A Little Princess
The Diamond Mines Again
When Sara entered the holly-hung schoolroom in the afternoon, she did so as the head of
a sort of procession. Miss Minchin, in her grandest silk dress, led her by the hand. A
manservant followed, carrying the box containing the Last Doll, a housemaid carried a
second box, and Becky brought up the rear, carrying a third and wearing a clean apron
and a new cap. Sara would have much preferred to enter in the usual way, but Miss
Minchin had sent for her, and, after an interview in her private sitting room, had
expressed her wishes.
"This is not an ordinary occasion," she said. "I do not desire that it should be treated as
So Sara was led grandly in and felt shy when, on her entry, the big girls stared at her and
touched each other's elbows, and the little ones began to squirm joyously in their seats.
"Silence, young ladies!" said Miss Minchin, at the murmur which arose. "James, place
the box on the table and remove the lid. Emma, put yours upon a chair. Becky!" suddenly
Becky had quite forgotten herself in her excitement, and was grinning at Lottie, who was
wriggling with rapturous expectation. She almost dropped her box, the disapproving
voice so startled her, and her frightened, bobbing curtsy of apology was so funny that
Lavinia and Jessie tittered.
"It is not your place to look at the young ladies," said Miss Minchin. "You forget
yourself. Put your box down."
Becky obeyed with alarmed haste and hastily backed toward the door.
"You may leave us," Miss Minchin announced to the servants with a wave of her hand.
Becky stepped aside respectfully to allow the superior servants to pass out first. She
could not help casting a longing glance at the box on the table. Something made of blue
satin was peeping from between the folds of tissue paper.
"If you please, Miss Minchin," said Sara, suddenly, "mayn't Becky stay?"
It was a bold thing to do. Miss Minchin was betrayed into something like a slight jump.
Then she put her eyeglass up, and gazed at her show pupil disturbedly.
"Becky!" she exclaimed. "My dearest Sara!"
Sara advanced a step toward her.
"I want her because I know she will like to see the presents," she explained. "She is a
little girl, too, you know."