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At the end of Five Children and It the five children promised not to ask the Psammead for another wish as long as they lived but expressed a half wish to see it again some time They find 'it' again in a pet shop in Camden Town and their magic adventures start over again 'It' leads them to a magic amulet half of it actually which they use it to try and find the other half It takes them back to ancient Egypt and Babylon The ueen of Babylon visits them in London bringing all her ancient customs with her which is awkward They visit the lost continent of Atlantis They see Julius Caesar in the flesh but none of these adventures run smoothly and if they forget the 'word of power' or lose the amulet what would happen to them?


10 thoughts on “The Story of the Amulet

  1. says:

    London 23rd November 1905Dear Virginia The Story of the Amulet is at last finished and I delivered it to the publishers yesterday I must admit that I am not entirely satisfied and maybe I should not have spent uite so much time discussing it with my dear friends at the Fabian Society At first I was flattered by the keen interest they took but after a while I almost began to feel that I was writing their book rather than mine Mr Wells I am sorry to say was the most egregious offender I unwisely revealed to him at an early stage that Time Travel would feature largely in the plot this topic as you doubtlessly know is close to his heart and he gave me altogether advice than I knew what to do with I hold him in the very highest regard but I have my own ideas on the subject in particular on the curious paradoxes that would arise if a Time Machine could ever be constructed and we were able to visit the past I am sure I have not presented these thoughts in the best possible way but I feel they contain promise and I shall not be altogether surprised if other authors continue where I have left off At any rate I was sufficiently irritated with Mr Wells that I was unable to refrain from teasing him the tiniest amount in the chapter where my young heroes visit the Future I do hope he will take it in good partThe other person whose influence you will immediately notice is Doctor Budge of the British Museum who has taken so many hours from his important duties to explain the mysteries of Archaeology and answer all my foolish uestions By including him in the story I hoped I might find some little way to thank him At first I thought that what he lacked most in his life was the natural affection that comes so readily to young girls I did my best to let my dear little Anthea give him what I could not; but in the end I decided that this was not what he truly wanted I hope I have given him a suitable reward for the many kindnesses he has shown me and it is with great trepidation that I await his judgementAlas even if Doctor Budge declares himself well pleased I must say again that I am not I know what I want to say and again I know that I have not uite said it But I feel that next time I will succeed I have started making notes; there will be some new children I can already see Gerald and Mabel and a Castle and a Ring and a love story I will tell you in my next letterAffectionately yoursEdith


  2. says:

    If you could be granted your heart's desire what would you wish for? A magical amulet takes the children from Victorian London to ancient civilizations far distant in time My favorite Atlantis How the Psammead came to London a story with a bite'All right' said the Psammead in offended tones 'I'm sure I don't want to tell you a long tale A man caught me and I bit him And he put me in a bag with a dead hare and a dead rabbit And he took me to his house and put me out of the bag into a basket with holes that I could see through And I bit him again And then he brought me to this city which I am told is called the Modern Babylon—though it's not a bit like the old Babylon—and he sold me to the man you bought me from and then I bit them both Now what's your news?''There's not uite so much biting in our story' said Cyril regretfully; 'in fact there isn't any The magic beginsPlease we want to know where the other half of the charm is''The part of the Amulet which is lost' said the beautiful voice 'was broken and ground into the dust of the shrine that held it It and the pin that joined the two halves are themselves dust and the dust is scattered over many lands and sunk in many seas''Oh I say' murmured Robert and a blank silence fell 'Then it's all up?' said Cyril at last; 'it's no use our looking for a thing that's smashed into dust and the dust scattered all over the place''If you would find it' said the voice 'You must seek it where it still is perfect as ever' The first adventure in time and spaceHere was a horrible position Four English children whose proper date was AD 1905 and whose proper address was London set down in Egypt in the year 6000 BC with no means whatever of getting back into their own time and place The learned gentleman'I'll go to Babylon if you like' said Jane abruptly and the others hastened to say 'Done' before she should have time to change her mind'Ah' said the learned gentleman smiling rather sadly 'one can go so far in dreams when one is young' He sighed again and then adding with a labored briskness 'I hope you'll have a—a—jolly game' he went into his room and shut the door Escaping from a Babylonian dungeon'UR HEKAU SETCHEH' she cried in a fervent voice 'Oh Nisroch servant of the Great Ones come and help us'There was a waiting silence Then a cold blue light awoke in the corner where the straw was—and in the light they saw coming towards them a strange and terrible figure I won't try to describe it because the drawing shows it exactly as it was and exactly as the old Babylonians carved it on their stones so that you can see it in our own British Museum at this day I will just say that it had eagle's wings and an eagle's head and the body of a manIt came towards them strong and unspeakably horrible The Fall of AtlantisThey could not bear to look down for the wave had broken on the face of the town sweeping over the uays and docks overwhelming the great storehouses and factories tearing gigantic stones from forts and bridges and using them as battering rams against the temples Great ships were swept over the roofs of the houses and dashed down halfway up the hill among ruined gardens and broken buildings The water ground brown fishing–boats to powder on the golden roofs of Palaces Then the wave swept back towards the seaThe hills around were black with people fleeing from the villages to the mountains And even as they fled thin smoke broke from the great white peak and then a faint flash of flame Then the volcano began to throw up its mysterious fiery inside parts The earth trembled; ashes and sulphur showered down; a rain of fine pumice–stone fell like snow on all the dry land The elephants from the forest rushed up towards the peaks; great lizards thirty yards long broke from the mountain pools and rushed down towards the sea The snows melted and rushed down first in avalanches then in roaring torrents Great rocks cast up by the volcano fell splashing in the sea miles awayOh this is horrible' cried Anthea 'Come home come home''The end of the dream' gasped the learned gentleman Drama with VictorianEdwardian accentsThere was an awful silence Then Pharaoh spoke'Take the sacred house of the beast from them' he said 'and imprison all Tonight after supper it may be our pleasure to see magic Guard them well and do not torture them—yet''Oh dear' sobbed Jane as they were led away 'I knew exactly what it would be Oh I wish you hadn't''Shut up silly' said Cyril 'You know you WOULD come to Egypt It was your own idea entirely Shut up It'll be all right''I thought we should play ball with ueens' sobbed Jane 'and have no end of larks And now everything's going to be perfectly horrid' How coinage was introduced to ancient Egypt'And here's twopence for yourself'The soldier looked at the twopence'What's this?' he saidRobert explained how much simpler it was to pay money for things than to exchange them as the people were doing in the market Later on the soldier gave the coins to his captain who later still showed them to Pharaoh who of course kept them and was much struck with the idea That was really how coins first came to be used in Egypt You will not believe this I daresay but really if you believe the rest of the story I don't see why you shouldn't believe this as well Traveling into the far past'Where are we?' whispered Anthea'And when?' whispered Robert'This is some shrine near the beginnings of belief' said the Egyptian shivering 'Take the Amulet and come away It is cold here in the morning of the world' Follow the four Victorian children as they explore the ancient past while seeking their heart's delightEnjoy


  3. says:

    Childhood Archaeology The Story of the Amulet is the third of Edith Nesbit's Psammead Trilogy about four children in Edwardian England who find a sand fairy a cantankerous creature like a dilapidated monkey with bat ears and snail eyes with the power to grant wishes After the calamities that follow some ill considered wishes in the first volume Five Children and It they agree that it will only grant the wishes of others but will still advise the children on their other adventures So at the start of this book it tells them to buy an ancient amulet or sacred pendant spied in a London junkshop Unfortunately the charm is incomplete but the remaining half does have the power to transport the children to any place where it had been in the past so they may reunite the two halves I have a dilapidated and thus worthless first edition of this bought for my father in 1906 the year of its publication He read it to me as a child Looking at it now makes me realize how much my imagination was shaped by our travels through its glowing arch to ancient Egypt Babylon Atlantis and Tyre And it gave me a taste for similar stories My father as I now see adopted its structure to make up bedtime tales of his own much as C S Lewis was famously to do later with his Narnia adventures Unlike Lewis though Edith Nesbit has no religious overtones But as a leading Fabian she had strong socialist convictions which also appear in the book; I can only guess as to its influence on my own beliefs todayFor some reason I never read the book to my own children Perhaps I was afraid that it might seem too dated and would appeal too little to their interests; children no longer learned Latin and Greek in school and seemed to be less interested in ancient cultures But nowadays the datedness would be much of the attraction Nesbit's books are now a double feat of archaeology opening portals not only on the distant past but also on the lives of children in Edwardian London and the social conditions that they would have taken for granted As such it is certainly worth revisiting by adults I am even wondering whether I might try it on my grandchildren If I do I would absolutely want an edition like the present one which retains the original illustrations by H R Millar It is not that he brings the distant civilizations any to life than in Nesbit's words which weave a spell all on their own But he perfectly captures ualities that were so obvious to the author that she did not even need to describe them the four children Cyril Anthea Robert and Jane looking absurdly overdressed in their Norfolk jackets or pinafores their social attitudes as emissaries from the empire where the sun never sets coming through clearly from every sketchNot that Nesbit herself is a strong proponent of Empire; she is no Kipling Rider Haggard or Henty Indeed as so often in the book she treats these matters with what seems to me a delicious touch of irony Here is Cyril talking about missionaries Well they always take the savages beads and brandy and stays and hats and braces and really useful things—things the savages haven't got and never heard about And the savages love them for their kind generosity and give them pearls and shells and ivory and cassowaries The great thing is to get people to love you by being generous But in Cyril's mouth that last word is not ironic at all We may scoff at the generosity of bringing corsets and suspenders to native peoples but the way the four children treat one another and the world around them is politeness and generosity itself There is one lovely little episode where they take pity on a disheveled orphan girl they meet in the park and unite her with a bereaved mother in ancient Britain And their encounters with the poor learned gentleman who occupies the top floor of their temporary lodgings near the British Museum are a perfect mixture of courtesy and friendship adopting him as a kind of honorary playmate This character incidentally is a tribute to the dedicatee of the book Dr Wallis Budge an Egyptologist at the Museum and Nesbit's primary consultantWhat Nesbit made of Budge's knowledge reads as something creative and fresh even today She has a lovely way of talking to her child readers especially when airily glossing over the unlikely parts of her story and she can achieve real magic when she needs to The scene when the amulet first comes alive and fills the room with its glowing light thrilled me all over again even now But she also has the sense to realize that eight or nine forays into the past would soon become repetitive no matter how different the historical scenery So she cleverly varies the pace The children take the Learned Gentleman with them on their trip to Atlantis he believes he is dreaming They drop off the little orphan girl on their way to visit Julius Caesar When they make friends with the ueen of Babylon she expresses a wish to see their country and soon she is walking around London making wishes which the Psammead has to grant despite the conseuences There is even a seuence when they journey into the future a sort of William Morris Utopia of garden cities and perfectly behaved children oddly prophetic of the theories of modern urban planning if not the less salubrious results Unfortunately Nesbit uses these modern sections to expound her social views and they do get a bit preachy And when the children make a second visit to Egypt they find themselves in the middle of a workers' riot that might almost be Petrograd in 1917 But that visit also introduces them to another time traveler Rekh Mara the priest of Amen Ra who returns to link several of the later episodes The climax in which the two halves of the amulet are rejoined and the Learned Gentleman becomes one with the Egyptian priest is moving in its simplicity bringing tears to my eyes


  4. says:

    This was one of my favorite books when I was growing up I decided to re read it as part of my research for the memoir I am writing I have a tattered copy of the 1965 Puffin paperback edition which came free with any purchase at a used bookstore The pages are yellowed but they are all there as well as the perfect illustrations by H R MillerThe Story of the Amulet is a seuel to The Five Children and It which I also read long ago But the Amulet always stands out in my memory because I discovered it on the shelves of our local library in Princeton NJ where our mom took us every two weeks Upon reading it I had my mind blown for perhaps the first time in my life I wanted to see if I could figure out why and I didThere are four English children in this story who find themselves spending their summer holidays in a dreary old house on Fitzroy Street London near the British Museum in the care of their old Nurse Father has gone to Manchuria to report on the war and Mother plus The Lamb the new baby in the family is in Madeira recovering from an illness When I first read this book probably at the age of nine I had no idea about any of these places But the writing is like a spell that just pulled me in to these children's lives their relationships with each other and of course their adventures I am sure I had already read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at least once so I was in a sense primed but Nesbit is a magician whereas C S Lewis only wished he wasBecause what entranced me back then and again now was the magic It is magic the way children do magic fully ensconced in their imaginations In fact most grownups are at least annoyed by such a degree of imagination and some are truly alarmed I recall being told as a child that something I said was all in my imagination and thinking Where else would it be? Children know full well what is imagination and what is reality plus are able to move freely between the two Such is the case with Anthea Cyril Robert and Jane though Jane being the youngest is the most easily frightened and sometimes protests when the magic gets to be too much Yes That is just the way it was in my lifeSo there is an amulet but the children only have half of it The Psammead a sand fairy who helplessly grants wishes and was the It of Five Children and It reappears and though the children had promised the Psammead at the end of the previous summer not to ask for another wish as long as they lived he does inform them that should they find the other half of the amulet they can realize their hearts' desireAfter learning to use the amulet's magic they are off to ancient Egypt Babylon Atlantis etc All these places are dangerous in the extreme but full of wondrous delights as well Again as a child I knew virtually nothing about these places yet they were so real to me back then as I read I grew up to love books about Atlantis and Egypt and with a hunger to know the history of such ancient times That is truly magic on many levelsSince I began working at Once Upon A Time Bookstore which serves a whole community of children young mothers teachers and grandparents I have rediscovered children's literature and much of it is still great reading but Nesbit is the inventor of the children's adventure story She influenced C S Lewis P L Travers Mary Poppins Diana Wynne Jones and J K Rowling but being the originator she is still the best


  5. says:

    I read some E Nesbit as a child and felt that she was an author I should like but somehow never really warmed to her The writing style was a bit too stilted even for my tastes which were decidedly old fashioned than those of my peers I appreciate her now much now that I've learned of her place in the larger context of children's literature and realize how radical and inventive she was for her time Also the subtle deadpan humor in the interactions between the children is something I've come to appreciate in my recent rereadings Anyway as far as this particular book is concerned I know we had a copy of this Puffin edition in our household when I was a child I remember that blue striped dress vividly and I'm fairly sure that I at least made an attempt at reading it The episode when the ancient ueen arrives in modern London seemed so familiar I have some doubts though maybe I know that scene because the ueen's comment about the slaves being treated badly gets uoted so often or maybe I'm remembering a very similar scene in The Magician's Nephew? I do know that whether I attempted The Amulet or not I didn't finish it so the ending of this book was uite new to me and surprised me with a couple poignant moments that had me sniffing a little I chose to read it now largely in preparation for a modern day addition to this series which I hope to read soon Five Children on the Western Front by present day author Kate Saunders which takes the children to adulthood and WWI Of course such a book has the potential to be disastrously bad but I'm still uite curious to see what Saunders has done with Suirrel Panther the Lamb and the others


  6. says:

    Not good The kids and I really enjoyed Nesbit's first two books with these characters They were essentially a series of corrupted wish stories moral tales but with a bit of cheeky subversiveness and plenty of satirical commentary for us grown ups This third book revisits the Psammead who the children find for sale in a pet store; but he no longer grants them wishes he does however feel the obligation to grant wishes to anyone within earshot who might give voice to a wish and this does lend some amusement Instead the central object of the story a half amulet discovered by the children becomes a sort of time travel device sending the children across the world and history as they search for the other halfWhile this should make for as many amusing adventures as the first two books instead the book feels weighed down by its premise than buoyed up It also seemed that Nesbit never could uite nail down the mechanics of the amulet For example once the other half is found it turns out to be the same half which somehow creates a whole but then there's a third half yeah you read that right somewhere along the way too There is still some fun to be had for example when the children bring a Babylonian ueen back to London and much chaos ensues In fact I would not be surprised to learn that this portion inspired a smiliar seuence in CS Lewis's The Magician's Nephew given that Lewis references Nesbit's Bastable children in the very first lines of that book The upstairs neighbor who gets dragged along on several travels might even be where Lewis ultimately got the inspiration for Uncle Andrew Except Jimmy is pleasant and kindOther elements suggest a bit sophistication in regard to the depiction of time travel than one might expect from a century old book A chapter where the children decide to explore a futuristic London is particularly fascinating as it gives us a glimpse of how Nesbit saw what the future might hold Those portions aside this book is still not nearly as good as the two which preceded it Much of the humor charm and satire of the first two books which played out in the interactions between the children and the Psammead or Phoenix is missing here and the resolution is the sort of freaky weird mysticism that was popular in Nesbit's day Unless you're set on reading all three books this one can be skipped without really missing out


  7. says:

    In this third volume of the series following Five Children and It and The Phoenix and the Carpet Nesbit finally succumbs to the temptation to get socialist and preachy There is a revolt of the workers in Ancient Egypt where the rabble rouser addressed the rabble with 'Comrades' a visit to a socialist utopian London of the future where Boris Johnson is mayor Wells as in 'H G' is considered a good boy's name and some pithy observations from the ueen of Babylon when she magically trips through space and time to visit London And now from the window of a four wheeled cab the ueen of Babylon beheld the wonders of London Buckingham Palace she thought uninteresting; Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament little better But she liked the Tower and the River and the ships filled her with wonder and delight 'But how badly you keep your slaves How wretched and poor and neglected they seem' she said as the cab rattled along the Mile End Road 'They aren't slaves; they're working people' said Jane'Of course they're working That's what slaves are Don't you tell me Do you suppose I don't know a slave's face when I see it? Why don't their masters see that they're better fed and better clothed? Tell me in three words' No one answered The wage system of modern England is a little difficult to explain in three words even if you understand it—which the children didn'tBut I don't mind it when people wear their hearts on their sleeves And my storm the Winter Palace side that's the pretty one is in agreement with the oB here anyhowC S Lewis obviously mined his childhood memories of this book extensively with the King of Babylon may He live forever being a dead ringer for a Calormene and the ueen of Babylon's visit to modern London being er luckily unnoticed by any copyright lawyers by Jadis' time


  8. says:

    E Nesbit wrote a ton of great children’s books that are sadly neglected though Puffin Classics appears to be reprinting them I generally don’t find them in large bookstores but have had several lucky finds in local resale bookstores And of course there's always Project Gutenberg The Story of the Amulet is about Cyril Anthea Robert and Jane the same four children who are featured in Five Children and It the fifth child was their baby brother and The Phoenix and the Carpet In this book their old friend the Psammead the “It” of the first book mentioned turns up in a pet shop in London The kids rescue it and it points them toward an Amulet for sale in a nearby curiosity shop The Amulet is in fact a magic amulet from ancient times and it has the power to give the children their heart’s desireAlas what they have purchased is only half the Amulet However even the half has powers one of which is transportation through space and time So the children embark on a uest to find the other half and the connecting pin so that they may have their hearts’ desire which is the safe return of their parents and baby brother Their mother has been ill and is off recuperating and their father is a war correspondent Meanwhile they are living in London with their old nurse I think I am not giving anything away when I say that the children have several exciting adventures and finally recover the Amulet and their family membersNesbit is always an entertaining read sometimes so as an adult I’d recommend her to anyone who is looking for something relaxing and amusing


  9. says:

    Have you ever heard the uestion Do you have the other half of this amulet? I had and it bugged me as it was always as a tongue in cheek reference to something else—but I never knew what I searched for the phrase and turned up this delightful 1905 children's book by Edith Nesbit who happens to be a co founder of the selfsame Evil Organization the Fabian society plaguing Mr Schuyler in his autobiography Black and ConservativeNonetheless this is a charming story of four children who have many adventures in history via their recalcitrant sand fairy and a magical amulet that takes them to Egypt Babylon Tyre and Atlantis in their heydays One thing the writers of the era seem to do very well none better than Frances Hodgson Burnett is create a sense of wonder in their books They do this despite or maybe due to? a great many cute asides and commentary on the characters This would certainly be a good book to read to the kids with some caveatsHaving not too long ago read The Secret Glory and some of Blavatsky Helena Petrovna's work on Atlantis I was up on theosophy which is referenced here mostly tongue in cheek in ways that will go over modern adults' heads much less children's The ending too is very theosophical as is really the whole framework of the story which holds that time is just a mode of thoughtA less obscure reference concerns the children venturing forward into the future to find the other half of their amulet wherein they find a utopic London and a young boy lamenting being suspended from school for day for littering The boy's name is Wells after the Wells from the dark ages who imagined the utopia they live in I'm curious to read of Wells' socialist stuff now because what was depicted here bore no resemblance to any form of socialism that I am aware ofI did enjoy the fact that this future world replaced noisy nasty smelling horses with clean uiet automobiles Take a moment to consider that won't you? Gasoline and cars have been such a boon to a clean disease free environment and we do nothing these days but criticize them Well for someone who had to live in a city full of horsesht they were a boonAnyway the story is well constructed the characters strong though not detailed particularly and the writing is fun


  10. says:

    Definitely my least favorite of the three the first books being Five Children and It and The Phoenix and the Carpet By the internal chronology the kids are maybe a year and a half older than when the trilogy started but they haven't matured even a little bit and Jane the youngest seems to have regressed Or maybe she really is eight and Nesbit finally figured out how eight year olds talk and act Hint They're just learning to be rational Her fear of going into strange and potentially dangerous societies seems extreme not because she exaggerates the dangers but because she's handled other crises far calmly What I like about this book is the subplot with the learned gentleman Jimmy whose association with the children saves him from his isolation and reminds him of what it was like to be a child Unlike the other adults in the series Jimmy has no problem playing their games and envies their imagination rather than telling them to grow up even though his belief that it's all a strange dream nearly gets everyone killed when he insists on staying to see the drowning of Atlantis If I were making a movie of this book I'd beef up his role to provide of a connection between the actual time travel the Amulet allows and the belief in the miraculous that is the heritage of any human being who chooses to take it