How can she get away with it?" Lavender said to Matilda. "Surely the children go home and tell their mothers and fathers. I know my father would raise a terrific stink if I told him the Headmistress had grabbed me by the hair and slung me over the playground fence."
"No, he wouldn't," Matilda said, "and I'll tell you why. He simply wouldn't believe you."
"Of course he would."
"He wouldn't," Matilda said. "And the reason is obvious. Your story would sound too ridiculous to be believed. And that is the Trunchbull's great secret."
"What is?" Lavender asked.
Matilda said, "Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable. No parent is going to believe this pigtail story, not in a million years. Mine wouldn't. They'd call me a liar."
"In that case", Lavender said, "Amanda's mother isn't going to cut her pigtails off."
"No, she isn't," Matilda said. "Amanda will do it herself. You see if she doesn't."
"Do you think she's mad?" Lavender asked.
"No, I don't think she's mad," Matilda said. "But she's very dangerous. Being in this school is like being in a cage with a cobra. You have to be very fast on your feet."
They got another example of how dangerous the Headmistress could be on the very next day.
During lunch an announcement was made that the whole school should go into the Assembly Hall and be seated as soon as the meal was over.
When all the two hundred and fifty or so boys and girls were settled down in Assembly, the Trunchbull marched on to the platform. None of the other teachers came in with her. She was carrying a riding-crop in her right hand. She stood up there on centre stage in her green breeches with legs apart and riding-crop in hand, glaring at the sea of upturned faces before her.
"What's going to happen?" Lavender whispered.
"I don't know," Matilda whispered back.
The whole school waited for what was corning next.
Dany, champion of the world
For furniture, we had two chairs and a small table, and those, apart from a tiny chest of drawers, were all the home comforts we possessed. They were all we needed.
The lavatory was a funny little wooden hut standing in the meadow way back of the caravan. It was fine in summertime, but I can tell you that sitting out there on a snowy day in winter was like sitting in an icebox.
Immediately behind the caravan was an old apple tree. It bore fine apples that ripened in the middle of September. You could go on picking them for the next four or five weeks. Some of the boughs of the tree hung right over the caravan and when the wind blew the apples down in the night, they often landed on our roof. I would hear them going thump... thump... thump... above my head as I lay in my bunk, but those noises never frightened me because I knew exactly what was making them.
I really loved living in that gypsy caravan. I loved it especially in the evenings when I was tucked up in my bunk and my father was telling me stories. The kerosene lamp was turned low, and I could see lumps of wood glowing red-hot in the old stove, and wonderful it was to be lying there snug and warm in my bunk in that little room. Most wonderful of all was the feeling that when I went to sleep, my father would still be there, very close to me, sitting in his chair by the fire, or lying in the bunk above my own.
The Grand High Witch took a quick step forward, and when she spoke again, it was in a voice that made my blood run cold.
“A stupid vitch who answers back.
Must burn until her bones are black!
“No, no!” begged the witch in the front row. The Grand High Witch sent on,
“A foolish vitch vithout a brain
Must sizzle in the fiery flame!”
“Save me!” cried the wretched witch in the front row. The Grand High Witch took no notice of her. She spoke again.
“An idiotic vitch like you
Must rrroast upon the barbecue!”
“Forgive me, O Your Grandness!” cried the miserable culprit. “I didn’t mean it!” But The Grand High Witch continued with her terrible recital.
“A vitch who dared to say I’m wrrrong
Vill not be vith us very long!”
A moment later, a stream of sparks that looked like tiny white-hot metal-filings came shooting out of The Grand High Witch’s eyes and flew straight towards the one who had dared to speak. I saw the sparks striking against her and burrowing into her and she screamed a horrible howling scream and a puff of smoke rose up around her. I smell of burning meat filled the room.
Nobody moved. Like me, they were all watching the smoke, and when it had cleared away, the chair was empty. I caught a glimpse of something wispy-white, like a little cloud, fluttering upwards and disappearing out the window.
A great sigh rose up from the audience.
The Grand High Witch glared around the room. “I hope nobody else is going to make me cross today,” she remarked.
There was a deathly silence.
“Frrrizzled like a frrritter,” said The Grand High Witch. “Cooked like a carrot. You vill never see her again. Now vee can get down to business.”