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In imagination she followed first one equipage then another to the big houses dotted along the hillside. She pictured herself in a fur coat and a velvet hat trimmed with feathers leaning back in the seat and nonchalantly murmuring “Home” to the driver. But on the door-sill of her home the picture grew blurred.

Jerusha had an imagination— an imagination, Mrs. Lippett told her, that would get her into trouble if she did n’t take care—but keen as it was, it could not carry her beyond the front porch of the houses she would enter.

This is from "Daddy-Long-Legs".

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The answer to your question is not immediately evident and lies below the surface as I shall explain.

First the brief answer to your question : Mrs Lippet told her ( Judy ) that letting her imagination run free could only lead to future adverse consequences which proves to be an untruth!

Now for some explanatory background from the novel itself :You're quoting from the first chapter in which we are introduced to our orphan protagonist: Jerusha Abbott who prefers to be called ‘Judy’ and lives at the John Greir orphanage .The first Wednesday of the month is when the Trustees of the said orphanage have their monthly meeting on site .We encounter ‘Judy’ as the meeting is concluding and the various well to do trustees are dispersing and entering their waiting parked cars and carriages as they go home. Judy watching the scene imagines herself travelling home as they order their drivers home ( her imagination fails her when they reach the threshold of their homes as Judy has never in her life left the orphanage to visit anyone at home) .

Now, the chapter from which the quotation is taken is entitled “ Blue Wednesday” .’Blue Wednesday” as becomes apparent in the chapter is also the title of a witty and humorous essay written by Judy concerning the John Grier orphanage .This composition has piqued her Rhetoric teacher's interest and was therefore considered worthy of mention during the trustees meeting that Wednesday.This leads one of the most affluent trustees being sufficiently impressed and committing to provide for and fund a college education for Judy.So- far from leading her into trouble- her imagination -it is clear - has opened up an amazing opportunity which she might not otherwise ever had access to !

So, Mrs Lippett’s dire prediction about her imagination leading her into trouble is proved fulsomely false in the most exciting, amazing and delightful way for Judy and it carries her well beyond the confines of her orphanage into the world of college /university and beyond !

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  • Very interesting, but I think the question was about what the reported speech indicated that Mrs Lippett had actually said. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 15:39
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    @Kate Bunting : My thinking on the question is this : It is true that the question (as it stands ) is about what the reported speech indicated what Mrs Lippett had said,but since what Mrs Lippett said was untrue the answer must needs indicate that and explain the untruth of what Mrs Lippett said . Otherwise the asked question is asking what Mrs Lippett said and answers itself making it a redundant question, or alternatively to explain what Mrs Lippett said as quoted without reference to the content of the Chapter or Novel making it a misleading answer.
    – schweppz
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 18:40
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Mrs Lippett had said to her, probably more than once, "Your imagination will get you into trouble if you don't take care". Presumably she liked to invent stories which an unsympathetic adult would classify as 'lies'.

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    The quoted passage shows Jerusha merely daydreaming. How does it follow that she has been telling lies?
    – verbose
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 17:39
  • I haven't read the book, but telling her that 'her imagination would get her into trouble' suggests to me that she sometimes invented stories that were unkindly described as 'lies'. Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 12:19
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    An alternative explanation was that she thought that Jerusha would dream too much. She would imagine that she could attain things beyond her ability.
    – Mary
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 3:06

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