The College Boy and the Musician

The College Boy and the Musician

Someday you may go to college like Herb and Bill who were friends attending a college in California called Stanford University. These two boys did not have much money, and so they had to struggle to earn their way through college. They had to think how they could earn hundreds of dollars to pay their college bills. Fortunately they were full of bright ideas.

One day Herb, who was reading the newspaper, looked up and said to Bill, "Oh, Bill, I know a way out of our trouble. I know how we can earn loads of money. The world's greatest piano player is going to visit America. His name is Paderewski, and he comes from Poland. Let us ask him to come here and we will have a great concert. Everyone wants to hear Paderewski play the piano, he is so marvelous."

Bill jumped up from his chair, slapped Herb on the back, and said, "Marvelous, I am with you!" They ran to the Western Union and sent a wire to the master musician. He agreed to come and play, but the price he charged was very big—$1,600 for the one night. The two boys dashed around and hired a big hall, had tickets printed and flaming posters made, inviting everyone to come to the concert and buy a ticket. It was the biggest thing the two boys ever had tried to do together. They did well, but not as well as they had expected.

When the great concert was over and they had counted how much money they had taken in and how much money they had left after paying for the posters, tickets, and hall they had rented, they had only $1,200 left. They needed $400 more to make good their promise to pay Mr. Paderewski the $1,600. They were beside themselves with fear. "What shall we do?" they asked each other.

Bill said, "They say these great musicians demand their rights."

"I hope we don't get put in jail for not paying our bills," said Herb. "I'll tell you what we will do. We will write out a promise on a piece of paper that we will pay $400 more to Mr. Paderewski as soon as we can earn the money."

"Yes," said Bill, "but how are we going to earn that money?"

The two boys went to the room at the back of the stage trembling and afraid. They frankly told Mr. Paderewski they were $400 short. They paid him $1,200 and then handed him the paper with the promise to pay $400 more. How surprised they were when Mr. Paderewski smilingly tore up the promise to pay $400 more, and said, "That is all right, boys. I know you are trying to earn your way through college, and you just forget that $400." But they were even more surprised when Mr. Paderewski counted out $600 from the $1,200 they had given him and said, "Here, boys, you need this money more than I do. I want you to take $600 to help you pay your way through college." Herb and Bill had never dreamed that the great musician was such a sensitive, kind man. They had only thought he was a great musician.

Many, many years went by and they only heard of Mr. Paderewski through the newspapers. They learned that the great musician had become a great statesman and was now the Prime Minister of Poland. Herb became a famous man, too, and when a great world war broke over the nations, he was made American Relief Administrator to ship wheat and other food to the poor, starving people of Europe. Herb got word that the people of Poland were hungry and starving in a great famine, with their children crying for bread. So Mr. Herbert Hoover, for that was Herb's real name, sent big shiploads of wheat to Poland.

Now to whom do you suppose he addressed the wheat? To the Prime Minister, of course, Mr. Paderewski! Herbert Hoover had not forgotten how Paderewski had helped him when he was a college student at Stanford University. Now he had a chance to help Mr. Paderewski and all his starving friends. Even then, Mr. Paderewski hadn't the faintest idea that he had ever met or known Mr. Herbert Hoover.

One day, Mr. Hoover flew over to Paris. When Mr. Paderewski heard this, he flew down to Paris to thank Mr. Hoover for saving the people of Poland from starvation. Now it was Mr. Paderewski's turn to be surprised. Mr. Hoover shook hands with him warmly and said, "You don't remember me, but I have never forgotten you and your kindness. I was just a stranger to you—a college boy in California, but that $1,000 you gave us back that night after the concert many years ago helped me to remember always to be kind to other people."

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