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Anatole France
As I understand criticism it is, like philosophy and history, a kind of novel for the use of discreet and
curious minds. And every novel, rightly understood, is an autobiography. The good critic is he who
relates the adventures of his soul among masterpieces.
There is no such thing as objective criticism any more than there is objective art, and all who flatter
themselves that they put aught but themselves into their work are dupes of the most fallacious
illusion. The truth is that one never gets out of oneself. That is one of our greatest miseries. What
would we not give to see, if but for a minute, the sky and the earth with the many-faceted eye of a fly,
or to understand nature with the rude and simple brain of an ape? But just that is forbidden us. We
cannot, like Tiresias, be men and remember having been women. We are locked into our persons as
into a lasting prison. The best we can do, it seems to me, is gracefully to recognize this terrible
situation and to admit that we speak of ourselves every time that we have not the strength to be
To be quite frank, the critic ought to say:
"Gentlemen, I am going to talk about myself on the subject of Shakespeare, or Racine, or Pascal, or
Goethe subjects that offer me a beautiful opportunity."
I had the honor of knowing M. Cuvillier-Fleury, who was a very earnest old critic. One day when I
had come to see him in his little house in the Avenue Raphael, he showed me the modest library of
which he was proud.
"Sir," he said to me, "oratory, pure literature, philosophy, history, all the kinds are represented here,
without counting criticism which embraces them all. Yes, the critic is by turn orator, philosopher,
M. Cuvillier-Fleury was right. The critic is all that or, at least, he ought to be. He has occasion to
show the rarest, most diverse, most varied faculties of the intellect. And when he is a Sainte-Beuve, a
Taine, a Jules Lematre, a Ferdinand Brunetire, he does not fail to do so. Remaining definitely
within himself he creates the intellectual history of man. Criticism is the youngest of all the literary
forms: it will perhaps end by absorbing all the others. It is admirably suited to a very civilized society
with rich memories and long traditions. It is particularly appropriate to a curious, learned and polite
humanity. For its prosperity it demands more culture than any of the other literary forms. Its

creators were Montaigne, Saint-Evremond, Bayle, Montesquieu. It proceeds simultaneously from

philosophy and history. It has required, for its development, an epoch of absolute intellectual liberty.
It has replaced theology and, if one were to seek the universal doctor, the Saint Thomas Aquinas of
the nineteenth century, of whom would one be forced to think but of Sainte-Beuve?...
According to Littr a book is a bound bundle of paper sheets whether hand-written or printed. That
definition does not satisfy me. I would define a book as a work of magic whence escape all kinds of
images to trouble the souls and change the hearts of men. Or, better still, a book is a little magic
apparatus which transports us among the images of the past or amidst supernatural shades. Those
who read many books are like the eaters of hashish. They live in a dream. The subtle poison that
penetrates their brain renders them insensible to the real world and makes them the prey of terrible
or delightful phantoms. Books are the opium of the Occident. They devour us. A day is coming on
which we shall all be keepers of libraries, and that will be the end.
Let us love books as the mistress of the poet loved her grief. Let us love them: they cost us dear
enough. Yes, books kill us. You may believe me who adore them, who have long given myself to them
without reserve. Books slay us. We have too many of them and too many kinds. Men lived for long
ages without reading and precisely in those ages their actions were greatest and most useful, for it
was then that they passed from barbarism to civilization. But because men were then without books
they were not bare of poetry and morality: they knew songs by heart and little catechisms. In their
childhood old women told them the stories of the Ass's Skin and of Puss in Boots of which, much
later, editions for bibliophiles have been made. The earliest books were great rocks covered with
inscriptions in an administrative or religious style.
It is a long time since then. What frightful progress we have made in the interval! Books multiplied in
a marvelous fashion in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Today their production has increased
an hundredfold. In Paris alone fifty books are published daily without counting the newspapers. It is
a monstrous orgy. We shall emerge from it quite mad. It is man's fate to fall successively into
contradictory extremes. In the Middle Ages ignorance bred fear. Thus maladies of the mind reigned
then which we no longer know. To-day, through study, we are hastening toward general paralysis.
Would it not be wiser and more elegant to keep some measure?
Let us be lovers of books and let us read them: but let us not gather them with indiscriminate hands:
let us be delicate: let us choose, and, like that lord in one of Shakespeare's comedies, let us say to our
book-seller: "I would that they be well-bound and that they speak of love."

Daughter for Sale

Samruam Singh, translated by Katherine A. Bowie.

But what was he to have done? No matter what, he would have to let his daughter go with
Yai Phloy. So what point would there have been in disagreeing with her, in forcing her to
speak the truth? Wouldn't he only be degrading himself by admitting openly for everyone
to hear that he was so destitute that he had to sell his daughter.
After he gave his word to Yai Phloy, Lung Maa couldn't think of what to tell his daughter. His heart
ached, knowing that the words Yai Phloy had uttered that day were outright lies. But what was he to
have done? No matter what, he would have to let his daughter go with Yai Phloy. So what point
would there have been in disagreeing with her, in forcing her to speak the truth? Wouldn't he only be
degrading himself by admitting openly for everyone to hear that he was so destitute that he had to
sell his daughter. Far better to let Yai Phloy go on with her eloquent deception. However wrong, he
could then mumble that he had been tricked by Yai Phloy. In any event, a man is better branded as
having been conned that branded as having sold his daughter into prostitution.
Yai Phloy's soliloquy was most pervasive. Anyone listening to it would have been seduced by it. Yai
Phloy began by elucidating in great detail about how children's behavior these days was getting
steadily worse and worse, especially city children, and especially in Bangkok. This was because their
parents were so busy working, striving to get ahead, that they had not time to stay at home with their
children. Instead, the children were ignored until they finally got into trouble. Hiring someone to
take care of the children was extremely difficult. Some hired servants who, as soon as their
employers weren't watching, absconded with everything in the house. Lost of them stole, even if just
a little here and there. But the major problem was that servants were so unreliable. As soon as they
were the least bit tired or were criticized or scolded in the least. They ran away back to their homes.
Consequently, several of Bangkok's wealthy elite had requested Yai Phloy to find them dependable
girls to be their servants. They paid good wages and, moreover, even paid money in advance. As
many girls as she could get would be placed.
Even though Yai Phloy was not from his village, Lung Maa had known Yai Phloy since she had been a
young girl. In those days, her beauty was known throughout the subdistrict. But before any of the
local youths were able to compete for possession, Yai Phloy had already run off to Bangkok with
someone who had passed through with the medicine show. Much, much later, when she finally came
back, word had it that she had become thoroughly Bangkokian, with a haughty manner and

pretentious lifestyles. She appeared to have become a lady of no insignificant wealth. Yai Phloy went
back and forth to Bangkok often. Of the girls that went to Bangkok with her, some came back even
poorer than before. And some disappeared completely.
Lung Maa knew perfectly well what kind of work the girls who went with Yai Phloy did in Bangkok,
because one day he had gone to get an injection at the district health center. That day, the only too
discreet doctor there had told him that two or three girls who had gone to Bangkok with Yai Phloy
had come back with severe cases of gonorrhea, so severe that he had to send them into town for
Lung Maa heaved a deep sigh as he thought of his daughter who was soon to become one more in the
ranks of unlucky girls. He wanted to talk with his daughter so she would understand and be as
untroubled as possible. But he could think of nothing to say.
Paa Saeng, his partner through life, was lying sick in the hospital in the city, suffering from an
intestinal problem. She was waiting for the money that would be used to pay for the blood and
surgery needed to sustain her life. Her survival, though, would only continue her pain and suffering.
He couldn't borrow money from anyone else any more. His present debt totalled already about
10,000 baht. He'd been in debt for nearly ten years. In all those years, all his efforts had only
succeeded in ensuring that his debts compounded interest slowly.
One year, the garlic price had been exceptionally good, which was why he found himself in his
present state. The merchants that year had come directly to the village, buying at fourteen to fifteen
baht a kilo. It meant that, for once, Lung Maa had enough money to think of working for a better life.
So, he borrowed 10,000 baht. With that and the money he had saved previously, he bought another
three rai of paddyfield. He was willing to pay the interest rate of 150 thang (Note: Thang
[pronounced taang+ not thaang+] is a northern Thai version of bushel. During 1977, one thang of
rice can be sold for 45-50 baht. Please note also that one rai [=1,600 sq. meters or 0.4 acre] of land
yields 30-60 thang per crop.) of rice per year. He had planned to use the entire rice crop from the
newly bought land to pay the interest and use the money from the dry season to pay off the original
But he met with bad luck. The following year, the garlic prices dropped to between thirty and fifty
satang (one 100th of baht) a kilo, despite his effort to appease the merchants by bringing the garlic
directly to their warehouses and despite the fact that the seed he had bought had been very
expensive, nearly fifty baht per kilo. He thought they were probably garlic seeds imported from
China. That year began his downward cycle. No matter how he struggled by trying other crops, the

profit he made was only enough to see his family through. One year, the price of rice dropped to five
baht a thang, forcing him to give up his new plot of land to his creditor. But he was still left with
debts worth more than the plot of land he had inherited from his parents. He debts kept steadily
increasing. Now he was working his remaining four rai without getting anything himself, because the
rice yield went to pay the interest on his debts. The hope that he would one day clear himself of his
debts had faded.
As he thought of his past, his eyes brimmed with tears of bitterness at his fate, welling over as his
thoughts turned to the future. In another tow or three days, his daughter, while still living, would be
forced into hell in Bangkok. In two or three weeks, he would once again face the painful sight of his
creditor callously coming to collect 200 thang of rice. This year there had not been enough water, so
he was not sure if he would have enough rice to pay, and if there would be any left over. Agony tore
his heart as he recalled the words of his creditor, echoing in his mind: "Maa, the money you've
borrowed from me now amounts to more than the value of the land you mortgaged. What am I to
do? If it keeps on like this, I'm afraid I's going to have to ask to claim your land and house. Next year
my son is going abroad, so I'll be having a lot of expenses myself. So please try to pay me by then, if
even only the interest."

So now his daughter had gone with Yai Phloy. He had controlled his tears. His parting words to his
daughter had been to obey Yai Phloy without questions. If she had any problems, she should write a
letter and let him know. He consoled her by saying if he had a chance, he would come to visit her. Of
what he had prepared to tell her, nor a single word would come out.
The 2,500 baht he had received as an advance from Yai Phloy was barely enough to pay for Paa
Saeng's hospital expenses. And when Paa Saeng returned home and learned that her daughter had
gone off with Yai Phloy, she fainted instantly. When she recovered, she began sobbing and sobbing.
She wouldn't talk to or even look Lung Maa in face, let alone any of her other five children who were
standing around her. Lung Maa could think of nothing to say, so he sought silent refuge in making
bamboo ties. (Note: About 2 feet long ties made of bamboo are to be used in binding the harvested
rice stalks together)
Late that night, when all their children were asleep, Paa Saeng's voice, muffled with the sounds of
weeping, whispered, "Phii Maa, didn't you know what Ee Phloy took our daughter to do?"
"Mother, I knew, but it was necessary. You know as well as I that we had no choice. When you were
in hospital, if we didn't have the money to pay for the cost of medicine, the blood, the saline, and

other expenses, the doctor wouldn't have been willing to treat you. They wouldn't let us go to the
destitute ward. Are you angry with me?"
"No, I'm not angry. But I feel so sad. Ever since I was born, there's been nothing but suffering."
"Do you know Yai Phloy well?"
"Oh, the people in the market place know her only too well. She's taken several of their daughters to
sell already. She gets paid 500 baht a head for some, 2-300 baht for others. She takes whatever she
can get. She's been a prostitute herself, ever since she was young. When she was not longer able to
sell herself, she began selling young girls instead. Her parents had a lot of debts then. Now things
seem to be going better for them, but they still owe money."
"I worry about our daughter. I feel so sorry for her. Ever since she left, I don't sleep at night."
"Phii Maa, the matter has happened and nothing can be done, so we might as well let it pass. We'll
help each other to share the burden of our demerit. It's just as if she has gone off and gotten a
husband, only that she doesn't have a real husband...By the time she can earn the money to help her
parents, I wonder how many husbands she will have to have..."

The colored people of Patesville had at length gained the object they had for a long time been
seeking--the appointment of a committee of themselves to manage the colored schools of the town.
They had argued, with some show of reason, that they were most interested in the education of their
own children, and in a position to know, better than any committee of white men could, what was
best for their children's needs. The appointments had been made by the county commissioners
during the latter part of the summer, and a week later a meeting was called for the purpose of
electing a teacher to take charge of the grammar school at the beginning of the fall term.
The committee consisted of Frank Gillespie, or "Glaspy," a barber, who took an active part in local
politics; Bob Cotten, a blacksmith, who owned several houses and was looked upon as a substantial
citizen; and Abe Johnson, commonly called "Ole Abe" or "Uncle Abe," who had a large family, and
drove a dray, and did odd jobs of hauling; he was also a class-leader in the Methodist church. The
committee had been chosen from among a number of candidates--Gillespie on account of his
political standing, Cotten as representing the solid element of the colored population, and Old Abe,

with democratic impartiality, as likely to satisfy the humbler class of a humble people. While the
choice had not pleased everybody,--for instance, some of the other applicants,-- it was acquiesced in
with general satisfaction. The first meeting of the new committee was of great public interest, partly
by reason of its novelty, but chiefly because there were two candidates for the position of teacher of
the grammar school.
The former teacher, Miss Henrietta Noble, had applied for the school. She had taught the colored
children of Patesville for fifteen years. When the Freedmen's Bureau, after the military occupation of
North Carolina, had called for volunteers to teach the children of the freedmen, Henrietta Nobel had
offered her services. Brought up in a New England household by parents who taught her to fear God
and love her fellow-men, she had seen her father's body brought home from a Southern battle-field
and laid to rest in the village cemetery; and a short six months later she had buried her mother by his
side. Henrietta had no brothers or sisters, and her nearest relatives were cousins living in the far
West. The only human being in whom she felt any special personal interest was a certain captain in
her father's regiment, who had paid her some attention. She had loved this man deeply, in a
maidenly, modest way; but he had gone away without speaking, and had not since written. He had
escaped the fate of many others, and at the close of the war was alive and well, stationed in some
Southern garrison.
When her mother died, Henrietta had found herself possessed only of the house where she lived and
the furniture it contained, neither being of much value, and she was thrown upon her own resources
for a livelihood. She had a fair education and had read many good books. It was not easy to find
employment such as she desired. She wrote to her Western cousins, and they advised her to come to
them, as they thought they could do something for her if she were there. She had almost decided to
accept their offer, when the demand arose for teachers in the South. Whether impelled by some
strain of adventurous blood from a Pilgrim ancestry, or by a sensitive pride that shrank from
dependence, or by some dim and unacknowledged hope that she might sometime, somewhere,
somehow meet Captain Carey--whether from one of these motives or a combination of them all,
joined to something of the missionary spirit, she decided to go South, and wrote to her cousins
declining their friendly offer.
She had come to Patesville when the children were mostly a mob of dirty little beggars. She had
distributed among them the cast- off clothing that came from their friends in the North; she had
taught them to wash their faces and to comb their hair; and patiently, year after year, she had
labored to instruct them in the rudiments of learning and the first principles of religion and morality.
And she had not wrought in vain. Other agencies, it is true, had in time cooperated with her efforts,
but any one who had watched the current of events must have been compelled to admit that the very

fair progress of the colored people of Patesville in the fifteen years following emancipation had been
due chiefly to the unselfish labors of Henrietta Noble, and that her nature did not belie her name.
Fifteen years is a long time. Miss Noble had never met Captain Carey; and when she learned later
that he had married a Southern girl in the neighborhood of his post, she had shed her tears in secret
and banished his image from her heart. She had lived a lonely life. The white people of the town,
though they learned in time to respect her and to value her work, had never recognized her existence
by more than the mere external courtesy shown by any community to one who lives in the midst of it.
The situation was at first, of course, so strained that she did not expect sympathy from the white
people; and later, when time had smoothed over some of the asperities of war, her work had so
engaged her that she had not had time to pine over her social exclusion. Once or twice nature had
asserted itself, and she had longed for her own kind, and had visited her New England home. But her
circle of friends was broken up, and she did not find much pleasure in boarding- house life; and on
her last visit to the North but one, she had felt so lonely that she had longed for the dark faces of her
pupils, and had welcomed with pleasure the hour when her task should be resumed.
But for several reasons the school at Patesville was of more importance to Miss Noble at this
particular time than it ever had been before. During the last few years her health had not been good.
An affection of the heart similar to that from which her mother had died, while not interfering
perceptibly with her work, had grown from bad to worse, aggravated by close application to her
duties, until it had caused her grave alarm. She did not have perfect confidence in the skill of the
Patesville physicians, and to obtain the best medical advice had gone to New York during the
summer, remaining there a month under the treatment of an eminent specialist. This, of course, had
been expensive and had absorbed the savings of years from a small salary; and when the time came
for her to return to Patesville, she was reduced, after paying her traveling expenses, to her last tendollar note.
"It is very fortunate," the great man had said at her last visit, "that circumstances permit you to live
in the South, for I am afraid you could not endure a Northern winter. You are getting along very well
now, and if you will take care of yourself and avoid excitement, you will be better." He said to himself
as she went away: "It's only a matter of time, but that is true about us all; and a wise physician does
as much good by what he withholds as by what he tells."
Miss Noble had not anticipated any trouble about the school. When she went away the same
committee of white men was in charge that had controlled the school since it had become part of the
public- school system of the State on the withdrawal of support from the Freedmen's Bureau. While
there had been no formal engagement made for the next year, when she had last seen the chairman

before she went away, he had remarked that she was looking rather fagged out, had bidden her goodby, and had hoped to see her much improved when she returned. She had left her house in the care
of the colored woman who lived with her and did her housework, assuming, of course, that she would
take up her work again in the autumn.
She was much surprised at first, and later alarmed, to find a rival for her position as teacher of the
grammar school. Many of her friends and pupils had called on her since her return, and she had met
a number of the people at the colored Methodist church, where she taught in the Sunday-school. She
had many friends and supporters, but she soon found out that her opponent had considerable
strength. There had been a time when she would have withdrawn and left him a clear field, but at the
present moment it was almost a matter of life and death to her--certainly the matter of earning a
living--to secure the appointment.
The other candidate was a young man who in former years had been one of Miss Noble's brightest
pupils. When he had finished his course in the grammar school, his parents, with considerable
sacrifice, had sent him to a college for colored youth. He had studied diligently, had worked
industriously during his vacations, sometimes at manual labor, sometimes teaching a country school,
and in due time had been graduated from his college with honors. He had come home at the end of
his school life, and was very naturally seeking the employment for which he had fitted himself. He
was a "bright" mulatto, with straight hair, an intelligent face, and a well-set figure. He had acquired
some of the marks of culture, wore a frock-coat and a high collar, parted his hair in the middle, and
showed by his manner that he thought a good deal of himself. He was the popular candidate among
the progressive element of his people, and rather confidently expected the appointment.
The meeting of the committee was held in the Methodist church, where, in fact, the grammar school
was taught, for want of a separate school-house. After the preliminary steps to effect an organization,
Mr. Gillespie, who had been elected chairman, took the floor.
"The principal business to be brought befo' the meet'n' this evenin'," he said, "is the selection of a
teacher for our grammar school for the ensuin' year. Two candidates have filed applications, which, if
there is no objection, I will read to the committee. The first is from Miss Noble, who has been the
teacher ever since the grammar school was started."
He then read Miss Noble's letter, in which she called attention to her long years of service, to her
need of the position, and to her affection for the pupils, and made formal application for the school
for the next year. She did not, from motives of self- respect, make known the extremity of her need;

nor did she mention the condition of her health, as it might have been used as an argument against
her retention.
Mr. Gillespie then read the application of the other candidate, Andrew J. Williams. Mr. Williams set
out in detail his qualifications for the position: his degree from Riddle University; his familiarity with
the dead and living languages and the higher mathematics; his views of discipline; and a peroration
in which he expressed the desire to devote himself to the elevation of his race and assist the march of
progress through the medium of the Patesville grammar school. The letter was well written in a bold,
round hand, with many flourishes, and looked very aggressive and overbearing as it lay on the table
by the side of the sheet of small note-paper in Miss Noble's faint and somewhat cramped
"You have heard the readin' of the applications," said the chairman. "Gentlemen, what is yo'
There being no immediate response, the chairman continued:
"As this is a matter of consid'able importance, involvin' not only the welfare of our schools, but the
progress of our race, an' as our action is liable to be criticized, whatever we decide, perhaps we had
better discuss the subjec' befo' we act. If nobody else has anything to obse've, I will make a few
Mr. Gillespie cleared his throat, and, assuming an oratorical attitude, proceeded:
"The time has come in the history of our people when we should stand together. In this age of
organization the march of progress requires that we help ourselves, or be forever left behind. Ever
since the war we have been sendin' our child'n to school an' educatin' 'em; an' now the time has come
when they are leavin' the schools an' colleges, an' are ready to go to work. An' what are they goin' to
do? The white people won't hire 'em as clerks in their sto's an' factories an' mills, an' we have no sto's
or factories or mills of our own. They can't be lawyers or doctors yet, because we haven't got the
money to send 'em to medical colleges an' law schools. We can't elect many of 'em to office, for
various reasons. There's just two things they can find to do-- to preach in our own pulpits, an' teach
in our own schools. If it wasn't for that, they'd have to go on forever waitin' on white folks, like their
fo'fathers have done, because they couldn't help it. If we expect our race to progress, we must educate
our young men an' women. If we want to encourage 'em to get education, we must find 'em
employment when they are educated. We have now an opportunity to do this in the case of our young
friend an' fellow- citizen, Mr. Williams, whose eloquent an' fine-lookin' letter ought to make us feel
proud of him an' of our race.

"Of co'se there are two sides to the question. We have got to consider the claims of Miss Noble. She
has been with us a long time an' has done much good work for our people, an' we'll never forget her
work an' frien'ship. But, after all, she has been paid for it; she has got her salary regularly an' for a
long time, an' she has probably saved somethin', for we all know she hasn't lived high; an', for all we
know, she may have had somethin' left her by her parents. An' then again, she's white, an' has got her
own people to look after her; they've got all the money an' all the offices an' all the everythin',--all
that they've made an' all that we've made for fo' hundred years,--an' they sho'ly would look out for
her. If she don't get this school, there's probably a dozen others she can get at the North. An' another
thing: she is gettin' rather feeble, an' it 'pears to me she's hardly able to stand teachin' so many
child'n, an' a long rest might be the best thing in the world for her.
"Now, gentlemen, that's the situation. Shall we keep Miss Noble, or shall we stand by our own
people? It seems to me there can hardly be but one answer. Self-preservation is the first law of
nature. Are there any other remarks?"
Old Abe was moving restlessly in his seat. He did not say anything, however, and the chairman
turned to the other member.
"Brother Cotten, what is yo' opinion of the question befo' the board?"
Mr. Cotten rose with the slowness and dignity becoming a substantial citizen, and observed:
"I think the remarks of the chairman have great weight. We all have nothin' but kind feelin's fer Miss
Noble, an' I came here to- night somewhat undecided how to vote on this question. But after listenin'
to the just an' forcible arguments of Brother Glaspy, it 'pears to me that, after all, the question befo'
us is not a matter of feelin', but of business. As a business man, I am inclined to think Brother Glaspy
is right. If we don't help ourselves when we get a chance, who is goin' to help us?"
"That bein' the case," said the chairman, "shall we proceed to a vote? All who favor the election of
Brother Williams--"
At this point Old Abe, with much preliminary shuffling, stood up in his place and interrupted the
"Mr. Chuhman," he said, "I s'pose I has a right ter speak in dis meet'n? I S'POSE I is a member er dis
"Certainly, Brother Johnson, certainly; we shall be glad to hear from you."

"I s'pose I's got a right ter speak my min', ef I is po' an' black, an' don' weah as good clo's as some
other members er de committee?"
"Most assuredly, Brother Johnson," answered the chairman, with a barber's suavity, "you have as
much right to be heard as any one else. There was no intention of cuttin' you off."
"I s'pose," continued Abe, "dat a man wid fo'teen child'n kin be 'lowed ter hab somethin' ter say 'bout
de schools er dis town?"
"I am sorry, Brother Johnson, that you should feel slighted, but there was no intention to igno' yo'
rights. The committee will be please' to have you ventilate yo' views."
"Ef it's all be'n an' done reco'nized an' 'cided dat I's got de right ter be heared in dis meet'n', I'll say
w'at I has ter say, an' it won't take me long ter say it. Ef I should try ter tell all de things dat Miss
Noble has done fer de niggers er dis town, it'd take me till ter-morrer mawnin'. Fer fifteen long yeahs
I has watched her incomin's an' her outgoin's. Her daddy was a Yankee kunnel, who died fighting fer
ou' freedom. She come heah when we--yas, Mr. Chuhman, when you an' Br'er Cotten--was jes sot
free, an' when none er us didn' have a rag ter ou' backs. She come heah, an' she tuk yo' child'n an' my
child'n, an' she teached 'em sense an' manners an' religion an' book-l'arnin'. When she come heah we
didn' hab no chu'ch. Who writ up No'th an' got a preacher sent to us, an' de fun's ter buil' dis same
chu'ch-house we're settin' in ter-night? Who got de money f'm de Bureau to s'port de school? An'
when dat was stop', who got de money f'm de Peabody Fun'? Talk about Miss Noble gittin' a sal'ry!
Who paid dat sal'ry up ter five years ago? Not one dollah of it come outer ou' pockets!
"An' den, w'at did she git fer de yuther things she done? Who paid her fer de gals she kep' f'm
throwin' deyse'ves away? Who paid fer de boys she kep' outer jail? I had a son dat seemed to hab
made up his min' ter go straight ter hell. I made him go ter Sunday-school, an' somethin' dat woman
said teched his heart, an' he behaved hisse'f, an' I ain' got no reason fer ter be 'shame' er 'im. An' I
can 'member, Br'er Cotten, when you didn' own fo' houses an' a fahm. An' when yo' fus wife was sick,
who sot by her bedside an' read de Good Book ter 'er, w'en dey wuzn' nobody else knowed how ter
read it, an' comforted her on her way across de col', dahk ribber? An' dat ain' all I kin 'member, Mr.
Chuhman! When yo' gal Fanny was a baby, an' sick, an' nobody knowed what was de matter wid 'er,
who sent fer a doctor, an' paid 'im fer comin', an' who he'ped nuss dat chile, an' tol' yo' wife w'at ter
do, an' save' dat chile's life, jes as sho' as de Lawd has save' my soul?
"An' now, aftuh fifteen yeahs o' slavin' fer us, who ain't got no claim on her, aftuh fifteen yeahs dat
she has libbed 'mongs' us an' made herse'f one of us, an' endyoed havin' her own people look down
on her, aftuh she has growed ole an' gray wukkin' fer us an' our child'n, we talk erbout turnin' 'er out

like a' ole hoss ter die! It 'pears ter me some folks has po' mem'ries! Whar would we 'a' be'n ef her
folks at de No'th hadn' 'membered us no bettuh? An' we hadn' done nothin', neither, fer dem to
'member us fer. De man dat kin fergit w'at Miss Noble has done fer dis town is unworthy de name er
nigger! He oughter die an' make room fer some 'spectable dog!
"Br'er Glaspy says we got a' educated young man, an' we mus' gib him sump'n' ter do. Let him wait;
ef I reads de signs right he won't hab ter wait long fer dis job. Let him teach in de primary schools, er
in de country; an' ef he can't do dat, let 'im work awhile. It don't hahm a' educated man ter work a
little; his fo'fathers has worked fer hund'eds of years, an' we's worked, an' we're heah yet, an' we're
free, an' we's gettin' ou' own houses an' lots an' hosses an' cows--an' ou' educated young men. But
don't let de fus thing we do as a committee be somethin' we ought ter be 'shamed of as long as we lib.
I votes fer Miss Noble, fus, las', an' all de time!"
When Old Abe sat down the chairman's face bore a troubled look. He remembered how his baby girl,
the first of his children that he could really call his own, that no master could hold a prior claim
upon, lay dying in the arms of his distracted young wife, and how the thin, homely, and short-sighted
white teacher had come like an angel into his cabin, and had brought back the little one from the
verge of the grave. The child was a young woman now, and Gillespie had well-founded hopes of
securing the superior young Williams for a son-in-law; and he realized with something of shame that
this later ambition had so dazzled his eyes for a moment as to obscure the memory of earlier days.
Mr. Cotten, too, had not been unmoved, and there were tears in his eyes as he recalled how his first
wife, Nancy, who had borne with him the privations of slavery, had passed away, with the teacher's
hand in hers, before she had been able to enjoy the fruits of liberty. For they had loved one another
much, and her death had been to them both a hard and bitter thing. And, as Old Abe spoke, he could
remember, as distinctly as though they had been spoken but an hour before, the words of comfort
that the teacher had whispered to Nancy in her dying hour and to him in his bereavement.
"On consideration, Mr. Chairman," he said, with an effort to hide a suspicious tremor in his voice
and to speak with the dignity consistent with his character as a substantial citizen, "I wish to record
my vote fer Miss Noble."
"The chair," said Gillespie, yielding gracefully to the majority, and greatly relieved that the
responsibility of his candidate's defeat lay elsewhere, "will make the vote unanimous, and will
appoint Brother Cotten and Brother Johnson a committee to step round the corner to Miss Noble's
and notify her of her election."

The two committeemen put on their hats, and, accompanied by several people who had been waiting
at the door to hear the result of the meeting, went around the corner to Miss Noble's house, a
distance of a block or two away. The house was lighted, so they knew she had not gone to bed. They
went in at the gate, and Cotten knocked at the door.
The colored maid opened it.
"Is Miss Noble home?" said Cotten.
'Yes; come in. She's waitin' ter hear from the committee."
The woman showed them into the parlor. Miss Noble rose from her seat by the table, where she had
been reading, and came forward to meet them. They did not for a moment observe, as she took a step
toward them, that her footsteps wavered. In her agitation she was scarcely aware of it herself.
"Miss Noble," announced Cotten, "we have come to let you know that you have be'n 'lected teacher of
the grammar school fer the next year."
"Thank you; oh, thank you so much!" she said. "I am very glad. Mary"--she put her hand to her side
suddenly and tottered--"Mary, will you--"
A spasm of pain contracted her face and cut short her speech. She would have fallen had Old Abe not
caught her and, with Mary's help, laid her on a couch.
The remedies applied by Mary, and by the physician who was hastily summoned, proved unavailing.
The teacher did not regain consciousness.
If it be given to those whose eyes have closed in death to linger regretfully for a while about their
earthly tenement, or from some higher vantage-ground to look down upon it, then Henrietta Noble's
tolerant spirit must have felt, mingling with its regret, a compensating thrill of pleasure; for not only
those for whom she had labored sorrowed for her, but the people of her own race, many of whom, in
the blindness of their pride, would not admit during her life that she served them also, saw so much
clearer now that they took charge of her poor clay, and did it gentle reverence, and laid it tenderly
away amid the dust of their own loved and honored dead.
TWO weeks after Miss Noble's funeral the other candidate took charge of the grammar school, which
went on without any further obstacles to the march of progress.

The Billionaire
Maxim Gorkiy

The kings of steel, of petroleum, and all the other kings of the United States have always in
a high degree excited my power of imagination. It seemed to me certain that these people
who possess so much money could not be like other mortals.

The Billionaire
by Maxim Gorkiy
The kings of steel, of petroleum, and all the other kings of the United States have always
in a high degree excited my power of imagination. It seemed to me certain that these
people who possess so much money could not be like other mortals.
Each of them (so I said to myself) must call his own, at least, three stomachs and a
hundred and fifty teeth. I did not doubt that the millionaire ate without intermission,
from six o'clock in the morning till midnight. It goes without saying, the most exquisite
and sumptuous viands! Toward evening, then, he must be tired of the hard chewing, to
such a degree that (so I pictured to myself) he gave orders to his servants to digest the
meals that he had swallowed with satisfaction during the day. Completely limp, covered
with sweat and almost suffocated, he had to be put to bed by his servants, in order that
on the next morning at six o'clock he might be able to begin again his work of eating.
Nevertheless, it must be impossible for such a man -- whatever pains he might take -- to
consume merely the half of the interest of his wealth.
To be sure, such a life is awful, but what is one to do? For what is one a millionaire -what am I saying? -- a billionaire, if one cannot eat more than every other common
mortal! I pictured to myself that this privileged being wore cloth-of-gold underclothing,
shoes with gold nails, and instead of a hat a diadem of diamonds on his head. His
clothes, made of the most expensive velvet, must be at least fifty feet long and fastened
with three hundred gold buttons; and on holidays he must be compelled by dire
necessity to put on over each other six pairs of costly trousers. Such a costume is
certainly very uncomfortable. But, if one is rich like that, one can't after all dress like all
the world.

The pocket of a billionaire, I pictured to myself so big that therein easily a church or the
whole senate could find room. The paunch of such a gentleman I conceived to myself
like the hull of an ocean steamer, the length and breadth of which I was not able to think
out. Of the bulk, too, of a billionaire I could never give myself a clear idea; but I
supposed that the coverlet under which he sleeps measures a dozen hundred square
yards. If he chews tobacco, it was unquestionably only the best kind, of which he always
sticks two pounds at a time into his mouth. And on taking snuff (I thought to myself) he
must use up a pound at a pinch. Indeed, money will be spent!
His fingers must possess the magic power of lengthening at will. In spirit, I saw a New
York billionaire as he stretched out his hand across Bering Strait and brought back a
dollar that had rolled somewhere toward Siberia, without especially exerting himself
Curiously, I could form to myself no clear conception of the head of this monster. In this
organism consisting of gigantic muscles and bones that is made for squeezing money out
of all things, a head seemed to me really quite superfluous.
Who, now, can conceive my astonishment when, standing facing one of these fabulous
beings, I arrived at the conviction that a billionaire is a human being like all the rest!
I saw there comfortably reclining in an armchair a long, wizened old man, who held his
brown, sinewy hands folded across a body of quite ordinary dimensions. The flabby skin
of his face was carefully shaved. The underlip, which hung loosely down, covered solidly
built jaws, in which gilded teeth were stuck. The upper lip, smooth, narrow and pallid,
scarcely moved when the old man spoke. Colorless eyes without brows, a perfectly bald
skull. It might be thought that a little skin was wanting to this reddish face, to this
countenance that was expressionless and puckered like that of one new-born. Was this
being just beginning its life, or was it already nearing its end?
Nothing in his dress distinguished him from the ordinary mortal. A ring, a watch, and
his teeth were all the gold he carried with him. Scarcely half a pound, all told! Taken
altogether, the appearance of the man recalled that of an old servant of an aristocratic
family in Europe.
The furnishing of the room in which he received me had nothing unusually luxurious
about it. The furniture was solid; that is all that can be said. Oftentimes elephants

probably come into this house, I involuntarily thought at the sight of the heavy,
substantial pieces of furniture.
'Are you the billionaire?' I asked, since I could not trust my eyes.
'Yes, indeed,' he answered, nodding convincingly with his head.
'How much meat can you consume for breakfast?'
'I eat no meat in the morning,' he avowed. 'A quarter of an orange, an egg, a small cup of
tea, that's all . . .'
His innocent child's-eyes blinked with a feeble luster, like two drops of muddy water.
'Good,' I began again, half disconcerted. 'But be honest with me; tell me the truth. How
often in the day do you eat?'
'Twice,' he answered, peacefully. 'Breakfast and dinner suffice me. At noon I take soup, a
little white meat, vegetables, fruit, a cup of coffee, a cigar . . .'
My surprise grew apace. I drew breath, and went on:
'But, if that's true, what do you do with your money?'
'Make more money!'
'What for?'
'To make more money out of that!'
'What for?' I repeated.
He leaned toward me, his hands supported by the arms of his chair, and with some
curiosity in his expression he said:
'You are probably cracked?'
'And you?' I said . . .
The old man inclined his head, and, whistling softly through the gold of his teeth, he

'Droll wag! . . . You are the first human being of your species that I ever became
acquainted with.'
Then he bent his head back and looked at me some time, silently and scrutinizingly.
'What do you do?' I began again.
'Make money,' he answered, shortly.
'Oh, you're a counterfeiter!' I exclaimed, joyfully, for I thought I had finally got to the
bottom of the mystery. But the billionaire flew into a passion. His whole body shook, his
eyes rolled actively.
'That is unheard of!' he said, when he had calmed down. Then he inflated his cheeks, I
don't know why.
I considered, and put further the following question to him:
'How do you make money?'
'Oh, that's very simple. I possess railroads; the farmers produce useful commodities,
which I transport to the markets. I calculate exactly to myself how much money I must
leave the farmer, in order that he may not starve and be able to produce further. The
rest I keep myself as transportation charges. That's surely very simple!'
'And are the farmers satisfied with it?'
'Not all, I believe,' he answered, with a nave childishness. 'But they say that the people
are never satisfied. There are always odd characters who want still more . . .'