after stating the case. "We are not disposed to modify the principle laid down in Dellinger v. Gillespie, 118 N. C., 737, and many other eases, that the law will not relieve one who can read and write from liability upon a written contract, upon the ground that he did not understand the purport of the writing, or that he has made an improvident contract, when he could inform himself and has not done so. “The law aids those who are vigilant, not those who sleep on their rights.”
This rule cannot be invoked, however, in behalf of one who induces sleep and lulls to security, nor does it require men to deal with each other upon the presumption that they are rascals, as is clearly stated in Walsh v. Hall, 66 N. C., 238: “The law does not require a prudent man to deal with every one as a rascal, and demands covenants to guard against the falsehood of every representation which may be made, as to facts which constitute material inducements to a contract. There must be a reasonable reliance upon the integrity of men, or the transactions of business, trade and commerce could not be conducted with that facility and confidence which are essential to successful enterprise, and the advancement of individual and national wealth and prosperity. The rules of law are founded on natural reason and justice and are shaped by the wisdom of human experience, and upon subjects like the one which we are considering, they are well defined and settled.No specific rule can be laid down as to what false representations will constitute fraud, as this depends upon the particular facts which have occurred in each case, the relative situation of the parties and their means of information. Examples are given in the books which have established some general principles which will apply to most cases that may arise. If the falsehood of the misrepresentations is patent and a party accepts and acts upon it with *15‘bis eyes open/ be bas no right to complain. If tbe parties have equal means of information, tbe rule of caveat emptor applies, and an injured party cannot have redress, if be fails to avail bimself of tbe sources of information wbicb be may readily reach, unless he has been prevented from malting proper inquiry by some artifice or contrivance of the other party."
Tbe same principle is stated as to a kindred subject in Hill v. Brown, 76 N. C., 125: “Tbe maxim caveat emptor does not apply in cases where there is actual fraud,” and bas been approved in Smathers v. Gilmer, 126 N. C., 759; May v. Loomis, 140 N. C., 356; Griffin v. Lumber Co., 140 N. C., 518, and numerous other cases. Under these authorities, we think there was evidence of fraud, wbicb the judge properly submitted to the jury.
Tbe plaintiff lived at Spencer and not on tbe land, and she had known the agent of tbe defendant before she entered into this transaction.
He testified that be read the blue paper to her, while she testified that the paper read to her did not have the word “towers” in it. There was evidence tending to prove that tbe agent of tbe defendant went to see her three times to procure her signature; that at first she refused to grant any easement to the defendant ; that she was told that the defendant wanted to put up one or two poles on tbe land, across the six acres, and that tbe line of poles would not go near tbe big field; that the blue paper was drawn by the defendant, and the land described so indefinitely that one might be misled as to whether it conferred a right as to the six acres or the whole tract; that at that time the line had been run and staked on tbe land, and the defendant’s agent knew this and did not inform the plaintiff of the fact, and that the agent gave the plaintiff the yellow paper, representing it to be a copy of tbe blue paper.
In addition to this, the inadequacy of consideration was so gross that it afforded sufficient evidence of fraud to justify submitting the question to the jury, in the absence of other evidence.
In Byers v. Surget, 19 How., 311, the Supreme Court of the United States says: “To meet the objection made to the sale *16in tbis ease, founded on tbe inadequacy of tbe price at wbicb tbe land was sold, it is insisted that inadequacy of consideration, singly, cannot amount to proof of fraud. Tbis position, however, is scarcely reconcilable witb tbe qualification annexed to it by tbe courts; namely, unless sucb inadequacy be so gross -as to shock tbe conscience; for tbis qualification implies necessarily tbe affirmation, that if tbe inadequacy be of a nature so gross as to shock tbe conscience, it will amount to proof of fraud”; and again, in Hume v. United States, 132 U. S., 411: “It (fraud) may be apparent from tbe intrinsic nature and subject of tbe bargain itself, sucb as no man in bis senses and not under delusion, would make on tbe one band, and as no honest and fair man would accept on tbe other.”
Our Court, speaking through Justice Brown, so declares tbe law in reference to awards and other transactions, in Perry v. Insurance Co., 137 N. C., 406. He says: “ ‘Where there is a charge of fraud or partiality made against an award, the fact that it is plainly and palpably wrong would be evidence in support of tbe charge, entitled to greater or less weight according to tbe extent or effect of tbe error and tbe other circumstances of tbe case. There might be á case of error in an award so plain and gross that a court or jury could arrive only at tbe conclusion that it was not tbe result of an impartial exercise of their judgment by tbe arbitrators.’ Goddard v. King, 40 Minn., 164. Tbe settled rule, wbicb is applicable not only to awards, but to other transactions, is that mere inadequacy alone is not sufficient to set aside tbe award, but if tbe inadequacy be so gross and palpable as to shock tbe moral sense, it is sufficient evidence to be submitted to .the jury on tbe issues relating to fraud and corruption or partiality and bias.”
Where there is inadequacy of consideration, but it is not gross, it may be considered in connection witb other evidence upon tbe issue of fraud, but will not, standing alone, justify setting aside a contract or other paper-writing on tbe ground of fraud.
What we have said applies to persons bargaining witb each other and seeking to reach an agreement as to a fair consideration, and does not prevent one from giving away bis property *17or selling it for less than its value, if lie wishes to do so, and the transaction, is honest.
The presiding- judge presented the case to the jury clearly and accurately. He said: “It is true that a person who can do so is generally required to read a paper before signing, and his failure to do so is negligence for which the law affords no redress. This rule does not apply, however, in case of positive fraud or false representation made by another party, by which the person signing the paper is lulled into security or thrown off his guard and prevented from reading it, and induced to rely upon such false representations or fraud. If, then, you find from the evidence and by its greater weight that the defendant’s agent represented to the plaintiff that it was the present, existing purpose of the defendant to place on the six-acre tract of her land, and not in her fields, poles and wires such as are used in the construction and operation of telephone or telegraph lines, and said nothing about the erection of towers, you may consider such representations, together with the circumstances arising from the evidence, in finding whether there was positive fraud by the defendant in procuring the execution of the papers. And if you further find that he pretended to read to her Exhibit A and did not read the provision as to the erection of towers, lulled her into security and threw her off her guard by the positive assurance that only such poles and wires would be placed on the land referred to, and that she relied upon such assurance of the agent, and for these reasons did not herself read the paper, the circumstances that the plaintiff did not read Exhibit A (if you find that she did not read it) would not be imputed to her as such negligence in the execution of the paper as would leave her without legal redress for that reason. And if you further find that the representations made by the defendant’s agent were false to the knowledge of the defendant, and that they were made with intent to deceive the plaintiff, and were calculated to deceive her, and that the plaintiff relied upon these representations, and that she was thereby deceived, and caused to suffer damage, your answer to the fifth issue will be, Yes. If you do not so find, your answer will be, No.”
We find no error. Affirmed.