The way to my heart is to call me, “Sir”. I have come to find this out. Be she never so opposite my ideal, a mere, “Thank you, sir,” can win her entrance to my thoughts that no charm or wit could effect. Ever since I was thirteen and fourteen, that simple demonstration of deference (unless obviously in jest or flirtation) has had a powerful influence over me, making me willing to do nearly anything for the lovely or unlovely form who paid it to me.
It may be a weakness of ego, but there is at least one more subtle veil of power it possesses: the feeling is very nearly as if her soul had kissed mine. The baiser de la fée offered is of such transforming power that it leaves me fond and fatuous until I regain some minor degree of reasoning capacity — which may take some time if the girl is of the kind who says “sir” habitually, forever renewing the spell.
Its great power over me stems, I think, from the present rarity of the word. As the universe at large has grown progressively cavalier and haphazard, tokens of mutual respect have diminished to such a degree that, far from now being expected, they are like diamonds found among coal.
Enthrallment, enslavement, enchantment: who would have thought it rested in the simple word, “sir”? Well, mayhap it is by devious feminine design. Perhaps they thought of it. No matter: I am a willing slave of sweetness. *