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The Human Telegraph part 2

25/08/2019 | GM6 | No Comments

That evening the counselor was a caller at the home of Mr. Z —, whose entire life was passed in performing trifling services to such representatives of humanity as comprise Classes VII to III of the official hierarchy. In his desire to please, the counselor related to Mr. Z what the Countess had witnessed at the Orphanage and what she had heard from the representative of the religious sisterhood. He added his own contribution that—ah—yes—that—really, books ought to be provided for the orphans.

“Nothing is simpler!” cried Mr. Z. “To-morrow I am going to the office of the Courier and I’ll see to it that an announcement of the book needs of the Orphanage is published.”

The next day Mr. Z very excitedly rushed into the editorial rooms of the Courier, imploring in the name of all the saints that it print an appeal to the public to donate books to the orphans.

He arrived at an opportune moment, for the paper needed matter for a few sensation-stirring lines. The reporter sat down at once and prepared an article headed: “A handful of children—under public care— suffering for lack of books.—The little tots are full of yearning.—Remember their famished souls!”

Then, whistling in satisfaction, he left for dinner.

Few days later on a Sunday

A few days later on a Sunday, arriving with my friend, the physics professor, I encountered before the locked door of the editorial office a shabbily dressed man with hands as soiled as a chimney-sweep’s and beside him a pale, thin little girl, illy clad, carrying a bundle of old books.

“What do you wish, sir?”

The sooty man raised his cap and answered timidly: “We have brought a few books, sir, for those ‘famished’ children that you wrote about.”

The emaciated little girl curtsied and flushed as much as incipient anaemia permitted her to.

I took the books from her arms and put them in charge of the office- boy.

“What is your name, sir?” I asked.

“But, sir, what do you wish it for?” he responded, in embarrassment.

“Why, we must, of course, print the name of the donor of the books.”

“Oh, that isn’t necessary, please, sir. I am only a poor man working in the hat-factory. It isn’t necessary.”

And he went away with his thin little daughter.

Maybe it was because the professor of physics stood beside me that the thought of telegraphing by a new system occurred to me. The main station was the Orphanage, the receiving station the workman in the hat-factory. When the first gave the signal, “Attention,” the second responded immediately. When one demanded, the other supplied. The rest of us were the telegraph poles.

The Human Telegraph part 1

25/08/2019 | GM6 | No Comments

Boleslav Prus (Alexander Glowacki) (1847-1912)

Alexander Glowacki, known and loved among his people under the pen-name Prus, was born near Lublin in Poland, in 1847. His first novel was published in 1872, and from that time until his death in 1912, his literary activities were uninterrupted. He was a very prolific writer.

“He believed in humanity, in civilization, in the creative power of good and light. He demanded national self-education… he yearned for the training of the will of the people, to whom he proclaimed that each man must find in himself the source of strength and energy.” Prus’s short stories are especially characteristic of the man’s nature and art.

This story is translated—for the first time into English—by Sarka B. Hrbkova, by whose permission it is here printed.

The Human Telegraph

On her visit to the Orphanage recently the Countess X witnessed an extraordinary scene. She beheld four boys wrangling over a tom book and pounding each other promiscuously with right sturdy and effective fists.

“Why, children, children—what does this mean—you are fighting!” cried the lady, greatly shocked. “For that—not one of you will get a taste of gingerbread and, besides, you’ll have to go and kneel in the comer.”

“He took Robinson Crusoe away from me,” one boy ventured in extenuation of his offense.

“That’s a lie! He took it himself!” burst out another.

“See how you lie!” shrieked a third boy at him. “Why you yourself took Robinson away from me!”

The Sister in charge explained to the Countess that in spite of the most watchful supervision similar scenes occurred often, because the children loved to read and the Orphanage lacked books.

A spark of some strange sensation lighted up the heart of the Countess. But as thinking wearied her, she strove to forget it. Not until some days later, when she was a guest at the home of the Chief Counselor where one had to discuss religious and philanthropic subjects, did it occur to her to mention it. Then she related at length the incident at the Orphanage and the explanation given by the Sister in charge.

The counselor, listening attentively, also experienced an odd sensation, and being more adept in thinking, he suggested that it would be a good idea to send some books to the orphans. In fact, he recalled that in his bookcases or in his trunk he had a whole collection of volumes going to waste which in bygone years he had purchased for his own children. But then—it was too laborious a task for him to go rummaging around to gather up the books.