And here’s another picture. The two kids look about my age.”
“That’s probably Mr. Jenkins’ wife and children,” Carol said. “Maybe we shouldn’t mail all this stuff back to Mr. Jenkins right away. What if the money got lost in the mail? Forty dollars is a lot of money to lose. And if Mr. Jenkins and his family are still on vacation, the package could be in their mailbox for two or more weeks before he gets home. That could be risky.”
“But what should we do with it?” Patti asked. “It isn’t ours, and Mr. Jenkins might need it.”
“I’ll tell you what we can do. It’ll be a lot of fun, and Mr. Jenkins can have his money back and everything!” Carol was getting quite enthusiastic.
“What should we do?” Susan asked eagerly.
“Well, wouldn’t it be fun to send postcards to the five people that he hasn’t checked off? We could send Mr. Jenkins’ greetings from Florida.”
“But what will we do with the money?” Patti asked.
“We could write to Mr. Jenkins and tell him that we have the money,” Susan suggested. “We’ll send it back to him when he answers our letter.”
“That’s a good idea, Susan,” Carol remarked. “Why don’t you and Patti run down to the dollar store and buy five postcards with pretty pictures of Florida? Then we can write on them and also write a letter to Mr. Jenkins, OK?”
“Yeah! This is going to be fun!” And off they went to the store.
When they returned, the sisters busily wrote on the five postcards all about the loss of the address book, the weather, and Mr. Jenkins’ winning three out of five games in golf. Then they started the letter to the man himself.
Dear Mr. Jenkins:
My name is Susan. I am in the fourth grade. I live here in Florida. I was window shopping one day and found your little address book and notepad.
Patti (my 7-year-old sister), Carol (my older sister), and I looked through your book. We found that some of your addresses hadn’t been checked off. We thought that maybe you were planning to send greetings from Florida to your friends back in Illinois. Since you lost your addresses, we decided to send them postcards ourselves. So we did!
We still have your $40. We will keep it until you write back. We don’t know if you’re back from your vacation now or not. We will send the money and the rest of the book and contents back to you when you answer.
I’m glad we found your money, because $40 is a lot to lose. It was fun writing to your friends too.
About two weeks later Susan came running into the house. “Patti! Carol! I got a letter from Mr. Jenkins. Here it is. You can read it, Carol!”
I received your letter about a week ago. I appreciate your honesty very much. You’re right. Forty dollars is a lot to lose. I should have been more careful, and I will be from now on.
When I realized that I had lost it, I never expected to see it again. I will appreciate it if you will send the book and its contents back, but return only $25. I want you to keep the rest. You can share the $15 with your sisters, Patti and Carol. That’s $5 for each of you.
Thank you so much for your truthfulness and honesty. I teach the fourth grade in Hamilton, Illinois, and I told my students about you. I hope every one of them is as honest as you.
Reprinted from the September 10, 1969, issue of Guide.
Illustrated by Joel D. Springer