A Little Princess
Through the mysterious agency which works in schools and among servants, it was quite
well known in the morning that Sara Crewe was in horrible disgrace, that Ermengarde
was under punishment, and that Becky would have been packed out of the house before
breakfast, but that a scullery maid could not be dispensed with at once. The servants
knew that she was allowed to stay because Miss Minchin could not easily find another
creature helpless and humble enough to work like a bounden slave for so few shillings a
week. The elder girls in the schoolroom knew that if Miss Minchin did not send Sara
away it was for practical reasons of her own.
"She's growing so fast and learning such a lot, somehow," said Jessie to Lavinia, "that she
will be given classes soon, and Miss Minchin knows she will have to work for nothing. It
was rather nasty of you, Lavvy, to tell about her having fun in the garret. How did you
find it out?"
"I got it out of Lottie. She's such a baby she didn't know she was telling me. There was
nothing nasty at all in speaking to Miss Minchin. I felt it my duty"--priggishly. "She was
being deceitful. And it's ridiculous that she should look so grand, and be made so much
of, in her rags and tatters!"
"What were they doing when Miss Minchin caught them?"
"Pretending some silly thing. Ermengarde had taken up her hamper to share with Sara
and Becky. She never invites us to share things. Not that I care, but it's rather vulgar of
her to share with servant girls in attics. I wonder Miss Minchin didn't turn Sara out--even
if she does want her for a teacher."
"If she was turned out where would she go?" inquired Jessie, a trifle anxiously.
"How do I know?" snapped Lavinia. "She'll look rather queer when she comes into the
schoolroom this morning, I should think-- after what's happened. She had no dinner
yesterday, and she's not to have any today."
Jessie was not as ill-natured as she was silly. She picked up her book with a little jerk.
"Well, I think it's horrid," she said. "They've no right to starve her to death."
When Sara went into the kitchen that morning the cook looked askance at her, and so did
the housemaids; but she passed them hurriedly. She had, in fact, overslept herself a little,
and as Becky had done the same, neither had had time to see the other, and each had
come downstairs in haste.
Sara went into the scullery. Becky was violently scrubbing a kettle, and was actually
gurgling a little song in her throat. She looked up with a wildly elated face.
"It was there when I wakened, miss--the blanket," she whispered excitedly. "It was as real
as it was last night."