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HOME > Children's Novel > Little Prudy's Sister Susy > CHAPTER IX. MORAL COURAGE.
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 Annie Lovejoy had not been gone fifteen minutes, when there was a sharp ringing of Mrs. Parlin's doorbell, and a little boy gave Norah the red scarf of Susy's, and a note for Mrs. Parlin.  
Norah suspected they both came from Mrs. Lovejoy, and she could see that lady from the opposite window, looking toward the house with a very defiant1 expression.
Mrs. Parlin opened the note with some surprise, for she had been engaged with visitors in the parlor2, and did not know what had been going on up stairs.
Whatever Mrs. Lovejoy's other accomplishments3 might be, she could not write very elegantly. The ink was hardly dry, and the words were badly blotted4, as well as incorrectly spelled.
"Mrs. Parlin.
"Madam: If my own doughter is a theif and a lier, I beg to be informed. She has no knowlidg of the cake, whitch was so dryed up, a begar woold not touch it. Will Miss Susan Parlin come over here, and take back her words?
Mrs. Parlin was at a loss to understand this, for she had quite forgotten the fact, that the children had any cake to use at their play of housekeeping. She supposed that Susy must have accused Annie of prying5 into the china-closet, where the cakes and jellies were kept. She sent for Susy at once.
"My daughter," said she, in her usual quiet tones, "did you ever have any reason to suppose that Annie Lovejoy went about meddling6 with our things, and peeping into the closets?"
"Why, no, mother," replied Susy, much surprised; "she never saw the closets, that I know of. Why, mother, what do you mean?"
"Never ate cake, did she, without leave?"
"O, now I know what you mean, mother! Yes'm, she ate some of that fruit-cake you gave us to play with; and when I told her of it, she got angry, and said she was going right home, and would tell her mother how I treated my company; but I don't see how you found that out!"
"Never mind yet how I found it out, my dear. I want to know if you are sure that Annie ate the cake?"
"Yes, mother: just as certain sure as I can be! You know Dotty can't reach that high shelf in the nursery-closet, and I can't, without getting into a chair; and Prudy can't walk a step; and Flossy despises cake."
"But," said Mrs. Parlin, smiling, "I don't see that you have proved Annie to be the guilty one."
"Guilty? O, I don't know as she is guilty, mamma; but she ate the cake! She ate it right before my face and eyes; but I told her it was just as well, she was perfectly7 welcome, and tried to be as polite as if she was a grown-up lady, mother. But, O, dear, it didn't make a speck8 of difference how much I said; for the more I said, the more angry she grew, and I couldn't make her believe I didn't think she was a thief and a liar9! Only think, a thief and a liar! But I never said those words at all, mother!"
"Very well, my dear; I am sure you did not. It is a great comfort to me, Susy, that I can always rely on your word. You have done nothing wrong, and need not be unhappy; but Mrs. Lovejoy sends for you to go over and tell her just what you mean about the cake; are you willing to go?"
Susy was not willing; indeed, she was very much frightened, and begged her mother to excuse her in some way to Mrs. Lovejoy, or, if that would not do, to go herself and explain the matter for her.
But, as it was Susy's own affair, Mrs. Parlin wished to have as little to do with it as possible. Besides, she considered it a good opportunity to teach Susy a lesson in moral courage.
Susy started very reluctantly.
"I'm afraid Mrs. Lovejoy will scold real sharp," said she. " What shall I do? O, mother, I didn't see Annie eat all the cake; I didn't watch. How do I know but she gave some crumbs10 to the cat? Can't I—can't I say, I guess the cat ate it?"
"Susy!" said Mrs. Parlin, sternly, "are you more afraid of displeasing11 Mrs. Lovejoy than you are of displeasing God? All that is required of you is the simple truth. Merely say to Annie's mother just what you have said to me; that you saw Annie eating cake several times, though there was no harm in it, and you did not call her either a thief or a liar. Speak respectfully, but decidedly; and when you have said all that is necessary, leave her politely, and come home."
Susy called up all her courage when she entered Mrs. Lovejoy's house, and saw that lady sitting very erect14 on a sofa, with a bleak15 face, which looked somehow as if a north-east wind had blown over it, and frozen it.
"Well, little girl," said she, without waiting for ceremony, "so you call my Annie all the bad names you can think of, it seems. Is that the way you are brought up?"
"I didn't call her names, ma'am; she ate the cake, but I was willing," replied Susy, calmly and respectfully, though she trembled from head to foot. There was one thought which sustained Susy; she was telling the truth, and that was just what God wanted her to do.
"Well," said Mrs. Lovejoy, "I must say you're a dignified16 little piece! Do you know you've done the same thing as to tell me I lie?"
This was just the way Annie had spoken; warping17 innocent words, and making them the occasion of a quarrel.
Susy could think of nothing which seemed exactly right to say to Mrs. Lovejoy in reply; so she wisely held her peace.
"Yes, miss, you've insulted my child, and, as if that were not enough, you come over here, deliberately18, and insult me, in my own house!"
Tears sprang to Susy's eyes, but she resolutely19 crushed them back. There was, in her childish mind, a certain sense of self-respect, which made her unwilling20 ............
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