A Little Princess HTML version
an ayah who worshipped her, and she had gradually learned that people who were rich
had these things. That, however, was all she knew about it.
During her short life only one thing had troubled her, and that thing was "the place" she
was to be taken to some day. The climate of India was very bad for children, and as soon
as possible they were sent away from it--generally to England and to school. She had
seen other children go away, and had heard their fathers and mothers talk about the letters
they received from them. She had known that she would be obliged to go also, and
though sometimes her father's stories of the voyage and the new country had attracted
her, she had been troubled by the thought that he could not stay with her.
"Couldn't you go to that place with me, papa?" she had asked when she was five years
old. "Couldn't you go to school, too? I would help you with your lessons."
"But you will not have to stay for a very long time, little Sara," he had always said. "You
will go to a nice house where there will be a lot of little girls, and you will play together,
and I will send you plenty of books, and you will grow so fast that it will seem scarcely a
year before you are big enough and clever enough to come back and take care of papa."
She had liked to think of that. To keep the house for her father; to ride with him, and sit at
the head of his table when he had dinner parties; to talk to him and read his books--that
would be what she would like most in the world, and if one must go away to "the place"
in England to attain it, she must make up her mind to go. She did not care very much for
other little girls, but if she had plenty of books she could console herself. She liked books
more than anything else, and was, in fact, always inventing stories of beautiful things and
telling them to herself. Sometimes she had told them to her father, and he had liked them
as much as she did.
"Well, papa," she said softly, "if we are here I suppose we must be resigned."
He laughed at her old-fashioned speech and kissed her. He was really not at all resigned
himself, though he knew he must keep that a secret. His quaint little Sara had been a great
companion to him, and he felt he should be a lonely fellow when, on his return to India,
he went into his bungalow knowing he need not expect to see the small figure in its white
frock come forward to meet him. So he held her very closely in his arms as the cab rolled
into the big, dull square in which stood the house which was their destination.
It was a big, dull, brick house, exactly like all the others in its row, but that on the front
door there shone a brass plate on which was engraved in black letters:
Select Seminary for Young Ladies.
"Here we are, Sara," said Captain Crewe, making his voice sound as cheerful as possible.
Then he lifted her out of the cab and they mounted the steps and rang the bell. Sara often
thought afterward that the house was somehow exactly like Miss Minchin. It was
respectable and well furnished, but everything in it was ugly; and the very armchairs