A friend lent me her copy recently. The copyright date was listed as 1909. In the early 1930s I had probably read a later edition, maybe this one.
Back then, the story was full of things that were so much like my own neighborhood I could lose myself in the story. At eight or nine I took for granted, hardly noticed, that the children picked up horse chestnuts to play with, that the basement under Maida’s shop included a coal cellar, that the little girls played the singing game “In and Out the Window” at recess. And went home every day for lunch. And bought little china dolls for a penny. And hung May baskets on each others’ doors.
A sloping street near the shop was blocked from traffic so the children could coast – I remember that. Crepe hung on a door announcing a death – I remember that. A child died from diphtheria – I remember that also.
The book was written before World War One, and the kindly doctor who cures cripples comes from
But it was gratifying, these days when so many things are hard to remember, to find that at least eighty years on, I had no trouble understanding the children’s secret language. Maybe you remember it too?