English CBSE Class 10 NCERT First Flight Chapter 5 The Hundred Dresses – I Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



TODAY, Monday, Wanda Petronski was not in her seat. But nobody, not even Peggy and Madeline, the girls who started all the fun, noticed her absence.

Today is Monday. Wanda Petronski is not at her seat. [Means she is absent today] But nobody has noticed her absence. Two girls Peggy and Madeline had started making fun of her. They have also not noticed her absence.



Usually Wanda sat in the seat next to the last seat in the last row in Room Thirteen. She sat in the corner of the room where the rough boys who did not make good marks sat, the corner of the room where there was most scuffling of feet, most roars of laughter when anything funny was said, and most mud and dirt on the floor.

Word Meaning
Rough boys Naughty boys
Scuffling of feet Noisy movement of feet on the ground

Normally Wanda sat in the last row of the Room Number thirteen of the school. She sat in the seat next to the last seat of the last row. She sat in the corner of the class. In this row naughty boys who did not score good marks used to sit. Students sitting in that row used to move their feet a lot. They used to laugh loudly. The floor of the corner used to be full of mud and dirt.

Wanda did not sit there because she was rough and noisy. On the contrary, she was very quiet and rarely said anything at all. And nobody had ever heard her laugh out loud. Sometimes she twisted her mouth into a crooked sort of smile, but that was all.

Word Meaning
On the contrary Opposite to something
Quiet Calm
Crooked Naughty

Wanda was not naughty nor made noise but she still sat in that corner. Actually she was very clam and rarely spoke anything. She had never laughed loudly. Sometimes she twisted her mouth to give a naughty smile.



Nobody knew exactly why Wanda sat in that seat, unless it was because she came all the way from Boggins Heights and her feet were usually caked with dry mud. But no one really thought much about Wanda Petronski, once she sat in the corner of the room.

Nobody was aware of the true reason of Wanda sitting in that corner seat. Other students thought that Wanda used to sit there because she came from Boggins Heights area of the town. This area was very far from school. Her feet were always full of dry mud. But after Wanda had sat in her seat nobody bothered about her.

The time when they thought about Wanda was outside of school hours — at noon-time when they were coming back to school or in the morning early before school began, when groups of two or three, or even more, would be talking and laughing on their way to the school yard. Then, sometimes, they waited for Wanda — to have fun with her.

Word Meaning
To have fun with her To tease her

They (other students) thought about Wanda only when they were out of the school. They thought about her at the noon time when they were coming back to school and in the morning before school started. On these occasions students would be in groups of two or three. They would be talking with each other and laughing while coming to the school campus. Sometimes students waited for Wanda to come so that they could tease her.

The next day, Tuesday, Wanda was not in school, either. And nobody noticed her absence again. But on Wednesday, Peggy and Maddie, who sat down front with other children who got good marks and who didn’t track in a whole lot of mud, did notice that Wanda wasn’t there.

On the next day, the Tuesday, also Wanda did not come to school. Once again nobody paid attention to her absence. But on Wednesday Peggy and Maddie took notice about absence of Wanda. These two girls used to sit in front row with children who scored good marks. Their feet were never full of mud.



Peggy was the most popular girl in school. She was pretty, she had many pretty clothes and her hair was curly. Maddie was her closest friend. The reason Peggy and Maddie noticed Wanda’s absence was because Wanda had made them late to school.

Word Meaning
Pretty Beautiful

Peggy was the most popular girl of the school. She was beautiful. She had many beautiful clothes. Her hair was curly. Maddie was the best friend of Peggy. Maddie and Peggy noticed absence of Wanda because they got late because of her.

They had waited and waited for Wanda, to have some fun with her, and she just hadn’t come. They often waited for Wanda Petronski — to have fun with her.

They had waited for Wanda to make of fun of her but she did not come. Many times they used to wait for Wanda Petronski to make fun of her.

Wanda Petronski. Most of the children in Room Thirteen didn’t have names like that. They had names easy to say, like Thomas, Smith or Allen. There was one boy named Bounce, Willie Bounce, and people thought that was funny, but not funny in the same way that Petronski was.

Most of the students in the room number thirteen did not have names similar to Wanda Petronski. Their names were easy to pronounce like Thomas, Smith or Allen. Name of one boy in the class was Willie Bounce. Other students thought that his name was funny. But name Petronski was more funny.



Wanda didn’t have any friends. She came to school alone and went home alone. She always wore a faded blue dress that didn’t hang right. It was clean, but it looked as though it had never been ironed properly.

Word Meaning
Did not hang right Did not fit correctly

Wanda did not have any friend in the class. She used to come to school alone and went home alone. She was always wearing a dress of faded blue colour. It did not fit her correctly. The dress was clean but it was never ironed properly.

She didn’t have any friends, but a lot of girls talked to her. Sometimes, they surrounded her in the school yard as she stood watching the little girls play hopscotch on the worn hard ground.

Word Meaning
Hopscotch Name of a game kids play

Wanda did not have any friends but many girls talked to her. Sometimes in the school yard girls stood around her. They did so while she was watching other girls play hopscotch. The playground of the school was old and hard.

“Wanda,” Peggy would say in a most courteous manner as though she were talking to Miss Mason. “Wanda,” she’d say, giving one of her friends a nudge, “tell us. How many dresses did you say you had hanging up in your closet?”

Word Meaning
Courteous manner Politely
Closet Cupboard
Nudge A gentle push

Miss Mason is teacher of the class. Peggy would address Wanda as politely as she would address her teacher Miss Mason. Peggy would give a gentle push to one of her friends and ask Wanda to tell how many dresses she had in her cupboard.



“A hundred,” Wanda would say. “A hundred!” exclaimed all the little girls incredulously, and the little ones would stop playing hopscotch and listen.

Word Meaning
Exclaimed Surprised
Incredulously In disbelief, Not able to believe

Wanda used to reply that she had hundred dresses. All small girls used to get surprised by the answer. It was difficult for them to believe it. The girls playing hopscotch would stop playing upon listening the answer.

“Yeah, a hundred, all lined up,” said Wanda. Then her thin lips drew together in silence. “What are they like? All silk, I bet,” said Peggy.

“Yeah, all silk, all colours.”

Word Meaning
I bet I am sure

Wanda replied that she had hundred dresses. All dresses are neatly put in her cupboard. Then she will remain silent. Peggy said that she was sure these dresses were of silk. Wanda replied that these were of silk and of various colours.

“Velvet, too?”

“Yeah, velvet too. A hundred dresses,” Wanda would repeat stolidly. “All lined up in my closet.”

Then they’d let her go. And then before she’d gone very far, they couldn’t help bursting into shrieks and peals of laughter.

Word Meaning
Stolidly Calmly, Without any feelings
Burst into shrieks and peals of laughter Loudly laugh a lot

Peggy asked if Wanda has velvet dresses also. Wanda calmly replied that she has velvet dresses also. All the hundred dresses are neatly placed in her cupboard. After this they would allow Wanda to go. After Wanda went a little away, they would loudly laugh a lot. [Nobody believed that Wanda had hundred dresses]



A hundred dresses! Obviously, the only dress Wanda had was the blue one she wore every day. So why did she say she had a hundred? What a story!

Everybody thought that Wanda did not have hundred dresses. They believed that Wanda had only one blue dress. She wore this dress every day. Why did she say that she had hundred dresses? Everybody thought that she was telling a fantastic story.

“How many shoes did you say you had?”

“Sixty pairs. All lined up in my closet.”

Cries of exaggerated politeness greeted this. “All alike?”

“Oh, no. Every pair is different. All colours. All lined up.”

Word Meaning
Exaggerated Make it look bigger

Peggy asked how many pairs of shoes Wanda had. Wanda replied that she had sixty pairs in her cupboard. Peggy would ask with more politeness if all the shoes were same. Wanda replied that every pair was different. These were of all colours. These were neatly stacked in her cupboard.

Peggy, who had thought up this game, and Maddie, her inseparable friend, were always the last to leave.

Peggy had thought of this game of asking Wanda. Maddie was Peggy’s friend who was always with her. These two friends left the discussion in the last.

Finally Wanda would move up the street, her eyes dull and her mouth closed, hitching her left shoulder every now and then in the funny way she had, finishing the walk to school alone.

Word Meaning
Hitch To give a jerk
Now and then From time to time, occasionally

After everybody had gone Wanda would start walking in the street. Her eyes would be dull and mouth closed. While walking she would occasionally give jerk to her left shoulder in a funny manner. Wanda would walk towards the school alone.



Peggy was not really cruel. She protected small children from bullies. And she cried for hours if she saw an animal mistreated.

Word Meaning
Cruel Inhuman, Merciless
Bullies Who trouble others, Naughty
Mistreated Not cared correctly, Injured

Actually Peggy was not a merciless girl. She protected small children from naughty boys. If she saw an animal was not taken care of nicely, she would cry for hours.

If anybody had said to her, “Don’t you think that is a cruel way to treat Wanda?” she would have been very surprised. Cruel? Why did the girl say she had a hundred dresses?

If anybody told Peggy that she did not show any sympathy to Wanda, Peggy would have been surprised. Peggy thought that Wanda should not have told that she had hundred dresses. Because it was a lie.

Anybody could tell that that was a lie. Why did she want to lie? And she wasn’t just an ordinary person, else why did she have a name like that? Anyway, they never made her cry.

Anybody could tell that Wanda was telling a lie. Why she wanted to tell a lie. And she was not an ordinary person because she had a different type of name. But Peggy never made Wanda cry. Peggy did not tease Wanda too much.

As for Maddie, this business of asking Wanda every day how many dresses and how many hats, and how many this and that she had was bothering her. Maddie was poor herself. She usually wore somebody’s hand-me-down clothes. Thank goodness, she didn’t live up on Boggins Heights or have a funny name.

Word Meaning
Bother Worry
hand me down clothes Old clothes given by someone

Maddie did not like students asking Wanda everyday about her dresses, hats and other things. Maddie was herself a poor girl. Normally she wore old clothes given by someone else. She thought she was lucky not live in Boggins Heights area. Nor did she have a funny name. [Other girls would have teased Maddie also]

Sometimes, when Peggy was asking Wanda those questions in that mocking polite voice, Maddie felt embarrassed and studied the marbles in the palm of her hand, rolling them around and saying nothing herself.

Word Meaning
Mocking False, Hidden
Embarrassed Ashamed, Felt sorry

Maddie did not like Peggy asking such questions to Wanda. She knew that the politeness shown by Peggy was false. Peggy wanted to tease Wanda. Maddie would look at the marbles in her hand. She would roll these in her hands and say nothing to anybody.

Not that she felt sorry for Wanda, exactly. She would never have paid any attention to Wanda if Peggy hadn’t invented the dresses game. But suppose Peggy and all the others started in on her next?

Maddie did not truly feel sorry for Wanda. Maddie paid attention to Wanda only because of the dress game. This game was invented by Peggy. Maddie was worried what will happen if Peggy and others started playing the same game on her.

She wasn’t as poor as Wanda, perhaps, but she was poor. Of course she would have more sense than to say she had a hundred dresses. Still she would not like for them to begin on her. She wished Peggy would stop teasing Wanda Petronski.

Word Meaning
Have more sense Be wise, Have wisdom
Begin on her Start teasing her

Maddie was not as poor as Wanda was but she was poor. Maddie would be more wise to say that she did not have hundred dresses. But she would not like that others should start teasing her. She wanted Peggy to stop teasing Wanda Petronski.

Today, even though they had been late to school, Maddie was glad she had not had to make fun of Wanda. She worked her arithmetic problems absentmindedly. “Eight times eight — let’s see…”

Word Meaning
Glad Happy
Absentmindedly Unaware of others, Not concentrating

Today they reached school late. But Maddie was happy because they did not tease Wanda. Maddie was learning her lessons of arithmetic. But she was not able to concentrate on her learning.

She wished she had the nerve to write Peggy a note, because she knew she never would have the courage to speak right out to Peggy, to say, “Hey, Peg, let’s stop asking Wanda how many dresses she has.”

Word Meaning
Had the nerve Had the courage

Maddie wanted to have the courage to write a note to Peggy. Maddie knew that she will never be able to directly tell Peggy to stop asking Wanda about dresses.

When she finished her arithmetic she did start a note to Peggy. Suddenly she paused and shuddered. She pictured herself in the school yard, a new target for Peggy and the girls.

Word Meaning
Paused Stopped
Shuddered Shivered, Got afraid

After completing her lesson of arithmetic, Maddie started writing a note to Peggy. Suddenly she stopped writing and started trembling. She was afraid. She imagined herself standing in the school yard as a new target for Peggy and other girls.

Peggy might ask her where she got the dress that she had on, and Maddie would have to say it was one of Peggy’s old ones that Maddie’s mother had tried to disguise with new trimmings so no one in Room Thirteen would recognise it.

Word Meaning
Disguise Hide
Trimmings Decoration on a clothes, Design

Peggy may ask about her dress she was wearing. Peggy may ask from where she bought it. Then Maddie will have to tell that it was an old dress of Peggy. Maddie’s mother had put new design on the dress so that no one in the class would recognize it.

If only Peggy would decide of her own accord to stop having fun with Wanda. Oh, well! Maddie ran her hand through her short blonde hair as though to push the uncomfortable thoughts away. What difference did it make?

Word Meaning
Of her own accord By her own wish
Blonde hair Golden coloured hair

Maddie thought it would be better if Maddie stopped the fun by her own wish. Maddie ran his hand through her short and golden hair. She wanted to push the thought out of her mind. It really helped her a lot.

Slowly Maddie tore into bits the note she had started. She was Peggy’s best friend, and Peggy was the best-liked girl in the whole room. Peggy could not possibly do anything that was really wrong, she thought.

Slowly Maddie tore the note she had started writing into small pieces. She was the best friend of Peggy. And the class liked Peggy the most. Maddie thought that probably Peggy would not do anything that was wrong.

As for Wanda, she was just some girl who lived up on Boggins Heights and stood alone in the school yard. She scarcely ever said anything to anybody. The only time she talked was in the school yard about her hundred dresses.

Word Meaning
Stood alone Did not have a friend
Scarcely Rarely

Wanda was just another girl living in the Boggins Height area. Wanda did not have any friend in the school. She rarely said anything to anybody. The only thing she talked in the school was about her hundred dresses. Wanda talked about her hundred dresses when other girls were teasing her in the school yard.

Maddie remembered her telling about one of her dresses, pale blue with coloured trimmings. And she remembered another that was brilliant jungle green with a red sash. “You’d look like a Christmas tree in that,” the girls had said in pretended admiration.

Word Meaning
Sash Decoration of shoulder
Pretended admiration False appreciation

Maddie recalled that Wanda had talked about a dress that had yellow blue decorations. She also remembered another dress of bright jungle green colour with a red decoration on shoulders. The girls had told Wanda that she would look like Christmas tree in that dress. The girls were giving false appreciations to Wanda.

Thinking about Wanda and her hundred dresses all lined up in the closet, Maddie began to wonder who was going to win the drawing and colouring contest. For girls, this contest consisted of designing dresses and for boys, of designing motorboats.

Word Meaning
Contest Competition
Began to wonder Started guessing or thinking

Maddie was thinking of Wanda and her hundred dresses. She thought of hundred dresses stacked in the cupboard of Wanda. Maddie was trying to guess who will win the competition. The school had organised a competition of drawing and colouring. For girls competition was to design a dress and for boys it was for designing motorboats.

Probably Peggy would win the girls’ medal. Peggy drew better than anyone else in the room. At least, that’s what everybody thought.

Probably Peggy would win the competition for girls. Peggy could draw better than anyone in the class. This is what everybody in the class thought.

She could copy a picture in a magazine or some film star’s head so that you could almost tell who it was. Oh, Maddie was sure Peggy would win. Well, tomorrow the teacher was going to announce the winners. Then they’d know.

Peggy could draw any picture from a magazine. She could draw face of a film star which looked so real. It was easy to recognize the film star from her drawing. Maddie was sure that Peggy would win the competition. Tomorrow teacher would announce the result. Then everybody would know the winner.

The next day it was drizzling. Maddie and Peggy hurried to school under Peggy’s umbrella.

Word Meaning
Drizzling Raining slowly
Hurried to school Quickly walked to school

The next day it was raining slowly. Maddie and Peggy quickly walked towards the school. They both were under the umbrella of Peggy.

Naturally, on a day like this, they didn’t wait for Wanda Petronski on the corner of Oliver Street, the street that far, far away, under the railroad tracks and up the hill, led to Boggins Heights.

On a day of raining, obviously, they did not wait for Wanda Petronski at the corner of Oliver Street. The street was very far and under the railway bridge. Beyond Oliver Street, the area on a small hill was called Boggins Height.

Anyway, they weren’t taking chances on being late today, because today was important. “Do you think Miss Mason will announce the winners today?” asked Peggy.

They did not want to get late today because it was an important day. The result of the drawing competition was to be announced today. Peggy asked Maddie if their teacher Miss mason would announce the result today.

“Oh, I hope so, the minute we get in,” said Maddie. “Of course, you’ll win, Peg.”

“Hope so,” said Peggy eagerly.

Maddie replied that she hoped the result would be announces as soon as they reached school. Maddie said that Peggy will certainly win. Peggy said that she was hopeful of winning.

The minute they entered the classroom, they stopped short and gasped. There were drawings all over the room, on every ledge and windowsill, dazzling colours and brilliant, lavish designs, all drawn on great sheets of wrapping paper.

Word Meaning
Stopped short Stopped suddenly
Gasped Surprised
All over Everywhere
Dazzling Shining
Lavish Royal
Wrapping paper Paper used to cover something

As soon they entered the class room they were surprised and suddenly stopped. Everywhere in class room there were drawings. Drawing were on the ledge, windowsills. The colours were shining, design was royal. All the drawings were drawn on a wrapping paper.

There must have been a hundred of them, all lined up. These must be the drawings for the contest. They were! Everybody stopped and whistled or murmured admiringly.

Word Meaning
Murmured Spoke in low voice
Admiringly With appreciation

These must be a hundred drawings. All were neatly displayed in class. Actually these were the drawings for competition. Everybody stopped to see these drawings. They whistled and spoke in low voice to appreciate.

As soon as the class had assembled, Miss Mason announced the winners. Jack Beggles had won for the boys, she said, and his design for an outboard motor was on exhibition in Room Twelve, along with the sketches by all the other boys.

As soon as everybody had come in the class, Miss Mason announced winners. Jack Beggles was the winner for boys. She announced that his drawing of motorboat was placed in the Room Number twelve. Drawing of other boys was also placed in the same room.

“As for the girls,” she said, “although just one or two sketches were submitted by most, one girl — and Room Thirteen should be proud of her — this one girl actually drew one hundred designs — all different and all beautiful.

Miss Mason said that most of the girls had submitted one or two sketches. But one girl from Room Number thirteen submitted hundred drawings. This class should be proud of her. All the drawings are different and all are beautiful.

In the opinion of the judges, any one of the drawings is worthy of winning the prize. I am very happy to say that Wanda Petronski is the winner of the girls’ medal.

Word Meaning
In the opinion of According to
Worthy Deserving

According to judges, each drawing from this girl deserved the first prize. Miss Mason was happy to announce that Wanda Petronski was the winner of competition for girls.

Unfortunately, Wanda has been absent from school for some days and is not here to receive the applause that is due to her. Let us hope she will be back tomorrow. Now class, you may file around the room quietly and look at her exquisite drawings.”

Word Meaning
Applause due to her Appreciation she deserves
File around Move around
Exquisite Very beautiful

Unfortunately, Wanda has not been coming to school for many days. So she is not here to receive the prize and appreciation she deserves. Let us hope she will come to school tomorrow. Now you can quietly move around the room and look at her beautiful drawings.

The children burst into applause, and even the boys were glad to have a chance to stamp on the floor, put their fingers in their mouths and whistle, though they were not interested in dresses.

The children clapped. Boys were happy because they got a chance to make noise by thumping their feet on the floor and to put their finger in mouth to whistle. But they were not interested in looking at the drawing of dresses.

“Look, Peg,” whispered Maddie. “There’s that blue one she told us about. Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Yes,” said Peggy, “And here’s that green one. Boy, and I thought I could draw.”

Maddie whispered to Peggy to look at the blue drawing. Wanda used to talk about that dress. That drawing was really beautiful. Peggy agreed and asked her to look at the green dress. Now Peggy agreed that she did not make good drawings.


Important Links
The Hundred Dresses I – Textbook Q&A The Hundred Dresses I – Extra Q&A
From the Diary of Anne Frank – Explanation The Hundred Dresses II – Explanation
From the Diary of Anne Frank – Textbook Q&A The Hundred Dresses II – Textbook Q&A
From the Diary of Anne Frank – Extra Q&A The Hundred Dresses II – Extra Q&A
Re-arrange Exercises Error Finding Exercises
Active-Passive Rules Gap Filling Exercises
Passages Direct-Indirect Speech Rules
Story Writing Tips Letter Writing




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