SUSY felt as if she had been sadly to blame, and for a long time was very watchful of her little sister.

"Your name is Susy," said the child; and your middle name is 'Sister Susy, and you take the care o' me!"

"No, I don't," thought Susy to herself. "If I had taken any care of you at all, you wouldn't have climbed those ladders."

When Prudy was four years old, she teased to go to school, and her mother decided to let her go until she grew tired of it.

" 0, dear!" sighed Susy, the first day she took her; "she'll talk out loud, I just about know she will, she's such a little chatter-box."

"Poh; no I shan't," said Prudy. "I ain't a checker-box, Susy Parlin; but you are! I shan't talk in school, nor I shan't whisper, never in my world!"

When they got home that night, Mrs. Parlin asked if Prudy had whispered in school.

"No, ma'am. I never done such a thing—I guess. Did I, Susy? How much I didn't talk to you, don't you know?"

"0, she was pretty good, mother," said Susy; "but she cried once so I had to go out with her."

"Now, Susy Parlin, you told me to cry! She did, mamma. She said if I'd cry she'd give me a piece of her doughnut."

Susy blushed; and her mother looked at her, and said, "I would like to see you alone a little while, Susy."

Then Mrs. Parlin had a talk with Susy in the parlor, and told her how wrong it was to deceive, and how she must take the care of her little sister, and set her good examples.

Susy said she would do as well as she. could.

"But, mamma, if you are willing, I'd rather not sit with Prudy, now, certainly. She says such queer things. Why, to-day she said she had grandma's rheumatism in her back, and wanted me to look at her tongue and see if she hadn't. Why, mother, as true as I live, she shut up her eyes and put out her tongue right there in school, and of course we girls couldn't help laughing!"

"Well, perhaps she'd better sit by herself," replied Mrs. Parlin, smiling. " I will speak to the teacher about her carrying her knitting-work—that may keep her out of mischief."

Now it happened that grandma Read had taken a great deal of pains to teach Prudy to knit;—but such a piece of work as the child made of it!

The first time she carried the thing which she supposed was going to be a stocking, the A B C scholars looked very much surprised, for none of them knew how to knit.

Prudy said, "Poh, I know how to do it just as easy!"

But in trying to show them how smart she could be, she knit so fast that she dropped a stitch every other moment.

"There, now, you are dropping stitches like every thing," said Lottie Palmer, very much pleased. "I guess I know how to do that!"

"Poh, them's nothing but the loops," said Prudy.

But it was not long before she broke the yarn short off, and got her work into such a fix that she had to take it home and ask grandma to "fix it out."

"Why, child, where's the ball?" said her grandmother. "And here's two needles gone!"

"0, I left 'em to school, I s 'pose," said Prudy. "I 'm sure I never noticed 'em. ' '

"I found the ball under the teacher's desk once," said Susy.

"Well, 'tain't there now," replied Prudy; "it's all wounded now, and I put it where it belongs."

"Where's that?" asked grandma, laughing.

"Well, I don't know," answered Prudy, trying to think; "but I guess it's somewhere."

Mrs. Parlin began to think it was a foolish plan to let Prudy take her knitting-work. I was going to mention something she did the last day she carried it. She got tired of knitting, tired of twisting her pretty curls round her finger, and tired of looking at pictures.

"Let's guess riddles," she whispered to Nancy Clover, who sat on the bench beside her. "I can make up riddles just as easy! There's something in this room, in Miss Parker's watch-pocket, goes tick— tick. Now guess that:— that's a riddle."

"I wish you'd behave, Prudy Parlin," said Nancy. "Here I am trying to get my spelling lesson."

Then Nancy turned her head a little to one side, and went on studying as hard as she could, for it was almost time for her class to be called.

All at once Prudy happened to look at Nancy's ear, and thought, "What funny little holes folks have in their ears! I s 'pose they go clear through. I guess I'll put my knitting-needle right through Nannie's ear while she's a-studyin'. The needle will look so funny stickin' out at the other end!"

So Prudy was very sly about it, and said not a word, hut began to push in the needle with all her might.

0, such sharp screams as Nannie gave! The teacher was frightened; but when she found that Nannie was not so very badly hurt after all, she felt easier about her, and began to talk to little Prudy, asking her "why she didn't sit still, like a lady, and mind?" Prudy began to cry. "I was a-mindin'," said she; "of course I was. I never knew 'twas a-going to hurt her."

Miss Parker smiled, and said, "Well, you needn't bring that knitting-work here any more. The next thing we should have somebody's eyes put out."

When Miss Parker called out the next class in- spelling, Nannie sat with her head down, feeling very cross. "I don't like you, Prudy," said she. "You 'most killed me! I'll pay you for this, now you see! "

Miss Parker had to call Nannie by name before she would go to her class. She was three or four years older than Prudy, and ought to have known better than to be angry with such a little child. She should have forgotten all about it: that would have been the best way. But instead of that, she kept thinking,—

"Oh, how that knitting-needle did hurt! Prudy ought to be ashamed! I'll pay her for it, now you see!"

You may be sure Prudy did not worry her little brains about it at all.

Her mother was brushing her hair next morning for school, and Mr. Parlin said,—

"Don't you think she's too little to go to school, mother? I don't care about her learning to read yet awhile."

Mrs. Parlin smiled in a droll way. "I should be very sorry myself to have Prudy learn to read," replied she; "but she won't keep still long enough: you needn't be a bit afraid."

"Look here, Prudy," exclaimed Mr. Parlin, "can you spell any words?"

"Poh! yes, sir, I guess I can," replied Prudy, her eyes looking very bright, "I can spell 'most all there is to spell."

" 0, ho," laughed Mr. Parlin. " Let's hear you spell your own name. Can't do it, can you?"

"Poh! yes I can! That ain't nothin'. Pre-ed, Prood Pre-i-eddy, Prudy. There!"

"Bravo!" cried papa. "You're getting ahead, I declare! Now can you spell Susy's name?"

"Spell Susy? Why, I can do it just as easy!" replied Prudy, her eyes shining very bright indeed. "C-ez, Sooz, C-i-ezzy, Susy. There! Can't I spell?"

"Why, I should think you could," said papa, laughing. "I can't begin to spell the way you do. Now can you spell Cat?"

"Cat? Cat?" repeated Prudy, looking puzzled. "Well, I guess I've forgot how to spell cat. But I can spell Kitty. You just hear! Kee-et, kit, kee-i-etty, kitty! I can spell the big words the best."

"What think now?" said Mrs. Parlin. " The truth is, Prudy knew eight letters when she began to go to school, and now she knows but four. "

"Glad of it," returned Mr. Parlin. "Are you ready for school, little one?" And he held out his arms, saying,—
"And now, my own dear little girl,
There is no way but this—
Put your arms about my neck,
And give me one sweet kiss."

So Prudy hugged and kissed her father "just as hard." Then she and Susy trudged along to school, and they met Nancy Glover, who was carrying something in her apron.

"Mayn't I see what you've got?" said little Prudy.

"Not till I get ready," said Nancy. "Who stuck that knitting-needle into my ear?"

"You know she didn't mean to," said Susy.

"I don't care," cried Nancy, "it hurt!"

Prudy felt very sorry. "I wish I hadn't hurt you, Nanny," said she, " 'cause I want to see what you've got in your apron."

"Well, I guess you'll see it soon enough. I brought it to school to purpose for you."

"0, did you? " cried the child. "How good you are, Nanny. I love you 'most as well as I do Susy."

When little Prudy spoke so sweetly, Nancy didn't know what to say; so she said nothing. They went into the schoolhouse and took their seats, Nancy keeping the corner of her apron rolled up all the while.

By and by, when Miss Parker was hearing the third class, Nancy whispered,—

"Look here, Prudy Parlin, you wanted to know what I had in my apron: shall I show you now?"

"0, goody!"

"Well, then," continued Nanny,—

"Open your month and shut your eyes,

And I'll give you something to make you wise! ' "

So Prudy opened her mouth as wide as it would go, and squeezed her eyelids together very hard.

Then what should Nancy do, but take out of her apron a wee bit of a toad, and drop it in Prudy's mouth! I can't see how she dared do such a thing; but she did it. She had found the toad in the street, and picked it up to frighten little Prudy.

The moment the toad was dropped on the child's tongue of course it began to hop. Prudy hopped too. She seized her tongue with one hand and the toad with the other, screaming at the top of her voice.

The scholars were all frightened to hear such a scream, and to see Prudy running out to the teacher so fast.

"Do tell me what ails you?" said Miss Parker.

By that time Prudy had got rid of the toad, and could speak.

"Oh, dear, dear, dear," cried she, "I didn't know it was a toad till it hopped right up!"

"A toad here in the house!" cried Miss Parker.

"No, ma 'am," said Prudy, trembling and sobbing. "It wasn't in the house,— it was in my mouth,—right here on my tongue."

Prudy showed Miss Parker her tongue. Miss Parker laughed, thinking her a very funny child.

"I've heard, before now, of little folks having frogs in their throats," said she. "Is that what you mean?"

"I guess so," sobbed Prudy. "And it was alive—just as alive as could be! 0, 0!—Nancy, she told me to shut up my eyes, you know, and I didn't see the toad till it hopped right up in my mouth,— and then I didn't see it! 0, 0!"

"Nancy, come here," said Miss Parker, sternly. "What have you been doing to this little child?"

Nancy came out, with her fingers in. her mouth, but did not speak.

"Answer me; did you drop a toad into Prudy's mouth ?"

"Yes," replied Nancy, sulkily; "but she stuck a knitting-needle into my ear fust!"

"For shame, you wicked child," said Miss Parker. "Take up that toad, Nancy, and carry it out of doors; then come to me, for I must punish you.

"Now, Prudy," added Miss Parker, "what do you think I ought to do to Nancy for being so naughty?"

"I don't know," answered Prudy, crying still. "I don't s 'pose my mother would be willing to have folks put toads in my mouth."

"But what do you think I ought to do to her?" said Miss Parker, smiling.

"Was you goin' to whip her?" asked Prudy, looking up through her tears.

"I think: I must, my child."

"Well, I hope you won't hurt her," said dear little Prudy. "Please to don't."

But Miss Parker struck Nancy with a piece of whalebone, and hurt her a good deal. It was the only way to make Nancy remember not to do such a cruel trick again.

When Prudy saw how much Nancy was hurt, it was more than her tender heart could bear. She ran up to Miss Parker, and caught hold of the skirt of her dress, hiding her head in it.

"0, Miss Parker!" said she, "I've got to cry. Nanny won't do so no more. The toad was just as alive as could be, but it never bit a bit! 0, won't you please to don't!"



THIS was about the last of Prudy's going to school. In the first place she was very tired of it, in the second place it was vacation, and in the third place the whole family were going to Willowbrook on a visit.

It was very pleasant at grandpa Parlin's at any time. Such a stout swing in the big oil-nut tree! Such a beautiful garden, with a summer-house in it! Such a nice cosy seat in the trees! So many "cubby holes" all about to hide in!

But this summer I speak of was pleasanter than ever; for the Western cousins, Grace and Horace Clifford, had come from Indiana to visit their friends in Maine. The Parlin children had not seen them for two years; but Grace and Susy became fast friends in a very short time, while little Prudy was thrown one side for Horace to take care of when he could stop.

"0 dear suz," said she, one morning, "I'm so glad there happened to be a world, and God made me!"

"What, you here, Prudy?" said grandma Parlin. "What made you get up so early?"

"0, the flies waked me, I s 'pose. I was dreaming about my pignig. I thought I had it on top o' the trees."

"Ah, it's the day for Grace's party, sure enough," said her grandmother, sighing a little, and stirring faster at her drop-cake.

"You mean my party," said Prudy, dancing around the table. "The party b' longs to me. You didn't know that, did you?"

"You'd better go and talk to your aunt Madge," said grandma, "I'm busy."

"0," said Prudy, "I guess you ain't glad I got up. I tried to keep asleep, grandma, but the flies waked me."

Prudy was going out of the room, but turned and came back.

"Grandma," said she, "if you love me, why don't you hug me?"

"0, I can't stop, dear," said grandma, laughing; "we can't hug little girls all the time."

But she did it.

After a while Grace, and Horace, and Susy came down stairs, and then there was a great time. As soon as breakfast was over, kind aunt Madge promised to make out a list of the little folks to be invited.

"First of all," said she, "are you going to have boys and girls, or only girls?"

"0, we don't want any boys," said cousin Grace, tossing her head; "they race round, and act so."

"Of course we don't want 'em," said Susy. "I'd laugh if we'd got to have a lot of noisy boys."

"Poh! we don't want boys," echoed Prudy. "They are pickin' fusses all the time."

Cousin Horace stood by aunt Madge's chair, looking quite forlorn, but too proud to say a word.

"See here, Horace," said Grace, very grandly, "we think you'd better go a-strawberrying to-day."

"I reckon I won't if I don't want to," said Horace, working the flag out of his cap. He knew the girls thought he was almost always in the way.

"I want to tell you something, Horace," said aunt Madge, stroking his hair. "Mr. Allen is going out to North Pond with some other gentleman, fishing, and I begged him to let you go; and he said he would, though he wouldn't take the girls for any thing."

"There, girls," cried Horace, with beaming face. "Did Mr. Allen truly say so, auntie? Of course he wouldn't have girls go. If we caught a fish, how they would scream; wouldn't they, though?"

Horace darted off to find Mr. Allen, and so he was out of the girls' way.

"Now," said aunt Madge, smiling, "tell me what girls you want to ask, Grace."

So they gave several names—Grace and Susy—which Prudy repeated after them.

"But where is Abby Grant?" said aunt Madge. "Don't you want her?"

Grace and Susy looked at each other without speaking. Prudy looked at them.

"I don't go with such poor girls when I'm home," said Grace.

"Nor I don't," said Susy.

"Nor me neither," chimed in little Prudy, glad to know what to say.

Aunt Madge shook her curly head. "I guess you mustn't have a party," said she, "if you slight good little girls because they are poor. Why, I should ask her a great deal quicker, because it isn't often she has any thing nice to eat at home."

"So would I," said Grace, looking ashamed. "You may put her name down, auntie."

"Yes, put her name down, auntie," said Prudy.

Such a time as there was to get ready for that party! Aunt Madge and aunt Louise worked with all their might, cooking nice things, and the children were too happy to keep still. Susy's mother had gone back to Portland.

When the first little girl arrived, Grace and Susy hadn't the slightest idea what to do with her, and aunt Madge had to go in and set them to playing "Puss in the corner."

The next girl that came was Abby Grant.

"I s'posed ye wouldn't come," said Prudy. "We never asked you."

"Why, child," said Grace, blushing, "yes we did ask her, too."

"0, so we did," said foolish little Prudy. "We asked you, Abby, 'cause you don't get any thing nice to eat to your house!"

Grace didn't shake Prudy, only because she didn't dare to. In a few minutes all the little girls had come, and the whole party went into the front yard to play. Aunt Madge made believe she was a little girl, and played "Ring Round Rosy," " Catch," and "Button," as hard as any body. When they had played till they were all out of breath, aunt Louise sent them to the summer-house in the garden to rest, while she and aunt Madge set the table in the front yard. 0, the apple puffs, and lemon tarts, and little seed cakes, and frosted cake, and candy, looked so good to poor little Abby Grant! Then the raspberries, like red coral, and the white currants, like round pearls! Then the flowers, fresh from the garden!

The children sat on the double steps of the long piazza to eat their supper. They had plenty of room, and it was nice fun to peep round the great white pillars at their neighbors' plates, and whisper to one another, "I'm having a grand time, ain't you?" "What splendid cake!" ' 'Don't you wish you lived here?"

And the two aunties smiled and said to each other,—

"It is worth all our trouble to see these children so happy."

After the table was cleared away they sang several pieces, and Prudy's sweet little voice filled all the pauses with some funny little chorus of her own.

When the party broke up, the children were quite tired out, and glad to go to bed.

"Well," said Grace, as they went slowly upstairs, "didn't my picnic go off nicely?"

"Your pignig?" said Prudy; "why it b' longs to me! I had it myself."

"Hush," said Susy. "Cousin Grace came two thousand miles to see us, and grandma promised her this party, and she had it."

"There, now, Susy," said Prudy, much grieved, "I've got a cent, and I was goin' to buy you some shiny shoes, but now I shan't."

Grace and Susy could not help laughing, and poor tired little Prudy could not bear that.

"There," cried she, "don't you do that again! If you'll say 'twas my pignig, Susy Parlin, then I'll kiss you; but if you say it isn't, I won't speak to you again—never in my world!"

"Well, it wasn't your picnic—so there," said Susy.

Prudy settled her cheek to the pillow. "Susy Parlin," said she, drowsily, "I ain't a-goin' to speak to you again—till —you—say— 'twas—my—pig——"

But in the middle of a word Prudy made a mistake and dropped off to sleep.

On to chapter 5

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