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Here is the sentence and for some reason the bold part is not clear to me:

Two babies in the nursery is right and proper, and such as the best homes have a right to expect, but two is enough. Bring one more and I give notice...

Who has a right to expect, and what is this right? It seems like the best homes have a right to expect, although I can sense the babies are the subject here. Could you clarify this word order please?

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  • That is just bad writing. as such should be set off by commas there.
    – Lambie
    Feb 21, 2022 at 21:51

2 Answers 2

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This is from Ballet Shoes: A Story of Three Children on the Stage, by Noel Streatfeild.

The man, Gum, just brought home another baby (an orphan) that he adopted. "Nana" is evidently the couple's Nanny.

Although Nana was quite pleased to welcome Petrova, she spoke firmly to Gum.

‘Now, sir, before you go away again, do get it into your head this house is not a crèche. Two babies in the nursery is right and proper, and such as the best homes have a right to expect, but two is enough. Bring one more and I give notice, and then where’d you be, with you and Miss Sylvia knowing no more of babies than you do of hens?’

Your phrase can be interpreted as having a missing word and punctuation:

and such as that (previously stated), the best homes have a right to expect that (previously stated)

That's a bit clunkly, it's better to reform the phrase as this

and the best homes have a right to expect such as that (such as previously stated)

Or paraphrased more simply:

and the best homes have a right to (expect to) have two babies

Finally, if I have a right to expect that you arrive on time, then it is proper for me to have that expectation.

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    GUM (Great-Uncle Matthew) is an old bachelor who, three times, has brought home from his travels an orphaned baby girl for his great-niece Sylvia to look after, helped by her old nanny. Nana speaks in the manner of an old-fashioned children's nurse in the 1930s. Feb 22, 2022 at 9:30
  • @KateBunting Thanks! Literary details fixed! Evidently, at this point in the story, he has just brought home the second baby. Hilarious that he brings home yet another one after this! Feb 22, 2022 at 17:39
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The statement is saying that no more than two babies should share a nursery in the best homes.

The clumsy prose in bold claims that such an arrangement is what people in the best homes have a right to expect.

It sounds like the opinion of some old-fashioned, rather narrow-minded, silly, upper-class twit.

It might be helpful to know the source.

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