“Boko again, I suppose,” Norgate grunted.
“Certainly Boko,” Selingman acknowledged.
“I was in the Yeomanry when I was younger,” Norgate explained slowly. “I had some thought of entering the army before I took up diplomacy. Colonel Chalmers is a friend of mine. I have been down to Camberley to see if I could pick up a little of the new drill.”
“For what reason?” Selingman demanded.
“Need I tell you that?” Norgate protested. “Whatever my feeling for England may be at the present moment, however bitterly I may regret the way she has let her opportunities slip, the slovenly political condition of the country, yet I cannot put away from me the fact that I am an Englishman. If trouble should come, even though I may have helped to bring it about, even though I may believe that it is a good thing for the country to have to meet trouble, I should still fight on her side.”
“But there will be no war,” Selingman reminded him. “You yourself have ascertained that the present Cabinet will decline war at any cost.”
“The present Government, without a doubt,” Norgate assented. “I am thinking of later on, when your first task is over.”
Selingman nodded gravely.
“When that day comes,” he said, as he rose and took up his hat, “it will not be a war. If your people resist, it will be a butchery. Better to find yourself in one of the Baroness’ castles in Austria when that time comes! It is never worth while to draw a sword in a lost cause. I wish you good night, Baroness. I wish you good night, Norgate.”
He shook hands with them both firmly, but there was still something of reserve in his manner. Norgate rang for his servant to show him out. They took their places once more by the window.
“War!” Norgate murmured, his eyes fixed upon the distant lights.
Anna crept a little nearer to him.
“Francis,” she whispered, “that man has made me a little uneasy. Supposing they should discover that you have deceived them, before they have been obliged to leave the country!”
“They will be much too busy,” Norgate replied, “to think about me.”
Anna’s face was still troubled. “I did not like that man’s look,” she persisted, “when he asked you what you were doing at Camberley. Perhaps he still believes that you have told the truth, but he might easily have it in his mind that you knew too many of their secrets to be trusted when the vital moment came.”
Norgate leaned over and drew her towards him.
“Selingman has gone,” he murmured. “It is only outside that war is throbbing. Dearest, I think that my vital moments are now!”