مرد ورم وود، فروشنده بزرگ اتومبیل

کتاب: ماتیلدا / فصل 2

مرد ورم وود، فروشنده بزرگ اتومبیل

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Mr Wormwood, the Great Car Dealer

Matilda’s parents owned quite a nice house with three bedrooms upstairs, while on the ground floor there was a dining-room and a living-room and a kitchen. Her father was a dealer in second-hand cars and it seemed he did pretty well at it.

“Sawdust”, he would say proudly, “is one of the great secrets of my success. And it costs me nothing. I get it free from the sawmill.”

“What do you use it for?” Matilda asked him.

“Ha!” the father said. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

“I don’t see how sawdust can help you to sell second-hand cars, daddy.”

“That’s because you’re an ignorant little twit,” the father said. His speech was never very delicate but Matilda was used to it. She also knew that he liked to boast and she would egg him on shamelessly.

“You must be very clever to find a use for something that costs nothing,” she said. “I wish I could do it.”

“You couldn’t,” the father said. “You’re too stupid. But I don’t mind telling young Mike here about it seeing he’ll be joining me in the business one day.” Ignoring Matilda, he turned to his son and said, “I’m always glad to buy a car when some fool has been crashing the gears so badly they’re all worn out and rattle like mad. I get it cheap. Then all I do is mix a lot of sawdust with the oil in the gear-box and it runs as sweet as a nut.”

“How long will it run like that before it starts rattling again?” Matilda asked him.

“Long enough for the buyer to get a good distance away,” the father said, grinning. “About a hundred miles.”

“But that’s dishonest, daddy,” Matilda said. “It’s cheating.” “No one ever got rich being honest,” the father said.

“Customers are there to be diddled.”

Mr Wormwood was a small ratty-looking man whose front teeth stuck out underneath a thin ratty moustache. He liked to wear jackets with large brightly-coloured checks and he sported ties that were usually yellow or pale green. “Now take mileage for instance,” he went on. “Anyone who’s buying a second-hand car, the first thing he wants to know is how many miles it’s done. Right?”

“Right,” the son said.

“So I buy an old dump that’s got about a hundred and fifty thousand miles on the clock. I get it cheap. But no one’s going to buy it with a mileage like that, are they? And these days you can’t just take the speedometer out and fiddle the numbers back like you used to ten years ago. They’ve fixed it so it’s impossible to tamper with it unless you’re a ruddy watchmaker or something. So what do I do? I use my brains, laddie, that’s what I do.”

“How?” young Michael asked, fascinated. He seemed to have inherited his father’s love of crookery.

“I sit down and say to myself, how can I convert a mileage reading of one hundred and fifty thousand into only ten thousand without taking the speedometer to pieces? Well, if I were to run the car backwards for long enough then obviously that would do it. The numbers would click backwards, wouldn’t they? But who’s going to drive a flaming car in reverse for thousands and thousands of miles? You couldn’t do it!”

“Of course you couldn’t,” young Michael said.

“So I scratch my head,” the father said. “I use my brains. When you’ve been given a fine brain like I have, you’ve got to use it. And all of a sudden, the answer hits me. I tell you, I felt exactly like that other brilliant fellow must have felt when he discovered penicillin. ‘Eureka!’ I cried. ‘I’ve got it!” ‘ “What did you do, dad?” the son asked him.

“The speedometer”, Mr Wormwood said, “is run off a cable that is coupled up to one of the front wheels. So first I disconnect the cable where it joins the front wheel. Next, I get one of those high-speed electric drills and I couple that up to the end of the cable in such a way that when the drill turns, it turns the cable backwards. You got me so far? You following me?”

“Yes, daddy,” young Michael said.

“These drills run at a tremendous speed,” the father said, “so when I switch on the drill the mileage numbers on the speedo spin backwards at a fantastic rate. I can knock fifty thousand miles off the clock in a few minutes with my high-speed electric drill. And by the time I’ve finished, the car’s only done ten thousand and it’s ready for sale. ‘She’s almost new,’ I say to the customer. ‘She’s hardly done ten thou.

Belonged to an old lady who only used it once a week for shopping.’ “

“Can you really turn the mileage back with an electric drill?” young Michael asked.

“I’m telling you trade secrets,” the father said. “So don’t you go talking about this to anyone else. You don’t want me put in jug, do you?”

“I won’t tell a soul,” the boy said. “Do you do this to many cars, dad?”

“Every single car that comes through my hands gets the treatment,” the father said. “They all have their mileage cut to under under ten thou before they’re offered for sale. And to think I invented that all by myself,” he added proudly. “It’s made me a mint.”

Matilda, who had been listening closely, said, “But daddy, that’s even more dishonest than the sawdust. It’s disgusting. You’re cheating people who trust you.”

“If you don’t like it then don’t eat the food in this house,” the father said. “It’s bought with the profits.”

“It’s dirty money,” Matilda said. “I hate it.”

Two red spots appears on the father’s cheeks. “Who the heck do you think you are,” he shouted, “The Archbishop of Canterbury or something, preaching to me about honesty? You’re just an ignorant little squirt who hasn’t the foggiest idea what you’re talking about!”

“Quite right, Harry,” the mother said. And to Matilda she said, “You’ve got a nerve talking to your father like that. Now keep your nasty mouth shut so we can all watch this programme in peace.”

They were in the living-room eating their suppers on their knees in front of the telly. The suppers were TV dinners in floppy aluminium containers with separate compartments for the stewed meat, the boiled potatoes and the peas. Mrs Wormwood sat munching her meal with her eyes glued to the American soap- opera on the screen. She was a large woman whose hair was dyed platinum blonde except where you could see the mousy- brown bits growing out from the roots. She wore heavy makeup and she had one of those unfortunate bulging figures where the flesh appears to be strapped in all around the body to prevent it from falling out.

“Mummy,” Matilda said, “would you mind if I ate my supper in the dining-room so I could read my book?”

The father glanced up sharply. “I would mind!” he snapped. “Supper is a family gathering and no one leaves the table till it’s over!”

“But we’re not at the table,” Matilda said. “We never are. We’re always eating off our knees and watching the telly.

“What’s wrong with watching the telly, may I ask?” the father said. His voice had suddenly become soft and dangerous.

Matilda didn’t trust herself to answer him, so she kept quiet. She could feel the anger boiling up inside her. She knew it was wrong to hate her parents like this, but she was finding it very hard not to do so. All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen. If only they would read a little Dickens or Kipling they would soon discover there was more to life than cheating people and watching television.

Another thing. She resented being told constantly that she was ignorant and stupid when she knew she wasn’t. The anger inside her went on boiling and boiling, and as she lay in bed that night she made a decision. She decided that every time her father or her mother was beastly to her, she would get her own back in some way or another. A small victory or two would help her to tolerate their idiocies and would stop her from going crazy. You must remember that she was still hardly five years old and it is not easy for somebody as small as that to score points against an all-powerful grown-up.

Even so, she was determined to have a go. Her father, after what had happened in front of the telly that evening, was first on her list.

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