by T.M. Riddle
There was nothing that Mary Francis hated more than cleaning out the chicken coup and collecting the eggs. Everyone else was still warm and sleeping in the house while she picked though the straw filled with droppings and held her breath against the smell. She made sure that she handled each egg so that it didn’t break. Any evidence of a broken or cracked shell and she would be the one without breakfast.
Mary looked down into the basket. She had only found three eggs. They always laid four. If she didn’t find it now, then she’d be looking for a rotten egg later. She thrust her hand back into the coup and began to rummage around. It had to be there somewhere. Then she grasped something that felt strange. It wasn’t warm; it was cool, and felt like glass. She closed her hand around it and drew it out just as the sun was beginning to rise. She opened her hand and the morning light glinted off the jewel she held. It looked like something she’d seen in the movies that she and Claire went to. She remembered something Father had read in the paper about a robbery and how she had thought she had heard someone running through the yard last night.
She dug her hand into the straw, greedy now and came up with two more jewels. She dropped them down into her rubber boots. She’d leave the ruby under Claire’s pillow before she caught the train.