The drugstore was beginning to close for the night. Young Alfred Higgins, who worked in the store was putting on his coat, getting ready to go home. On his way out, he passed Mr. Carr, the little gray-haired man who owned the store. Mr. Carr looked up at Alfred as he passed, and said in a very soft voice, "Just one moment, Alfred. One moment before you go." Mr. Carr spoke so quietly that he worried Alfred.
天晚了，杂货店即将打烊，在店里工作的年轻的艾尔弗雷德·希金斯穿上大衣准备回家。出门时，他碰上了店主卡尔先生。卡尔先生是个小个子，头发灰白。当艾尔弗雷德经过时卡尔先生抬头看着他，然后低声说：“等一下，艾尔弗雷德。等一下再走。”卡尔先生的声音那么低沉，使艾尔弗雷德不禁紧张起来。 "What is it, Mr. Carr?"
"Maybe, you' d be good enough to take a few things out of your pockets and leave them here before you go.” said Mr. Carr.
"What -- What things? What are you talking about?"
"You've got a compact and a lipstick and at least two tubes of toothpaste in your pockets, Alfred,"
"What do you mean?" Alfred answered.
"Do you think I' m crazy?" his face got red. Mr. Carr kept looking at Alfred coldly. Alfred did not know what to say, and tried to keep his eyes from meeting the eyes of his boss. After a few moments, he put his hand into his pockets and took out the things he had stolen.
"Petty thieving, eh, Alfred.” said Mr. Carr. "And maybe you'd be good enough to tell me how long this has been going on."
"This is the first time I ever took anything."
Mr. Carr was quick to answer, "So now you think you'll tell me a lie, eh? What kind of fool I look like, huh? I don't know what goes on in my own store, eh? I tell you, you've been doing this for a long time." Mr. Carr had a strange smile on his face. "I don' t like to call the police," he said, "but maybe I should call your father, and let him know I'm going to have you put in jail."
"My father is not home. He is a printer. He works nights."
"Who is at home?" Carr asked.
"My mother, I think."
Mr. Carr started to go to the phone. Alfred's fear made him raise his voice. He wanted to show he was afraid of nobody. He acted this way every time he got into trouble. This had happened many times since he left school. At such times he always spoke in a loud voice, as he did tonight. "Just a minute," he said to Mr. Carr. "You don' t have to get anybody else into this. You don't have to tell her." Alfred tried to sound big, but deep down he was like a child. He hoped that someone at home would come quickly to save him. But Mr. Carr was already talking to his mother. He told her to come to the store in a hurry.
Alfred thought his mother would come, rushing in, eyes burning with anger. Maybe she would be crying and would push him away when he tried to explain to her. She would make him feel so small. Yet, he wanted her to come quickly before Mr. Carr called in a policeman. Alfred and Mr. Carr waited, but said nothing. At last they heard someone at the closed door. Mr. Carr opened it and said, “Come in, Mrs. Higgins. "His face was harsh and serious.
Alfred's mother came in with a friendly smile on her face and put out her hand to Mr. Carr, said politely, "I' m Mrs. Higgins, Alfred's mother."
艾尔弗雷德的母亲脸上挂着友好的微笑走了进来，并向卡尔先生伸出手，很有礼貌地说：“我是希金斯夫人，艾尔弗雷德的母亲。” Mr. Carr was surprised at the way she came in. She was very calm, quiet and friendly. "Is Alfred in trouble?" Mrs. Higgins asked.
"He is. He has been taking things from the store -- little things, like toothpaste and lipsticks, things he can easily sell," Mrs. Higgns looked at her son and said sadly. "Is it so, Alfred?"
"Why have you been doing it?" she asked.
"I've been spending money, I believe.”
"On going around with the boys, I guess.” said Alfred.
Higgins put out her hand and touched Mr. Carr's arm with great gentleness, as if she knew just how he felt. She spoke as if she did not want to cause him any more trouble. She said, "If you will just listen to me before doing anything?" Her voice was cool and she turned her head away as if she had said too much already. Then she looked again at Mr. Carr with a pleasant smile and asked, "What do you want to do, Mr. Carr?"
"I was going to get a cop. That is what I should do -- call the police."
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