“Hey, look! What’s he doing?” Emily pointed across the street.
The lights on the ground were focused on a scene placed in the yard. Tall, flat figures stood silent and watched as a boy in a red coat moved in closer. Standing in front of the manger box, he lifted out a small bundle.
“I don’t know. Who is it, can you tell?” Anna asked.
“Nope, let’s find out.” They ran toward the Christmas nativity scene had been set up on the church’s yawn, The youth looked over at them, hugged his bundle to his chest and sprinted full speed away from them.
“Wait!” Emily yelled. “Come back!”
“Where’s he going?”
“I don’t know. He took baby Jesus. He can’t do that.”
“Let’s get the doll back. C’mon.”
They ran as fast as they could but the chase ended at the end of the block.
“Wow! He’s fast1” Emily gasped for air. “Where did he go?”
“Emily, I didn’t see,” Anna looked both ways. “I think we’ve lost him.”
“Why would someone take a doll?”
“I don’t know. Seems kind of dumb for a boy to do that. Maybe Pastor David is in his office. We can tell him what happened.”
In the warm office, the girls repeated what they saw. Pastor David listened. When they finished he stood up. “Let’s go out and take a look.”
At the scene of the crime, Pastor David joked, “Looks like we might have a ransom note,” Holding the note towards the floodlights, his eyes swiftly scanned the note.
“What’s it say, Pastor David?” Emily asked.
He looked at the girls. “We do have a mystery, girls.”
“Mystery?” Both girls said with excitement in their voices.
“Baby Jesus has been borrowed for a Christmas present.”
“Borrowed? How can you borrow a present?” Anna couldn’t believe it.
Emily asked, “Who borrowed it?”
“It doesn’t say, Emily. But I have a couple of ideas. How would you two like to help me solve this?”
Both of them jumped up and down shouting, “Yes! Yes!”
Pastor David instructed them to meet him after school tomorrow.
Sixth grade was usually fun and interesting, but the next day, the hours dragged like cold pancake syrup. Finally the last bell rang. Anna and Emily raced to the church. Pastor David was there as promised. His office was piled with colorful wrapped boxes of all shapes and sizes.
“Who are those for, Pastor David?” Anna picked up one of the larger rectangular ones.
“My plan is to deliver gifts while we search for our baby Jesus.”
“Can we help?” Emily enjoyed giving gifts almost as much as she liked receiving them.
“Sure. In fact, I’ll need your help starting now. Let’s get these all into my car.”
The houses they delivered the gifts to weren’t as nice as their homes. Pastor David didn’t seem to notice the boarded up windows and trash and junk cluttering the yards. He marched up to the door and knocked three times. The two girls stood behind him holding the gifts. ‘Merry Christmas!’ was exclaimed when the door opened.
When they were about half way through delivering, Emily whispered, “Anna, did you see that lady cry?
“If we don’t find baby Jesus, that’s ok with me. Whoever took the doll probably had a really good reason.”
“Last stop.” Pastor David announced.
They went to the house and knocked loudly on the door. The boy that opened the door had on the same red coat as the kid who took baby Jesus.
Emily cried, “It was you.”
Frighten, he tried to close the door. Pastor David’s foot stopped the door from closing. “Jerry, it’s ok. You are not in trouble. Trust me. Can I talk to your mom?”
Later at the pastor’s house, sipping hot chocolate, the girls discussed their mystery.
“So, Jerry borrowed the doll because he knew his sister was going to the hospital and he wanted her to have a present before she went.”
“Yeah, and the only doll close by and didn’t cost anything was our baby Jesus.”
“So, that really doesn’t make him a thief, does it Pastor David?”
Smiling, Pastor David added more marshmallows to his cocoa. “I’ll let you decide that.”
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