I was discovered one Sunday afternoon reading Godey's Lady's Book which, although extremely
mild and harmless, was thought in those days a little grown-up for a person of four and a half. The next
day I was taken into town and made the proud owner of a copy of Jacob Abbott's "Lucy's Conversations,"
my first bound book, which I have to this day, with my name and the date in it. It is in this book that
Lucy has croup in the night and the next morning is given a powder in jelly and a roasted apple that was
cooked by hanging it in front of the fire from a string held by a flatiron on the mantelpiece.
The other Lucy books followed in due time, at intervals of a few months. Was there ever a more
delightful journey than that which Lucy was invited to make to the seashore with her friend Marielle and
Marielle's mother, the mysterious Lady Jane who "came from some foreign country"? How grand it was
for the little girls to travel in a carriage, to have tea by themselves in Lady Jane's sister's library, waited on
by a black serving man, and to look at drawers of curiosities, shells and minerals, and a picture in mosaic
of a burning mountain, by way of entertainment! "Lucy in the Mountains" is not nearly as impressive
or awe-inspiring; but the stay at the General's and his monthly inspection of everything in the house and
farm buildings, ending with a round cake for every one of the children, lingers in my memory together
with the "beautiful little apple pie" in "Lucy's Stories" and other food described with the detail which
Jacob Abbott knew children love.
Caroline M. Hewins, A Mid-Century Child and Her Books, Macmillan, 1926.
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Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her
19th-Century Girls' Series website;
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