‘Why, blessed Mary, to be sure.’

‘Oh, that; I ha’n’t got it, child - I have lost it, have left it at home.’

‘Lost it,’ said I; ‘left it at home - what do you mean? Come, let me have it.’

‘I ha’n’t got it, child.’

‘I believe you have got it under your cloak.’

‘Don’t tell any one, dear; don’t - don’t,’ and the apple-woman burst into tears.

‘What’s the matter with you?’ said I, staring at her.

‘You want to take my book from me?’

‘Not I, I care nothing about it; keep it, if you like, only tell me what’s the matter?’

‘Why, all about that book.’

‘The book?’

‘Yes, they wanted to take it from me.’

‘Who did?’

‘Why, some wicked boys. I’ll tell you all about it. Eight or ten days ago, I sat behind my stall, reading my book; all of a sudden I felt it snatched from my hand, up I started, and see three rascals of boys grinning at me; one of them held the book in his hand. "What book is this?" said he, grinning at it. "What do you want with my book?" said I, clutching at it over my stall; "give me my book." "What do you want a book for?" said he, holding it back; "I have a good mind to fling it into the Thames." "Give me my book," I shrieked; and, snatching at it, I fell over my stall, and all my fruit was scattered about. Off ran the boys - off ran the rascal with my book. Oh dear, I thought I should have died; up I got, however, and ran after them as well as I could; I thought of my fruit, but I thought more of my book. I left my fruit and ran after my book. "My book! my book!" I shrieked, "murder! theft! robbery!" I was near being crushed under the wheels of a cart; but I didn’t care - I followed the rascals. "Stop them! stop them!" I ran nearly as fast as they - they couldn’t run very fast on account of the crowd. At last some one stopped the rascal, whereupon he turned round, and flinging the book at me, it fell into the mud; well, I picked it up and kissed it, all muddy as it was. "Has he robbed you?" said the man. "Robbed me, indeed; why he had got my book." "Oh, your book," said the man, and laughed, and let the rascal go. Ah, he might laugh, but - ‘

‘Well, go on.’

‘My heart beats so. Well, I went back to my booth and picked up my stall and my fruits, what I could find of them. I couldn’t keep my stall for two days I got such a fright, and when I got round I couldn’t bide the booth where the thing had happened, so I came over to the other side. Oh, the rascals, if I could but see them hanged.’

‘For what?’

‘Why, for stealing my book.’

‘I thought you didn’t dislike stealing, - that you were ready to buy things - there was your son, you know - ‘

‘Yes, to be sure.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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