Written and Illustrated by David Walters
Ellen finished carefully wrapping the present she had for her friend’s birthday party. The party would not be for three more sleeps so Ellen gently slid the neatly wrapped package under the edge of her bed where no one would see it if they stepped into the room. She looked back one more time to make sure the present was out of sight. And it was, so off she went to school with a smile on her face and a good feeling in her heart.
When Ellen returned from school later that afternoon the first thing she checked was to see if the birthday present was still okay. Ellen pulled it out from under the bed and ran her hand over the smooth pretty wrapping paper then slipped it back under her bed, out of sight, and went to look for Wire Dog.
In the hallway Ellen passed her brother who was walking toward his room. Ellen turned and watched him walk past her room just to make sure he wouldn’t go in there, snoop around, and find the present. When he went into his own room Ellen continued on out of the house and called Wire Dog.
Pretty soon she found him playing with a ball in the back yard. They played around for a while, and then Ellen went in for supper. As they were sitting down at the family table Ellen’s mother told Ellen to go and check to make sure the back door was closed tight. “Sometimes the back door gets left open even just a little. Wire Dog crawls through and gets into the house. I don’t like it when he makes a mess or chews on the furniture” Mother said.
Ellen checked and sure enough, the door was open just a little bit, so she closed it tight and went back to the table. After the prayer Ellen spoke. “It was probably brother who left the door open. He’s always doing stuff like that.”
Her brother protested right away, “It wasn’t me! She’s always trying to blame stuff on me and trying to get me in trouble.”
“Let’s all stop arguing. It doesn’t matter who left the door open this time, but from now on I want everyone to try harder to keep it closed,” Mother said in her usual voice that sounded like she loved them but didn’t like to hear them arguing.
Ellen and her brother gave each other a serious look across the table but neither one said anything more because they respected their mother and knew it was right to obey.
Later that evening as Ellen was getting ready for bed she quickly peeked under the bed at her present. It looked like it had been moved a little from where she had left it but other than that it appeared to be okay. As Ellen was falling asleep she had a thought. “I bet my snoopy brother came in my room yesterday while I was outside playing with Wire Dog and he probably looked at my present and tried to put it back without me noticing. Well I did notice. And he better not do it again,” she said with a tired yawn.
The next morning before Ellen went to school she put a paper sign on her bedroom door that said, “Keep Out.” but all day at school she kept worrying about her brother going into her room and messing with her stuff. She hurried home from school as fast as she could, knowing that he almost always got home before she did.
Ellen rushed through the front door and found her brother smiling at her. “What are you smiling about?” she asked in a serious voice.
“I saw the sign on your door,” he said smugly.
“Well you better not have gone in there,” replied Ellen.
Just then Mother called both of them to come to the kitchen. When they got there, Mother told them that someone had left the door open again and that it had probably been open most of the day while they were at school and she was out.
“It wasn’t me,” they both said at the same time.
“Well I don’t think it was Father and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me, mother said, getting a little stern. ”Let’s all try a little harder to be more careful.”
The children both said, “Yes Mother,” and off they went. Ellen walked straight to her room to change from her school clothes and to check on the package she had hidden under her bed. As soon as she entered her room she knew that someone had been snooping around in her things. The package was sticking part way out from under the bed and when she picked it up, she was shocked to find that a piece of the wrapping paper had been torn off one side of the package.
“Mom,” cried Ellen. “Brother came into my room before I got home from school, he has been snooping around in my stuff and look at this – he tore the paper on the birthday present for my friend, so now I will have to rewrap it.
Mother called both of her children again to the kitchen and asked them what was going on. Ellen explained how she had wrapped a special present for her friend and put it under her bed for safekeeping until the birthday but that someone had come into her room a couple of times and messed with it. She also explained that she had even put up a sign but someone still came in and even tore a piece of wrapping off the side. Mother looked at brother and so did Ellen.
“It wasn’t me,” said brother. “Honest it wasn’t.”
Neither Ellen nor her mother believed him. Who else could it be? So brother started crying and ran to his room.
“You should punish him, Mother,” suggested Ellen. “That would teach him a lesson.”
“Well,” her mother replied. “He seems very sorry for what happened and sometimes recognizing that what you did was very wrong, is punishment enough. Fortunately there is not much real harm done. We can quite easily rewrap the gift and everything will be fine.”
So Ellen got the wrapping paper and Mother helped Ellen wrap it again, but the whole time Ellen was having angry thoughts about her brother and was thinking about some things she might do to get even, because she still thought mother didn’t punish him enough.
When the present was all wrapped again Ellen hid it in a new place in her room. Then she took a crayon and underlined the words “Keep Out” on her sign and went outside to find Wire Dog.
Ellen looked in the front yard but she didn’t see Wire Dog there. Then she looked in the backyard but she didn’t see him there either. Next she decided to see if he was in his dog house.
When she looked inside she didn’t see her little wire friend but she saw something else that made her stop in her tracks and cover her mouth. There on the floor of the dog house was the piece of wrapping paper that had been torn from the birthday present that was under her bed. At first Ellen wondered why her brother would put it there, but when she saw that the paper was all wet and chewed, she knew it wasn’t something her brother had done.
Ellen then felt sorry when she remembered how her brother cried when he said it wasn’t him and they didn’t believe him. Ellen started toward the house trying to think of what she could say to her brother so he would forgive her for thinking he had gone in her room and torn the paper when really it was Wire Dog all along. But just then she saw Wire Dog slipping through the back door into the house. Oh no thought Ellen I must be the one who has been leaving the door open too.
Suddenly Ellen understood what her mother meant when she said “Sometimes recognizing that you have done something wrong is punishment enough.” Ellen made up her mind right then that she was going to do better. She would tell her mother she would be more careful about closing the door, she would be more kind to her brother, and she would go get Wire Dog and teach him to stay out of the house.