6. And she was dragged down to where Father was pacing to and fro, hands behind his back.
“Well?” he said sharply.
He stopped and stared at the child.
“Did you do that?”
“N-n-no”, she whispered.
“Mother, go up to her room and fetch down the damned thing — see that the child’s put to bed this instant.”
7. Crying too much to explain, she lay in the shadowed room watching the evening light make a sad little pattern on the floor.
Then Father came into the room with a ruler in his hands.
“I am going to beat you for this,” he said.
“Oh, no, no”, she screamed, hiding under the bedclothes.
He pulled them aside.
“Sit up,” he ordered, “and hold out your hands. You must be taught once and for all not to touch what does not belong to you.”
“But it was for your b-b-birthday.”
Down came the ruler on her little, pink palms.
Little Kezia was dragged down by her mother as soon as she confessed to having torn the papers. Her father, who was already a hot headed person, was very angry with the papers missing. He was walking to and fro in a fast pace with a serious face. Usually, angry people walk up and down in a fit of rage. He also has his hands tied to his back, showing that he was very firm and that the situation required earnest attention. He asks mother as soon as he sees her if she had found something. Mother explains that Kezia had torn away the papers. Father who was already frustrated, turned red with anger, that he stopped walking and stared at the child. Like Kezia's mother, he is shocked and finds it hard to believe. He asks Kezia if it was true. The child who by now had realised that something was wrong starts stammering. The stutter returns to her as she gets scared seeing her father. She is not able to bring herself to admit the question and therefore blurts out a nervous 'no'.
Father is angry
Kezia's father is so upset to listen to her explanations. He asks the mother to bring down the pin-cushion. But he refers to it as 'the damned thing'. He also asks her to take Kezia away to her bedroom as he can no longer stand her presence. She lay in the bedroom crying and all by herself. It was evening and even the little light that peeped into the shadowed room seemed to reflect like a sad face on the floor. All of a sudden, her father enters the room angrily and threatens to beat her with a ruler as a punishment for her action. Kezia, who was already scared of her father, grows frightened and hides under the bed clothes. She pleads with him not to hit her. He pulls her aside and claims that she deserves to be punished. He wanted her to remember every time that she is not supposed to touch anything that does not belong to her. Although Kezia tries to explain that it was for making his surprise gift for the birthday, he brings down the ruler onto her pink little hands.
The father hits the little girl
Words with difficult meaning:
|Dragged||To pull someone/something with force or difficulty|
|Damned thing||Slang for showing annoyance or dislike|
|Ruler||A measuring scale|
|Palms||The open area of the hand|
|Hot-headed person||Angry person|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. The Little Girl - Katherine Mansfield (pp.32-35). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.