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From Clement Attlee’s chambermaids to Eleanor Roosevelt’s valets at the White House, the Westerners who cast eyes upon the belongings of Vyacheslav Molotov never ceased to be astonished by what they saw. One British chambermaid noted that beneath his pillow the Russian kept a pistol. Mrs. Roosevelt’s servants reported that Molotov had brought a chunk of black bread, a roll of sausage, and a pistol. “Mr. Molotov evidently thought he might have to defend himself, and also that he might be hungry,” Mrs. Roosevelt confided. “I liked him very much.”

In Washington last week, with a somewhat sheepish grin, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles confided to his weekly press conference that he too was a diplomat who owned a rod. Dulles was saying that he did not object to fingerprinting—a bureaucratic procedure that strikes Europeans as degrading. Why? Because he himself had submitted to fingerprinting every year to get a permit for his .38-cal. Smith & Wesson, serial number 242332. “What do you use a revolver for?” gasped one of the reporters. “Fortunately, I haven’t had to use it at all,” replied John Foster Dulles. He explained that Costa Rica’s President (1917-19) Federico Tinoco had given him the pistol in 1917, when Dulles was traveling on horseback through the jungles of Central America. It turned out that Dulles on this ride had indeed used his Smith & Wesson, to kill a wildcat.

Did the Secretary of State’s pistol, a reporter inquired, figure in the current disarmament talks? Dulles’ reply was a dry laugh. He assured his listeners that he had not fired the piece in years, that he kept it in the drawer of his bedside table in Washington, that he was unfailingly careful to get a permit once a year. The Secretary’s permit read: “Age: 67; Col.: white; Physical marks . . . Mixed grey hair. Eye glasses.”

A couple of days later, accompanied by his wife and his year-old French poodle, Pepe, Dulles headed north to Lake Ontario’s Duck Island for his first two-week vacation since joining President Eisenhower’s Administration. Duck Island is in Canada, and Dulles has arrangements with the Canadian government that will protect him better than Smith & Wesson No. 242332 from foolish questioners.

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