"There is, Monsieur le President," said M. Delcass solemnly, "the French passion for gloire to be reckoned with. How shall we satisfy that, if our army is disbanded?"
"Precisely," added General Andre, scowling horribly at the Germans across the table; "and our national thirst for revanche, — what of that?
"Gloire? " said Mr. Morgan musingly. "I suppose it would be vain to quote to a Frenchman the noble words of our English poet,
'Oh, take the cash, and let the glory go!'
As for revanche, I only know that, like sons-in-law, it is very costly. But I presume that what you want is not simply to kill somebody, but to get your lost provinces back?
"France," asserted M. Delcasse, "will never be satisfied short of that."
"Then," broke in the Kaiser, "we may as well stop talking. That can be under no circumstances. Rather than give up the Reichsland, I will smash everything to pieces (Ich will alles kurz und klein machen)."
"It is evident," observed Mr. Morgan judicially, "that we have simply a case of two railroads competing for the same territory. We must adjust the controversy by a pooling arrangement. Your Majesty admits that the inhabitants of Alsace and Lorraine have strong French sympathies?"
"Unluckily, yes. The phrase oftenest in their mouths is, ' Nous sommes plus Français que les Français.'
"And you, Mr. Minister, concede that thirty years of occupation entitle Germany to some consideration, some equivalent, some balancing concession?”
“Indubitably," replied M. Delcasse "Then we have all the basis we need for a businesslike adjustment. The details will be mere matter of give-and-take,—give stock and take profits. But," went on Mr. Morgan, "there are other difficulties of the same kind. It will be best to cover them by one comprehensive plan. You, for example," he said, suddenly turning to General Dragomiroff, "have what you call espérances ultérieures in Persia and China and India?"
"A Russian cannot tell a lie," replied the general, with charming archness, winking at Secretary Hay. "We admit it."
"Exactly, and Great Britain and Germany compete with you for that territory. Africa is nearly all sliced up, and on sound business principles. There the various countries have adopted my precise theory of an equitable division of traffic— that is, territory. Of course, the mere native, like the consumer, is a negligible quality. There remains, therefore, only South America as a continent likely to give us trouble."
"Beg pardon," interrupted Secretary Hay, "but you do not seem to have read my speech explaining how all that would fall beautifully and peacefully under the Monroe Doctrine, hand in hand with the golden rule."
"Which version? " asked Mr. Morgan, with a merry air. "Do others as they wish to do you? Let us not, in any case, forget that this is a business meeting. We are not drawing up a political platform, or making a speech, or writing an editorial, or even addressing the Chamber of Commerce; therefore we may safely leave out these little hypocrisies. The thing to do is to arrive at a fair pro rata division of territory which is unoccupied, or which is occupied by those who do not make as good use of it as we think we could. That once clone, costly armies and navies would be as easily dispensed with as are soliciting agents after two competing railroads have combined. I’ll just have my chief clerk draw up a memorandum for an equitable and binding redistribution of islands and provinces and protectorates and hinterlands and spheres of influence, and then the greatest single obstacle to disarmament will have been overcome."