His name was Fleming, and he was a poorScottish farmer.
One day,while trying to make a living for his family,he heard a cry for helpcoming from a nearby bog. He dropped his toolsand ran to the bog. There,mired to his waist in black muck, was aterrified boy, screaming andstruggling to free himself. Farmer Flemingsaved the lad from what couldhave been a slow and terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to theScotsman'ssparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed noblemanstepped out andintroduced himself as the father of the boyFarmer Fleming had saved.
"I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "Yousaved my son's life."
"No, I can't accept payment for what I did,"the Scottish farmerreplied waving off the offer. At that moment,the farmer's own soncame to the door of the family hovel.
"Is that your son?" the nobleman asked.
"Yes," the farmer replied proudly.
"I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him withthe level ofeducation my own son will enjoy. If the lad isanything like his father,he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will beproud of.
And that he did. Farmer Fleming's sonattended the very best schoolsand in time, graduated from St. Mary's HospitalMedical School inLondon, and went on to become known throughoutthe world asthe noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discovererof penicillin.
Years afterward, the same nobleman's son whowas saved fromthe bog was stricken with pneumonia. What savedhis life this time? Penicillin.
The name of the nobleman? Lord RandolphChurchill. His son's name?Sir Winston Churchill.
Someone once said: What goes around comesaround.
A number of our sharp-eyed members have alerted us to internet sources exposing this passalong as a charming but untrue "urban legend." There is no evidence that Alexander Fleming's father saved Lord Randolph Churchill from drowning, nor that Lord Randolph paid for Alexander's medical education. Nevertheless, Winston Churchill and Alexander Fleming were contemporaries, and their paths did cross. According to one biographer, Churchill took antibiotics after the war and consulted Fleming in 1943 about a staph infection that resisted penicillin.