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> 小学英语 > 小学英语教材 > 澳大利亚语文第四册 >  第2课

(原版)澳大利亚语文第四册 LESSON 2

所属教程:澳大利亚语文第四册

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2021年11月25日

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LESSON 2 POPPET’S VISIT TO THE SCHOOL

POPPET’S VISIT TO THE SCHOOL

II

AWAY down the long room she went again, only this time her hand was being held in a firm, kindly grasp.

“Oh!” she said again, when near the door a great, slouching fellow with a big head moved to help another boy with a blackboard.

“What?” said Mr. Burnham, when they were outside; he had noticed her intense interest.

“Was that Bull-dog Hawkins—the fellow that told?” she said.

He smiled somewhat; Hawkins was not a favourite of his, and the fitting name sounded odd on the little girl’s lips.

“His name is Hawkins,” he said, “and yes; he gave the information [1] ; but that has nothing to do with it, my child. Now, tell me what it is you have to say.”

He had taken her into a little room the walls of which were lined with books; he drew up a chair for himself, and one for her, but she preferred standing against his knee.

Almost she convinced him, so great was the belief in her shining eyes, so utterly unshaken her trust [2] . She told him everything; and he listened with patience and attention even to the smallest detail [3] , asking a question here and there, but, for the most part, letting her tell her story in her own way.

When she told of the good-bye kiss Bunty had given her at the staircase window, she broke down a little; but he slipped his arm round her waist, and she shed her tears on his coat-sleeve. How Bunty would have stared! She showed the dirty scrap of paper which she had found after her brother had left, and in which he had declared his innocence, and Mr. Burnham read it thoughtfully.

“If only he had never told a lie before,” he said, “then perhaps—”

Oh, if only she could have flung back her head, and said, “He has never told a lie in his life, sir; never—never!”

Shame at not being able to do so made the dear, curly head droop a little; and two more tears forced their way from under her eyelids, and fell sadly down her cheek.

“I’m sure he never will again,” she said, with sorrowful hopefulness. “But, oh, sir, he couldn’t be a thief! Oh, how could he?”

“Well, I don’t see how he could be altogether bad with such a sister,” Mr. Burnham said slowly. “What sort of a boy is he at home? Is he good to you?”

“Oh yes,” said Poppet,—“oh yes, indeed!”

And it is a fact that not a single act that disproved [4] this came to the little girl’s mind. She remembered nothing but the times he had been good to her.

“Twice I was sent to bed without tea, and he brought me all his pudding in some newspaper,” she said eagerly; “and, when my throat was so sore, and they wouldn’t let him in, he used to climb up the creeper if no one was in the room, and smile at me through the window. And another time I was ill, he sat on the mat outside the door all night; Meg found him in the morning asleep with his head on the oilcloth. And, when it was my birthday—I was nine—and he had no money, he sold his guinea-pigs to one of the fellows—and he liked them better than anything he’d got—and he bought me a doll’s pram, because Peter smashed mine through filling it with stones. Oh, and lots and lots and lots of things! He was very good to me—oh, indeed!”

Such a flushed, little eager face it was now—such a fluent [5] little tongue that told of Bunty’s goodness! The child’s beautiful trust, affection, and courage had quite touched the headmaster’s heart.

He took a bunch of keys from his pocket.

“I WANT YOU TO GIVE THIS TO CAPTAIN WOOLCOT.”

“You are a dear, brave, little girl, Poppet,” he said. “By the way, haven’t you a prettier name than that?”

“Oh, it’s Winifred [6] , of course, really,” said Poppet.

“Something in a name,” he said half to himself. Then aloud: “Well, Winifred, then, just because you have believed in your brother, and done this for him, I am going to reward you in the way I know will gladden you most.”

He unlocked a tin box on the table, and counted out five sovereigns, while the surprise in Poppet’s eyes deepened every minute.

“Have you a purse?” he said.

“No,” she said in a very low tone. It made her feel fit to cry to think he should give her money, such a large, beautiful amount, for doing this.

“Because I want you to give this to Captain Woolcot,” he continued, “and tell him I have had reason to doubt whether John was guilty, and, until I am perfectly sure, it is not fair to the lad to take it.”

How Poppet’s eyes shone! how her lips smiled and quivered! and how the glad, warm colour rushed all over her little, sweet face! Not a word of thanks she said, and he would not have had it; only she clung very tightly to his arm for a minute, and hid her face. When he saw it, he felt he had had more than thanks.

And that was not all he did. He took her back with him to the schoolroom, and walked up to the raised platform, holding her hand all the time.

“Boys,” he said, in his clear, far-reaching voice, “I have reason to believe that John Woolcot is not guilty of the theft that you have all heard of. I wish you to give him the benefit of the doubt, since he is not here to clear himself. For my part, I believe him innocent.”

How the boys cheered! It was not that Bunty was a general favourite, though he had his own friends; but they felt it was expected of them, and it was another break in a lesson to be able to do so. Besides, they felt a vague pity and admiration for the little girl standing there, with such a smiling, tear-wet face.

After that, Mr. Burnham took her all the way home himself. Her elder sisters went into the drawing-room to see him, and Poppet slipped away. He told them what the child had done, and praised her high courage and simple faith. “If,” he said, as he took his leave,—“if all boys had such sisters as little Poppet is, my school would be a better place, and later, the world.”

From The Family at Misrule , by ETHEL TURNER .

* * *

Kind hearts are more than coronets;

And simple faith than Norman blood.

—TENNYSON

* * *

[1] gave the information: Told what her brother had done.

[2] so utterly unshaken her trust: So entire her faith in her brother.

[3] detail: A small part; an item.

[4] disproved: Brought proof against it.

[5] fluent: Flowing; ready of speech.

[6] Winifred: The name means “lover of peace.”

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