Toby stopped in his tracks. There, in the middle of the path, lay a shining, gold ring. Toby reached down to pick it up and gasped. A huge diamond sparkled up at him.
“Hey Toby, wait up for me,” shouted a familiar voice behind him.
Toby spun around and forced a smile for his friend Matt. His fingers closed tightly over the ring and he quickly stuffed it down into his pocket.
“What’s wrong Toby?” asked Matt staring intently at Toby’s face.
Toby’s brain was working at warp speed. He needed time to think, time to decide what to do. He looked at the ground and kicked at a stone.
“Nothing,” he replied. “Didn’t want to get up this morning. We’d better hurry or we’ll be late for school.
Toby and Matt had been friends since starting first grade. They had stood on opposite sides of the classroom, two little strangers pulled together by one thing they had in common – bright red hair! They had been inseparable since then.
Toby wanted to tell Matt about the ring, but something stopped him. Later he sat in math class and his fingers touched the smooth metal circle in his pocket. Then they rubbed over the cut surface of the diamond. He knew the ring had to be worth a lot of money.
He knew his mother really wanted an electric sewing machine, and his father had just said the other day how much easier it would be to cut the grass with an electric mower. And Toby himself really wanted that blue and silver mountain bike in the store over on Oak Street……..
“Toby Dawson, perhaps you can tell me what the answer is,” said the teacher.
“I, er…… uhm, I’m sorry Ma’am, but I didn’t hear the question,” stammered Toby. Matt grinned and winked at him. Toby immediately felt guilty about keeping his secret from Matt.
After that Toby forced himself to keep his mind on his work. When the lunch bell rang he grabbed his lunch and raced to the door. He didn’t want to face Matt because he wasn’t sure what to tell him.
Toby went around the back of the school to eat and to think about the ring. As he sat on an empty crate and chewed his sandwich, he heard a male voice above his head.
“I don’t know what to do. The ring was in my pocket so I could take it to the jeweler’s to be cleaned. It must have fallen out, and my wife is going to be so upset. Her father left it to me when he died last year.” The voice sounded desperate.
“Hey Toby!” shouted Matt as he came round the corner. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere. What’s up?”
Toby’s heart felt as heavy as lead. What was happening to him? Here he was keeping secrets from his best friend and hiding from him too. Worse yet, he was a thief!
Toby sat bolt upright. Suddenly, he knew exactly what he needed to do. He glanced quickly at Matt who was standing there with a frown on his face. He decided to tell him everything.
“Matt, I’m sorry I’ve been acting so weird this morning. I had to sort some stuff out in my head. I thought I could do it best on my own. Now I think I’d like your help.”
Toby told Matt all about the ring, and he even confessed that he had been tempted to sell it. Then he showed his friend the ring.
“Wow!” said Matt, his eyes getting big. “You sure could buy lots of nice things with that.” Then, looking puzzled, he said, “But how would you sell it? What would happen if you got caught?”
Toby nodded. “I think I knew all along that I couldn’t keep it or sell it. I guess I needed to hear it from someone else. So, what do you think I should do?”
“Just take it to the principal and tell him you found it,” replied Matt. “Come on, I’ll go with you.”
Toby felt a load lift off his shoulders. The ring may have been a great treasure, but having a friend like Matt was worth a lot more.