I hoped that we were done reforming for the trip now, but it was not so. In the hotel car, in the morning, the Major called for broiled chicken. The waiter said:
’It’s not in the bill of fare, sir; we do not serve anything but what is in the bill.’
‘That gentleman yonder is eating a broiled chicken.’
’Yes, but that is different. He is one of the superintendents of the road.’
’Then all the more must I have broiled chicken. I do not like these discriminations. Please hurry—bring me a broiled chicken.’
The waiter brought the steward, who explained in a low and polite voice that the thing was impossible—it was against the rule, and the rule was rigid.
’Very well, then, you must either apply it impartially or break it impartially. You must take that gentleman’s chicken away from him or bring me one.’
The steward was puzzled, and did not quite know what to do. He began an incoherent argument, but the conductor came along just then, and asked what the difficulty was. The steward explained that here was a gentleman who was insisting on having a chicken when it was dead against the rule and not in the bill. The conductor said:
’Stick by your rules—you haven’t any option. Wait a moment—is this the gentleman?’ Then he laughed and said: ’Never mind your rules—it’s my advice, and sound: give him anything he wants—don’t get him started on his rights. Give him whatever he asks for; and it you haven’t got it, stop the train and get it.’
The Major ate the chicken, but said he did it from a sense of duty and to establish a principle, for he did not like chicken.
I missed the Fair it is true, but I picked up some diplomatic tricks which I and the reader may find handy and useful as we go along.
DIPLOMATIC PAY AND CLOTHES
Vienna, January 5—I find in this morning’s papers the statement that the Government of the United States has paid to the two members of the Peace Commission entitled to receive money for their services 100,000 dollars each for their six weeks’ work in Paris.
I hope that this is true. I will allow myself the satisfaction of considering that it is true, and of treating it as a thing finished and settled.
It is a precedent; and ought to be a welcome one to our country. A precedent always has a chance to be valuable (as well as the other way); and its best chance to be valuable (or the other way) is when it takes such a striking form as to fix a whole nation’s attention upon it. If it come justified out of the discussion which will follow, it will find a career ready and waiting for it.