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Becky stared--still respectfully. She was filled with something approaching reverence for everything Sara did and said.
"I can't help thinking about my friend," Sara explained. "If he wants to keep himself a secret, it would be rude to try and find out who he is. But I do so want him to know how thankful I am to him--and how happy he has made me. Anyone who is kind wants to know when people have been made happy. They care for that more than for being thanked. I wish--I do wish--"
She stopped short because her eyes at that instant fell upon something standing on a table in a corner. It was something she had found in the room when she came up to it only two days before. It was a little writing-case fitted with paper and envelopes and pens and ink.
"Oh," she exclaimed, "why did I not think of that before?"
She rose and went to the corner and brought the case back to the fire.
"I can write to him," she said joyfully, "and leave it on the table. Then perhaps the person who takes the things away will take it, too. I won't ask him anything. He won't mind my thanking him, I feel sure."
So she wrote a note. This is what she said:
I hope you will not think it is impolite that I should write this note to you when you wish to keep yourself a secret. Please believe I do not mean to be impolite or try to find out anything at all; only I want to thank you for being so kind to me--so heavenly kind--and making everything like a fairy story. I am so grateful to you, and I am so happy--and so is Becky. Becky feels just as thankful as I do--it is all just as beautiful and wonderful to her as it is to me. We used to be so lonely and cold and hungry, and now--oh, just think what you have done for us! Please let me say just these words. It seems as if I OUGHT to say them. THANK you--THANK you--THANK you!
THE LITTLE GIRL IN THE ATTIC.
The next morning she left this on the little table, and in the evening it had been taken away with the other things; so she knew the Magician had received it, and she was happier for the thought. She was reading one of her new books to Becky just before they went to their respective beds, when her attention was attracted by a sound at the skylight. When she looked up from her page she saw that Becky had heard the sound also, as she had turned her head to look and was listening rather nervously.
"Something's there, miss," she whispered.
"Yes," said Sara, slowly. "It sounds--rather like a cat--trying to get in."
She left her chair and went to the skylight. It was a queer little sound she heard--like a soft scratching. She suddenly remembered something and laughed. She remembered a quaint little intruder who had made his way into the attic once before. She had seen him that very afternoon, sitting disconsolately on a table before a window in the Indian gentleman's house.
"Suppose," she whispered in pleased excitement--"just suppose it was the monkey who got away again. Oh, I wish it was!"
She climbed on a chair, very cautiously raised the skylight, and peeped out. It had been snowing all day, and on the snow, quite near her, crouched a tiny, shivering figure, whose small black face wrinkled itself piteously at sight of her.
"It is the monkey," she cried out. "He has crept out of the Lascar's attic, and he saw the light."
Becky ran to her side.
"Are you going to let him in, miss?" she said.
"Yes," Sara answered joyfully. "It's too cold for monkeys to be out. They're delicate. I'll coax him in."
She put a hand out delicately, speaking in a coaxing voice--as she spoke to the sparrows and to Melchisedec--as if she were some friendly little animal herself.
"Come along, monkey darling," she said. "I won't hurt you."
He knew she would not hurt him. He knew it before she laid her soft, caressing little paw on him and drew him towards her. He had felt human love in the slim brown hands of Ram Dass, and he felt it in hers. He let her lift him through the skylight, and when he found himself in her arms he cuddled up to her breast and looked up into her face.
"Nice monkey! Nice monkey!" she crooned, kissing his funny head. "Oh, I do love little animal things."
He was evidently glad to get to the fire, and when she sat down and held him on her knee he looked from her to Becky with mingled interest and appreciation.
"He IS plain-looking, miss, ain't he?" said Becky.
"He looks like a very ugly baby," laughed Sara. "I beg your pardon, monkey; but I'm glad you are not a baby. Your mother COULDN'T be proud of you, and no one would dare to say you looked like any of your relations. Oh, I do like you!"
She leaned back in her chair and reflected.
"Perhaps he's sorry he's so ugly," she said, "and it's always on his mind. I wonder if he HAS a mind. Monkey, my love, have you a mind?"
But the monkey only put up a tiny paw and scratched his head.
"What shall you do with him?" Becky asked.
"I shall let him sleep with me tonight, and then take him back to the Indian gentleman tomorrow. I am sorry to take you back, monkey; but you must go. You ought to be fondest of your own family; and I'm not a REAL relation."
And when she went to bed she made him a nest at her feet, and he curled up and slept there as if he were a baby and much pleased with his quarters.
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A Little Princess -by- Frances Hodgson Burnett