Double “Comuppance”—In Red by MIldred Grant

Hurrying down the cellar stairs, my brother, Chester, was sure he knew exactly how to get his latest creation out of the cellar without Mom knowing anything about it. Mom had vetoed a test run, citing several very good reasons. Such as, not enough snow, the paint not quite dry, and Dad was expected to supervise the first outing—tomorrow. Not good enough reasons for Chester. Determined to do things his way, he began surveying the cellar windows. Oh, yes, the one under the dining room seemed to be a bit larger than the rest, maybe because it was used more often than the rest, as our winter supply of fuel came through that window. Chunks of wood or the coal chute, whichever we could afford.

After several angel adjustments, Chet managed to get his highly prized possession through the window and closed it as quietly as he could. As Chester came through the cellar door, Mom looked up from doing dishes at the sink saying,” You are going to be late for school, young man. Get a move on.”

Before Mom could change her mind, Chet dashed out the door. As Mom turned, wiping her hands, she noticed smears of red paint on his jacket, but, before she could say anything, Chet was off and running with his new toy making more red stains on his good school jacket.

Mom sighed, probably going to show his school friends and do some bragging.

The clock ticked off the next two hours. Picking up, dusting, and two short telephone calls, filled the time.

Urgent rapping on the back door sent Mom back to the kitchen.

“Henry, you should be in school,” Mom exclaimed.

Henry, out of breath after a record run from the school, handed Mom a folded note.

Mom read the first sentence of the note, grabbed the nearest warm wrap, pointed Henry toward his house, across our snow-covered garden lot saying, “Show this note to your Mother and ask her, please to come over and watch Mary while I’m gone to the school.”

Thus dispatched, Henry went “cross-lots” to his house and Mom slipped, slid, and ran when she could, taking the shortest route she could find to get to the school. As Mom neared the building, she could hear young, excited voices coming from the back of the school where she found all the students and teachers gathered. All were watching a small figure, nearly at the top of the mountain, carrying something bright red. A sled? Skis? A Jumper!Chesterhad made it in shop class. It consisted of a ski shaped board about three feet long with a one and a half-foot upright in the center and a one and a half-foot board for a seat. All about balance!

“Oh, Mrs. Bonner, thank you for sending the note,” said Mom.

Mrs. Cook observed, “You’re welcome, Mrs. Dimond, but it looks as though we found out about Chester’s latest escapade too late. He’s already started down the mountain.”

Mom thought for just a split second, turned to the two teachers, saying,” Please, take the children inside. Having no audience will take some of the “glory” out of this whole business. May I ask that two of the bigger boys help me when he gets to the bottom of the hill?”

Chester was merrily schussing down the mountain, keeping his balance remarkably well, but, soon his luck ran out. Cutting too close to a large boulder, he tipped over, and the jumper seemed to disintegrate into many bright red splinters. Chet’s left arm was caught between his body and the boulder. When Mom and her two helpers arrived, Chet was a sorry sight. Red paint smeared everywhere, limp left arm, and a very “hang dog” expression on his face, as he tried to pick up the pieces of his demolished creation.

“Leave everything here.” Mom instructed. “You two boys make a chair and carry him back to the school, please.”

By the time they reached the school, the pain in Chet’s left arm was making him sick. The school nurse happened to be visiting and took a look at the injury, pronouncing it a bad sprain and recommending a sling and to go home for the rest of the day.

With Mom’s help,Chester made it home just in time to “up-chuck” his breakfast and flop down on Mom’s bed. Mom wanted, very badly, to take her eldest over her knee and mete out some parental justice, but she was too tired and Chet was already hurting. Not just his arm, but the whole school had disappeared just as he thought he might make a good impression, especially on the girls. Of course, there was going to be a reckoning with his Dad, and his beautiful jumper was no more!

One comment on “Double “Comuppance”—In Red by MIldred Grant

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