September 4, 2014

Observing "The Railway Children"

"A presentation! That means presents," said Peter, as his sisters, having duly washed the pegs and wiped the line, hung up the dresses to dry. "Whatever will it be?"
"It might be anything," said Phyllis; "what I've always wanted is a Baby elephant—but I suppose they wouldn't know that."
"Suppose it was gold models of steam-engines?" said Bobbie.
"Or a big model of the scene of the prevented accident," suggested Peter, "with a little model train, and dolls dressed like us and the engine-driver and fireman and passengers."
"Do you LIKE," said Bobbie, doubtfully, drying her hands on the rough towel that hung on a roller at the back of the scullery door, "do you LIKE us being rewarded for saving a train?"
"Yes, I do," said Peter, downrightly; "and don't you try to come it over us that you don't like it, too. Because I know you do."
"Yes," said Bobbie, doubtfully, "I know I do. But oughtn't we to be satisfied with just having done it, and not ask for anything more?"
"Who did ask for anything more, silly?" said her brother; "Victoria Cross soldiers don't ASK for it; but they're glad enough to get it all the same. Perhaps it'll be medals. Then, when I'm very old indeed, I shall show them to my grandchildren and say, 'We only did our duty,' and they'll be awfully proud of me."
"You have to be married," warned Phyllis, "or you don't have any grandchildren."
"I suppose I shall HAVE to be married some day," said Peter, "but it will be an awful bother having her round all the time. I'd like to marry a lady who had trances, and only woke up once or twice a year." "
~ The Railway Children, Edith Nesbit, Chapter VII

Re-reading The Railway Children has brought me a great deal of joy and mirth.  It really is amusing, yet sweet at times.  E. Nesbit has a wonderful way of writing.  She expresses her stories as if you were sitting by her hearth in the dark of a winter evening with a hot cup of tea, listening to her tell you a story about her famous little characters.  

Edith Bland (Which was her married name) had a difficult life, starting from a very young age.  Her father died when she was only four, and due to her sister's poor health, they traveled frequently searching for better air for Mary.  Her marriage was unhappy, too, and one of her sons died when he was only fifteen due to a poor tonsil operation.  I never knew anything about Edith until today, and I feel very sorry for her.

Yet in all of her troubles and sorrows, she wrote nearly 60 books for children and adults; a truly amazing accomplishment.  They include short stories for children, poetry for children and adults, novels for children and adults, and even a non-fiction work for adults. Some of her most memorable works are her children's novels, such as Five Children and It, The Wouldbegoods, and Wet Magic.  And of course, which is now bringing a happy smile to my face, The Railway Children.

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