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02. The diamond mines 《小公主》牛津书虫第1级下(MP3+文本)

Chapter 2

The diamond mines

And so three years went by. Sara's father wrote to her often, and Sara wrote loving little letters back to him. One day a very exciting letter arrived. Everybody in the school talked about it for days.

"My friend,” wrote Mr. Crewe, “has some mines in northern India, and a month ago his workers found diamonds there. There are thousands of diamonds in these mines, but it is expensive work to get them out. My friend needs my help. So, Little Missus’ (this was Mr. Crewe's special name for Sara), “I am putting all my money into my friend's diamond mines, and one day you and I are going to be very rich…”

Sara was not interested in money, but a story about diamond mines in India was exciting. Nearly everybody was very pleased for Sara, but not Lavinia, of course.

"Huh!” she said. “My mother has a diamond. Lots of people have diamonds. What's so interesting about diamond mines?”

"But there are thousands of diamonds in these mines,” said Ermengarde. “Perhaps millions of them!”

Lavinia laughed, “Is Sara going to wear diamonds in her hair at breakfast, then? Or is it "Princess Sara" now?”

Sara's face went red. She looked at Lavinia angrily, but said quietly, “Some people call me “princess". I know that. But princesses don't get angry or say unkind things, so I'm not going to say anything to you, Lavinia.”

"To me, you are a princess,” Ermengarde said to Sara later. “And you always look like a princess, in your beautiful dresses.”

Sara was a princess to another girl, too. This was Becky. She was a servant in Miss Minchin's school, and she was only fourteen years old, but she worked all day and sometimes half the night. She carried things upstairs and downstairs, she cleaned the floors, she made the fires, and she was always tired and hungry and dirty. She and Sara had very different lives.

But one day Sara came into her bedroom, and there was Becky, sleeping in a chair.

"Oh, you poor thing!” Sara said.

Then Becky opened her eyes and saw Sara. She got up at once. “Oh, Miss!” she said. 'I'm very sorry, Miss! I just sat down for a minute and—”

"Don't be afraid,” said Sara. She gave Becky a friendly smile. “You were tired. That's all.”

"Are you are you going to tell Miss Minchin?” asked Becky. She began to move to the door.

"Of course not,” said Sara. “Please don't run away. Sit down again for a minute. You look so tired.”

"Oh, Miss, I can't!” Becky said. “You're very kind, Miss, but Miss Minchin—”

"Please,” said Sara. She took Becky's hand. 'You're only a little girl, like me. Let's be friends.”

And so Becky sat down again, and soon she and Sara were friends.?Nobody knew about this, of course. Rich little girls at Miss Minchin's school did not make friends with servant-girls, and it was a wonderful thing for Becky.

Nearly every day she and Sara met in Sara's bedroom, just for five or ten minutes. Becky was always hungry, and Sara often bought nice things for her to eat. They sat and talked, and sometimes Sara told Becky some of her stories. Becky loved that.

"Oh, Miss,” she said. “You tell them so beautifully! Sometimes I like your stories better than things to eat.”

And after those visits to Sara s room, Becky always felt better not so tired, and not so hungry.

Some months later Sara had her eleventh birthday. Lessons stopped for the afternoon and there was a big party for all the girls in the school.

"This party is expensive for us,” Miss Minchin said to her sister Amelia. “But it looks good for the school.”

That afternoon there was a visitor to the school—Miss Minchin's lawyer. He went with Miss Minchin into her office and they closed the door. In the schoolroom next door there was a lot of noise from Sara's party. Everybody in there was very happy.

But in the office Miss Minchin was not happy. She looked at the lawyer angrily. “What are you saying? Mr. Crewe has no money? What about the diamond mines?”

"There are no diamond mines,” said the lawyer. “Well, there are mines, but there are no diamonds in them.”

"But Mr. Crewe's good friend—” began Miss Minchin.

"Mr. Crewe s good friend,” said the lawyer, “ran away with all Mr. Crewe's money. Ralph Crewe was ill with a fever, and when he heard about this, he got worse. A week later he was dead.

"Dead!” cried Miss Minchin. “But what about his daughter Sara? And this expensive birthday party?”

"Sara Crewe has no money,” said the lawyer. “Not a penny in the world, Miss Minchin. Not a penny.”

"She must leave my school at once,” Miss Minchin said angrily. “She must go this afternoon!”

"Where?” said the lawyer. “Out into the streets? An eleven-year-old girl? That's not going to look very good for your school, Miss Minchin.”

Miss Minchin's face went red.

"You can't put her out in the streets,” said the lawyer. He stood up. “But perhaps she can work for you.”

The lawyer left, and Miss Minchin called her sister Amelia. “Bring Sara Crewe here at once,” she said.

Two minutes later Sara, in her beautiful blue party dress, stood in front of Miss Minchin.

"Have you a black dress, Sara?” Miss Minchin said coldly.

"Yes, Miss Minchin,” said Sara. “But it’s very small.”

"Go and put it on at once,” said Miss Minchin. “Your father is dead.?There were no diamond mines, and your father's friend ran away with all his money. You have nothing. Not a penny. But I am going to be very kind to you. You can stay in my house, but now you must be a servant and work for your bread. You can sleep in a servant's room upstairs, next to Becky's room.”
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