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A Little Princess

The Indian Gentleman
But it was a perilous thing for Ermengarde and Lottie to make pilgrimages to the attic.
They could never be quite sure when Sara would be there, and they could scarcely ever
be certain that Miss Amelia would not make a tour of inspection through the bedrooms
after the pupils were supposed to be asleep. So their visits were rare ones, and Sara lived
a strange and lonely life. It was a lonelier life when she was downstairs than when she
was in her attic. She had no one to talk to; and when she was sent out on errands and
walked through the streets, a forlorn little figure carrying a basket or a parcel, trying to
hold her hat on when the wind was blowing, and feeling the water soak through her shoes
when it was raining, she felt as if the crowds hurrying past her made her loneliness
greater. When she had been the Princess Sara, driving through the streets in her
brougham, or walking, attended by Mariette, the sight of her bright, eager little face and
picturesque coats and hats had often caused people to look after her. A happy, beautifully
cared for little girl naturally attracts attention. Shabby, poorly dressed children are not
rare enough and pretty enough to make people turn around to look at them and smile. No
one looked at Sara in these days, and no one seemed to see her as she hurried along the
crowded pavements. She had begun to grow very fast, and, as she was dressed only in
such clothes as the plainer remnants of her wardrobe would supply, she knew she looked
very queer, indeed. All her valuable garments had been disposed of, and such as had been
left for her use she was expected to wear so long as she could put them on at all.
Sometimes, when she passed a shop window with a mirror in it, she almost laughed
outright on catching a glimpse of herself, and sometimes her face went red and she bit her
lip and turned away.
In the evening, when she passed houses whose windows were lighted up, she used to look
into the warm rooms and amuse herself by imagining things about the people she saw
sitting before the fires or about the tables. It always interested her to catch glimpses of
rooms before the shutters were closed. There were several families in the square in which
Miss Minchin lived, with which she had become quite familiar in a way of her own. The
one she liked best she called the Large Family. She called it the Large Family not
because the members of it were big- -for, indeed, most of them were little--but because
there were so many of them. There were eight children in the Large Family, and a stout,
rosy mother, and a stout, rosy father, and a stout, rosy grandmother, and any number of
servants. The eight children were always either being taken out to walk or to ride in
perambulators by comfortable nurses, or they were going to drive with their mamma, or
they were flying to the door in the evening to meet their papa and kiss him and dance
around him and drag off his overcoat and look in the pockets for packages, or they were
crowding about the nursery windows and looking out and pushing each other and
laughing--in fact, they were always doing something enjoyable and suited to the tastes of
a large family. Sara was quite fond of them, and had given them names out of books--
quite romantic names. She called them the Montmorencys when she did not call them the
Large Family. The fat, fair baby with the lace cap was Ethelberta Beauchamp
Montmorency; the next baby was Violet Cholmondeley Montmorency; the little boy who
could just stagger and who had such round legs was Sydney Cecil Vivian Montmorency;
and then came Lilian Evangeline Maud Marion, Rosalind Gladys, Guy Clarence,
Veronica Eustacia, and Claude Harold Hector.
 
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