From E. Nesbit’s classic children’s novel, The Railway Children:
[Mother said,] “I’m so glad you like the railway. Only, please, you mustn’t walk on the line.”
“Not if we face the way the train’s coming?” asked Peter, after a gloomy pause, in which glances of despair were exchanged.
“No–really not,” said Mother.
Then Phyllis said, “Mother, didn’t you ever walk on the railway lines when you were little?”
Mother was an honest and honourable Mother, so she had to say, “Yes.”
“Well, then,” said Phyllis.
“But, darlings, you don’t know how fond I am of you. What should I do if you got hurt?”
“Are you fonder of us than Granny was of you when you were little?” Phyllis asked. Bobbie made signs to her to stop, but Phyllis never did see signs, no matter how plain they might be.
Mother did not answer for a minute. She got up to put more water in the teapot.
“No one,” she said at last, “ever loved anyone more than my mother loved me.”
Then she was quiet again, and Bobbie kicked Phyllis hard under the table, because Bobbie understood a little bit the thoughts that were making Mother so quiet–the thoughts of the time when Mother was a little girl and was all the world to her mother. It seems so easy and natural to run to Mother when one is in trouble. Bobbie understood a little how people do not leave off running to their mothers when they are in trouble even when they are grown up, and she thought she knew a little what it must be to be sad, and have no mother to run to any more.
So she kicked Phyllis, who said:–
“What are you kicking me like that for, Bob?”
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