When they got back to Katie's room they spread out all their loot. Katie
went first. She put the eye shadow, the blush and the lipstick on the bed,
and then added the bottle of perfume. It was Gale's turn next. She opened
her pouch and brought out nine candy bars and six rolls of lifesavers.
"I can't believe it," Katie told her. "You're a worse
crook than I am. You just about wiped out the store."
Gale turned bright red. "What'll we do with it?"
Katie laughed. "What'll we do? Whatever we want. Come on, let's
For more than an hour they ate candy bars and made themselves up. They
put on perfume and pretended that they were magazine models staying in a
big hotel. They asked each other where they got their hair done and they
talked about all the dresses they were going to buy. Then they both lay
back on the bed.
"I'm so hungry darling, let's go down to the Twenty-one Club and
have steak and lobster," said Katie in her huskiest voice.
"Let's go to the Twenty-two Club," replied Gale. "We
have lots of money."
"Let's not go anywhere," said Katie. "Let's call room
service and have them send up champagne and hamburgers." She dialed
an imaginary phone.
"And don't forget the french fries," Gale told her.
"And don't forget the french fries, darling," Katie echoed
into the phone and hung up with a flourish. "Room service will be up
in a minute. I'll bet the bellboy wants a date," she told Gale.
Then all of a sudden they heard footsteps coming down the hall. Katie
and Gale looked at each other. Something told them it wasn't room service.
It wasn't. It was Susie. Katie ran to the door and slammed it shut.
"What are you doing in there?" called Susie from the other side
of the door. "Open up. I want to come in and get changed."
"We're busy," called back Katie. "Go away."
"Go away? I just got here."
"Well what are you doing home so early?" Katie called back.
"Early?" said Susie. "It's already past four-thirty."
"The papers," gasped Gale. She ran to the door and opened
it before Katie could stop her. Gale realized her mistake too late. Susie
got her foot in the door and pushed it open.
"Oh no," she said when she saw the two girls. "Just look
at you. You've been fooling around with my make-up again."
"No we haven't," said Katie. "We wouldn't do that. We
have our own." She stepped aside and pointed.
Susie stared at all the things on the bed. "Where did you get all
that?" she said finally. "And don't say that you bought it because
I know you wouldn't have enough money in a month of Mondays."
Katie knew she had to think of something fast. "We found it,"
"You found it?"
"Oh yes. It's hard to believe isn't it?"
It really was a little hard to believe, even for Katie, but she couldn't
change her story now. She was stuck with it.
"It was the most incredible thing," she continued. "We
were just walking down McDonald Avenue when a big limousine came driving
along and stopped at the wastebasket on the corner. A chauffeur got out
with a big paper bag and he tossed it in the trash. Then he drove off. Gale
and I just had to see what was in that bag. We figured it was some rich
lady throwing away some of her stuff, so we went over to look and there
it was, all this stuff just sitting in the trash can. That's the way it
happened, isn't that right, Gale?"
Gale turned red. "Something like that," she managed to mumble.
"Well, this certainly is your lucky day," Susie told them.
"It isn't everyday that two girls find such a fortune in a wastebasket."
Katie nodded and tried to smile. But Gale was getting restless. She
didn't like the way things were going and she wanted to leave.
"We have to go deliver papers now," she said and bolted for
"You better stop upstairs and take off your make-up," said
Susie. "Halloween isn't for months yet."
Gale left in a hurry. Susie looked back at the things on the bed.
"Funny how that lady threw out all those candy bars," she
said to Katie.
"Just what we thought," said Katie. "Makes you wonder!"
"Sure does," agreed Susie. "And that's not the only funny
thing. Everything still has a price tag on it," She sat down on the
edge of the bed and looked at Katie. "Now, why don't you tell me the
Katie didn't know what to say. She tried to think of a real story that
wasn't quite so bad as the real, real story but she couldn't come up with
a single thing. Finally she just told Susie the truth. When she had finished
she hung her head and waited for the trouble to start. But nothing happened.
Susie just sat on the bed looking at Katie. Katie couldn't understand it.
If it had been her dad, he would have been yelling before she had even finished.
But Susie wasn't saying anything, she was just sitting.
"Are you going to tell dad?" Katie asked.
"Do you think I should?"
"I don't want you to," admitted Katie, "But I guess you
Susie sighed and picked up the lipstick. She turned it over and over
in her hand while she considered things.
"I'll tell you what," she said at last. "I won't tell
"Oh Susie," cried Katie happily.
"On one condition," Susie continued. "First thing tomorrow
I want you and Gale to return to that store and put everything back where
you got it."
Katie's face clouded over. "You mean go back and tell them?"
"Don't tell them. Sneak everything back onto the counters just
the way you got it out - without anyone catching you."
Katie couldn't understand it at first. It didn't make any sense. "That's
just as bad as shoplifting everything in the first place. That's not a punishment,
that's a... I don't know what it is. It's shoplifting backwards. It's crazy."
"It's no more crazy than what you did in the first place and it
makes a great deal more sense. If you take everything back without anyone
knowing then no one's going to be bothered except you. The store won't lose
any money and Max won't have to be upset about you stealing things."
"But shoplifting is bad," said Katie. "And I was bad
for doing it. If I was bad then I should be punished."
"Maybe so, but look at it this way," explained Susie. "There's
no sense in telling the store that you were bad and there's no sense in
telling Max either. They both already know shoplifting is bad, don't they?
The important thing is for you to know that it's bad and this way you'll
be telling yourself. Putting everything back again is going to make you
think about what you've done. And it will even things up again. It will
give you a chance to start all over from scratch without anyone except you
and me knowing anything about it."
Katie thought about it for awhile, in silence. "I guess maybe it
makes a little sense," she admitted. "But aren't you afraid that
I might do it again?"
"How could I stop you if you really wanted to?" asked Susie.
"I could tell you over and over again that it was wrong and Max could
too, but even if we both yelled at you together, from now until next Thursday,
what good would it do if you weren't listening? You're growing up Katie;
you're going to have to learn how to yell at yourself. You can't expect
Max and me to do it for you forever."