by Hilaire Belloc

Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one's eyes;
Her Aunt, who from her earliest youth, had kept a strict regard for truth,
attempted to believe Matilda: the effort very nearly killed her,
and would have done so, had not she discovered this infirmity.
For once, towards the close of day, Matilda, growing tired of play,
and finding she was left alone, went tiptoe to the telephone
and summoned the immediate aid of London's noble fire brigade.
Within an hour the gallant band were pouring in on every hand,
from Putney, Hackney Downs and Bow. With courage high and hearts aglow,
they galloped, roaring through the town, 'Matilda's house is burning down!'
Inspired by British cheers and loud proceeding from the frenzied crowd,
they ran their ladders through a score of windows on the ball room floor;
until Matilda's Aunt succeeded in showing them they were not needed;
and even then she had to pay to get the men to go away!
It happened that a few weeks later her Aunt was off to the theatre
to see that interesting play 'The Second Mrs Tanqueray.'
She had refused to take her niece to hear that entertaining piece:
a deprivation just and wise to punish her for telling lies.
That night a fire DID break out - you should have heard Matilda shout!
You should have heard her scream and bawl, and throw the window up and call
to people passing in the street - (the rapidly increasing heat
encouraging her to obtain their confidence) - but all in vain!
For every time she shouted 'Fire!' They only answered 'Little Liar!'
And therefore when her Aunt returned, Matilda, and the house, were burned.

A mini script, showing how you can produce a mini-performance of Matilda, is available in the Teaching Materials section of the Arts On The Move e-shop.

Matilda mini script

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