Y.M. But when the tears came into the old servant's eyes I could have cut my hand off for what I had done.

O.M. Right. You had humiliated YOURSELF, you see, you had given yourself PAIN. Nothing is of FIRST importance to a man except results which damage HIM or profit him--all the rest is SECONDARY. Your Master was displeased with you, although you had obeyed him. He required a prompt REPENTANCE; you obeyed again; you HAD to--there is never any escape from his commands. He is a hard master and fickle; he changes his mind in the fraction of a second, but you must be ready to obey, and you will obey, ALWAYS. If he requires repentance, you content him, you will always furnish it. He must be nursed, petted, coddled, and kept contented, let the terms be what they may.

Y.M. Training! Oh, what's the use of it? Didn't I, and didn't my mother try to train me up to where I would no longer fly out at that girl?

O.M. Have you never managed to keep back a scolding?

Y.M. Oh, certainly--many times.

O.M. More times this year than last?

Y.M. Yes, a good many more.

O.M. More times last year than the year before?

Y.M. Yes.

O.M. There is a large improvement, then, in the two years?

Y.M. Yes, undoubtedly.

O.M. Then your question is answered. You see there IS use in training. Keep on. Keeping faithfully on. You are doing well.

Y.M. Will my reform reach perfection?

O.M. It will. UP to YOUR limit.

Y.M. My limit? What do you mean by that?

O.M. You remember that you said that I said training was EVERYTHING. I corrected you, and said "training and ANOTHER thing." That other thing is TEMPERAMENT--that is, the disposition you were born with. YOU CAN'T ERADICATE YOUR DISPOSITION NOR ANY RAG OF IT--you can only put a pressure on it and keep it down and quiet. You have a warm temper?

Y.M. Yes.

O.M. You will never get rid of it; but by watching it you can keep it down nearly all the time. ITS PRESENCE IS YOUR LIMIT. Your reform will never quite reach perfection, for your temper will beat you now and then, but you come near enough. You have made valuable progress and can make more. There IS use in training. Immense use. Presently you will reach a new stage of development, then your progress will be easier; will proceed on a simpler basis, anyway.

Y.M. Explain.

O.M. You keep back your scoldings now, to please YOURSELF by pleasing your MOTHER; presently the mere triumphing over your temper will delight your vanity and confer a more delicious pleasure and satisfaction upon you than even the approbation of your MOTHER confers upon you now. You will then labor for yourself directly and at FIRST HAND, not by the roundabout way through your mother. It simplifies the matter, and it also strengthens the impulse.

Y.M. Ah, dear! But I sha'n't ever reach the point where I will spare the girl for HER sake PRIMARILY, not mine?

O.M. Why--yes. In heaven.

Y.M. (AFTER A REFLECTIVE PAUSE) Temperament. Well, I see one must allow for temperament. It is a large factor, sure enough. My mother is thoughtful, and not hot-tempered. When I was dressed I went to her room; she was not there; I called, she answered from the bathroom. I heard the water running. I inquired. She answered, without temper, that Jane had forgotten her bath, and she was preparing it herself. I offered to ring, but she said, "No, don't do that; it would only distress her to be confronted with her lapse, and would be a rebuke; she doesn't deserve that--she is not to blame for the tricks her memory serves her." I say--has my mother an Interior Master?--and where was he?

O.M. He was there. There, and looking out for his own peace and pleasure and contentment. The girl's distress would have pained YOUR MOTHER. Otherwise the girl would have been rung up, distress and all. I know women who would have gotten a No. 1 PLEASURE out of ringing Jane up--and so they would infallibly have pushed the button and obeyed the law of their make and training, which are the servants of their Interior Masters.

What is Man? and Other Essays of Mark Twain Page 19

Mark Twain

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