“That may happen. But I think it improbable.”
“If Russia makes war on Austria, Germany will make war on Russia, will she not?”
“Not if she is wise,” said Mr. Britling, “because that would bring in France.”
“That is why I ask. If Germany goes to war with France I should have to go to Germany to do my service. It will be a great inconvenience to me.”
“I don’t imagine Germany will do anything so frantic as to attack Russia. That would not only bring in France but ourselves.”
“Of course. We can’t afford to see France go under. The thing is as plain as daylight. So plain that it cannot possibly happen.... Cannot.... Unless Germany wants a universal war.”
“Thank you,” said Herr Heinrich, looking obedient rather than reassured.
“I suppose now,” said Mr. Direck after a pause, “that there isn’t any strong party in Germany that wants a war. That young Crown Prince, for example.”
“They keep him in order,” said Mr. Britling a little irritably. “They keep him in order....
“I used to be an alarmist about Germany,” said Mr. Britling, “but I have come to feel more and more confidence in the sound common sense of the mass of the German population, and in the Emperor too if it comes to that. He is—if Herr Heinrich will permit me to agree with his own German comic papers—sometimes a little theatrical, sometimes a little egotistical, but in his operatic, boldly coloured way he means peace. I am convinced he means peace....”
After lunch Mr. Britling had a brilliant idea for the ease and comfort of Mr. Direck.
It seemed as though Mr. Direck would be unable to write any letters until his wrist had mended. Teddy tried him with a typewriter, but Mr. Direck was very awkward with his left hand, and then Mr. Britling suddenly remembered a little peculiarity he had which it was possible that Mr. Direck might share unconsciously, and that was his gift of looking-glass writing with his left hand. Mr. Britling had found out quite by chance in his schoolboy days that while his right hand had been laboriously learning to write, his left hand, all unsuspected, had been picking up the same lesson, and that by taking a pencil in his left hand and writing from right to left, without watching what he was writing, and then examining the scrawl in a mirror, he could reproduce his own handwriting in exact reverse. About three people out of five have this often quite unsuspected ability. He demonstrated his gift, and then Miss Cecily Corner, who had dropped in in a casual sort of way to ask about Mr. Direck, tried it, and then Mr. Direck tried it. And they could all do it. And then Teddy brought a sheet of copying carbon, and so Mr. Direck, by using the carbon reversed under his paper, was restored to the world of correspondence again.