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The Drainage Ditch

“Mark,” Mother said, “when you get out of school at 3:00, I will be watching for you. You should be home at 3:15. You hurry right home.” Mark nodded. He did his best to look big and trustworthy.

The walk from school was about ten blocks, and Mark thought that the big, concrete drainage ditch that crossed under the streets was the most wonderful place that there was. The concrete sides were slanted so you could run really hard up the sides and get out at places, and bushes and tree branches hung down at other parts, so you could let yourself down into the ditch. There was just a little water that ran in a little stream in the very middle of the ditch. You could block it with sticks or stones, and it would form a lake puddle. Under the streets, it was like a cave, and the water spread out more on the concrete floor of the ditch. It was harder to get through without getting wet.

Mother had no idea how interesting the drainage ditch was!

Mark knew better than to spend too much time exploring the ditch, so he only looked at one part of it each day. Then he would hurry home.

“Mark,” Mother said, “today, it took you until 3:20 to get home. Why are you late?”

“I was looking in the drainage ditch,” said Mark. “I stood on the bridge at Huston Street and looked at the water.” He had stood there and looked, Mark thought. He had also stood in the ditch and looked, as well.

“You stay away from that ditch,” said Mother. “Sometimes a lot of water goes down those drainage ditches. You come right home.”

Then Mark made a Wonderful Discovery. He saw that the drainage ditch could be used as a way to go home. Why walk on the sidewalks by the streets, first one way then the other, when there was a perfectly good drainage ditch that cut across the blocks? It was much more fun to walk home through the drainage ditch.

There were so many amazing things to look at in the ditch that Mark realized that he was taking too long to get home. So, he went home by part of the ditch, then climbed out and ran the rest of the way. The next day, he explored a different part of the ditch. First, he ran to that part and climbed down. Then he went a ways, climbed out, and ran the rest of the way home. He could have done this better if he owned a watch. He would have enjoyed it a lot more, too, if he hadn’t felt more and more sneaky and deceitful.

As Mark was walking along the drainage ditch toward home, suddenly he heard a voice from the sky. “Mark!” it called. At first, Mark thought that God was calling him, as He had called Samuel in the Bible. Mark was scared and he felt very bad. He was disobeying his Mother. But it was not God. It was Mother. She was standing up above the concrete ditch, and she did not look pleased with Mark. God was not pleased with him, either.

That was the last time that Mark ever tried to come home in the drainage ditch. Mother helped him to remember not to disobey and deceive her anymore. Can you guess what happened to Mark? Do you think that he needed it? What do you think could have happened to Mark if his mother was not watching for him?