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     Sometimes, when Peggy was asking Wanda those questions in that mocking polite voice, Maddie felt embarrassed and studied the marbles in the palm of her hand, rolling them around and saying nothing herself. Not that she felt sorry for Wanda, exactly. She would never have paid any attention to Wanda if Peggy hadn’t invented the dresses game. But suppose Peggy and all the others started in on her next? She wasn’t as poor as Wanda, perhaps, but she was poor. Of course she would have more sense than to say she had a hundred dresses. Still she would not like for them to begin on her. She wished Peggy would stop teasing Wanda Petronski.
     Today, even though they had been late to school, Maddie was glad she had not had to make fun of Wanda. She worked her arithmetic problems absentmindedly. “Eight times eight — let’s see…” She wished she had the nerve to write Peggy a note, because she knew she never would have the courage to speak right out to Peggy, to say, “Hey, Peg, let’s stop asking Wanda how many dresses she has.” When she finished her arithmetic she did start a note to Peggy. Suddenly she paused and shuddered. She pictured herself in the school yard, a new target for Peggy and the girls. Peggy might ask her where she got the dress that she had on, and Maddie would have to say it was one of Peggy’s old ones that Maddie’s mother had tried to disguise with new trimmings so no one in Room Thirteen would recognise it.
Maddie didn't feel very comfortable teasing Wanda. When Peggy used to ask Wanda questions like how many dresses she had, she would silently count the marbles in the palm of her hand, pretending to play with them. These reaction doesn't mean that Maddie was feeling sad for Wanda. The narrator said Maddie wouldn't have paid attention to Wanda if Peggy hadn't started the dress again. Then Maddie doubted that Peggy and other classmates would start to treat or question her as they did to Wanda. Maddie was not as poor as Wanda, but she was not rich.
Moreover, the narrator said that Maddie naturally would be smarter than claiming to have a hundred gowns. But she still does not want them to start in on her. It means that even Maddie could tell she had a lot of clothes, but she didn't like the girls to turn over to her and ask the same questions as Wanda. Maddie desired Peggy should stop making fun of Wanda Petronski.

Wanda didn't come that day. Maddie and Peggy got to school late after having waited so long. Maddie secretly felt happy that the girls could not get a chance to make fun of Wanda. She was lost in her thoughts and couldn't concentrate on her arithmetic problems. Then she said, "Eight times eight — let's see". It means that she was telling them something, and her mind was not concentrating on her studies. She was bothered about whether her friends would tease her like Wanda.

All this time, she kept assuming about writing a note to Peggy. She didn't dare to talk in front of Peggy. Even though Peggy was her best friend, she didn't dare to tell her what she thought. She even didn't have the guts to tell her to stop asking Wanda how many dresses she had. After finishing her arithmetic problems, Maddie started writing a letter to Peggy. When she started, she paused in between while thinking about the future. While writing the note to Peggy, Maddie shook at the imagination of her being a new target for Peggy and the girls. She was afraid they would ask where she got Peggy's dress. Maddie's mother recreated Peggy's dress with new laces and ribbons so that none of her classmates could identify it.
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Maddie thought of writing a note to Peggy
Meanings of the difficult words:
Embarrassed Feeling ashamed or shy
ShudderedTo shake suddenly with very small movements because of a very unpleasant thought or feeling
Disguise To give a new appearance to a person or thing, especially in order to hide its true form
Recognise To know someone or something because you have seen or heard him or her or experienced it before
TrimmingTo decorate something by adding objects, pieces of material, etc. that make it look attractive
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). The Hundred Dresses I - Eleanor Estes (pp. 63 - 72). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.