The boys were going to play cricket. There were the twins, Sandeep and Mandeep, Sanjay, Alok, Tanmay, Amitabh, Firoz, Vipin, Munna, Jasbir, Sudhir and Suresh.
What fun it would be!
“We will play on that nice flat stretch of land!” Said Sandeep. “You put the stumps in, Suresh!”
Little Tanmay came running up. “Alok, Alok!” He cried. “Can I play too?”
“No” said Alok, “You are too small.”
“But I can run fast,” said Tanmay. “Oh, do let me play, Alok. I won’t ask to bat, Just let me field for you.”
“No, We’ve got enough players,” said Alok. “Run along and play with your sister, Tanmay.”
Tanmay was very disappointed. He had so hoped to play cricket with the big boys. It would have been such fun. He could run very fast and, although he didn’t bat very well, He could bowl quite straight. He went off, hurt and sad. Alok might have given him a chance!
His little sister was building a dollhouse in the heap of loose mud lying nearby.
“Come and help, Tanmay”. She said. Tanmay took up his spade and began to dig. It was no good being mean to Shalini just because someone had been mean to him!
The boys drove in the stumps and then Firoz brought out a most beautiful new cricket ball.
“Look, boys.” He said. “Here’s a fine ball! I had it for my birthday yesterday!”
“My!” Said Amitabh and the others looking at the beautiful ball admiringly.
“That’s a beauty! Can we play with it today, Firoz?”
“Yes” Said Firoz, proudly. “But will you let me bat first if I let you play with my new ball?”
“All right,” said the others. “Take the bat, Firoz. Who’s going to bowl? You Jasbir! See if you can get Firoz out with his own ball?”
The game began. Tanmay, still digging into the loose mud to help Shalini build the dollhouse, could hear the click of the ball against the bat as Firoz drove it over the fields and then ran. The boys shouted.
They ran after the ball and threw it in. Jasbir stopped bowling and Vipin began. It all looked like a lot of fun, and Tanmay wished he could have played too.
At last Firoz was bowled out. He gave up the bat to Suresh, who was a very good batsman indeed. Alok took the fine new ball to bowl to Suresh. It felt so good as he twirled it about the best ball the boys had ever had to play with!
Alok bowled, and Suresh struck out. The ball flew along the field, and Suresh ran, and ran and ran. He meant to make more runs than anyone else does that morning! At last the ball was thrown in again and Alok caught it. He bowled it to Suresh again. Suresh slashed out with the bat. Click! Went the ball. The ball flew towards the pond.
“Stop it, Munna stop it!” Yelled Firoz. “Don’t let it go into the pond, or we shall lose it.”
But Munna could not stop it, for the ball was going too fast. It rolled fast towards the pond. It struck once and flew up into the air then it dropped into the pond.
“Find it, Find it, Munna!” Yelled everyone.
“Hurry! Suresh is making more runs then anyone!”
Munna hunted for the ball. He could not see the ball anywhere. How he hunted! He looked under the weeds that grew in the sides of the pond. He looked in every corner of the pond. That beautiful new ball was not seen.
At last the others came to help him look too. They peered here and there, they splashed into the pond, but it wasn’t a bit of good that ball could not be found!
“It’s gone,” said Firoz, very much upset. “Quite disappeared. What shall we do?”
“Better play with our old one,” said Sandeep.
So the old one was got out and the game went on. But everyone was very sad about Firoz’s fine new ball. It was too bad to lose it in the very first game.
Tanmay had been digging all the time the boys were hunting for the ball. He didn’t like to go near them, for he was afraid they would send him away again. He didn’t know whether they had found the ball or not but when he saw them playing again he thought they must have found their ball. He didn’t know it was the old one.
The dollhouse was finished at last. Shalini wanted to do something else. “Let’s go fishing,” She said.
“All right,” said Tanmay. “We’ll catch some fish for dinner Shalini”.
They took their small fishing nets and went to the pond. They pushed their nets through the soft mud and looked to see how many fish they had caught.
“Only one tiny crab,” said Shalini, and she and Tanmay put their nets in the water again.
“I can see a big prawn!” Suddenly shouted Tanmay, in delight. “Hurrah! Come here into my net, Prawn!” But the Prawn would not be caught. He darted here and there, and at last disappeared under a shelving rock that jutted out into the pond.
“Tanmay stuck his net under the rock to catch the Prawn.
He drew his net out and looked into it no there was no prawn there!
“Tanmay something rolled out from under that rock when you stuck your net there,” Said Shalini, pointing. “What was it?”
“Tanmay looked down into the pool. He saw a big red ball there. He picked it up.
“It must have been under that ledge of rock,” he said. “And when I poked my net underneath it must have made the ball roll out. I wonder whose ball it is.”
“It belongs to those boys,” said Shalini. “I heard them say they had not found their ball. They are playing with another one”.
“Are they really, Susan?” Said Tanmay. “This must be Firoz’s beautiful ball then. He must have been upset when it couldn’t be found”
“Are you going to take it back to them?” asked Shalini.
“I don’t know,” said Tanmay. “They were nasty to me this morning. I don’t see why I should be nice to them.”
“But Firoz will be so sad if he doesn’t get his new ball back,” said kindhearted Shalini. “Don’t you remember how bad we felt when we lost our new kite Tanmay?”
“Yes” said Tanmay. “All right, I’ll take it back to the boys.”
He dried the ball on a piece of cloth, and then ran to where the boys were playing. He waited until the batsman was bowled out and then yelled to Firoz.
“Firoz! I’ve found your new ball! It was in the pond.”
The boys turned in surprise. Sandeep gave a cheer. “Hurrah! I am so glad.”
Alok caught the ball and stared at Tanmay.
“That’s very good of you,” he said. “You are a sport! I say boys what about letting him come into the game? He must be a good sort to bring back our ball when we wouldn’t let him play this morning!”
“Yes let him come!” roared all the boys. “Come on young Tanmay! We’ll let you play with us. It was decent of you to give back our ball!”
So Tanmay joined the game and was he not pleased and proud. He fielded very well indeed and, do you know that although he only made one run, he bowled out Mandeep and Sanjay. The boys were quite surprised.
“You play a good game, Tanmay,” said Alok, at the end. “You can come and play with us again tomorrow.”
Now Tanmay always plays cricket with the big boys and how glad he is that he took Shalini’s advice and was nice to the boys when he really didn’t want to be!
As for Firoz’s beautiful new ball, they are still playing with it. Its stay in the pond didn’t damage it a bit!