Tonight! I need those twelve hours for my plans.
[The SECRETARY holds the door open for the CHIEF OF STAFF who is about to go out when suddenly in the doorway appears a young man of thirty, pale, dark, timid. He hesitates on the threshold.
[Taken aback, bowing.
[PRIME MINISTER and MINISTER OF WAR bow.
I trust I am not breaking in upon a matter that does not concern me?
There is nothing that the King’s servants may do that does not concern the King.
True. But sometimes the King is kept in ignorance nevertheless.
[To the SECRETARY.
What paper is that you have there, if you please?
[With an uneasy glance at the others.
Here, your Majesty.
[Aside to SECRETARY.
It is the report of your Majesty’s interview with the Ambassador.
[Glancing at the paper and speaking in quick, excited tones.
My message has been altered. It was conciliatory.
It is a challenge now.
Who did this?
Your Majesty sees the culprit before you.
Are you trying to make war?
I am trying, your Majesty, to save the country from the results of your Majesty’s indiscretion in calling the Ambassador to your palace without consulting your Ministers. If we do not strike now we lose our prestige as a great nation, our national honor is dragged in the dust. We have to fight. We cannot afford to back down.
[Striding across the room, agitatedly.
But this is unholy, barbaric—this deliberate concoction of a great, terrible war. I saw clearly this evening as I was talking with the Ambassador how utterly without inner necessity this war-scare is. It is a made thing from beginning to end, and I refuse absolutely to sanction it.