Miss Honey’s Story

"Wemustn’thurrythis,"MissHoneysaid,"solet’shaveanothercupoftea.Anddoeatthatothersliceofbread.Youmustbehungry."

Matildatookthesecondsliceandstartedeatingitslowly.Themargarinewasn’tatallbad.Shedoubtedwhethershecouldhavetoldthedifferenceifshehadn’tknown."MissHoney,"shesaidsuddenly,"dotheypayyouverybadlyatourschool?"

MissHoneylookedupsharply."Nottoobadly,"shesaid."Igetaboutthesameastheothers."

"Butitmuststillbeverylittleifyouaresodreadfullypoor,"Matildasaid."Doalltheteacherslivelikethis,withnofurnitureandnokitchenstoveandnobathroom?"

"No,theydon’t,"MissHoneysaidratherstiffly."Ijusthappentobetheexception."

"Iexpectyoujusthappentolikelivinginaverysimpleway,"Matildasaid,probingalittlefurther."Itmustmakehousecleaninganawfulloteasierandyoudon’thavefurnituretopolishoranyofthosesillylittleornamentslyingaroundthathavetobedustedeveryday.AndIsupposeifyoudon’thaveafridgeyoudon’thavetogooutandbuyallsortsofjunkythingslikeeggsandmayonnaiseandice-creamtofillitupwith.Itmustsaveaterrificlotofshopping."

AtthispointMatildanoticedthatMissHoney’sfacehadgonealltightandpeculiar-looking.Herwholebodyhadbecomerigid.Hershoulderswerehuncheduphighandherlipswerepressedtogethertightandshesattheregrippinghermugofteainbothhandsandstaringdownintoitasthoughsearchingforawaytoanswerthesenot-quite-so-innocentquestions.

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