A Little Princess HTML version

She suddenly turned her head because she heard a sound a few yards away from her. It
was an odd sound like a queer little squeaky chattering. It came from the window of the
next attic. Someone had come to look at the sunset as she had. There was a head and a
part of a body emerging from the skylight, but it was not the head or body of a little girl
or a housemaid; it was the picturesque white-swathed form and dark-faced, gleaming-
eyed, white-turbaned head of a native Indian man-servant--"a Lascar," Sara said to
herself quickly--and the sound she had heard came from a small monkey he held in his
arms as if he were fond of it, and which was snuggling and chattering against his breast.
As Sara looked toward him he looked toward her. The first thing she thought was that his
dark face looked sorrowful and homesick. She felt absolutely sure he had come up to
look at the sun, because he had seen it so seldom in England that he longed for a sight of
it. She looked at him interestedly for a second, and then smiled across the slates. She had
learned to know how comforting a smile, even from a stranger, may be.
Hers was evidently a pleasure to him. His whole expression altered, and he showed such
gleaming white teeth as he smiled back that it was as if a light had been illuminated in his
dusky face. The friendly look in Sara's eyes was always very effective when people felt
tired or dull.
It was perhaps in making his salute to her that he loosened his hold on the monkey. He
was an impish monkey and always ready for adventure, and it is probable that the sight of
a little girl excited him. He suddenly broke loose, jumped on to the slates, ran across
them chattering, and actually leaped on to Sara's shoulder, and from there down into her
attic room. It made her laugh and delighted her; but she knew he must be restored to his
master--if the Lascar was his master--and she wondered how this was to be done. Would
he let her catch him, or would he be naughty and refuse to be caught, and perhaps get
away and run off over the roofs and be lost? That would not do at all. Perhaps he
belonged to the Indian gentleman, and the poor man was fond of him.
She turned to the Lascar, feeling glad that she remembered still some of the Hindustani
she had learned when she lived with her father. She could make the man understand. She
spoke to him in the language he knew.
"Will he let me catch him?" she asked.
She thought she had never seen more surprise and delight than the dark face expressed
when she spoke in the familiar tongue. The truth was that the poor fellow felt as if his
gods had intervened, and the kind little voice came from heaven itself. At once Sara saw
that he had been accustomed to European children. He poured forth a flood of respectful
thanks. He was the servant of Missee Sahib. The monkey was a good monkey and would
not bite; but, unfortunately, he was difficult to catch. He would flee from one spot to
another, like the lightning. He was disobedient, though not evil. Ram Dass knew him as if
he were his child, and Ram Dass he would sometimes obey, but not always. If Missee
Sahib would permit Ram Dass, he himself could cross the roof to her room, enter the
windows, and regain the unworthy little animal. But he was evidently afraid Sara might
think he was taking a great liberty and perhaps would not let him come.