Quote: How was George MacDonald so Prescient?

But as [the baker] ran, he stumbled and fell heavily. Curdie hastened to help him up, and found he had bruised his forehead badly. He swore grievously at the stone for tripping him up, declaring it was the third time he had fallen over it within the last month; and saying what was the king about that he allowed such a stone to stick up forever on the main street of his royal residence of Gwyntystorm! What was a king for if he could not take care of his people’s heads! And he stroked his forehead tenderly.

“Was it your head or your feet that ought to bear the blame of your fall?” asked Curdie.

“Why, you booby of a miner! My feet, of course,” answered the baker.

“Nay, then,” said Curdie, “the king can’t be to blame.”

“Oh, I see!” said the baker. “You’re laying a trap for me. Of course, if you come to that, it was my head that ought to have looked after my feet. But it is the king’s part to look after us all, and have his streets smooth.”

“Well, I don’t see,” said Curdie, “why the king should take care of the baker, when the baker’s head won’t take care of the baker’s feet.”

“Who are you to make game of the king’s baker?” cried the man in a rage.

But instead of answering, Curdie went up to the bump on the street which had repeated itself on the baker’s head, and turning the hammer end of his mattock, struck it such a blow that it flew wide in pieces. Blow after blow he struck until he had leveled it with the street.

But out flew the barber upon him in a rage. “What do you break my window for, you rascal, with your pickaxe?”

“I am very sorry,” said Curdie. “It must have been a bit of stone that flew from my mattock. I couldn’t help it, you know.”

“Couldn’t help it! A fine story! What do you go breaking the rock for — the very rock upon which the city stands?”

“Look at your friend’s forehead,” said Curdie. “See what a lump he has got on it with falling over that same stone.”

“What’s that to my window?” cried the barber. “His forehead can mend itself; my poor window can’t.”

“But he’s the king’s baker,” said Curdie, more and more surprised at the man’s anger.

“What’s that to me? This is a free city. Every man here takes care of himself, and the king takes care of us all. I’ll have the price of my window out of you, or the exchequer shall pay for it.”

George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie

3 thoughts on “Quote: How was George MacDonald so Prescient?

    1. I thought that entitled, combative, and incoherent attitudes like this were a result of the welfare state and the “long march through the institutions.” I was surprised to find them in a book written by a Scotsman about 100 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

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