I didn't mean it for precious cheek

Baheth

Senior Member
Arabic
<——-Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)——->

But the engine-driver took the little engine and looked at it—and the fireman ceased for an instant to shovel coal, and looked, too.
"It's like your precious cheek," said the engine-driver—"whatever made you think we'd be bothered tinkering penny toys?"
"I didn't mean it for precious cheek," said Bobbie; "only everybody that has anything to do with railways is so kind and good, I didn't think you'd mind. You don't really—do you?" she added, for she had seen a not unkindly wink pass between the two.

From Nesbit's 'The Railway Children'. Would you please explain these sentences?
 
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  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It’s old-fashioned language. And I’m not sure why “It’s like” is used. But it can probably be paraphrased something like this:

    “That’s typical of your cheeky impertinence!”, said the engine driver (in a kindly manner), “What on earth gave you the idea that we’d be willing to fiddle about mending cheap toys?”
    “I didn’t mean to be cheeky,” said Bobbie…
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Precious" is an intensifier, like bloody. "Cheek" is doing or saying something presumptuous or impertinent.

    I am a little puzzled by the driver's "It's like", as if he is referring to something else, and I wonder if it is a corruption of "I like", used sarcastically, which really means I'm surprised by (usually in a not particularly nice way), or I am not impressed with.

    Bobbie repeats the driver's "precious cheek" (Bobbie often repeats other people's phrases in her replies, I notice), so it needs a preposition, but I don't think this is the sort of thing she would have said herself. "I didn't mean to be impertinent" is the meaning.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    It's like
    I took the "It's like your..." to be a variation of "Just like you to be...", meaning "It's typical of you to be so cheeky".

    But it does suggest that they knew Bobbie or had met her before. Had they?
     
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    Baheth

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I took the "It's like your..." to be a variation of "Just like you to be...", meaning "It's typical of you to be so cheeky".

    But it does suggest that they knew or had met Bobbie before. Had they?
    No, they had not.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Then I suppose they meant "Just like a girl of your age to be so cheeky".
    She had not long beforehand climbed onto the railway engine while it was stood in the station. This is certainly another example of her "cheekiness", and I had wondered whether the driver was referring back to this. Asking the driver to repair Peter's broken toy engine is just like the cheek of climbing onto his real engine, but quite honestly I don't think this quite fits.
     
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