This little story about a girl who was reared in a very strict and proper home made me smile. Some of us will live a life tormented by taboos and prohibitions forever!
"At Lincoln there occurred a curious instance of Maggie's sensitive and almost morbid sense of responsibility. She was walking with my sister in the streets near the Minster, and saw a child put a half-penny with which it was playing into its mouth. In the nursery all copper coins were supposed to be dangerous to life if placed for an instant in the mouth. This was part of the care which our dear old nurse took of us. Beth, as she was called, always removed the little purple beans from French beans, leaving only the green pod, for some obscure reason of health; she hunted out of ginger-beer the tiniest fragments of cork—they were supposed to " swell up inside you." She never allowed us to pick up things on our walks for fear we should " catch something." Copper coins were supposed to produce " verdigris," which was sure to be instantly fatal.
Maggie saw the child put the half-penny in its mouth and was too shy to interfere, or to tell anyone, but agonized over it in secret. A little later a man was condemned to death at the Assizes for the murder of a child in Lincoln. Maggie became sure that it was the child she had seen, who had died of verdigris, and that the criminal had been falsely suspected of the murder. At last the strain became too great, and she told the whole story to my mother, who was able to comfort her. But the incident shows what a childish imagination is capable of; and Maggie's power of multiplying the significance of life by her imagination, and suffering deep distress from a sense that she ought to have acted, was characteristic of her all her life long." Benson.