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Authors: Judy Delton

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BOOK: Bookworm Buddies
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“I think he’s got about twenty,” whispered Ashley.

“Did you tell Mrs. Peters about losing your book?” Molly asked Tracy.

Tracy shook her head. “No,” she said. “We have to find it, or pay for it.”

Molly noticed she said “we.” Well, that was what Scouts were for. To help each other. If a Scout wouldn’t help, who would?

“I’m not telling either,” said Tim.

It was all right for them, thought Molly. They had already told Molly. But who would Molly tell about what Skippy had done? She felt that she had to tell someone or she’d explode. She wanted to tell her best friend, Mary Beth, but it was embarrassing to admit she had been careless. Especially after Tim and Tracy had asked Molly for help. And what could Mary Beth do? She didn’t have money to pay for three books!

Molly had written three reports on favorite
books she had read during the summer, but her heart wasn’t in it. And she’d need a lot more than three to win the prize. Three might be enough for her badge, but what would happen when Mrs. Peters found out about the book Skippy had eaten? Would that disqualify her? Maybe what she read and wrote wouldn’t count. Was there a rule that said “No badge allowed to people who were proud”? It rhymed. Or “No badge for a book read by a crook”?

Now Molly could not stop rhyming! Her mind was spinning with funny rhymes about sad subjects.

“No badge is what I hate, for a book my doggie ate.”

“To the library I can jog, but my book is in my dog.”

Too bad the badge wasn’t for writing a poem, instead of reading a book!

Tim interrupted her thoughts by asking,

“When are you guys going to help me earn some money for the book you ruined?”

Molly frowned. “You ruined it first! Anyway, I’ve got problems of my own!” she said. Why wasn’t Tim grateful for all her help?

Mary Beth looked at her. It wasn’t like Molly to be cross with her friends. “What problems?” Mary Beth asked.

But before Molly could answer, Mrs. Peters tapped on the table. She held up a book. It was Tracy’s lost book! How in the world did she get it? wondered Molly.

“Tracy, this book was turned in to the library by Mrs. Swenson, who lives in the neighborhood. She found it on the lawn. I believe it was taken out on your card.”

Tracy turned bright red. But she was smiling. She might have been careless, but she had her book back! She didn’t have to sell any more Halloween costumes!

Tracy thanked Mrs. Peters and put the book into her new book bag. Mrs. Peters talked about carelessness.

Rat’s knees, thought Molly. One down and two to go. It was not likely that Mrs. Swenson would come up with her book or Tim’s. They were probably gone forever.

CHAPTER
9
Time Is
Running Out


W
ell, that’s a relief,” said Mary Beth on the way home. “Tracy was lucky.”

Molly could not keep the bad news inside any longer. “Skippy ate my book!” she said. “Now I have to pay for it.”

Mary Beth stopped walking. “How could he eat a book?” she asked. “Dogs don’t eat paper.”

“He did,” said Molly. It didn’t matter how or why.

“Well, we’re back where we started,” said Mary Beth. “I’ll go home and think of what we can do.”

When Molly got home she went up to her room and sat at her desk. She started to doodle in her notebook. She wrote more rhymes because it made her feel better. She wrote a poem about spring, and one about school. Then—because Skippy was on her mind—she wrote one about pets. She was so busy finding a word to rhyme with
terrier
that she forgot all about the book. It was fun to rhyme! The pet poem turned out the best, and Molly liked it. She drew a fancy frame around it with her crayon.

All week Molly read books and wrote reports. And all week she worried about how to earn money to pay the librarian.

“I have an idea!” said Mary Beth, on the phone on Monday. “Let’s have a garage sale!”

“You need a lot of stuff for a garage sale,” said Molly. “A garageful of stuff. Or people won’t come.”

“I suppose so,” said Mary Beth. “All I’ve got is that Halloween stuff. Maybe we should look for jobs. Most people earn money from their jobs. We could look at the want ads and go to work.”

“We aren’t old enough,” said Molly sensibly.

“We could use makeup and wear my sister’s high heels,” said her friend.

“We still wouldn’t look like sixteen!” said Molly. “And they would probably want a note from our parents. Our mothers wouldn’t lie.”

“We may just have to tell Mrs. Nelson, and take out a loan or something,” said Mary Beth.

Molly didn’t like that idea at all. Still, time
was running out. The ruined books would be due soon at the library, and then what?

“I saw a book at the library called
101 Ways to Earn Money in Your Spare Time
,” said Molly. “I’m going to check it out.”

But when Molly asked Mrs. Nelson for the book, she said it was out.

“It’s a very popular book,” said the librarian. “All the Pee Wees have been asking for it. I’ll call you when it comes in.”

When it came in, Mrs. Nelson did call her, and Molly checked it out. Molly read it from cover to cover. Why did everyone want it? she wondered. All that was in it were instructions for making pots and dishes out of clay. There wasn’t time for that.

Just when Molly thought earning money for the books was hopeless, the phone rang. It was Tim.

“Guess what?” he said. He didn’t give
Molly time to guess. He said, “We’ve got this great big apple tree in our yard.” He paused. Then he said, “A-p-p-l-e. Apple.”

Tim could spell
apple
! It was longer than
stop
! That was good news!

“The tree has a million apples on it,” he went on. “Big red ones. R-e-d. Red.”

Molly sighed. This was not solving her problem.

“My mom made all these pies and stuff and gave lots of the apples to the neighbors and my aunt, but there are still zillions. My uncle picked them and put them in grocery sacks.”

Molly was getting cross. This conversation was taking valuable time away from thinking about how to earn money for the lost books.

“My mom said that if we sold them, we could keep the money,” Tim went on. “And
I was thinking that I’ll bet we could get enough to pay for the book if we did.”

“Books,” corrected Molly. “My dog ate mine,” she added.

Now Molly was sorry that she had been cross with Tim. Apples! What a good thing to sell! It was better than old Halloween stuff. It was legal, it was free, and they didn’t have to be adults to do it!

“I’ll be over in the morning!” said Molly. “Real early! That’s a great idea, Tim!”

Molly hung up and called Mary Beth and Tracy, and they agreed to help.

In the morning Tim was in front of his house with the apples. Lots and lots of rosy red apples.

“My mom said we can give them away if we can’t sell them,” he said. “But I thought it would be better to sell them and earn our book money.”

“You bet!” said Mary Beth.

Tracy had brought a sign that said
FOR SALE
. She set it in front of the bags of apples. “The sign is from our old car,” she said. “We sold it for a hundred dollars.”

“We can’t get a hundred dollars for these apples,” said Tim.

“We don’t need a hundred dollars,” said Molly. “We just need about twenty.”

“Let’s charge one dollar a bag,” said Mary Beth.

That seemed reasonable to Molly. It was cheaper than store apples. And these were fresher.

Instead of sneezing today, Tracy was yawning. “It’s my new allergy pills,” she said. “I don’t sneeze so much now, but the pills make me sleepy.”

Molly wondered if being sleepy was better than sneezing. If Tracy fell asleep in school, she might get bad grades and fail. If
one problem was solved, another one was right there to take its place, Molly thought. Tracy sat under a tree and leaned against the bags of apples. Before long she dozed off.

Tim waved his hands at the passing cars. They all slowed down. Some of the drivers smiled. Some stopped. And then a lady with pearls around her neck got out and bought four bags!

“I’m going to make applesauce,” she said. “My grandson loves it.”

Tim helped load the bags in her car. Molly could not believe it was this easy! People wanted apples! They paid real money for them!

When the next car stopped, a lady with three children asked if the apples made good pies.

“You bet!” said Tim. “My mom made about eight!”

The lady bought three bags and left.

“Oh, no,” said Mary Beth. “Here comes trouble.”

Molly looked down the street. It was a bike. Rat’s knees, Roger was riding it.

CHAPTER
10
The Bad Apple

R
oger skidded to a stop, dragging his shoes on the cement sidewalk. He picked up an apple and took a bite from it.

“Hey! You have to pay for that!” said Tim.

“How much?” asked Roger.

Molly tried to figure in her head. If a whole big bag of apples was one dollar, how much would just one apple cost?

“A dime,” said Tracy, opening her eyes.

“Hey, look,” said Roger. “There’s a worm in this apple! I’m not paying for it!”

He was right. Molly could see a green worm sticking its head out of Roger’s apple.

“Are there worms in all of them?” asked Mary Beth. “Our customers will be mad!”

“There were no worms in our pies,” said Tim. “Roger just got a bad apple.”

“Roger
is
a bad apple,” muttered Mary Beth.

“Take that back!” shouted Roger.

Mary Beth wouldn’t take it back. Luckily one of Tim’s neighbors came outside to get in his car. Roger tossed his wormy apple down and got on his bike and sped away.

“I’m glad he got the wormy apple, instead of a real customer,” said Molly. “He always brings some kind of trouble with him.”

“That’s because he’s the thirteenth scout,” said Tracy, who seemed to be wide awake now.

Soon all the apples were gone, but customers
kept coming. Tim ran into the backyard and got more. Finally the only apples left were too high on the tree for the Pee Wees to reach. Tracy took down her sign, and they counted their money.

“Thirty-six dollars!” cried Mary Beth. “Are you sure your mom said you could have the money, Tim?”

Tim nodded. “We can pay for the books right now!” he said. “Then you guys get something for helping, and I’ll give the rest back to my mom.”

Tim was smarter than Molly thought. And generous! She could hardly believe their book worries were almost over! Instead of the girls’ having to help Tim, he had helped them! Now it wouldn’t be so hard to confess to the lost books, because their parents and Mrs. Nelson and Mrs. Peters would know they could pay for them. They didn’t need to borrow money or beg
for money. They had solved the problem on their own! They were responsible Pee Wees!

The four of them dashed to the library and explained about the two books to Mrs. Nelson. “And here is the money for both books!” said Molly. “The one Skippy ate, and the one Tim’s baby brother colored in.”

“Why, that is very responsible of you, children!” Mrs. Nelson said.

“We know,” said Tim. “We did it all ourselves. And I can spell
apple
and
red
! Molly helped me.”

“Good,” said Mrs. Nelson. “That is wonderful news, Tim.”

Mrs. Nelson did not say they were careless for leaving the books in danger. She did not say they were too young to have library cards. She said, “This is too much money, though. Those two books were getting ragged, and I was about to order new ones. I’ll only charge you five dollars for both of them.”

BOOK: Bookworm Buddies
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ads

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