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Miss Terry rose and crossed two rooms to the front window, looking out upon the street. A flare of light almost blinded her eyes. Every window opposite her along the block, as far as she could see, was illuminated with a row of lighted candles across the sash. The soft, unusual glow threw into relief the pretty curtains and wreaths of green, and gave glimpses of cosy interiors and flitting happy figures.
"What a waste of candles!" scolded Miss Terry. "Folks are growing terribly extravagant."
The street was white with snow which had fallen a few hours earlier, piled in drifts along the curb of the little-traveled terrace. But the sidewalks were neatly shoveled and swept clean, as became the eminently respectable part of the city where Miss Terry lived. A long flight of steps, with iron railing at the side, led down from the front door, upon which a silver plate had for generations in decorous flourishes announced the name of Terry.
Miss Terry returned to the play box and drew out between thumb and finger the topmost toy. It happened to be a wooden box, with a wire hasp for fastening the cover. Half unconsciously she pressed the spring, and a hideous Jack-in-the-box sprang out to confront her with a squeak, a leering smile, and a red nose. Miss Terry eyed him with disfavor.
"I always did hate that thing," she said. "Tom was continually frightening me with it, I remember." As if to be rid of unwelcome memories she shut her mouth tight, even as she shut Jack back into his box, snapping the spring into place. "This will do to begin with," she thought. She crossed to the window, which she opened quickly, and tossed out the box, so that itfell squarely in the middle of the sidewalk. Then closing the window and turning down the lights in the room behind her, Miss Terry hid in the folds of the curtain and watched to see what would happen to Jack.
The street was quiet. Few persons passed on either side. At last she spied two little ragamuffins approaching. They seemed to be Jewish lads of the newsboy class, and they eyed the display of candles appraisingly. The smaller boy first caught sight of the box in the middle of the sidewalk.
"Hello! Wot's dis?" he grunted, making a dash upon it.
"Gee! Wot's up?" responded the other, who was instantly at his elbow.
"Gwan! Lemme look at it."
The smaller boy drew away and pressed the spring of the box eagerly. Ping! Out popped the Jack into his astonished face; whereupon he set up a guffaw.
"Give it here!" commanded the bigger boy.
"Naw! You let it alone! It's mine!" asserted the other, edging away along the curbstone. "I saw it first. You can't have it."
"Give it here. I saw it first myself. Hand it over, or I'll smash you!"
The bigger boy advanced threateningly.
"I won't!" the other whimpered, clasping the box tightly under his jacket.
He started to run, but the bigger fellow was too quick for him. He pounced across the sidewalk, and soon the twain were struggling in the snowdrift, pummeling one another with might and main.