For before her eyes she saw an awful change taking place in Pridmore.
In an instant all that was left of the original Pridmore were the boots
and the hem of her skirt—the top part of her had changed into painted
iron and glass, and even as Matilda looked the bit of skirt that was
left got flat and hard and square. The two feet turned into four feet,
and they were iron feet, and there was no more Pridmore.
“Oh, my poor child,” said the King, “your maid has turned into an
It was too true. The maid had turned into a machine such as those which
you see in a railway station—greedy, grasping things which take your
pennies and give you next to nothing in chocolate and no change.
But there was no chocolate to be seen through the glass of the machine
that once had been Pridmore. Only little rolls of paper.
The King silently handed some pennies to Matilda. She dropped one into
the machine and pulled out the little drawer. There was a scroll of
paper. Matilda opened it and read—
“Don’t be tiresome.”
She tried again. This time it was—
“If you don’t give over I’ll tell your Ma first thing when she comes
The next was—
“Go along with you do—always worrying;” so then Matilda knew.
“Yes,” said the King sadly, “I fear there’s no doubt about it. Your
maid has turned into an Automatic Nagging Machine. Never mind, my
dear, she’ll be all right to-morrow.”
“I like her best like this, thank you,” said Matilda quickly. “I
needn’t put in any more pennies, you see.”
“Oh, we mustn’t be unkind and neglectful,” said the King gently, and he
dropped in a penny. He got—
“You tiresome boy, you. Leave me be this minute.”
Pridmore saves the day in the end. The only way to undo all the Cockatoucan's magic (which also included turning the King into a villa-residence, replete with every modern improvement, and the Prime Minister into a comic opera) is to make him laugh on the wrong side of his mouth, and Pridmore gladly obliges. "It was a terrible sight to witness, and the sound of that wrong-sided laughter was horrible to hear." I think we should all follow this shining example!