Share Button

Mr. 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.

People 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.

Mr. 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.

Mr. 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.

"I 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.

Just 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.

"I'm leaving on a trip tomorrow, and I need the dress the first thing in the morning," the woman said.

That 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!

"I don't have much money. I'm very poor," Mr. Popps trembled.

"It's 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 next door.

"I 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 it.

He 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.

The 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.

"I 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.

Mr. 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.

Instantly 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.

The 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.









©1972, 2013 The Silversteins