here, so he couldn't. There's a sign-post. I wonder how far we've gone? I'm getting awfully tired."
"You'd better have been pilgrims," said Edred. "They never get tired, however many peas they have in their shoes."
"I will now," said Elfrida.
"You can't," said Edred; "it's too late. We're miles and miles from the stick shop."
"Very well, I shan't go on," said Elfrida. "You got out of bed the wrong side this morning. I've tried to soft-answer you as hard as ever I could all the morning, and I'm not going to try any more, so there."
"Don't, then," said Edred bitterly. "Go along home if you like. You're only a girl."
"I'd rather be only a girl than what you are," said she.
"And what's that, I should like to know?"
Elfrida stopped and shut her eyes tight.
"Don't, don't, don't, don't!" she said. "I won't be cross, I won't be cross, I won't be cross! Pax. Drop it. Don't let's!
"Don't let's what?"
"Quarrel about nothing,"
"It is always difficult to remember exactly where one is when one happens to get into a century that is not one's own."
A very complex and interesting time-travel fantasy, one of a pair with "Harding's Luck."
Orphaned Edred and Elfrida Arden live with their aunt, who keeps disagreeable lodgers for their livelihood. When the siblings take an illicit field trip to see the decaying Arden Castle, their family's ancestral home, they meet the Mouldiwarp, a magical white mole. Then the news comes that a distant relative has died, making Edred is Lord Arden and heir to the castle. They go to live there, although there is no money for its upkeep, and straightaway fall into magical adventures that take them journeying into history.
This is a pretty complicated book, which is part of what makes it wonderful, but it may be troublesome for younger readers to keep the various threads together. Some of Nesbit's description will be hard for modern readers to grasp, as well, such as when she compares a bumpy ride in a 1700s carriage to one in a 1900s bathing machine, now equally obscure; refers to odd bits of British history that probably aren't part of a standard curriculum anymore even in the U.K.; or assumes her readers know all about how to develop film.
Nesbit was not very prophetic in 1908, when this book was first published: "We live so safely now; we have nothing to be afraid of. When we have wars they are not in our own country."
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