“Want to try stealing flowers today?" Susan asked.
“No! I can’t steal!" replied Linda.
“Come on, it’s more fun," Susan insisted.
“No, Susan. We can’t do that," Linda said. “It’s a sin. We can’t pray with stolen flowers!"
“Why not?" Susan asked, shaking her head from side to side.
“We should remember what the priest said about stealing." Linda replied.
“Why do you want to bring the priest into this? We’re just talking about the flowers." Susan put her fists into her waist, waiting for a response.
“But if we steal the flowers, then we’ll break the rules! There is a right way to get flowers and a wrong way to do it." replied Linda.
“How about this? If we steal the flowers, it’ll be so much quicker," said Susan.
She was right about that bit at least. Half the time when the girls went flower gathering, they got nothing because nobody was home to ask.
The first three houses were easy. There were no gates and, more important, no dogs in the gardens. But the fourth presented problems. The largest one was a grandmother moving around in the house. They watched her for a few minutes, hidden behind a short hedge.
“OK, I’ll keep watching her. Susan, you get the flowers," Linda said.
“No, you pick them and I’ll keep an eye on the old woman." Susan pushed Linda away from her and onto the driveway. Linda ran across it and hid herself behind a tree. But the low, spread-apart branches and bunches of yellow blossoms provided very little cover for an eleven-year-old girl in a bright blue dress. She was standing helpless, all too visible.
“William, is it you?" shouted loudly the old lady in the house. She was looking out of the window, inspecting the garden.
“Yes, I’m coming Mrs Thorn! I’ve nearly finished!" shouted the gardener.
Susan was showing something wildly from behind the hedge, mouthing a word Linda could not understand. Run? Come?
“So how many of those flowers are stolen?" Linda suddenly heard a man’s strong voice from behind. A tall gardener was standing and looking down at her with amusement.
“I . . . I just . . . ," she said, shaking with fear after being caught red-handed.
“You’re lucky this time. I won’t tell the priest. I could even pick some for you if you like."
“No, please! Don’t pick the whole bunches! You’re wasting the flowers!"
“You’re wasting the flowers!" he mimicked. “So what? There are at least two hundred on this tree, and tomorrow, two hundred more! But you should have asked for them!"
Linda looked at the bunch he had picked off the tree for her: her favorite flowers, in all their golden sun-and-moon beauty.
“Thank you, I’ll never do that again," she said over her shoulder and ran away.
adapted from A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman