By David Footman
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Extra resources for Antonin Besse of Aden: The Founder of St Antony’s College Oxford
Up to your arrival to take charge of Aden three years ago I was able, single handed, to run my business and keep my own books. I can come to no other conclusion but that all complications must be done away with. A more serious difference was that over salaries. AB was and always remained convinced that an employee's loyalty to the firm should entail willing acceptance of a reduction of salary when times were bad. Courmont thought otherwise, and his own case was complicated by family commitments in France.
On Christmas Day 1919, a week before their agreement came into force, he wrote to sound a note of warning: You will have to deal with natives, half-natives and worst of all Levantines, and it is not on material of that kind that one can build anything healthy and productive.... it is not that I make it a financial question - it would be beneath me to do so . And I am quite prepared to stand a loss, even a big one. But I do ask you to put my letter on record. Stoner made his trip to the States but returned without having made 36 Antonin Besse of Aden any definite arrangements.
Through it all there was AB's obvious pleasure in having Courmont with him. They climbed the hills together. There was music. AB planned to make his house an oasis of culture in the Aden desert, and they discussed the formation of a library. AB felt literature should have a message. He approved of Romain Roland and Barbusse but not of Proust. In poetry he would go as far as Verlaine, but not Rimbaud and certainly not Baudelaire. In early May AB went off to Addis Abeba with his wife and children.