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|A Little Princess||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
|Page 5 of 6||
She sprang up and clutched at her cap. She felt it dangling over her ear, and tried wildly to put it straight. Oh, she had got herself into trouble now with a vengeance! To have impudently fallen asleep on such a young lady's chair! She would be turned out of doors without wages.
She made a sound like a big breathless sob.
"Oh, miss! Oh, miss!" she stuttered. "I arst yer pardon, miss! Oh, I do, miss!"
Sara jumped down, and came quite close to her.
"Don't be frightened," she said, quite as if she had been speaking to a little girl like herself. "It doesn't matter the least bit."
"I didn't go to do it, miss," protested Becky. "It was the warm fire--an' me bein' so tired. It--it WASN'T impertence!"
Sara broke into a friendly little laugh, and put her hand on her shoulder.
"You were tired," she said; "you could not help it. You are not really awake yet."
How poor Becky stared at her! In fact, she had never heard such a nice, friendly sound in anyone's voice before. She was used to being ordered about and scolded, and having her ears boxed. And this one--in her rose-colored dancing afternoon splendor-- was looking at her as if she were not a culprit at all--as if she had a right to be tired--even to fall asleep! The touch of the soft, slim little paw on her shoulder was the most amazing thing she had ever known.
"Ain't--ain't yer angry, miss?" she gasped. "Ain't yer goin' to tell the missus?"
"No," cried out Sara. "Of course I'm not."
The woeful fright in the coal-smutted face made her suddenly so sorry that she could scarcely bear it. One of her queer thoughts rushed into her mind. She put her hand against Becky's cheek.
"Why," she said, "we are just the same--I am only a little girl like you. It's just an accident that I am not you, and you are not me!"
Becky did not understand in the least. Her mind could not grasp such amazing thoughts, and "an accident" meant to her a calamity in which some one was run over or fell off a ladder and was carried to "the 'orspital."
"A' accident, miss," she fluttered respectfully. "Is it?"
"Yes," Sara answered, and she looked at her dreamily for a moment. But the next she spoke in a different tone. She realized that Becky did not know what she meant.
"Have you done your work?" she asked. "Dare you stay here a few minutes?"
Becky lost her breath again.
"Here, miss? Me?"
Sara ran to the door, opened it, and looked out and listened.
"No one is anywhere about," she explained. "If your bedrooms are finished, perhaps you might stay a tiny while. I thought-- perhaps--you might like a piece of cake."
The next ten minutes seemed to Becky like a sort of delirium. Sara opened a cupboard, and gave her a thick slice of cake. She seemed to rejoice when it was devoured in hungry bites. She talked and asked questions, and laughed until Becky's fears actually began to calm themselves, and she once or twice gathered boldness enough to ask a question or so herself, daring as she felt it to be.
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|A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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