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HOME > Short Stories > Sue, A Little Heroine > CHAPTER XVI. PICKLES.
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 The lock-up to which the policeman wanted to convey Sue was at some little distance. With his hand on her shoulder, they walked along, the crowd still following. They turned down more than one by-street, and chose all the short cuts that Constable Z could remember. One of these happened to be a very narrow passage, and a place of decidedly ill repute. The policeman, however, still holding his terrified charge, walked down it, and the crowd followed after. In the very middle of this passage—for it was little more—they were met by a mob even greater than themselves. These people were shouting, vociferating, waving frantic hands, and all pointing upwards. The policeman raised his eyes and saw that the cause of this uproar was a house on fire. It was a very tall, narrow house, and all the top of it was completely enveloped in flames. From one window, from which escape seemed impossible—for the flames almost surrounded it—a man leaned out, imploring some one to save him. The height from the ground was too great for him to jump down, and no fire-escape was yet in sight.  
Policeman Z was as kind-hearted a man as ever lived. In the excitement of such a moment he absolutely forgot Sue. He rushed into the crowd, scattering them right and left, and sent those who had not absolutely lost their heads flying for the fire-escape and the engines. They all arrived soon after, and the man, who was the only person in the burning part of the house, was brought in safety to the ground.
In the midst of the shouting, eager crowd Sue stood, forgetting herself, as perhaps every one else there did also, in such intense excitement. Scarcely, however, had the rescued man reached the ground when she felt herself violently pulled from behind—indeed, not only pulled, but dragged so strongly that75 she almost lost her feet. She attempted to scream, but a hand was instantly placed over her mouth, and she found herself running helplessly, and against her will, down a narrow passage which flanked one side of the burning house; beyond this into a small backyard; then through another house into another yard; and so on until she entered a small, very dirty room. This room was full of unknown condiments in jars and pots, some queer stuffed figures in fancy-dresses, some wigs and curls of false hair, and several masks, false noses, etc., etc. Sue, entering this room, was pushed instantly into a large arm-chair, whereupon her captor came and stood before her. He was a lad of about her own size, and perhaps a year or two younger. He had a round, freckled face, the lightest blue eyes, and the reddest, most upright shock of hair she had ever seen. He put his arms akimbo and gazed hard at Sue, and so motionless became his perfectly round orbs that Sue thought he had been turned into stone. Suddenly, however, he winked, and said in a shrill, cheerful tone:
"Well, then, plucky 'un, 'ow does yer find yerself now?"
Not any number of shocks could quite deprive Sue of her common-sense. She had not an idea of what had become of her. Was this another and a rougher way of taking her to the lock-up? Was this queer boy friend or foe?
"Be yer agen me, boy?" she said.
"Agen yer! Well, the ingratitude! Ha'n't I jest rescued yer from the hands o' that 'ere nipper?"
"Oh!" exclaimed Sue; and the relieved tension of her poor, terrified little heart found vent in two big tears which rose to her eyes.
The red-haired boy balanced himself on one toe in order to survey those tears more carefully.
"Well," he said at length, in a tone in which there was a ludicrous mingling of wonder and contempt—"well, ye're a queer un fur a plucky un—a wery queer un. Crying! My eyes! Ain't yer hin luck not to be in prison, and ain't that a subject for rejoicing? I don't cry when I'm in luck; but then, thank goodness! I'm not a gel. Lor'! they're queer cattle, gels are—wery queer, the best o' 'em. But they're as they're made, poor things! We can't expect much from such weakness. But now look you here, you gel—look up at me, full and solemn in the face, and say if ye're hinnercent in the matter o' that 'ere locket. If yer can say quite solemn and straightforward as yer his innercent, why, I'll help yer; but if yer is guilty—and, mark me, I can tell by yer heyes ef ye're talking the truth—I can do naught, fur I'm never the party to harbor guilty folks. Now speak the truth, full and solemn; be yer hinnercent?"
Here the red-haired boy got down on his knees and brought his eyes within a few inches of Sue's eyes.
"Be yer hinnercent?" he repeated.
"Yes," answered Sue, "I'm quite, quite hinnercent; yer can believe me or not as yer pleases. I'm quite hinnercent, and I76 won't cry no more ef yer dislikes it. I wor never reckoned a cry-baby."
"Good!" said the boy; "I b'lieves yer. And now jest tell me the whole story. I come hup jest when the perleeceman and the pawnbroker were a-gripping yer. Lor'! I could a' twisted out o' their hands heasy enough; but then, to be thankful agen, I ain't a gel."
"There's no good twitting me wid being a gel," interrupted Sue; "gels have their use in creation same as boys, and I guess as they're often the pluckier o' the two."
"Gels pluckier! Well, I like that. However, I will say as you stood game. I guessed as you wor hinnercent then. And now jest tell me the story."
"It wor this way," began Sue, whose color and courage were beginning to return. Then she told her tale, suppre............
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