I think it will be difficult for you to find any thought of self in that impulse.

O.M. I wonder why you should think so. When you find service charged in the HOTEL bill does it annoy you?

Y.M. No.

O.M. Do you ever complain of the amount of it?

Y.M. No, it would not occur to me.

O.M. The EXPENSE, then, is not the annoying detail. It is a fixed charge, and you pay it cheerfully, you pay it without a murmur. When you came to pay the servants, how would you like it if each of the men and maids had a fixed charge?

Y.M. Like it? I should rejoice!

O.M. Even if the fixed tax were a shade MORE than you had been in the habit of paying in the form of tips?

Y.M. Indeed, yes!

O.M. Very well, then. As I understand it, it isn't really compassion nor yet duty that moves you to pay the tax, and it isn't the AMOUNT of the tax that annoys you. Yet SOMETHING annoys you. What is it?

Y.M. Well, the trouble is, you never know WHAT to pay, the tax varies so, all over Europe.

O.M. So you have to guess?

Y.M. There is no other way. So you go on thinking and thinking, and calculating and guessing, and consulting with other people and getting their views; and it spoils your sleep nights, and makes you distraught in the daytime, and while you are pretending to look at the sights you are only guessing and guessing and guessing all the time, and being worried and miserable.

O.M. And all about a debt which you don't owe and don't have to pay unless you want to! Strange. What is the purpose of the guessing?

Y.M. To guess out what is right to give them, and not be unfair to any of them.

O.M. It has quite a noble look--taking so much pains and using up so much valuable time in order to be just and fair to a poor servant to whom you owe nothing, but who needs money and is ill paid.

Y.M. I think, myself, that if there is any ungracious motive back of it it will be hard to find.

O.M. How do you know when you have not paid a servant fairly?

Y.M. Why, he is silent; does not thank you. Sometimes he gives you a look that makes you ashamed. You are too proud to rectify your mistake there, with people looking, but afterward you keep on wishing and wishing you HAD done it. My, the shame and the pain of it! Sometimes you see, by the signs, that you have it JUST RIGHT, and you go away mightily satisfied. Sometimes the man is so effusively thankful that you know you have given him a good deal MORE than was necessary.

O.M. NECESSARY? Necessary for what?

Y.M. To content him.

O.M. How do you feel THEN?

Y.M. Repentant.

O.M. It is my belief that you have NOT been concerning yourself in guessing out his just dues, but only in ciphering out what would CONTENT him. And I think you have a self-deluding reason for that.

Y.M. What was it?

O.M. If you fell short of what he was expecting and wanting, you would get a look which would SHAME YOU BEFORE FOLK. That would give you PAIN. YOU--for you are only working for yourself, not HIM. If you gave him too much you would be ASHAMED OF YOURSELF for it, and that would give YOU pain--another case of thinking of YOURSELF, protecting yourself, SAVING YOURSELF FROM DISCOMFORT. You never think of the servant once--except to guess out how to get HIS APPROVAL. If you get that, you get your OWN approval, and that is the sole and only thing you are after. The Master inside of you is then satisfied, contented, comfortable; there was NO OTHER thing at stake, as a matter of FIRST interest, anywhere in the transaction.

Further Instances

Y.M. Well, to think of it; Self-Sacrifice for others, the grandest thing in man, ruled out! non-existent!

O.M. Are you accusing me of saying that?

Y.M. Why, certainly.

O.M. I haven't said it.

Y.M. What did you say, then?

O.M. That no man has ever sacrificed himself in the common meaning of that phrase--which is, self-sacrifice for another ALONE. Men make daily sacrifices for others, but it is for their own sake FIRST. The act must content their own spirit FIRST. The other beneficiaries come second.

What is Man? and Other Essays of Mark Twain Page 14

Mark Twain

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