For The Rich Cousins

Lin Stone

For the last five days Joe had loved his very first time at Cousins Week.  It really helped of course that Grandpa Turner was rich. His home was huge. There were six bedrooms just for the boy cousins.  Then Aunt Sarah had four bedrooms in her home for the girl cousins. Just so they could go swimming and water-skiing Grandpa Turner had a pontoon boat with two outboard motors and he kept a private dock at the biggest lake in Arkansas. He had horses to ride and hundreds of acres of wilderness to ride them on. He had four wheelers to trail, and a big motor home to take them all over the United States when the urge struck him.

Joe loved his rich cousins. They were so exciting to be with when Cousins Week came each year. Little Billy could already dance on the surf board in still waters, and he wasn't even three years old yet. Because of their wealth and the leisure time it brought for practice, all the other cousins were similarly endowed with mental and physical agilities.

Joe eagerly followed Bill and Jim into a big department store one day. He was having a wonderful time until he saw Jim pulling a billfold off the shelf and thrust it into his pocket. "What are you doing?" he asked.

Jim laughed at his consternation. "Why, I'm stealing it," he replied with a shake of his head. Bill laughed too. "You don't know nothing yet. We can get away with anything in this town."

Suddenly it wasn't fun anymore. A frown creased Joe's forehead. He kept hoping that it was a joke as he trailed them along. The bright laughter still rang as Bill and Jim made fun of everything they saw and did. Half an hour later they came to a little indoor café and sat down to eat. Joel was more troubled than ever. As the other two boys bit into their hamburger Joe laid his down on his plate and said: "This isn't the kind of thing I want to be involved in. You may be my cousins, but you aren't doing the way I want to become and you aren't doing what I want to do. So, I'm going back home." He stood up and walked away.

Jim watched him for a moment then looked at Bill and said "You know, that took a lot of courage. And Joe's the kind of friend I want to have." He took the billfold out of his pocket and laid it on the table. "Let's put this thing back where it belongs."

Just then they noticed a big strong man coming their way. He wore a gray uniform with a badge flashing on the front. On his hip was a big revolver. He nodded at the boys as he passed and went on up to order a hamburger and french fries. As he went by them to get a table of his own Jim called him over to sit with them. "Are you a security guard in the store here?" Jim asked.

"Oh no," said the man. He chuckled. "I'm a guard at the state prison."

Bill chuckled too. "So that means you couldn't arrest us for doing something in here, right?"

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The prison guard became very serious and put his hamburger down so he could speak more earnestly. "That's where you're wrong," he explained. "When I put on this uniform and badge I have the same responsibility as any police officer in town. If I see you stealing something it is my solemn responsibility to turn you in immediately."

Jim studied on that for a moment. "And if you did, then eventually we would end up in prison with you watching us, wouldn't we?"

The prison guard nodded. "Yes," he said. "And things can get very rough over there even with the guards trying to keep order."

Just then Joe came back around the aisle. He stopped short when he saw the prison guard and fright turned his face white. With a grin Jim waved him on over. Still grinning he nodded the guard. "Well you won't ever see us over there. Joe here is our spiritual leader. He keeps as on the strait and narrow path and he makes real sure we put everything back that we steal. Right Joe?"

Joe nodded cautiously as if not sure what he was agreeing to. The guard stuck his hand out and said I am very pleased to meet you, Joe. We need more leaders like you. Then he stood up and went on his merry way.

Jim fixed his eye on Joe. "In every Cousin's Week from now on you will be our leader Joe because you have the kind of moral courage all of us cousins want to have too."

More stories for children  *  Learn to Write Better  *  Walk On The Grand Canyon

About the author:  Independently less than wealthy, Lin Stone is an author, writer and photographer 3262 Watergate Road
Clinton, Arkansas 72031 His writing has appeared in almost one hundred national magazines and
Browzer Books has published seven of his books so far with more in the works.