Fanny was twelve. Bobby eleven. They both had much in common, and were the best friends and enemies. Their ideas were either the same or opposite. This time they were in complete harmony.
“You think it will work, Fanny?” Bobby asked. He looked up to Fanny like an older sister, believing anything she said.
“I think so,” Fanny smirked, “As long as you don’t mess it up.”
“I won’t, Fanny.” Bobby replied, frowning, “But please tell me the ideas again,”
“Neither of us have volunteered for the Christmas play,” Fanny began, “So, since neither of us want it to happen, we are going to sabotage. First, the power will go off. Only I’m not sure how yet, since we don’t have access to the main power line.”
“We could flip the breaker.” Bobby suggested,
“Of course, I should have thought of that.” Fanny replied, though she had absolutely no idea what a breaker was. “Then we’ll cut the ropes that control the curtains. They’ll have to stop the play, because the curtains won’t pull back!”
“Oh, okay,” Bobby replied. “Fanny, how are we going to do this?”
“Easy. We’ll go early while they’re setting up and cut the ropes. Then, when everyone is seated and the play’s about to begin we’ll switch the baker.”
“Okay, I’d better go or I’ll be late for dinner.” Bobby said.
“Okay, see ya later,”
Bobby trotted off through the snow.
“Bobby,” his mother said, as Bobby rushed in and began to pull off his coat and boots, “Mrs. Thacker called today and said that she didn’t have enough wise men for the Christmas play. I told her than you would be more than happy to play the part.”
Bobby froze and blinked a few times.
“But I can’t do that, Ma!” He wailed,
“Yes you can, and WILL.” Ma replied, “I insist.”
“No more, Bobby. I won’t hear another word about it.”
Bobby was silent.
The next day Bobby ran to Fanny’s house.
“Hi, Bobby!” Fanny greeted cheerfully.
“Fanny, I’m in trouble! Big trouble!”
Fanny’s face turned grave. “Did your mother find out about our plan?”
“No, worse. She volunteered me to be a Wise Man in the Christmas play!”
“You won’t play the prank now, will you? Please, Fanny, for me!”
“I have to, Bobby,” Fanny replied. “I have to stop the play.”
“Fanny, I’m going to be in it!”
“It doesn’t matter. I have to do this anyway.”
Bobby’s lower lip began to tremble.
Fanny ignored him and began to walk away.
Bobby put on a resolute face. He would either stop Fanny from doing her dreadful deed, or not do the play. Either would suffice.
At the first rehearsal, Bobby was there, ready to try his hand at acting wise.
“Bobby,” Said one of the other ‘wise men’, whose name was Tom, “Do you know what the wise mens’ names were?”
“Uhhh… Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?”
“No, silly, those are the four books in the Bible referred to as the Gospels.” Tom replied.
“Then I don’t know.”
“Me neither. Mama says that no one knows what their names are,”
“Oh.” Bobby was subdued by the fact that no-one knew the name of the character he was about to play. Being referred to simply as a ‘wise man’ was no fun compared to ‘Mary’, or ‘Joseph’, or ‘Jesus’, or even ‘Angel’.
But he went on to memorize his few lines. When he found that he had to wear a dress he was shocked, and embarrassed. But the mortification soon wore off, and he found himself in what looked like a bathrobe and towel wound around his head.
Time went on and at last it was the day before the play. Bobby had gotten used to his part and costume, and was ready to go.
But he could not get Fanny’s threat out of his mind.
There HAD to be a way to keep her from carrying out her plan.
She obviously didn’t know what a breaker was, so he didn’t have to worry about that. But what about the curtain? And what if she decided to do something else as well?
He decided to make a plan…
Fanny had long since changed her mind about sabotaging the play. Her conscience had caught up to her.
She decided to go see Mrs. Thacker and see if she could do anything to help set up the stage.
“Well, dear, thank you for the offer. As you know, the play is tomorrow, and I would be very glad for your help. Would you help me test the curtains?”
Fanny felt remorse as she remembered the prank she was going to play.
“Here we are.” Mrs. Thacker looked up and down.
She pulled on one of the long ropes. To her great surprise, a bucket of water splashed down from above and drenched both her and Fanny.
“Why, what in the world?!” Mrs. Thacker exclaimed,
Fanny darted through the curtains where she thought she’d seen some movement on the other side.
“Why, Bobby!” Bobby stood on top of a ladder with a very surprised look on his face.
“Bobby Laurence!” Mrs. Thacker exclaimed, “What are you doing? Get down here this instant!”
Bobby scrambled down. Fanny saw how pale he was.
“I didn’t mean to, ma’am, it was an accident!” He mumbled,
“Then what DID you mean to do?” Mrs. Thacker asked,
“I was going to get Fanny with it. She—”
“You were going to get Fanny all wet for no real reason?!”
“Well, Fanny was…”
“You cannot be in the Christmas play, young man. We will do with only two wise men.”
A tear ran down Bobby’s cheek.
“Mrs. Thacker,” Fanny started,
“And furthermore, I will speak to your mother and see that you are properly punished.”
Bobby nodded slowly. Fanny felt her cheeks grow hot. She turned away so that Mrs. Thacker wouldn’t see her guilt and shame.
Mrs. Thacker led Bobby out. Fanny followed close behind.
As mentioned before, Fanny and Bobby were both friends and foes. This was one of those times when something made them enemies.
That night Fanny could not sleep. What she would do she didn’t know, but she knew that Bobby had been trying to stop her. If she told Mrs. Thacker what she had been plotting she would get in trouble.
But she didn’t even care anymore.
The next morning she was up very early. Leaving a note on the counter for her parents she got her bicycle and zipped away.
Mrs. Thacker was drinking tea in her bathrobe when Fanny knocked on her door.
“Mrs. Thacker, I want to say that I’m sorry.” Fanny said, as soon as the good woman opened the door.
“For what, Fanny?”
“I wanted to sabotage the play. I was going to cut the ropes that pulled the curtains. That was why Bobby rigged the rope. He wanted to stop me so that the play could go on.”
Mrs. Thacker stared for several minutes at nothing.
“You know, Fanny,” She said, “Even though I am angry, I forgive you. I know that you are truly sorry, and now I want you to go tell Bobby that he is still in the play.”
“Thank you, thank you!” Fanny exclaimed, and dashed off.
“Bobby, Bobby!” She rushed up and pounded on the door. Bobby opened it.
“You get to be a wise man, Bobby! You get to be a wise man!”
“You’re kidding.” Bobby replied. Fanny could hear tears in his voice.
“It’s true!” Fanny insisted.
“Oh boy, oh boy!” Bobby jumped up in the air.
“Oh Bobby, you’re gonna be great.”
Bobby was nervous. Butterflies flitted here and there in his stomach.
Fanny was watching in the audience, anxiously waiting for the play to start.
Mrs. Thacker stepped out onto the stage and smiled at the crowd that had gathered below.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” She said, “Thank you for coming. Tonight you will see a wonderful performance by some very talented actors and actresses, but before we start the show, one of our wise men would like to say something.”
She stepped aside. Bobby walked out on stage.
“Good evening,” He started, “I just wanted to say a few words. I didn’t want to be in this play, but now I’m glad I did. I learned about the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It was quite an accident, but I’m glad I did. After I found out what they were I decided to read them. Now, I have decided that I want to be a missionary, and bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all of the nations.” He paused, “thank you.”
Then he exited, and the play began.
When it was finished Fanny was the first to greet Bobby. She grasped him in a tight hug, “You were amazing!!” She exclaimed.
“I… I was?” Bobby smiled slightly.
“Yes, you were. I’m SOOO glad we didn’t ruin this, Bobby. I’m so glad. Do you think I could volunteer next year?”
“I’m sure you could!” Bobby laughed,