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A Tale of Two Millionaires – Intermediate (Comprehension)

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Read the story of these two very different people then answer the ten questions that follow. The first five questions are comprehension questions and the next five (6-10) are multiple-choice. Click below the text for the comprehension answers.

Lesson by Shaun

Milton Petrie

Every morning billionaire Milton Petrie walked from his New York apartment and bought a newspaper from a ragged old man on the street corner.

One morning the man wasn’t there. Petrie learned that he was very ill and was in the city hospital. Immediately, Petrie went to the hospital and paid for the old man’s medical bills. Later, when the old man died, Petrie also paid for his funeral.

The old man was just one of many people that Milton Petrie helped with his money. Whenever he read about personal disasters in the newspaper, Petrie sent generous checks, especially to the families of police officers or fire fighters injured at work. He also sent checks to a mother who lost five children in a fire, and a beautiful model, whose face was cut in a knife attack.

It cost him millions of dollars, but he still had millions left. He said that he was lucky in business and he wanted to help those less fortunate than himself. “The nice thing is, the harder I work, the more money I can make, and the more people I can help.”

Milton Petrie died in 1994 when he was 92. His will was 120 pages long because he left $150 million to 383 people. His widow, Carroll, his fourth and last wife, said his generosity was a result of the poverty of his early years. His family was poor but kind-hearted. His father was a Russian immigrant who became a police officer, but he never arrested anyone because he was too kind. He couldn’t even give out a parking ticket.

Hetty Green

Henrietta (Hetty) Green was a very spoiled only child. She was born in Massachusetts in 1835. Her father was a millionaire businessman. Her mother was often ill, so from the age of two, her father took her with him to work and taught her about stocks and bonds. At the age of six, she started reading the daily financial newspapers and she opened her own bank account.

Her father died when she was 21, and she inherited $7.5 million. She went to New York and invested on Wall Street. Hetty saved every penny, even eating diner in the cheapest restaurants she could find. She became one of the richest and most hated women in the world. She was called “The Witch of Wall Street.” At 33, she married Edward Green, a multi-millionaire, and had two children, Ned and Sylvia.

Hetty’s stinginess was legendary. She always argued about prices in stores. She walked to the local grocery store to buy broken cookies that were much cheaper, and to get a free bone for her much loved dog, Dewey. Once she lost a two-cent stamp and spent the whole night looking for it. She hardly ever bought new clothes and often wore the same long ragged black skirt.

Worst of all, when her son, Ned, fell and injured his knee, she refused to pay for a doctor and spent hours looking for free medical help. In the end Ned’s leg was amputated. When she died in 1916 she left her children $100 million (worth $9.3 billion today). Her daughter built a hospital with her money.

Comprehension

  1. How were Milton and Hetty’s childhoods different?
  2. How did their childhoods affect them later?
  3. Why was Milton especially generous to police officers?
  4. Why did Hetty’s daughter build a hospital?
  5. What was the kindest thing Milton did?

Click Here For Answers

  • 6. Every morning billionaire Milton Petrie walked from his New York ___ and bought a newspaper from a ragged old man on the street corner.





  • 7. The old man was just one of many ___ that Milton Petrie helped with his money.





  • 8. At the age of six, Hetty started reading the daily financial ___ and she opened her own bank account.





  • 9. Her father died when she was 21, and she ___ $7.5 million.





  • 10. When Hetty Green died, her daughter ___ with her money.