A Twist of Fate

by Johnnie Neslett; as it appeared published in Tune In Magazine, June 1945.

For the beginning of this story, we must go back to a warm summer's day half a century ago. In a crystal -clear lake, in the Scotch highlands, a small hoy from London- vacationing in the Scottish moors -goes for a swim. The day is hot, the water cool. And the boy, all alone, splashes about like a puppy.

Suddenly, he is seized with cramps, and -with that innate instinct for self- preservation -he screams loudly for help. In a nearby field, a Scottish farm boy hears the cries, drops his plow and runs for the lake. Plunging in, he swims rapidly to the struggling swimmer and tows him hack to shore.

And so it is that a young English boy owes his life to a poor Scotch lad from the highlands. The years pass slowly, inexorably. Some years later, the English boy again visits the land of the purple heather .. . the same community where the Scotch youngster saved his life. His parents, wealthy far beyond their own needs, want to express in some tangible way their appreciation for the farm boy's courage and heroism.

And so the English boy's father visits the humble cottage where the Scotch youngster still lives. Smiling broadly, he speaks quietly to the shy young man: "I know well enough, my lad, that I can never really repay you for saving the life of my son. But, I would be most grateful if you would allow me the pleasure of preparing you for a career --a profession of some kind. Speak up, lad ... is there anything you would like to be ?"

Gulping, the young Scotchman manages to blurt out "Right ye are. There is, sir. If -if it please you, sir .. . I-I'd like to be a doctor." Yes, for years that poor farm boy has wanted to study medicine -and here is his opportunity.

The gentleman from England makes all financial arrangements, true to his word, and the boy from the Scotch moors enters medical school. Graduating with high honors, he embarks on a career of scientific research. And the results of his work have shown that the help given him by the English boy whose life he saved was beneficial, not only to him, but to the entire world.

For the Scotch lad, who might never have been able to study medicine had he not saved a London lad from drowning, is the scientist who found that germs cannot live in a certain vegetable mold, thus discovering a drug that has saved -and will save- millions of lives.

For, you see, the one -time Scotch farmer boy is the illustrious Dr. Alexander Fleming, who discovered ... penicillin!

But what of the London boy whose life Alexander Fleming saved? Let's go back a few years ago to the time this English boy, now a man of renown and distinction, makes a journey to the Near East on a mission of world importance. While there, he is stricken seriously ill. So great a personage is he that his death might affect the fate of his country, the future of the whole world!

But penicillin -the drug discovered by the farm boy his family had educated -is rushed by plane to the sick man's bed .. and the miracle drug saves his life. Yes, twice Alexander Fleming saved the life of that Englishman ... once when he was an English schoolboy on a vacation in the misty Scottish highlands ... and the second time when he had risen to such prominence that he was one of the most famous men in all the world.

And So the Story Goes -this strange story of the whim of chance that threw together two men who ordinarily would have lived and died worlds apart. If an English boy had not nearly drowned in a blue lake in Scotland, Alexander Fleming might never have discovered penicillin. And, if Alexander Fleming had not twice saved the Englishman's life, the world today would lack a great and courageous man.

For, you see, the Englishman -twice saved from death by Alexander Fleming -is ... Winston Spencer Churchill.