Gutta Percha Willie, the Working Genius

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The next day after Hector's visit, Willie went to see how he was, and found him better.

"I certainly am better," he said, "and what's more, I've got a strange feeling it was that drink of water you gave me yesterday that has done it. I'm coming up to have some more of it in the evening, if you'll give it me."

"As much of it as you can drink, Hector, anyhow," said Willie. "You won't drink my cow dry."

"I wonder if it could be the water," said Hector, musingly.

"My father says people used to think it cured them. That was some hundreds of years ago; but if it did so then, I don't see why it shouldn't now. My mother is certainly better, but whether that began since we found the well, I can't be very sure. For Tibbie--she is always drinking at it, she says it does her a world of good."

"I've read somewhere," said the shoemaker, "that wherever there's a hurt there's a help; and when I was a boy, and stung myself with a nettle, I never had far to look for a dock-stalk with its juice. Who knows but the Prior's Well may be the cure for me? It can't straighten my back, I know, but it may make me stronger for all that, and fitter for the general business."

"I will lay down a pipe for you, if you like, Hector, and then you can drink as much of the water as you please, without asking anybody," said Willie.

Hector laughed.

"It's not such a sure thing," he replied, "as to be worth that trouble; and besides, the walk does me good, and a drink once or twice a day is enough--that is, if your people won't think me a trouble, coming so often."

"There's no fear of that," said Willie; "it's our business, you know, to try to cure people. I'll tell you what--couldn't you bring up a bit of your work, and sit in my room sometimes? It's better air there than down here."

"You're very kind, indeed, Willie. We'll see. Meantime, I'll come up morning and evening, and have a drink of the water, as long at least as the warm weather lasts, and by that time I shall be pretty certain whether it is doing me good or not."

So Hector went on drinking the water and getting a little better.

Next, grannie took to it, and, either from imagination, or that it really did her good, declared it was renewing her youth. All the doctor said on the matter was, that the salts it contained could do no one any harm, and might do some people much good; that there was iron in it, which was strengthening, and certain ingredients besides, which might possibly prevent the iron from interfering with other functions of the system. He said he should not be at all surprised if, some day or other, it regained its old fame as a well of healing.

Mr Spelman, in consequence of a talk he had with Hector, having induced his wife to try it, she also soon began to think it was doing her good. Beyond these I have now mentioned, no one paid any attention to the Prior's Well or its renascent reputation.

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