“I’ll make one to give this Feisul boy a hoist”
Whoever invented chess understood the world’s works as some men know clocks and watches. He recognized a fact and based a game on it, with the result that his game endures. And what he clearly recognized was this: That no king matters much as long as your side is playing a winning game. You can leave your king in his corner then to amuse himself in dignified unimportance. But the minute you begin to lose, your king becomes a source of anxiety.
In what is called real life (which is only a great game, although a mighty good one) it makes no difference what you call your king. Call him Pope if you want to, or President, or Chairman. He grows in importance in proportion as the other side develops the attack. You’ve got to keep your symbol of authority protected or you lose.
Nevertheless, your game is not lost as long as your king can move. That’s why the men who want to hurry up and start a new political era imprison kings and cut their heads off. With no head on his shoulders your king can only move in the direction of the cemetery, which is over the line and doesn’t count.
I love a good fight, and have been told I ought to be ashamed of it. I’ve noticed, though, that the folk who propose to elevate my morals fight just as hard, and less cleanly, with their tongue than some of us do with our fists and sinews. I’m told, too, quite frequently that as an American I ought to be ashamed of fighting for a king. Dear old ladies of both sexes have assured me that it isn’t moral to give aid and comfort to a gallant gentleman—a godless Mohammedan, too; which makes it much worse—who is striving gamely and without malice to keep his given word and save his country.
But if you’ve got all you want, do you know of any better fun than lending a hand while some man you happen to like gets his? I don’t. Of course, some fellows want too much, and it’s bad manners as well as waste of time to inflict your opinion on them. But given a reasonable purpose and a friend who needs your assistance, is there any better sport on earth than risking your own neck to help him put it over?
Walk wide of the man and particularly of the woman, who makes a noise about lining your pocket or improving your condition. An altruist is my friend James Schuyler Grim, but he makes less noise than a panther on a dark night; and I never knew a man less given to persuading you. He has one purpose, but almost never talks about it. It’s a sure bet that if we hadn’t struck up a close friendship, sounding each other out carefully as opportunity occurred, I would have been in the dark about it until this minute.
All the news of Asia from Alexandretta to the Persian Gulf and from Northern Turkestan to South Arabia reaches Grim’s ears sooner or later. He earns his bread and butter knitting all that mess of cross-grained information into one intelligible pattern; after which he interprets it and acts suddenly without advance notices.