"Oh." The girl frowned. "The mean the one that started it. All right. I guess I don't wish to fail that huge exam thingy tomorrow. But gosh. I hate math."
"It's all right," Ethan told her cheerfully. "A lot of kids think I'm a good tutor. I pride myself on it."
"Yeah, I heard. That's why I asked you for help."
"Okay, open your notebook, then. What's the problem?"
Arianna squinted at the page. "You know, I really should have glasses for this."
"Just hold it away from your face!"
"Oh, right. Good point." She chuckled nervously. "Okay, here we go: 'If Isabel has five sticks and I have negative two sticks and a lunchbox and I give her three of my sticks and she goes to the Headmistress and receives a pound on the head for insolence in English class, how many sticks have I got left?'"
Ethan Howard grinned. He was in his element. After a quick scan of the page he looked up at Arianna. "The answer is that you have negative 5 sticks and a purple bruise with a sentence on it and negative one lunchboxes. But you don't have to mention all of that. This is a question usually asked of Level 6s and 7s."
"Okay, I am so confused so I guess I'm not as brilliant as the ten- and eleven-year-olds."
"Relax. Listen to me: