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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSue, A Little Heroine - Chapter 28. Cinderella Would Shield The Real Thief
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Sue, A Little Heroine - Chapter 28. Cinderella Would Shield The Real Thief Post by :noniman Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :2762

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Sue, A Little Heroine - Chapter 28. Cinderella Would Shield The Real Thief


After one of these interviews Pickles went home and consulted Sue.

"Cinderella," he said, "am I to act as yer prince or not?"

"I dunno wot hever yer means, Pickles."

"Well, my beauty, 'tis jest this--the Prince rescued Cinderella from her cruel sisters, and I want ter rescue you from the arms of justice. You has a wery shameful accusation hanging over you, Cinderella; you is, in short, hiding from the law. I can set yer free. Shall I?"

Sue's plump face had grown quite thin during the anxieties of the past month, and now it scarcely lighted up as she answered Pickles:

"I want ter be set free, but I don't want ter be set free in your way."

"'Tis the only way, Cinderella. The man, Peter Harris, is the guilty party. He tuk that 'ere locket; he put it in yer pocket. I don't know how he did it, nor why he did it, but I do know that no one else did it. I have jest come from him, and lor' bless yer! I have had him on the torture hooks. I made-b'lieve as you were to be tried next week, and I axed him to come to the trial. I could a'most see him shivering at the bare thought, but fur hall that he did not dare but say he'd come. Now, Cinderella, ef you were to allow me to manage it, and I wer to get you and he face to face, why, he'd jest have to confess. I'd have a couple o' witnesses handy, and we'd write it down wot he said, and you'd be set free. I'd manage so to terrify him aforehand that he'd have ter confess----"

"And then he'd be put in prison?" said Sue.

"Why, in course; and well he'd deserve it. He's the right party to go, fur he's guilty. Yes, shameful guilty, too."

"He couldn't manage to run away and escape afterwards?"

Pickles laughed. "You think as I'd help him, maybe. Not a bit o' me! I don't harbor no guilty parties, Cinderella, as I ha' told yer heaps and heaps o' times. No, he's guilty, and he goes ter prison; there ain't nothink hard in sending him ter prison."

"It ha' seemed ter me often lately, Pickles, as it must be harder to lie in prison guilty than not guilty--you ha'nt, nothink ter trouble yer mind ef yer ain't guilty."

"Well then, I s'pose, in that case, as yer'll give yerself hup."

"I'd a deal rayther be in hiding with yer, Pickles; but I don't feel as ef I _could put Mr. Harris in prison."

"Then you must go yerself, fur this thing can't go on fur ever."

Sue looked frightened, and her commonplace gray eyes fell to the ground. She took up the poker and began to trace a pattern on the floor: it was as intricate as her own fate just now. She was a little heroine, however, and her noble thoughts redeemed all plainness from her face when at last she spoke:

"Once, Pickles, arter mother died we was brought down wery low. I had a dreadful influenzy, and I couldn't nohow go to the machining, and we were near starving. Mr. Harris lent me a shilling that time, and we pulled through. Another time I couldn't meet the rent, and Connie, she begged of her father, and he give me the money; and when I offerd it him back again he wouldn't take it. He wor a rough man, but he had a kind heart. When I were last at home he wor in a real dreadful trouble about Connie--and I loved Connie better nor any one in hall the world, arter Giles. Pickles, it 'ud break Connie's heart fur her father to be tuk to prison. I don't know why he did that--ef he really did do it--but I can't furget those two times as he wor good ter me, and hever since I have come yere he have done heverything fur Giles. No, I couldn't send Mr. Harris to prison. I couldn't rest heasy ef I thought o' him sent there by me. I'd rayther lie there myself."

"Wery well, Cinderella; in course you've got ter choose, fur one or other of yer must go to prison, as it is against hall common-sense as you could stay hiding here fur ever. I hadmires yer rare consideration fur that hardened man, Peter Harris. I can't understand it--no, not the least bit in the world--but I hadmires it as I hadmires the top o' the big mountain wot I could never climb, but jest contemplate solemnly from below. I can understand better yer repugnance not to break the heart o' that purty Connie. Most plain women is hard on their more lucky sisters, and I hadmires you, Cinderella, fur rising superior to the wices of yer sex; but wot I can't hunderstand--wot puzzles me--is yer sad failure in sisterly love. There's that little brother; why, heven now he's pining hal to nothing to see yer. Don't yer think as it 'ull break _his heart ef yer is tuk ter prison? Why, ef yer could have seen him when he heerd me even hint at sech a thing! He said as he wished as he could knock me down."

The tears rapidly filled Sue's eyes. "Pickles," she said after a moment of thought, "'tis a wonderful, wonderful puzzlement ter me. I can't least of all break the heart of Giles. Giles wor left ter me by mother, and I promised as I'd allers tend him real faithful; but wot I 'as bin thinking is that ef yer must give me hup, and not hide me any longer, and I must be locked hup fur a time, that perhaps we might manage as Giles might still think as I wor in the country. Connie would be wery good ter him, and Mr. Harris would support him jest as well as I could have done. Giles, he's that innercent that he'd easily be made ter believe as I could not help going away. He knows nothink o' life, little Giles don't; he'd never, never guess as there were ought o' the prison 'bout me, and arter a time he'd get accustomed to doing widout me. I think, Pickles, we might manage so as not to break Giles's heart, and yet fur me to go ter prison."

"Then you really, really chooses to go ter prison, Cinderella?"

"I choose, Pickles, never to tell on Peter Harris--never, wot hever happens. I don't want ter go to prison--not one bit--but ef I can't stay hiding, why, I s'pose as I must."

"You can't stay hiding more than a day or two longer, Cinderella, and I thinks as ye're a great fool;" and Pickles walked out of the room in apparently high dudgeon.

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CHAPTER XXVII. DELAYED TRIALIt is quite true that Pickles had put on the torture screw. Harris felt exceedingly uncomfortable as he walked home. It was a fact, then, that Sue had been caught and put in prison. That disagreeable boy had seen it all; he had witnessed her rapid flight; he had heard her protestations of innocence; he had seen her carried off to prison. Sue, so good and brave and honest, would be convicted of theft and would have to bear the penalty of theft--of another's theft, not her own. What a foolish girl she had been to run away!