MINERAL WATER

MINERAL WATER

 

There was a girl who was not popular in her class. For one thing, she was hunchbacked. For another her face was freckled. Some naughty boys dubbed her Ostrich. As time went by, her classmates seemed to forget her real name, and the nickname Ostrich got stuck. Many guys around made fun of her every day. She simply ignored them.

 

One day the class were having a PE lesson on the sports field. Ostrich, who happened to be suffering from a foot problem at the time, stayed behind in the classroom. After the PE class, all the students came back. To everyone’s surprise, a girl student found her 100 yuan banknote missing from her desk. She cried and ran to the teacher. The teacher came in with the girl and asked, “Who took it? If he does not admit to doing that now, I will take action.” The students were wondering who it was when a voice spoke out, “It must have been Ostrich. Only she was in the room when we were taking the PE lesson.”

 

The girl whose money was lost turned to Ostrich, “Give my money back, or I will call in the police.”

 

“No, I did not do it. I just … drank some of your mineral water. I was not the thief,” Ostrich said.

 

But on that occasion Ostrich looked so suspicious that no one believed her. Later on the teacher asked her father to come to the school without looking further into the matter. Ostrich’s father was a violent man. He gave the girl a good beating in the teacher’s presence. After that Ostrich was made to quit school.

 

Many years passed and Ostrich grew into a beautiful girl. One day she ran across one of her former classmates on the street. Seated comfortably on the lawn in a park in the sun, the two friends had a long chat. When the classmate mentioned the incident that had led to her quitting school, she asked Ostrich, “Were you short of money then?” Ostrich, a beautiful girl now, smiled. Having taken a deep breath, she explained, “In fact, I did not take her money at all, but no one would believe me. I had no way to prove myself. But what was true was that I did drink her mineral water. I had never tasted mineral water before, you know. Coming from a rich family, that girl seemed to have everything at the time. I did nothing but take a sip of her mineral water. Actually I knew who the culprit was, but I simply could not tell the truth then.”

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