When William Came HTML version

Some Reflections And A “te Deum”
Cicely awoke, on the morning after the “memorable evening,” with the satisfactory
feeling of victory achieved, tempered by a troubled sense of having achieved it in the face
of a reasonably grounded opposition. She had burned her boats, and was glad of it, but
the reek of their burning drifted rather unpleasantly across the jubilant incense-swinging
of her Te Deum service.
Last night had marked an immense step forward in her social career; without running
after the patronage of influential personages she had seen it quietly and tactfully put at
her service. People such as the Gräfin von Tolb were going to be a power in the London
world for a very long time to come. Herr von Kwarl, with all his useful qualities of brain
and temperament, might conceivably fall out of favour in some unexpected turn of the
political wheel, and the Shalems would probably have their little day and then a long
afternoon of diminishing social importance; the placid dormouse-like Gräfin would
outlast them all. She had the qualities which make either for contented mediocrity or else
for very durable success, according as circumstances may dictate. She was one of those
characters that can neither thrust themselves to the front, nor have any wish to do so, but
being there, no ordinary power can thrust them away.
With the Gräfin as her friend Cicely found herself in altogether a different position from
that involved by the mere interested patronage of Lady Shalem. A vista of social success
was opened up to her, and she did not mean it to be just the ordinary success of a popular
and influential hostess moving in an important circle. That people with naturally bad
manners should have to be polite and considerate in their dealings with her, that people
who usually held themselves aloof should have to be gracious and amiable, that the self-
assured should have to be just a little humble and anxious where she was concerned,
these things of course she intended to happen; she was a woman. But, she told herself,
she intended a great deal more than that when she traced the pattern for her scheme of
social influence. In her heart she detested the German occupation as a hateful necessity,
but while her heart registered the hatefulness the brain recognised the necessity. The
great fighting-machines that the Germans had built up and maintained, on land, on sea,
and in air, were three solid crushing facts that demonstrated the hopelessness of any
immediate thought of revolt. Twenty years hence, when the present generation was older
and greyer, the chances of armed revolt would probably be equally hopeless, equally
remote-seeming. But in the meantime something could have been effected in another
way. The conquerors might partially Germanise London, but, on the other hand, if the
thing were skilfully managed, the British element within the Empire might impress the
mark of its influence on everything German. The fighting men might remain Prussian or
Bavarian, but the thinking men, and eventually the ruling men, could gradually come
under British influence, or even be of British blood. An English Liberal-Conservative
“Centre” might stand as a bulwark against the Junkerdom and Socialism of Continental
Germany. So Cicely reasoned with herself, in a fashion induced perhaps by an earlier
apprenticeship to the reading of Nineteenth Century articles, in which the possible
political and racial developments of various countries were examined and discussed and