WIFE—"Please match this piece of silk for me before you come home."
HUSBAND—"At the counter where the sweet little blond works? The one with the soulful eyes and—"
WIFE—"No. You're too tired to shop for me when your day's work is done, dear. On second thought, I won't bother you."
Scripture tells us that a soft answer turneth away wrath. A witty repartee sometimes helps one immensely also.
When Richard Olney was secretary of state he frequently gave expression to the opinion that appointees to the consular service should speak the language of the countries to which they were respectively accredited. It is said that when a certain breezy and enterprising western politician who was desirous of serving the Cleveland administration in the capacity of consul of the Chinese ports presented his papers to Mr. Olney, the secretary remarked:
"Are you aware, Mr. Blank, that I never recommend to the President the appointment of a consul unless he speaks the language of the country to which he desires to go? Now, I suppose you do not speak Chinese?"
Whereupon the westerner grinned broadly. "If, Mr. Secretary," said he, "you will ask me a question in Chinese, I shall be happy to answer it." He got the appointment.
"Miss de Simpson," said the young secretary of legation, "I have opened negotiations with your father upon the subject of—er—coming to see you oftener, with a view ultimately to forming an alliance, and he has responded favorably. May I ask if you will ratify the arrangement, as a modus vivendi?"
"Mr. von Harris," answered the daughter of the eminent diplomat, "don't you think it would have been a more graceful recognition of my administrative entity if you had asked me first?"
I call'd the devil and he came,
And with wonder his form did I closely scan;
He is not ugly, and is not lame,
But really a handsome and charming man.
A man in the prime of life is the devil,
Obliging, a man of the world, and civil;
A diplomatist too, well skill'd in debate,
He talks quite glibly of church and state.—Heine.
"Now, let me see," the impecunious man demanded as he buttonholed an acquaintance, "do I owe you anything?"
"Not a penny, my dear sir," was the genial reply. "You are going about paying your little debts?"
"No, I'm going about to see if I've overlooked anybody? Lend me ten till Saturday."
Ted had a habit of dropping in at the house next door on baking day, for the woman of that house had a deft way in the making of cookies, and Ted had no hesitation in enjoying her hospitality, even to the extent of asking for cookies if they were not promptly forthcoming.
When the boy's father learned of this, he gave Ted a lecture and a strict order never to ask for cookies at the neighbor's kitchen. So, when a few days later the father saw his son munching a cookie as he came away from the next house, he spoke sternly:
"Have you been begging cookies again?"
"Oh, no, I didn't beg any," Ted answered cheerfully. "I just said, this house smells as if it was full of cookies. But what's that to me?"
Sometimes the use of a diplomatic method defeats its own purpose, as in the case of the old fellow who was enthusiastic in praise of the busy lawyer from whose office he had just come, after a purely social call.
"That feller, for a busy man," he declared earnestly, "is one of the pleasantest chaps I ever did meet. Why, I dropped in on him jest to pass the time o' day this mornin', an' I hadn't been chattin' with 'im more'n five minutes before he'd told me three times to come and see 'im agin."
The lady of uncertain age simpered at the gentleman of about the same age who had offered her his seat in the car.
"Why should you be so kind to me?" she gurgled.
"My dear madam, because I myself have a mother and a wife and a daughter."
Diplomacy is shown inversely by the remark of the professor to the lady in this story.
At a reception the woman chatted for some time with the distinguished man of learning, and displayed such intelligence that one of the listeners complimented her.
"Oh, really," she said with a smile, "I've just been concealing my ignorance."
The professor spoke gallantly.
"Not at all, not at all, my dear madam! Quite the contrary, I do assure you."