سومین معجزه

کتاب: ماتیلدا / فصل 20

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

The Third Miracle

The next day was Thursday, and that, as the whole of Miss

Honey’s class knew, was the day on which the Headmistress would take charge of the first lesson after lunch.

In the morning Miss Honey said to them, “One or two of you did not particularly enjoy the last occasion when the Headmistress took the class, so let us all try to be especially careful and clever today. How are your ears, Eric, after your last encounter with Miss Trunchbull?”

“She stretched them,” Eric said. “My mother said she’s positive they are bigger than they were.”

“And Rupert,” Miss Honey said, “I am glad to see you didn’t lose any of your hair after last Thursday.”

“My head was jolly sore afterwards,” Rupert said.

“And you, Nigel,” Miss Honey said, “do please try not to be smart-aleck with the Headmistress today. You were really quite cheeky to her last week.”

“I hate her,” Nigel said.

“Try not to make it so obvious,” Miss Honey said. “It doesn’t pay. She’s a very strong woman. She has muscles like steel ropes.”

“I wish I was grown up,” Nigel said. “I’d knock her flat.”

“I doubt you would,” Miss Honey said. ‘‘No one has ever got the better of her yet.”

“What will she be testing us on this afternoon?” a small girl asked.

“Almost certainly the three-times table,” Miss Honey said. “That’s what you are all meant to have learnt this past week. Make sure you know it.”

Lunch came and went.

After lunch, the class reassembled. Miss Honey stood at one side of the room. They all sat silent, apprehensive, waiting. And then, like some giant of doom, the enormous Trunchbull strode into the room in her green breeches and cotton smock. She went straight to her jug of water and lifted it up by the handle and peered inside.

“I am glad to see”, she said, “that there are no slimy creatures in my drinking-water this time. If there had been, then something exceptionally unpleasant would have happened to every single member of this class. And that includes you, Miss Honey.”

The class remained silent and very tense. They had learnt a bit about this tigress by now and nobody was about to take any chances.

“Very well,” boomed the Trunchbull. “Let us see how well you know your three-times table. Or to put it another way, let us see how badly Miss Honey has taught you the three-times table.” The Trunchbull was standing in front of the class, legs apart, hands on hips, scowling at Miss Honey who stood silent to one side.

Matilda, sitting motionless at her desk in the second row, was watching things very closely.

“You!” the Trunchbull shouted, pointing a finger the size of a rolling-pin at a boy called Wilfred. Wilfred was on the extreme right of the front row. “Stand up, you!” she shouted at him.

Wilfred stood up.

“Recite the three-times table backwards!” the Trunchbull barked.

“Backwards?” stammered Wilfred. “But I haven’t learnt it backwards.”

“There you are!” cried the Trunchbull, triumphant. “She’s taught you nothing! Miss Honey, why have you taught them absolutely nothing at all in the last week?”

“That is not true, Headmistress,” Miss Honey said. “They have all learnt their three-times table. But I see no point in teaching it to them backwards. There is little point in teaching anything backwards. The whole object of life,

Headmistress, is to go forwards. I venture to ask whether even you, for example, can spell a simple word like wrong backwards straight away. I very much doubt it.”

“Don’t you get impertinent with me, Miss Honey!” the Trunchbull snapped, then she turned back to the unfortunate Wilfred. “Very well, boy,” she said. “Answer me this. I have seven apples, seven oranges and seven bananas. How many pieces of fruit do I have altogether? Hurry up! Get on with it! Give me the answer!”

“That’s adding up!” Wilfred cried. “That isn’t the three- times table!”

“You blithering idiot!” shouted the Trunchbull. You festering gumboil! You flea-bitten fungus! That is the three- times table! You have three separate lots of fruit and each lot has seven pieces. Three sevens are twenty-one. Can’t you see that, you stagnant cesspool! I’ll give you one more chance. I have eight coconuts, eight monkey-nuts and eight nutty little idiots like you. How many nuts do I have altogether? Answer me quickly.”

Poor Wilfred was properly flustered. “Wait!” he cried. “Please wait! I’ve got to add up eight coconuts and eight monkey-nuts . . .” He started counting on his fingers.

“You bursting blister!” yelled the Trunchbull. “You moth- eaten maggot! This is not adding up! This is multiplication! The answer is three eights! Or is it eight threes? What is the difference between three eights and eight threes? Tell me that, you mangled little wurzel and look sharp about it!”

By now Wilfred was far too frightened and bewildered even to speak.

In two strides the Trunchbull was beside him, and by some amazing gymnastic trick, it may have been judo or karate, she flipped the back of Wilfred’s legs with one of her feet so that the boy shot up off the ground and turned a somersault in the air. But halfway through the somersault she caught him by an ankle and held him dangling upside-down like a plucked chicken in a shop-window.

“Eight threes,” the Trunchbull shouted, swinging Wilfred from side to side by his ankle, “eight threes is the same as three eights and three eights are twenty-four! Repeat that!”

At exactly that moment Nigel, at the other end of the room, jumped to his feet and started pointing excitedly at the blackboard and screaming, “The chalk! The chalk! Look at the chalk! It’s moving all on its own!”

So hysterical and shrill was Nigel’s scream that everyone in the place, including the Trunchbull, looked up at the blackboard. And there, sure enough, a brand-new piece of chalk was hovering near the grey-black writing surface of the blackboard.

“It’s writing something!” screamed Nigel. “The chalk is writing something!”

And indeed it was.

“What the blazes is this?” yelled the Trunchbull. It had shaken her to see her own first name being written like that by an invisible hand. She dropped Wilfred on to the floor.

Then she yelled at nobody in particular, ‘‘Who’s doing this?

Who’s writing it?

The chalk continued to write.

Everyone in the place heard the gasp that came from the Trunchbull’s throat. “No!” she cried, “It can’t be! It can’t be Magnus!”

Miss Honey, at the side of the room glanced swiftly at Matilda. The child was sitting very straight at her desk, the head held high, the mouth compressed, the eyes glittering like two stars.

For some reason everyone now looked at the Trunchbull. The woman’s face had turned white as snow and her mouth was opening and shutting like a halibut out of water and giving out a series of strangled gasps.

The chalk stopped writing. It hovered for a few moments, then suddenly it dropped to the floor with a tinkle and broke in two.

Wilfred, who had managed to resume his seat in the front row, screamed, “Miss Trunchbull has fallen down! Miss Trunchbull is on the floor!”

This was the most sensational bit of news of all and the entire class jumped up out of their seats to have a really good look. And there she was, the huge figure of the Headmistress, stretched full-length on her back across the floor, out for the count.

Miss Honey ran forward and knelt beside the prostrate giant. “She’s fainted!” she cried. “She’s out cold! Someone go and fetch the matron at once.” Three children ran out of the room.

Nigel, always ready for action, leapt up and seized the big jug of water. “My father says cold water is the best way to wake up someone who’s fainted,” he said, and with that he tipped the entire contents of the jug over the Trunchbull’s head. No one, not even Miss Honey, protested.

As for Matilda, she continued to sit motionless at her desk.

She was feeling curiously elated. She felt as though she had touched something that was not quite of this world, the highest point of the heavens, the farthest star. She had felt most wonderfully the power surging up behind her eyes, gushing like a warm fluid inside her skull, and her eyes had become scorching hot, hotter than ever before, and things had come bursting out of her eye-sockets and then the piece of chalk had lifted itself up and had begun to write. It seemed as though she had hardly done anything, it had all been so simple.

The school matron, followed by five teachers, three women and two men, came rushing into the room.

“By golly, somebody’s floored her at last!” cried one of the men, grinning. “Congratulations, Miss Honey!”

“Who threw the water over her?” asked the matron.

“I did,” said Nigel proudly.

“Good for you,” another teacher said. “Shall we get some more?”

“Stop that,” the matron said. “We must carry her up to the sick-room.”

It took all five teachers and the matron to lift the enormous woman and stagger with her out of the room.

Miss Honey said to the class, “I think you’d all better go out to the playground and amuse yourselves until the next lesson.” Then she turned and walked over to the blackboard and carefully wiped out all the chalk writing.

The children began filing out of the classroom. Matilda started to go with them, but as she passed Miss Honey she paused and her twinkling eyes met the teacher’s eyes and Miss Honey ran forward and gave the tiny child a great big hug and a kiss.

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