The Baron blinked his eyes meditatively.
“I have seen very little of you, Maiyo,” he said, “since your last visit to the Continent. I take it that your views are unchanged?”
The Prince assented.
“Unchanged indeed,” he answered,—“unchangeable, I think almost that I might now say. They have been wonderful months, these last months, Baron,” he continued. “I have seen some of those things which we in Japan have heard about and wondered about all our lives. I have seen the German army at manoeuvres. I have talked to their officers. Where I could, I have talked to the men. I have been to some of their great socialist meetings. I have heard them talk about their country and their Emperor, and what would happen to their officers if war should come. I have seen the French artillery. I have been the guest of the President. I have tried to understand the peculiar attitude which that country has always adopted toward us. I have been, unrecognized, in St. Petersburg. I have tried to understand a little the resources of that marvellous country. I came back here in time for the great review in the Solent. I have seen the most magnificent ships and the most splendid naval discipline the world has ever known. Then I have explored the interior of this island as few of our race have explored it before, not for the purpose of studying the manufactures, the trades, the immense shipbuilding industries,—simply to study the people themselves.”
The Baron nodded gravely.
“I ask no questions,” he said. “It is the Emperor’s desire, I know, that you go straight to him. I take it that your mind is made up,—you have arrived at definite conclusions?”
“Absolutely.” Prince Maiyo answered. “I shall make no great secret of them. You already, my dear Baron, know, I think, whither they lead. I shall be unpopular for a time, I suppose, and your own position may be made a little difficult. After that, things will go on pretty much the same. Of one thing, though, I am assured. I see it as clearly as the shepherd who has lain the night upon the hillside sees the coming day. It may be twelve months, it may be two years, it may even be three, but before that time has passed the clouds will have gathered, the storm will have burst. Then, I think, Hesho, our master will be glad that we are free.”
The Baron agreed.
“Only a few nights ago,” he said, “Captain Koki and the other attaches spent an evening with me. We have charts and pieces, and with locked doors we played a war game of our own invention. It should all be over in three weeks.”
Prince Maiyo laughed softly.
“You are right,” he said. “I have gone over the ground myself. It could be done in even less time. You should ask a few of our friends to that war game, Baron. How they would smile! You read the newspapers of the country?”
“Invariably,” the Ambassador answered.