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“Secrets,” Friend, May 1996, 12


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: … A time to keep silence, and a time to speak. (Eccl. 3:1, 7.)

Why can’t I tell?” Ryan asked as he tiptoed behind Samantha to the big willow tree by the creek.

“‘Cause it’s a secret,” his friend Samantha whispered. “Nobody’s supposed to know about it except you and me and Grandpa.” Very carefully she lifted the leafy branch so that Ryan could see. “Don’t touch—just look.”

“Wow!” Ryan exclaimed as he looked at the four tiny white eggs in the nest. “How did you find it?”

“Grandpa showed it to me,” Samantha said proudly. “He says that if we don’t disturb it, pretty soon we’ll see the baby birds when they’re hatched. It’s a secret ’cause if lots of kids start coming around, the mother will abandon the nest.”

“Wow!” Ryan said again as he put the branch back in place to hide the nest. “I never saw a bird’s nest with real eggs in it before. I won’t tell anyone else.”

“We’ll come back on Saturday,” Samantha said as they started home. “Grandpa says that the eggs should be hatched by then.”

Ryan remembered the nature study lesson their second grade class had just had. “I have an idea,” he said. “If we’re careful not to disturb the mother, maybe we can watch her feed the babies and see them learn to fly.”

“Great idea!” Samantha agreed.

Ryan felt proud that Samantha trusted him with the secret. He wished he felt the same way about the secret Joey had told him last week. That secret made Ryan feel scared because Joey had said that Ryan would be in big trouble if he told anyone, and Joey was a big bully.

When Mom called him for lunch, Ryan was still thinking about Joey’s secret.

“Aren’t you hungry today?” Mom asked when she saw him pushing his macaroni around the plate with his fork.

“Not very.” Macaroni was his favorite, but today it didn’t taste so good. “Mom, is it OK for a kid to tell a secret if someone told him not to?”

“That depends,” Mom said. “If it’s a secret that makes you feel unhappy or upset, you should always tell a grown-up you can trust. But if the secret makes you feel happy, then it’s a good secret and you should keep it.”

Ryan liked what Mom said, and she was a grown-up he could trust. “Mom, Joey told me a secret about how easy it is to snitch stuff from Mr. Sonny’s store.”

“Did you feel happy when he told you?” Mom asked.

“No, but he said I’d be in big trouble if I told, and I’m scared of him.”

Mom smiled. “You won’t be in any big trouble. I’m pleased that you didn’t like Joey’s secret. I’ll speak to Mr. Sonny, and he can deal with Joey.”

Suddenly the macaroni tasted wonderful. Ryan knew that the secret he shared with Samantha was one he would keep. It was a good one. Soon he would see four fluffy baby birds in the nest, and that made him happy.

Illustrated by Dick Brown