He sat down, and for a moment absolute silence reigned. The Grand Duke made a serious face, and exchanged a few whispered words with both his nephews.
Then he said: “All the gentlemen who have here given us their views on the situation are agreed that a declaration of war upon England is an exceedingly lamentable but, under the circumstances, unavoidable necessity; yet before I communicate to His Majesty, our gracious Lord, this view, which is that of us all, I put to you, gentlemen, the question whether there is anyone here who is of a contrary opinion. In this case, I would beg of him to address us.”
He waited a short while, but as no one wished to be allowed to speak, he rose from his chair, and with a few words of thanks and a gentle bow to the dignitaries, who had also risen in their places, notified that he regarded the sitting, fraught with momentous consequences for the destiny of the world, as closed.
THE OFFICERS’ MESS
The place was Chanidigot, in British East India. The blinding brightness of the hot day had been immediately followed, almost without the transition to twilight, by the darkness of evening, which brought with it a refreshing coolness, allowing all living things to breathe again freely. In the wide plain, which served as the encampment ground for the English regiment of lancers, all was alive again with the setting of the sun. The soldiers, freed from the toil of duty, enjoyed themselves, according to their ideas and dispositions, either in playing cards, singing, or merrily drinking. The large tent, used as a