wie quadratisches wohnzimmer einrichten
a little princess by frances hodgson burnettchapter 1. sara once on a dark winter's day, when theyellow fog hung so thick and heavy in the streets of london that the lamps werelighted and the shop windows blazed with gas as they do at night, an odd-looking little girl sat in a cab with her fatherand was driven rather slowly through the big thoroughfares. she sat with her feet tucked under her, andleaned against her father, who held her in his arm, as she stared out of the window atthe passing people with a queer old-
fashioned thoughtfulness in her big eyes. she was such a little girl that one did notexpect to see such a look on her small face.it would have been an old look for a child of twelve, and sara crewe was only seven. the fact was, however, that she was alwaysdreaming and thinking odd things and could not herself remember any time when she hadnot been thinking things about grown-up people and the world they belonged to. she felt as if she had lived a long, longtime. at this moment she was remembering thevoyage she had just made from bombay with
her father, captain crewe. she was thinking of the big ship, of thelascars passing silently to and fro on it, of the children playing about on the hotdeck, and of some young officers' wives who used to try to make her talk to them andlaugh at the things she said. principally, she was thinking of what aqueer thing it was that at one time one was in india in the blazing sun, and then inthe middle of the ocean, and then driving in a strange vehicle through strange streets where the day was as dark as thenight. she found this so puzzling that she movedcloser to her father.
"papa," she said in a low, mysteriouslittle voice which was almost a whisper, "papa.""what is it, darling?" captain crewe answered, holding her closerand looking down into her face. "what is sara thinking of?""is this the place?" sara whispered, cuddling still closer tohim. "is it, papa?""yes, little sara, it is. we have reached it at last." and though she was only seven years old,she knew that he felt sad when he said it. it seemed to her many years since he hadbegun to prepare her mind for "the place,"
as she always called it. her mother had died when she was born, soshe had never known or missed her. her young, handsome, rich, petting fatherseemed to be the only relation she had in the world. they had always played together and beenfond of each other. she only knew he was rich because she hadheard people say so when they thought she was not listening, and she had also heardthem say that when she grew up she would be rich, too. she did not know all that being rich meant.
she had always lived in a beautifulbungalow, and had been used to seeing many servants who made salaams to her and calledher "missee sahib," and gave her her own way in everything. she had had toys and pets and an ayah whoworshipped her, and she had gradually learned that people who were rich had thesethings. that, however, was all she knew about it. during her short life only one thing hadtroubled her, and that thing was "the place" she was to be taken to some day. the climate of india was very bad forchildren, and as soon as possible they were
sent away from it--generally to england andto school. she had seen other children go away, andhad heard their fathers and mothers talk about the letters they received from them. she had known that she would be obliged togo also, and though sometimes her father's stories of the voyage and the new countryhad attracted her, she had been troubled by the thought that he could not stay withher. "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 verylong time, little sara," he had always said. "you will go to a nice house where therewill be a lot of little girls, and you will play together, and i will send you plentyof books, and you will grow so fast that it will seem scarcely a year before you are big enough and clever enough to come backand take care of papa." she had liked to think of that. to keep the house for her father; to ridewith him, and sit at the head of his table when he had dinner parties; to talk to himand 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 toattain it, she must make up her mind to go. she did not care very much for other littlegirls, 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 toherself. 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 arehere i suppose we must be resigned." he laughed at her old-fashioned speech andkissed 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 greatcompanion to him, and he felt he should be a lonely fellow when, on his return toindia, he went into his bungalow knowing he need not expect to see the small figure inits white frock come forward to meet him. so he held her very closely in his arms asthe cab rolled into the big, dull square in which stood the house which was theirdestination. it was a big, dull, brick house, exactlylike all the others in its row, but that on the front door there shone a brass plate onwhich was engraved in black letters: miss minchin,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 housewas somehow exactly like miss minchin. it was respectable and well furnished, buteverything in it was ugly; and the very armchairs seemed to have hard bones inthem. in the hall everything was hard andpolished--even the red cheeks of the moon face on the tall clock in the corner had asevere varnished look. the drawing room into which they wereushered was covered by a carpet with a
square pattern upon it, the chairs weresquare, and a heavy marble timepiece stood upon the heavy marble mantel. as she sat down in one of the stiffmahogany chairs, sara cast one of her quick looks about her."i don't like it, papa," she said. "but then i dare say soldiers--even braveones--don't really like going into battle." captain crewe laughed outright at this.he was young and full of fun, and he never tired of hearing sara's queer speeches. "oh, little sara," he said."what shall i do when i have no one to say solemn things to me?no one else is as solemn as you are."
"but why do solemn things make you laughso?" inquired sara. "because you are such fun when you saythem," he answered, laughing still more. and then suddenly he swept her into hisarms and kissed her very hard, stopping laughing all at once and looking almost asif tears had come into his eyes. it was just then that miss minchin enteredthe room. she was very like her house, sara felt:tall and dull, and respectable and ugly. she had large, cold, fishy eyes, and alarge, cold, fishy smile. it spread itself into a very large smilewhen she saw sara and captain crewe. she had heard a great many desirable thingsof the young soldier from the lady who had
recommended her school to him. among other things, she had heard that hewas a rich father who was willing to spend a great deal of money on his littledaughter. "it will be a great privilege to havecharge of such a beautiful and promising child, captain crewe," she said, takingsara's hand and stroking it. "lady meredith has told me of her unusualcleverness. a clever child is a great treasure in anestablishment like mine." sara stood quietly, with her eyes fixedupon miss minchin's face. she was thinking something odd, as usual."why does she say i am a beautiful child?"
she was thinking. "i am not beautiful at all.colonel grange's little girl, isobel, is beautiful.she has dimples and rose-colored cheeks, and long hair the color of gold. i have short black hair and green eyes;besides which, i am a thin child and not fair in the least.i am one of the ugliest children i ever saw. she is beginning by telling a story."she was mistaken, however, in thinking she was an ugly child.
she was not in the least like isobelgrange, who had been the beauty of the regiment, but she had an odd charm of herown. she was a slim, supple creature, rathertall for her age, and had an intense, attractive little face. her hair was heavy and quite black and onlycurled at the tips; her eyes were greenish gray, it is true, but they were big,wonderful eyes with long, black lashes, and though she herself did not like the colorof them, many other people did. still she was very firm in her belief thatshe was an ugly little girl, and she was not at all elated by miss minchin'sflattery.
"i should be telling a story if i said shewas beautiful," she thought; "and i should know i was telling a story.i believe i am as ugly as she is--in my way. what did she say that for?"after she had known miss minchin longer she learned why she had said it. she discovered that she said the same thingto each papa and mamma who brought a child to her school.sara stood near her father and listened while he and miss minchin talked. she had been brought to the seminarybecause lady meredith's two little girls
had been educated there, and captain crewehad a great respect for lady meredith's experience. sara was to be what was known as "a parlorboarder," and she was to enjoy even greater privileges than parlor boarders usuallydid. she was to have a pretty bedroom andsitting room of her own; she was to have a pony and a carriage, and a maid to take theplace of the ayah who had been her nurse in india. "i am not in the least anxious about hereducation," captain crewe said, with his gay laugh, as he held sara's hand andpatted it.
"the difficulty will be to keep her fromlearning too fast and too much. she is always sitting with her little noseburrowing into books. she doesn't read them, miss minchin; shegobbles them up as if she were a little wolf instead of a little girl. she is always starving for new books togobble, and she wants grown-up books-- great, big, fat ones--french and german aswell as english--history and biography and poets, and all sorts of things. drag her away from her books when she readstoo much. make her ride her pony in the row or go outand buy a new doll.
she ought to play more with dolls." "papa," said sara, "you see, if i went outand bought a new doll every few days i should have more than i could be fond of.dolls ought to be intimate friends. emily is going to be my intimate friend." captain crewe looked at miss minchin andmiss minchin looked at captain crewe. "who is emily?" she inquired."tell her, sara," captain crewe said, smiling. sara's green-gray eyes looked very solemnand quite soft as she answered. "she is a doll i haven't got yet," shesaid.
"she is a doll papa is going to buy for me. we are going out together to find her.i have called her emily. she is going to be my friend when papa isgone. i want her to talk to about him." miss minchin's large, fishy smile becamevery flattering indeed. "what an original child!" she said."what a darling little creature!" "yes," said captain crewe, drawing saraclose. "she is a darling little creature.take great care of her for me, miss minchin."
sara stayed with her father at his hotelfor several days; in fact, she remained with him until he sailed away again toindia. they went out and visited many big shopstogether, and bought a great many things. they bought, indeed, a great many morethings than sara needed; but captain crewe was a rash, innocent young man and wantedhis little girl to have everything she admired and everything he admired himself, so between them they collected a wardrobemuch too grand for a child of seven. there were velvet dresses trimmed withcostly furs, and lace dresses, and embroidered ones, and hats with great, softostrich feathers, and ermine coats and
muffs, and boxes of tiny gloves and handkerchiefs and silk stockings in suchabundant supplies that the polite young women behind the counters whispered to eachother that the odd little girl with the big, solemn eyes must be at least some foreign princess--perhaps the littledaughter of an indian rajah. and at last they found emily, but they wentto a number of toy shops and looked at a great many dolls before they discoveredher. "i want her to look as if she wasn't a dollreally," sara said. "i want her to look as if she listens wheni talk to her.
the trouble with dolls, papa"--and she puther head on one side and reflected as she said it--"the trouble with dolls is thatthey never seem to hear." so they looked at big ones and little ones--at dolls with black eyes and dolls with blue--at dolls with brown curls and dollswith golden braids, dolls dressed and dolls undressed. "you see," sara said when they wereexamining one who had no clothes. "if, when i find her, she has no frocks, wecan take her to a dressmaker and have her things made to fit. they will fit better if they are tried on."after a number of disappointments they
decided to walk and look in at the shopwindows and let the cab follow them. they had passed two or three places withouteven going in, when, as they were approaching a shop which was really not avery large one, sara suddenly started and clutched her father's arm. "oh, papa!" she cried."there is emily!" a flush had risen to her face and there wasan expression in her green-gray eyes as if she had just recognized someone she wasintimate with and fond of. "she is actually waiting there for us!" shesaid. "let us go in to her."
"dear me," said captain crewe, "i feel asif we ought to have someone to introduce us.""you must introduce me and i will introduce you," said sara. "but i knew her the minute i saw her--soperhaps she knew me, too." perhaps she had known her. she had certainly a very intelligentexpression in her eyes when sara took her in her arms. she was a large doll, but not too large tocarry about easily; she had naturally curling golden-brown hair, which hung likea mantle about her, and her eyes were a
deep, clear, gray-blue, with soft, thick eyelashes which were real eyelashes and notmere painted lines. "of course," said sara, looking into herface as she held her on her knee, "of course papa, this is emily." so emily was bought and actually taken to achildren's outfitter's shop and measured for a wardrobe as grand as sara's own. she had lace frocks, too, and velvet andmuslin ones, and hats and coats and beautiful lace-trimmed underclothes, andgloves and handkerchiefs and furs. "i should like her always to look as if shewas a child with a good mother," said sara.
"i'm her mother, though i am going to makea companion of her." captain crewe would really have enjoyed theshopping tremendously, but that a sad thought kept tugging at his heart. this all meant that he was going to beseparated from his beloved, quaint little comrade. he got out of his bed in the middle of thatnight and went and stood looking down at sara, who lay asleep with emily in herarms. her black hair was spread out on the pillowand emily's golden-brown hair mingled with it, both of them had lace-rufflednightgowns, and both had long eyelashes
which lay and curled up on their cheeks. emily looked so like a real child thatcaptain crewe felt glad she was there. he drew a big sigh and pulled his mustachewith a boyish expression. "heigh-ho, little sara!" he said to himself"i don't believe you know how much your daddy will miss you."the next day he took her to miss minchin's and left her there. he was to sail away the next morning.he explained to miss minchin that his solicitors, messrs. barrow & skipworth, had charge of hisaffairs in england and would give her any
advice she wanted, and that they would paythe bills she sent in for sara's expenses. he would write to sara twice a week, andshe was to be given every pleasure she asked for. "she is a sensible little thing, and shenever wants anything it isn't safe to give her," he said. then he went with sara into her littlesitting room and they bade each other good- by. sara sat on his knee and held the lapels ofhis coat in her small hands, and looked long and hard at his face."are you learning me by heart, little
sara?" he said, stroking her hair. "no," she answered."i know you by heart. you are inside my heart." and they put their arms round each otherand kissed as if they would never let each other go. when the cab drove away from the door, sarawas sitting on the floor of her sitting room, with her hands under her chin and hereyes following it until it had turned the corner of the square. emily was sitting by her, and she lookedafter it, too.
when miss minchin sent her sister, missamelia, to see what the child was doing, she found she could not open the door. "i have locked it," said a queer, politelittle voice from inside. "i want to be quite by myself, if youplease." miss amelia was fat and dumpy, and stoodvery much in awe of her sister. she was really the better-natured person ofthe two, but she never disobeyed miss minchin. she went downstairs again, looking almostalarmed. "i never saw such a funny, old-fashionedchild, sister," she said.
"she has locked herself in, and she is notmaking the least particle of noise." "it is much better than if she kicked andscreamed, as some of them do," miss minchin answered. "i expected that a child as much spoiled asshe is would set the whole house in an uproar.if ever a child was given her own way in everything, she is." "i've been opening her trunks and puttingher things away," said miss amelia. "i never saw anything like them--sable andermine on her coats, and real valenciennes lace on her underclothing.
you have seen some of her clothes.what do you think of them?" "i think they are perfectly ridiculous,"replied miss minchin, sharply; "but they will look very well at the head of the linewhen we take the schoolchildren to church on sunday. she has been provided for as if she were alittle princess." and upstairs in the locked room sara andemily sat on the floor and stared at the corner round which the cab had disappeared,while captain crewe looked backward, waving and kissing his hand as if he could notbear to stop.