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A Little Princess

"She says it has nothing to do with what you look like, or what you have. It has only to
do with what you THINK of, and what you DO." "I suppose she thinks she could be a
princess if she was a beggar," said Lavinia. "Let us begin to call her Your Royal
Highness."
Lessons for the day were over, and they were sitting before the schoolroom fire, enjoying
the time they liked best. It was the time when Miss Minchin and Miss Amelia were
taking their tea in the sitting room sacred to themselves. At this hour a great deal of
talking was done, and a great many secrets changed hands, particularly if the younger
pupils behaved themselves well, and did not squabble or run about noisily, which it must
be confessed they usually did. When they made an uproar the older girls usually
interfered with scolding and shakes. They were expected to keep order, and there was
danger that if they did not, Miss Minchin or Miss Amelia would appear and put an end to
festivities. Even as Lavinia spoke the door opened and Sara entered with Lottie, whose
habit was to trot everywhere after her like a little dog.
"There she is, with that horrid child!" exclaimed Lavinia in a whisper. "If she's so fond of
her, why doesn't she keep her in her own room? She will begin howling about something
in five minutes."
It happened that Lottie had been seized with a sudden desire to play in the schoolroom,
and had begged her adopted parent to come with her. She joined a group of little ones
who were playing in a corner. Sara curled herself up in the window-seat, opened a book,
and began to read. It was a book about the French Revolution, and she was soon lost in a
harrowing picture of the prisoners in the Bastille--men who had spent so many years in
dungeons that when they were dragged out by those who rescued them, their long, gray
hair and beards almost hid their faces, and they had forgotten that an outside world
existed at all, and were like beings in a dream.
She was so far away from the schoolroom that it was not agreeable to be dragged back
suddenly by a howl from Lottie. Never did she find anything so difficult as to keep
herself from losing her temper when she was suddenly disturbed while absorbed in a
book. People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over
them at such a moment. The temptation to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy
to manage.
"It makes me feel as if someone had hit me," Sara had told Ermengarde once in
confidence. "And as if I want to hit back. I have to remember things quickly to keep from
saying something ill- tempered."
She had to remember things quickly when she laid her book on the window-seat and
jumped down from her comfortable corner.
Lottie had been sliding across the schoolroom floor, and, having first irritated Lavinia
and Jessie by making a noise, had ended by falling down and hurting her fat knee. She
was screaming and dancing up and down in the midst of a group of friends and enemies,
who were alternately coaxing and scolding her.
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