The Great Impersonation
Terniloff and Dominey, one morning about six months later, lounged underneath a great
elm tree at Ranelagh, having iced drinks after a round of golf. Several millions of
perspiring Englishmen were at the same moment studying with dazed wonder the
headlines in the midday papers.
"I suppose," the Ambassador remarked, as he leaned back in his chair with an air of lazy
content, "that I am being accused of fiddling while Rome burns."
"Every one has certainly not your confidence in the situation," Dominey rejoined calmly.
"There is no one else who knows quite so much," Terniloff reminded him.
Dominey sipped his drink for a moment or two in silence.
"Have you the latest news of the Russian mobilisation?" he asked. "They had some
startling figures in the city this morning."
The Prince waved his hand.
"My faith is not founded on these extraneous incidents," he replied. "If Russia mobilises,
it is for defence. No nation in the world would dream of attacking Germany, nor has
Germany the slightest intention of imperilling her coming supremacy amongst the nations
by such crude methods as military enterprise. Servia must be punished, naturally, but to
that, in principle, every nation in Europe is agreed. We shall not permit Austria to
overstep the mark."
"You are at least consistent, Prince," Dominey remarked.
"That is because I have been taken behind the scenes," he said. "I have been shown, as is
the privilege of ambassadors, the mind of our rulers. You, my friend," he went on, "spent
your youth amongst the military faction. You think that you are the most important
people in Germany. Well, you are not. The Kaiser has willed it otherwise. By-the-by, I
had yesterday a most extraordinary cable from Stephanie."
Dominey ceased swinging his putter carelessly over the head of a daisy and turned his
head to listen.
"Is she on the way home?"