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Norman Vallery or, How to Overcome Evil with Good   By: (1814-1880)

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Norman Vallery, by W.H.G. Kingston.

This book has a strange theme, but it is very well carried out. Norman Vallery is a small boy, about seven years old or less. His father has insisted that he should be brought up to believe that he should be allowed to do exactly whatever he wished. The result was a totally unpleasant child, unkind to animals, to his sister, and to all others around him. This is well described in the text, but we must also say that the numerous illustrations bring out his unpleasantness in a very clever way. In fact the pictures are a remarkable record of Victorian childhood, and are worth studying for their own sake.

Norman had lived with his parents in India, where his father was a soldier. His sister, a little older, had been brought back to England some years before, to be brought up by her kindly old grandmother. That was the custom in those days. At the start of the story Norman and his parents are arriving in England, but right from the start he behaves intolerably.

Eventually various people treat him with kindness, and he begins to see that kindness is a more profitable way to work with others. Furthermore there is a serious incident in which he is hurt, really through his own fault, and in which another child to whom Norman has been unkind proves to be his saviour. Ultimately he goes away to a proper boarding school where he gets excellent marks for his behaviour. He is a changed boy!




"Are they really coming to morrow, granny?" exclaimed Fanny Vallery, a fair, blue eyed, sweet looking girl, as she gazed eagerly at the face of Mrs Leslie, who was seated in an arm chair, near the drawing room window. "Oh, how I long to see papa, and mamma, and dear little Norman! I have thought, and thought so much about them; and India is so far off it seemed as if they would never reach England."

"Your mamma writes me word from Paris that they hope to cross the Channel to night, and be here early in the afternoon," answered Mrs Leslie, looking at the open letter which she held in her hand. "I too long to see your dear mamma; and had it not been for you, my own darling, I should have missed her even more than I have done; but you have ever been a good, obedient, loving child, and my greatest comfort during her absence."

Mrs Leslie, as she spoke, drew her grandchild towards her, and kissed her brow.

Fanny said nothing, but, pressing the hand which held hers, turned her eyes towards her grandmamma's face, while the consciousness that the praise was not wrongly bestowed, caused a bright gleam of pleasure to pass over her countenance.

Mrs Leslie, who had brought up Fanny from her infancy, lived in a pretty villa a few miles from London, surrounded by shrubberies, with a lawn and beautifully kept flower garden in front. On one side was a poultry yard, over which Fanny presided as the reigning sovereign; and even Trusty, the spaniel, who considered himself if not the ruler at all events the guardian of the rest of the premises, when he ventured into her domain always followed humbly at her heels, never presuming to interfere with her feathered subjects. More than once he had been known to turn tail and fly as if for his life when Phoebe, the bantam hen, with extended neck and outspread wings had run after him, as he had by chance approached nearer to her brood of fledglings than she had approved of.

Fanny with her fowls, Trusty, and Kitty, the tortoiseshell cat; and her doll, which had a house of its own fitted with furniture; and, more than all, with the consciousness of her granny's affection, considered herself one of the happiest little girls in existence. Everybody in the house, indeed, loved her; and she was kind, and gentle, and loving to every one in return.

Her mamma Mrs Leslie's only daughter had married Captain Vallery, an officer in the Indian army, while he was at home on leave, and had accompanied him to the East... Continue reading book >>

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