Walter was the very antipode of the Molly he counted commonplace, one outside the region of poetry; she had a passion for turning a think into a thing. She had a strong instinctive feeling that she was in the world to do something, and she saw that if nobody tried to keep things right, they would go terribly wrong: what then could she be there for but to set or keep things right! and if she could do nothing with the big things, she must be the busier with the little things! Besides, who could tell how much the little might have to do with the big things! The whole machine depended on every tiny wheel! She could not order the clouds, but she could keep some weeds from growing, and then when the rain came, they would not take away the good of it!
The world might be divided into those who let things go, and those who do not; into the forces and facts, the slaves and fancies; those who are always doing something on God's creative lines, and those that are always grumbling and striving against them.
"Another penny for your thought, Walter!" said Molly.
"I am not going to deal with you. This time you would not think it worth a penny! Why are you so inquisitive about my thoughts?"
"I want to know what you meant when you said the other day that thoughts were better than things."
Walter hesitated. The question was an inclined plane leading to unknown depths of argument!
"See, Walter," said Molly, "here is a narcissus--a pheasant's eye: tell me the thought that is better than this thing!"
How troublesome girls were when they asked questions!
"Well," he said, not very logically, "that narcissus has nothing but air around it; my thought of the narcissus has mind around it."
"Then a thought is better than a thing because it has thought round about it?"
"Did the thing come there of itself, or did it come of God's thinking?"
"Of God's thinking."
"And God is always the same?"
"Then God's thought is about the narcissus still--and the narcissus is better than your thought of it!"
Walter was silent.
"I should so like to understand!" said Molly. "If you have a thought more beautiful than the narcissus, Walter, I should like to see it! Only if I could see it, it would be a thing, would it not? A thing must be a think before it be a thing. A thing is a ripe think, and must be better than a think--except it lose something in ripening--which may very well be with man's thoughts, but hardly with God's! I will keep in front of the things, and look through them to the thoughts behind them. I want to understand! If a thing were not a thought first, it would not be worth anything! And everything has to be thought about, else we don't see what it is! I haven't got it quite!"
Instead of replying, Walter rose, and they walked to the house side by side in silence.
"Could a thought be worth anything that God had never cared to think?" said Molly to herself as they went.