Arnold Bennett visited Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw in his apartment and, knowing his host's love of flowers, was surprised that there was not a single vase of flowers to be seen. He remarked on their absence to Shaw: "But I thought you were so fond of flowers."
"I am," said Shaw, "and I'm very fond of children, too, but I don't chop their heads off and stand them in pots about the house.
On May 4, 1897, Duchesse d'Alençon was presiding over a charity bazaar in Paris when the hall accidentally caught fire. Flames spread to the paper decorations and flimsy walls of the booths, and in seconds the place was an inferno. In the hideous panic that followed, many women and children were trampled as they rushed for the exits, while the workmen from a nearby site performed incredible acts of heroism, rushing into the blaze to carry out the trapped women. Some rescuers reached the duchess, who had remained calmly seated behind her booth. "Because of my title, I was the first to enter here. I shall be the last to go out," she said, rejecting their offer of help. She stayed and was burned to death, along with more than 120 others, mainly women and children.
In 1941 Sergeant James Allen Ward was awarded the Victoria Cross for climbing out onto the wing of his Wellington bomber at thirteen thousand feet to extinguish a fire in the starboard engine. Secured only by a rope around his waist, he smothered the fire and returned along the wing to the aircraft's cabin. Winston Churchill, an admirer of swashbuckling exploits, summoned the shy New Zealander to 10 Downing Street. Struck dumb with awe in Churchill's presence, Ward was unable to answer the prime minister's questions. Churchill surveyed the unhappy hero with some compassion. "You must feel very humble and awkward in my presence," he said.
"Yes, sir," managed Ward.
"Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours," said Churchill.
His books having brought in little revenue, Anatole France was still a poor man when he was awarded the cross of the Legion of Honor. His friends sympathized with his plight; one of them suggested that it would have been more generous to have given the writer a cash prize instead of the cross, which served no useful purpose. "Oh, I wouldn't say that," said France. "When I wear the sash, it will cover the stain on my jacket. That's useful.
Photographer Yousuf Karsh and his wife were having lunch with astronaut Neil Armstrong after a photo session. Armstrong politely questioned the couple about the many different countries they had visited. "But, Mr. Armstrong," protested Mrs. Karsh, "you've walked on the moon. We want to hear about your travels."
"But that's the only place I've ever been," replied Armstrong apologetically.
I thought I wanted his love, but really I wanted his pity. I wanted to quit. But he wouldn't let me. "A good doctor can cure your illness, but only the greatest doctor can show you you were never sick," Roshi has said.