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The Golden Windows by  Laura E. Richards


 

 

THE PROMINENT MAN

[60]

O NCE a prominent man was hurrying to his business; and as he hurried along the street, he slipped on a piece of ice, and fell and broke his leg. He was carried home on a stretcher, and lay on his bed in pain of body and distress of mind.

"What will become of everything?" he cried. "By now I should have been at the committee-meeting, where they can do nothing without me. This afternoon there is a directors' meeting, where I was to be chairman, and this evening I am engaged to lecture on a subject of vital importance. This means disaster to the State, and it may be to the whole country. It is terrible!"

Just then came in the Angel-who-attends-to-things.

[61] "How are you feeling?" asked the Angel.

"Oh, I am in a dreadful condition!" said the man. "I slipped on a piece of ice this morning, and broke my leg."

"Yes," said the Angel; "I saw you fall."

"But," said the man, "my pain, which by the way is very severe" (for he did not think the Angel looked sympathetic enough), "is the smallest part of it. I should by now be at a committee-meeting, where they can do nothing without me. This afternoon there is a directors' meeting, where I was to be chairman; and this evening I was engaged to lecture on a subject of vital interest. This means disaster to the State, and it may be to the whole country." And he groaned aloud.

"Oh, well," said the Angel, "I would not worry about all that, if I were you."

"Not worry!" said the prominent man.

"No," said the Angel. "The truth is, I put that piece of ice there myself. I wanted to get rid of you."

"Get rid of—" said the prominent man; and the rest was gasps.

[62] "Yes," said the Angel. "You see, I didn't want you at the committee-meeting. There is a new man ready to come forward who knows much more than you, and if you had been there he would have been too modest to speak. Then, the directors are going to take action this afternoon on that important case, and if you were there they would vote the wrong way. As to the lecture, it would do more harm than good just now; but when the crisis is passed, you may deliver it without doing any serious damage. So you see!"

"Good heavens!" cried the prominent man. "Am I awake, or is this a dream?"

"More or less," said the Angel. "It is what you call Life."

"But—but—but—" cried the man, "this is terrible! You don't know anything about business."

"My dear soul," said the Angel, "what do you take me for?" and he went away, and told the nurse to give her patient a composing draught.


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