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A Little Princess

One evening a very funny thing happened--though, perhaps, in one sense it was not a
funny thing at all.
Several of the Montmorencys were evidently going to a children's party, and just as Sara
was about to pass the door they were crossing the pavement to get into the carriage which
was waiting for them. Veronica Eustacia and Rosalind Gladys, in white-lace frocks and
lovely sashes, had just got in, and Guy Clarence, aged five, was following them. He was
such a pretty fellow and had such rosy cheeks and blue eyes, and such a darling little
round head covered with curls, that Sara forgot her basket and shabby cloak altogether--
in fact, forgot everything but that she wanted to look at him for a moment. So she paused
and looked.
It was Christmas time, and the Large Family had been hearing many stories about
children who were poor and had no mammas and papas to fill their stockings and take
them to the pantomime-- children who were, in fact, cold and thinly clad and hungry. In
the stories, kind people--sometimes little boys and girls with tender hearts--invariably
saw the poor children and gave them money or rich gifts, or took them home to beautiful
dinners. Guy Clarence had been affected to tears that very afternoon by the reading of
such a story, and he had burned with a desire to find such a poor child and give her a
certain sixpence he possessed, and thus provide for her for life. An entire sixpence, he
was sure, would mean affluence for evermore. As he crossed the strip of red carpet laid
across the pavement from the door to the carriage, he had this very sixpence in the pocket
of his very short man-o-war trousers; And just as Rosalind Gladys got into the vehicle
and jumped on the seat in order to feel the cushions spring under her, he saw Sara
standing on the wet pavement in her shabby frock and hat, with her old basket on her
arm, looking at him hungrily.
He thought that her eyes looked hungry because she had perhaps had nothing to eat for a
long time. He did not know that they looked so because she was hungry for the warm,
merry life his home held and his rosy face spoke of, and that she had a hungry wish to
snatch him in her arms and kiss him. He only knew that she had big eyes and a thin face
and thin legs and a common basket and poor clothes. So he put his hand in his pocket and
found his sixpence and walked up to her benignly.
"Here, poor little girl," he said. "Here is a sixpence. I will give it to you."
Sara started, and all at once realized that she looked exactly like poor children she had
seen, in her better days, waiting on the pavement to watch her as she got out of her
brougham. And she had given them pennies many a time. Her face went red and then it
went pale, and for a second she felt as if she could not take the dear little sixpence.
"Oh, no!" she said. "Oh, no, thank you; I mustn't take it, indeed!"
Her voice was so unlike an ordinary street child's voice and her manner was so like the
manner of a well-bred little person that Veronica Eustacia (whose real name was Janet)
and Rosalind Gladys (who was really called Nora) leaned forward to listen.
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