“There would be always a multitude of counsellors,” Seaman replied, “in Germany as in England. The trouble for this country is that they would be all expressed publicly and in the press, each view would have its adherents, and the Government be split up into factions. In Germany, the real destinies of the country are decided in secret. There are counsellors there, too, earnest and wise counsellors, but no one knows their varying views. All that one learns is the result, spoken through the lips of the Kaiser, spoken once and for all.”
Dominey was showing signs of a rare interest in his companion’s conversation. His eyes were bright, his usually impassive features seemed to have become more mobile and strained. He laid his hand on Seaman’s arm.
“Listen,” he said, “we are in London, alone in a taxicab, secure against any possible eavesdropping. You preach the advantage of our Kaiser-led country. Do you really believe that the Kaiser is the man for the task which is coming?”
Seaman’s narrow eyes glittered. He looked at his companion in satisfaction. His forehead was puckered, his eternal smile gone. He was the man of intellect.
“So you are waking up from the lethargy of Africa, my friend!” he exclaimed. “You are beginning to think. As you ask me, so shall I answer. The Kaiser is a vain, bombastic dreamer, the greatest egotist who ever lived, with a diseased personality, a ceaseless craving for the limelight. But he has also the genius for government. I mean this: he is a splendid medium for the expression of the brain power of his counsellors. Their words will pass through his personality, and he will believe them his. What is more, they will sound like his. He will see himself the knight in shining armour. All Europe will bow down before this self-imagined Caesar, and no one except we who are behind will realise the ass’s head. There is no one else in this world whom I have ever met so well fitted to lead our great nation on to the destiny she deserves.—And now, my friend, to-morrow, if you like, we will speak of these matters again. To-night, you have other things to think about. You are going into the great places where I never penetrate. You have an hour to change and prepare. At eleven o’clock the Prince Von Terniloff will expect you.”
There had been a dinner party and a very small reception afterwards at the great Embassy in Carlton House Terrace. The Ambassador, Prince Terniloff, was bidding farewell to his wife’s cousin, the Princess Eiderstrom, the last of his guests. She drew him on one side for a moment.
“Your Excellency,” she said, “I have been hoping for a word with you all the evening.”
“And I with you, dear Stephanie,” he answered. “It is very early. Let us sit down for a moment.”
He led her towards a settee but she shook her head.