“And such a lot of guns,” said Manning.
“Then you think it will be a long war, Mr. Britling?” said Lady Meade.
“Long or short, it will end in the downfall of Germany. But I do not believe it will be long. I do not agree with Manning. Even now I cannot believe that a whole great people can be possessed by war madness. I think the war is the work of the German armaments party and of the Court party. They have forced this war on Germany. Well—they must win and go on winning. So long as they win, Germany will hold together, so long as their armies are not clearly defeated nor their navy destroyed. But once check them and stay them and beat them, then I believe that suddenly the spirit of Germany will change even as it changed after Jena....”
“Willie Nixon,” said one of the visitors, “who came back from Hamburg yesterday, says they are convinced they will have taken Paris and St. Petersburg and one or two other little places and practically settled everything for us by about Christmas.”
“I forgot if he said London. But I suppose a London more or less hardly matters. They don’t think we shall dare come in, but if we do they will Zeppelin the fleet and walk through our army—if you can call it an army.”
Manning nodded confirmation.
“They do not understand,” said Mr. Britling.
“Sir George Padish told me the same sort of thing,” said Lady Homartyn. “He was in Berlin in June.”
“Of course the efficiency of their preparations is almost incredible,” said another of Lady Meade’s party.
“They have thought out and got ready for everything—literally everything.”
Mr. Britling had been a little surprised by the speech he had made. He hadn’t realised before he began to talk how angry and scornful he was at this final coming into action of the Teutonic militarism that had so long menaced his world. He had always said it would never really fight—and here it was fighting! He was furious with the indignation of an apologist betrayed. He had only realised the strength and passion of his own belligerent opinions as he had heard them, and as he walked back with his wife through the village to the Dower House, he was still in the swirl of this self-discovery; he was darkly silent, devising fiercely denunciatory phrases against Krupp and Kaiser. “Krupp and Kaiser,” he grasped that obvious, convenient alliteration. “It is all that is bad in mediaevalism allied to all that is bad in modernity,” he told himself.