Mr. Lukin’s Turkeys
July 2008

“Mr. Lukin’s Turkeys,” Friend, July 2008, 42–44

Mr. Lukin’s Turkeys

Honesty should start with me in all I say, in all I do (Children’s Songbook, 149).

Rex watched the dust cloud around his bare feet as he walked up the path from the river in the summer sunshine. As he came within view of the farmhouse, he saw his mother tending the vegetable garden out back. She was a hard worker; her pantry was filled with canned beans, beets, tomatoes, and sweet fruit for the winter. She sewed and baked and took care of her family, but when she had a moment to spare, she spent it on her little flower garden in the front yard.

It wasn’t much to look at. With the list of chores she tackled each day, it was difficult to find time to weed and water her flower patch. Each year when the seed catalog came with the mail, she spent a week’s worth of evenings sitting by the fire, carefully turning through the pages to find just the right seeds for the coming year.

Suddenly, something flapping in the front yard caught Rex’s attention. His mother jumped up from the vegetable patch and ran toward her flowers. “Scat! Get out of here, you old turkeys!” There, in her flower garden, a flock of turkeys made a mess of her summer efforts. All the stems had been snapped, the flowers ruined.

Rex ran to help his mother, shooing the flock back to Mr. Lukin’s farm. Like many of the local farmers, Mr. Lukin had recently traded in his hens for a pack of turkeys. But the turkeys’ wings were stronger than hens’ wings, and they had escaped.

“Get on home!” Rex’s mother yelled, her face red. The turkeys waddled single file, demolishing every plant in their path. “Rex, chase those turkeys back where they belong.” She looked sadly at the trampled flowers.

Rex quickly herded the turkeys back down the road, yelling and flapping his arms to spur them on. As the turkeys entered Mr. Lukin’s yard, Rex decided to make one last attempt to make them stay. Looking down, he grabbed a rock lying on the ground. He yelled and threw the rock with all his might, intending to give them a good scare.

Thunk. Rex watched with horror as the largest of Mr. Lukin’s turkeys toppled over. Oh no. Thoughts of old Mr. Lukin raced through Rex’s mind. The man had never been kind to Rex or his brothers. Walking over to the turkey, Rex gave the bird a nudge with his foot, hoping for some sign of life. Nothing—the bird was dead.

What was he going to do? Mr. Lukin would be furious. Looking around, he realized no one had seen him throw the rock. No one would ever know what had happened. Maybe Mr. Lukin would think the bird had died of old age or eaten something bad. Maybe Mr. Lukin wouldn’t even notice the bird was gone. Without another thought, Rex grabbed the turkey and hid it in the bushes. He wouldn’t say a word. No one would ever know. He turned and ran home as fast as he could, fueled by uncertainty and guilt.

His mother praised him for his quick work with the turkeys, unaware of the turmoil in Rex’s belly. How could he tell her what he had done? What would she think of him? As the sickness welled inside him, tears filled his eyes.

“What’s wrong?” his mother asked.

He ran to her arms, sobbing as he unloaded the whole story, complete with his fears of Mr. Lukin’s anger. Finally, as his sobs quieted, she pulled back to look at him. “Rex, take the bird to Mr. Lukin. If you tell him what happened—”

“Oh no! I couldn’t do that!” Rex panicked as he imagined Mr. Lukin’s angry response.

“Rex, believe me,” his mother said. “You will never have peace if you don’t face him and confess. Mr. Lukin deserves to hear the truth.”

“Mr. Lukin will be so mad! He’s mean and he’ll yell at me.” Rex’s eyes filled with fresh tears as he looked at his mother’s tender face. Then he thought of Heavenly Father. Rex realized Heavenly Father expected him to tell the truth.

Finally, looking down, Rex asked quietly, “Will you go with me?”

The walk to Mr. Lukin’s house was torture. Leaving his mother in the yard, Rex stepped to the front porch with the dead turkey. He cautiously knocked, praying Mr. Lukin wouldn’t answer. The door opened.

“Hi, Mr. Lukin.” Rex handed him the bird. “He dug in Mama’s flower beds and I had to chase him out. I threw a rock and he fell. I … I guess I killed him. I’m sorry! Oh, please don’t be mad, Mr. Lukin!” Rex looked at the ground, too frightened to watch the reaction.

There was a moment’s pause, and then Mr. Lukin spoke. “That’s all right, that’s all right. We’ll eat him for dinner today.” A smile pulled at the corners of his mouth.

Rex couldn’t believe what he had heard. As he walked home with his mother, he felt as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He realized that doing the right thing was truly easier in the end. Facing his consequences had been far less painful than living with the guilt.

Illustrations by Phyllis Pollema-Cahill