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کتاب: ماتیلدا / فصل 14

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متن انگلیسی فصل

The First Miracle

Matilda sat down again at her desk. The Trunchbull seated herself behind the teacher’s table. It was the first time she had sat down during the lesson. Then she reached out a hand and took hold of her water-jug. Still holding the jug by the handle but not lifting it yet, she said, “I have never been able to understand why small children are so disgusting. They are the bane of my life. They are like insects. They should be got rid of as early as possible. We get rid of flies with fly-spray and by hanging up fly-paper. I have often thought of inventing a spray for getting rid of small children. How splendid it would be to walk into this classroom with a gigantic spray-gun in my hands and start pumping it. Or better still, some huge strips of sticky paper. I would hang them all round the school and you’d all get stuck to them and that would be the end of it. Wouldn’t that be a good idea, Miss Honey?”

“If it’s meant to be a joke, Headmistress, I don’t think it’s a very funny one,” Miss Honey said from the back of the class.

“You wouldn’t, would you, Miss Honey,” the Trunchbull said. “And it’s not meant to be a joke. My idea of a perfect school, Miss Honey, is one that has no children in it at all.

One of these days I shall start up a school like that. I think it will be very successful.”

The woman’s mad, Miss Honey was telling herself. She’s round the twist. She’s the one who ought to be got rid of.

The Trunchbull now lifted the large blue porcelain water- jug and poured some water into her glass. And suddenly, with the water, out came the long slimy newt straight into the glass, plop!

The Trunchbull let out a yell and leapt off her chair as though a firecracker had gone off underneath her. And now the children also saw the long thin slimy yellow-bellied lizard¬like creature twisting and turning in the glass, and they squirmed and jumped about as well, shouting, “What is it?

Oh, it’s disgusting! It’s a snake! It’s a baby crocodile! It’s an alligator!”

“Look out, Miss Trunchbull!” cried Lavender. “I’ll bet it bites!”

The Trunchbull, this mighty female giant, stood there in her green breeches, quivering like a blancmange. She was especially furious that someone had succeeded in making her jump and yell like that because she prided herself on her toughness. She stared at the creature twisting and wriggling in the glass. Curiously enough, she had never seen a newt before. Natural history was not her strong point. She hadn’t the faintest idea what this thing was. It certainly looked extremely unpleasant. Slowly she sat down again in her chair. She looked at this moment more terrifying than ever before. The fires of fury and hatred were smouldering in her small black eyes.

“Matilda!” she barked. “Stand up!”

“Who, me?” Matilda said. “What have I done?”

“Stand up, you disgusting little cockroach!”

“I haven’t done anything, Miss Trunchbull, honestly I haven’t. I’ve never seen that slimy thing before!”

“Stand up at once, you filthy little maggot!”

Reluctantly, Matilda got to her feet. She was in the second row. Lavender was in the row behind her, feeling a bit guilty. She hadn’t intended to get her friend into trouble. On the other hand, she was certainly not about to own up.

'’You are a vile, repulsive, repellent, malicious little brute!” the Trunchbull was shouting. “You are not fit to be in this school! You ought to be behind bars, that’s where you ought to be! I shall have you drummed out of this establishment in utter disgrace! I shall have the prefects chase you down the corridor and out of the front-door with hockey-sticks! I shall have the staff escort you home under armed guard! And then I shall make absolutely sure you are sent to a reformatory for delinquent girls for the minimum of forty years!”

The Trunchbull was in such a rage that her face had taken on a boiled colour and little flecks of froth were gathering at the corners of her mouth.

But she was not the only one who was losing her cool. Matilda was also beginning to see red. She didn’t in the least mind being accused of having done something she had actually done. She could see the justice of that. It was, however, a totally new experience for her to be accused of a crime that she definitely had not committed. She had had absolutely nothing to do with that beastly creature in the glass. By golly, she thought, that rotten Trunchbull isn’t going to pin this one on me!

“I did not do it!” she screamed.

“Oh yes, you did!” the Trunchbull roared back. “Nobody else could have thought up a trick like that! Your father wasright to warn me about you!” The woman seemed to have lost control of herself completely. She was ranting like a maniac.

“You are finished in this school, young lady!” she shouted.

“You are finished everywhere. I shall personally see to it that you are put away in a place where not even the crows can land their droppings on you! You will probably never see the light of day again!”

“I’m telling you I did not do it!” Matilda screamed. “I’ve never even seen a creature like that in my life!”

“You have put a . . . a . . . a crocodile in my drinking water!” the Trunchbull yelled back. “There is no worse crime in the world against a Headmistress! Now sit down and don’t say a word! Go on, sit down at once!”

“But I’m telling you . . .” Matilda shouted, refusing to sit down.

“I am telling you to shut up!” the Trunchbull roared. “If you don’t shut up at once and sit down I shall remove my belt and let you have it with the end that has the buckle!”

Slowly Matilda sat down. Oh, the rottenness of it all! The unfairness! How dare they expel her for something she hadn’t done!

Matilda felt herself getting angrier . . . and angrier . . . and angrier . . . so unbearably angry that something was bound to explode inside her very soon.

The newt was still squirming in the tall glass of water. It looked horribly uncomfortable. The glass was not big enough for it. Matilda glared at the Trunchbull. How she hated her.

She glared at the glass with the newt in it. She longed to march up and grab the glass and tip the contents, newt and all, over the Trunchbull’s head. She trembled to think what the Trunchbull would do to her if she did that.

The Trunchbull was sitting behind the teacher’s table staring with a mixture of horror and fascination at the newt wriggling in the glass. Matilda’s eyes were also riveted on the glass. And now, quite slowly, there began to creep over Matilda a most extraordinary and peculiar feeling. The feeling was mostly in the eyes. A kind of electricity seemed to be gathering inside them. A sense of power was brewing in those eyes of hers, a feeling of great strength was settling itself deep inside her eyes. But there was also another feeling which was something else altogether, and which she could not understand. It was like flashes of lightning. Little waves of

lightning seemed to be flashing out of her eyes. Her eyeballs were beginning to get hot, as though vast energy was building up somewhere inside them. It was an amazing sensation. She kept her eyes steadily on the glass, and now the power was concentrating itself in one small part of each eye and growing stronger and stronger and it felt as though millions of tiny little invisible arms with hands on them were shooting out of her eyes towards the glass she was staring at.

“Tip it!” Matilda whispered. “Tip it over!”

She saw the glass wobble. It actually tilted backwards a fraction of an inch, then righted itself again. She kept pushing at it with all those millions of invisible little arms and hands that were reaching out from her eyes, feeling the power that was flashing straight from the two little black dots in the very centres of her eyeballs.

“Tip it!” she whispered again. “Tip it over!”

Once more the glass wobbled. She pushed harder still,

willing her eyes to shoot out more power. And then, very very slowly, so slowly she could hardly see it happening, the glass began to lean backwards, farther and farther and farther backwards until it was balancing on just one edge of its base. And there it teetered for a few seconds before finally toppling over and falling with a sharp tinkle on to the desk-top. The water in it and the squirming newt splashed out all over Miss Trunchbull’s enormous bosom. The headmistress let out a yell that must have rattled every window-pane in the building and for the second time in the last five minutes she shot out of her chair like a rocket. The newt clutched desperately at the cotton smock where it covered the great chest and there it clung with its little claw-like feet. The Trunchbull looked down and saw it and she bellowed even louder and with a swipe of her hand she sent the creature flying across the class-room. It landed on the floor beside Lavender’s desk and very quickly she ducked down and picked it up and put it into her pencil-box for another time. A newt, she decided, was a useful thing to have around.

The Trunchbull, her face more like a boiled ham than ever, was standing before the class quivering with fury. Her massive bosom was heaving in and out and the splash of water down the front of it made a dark wet patch that had probably soaked right through to her skin.

“Who did it?” she roared. “Come on! Own up! Step forward! You won’t escape this time! Who is responsible for this dirty job? Who pushed over this glass?”

Nobody answered. The whole room remained silent as a tomb.

“Matilda!” she roared. “It was you! I know it was you!”

Matilda, in the second row, sat very still and said nothing. A strange feeling of serenity and confidence was sweeping over her and all of a sudden she found that she was frightened by nobody in the world. With the power of her eyes alone she had compelled a glass of water to tip and spill its contents over the horrible Headmistress, and anybody

who could do that could do anything.

“Speak up, you clotted carbuncle!” roared the Trunchbull. “Admit that you did it!”

Matilda looked right back into the flashing eyes of this infuriated female giant and said with total calmness, “I have not moved away from my desk, Miss Trunchbull, since the lesson began. I can say no more.”

Suddenly the entire class seemed to rise up against the Headmistress. “She didn’t move!” they cried out. “Matilda didn’t move! Nobody moved! You must have knocked it over yourself!”

“I most certainly did not knock it over myself!” roared the Trunchbull. “How dare you suggest a thing like that! Speak up, Miss Honey! You must have seen everything! Who knocked over my glass?”

“None of the children did, Miss Trunchbull,” Miss Honey answered. “I can vouch for it that nobody has moved from his or her desk all the time you’ve been here, except for Nigel and he has not moved from his corner.”

Miss Trunchbull glared at Miss Honey. Miss Honey met her gaze without flinching. “I am telling you the truth, Headmistress,” she said. “You must have knocked it over without knowing it. That sort of thing is easy to do.”

“I am fed up with you useless bunch of midgets!” roared the Trunchbull. “I refuse to waste any more of my precious time in here!” And with that she marched out of the class-room, slamming the door behind her.

In the stunned silence that followed, Miss Honey walked up to the front of the class and stood behind her table. “Phew!” she said. “I think we’ve had enough school for one day, don’t you? The class is dismissed. You may all go out into the playground and wait for your parents to come and take you home.”

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