And Who Would not Cry?
Jimmy hurriedly pushed the stockings back into the crisp paper-bag. Suddenly his heart stopped beating. He saw that his trembling fingers were all black with ink. He looked at the stockings. There were black finger prints on them too.
Jimmy was about to cry. Then he remembered that he was not a girl and stopped. He thought and thought, trying to find a way out of the difficult situation.
Jimmy quickly drew up a little footstool to the gas-stove and got on it. Then he lifted the cover a little.
Hot steam scalded his hand and he dropped the cover.
“Oh, how it hurts!” the Carrot cried, blowing at his scalded hand. But he did not cry. He did not pay any attention to the pain. He was not a crybaby.
The Carrot ran to fetch the stockings. Jimmy brought a hammer and put it on top of the floating stockings.
Jimmy took some blotting-paper and again knelt on the floor by the ink spot.
He spat on the floor and rubbed it with all his might.
Jimmy worked very hard, indeed!
Then he ran back to the kitchen. The water was still boiling, as he had not turned the gas off.
“They must be ready by now,” he said aloud.
He took a long stick and tried to fish. No success. He tried again and again. Still no success.
The Carrot got nervous. He took a mug and began to draw the hot water out of the kettle and pour it into an empty pail.
The boy was afraid that he would have no time to wash the stockings. His mother might come back any minute.
“Here is the bottom at last!” Jimmy cried. “Here is the hammer! But but where are the stockings?!”
The Carrot could not believe his eyes. The stockings had disappeared. He turned off the gas, took a rag and put the hot empty kettle on the floor.
Then he looked into the kettle once more. There were no stockings there. Instead, there was a kind of jelly on the bottom of the kettle. And nothing more.
For a moment the little boy gazed at the kettle with wide eyes and a puzzled expression on his red, freckled lace.
Then he opened his little mouth very wide and set up such a howl that a big black cat sitting on the fence in front of the window fell off it into the nettle.
And who would not cry?