O no! she eagerly returned. They know everything.
Tell me some of your mistakes.
I am almost ashamed, said Sissy, with reluctance. But today, for instance, Mr MChoakumchild was explaining to us about Natural Prosperity.
National, I think it must have been, observed Louisa.
Yes, it was. But isnt it the same? she timidly asked.
You had better say, National, as he said so, returned Louisa, with her dry reserve.
National Prosperity. And he said, Now, this schoolroom is a Nation. And in this nation, there are fifty millions of money. Isnt this a prosperous nation? Girl number twenty, isnt this a prosperous nation, and ant you in a thriving state?
What did you say? asked Louisa.
Miss Louisa, I said I didnt know. I thought I couldnt know whether it was a prosperous nation or not, and whether I was in a thriving state or not, unless I knew who had got the money, and whether any of it was mine. But that had nothing to do with it. It was not in the figures at all, said Sissy, wiping her eyes.
That was a great mistake of yours, observed Louisa.
Yes, Miss Louisa, I know it was, now. Then Mr MChoakumchild said he would try me again. And he said, This schoolroom is an immense town, and in it there are a million of inhabitants, and only five- and-twenty are starved to death in the streets, in the course of a year. What is your remark on that proportion? And my remark was for I couldnt think of a better one that I thought it must be just as hard upon those who were starved, whether the others were a million, or a million million. And that was wrong, too.
Of course it was.
Then Mr MChoakumchild said he would try me once more. And he said, Here are the stutterings
Statistics, said Louisa.
Yes, Miss Louisa they always remind me of stutterings, and thats another of my mistakes of accidents upon the sea. And I find (Mr MChoakumchild said) that in a given time a hundred thousand persons went to sea on long voyages, and only five hundred of them were drowned or burnt to death. What is the percentage? And I said, Miss; here Sissy fairly sobbed as confessing with extreme contrition to her greatest error; I said it was nothing.
Nothing, Miss to the relations and friends of the people who were killed. I shall never learn, said Sissy. And the worst of all is, that although my poor father wished me so much to learn, and although I am so anxious to learn, because he wished me to, I am afraid I dont like it.
Louisa stood looking at the pretty modest head, as it drooped abashed before her, until it was raised again to glance at her face. Then she asked:
Did your father know so much himself, that he wished you to be well taught too, Sissy?
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