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On Millionaires

“The air is filled,” said Mr. Murphy, “with the weeping and screaming of millionaires.”

“No doubt they are being fearfully abused,” said Mr. O’Brien.

“They object to the relief that is being paid to poor people.”

“’Tis a cruel government that will oppress the rich by feeding the unemployed, Murphy.”

“My heart aches for them, O’Brien. There are 11 million men unemployed and 23 million men, women and children dependent on relief. Yet all I read in the papers is the suffering of millionaires.”

“No one suffers so loudly as a millionaire, Murphy.”

“They are very sensitive people indeed.”

“You know, Murphy, relief has always seemed to me like providing a chair in which the unemployed can sit down and wait for the depression to be over – a plain wooden chair at that.”

“So it is, O’Brien. And now the millionaires wish to put a tack in the seat.”

“What is the object of that?”

“So they won’t sit there so long, I suppose. It is their theory that the unemployed should be made as uncomfortable as possible. In that manner they will be forced to go out and get jobs.”

“How in the name of heaven can they get jobs when there are none? Every job that turns up is grabbed instantly. Indeed, they stand in lines a block long and trample each other just for the opportunity of signing an application.”

“You take what millionaires call the sentimental or emotional view of things, O’Brien. In their opinion every man can make a success of himself if he will and it’s his own fault if he doesn’t.”

“Do they really believe that, Murphy?”

“They do indeed. That is why they are constantly psychoanalyzing the jobless to find out what there is in their personalities or early training that makes them unemployed.”

“By heaven, Murphy, you’d have me believe the millionaires are idiots.”

“They are not very bright, O’Brien. They have been so busy making money they had little time to develop their brains.”

“I have heard it said, Murphy, that there is nothing can be done about the injustice of society because if you divide up all the things of the earth today, the rich would have it all back again tomorrow; that some men are just naturally smarter than others.”

“That is another belief of the millionaires. They would like to make the size of a man’s bank account the measure of his intelligence, because that is the only thing they’ve got.”

“But what about this dividing up the world and then a few men quickly getting it all back again.”

“No one can question the ability of the rich to gather all things unto themselves, Murphy. They’re very good at it – so good that the average man has no chance of hanging on to a dollar. They’ve made money so efficiently that a third of the population is bled white. The question I’m asking is, what are the rest of us supposed to do now that they’ve got it?”

“That is something I have never seen considered.”

“It’s this way, O’Brien. Having gathered everything unto themselves they are amazed that the other people have nothing. It’s like stealing a man’s hat and then wondering why he’s not wearing it. They hang ‘no help wanted’ signs on all the doors and then tell the unemployed, ‘now, you lazy bum, why don’t you go to work?’”

“The world’s all taken up, Murphy, and anyone who is born from now is too late. They should have come while the grabbing was good.”

“In the opinion of millionaires, O’Brien, God Almighty created the earth as a great real estate development and sent Henry Ford and J. P. Morgan down here to make it pay.”

“That’s a lie, Murphy. The earth was made for all of us and we should own it together and share it together. We should take care of it and improve it and turn it into a great garden for the enjoyment of all.”

“Be careful who you let hear you talk that way, O’Brien. That’s out and out communism.”


On Marriage

“I have decided,” said Mr. O’Brien, “to get married.” He paused for considerable time. “That is, I am thinking of deciding.”

“Have you probed the matter to its depths?” asked Mr. Murphy.

“I beg your pardon?”

“In other words, have you considered all aspects of the situation?”

“Well, I have thought of it around and about.”

“And what makes you hesitate?”

“’Tis a big step.”

“To the contrary,” said Murphy, “’tis the end of your stepping. From then on, O’Brien, you will sit home and behave yourself.”

“And what’s wrong with that?”

“Hold on, O’Brien. ‘Tis you who are hesitating. Not me.”

“I suppose you are right.”

“And who is the lady?”

“Mary Dugan.”

“The fat little thing you met at the Labor Day picnic?”

“Indeed, Murphy, I’d like to know what’s fat about her?”

“Well, you ought to know, O’Brien.”

“A fine substantial girl. Not thin, not fat. Just right, you must say.”

“Will you describe the symptoms, O’Brien?”

“’Tis this way. Suddenly I felt good as I woke in the morning, whistled as I put my shirt on. I felt more interested in life immediately, Murphy.”

“Get on with it, O’Brien. What else?”

“I began to notice things I’d paid no attention to before. The color of the grass, the smell of the flowers, the look of the sky and the clouds and the moon and the stars.”

“How’s your appetite?”

“Nothing to speak of, Murphy.”

“’Tis love apparently, but I can’t be sure. What else?”

“Well, I feel younger and highly optimistic. I feel like singing a great deal of the while.”

“All likely signs, O’Brien.”

“Then there’s Mary. If I go for a walk, I find myself walking in the direction of her house. No matter what I start thinking about, she looms up in it.”

“You’ve got it, O’Brien. You’ve got it bad.”

“What do you think I’d better do?”

“Have you tried keeping away from her house?”

“I did, and what do you think? I tricked myself, Murphy.”

“What do you mean, you tricked yourself?”

“One-half of me invent necessary reasons why I had to go by there, and convince the rest of me. I found myself wasting time thinking up convincing reasons and arguing them to myself so I could visit her and, at the same time tell myself it was unavoidable.”

“That clinches it, O’Brien. You’re gone completely.”

“What shall I do, Murphy? You know I can’t afford a wife.”

“You’re beyond advice.”

“But I can’t afford it, Murphy.”

“Don’t be a fool, O’Brien. Who the devil can? If only the people who could afford to do so got married the birth rate would fall to nothing. Either that or we’d all be illegitimates.”

“Come to think of it, my own father and mother could ill afford it.”


“If it comes to that, O’Brien, few of us can afford to live and ‘tis sheer extravagance that we’re walking around.”

“Then I suppose I might as well.”

“Good heavens, there’s no reason to look so sad about it.”

“Ah, but there’s something else.”

“And what might that be?”

“I haven’t asked her, Murphy. I haven’t asked her.”

Mike Quin

/From Introducing Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Murphy/



Set Work


I. Explain what is meant by:

To put sb through college, a labour-saving gadget, to throw sb out of work, to walk on sb, to live off the splendid success of sb, to strangle oneself with economy, to support sb in luxury and elegance, to rub some magic ointment on sb, to get rich on the end of a shovel, to be on the relief rolls, thick-headed parents, to pass the buck to the cradle, to let the world go to hell, to lend a hand, to graduate into a job instead of a breadline.


II. Find in the text the English for:

Быстро, стоять на чьем-то пути, достичь невероятного успеха, овсяная каша, быть обремененным чем-либо, морить себя голодом, лопата, черепок, полагаться на, возлагать надежды на кого-л, балбес, достичь цели, приводить в порядок, очередь за благотворительной помощью.


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Читайте в этой же книге: Part II. Student Life | Британская школа меняет имидж, но остается верной традициям. | I’m Counting Every Penny | О бедном абитуриенте замолвите слово | University Challenge | IV. Make up a summary of the article. | V. Comment on the choice of the headline. | В колледже и вокруг него | Degrees Getting Too Easy, Say Inspectors | The Fees Rebel Ruling Cambridge |
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