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What is a summary of the poem "Matilda" by Hilaire Bellock?

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dipankarmaiti | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 7, 2011 at 8:10 PM via web

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What is a summary of the poem "Matilda" by Hilaire Bellock?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted July 10, 2011 at 7:12 AM (Answer #1)

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A summary of "Matilda" is more quickly done than the fire that burned Matilda’s Aunt's house down. Matilda lived with her Aunt, who was a firm believer in truth and, in fact, (unsuccessfully) instructed Matilda in truth from her youth.

Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,

Matilda, on the other hand, had a fondness for telling lies, particularly--it would seem--the sort that involve practical jokes. One day Matilda, left alone (and unguarded!) phoned "London's Noble Fir-Brigade," or fire fighters, and told them that her Aunt's house was burning down.

The Brigade came to the rescue with water hoses blaring out water. They entered the ballroom and drenched it then turned to drenching the paintings to preserve them from burning. Matilda's Aunt had a very difficult time convincing the fire fighters that there was no fire to fight, for, you see, Matilda had said there was .... The Aunt was finally successful and convinced them there was no fire and then paid them--yes, paid them--to go.

Here comes the part with the moral. Matilda's Aunt went

off to the Theatre
To see that Interesting Play
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.

But Matilda was obliged to stay at home as punishment for calling out the Fire-Brigade and causing the ballroom to be drenched and the family heirloom painting to be soaked. It chanced that while the Aunt was enjoying The Second Mrs. Tanqueray, a fire did break out at home with Matilda there alone (I wonder who started it?). As she felt the flames grow hotter, no one would believe her impassioned cries of "Fire! Fire!" as she hollered out the window. They responded by saying "Little Liar!" This is why the ending of the is that

therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

To apply the moral of the story--and summary--do be sure to tell the truth; avoid lies and pranks, especially those involving the Fire-Brigade; never cry "Fire!” unless you mean it; and do not acquire a reputation as a "Little Liar!”

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