The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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“I will take you up the backstairs: but I must bandage your eyes first; for I never allow anybody to see those backstairs of mine.”
“I am sure I shall not tell anybody about them, ma’am, if you bid me not.”
“Aha! So you think, my little man. But you would soon forget your promise if you got back into the land-world. For, if people only once found out that you had been up my backstairs, you would have all the fine ladies kneeling to you, and the rich men emptying their purses before you, and statesmen offering you place and power; and young and old, rich and poor, crying to you, ‘Only tell us the great backstairs secret, and we will be your slaves; we will make you lord, king, emperor, bishop, archbishop, pope, if you like—only tell us the secret of the backstairs. For thousands of years we have been paying, and petting, and obeying, and worshipping quacks who told us they had the key of the backstairs, and could smuggle us up them; and in spite of all our disappointments, we will honour, and glorify, and adore, and beatify, and translate, and apotheotise you likewise, on the chance of your knowing something about the backstairs, that we may all go on pilgrimage to it; and, even if we cannot get up it, lie at the foot of it, and cry -
‘Oh, backstairs, precious backstairs, invaluable backstairs, requisite backstairs, necessary backstairs, good-natured backstairs, cosmopolitan backstairs, comprehensive backstairs, accommodating backstairs, well-bred backstairs, commercial backstairs, economical backstairs, practical backstairs, logical backstairs, deductive backstairs, comfortable backstairs, humane backstairs, reasonable backstairs, long-sought backstairs, coveted backstairs, aristocratic backstairs, respectable backstairs, gentlenmanlike backstairs, ladylike backstairs, orthodox backstairs, probable backstairs, credible backstairs, demonstrable backstairs, irrefragable backstairs, potent backstairs,