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A Little Princess

Sara turned round at the sound of her voice. It was her turn to be aghast. What would
happen now? If Lottie began to cry and any one chanced to hear, they were both lost. She
jumped down from her table and ran to the child.
"Don't cry and make a noise," she implored. "I shall be scolded if you do, and I have been
scolded all day. It's--it's not such a bad room, Lottie."
"Isn't it?" gasped Lottie, and as she looked round it she bit her lip. She was a spoiled child
yet, but she was fond enough of her adopted parent to make an effort to control herself
for her sake. Then, somehow, it was quite possible that any place in which Sara lived
might turn out to be nice. "Why isn't it, Sara?" she almost whispered.
Sara hugged her close and tried to laugh. There was a sort of comfort in the warmth of
the plump, childish body. She had had a hard day and had been staring out of the
windows with hot eyes.
"You can see all sorts of things you can't see downstairs," she said.
"What sort of things?" demanded Lottie, with that curiosity Sara could always awaken
even in bigger girls.
"Chimneys--quite close to us--with smoke curling up in wreaths and clouds and going up
into the sky--and sparrows hopping about and talking to each other just as if they were
people--and other attic windows where heads may pop out any minute and you can
wonder who they belong to. And it all feels as high up--as if it was another world."
"Oh, let me see it!" cried Lottie. "Lift me up!"
Sara lifted her up, and they stood on the old table together and leaned on the edge of the
flat window in the roof, and looked out.
Anyone who has not done this does not know what a different world they saw. The slates
spread out on either side of them and slanted down into the rain gutter-pipes. The
sparrows, being at home there, twittered and hopped about quite without fear. Two of
them perched on the chimney top nearest and quarrelled with each other fiercely until one
pecked the other and drove him away. The garret window next to theirs was shut because
the house next door was empty.
"I wish someone lived there," Sara said. "It is so close that if there was a little girl in the
attic, we could talk to each other through the windows and climb over to see each other,
if we were not afraid of falling."
The sky seemed so much nearer than when one saw it from the street, that Lottie was
enchanted. From the attic window, among the chimney pots, the things which were
happening in the world below seemed almost unreal. One scarcely believed in the
existence of Miss Minchin and Miss Amelia and the schoolroom, and the roll of wheels
in the square seemed a sound belonging to another existence.
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