“You have been very candid with us, Prince,” Mr. Haviland remarked. “We gather that you are opposed to a renewal of our alliance chiefly for two reasons,—first, that you have formed an unfavorable opinion of our resources and capacity as a nation; and secondly, because you are seeking an ally who would be of service to you in one particular eventuality, namely, a war with the United States. You have spent some time upon the Continent. May we inquire whether your present attitude is the result of advances made to you by any other Power? If I am asking too much, leave my question unanswered.”
The Prince shook his head slowly.
“Tonight,” he said, “I am speaking to you as one who is willing to show everything that is in his heart. I will tell you, then. I have been to Germany, and I can assure you of my own knowledge that Germany possesses the mightiest fighting machine ever known in the world’s history. That I do truthfully and honestly believe. Yet listen to me. I have talked to the men and I have talked to the officers. I have seen them in barracks and on the parade ground, and I tell you this. When the time arrives for that machine to be set in motion, it is my profound conviction that the result will be one of the greatest surprises of modern times. I say no more, nor must you ask me any questions, but I tell you that we do not need Germany as an ally. I have been to Russia, and although our hands have crossed, there can be no real friendship between our countries till time has wiped out the memory of our recent conflict. France hates us because it does not understand us. The future of Japan is just as clear as the disaster which hangs over Great Britain. There is only one possible ally for us, only one possible combination. That is what I have written home to my cousin the Emperor. That is what I pray that our young professors will teach throughout Japan.. That is what it will be my mission to teach my country people if the Fates will that I return safely home. East and West are too far apart. We are well outside the coming European struggle. Our strength will come to us from nearer home.”
“China!” the Prime Minister exclaimed.
“The China of our own making,” the Prince declared, a note of tense enthusiasm creeping into his tone,—“China recreated after its great lapse of a thousand years. You and I in our lifetime shall not see it, but there will come a day when the ancient conquests of Persia and Greece and Rome will seem as nothing before the all-conquering armies of China and Japan. Until those days we need no allies. We will have none. We must accept the insults of America and the rough hand of Germany. We must be strong enough to wait!”
A footman entered the room and made his way to the Duke’s chair.
“Your Grace,” he said, “a gentleman is ringing up from Downing Street who says he is speaking from the Home Office.”
“Whom does he want?” the Duke asked.