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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2263222-Sophies-Misfortunes-chapter-12
by Chris
Rated: ASR · Fiction · Children's · #2263222
French-to-English translation of the twelfth 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 12th chapter, by Christopher Peck, Jr.





XII - Tea

It was July 19th, Sophie’s birthday. She was turning four years old. Her mother always gave her a nice present on this day, but she never told her in advance what she would give her. Sophie woke up earlier than usual. She hurried to get dressed so she could go to her mother to get her gift.

“Please, hurry up!” she was saying to her maid. “I want to find out what mother’s giving me for my birthday!”

“Give me time to brush you,” her maid said. “You can’t leave all disheveled as you are. That’d be a great way to start your fourth year! So calm down. You’re constantly moving.”

“Ow, ow, you’re pulling my hair!”

“Because you keep turning your head. There... Again! How can I guess which way you’re going to turn your head?”

Finally, Sophie was dressed, brushed and able to run to her mother.

“You’re here early, Sophie,” her mother smiled. “I see you haven’t forgotten your fourth birthday and the gift I owe you. Here, it’s a book. You’ll find something fun in it.”

Sophie, embarrassed, thanked her mother. She took the book, which was covered with red Moroccan leather.

“What am I going to do with this book?” she thought. “I don’t know how to read. What good is it to me?”

Her mother was watching her and laughing.

“You don’t seem pleased with my present,” she said. “But it’s lovely. It says The Arts on it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it more than you think.”

“I don’t know, mother.”

“Open it. You’ll see.”

Sophie tried to open the book. To her surprise, she couldn’t. What astonished her even more was that when she turned it around, there was a strange noise inside it. Sophie looked at her mother with surprise. Mrs. de Réan laughed even more and said:

“It’s an extraordinary book. It’s not like all the books that you just open. This one only opens when you press your thumb on the middle of the spine.”

The mother lightly pressed her thumb. The cover opened up, and Sophie was delighted to see that it wasn’t a book. It was a charming box with colors, brushes, little jars and twelve little coloring books, full of fun pictures.

“Oh, thank you, my dear mother!” Sophie cried out. “I’m so happy! It’s lovely!”

“You were a little stumped then, when you thought I was giving you a real book. But I wouldn’t have played such a mean trick on you. You can have fun painting all day with your cousin Paul and your friends Camille and Madeleine. I arranged for them to come spend the day with you. They’ll be here at two o’clock.

“Your aunt d'Aubert asked me to give you this little tea set for her. She won’t be able to come until three o’clock, but she wanted you to have her gift in the morning.”

Sophie was happy and took the silver tea set: a tray with six cups, a teapot, a sugar bowl and a creamer. She asked for permission to make some real tea for her friends.

“No,” Mrs. de Réan said. “You’ll spill cream everywhere and burn yourselves with the tea. Play make-believe. That’ll be just as fun.”

Sophie said nothing, but she wasn’t happy.

“What good is a tea set,” she said to herself, “if I can’t put anything in it? My friends will make fun of me. I have to look for something to fill it up. I’m going to ask my maid.”

Sophie told her mother she was going to show everything to her maid. She took her box and her tea set and ran to her room.

“Here, look at the lovely things that mother and aunt d'Aubert gave me.”

“What a beautiful tea set!” the maid said. “You’re going to have fun with that. But I don’t care so much for this book. What good is a book since you don’t know how to read?”

Sophie laughed. “My maid’s as stumped as I was. It’s not a book. It’s a coloring box.”

Sophie opened the box, which the maid found charming. After talking about what they were going to do throughout the day, Sophie said she wanted to give her friends tea, but her mother didn’t allow it.

“What can I put in my teapot, my sugar bowl and my creamer? My dear maid, couldn’t you help me a little and give me something to give my friends?”

“No, dear,” the maid answered. “I can’t. Remember, your mother told me she would fire me if I gave you something to eat when she forbade it.”

Sophie sighed and started thinking. Bit by bit, her face lit up. She had an idea. We shall see if it’s a good one.

Sophie played and had lunch. Coming back from her walk with her mother, she said she was going to get everything ready for her friends. She put the coloring box on a little table. On another table, she arranged the six cups. In the middle, she put the sugar bowl, teapot and creamer.

“Now,” she said, “I’m going to make the tea.”

She took the teapot, went into the garden and plucked some clovers, the leaves of which she put in it. Then, she went to her mother’s dog’s water bowl and poured some of it into the teapot.

“There! That’s the tea,” she beamed. “Now, I'm going to make the cream.”

She went to take a piece of chalk that was used to clean silverware. She scraped a bit off with her little knife and put it in her creamer. She filled it with dog water and mixed it well with a little spoon. When the water was white, she put the creamer back on the table.

Now, she only had the sugar bowl to fill. She went back to the chalk and broke some pieces off with her little knife. She filled the sugar bowl. She put it on the table and looked at it all with delight.

“There!” she beamed. “That’s a splendid tea. I hope it works! I bet Paul or any of my friends have never had such a good idea.”

Sophie waited half an hour more for her friends, but she didn’t get bored. She was so happy with her tea, she didn’t want to leave it. She paced around the table, looking at it and repeating: “God! I’m so smart! I’m so smart!”

Finally, Paul and the friends arrived. Sophie ran to them, kissed them all and quickly led them to the room to show them her beautiful things.

The coloring box stumped them at first, like it did with Sophie and her maid. They thought the tea was charming and wanted to start right away.

But Sophie asked them to wait until three o'clock. So they started to paint pictures in the coloring books, each one with their own. They had fun with the coloring box and then put everything away.

“Now,” Paul cried out, “let’s have tea.”

“Yes, let’s have tea,” all the little girls answered together.

“Now, Sophie, do the honors,” Camille said.

“Everyone, sit down around the table,” Sophie said. “There, that’s good... Give me your cups so I can add sugar. Now, the tea... Then, the cream... Now drink.”

“That’s weird,” Madeleine said. “The sugar’s not melting.”

“Mix it well. It’ll melt,” Sophie said.

“But your tea is cold,” Paul said.

“That’s cause I made it a long time ago.”

Camille tasted the tea and spat it out. “Oh, how horrible! What is this? This isn’t tea!”

Madeleine tried it and spat it out. “How disgusting! It smells like chalk.”

Paul had his turn to spit it out. “What did you give us here, Sophie? It’s disgusting. It’s nasty.”

Sophie was embarrassed. “You think…”

“What do you mean, ‘think’?” Paul interrupted her. “It’s awful to play this kind of trick on us! We should make you drink your disgusting tea.”

Sophie became angry. “You’re all so difficult. You don’t think anything is good!”

Camille smiled. “Admit it, Sophie. We’re not being difficult. Anyone would think your tea was horrible."

“As for me,” Madeleine said. “I’ve never tasted anything this bad.”

Paul brought the teapot to Sophie. “So drink up! Drink! You’ll see we’re not being difficult.”

Sophie pushed him. “Leave me alone, you’re annoying me.”

Paul persisted. “Oh, we’re being difficult! Oh, you think your tea is good! So drink it. And drink your cream.”

Paul grabbed Sophie and poured the tea into her mouth. He was going to do the same with the so-called cream, despite Sophie shouting and getting angry.

Camille and Madeleine, who were good children and felt sorry for her, threw themselves upon Paul to pull the creamer away from him. Paul, who was furious, pushed them away.

Sophie took advantage of this to free herself. She pounced onto him and started punching him. Camille and Madeleine then tried to pull Sophie back.

Paul was howling, Sophie was shouting, Camille and Madeline were calling for help. It was a deafening mess. The mothers ran to them, frightened. Seeing the mothers, the children all stopped moving.

“What is going on?” Mrs. de Réan asked, concerned and strict.

No one answered.

“Camille,” Mrs. de Fleurville said, “explain to us what this fight is about.”

“Mother, Madeleine and I weren’t fighting anyone.”

“What do you mean, you weren’t fighting? You’re holding Sophie’s arm, and Madeleine has Paul by his leg.”

“It was to prevent them from... from... playing too hard.”

Mrs. de Fleurville smirked at this. “Playing! You call that playing!”

“I see that Sophie and Paul must’ve had an argument with each other, as usual,” Mrs. de Réan said. “Camille and Madeleine must’ve tried to prevent them from fighting. Did I guess correctly, my dear Camille?”

Camille blushed and almost whispered: “Yes, ma’am.”

“Are you not ashamed of yourself, Paul, to behave like this?” Mrs. d’Aubert said. “To get angry over nothing, ready to fight…”

“It wasn’t over nothing, mother,” Paul said. “Sophie tried to make us drink some disgusting tea which made us sick when we tasted it. When we complained, she told us we were being difficult.”

Mrs. de Réan took the creamer and smelled it. She tasted it on the tip of her tongue and grimaced in disgust.

“Where did you get this horrible, so-called cream, young lady?”

Sophie’s head was lowered in shame. “I made it, mother.”

“You made it! With what? Answer.”

“With silverware chalk and dog water.”

“And your tea, what was that?”

“Clover leaves and dog water.”

Mrs. de Réan looked at the sugar bowl. “What a lovely treat for your friends! Filthy water and chalk! You're starting your fourth year off well, young lady. Disobeying when I told you not to make tea, making your friends drink some so-called, disgusting tea and fighting with your cousin.

“I’m taking your tea set away to prevent you from doing this again. I would send you to your room for dinner, if I weren’t afraid of spoiling your friends’ fun. They would suffer from your punishment.”

The mothers left, laughing despite themselves from the ridiculous treat Sophie came up with. The children were alone. Paul and Sophie, ashamed of their fight, didn’t dare to look at each other. Camille and Madeleine kissed them, consoled them and tried to reconcile them. Sophie kissed Paul and asked everyone to forgive her. All was forgotten.

They ran to the garden, where they caught eight wonderful butterflies. Paul put them in a box with a glass lid. The rest of the afternoon was spent setting up the box so that the butterflies would be comfortable. In it, they put grass, flowers, some drops of sugar water, strawberries and cherries. When evening came and everyone left, Sophie, Camille and Madeleine insisted that Paul take the box of butterflies. They could see he really wanted it.
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