It was Saturday afternoon. My wife was at work and I’d been visiting my father. As I drove down our street, I was glad to see all three of our daughters out running around in the sunshine. But 8-year-old Sally looked awfully grim. She wore a backpack and her big sister Marie, almost 12, had her by the arm and was dragging her back toward our house.
That’s because Sally had been running away from home to escape the tyranny of her babysitter – Marie. For 5-year-old Wendy, the running-away action had merely enlivened the afternoon enough for her to turn off the TV and creep blinking out into the daylight.
As a runaway, Sally would have faced a classic dilemma. Hemmed in by several streets that she’s not allowed to cross, there was only a strip of real estate one block wide and a half-mile long in which to hide and begin her new life. But, in our little town she is better-known than the mayor.
And another thing: Her backpack was empty. Just as General Lee liked to cripple the Yankee armies by capturing their supply wagons, Marie had hoped to short-circuit Sally’s rebellion by seizing the contents of her backpack. So, piled on our front porch were Sally’s teddy bear, her flute, books, clothes and a sandwich. Her desperate little pile of stuff made me sad for her.