The Children by Alice Christiana Thompson Meynell


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Children, by Alice Meynell

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The Children

Author: Alice Meynell

Release Date: March 16, 2005 [eBook #2012]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1911 John Lane edition by David Price, email



Fellow Travellers with a Bird, I.
Fellow Travellers with a Bird, II.
Children in Midwinter
That Pretty Person
Out of Town
Under the Early Stars
The Man with Two Heads
Children in Burlesque
The Fields
The Barren Shore
The Boy
The Young Children
Fair and Brown
Real Childhood


To attend to a living child is to be baffled in your humour, disappointed
of your pathos, and set freshly free from all the pre-occupations. You
cannot anticipate him. Blackbirds, overheard year by year, do not
compose the same phrases; never two leitmotifs alike. Not the tone, but
the note alters. So with the uncovenated ways of a child you keep no
tryst. They meet you at another place, after failing you where you
tarried; your former experiences, your documents are at fault. You are
the fellow traveller of a bird. The bird alights and escapes out of time
to your footing.

No man's fancy could be beforehand, for instance, with a girl of four
years old who dictated a letter to a distant cousin, with the sweet and
unimaginable message: "I hope you enjoy yourself with your loving dolls."
A boy, still younger, persuading his mother to come down from the heights
and play with him on the floor, but sensible, perhaps, that there was a
dignity to be observed none the less, entreated her, "Mother, do be a
lady frog." None ever said their good things before these indeliberate
authors. Even their own kind--children--have not preceded them. No
child in the past ever found the same replies as the girl of five whose
father made that appeal to feeling which is doomed to a different,
perverse, and unforeseen success. He was rather tired with writing, and
had a mind to snare some of the yet uncaptured flock of her sympathies.
"Do you know, I have been working hard, darling? I work to buy things
for you." "Do you work," she asked, "to buy the lovely puddin's?" Yes,
even for these. The subject must have seemed to her to be worth
pursuing. "And do you work to buy the fat? I don't like fat."

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