The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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that ever was born has to go, and see with his own eyes, and smell with his own nose, and make his own bed and lie on it, and burn his own fingers if he put them into the fire. And then she told him how many fine things there were to be seen in the world, and what an odd, curious, pleasant, orderly, respectable, well-managed, and, on the whole, successful (as, indeed, might have been expected) sort of a place it was, if people would only be tolerably brave and honest and good in it; and then she told him not to be afraid of anything he met, for nothing would harm him if he remembered all his lessons, and did what he knew was right. And at last she comforted poor little Tom so much that he was quite eager to go, and wanted to set out that minute. “Only,” he said, “if I might see Ellie once before I went!”
“Why do you want that?”
“Because—because I should be so much happier if I thought she had forgiven me.”
And in the twinkling of an eye there stood Ellie, smiling, and looking so happy that Tom longed to kiss her; but was still afraid it would not be respectful, because she was a lady born.
“I am going, Ellie!” said Tom. “I am going, if it is to the world’s end. But I don’t like going at all, and that’s the truth.”
“Pooh! pooh! pooh!” said the fairy. “You will like it very well indeed, you little rogue, and you know that at the bottom of your heart. But if you don’t, I will make you like it. Come here, and see what happens to people who do only what is pleasant.”
And she took out of one of her cupboards (she had all sorts of mysterious cupboards in the cracks of the rocks) the most wonderful waterproof book, full of such photographs as never were seen. For she had found out photography (and this is a fact) more than 13,598,000 years before anybody was born; and, what is more, her photographs did not merely represent light and shade, as ours do, but colour also, and all colours, as you may see if you look at a black-cock’s tail, or a butterfly’s wing, or indeed most things that are or can be, so to speak. And therefore her photographs were very curious and famous, and the children looked with great delight for the opening of the book.
And on the title-page was written, “The History of the great and famous nation of the Doasyoulikes, who came away from the country of Hardwork, because they wanted to play on the Jews’ harp all day long.”
In the first picture they saw these Doasyoulikes living in the land of Readymade, at the foot of the Happy-go-lucky Mountains, where flapdoodle grows wild; and if you want to know what that is, you must read Peter Simple.
They lived very much such a life as those jolly old Greeks in Sicily, whom you may see painted on the ancient vases, and really there seemed to be great excuses for them, for they had no need to work.
Instead of houses they lived in the beautiful caves of tufa, and bathed in the warm springs three times a day; and, as for clothes, it was so warm there that the gentlemen walked about in little beside a cocked hat and a pair of straps, or some light summer tackle of that kind; and the ladies all gathered gossamer in autumn (when they were not too lazy) to make their winter dresses.