Gutta Percha Willie, the Working Genius

Home - George MacDonald - Gutta Percha Willie, the Working Genius

Prev | Next | Contents


In the morning, Willie's head was full of his dream. How gladly would he have turned it into a reality! That was impossible--but might he not do something towards it? He had long ago seen that those who are doomed not to realise their ideal, are just those who will not take the first step towards it. "Oh! this is such a little thing to do, it can't be any use!" they say. "And it's such a distance off what I mean, and what I should give my life to have!" They think and they say that they would give their life for it, and yet they will not give a single hearty effort. Hence they just stop where they are, or rather go back and back until they do not care a bit for the thoughts they used to think so great that they cherished them for the glory of having thought them. But even the wretched people who set their hearts on making money, begin by saving the first penny they can, and then the next and the next. And they have their reward: they get the riches they want--with the loss of their souls to be sure, but that they did not think of. The people on the other hand who want to be noble and good, begin by taking the first thing that comes to their hand and doing that right, and so they go on from one thing to another, growing better and better.

In the same way, although it would have been absurd in Willie to rack his brain for some scheme by which to restore such a grand building as the Priory, he could yet bethink himself that the hundredth room did not come next the first, neither did the third; the one after the first was the second, and he might do something towards the existence of that.

He went out immediately after breakfast, and began peering about the ruins to see where the second room might be. To his delight he saw that, with a little contrivance, it could be built on the other side of the wall of Hector's room.

He had plenty of money for it, his grannie's legacy not being yet touched. He thought it all over himself, talked it all over with his father, and then consulted it all over with Spelman. The end was, that without nearly spending his little store, he had, before the time came for his return to the college, built another room.

As the garret was full of his grandmother's furniture, nothing was easier than to fit it up--and that very nicely too. It remained only to find an occupant for it. This would have been easy enough also without going far from the door, but both Willie and his father were practical men, and therefore could not be content with merely doing good: they wanted to do as much good as they could. It would not therefore satisfy them to put into their new room such a person--say, as Mrs Wilson, who could get on pretty well where she was, though she might have been made more comfortable. But suppose they could find the sickly mother of a large family, whom a few weeks of change, with the fine air from the hills and the wonderful water from the Prior's well, would restore to strength and cheerfulness, how much more good would they not be doing in that way--seeing that to help a mother with children is to help all the children as well, not to mention the husband and the friends of the family! There were plenty such to be found amongst the patients he had to attend while at college. The expense of living was not great at Priory Leas, and Mr MacMichael was willing to bear that, if only to test the influences of the water and climate upon strangers.

Although it was not by any means the best season for the experiment, it was yet thoroughly successful with the pale rheumatic mother of six, whom Willie first sent home to his father's care. She returned to her children at Christmas, comparatively a hale woman, capable of making them and everybody about her twice as happy as before. Another as nearly like her in bodily condition and circumstances as he could find, took her place,--with a like result; and before long the healing that hovered about Priory Leas began to be known and talked of amongst the professors of the college, and the medical men of the city.

Prev | Next | Contents