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The Stories of the Three Burglars

would hardly take the trouble to get to us or to get away from us, and that, therefore, the
offences were probably committed by unsuspected persons living in this part of the
country who had easy means of determining which houses were worth breaking into and
what method of entrance would be most feasible. In this way some families, hitherto
regarded as respectable families, had fallen under suspicion.
So far, mine was the only house of any importance within the distance of a mile from the
station which had not in some way suffered from burglars. In one or two of these cases
the offenders had been frightened away before they had done any other injury than the
breaking of a window-shutter; but we had been spared any visitation whatever. After a
time we began to consider that this was an invidious distinction. Of course we did not
desire that robbers should break into our house and steal, but it was a sort of implied
insult that robbers should think that our house was not worth breaking into. We contrived,
however, to bear up under this implied contempt and even under the facetious
imputations of some of our lively neighbours, who declared that it looked very suspicious
that we should lose nothing, and even continue to add to our worldly goods, while
everybody else was suffering from abstractions.
I did not, however, allow any relaxation in my vigilance in the protection of my house
and family. My time to suffer had not yet arrived, and it might not arrive at all; but if it
did come it should not be my fault. I therefore carefully examined all the new precautions
my neighbours had taken against the entrance of thieves, and where I approved of them I
adopted them.
Of some of these my wife and I did not approve. For instance, a tin pan containing iron
spoons, the dinner bell, and a miscellaneous collection of hardware balanced on the top
stair of the staircase, and so connected with fine cords that a thief coming up the stairs
would send it rattling and bounding to the bottom, was looked upon by us with great
disfavour. The descent of the pan, whether by innocent accident or the approach of a
burglar, might throw our little boy into a fit, to say nothing of the terrible fright it would
give my Aunt Martha, who was a maiden lady of middle age, and not accustomed to a
clatter in the night. A bull-dog in the house my wife would not have, nor, indeed, a dog of
any kind. George William was not yet old enough to play with dogs, especially a sharp
one; and if the dog was not sharp it was of no use to have him in the house. To the
ordinary burglar-alarm she strongly objected. She had been in houses where these things
went off of their own accord, occasioning great consternation; and, besides, she said that
if thieves got into the house she did not want to know it and she did not want me to know
it; the quicker they found what they came for and went away with it the better. Of course,
she wished them kept out, if such a thing were possible; but if they did get in, our duty as
parents of the dearest little boy was non-interference. She insisted, however, that the
room in which the loveliest of children slept, and which was also occupied by ourselves,
should be made absolutely burglar proof; and this object, by means of extraordinary bolts
and chains, I flattered myself I accomplished. My Aunt Martha had a patent contrivance
for fastening a door that she always used, whether at home or travelling, and in whose
merit she placed implicit confidence. Therefore we did not feel it necessary to be anxious