RECORD: Darwin, Emma, 'The pound of sugar'. CUL-DAR185.101. Transcribed by Christine Chua, edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua, corrections by John van Wyhe 9.2019. RN1

NOTE: Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.

Introduction by Christine Chua:

An amusing short story of the adventures of Bobby and his little sister Lizzy on their quest to buy a pound of sugar at the behest of their grandfather. There are just  fifteen pages written in Emma Darwin's beautiful handwriting. The story has an interesting array of characters, both good and bad. Mrs Darwin was able to portray in this little story the innocence of the children and the morals of the story eloquently. It would have brought about giggles, and feelings of astonishment, anger, disappointment and finally triumph.

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The pound of sugar, a [children's, crossed] story by Emma Darwin [for children, crossed]

A good old man lived in a cottage with his two grandchildren Bobby & Lizzy. One day he put sixpence into Bobby's hand & said: "Now Bobby you are old enough to do an errand for me, so you must go to Bromley & buy me a pound of sugar & bring me back the change, & Lizzy may go with you." "Oh yes, Grandfather:" said Bobby "I can do that very well I am sure now I am 8 years old." So Bobby & Lizzy set out on their journey very much pleased. His grandfather called after him: "Now Bobby you must be sure to turn to the right when you get to the cross road." They went along talking very happily till they came to the cross road when instead of turning


to the right they turned to the left & went on till they met an old woman when Bobby thought he had better ask the way: "Pray is this the way to -?" The old woman asked: "well my little man the way to where?" Bobby was puzzled & said: "Why where is it Lizzy?" "The way to Westerham do you mean:" said the old woman. "Oh yes, that's it:" said Bobby. "No indeed, Bobby." said Lizzy. "I don't think it was Westerham. Was it Bromley?" "Oh yes it was Bromley." "Well, you have come quite wrong; you should have turned to the right, but I am going to Bromley myself & I will shew you the way." They then walked on with the kind old woman who wished them good bye when they arrived


at the town. When they got to the first shop Bobby said: "Why Lizzy, I have forgotten what we were to buy." Lizzy thought a moment & said: "It must have been a pound of tea." B.[obby replied] "Nonsense Lizzy it wasn't I am sure. Oh it was a pound of salt I remember now." So in they went into a shoemaker's shop. Bobby said "Please sir, I want a pound of salt." The shopman called out angrily: "Do you want to make a fool of me? I don't sell salt. Get out of the shop." Bobby came out very much crestfallen (42) [&, crossed] saying: "We must try another shop Lizzy." So they peeped in thro' the glass door & saw a good-natured looking woman standing behind the counter. Bobby was more cautious this time & said: "If you please Ma'am do you sell salt?" The woman


laughed and answered: "No that I don't, little boy; this is a toy shop. You must go to the grocer's for salt - there just opposite." The children now thought all their troubles were over & went in courageously to the grocer's, asked for the pound of salt & put down the sixpence to pay for it. They were much surprized when the shopman gave them five pence back again but thought Grandfather wd be much pleased to find it so cheap. They returned home & found their Grandfather waiting in his armchair for them: "Well Bobby, have you got it?" "Oh yes Grandfather to be sure I have & here is fivepence that the man in the shop gave me back again." "Five pence?" said the old man: "why it used to be fourpence a pound in my day, well how cheap things

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are getting to be sure! Well Bobby, put it in bye in the cupboard ready for Tea." When Tea was ready, the old man poured the salt into the sugar basin & was much surprized to see that it was white. "Well every thing is changed nowadays I suppose all the brown sugar is made white." As soon as Bobby had tasted his tea he said "My tea tastes very odd, Grandfather." "Pooh nonsense child don't be dainty." Lizzy then drank some of hers. "Oh Grandfather the tea is so funny." The old man then tasted his tea & said: "Why there is salt in the tea," he then looked in the sugar basin. "Why Bobby, you have bought a


pound of salt instead of sugar, no wonder it was so cheap. What could you be thinking of?" Bobby looked very foolish but had nothing to say for himself and the good- natured old man searched the cupboard again & found a little bit of sugar which was enough for their tea.

The next day he said: "Now Bobby you must go again to Bromley & get a pound of sugar & might you get it right this time." [& don't, crossed] "Oh yes Grandfather." said Bobby "I know." [very well how to get it this time, line crossed] "Here is the sixpence & Bobby be sure you put it in your trowsers pocket & button it up safe." "But there is a hole in this pocket."

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said Bobby.                    

"Well put it in the other pocket" said his grandfather. "There is no hole in that."  Bobby & Lizzy set out on their walk & soon arrived near the town of Bromley, but stopped on their way to look at a poor Italian boy who was playing an organ & who had some white mice running round in a small cage. [Bo, crossed] The children were very much pleased with this sight & while Bobby was thinking of something else he took the sixpence out of his pocket & began playing with it. At last he put it in his


pocket again but it was into the [wron, crossed] one with a hole in it. They went on some time & Bobby thought again of the sixpence & felt for it but it was gone. He felt in the other pocket but with no better success. "Oh Lizzy the sixpence is gone what shall I do?" They walked back some way looking for it & then settled to return home but first Bobby sat down to take a stone out of his shoe when what should he see in the shoe but the sixpence which had fallen down from his pocket inside his


trowsers into his shoe. They were quite happy & returned back again towards Bromley. A boy about 12 years old began to talk to Bobby. "Well my lad where are you going?" "I am going to the shop to buy some sugar." said Bobby who was always very happy to talk & he soon told the boy all his adventures with his sixpence. "Give it me:" said the boy. "And I'll keep it safe for you." "Oh Thank you" said Bobby, "that will be the best way." "Indeed, Bobby" said Lizzy: "you had better do as Grandfather told you & put it in your


own pocket. "Oh no Lizzy I know best, I am older than you. Grandfather always gives me the money & I do all his errands." On they went, Bobby chattering away, when the boy suddenly called out "Look look! What a curious bird with a blue tail!" pointing at the same time up into a tree. Bobby & Lizzy called out "where where?" & looked with all their might up into the tree but when they looked round again, the naughty boy & the sixpence were out of sight. "Oh dear oh dear what shall we do?"

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They set off running after the boy & crying very bitterly at having been so cruelly cheated, when they met an old lady with a pair of silver spectacles on. "Little boy, Little boy, what's the matter?" "Oh he has got my sixpence; oh what shall we do?" The old lady soon found out what had happened & was so sorry for the poor children that she pulled out sixpence & gave it to Bobby. They soon


met a policeman and she told him the story. "What sort of looking boy was it? said he. "He was a boy with a blue coat & white apron." "Well" said the policeman "I think he has just run into that butchers shop." They then went in & the policeman said to the butcher boy, "where is the sixpence? you young rouge." The boy looked very foolish


& said "It was only a joke. here it is." His master however said he did not believe it was such a joke as he pretended & declared he would give him a beating. Bobby had now two sixpences instead of one, but his head was so full of their adventures that he went straight home to tell his grandfather all that had happened.


But they had to drink their tea without any sugar in it that day and [And Next day, line crossed] it was very nasty. However next day Bobby said to his Grandfather: "Please Grandfather let Lizzy & me go to Bromley again. [and buy the sugar, line crossed] and this time we will bring you back the pound of sugar. So his grandfather put the 2 sixpences in a small box & tied the box up with string & Bobby carried the box in his hand very carefully all the way to Bromley. [And, crossed]

At Bromley they went in to the grocer's shop and Bobby untied the string, opened the box, took out one sixpence & gave it to the grocer & asked for a pound of brown sugar. The grocer [did, crossed] weighed out [the, crossed] a pound of sugar into a blue bag, tied [it, crossed] up the bag & gave it to Bobby. So when they [went, crossed] left the shop, Bobby was carrying the bag of sugar in one hand & the box with the second sixpence in it in his other hand.

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Children's stories in Mrs Darwin's hand [Annotation in another handwriting.]

Oh Lizzy he said, "What shall we do with the other sixpence?" At that moment they saw the toy shop opposite. [With the good-natured looking woman still in it, line crossed] So [they went in there, line crossed] Lizzie said: "Let [us go in and, line crossed] spend the other sixpence [there, crossed] on a toy". So, They went in through the glass door & the good-natured woman behind the counter knew [recognized, crossed] them & laughed & said: "It is no use coming in here again for Salt!" [again today, crossed]

"Oh" said Bobby. "I know. You have to go to a grocer's to buy salt and sugar! But I have got another sixpence to spend today.

So Well, what will you choose with it?" said the good-natured woman. After [look, crossed] spending a long time looking at all the toys in the shop Bobby & Lizzie chose a large humming-top painted in bright blue.

Bobby gave the kind woman his sixpence out of the little box; she made a parcel of the humming top & they carried it and the sugar home to their grandfather. And that evening they [had, crossed] all had sugar in their tea and drank it [who, crossed] to the sound of the humming-top as it whirled round on the floor by the table.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 6 October, 2019