‘Penny’s Surprise’

Penny likes to take her naps on Mother’s bed. One afternoon Mother said, “I have to go pick up Gordie at school, Penny. You may take your nap on my bed while I’m gone. I’ll tell Vivian I’m going.” Vivian lives in the house next door. She has two cats and uses a wheelchair.

Mother pushed buttons on the telephone. She said, “Hello, Vivian. I have to run some errands before I pick up Gordie.” Penny was almost asleep but she heard Mother say, “I’m sure Penny will be all right. But I wanted someone to know that she’s here alone. In case of fire or earthquake.”

Mother put the telephone down on the nightstand next to the bed. She patted Penny and said, “Have a nice nap. Dr. Brown says you’ll feel much better in a few days. You must get plenty of rest until then.” Penny closed her eyes and went to sleep. Mother left to pick up Gordie. Penny continued to sleep peacefully.

Then crash! The sound of breaking glass woke her up. A man said, “Hurry up. Get the van in the garage so we can load it up out there where nobody can see us.”

Penny heard the garage door open. After a few minutes it closed. Then another man said, “Looks like a lot of good stuff here.”

Penny was afraid. She hurried under the bed so fast that she knocked the telephone on the nightstand to the floor. The dial tone made a loud buzzing noise. Penny pushed the noisy telephone away with Mother’s shoe. The toe of the shoe touched one of the buttons. The dial tone stopped. Penny whimpered.

From under the bed Penny saw brown shoes come in Mother’s bedroom. “Wow!” the man in brown shoes exclaimed when he opened the drawer of Mother’s dressing table. “Look at these pearls. Hand me a pillowcase. There’s more jewelry in here too.”

Muddy boots came to Father’s side of the bed. That man said, “What’s this telephone doing down here?” Penny saw a hand in a black glove pick up the telephone.

The man in brown shoes said, “Forget the telephone. Get me the pillowcase.”

Penny heard the men opening drawers and closets all over the house. From under the bed she saw them carry out the television. They took Father’s camera and Mother’s violin, and even the clock with chimes. They took Gordie’s accordion and his shiny new skates. The man in brown shoes carried out the strong box from Mother’s closet. He said, “That’s it. Let’s get out of here.”

Penny heard the garage door open. Was it Mother? No! A deep man’s voice said, “Hold it right there! Police! Hands on your heads.”

Penny heard Vivian calling, “Penny, come here.” Penny ran past the brown shoes and the muddy boots. She ran past two men in shiny black shoes.

Soon Mother drove up with Gordie. She asked Vivian, “Good heavens! What are the police doing here?”

Vivian said, “Burglars! And a surprise! It’s thanks to Penny the police were able to catch them in the act.”

“What do you mean?” Gordie asked.

Vivian explained. “Did you know Penny can use the telephone? When the burglars came she must have pushed the re-dial button. My phone rang and I heard her whimper. Then I heard men talking about your mother’s pearls. So I called the police.” Vivian reached down to lift Penny onto her lap. She patted her head. “She is so smart. Will you give me one, Gordie, when Penny has her kittens?”

Special thanks to J.H. Everett for this week’s illustration. To see more of his work, visit

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