Little old lady from cricket creek
The story takes place in southern California at the Great Riveroak Insurance Company. Mabel Jumpstone says she has moved from Cricket Creek, California, which is supposedly in the north, because of the terrible weather. The story is a little dated as there are no computers and all writing is done on manual typewriters but apart from that we can say it takes place in the present. – Characters: Mabel Jumpstone, Ralph Cummings (the narrator of the story) and Art Bowen.
Mabel Jumpstone is a sixty-five-year-old secretary. She is described as resembling an old gray mare the first time we meet her but she is extremely competent and proves to be a whiz at typing. She is hired despite her age and in a short time becomes the most popular employee at the insurance company. Ralph Cummings is the narrator of the story and we get an insight into everything that happens through him. He is one of the associates at the insurance company.
Art Bowen is the other associate at the insurance company and takes an active part in the interview and hiring of Mabel Jumpstone. – Plot: Mabel Jumpstone is hired to work in an insurance company, although she is sixty-five years old and a bit odd, because of her typing skills. This proves to be a good choice as she is extremely competent and soon becomes quite popular at work. She always brings a cake for everyone’s birthday and people begin bringing their problems to her.
After six months, however, she disappears after having robbed the company of $78,000. There is no trace of her as investigations show that her background was fictitious and she has never written anything by hand. This is certainly a surprise for the reader but we are even more surprised when it turns out the narrator is in on the duplicity. After having played the part of the duped insurance agent, he meets Mabel Jumpstone, who is his mother, and they share the loot.
The story is a humorous account of how easy it is to be deceived by appearances. To begin with, there is the hint of prejudice against hiring such an old employee whom they are sure will only be able to type ten words a minute. Mabel proves them wrong and after having gained their trust by playing the part of the innocent, little old lady, robs them blatantly. The fact that the narrator is also playing a part becomes clear only at the end of the story. Things are not what they appear to be at all in this story.