The Little Princess is the story of a girl named Sara, who was raised by her loving father. She is sent to live at a school, and the other girls, amazed at her fine clothes and other possessions, look upon her as a princess. After her father dies and all his riches are lost, she is sent to live in the attic of the school, and, instead of being a princess, must act as a servant.
1. That night, when Sara went to her attic
, she was later than usual. She had been kept at work until after the hour at which the pupils went to bed, and after that, she had gone to her lessons in the lonely
school-room. When she reached the top of the stairs, she was surprised to see a glimmer
of light coming from under the attic
2. “Nobody goes there but myself,” she thought
quickly, “but someone has lighted a candle.”
3. Someone had, indeed, lighted a candle, and it was not burning in the kitchen candlestick she was expected
to use, but in one of those belonging to the pupils’ bedrooms. Someone was sitting upon the battered footstool and was dressed in her night-gown and wrapped up in a red shawl. It was Ermengarde.
4. “Ermengarde!” cried Sara, so startled that she was almost frightened
, “You will get into trouble.”
5. “I know I shall—if I’m discovered.” she said. “But I don’t care—I don’t care a bit. Oh, Sara, please tell me. What is the matter
? Why don’t you like me anymore?”
6. Something in her voice made the familiar lump
rise in Sara’s throat; it was so affectionate
—so like the old Ermengarde who had asked her to be “best friends.” It sounded as if she had not meant what she had seemed to mean
during these past weeks.
8. Ermengarde opened her wet eyes wide.
9. “Why, it was you who were different
!” she cried. “You didn’t want to talk to me, and I didn’t know what to do; it was you who were different
after I came back.”
10. After considering it for a moment
, Sara realized that she had made a mistake
11. “I am different
,” she explained, “Though not in the way you think. Miss Minchin does not want me to talk to the girls, and most of them don’t want to talk to me. I thought
—perhaps—you didn’t either, so I tried to keep out of your way.”
12. “Oh, Sara,” Ermengarde almost wailed in her reproachful dismay
. And then, after one more look, they rushed into each other’s arms. It must be confessed that Sara’s small blackhead lay for some minutes on the shoulder covered by the red shawl. When Ermengarde had seemed to desert
her, she had felt horribly lonely
13. Afterward, they sat down upon the floor together, Sara clasping her knees with her arms, and Ermengarde rolled up in her shawl. Ermengarde looked at the odd, big-eyed little face adoringly.
14. “I couldn’t bear it anymore,” she said. “I dare
say you could live without me, Sara, but I couldn’t live without you. I was nearly dead, so tonight, when I was crying under the bedclothes, I thought
all at once of creeping up here and just begging you to let us be friends again.”
15. Ermengarde looked round the attic
with a rather fearsome curiosity
16. “Sara,” she said, “do you think you can bear living here?”
17. Sara looked round also.
19. She spoke
slowly, as her imagination
was beginning to work for her. It had not worked for her at all since her troubles had come upon her, and she had felt as if it had been stunned
20. “Other people have lived in worse places. Think of the Count of Monte Cristo in the dungeons of the Château d ‘If, and of the people in the Bastille!”
21. “The Bastille,” half-whispered Ermengarde, watching Sara and beginning to be fascinated
. She remembered stories of the French Revolution, which Sara had been able
to fix in her mind
by her dramatic relation
of them, and which no one but Sara could have done.
22. A well-known glow
came into Sara’s eyes.
23. “Yes,” she said, hugging her knees, “that will be a good place to pretend
about. I am a prisoner
in the Bastille; I have been here for years and years&mdash, and years; and everybody has forgotten about me. Miss Minchin is the jailer—and Becky”—a sudden light adding itself to the glow
in her eyes—”Becky is the prisoner
in the next cell
24. “And will you tell me all about it?” she said. “May I creep
up here at night, whenever it is safe, and hear the things you have made up in the day? It will seem as if we were more ‘best friends’ than ever.”
25. “Yes,” answered Sara nodding. “Adversity tries people, and mine
has tried you and proved how nice you are.”