A Little Princess
Imagine, if you can, what the rest of the evening was like. How they crouched by the fire
which blazed and leaped and made so much of itself in the little grate. How they removed
the covers of the dishes, and found rich, hot, savory soup, which was a meal in itself, and
sandwiches and toast and muffins enough for both of them. The mug from the washstand
was used as Becky's tea cup, and the tea was so delicious that it was not necessary to
pretend that it was anything but tea. They were warm and full-fed and happy, and it was
just like Sara that, having found her strange good fortune real, she should give herself up
to the enjoyment of it to the utmost. She had lived such a life of imaginings that she was
quite equal to accepting any wonderful thing that happened, and almost to cease, in a
short time, to find it bewildering.
"I don't know anyone in the world who could have done it," she said; "but there has been
someone. And here we are sitting by their fire--and--and--it's true! And whoever it is--
wherever they are--I have a friend, Becky--someone is my friend."
It cannot be denied that as they sat before the blazing fire, and ate the nourishing,
comfortable food, they felt a kind of rapturous awe, and looked into each other's eyes
with something like doubt.
"Do you think," Becky faltered once, in a whisper, "do you think it could melt away,
miss? Hadn't we better be quick?" And she hastily crammed her sandwich into her mouth.
If it was only a dream, kitchen manners would be overlooked.
"No, it won't melt away," said Sara. "I am EATING this muffin, and I can taste it. You
never really eat things in dreams. You only think you are going to eat them. Besides, I
keep giving myself pinches; and I touched a hot piece of coal just now, on purpose."
The sleepy comfort which at length almost overpowered them was a heavenly thing. It
was the drowsiness of happy, well-fed childhood, and they sat in the fire glow and
luxuriated in it until Sara found herself turning to look at her transformed bed.
There were even blankets enough to share with Becky. The narrow couch in the next attic
was more comfortable that night than its occupant had ever dreamed that it could be.
As she went out of the room, Becky turned upon the threshold and looked about her with
"If it ain't here in the mornin', miss," she said, "it's been here tonight, anyways, an' I
shan't never forget it." She looked at each particular thing, as if to commit it to memory.
"The fire was THERE", pointing with her finger, "an' the table was before it; an' the lamp
was there, an' the light looked rosy red; an' there was a satin cover on your bed, an' a
warm rug on the floor, an' everythin' looked beautiful; an'"--she paused a second, and laid
her hand on her stomach tenderly--"there WAS soup an' sandwiches an' muffins--there
WAS." And, with this conviction a reality at least, she went away.