Children’s Hour – How do you spell Psammead?


Five Children and It is a story about five children who live in the English countryside about a century ago in the Nineteen Aughts and have all sorts of interesting adventures. They find a Sand-fairy (it) that gives them wishes, yet their wishing always turns out bothersome and hard and they find themselves locked on top of church towers or in besieged castles or at police stations. The children write to their mother, yet none of them know how to spell the interesting word the Sand-fairy calls himself, a Psammead, which is Greek for Sand-fairy. . .

~Excerpt from Five Children and It by E. Nesbit:
Jane’s letter was the only one that went. She meant to tell her mother about the Psammead – in fact they had all meant to do this – but she spent so long thinking how to spell the word that there was no time to tell the story properly, and it is useless to tell a story unless you do tell it properly, so she had to be contented with this –

My dear Mother Dear,
.     We are all as good as we can, like you told us to, and the Lamb has a little cold, but Martha says it is nothing, only he upset the goldfish into himself yesterday morning. When we were up at the sand-pit the other day we went round by the safe way where carts go, and we found a –

Half an hour went by before Jane felt quite sure that they could none of them spell Psammead. And they could not find it in the dictionary either, though they looked. Then Jane hastily finished her letter.

.     We found a strange thing, but it is nearly post-time, so no more at present from your little girl,
.     Jane.
.     P.S. – If you could have a wish come true, what would you have?

Then the postman was heard blowing his horn, and Robert rushed out in the rain to stop his cart and give him the letter. And that was how it happened that, though all the children meant to tell their mother about the Sand-fairy, somehow or other she never got to know. There were other reasons why she never got to know, but these come later.


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