The Great Impersonation
There were times during their rapid journey when Seaman, studying his companion,
became thoughtful. Dominey seemed, indeed, to have passed beyond the boundaries of
any ordinary reserve, to have become like a man immeshed in the toils of a past so
absorbing that he moved as though in a dream, speaking only when necessary and
comporting himself generally like one to whom all externals have lost significance. As
they embarked upon the final stage of their travels, Seaman leaned forward in his seat in
the sombrely upholstered, overheated compartment.
"Your home-coming seems to depress you, Von Ragastein," he said.
"It was not my intention," Dominey replied, "to set foot in Germany again for many
"The past still bites?"
The train sped on through long chains of vineyard-covered hills, out into a stretch of flat
country, into forests of pines, in the midst of which were great cleared spaces, where,
notwithstanding the closely drawn windows, the resinous odour from the fallen trunks
seemed to permeate the compartment. Presently they slackened speed. Seaman glanced at
his watch and rose.
"Prepare yourself, my friend," he said. "We descend in a few minutes."
Dominey glanced out of the window.
"But where are we?" he enquired.
"Within five minutes of our destination."
"But there is not a house in sight," Dominey remarked wonderingly.
"You will be received on board His Majesty's private train," Seaman announced. "The
Kaiser, with his staff, is making one of his military tours. We are honoured by being
permitted to travel back with him as far as the Belgian frontier."
They had come to a standstill now. A bearded and uniformed official threw open the door
of their compartment, and they stepped on to the narrow wooden platform of a small
station which seemed to have been recently built of fresh pine planks. The train,
immediately they had alighted, passed on. Their journey was over.