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|A Little Princess||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
|Page 3 of 15||
Sara stopped turning over the leaves and looked at her with an excited flush on her cheeks.
"Look here," she cried, "if you'll lend me these books, _I'll_ read them--and tell you everything that's in them afterward-- and I'll tell it so that you will remember it, too."
"Oh, goodness!" exclaimed Ermengarde. "Do you think you can?"
"I know I can," Sara answered. "The little ones always remember what I tell them."
"Sara," said Ermengarde, hope gleaming in her round face, "if you'll do that, and make me remember, I'll--I'll give you anything."
"I don't want you to give me anything," said Sara. "I want your books-- I want them!" And her eyes grew big, and her chest heaved.
"Take them, then," said Ermengarde. "I wish I wanted them-- but I don't. I'm not clever, and my father is, and he thinks I ought to be."
Sara was opening one book after the other. "What are you going to tell your father?" she asked, a slight doubt dawning in her mind.
"Oh, he needn't know," answered Ermengarde. "He'll think I've read them."
Sara put down her book and shook her head slowly. "That's almost like telling lies," she said. "And lies--well, you see, they are not only wicked--they're VULGAR>. Sometimes"--reflectively--"I've thought perhaps I might do something wicked--I might suddenly fly into a rage and kill Miss Minchin, you know, when she was ill-treating me--but I COULDN'T be vulgar. Why can't you tell your father _I_ read them?"
"He wants me to read them," said Ermengarde, a little discouraged by this unexpected turn of affairs.
"He wants you to know what is in them," said Sara. "And if I can tell it to you in an easy way and make you remember it, I should think he would like that."
"He'll like it if I learn anything in ANY way," said rueful Ermengarde. "You would if you were my father."
"It's not your fault that--" began Sara. She pulled herself up and stopped rather suddenly. She had been going to say, "It's not your fault that you are stupid."
"That what?" Ermengarde asked.
"That you can't learn things quickly," amended Sara. "If you can't, you can't. If I can--why, I can; that's all."
She always felt very tender of Ermengarde, and tried not to let her feel too strongly the difference between being able to learn anything at once, and not being able to learn anything at all. As she looked at her plump face, one of her wise, old-fashioned thoughts came to her.
"Perhaps," she said, "to be able to learn things quickly isn't everything. To be kind is worth a great deal to other people. If Miss Minchin knew everything on earth and was like what she is now, she'd still be a detestable thing, and everybody would hate her. Lots of clever people have done harm and have been wicked. Look at Robespierre--"
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|A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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