George And Alick by Anonymous

Story type: Literature

“Well, you know, Annie, it is all very well to try to be kind to and help nice people–people whom you like. It is the nicest thing in the world to help you, Annie, because you are always so good, and kind, and gentle. But there are people to whom I never could be kind, let me try ever so much.”

“But Georgie,” his sister began.

He interrupted her with some impatience.

“Oh, I know what you are going to say. You always say that we ought to like everybody. But that is nonsense. Everybody is not likable, and I don’t like people who are not likable, and I never shall, and never can.”

“I did not mean to say that. I don’t always say it; I don’t think I ever said it,” she answered quietly. “I know that one cannot like people who are not likable. But Georgie,” (with much earnestness,) “I know, and you know, that it is God’s will, that it is God’s command, that we should be kind, and tender, and gentle, and pitiful to every one, whether we like them or not.”

Yes, Georgie did know that. Often had he been reminded of it. But as this was a command he often broke, he did not like to think of it. He moved restlessly and impatiently on his chair, and said, with some fretfulness:–

“Well, but how can one; at least how can a rough boy like me? You can, Annie, I know. You do. Although you are often confined to this stupid bed for weeks at a time, you do more good, and make more people happy and comfortable, than any one in all the house. You are so good. It is easy for you.”

“No, Georgie, it is not easy for me,” she answered, her sweet, pale face, flushing at his praise. “I am not always kind. But a thought came into my mind about a year ago that has always helped me a great deal. I think God must have put it into my mind. Indeed I am sure he did, it has helped me so much.”

“And what was the thought?” George asked eagerly.

“I was thinking how difficult it was to feel kindly, to feel rightly towards those whom we don’t care for, who are not pleasant; and then it came all in a minute into my head, that we should find it much easier if we could only remember ever and always that everybody we meet must be either God’s friend or God’s enemy.”

“But how could that help?” George asked, knitting his brows, as if greatly puzzled.

Annie tried to explain.

“You know,” she said, “that there are no two ways about it,–that we must either be God’s friend or his enemy.”

“Yes,” he answered thoughtfully; “papa made me see that long ago.”

“And every boy you meet is either the one or the other, whatever else he may be, nice or not, pleasant and likable, or unpleasant and unlikable. If he be God’s friend–if he be a boy who loves our dear Lord Jesus Christ,” she went on, with an earnestness of feeling which brought tears to her eyes,–“a boy whom Christ loves, and for whom he died–a boy that Christ cares for, and is ever watching over, and in whose troubles and pleasures, joys and sorrows, Christ is tenderly concerned–O Georgie, if he be Christ’s friend, must not we like to be kind to and help him, to do him as much good and as little harm as we can?”

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“Yes, yes, I see,” he answered softly, and with much feeling. Annie went on.

“And if he be a boy who does not love God,” she said solemnly, “then must he be one of the wicked with whom God says that he is angry every day. And oh, Georgie, think what it must be to have God angry with you every day! to go through the world without God, never to think of him with love! to have no God to serve, no God to care for you; never to have your troubles made easy by knowing that the loving God has sent them, never to have your joys made sweet because they are his loving gift! O Georgie, how dreary, how desolate! Can you help being pitiful to any one who is in such a state?”

“No, oh no,” was said by Georgie’s eyes even more earnestly than by his tongue. He said no more; for boys cannot speak of what they feel so readily as girls. But Annie’s thought had gone deep into his heart, and as he went a few minutes after down towards the village on an errand for his father, his whole thoughts were occupied by it. Much more soberly than usual did he walk down the avenue, thinking over again all that Annie had said, and praying earnestly that God would keep it in his memory, and bring it strongly before him each time he had occasion to use it.

Such occasion was close at hand. As he came out of the gate into the road, he saw, a little way before him, a boy who, as he feared–nay, rather as he knew–was one of those wicked of whom Annie had been speaking. His name was Alick. Poor fellow, he was a cripple; he had been a cripple from his very babyhood. He had never been able to put his feet to the ground, to walk or run about like other boys, but could only get along slowly and painfully by the help of crutches. He was besides very delicate, and often suffered violent attacks of pain in his back and limbs, so that every one must have felt sorry for him, had he not been such a bad, cruel, selfish boy, that anger often drove pity away from the softest hearts. But there was this excuse for him, he had never had any one to teach him better. His mother died when he was a baby. His father was very rich, but was a coarse, hard man–one who, like the unjust judge, feared not God, nor regarded man. He was fond of his poor boy, who was his only child, but he showed his fondness by indulging his every wish, and suffering him to do in all things exactly as he pleased. So that Alick grew more and more wicked, cruel, and selfish every year, until he had come to be disliked and avoided by every one who knew him. Georgie had a particular dislike to him. For Alick, knowing that Georgie was far too brave to strike a cripple who could not help himself, took the greatest pleasure in teasing, and provoking, and working him up into passions which George could not vent upon him.

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The two boys saw each other a good while before they met, and Alick had time to prepare a taunting speech which he knew would be particularly provoking to George. But George also had time to think of Alick, time to recollect what Annie had said about the utter dreariness of going through the world without God; and God, answering George’s earnest prayer, caused this recollection to move his heart to the tenderest pity and concern for poor Alick. So when the mocking, provoking speech was given forth in the bitterest way, George’s only answer was a look of tender, even of loving compassion.

Alick misunderstood George’s feeling. He thought that look was meant to express pity for his infirmities, and pity on that account he could not bear. His cheek flushed crimson with anger, and he poured forth a volley of fearful oaths and curses upon George, who was now passing him upon the opposite side of the road. Again George only answered with that look so strangely full of deep, tender pity, that Alick’s heart was stirred by it, he knew not how nor why. He felt half provoked, as if he were being cheated out of his anger, and taking up a small stone from the old wall against which he leaned, he threw it at George, hitting him pretty smartly upon the arm. George took no further notice than merely to turn round and walk backward, so as to be able to watch for and avoid future compliments of the same kind. Many such were sent after him without effect. But just as he was getting beyond reach, Alick, in a last violent effort to throw far enough, overbalanced himself, one crutch slipped from under him, and he fell forward on his face in the mud!

In an instant George was by his side, helping him to rise, and asking tenderly if he were hurt. He was covered with mud from head to foot, his face was sorely cut and bruised by some sharp stones lying under the mud, and his teeth had cut through his upper lip. Georgie raised him into a sitting posture, and did all he could for him. A little burn ran by the way-side. Georgie dipped his handkerchief in it, and kneeling beside him, tried to wash away the mud and blood from his face with the utmost tenderness and gentleness, saying all the time words of kindness and concern, and giving him those looks of deep, wistful pity.

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At first Alick submitted to his kind offices without speaking; but after a few minutes he turned his head from him with a fretful, impatient, “There, that’ll do,” and stretched out his hand for his crutches. Georgie brought them to him, and helped him to get upon them. But poor Alick had severely sprained his shoulder in trying to save himself as he fell, and the attempt to use his crutches gave him the most violent pain. Selfish boys are never manly. They always think too much of their own troubles. This new pain, and the fear that he should not be able to get home, were too much for Alick. He gave way to a most unrestrained fit of crying. At another time George would have been either provoked or amused at the big boy crying thus like a baby. But now the pity God had planted in his heart swallowed up every other feeling. He thought only of comforting and helping him.

“Oh, don’t cry,” he said encouragingly; “I’ll get you home, never fear. See, sit here a minute, and I’ll run for Annie’s garden-chair, and wheel you home in it.” And having seated him comfortably leaning against the wall, he ran off, and was back with the chair before even the impatient Alick could have expected him.

It was not easy to drive the chair through the soft mud, where hidden stones, were constantly turning aside the wheels, jarring George’s arms, and calling forth bitter complaints from the fretful Alick. But Georgie bore complaints and jarrings with equal patience and kindly good humour, and as the homes of the two boys were not far apart, he got Alick safe to his own door in no very long time.

The next afternoon when Georgie came home from school, he heard from his mother that the doctor had been there to see Annie, and had told them that Alick was very ill. He had sprained his back as well as his shoulder, and was suffering great pain, and must, the doctor said, be confined to bed for many weeks. Georgie felt very sorry for him.

“Sickness and pain are bad enough,” he thought, “even when one can feel that it is our good and loving Father who has sent them; but what must they be to him?” And he asked his mother’s leave to go to see if he could be of any use to Alick. His mother consented, and resolutely turning his mind from the cricket-match just beginning in the school-yard, George went.

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He found the poor boy in a pitiable state. His face was swelled from the effect of the cuts and bruises; one eye was quite closed up, and the other he could only open a little way, for a minute at a time. He could not turn himself in bed,–the sprained arm was bound to his side; he could do nothing to amuse himself; and in that motherless, sisterless home, there was no one to devise amusement for him. His father was kind and anxious about him; but it never occurred to him to sit by his bedside, and try to make the time pass pleasantly; and even if it had occurred to him, he would not have known how to do it. All that money could buy Alick had in abundance; but tenderness and kind companionship were what he most wanted, and these could not be bought.

He seemed pleased to see Georgie, and gladly accepted his offer to sit for a little with him and read to him. Georgie read aloud very well, and with great spirit, and Alick was delighted with an amusement which was quite new to him. The hour Georgie was allowed to give him passed most delightfully, and when Georgie rose to go away, he was eagerly asked to come back the next day.

The next, and the next, and many succeeding afternoons, Georgie spent by Alick’s bedside, reading or chatting to him; and when he was able to use his arms, playing with him at chess, draughts, or any such game that Alick liked. That tender pity which God had put into Georgie’s heart for the poor wicked boy, he kept fresh and warm from day to day; and Georgie never grudged the time or trouble which he gave to Alick,–never lost patience with him, however fretful and unreasonable he might be, but was ever ready to do what Alick wished, whether he himself liked it or not.

One afternoon they had played for a long time at a favourite game of Alick’s, but one which Georgie thought very tiresome.

“Well, that is one of the nicest games in the world,” said Alick, stretching himself back upon his pillows when the game was done. “Isn’t it? Don’t you like it?”

“No,” said Georgie, looking up with an amused smile; “I don’t like it much.”

“Why then did you play so long without saying that you did not like it?” Alick asked, much surprised.

“Because you like it. I wanted you to have what you like,” Georgie answered simply; and having put away all the things, he stooped over Alick and asked him very kindly, nay, I may say very lovingly, if he thought he should have a better night, if he thought his pain was less than it had been.

“Yes,–no,–I don’t know,” Alick said, looking earnestly up into Georgie’s eyes. “But, Georgie, I say, why do you care so much?”

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“Because I am so very sorry for you,” burst from Georgie’s very heart.

“You well may,” muttered poor Alick, glancing down at his useless, shrunken limbs. But this time there was no anger in his thoughts.

“It is not for that, not at all for that,” Georgie cried eagerly, as if guessing that pity for his infirmities might be painful.

“For what then?” Alick asked, looking at him keenly.

“Because you do not know, you do not love God,” Georgie answered with deep feeling. “O Alick, how heartless, how dreary it must be!” and the tears rose to his eyes, and ran down his cheeks without his knowing it.

His words, spoken in that tone of intense pity, thrilled Alick to the heart. This was the meaning of all those looks of tender, yearning compassion which Georgie so continually cast upon him. And was it then such a terrible thing not to know God?

Georgie’s “how heartless, how dreary!” sounded again in his ears, and seemed to answer the question. He said nothing to Georgie nor to any one; but all night long these words came back and back to his mind. He could not get rid of them. They were pressed down into his heart by the recollection of all that exceeding tender pity which Georgie’s eyes had so long expressed for him, and of Georgie’s loving, patient kindness, during his illness. And ever deeper and stronger grew the sense that his life was in truth, and ever had been, more heartless and dreary than Georgie could imagine.

Next day, when Georgie came to his bedside, Alick looked him full in the face and said:–

“Georgie, can you teach me to know God?”

You may imagine how Georgie’s heart leaped with joy at the question. Often had he longed to speak to Alick of his God and Saviour, but hitherto he had been afraid to do it; not afraid of what Alick might say to or of him, but afraid to hear him speak against the Lord whom he had so often blasphemed. Now his mouth was opened, and in simple, boyish speech, he poured out his heart to Alick, and told him all he knew of Christ’s love in taking upon himself the sins of those who were his enemies. And God’s Spirit going with the words he taught Georgie to speak, Alick’s heart was touched, and the poor boy was brought to take Christ as his Lord and his God.

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