The Little Girl: Word Meanings Class 9 English

Word meanings of the 3rd lesson “The Little Girl” from CBSE Class 9 NCERT book “Beehive”. Meanings are given paragraph wise with a short explanation of each paragraph. Click here for more study materials.

Paragraph Wise Word meanings: The Little Girl

1. TO the little girl he was a figure to be feared and avoided. Every morning before going to work he came into her room and gave her a casual kiss, to which she responded with “Goodbye, Father”. And oh, there was a glad sense of relief when she heard the noise of the carriage growing fainter and fainter down the long road!

In the evening when he came home, she stood near the staircase and heard his loud voice in the hall.

“Bring my tea into the drawing-room… Hasn’t the paper come yet? Mother, go and see if my paper’s out there — and bring me my slippers.”

Word Meanings

  • Figure: “figure” refers to a person (father here) who holds a certain position or role in someone’s life, often influencing their emotions or actions
  • Feared: To feel afraid or scared of
  • Avoid: To keep away from, to prevent encountering or facing
  • Casual: Relaxed, informal, without much concern or premeditation
  • Glad: Feeling pleased, happy, or delighted
  • Relief: A feeling of comfort or ease after being free from anxiety, pain, or distress
  • Paper: Refers to a newspaper
  • Slippers: Comfortable footwear worn indoors

2. “Kezia,” Mother would call to her, “if you’re a good girl you can come down and take off father’s boots.”

Slowly the girl would slip down the stairs, more slowly still across the hall, and push open the drawing-room door. By that time, he had his spectacles on and looked at her over them in a way that was terrifying to the little girl.

“Well, Kezia, hurry up and pull off these boots and take them outside. Have you been a good girl today?”

“I d-d-don’t know, Father.”

“You d-d-don’t know? If you stutter like that Mother will have to take you to the doctor.”

Word Meanings

  • Spectacles: Eyeglasses
  • Terrifying: Causing intense fear, terror
  • Stutter: A speech disorder characterized by the involuntary repetition or prolongation of sounds, syllables, or words

3. She never stuttered with other people — had quite given it up — but only with Father, because then she was trying so hard to say the words properly.

“What’s the matter? What are you looking so wretched about? Mother, I wish you taught this child not to appear on the brink of suicide… Here, Kezia, carry my teacup back to the table carefully.”

He was so big — his hands and his neck, especially his mouth when he yawned. Thinking about him alone was like thinking about a giant.

Word Meanings

  • Stuttering: trying hard to say the words properly out of fear
  • Wretched: looking miserable or distressed
  • On the brink of suicide: The father uses hyperbole to criticize the girl’s behaviour, suggesting that she appears extremely unhappy or troubled
  • Big: The father is described as being physically large, with notable features such as big hands, a thick neck, and a wide mouth when he yawns
  • Giant: Thinking about her father alone makes the little girl feel like she is thinking about a giant, emphasizing his imposing presence and how he seems larger than life to her

4. On Sunday afternoons Grandmother sent her down to the drawing-room to have a “nice talk with Father and Mother”. But the little girl always found Mother reading and Father stretched out on the sofa, his handkerchief on his face, his feet on one of the best cushions, sleeping soundly and snoring.

She sat on a stool, gravely watched him until he woke and stretched, and asked the time — then looked at her.

“Don’t stare so, Kezia. You look like a little brown owl.”

One day, when she was kept indoors with a cold, her grandmother told her that father’s birthday was next week, and suggested she should make him a pin-cushion for a gift out of a beautiful piece of yellow silk.

Word Meanings

  • Stretched out: lying down with his body extended, in resting position.
  • Cushion: A soft bag or pad
  • Snoring: The noise made by a person while sleeping
  • Gravely: In a serious or solemn manner
  • Pin-cushion: A small, cushion-like object used for storing pins and needles, often covered with decorative fabric

5. Laboriously, with a double cotton, the little girl stitched three sides. But what to fill it with? That was the question. The grandmother was out in the garden, and she wandered into Mother’s bedroom to look for scraps. On the bed-table she discovered a great many sheets of fine paper, gathered them up, tore them into tiny pieces, and stuffed her case, then sewed up the fourth side.

That night there was a hue and cry in the house. Father’s great speech for the Port Authority had been lost. Rooms were searched; servants questioned. Finally Mother came into Kezia’s room.

“Kezia, I suppose you didn’t see some papers on a table in our room?”

“Oh yes,” she said, “I tore them up for my surprise.”

“What!” screamed Mother. “Come straight down to the dining-room this instant.”

Word Meanings

  • Laboriously: with hard work, effort, and difficulty
  • Double cotton: A type of thread or yarn that is doubled up to create a stronger and thicker material.
  • Stitched: Sewn or fastened with stitches
  • Fill: To put something inside an object or container to make it full
  • Scraps: Small leftover pieces or fragments, usually from fabric or paper
  • Bed-table: A small table placed beside or near a bed for holding various items
  • Hue and cry: A loud outcry or uproar or commotion
  • Port Authority: An organization responsible for managing ports, harbours, and related transportation facilities

6. And she was dragged down to where Father was pacing to and fro, hands behind his back.

“Well?” he said sharply.

Mother explained.

He stopped and stared at the child.

“Did you do that?”

“N-n-no”, she whispered.

“Mother, go up to her room and fetch down the damned thing — see that the child’s put to bed this instant.”

Word Meanings

  • Pacing to and fro: Walking back and forth repeatedly, often indicating restlessness, agitation, or deep thought
  • Hands behind his back: A gesture of standing or walking with hands positioned at the rear side of the body, typically in a clasped or folded manner
  • Sharp: In a severe or abrupt manner; expressing criticism or annoyance
  • Whispered: Spoke in a soft, low voice
  • Damned thing: In this context, it refers to the pin-cushion that Kezia made as a gift for her father
  • Put to bed: To be sent to bed or instructed to go to sleep

7. Crying too much to explain, she lay in the shadowed room watching the evening light make a sad little pattern on the floor.

Then Father came into the room with a ruler in his hands.

“I am going to beat you for this,” he said.

“Oh, no, no”, she screamed, hiding under the bedclothes.

He pulled them aside.

“Sit up,” he ordered, “and hold out your hands.

You must be taught once and for all not to touch what does not belong to you.”

“But it was for your b-b-birthday.”

Down came the ruler on her little, pink palms.

Word Meanings

  • Shadowed: Partially or completely lacking light or a dimly lit environment
  • Evening light: The illumination present during the late part of the day, before sunset
  • Pattern: A design or arrangement characterized by repeated shapes, colours, or motifs
  • Ruler: A long, straight strip or stick used for measuring or as a tool for discipline
  • Beat: In this context, it refers to physically striking or hitting someone as a form of punishment
  • Screamed: Uttered a loud and high-pitched cry or shout, often out of fear, pain, or distress

8. Hours later, when Grandmother had wrapped her in a shawl and rocked her in the rocking-chair, the child clung to her soft body.

“What did God make fathers for?” she sobbed.

“Here’s a clean hanky, darling. Blow your nose.

Go to sleep, pet; you’ll forget all about it in the morning. I tried to explain to Father but he was too upset to listen tonight.”

But the child never forgot. Next time she saw him she quickly put both hands behind her back and a red colour flew into her cheeks.

Word Meanings

  • Rocking-chair: A chair that moves back and forth on curved legs, often used for soothing or comforting
  • Sobbed: Cried loudly while gasping for breath
  • Clung: Held onto tightly, as if unwilling to let go
  • Pet: A term of endearment, used to refer to someone affectionately
  • Upset: Emotionally disturbed, agitated, or troubled
  • Red colour: A blush or flush that appears on the cheeks due to embarrassment, shame, or heightened emotion

9. The Macdonalds lived next door. They had five children. Looking through a gap in the fence the little girl saw them playing ‘tag’ in the evening.

The father with the baby, Mao, on his shoulders, two little girls hanging on to his coat pockets ran round and round the flower-beds, shaking with laughter. Once she saw the boys turn the hose on him—and he tried to catch them laughing all the time.

Then it was she decided there were different sorts of fathers.

Suddenly, one day, Mother became ill, and she and Grandmother went to hospital.

The little girl was left alone in the house with Alice, the cook. That was all right in the daytime, but while Alice was putting her to bed she grew suddenly afraid.

Word Meanings

  • Fence: A barrier made of posts or boards used to enclose or divide areas
  • Tag: A game in which players chase and touch one another, transferring the “it” status to the one touched
  • Flower-beds: Areas in a garden or yard where flowers are planted and arranged
  • Shaking with laughter: Laughing so intensely that one’s body shakes or trembles
  • Hose: A flexible tube or pipe used for conveying water, often with a nozzle or sprayer attached
  • Ill: Not in good health; suffering from an illness or disease
  • Cook: A person employed to prepare meals and handle culinary tasks
  • Bedtime: The time of the evening when one goes to bed or prepares to sleep

10. “What’ll I do if I have a nightmare?” she asked. “I often have nightmares and then Grannie takes me into her bed—I can’t stay in the dark—it all gets ‘whispery’…”

“You just go to sleep, child,” said Alice, pulling off her socks, “and don’t you scream and wake your poor Pa.” But the same old nightmare came — the butcher with a knife and a rope, who came nearer and nearer, smiling that dreadful smile, while she could not move, could only stand still, crying out, “Grandma! Grandma!” She woke shivering to see Father beside her bed, a candle in his hand.

“What’s the matter?” he said.

Word Meanings

  • Nightmare: A disturbing or frightening dream, often causing strong emotions like fear, anxiety, or distress
  • Grannie: A colloquial term for “grandmother.”
  • Whispery: An adjective describing a feeling of something being eerie or mysterious, as if it is filled with soft, hushed sounds
  • Butcher: A person who prepares and sells meat, typically in a shop called a butcher’s shop
  • Shivering: Trembling or shaking involuntarily, often due to cold or fear

11. “Oh, a butcher — a knife — I want Grannie.” He blew out the candle, bent down and caught up the child in his arms, carrying her along the passage to the big bedroom. A newspaper was on the bed.

He put away the paper, then carefully tucked up the child. He lay down beside her. Half asleep still, still with the butcher’s smile all about her it seemed, she crept close to him, snuggled her head under his arm, held tightly to his shirt.

Then the dark did not matter; she lay still.

“Here, rub your feet against my legs and get them warm,” said Father.

Word Meanings

  • Passage: A corridor or hallway connecting rooms in a building.
  • Tucked up: To cover or arrange someone comfortably in bed by tucking in the bedclothes.
  • Snuggled: To settle or curl up comfortably and closely.

12. Tired out, he slept before the little girl. A funny feeling came over her. Poor Father, not so big, after all — and with no one to look after him. He was harder than Grandmother, but it was a nice hardness. And every day he had to work and was too tired to be a Mr Macdonald… She had torn up all his beautiful writing… She stirred suddenly, and sighed.

“What’s the matter?” asked her father. “Another dream?”

“Oh,” said the little girl, “my head’s on your heart.

I can hear it going. What a big heart you’ve got, Father dear.”

Word Meanings

  • Tired out: Exhausted or fatigued from physical or mental exertion.
  • Funny feeling: An unusual or unexpected emotion or sensation
  • Mr. Macdonald: Likely a reference to her father’s formal or professional persona, as opposed to his more intimate, personal self
  • Hardness: Refers to her father’s stern or strict behaviour
  • Nice hardness: Implies that she recognizes his tough exterior but appreciates it in a positive way.
  • Stirred: Moved or shifted suddenly, often in response to a thought or feeling
  • Sighed: Exhaled audibly and deeply, often indicating a mixture of emotions
  • Heart: Symbolizes affection, love, and emotions

Leave a Reply