Little Prudy cover


by Sophie May
[pseud. of Rebecca Sophia Clarke]
1864; rpt. Chicago, M. A. Donohue, n.d.

Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her 19th-Century Girls' Series website; please do not use on other sites without permission



I AM going to tell yon something about a little girl who was always saying and doing funny things, and very often getting into trouble.

Her name was Prudy Parlin, and she and her sister Susy, three years older, lived in Portland, in the State of Maine, though every summer they went to Willowbrook, to visit their grandmother.

At the very first of our story, Susy was more than six years old, and Prudy was between three and four. Susy could sew quite well for a girl of her age, and had a stint every day. Prudy always thought it very fine to do just as Susy did, so she teased her mother to let her have some patchwork, too, and Mrs. Parlin gave her a few calico pieces, just to keep her little fingers out of mischief.

But when the squares were basted together, she broke needles, pricked her fingers, and made a great fuss; sometimes crying, and wishing there were no such thing as patchwork.

One morning she sat in her rocking-chair, doing what she thought was a "stint." She kept running to her mother with every stitch, saying, "Will that do?" Her mother was very busy, and said, "My little daughter must not come to me." So Prudy sat down near the door, and began to sew with all her might; but soon her little baby sister came along, looking so cunning that Prudy dropped her needle, and went to bugging her. '

"0, little sister," cried she, "I wouldn't have a horse come and eat you up for anything in the world!"

After this of course her mother had to get another needle and then thread it for her. She went to sewing again till she pricked her finger and the sight of the wee drop of blood made her cry.

"0 dear! I wish somebody would pity me!" But her mother was so busy frying doughnuts that she could not stop to talk much; and the next thing she saw of Prudy she was at the farther end of the room while her patchwork lay on the spice box.

"Prudy, Prudy, what are you up to now?"

"Up to the table" said Prudy. "0, mother, I'm so sorry, but I've broke a crack in the pitcher!"

"What will mamma do with you? You haven't finished your stint—what made you get out of your chair?"

"0, I thought grandma might want me to get her speckles. I thought I would go and find Zip too. See, mamma, he's so tickled to see me he shakes all over—every bit of him!"

"Where's your patchwork?"

"I don't know. You've got a double name, haven't you, doggie? It's Zip Coon, but it isn't a very double name,— is it, mother?"

When Mrs. Parlin had finished her doughnuts, she said, "Pussy, you can't keep still two minutes. Now, if you want to sew this patchwork for grand- ma's quilt, I'll tell you what I shall do. There's an empty hogshead in the back kitchen, and I'll lift you into that, and you can't climb out. I'll lift you out when your stint is done."

"0, what a funny little house," said Prudy, when she was inside; and as she spoke, her voice startled her—it was so loud and hollow. "I'll talk some more," thought she, "it makes such a queer noise.—'Old Mrs. Hogshead, I thought I'd come and see you, and bring my work. I like your house, ma'am, only I should think you'd want some windows. I s 'pose you know who I am, Mrs. Hogshead? My name is Prudy. My mother didn't put me in here because I was a naughty girl, for I haven't done nothing—nor nothing—nor nothing. Do you want to hear some singing?
'0, come, come away,
From labor now reposin'; 
Let busy Caro, wife of Barrow, 
Come, come away! ' " 
"Prudy, what's the matter?" said mamma, from the next room.

" Didn't you hear somebody singing?" said Prudy; "well, 'twas me."

"0, I was afraid you were crying, my dear. '"

"Then I'll stop," said the child. "Now, Mrs. Hogshead, you won't hear me singing any more,—it mortifies my mother very much."

So Prudy made her fingers fly, and soon said, "Now, mamma, I've got it done, and I'm ready to be took out!"

Just, then her father came into the house. "Prudy's in the hogshead," said Mrs. Parlin. "Won't you please lift her out, father ? I've got baby in my arms. "

Mr. Parlin peeped into the hogshead. "How in this world did you ever get in here, child? "said he. " I think I'll have to take you out with a pair of tongs. "

Prudy laughed.

"Give me your hands," said papa. "Up she comes! Now, come sit on my knee," added he, when they had gone into the parlor, "and tell me how you climbed into that hogshead."

"Mother dropped me in, and I'm going to stay there till I make a bedquilt, only I 'm coming out to eat, you know. "

Mr. Parlin laughed; but just then the dinner bell rang, and when they went to the table, Prudy was soon so busy with her roasted chicken and custard pie that she forgot all about the patchwork.



PRUDY soon tired of sewing, and her mother said, laughing, "If grandma Read has to wait for somebody's little fingers before she gets a bedquilt, poor grandma will sleep very cold indeed."

The calico pieces went into the rag- bag and that was the last of Prudy's patchwork.

One day the children wanted to go and play in the "new house," which was not quite done. Mrs. Parlin was almost afraid little Prudy might get hurt, for there were a great many loose boards and tools lying about, and the carpenters, who were at work on the house, had all gone away to see some soldiers.

But at last she said they might go if Susy would be very careful of her little sister.

I dare say Susy meant to watch Prudy with great care, but after a while she got to thinking of something else. The little one wanted to play "catch," but Susy saw a great deal more sport in building block houses.

"Now I know ever so much more than you do," said Susy. "I used to wash dishes and scour knives when I was four years old, and that was the time I learned you to walk, Prudy; so you ought to play with me and be goody."

"Then I will; but them blocks is too big, Susy. If I had a axe I'd chop 'em: I'll go get a axe." Little Prudy trotted off and Susy never looked up from her play, and did not notice that she was gone a long while.

By and by Mrs. Parlin thought she would go and see what the children were doing; so she put on her bonnet and went over to the "new house." Susy was still busy with her blocks, but she looked up at the sound of her mother's footsteps.

"Where is Prudy?" said Mrs. Parlin, glancing around.

"I'm 'most up to heaven," cried a little voice overhead.

They looked, and what did they see? Prudy herself standing on the highest beam of the house! She had climbed three ladders to get there. Her mother had heard her say the day before that "she didn't want to shut up her eyes and die, and be all deaded up—she meant to have her hands and face clean, and go up to heaven on a ladder."

"0," thought the poor mother, "she is surely on the way to heaven, for she can never get down alive. My darling, my darling!"

Poor Susy's first thought was to call out to Prudy, but her mother gave her one warning glance, and that was enough: Susy neither spoke nor stirred. Mrs. Parlin stood looking up at her— stood as white and still as if she had been frozen! Her trembling lips moved a little, but it was in prayer; she knew that only God could save the precious one.

While she was begging Him to tell her what to do, a sudden thought flashed across her mind. She dared not speak, lest the sound of her voice should startle the child; but she had a bunch of keys in her pocket, and she jingled the keys, holding them up as high as possible, that Prudy might see what they were.

When the little one heard the jingling, she looked down and smiled. "You goin' to let me have some cakes and 'serves in the china closet, me and Susy?"

Mrs. Parlin. smiled—such a smile! It was a great deal sadder than tears, though Prudy did not know that—she only knew that it meant "yes."

"0, then I'm coming right down, 'cause I like cake and 'serves. I won't go up to heaven till bime-by!"

Then she walked along the beam, and turned about to come down the ladders, Mrs. Parlin held her breath, and shut her eyes. She dared not look up, for she knew that if Prudy should take one false step, she must fall and be dashed in pieces!

But Prudy was not wise enough to fear anything. 0, no. She was only thinking very eagerly about, crimson jellies and fruit cake. She crept down the ladders without a thought of danger— no more afraid than a fly that creeps down the window-pane.

The air was so still that the sound of every step was plainly heard, as her little feet went pat,—pat,—on the ladder rounds. God was taking care of her,— yes, at length the last round was reached —she had got down—she was safe!

"Thank God!" cried Mrs. Parlin, as she held little Prudy close to her heart; while Susy jumped for joy, exclaiming,—

"We've got her! we've got her! O, ain't you so happy, mamma?"

"O, mamma, what you crying for?" said little Prudy, clinging about her neck. "Ain't I your little comfort?-- there, now, you know what you speaked about! You said you'd get some cake and verserves for me and Susy."

On to chapters 3-4

Back to main page