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9. The Macdonalds lived next door. They had five children. Looking through a gap in the fence the little girl saw them playing ‘tag’ in the evening. The father with the baby, Mao, on his shoulders, two little girls hanging on to his coat pockets ran round and round the flower-beds, shaking with laughter. Once she saw the boys turn the hose on him—and he tried to catch them laughing all the time.
     Then it was she decided there were different sorts of fathers.
     Suddenly, one day, Mother became ill, and she and Grandmother went to hospital.
     The little girl was left alone in the house with Alice, the cook. That was all right in the daytime, but while Alice was putting her to bed she grew suddenly afraid.
Kezia had lived all her life under the impression that all fathers are scary and rude. Her experiences with her own father had paved the way for her to strongly believe in that idea. But an incident from her neighbourhood changed this perception. Her neighbours were a family called the MacDonalds. The couple had five children in total. Kezia looks at their house from a small gap in the fence. She sees them living happily in each other's company. They do not have a strict atmosphere like in her home. In fact they play tag in the evening, thereby spending time with each other and having fun at the same time. Tag is a game where people form a group and each other tries to catch or tag the other person by touching them. The father-children relationship was totally different from what she had seen or experienced.
Father playing with kids
Mr. MacDonald had his youngest baby Mao on his shoulder and was playing tag with his other children. His two little girls were holding on to his coat pocket and hanging from his arms. This was in contrast with Kezia, who was scared to even go near her father, let alone touch him. On top of this, the children seem to have a lot of freedom to do whatever they wanted to do with their father. For example, The two little boys turn the hose on him with water gushing around them. They run around the flower beds trying to catch each other, shaking with laughter. Their father was also laughing all the time with them, contrary to Kezia's father, who never smiled at her. Kezia realised that day that all fathers were not the same. There were fathers who were friendly with their children.
Suddenly, Kezia's mother fell ill one day and her grandmother had to take her to the hospital. So Kezia was left all alone in the house with her cook Alice. She was usually happy in her own company as long as her father was not around. But as the day came to an end, she gets scared to be alone. As Alice puts her to bed, Kezia is frightened to be all alone as she is not used to it.
Words with difficult meaning:
FenceA boundary to separate two houses
Flower-bedsA piece of the garden where flowers are grown
TagA game where people try to catch each other
HoseA long tube through which water can flow
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.