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|A Little Princess||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
"I Tried Not to Be"
|Page 3 of 8||
Sara was sitting on a footstool close to Mr. Carrisford's knee, and listening to some of the many things he felt it necessary to try to explain to her, when Ram Dass announced the visitor's arrival.
Sara rose involuntarily, and became rather pale; but Mr. Carrisford saw that she stood quietly, and showed none of the ordinary signs of child terror.
Miss Minchin entered the room with a sternly dignified manner. She was correctly and well dressed, and rigidly polite.
"I am sorry to disturb Mr. Carrisford," she said; "but I have explanations to make. I am Miss Minchin, the proprietress of the Young Ladies' Seminary next door."
The Indian gentleman looked at her for a moment in silent scrutiny. He was a man who had naturally a rather hot temper, and he did not wish it to get too much the better of him.
"So you are Miss Minchin?" he said.
"I am, sir."
"In that case," the Indian gentleman replied, "you have arrived at the right time. My solicitor, Mr. Carmichael, was just on the point of going to see you."
Mr. Carmichael bowed slightly, and Miiss Minchin looked from him to Mr. Carrisford in amazement.
"Your solicitor!" she said. "I do not understand. I have come here as a matter of duty. I have just discovered that you have been intruded upon through the forwardness of one of my pupils--a charity pupil. I came to explain that she intruded without my knowledge." She turned upon Sara. "Go home at once," she commanded indignantly. "You shall be severely punished. Go home at once."
The Indian gentleman drew Sara to his side and patted her hand.
"She is not going."
Miss Minchin felt rather as if she must be losing her senses.
"Not going!" she repeated.
"No," said Mr. Carrisford. "She is not going home--if you give your house that name. Her home for the future will be with me."
Miss Minchin fell back in amazed indignation.
"With YOU>! With YOU> sir! What does this mean?"
"Kindly explain the matter, Carmichael," said the Indian gentleman; "and get it over as quickly as possible." And he made Sara sit down again, and held her hands in his--which was another trick of her papa's.
Then Mr. Carmichael explained--in the quiet, level-toned, steady manner of a man who knew his subject, and all its legal significance, which was a thing Miss Minchin understood as a business woman, and did not enjoy.
"Mr. Carrisford, madam," he said, "was an intimate friend of the late Captain Crewe. He was his partner in certain large investments. The fortune which Captain Crewe supposed he had lost has been recovered, and is now in Mr. Carrisford's hands."
"The fortune!" cried Miss Minchin; and she really lost color as she uttered the exclamation. "Sara's fortune!"
"It WILL be Sara's fortune," replied Mr. Carmichael, rather coldly. "It is Sara's fortune now, in fact. Certain events have increased it enormously. The diamond mines have retrieved themselves."
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|A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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