A Glass of Milk


Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

As a poor student, Howard Kelly supported himself by selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. It did not always go well. One day he was very hungry but found that he had only a few cents in his pocket. He decided to ask for a glass of milk at the next house but when he saw who came to the door, a lovely young woman, he wouldn’t dare. He just asked for a glass of water.

But she said, “You look hungry to me; I will bring you a glass of milk.”

He drank it with great pleasure and asked, “How much do I owe you?”

— “You don’t owe me anything! My parents taught me never to accept money for an act of kindness.”

— “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As he left that house Howard not only felt better but also encouraged by the assurance that there were good people in the world. He had already thought that he might have to give up his studies and get a job to support himself, but that experience persuaded him not to do it.

Many years later that same young woman became seriously ill. The local doctors tried everything they knew, but could not help her. So she was taken by ambulance to the big city hospital. Dr. Howard Kelly, now department head, immediately recognized her. He took personal care of her. After a long struggle, she was completely cured.

On the day she was released from the hospital she received the bill and was afraid to open it. She was sure that she would have to pay for the rest of her life for this long and expensive treatment. But the big amount was crossed out and underneath was written,

“Paid in full with a glass of milk.”
(Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly


Dietrich Fischer (1941-2015) from Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations. He was co-founder, with Johan Galtung, of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment in 1993.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Aug 2018.

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