Stage 1 (Novice): The Railway Children, chapter 1


Author: Edith Nesbit 

Retold by Lorandformvn

The railway children, or so they were called. Yet for them, the railways were nothing more than a way of getting to their favorite place in town.

There were three of them. Roberta was the eldest, and then came Peter, and finally, Phyllis. The siblings lived a joyful life in London with everything they needed.

But peace was not meant to last long.

It was the night after they celebrated Peter’s tenth birthday. The toy engine given to Peter was somehow already broken, and Peter, bored as he was, started thinking of his beloved father. Peter’s father was a man so talented, he seemed almost omnipotent. He went on business trips fairly often, but that never stopped him from loving his children.


That day, father happened to be home. He was joining his family for a short supper, when there was a knock on the door. Two mysterious figures appeared. Never had he seen them before. Yet, after talking with them, father suddenly packed his bags and left the house without a word.


The next day, father was still away. Weeks went by and it was nothing but easy for the kids. Suddenly, one morning, mother told them that they had to move to the countryside.


Arriving at their new home on a rainy night, the kid was not delightfully welcomed by the coziness they expected. Instead, there were only stone cold walls and a kitchen that even when lighted, still seemed inhospitable.


Next day however, when the sun was shining, the children woke up to discover new wonders around their country house. What excited them the most was the railway station, where after a short walk, Peter found himself a large pile of coal. Thinking that no one would miss a few handfuls of coal, Peter brought some back home. His intentions were anything but bad – the boy only wished to sustain the kitchen fire and warm his family. The Station Master, however, caught Peter red-handed, and was displeased with his acts. Yet he remained calm, and explained to them that what they did was wrong. After a while, he befriended the kids, realizing that they meant no harm.


By now the children had familiarized themselves with the railways, knowing when a train will pass, sometimes waving to the people on the train. There was a particular gentleman whom they were very fond of. He had a kind face and a nice smile. To them, the gentleman was their hope. He passed by almost every day. They thought of him, whoever he was, as a man who knew their father and told him about their love for father.


Mother slowly became very ill, so Boobie, as Roberta called herself, went to the gentleman on the train looking for help, as she knew very few people in the neighborhood. She, along with her two siblings, set up a large white sheet with the words :”LOOK OUT AT THE STATION” written on it. A great deal of passengers that day looked out, only to be disappointed by the dull view that they had seen daily. The gentleman too did look, and right before the train moved again, young Phyllis came rushing out with a letter on her hand asking for all the things that mother needed. The request came through, as later that day, a box filled with goods their mother needed arrived.


After a few short days when mother started to feel better, they confessed to her what they had done. Mother had mixed feelings about it but let it by as Boobie’s twelfth birthday was soon to come. All dressed up in her best clothes, Boobie received several presents, including the broken half of Peter’s beloved toy train, filled with sweets. Yet for her, the birthday party was not fun, because mother was not happy and father was not home. The party ended on a sad note.  




  1. Siblings (n): brothers and/or sisters
  2. Beloved (adj): dearly loved.
  3. Omnipotent (adj): able to do anything.
  4. Supper (n): an evening meal, typically a light or informal one
  5. Inhospitable (adj):  harsh and difficult to live in
  6. Intention (n):  a thing intended; an aim or plan
  7. Red-handed (adj):  having been discovered in or just after the act of doing something wrong or illegal.
  8. Befriend (v): act as a friend to (someone) by offering help or support.
  9. Familiarize (v): give (someone) knowledge or understanding of something.
  10. Confess: admit or state that one has committed some act.








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