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Jake set out for the post office, a backpack slung over his shoulder.
Did you tell your mom where we, er, you were going?
“Of course I didn’t,” he whispered to the bag. “I just told her I was going for a bike ride to town.”
Pecky moved around in the bag, making Jake jiggle on the bike.
“Stay still! You are going to make me fall off.”
Sorry, I don’t have a lot of room in here you know.
Pecky had doubled in size in just a few days. Jake had to take everything out of the backpack just so he would fit.
“We’re almost there. Just try not to move until I get off the bike.”
Jake parked his bike outside the door and walked into the building.
“Hello young man. What can I do for you today?”
Jake studied the jolly postmaster behind the counter. He looked friendly enough.
“Hello sir,” he said nervously. “I wanted to ask about a package we received a few weeks ago. I have the label right here.”
Jake pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket.
The postmaster took the label and looked at Jake expectantly.
“What would you like to know? Was there a problem with the package?”
Clearing his throat, Jake recited the speech he and Pecky had agreed on.
“No…I mean yes. There was an extra chick in the package and I was just wondering where it came from.”
He glanced at the label and then back at Jake.
“It says here it came from McDougal Hatchery. Isn’t that where you ordered the chicks from?”
A flush crept up Jake’s neck. He didn’t want the man to know too much about Pecky, but he needed information.
“Yes, but I think we may have gotten the wrong package. We ordered 25 Leghorns and they sent an extra that doesn’t look like the rest.”
“Hmmm,” he said looking down at the label.
“Do you remember who delivered the package? Maybe I could ask if the boxes got mixed up or something.”
The man scratched his head and tapped his chin.
“Yes, there were several boxes of chicks. I remember because they chirped and peeped all day long,” he chuckled.
Jake’s heart plummeted. With so many packages arriving that day, it would be next to impossible to find out if any boxes were switched up.
“Oh!” exclaimed the postmaster. “Yes, I remember now. After the driver delivered all of the chicks, he ran back in with another box and said that he needed to switch it out. Said he made a mistake.”
“And it was this package?”
“It very well could have been, but I can’t be completely sure. The driver seemed very concerned about the swap.”
“And do you remember his name?”
The postmaster scratched his head.
“Sorry, I can’t remember. Wish I could—Oh yes! It was Gilbert! Gilbert from McDougal Hatchery.”
“Thank you sir!” Jake smiled.
“No problem young man. I hope you find what you are looking for.”
After Jake left the post office and was safely out of sight, he unzipped the backpack and looked down at Pecky.
Well? Does that name mean anything to you?
“Yes. Yes it does.”
“Gilbert is who I talked to at the hatchery.”