Mario is sitting at his desk in school. He is printing **E-E-E** in his notebook. It is nearly time for recess.

Mario is hungry. Long ago, early in the morning, he ate four corn tortillas and a bowl of beans. But now his stomach feels empty.

Each day Mother gives him a shilling [25 cents] to buy a package of biscuits at the school shop. He puts his hand in his pocket, but there is no shilling in his pocket. Mario bends his head to peak in his shirt pocket. No shilling is there. Mother forgot to give him a shilling. No shilling! No biscuits!

Mario's eyes fill with tears. He holds his stomach with both hands. He is so hungry. What can he eat?

His parrot eraser is lying on his desk. It is red and blue and yellow. Mario picks up the parrot eraser. He is so-o-o hungry. He nibbles the feet of the parrot. He looks at the parrot carefully. Then he bites of its head. It tastes like nothing, but it is something to eat. Little by little the whole parrot disappears into Mario's mouth.

The teacher tells the class to put their books away for recess. Mario puts his notebook and pencil into his backpack. But he does not put his eraser away because it is gone. His parrot eraser is gone but so is his hunger. He hurries out to play.

The next day the teacher writes the numbers 1 to 10 on the blackboard. She tells the children to copy the number into their notebooks.

Mario carefully copies 1, 2, 3. He bends over his book, sticking out his tongue so he can write faster. He writes 4, but 5 is hard. He makes a 5, but it is falling over. It looks like it wants to lie down and sleep on the line. He must erase it. He reaches for his parrot eraser, but it is not on his desk. He puts his hand into the front pocket of his backpack, but the eraser is not there. Then he remembers. Yesterday he ate his eraser. What can he do now? He looks around. He can not erase his fallen down 5. He cannot do his work. He wishes he had not eaten his eraser.

All the other children are copying their numbers. They are whispering the numbers as they write them into their books. The room is noisy.

"Mario," calls the teacher in a loud voice. "Get to work."

Mario slides down in his seat but he does not pick up his pencil. The teacher comes to look at his book.

"This 5 is not correct," she says, pointing at it in his book. "Erase it."

"I can't," whispers Mario. "I don't have an eraser."

"Did you forget it at home?" she asks.

Mario shakes his head.

"Did someone steal your eraser?"

Mario shakes his head again. He knows nobody stole his eraser, but he does not want to tell the teacher he has eaten it.

"Borrow Elisa's," she says, reaching over and picking up an eraser off the desk beside him.

Mario wishes he had not eaten his eraser. He did not take good care of it, and now it is gone.

chapter 3 of *Mario and His Friends*

© Copyright, Christian Light Publications

© Copyright, Christian Light Publications

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