Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine



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Ella Enchanted

Gail Carson Levine

Chapter Five

1. The next night I had to dine with Father. 2. I had

trouble sitting down at the table because Bertha

had made me wear a fashionable gown, and my

petticoat was voluminous.

3. On Father’s plate and mine was sparrowgrass cov-

ered with a tarragon-mustard sauce. 4. In front of his plate

was a many-faceted crystal goblet.

5. When I finally managed to settle in my chair, Father

signaled to Nathan to pour wine into the goblet. 6. “See

how it catches the light Eleanor.” 7. He raised it. 8. “It makes

the wine sparkle like a garnet.”

9. “It’s pretty.”

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10. “Is that all? Just pretty?”

11. “It’s very pretty, I suppose.” 12. I refused to love it. 13. He

was going to sell it too.

14. “You may appreciate it more if you drink from it.

15. Have you ever tasted wine?”

16. Mandy never let me. 17. I reached for the goblet and

trailed my balloon sleeves through the sparrowgrass

sauce.


18. But the goblet was too far away. 19. I had to stand. 20. I

stood on my skirts and lost my balance, pitching forward.

21. To stop my fall, I brought my arm crashing down on the

table and knocked into Father’s elbow.

22. He dropped the goblet. 23. It fell and broke neatly into

two pieces, stem severed from body. 24. A red stain spread

across the tablecloth, and Father’s doublet was dotted

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with wine.

25. I steeled myself for his rage, but he surprised me.

26. “That was stupid of me,” he said, dabbing at his

clothes with a napkin. 27. “When you came in, I saw you

couldn’t manage yourself.”

28. Nathan and a serving maid whisked away the table-

cloth and broken glass.

29. “I apologize,” I said.

30. “That won’t put the crystal back together, will it?”

he snapped, then collected himself. 31. “Your apology is

accepted. 32. We will change our clothes and begin our

meal.”


33. I returned in a quarter hour, in an everyday gown.

34. “It is my fault,” Father said, cutting into a sparrow-

grass spear. 35. “I’ve let you grow up an oaf.”

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36. “I’m not an oaf!”

37. Mandy wasn’t one to mince words, and she never

called me that. 38. Clumsy, bumbling, gawky—but never an

oaf. 39. Blunderer, lumpkin, fumble-foot—but never and oaf.

40. “But you’re young enough to learn,” Father went on.

41. “Someday I may want to take you into civilized company.”

42. “I don’t like civilized company.”

43. “I may need civilized company to like you. 44. I’ve

made up my mind. 45. It’s off to finishing school with you.”

46. I couldn’t go. 47. I wouldn’t!

48. “You said I could have a governess. 49. Wouldn’t that be

less expensive than sending me away?”

50. A serving maid whisked away my uneaten sparrow-

grass and replaced it with scallops and tomato aspic.

51. “How kind of you to worry. 52. A governess would be

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much more expensive. 53. And I haven’t the time to inter-

view governesses. 54. In two days, you shall go to finishing

school with Dame Olga’s daughters.”

55. “I won’t.”

56. He continued as though I hadn’t spoken. 57. “I’ll write

a letter to the headmistress, which I shall entrust to you,

along with a purse with enough KJs to stop her

protests against a last-minute pupil.”

58. “I won’t go.”

59. “You shall do as I say, Eleanor.”

60. “I won’t go.”

61. “Ella…” He bit into a scallop and spoke while he

chewed. 62. “Your father is not a good man, as the servants

have already warned you, unless I miss my guess.”

63. I didn’t deny it.

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64. “They may have said I’m selfish, and I am. 65. They

may have said I’m impatient, and I am. 66. They may have

said I always have my way. 67. And I do.”

68. “I do too,” I lied.

69. He grinned at me admiringly. 70. “My daughter is the

bravest wench in Kyrria.” 71. The smile vanished, and his

mouth tightened into a hard, thin line. 72. “But she shall go

to finishing school if I have to take her there myself. 73. And

it won’t be a pleasant trip if I have to lose time from

my trading because of you. 74. Do you understand, Ella?”

75. Angry, Father reminded me of a carnival toy, a

leather fist attached to a coiled spring used in puppet

shows. 76. When the spring was released, the fist shot out at

a hapless puppet. 77. With Father, it wasn’t the fist that

frightened me; it was the spring, because the spring

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determined the force of the blow. 78. The anger in his eyes

was so tightly coiled that I didn’t know what would

happen if his spring were tripped.

79. I hated being frightened, but I was. 80. I’ll go to finish-

ing school.” 81. I couldn’t help adding, “But I shall loathe it.”

82. His grin was back. 83. “You are free to loathe or to love,

so long as you go.”

84. It was a taste of obedience without an order, and I

didn’t like it any better than the Lucinda-induced kind.

85. I left the dining room, and he didn’t stop me.

86. It was early evening. 87. In spite of the hour, I went up

to my room and donned my nightgown. 88. Then I moved

my dolls, Flora and Rosamunde, into bed and climbed

in. 89. They had stopped sleeping with me years before, but

tonight I needed special comfort.

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90. I gathered them on my stomach and waited for sleep.

91. But sleep was busy elsewhere.

92. Tears started. 93. I pushed Flora against my face.

94. “Sweetie…” The door opened. 95. It was Mandy with

Tonic and a box.

96. I felt bad enough. 97. “No Tonic, Mandy. 98. I’m fine.

99. Truly.”

100. “Oh, lovey.” 101. She put down the Tonic and the box

and held me, stroking my forehead.

102. “I don’t want to go,” I said into her shoulder.

103. “I know, honey,” she said. 104. She held me for a long

while, until I was almost asleep. 105. Then she shifted her

weight. 106. “Tonic time.”

107. “I’ll skip tonight.”

108. “No you won’t. 109. Not tonight, especially. 110. I won’t have

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you getting sick when you need your strength.” 111. A spoon

came out of her apron. 112. “Take it. 113. Three spoons.”

114. I braced myself. 115. Tonic tasted nutty and good, but it

felt slimy, like swallowing a frog. 116. Each spoonful oozed

along my throat. 117. I continued to gulp after it was down,

to rid myself of the sensation.

118. But it made me feel better—a little better. 119. Ready to

talk anyway. 120. I settled myself back in Mandy’s lap.

121. “Why did Mother marry him?” 122. This question had

troubled me since I was old enough to think about it.

123. “Until she was his wife, Sir Peter was very sweet to

Lady. 124. I didn’t trust him, but she wouldn’t listen to me.

125. Her family didn’t approve because he was poor, which

made Lady want him even more, she was that kind-

hearted.” 126. Mandy’s hand stopped its comforting journey

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up and down my forehead. 127. “Ella, pet, try to keep him

from learning about the spell on you.”

128. “Why? 129. What would he do?”

130. “He likes having his way too much. 131. He’d use you.”

132. “Mother ordered me not to tell about the curse. 133. But

I wouldn’t anyway.”

134. “That’s right.” 135. Her hand went back to work on my

forehead. 136. I closed my eyes.

137. “What will it be like, do you think?”

138. “At school? 139. Some of the lasses will be lovely. 140. Sit up,

sweet. 141. Don’t you want your presents?”

142. I had forgotten about the box. 143. But there had been

only one. 144. “Presents?”

145. “One at a time.” 146. Mandy handed me the box I’d seen.

147. “For you, wherever you go through life.”

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148. Inside the box was a book of fairy tales. 149. I had never

seen such beautiful illustrations. 150. They were almost alive.

151. I turned the pages, marveling.

152. “When you look at it, you can remember me and

take comfort.”

153. “I’ll save it until I leave, so the stories will be new.”

154. Mandy chuckled. 155. “You won’t finish it so fast. 156. It

grows on you.” 157. She fished in the pocket of her apron and

fetched out a tissue-paper packet. 158. “From Lady. 159. She

would have wanted you to have it.”

160. It was Mother’s necklace. 161. Threads of silver ended

almost at my waist in a woven pattern of silver studded

with tiny pearls.

162. “You’ll grow into it, sweet, and look as lovely wear-

ing it as your mother did.”

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163. “I’ll wear it always.”

164. “You’d be wise to keep it under your gown when

you go out. 165. It’s that valuable. 166. Gnomes made it.”

167. The bell tinkled downstairs. 168. “That father of yours is

ringing.”

169. I hugged Mandy and clung to her.

170. She disentangled herself from my arms. 171. “Let me go,

love.” 172. Planting a kiss on my cheek, she left.

173. I settled back into bed, and this time sleep claimed me.

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