The Great Impersonation HTML version

Chapter 20
Arm in arm, Prince Terniloff and his host climbed the snow-covered slope at the back of
a long fir plantation, towards the little beflagged sticks which indicated their stand. There
was not a human being in sight, for the rest of the guns had chosen a steeper but
somewhat less circuitous route.
"Von Ragastein," the Ambassador said, "I am going to give myself the luxury of calling
you by your name. You know my one weakness, a weakness which in my younger days
very nearly drove me out of diplomacy. I detest espionage in every shape and form even
where it is necessary. So far as you are concerned, my young friend," he went on, "I think
your position ridiculous. I have sent a private despatch to Potsdam, in which I have
expressed that opinion."
"So far," Dominey remarked, "I have not been overworked."
"My dear young friend," the Prince continued, "you have not been overworked because
there has been no legitimate work for you to do. There will be none. There could be no
possible advantage accruing from your labours here to compensate for the very bad effect
which the discovery of your true name and position would have in the English Cabinet."
"I must ask you to remember," Dominey begged, "that I am here as a blind servant of the
Fatherland. I simply obey orders."
"I will grant that freely," the Prince consented. "But to continue. I am now at the end of
my first year in this country. I feel able to congratulate myself upon a certain measure of
success. From that part of the Cabinet with whom I have had to do, I have received
nothing but encouragement in my efforts to promote a better understanding between our
two countries."
"The sky certainly seems clear enough just now," agreed Dominey.
"I have convinced myself," the Prince said emphatically, "that there is a genuine and solid
desire for peace with Germany existing in Downing Street. In every argument I have had,
in every concession I have asked for, I have been met with a sincere desire to foster the
growing friendship between our countries. I am proud of my work here, Von Ragastein. I
believe that I have brought Germany and England nearer together than they have been
since the days of the Boer War."
"You are sure, sir," Dominey asked, "that you are not confusing personal popularity with
national sentiment?"
"I am sure of it," the Ambassador answered gravely. "Such popularity as I may have
achieved here has been due to an appreciation of the more healthy state of world politics
now existing. It has been my great pleasure to trace the result of my work in a manuscript