By Debbonnaire Kovacs
Susannah May Farmer stamped her foot. “I’m tired too, Matt! I don’t have time to help you with the barn chores!”
“Come on, Susannah! I helped Mom pick all those cucumbers! Just do the watering, please? I’ll do everything else!”
“You might have picked them, but I had to help pickle them all. And I still have to do the supper dishes and do the math Mom has been asking me about for two days. Do your own chores!”
And with that, Susannah stomped into the house. Her younger brothers, who had been watching and listening, hurried out of her way.
Susannah felt angry the whole evening, but by the time she was ready for bed, she knew she owed Matt an apology. She would say something tomorrow.
But the next day, Susannah forgot. The whole family was still very busy. They had to get the rest of the vegetables and fruit picked before the first frost came. It was still hot, but the leaves were already starting to turn red and yellow. This time of year, Susannah always said she hated gardens and when she grew up, she was sure she would never have one. But she knew that in January, Mom’s canned, frozen, and dried food would taste a lot better than the food from the grocery store.
So Susannah rushed through her day, helping in the garden, helping in the house, helping with her little brothers, and doing her schoolwork (even the dreaded math). It was late afternoon before something reminded her of her unkindness to Matt.
The Farmers had gone to town, and one of their stops was to deliver some dried flowers, wreaths, and brightly colored gourds to the Patterson’s’ flower shop. Hanging on to Luke and Johnny while Mom and Mr. Patterson carried loads from the van to the store, Susannah saw an elderly woman plop down suddenly on a park bench, panting.
Susannah watched the woman for a moment. Her face was red, and she was sweating. Still holding the boys’ hands, Susannah went over to the bench and asked, “Are you all right, ma’am?”
“Oh, yes, dear!” the woman smiled at her. “I’m just a little hot and tired, that’s all. It’s awfully warm for this time of year, isn’t it?” She sounded breathless.
“It is hot!” Susannah agreed. “May I bring you a drink of water?”
“Oh, that would be nice, dear!”
Susannah parked the boys on the steps and told them not to move while she went into Lilies of the Field and got a glass of water.
She came back out just in time to catch Johnny starting to wander away. The woman seemed better. She drank the water, thanked Susannah again, and got up to go on her way. She turned back and said, “You are a very kind young lady! Your mother must have taught you well!”
Susannah watched the woman walk away, and then looked down at the little faces looking up at her. The woman couldn’t read minds, so she didn’t know Susannah had almost yelled at Johnny just now. The Sabbath School lesson popped into her mind, and she could practically hear Ms. Kimoto saying, “Truly kind people are kind always.”
“Hey, Susannah!” Matt called. “Come on, we’re done.”
Susannah and her two brothers hurried back to the van. “Matt, I’m sorry for the way I acted last night. Tonight I’ll do all the watering for you, OK?”
Matt looked surprised. “Sure! Thanks! And I forgive you. We were hot and tired.”
“That’s no excuse,” Susannah said firmly. “Kind people are kind always!” She buckled Luke’s car seat and gave him a kiss, which made him giggle.
That night, when she finally finished helping Matt, Mark and Luke begged her to read them a story. She sat on the couch with the two of them, and Johnny came running over to sit on her lap. From the middle of a big pile of sweaty little boys, Susannah started to read.
She didn’t get through two pages before her voice began to sound hoarse. “I’m so thirsty!” she exclaimed.
Immediately, Johnny wriggled down from her lap. Susannah coughed and kept reading, glad for one less body pressing on her.
It was another two pages before Johnny came back, walking very slowly and carrying a dripping glass tightly clutched in both hands. It was full to the very top, and water was slopping over the sides, down his arms, and making a wet trail across the floor from the kitchen to the living room.
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“Johnny, what are you doing?” Susannah cried.
“I bring a drink,” Johnny smiled happily. “Sissy thirsty!” With great concentration, he walked to the couch and pushed the glass toward her, making water run over on Susannah’s leg and on Luke, who yelped and rolled away.
Susannah grabbed the glass just before it landed upside down in her lap. “Oh, Johnny, thank you! That was so kind of you.”
“Kind a’ways,” Johnny agreed with a big smile.
Susannah gave a startled laugh. She didn’t know he had listened to her so closely. She wondered what else he learned from her.
She took a long drink. Then she got even wetter by giving her soaked baby brother a big hug.