“Getting Even for Mrs. Johnson,” Friend, Sept. 1987, 21
When Mrs. Johnson’s poodle, Ricky, died, all the children in the neighborhood were sad. Ricky had been a nice dog, and the children loved to pet him and play with him. They thought that the man who ran over him must have been very mean, and they wanted to help Mrs. Johnson get even with him.
One day when Julie and Sandy were on their way home from school, they saw Mrs. Johnson sitting in the swing on her porch. They thought about passing by her house without talking to her because they didn’t know what to say. But Mrs. Johnson called to them, and they knew that it wouldn’t be very nice to just ignore her.
“I guess you heard about what happened to Ricky,” Mrs. Johnson said. Her voice was very sad.
“Yes,” said Julie, “and if we ever find out who did it, we’ll help you get even.”
“We’ll make him sorry that he ever ran over a nice dog like Ricky,” Sandy chimed in.
Mrs. Johnson moved to one side of her swing and asked them to sit next to her. “I don’t want you to get even for me,” she said. “It wouldn’t be right.”
“Wouldn’t be right?” Julie asked.
“After what he did to you,” Sandy said, “I thought that you would want to get even.”
“Oh no,” replied Mrs. Johnson. “I miss Ricky very much. But getting even with the man who hit him won’t bring him back to me.”
“Well, that’s true,” Julie said, “but it should make you feel better to know that you made him feel as bad as you do.”
“Oh no!” Mrs. Johnson said quickly. Then she asked, “How would you feel if you had been the one who ran over Ricky?”
“I would feel awful,” the children said together.
“Well,” Mrs. Johnson told them, “I think that the man who hit Ricky felt very bad too.”
“You mean you talked to him?” Julie asked.
“Oh yes,” replied Mrs. Johnson. “He came to my door right after it happened and told me that he was sorry. I could tell that he really meant what he said.”
Just then a car pulled up in front of Mrs. Johnson’s house, and a young man got out. He was carrying something small wrapped in a blanket. “Mrs. Johnson,” he said softly, “I have something for you. I know that he won’t take Ricky’s place, but I hope that you’ll like him.”
When the young man opened the blanket, the children saw a small black puppy. It did not look like Ricky, but its tail was wagging and it had big brown eyes.
Mrs. Johnson smiled as she picked the puppy up and gave it a hug. “Thank you,” she said. “That was very nice of you.”
“I’m glad that you like him,” said the young man. Then he went back to his car and drove away.
Sandy and Julie stayed to play with the new puppy while Mrs. Johnson went to the store to buy dog food. They were very happy that Mrs. Johnson had a new friend to stay with her now. They were also surprised that the man who had run over Ricky was so nice.
“You know, there is one thing that I’m glad we didn’t do,” said Sandy to Julie after a while.
“What’s that?” asked Julie as she rolled a small rubber ball across the porch for the puppy to chase.
“I’m really glad that we never had a chance to get even,” Sandy replied.