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A Little Princess

"Perhaps you can FEEL if you can't hear," was her fancy. "Perhaps kind thoughts reach
people somehow, even through windows and doors and walls. Perhaps you feel a little
warm and comforted, and don't know why, when I am standing here in the cold and
hoping you will get well and happy again. I am so sorry for you," she would whisper in
an intense little voice. "I wish you had a `Little Missus' who could pet you as I used to pet
papa when he had a headache. I should like to be your `Little Missus' myself, poor dear!
Good night--good night. God bless you!"
She would go away, feeling quite comforted and a little warmer herself. Her sympathy
was so strong that it seemed as if it MUST reach him somehow as he sat alone in his
armchair by the fire, nearly always in a great dressing gown, and nearly always with his
forehead resting in his hand as he gazed hopelessly into the fire. He looked to Sara like a
man who had a trouble on his mind still, not merely like one whose troubles lay all in the
past.
"He always seems as if he were thinking of something that hurts him NOW", she said to
herself, "but he has got his money back and he will get over his brain fever in time, so he
ought not to look like that. I wonder if there is something else."
If there was something else--something even servants did not hear of--she could not help
believing that the father of the Large Family knew it--the gentleman she called Mr.
Montmorency. Mr. Montmorency went to see him often, and Mrs. Montmorency and all
the little Montmorencys went, too, though less often. He seemed particularly fond of the
two elder little girls--the Janet and Nora who had been so alarmed when their small
brother Donald had given Sara his sixpence. He had, in fact, a very tender place in his
heart for all children, and particularly for little girls. Janet and Nora were as fond of him
as he was of them, and looked forward with the greatest pleasure to the afternoons when
they were allowed to cross the square and make their well-behaved little visits to him.
They were extremely decorous little visits because he was an invalid.
"He is a poor thing," said Janet, "and he says we cheer him up. We try to cheer him up
very quietly."
Janet was the head of the family, and kept the rest of it in order. It was she who decided
when it was discreet to ask the Indian gentleman to tell stories about India, and it was she
who saw when he was tired and it was the time to steal quietly away and tell Ram Dass to
go to him. They were very fond of Ram Dass. He could have told any number of stories if
he had been able to speak anything but Hindustani. The Indian gentleman's real name was
Mr. Carrisford, and Janet told Mr. Carrisford about the encounter with the little-girl-who-
was-not-a-beggar. He was very much interested, and all the more so when he heard from
Ram Dass of the adventure of the monkey on the roof. Ram Dass made for him a very
clear picture of the attic and its desolateness--of the bare floor and broken plaster, the
rusty, empty grate, and the hard, narrow bed.
"Carmichael," he said to the father of the Large Family, after he had heard this
description, "I wonder how many of the attics in this square are like that one, and how
many wretched little servant girls sleep on such beds, while I toss on my down pillows,
loaded and harassed by wealth that is, most of it--not mine."
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