Now then, I will ask you where there is any sense in training people to lead virtuous lives. What is gained by it?

O.M. The man himself gets large advantages out of it, and that is the main thing--to HIM. He is not a peril to his neighbors, he is not a damage to them--and so THEY get an advantage out of his virtues. That is the main thing to THEM. It can make this life comparatively comfortable to the parties concerned; the NEGLECT of this training can make this life a constant peril and distress to the parties concerned.

Y.M. You have said that training is everything; that training is the man HIMSELF, for it makes him what he is.

O.M. I said training and ANOTHER thing. Let that other thing pass, for the moment. What were you going to say?

Y.M. We have an old servant. She has been with us twenty- two years. Her service used to be faultless, but now she has become very forgetful. We are all fond of her; we all recognize that she cannot help the infirmity which age has brought her; the rest of the family do not scold her for her remissnesses, but at times I do--I can't seem to control myself. Don't I try? I do try. Now, then, when I was ready to dress, this morning, no clean clothes had been put out. I lost my temper; I lose it easiest and quickest in the early morning. I rang; and immediately began to warn myself not to show temper, and to be careful and speak gently. I safe-guarded myself most carefully. I even chose the very word I would use: "You've forgotten the clean clothes, Jane." When she appeared in the door I opened my mouth to say that phrase--and out of it, moved by an instant surge of passion which I was not expecting and hadn't time to put under control, came the hot rebuke, "You've forgotten them again!" You say a man always does the thing which will best please his Interior Master. Whence came the impulse to make careful preparation to save the girl the humiliation of a rebuke? Did that come from the Master, who is always primarily concerned about HIMSELF?

O.M. Unquestionably. There is no other source for any impulse. SECONDARILY you made preparation to save the girl, but PRIMARILY its object was to save yourself, by contenting the Master.

Y.M. How do you mean?

O.M. Has any member of the family ever implored you to watch your temper and not fly out at the girl?

Y.M. Yes. My mother.

O.M. You love her?

Y.M. Oh, more than that!

O.M. You would always do anything in your power to please her?

Y.M. It is a delight to me to do anything to please her!

O.M. Why? YOU WOULD DO IT FOR PAY, SOLELY--for PROFIT. What profit would you expect and certainly receive from the investment?

Y.M. Personally? None. To please HER is enough.

O.M. It appears, then, that your object, primarily, WASN'T to save the girl a humiliation, but to PLEASE YOUR MOTHER. It also appears that to please your mother gives YOU a strong pleasure. Is not that the profit which you get out of the investment? Isn't that the REAL profits and FIRST profit?

Y.M. Oh, well? Go on.

O.M. In ALL transactions, the Interior Master looks to it that YOU GET THE FIRST PROFIT. Otherwise there is no transaction.

Y.M. Well, then, if I was so anxious to get that profit and so intent upon it, why did I threw it away by losing my temper?

O.M. In order to get ANOTHER profit which suddenly superseded it in value.

Y.M. Where was it?

O.M. Ambushed behind your born temperament, and waiting for a chance. Your native warm temper suddenly jumped to the front, and FOR THE MOMENT its influence was more powerful than your mother's, and abolished it. In that instance you were eager to flash out a hot rebuke and enjoy it. You did enjoy it, didn't you?

Y.M. For--for a quarter of a second. Yes--I did.

O.M. Very well, it is as I have said: the thing which will give you the MOST pleasure, the most satisfaction, in any moment or FRACTION of a moment, is the thing you will always do. You must content the Master's LATEST whim, whatever it may be.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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