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HOME > Children's Novel > Little Prudy's Sister Susy > CHAPTER X. RUTHIE TURNER.
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 "The darkest day, Wait till to-morrow, will have passed away."
The next morning, Susy woke with a faint recollection that something unpleasant had occurred, though she could not at first remember what it was.
"But I didn't do anything wrong," was her second thought. "Now, after I say my prayers, the next thing I'll feed—O, Dandy is dead!"
"See here, Susy," said Percy, coming into the dining-room, just after breakfast; "did you ever see this cage before?"
"Now, Percy! When you know I want it out of my sight!"
Then, in the next breath, "Why, Percy Eastman, if here isn't your beautiful mocking-bird in the cage!"
"Yes, Susy; and if you'll keep him, and be good to him, you'll do me a great favor."
It was a long while before Susy could be persuaded that this rare bird was to be her "ownest own." It was a wonderfully gifted little creature. Susy could but own that he was just as good as a canary, only a great deal better. "The greater included the less." He had as sweet a voice, and a vast deal more compass. His powers of mimicry1 were very amusing to poor little Prudy, who was never tired of hearing him mew like a kitten, quack2 like a duck, or whistle like a schoolboy.
Susy was still more delighted than Prudy. It was so comforting, too, to know that she was doing Percy "a great favor," by accepting his beautiful present. She wondered in her own mind how he could be tired of such an interesting pet, and asked her to take it, just to get rid of it!
About this time, Mr. Parlin bought for Prudy a little armed-chair, which rolled about the floor on wheels. This Prudy herself could propel with only the outlay3 of a very little strength; but there were days when she did not care to sit in it at all. Prudy seemed to grow worse. The doctor was hopeful, very hopeful; but Mrs. Parlin was not.
Prudy's dimpled hands had grown so thin, that you could trace the winding4 path of every blue vein5 quite distinctly. Her eyes were large and mournful, and seemed to be always asking for pity. She grew quiet and patient—"painfully patient," her father said. Indeed, Mr. Parlin, as well as his wife, feared the little sufferer was ripening6 for heaven.
"Mamma," said she, one day, "mamma, you never snip7 my fingers any nowadays do you? When I'm just as naughty, you never snip my fingers!"
Mrs. Parlin turned her face away. There were tears in her eyes, and she did not like to look at those little white fingers, which she was almost afraid would never have the natural, childish naughtiness in them any more.
"I think sick and patient little girls don't need punishing," said she, after a while. "Do you remember how you used to think I snipped8 your hands to 'get the naughty out?' You thought the naughty was all in your little hands!"
"But it wasn't, mamma," said Prudy, slowly and solemnly. "I know where it was: it was in my heart."
"Who can take the naughty out of our hearts, dear? Do you ever think?"
"Our Father in heaven. No one else can. He knows how to snip our hearts, and get the naughty out. Sometimes he sends the earache9 and the toothache to Susy, and the—the—lameness10 to me. O, he has a great many ways of snipping11!"
Prudy was showing the angel-side of her nature now. Suffering was "making her perfect." She had a firm belief that God knew all about it, and that somehow or other it was "all right." Her mother took a great deal of pains to teach her this. She knew that no one can bear affliction with real cheerfulness who does not trust in God.
But there was now and then a bright day when Prudy felt quite buoyant, and wanted to play. Susy left everything then, and tried to amuse her. If this lameness was refining little Prudy, it was also making Susy more patient. She could not look at her little sister's pale face, and not be touched with pity.
One afternoon, Flossy Eastman and Ruthie Turner came to see Susy; and, as it was one of Prudy's best days, Mrs. Parlin said they might play in Prudy's sitting-room12. Ruthie was what Susy called an "old-fashioned little girl." She lived with a widowed mother, and had no brothers and sisters, so that she appeared much older than she really was. She liked to talk with grown people upon wise subjects, as if she were at least twenty-five years old. Susy knew that this was not good manners, and she longed to say so to Ruthie.
Aunt Madge was in Prudy's sitting-room when Ruthie entered. Ruthie went up to her and shook hands at once.
"I suppose it is Susy's aunt Madge," said she. "I am delighted to see you, for Susy says you love little girls, and know lots of games."
There was such a quiet composure in Ruth's manner, and she seemed to feel so perfectly13 at home in addressing a young lady she had never seen before, that Miss Parlin was quite astonished, as well as a little inclined to smile.
Then Ruthie went on to talk about the war. Susy listened in mute despair, for she did not know anything about politics. Aunt Madge looked at Susy's face, and felt amused, for Ruthie knew nothing about politics either: she was as ignorant as Susy. She had only heard her mother and other ladies talking together. Ruthie answered all the purpose of a parrot hung up in a cage, for she caught and echoed everything that was said, not having much idea what it meant.
When aunt Madge heard Ruth laboring14 away at long sentences, with hard words in them, she thought of little Dotty, as she had seen her, that morning, trying to tug15 Percy's huge dog up stairs in her arms.
"It is too much for her," thought aunt Madge: "the dog got the upper-hand of Dotty, and I think the big words are more than a match for Ruth."
But Ruth did not seem to know it, for she persevered16. She gravely asked aunt Madge if she approved of the "Mancimation of Proclapation." Then she said she and her mamma were very much "perplexed17" when news came of the last defeat. She would have said "surprised" only surprised was an every-day word, and not up to standard of elegant English.
Ruth was not so very silly, after all. It was only when she tried to talk of matters too old for her that she made herself ridiculous. She was very quiet and industrious18, and had knit several pairs of socks for the soldiers.
As soon as Miss Parlin could disentangle herself from her conversation with Ruthie, she left the children to themselves.
"Let's keep school," said Prudy. "I'll be teacher, if you want me to."
"Very well," replied Susy, "we'll let her; won't we, girls? she is such a darling."
"Well," said Prudy, with a look of immense satisfaction, "please go, Susy, and ask grandma if I may have one of those shiny, white handkerchiefs she wears on her neck, and a cap, and play Quaker."
Grandma was very glad that Prudy felt well enough to play Quaker, and lent her as much "costume" as she needed, as well as a pair of spectacles without eyes, which the children often borrowed for their plays, fancying that they added to the dignity of the wearer.
When Prudy was fairly equipped, she was a droll19 little Quakeress, surely, and grandma had to be called up from the kitchen to behold20 her with her own eyes. The little soft face, almost lost in the folds of the expansive cap, was every bit as solemn as if she had been, as aunt Madge said, "a hundred years old, and very old for her age."
She was really a sweet little likeness21 of grandma Read in miniature.
"And their names are alike, too," said Susy: "grandma's name is Prudence22, and so is Prudy's."
"Used to be," said Prudy, gravely.
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