“Never mind,” said one of the ladies, kindly; “I will come in again next time I am passing. It doesn’t matter this evening.”
Susy felt vexed; she knew her mother would blame her for sending the ladies away without completing a purchase. And they had scarcely left before she found the box which contained the stationery. She pushed it out of sight on the shelf, and sat down again to her book. Her mother ought to be coming in now. Susy would have to do a lot of exercises; these she could not by any possibility do in the shop. She had also some mathematical work to get through or she would never be able to keep her place in class. Why didn’t Mrs. Hopkins return? Half-an-hour went by; three-quarters. It was now a quarter to eight. Susy felt quite distracted. With the exception of the two ladies, there had been no customer in the shop up to the present. The fact was, they did not begin to appear until soon after eight on Wednesday evenings. Then the schoolgirls and schoolboys and many other people of the poorer class used to drop in for penn’orths and ha’p’orths of stationery, for pens, for ink, for sealing-wax, &c.
“Mother must be in soon. I know what I will do,” said Susy. “I will open the door of the parlor and sit there. If any one appears I can dash out at once.”
No sooner had the thought come to her than she resolved to act on it. She turned on the gas in the parlor—it was already brightly lighted in the shop—and sat down to her work.
“An hour and a quarter before the meeting of the Wild Irish Girls,” she said to herself. “Strange, is it not, that I should call myself a Wild Irish Girl when I am a Cockney through and through? Well, whatever happens, I shall be at the meeting.”
THE WILD IRISH GIRLS’ SOCIETY IS STARTED.
While Susy sat in the parlor a tramp happened to pass the brightly lighted shop. He was weather-beaten and slipshod, and altogether made a most disreputable appearance. A hand was thrust into each of his pockets, and these pockets were destitute of coin. The tramp was hungry and penniless. The little shop with its gay light and tempting articles of stationery, and books and sealing-wax displayed in the window, were quite to the man’s taste. He could not see the parlor beyond, nor the peep-hole where Susy was supposed to be able to watch the shop; he only noticed that no one was within. The tramp was in the humor to do something desperate; he entered the shop under the pretense of begging; made straight for the till, pulled it open, and took out a handful of money. He had no time to count his spoils, but leaving the till-drawer still open, he dashed out of the shop.
Now it so happened that Susy, just when the tramp stole in, had gone upstairs to fetch a fresh exercise-book. She noticed nothing amiss on her return, and went tranquilly on with her work. Eight o’clock struck. Susy was in despair.