A Little Princess
The third person in the trio was Lottie. She was a small thing and did not know what
adversity meant, and was much bewildered by the alteration she saw in her young
adopted mother. She had heard it rumored that strange things had happened to Sara, but
she could not understand why she looked different--why she wore an old black frock and
came into the schoolroom only to teach instead of to sit in her place of honor and learn
lessons herself. There had been much whispering among the little ones when it had been
discovered that Sara no longer lived in the rooms in which Emily had so long sat in state.
Lottie's chief difficulty was that Sara said so little when one asked her questions. At
seven mysteries must be made very clear if one is to understand them.
"Are you very poor now, Sara?" she had asked confidentially the first morning her friend
took charge of the small French class. "Are you as poor as a beggar?" She thrust a fat
hand into the slim one and opened round, tearful eyes. "I don't want you to be as poor as a
She looked as if she was going to cry. And Sara hurriedly consoled her.
"Beggars have nowhere to live," she said courageously. "I have a place to live in."
"Where do you live?" persisted Lottle. "The new girl sleeps in your room, and it isn't
pretty any more."
"I live in another room," said Sara.
"Is it a nice one?" inquired Lottie. "I want to go and see it."
"You must not talk," said Sara. "Miss Minchin is looking at us. She will be angry with me
for letting you whisper."
She had found out already that she was to be held accountable for everything which was
objected to. If the children were not attentive, if they talked, if they were restless, it was
she who would be reproved.
But Lottie was a determined little person. If Sara would not tell her where she lived, she
would find out in some other way. She talked to her small companions and hung about
the elder girls and listened when they were gossiping; and acting upon certain
information they had unconsciously let drop, she started late one afternoon on a voyage
of discovery, climbing stairs she had never known the existence of, until she reached the
attic floor. There she found two doors near each other, and opening one, she saw her
beloved Sara standing upon an old table and looking out of a window.
"Sara!" she cried, aghast. "Mamma Sara!" She was aghast because the attic was so bare
and ugly and seemed so far away from all the world. Her short legs had seemed to have
been mounting hundreds of stairs.