کلاه و چسب قدرتمند

کتاب: ماتیلدا / فصل 3

کلاه و چسب قدرتمند

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  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
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متن انگلیسی فصل

The Hat and the Superglue

The following morning, just before the father left for his beastly second-hand car garage, Matilda slipped into the cloakroom and got hold of the hat he wore each day to work.

She had to stand on her toes and reach up as high as she could with a walking-stick in order to hook the hat off the peg, and even then she only just made it. The hat itself was one of those flat-topped pork-pie jobs with a jay’s feather stuck in the hat-band and Mr Wormwood was very proud of it. He thought it gave him a rakish daring look, especially when he wore it at an angle with his loud checked jacket and green tie. Matilda, holding the hat in one hand and a thin tube of Superglue in the other, proceeded to squeeze a line of glue very neatly all round the inside rim of the hat. Then she carefully hooked the hat back on to the peg with the walking- stick. She timed this operation very carefully, applying the glue just as her father was getting up from the breakfast table. Mr Wormwood didn’t notice anything when he put the hat on, but when he arrived at the garage he couldn’t get it off.

Superglue is very powerful stuff, so powerful it will take your skin off if you pull too hard. Mr Wormwood didn’t want to be scalped so he had to keep the hat on his head the whole day long, even when putting sawdust in gear-boxes and fiddling the mileages of cars with his electric drill. In an effort to save face, he adopted a casual attitude hoping that his staff would think that he actually meant to keep his hat on all day long just for the heck of it, like gangsters do in the films.

When he got home that evening he still couldn’t get the hat off. “Don’t be silly,” his wife said. “Come here. I’ll take it off for you.”

She gave the hat a sharp yank. Mr Wormwood let out a yell that rattled the window-panes. “Ow-w-w!” he screamed. “Don’t do that! Let go! You’ll take half the skin off my forehead!”

Matilda, nestling in her usual chair, was watching this performance over the rim of her book with some interest.

“What’s the matter, daddy?” she said. “Has your head suddenly swollen or something?”

The father glared at his daughter with deep suspicion, but said nothing. How could he? Mrs Wormwood said to him, “It must be Superglue. It couldn’t be anything else. That’ll teach

you to go playing round with nasty stuff like that. I expect you were trying to stick another feather in your hat.”

“I haven’t touched the flaming stuff!” Mr Wormwood shouted. He turned and looked again at Matilda who looked back at him with large innocent brown eyes.

Mrs Wormwood said to him, “You should read the label on the tube before you start messing with dangerous products. Always follow the instructions on the label.”

“What in heaven’s name are you talking about, you stupid witch?” Mr Wormwood shouted, clutching the brim of his hat to stop anyone trying to pull it off again. “D’you think I’m so stupid I’d glue this thing to my head on purpose?”

Matilda said, “There’s a boy down the road who got some Superglue on his finger without knowing it and then he put his finger to his nose.”

Mr Wormwood jumped. “What happened to him?” he spluttered.

“The finger got stuck inside his nose,” Matilda said, “and he had to go around like that for a week. People kept saying to him, ‘Stop picking your nose,’ and he couldn’t do anything about it. He looked an awful fool.”

“Serve him right,” Mrs Wormwood said. “He shouldn’t have put his finger up there in the first place. It’s a nasty habit. If all children had Superglue put on their fingers they’d soon stop doing it.”

Matilda said, “Grown-ups do it too, mummy. I saw you doing it yesterday in the kitchen.”

“That’s quite enough from you,” Mrs Wormwood said, turning pink.

Mr Wormwood had to keep his hat on all through supper in front of the television. He looked ridiculous and he stayed very silent.

When he went up to bed he tried again to get the thing off, and so did his wife, but it wouldn’t budge. “How am I going to have my shower?” he demanded.

“You’ll just have to do without it, won’t you,” his wife told him. And later on, as she watched her skinny little husband skulking around the bedroom in his purple-striped pyjamas with a pork-pie hat on his head, she thought how stupid he looked. Hardly the kind of man a wife dreams about, she told herself.

Mr Wormwood discovered that the worst thing about having a permanent hat on his head was having to sleep in it.

It was impossible to lie comfortably on the pillow. “Now do stop fussing around,” his wife said to him after he had been tossing and turning for about an hour. “I expect it will be loose by the morning and then it’ll slip off easily.”

But it wasn’t loose by the morning and it wouldn’t slip off. So Mrs Wormwood took a pair of scissors and cut the thing off his head, bit by bit, first the top and then the brim. Where the inner band had stuck to the hair all around the sides and back, she had to chop the hair off right to the skin so that he finished up with a bald white ring round his head, like some sort of a monk. And in the front, where the band had stuck directly to the bare skin, there remained a whole lot of small patches of brown leathery stuff that no amount of washing would get off.

At breakfast Matilda said to him, “You must try to get those bits off your forehead, daddy. It looks as though you’ve got little brown insects crawling about all over you. People will think you’ve got lice.”

“Be quiet!” the father snapped. “Just keep your nasty mouth shut, will you!”

All in all it was a most satisfactory exercise. But it was surely too much to hope that it had taught the father a permanent lesson.

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