“Well, you’d better let me take it, Lucy. I’m older than you are, and I’ve got a little pocket, too, just the right size to hold it.”
Lucy hesitated, not wishing to part with the watch, and not at all sure that it would be safer with Jimmy than with herself. He was not a famous care-taker.
“I don’t see why you want to get it away when papa lent it to me and it’s fastened on so tight. How do I know papa would be willing?”
As she spoke, however, Jimmy was fingering the little chain to see if he could undo the clasp which held it to her dress.
“There, I don’t believe you could have got it off, Lucy, you didn’t know how.”
“Why, I never tried—papa fastened it on himself—oh, Jimmy-boy, you will be so careful of it, now won’t you?”
For the watch lay in his hand, and she did not know how to get it back again. When he had set his heart on anything Lucy usually gave up. Barbara looked on in disapproval as the big brother put the watch in his pocket.
It had long been Jimmy’s unspoken wish to have a watch of his very own like Nate Pollard and various other boys. How rich and handsome the short gold chain looked! What a bright spot it made as it dangled down his new jacket. He gazed at it admiringly, while Bab and Lucy took turns in looking through the spy-glass.
“The stage is coming,” they cried. Then they all started and ran down the mountain; but as the stage drove up to the hotel no colonel alighted, or at least, no one who looked like a colonel. Jimmy was playing with the short gold chain which made a bright spot on his jacket. He meant to restore the watch to its owner at dinner-time; but it was early, he was not going in yet. And there was Nate Pollard throwing up his cap and looking ready for a frolic.
“I stump you to catch me!” said Nate.
“Poh, I can catch you and not half try.”
Jimmy-boy was agile, Nate rather heavily built and clumsy. But if Jimmy had suspected what a foolhardy project was in Nate’s mind he would have held back from the race.
As it was, they both planted themselves against a tree, shouted, “One, two, three!” and off they started. No one was watching, no one remembered afterward which way they were going.
STEALING A CHIMNEY
The “knitting-woman” sat knitting in her chamber that looked up the mountain side, and thinking how the zebra kitten had suffered from her enemy, the clam. Mrs. McQuilken’s own cats were most of them asleep; the blind canary was eating her supper of hemp-seed; and the noisy magpie had run off to chat with the dog and hens. The room seemed remarkably quiet. Mrs. McQuilken narrowed two stitches and glanced out of the window.
“Mercy upon us!” she exclaimed, though there was not a soul to hear her. “Mercy upon us, what are those boyoes doing atop of that house?”