The Book of Business Etiquette Part 6

The girl at the toy counter tells Mr. Hopkins that there is a woman downstairs who will help him select something for his wife. He goes back to the man in uniform to locate her and finds her in a secluded booth on the first floor. She asks several questions about whether he would like china or silver, furniture or linen, but Mr. Hopkins wants to give his wife something personal--something she can use or wear. He has been married several years but not long enough to know that this is a dangerous thing to do, but the woman is wise. She suggests a silk parasol, a kimono, or a dozen handkerchiefs.

Such a service as this is not possible except in very large shops, but in most places clerks are quick to respond with suggestions for gifts. There is a pleasure about buying them and selling them that does not go with ordinary transactions.

When he buys a parasol the clerk suggests that they have a very large assortment of handbags, but Mr. Hopkins's day's work is done, and the clerk does not insist. None of the clerks in a good department store is insistent. They offer suggestions and stand ready to serve, but they do not try to impose their ideas or their goods upon the customers. Mr. Hopkins leaves well satisfied with himself and his purchases. He will come back.

The trunk is delivered in the afternoon, not by the regular wagon, but by an express company. It is a busy season. Mr. Hopkins is still further delighted. These people keep their promises. And as he tips the man who brought it up--he had to climb three flights of stairs--the man gives him a card. "Here's one of the boss's cards," he says, "in case you want any hauling done." Without doubt the man has been instructed by the boss to distribute his cards, but he does it with such a grace that it seems to be on his own initiative.

It rarely happens that a business man or woman can shop in the leisurely manner described above. Most of their shopping has to be done during the half hour after lunch or during a frantic few minutes snatched at the beginning or the end of the day's work. One morning Mr. Hopkins had to leave home without a collar because he forgot to send the dirty ones to the laundry (his wife was away that week) and dashed into a little shop to get one on the way to the office. He would have felt like murdering a clerk who wanted to show him something nice in the way of gloves or mufflers, and he would have had a hard time to restrain himself from violence if the clerk had started in on a eulogy of a new shipment of English tweeds.

An intelligent clerk can usually tell when his customer is in a tearing hurry. It is an unpropitious time to make suggestions. The clerk must see things from the customer's point of view. It is permissible to suggest something else in place of the thing he has asked for but it is not good manners to make fun of it or to insist upon a substitute. Recently a woman wanted to buy a rug for her automobile. She knew just what she wanted, but the bright young clerk insisted that she wanted something else. She finally bought the rug, but it was in spite of the clerk rather than because of him. Too many salesmen kill their sales by thinking and talking only of their product. The customer is not half so interested in that as he is in himself. Good salesmanship relates the product to the customer, and does it in such a way that the customer is hardly aware of how it is done.



In a Big City. We will suppose that our traveling man has his headquarters in some big city--New York, Chicago, San Francisco, it does not matter--and that he has several calls to make before he goes out on the road.

There are two kinds of salesmen, those who make only one sale to a customer and those who sell something that has to be renewed periodically. The first sell pianos, real estate, encyclopedias, and so on; the second sell raw materials and supplies. The salesman whom we are to follow is in the second group.

He has--and so have most men who do this kind of selling--a regular routine that he follows, adding new names to the list and deleting old ones as seems expedient. At this particular time he has several old customers to visit and one or two new prospects to investigate before he leaves town.

It is unnecessary for him to make arrangements beforehand to gain access to the old customers. They know him and they are always glad to see him. But if there is a chance that the customer may be out of town, or if it is during a busy season, he telephones ahead to make sure. He prefers indefinite to definite appointments, especially if he has to see two or three people during the course of a morning or an afternoon; that is, he would rather have an appointment to come some time between ten and eleven or between three and four than to have one for exactly half past ten or a quarter of three. It is impossible to tell how long interviews will last. Sometimes when the salesman counts on staying an hour he is through in five minutes and sometimes when he thinks he can arrange things in fifteen minutes he finds himself strung up for half a day.

The new prospects--there are three on this particular morning--he handles in different ways. To one he has a note of introduction from a mutual friend. To another he has written a letter stating why he wishes to call and asking when it will be convenient for him to do so. The third, whom he knows by reputation as a "hard customer" (in the slang sense of the word) who will have nothing to do with salesmen of any sort, he decides to approach directly, trusting to his own presence to get past the girl at the front door and whomsoever else stands between him and the man he wants to see. He does not write, because he knows that the man would tear up the letter and he does not telephone, because he knows that the man would not promise to see him and that if he were to call after such a telephone conversation his chances for success would be lessened.

Our salesman is careful with his appearance. He bathes and shaves every morning and takes special care that his linen is clean and that his shoes are polished. He does not ornament himself with a lot of jewelry, and the material of which his suit is made is plain. He presents, if you should see him on the street, the appearance of a clean, solid, healthy, progressive American citizen. He is poised but he is not aggressive. He is persistent but he is not obstinate.

The best public speakers, it is said, never get over a sinking feeling of fear during the few minutes just before time for them to speak. It vanishes as soon as they get to their feet or a very few minutes afterward, and, strange as it may seem, it is this very fear that gives them their power on the platform. The fact that they have the dreadful feeling nerves them to strenuous effort, and it is this effort that makes the orator. In the same way the best salesmen are those who never get over the fear that perhaps they have not thought out the best way to handle the situation ahead of them. They forget the fear as they begin to talk to the prospect, but the fact that it is subconsciously present makes the difference between the real salesman and the "dub."

Did you ever get to the door of a house you were about to enter and then turn and walk around the block before you rang the bell? Did you ever walk around the block six or eight times? So have we. Especially on those Wednesday and Sunday evenings when we used to go calling. There are not many salesmen who have not had this experience and who have not, upon hearing that a prospect they dreaded was out, turned away from the door with a prayer of deep thanksgiving. All of which is by way of saying that selling is not an easy job.

The salesman whose career we are following for a short time always has that little feeling of nervousness before an interview. It is deeper than ever when he approaches the "hard customer," and it is not lessened in the least degree when he finds a painted and marceled flapper at the door who looks at him without a word. (Incidentally, she likes his looks.) He takes out his card and asks her to give it to Mr. Green and say that he is calling.

"He won't see you," the girl says.

"Will you tell him, please, that I am here, all the same? Wait a minute."

He takes the card and scribbles on it, "I want only five minutes of your time," and hands it to the girl again.

She carries it away and presently returns saying that Mr. Green is busy and cannot see him.

"I knew he wouldn't," she adds.

"He must be very busy," the salesman says. "When shall I be most likely to find him free?"

"He's no busier now than usual," the girl responds. "He's smoking a cigar and looking out the window."

"Will you tell him, please, that I am coming back to-morrow at the same time?"

The girl sees that he is very much in earnest. She respects him for his quiet persistence and because he has not tried to "kid" her. She would most likely have joined in heartily if he had, but he would never have got past her.

She goes back into the office and returns with word that the salesman may come in if he will not take more than five minutes. He thanks the girl and goes into the office where the "hard customer" is seated. He does not rise, he does not say "Good morning," and he does not take the cigar out of his mouth, but this does not disconcert the salesman. He wastes no time in preliminaries, but after a brief greeting, plunges at once into his proposition, stating the essential points clearly and in terms of this man's business. He knows what the customer needs pretty accurately for he has taken the trouble to find out. He is not broadcasting. He is using line radio, and everything he says is directed against a single mark. The prospect is interested. He puts the cigar aside. The salesman concludes.

"I'm sorry," he says, "but my five minutes are up. Will you let me come back some day when you are not so busy and tell you more about it?"

"Sit where you are," the other says, and begins firing questions.

Half an hour later the salesman pockets the order he wanted and makes ready to depart, feeling that he has found another friend. The "hard customer" is ashamed of his gruff reception and apologizes for it. "I've been so bothered with agents and drummers and traveling men that I've promised myself never to see another one as long as I live," he says.

"I can well understand that," the salesman answers. "It is one of the hardest things we are up against, the fact that there are so many four-flushers out trying to sell things."

He goes next to see the man with whom he has made an appointment by mail and finds that he has been called out of town on business. He talks with his secretary, who expresses a polite regret that they were unable to locate him in time to tell him that his visit would be of no use. He asks if there is some one else who can take charge of the matter, but the girl replies that all such things have to come before Mr. Thompson. He will not be back until next week, and by that time the salesman will be out on the road.

"I'll have another representative of our house, Mr. Hamilton, call," he says. "He will write to find out when it will be convenient for him to come."

The third man on his list is the one to whom he has the letter of introduction. This is one of his best prospects. That is why he took such pains to arm himself with the letter. He has no trouble getting inside. The man is very busy but he thrusts it completely aside for the moment. He does not have to say "Be brief." Our salesman has been in the game long enough to know that he must not be anything else.

"Frankly," he says at the end of the talk, "I am not interested. I have no doubt that what you say is true. In fact, I have heard of your firm before and know that its reputation is good. But I buy my material, and have for years, from Hicks and Hicks."

"It is a good reliable concern," the salesman responds, "and there is no reason why you should desert them. They depend upon you as much as you do upon them. But if they happen to be short of something you want in a hurry, please remember that our product is as good as theirs. You can depend upon it with as much certainty."

"Thank you, I will," the prospect answers and the interview is over.

Did the salesman act wisely? Would he have gained anything by proving that his house was superior to Hicks and Hicks? Not if the customer was worth having. This salesman never forgets that his part of the job is to build up business for his own firm, and not to tear down business for other firms. As it stands, he has in this case established a feeling of good will for the house he represents, and has placed it in such a light that if the rival concern should be afflicted with a strike or a fire or any of a hundred or two disasters which might lessen or suspend its output, the customer will probably turn to the salesman's house. And if Hicks and Hicks should sell out or go into bankruptcy the salesman will have won for his own house a steady customer of great value.

In the Sleeping Car. The wise traveling man--and our salesman is wise--always engages sleeping accommodations on the train in advance. This time he has the lower berth in No. 9.

When he comes in to take his seat he finds that a woman has the upper berth in the same compartment. He is reading a newspaper and she is reading a magazine. He says nothing until toward evening, and then he offers to exchange places with her. She thanks him cordially, explains that she was late in securing a berth and that this was all she could get. She is very grateful and the transfer is made.

He goes into the smoking car and meets there several men who are talking together. He joins them and the conversation runs along pleasantly enough until one of the number begins to retail dirty stories. Some of the others try to switch him off to another subject but he is wound up and nothing short of a sledge hammer will stop him until he has run down. Our salesman has a healthy loathing for this sort of thing. He has a good fund of stories himself--most traveling men have--and in the course of his journeyings he has heard many of the kind that the foul-minded man in the smoking car is retailing with such delight. He never retells stories of that nature, and he never, when he can avoid it, listens to them. He knows that he cannot stop the man, but after a little while he gets up quietly and leaves. Another man follows him and the two stand on the rear platform of the train until time to go to bed.

Men who are traveling together often converse without knowing one another's names, and it is correct that they should. Only a prig refuses to speak to a man on a train or a boat because he does not know his name. Opening conversation with a stranger is not always easy, and should be avoided unless it comes about in a natural way. The stranger may not want to converse. It is correct for a man who wishes to talk to another first to introduce himself. "My name is Hammond," he says, and the man to whom he says it responds by holding out his hand (this is the more gracious way, but he may omit this part of it, if he likes) and pronouncing his own name. The same rule holds when the travelers are women.

Our salesman goes to bed early.

Two men have the compartment across from his. They seem very much interested in each other, for they continue to talk after they have gone to bed. In order to make themselves heard they have almost to scream, and the raucous sound of their voices is much more disturbing than the sound of the wheels grinding against the rails. It is hard to sleep on a train even under favorable circumstances. Our salesman has a strenuous day ahead of him--most of his days are strenuous--and the noise is keeping him awake.

He could throw on his bathrobe, climb down and remonstrate with the two men across the way. It would be correct for him to do so, but it would hardly be expedient. People who are thoughtless enough to be noisy late at night are often rude enough to be very unpleasant when any one interferes. The salesman has no real authority over them, but the porter on duty at night is supposed to see that a certain amount of peace and quiet is maintained. The salesman rings the bell, and when the porter appears, asks him if he would mind begging the two men across the aisle to lower their voices. The porter has had years of experience. He has developed a soft, pleasant way of asking people to be quiet, and in a few minutes the car is still except for the inevitable sound of the train and the snoring of an old lady near the end of the car. This last cannot be helped. It must be endured, and our salesman composes himself into a deep slumber.

Dressing and undressing in a sleeping car are among the most difficult operations to perform gracefully. There are no rules. Most men prefer staying in their berths to making the attempt in the crowded dressing rooms. Some divide the process between the two, but no gentleman ever goes streaking down the aisle half-dressed. He is either fully clothed or else he is wrapped in a bathrobe or a dressing gown.

When our salesman comes in to breakfast the next morning there is only one vacant place, a seat opposite a young woman at a table for two. He crosses over and sits down, first asking if he may do so. In well-managed dining cars and restaurants, the seating is taken care of by the head waiter. He never places a person at a table with some one else without asking permission of the one who is already seated. It is never permissible for a stranger to go to a table that is already taken if there is a vacant one available. The young lady bows and smiles. She has already sent in her order. They talk during the meal quite as if they had been introduced and had met by appointment instead of by accident. She does not introduce herself, nor does he introduce himself. When she has finished she asks the waiter for her bill. She pays it herself--our salesman has too much delicacy to offer to do so--and tips the waiter. Then with a nod and a smile she is gone.

This salesman is a chivalrous traveler. Whenever there is an opportunity to render a service to a woman (or to any one else) he takes pleasure in doing it. He does not place women under financial obligation to him, however, and he is careful not to annoy them with attentions. He has many times found a taxi for a woman traveling alone or with children when they have had the same destination; he has helped women decipher time tables; he has carried bundles and suitcases and baskets and boxes for old ladies who have not yet learned in all their long, long lives that the way to travel is with as little, instead of with as much, baggage as possible; and he has helped young mothers establish themselves comfortably in place with their children. But he has never--and he has been traveling a good many years now--thrust himself upon a woman and he has never embarrassed one by his attentions.

He does not "treat" the men whom he meets by accident during his travels. They often go in to meals together but each one settles his own bill, and when they come to the end of the journey they are without obligations toward one another. It is much pleasanter so.

The salesman does not, as a rule, tip the porter until he leaves the train, and the amount that he gives then is according to what the porter has done for him. If he has been in the car a good many hours and if he has had to ask the porter for many things, such as bringing ice water at night, silencing objectionable travelers, bringing pillows and tables during the day, not to mention polishing his shoes and brushing his coat every morning, he is much more generous than if he had been on the car only a few hours and had not asked for any special service. Unless the trip is long he never gives more than a dollar. Twenty-five cents is the minimum.

By Automobile. From an economic point of view this problem has come to be almost as large as the railroad problem, and the part the automobile, including trucks and taxis, plays in business is growing larger and larger every year.

Motorists have a code of their own. They--when they do as they should--drive to the right in the United States, to the left in certain other countries. They take up no more of the road than is necessary, and they observe local traffic regulations scrupulously, not only because they will be fined if they do not but because it is impolite in Rome to do other than the Romans do. They hold out their hands to indicate that they are about to turn, they slow down at crossings, and they sound their horns as a warning signal but never for any other reason.

It is often necessary for a man who is trying to sell a piece of property to take out to look at it the man who thinks he will buy it. Needless to say, it is the former who pays for the trip. Other business trips are arranged by groups, the benefit or pleasure which is to result to be shared among them. Under such conditions it is wise (and polite) for them to divide expenses. These matters should be arranged ahead of time. If one is to furnish the machine, and one the gasoline, and another is to pay for the lunch, it should be understood at the outset.

In a Small Town. The salesman is now completely out of the metropolitan district. He is in a small town like hundreds of others over the United States. The hotel is very good in itself, but compared with the one in the city, which he has just left, it is inconvenient. He has better judgment than to remind the people of this. Instead, when he is talking to them--and he likes to talk with the people in the towns he is serving--he talks about what they have rather than what they have not and about what they can do in the future rather than what they have failed to do in the past. It is in this way that he discovers how he can best be useful to them.

He likes to work at the quick pace set by the big cities but he knows it will not do here. He goes around to see Mr. Carter. Mr. Carter is glad to see him, but he has had a bad year. The crops have not been good, the banks have not been generous, his wife has been sick, and one of his children has broken a leg. The salesman listens sympathetically to this tale of woe, leads the conversation away from the bad year behind to the good year ahead, and in a little while they are eagerly discussing plans for business in the next month or so. The salesman shows how he can help, and convinces Mr. Carter that the best time to begin is right now and gets an order for supplies from him. It has taken the better part of the morning, and Mr. Carter asks him to go home with him to lunch. The salesman would prefer going back to the hotel, but he knows that it will give Mr. Carter great pleasure to have him--his invitation is unmistakably hearty--so he accepts.

Before he came the salesman had discovered, through consulting the directories and by talking with friends of his who knew the town, who were worth going to see and who were not. Mr. Carter he had learned was immensely worth while and that is why he was willing to spend so much time with him. No salesman can afford to stop and talk with everybody who can give him the inside story of why business is no good. This salesman always finds out as much as possible about a man before he goes to see him. He never leaps blindly ahead when there is any way to get a gleam of light first.

Once in South Carolina he was anxious to get a large order from a wealthy old man who, he felt sure, would be a regular customer if he could once be persuaded to buy. The old man paid no attention to what he was saying until he mentioned the picture of a hunting dog that hung above the desk. The old man's eyes kindled. This was his hobby and he forgot all about business while he talked about hunting, and ended by asking the salesman to go home with him and spend the night. The salesman accepted gladly, and the next morning they went rabbit hunting instead of going back to the office. The salesman was out of practice in handling a gun but it was great fun, and the upshot of it all was that he "landed" the order he wanted.

This method is pleasant but wasteful. The salesman never uses it except as a last resource.

Much of the success of this salesman (and of the others who are successful) lies in the fact that he can put himself so completely into the place of the man he is trying to sell. He talks in terms of that man's work, and he tries to sell only where he believes the sale will result in mutual satisfaction. He never says anything about serving humanity, but his life is shaped around this idea, which is, when all is said and done, the biggest idea that any of us can lay ourselves out to follow.

He is working for a firm that he knows is honest--no self-respecting man will work for any other kind--and he wants its financial rating to stand solid. He does not sell to every man who wants to buy. He investigates his credit first, and if there is to be a delay while the investigation is under way he frankly tells the man so, and assures him that it is for his protection as well as for that of the house that is selling the goods. "It is a form we go through with every new customer," he says. "If we did not we'd find ourselves swamped with men who would not pay. And that would work hardship on those who do." Every business man knows that this is the only way in which reliable business can be carried on. And it is reliable business that we are interested in.



A young banker from Smithville is in New York. It is his first trip.

You would like him if you could see him. Tall, sun-burned, clean-cut, well-dressed, thoroughly alive and interested in everything. He is a bit confused by the city but he is determined to learn everything that it has to teach him. He does not hesitate to ask questions but he likes to find out without, whenever possible.

He goes into the dining room of the great hotel where he is staying, and for the first time in his life is confronted with an array of silver on both sides of his plate. At home he always has a knife, fork, and spoon laid together at the right of his plate, by which you can see that he has not lived among people who place much emphasis on having food daintily or correctly served. He is not exactly prepared for this. When he left Smithville he was thinking more of his business connections than of what he was going to eat, and how. He is embarrassed because, like every sanely balanced person, he likes to do things as they should be done, and not just blunder through them. There is no one he can ask except the waiter, and the waiter seems such a superior person that he is afraid to ask him (though it would have been perfectly correct for him to do so). He gets through the meal the best way he can and finds that when the ice cream is brought the only thing he has left to eat it with is a slender fork with a long handle and three very tiny prongs. He knows that he has tripped up somewhere along the line, but he asks the waiter to bring him a spoon (he should have asked for a fork) and goes ahead.

The next day he is invited out to dinner with a man who has all of his life been accustomed to first-class hotels and restaurants and the dining tables of wealthy and cultured people. He is somewhat older than our young banker and he has had a great deal of experience in entertaining men who have come into the city from small towns. He is thoughtful, sympathetic, an excellent host. He leads the way into the dining room (though they stand together in such a way that it seems that neither is leading) and chooses a table. This nearly always means accepting the one the head waiter indicates, though it is quite correct for the host to suggest the table he would like to have.

"Does this suit you?" he asks the young banker before they sit down.

It suits him exactly. He says as much.

"Now, what will you have to eat?"

The waiter has given him a menu card, containing, so it seems to the young man, a million things that he might have. A dinner served in courses was something beyond his knowledge until the night before, and the dinner then was table d'hote instead of a la carte. He flounders through the card and is about ready to thrust it aside and say, "Just bring me some ham and eggs" when his host sees his predicament.

"Blue Points are usually good at this time of the year," he says. "Shall we try them?"

The young man has not the remotest idea what Blue Points are but he thinks it will be very delightful to try them.

"What kind of soup do you like?" the host continues when the waiter has departed. "I see they have vegetable soup and consomme."

The young man clutches at the familiar straw. He will have vegetable soup.

Throughout the meal the host makes comments and suggestions and guides his guest through to the end, and does it so graciously that the young man from Smithville is not aware that he is doing it, and feels that it is all due to his own quick observation that he is getting along so well. No business man is a perfect host until he can accomplish this.

Our young man knows already that one should sit up at a table and not lean forward or lounge back, that he should not take large mouthfuls and that he should not snap at his food, that he should eat without noise and with great cleanliness. He knows that his napkin should be unfolded (it should be unfolded once and not spread out) and laid across his lap, not tucked into his collar or the top of his vest. He knows that he should not eat with his knife.

He has never seen a finger bowl before but he has heard of them, so that when one is placed before him he knows that he should dip the ends of his fingers into it and dry them on his napkin. He has also heard that toothpicks are never used by gentlemen, at least in public, and he is not surprised when he does not see them.

He has read somewhere that when a knife or a fork is dropped to the floor he should not pick it up himself but should allow the waiter to do so, and that the waiter should be allowed to clear away the damage when something is upset on the table. He knows that long apologies are out of order anywhere, and he is not likely to say anything more than "Excuse me" or "I beg your pardon" if he should by a clumsy movement break a glass or overturn a plate of soup.

But he does not know about the various knives and forks or about how courses are arranged, and he does not know about tips.

It is correct for him to explain to his host, just as Pip did when he was dining for the first time with Herbert Pocket, that he is unused to such things and beg him to give him a few hints as they go along. But it is less embarrassing to consult a book of etiquette about fundamentals and to pick up the other knowledge by close observation.

He discovers--our young friend uses both methods--that knives are laid at the right of the plate in the order in which they are to be used, beginning at the outside, and that the spoons are laid just beyond the knives in the same order. The butter knife (which rarely appears at dinner time) is usually laid across the little bread plate at the left of the dinner plate. Forks are placed at the left of the plate in the order in which they are to be used, except the oyster fork, which is laid across the knives or else is brought in with the oysters. The steel knife is for cutting meats. The flat fork with the short prongs is for salads. Salads are always eaten with a fork. It is sometimes not very easy to do, but it is the only correct way.

This is the general standard, but there are deviations from it. Nothing but experience in dining--and a great deal of it--will teach one to know always what fork or what knife or what spoon to use when the table service is highly elaborate. The best policy for a stranger under such conditions is that of watchful and unobtrusive waiting.

The dinners that business men choose for themselves are rarely divided into numerous courses. Often they have only two: meat and vegetables, and dessert. The regular order for a six-course dinner is: first, an appetizer such as oyster cocktail, grapefruit, strawberries, or something of the sort, followed by soup, fish, meat and vegetables, salad, dessert, cheese and crackers. One or more of the courses is often omitted.

The rule for tipping is universally the same: Ten per cent of the bill.

Suppose the cases had been reversed and the man from the city had been in Smithville to take dinner with the young banker.

He is not accustomed to seeing all of the food put on the table at one time, nor to having to use the same fork throughout the meal. But he is a gentleman. He adapts himself to their standard so readily that not one of the people at the table could tell but that he had always lived that way.

The young banker is a gentleman, too. When his friends from the city come to visit him he gives them the best he has and does not apologize for it. He does not begin by saying, "I know you are used to having better things than this but I suppose you can stand it for one meal." He simply ushers his guest into the dining room as cordially and with as little affectation as if he were the paying teller of the Smithville bank. No one need ever apologize when he has done or given his best.

It is interesting to know that the standard of our young banker is growing higher and higher all the time. He likes to know how the people who have had time to make an art of dining do it and to adapt his ways to theirs whenever he can.

It is a grave mistake for a business man to feel that he must entertain another to the standard to which the second is accustomed. A poor man who finds himself under the necessity of entertaining a rich one should not feel that he must do it on a grand scale if he has been so entertained by a rich one. Aside from the moral question involved the great game of bluff is too silly and vulgar a one for grown men to play.

But business men play it and their wives join in. Suppose Mrs. Davis, whose husband is an assistant of Mr. Burke, wishes to invite Mrs. Burke to her home to dinner. She and Mr. Davis have been formally entertained in the other home, and the dinner they had there was superintended by a butler and carefully manipulated by two maids. Now Mrs. Davis has no maid, her china is very simple, and the food that she and her husband have, even when they entertain their friends, is plain and wholesome. Should she, for the great occasion, hire more beautiful china and engage servants? Should she draw on the savings bank for more delicate viands?

To begin with, Mr. Burke knows exactly what salary Mr. Davis gets. He knows whether it will warrant such expenditure. Will it make him feel like placing more responsibility on his assistant's shoulders to see him living beyond his means? Is it not, after all, much better for people to meet face to face instead of hiding themselves behind masks? The masks are not pretty, and in most cases deceive only the persons who wear them.

Men who are friends in business often like their wives to be friends as well. It is many times possible to bring about a meeting at the home of a common friend, but when this is not convenient, one of the women may invite the other. If the invitation is to dinner, it is not correct for Mr. Gardner to invite Mrs. Shandon even if he knows her and his wife does not. The invitation should go from Mrs. Gardner and should be addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Shandon. If the invitation is for tea, Mrs. Gardner simply invites Mrs. Shandon, and the nature of the invitation depends upon whether the affair is formal or informal.

Chapter end

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