A Little Princess
a good deal lately, and it's beginning to be easier than it used to be. When things are
horrible--just horrible--I think as hard as ever I can of being a princess. I say to myself, `I
am a princess, and I am a fairy one, and because I am a fairy nothing can hurt me or make
me uncomfortable.' You don't know how it makes you forget"-- with a laugh.
She had many opportunities of making her mind think of something else, and many
opportunities of proving to herself whether or not she was a princess. But one of the
strongest tests she was ever put to came on a certain dreadful day which, she often
thought afterward, would never quite fade out of her memory even in the years to come.
For several days it had rained continuously; the streets were chilly and sloppy and full of
dreary, cold mist; there was mud everywhere--sticky London mud--and over everything
the pall of drizzle and fog. Of course there were several long and tiresome errands to be
done--there always were on days like this--and Sara was sent out again and again, until
her shabby clothes were damp through. The absurd old feathers on her forlorn hat were
more draggled and absurd than ever, and her downtrodden shoes were so wet that they
could not hold any more water. Added to this, she had been deprived of her dinner,
because Miss Minchin had chosen to punish her. She was so cold and hungry and tired
that her face began to have a pinched look, and now and then some kind-hearted person
passing her in the street glanced at her with sudden sympathy. But she did not know that.
She hurried on, trying to make her mind think of something else. It was really very
necessary. Her way of doing it was to "pretend" and "suppose" with all the strength that
was left in her. But really this time it was harder than she had ever found it, and once or
twice she thought it almost made her more cold and hungry instead of less so. But she
persevered obstinately, and as the muddy water squelched through her broken shoes and
the wind seemed trying to drag her thin jacket from her, she talked to herself as she
walked, though she did not speak aloud or even move her lips.
"Suppose I had dry clothes on," she thought. "Suppose I had good shoes and a long, thick
coat and merino stockings and a whole umbrella. And suppose--suppose--just when I was
near a baker's where they sold hot buns, I should find sixpence--which belonged to
nobody. SUPPOSE if I did, I should go into the shop and buy six of the hottest buns and
eat them all without stopping."
Some very odd things happen in this world sometimes.
It certainly was an odd thing that happened to Sara. She had to cross the street just when
she was saying this to herself. The mud was dreadful--she almost had to wade. She
picked her way as carefully as she could, but she could not save herself much; only, in
picking her way, she had to look down at her feet and the mud, and in looking down--just
as she reached the pavement-- she saw something shining in the gutter. It was actually a
piece of silver--a tiny piece trodden upon by many feet, but still with spirit enough left to
shine a little. Not quite a sixpence, but the next thing to it--a fourpenny piece.
In one second it was in her cold little red-and-blue hand.