A skillful pickpocket realized his great talent was going to waste in the small town where he was born, and so traveled to London, where his craft would have broader application.
He began at once to make a fine living, and so went alone at his business until the day he felt his own wallet lifted.
Turning to see who could have been so accomplished as to pick the master, he saw a pretty blond girl, a young woman, making her way through the crowd away from him, and knew at once it was she.
He immediately chased her down and proposed a marriage and a partnership.
“With talent such as ours, we could breed a whole new race of pickpockets!”
The young woman agreed with the brilliance of his plan, and they were soon married, and expecting a child.
When he was born, the baby was perfect in nearly every way, except that one of his hands was crumpled in against his chest, and nothing his distraught parents could do would cause the little arm to straighten properly.
“What shall we do?” his poor mother wept, knowing what a great disadvantage her son was now in, having only one good hand to pick with.
Her husband was more stout-hearted, and insisted, now that they were comfortably wealthy, on seeing every specialist in London.
Most simply turned them away, as soon as they saw how young the child was, but at last gold and pity opened the office of one kindly old gentleman doctor.
He poked and prodded the child, and could find nothing else wrong with him.
“How bright-eyed and alert he is for his age!” observed the doctor. He pulled his shiny pocket-watch from his vest, and began to dangle it above the infant’s withered reach. The boy’s eyes followed the movement intently.
Slowly, slowly, the clenched arm began to stretch toward the watch. And just before the tight fist reached the timepiece to touch it, the little hand popped open, and the midwife’s wedding-band fell from it.