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|A Little Princess||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
The Diamond Mines Again
|Page 4 of 13||
"It's all very well to suppose things if you have everything," said Lavinia. "Could you suppose and pretend if you were a beggar and lived in a garret?"
Sara stopped arranging the Last Doll's ostrich plumes, and looked thoughtful.
"I BELIEVE I could," she said. "If one was a beggar, one would have to suppose and pretend all the time. But it mightn't be easy."
She often thought afterward how strange it was that just as she had finished saying this--just at that very moment--Miss Amelia came into the room.
"Sara," she said, "your papa's solicitor, Mr. Barrow, has called to see Miss Minchin, and, as she must talk to him alone and the refreshments are laid in her parlor, you had all better come and have your feast now, so that my sister can have her interview here in the schoolroom."
Refreshments were not likely to be disdained at any hour, and many pairs of eyes gleamed. Miss Amelia arranged the procession into decorum, and then, with Sara at her side heading it, she led it away, leaving the Last Doll sitting upon a chair with the glories of her wardrobe scattered about her; dresses and coats hung upon chair backs, piles of lace-frilled petticoats lying upon their seats.
Becky, who was not expected to partake of refreshments, had the indiscretion to linger a moment to look at these beauties-- it really was an indiscretion.
"Go back to your work, Becky," Miss Amelia had said; but she had stopped to pick up reverently first a muff and then a coat, and while she stood looking at them adoringly, she heard Miss Minchin upon the threshold, and, being smitten with terror at the thought of being accused of taking liberties, she rashly darted under the table, which hid her by its tablecloth.
Miss Minchin came into the room, accompanied by a sharp-featured, dry little gentleman, who looked rather disturbed. Miss Minchin herself also looked rather disturbed, it must be admitted, and she gazed at the dry little gentleman with an irritated and puzzled expression.
She sat down with stiff dignity, and waved him to a chair.
"Pray, be seated, Mr. Barrow," she said.
Mr. Barrow did not sit down at once. His attention seemed attracted by the Last Doll and the things which surrounded her. He settled his eyeglasses and looked at them in nervous disapproval. The Last Doll herself did not seem to mind this in the least. She merely sat upright and returned his gaze indifferently.
"A hundred pounds," Mr. Barrow remarked succinctly. "All expensive material, and made at a Parisian modiste's. He spent money lavishly enough, that young man."
Miss Minchin felt offended. This seemed to be a disparagement of her best patron and was a liberty.
Even solicitors had no right to take liberties.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Barrow," she said stiffly. "I do not understand."
"Birthday presents," said Mr. Barrow in the same critical manner, "to a child eleven years old! Mad extravagance, I call it."
Miss Minchin drew herself up still more rigidly.
"Captain Crewe is a man of fortune," she said. "The diamond mines alone--"
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|A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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