Prudy Parlin, from "Sophie May"
Prudy Parlin and her sister Susy, three years older, lived
in Portland, in the State of Maine.
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 hugging her.
"O 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 her 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
"O 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. "O 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?"
"O, 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,
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 grandma'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."
"O, 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?
'O, 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
"Didn't you hear somebody singing?" said Prudy; "well,
't was me."
"O, 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
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."
"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
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.
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
"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."
"O," 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
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 cake 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."
"O, 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. O 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."