SHORT STORIES

Josh Finds Out

Josh Helps Out

Lorna

Talcum Powder

The Picture of a Stockman

For Sale

Josh Misses Out

Josh and three friends, Eddie, Sam and Harry, were walking home from school along a dirt road that went through some thick bush and trees. In a part where it was hidden from the view of nearby houses, it passed Mr. Morgan's orchard. At certain times it was possible to smell the ripe peaches on Mr Morgan's trees, and this day was one of those times. There were hundreds of peaches not very far from the fence along the side of the road.

Eddie was looking at all the peaches and said, "Lets get ourselves a peach to eat on the way home."

"Yeah," said Harry, "A good idea."

But Josh wasn't happy. "No, that would be stealing, and I don't think that is right."

"But we'd only take one each." replied Sam. "There are lots there and Mr Morgan will never know. We'll eat them here, so they will be finished before we get home. Who will know?"

"Well you can if you like," said Josh, "but I'm going home now."

So Josh walked on by himself, but the other three boys climbed through the wire fence and picked some peaches. They were beautiful. "Yum," said Harry, slurping through the juice, "These are so good and fresh, better than the shop ones."

"These are so nice," said Eddie, "and there are only three of us here. I'm sure Mr Morgan wouldn't notice if we had two peaches each."

So the boys picked another peach each and ate them too.

The next day Josh and the others were passing Mr Morgan's orchard again. Eddie, Harry, and Sam were telling Josh how much they enjoyed the peaches yesterday.

"Weren't they just the best?" Harry asked.

"The best." Sam replied.

"Let's have a couple today, too." suggested Harry. Then he asked Josh, "Are you coming with us today, Josh, or are you such a good little boy?"

Josh felt that they were making fun of him. They were supposed to be his friends, but things did not seem to be going very well. He wasn't happy about what they were doing, but he didn't like them making fun of him either.

He thought about it for a few seconds, then said, "No, I'm going home."

"Too bad," Eddie called out, "You'll miss out again, Josh."

So Harry, Sam, and Eddie climbed through the fence again. They enjoyed the peaches just as much as the day before, but this time they had three each, and then started on their fourth. But they were full and couldn't finish the last one, so they left the partly eaten peaches in the grass near the tree.

That night Eddie, Harry, and Sam weren't very hungry at tea time. They were full of peaches.

"You're not sick, are you?" Sam's mother asked him.

"Oh no, I'm just not that hungry tonight for some reason," he replied.

It was much the same with Eddie and Harry.

The next morning Mr Morgan was walking through his orchard and saw the unfinished peaches on the ground. As he looked he also noticed lots of peach stones around about.

"Hmm," he thought, "I wonder if some of the children on their way home have been helping themselves?"

On the third day, as the boys were walking home past the orchard, Harry said to Josh, "Come on Josh, join in with us. It's easy. Just get through the fence, and grab a peach for yourself."

Josh and the others walked up to the fence, and were checking to see where the best looking peaches were. Josh was still hesitating because he didn't feel happy about it, but they seemed to be so nice from what the others had said.

Suddenly a tractor came around the bend.

It was Mr Morgan.

"Hello boys. Are you about to help yourselves to more peaches?"

"Oh no," Eddie replied, "we were just looking."

"And I suppose 'just looking' left partly eaten peaches on the ground yesterday, and about twenty peach stones in the grass, did it?" Mr Morgan sounded really cross. There was going to be trouble, and the boys couldn't just run away because Mr Morgan knew who they were.

When Josh arrived home his mother was waiting for him. Josh felt nervous. "I hear you have been having a chat with Mr. Morgan. He rang me to tell me all about it," she said.

"But I didn't take any peaches, Mum, truly, I didn't," he said.

"Yes, I know," Mum said, "I have rung Sam's mum. Sam was already home and had told her what had happened. And you had no trouble in eating you tea last night, not like Sam, who was full of peaches. I'm so pleased with you Josh, that you were able to walk away from them."

"Well they were making fun of me a bit," said Josh, "and today I might have gone with them, but Mr Morgan came along before anyone got through the fence."

Josh's mum gave him a hug and said, "Sam's mum said that he was grounded for two weeks. No play after school and no going out at the weekends, and I think it is the same for Eddie and Harry. So you missed out on the lovely peaches, but you have missed out on the punishment too."

And then she added, "Tomorrow I will buy some peaches from Mr. Morgan. When you come home you can enjoy his peaches, and not feel guilty or scared that you might get caught."