by E. Nesbit

PETER (10 years old) 

Three children, Bobbie, PETER and Phyllis find a young boy lying in the railway tunnel with a broken leg and run for help. They bring him home and the girls are very distressed but PETER finds it all very exciting. He teases the girls, and despite their protests suggests a game of bone-setting. This gives Bobbie and Phyllis their opportunity for revenge.


It is horrible, but it’s very exciting. I wish doctors weren’t so stuck up about who’ll they’ll have in the room when they’re doing things. I should most awfully like to see a leg set. I believe the bones crunch like anything … How are you going to be Red Cross Nurses, like you were talking of coming home, if you can’t even stand hearing me say about bones crunching? You’d have to hear them crunch on the field of battle – and be steeped in gore up to the elbows … It would be a jolly good thing for you if I were to talk to for half an hour about broken bones and people’s insides, so as to get you used to it … I’ll tell you what they do, they strap the broken man down so that he can’t resist or interfere with their doctorish designs, and then someone holds his head, and someone holds his leg – the broken one, and pulls it till the bones fit in – with a crunch, mind you! Then they strap it up and – let’s play at bone setting! … I’ll get the splints and bandages, you get the couch of suffering ready. (He fetches ropes and two boards for splints) Now, then. (He lies down on the settle, groaning most grievously) Not so tight. You’ll break my other leg … That’s enough, I can’t move at all. Oh my poor leg! … Shall we play it’s bleeding freely … (The girls move away leaving PETER tied up) … You beasts! (He tries to free himself) I’ll yell, and Mother will come!

The Railway Children (play version)
The Railway Children (book)

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