Everyone except Sule stepped out of the class to play as soon as the break bell was rung. Sule impatiently watched Mr. Ajayi who didn’t seem to want to go and get his usual plate of rice, beans, spaghetti, plantain and fried meat. It looked as if the ugly-faced class teacher was going to ruin his plan. After waiting for about two more minutes without any signs that Mr Ugly Face would be leaving, Sule made to get up from his seat. And just then,
“Sule, is the food vendor at her post?”
“Yes sir. She is there now” Sule readily answered, an air of new hope all around him.
Mr Ajayi got up, and began heading for the exit door. Sule’s eyes escorted him until he was completely out of sight. Now the classroom was empty, Sule began to work according to his plan.
He walked straight to Tolu’s desk and unzipped her school bag, searching for the new storybook which Tolu had just bought, egged on by his undying desire to own it. Sule came across the book after shuffling through a few notebooks. His lips bent in a wry smile. He neatly rearranged the books and zipped up the bag, and walked back to his seat where he immediately tucked the book in between the many books inside his bag.
Sule did not take out the storybook until he had reached home. When he got to his room, he locked the door and brought out the book to read. But then, the words Tolu had written on the first page struck him hard. It read thus:
TOUCH NOT MY BOOK, AND DO MY PAGES NO HARM. MAY THE THIEF WHO TRIES TO STEAL THIS BOOK BE SEVERELY PUNISHED WITH A PLAGUE BY GOD, AND STEAL FOR LIFE. AMEN.
A cold shiver ran down his spine as a fear so great crept into his heart. His hands with which he held the book lost its strength and the book dropped to the floor. Sule replaced the book in his bag, resolving to return the book to its owner the following day.