What You Really Reap by Richard King

Story type: Essay

But alas! all you do . . . all you really do, is . . . Well, as I said before, the man who first said that “the way to hell is paved with good intentions,” must have said it in the autumn, or perhaps, in the spring, when he realised how few of the good intentions he had lived up to. Well, maybe the most enjoyable part of going to hell is paving the way with, as it were, your back turned to your eventual goal. And sometimes I rather fancy, in spite of all the moralist may say, the paving-stones of good intent that you have laid on your way to perdition will be counted in your favour, and the Recording Angel will place them to your credit–which she can’t do if, metaphorically speaking, you have not paved a way anywhere, but just been content to live snugly on the little plot upon which Fate planted you at the beginning, and you were too dully inert either to cultivate hot-house orchids thereon or even let it become overgrown with wild oats and roses. And I think sometimes that on good intentions we eventually mount to heaven. I certainly know that the good intentions of the early autumn make me very nearly forgive the cycle of the seasons which robs me of summer and its joys. And after all, there is always this to be said for a good intention, nobody knows, yourself least of all, if you may not one day fulfil it. That is what makes dreaming so exciting. In your dreams you have learnt Russian; you have read all the novels of Balzac; you will be able to understand Sir Oliver Lodge when he leaves the realms of spiritualism and talks about the stars. And maybe–who knows?–by the time that your dreams have materialised into reality and spring has just arrived, you will be able to tell Lenin, if you happen to meet him, that you have “seen the daughters of the lawyer and lost the pen of your aunt”; and you will have read the books of Paul de Kock because you couldn’t struggle through Balzac; and you will know the composition of the moon and the impossibility of there being a man in it–which, after all, is a far greater achievement than having played countless games of bridge, learnt sixty-two steps of the tango, evolved a racing system, and arrived at loving the Germans, isn’t it?

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