“What thief?” asked Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Dunlee.
“Why, the thief! The one we’re looking for! The one that stole the watch!”
“Do you really mean it?” asked the ladies again. “Did he bring it back?”
“Come and see,” said Uncle James, leading the way upstairs.
“Of course it’s Joe Rolfe,” thought Kyzie. “I suppose he was frightened by what I said to Henry Small.”
“Is the thief in your room, Uncle James?” said Jimmy. “Why didn’t you put him in jail?”
“Ah, Jimmum, do you think all thieves ought to go to jail? I once knew a little boy who stole a chimney right off a house; yet I never heard a word said about putting him in jail!
“But here we are at the chamber door. Stand behind me, all of you, in single file.”
THE THIEF FOUND
“I don’t know so much as I thought I did,” said Kyzie to herself. “Joe Rolfe wouldn’t be in this room.”
For Uncle James was knocking at the door of Number Five.
“Walk right in,” said Mrs. McQuilken, coming to meet her guests. She had her knitting in one hand. “Come in, all of you. Why, Mr. Templeton, are you here too? You wouldn’t have taken me into your house if you’d known I was a thief; now would you, Mr. Templeton?”
And laughing, she put her right hand in her apron pocket and drew out a gold watch and chain.
“If this belongs to anybody present, let him step up and claim his property.”
Mr. Dunlee came forward in amazement, while Jimmy gave a little squeal of delight.
“This is mine, thank you, madam,” said Mr. Dunlee, looking at the watch closely. It seemed very much battered.
“Dreadfully smashed up, isn’t it, sir? I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”
Mr. Dunlee shook it, and held it to his ear.
“Oh, it won’t go,” said Mrs. McQuilken. “The inside seems worse off, if anything, than the outside. ’Twill have to have new works.”
“Very likely. But it is so precious to me, madam, that even in this condition I’m glad to get it back again. Pray, where has it been?”
“Right here in this room. Didn’t you understand me to confess to stealing it? Why, you’re shaking your head as if you doubted my word.”
They were all laughing now, and the old lady’s eyes twinkled with fun.
“Well, if I didn’t steal it myself, one of my family did, so it amounts to the same thing. Come out here, you unprincipled girl, and beg the gentleman’s pardon,” she added, kneeling and dragging forth from under the bed a beautiful bird.
It was her own magpie, chattering and scolding.
“Now tell the gentleman who stole his watch? Speak up loud and clear!”
The bird flapped her wings, and cawed out very crossly:—
“Mag! Mag! Mag!”
“Hear her! Hear that!” cried her mistress. “So you did steal it, Mag—I’m glad to hear you tell the truth for once in your life.”