The wryness of Kenneth Grahame’s Dream Days is captured here in describing the cultural activity of choice for his younger brother.

Harold wraps his arm around his paper to protect it from the prying eyes of his older sister. When she tries to wrestle it from him, the older brother intervenes, since boys must unite when attacked by girls. From this, it’s revealed what Harold was writing: a ‘death-letter’, his last will and testament. His sister is appalled that he was clearly not leaving anything to her. His retort is that he might have, had she not tried to read his death-letter by force before he was even dead.

‘Harold got hold of a sheet of paper and a pencil, retired to a table in the corner, squared his elbows, and protruded his tongue. Literature had always been his form of artistic expression.’

But please, try not to stick your tongue out when you are composing letters, it’s bad manners. It’s also bad manners to tell people, still alive, that they should leave you more than they have. It’s their last will and testament, not yours.

Source: Kenneth Grahame, Dream Days, illus. by Maxfield Parrish (Edin.: Paul Harris Publishing, 1983), p. 59

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