Popps and the Robber
Mr. Popps didn't know what to do. For forty years his dry
cleaning store was the only one in town. Everyone brought
clothes to him to be cleaned. And he was always careful to
do the best job he could. But then last year a new Super Launderette
opened up right across the street.
could load their clothes into a machine, drop in a coin, and
sit back and wait for their clean clothes. The machines did
not clean things quite as well as Mr. Popps did, but they
were fast and cheap. So more and more of the people in the
town began to go to the Super Launderette instead.
Popps tried to think of some way to get his old customers
back. He offered free mending. He worked long into the night
to get people's clothes back the next day. He tried lowering
his prices even though he was barely making enough to live
on. But still more and more people left him.
Popps tried all kinds of things to make his service better.
Now he was trying to work out a better spray starch. He mixed
up a new batch and poured some into a spray gun. "I'll try
some out on Mr. Flynn's shirt," he said. So he sprayed some
of the new starch onto the clean shirt. Instantly the shirt
was as stiff as a board.
guess that's a little too firm," Mr. Popps thought. He dipped
the shirt into a basin of water. But it did no good. The shirt
was stiffer than ever. It wouldn't even bend. "What am I going
to do?" Mr. Popps worried.
then the bell on the front door tinkled, and a customer walked
in. Mr. Popps rushed out to talk to her, leaving the shirt
and the spray starch on the work table. The woman had brought
a party dress with a big stain down the front.
leaving on a trip tomorrow, and I need the dress the first
thing in the morning," the woman said.
night Mr. Popps was busy in the back room when suddenly he
heard a noise. Then a man burst into the back room. He had
a gun and it was pointed at Mr. Popps!
don't have much money. I'm very poor," Mr. Popps trembled.
not your money I'm after," said the man. He tied Mr. Popps
to a chair and wrapped a gag over his mouth. Then he took
out a sledge hammer from a sack he had brought with him. In
a few minutes he had punched a hole through the side wall
of Mr. Popp's shop. He crawled through the hole into the bank
must do something!" thought Mr. Popps. He tried pulling on
the ropes, but they were too tight. He looked around the room
to see if there was anything that could help him. On the pressing
table next to him there was an iron. But he couldn't reach
tipped his chair against the pressing table. He was trying
to get closer to the iron. But instead, he knocked the iron
over, and it fell onto the floor. He had leaned over so far
that the chair toppled over too. It fell to the floor with
a crash! What if the robber heard him? Mr. Popps lay there
listening. But the robber was busy next door in the bank.
iron was right next to Mr. Popps now. He turned it on. As
soon as it was hot, he burned through the ropes around his
wrists. In a few minutes, he had himself untied.
must call the police!" Mr. Popps thought. He started toward
the telephone. Just then he heard a scrambling noise through
the hole in the wall. The robber was crawling through with
a sack of money.
Popps looked around for something. On the table next to him
was the spray gun of starch. The robber was halfway through
now. He saw Mr. Popps and started to reach for his gun. Mr.
Popps did the only thing he could think of. He sprayed the
robber with the starch.
the robber's clothes were as solid as iron. He could not reach
his gun because he could not move his arms. In fact, he could
not move at all. He was stuck in the hole. And he stayed there
while Mr. Popps called the police.
President of the bank was so grateful to Mr. Popps that he
gave him a large reward. Mr. Popps used the money to buy an
automatic cleaning machine for his own store. Now he had more
customers than ever. Some came to use his fast new machine.
Others came for his old dependable service. But they all came
to hear how Mr. Popps had caught a thief with a can of starch.
2013 The Silversteins