Stopping in front of a big dry goods store, the boy hitched his horse and went in. The clerks were measuring out goods and showing patterns to the rows of customers in front of them, but everyone seemed suddenly to have become a statue.
There was something very unpleasant in this scene, and a cold shiver began to run up and down Jim's back; so he hurried out again.
On the edge of the sidewalk sat a poor, crippled beggar, holding out his hat, and beside him stood a prosperous-looking gentleman who was about to drop a penny into the beggar's hat. Jim knew this gentleman to be very rich but rather stingy, so he ventured to run his hand into the man's pocket and take out his purse, in which was a $20 gold piece. This glittering coin he put in the gentleman's fingers instead of the penny and then restored the purse to the rich man's pocket.
"That donation will surprise him when he comes to life," thought the boy.
He mounted the horse again and rode up the street. As he passed the shop of his friend, the butcher, he noticed several pieces of meat hanging outside.
"I'm afraid that meat'll spoil," he remarked.
"It takes Time to spoil meat," answered the old man.
This struck Jim as being queer, but true.
"It seems Time meddles with everything," said he.
"Yes; you've made a prisoner of the most important personage in the world," groaned the old man; "and you haven't enough sense to let him go again."
Jim did not reply, and soon they came to his uncle's house, where he again dismounted. The street was filled with teams and people, but all were motionless. His two little cousins were just coming out the gate on their way to school, with their books and slates underneath their arms; so Jim had to jump over the fence to avoid knocking them down.
In the front room sat his aunt, reading her Bible. She was just turning a page when Time stopped. In the dining-room was his uncle, finishing his luncheon. His mouth was open and his fork poised just before it, while his eyes were fixed upon the newspaper folded beside him. Jim helped himself to his uncle's pie, and while he ate it he walked out to his prisoner.
"There's one thing I don't understand," said he.
"What's that?" asked Father Time.
"Why is it that I'm able to move around while everyone else is--is--froze up?"
"That is because I'm your prisoner," answered the other. "You can do anything you wish with Time now. But unless you are careful you'll do something you will be sorry for."
Jim threw the crust of his pie at a bird that was suspended in the air, where it had been flying when Time stopped.
"Anyway," he laughed, "I'm living longer than anyone else. No one will ever be able to catch up with me again."
"Each life has its allotted span," said the old man. "When you have lived your proper time my scythe will mow you down."
"I forgot your scythe," said Jim, thoughtfully.
Then a spirit of mischief came into the boy's head, for he happened to think that the present opportunity to have fun would never occur again. He tied Father Time to his uncle's hitching post, that he might not escape, and then crossed the road to the corner grocery.
The grocer had scolded Jim that very morning for stepping into a basket of turnips by accident. So the boy went to the back end of the grocery and turned on the faucet of the molasses barrel.
"That'll make a nice mess when Time starts the molasses running all over the floor," said Jim, with a laugh.
A little further down the street was a barber shop, and sitting in the barber's chair Jim saw the man that all the boys declared was the "meanest man in town." He certainly did not like the boys and the boys knew it. The barber was in the act of shampooing this person when Time was captured. Jim ran to the drug store, and, getting a bottle of mucilage, he returned and poured it over the ruffled hair of the unpopular citizen.
"That'll probably surprise him when he wakes up," thought Jim.
Near by was the schoolhouse. Jim entered it and found that only a few of the pupils were assembled.