“In a time like this,” he remarked significantly, “one begins to understand why one of our great writers—was it Bernhardi, I wonder?—has written that no island could ever breed a race of diplomatists.”
“The seas which engirdle this island,” the Ambassador said thoughtfully, “have brought the English great weal, as they may bring to her much woe. The too-nimble brain of the diplomat has its parallel of insincerity in the people whose interests he seems to guard. I believe in the honesty of the English politicians, I have placed that belief on record in the small volume of memoirs which I shall presently entrust to you. But we talk too seriously for a summer afternoon. Let us illustrate to the world our opinion of the political situation and play another nine holes at golf.”
Dominey rose willingly to his feet, and the two men strolled away towards the first tee.
“By the by,” Terniloff asked, “what of our cheerful little friend Seaman? He ought to be busy just now.”
“Curiously enough, he is returning from Germany to-night,” Dominey announced. “I expect him at Berkeley square. He is coming direct to me.”
These were days, to all dwellers in London, of vivid impressions, of poignant memories, reasserting themselves afterwards with a curious sense of unreality, as though belonging to another set of days and another world. Dominey long remembered his dinner that evening in the sombre, handsomely furnished dining-room of his town house in Berkeley Square. Although it lacked the splendid proportions of the banqueting hall at Dominey, it was still a fine apartment, furnished in the Georgian period, with some notable pictures upon the walls, and with a wonderful ceiling and fireplace. Dominey and Rosamund dined alone, and though the table had been reduced to its smallest proportions, the space between them was yet considerable. As soon as Parkins had gravely put the port upon the table, Rosamund rose to her feet and, instead of leaving the room, pointed for the servant to place a chair for her by Dominey’s side.
“I shall be like your men friends, Everard,” she declared, “when the ladies have left, and draw up to your side. Now what do we do? Tell stories? I promise you that I will be a wonderful listener.”
“First of all you drink half a glass of this port,” he declared, filling her glass, “then you peel me one of those peaches, and we divide it. After which we listen for a ring at the bell. To-night I expect a visitor.”
“Not a social one,” he assured her. “A matter of business which I fear will take me from you for the rest of the evening. So let us make the most of the time until he comes.”
She commenced her task with the peach, talking to him all the time a little gravely, a sweet and picturesque picture of a graceful and very desirable woman, her delicate shape and artistic fragility more than ever accentuated by the sombreness of the background.