Neal spent most his life far away from England. He had to travel a great deal. But at last, at the age of sixty, he came back to England and bought a house. One day he asked his old friend Porter to come and see the house. He showed Porter the different rooms and the garden. Then the two men sat down together to talk.
Well, said Porter, youll certainly be happy here. Its a nice house. Yes, said Neal. All my life Ive traveled from one place to another. Ive stayed in hundreds of hotels. Ive spent thousands of hours in trains and cars, aero planes and ships. But I dont like traveling. Traveling makes me tired, said Porter.
When I went up in an aero plane I felt unhappy. An aero plane seems to be safe, but I was always glad when I reached the end of the journey. I never fly, said Porter. I dont like aero planes. I hope that I shall never fly again, said Neal, But other things are unsafe too. Once I was in a ship which caught fire. Did they put the fire out? Yes, they put it out after a lot of hard work. There we far away on the sea, in a burning ship. It wasnt very nice. Then at another time, I was driving a car along a road at night. I was very tired and I was alone. The car ran off the road and nearly fell into a river.
Were you hurt? No, I wasnt hurt. Ive never been hurt on my travels. But the car was broken, and I had to walk a very long way back to the town. I was very tired. Porter did not speak. There is another thing about a traveler's life, said Neal. Perhaps you have never thought about it. A traveler goes to a lot of different places, and sometimes there are very bad illnesses. He can go to a doctor, said Porter. Not always. He may not find a doctor. In many places there are no doctors at all. Here we have doctors in every town. But what happens if a man is ill on a mountain? What happens if hes hurt by an animal in a forest?
Ive always lived in a town and we need all the help that we can get. We live in a very unsafe world. Thousands of people die every day. There have been two great wars in my own life. A man who reaches the age of sixty has done a wonderful thing! You are sixty now. Yes, said Neal. Im safe now. Im not going to travel any more. Im going to stay here. A doctor lives on the other side of the street. Hell take care of me if Im ill.
Nobodys life is quite safe, said Porter. You can stay at home all the time, youll have to go out sometimes. If you try to cross the street, a car may run over you. It may even kill you. Oh, Ill take care in the streets! And what are you going to do every day? asked Porter. Im going to read. I like books and theyre quite safe. Ill grow some flowers in the garden. I have a dog. His name is Bonzo. I can take him for a long walks in the country. Nothing can hurt me there.
Porter looked out of the window. Its beginning to rain, he said. Yes, it is. I must let Bonzo come in. Neal went to the front door and opened it. Bonzo was waiting on the step outside. He was hoping to come into the house out of the rain. As soon as the door opened, the dog run under Neals feet. Neal fell down on the wet step and broke his leg.