In the abandoned streets of London, young Eliot ran in the shadows. It was the year 1912.  Thieves were about and were known to steal at midnight.

But Eliot was never safe. Last week he was caught by some guards for stealing a loaf of bread.  He escaped with a bad knife wound and his face on a wanted poster.

Eliot was homeless and an orphan.  He had spent the last two nights sleeping under the London Bridge.

Suddenly he was knocked to the ground. Somebody had fallen on top of him. Eliot tried to push the man off but he was pinned. ‘’Move and you’re dead’’ a rough voice said.

Eliot was silent and still, until suddenly, the man moved away from him.  The man reached into his vest and pulled out a knife.  Another voice said “Leave the boy. He’ll be arrested soon anyway.”

A far-away voice yelled, “Stop! Thieves!” and the men left him.

As he pushed off the ground his fingers brushed something cold, and he stuffed it in his pocket and began to run.  He ran as fast as he could until he was back at his bridge hideout.

Eliot pulled out the object he found. It was a silver pocket watch with a diamond in the center of the watch face.

‘’This must be what they stole!’’ Eliot said, admiring the watch. He slipped the watch in his pocket and curled up against the bricks, falling into a silent slumber.

Eliot  awoke to the sound of hooves banging on cement and knew it was time to move.  He jumped up and ran over the cobblestone street to the market,  looking for something to eat. His eyes wandered until they stopped at the bakery door.  Warm crumpets and chocolate tea cakes were sitting outside to cool. Eliot walked over, looking about, and was about to reach for a cake when a frail voice called out.

‘ I could buy those you know.’’

Eliot slowly turned around and was face to face with a  girl  with long hair about Eliot’s age.  ‘’I could buy those you know,’’ she repeated.

“Yes, please,’’ he whispered.

‘’Why would you even steal?” the girl asked, pulling out her purse to pay for a bottle of milk and two cakes. “Do you have money?

Eliot shook his head and took the cakes. ‘’Thank you,’’ he said.

They sat and ate.

Eliot heard a noise nearby.

“You lost it,” a familiar gruff voice said. It was the men from the night before.

Eliot grabbed the girl’s hand.  “We must go…” he said, realizing he didn’t know her name.

“Bethane…I’m Bethane.  But why must we….”

He pulled her through the market until they were safely beneath the bridge.

‘’Look at this’’ he said and pulled out the pocket watch. Bethane took the watch and opened it carefully.

“ You stole this,‘’ Bethane said, standing up, and placed it in her purse.

“No, I didn’t….I found it.”

“Liar!” she said, turning away from him. “This is the queen’s.”

“I found it…two men knocked me down last night and when I got up, there it was.”

Bethane looked at him sadly. How could this boy have stolen the watch?

“Come with me,” she said, reaching for his hand.

They ran until they were at the entrance to the palace.

“Let us in.  We have something that belongs to the queen,” Bethane said, kicking at the gate.

Two policemen nearby spotted Eliot and turned in his direction.

‘’We’ve been trying to catch this thief for a month!’’ one said, grabbing Eliot’s arm. Eliot tried to break free but it was no use, they were so strong.

‘’He  found the watch, you should be kissing his shoes right now’’ Bethane said, irritated, as she pulled the watch from her purse.

The police loosened their grip.

“If you didn’t steal it, then who did?”

Eliot told the story of the two men.  The police let go of Eliot,  disappointed, and snatched the watch out of Bethane’s hands.

‘The queen will be grateful,” a palace guard said. “An award will be given to both of you.”

Bethane looked at Eliot.  “Perhaps instead of a reward, there might be a job for my friend.”

That day, Eliot became the apprentice timekeeper for the palace.  His job was making sure all the palace clocks were clean and running. Even the pocket watch.

 

About Tess Dornan

Tess Dornan loves reading and playing the guitar. She is a student at North Rockford Middle School and is going into the seventh grade. Tess has also been playing lacrosse for Rockford for two years.   Her favorite book is “Divergent” by Veronica Roth.