Modern Fable

It was 1892. A student was struggling to pay his university fees. He was an orphan. He came up with an idea. A friend and he decided to host a musical concert on campus to raise money. They reached out to the great pianist Ignacy J. Paderewski. His manager demanded a guaranteed fee of

$2000 for the piano recital. A deal was struck and the boys began to work to make the concert a success.

The big day arrived. Paderewski performed at Stanford. But they had not managed to sell enough tickets. The total collection was only $1600. They went to Paderewski and explained their troubles. They gave him the entire $1600, plus a cheque for the balance. They promised to honour the cheque as soon as possible.

‘No,’ said Paderewski. ‘This is not acceptable.’ He tore up the cheque, returned the $1600 and told the two boys: ‘Here’s the $1600. Please deduct whatever expenses you have incurred. Keep the money you need for your fees. And just give me whatever is left”. The boys thanked him generously.

Paderewski later went on to become the Prime Minister of Poland. He was a great leader, but when the World War began, Poland was ravaged. People were starving, and had no money to feed them. Paderewski reached out to the US Food and Relief Administration for help. The head there was a man called Herbert Hoover – who later went on to become the US President. Hoover agreed to help quickly with tons of food grains.

A calamity was averted. When Paderewski began to thank Hoover for his noble gesture, Hoover said, ‘You shouldn’t be thanking me Mr Prime Minister. You may not remember this, but several years ago, you helped two young students go through college in the US. I was one of them.’

Kind people don’t do it expecting something in return. They do it because they feel it’s the right thing to do.

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