Page:Crainquebille, Putois, Riquet and other profitable tales, 1915.djvu/246

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232
EDMÉE, OR CHARITY WELL BESTOWED

“But that is precisely what I object to. I do not want the rich to have pity on the poor.”

“Curious!”

“No, it is not curious, but scientific. In my opinion the pity of the rich for the poor is an insult and a denial of human brotherhood. If you wish me to address the rich I shall say: ‘Spare the poor your pity: they have no use for it. Wherefore pity and not justice? You have an account with them. Settle it. This is no question of sentiment. It is a matter of economics. If that which you are pleased to give them is calculated to prolong their poverty and your wealth, the gift is iniquitous and the tears you mingle with it will not render it just. “You must make restitution,” as the attorney said to the judge after good Brother Maillard’s sermon. You give alms in order to avoid making restitution. You give a little in order to keep much, and you gloat over it. For a like reason the tyrant of Samos threw his ring into the sea. But the Nemesis of the gods declined to receive the offering. A fisherman brought back the tyrant his ring in a fish’s belly. And Polycrates was despoiled of all his wealth’.”

“You are joking.”

“I am not joking. I want to make the rich understand that they are benevolent on the cheap,