The train hurried on, and the cadence of the wheels on the tracks repeated: “Not expected of you, not expected of you,” with the emphasis on you.
I was very unhappy. I did not notice the sun nor the other ten girls who were having fun and singing songs as we returned to our homes in the Netherlands from our week’s vacation in the woods. Fifteen minutes earlier I had been one of these girls. But now I felt so ashamed! Never, no never, would I do something like that again, even if everybody else did it! I felt shut out and lonely, as though I had nothing in common with the rest of the group.
All the girls had been disobedient. But even though I was the youngest of them, I was the only one who had been scolded. My friend Trees was already 14, Ans was 13, and I was 11. I wanted to blame Trees for everything—she was the one who betrayed me. But in my heart, I knew it was my own fault because I had been disobedient.
* * * * *
Nothing really serious had happened. When we arrived at our vacation spot a week earlier, we received instructions as to what we were allowed to do and what we were not allowed to do while we were there. We could go into the village to buy postcards to send home, but we were not supposed to buy any candy while there.
That’s where the trouble started.
It was incredible to see all the different kinds of candy sold in the village store. We were all too weak to resist. It must have seemed suspicious how often we had to go and buy a postcard in the village after dinner, but after a long, tiring day, the teachers were happy to let us go. And so our money disappeared into the store’s register, and the chocolate and other candies disappeared into our stomachs.
At first I heard a little voice telling me that I was not supposed to do that. But nobody else seemed to have a problem with it, and it was important to me to be accepted in the group, especially since I was the youngest. And so, on the day we were to go home, I had not a penny left.
On the way to the train, we all bragged about how much money we had received for the trip from our aunts and uncles. Then the teachers asked if we had any money left—they had realized that not all that money could have gone to buy postcards. We were found out.
I don’t know why one of the teachers singled me out and asked me personally what I had done with my money. Before I could answer, Trees answered for me, saying that I had spent it all on candy.
I’m sure the teacher would have guessed the truth, since my face turned all red. The only excuse I had was that everybody had broken the rules. And then came these words from the teacher: “But I would not have expected it of you.” It wasn’t even her words that made me so unhappy. It was the disappointment I heard in her voice.
* * * * *
In a corner of the train, I promised myself that from then on I would always listen to the still, small voice in my heart and not be led by other people to do things that are wrong. It was a lesson I would always remember.
The train hurried on, the wheels still repeating, “Not expected of you, not expected of you, not expected of you.”