The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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When all the world is young, lad, And all the trees are green; And every goose a swan, lad, And every lass a queen; Then hey for boot and horse, lad, And round the world away; Young blood must have its course, lad, And every dog his day.
When all the world is old, lad, And all the trees are brown; And all the sport is stale, lad, And all the wheels run down; Creep home, and take your place there, The spent and maimed among: God grant you find one face there, You loved when all was young.
Those are the words: but they are only the body of it: the soul of the song was the dear old womanís sweet face, and sweet voice, and the sweet old air to which she sang; and that, alas! one cannot put on paper. And at last she grew so stiff and lame, that the angels were forced to carry her; and they helped her on with her wedding-dress, and carried her up over Harthover Fells, and a long way beyond that too; and there was a new schoolmistress in Vendale, and we will hope that she was not certificated.
And all the while Tom was swimming about in the river, with a pretty little lace-collar of gills about his neck, as lively as a grig, and as clean as a fresh-run salmon.
Now if you donít like my story, then go to the schoolroom and learn your multiplication-table, and see if you like that better. Some people, no doubt, would do so. So much the better for us, if not for them. It takes all sorts, they say, to make a world.