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A Little Princess

minutes that she was deeply interested in what was going on, and that she was doing her
work slowly in the hope of catching a word here and there. And realizing this, she raised
her voice and spoke more clearly.
"The Mermaids swam softly about in the crystal-green water, and dragged after them a
fishing-net woven of deep-sea pearls," she said. "The Princess sat on the white rock and
watched them."
It was a wonderful story about a princess who was loved by a Prince Merman, and went
to live with him in shining caves under the sea.
The small drudge before the grate swept the hearth once and then swept it again. Having
done it twice, she did it three times; and, as she was doing it the third time, the sound of
the story so lured her to listen that she fell under the spell and actually forgot that she had
no right to listen at all, and also forgot everything else. She sat down upon her heels as
she knelt on the hearth rug, and the brush hung idly in her fingers. The voice of the
storyteller went on and drew her with it into winding grottos under the sea, glowing with
soft, clear blue light, and paved with pure golden sands. Strange sea flowers and grasses
waved about her, and far away faint singing and music echoed.
The hearth brush fell from the work-roughened hand, and Lavinia Herbert looked round.
"That girl has been listening," she said.
The culprit snatched up her brush, and scrambled to her feet. She caught at the coal box
and simply scuttled out of the room like a frightened rabbit.
Sara felt rather hot-tempered.
"I knew she was listening," she said. "Why shouldn't she?"
Lavinia tossed her head with great elegance.
"Well," she remarked, "I do not know whether your mamma would like you to tell stories
to servant girls, but I know MY mamma wouldn't like ME to do it."
"My mamma!" said Sara, looking odd. "I don't believe she would mind in the least. She
knows that stories belong to everybody."
"I thought," retorted Lavinia, in severe recollection, "that your mamma was dead. How
can she know things?"
"Do you think she DOESN'T know things?" said Sara, in her stern little voice. Sometimes
she had a rather stern little voice.
"Sara's mamma knows everything," piped in Lottie. "So does my mamma--'cept Sara is
my mamma at Miss Minchin's--my other one knows everything. The streets are shining,
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