The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices
When Mr. Goodchild had looked out of the Lancaster Inn window for two hours
on end, with great perseverance, he begun to entertain a misgiving that he was
growing industrious. He therefore set himself next, to explore the country from
the tops of all the steep hills in the neighbourhood.
He came back at dinner-time, red and glowing, to tell Thomas Idle what he had
seen. Thomas, on his back reading, listened with great composure, and asked
him whether he really had gone up those hills, and bothered himself with those
views, and walked all those miles?
'Because I want to know,' added Thomas, 'what you would say of it, if you were
obliged to do it?'
'It would be different, then,' said Francis. 'It would be work, then; now, it's play.'
'Play!' replied Thomas Idle, utterly repudiating the reply. 'Play! Here is a man
goes systematically tearing himself to pieces, and putting himself through an
incessant course of training, as if he were always under articles to fight a match
for the champion's belt, and he calls it Play! Play!' exclaimed Thomas Idle,
scornfully contemplating his one boot in the air. 'You CAN'T play. You don't know
what it is. You make work of everything.'
The bright Goodchild amiably smiled.
'So you do,' said Thomas. 'I mean it. To me you are an absolutely terrible fellow.
You do nothing like another man. Where another fellow would fall into a footbath
of action or emotion, you fall into a mine. Where any other fellow would be a
painted butterfly, you are a fiery dragon. Where another man would stake a
sixpence, you stake your existence. If you were to go up in a balloon, you would
make for Heaven; and if you were to dive into the depths of the earth, nothing
short of the other place would content you. What a fellow you are, Francis!' The
cheerful Goodchild laughed.
'It's all very well to laugh, but I wonder you don't feel it to be serious,' said Idle. 'A
man who can do nothing by halves appears to me to be a fearful man.'
'Tom, Tom,' returned Goodchild, 'if I can do nothing by halves, and be nothing by
halves, it's pretty clear that you must take me as a whole, and make the best of
With this philosophical rejoinder, the airy Goodchild clapped Mr. Idle on the
shoulder in a final manner, and they sat down to dinner.