Herewith a Monday conundrum for you.
At the Conservative conference in Manchester, they liked Annabel Goldie's speech.
They chuckled from time to time. They applauded still more frequently.
But the bits they liked most were the attack lines - whereas the most significant, lasting message was one of conciliation.
Policy announcements, there were - protection for whistleblowers in the NHS, support for business start-ups.
Those received decent support from the hall, commensurate perhaps with an acknowledgement of the Tories' relatively modest strength in the Scottish Parliament.
Again, though, the lines that got them going were more fundamental, more gutsy. They applauded enthusiastically when Miss Goldie declared: "We believe in Britain, not narrow nationalism."
Miss Goldie received warmer applause still when she condemned the notion of "wrenching Scotland out of a successful and strong relationship with the rest of Britain."
The mustered representatives cheered as the Scottish Tory leader added, for emphasis: "Absolutely not. No way." (To get the effect, try reading that line aloud in Annabel's distinctive tones. Go on, nobody's watching.)
So we've got it. Alex Salmond's a perfect pest. A beast who wants to wreck Britain. Annabel Goldie will "fight tooth and nail" against Mr Salmond's vision.
Indeed, she appealed to him to abandon his "obsession" with independence.
I expect that, duly chastened, Mr Salmond is already preparing to shelve the essential objective which his party has sought since its foundation seventy five years ago.
But back to that conundrum. Alongside this rhetoric, Miss Goldie stated: "If he is elected, David Cameron has pledged a relationship of mutual respect between our British and Scottish Governments."
What's that? Respect for the wrecker, for the would-be destroyer of Britain? Respect for a Scottish government run by a party whose views on the constitution are "extreme" and "narrow"?
Yes, absolutely. And here's why. Miss Goldie boldly declared that she will return more Tory MPs from Scotland at the next UK General Election.
Given that the current tally is one - count him, one - that may not seem like a particularly challenging target.
But, of course, it is. Here in Manchester, the Tories can barely restrain themselves from doing a Kinnock, Sheffield vintage, and yelling: "Are you all right?!!!"
They expect, firmly, to win. They had to be reminded by William Hague that they need a substantial swing in their favour - and that the voting system or, more accurately, the distribution of seats favours their opponents.
Chill, he said. Calm down. No complacency. A task which, in Scotland, is considerably easier not least because there are relatively few seats which look like going their way, not least because the existing Labour vote has other places to go or may hold up.
So, if David Cameron is chosen as First Lord of the Treasury in Her Majesty's United Kingdom, then he may well find that he still has very limited support in Scotland, perhaps a handful of MPs at best.
Mr Cameron is alert to that challenge - and has signalled that he would seek a compact with the first minister.
In Manchester, I'm hearing one or two grumbles that Team Cameron isn't fully alert to the extent of the problem. Not sure about that: for me, he is at the very least addressing the issue with seriousness and diligence.
The basis of the compact would be that D. Cameron, prime minister, would keep out of Scottish devolved, domestic politics while inviting A.Salmond, first minister, to reciprocate with regard to reserved UK matters.
That is why Miss Goldie talked of "mutual respect". It would be a two-way deal.
So here's the rub? Would Alex Salmond co-operate? My sense is that he would pursue his present broad strategy while using the opportunities which the emergency of a Tory government might present.
To recall, the present strategy is to govern sensibly and modestly within the limits of devolution while concomitantly inviting the voters to infer how much better things could be with the full powers of independence.
With occasional, excitable exceptions, I believe Mr Salmond has stuck to that strategy.
Rivals, of course, may dispute the policy choices made: Miss Goldie objected today to universally free prescriptions.
But, mostly, SNP ministers have worked within the ambit of devolution rather than mounting a sustained, permanent protest about the limitations of power.
Not from lack of ambition or fear but from calculation: they believe this is the best way to convince a sceptical Scottish public to grant the SNP their longer-term objective of independence.
I do not believe that would change fundamentally under a Conservative UK government.
Yes, there would be a campaigning opportunity for Mr Salmond to object that the Tories would be governing Scotland with perhaps only a few seats north of the Border.
But that would be a political debating point, not a pointer to the nature of governance. I do not believe that SNP ministers would, for example, refuse to work with a Tory administration.
That, if you like, would be "picking endless fights with London", the accusation which customarily comes Mr Salmond's way.
Rather, I think that the essential, underlying strategy would remain in place.
However, there might well be more opportunity for political point-scoring. That might particularly prove to be the case if or rather when the cuts in public expenditure start to emerge.
Arguably, though, that would be the case whichever party holds power at Westminster.
John Swinney is scarcely holding back now from issuing complaints about the settlement forthcoming from the Labour-run Treasury.
As to choosing between other parties, I believe that Mr Salmond primarily views his rivals in terms of their adherence to the Union rather than their tilt to right or left.
That may exasperate his opponents - but the clue is in the title of his party. He is a Nationalist.
Still, might the prospect of a Tory government open up further such opportunities for the SNP?
Is Alex Salmond thereby salivating at the prospect of a Tory victory, as his Labour rivals suggest?
Perhaps, to some extent. But think. Does that seriously mean that devolution only works if Labour are in power at the UK level? Does that mean that the "settled will" of the Scottish people, as expressed in the Scotland Act 1998, contains within it the seeds of the inevitable destruction of the UK?
Think again. There is no back-door route to independence. Alex Salmond may well seek to exploit, to some extent, the emergence of a UK Conservative government allied to the spending restraint which looks inevitable.
But, ultimately, he and others know that independence will only happen if and when the people of Scotland palpably and demonstrably vote for it.
I believe, in conclusion, that Alex Salmond would seek to sustain his underlying, relatively cautious strategy in the event of a Conservative victory - while, at the same time, condemning the Tories and all their works.
That is what happens when partisan politics and the exigencies of governance collide.
That is his version of the Goldie conundrum.