Victorian London - Childhood - Toys - Flags

    THE FLAGMAN.—What an excitement, to be sure, among the children who are in the street when ‘the flagman’ appeared in sight! 'O Lizzy!’ cries Bobby White, ‘I do wish I had a halfpenny to buy a little windmill.’
    ‘Do you?' said his good-natured elder sister Eva. ‘Well, I have two halfpennies in my pocket; if you’ll be very good, I’ll buy you a windmill with one. I can then get a few sweets with the other.’
    But both halfpennies were spent before they passed on; for Eva noticed a little bare-footed toddler gazing wistfully at the flags, and her second half­penny was soon exchanged for a bright flag, and Eva felt a warm glow of happiness at the pleasure she had given to two little people.
    John Brown has been sent to fetch some medicine for his sick brother. He wishes he could have the money he has spent on medicine to buy flags. ‘Here, mister,’ he says, ‘take this bottle of medicine, and give me a flag for it.’ But the man does not want the physic, and John’s brother does. So off he runs home, hoping that mother will give him a penny for being so quick.
    Lucy Grey does not stop to look; for she had been kept in at school because she wasted the ink when she ought to have been doing her sums, and had to stay behind to get them right, and now she must hurry home or dinner will be finished before she gets in.
   Willie and Sophie Green are deep in consultation as to which flag they would buy if they had the money. The man is glad to have disposed of some of his wares, and passes on. It is fun to the children, bu~ it is a serious matter to hint, for on these simple toys depends his daily bread. Let us hope be may find some more customers.

Uncle Jonathan, Walks in and Around London, 1895 (3 ed.)