Did you ever want something really badly? Well, one of my Fern Valley kids knows exactly how you feel. Sammie Gruff, an only child and somewhat shy individual, recently saw a bike that she wanted and this is the story of her and that bike.
It was shiny chrome and candy apple red with a white basket and a squeaker horn. It was absolutely the best bike Sammie Gruff had ever seen. As she stood there admiring the new bike at the end of the ladder aisle in Mr. Flocks Hardware store, she could already imagine herself riding it down the main street. Sammie had a dream that she had never told anyone yet, and that was to own a brand new girl’s bike.
Sammie had an old bike which had been handed down to her from a cousin. But it was a boy’s bike with no basket and lots of dings and scrapes. It wasn’t that she was ungrateful for the bike. Sammie was always the most grateful and pleasant goat you could find in Fern Valley. Any of her friends would tell you so. It was just that she had never had a brand new bike before.
“It’s so beautiful,” she said under her breath.
“What did you say dear,” said Mr. Flock who was walking past with a box of new hammers. He set them down and began scratching behind his wooly black head. “Now where am I going to put these hammers,” he said to no one in particular. He had already forgotten he had even asked Sammie a question. Mr. Flock was like that. He was one of the nicest sheep you could ever meet and an extremely fair merchant, but he was easily distracted.
“Nothing,” Sammie answered as she left the store and headed for home. Four blocks down from the Hardware store and three more blocks to the left was Sammie’s home. It was a beautiful Victorian house with stained glass windows and an enormous front porch. As she let herself in the front door, she could hear her mother singing in the kitchen.
Sammie’s mother Martha was in the same choir as Betsy Woolrich’s Grandmother and could often be found singing hymns as she cooked, cleaned, or just sat relaxing. It always made Sammie feel warm and happy inside to hear her mother sing joyfully to the Lord.
Sammie went into the kitchen and sat down at the table. Her mother was putting a noodle casserole in the stove, so she didn’t see or hear Sammie come in. When she turned around, she let out a startled noise. “Oh hello muffin, I didn’t hear you come in,” she said. “So what have you been up to this fine summer day,” she asked?
“Well,” Sammie said a bit hesitantly, “I was at the hardware store and I saw the most beautiful bike ever made.”
“Really, said her mother with a smile in her eyes. “And what made this particular bike so beautiful?”
Sammie spent the next ten minutes explaining the beauties of the bike. It’s shiny chrome, its perfect color, the useful basket, its newness, and the fact that it was made for a girl. Her hesitancy turned to excitement as she explained the dream she had to own such a bike.
“I see,” said her mother. “Well, let’s discuss it when daddy comes home from work.”
It was another hour before Mr. Gruff got home and they sat down to dinner. As her mother scooped generous helpings of noodle casserole and green beans onto each plate, Sammie told her father all about the bike.
“Since you already had your birthday last month, perhaps we could come to some sort of an agreement if you really want this bike.”
“Oh yes, daddy,” Sammie nodded eagerly.
“You might want to wait until you hear the bargain,” he laughed. Mr. Gruff agreed to pay for half of the bike if Sammie would pay for the other half. This meant that she would have to do extra chores around the house and neighborhood to earn enough money.
Since the bike sold for forty dollars, she needed twenty dollars to pay for her half. She had seven dollars left from her birthday, so that meant she had to come up with another thirteen dollars. She thought that should be a cinch. Well, she hoped it would a cinch. She noticed Mrs. Rocky the elderly goat who lived next door had a lot of weeds in her flower garden. Maybe in the morning she would see if Mrs. Rocky needed help weeding.
Sammie was awake with the sun the next morning, and after quickly dressing and practically inhaling a bowl of cereal she was out the door. She rang Mrs. Rocky’s doorbell and patiently waited. When Mrs. Rocky answered the door, she invited her in.
“It’s so good to see you dear,” she said.
“It’s nice to see you too Mrs. Rocky,” Sammie said politely.
“And what are you up to this summer.”
“Well,” said Sammie who was suddenly attacked with a case of shyness, “I was wondering if you had any odd jobs like weeding that I could do. I’m trying to save money for a new bike.”
Mrs. Rocky smiled encouragingly at Sammie. “As a matter of fact dear, I could really use some help weeding the flowers. I could also use some help cleaning out the attic. You know I’m not as young as I used to be.”
So after a few instructions, Sammie got busy weeding. Mrs. Rocky had a large lot with several flower beds, so it took Sammie the better part of the morning and afternoon to finish the weeding. After she was done, they agreed that the attic would have to wait until the next day.
“Mother, Mrs. Rocky paid me two dollars for weeding her flowers,” Sammie said excitedly as soon as she got home.
“That’s wonderful dear,” her mother said as she added some pepper to the black bean soup she was making. “How much more do you need?”
“I only need eleven more dollars. And tomorrow I am going to help Mrs. Rocky clean out her attic.”
“Well, that should be quite interesting. I don’t think Mrs. Rocky has cleaned out that attic for at least twenty years.”
Sammie’s mother was right. Mrs. Rocky’s attic was crammed full of odds-n-ends of things. In one corner stood several tall dressers with old clothes peeking out of the overstuffed drawers and in the other corner were all manner of lamps, baby strollers, tricycles, plant pots, pictures, and boxes. Everything was covered in a fine layer of dust which made Mrs. Rocky and Sammie start to sneeze. “Why don’t you begin by opening those two windows,” said Mrs. Rocky.
They spent the whole day dusting, sorting, and organizing. One pile was to be picked up by the thrift store man, one pile was to be given to Mrs. Rocky’s grandchildren, and one pile was for the trash barrel. Sammie began carrying the trash pile down an armload at a time. By the time the two of them finished the attic, Sammie was one dirty, hungry, and tired child.
“You’ve done a fine job Sammie,” said Mrs. Rocky as she handed her a ten dollar bill.
Sammie could hardly believe it. She had never earned ten whole dollars before. She hugged Mrs. Rocky so hard she about toppled the woman over. This meant she would only need to earn one more dollar. Sammie thanked Mrs. Rocky again and headed home to show her mother.
As she lay in bed that night, Sammie wondered what she could do to earn that last dollar. Nothing came to mind immediately so she just said her prayers and went to sleep.
The next morning when her father had learned she only needed one more dollar he asked if she wanted to help him wash the car.
“Oh, yes daddy. Thank you very much.”
Sammie was eager to earn her last dollar, but she also wanted to do a good job for her daddy so she took her time. Her father washed and rinsed the high parts and Sammie washed and rinsed the low parts and the wheels. Finally they were done and Sammie had enough for her half of the bike purchase.
“Can we go to the hardware store now,” she begged her father.
“Yes, muffin, I just need to grab my keys and wallet from the house,” he said.
Sammie was already in the car waiting when her father returned. He just smiled and got in the car. Sammie, who was usually pretty quiet, chatted all the way to Mr. Flocks. Once there, she quickly found Mr. Flock and told him she wanted to purchase the bike. As she counted out her twenty dollars and added it to the twenty her father had already set on the counter, Sammie felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Not only would she be the owner of the most beautiful girl’s bike ever made, she had also worked hard to earn it and that felt really good.
“I’ll see you at home,” she told her father as she mounted her new bike outside of the hardware store.
“OK muffin,” he said. “Have a good ride home.”
“I will daddy,” she said. And he knew that she would.
If you enjoyed this story of how Sammie learned as she earned, then you will probably also enjoy the other eleven stories in my book Fern Valley-A Collection of Short Stories which is available in both paperback and Kindle versions. So what are you waiting for, go get your very own copy right now.
Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!