Cole and Tilda forbade their son, Mark, from dating a poor girl. When they discover he’s stolen money from them and taken her on a date anyway, Cole comes up with a clever plan to teach Mark a lesson.

“So, how are things at school?” Cole asked his son, Mark, as the maid set the last platter on the table for their dinner.

Mark shrugged and reached for the salad. “It’s okay. Marketing can be technical at times.”

“And when are you having Emily over again?” Mark’s mom, Tilda, asked with a wide smile.

Mark pulled a face. “Never. We broke up.”

“What?” Tilda and Cole shared a glance. They were both upset by this news as Emily was the mayor’s daughter. They’d envisioned their son marrying her and making important connections.

“Emily is rude, idiotic, and too focused on material things.” Mark dished up chicken onto his plate next. “She was a bad influence as she started turning me into a person I don’t want to be. I have my eye on a different girl now.”

“Who?” Cole and Tilda demanded in unison, but Mark smiled slyly and started eating.

A few days later, Cole and Tilda ate breakfast at a new coffee shop in town. Since neither of them planned anything for the day, they decided to walk in the park.

“I’m so glad I decided to take a semi-retirement,” Cole said as he walked arm-in-arm with Tilda. “It’s good to spend time with you, and I’m sure it will be much easier for Mark to take over the business one day if I’m not hanging over his shoulder.”

Tilda chuckled. “So long as you ensure he inherits your good instincts for a deal, my dear.”

The sound of music and singing drew the couple toward a fountain near the park’s center. A crowd had gathered there to listen to a young woman playing guitar. As they approached, a young man moved along the crowd’s edge with a hat, asking people for money to support the performer. Cole and Tilda looked at each other in horror.

“What is Mark doing begging for money? I’m going to put a stop to this!”

Cole gently restrained his wife. “Let’s not cause a scene. Instead, we’ll talk to him at home.”

Tilda and Cole were waiting for Mark when he returned home that afternoon. They instructed their butler to show him into the parlor when he arrived.

“What are you doing begging for money in the park?” Tilda demanded. “Don’t we give you a sizable allowance?”

Mark groaned. “I was helping Leila…she’s the girl I mentioned to you. Her parents are heavy drinkers so she busks in the park to support herself and her sister.”

“You stole money to take me out? I can’t believe it.”

“I forbid you from getting involved with her!” Tilda stood and began pacing. “Can you imagine what our friends will say if they find out? Our family name will be dragged through the mud!”

Mark clenched his jaw and frowned. “No. Leila might not be from the best family, but she’s a good person with a kind heart. It’s her birthday today, and I’m treating her to dinner whether you approve or not.”

Tilda gasped. She looked to Cole for support just as he took out his phone and started working on it.

“There, I’ve cut of all your funds.” Cole put his phone away again. “You won’t get a cent out of us until you fall in line. Got it?”

Mark stormed from the parlor without a word. His parents didn’t see him again until he left, two hours later, in a suit.

Shortly after Mark left, Tilda made a chilling discovery. She fetched her purse to pay the maid, and it was empty! Cole had gone out for the evening to meet his closest friend, so Tilda phoned to ask if he’d taken the cash.

“No, dear,” Mark replied. “You know I only carry smaller sums of cash, enough to tip a waiter or valet. Didn’t you place it in a different purse by accident?”

“I checked already.” Tilda sniffed as she was forced to confront the truth.

“Cole, I think Mark stole the money to pay for his date.”

Cole was silent for a long time. Tilda waited for him to reply as she tried not to cry. She couldn’t believe her son would do something so low!

“Don’t worry about a thing, my love,” Cole said. “I’ll return home immediately with the cash you need, and then I will teach our son a hard lesson.”

“What are you going to do, Cole?” Tilda dried her eyes.

“Just leave everything to me.”

Mark couldn’t help but smile as he gazed across the table at Leila. He couldn’t believe how lucky he was that a girl as wonderful as Leila would take an interest in him. He’d had to work hard to convince her he wasn’t just another spoiled rich kid, and it was all worth sharing this moment with her.

As Mark reached to take Leila’s hand, someone gruffly cleared their throat behind him. Mark turned, thinking it was the waiter, but instead saw his dad standing behind him!

Panic prickled across the back of Mark’s neck. He wanted to plead with Dad not to make a scene, but his mouth was too dry to speak.

“All you care about is status and connections, but what matters to me is community: caring about others and uplifting your fellow man.”

“Good evening, Leila.” Dad smiled. “I’m Mark’s dad, Cole. My apologies for this unorthodox introduction, but I was just heading home and thought I’d join you for a quick meal. I also wanted to give you these.” Cole held out an expensive box of chocolates. “Happy birthday.”

“Of course! I’d love to have a chance to get to know you,” Leila replied.

Dad took an unused chair from a neighboring table and sat down with Leila and Mark. Mark didn’t know what to do. Dad was being nice, but he’d noticed the hurt look in his eyes, and there was an undeniably sharkish aspect to the grin he gave his son.

Dad chatted amiably with Leila as he ordered the most expensive dishes on the menu. Meanwhile, Mark was sweating with anxiety. He didn’t relax until Dad left the table to take a phone call.

When the waiter brought the bill and Dad still hadn’t returned, Mark realized the depth of his father’s revenge. Red-faced and stammering, Mark had to admit to Leila and the waiter that he couldn’t afford the eight-hundred dollar bill.

“Well, sir, we can call the police to deal with this, or you can wash the evening’s dishes,” the waiter said.

“I’ll wash the dishes,” Mark replied without hesitation.

“I’ll help you.” Leila stood and gave him a sheepish smile.

Mark couldn’t believe his ears. None of the girls he’d dated before would’ve offered to help him. In fact, they would have sneered and run away to tell their friends that he’d embarrassed them.

“You really don’t have to do that, Leila,” Mark said.

“This was meant to be my treat so I’ll do the punishment.”

Leila shook her head. “Let’s go get our hands dirty.”

When Cole entered the kitchen to see how well Mark had learned his lesson, he was shocked to see Leila sharing his son’s punishment. Not that it seemed like a punishment with the way they laughed and chatted while they worked.

“This is unexpected.” Cole cleared his throat and strode toward the sink. “I’m sorry to see you end your birthday like this, Leila, but I felt it necessary to teach my son a lesson when I discovered he’d stolen money from his mother’s purse to go on a date.”

Leila gaped at Mark. The plate she was holding fell to the floor and broke. “You stole money to take me out? I can’t believe it.”

“I can explain, Leila.”

“There is no explanation!” Tears ran down Leila’s cheeks as she dried her hands. “I thought you were a decent person, Mark. I thought you understood me, that we shared the same values. Clearly, I was wrong.”

Cole stepped aside as Leila swept past him. Although he’d felt it necessary to teach Mark a lesson for stealing, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d made an error in judgment.

When Cole and Mark returned home, Mark ran straight to his room. Cole started to go after him, but Tilda stepped into the hallway.

“And?” Tilda arched an eyebrow. “Is that little beggar going to leave our son alone now?”

Cole sighed.

“I think I made a mistake, Tilly. I spoke to Leila, and I’m very impressed by her. She’s a bright, sincere girl with her head screwed on straight. I think she’s exactly the sort of girl we would’ve wished for Mark to meet.”

Tilda frowned. “Are you sure, Cole? She was probably putting on an act to fool you.”

“I thought of that, but when I went into the kitchen to speak to Mark, she was there, helping him wash dishes. She didn’t turn her back on him because he couldn’t pay the bill, but she did leave him when she found out he stole from you.”

Cole shook his head. “Mark wasn’t the only one who learned a lesson tonight. Now, I just need to figure out how to make things right.”

Mark stayed in his room for two days. He didn’t eat during that time, and his parents were worried. Cole had been trying to think of the best way to approach Leila, but now, in desperation, he and Tilda decided to go to the park where she played guitar.

There was no crowd gathered to hear Leila play today. When Cole and Tilda approached, they noted there wasn’t much money in her hat either. Cole dropped a hundred-dollar bill into the hat.

“I owe you an apology, Leila. Cole’s mother and I judged you unfairly when Mark told us about your financial difficulties. We didn’t want him to date a girl below his status, so I stopped his bank card. In essence, we forced him to steal so he could take you on a date.”

Leila sniffed and shook her head. “That’s the difference between you and me. All you care about is status and connections, but what matters to me is community: caring about others and uplifting your fellow man.”

She reached into the hat and returned Cole’s money. “Thanks, but I don’t want to be indebted to you. I hope you don’t think I’m rude, but I’m going through a tough time and music helps me, so if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to continue playing.”

Cole and Tilda turned to leave. Their mission had failed! But then Leila started playing a song that stopped them in their tracks. Cole looked at his wife and smiled. It was the first song they’d danced to at their wedding.

Cole offered Tilda his hand. She laughed but accepted his invitation to dance. As they twirled across the paving surrounding the fountain, more couples joined them. Soon, the central area of the park resembled a ballroom.

When Leila finished the song, everyone stopped to applaud her. Cole and Tilda joined the crowd filing to put money in Leila’s hat.

“I hope this time you’ll accept this as a token of my appreciation for the good memory I made here today.”

Cole threw the hundred-dollar bill into Leila’s hat.

Leila gave him a small smile. “I think maybe I misjudged you too. People who are only concerned with appearances and material things wouldn’t have stopped everything to dance like that. It was beautiful.”

A knock sounded at Mark’s bedroom door. He’d spent the last few hours staring at the ceiling but still had no desire to see his parents.

“Go away,” he shouted. “I don’t want to talk to either of you, Mom or Dad.”

Despite his insistence, the door opened. Mark sat up, angry words on the tip of his tongue, but they faded to nothing when he saw Leila standing in the doorway.

“Your mom and dad explained everything,” Leila said. “I came to apologize for shouting at you. Maybe, we can talk?”

Mark rushed to the door and hugged Leila. “I’d love to talk. I’ve missed you so much.”

Mark saw his parents in the hallway and smiled at them in gratitude. Dad nodded and put his arm around Mom’s shoulder. Mark was surprised to see her wipe a tear from her cheek.

What can we learn from this story?

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Cole and Tilda judged Leila without even meeting her. They assumed that her financial difficulties and family issues meant she was a bad person, but they were wrong.
Never be too proud to apologize. Although Cole thought he was acting in his son’s best interest, he was wise to realize he’d made an error and apologize to Leila for misjudging her.

Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.


if you love reading stories like this you can also go to the publisher – AMO MAMA STORIES

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