The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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The other children warned him, and said, “Take care what you are at. Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid is coming.” But Tom never heeded them, being quite riotous with high spirits and good luck, till, one Friday morning early, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid came indeed.
A very tremendous lady she was; and when the children saw her they all stood in a row, very upright indeed, and smoothed down their bathing dresses, and put their hands behind them, just as if they were going to be examined by the inspector.
And she had on a black bonnet, and a black shawl, and no crinoline at all; and a pair of large green spectacles, and a great hooked nose, hooked so much that the bridge of it stood quite up above her eyebrows; and under her arm she carried a great birch-rod. Indeed, she was so ugly that Tom was tempted to make faces at her: but did not; for he did not admire the look of the birch-rod under her arm.
And she looked at the children one by one, and seemed very much pleased with them, though she never asked them one question about how they were behaving; and then began giving them all sorts of nice sea-things—sea-cakes, sea-apples, sea-oranges, sea-bullseyes, sea-toffee; and to the very best of all she gave sea-ices, made out of sea-cows’ cream, which never melt under water.
And, if you don’t quite believe me, then just think—What is more cheap and plentiful than sea-rock? Then why should there not be sea-toffee as well? And every one can find sea-lemons (ready quartered too) if they will look for them at low tide; and sea-grapes too sometimes, hanging in bunches; and, if you will go to Nice, you will find the fish-market full of sea-fruit, which they call “frutta di mare:” though I suppose they call them “fruits de mer” now, out of compliment to that most successful, and therefore most immaculate, potentate who is seemingly desirous of inheriting the blessing pronounced on those who remove their neighbours’ land-mark. And, perhaps, that is the very reason why the place is called Nice, because there are so many nice things in the sea there: at least, if it is not, it ought to be.
Now little Tom watched all these sweet things given away, till his mouth watered, and his eyes grew as round as an owl’s. For he hoped that his turn would come at last; and so it did. For the lady called him up, and held out her fingers with something in them, and popped it into his mouth; and, lo and behold, it was a nasty cold hard pebble. You are a very cruel woman,” said he, and began to whimper.
“And you are a very cruel boy; who puts pebbles into the sea-anemones’ mouths, to take them in, and make them fancy that they had caught a good dinner! As you did to them, so I must do to you.” “Who told you that?” said Tom.” “You did yourself, this very minute.”