Mr. Direck changed again, and after using some embrocation that Mrs. Britling recommended very strongly, came down in a black jacket and a cheerfully ample black tie. He had a sense of physical well-being such as he had not experienced since he came aboard the liner at New York. The curious thing was that it was not quite the same sense of physical well-being that one had in America. That is bright and clear and a little dry, this was—humid. His mind quivered contentedly, like sunset midges over a lake—it had no hard bright flashes—and his body wanted to sit about. His sense of intimacy with Cecily increased each time he looked at her. When she met his eyes she smiled. He’d caught her style now, he felt; he attempted no more compliments and was frankly her pupil at hockey and Badminton. After supper Mr. Britling renewed his suggestion of an automobile excursion on the Monday.
“There’s nothing to take you back to London,” said Mr. Britling, “and we could just hunt about the district with the little old car and see everything you want to see....”
Mr. Direck did not hesitate three seconds. He thought of Gladys; he thought of Miss Cecily Corner.
“Well, indeed,” he said, “if it isn’t burthening you, if I’m not being any sort of inconvenience here for another night, I’d be really very glad indeed of the opportunity of going around and seeing all these ancient places....”
The newspapers came next morning at nine, and were full of the Sarajevo Murders. Mr. Direck got the Daily Chronicle and found quite animated headlines for a British paper.
“Who’s this Archduke,” he asked, “anyhow? And where is this Bosnia? I thought it was a part of Turkey.”
“It’s in Austria,” said Teddy.
“It’s in the middle ages,” said Mr. Britling. “What an odd, pertinaceous business it seems to have been. First one bomb, then another; then finally the man with the pistol. While we were strolling about the rose garden. It’s like something out of ‘The Prisoner of Zenda.’”
“Please,” said Herr Heinrich.
Mr. Britling assumed an attentive expression.
“Will not this generally affect European politics?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps it will.”
“It says in the paper that Serbia has sent those bombs to Sarajevo.”
“It’s like another world,” said Mr. Britling, over his paper. “Assassination as a political method. Can you imagine anything of the sort happening nowadays west of the Adriatic? Imagine some one assassinating the American Vice-President, and the bombs being at once ascribed to the arsenal at Toronto!... We take our politics more sadly in the West.... Won’t you have another egg, Direck?”
“Please! Might this not lead to a war?”
“I don’t think so. Austria may threaten Serbia, but she doesn’t want to provoke a conflict with Russia. It would be going too near the powder magazine. But it’s all an extraordinary business.”