“Mystery Elf,” Friend, June 1991, 16
The screen door slammed shut with a loud bang. Lindy trudged in, pulled a chair from the kitchen table, and plopped down.
“Hi, Punkin,” her mother said as she turned off the water in the sink. She pulled one of Lindy’s blonde pigtails and said, “Why the long face? I thought you couldn’t wait for school to be out. You can’t be tired of vacation already.”
Lindy sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “There’s nothing to do,” she said and sighed again.
Lindy’s mother smiled. “Why don’t you ride your bike? You and Julie always like to race to the end of the street.”
“Julie’s gone to her grandmother’s,” Lindy grumbled. “M-o-o-o-o-m,” she wailed, tugging on her mother’s apron. “What can I dooooo?”
“I know,” her mother said, snapping her fingers. “Why don’t you read the new book I got you yesterday?”
Lindy sat up straight and gave her mother a wide grin. Then she slumped back in her seat. “Aw, Mom, I read that yesterday.” She frowned and thumped the table with her fingers.
“I have just the thing,” Mother said, sitting down at the table with her. “How would you like to play a game—a game that can last all summer!”
Lindy giggled. “Mom, what game can last all summer?”
“I know one,” Mother said, handing Lindy a big red apple. “This one: Do something good for someone each day—something kind.”
Lindy took a big bite out of her apple. She turned questioning blue eyes on her mother. “Mom, are you sure that that will be fun? It doesn’t sound like a game to me.”
“It can be,” said Mother. “The fun part is that you mustn’t let the people know you did the things for them. You can’t let them see you, and you can’t tell them you did it. If you do, it doesn’t count.”
Lindy giggled. “They’ll think elves did it.” She got out of her chair and danced around the room. “I’ll be the secret elf of Goodman,” she said. Then she frowned. “OK, Mom, what can I do?”
Her mother laughed and got up to look out the window. “Well, Mrs. Parker doesn’t get around very well. Maybe you could do something for her.”
“I know! I know!” Lindy exclaimed, jumping up and down. “I can carry her paper from the sidewalk to her porch so it’ll be easier for her to get.”
She dashed to the door.
“Remember—she mustn’t see you,” her mother called after her.
Lindy ran to the big oak tree in the backyard and peered at Mrs. Parker’s house. She saw Mrs. Parker through the kitchen window, washing dishes.
Lindy clapped her hands and darted to the sidewalk in front of the house. She grabbed the folded newspaper and ran and dropped it next to the front door.
She just had time to scurry behind the shrubbery at the side of the house before the front door opened. Lindy bent a branch of the bush just the tiniest bit so that she could see Mrs. Parker.
“These old legs are not what they used to be,” Lindy heard Mrs. Parker mumble. Then Lindy heard a click as Mrs. Parker unlatched the screen.
“My, my! How did you get on the porch?” Mrs. Parker asked, bending to pick up the paper. She looked first up the street, then down the street.
Lindy clamped a hand over her mouth to stifle her excited giggles.
“Somebody sure has been kind to me,” Mrs. Parker said, shaking her head. “My poor legs say thank you, whoever you are,” she called out. She shook her head again and went back inside.
Lindy smiled happily as she scampered back over into her yard and sat on her swing. While she swung slowly, she thought about what her next adventure would be. Gazing down the street, she saw papers and cans strewn all over Mr. Johnson’s yard.
“That’s it? She jumped out of the swing, ran to the house, tugged the screen door open, and ran in.
“Mom, I need a garbage bag quick. The dogs have made a mess of Mr. Johnson’s yard. Would you call him on the phone, please, and keep him talking so he won’t see me clean it up?”
Lindy dashed to the door, then stopped and turned to her mother. “And, Mom,” she said with a big grin, “it’s going to be a fun summer!”