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Ve them for their kind generosity and give them pearls and shells and ivory and cassowaries The great thing is to get people to love you by being generous But in Cyril s mouth that last word is not ironic at all We may scoff at the generosity of bringing corsets and suspenders to native peoples but the way the four children treat one another and the world around them is politeness and generosity itself There is one lovely little pisode where they take pity on a disheveled orphan girl they meet in the park and unite her with a bereaved mother in ancient Britain A If you could be granted your heart s desire what would you wish for A magical amulet takes the children from Victorian London to ancient civilizations far distant in time My favorite Atlantis How the Psammead came to London a story with a bite All right said the Psammead in offended tones I m sure I don t want to tell you a long tale A man caught me and I bit him And he put me in a bag with a dead hare and a dead rabbit And he took me to his house and put me out of the bag into a basket with holes that I could see through And I bit him again And then he brought me to this city which I am told is called the Modern Babylon though it s not a bit like the old Babylon and he sold me to the man you bought me from and then I bit them both Now what s your news There s not uite so much biting in our story said Cyril regretfully in fact there isn t any The magic beginsPlease we want to know where the other half of the charm is The part of the Amulet which is lost said the beautiful voice was broken and ground into the dust of the shrine that held it It and the pin that joined the two halves are themselves dust and the dust is scattered over many lands and sunk in many seas Oh I say murmured Robert and a blank silence fell Then it s all up said Cyril at last it s no use our looking for a thing that s smashed into dust and the dust scattered all over the place If you would find it said the voice You must seek it where it still is perfect as Nerds ever The first adventure in time and spaceHere was a horrible position Four English children whose proper date was AD 1905 and whose proper address was London set down in Egypt in the year 6000 BC with no means whatever of getting back into their own time and place The learned gentleman I ll go to Babylon if you like said Jane abruptly and the others hastened to say Done before she should have time to change her mind Ah said the learned gentleman smiling rather sadly one can go so far in dreams when one is young He sighed again and then adding with a labored briskness I hope you ll have a a jolly game he went into his room and shut the door Escaping from a Babylonian dungeon UR HEKAU SETCHEH she cried in a fervent voice Oh Nisroch servant of the Great Ones come and help us There was a waiting silence Then a cold blue light awoke in the corner where the straw was and in the light they saw coming towards them a strange and terrible figure I won t try to describe it because the drawing shows itxactly as it was and In the Shadow of the Crown (Queens of England, exactly as the old Babylonians carved it on their stones so that you can see it in our own British Museum at this day I will just say that it hadagle s wings and an Bark eagle s head and the body of a manIt came towards them strong and unspeakably horrible The Fall of AtlantisThey could not bear to look down for the wave had broken on the face of the town sweeping over the uays and docks overwhelming the great storehouses and factories tearing gigantic stones from forts and bridges and using them as battering rams against the temples Great ships were swept over the roofs of the houses and dashed down halfway up the hill among ruined gardens and broken buildings The water ground brown fishing boats to powder on the golden roofs of Palaces Then the wave swept back towards the seaThe hills around were black with people fleeing from the villages to the mountains Andven as they fled thin smoke broke from the great white peak and then a faint flash of flame Then the volcano began to throw up its mysterious fiery inside parts The On Such a Full Sea earth trembled ashes and sulphur showered down a rain of fine pumice stone fell like snow on all the dry land Thelephants from the forest rushed up towards the peaks great lizards thirty yards long broke from the mountain pools and rushed down towards the sea The snows melted and rushed down first in avalanches then in roaring torrents Great rocks cast up by the volcano fell splashing in the sea miles awayOh this is horrible cried Anthea Come home come home The nd of the dream gasped the learned gentleman Drama with VictorianEdwardian accentsThere was an awful silence Then Pharaoh
Take the sacred house of the beast from them he said imprison all Tonight after supper it may be our pleasure to see magic Guard them well and do not torture them yet Oh dear sobbed Jane as they were led away I knew xactly what it would be Oh I wish you hadn t Shut up silly said Cyril You know you WOULD come to Egypt It was your own idea Cannibal entirely Shut up It ll be all right I thought we should play ball with ueens sobbed Jane and have nond of larks And now Mastered (The Enforcers, everything s going to be perfectly horrid How coinage was introduced to ancient Egypt And here s twopence for yourself The soldier looked at the twopence What s this he saidRobertxplained how much simpler it was to pay money for things than to Man, Son of Man exchange them as the people were doing in the market Later on the soldier gave the coins to his captain who later still showed them to Pharaoh who of course kept them and was much struck with the idea That was really how coins first came to be used in Egypt You will not believe this I daresay but really if you believe t London 23rd November 1905Dear Virginia The Story of the Amulet is at last finished and I delivered it to the publishers yesterday I must admit that I am notntirely satisfied and maybe I should not have spent uite so much time discussing it with my dear friends at the Fabian Society At first I was flattered by the keen interest they took but after a while I almost began to feel that I was writing their book rather than mine Mr Wells I am sorry to say was the most Alter Ego egregious offender I unwisely revealed to him at anarly stage that Time Travel would feature largely in the plot this topic as Travel would feature largely in the plot this topic as doubtlessly know is close to his heart and he gave me altogether advice than I knew what to do with I hold him in the very highest regard but I have my own ideas on the subject in particular on the curious paradoxes that would arise if a Time Machine could ver be constructed and we were able to visit the past I am sure I have not presented these thoughts in the best possible way but I feel they contain promise and I shall not be altogether surprised if other authors continue where I have left off At any rate I was sufficiently irritated with Mr Wells that I was unable to refrain from teasing him the tiniest amount in the chapter where my young heroes visit the Future I do hope he will take it in good partThe other person whose influence you will immediately notice is Doctor Budge of the British Museum who has taken so many hours from his important duties to xplain the mysteries of Archaeology and answer all my foolish uestions By including him in the story I hoped I might find some little way to thank him At first I thought that what he lacked most in his life was the natural affection that comes so readily to young girls I did my best to let my dear little Anthea give him what I could not but in the Uncommon Wisdom end I decided that this was not what he truly wanted I hope I have given him a suitable reward for the many kindnesses he has shown me and it is with great trepidation that I await his judgementAlasven if Doctor Budge declares himself well pleased I must say again that I am not I know what I want to say and again I know that I have not uite said it But I feel that next time I will succeed I have started making notes there will be some new children I can already see Gerald and Mabel and a Castle and a Ring and a love story I will tell you in my next letterAffectionately yoursEdit. Ient customs with her which is awkward They visit the lost continent of Atlantis They see Julius Caesar in the flesh but none of these adventures run smoothly and if they forget the 'word of power' or lose the amulet what would happen to them. ,
spoke Take the sacred house of the beast from them he said
She was an author I should like but somehow never really warmed to her The writing style was a bit too stilted Unseen City even for my tastes which were decidedly old fashioned than those of my peers I appreciate her now much now that I ve learned of her place in the larger context of children s literature and realize how radical and inventive she was for her time Also the subtle deadpan humor in the interactions between the children is something I ve come to appreciate in my recent rereadings Anyway as far as this particular book is concerned I know we had a copy of this Puffindition in our household when I was a child I remember that blue striped dress vividly and I m fairly sure that I at least made an attempt at reading it The Art episode when the ancient ueen arrives in modern London seemed so familiar I have some doubts though maybe I know that scene because the ueen s comment about the slaves being treated badly gets uoted so often or maybe I m remembering a very similar scene in The Magician s Nephew I do know that whether I attempted The Amulet or not I didn t finish it so thending of this book was uite new to me and surprised me with a couple poignant moments that had me sniffing a little I chose to read it now largely in preparation for a modern day addition to this series which I hope to read soon Five Children on the Western Front by present day author Kate Saunders which takes the children to adulthood and WWI Of course such a book has the potential to be disastrously bad but I m still uite curious to see what Saunders has done with Suirrel Panther the Lamb and the others This was one of my favorite books when I was growing up I decided to re read it as part of my research for the memoir I am writing I have a tattered copy of the 1965 Puffin paperback God Is in the Crowd edition which came free with any purchase at a used bookstore The pages are yellowed but they are all there as well as the perfect illustrations by H R MillerThe Story of the Amulet is a seuel to The Five Children and It which I also read long ago But the Amulet always stands out in my memory because I discovered it on the shelves of our local library in Princeton NJ where our mom took usvery two weeks Upon reading it I had my mind blown for perhaps the first time in my life I wanted to see if I could figure out why and I didThere are four English children in this story who find themselves spending their summer holidays in a dreary old house on Fitzroy Street London near the British Museum in the care of their old Nurse Father has gone to Manchuria to report on the war and Mother plus The Lamb the new baby in the family is in Madeira recovering from an illness When I first read this book probably at the age of nine I had no idea about any of these places But the writing is like a spell that just pulled me in to these children s lives their relationships with Attracting Songbirds to Your Backyard each other and of course their adventures I am sure I had already read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at least once so I was in a sense primed but Nesbit is a magician whereas C S Lewis only wished he wasBecause whatntranced me back then and again now was the magic It is magic the way children do magic fully The Matriarchs (The Family ensconced in their imaginations In fact most grownups are at least annoyed by such a degree of imagination and some are truly alarmed I recall being told as a child that something I said was all in my imagination and thinking Wherelse would it be Children know full well what is imagination and what is reality plus are able to move freely between the two Such is the case with Anthea Cyril Robert and Jane though Jane being the youngest is the most Notes for the Everlost easily frightened and sometimes protests when the magic gets to be too much Yes That is just the way it was in my lifeSo there is an amulet but the children only have half of it The Psammead a sand fairy who helplessly grants wishes and was the It of Five Children and It reappears and though the children had promised the Psammead at thend of the previous summer not to ask for another wish as long as they lived he does inform them that should they find the other half of the amulet they can realize their hearts desireAfter learning to use the amulet s magic they are off to ancient Egypt Babylon Atlantis When I Moan (Vassi and Seri 1: Russian Stepbrother Romance) etc All these places are dangerous in thextreme but full of wondrous delights as well Again as a child I knew virtually nothing about these places yet they were so real to me back then as I read I grew up to love books about Atlantis and Egypt and with a hunger to know the history of such ancient times That is truly magic on many levelsSince I began working at Once Upon A Time Bookstore which serves a whole community of children young mothers teachers and grandparents I have rediscovered children s literature and much of it is still great reading but Nesbit is the inventor of the children s adventure story She influenced C S Lewis P L Travers Mary Poppins Diana Wynne Jones and J K Rowling but being the originator she is still the best Childhood Archaeology The Story of the Amulet is the third of Edith Nesbit s Psammead Trilogy about four children in Edwardian England who find a sand fairy a cantankerous creature like a dilapidated monkey with bat No Biggy! ears and snailyes with the power to grant wishes After the calamities that follow some ill considered wishes in the first volume Five Children and It they agree that it will only grant the wishes of others but will still advise the children on their other adventures So at the start of this book it tells them to buy an ancient amulet or sacred pendant spied in a London junkshop Unfortunately the charm is incomplete but the remaining half does have the power to transport the children to any place where it had been in the past so they may reunite the two halves I have a dilapidated and thus worthless first dition of this bought for my father in 1906 the year of its publication He read it to me as a child Looking at it now makes me realize how much my imagination was shaped by our travels through its glowing arch to ancient Egypt Babylon Atlantis and Tyre And it gave me a taste for similar stories My father as I now see adopted its structure to make up bedtime tales of his own much as C S Lewis was famously to do later with his Narnia adventures Unlike Lewis though Edith Nesbit has no religious overtones But as a leading Fabian she had strong socialist convictions which also appear in the book I can only guess as to its influence on my own beliefs todayFor some reason I never read the book to my own children Perhaps I was afraid that it might seem too dated and would appeal too little to their interests children no longer learned Latin and Greek in school and seemed
"To Be Less Interested In "be less interested in cultures But nowadays the datedness would be much of the attraction Nesbit s books are now a double feat of archaeology opening portals not only on the distant past but also on the lives of children in Edwardian London and the social conditions that they would have taken for granted As such it is certainly worth revisiting by adults I am ven wondering whether I might try it on my grandchildren If I do I would absolutely want an Attracting Birds to Your Backyard edition like the present one which retains the original illustrations by H R Millar It is not that he brings the distant civilizations any to life than in Nesbit s words which weave a spell all on their own But he perfectly captures ualities that were so obvious to the author that she did notven need to describe them the four children Cyril Anthea Robert and Jane looking absurdly overdressed in their Norfolk jackets or pinafores their social attitudes as Deep Listening emissaries from thempire where the sun never sets coming through clearly from very sketchNot that Nesbit herself is a strong proponent of Empire she is no Kipling Rider Haggard or Henty Indeed as So Often In The often in the she treats these matters with what seems to me a delicious touch of irony Here is Cyril talking about missionaries Well they always take the savages beads and brandy and stays and hats and braces and really useful things things the savages haven t got and never heard about And the savages lo. Adventures start over again 'It' leads them to a magic amulet half of it actually which they use it to try and find the other half It takes them back to ancient Egypt and Babylon The ueen of Babylon visits them in London bringing all her anc.