“This,” Seaman replied, “is where genius steps in. Russia has been ripe for a revolution any time for the last fifteen years. We have secret agents now in every city and country place and throughout the army. We shall teach Russia how to make herself a free country.”
Dominey shivered a little with an almost involuntary repulsion. For the second time that almost satyr-like grin on Seaman’s face revolted him.
“And what of my own work?”
Seaman helped himself to a liqueur. He was, as a rule, a moderate man, but this was the third time he had replenished his glass since his hasty meal.
“My brain is weary, friend,” he admitted, passing his hand over his forehead. “I have a great fatigue. The thoughts jump about. This last week has been one of fierce excitements. Everything, almost your daily life, has been planned. We shall go over it within a day or so. Meanwhile, remember this. It is our great aim to keep England out of the war.”
“Terniloff is right, then, after all!” Dominey exclaimed.
Seaman laughed scornfully.
“If we want England out of the war,” he pointed out, “it is not that we desire her friendship. It is that we may crush her the more easily when Calais, Boulogne and Havre are in our hands. That will be in three months’ time. Then perhaps our attitude towards England may change a little! Now I go.”
Dominey folded up the map with reluctance. His companion shook his head. It was curious that he, too, for the first time in his life upon the same day, addressed his host differently.
“Baron Von Ragastein,” he said, “there are six of those maps in existence. That one is for you. Lock it away and guard it as though it were your greatest treasure on earth, but when you are alone, bring it out and study it. It shall be your inspiration, it shall lighten your moments of depression, give you courage when you are in danger; it shall fill your mind with pride and wonder. It is yours.”
Dominey folded it carefully up, crossed the room, unlocked a little safe and deposited it therein.
“I shall guard it, according to your behest, as my greatest treasure,” he assured his departing guest, with a fervour which surprised even himself.
There was something dramatic, in the most lurid sense of the word, about the brief telephone message which Dominey received, not so many hours later, from Carlton House Terrace. In a few minutes he was moving through the streets, still familiar yet already curiously changed. Men and women were going about their business as usual, but an air of stupefaction was everywhere apparent. Practically every loiterer was studying a newspaper, every chance acquaintance had stopped to confer with his fellows. War, alternately the joke and bogey of the conversationalist, stretched her grey hands over the sunlit city.