the longest bit of candle

Baheth

Senior Member
Arabic
"Now," said Bobbie, "I'll stay with him. You take the longest bit of candle, and, oh—be quick, for this bit won't burn long."

I have read this in Nesbit's 'The Railway Children' They were in a tunnel, and the narrator has not mentioned two candles. The narrator has only described it before as little candle. here:

"Don't be a silly cuckoo," said Peter; "I've got a candle end and matches, and—what's that?"

I this phrase of Bbbie's is meant as a mock of the candle! Am I right?
 
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Peter has a bit of candle (a candle end) which has been used to light the way. I think we must assume that the others had bits of candle that weren't lit. It was 1905. The author might not have thought that it needed to be mentioned. Who doesn't carry extra candles? ;)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I think that must be true: it is just assumed that you would have several bits (or in this case two). A single candle is mentioned repeatedly up to this point, but a few pages later Bobbie puts hers out for fear that 'the other' will not last to get the hound out, and Peter and Phyllis are going out of the tunnel with their candle, the other one we don't know about until then.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I woudn't think you could just break a candle, because you need to cut the wick, and it is only just after this point that Bobbie undoes (with difficulty) Peter's knife.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    He says before they go in the tunnel. He's telling her not to be afraid.

    Could they have cut/broken the candle into two pieces?
    Cross-posted belatedly
    You'd need a knife to cut the wicks and then trim the candles to expose the wick thus sacrificing some length. Entangledbank points to evidence of their being three candles. It doesn't seem likely that they were all cut from what started out as "a candle end." quite some time ago.
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Candles were necessary and relatively expensive. I would expect children to scavenge the very nubs of candles that adults were otherwise throwing out. I would not expect anyone to be giving these children new candles. So they are all walking around with little stubs.
     
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