The answer caused Uncle to raise his eyebrows. "You take proper care of books I suppose?" he asked smiling slyly.
"undoubtedly," Mintu said beaming with pleasure. "Before starting to read any book, I make sure to wrap it with a book cover using paper from old newspapers."
"Alright. I have to leave since I have some work to do today. Come back tomorrow."
Uncle hurried away and a servant came and locked the room behind him. Mintu went home.
Mintu comes back tomorrow, and the next day, and the following day, and all the morrows thereafter. She comes in the morning, she comes in the evening, and she comes after getting her ears twisted by her mother. It is impossible for her to stay away. Uncle has opened Ali Baba's cave. The discomfort caused by a twisted ear is far less than the discomfort caused by not being allowed to read those wonderful books!
Uncle has become very fond of Mintu; this has made Usha jealous.
One day while taking out a book for Mintu he said, "I don't ever see you playing with your friend, I mean Usha."
"She is not a friend; she cannot stand the sight of me," Mintu answered without batting an eyelid.
"Is that so? But the other day you said ......."
"I said that just in passing since we are of the same age."
"But why can't she stand your sight?" Uncle asked.
"That's because I love to read story books. She says ......."
Uncle burst into a loud guffaw. "Okay, that's how it stands. But I am very fond of children who like to read story books, provided they do not tear them, or take them home and lose them. You are a good girl; I like you."
"Honest? Uncle you mean it?" Mintu asked her eyes suddenly welling with tears.
Uncle was surprised at this abrupt change in Mintu. "Of course I mean it. Why are you weeping?"
The dam burst and the tears flowed easily.
"Uncle, I am a very bad girl."
"Now, now. What has happened to you all of a sudden?"
"I wanted to get to know you so that I could read your books. That is why the other day ......"
"Wipe away your tears. What did you do the other day?"
"I had kept the banana skin on the footpath. I had not 'dropped' it, but 'kept' it."
Uncle was astounded. "You had purposely kept the banana skin!!!"
"Yes. I had picked up the banana skin from the roadside and placed it on your path. Otherwise, I saw no way how I could get to know you." Mintu now wept copiously.
For a moment Uncle could only stare at her wide-eyed. But, then, he broke into a laugh - it was a laugh that threatened to bring the roof down. "Okay, okay. That is it. Wow! Very clever! That shows how reading story books can sharpen your intelligence!"