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Chapter 3 The French Lesson

"Now Sarah," said Miss Minchin, "come here to me." She had taken a book from the desk and was turning over its pages. "I am sure you would like to learn French." Sara would have liked to say that she could speak French already but she did not want to argue with Miss Minchin. She felt that she had not really learned French but she had simply grown up with it.
"I - I' have never really learned French, but, but,- "she began then felt she was not making herself clear.
"That is enough!" said Miss Minchin. "If you have not learned French you must begin at once. The French master, Monsieur Dufrage, will be here in a few minutes. Take this book and look at it until he arrives." Sara's cheeks felt warm and she was sure her face was turning red.

She went back to her seat and opened the book. She looked at the first page. The book had pictures and said that "le pere" meant "the father" and "la mere" meant the mother. Sara had known this since she had been a very young child. She was careful not to smile because she felt that this would have been rude.
Miss Minchin looked towards her. "You look rather cross, Sara," she said. " I am sorry that you do not like the idea of learning French."
"I am very fond of it," answered Sara "but -"
"You must not say 'but' when you are told to do things,"said Miss Minchin." I can see that you are a very spoiled girl. you will do as you are told wether you want to or not! Now look at your book again."

Sarah did so and found that the book told her that "le fils" meant "the son," and le frere" meant " the brother." She had known this almost from the time she first learned to speak as a toddler. She was very careful not to smile.
"When Monsieur Dufrage comes, she thought, "I can make him understand."

 When he arrived Miss Minchin said, " I have  a new pupil for you. I have give her the book but she does not seem to want to learn. " 

"I am very sorry to hear that,"said Monsieur Dufrage. Perhaps when we start to study together you will come to like French." 

Sara was upset and felt that she was in disgrace but she began to explain to Monsieur Dufrage in perfect French that she knew French. She said,she had not learned it from books but as she had grown up to the adults had spoken French to her. 

 She could speak it and write it as well as she could speak and write English. Unfortunately she had not been able to explain this to Miss Minchin.

Monsieur Dufrage was delighted.  He told Miss Minchin that Sara could speak French as well as a French person. Even her accent was perfect.

"you ought to have told me," exclaimed Miss Minchin, turning to Sara.

"I -I tried," said Sara."I - I suppose I did not begin right."

Miss Minchin knew she had tried and that it had not been her fault that she was not allowed to explain. She saw that the other girls had been listening and Lavinia and Jessie were giggling.  She was furious.

""Silence! she said, rapping on the desk. "Silence at once!"

From that time she took a dislike to Sara. 

Forward to part 4

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