Stage 1(novice): A little princess, chapter 2

Chapter 2: A very wretched little girl

Captain Crew-dead! What a sudden and horrible thing! All eyes were on Sara, and nobody moved. After a time, Sara slowly walked out of the hall, up the stairs and into her room. She took off her pink dress and put on an old, shabby(1) black one. Then she went to Miss Minchin’s room, holding her doll Emily. She felt as though in a dream.
“Put down your doll,” said Miss Minchin. “Why are you bringing it here?”
“No,” Sara answered. “I will not put her down. She is all I have. My papa gave her to me.”
“You will have no time for dolls in future,” she said. “You will have to work and improve yourself and make yourself useful. There were never any diamond mines. Your father had brain fever, and when he got the awful news, he died instantly(2) of shock”
“Everything will be very different now,” Miss Minchin went on. “Do you inderstand?”
“Yes,” answered Sara. “My papa is dead. He left me no money. I am quite poor.”
“You are not a princess any longer.  You will wear your oldest clothes. You must work for your living(3). If you make yourself useful I will let you stay here. You speak French well, and you can help the younger children. If you don’t please(4) me, I will send you away. Now go.”
Sara stood still just a moment, then turned to leave the room.
“Stop!” said Miss Minchin. “Why don’t you thank me?”
“What for?” she said.
“For my kindness to you. I am giving you a home,” replied Miss Minchin.
Sara made two or three steps toward Miss Minchin.
“You are not kind,” she said. “You are not kind, and it is not a home.” And she ran out of the room before Miss Minchin could stop her.
So ended Sara’s life as a little princess.
That night, she had to move to the right-hand attic(5), next to the maid’s room. It was very different from her old room. Everything was shabby. The bed was hard, and the blanket was thin.
Yet the little girl did not cry. She was too surprised to be sad. Could her father really be dead? Could he really be gone from her forever? She said to herself, again and again, “My papa is dead” till the night was over, and a new day began.
Sarah’s status(6) was changed overnight. Before, she was the richest student at the school. Now, she was not a student at all. And Miss Minchin made sure that Sarah knew this.
The hard woman first told Sarah not to eat with her friends. Instead, she had to eat in a corner, near the young children. She had to make sure they behaved(7) well. Then, Sara had to teach the young children French.
The cook and other servants began to send her outside to run errands(8). In all weathers, she had to walk the streets of London in her old clothes, carrying a heavy basket. When she walked by, people would look away. None of the students talked to her now. At night, all alone and hungry, she thought that her young heart would break.
Luckily, there were still three friends that stayed true to her.
The first one was Becky, the house maid, who lived in the left-hand attic. Late at night, when everybody was asleep, they would whisper through the cracks in the wall. Sarah imagined that she was a prisoner, and Becky was the prisoner in the next cell(9).
The second one was Ermengarde. Of course, Miss Minchin did not allow her to talk to Sara. But the littlillus132e girl missed her friend so much that sometimes she would secretly go to the attic to talk to Sara, or perhaps bring her some food.
The third one was little Lottie. The first time Lottie visited Sara in the small attic, she was very surprised. “Why Sara,”she said “How can you live in a place like this?” Sara comforted her by telling her all the “wonderful” things about the attic, how it was so high up above everything.
In truth, Sara thought the attic was a very lonely place.
Sara always looked forwards to the visits of her friends. However, they were not often, so she still felt lonely. She started making friends with the rats living in holes in the wall. She would give them bread, and imagined how happy they were.
Sara never felt lonelier than when she had to walk the streets of London. Everyone was cold to her, because she looked like a beggar(10).
However, Sara found out a way to make herself happier. She spent some of her evenings secretly looking through the windows of neighboring houses. She soon became interested in a very mysterious man she saw. He lived next door to her, and seemed very rich. Yet he always looked sick and worried. Sara kindly wished that he would get better.
One day, a funny thing happened. Sara was up in the attic after a long day’s work. She talked to her friend the rat. Suddenly, the little girl heard a funny sound. She looked up the attic window. There was a monkey! It quickly jumped into the attic and ran around.
Sara was not afraid of monkeys, because she used to play with them in India.
“Where does he come from?” she thought.
Then she looked out of the window. How strange! Sara saw an Indian servant looking at her. It must be his monkey. She spoke to him in the Indian language:
“Will he let me catch him?” she asked.
“Maybe not, Miss.” the Indian servant replied.
“Can you get across?” she asked.
“In a moment,” he answered her, and then swung onto the roof, through the window and into her attic. He caught the monkey, and quickly went away.
When he was gone, Sara felt quite sad. She remembered when she used to play with her papa in India. Then she put her small head in her hands, and thought and thought about her dear papa.
The Indian man was the servant of the sick gentleman next door, who used to live in India. Sara found out that he got all his riches from a diamond mine. He was sick because of brain fever, which he got in India. This made Sara felt even closer to the strange man.
“He felt as my papa felt,” Sara thought. “He was ill as my papa was; but he did not die.”
Winter came, and the weather became cold. Sara did not have enough warm clothes. She could not sleep because of the cold. She also got less food. It was a very hard winter. Sara hated going outside on errands because the streets were muddy.
One day, when she was very cold and hungry, Sara found a coin on the streets. She wanted to buy something to eat. But she thought it was not right to use someone else’s money. So she went into a baker’s shop and asked the baker:
“Did you lose some money on the streets?”
“No, I did not,” she answered “Did you find it?”
“Yes,” said Sara.
“Keep it, then,” said the woman. “You can never find out who lost it.”
“I know that,” said Sara, “but I thought I would ask you.”
“Not many would,” said the woman “Do you want to buy something?”
“Four loaves of bread, if you please,” said Sara.
The good baker gave Sara six, because she thought Sara looked very hungry.
The little girl thanked the baker. The bread was nice and hot. Sara was very happy.
But when she went outside the baker’s shop, she saw a little beggar.
“She is even hungrier than I am,” Sara thought “I am a princess, so I must be kind and give away food to the poor.”
And Sara gave five loaves to the beggar child. She kept only one to herself.
She was more like a princess then than when she was rich and had everything in the world.
1/shabby:ragged, poor
2/instantly: immediately, happening right after the previous event
3/work for one’s living: earn money for food and a place to sleep
4/please: make someone happy
5/attic: a small, shabby room at the top of a house, usually used to keep old things
6/status: position in society
7/behave: to act in a right way
8/errand: a short trip to buy things
9/cell: a prison room
10/beggar: a very poor person who lives on the street and asks others for money

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