The Furtive Thief

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Some thing go missing in the village but Wendy is on the case.

Submitted: February 05, 2017

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Submitted: February 05, 2017



Gus Wilson was known as the laziest person in the small country hamlet of Winklewood. He had a job on the railway, supposedly looking after the lines, but even his workmates knew him to be a lazy sod. The village people used to gossip about him because he never helped during working bees at the school, the hall, or even the church and he always stayed in bed until late. Nobody could figure out how his children were well fed and cared for, but they thought it was good that they were.

Gus wasn’t quite as lazy as everyone thought! Regularly he would be furtively cycling or on foot, sneaking through the village for the hour or so before daylight! He had a special way with animals; dogs did not bark at him, sheep and cows did not run from him and hens did not cluck when he was near. This allowed him to go about the village unnoticed during those early hours.

Country folk back then kept very good vegetable gardens to provide fresh vegetables for their families and furtive-Gus took advantage! He would sneak into folk’s gardens to steal just a modest few, from most properties. A bandicooted potato or two, a couple of tomatoes (if they were ripe), a cabbage, carrot thinnings, seasonal fruit. Actually anything nice and fresh that wasn’t tied down.

Hugh didn’t know, but frequently Gus used to quietly milk Polly, his cow. Just taking a pint or a bit more, because he knew that she would easily replace it by milking time later in the morning. People used to leave their gumboots at their back door when it wasn’t raining, and when one or other of his children needed a pair, he simply would steal them! It didn’t happen very often so nobody became suspicious.

At the Winklewood store, the freight lorry truck dropped off the seasonal sack of oysters, those succulent Bluff oysters, for the forestry boys. Gus always knew about the drop-off, maybe he heard the lorry stop. He always took just a dozen, his missus wasn’t too keen on seafood. Gus and his family were living very comfortably on the efforts of the village people! He was so cunning, that nobody noticed anything missing – except for the gumboots! Dorothy and Jenny had a right good telling off for forgetting where they had taken them off!

Wendy’s Dad had built a chicken coop for some Barred Rock pullets he had bought from Ned, and to teach her about responsibility he had put her in charge of them. Wendy took the job seriously and while her Dad bought the feed, grit and straw, she wrote in her ledger book, ‘Item – Cost.’ and on the other page, ‘Eggs – Number - Money.’ Every day, Wendy found that each pullet laid one egg, regular as clockwork. But one Friday, there were four short!

‘Why would that be?’ Wendy asked her Dad, hoping it wasn’t her fault.

‘Maybe they were stolen by a stoat or a ferret.’ Replied Dad. ‘Or a rat!’

Wendy didn’t like the rats! For that matter, she didn’t much like stoats or ferrets either! The next day though, all the eggs were there, and the next and the next, but after a week another four eggs were missing!

Mum and Dad didn’t seem to be overly concerned, the ways of nature they supposed, but Wendy was! She had inspected the coop and couldn’t find any poo that was not chicken, and there were no holes for rats, or stoats or ferrets to get through. And the missing eggs showed up on her ledger!

The nest boxes had an outside lid, so cunning Wendy sneaked some flour from the pantry and spread it on the ground under the nest boxes. If it was a rat, it would eat the flour and if it was anything else, it would leave tracks. She checked each morning and there were no prints nor were there eggs missing, but a week later, there were another four missing and strike me with a fish-fork, there was a footprint in the flour! A man’s great big bootprint! Plain as could be! Detective Wendy was determined to catch him! She set up a string attached old baked bean cans to it, each can had a couple of stones so they would rattle as an alarm. She told her Dad that she was sure it was a person stealing her eggs! But he didn’t really believe her, after all it was just a footprint. It could have been anyone’s

‘Everyone in the village seems pretty honest to me, I’ve never heard of any thieving.’ mused Dad, ‘You’ll not catch anyone.’ He secretly smiled at her enthusiasm but lacked it himself. A week later, another four eggs went missing but the alarm didn’t go off, well if it did nobody heard it! Wendy was angry!

She knew it was once every week that the eggs went missing, so she filled the entrance of the nest boxes with straw to keep the hens out, and put a porcelain egg into one of the boxes and she set a rat trap!

Early next morning, Dad happened to be out of bed, on his way to the toilet, he knew he shouldn’t have had that late cup of cocoa! When he heard a distinct yelp of pain and it came from the direction of the chicken coop! Out rushed Dad and he ran slap, bang into Gus who was making a hurried, if painful escape, without any eggs! They both fell backwards onto their bums! Dad was the first to recover and he grabbed Gus by the ear! By this time an excited Wendy was up and so was Mum who gave Gus a right, good tongue-lashing! Wendy just smiled, happy her trap had worked. They found Gus’s bike leaning beside the gate, gathered around there were potatoes, a bag of runner-beans, three cobs of corn and ten clothes pegs!

Dad kept all the stolen goods and the bike for evidence! At an appropriate time later in the morning, Dad called the village chairman.

What they did with Gus was something Wendy gave no thought to, all she wanted was to make sure her egg count was exactly right.

One, two, three…..




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