Fables (Stevenson)/The Sick Man and the Fireman
THE SICK MAN AND THE FIREMAN.
THERE was once a sick man in a burning house, to whom there entered a fireman.
"Do not save me," said the sick man. "Save those who are strong."
"Will you kindly tell me why?" inquired the fireman, for he was a civil fellow.
"Nothing could possibly be fairer," said the sick man. "The strong should be preferred in all cases, because they are of more service in the world."
The fireman pondered a while, for he was a man of some philosophy. "Granted," said he at last, as a part of the roof fell in; "but for the sake of conversation, what would you lay down as the proper service of the strong?"
"Nothing can possibly be easier," returned the sick man: "the proper service of the strong is to help the weak."
Again the fireman reflected, for there was nothing hasty about this excellent creature. "I could forgive you being sick," he said at last, as a portion of the wall fell out, "but I cannot bear your being such a fool." And with that he heaved up his fireman's axe, for he was eminently just, and clove the sick man to the bed.