The Great Impersonation HTML version

Chapter 24
The next morning saw the breaking-up of Dominey's carefully arranged shooting party.
The Prince took his host's arm and led him to one side for a few moments, as the cars
were being loaded up. His first few words were of formal thanks. He spoke then more
"Von Ragastein," he said, "I desire to refer back for a moment to our conversation the
other day."
Dominey shook his head and glanced behind.
"I know only one name here, Prince."
"Dominey, then. I will confess that you play and carry the part through perfectly. I have
known English gentlemen all my life, and you have the trick of the thing. But listen. I
have already told you of my disapproval of this scheme in which you are the central
"It is understood," Dominey assented.
"That," the Prince continued, "is a personal matter. What I am now going to say to you is
official. I had despatches from Berlin last night. They concern you."
Dominey seemed to stiffen a little.
"I am given to understand," the Ambassador continued, "that you practically exist only in
the event of that catastrophe which I, for one, cannot foresee. I am assured that if your
expose should take place at any time, your personation will be regarded as a private
enterprise, and there is nothing whatever to connect you with any political work."
"Up to the present that is absolutely so," Dominey agreed.
"I am further advised to look upon you as my unnamed and unsuspected successor here,
in the event of war. For that reason I am begged to inaugurate terms of intimacy with
you, to treat you with the utmost confidence, and, if the black end should come, to leave
in your hands all such unfulfilled work as can be continued in secrecy and silence. I
perhaps express myself in a somewhat confused manner."
"I understand perfectly," Dominey replied. "The authorities have changed their first idea
as to my presence here. They want to keep every shadow of suspicion away from me, so
that in the event of war I shall have an absolutely unique position, an unsuspected yet