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A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett first published in 1905 - LWT 1986
Out in India, Captain Crewe meets up with Carrisford who is an old friend from when they were at school together. Carrisford is living mainly in Africa looking for diamond mines and has some business interests he wishes to offer Captain Crewe. Captain Crewe trusts his old friend implicitly and buys a full half share in the business. The total of £100,000 is his entire savings and he cannot afford to lose it. Crewe hands over a bankers draft for the money. Crewe intends to take his little soldier (his daughter Sara) on a tour of Europe before dropping her off at boarding school in England. Sara never knew her mother apart from the fact she was French.
The boarding school is run by Miss Minchin and her sister and is entirely for young ladies. Captain Crewe requests that his daughter has her own pony and trap and that a French maid be appointed to her needs.
When Miss Minchin is informed how rich Captain Crewe is and from what family he comes from, she suggests to her sister that they should raise the fees. They are very pleased that Sara Crewe is to attend their school.
Back in India Sara is reluctant to leave her friend and maid behind. She also wants to taker her books with her. Her father promises to buy her new first editions of any books she wants. He tells Sara of the half share in a diamond mine that he has bought and that although they are already rich, they will soon become millionaires.
Now in England, Sara has purchased a special doll whom she names Emily. She looks at the people and busy streets of London as the carriage moves towards her new school. It is very different from the life in India she has been brought up with.
Sara and Captain Crewe meet Miss Minchin at the new school. Sara is a little anxious about being left in the new school. Miss Minchin promises Captain Crewe that she will take care of Sara as though she were own. Miss Minchin then shows Sara her room and introduces her to Mariette, her French maid. Mariette is very friendly and will not allow Sara to unpack, insisting that it is her task. Captain Crewe enters the room and then says good bye. It is the last time Sara sees her father alive again.
The next morning the school girls enter the classroom. They are all talking about the new school girl who has six petticoats which apparently shows she is extremely wealthy. Sara is introduced to the class by Miss Minchin who displays a little impatience with her and reveals the first hint at the possible nasty person that exists beneath the mask. She orders Sara to learn a French book as Captain Crewe has given her a French maid. Sara tries to explain that she is fluent in French but Miss Minchin refuses to listen and shouts at her to sit down and get on with the task at hand..
On the arrival of Monsieur Dufarge (the French teacher), Miss Minchin tries to make Sara out to be rude and spoilt. Sara then astonishes everyone by having a conversation in fluent French. All the girls are in awe at how polite she is. Later in Sara's room, Becky (a common scullery maid) enters Sara's room to take out the coal scuttle. She looks at all the clothes and belongings of Sara. She then takes the empty coal scuttle and hurries down stairs to the kitchen only to find that she has missed breakfast. Cook is not very sympathetic and scolds her for her slowness. Poor Becky will go hungry that morning.
Later in the French class Sara befriends Ermengarde who is not very good at French. Ermengarde is upset because the other girls make fun of her problems with pronunciation and general problems in education. Sara asks Ermengarde if she would like to go to her room and meet Emily. Ermengarde is very happy to have a new friend.
Back in India, Captain Crew receives some bad news. Carrisford has sent him a letter stating that the geologist was wrong and their were no diamonds in the mine and that they have lost everything. Crewe is already a little ill, collapses at the news. As he collapses he drops his photograph of Sara which cracks.
The Story in Six Parts