Maynard’s making a rousing speech. Spread eagle. Our honor as a nation. The dearest, sweetest flag that ever waved over a noble, invincible people. Damned rot. But the brethren from the rural districts lap it up like cider in October. He’s gaining votes. Protege of yours, ain’t he?
Yes. Used to be my office boy. Clever chap. Has a sensible view of things. Realizes that our national honor and our property must be defended at all hazards.
[Sitting down at the desk and beginning to write. With a cynical laugh.
You mean property. You don’t give a damn about national honor. You know you don’t. What’s the use of trying to fool me?
Conroy, do you mean to impugn my patriotic motives?
[Without looking up, good-naturedly.
Grosvenor, we’ve known each other thirty years. I don’t try to bluff you because I know that you know too much about me. You made the beginnings of your pile out of one big war and you’ve been playing up a lot of little republics against each other ever since, harvesting a neat little fortune every time. Now it’s a real world-war you’re after. If it comes, you’re made, if it don’t, you’re broke. It’s a cinch. Mind you, I’m not throwing stones. Only I don’t want you to think you can pull the noble patriotic guff on me.
I have certain investments, of course, which might possibly be promoted by a war. But I am not thinking of that. I am thinking of the honor of my country, that honor which has never yet been stained, and shall not be stained if I can do aught by my own efforts and by my prayers to God, to keep it pure.
You carry it off well. I couldn’t bluff the way you can. I haven’t your religious feeling. I know why I want war. It’s because I’m a manufacturer of guns. Everybody knows my business, and they know that if there wasn’t war or a fear of war constantly, I and my wife and children would starve. War is my work and it’s been my work most of my life. And I’ve worked for this war because it was the biggest thing in sight. I’ve worked for it with all the brains I’ve got, just as I’d have worked for two-hundred-egg hens if I’d been a chicken farmer. I’m not a sentimentalist. Besides, war’s a good thing occasionally. I believe that absolutely. It quiets down your socialists, cuts down your superfluous population, increases the moral stamina of the nation. A lot of this talk of war being hell is mush. A few people get shot up, but no one forced ’em to go. It’s their own funeral.