Greenmantle HTML version

3. Peter Pienaar
Our various departures were unassuming, all but the American's. Sandy spent a busy
fortnight in his subterranean fashion, now in the British Museum, now running about the
country to see old exploring companions, now at the War Office, now at the Foreign
Office, but mostly in my flat, sunk in an arm-chair and meditating. He left finally on
December 1st as a King's Messenger for Cairo. Once there I knew the King's
Messenger would disappear, and some queer Oriental ruffian take his place. It would
have been impertinence in me to inquire into his plans. He was the real professional,
and I was only the dabbler.
Blenkiron was a different matter. Sir Walter told me to look out for squalls, and the
twinkle in his eye gave me a notion of what was coming. The first thing the sportsman
did was to write a letter to the papers signed with his name. There had been a debate in
the House of Commons on foreign policy, and the speech of some idiot there gave him
his cue. He declared that he had been heart and soul with the British at the start, but
that he was reluctantly compelled to change his views. He said our blockade of
Germany had broken all the laws of God and humanity, and he reckoned that Britain
was now the worst exponent of Prussianism going. That letter made a fine racket, and
the paper that printed it had a row with the Censor. But that was only the beginning of
Mr Blenkiron's campaign. He got mixed up with some mountebanks called the League
of Democrats against Aggression, gentlemen who thought that Germany was all right if
we could only keep from hurting her feelings. He addressed a meeting under their
auspices, which was broken up by the crowd, but not before John S. had got off his
chest a lot of amazing stuff. I wasn't there, but a man who was told me that he never
heard such clotted nonsense. He said that Germany was right in wanting the freedom of
the seas, and that America would back her up, and that the British Navy was a bigger
menace to the peace of the world than the Kaiser's army. He admitted that he had once
thought differently, but he was an honest man and not afraid to face facts. The oration
closed suddenly, when he got a brussels- sprout in the eye, at which my friend said he
swore in a very unpacifist style.
After that he wrote other letters to the Press, saying that there was no more liberty of
speech in England, and a lot of scallywags backed him up. Some Americans wanted to
tar and feather him, and he got kicked out of the Savoy. There was an agitation to get
him deported, and questions were asked in Parliament, and the Under-Secretary for
Foreign Affairs said his department had the matter in hand. I was beginning to think that
Blenkiron was carrying his tomfoolery too far, so I went to see Sir Walter, but he told me
to keep my mind easy.
'Our friend's motto is "Thorough",' he said, 'and he knows very well what he is about.
We have officially requested him to leave, and he sails from Newcastle on Monday. He
will be shadowed wherever he goes, and we hope to provoke more outbreaks. He is a
very capable fellow.'