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|A Little Princess||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
|Page 1 of 15||
When Sara had passed the house next door she had seen Ram Dass closing the shutters, and caught her glimpse of this room also.
"It is a long time since I saw a nice place from the inside," was the thought which crossed her mind.
There was the usual bright fire glowing in the grate, and the Indian gentleman was sitting before it. His head was resting in his hand, and he looked as lonely and unhappy as ever.
"Poor man!" said Sara. "I wonder what you are supposing."
And this was what he was "supposing" at that very moment.
"Suppose," he was thinking, "suppose--even if Carmichael traces the people to Moscow--the little girl they took from Madame Pascal's school in Paris is NOT the one we are in search of. Suppose she proves to be quite a different child. What steps shall I take next?"
When Sara went into the house she met Miss Minchin, who had come downstairs to scold the cook.
"Where have you wasted your time?" she demanded. "You have been out for hours."
"It was so wet and muddy," Sara answered, "it was hard to walk, because my shoes were so bad and slipped about."
"Make no excuses," said Miss Minchin, "and tell no falsehoods."
Sara went in to the cook. The cook had received a severe lecture and was in a fearful temper as a result. She was only too rejoiced to have someone to vent her rage on, and Sara was a convenience, as usual.
"Why didn't you stay all night?" she snapped.
Sara laid her purchases on the table.
"Here are the things," she said.
The cook looked them over, grumbling. She was in a very savage humor indeed.
"May I have something to eat?" Sara asked rather faintly.
"Tea's over and done with," was the answer. "Did you expect me to keep it hot for you?"
Sara stood silent for a second.
"I had no dinner," she said next, and her voice was quite low. She made it low because she was afraid it would tremble.
"There's some bread in the pantry," said the cook. "That's all you'll get at this time of day."
Sara went and found the bread. It was old and hard and dry. The cook was in too vicious a humor to give her anything to eat with it. It was always safe and easy to vent her spite on Sara. Really, it was hard for the child to climb the three long flights of stairs leading to her attic. She often found them long and steep when she was tired; but tonight it seemed as if she would never reach the top. Several times she was obliged to stop to rest. When she reached the top landing she was glad to see the glimmer of a light coming from under her door. That meant that Ermengarde had managed to creep up to pay her a visit. There was some comfort in that. It was better than to go into the room alone and find it empty and desolate. The mere presence of plump, comfortable Ermengarde, wrapped in her red shawl, would warm it a little.
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|A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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