‘Hey! Wait a minute,’ Pongo shouted. He caught me by the collar, took me into his cabin nearby and looked into my pockets. There were seventeen oranges. Pongo counted them and placed them carefully on the table.
‘Too many people are stealing from the docks,’ Pongo said, ‘You’ve stolen these oranges and concealed them in your pocket. Have you anything to say?’
I said nothing. I was very frightened, but I kept quiet. I had read a lot of detective stories to make the mistake of blabbing. Anything you say may be used as evidence against you. I knew that the best plan was to say nothing. ‘So you won’t say anything,’ said Pongo. ‘I’m going to bring another policeman here. He’ll be a witness against you, when I bring up this case in the court.’
Pongo left the cabin and locked the door behind him. I was very worried. I looked at the walls. I looked at the door. I looked at the seventeen oranges, and I looked at the apron with its broken string.
I’ll lose my job, I thought. Perhaps I’ll go to prison. What will my father say?
What will my father do?
I almost gave up the hope of escaping from the trouble. I was locked in the cabin and the oranges were on the table. Pongo had gone to bring a witness. I was in trouble.
‘Oh, my God!’ I said.
‘What can I do?’
‘Eat the oranges', said a voice in my head. ‘Eat the evidence.’
‘Eat them?’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ said the voice in my head. ‘Eat them and the evidence will be gone. Be quick! Eat them all.’
I thought for half a second. Then I took an orange. I peeled it and put it in my mouth. Soon, only the pips were left.
‘You have to swallow the pips too,’ said the voice in my head ‘You have to swallow the pips and the peel. You have to swallow all the evidence.’
‘Yes, of course,’ I said.
Pongo, the policeman, asked the boy to wait a minute, he wanted to check what was bulging. He caught the young man in the collar and took him to his cabin and looked into his pockets and found seventeen oranges. Pongo counted and placed them on the table and confronted the boy that many people were stealing things and asked if he has to say anything how those oranges came into his pockets.
The boy was scared to say anything and just kept quiet. The boy had read many detective stories, and he didn't want to make any unnecessary comments. Generally, when we blabber, those words are taken as and evidence against us. So, the boy was not going to say anything. Pongo asked him again if he wanted to say anything. Pongo decided to bring another colleague of his there so that he can be the witness in the court.
Pongo went out of the cabin and locked the door so that the boy couldn't escape. The boy was worried, he looked at all sides of the walls and the door. He thought about what to do and looked at the oranges and the apron with a broken string. The boy was scared and thought that probably he would go to jail for stealing, and lose his job. He was thinking of his father, whether he would scold him or feel bad. He almost felt sick as he had no way to escape. He was locked in the cabin with the oranges, and Pongo had gone to bring another policeman. He was in trouble for sure.
The boy was thinking of god and asked himself what to do. His inner voice told him to eat the oranges. He thought to himself whether he heard it correctly; to eat the evidence. He got the answer as "yes!" The inner voice asked him to eat all the oranges as fast as he could so that there is no evidence. The boy just thought for half a second and started eating. He ate them, but the pips or the seeds of the oranges were left out. If he had to remove the evidence, he had to swallow the seeds too, said his inner voice. He had to eat even the peel to erase the entire evidence, and he said to himself that he would.
Meanings of difficult words:
|Cabin||A private room.|
|Blabbing||Talk foolishly or mindlessly.|
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-2 English Standard-9. Seventeen Oranges - Bill Naughtan(pp. 93-97). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.