The Great Impersonation
There was a cloud on Seaman's good-humoured face as, muffled up in their overcoats, he
and his host walked up and down the terrace the next morning, after the departure of Mr.
Mangan. He disclosed his mind a little abruptly.
"In a few minutes," he said, "I shall come to the great purpose of my visit. I have great
and wonderful news for you. But it will keep."
"The time for action has arrived?" Dominey asked curiously. "I hope you will remember
that as yet I am scarcely established here."
"It is with regard to your establishment here," Seaman explained drily, "that I desire to
say a word. We have seen much of one another since we met in Cape Town. The passion
and purpose of my life you have been able to judge. Of those interludes which are
necessary to a human being, unless his system is to fall to pieces as dry dust, you have
also seen something. I trust you will not misunderstand me when I say that apart from the
necessities of my work, I am a man of sentiment."
"I am prepared to admit it," Dominey murmured a little idly.
"You have undertaken a great enterprise. It was, without a doubt, a miraculous piece of
fortune which brought the Englishman, Dominey, to your camp just at the moment when
you received your orders from headquarters. Your self-conceived plan has met with every
encouragement from us. You will be placed in a unique position to achieve your final
purpose. Now mark my words and do not misunderstand me. The very keynote of our
progress is ruthlessness. To take even a single step forward towards the achievement of
that purpose is worth the sacrifice of all the scruples and delicacies conceivable. But
when a certain course of action is without profit to our purpose, I see ugliness in it. It
"What the devil do you mean?" Dominey demanded.
"I sleep with one ear open," Seaman replied.
"I saw you leave your room early this morning," Seaman continued, "carrying Lady
Dominey in your arms."
There were little streaks of pallor underneath the tan in Dominey's face. His eyes were
like glittering metal. It was only when he had breathed once or twice quickly that he
could command his voice.