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by Chris
Rated: ASR · Fiction · Children's · #2262910
French-to-English translation of the seventh chapter of Les Malheurs de Sophie
Les Malheurs de Sophie(in English, Sophie's Misfortunes) is a children's book, written in 1858 by the Countess of Ségur. The original, in French, can be read here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15058
The following is an English translation of the 7th chapter, by Christopher Peck, Jr.

VII - Wet Hair

Sophie cared about fashion. She cared about making herself look good and pretty. But she wasn’t pretty. She had a big face that looked innocent and happy. She had lovely gray eyes, a slightly large up-turned nose and a big mouth always ready to laugh. Her blonde, uncurled hair was short like a boy's. She cared about her appearance, but she was always badly dressed. A simple low-necked dress made of white percale and with short sleeves, all throughout the year. She wore slightly large stockings and black leather shoes. She never wore a hat or gloves. Her mother thought it was good to get her used to the sun, rain, wind and cold.

What Sophie really wanted was to have curly hair. She once heard someone admiring the beautiful and curly blonde hair of one of her friends, Camille de Fleurville. Since then, she always tried to curl her own. Among all her ideas, this is one of the most ill-fated she came up with.

One afternoon, it was raining hard and it was really hot. So much so that they left the windows and the front door open. Sophie was at the door. Her mother forbade her from going outside. Every now and then, she would reach out to catch some rain. Then she stretched her neck out a bit to catch a few drops on her head. While poking her head out like this, she saw that the gutter was overflowing. Rainwater was pouring out in a constant stream. She remembered right then that Camille’s hair would get curlier when it was wet.

“If I get my hair wet,” she said, “maybe they’ll curl!”

And there goes Sophie, running out despite the rain. She stuck her head under the gutter and, to her tremendous joy, all the water poured on her head, on her neck, on her arms and on her back. Once she was good and wet, she went back to the sitting room and started to wipe her head with her handkerchief, making sure to brush her hair to get it to curl. Her handkerchief was drenched within a minute. Sophie tried to run to her room to ask for another one from her maid when she came face to face with her mother. Sophie stood still and trembled, completely drenched, her hair spiky and looking scared. Her mother, astonished at first, thought she looked so ridiculous that she burst into laughter.

“That’s a great idea you had there, young lady!” she said. “If you could see what your face looks like, you’d be laughing at yourself like I am right now. I told you not to go outside. You disobeyed me like usual. For your punishment, you’re going to eat dinner like you are right now, your hair in the air, your dress wet, so that your father and cousin, Paul, can see your brilliant idea. Here’s a handkerchief to finish wiping your face, neck and arms.”

As Mrs. de Réan finished talking, Paul came into the room with Mr. de Réan. The two stopped, dumbfounded. Poor Sophie was blushing, ashamed, sorry and ridiculous. The two burst into laughter. The more Sophie blushed and lowered her head, the more she looked embarrassed and unhappy and the more her disheveled hair and her wet clothes made her look ridiculous. Finally, Mr. de Réan asked what was going on and if Sophie was going to eat dressed up like she was at Mardi Gras.

“No doubt it’s one her ideas to curl her hair,” Mrs. de Réan answered. “She wants to have curly hair like Camille’s, who wets hers to get it to curl. Sophie thought it’d do the same for her.”

“Now that’s fashionable!” Mr. De Réan laughed. “You want to make yourself pretty, instead you make yourself ugly.”

“Poor Sophie. Quick, go and dry yourself, brush your hair and get changed,” Paul said. “If you knew how weird you look, you wouldn’t want to stay that way for two minutes.”

“No,” Mrs. de Réan said. “She’s going to eat with her lovely hair all up in the air like that and her dress full of sand and water…”

Paul interrupted her. “Oh, auntie, please forgive her! Let her go brush her hair and change her dress. Poor Sophie, she looks so miserable!”

“I agree with Paul, dear,” Mr. de Réan said. “I ask you to let her off the hook this time. If she does it again, that’s a different story.”

Sophie was crying. “I promise you, father, I won’t do it again.”

“To make your father happy, young lady, I’ll allow you to go to your room and get out of that dress. But you will not be dining with us. You won’t go into the room until after we’ve left the table.”

“Oh, auntie, let her…”

“No, Paul, end of discussion. That’s how it’s going to be.” Mrs. de Réan turned to Sophie. “Go on, young lady.”

Sophie ate in her room, after changing her clothes and getting brushed. Paul came to look for her after dinner and the two went to play in a room with some toys. Since that day, Sophie no longer tried to curl her hair by going in the rain.
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