THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
By E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM
'The Curious Quest," "The Cinema Murder,*
"The Zeppelin's Passenger,"
"The Pawns Count," etc.
A. L. BURT COMPANY
Publishers New York
Published by arrangement with Little, Brown & Company
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.
All rights reserved.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
The trouble from which great events were to
come began when Everard Dominey, who had been
fighting his way through the scrub for the last
three quarters of an hour towards those thin, spiral
wisps of smoke, urged his pony to a last despairing
effort and came crashing through the great oleander
shrub to pitch forward on his head in the little clear-
ing. It developed the next morning, when he found
himself for the first time for many months on a
truckle bed, between linen sheets, with a cool, bamboo-
twisted roof between him and the relentless sun. He
raised himself a little in the bed.
" Where the mischief am I ? " he demanded.
A black boy, seated cross-legged in the entrance
of the banda, rose to his feet, mumbled something
and disappeared. In a few moments the tall, slim
figure of a European, in spotless white riding clothes,
stooped down and came over to Dominey's side.
"You are better?" he enquired politely.
" Yes, I am," was the somewhat brusque rejoinder.
** Where the mischief am I, and who are you? "
The newcomer's manner stiffened. He was a per-
son of dignified carriage, and his tone conveyed some
measure of rebuke.
2 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" You are within half a mile of the Iriwarri River,
if you know where that is," he replied, " about
seventy-two miles southeast of the Darawaga Settle-
" The devil ! Then I am in German East Africa? "
" Without a doubt."
"And you are German?"
" I have that honour."
Dominey whistled softly.
" Awfully sorry to have intruded," he said. " I
reft Marlinstein two and a half months ago, with
twenty boys and plenty of stores. We were doing
a big trek after lions. I took some new Askaris in
and they made trouble, looted the stores one night
and there was the devil to pay. I was obliged to
shoot one or two, and the rest deserted. They took
my compass, damn them, and I'm nearly a hundred
miles out of my bearings. You couldn't give me a
drink, could you? "
" With pleasure, if the doctor approves," was the
courteous answer. " Here, Jan ! "
The boy sprang up, listened to a word or two
of brief command in his own language, and disap-
peared through the hanging grass which led into
another hut. The two men exchanged glances of
rather more than ordinary interest. Then Dominey
" I know what you're thinking," he said. " It gave
me quite a start when you came in. We're devil-
ishly alike, aren't we ? "
" There is a very strong likeness between us," the
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 3
Dominey leaned his head upon his hand and stud-
ied his host. The likeness was clear enough, al-
though the advantage was all in favour of the man
who stood by the side of the camp bedstead with
folded arms. Everard Dominey, for the first twenty-
six years of his life, had lived as an ordinary young
Englishman of his position, Eton, Oxford, a few
years in the Army, a few years about town, during
which he had succeeded in making a still more hope-
less muddle of his already encumbered estates: a
few months of tragedy, and then a blank. After*
wards ten years at first in the cities, then in the
dark places of Africa years of which no man
knew anything. The Everard Dominey of ten years
ago had been, without a doubt, good-looking. The
finely shaped features remained, but the eyes had
lost their lustre, his figure its elasticity, his mouth
its firmness. He had the look of a man run pre-
maturely to seed, wasted by fevers and dissipation.
Not so his present companion. His features were
as finely shaped, cast in an even stronger though
similar mould. His eyes were bright and full of
fire, his mouth and chin firm, bespeaking a man of
deeds, his tall figure lithe and supple. He had the
air of being in perfect health, in perfect mental and
physical condition, a man who lived with dignity and
some measure of content, notwithstanding the slight
gravity of his expression.
" Yes," the Englishman muttered, " there's no
doubt about the likeness, though I suppose I should
look more like you than I do if I'd taken care of
myself. But I haven't. That's the devil of it. I've
4 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
gone the other way ; tried to chuck my life away and
pretty nearly succeeded, too."
The dried grasses were thrust on one side, and
the doctor entered, a little round man, also clad
in immaculate white, with yellow-gold hair and
thick spectacles. His countryman pointed towards
" Will you examine our patient, Herr Doctor, and
prescribe for him what is necessary? He has asked
for drink. Let him have wine, or whatever is good
for him. If he is well enough, he will join our eve-
ning meal. I present my excuses. I have a de-
spatch to write."
The man on the couch turned his head and watched
the departing figure with a shade of envy in his
" What is my preserver's name ? " he asked the
The latter looked as though the question were ir-
" It is His Excellency the Major-General Baron
Leopold von Ragastein."
" All that ! " Dominey muttered. " Is he the Gov-
ernor, or something of that sort? "
" He is Military Commandant of the Colony," the
doctor replied. " He has also a special mission
" Damned fine-looking fellow for a German," Dom-
iney remarked, with unthinking insolence.
The doctor was unmoved. He was feeling his pa-
tient's pulse. He concluded his examination a few
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 5
" You have drunk much whisky lately, so ? " he
" I don't know what the devil it's got to do with
you," was the curt reply, " but I drink whisky
whenever I can get it. Who wouldn't in this pesti-
lential climate ! "
The doctor shook his head.
" The climate is good as he is treated," he de-
clared. " His Excellency drinks nothing but light
wine and seltzer water. He has been here for five
years, not only here but in the swamps, and he has
not been ill one day."
" Well, I have been at death's door a dozen times,"
the Englishman rejoined a little recklessly, " and
I don't much mind when I hand in my checks, but
until that time comes I shall drink whisky whenever
I can get it."
" The cook is preparing you some luncheon," the
doctor announced, " which it will do you good to
eat. I cannot give you whisky at this moment, but
you can have some hock and seltzer with bay leaves."
" Send it along," was the enthusiastic reply.
" What a constitution I must have, doctor ! The
smell of that cooking outside is making me raven-
" Your constitution is still sound if you would
only respect it," was the comforting assurance.
" Anything been heard of the rest of my party? "
" Some bodies of Askaris have been washed up
from the river," the doctor informed him, " and two
T> your ponies have been eaten by lions. You will
6 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
excuse. I have the wounds of a native to dress, whc
was bitten last night by a jaguar."
The traveller, left alone, lay still in the hut, and
his thoughts wandered backwards. He looked out
over the bare, scrubby stretch of land which had
been cleared for this encampment to the mass of
bush and flowering shrubs beyond, mysterious and
impenetrable save for that rough elephant track
along which he had travelled; to the broad-bosomed
river, blue as the sky above, and to the mountains
fading into mist beyond. The face of his host had
carried him back into the past. Puzzled reminis-
cence tugged at the strings of memory. It came
to him later on at dinner time, when they three, the
Commandant, the doctor and himself, sat at a little
table arranged just outside the hut, that they might
catch the faint breeze from the mountains, herald
of the swift-falling darkness. Native servants beat
the air around them with bamboo fans to keep off
che insects, and the air was faint almost to noxious-
ness with the perfume of some sickly, exotic shrub.
" Why, you're Devinter ! " he exclaimed suddenly,
" Sigismund Devinter ! You were at Eton with
me Horrock's House semi-final in the racquets."
" And Magdalen afterwards, number five in the
" And why the devil did the doctor here tell me
that your name was Von Ragastein? "
" Because it happens to be the truth," was the
somewhat measured reply. " Devinter is my family
name, and the one by which I was known when in
England. When I succeeded to the barony and es-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 7
tates at my uncle's death, however, I was compelled
to also take the title."
" Well, it's a small world ! " Dominey exclaimed.
" What brought you out here really lions or ele-
phants ? "
" You mean to say that you've taken up this sort
of political business just for its own sake, not for
" Entirely so. I do not use a sporting rifle one*
a month, except for necessity. I came to Africa for
Dominey drank deep of his hock and seltzer and
leaned back, watching the fireflies rise above the tall-
bladed grass, above the stumpy clumps of shrub, and
hang like miniature stars in the clear, violet air.
" What a world ! " he soliloquised. " Siggy De-
vinter, Baron von Ragastein, out here, slaving for
God knows what, drilling niggers to fight God knows
whom, a political machine, I suppose, future Gov-
ernor-General of German Africa, eh? You were al-
ways proud of your country, Devinter."
" My country is a country to be proud of," was
the solemn reply.
" Well, you're in earnest, anyhow," Dominey con-
tinued, " in earnest about something. And I well,
it's finished with me. It would have been finished
last night if I hadn't seen the smoke from your
fires, and I don't much care that's the trouble.
I go blundering on. I suppose the end will come
somehow, sometime. Can I have some rum or
whisky, Devinter I mean Von Ragastein Your
8 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Excellency or whatever I ought to say ? You see
those wreaths of mist down by the river? They'll
mean malaria for me unless I have spirits."
" I have something better than either," Von Ra-
gastein replied. " You shall give me your opinion
The orderly who stood behind his master's chair,
received a whispered order, disappeared into the com-
missariat hut and came back presently with a bottle
at the sight of which the Englishman gasped.
" Napoleon ! " he exclaimed.
" Just a few bottles I had sent to me," his host
explained. " I am delighted to offer it to some one
who will appreciate it."
" By Jove, there's no mistake about that ! " Dom-
intj declared, rolling it around in his glass. " What
a world! I hadn't eaten for thirty hours when
I rolled up here last night, and drunk nothing but
filthy water for days. To-night, fricassee of chicken,
white bread, cabinet hock and Napoleon brandy.
And to-morrow again well, who knows ? When do
you move on, Von Ragastein? "
" Not for several days."
" What the mischief do you find to do so far from
headquarters, if you don't shoot lions or elephants ? "
his guest asked curiously.
" If you really wish to know," Von Ragastein re-
plied, " I am annoying your political agents im-
mensely by moving from place to place, collecting
natives for drill."
" But what do you want to drill them for ? " Dom-
iney persisted. " I heard some time ago that you
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 9
have four times as many natives under arms as we
have. You don't want an army here. You're not
likely to quarrel with us or the Portuguese."
" It is our custom," Von Ragastein declared a
little didactically, " in Germany and wherever we
Germans go, to be prepared not only for what is
likely to happen but for what might possibly hap-
" A war in my younger days, when I was in the
Army," Dominey mused, " might have made a man
" Surely you had your chance out here?"
Dominey shook his head.
" My battalion never left the country," he said.
* We were shut up in Ireland all the time. That
was the reason I chucked the army when I was really
only a boy."
Later on they dragged their chairs a little farther
out into the darkness, smoking cigars and drinking
some rather wonderful coffee. The doctor had gone
off to see a patient, and Von Ragastein was thought-
ful. Their guest, on the other hand, continued to
be reminiscently discursive.
" Our meeting," he observed, lazily stretching out
his hand for his glass, " should be full of interest
to the psychologist. Here we are, brought together
by some miraculous chance to spend one night of
our lives in an African jungle, two human beings of
the same age, brought up together thousands of
miles away, jogging on towards the eternal blackness
along lines as far apart as the mind can conceive."
'* Your eyes are fixed," Von Ragastein murmured.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
that very blackness behind which the sun will
rise at dawn. You will see it come up from behind
the mountains in that precise spot, like a new and
" Don't put me off with allegories," his companion
objected petulantly. " The eternal blackness exists
surely enough, even if my metaphor is faulty. I
am disposed to be philosophical. Let me ramble on.
Here am I, an idler in my boyhood, a harmless pleas-
ure-seeker in my youth till I ran up against tragedy,
and since then a drifter, a drifter with a slowly
growing vice, lolling through life with no definite
purpose, with no definite hope or wish, except," he
went on a little drowsily, " that I think I'd like to
be buried somewhere near the base of those moun-
tains, on the other side of the river, from behind
which you say the sun comes up every morning like
a world on fire."
" You talk foolishly," Von Ragastein protested.
" If there has been tragedy in your life, you have
time to get over it. You are not yet forty years
" Then I turn and consider you," Dominey con-
tinued, ignoring altogether his friend's remark.
" You are only my age, and you look ten years
younger. Your muscles are hard, your eyes are as
bright as they were in your school days. You carry
yourself like a man with a purpose. You rise at
five every morning, the doctor tells me, and you re-
turn here, worn out, at dusk. You spend every mo-
ment of your time drilling those filthy blacks. When
you are not doing that, you are prospecting, super-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION n
vising reports home, trying to make the best of your
few millions of acres of fever swamps. The doctor
worships you but who else knows? What do you
do it for, my friend? "
" Because it is my duty," was the calm reply.
" Duty ! But why can't you do your duty in your
own country, and live a man's life, and hold the hands
of white men, and look into the eyes of white women? "
" I go where I am needed most," Von Ragastein
answered. "I do not enjoy drilling natives, I do
not enjoy passing the years as an outcast from the
ordinary joys of human life. But I follow my
" And I my will-o'-the-wisp," Dominey laughed
mockingly. " The whole thing's as plain as a pike-
staff. You may be a dull dog you always were
on the serious side but you're a man of prin-
ciple. I'm a slacker."
" The difference between us," Von Ragastein pro-
nounced, " is something which is inculcated into the
youth of our country and which is not inculcated
into yours. In England, with a little money, a little
birth, your young men expect to find the world a
playground for sport, a garden for loves. The
mightiest German noble who ever lived has his work
to do. It is work which makes fibre, which gives
balance to life."
Dominey sighed. His cigar, dearly prized though
it had been, was cold between his fingers. In that
perfumed darkness, illuminated only by the faint
gleam of the shaded lamp behind, his face seemed
suddenly white and old. His host leaned toward*
12 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
him and spoke for the first time in the kindlier tones
of their youth.
" You hinted at tragedy, my friend. You are
not alone. Tragedy also has entered my life. Per-
haps if things had been otherwise, I should have found
work in more joyous places, but sorrow came to me,
and I am here."
A quick flash of sympathy lit up Dominey's face.
" We met trouble in a different fashion," he
Dominey slept till late the following morning, and
when he woke at last from a long, dreamless slumber,
he was conscious of a curious quietness in the camp.
The doctor, who came in to see him, explained it
immediately after his morning greeting.
" His Excellency," he announced, " has received
important despatches from home. He has gone to
meet an envoy from Dar-es-Salaam. He will be
away for three days. He desired that you would
remain his guest until his return."
" Very good of him," Dominey murmured. " Is
there any European news? "
" I do not know," was the stolid reply. " His Ex-
cellency desired me to inform you that if you cared
for a short trip along the banks of the river, south-
ward, there are a dozen boys left and some ponies.
There are plenty of lion, and rhino may be met with
at one or two places which the natives know of."
Dominey bathed and dressed, sipped his excellent
coffee, and lounged about the place in uncertain mood.
He unburdened himself to the doctor as they drank
tea together late in the afternoon.
" I am not in the least keen on hunting," he con-
fessed, " and I feel like a horrible sponge, but all the
same I have a queer sort of feeling that I'd like to
see Von Ragastein again. Your silent thief rather
14 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
fascinates me, Herr Doctor. He is a man. He ha*
something which I have lost."
" He is a great man," the doctor declared en-
thusiastically. " What he sets his mind to do, he
" I suppose I might have been like that," Dominey
sighed, " if I had had an incentive. Have you no-
ticed the likeness between us, Herr Doctor? "
The latter nodded.
'* I noticed it from the first moment of your ar-
rival," he assented. " You are very much alike yet
very different. The resemblance must have been
still more remarkable in your youth. Time has dealt
with your features according to your deserts."
" Well, you needn't rub it in," Dominey protested
" I am rubbing nothing in," the doctor replied
with unruffled calm. " I speak the truth. If you
had been possessed of the same moral stamina as His
Excellency, you might have preserved your health
and the things that count. You might have been
as useful to your country as he is to his."
" I suppose I am pretty rocky, eh? "
" Your constitution has been abused. You still,
however, have much vitality. If you cared to exer-
cise self-control for a few months, you would be a
different man. You must excuse. I have work."
Dominey spent three restless days. Even the sight
of a herd of elephants in the river and that strange,
fierce chorus of night sounds, as beasts of prey crept
noiselessly around the camp, failed to move him.
For the moment his love of sport, his last hold upon
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 15
the world of real things, seemed dead. What did it
matter, the killing of an animal more or less? His
mind was fixed uneasily upon the past, searching al-
ways for something which he failed to discover. At
dawn he watched for that strangely wonderful, trans-
forming birth of the day, and at night he sat out-
side the banda, waiting till the mountains on the
other side of the river had lost shape and faded into
the violet darkness. His conversation with Von Ra-
gastein had unsettled him. Without knowing defi-
nitely why, he wanted him back again. Memories
that had long since ceased to torture were finding
their way once more into his brain. On the first day
he had striven to rid himself of them in the usual
"Doctor, you've got some whisky, haven't you? "
The doctor nodded.
" There is a case somewhere to be found," he ad-
mitted. " His Excellency told me that I was to re-
fuse you nothing, but he advises you to drink only
the white wine until his return."
" He really left that message? "
" Precisely as I have delivered it."
The desire for whisky passed, came again but was
beaten back, returned in the night so that he sat
up with the sweat pouring down his face and his
tongue parched. He drank lithia water instead.
Late in the afternoon of the third day, Von Ragastein
rode into the camp. His clothes were torn and
drenched with the black mud of the swamps, dust
and dirt were thick upon his face. His pony almost
16 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
collapsed as he swung himself off. Nevertheless, he
paused to greet his guest with punctilious courtesy,
and there was a gleam of real satisfaction in his eyes
as the two men shook hands.
" I am glad that you are still here," he said heart-
ily. " Excuse me while I bathe and change. We
will dine a little earlier. So far I have not eaten to-
"A long trek? " Dominey asked curiously.
" I have trekked far," was the quiet, reply.
At dinner time, Von Ragastein was once more him-
self, immaculate in white duck, with clean linen,
shaved, and with little left of his fatigue. There
was something different in his manner, however, some
change which puzzled Dominey. He was at once
more attentive to his guest, yet further removed
from him in spirit and sympathy. He kept the con-
versation with curious insistence upon incidents of
their school and college days, upon the subject of
Dominey's friends and relations, and the later epi-
sodes of his life. Dominey felt himself all the time
encouraged to talk about his earlier life, and all the
time he was conscious that for some reason or other
his host's closest and most minute attention was be-
ing given to his slightest word. Champagne had
been served and served freely, and Dominey, up to
the very gates of that one secret chamber, talked
volubly and without reserve. After the meal was
over, their chairs were dragged as before into the
open. The silent orderly produced even larger
cigars, and Dominey found his glass filled once more
with the wonderful brandy. The doctor had left
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 17
them to visit the native camp nearly a quarter of a
mile away, and the orderly was busy inside, clear-
ing the table. Only the black shapes of the serv-
ants were dimly visible as they twirled their fans,
and overhead the leaning stars. They were
" I've been talking an awful lot of rot about my-
self," Dominey said. " Tell me a little about your
career now and your life in Germany before you came
out here? "
Von Ragastein made no immediate reply, and a
curious silence ebbed and flowed between the two
men. Every now and then a star shot across the
sky. The red rim of the moon rose a little higher
from behind the mountains. The bush stillness, al-
ways the most mysterious of silences, seemed grad-
ually to become charged with unvoiced passion.
Soon the animals began to call around them, creep-
ing nearer and nearer to the fire which burned at
the end of the open space.
" My friend," Von Ragastein said at last, speak-
ing with the air of a man who has spent much time
in deliberation, " you speak to me of Germany, of
my homeland. Perhaps you have guessed that it
is not duty alone which has brought me here to these
wild places. I, too, left behind me a tragedy."
Dominey's quick impulse of sympathy was smoth-
ered by the stern, almost harsh repression of the
other's manner. The words seemed to have been
torn from his throat. There was no spark of ten-
derness or regret in his set face.
" Since the day of my banishment," he went on,
i8 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" no word of this matter has passed my lips. To-
night it is not weakness which assails me, but a de-
sire to yield to the strange arm of coincidence. You
and I, schoolmates and college friends, though sons
of a different country, meet here in the wilderness,
each with the iron in our souls. I shall tell you the
thing which happened to me, and you shall speak to
me of your own curse."
" I cannot ! " Dominey groaned.
" But you will," was the stern reply. " Listen."
An hour passed, and the voices of the two men had
ceased. The howling of the animals had lessened with
the paling of the fires, and a slow, melancholy ripple
of breeze was passing through the bush and lapping
the surface of the river. It was Von Ragastein who
broke through what might almost have seemed a
trance. He rose to his feet, vanished inside the
banda, and reappeared a moment or two later with
two tumblers. One he set down in the space pro-
vided for it in the arm of his guest's chair.
" To-night I break what has become a rule with
me," he announced. " I shall drink a whisky and
soda. I shall drink to the new things that may
yet come to both of us."
" You are giving up your work here ? " Dominey
" I am part of a great machine," was the some-
what evasive reply. " I have nothing to do but
A flicker of passion distorted Dominey's face,
flamed for a moment in his tone.
" Are you content to live and die like this ? " he
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 19
demanded. " Don't you want to get back to where
a different sort of sun will warm your heart and
fill your pulses? This primitive world is in its way
colossal, but it isn't human, it isn't a life for hu-
mans. We want the streets, Von Ragastein, you and
I. We want the tide of people flowing around us,
the roar of wheels and the hum of human voices.
Curse these animals ! If I live in this country much
longer, I shall go on all fours."
" You yield too much to environment," his com-
panion observed. " In the life of the cities you would
be a sentimentalist."
" No city nor any civilised country will ever claim
me again," Dominey sighed. " I should never have
the courage to face what might come."
Von Ragastein rose to his feet. The dim outline
of his erect form was in a way majestic. He seemed
to tower over the man who lounged in the chair be-
" Finish your whisky and soda to our next meeting,
friend of my school days," he begged. " To-morrow,
before you awake, I shall be gone."
" By to-morrow night," Von Ragastein replied,
" I must be on the other side of those mountains.
This must be our farewell."
Dominey was querulous, almost pathetic. He had
a sudden hatred of solitude.
" I must trek westward myself directly," he pro-
tested, " or eastward, or northward it doesn't so
much matter. Can't we travel together? "
Von Ragastein shook his head.
20 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I travel officially, and I must travel alone," he
replied. " As for yourself, they will be breaking up
here to-morrow, but they will lend you an escort and
put you in the direction you wish to take. This,
alas, is as much as I can do for you. For us it must
" Well, I can't force myself upon you," Dominey
said a little wistfuHy. " It seems strange, though,
to meet right out here, far away even from the by-
ways of life, just to shake hands and pass on. I
am sick to death of niggers and animals."
" It is Fate," Von Ragastein decided. " Where I
go, I must go alone. Farewell, dear friend! We
will drink the toast we drank our last night in your
rooms at Magdalen. That Sanscrit man translated
it for us : ' May each find what he seeks ! ' We
must foUow our star."
Dominey laughed a little bitterly. He pointed to
a light glowing fitfully in the bush.
" My will-o'-the-wisp," he muttered recklessly,
" leading where I shall follow into the swamps ! "
A few minutes later Dominey threw himself upon
his couch, curiously and unaccountably drowsy.
Von Ragastein, who had come in to wish him good
night, stood looking down at him for several mo-
ments with significant intentness. Then, satisfied
that his guest really slept, he turned and passed
through the hanging curtain of dried grasses into the
next banda, where the doctor, still fully dressed, was
awaiting him. They spoke together in German and
with lowered voices. Von Ragastein had lost some-
thing of his imperturbability.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION ai
" Everything progresses according to ray orders ? "
" Everything, Excellency ! The boys are being
loaded, and a runner has gone on to Wadihuan for
ponies to be prepared."
" They know that I wish to start at dawn? "
" All will be prepared, Excellency."
Von Ragastein laid his hand upon the doctor's
" Come outside, Schmidt," he said. " I have some-
thing tc tell you of my plans."
The two men seated themselves in the long, wicker
chairs, the doctor in an attitude of strict attention.
Von Ragastein turned his head and listened. From
Dominey's quarters came the sound of deep and reg-
" I have formed a great plan, Schmidt," Von Ra-
gastein proceeded. " You know what news has come
to me from Berlin? "
" Your Excellency has told me little," the doctor
" The Day arrives," Von Ragastein pronounced,
his voice shaking with deep emotion. He paused a
moment in thought and continued, " the time, even
the month, is fixed. I am recalled from here to take
the place for which I was destined. You know what
that place is ? You know why I was sent to an Eng-
lish public school and college? "
" I can guess."
" I am to take up my residence in England. I
am to have a special mission. I am to find a place
for myself there as an Englishman. The means are
22 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
left to my ingenuity. Listen, Schmidt. A great
idea has come to me."
The doctor lit a cigar.
" I listen, Excellency."
Von Ragastein rose to his feet. Not content with
the sound of that regular breathing, he made his
way to the opening of the banda and gazed in at
Dominey's slumbering form. Then he returned.
" It is something which you do not wish the Eng-
lishman to hear? " the doctor asked.
" It is."
" We speak in German."
" Languages," was the cautious reply, *' happen
to be that man's only accomplishment. He can speak
German as fluently as you or I. That, however, is of
no consequence. He sleeps and he will continue to
sleep. I mixed him a sleeping draught with his
whisky and soda."
" Ah ! " the doctor grunted.
" My principal need in England is an identity,"
Von Ragastein pointed out. " I have made up my
mind. I shall take this Englishman's. I shall re-
turn to England as Sir Everard Dominey."
" There is a remarkable likeness between us, and
Dominey has not seen an Englishman who knows him
for eight or ten years. Any school or college
friends whom I may encounter I shall be able to
satisfy. I have stayed at Dominey. I know Dom-
iney's relatives. To-night he has babbled for hours,
telling me many things that it is well for me to
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 23
"What about his near relatives?"
** He has none nearer than cousins."
Von Ragastein paused and turned his head. The
deep breathing inside the banda had certainly ceased.
He rose to his feet and, stealing uneasily to the
opening, gazed down upon his guest's outstretched
form. To all appearance, Dominey still slept
deeply. After a moment' or two's watch, Von Ra-
gastein returned to his place.
" Therein lies his tragedy," he confided, drop-
ping his voice a little lower. " She is insane in-
sane, it seems, through a shock for which he is re-
sponsible. She might have been the only stumbling
block, and she is as though she did not exist."
" It is a great scheme," the doctor murmured en-
" It is a wonderful one ! That great and unre-
vealed Power, Schmidt, which watches over our coun-
try and which will make her mistress of the world,
must have guided this man to us. My position in
England will be unique. As Sir Everard Dominey
I shall be able to penetrate into the inner circles of
Society perhaps, even, of political life. I shall
be able, if necessary, to remain in England even after
the storm bursts."
" Supposing," the doctor suggested, " this man
Dominey should return to England? "
Von Ragastein turned his head and looked towards
" He must not," he pronounced.
" So ! " the doctor murmured.
24 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Late in the afternoon of the following day, Dom-
iney, with a couple of boys for escort and his rifle
slung across his shoulder, rode into the bush along
the way he had come. The little fat doctor stood
and watched him, waving his hat until he was out of
sight. Then he called to the orderly.
" Heinrich," he said, " you are sure that the Herr
Englishman has the whisky ? "
" The water bottles are filled with nothing else,
Herr Doctor," the man replied.
" There is no water or soda water in the pack? "
" Not one drop, Herr Doctor."
"How much food?"
" One day's rations."
"The beef is salt?"
" It is very salt, Herr Doctor."
" And the compass ? "
" It is ten degrees wrong."
"The boys have their orders?"
" They understand perfectly, Herr Doctor. If
the Englishman does not drink, they will take him
at midnight to where His Excellency will be encamped
at the bend of the Blue River."
The doctor sighed. He was not at heart an un-
" I think," he murmured, " it will be better for
the Englishman that he drinks."
Mr. John Lambert Mangan of Lincoln's Inn gazed
at the card which a junior clerk had just presented
in blank astonishment, an astonishment which be-
came speedily blended with dismay.
" Good God, do you see this, Harrison? " he ex-
claimed, passing it over to his manager, with whom
he had been in consultation. " Dominey Sir
Everard Dominey back here in England ! "
The head clerk glanced at the narrow piece of
pasteboard and sighed.
" I'm afraid you will find him rather a trouble-
some client, sir," he remarked.
His employer frowned. " Of course I shall," he
answered testily. " There isn't an extra penny to
be had out of the estates you know that, Harri-
son. The last two quarters' allowance which we
sent to Africa came out of the timber. Why the
mischief didn't he stay where he was ! "
"What shall I tell the gentleman, sir?" the boy
" Oh, show him in ! " Mr. Mangan directed ill-
temperedly. " I suppose I shall have to see him
sooner or later. I'll finish these affidavits after
The solicitor composed his features to welcome a
client who, however troublesome Jhis affairs had be-
26 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
come, still represented a family who had been val-
ued patrons of the firm for several generations. He
was prepared to greet a seedy-looking and degener-
ate individual, looking older than his years. In-
stead, he found himself extending his hand to one
of the best turned out and handsomest men who had
ever crossed the threshold of his not very inviting
office. For a moment he stared at his visitor, speech^
less. Then certain points of familiarity the well-
shaped nose, the rather deep-set grey eyes pre-
sented themselves. The surprise enabled him to in-
fuse a little real heartiness into his welcome.
" My dear Sir Everard ! " he exclaimed. " This
is a most unexpected pleasure most unexpected !
Such a pity, too, that we only posted a draft for
your allowance a few days ago. Dear me you'll
forgive my saying so how well you look ! "
Dominey smiled as he accepted an easy chair.
" Africa's a wonderful country, Mangan," he re-
marked, with just that faint note of patronage in
his tone which took his listener back to the days of
his present client's father.
" It pardon my remarking it has done won-
derful things for you, Sir Everard. Let me see, it
must be eleven years since we met."
Sir Everard tapped the toes of his carefully pol-
ished brown shoes with the end of his walking stick.
" I left London," he murmured reminiscently, " in
April, nineteen hundred and two. Yes, eleven years,
Mr. Mangan. It seems queer to find myself in Lon-
don again, as I dare say you can understand."
" Precisely," the lawyer murmured. " I was just
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 27
wondering I think that last remittance we sent to
you could be stopped. I have no doubt you will
be glad of a little ready money," he added, with a
" Thanks, I don't think I need any just at pres-
ent," was the amazing answer. " We'll talk about
financial affairs a little later on."
Mr. Mangan metaphorically pinched himself. He
had known his present client even during his school
days, had received a great many visits from him at
different times, and could not remember one in which
the question of finance had been dismissed in so
casual a manner.
" I trust," he observed, chiefly for the sake of say-
ing something, " that you are thinking of settling
down here for a time now ? "
" I have finished with Africa, if that is what you
mean," was the somewhat grave reply. " As to set-
tling down here, well, that depends a little upon what
you have to tell me."
The lawyer nodded.
" I think," he said, " that you may make yourself
quite easy as regards the matter of Roger Unthank.
Nothing has ever been heard of him since the day
you left England."
" His body has not been found? "
" Nor any trace of it."
There was a brief silence. The lawyer looked hard
at Dominey, and Dominey searchingly back again at
"And Lady Dominey?" the former asked at
28 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Her ladyship's condition is, I believe, un-
changed," was the somewhat guarded reply.
" If the circumstances are favourable," Dominey
continued, after another moment's pause, " I think it
very likely that I may decide to settle down at Dom-
The lawyer appeared doubtful.
" I am afraid," he said, " you will be very disap-
pointed with the condition of the estate, Sir Everari.
As I have repeatedly told you in our correspond-
ence, the rent roll, after deducting your settlement
upon Lady Dominey, has at no time reached the
interest on the mortgages, and we have had to make
up the difference and send you your allowance out
of the proceeds of the outlying timber."
" That is a pity," Dominey replied, with a frown.
" I ought, perhaps, to have taken you more into my
confidence. By the by," he added, " when er
about when did you receive my last letter? "
" Your last letter? " Mr. Mangan repeated. " We
have not had the privilege of hearing from you, Sir
Everard, for over four years. The only intimation
we had that our payments had reached you was the
exceedingly prompt debit of the South African bank."
" I have certainly been to blame," this unexpected
visitor confessed. " On the other hand, I have been
very much absorbed. If you haven't happened to
hear any South African gossip lately, Mangan, I
suppose it will be a surprise to you to hear that I
have been making a good deal of money."
"Making money?" the lawyer gasped. "You
making money, Sir Everard? "
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 29
" I thought you'd be surprised," Dominey observed
coolly. " However, that's neither here nor there.
The business object of my visit to you this morn-
ing is to ask you to make arrangements as quickly
as possible for paying off the mortgages on the
Mr. Mangan was a lawyer of the new-fashioned
school, Harrow and Cambridge, the Bath Club,
racquets and fives, rather than gold and lawn tennis.
Instead of saying " God bless my soul ! " he ex-
claimed " Great Scott ! " dropped a very modern-
looking eyeglass from his left eye, and leaned back
in his chair with his hands in his pockets.
" I have had three or four years of good luck,"
his client continued. " I have made money in gold
mines, in diamond mines and in land. I am afraid
that if I had stayed out another year, I should have
descended altogether to the commonplace and come
back a millionaire."
" My heartiest congratulations ! " Mr. Mangan
found breath to murmur. ** You'll forgive my being
so astonished, but you are the first Dominey I ever
knew who has ever made a penny of money in any
sort of way, and from what I remember of you in
England I'm sure you'll forgive my being so frank
I should never have expected you to have even
attempted such a thing."
Dominey smiled good-humouredly.
" Well," he said, " if you enquire at the United
Bank of Africa, you will find that I have a credit
balance there of something over a hundred thousand
pounds. Then I have also well, let us say a trifle
30 THE GREAT IMFiiRSONATION
more, invested in first-class mines. Do me the fa-
vour of lunching with me, Mr. Mangan, and although
Africa will never be a favourite topic of conversation
with me, I will tell you about some of my specula-
The solicitor groped around for his hat.
" I will send the boy for a taxi," he faltered.
" I have a car outside," this astonishing client told
him. " Before we leave, could you instruct your
clerk to have a list of the Dominey mortgages made
out, with the terminable dates and redemption val-
" I . will leave instructions," Mr. Mangan prom-
ised. " I think that the total amount is under eighty
Dominey sauntered through the office, an object
of much interest to the little staff of clerks. The
lawyer joined him on the pavement in a few
" Where shall we lunch? " Dominey asked. " I'm
afraid my clubs are a little out of date. I am stay-
ing at the Carlton."
" The Carlton grill room is quite excellent," Mr.
" They are keeping me a table until half-past one,"
Dominey replied. " We will lunch there, by all
They drove off together, the returned traveller
gazing all the time out of the window into the
crowded streets, the lawyer a little thoughtful.
" While I think of it, Sir Everard," the latter said,
as they drew near their destination, " I should be
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 31
glad of a short conversation with you before you go
down to Dominey."
" With regard to anything in particular? "
" With regard to Lady Dominey," the lawyer told
him a little gravely.
A shadow rested on his companion's face.
" Is her ladyship very much changed? "
" Physically, she is in excellent health, I believe.
Mentally I believe that there is no change. She has
unfortunately the same rather violent prejudice
which I am afraid influenced your departure from
" In plain words," Dominey said bitterly, " she
has sworn to take my life if ever I sleep under the
" She will need, I am afraid, to be strictly watched,"
the lawyer answered evasively. " Still, I think you
ought to be told that time does not seem to have
lessened her tragical antipathy."
" She regards me still as the murderer of Roger
Unthank?" Dominey asked, in a measured tone.
" I am afraid she does."
" And I suppose that every one else has the same
" The mystery," Mr. Mangan admitted, " has never
been cleared up. It is well known, you see, that you
fought in the park and that you staggered home al-
most senseless. Roger Unthank has never been seen
from that day to this."
" If I had killed him," Dominey pointed out, " why
was his body not found? "
The lawyer shook his head.
3* THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" There are all sorts of theories, of course," he
said, " but for one superstition you may as well be
prepared. There is scarcely a man or a woman for
miles around Dominey who doesn't believe that the
ghost of Roger Unthank still haunts the Black Wood
near where you fought."
" Let us be quite clear about this," Dominey in-
sisted. " If the body should ever be found, am I
liable, after all these years, to be indicted for man-
" I think you may make your mind quite at ease,"
the lawyer assured him. " In the first place, I don't
think you would ever be indicted."
"And in the second?"
" There isn't a human being in that part of Nor-
folk would ever believe that the body of man or beast,
left within the shadow of the Black Wood, would
eyer be seen or heard of again ! "
Mr. Mangan, on their way into the grill room,
loitered for a few minutes in the small reception
room, chatting with some acquaintances, whilst his
host, having spoken to the maitre d'hotel and ordered
a cocktail from a passing waiter, stood with his hands
behind his back, watching the inflow of men and
women with all that interest which one might be sup-
posed to feel in one's fellows after a prolonged ab-
sence. He had moved a little on one side to allow
a party of young people to make their way through
the crowded chamber, when he was conscious of a
woman standing alone on the topmost of the three
thickly carpeted stairs. Their eyes met, and hers,
which had been wandering around the room as though
in search of some acquaintance, seemed instantly and
fervently held. To the few loungers about the room,
ignorant of any special significance in that studied
contemplation of the man on the part of the woman,
their two personalities presented an agreeable, al-
most a fascinating study. Dominey was six feet
two in height and had to its fullest extent the natural
distinction of his class, together with the half mili-
tary, half athletic bearing which seemed to have been
so marvellously restored to him. His complexion
was no more than becomingly tanned; his slight
34 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
moustache, trimmed very close to the upper lip, was
of the same ruddy brown shade as his sleekly brushed
hair. The woman, who had commenced now to move
slowly towards him, save that her cheeks, at that
moment, at any rate, were almost unnaturally pale,
was of the same colouring. Her red-gold hair
gleamed beneath her black hat. She was tall, a
Grecian type of figure, large without being coarse,
majestic though still young. She carried a little
dog under one arm and a plain black silk bag, on
which was a coronet in platinum and diamonds, in
the other hand. The major-domo who presided over
the room, watching her approach, bowed with more
than his usual urbanity. Her eyes, however, were
still fixed upon the person who had engaged so large
a share of her attention. She came towards him,
her lips a little parted.
"Leopold!" she faltered. "The Holy Saints,
why did you not let me know ! "
Dominey bowed very slightly. His words seemed
to have a cut and dried flavour.
" I am so sorry," he replied, " but I fear that you
make a mistake. My name is not Leopold."
She stood quite still, looking at him with the air
of not having heard a word of his polite disclaimer.
" In London, of all places," she murmured. " Tell
me, what does it mean? "
" I can only repeat, madam," he said, " that to my
very great regret I have not the honour of your
She was puzzled, but absolutely unconvinced.
" You mean to deny that you are Leopold von Ra-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 35
gastetn? " she asked incredulously. " You do not
know me? "
" Madam," he answered, " it is not my great pleas-
ure. My name is Dominey Everard Dominey."
She seemed for a moment tc be struggling with
some embarrassment which approached emotion.
Then she laid her fingers upon his sleeve and drew
him to a more retired corner of the little apart-
" Leopold," she whispered, " nothing can make it
wrong or indiscreet for you to visit me. My address
is 17, Belgrave Square. I desire to see you to-night
at seven o'clock."
" But, my dear lady," Dominey began
Her eyes suddenly glowed with a new light.
" I will not be trifled with," she insisted. " If you
wish to succeed in whatever scheme you have on hand,
you must not make an enemy of me. I shall expect
you at seven o'clock."
She passed away from him into the restaurant,
Mr. Mangan, now freed from his friends, rejoined
his host, and the two men took their places at the
side table to which they were ushered with many
signs of attention.
" Wasn't that the Princess Eiderstrom with whom
you were talking? " the solicitor asked curiously.
" A lady addressed me by mistake," Dominey ex-
plained. " She mistook me, curiously enough, for a
man who used to be called my double at Oxford.
Sigismund Devinter he was then, although I think he
came into a title later on."
" The Princess is quite a famous personage," Mr.
36 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Mangan remarked, " one of the richest widows ia
Europe. Her husband was killed in a duel some six
or seven years ago."
Dominey ordered the luncheon with care, slipping
into a word or two of German once to assist the
waiter, who spoke English with difficulty. His com-
" I see that you have not forgotten your languages
out there in the wilds."
" I had no chance to," Dominey answered. " I
spent five years on the borders of German East
Africa, and I traded with some of the fellows there
" By the by," Mr. Mangan enquired, " what sort of
terms are we on with the Germans out there ? "
" Excellent, I should think," was the careless reply.
" I never had any trouble."
" Of course," the lawyer continued, " this will all
be new to you, but during the last few years Eng-
lishmen have become divided into two classes the
people who believe that the Germans wish to go to
war and crush us, and those who don't."
" Then since my return the number of the ' don'ts *
has been increased by one."
" I am amongst the doubtfuls myself," Mr. Mangan
remarked. " All the same, I can't quite see what
Germany wants with such an immense army, and why
she is continually adding to her fleet."
Dominey paused for a moment to discuss the mat-
ter of a sauce with the head waiter. He returned to
the subject a few minutes later on, however.
" Of course," he pointed out, " my opinions can
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 37
only come from a study of the newspapers and from
conversations with such Germans as I have met out
in Africa, but so far as her army is concerned, I
should have said that Russia and France were re-
sponsible for that, and the more powerful it is, the
less chance of any European conflagration. Russia
might at any time come to the conclusion that a war
is her only salvation against a revolution, and you
know the feeling in France about Alsace-Lorraine
as well as I do. The Germans themselves say that
there is more interest in military matters and more
progress being made in Russia to-day than ever be-
" I have no doubt that you are right," agreed Mr.
Mangan. " It is a matter which is being a great
deal discussed just now, however. Let us speak of
your personal plans. What do you intend to do for
the next few weeks, say? Have you been to see any
of your relatives yet? "
" Not one," Dominey replied. " I am afraid that
I am not altogether keen about making advances."
Mr. Mangan coughed. " You must remember that
during the period of your last residence in London,"
he said, " you were in a state of chronic impecuni-
osity. No doubt that rather affected the attitude
of some of those who would otherwise have been more
" I should be perfectly content never to see one
of them again," declared Dominey, with perfect truth.
" That, of course, is impossible," the lawyer pro-
tested. " You must go and see the Duchess, at any
rate. She was always your champion."
38 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" The Duchess was always very kind to me," Dom-
iney admitted doubtfully, " but I am afraid she was
rather fed up before I left England."
Mr. Mangan smiled. He was enjoying a very ex-
cellent lunch, which it seemed hard to believe was
ordered by a man just home from the wilds of Africa,
and he thoroughly enjoyed talking about duchesses.
" Her Grace," he began
The lawyer had paused, with his eyes glued upon
the couple at a neighbouring table. He leaned across
towards his companion.
" The Duchess herself, Sir Everard, just behind
you, with Lord St. Omar."
" This place must certainly be the rendezvous of
all the world," Dominey declared, as he held out his
hand to a man who had approached their table.
" Seaman, my friend, welcome ! Let me introduce
you to my friend and legal adviser, Mr. Mangan
Mr. Seaman was a short, fat man, immaculately
dressed in most conventional morning attire. He
was almost bald, except for a little tuft on either
side, and a few long, fair hairs carefully brushed
back over a shining scalp. His face was extraordi-
narily round except towards his chin, where it came
to a point ; his eyes bright and keen, his mouth the
mouth of a professional humourist. He shook hands
with the lawyer with an empressement which was
" Within the space of half an hour," Dominey
continued, " I find a princess who desires to claim
my acquaintance ; a cousin," he dropped his voice a
little, " who lunches only a few tables away, and the
man of whom I have seen most during the last ten
years amidst scenes a little different from these, eh,
Seaman accepted the chair which the waiter had
brought and sat down. The lawyer was immediately
" Do I understand, then," he asked, addressing the
newcomer, " that you knew Sir Everard in Africa? "
Seaman beamed. " Knew him? " he repeated, and
with the first words of his speech the fact of his for-
eign nationality was established. " There was no one
of whom I knew so much. We did business together
- a great deal of business and when we were not
partners, Sir Everard generally got the best of it."
Dominey laughed. " Luck generally comes to a
man either early or late in life. My luck came late.
I think, Seaman, that you must have been my mascot.
Nothing went wrong with me during the years that we
did business together."
Seaman was a little excited. He brushed upright
with the palm of his hand one of those little tufts of
hair left on the side c"f his head," and he laid his plump
fingers upon the lawyer's shoulder.
" Mr. Mangan," he said, " you listen to me. I sell
this man the controlling interests in a mine, shares
which I have held for four and a half years and never
drew a penny dividend. I sell them to him, I say, at
par. Well, I need the money and it seems to me that
I had given the shares a fair chance. Within five
weeks five weeks, sir," he repeated, struggling to
40 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
attune his voice to his civilised surroundings, " those
shares had gone from par to fourteen and a half.
To-day they stand at twenty. He gave me five thou-
sand pounds for those shares. To-day he could walk
into your stock market and sell them for one hundred
thousand. That is the way money is made in Africa,
Mr. Mangan, where innocents like me are to be found
Dominey poured out a glass of wine and passed it
to their visitor.
" Come," he said, " we all have our ups and downs.
Africa owes you nothing, Seaman."
" I have done well in my small way," Seaman ad-
mitted, fingering the stem of his wineglass, " but
where I have had to plod, Sir Everard here has stood
and commanded fate to pour her treasures into his
The lawyer was listening with a curious interest
and pleasure to this half bantering conversation. He
found an opportunity now to intervene.
" So you two were really friends in Africa? " he
remarked, with a queer and almost inexplicable sense
" If Sir Everard permits our association to be so
called," Seaman replied. " We have done business
together in the great cities in Johannesburg and
Pretoria, in Kimberley and Cape Town and we
have prospected together in the wild places. We
have trekked the veldt and been lost to the world for
many months at a time. We have seen the real won-
ders of Africa together, as well as her tawdry civ-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 41
" And you, too," Mr. Mangan asked, " have you
Seaman's smile was almost beatific.
" The same deal," he said, " which brought Sir
Everard's fortune to wonderful figures brought me
that modest sum which I had sworn to reach before I
returned to England. It is true. I have retired
from money-making. It is now that I take up again
my real life's work."
" If you are going to talk about your hobby,"
Dominey observed, " you had better order them to
serve your lunch here."
" I had finished my lunch before you came in," his
friend replied. " I drink another glass of wine with
you, perhaps. Afterwards a liqueur who can say?
In this climate one is favoured, one can drink freely.
Sir Everard and I, Mr. Mangan, have been in places
where thirst is a thing to be struggled against, where
for months a little weak brandy and water was our
" Tell us about this hobby? " the lawyer enquired.
Dominey intervened promptly. " I protest. If he
begins to talk of that, he'll be here all the afternoon."
Seaman held out his hands and rolled his head from
side to side.
"But I am not so unreasonable," he objected.
"Just one word so? Very well, then," he pro-
ceeded quickly, with the air of one fearing interrup-
tion. " This must be clear to you, Mr. Mangan. I
am a German by birth, naturalised in England for
the sake of my business, loving Germany, grateful to
England. One third of my life I have lived in Berlin,
42 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
one third at Forest Hill here in London, and in the
city, one third in Africa. I have watched the growth
of commercial rivalries and jealousies between the
two nations. There is no need for them. They
might lead to worse things. I would brush them all
away. My aim is to encourage a league for the pro-
motion of more cordial social and business relations
between the people of Great Britain and the people of
the German Empire. There! Have I wasted much
of your time? Can I not speak of my hobby without
flood of words? "
" Conciseness itself," Mangan admitted, " and I
compliment you most heartily upon your scheme. If
you can get the right people into it, it should prove a
most valuable society."
" In Germany I have the right people. All Ger-
mans who live for their country and feel for their
country loathe the thought of war. We want peace,
we want friends, and, to speak as man to man," he
concluded, tapping the lawyer upon the coat sleeve,
" England is our best customer."
" I wish one could believe," the latter remarked,
" that yours was the popular voice in your country."
Seaman rose reluctantly to his feet.
" At half-past two," he announced, glancing at his
watch, " I have an appointment with a woollen manu-
facturer from Bradford. I hope to get him to join
He bowed ceremoniously to the lawyer, nodded to
Dominey with the familiarity of an old friend, and
made his bustling, good-humoured way out of the
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 43
" A sound business man, I should think," was the
former's comment. " I wish him luck with his
League. You yourself, Sir Everard, will need to
develop some new interests. Why not politics? "
" I really expect to find life a little difficult at first,"
admitted Dominey, with a shrug of his shoulders.
" I have lost many of the tastes of my youth, and I
am very much afraid that my friends over here will
call me colonial. I can't fancy myself doing nothing
down in Norfolk all the rest of my days. Perhaps I
shall go into Parliament."
" You must forgive my saying," his companion de-
clared impulsively, " that I never knew ten years
make such a difference in a man in my life."
" The colonies," Dominey pronounced, " are a kill
or cure sort of business. You either take your drub-
bing and come out a stronger man, or you go under.
I had the very narrowest escape from going under
myself, but I just pulled together in time. To-day I
wouldn't have been without my hard times for any-
thing in the world."
" If you will permit me," Mr. Mangan said, with
an inherited pomposity, " on this our first meeting
under the new conditions, I should like to offer you
my hearty congratulations, not only upon what you
have accomplished but upon what you have become."
"And also, I hope," Dominey rejoined, smiling a
little seriously and with a curious glint in his eyes,
" upon what I may yet accomplish."
The Duchess and her companion had risen to their
feet, and the former, on her way out, recognising her
solicitor^ paused graciously.
44 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" How do you do, Mr. Mangan ? " she said. " I
hope you are looking after those troublesome tenants
of mine in Leicestershire? "
" We shall make our report in due course, Duch-
ess," Mangan assured her. " Will you permit me,"
he added, " to bring back to your memory a relative
who has just returned from abroad Sir Everard
Dominey had risen to his feet a moment previously
and now extended his hand. The Duchess, who was a
tall, graceful woman, with masses of fair hair only
faintly interspersed with grey, very fine brown eyes,
the complexion of a girl, and, to quote her own con-
fession, the manners of a kitchen maid, stared at him
for a moment without any response.
" Sir Everard Dominey ? " she repeated. " Ever-
ard? Ridiculous ! "
Dominey's extended hand was at once withdrawn,
and the tentative smile faded from his lips. The
lawyer plunged into the breach.
" I can assure your Grace," he insisted earnestly,
" that there is no doubt whatever about Sir Everard's
identity. He only returned from Africa during the
last few days."
The Duchess's incredulity remained, wholly good-
natured but ministered to by her natural obstinacy.
" I simply cannot bring myself to believe it," she
declared. " Come, I'll challenge you. When did
we meet last ? "
"At Worcester House," was the prompt reply.
" I came to say good-bye to you."
The Duchess was a little staggered. Her eyes
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 45
softened, a faint smile played at the corners of her
lips. She was suddenly a very attractive looking
" You came to say good-bye," she repeated,
"I am to take that as a challenge?" Dominey
asked, standing very upright and looking her in the
" As you will."
" You were a little kinder to me," he continued,
" than you are to-day. You gave me this," he
added, drawing a small picture from his pocketbook,
" and you permitted "
" For heaven's sake, put that thing away," she
cried, " and don't say another word ! There's my
grown-up nephew, St. Omar, paying his bill almost
within earshot. Come and see me at half-past three
this afternoon, and don't be a minute late. And, St.
Omar," she went on, turning to the young man who
stood now by her side, " this is a connection of yours
Sir Everard Dominey. He is a terrible person,
but do shake hands with him and come along. I am
half an hour late for my dressmaker already."
Lord St. Omar chuckled vaguely, then shook hands
with his new-found relative, nodded affably to the
lawyer and followed his aunt out of the room. Man-
gan's expression was beatific.
" Sir Everard," he exclaimed, " God bless you ! If
ever a woman got what she deserved J I've seen a
duchess blush first time in my life ! "
Worcester House was one of those semi-palatial
residences set down apparently for no reason what-
ever in the middle of Regent's Park. It had been
acquired by a former duke at the instigation of the
Regent, who was his intimate friend, and retained by
later generations in mute protest against the disfigur-
ing edifices which had made a millionaire's highway of
Park Lane. Dominey, who was first scrutinised by
an individual in buff waistcoat and silk hat at the
porter's lodge, was interviewed by a major-domo in
the great stone hall, conducted through an extraor-
dinarily Victorian drawing-room by another myrmi-
don in a buff waistcoat, and finally ushered into a
tiny little boudoir leading out of a larger apartment
and terminating in a conservatory filled with sweet-
smelling exotics. The Duchess, who was reclining in
an easy-chair, held out her hand, which her visitor
raised to his lips. She motioned him to a seat by her
side and once more scrutinised him with unabashed
" There's something wrong about you, you know,"
" That seems very unfortunate," he rejoined,
" when I return to find you wholly unchanged."
" Not bad," she remarked critically. " All the
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 47
same, I have changed. I am not in the least in love
with you any longer."
" It was the fear of that change in you," he sighed,
" which kept me for so long in the furthest corners of
She looked at him with a severity which was obvi-
" Look here," she said, " it is better for us to have
a perfectly clear understanding upon one point. I
know the exact position of your affairs, and I know,
too, that the two hundred a year which your lawyer
has been sending out to you came partly out of a
few old trees and partly out of his own pocket. How
you are going to live over here I cannot imagine, but
it isn't the least use expecting Henry to do a thing
for you. The poor man has scarcely enough pocket
money to pay his travelling expenses when he goes
" Lecturing? " Dominey repeated. " What's hap-
pened to poor Henry ? "
" My husband is an exceedingly conscientious
man," was the dignified reply. " He goes from town
to town with Lord Roberts and a secretary, lecturing
on national defence."
" Dear Henry was always a little cranky, wasn't
he? " Dominey observed. " Let me put your mind at
rest on that other matter, though, Caroline. I can
assure you that I have come back to England not to
borrow money but to spend it."
His cousin shook her head mournfully. " And a
few minutes ago I was nearly observing that you had
lost your sense of humour ! "
48 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I am in earnest," he persisted. " Africa has
turned out to be my Eldorado. Quite unexpectedly,
I must admit, I came in for a considerable sum of
money towards the end of my stay there. I am pay-
ing off the mortgages at Dominey at once, and I
want Henry to jot down on paper at once those few
amounts he was good enough to lend me in the old
Caroline, Duchess of Worcester, sat perfectly still
for a moment with her mouth open, a condition which
was entirely natural but unbecoming.
" And you mean to tell me that you really are
Everard Dominey ? " she exclaimed.
" The weight of evidence is rather that way," he
He moved his chair deliberately a little nearer, took
her hand and raised it to his lips. Her face was
perilously near to his. She drew a little back not
" My dear Everard," she whispered, " Henry is in
the house ! Besides Yes, I suppose you must be
Everard. Just now there was something in your
eyes exactly like his. But you are so stiff. Have
you been drilling out there or anything? "
He shook his head.
" One spends half one's time in the saddle."
" And you are really well off? " she asked again
" If I had stayed there another year," he replied,
" and been able to marry a Dutch Jewess, I should
have qualified for Park Lane."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 49
" It's too wonderful. Henry will love having his
She looked positively distressed.
" You've lost all your manners," she complained.
" You make love like a garden rake. You should
have leaned towards me with a quiver in your voice
when you said those last two words, and instead of
that you look as though you were sitting at attention,
with a positive glint of steel in your eyes."
" One sees a woman once in a blue moon out there,"
She shook her head. " You've changed. It was a
'sixth sense with you to make love in exactly the right
tone, to say exactly the right thing in the right
" I shall pick it up," he declared hopefully, " with
a little assistance."
She made a little grimace.
" You won't want an old woman like me to assist
you, Everard. You'll have the town at your feet.
You'll be able to frivol with musical comedy, flirt
with our married beauties, or I'm sorry, Everard.
" You forgot what ? " he asked steadfastly.
** I forgot the tragedy which finally drove you
abroad. I forgot your marriage. Is there any
change in your wife ? "
" Not much, I am afraid."
" And Mr. Mangan he thinks that you are safe
over here ? "
50 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
She looked at him earnestly. Perhaps she had
never admitted, even to herself, how fond she had been
of this scapegrace cousin.
" You'll find that no one will have a word to say
against you," she told him, " now that you are
wealthy and regenerate. They'll forget everything
you want them to. When will you come and dine
here and meet all your relatives ? "
" Whenever you are kind enough to ask me," he
answered. " I thought of going down to Dominey
She looked at him with a new thing in her eyes
something of fear, something, too, of admiration.
"But your wife?"
" She is there, I believe," he said. " I cannot help
?t. I have been an exile from my home long enough."
" Don't go," she begged suddenly. " Why not be
brave and have her removed. I know how tender-
hearted you are, but you have your future and your
career to consider. For her sake, too, you ought
not to give her the opportunity "
Dominey could never make up his mind whether
the interruption which came at that moment was
welcome or otherwise. Caroline suddenly broke off
in her speech and glanced warningly towards the
larger room. A tall, grey-haired man, dressed in
old-fashioned clothes and wearing a pince-nez, had
lifted the curtains. He addressed the Duchess in a
thin, reedy voice.
" My dear Caroline," he began, " ah, you must
forgive me. I did not know that you were engaged.
We will not stay, but I should like to present to you
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 51
a young friend of mine who is going to help me at
the meeting this evening."
" Do bring him in," his wife replied, her voice
once more attuned to its usual drawl. " And I have
a surprise for you too, Henry a very great sur-
prise, I think you will find it ! "
Dominey rose to his feet a tall, commanding
figure and stood waiting the approach of the
newcomer. The Duke advanced, looking at him en-
quiringly. A young man, very obviously a soldier
in mufti, was hovering in the background.
" I must plead guilty to the surprise," the Duke
confessed courteously. " There is something ex-
ceedingly familiar about your face, sir, but I cannot
remember having had the privilege of meeting you."
" You see," Caroline observed, " I am not the only
one, Everard, who did not accept you upon a glance.
This is Everard Dominey, Henry, returned from
foreign exile and regenerated in every sense of the
" How do you do? " Dominey said, holding out his
hand. " I seem to be rather a surprise to every
one, but I hope you haven't quite forgotten me."
" God bless my soul ! " the Duke exclaimed. " You
don't mean to say that you're really Everard Dom-
" I am he, beyond a doubt," was the calm assur-
" Most amazing ! " the Duke declared, as he shook
hands. " Most amazing ! I never saw such a change
in my life. Yes, yes, I see same complexion, of
course nose and eyes yes, yes ! But you seem
52 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
taller, and you carry yourself like a soldier. Dear,
dear me! Africa has done wonderfully by you.
Delighted, my dear Everard ! Delighted ! "
" You'll be more delighted still when you hear the
rest of the news," his wife remarked drily. " In
the meantime, do present your friend."
" Precisely so," the Duke acquiesced, turning to
the young man in the background. " Most sorry,
my dear Captain Bartram. The unexpected return
of a connection of my wife must be my apology for
this lapse of manners. Let me present you to the
Duchess. Captain Bartram is jusl back from Ger-
many, my dear, and is an enthusiastic supporter of
our cause. Sir Everard Dominey."
Caroline shook hands kindly with her husband's
protege, and Dominey exchanged a solemn hand-
shake with him.
" You, too, are one of those, then, Captain Bar-
tram, who are convinced that Germany has evil de-
signs upon us? " the former said, smiling.
" I have just returned from Germany after twelve
months' stay there," the young soldier replied. " I
went with an open mind. I have come back con-
vinced that we shall be at war with Germany within
a couple of years."
The Duke nodded vigorously.
" Our young friend is right," he declared.
" Three times a week for many months I have been
drumming the fact into the handful of wooden-
headed Englishmen who have deigned to come to our
meetings. I have made myself a nuisance to the
House of Lords and the Press. It is a terrible thing
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 53
to realise how hard it is to make an Englishman
reflect, so long as he is making money and having
a good time. You are just back from Africa,
" Within a week, sir."
" Did you see anything of the Germans out there?
Were you anywhere near their Colony? "
" I have been in touch with them for some years,"
" Most interesting ! " his questioner exclaimed.
" You may be of service to us, Everard. You may,
indeed! Now tell me, isn't it true that they have
secret agents out there, trying to provoke unsettle-
ment and disquiet amongst the Boers? Isn't it true
that they apprehend a war with England before very
long and are determined to stir up the Colony
against us ? "
" I am very sorry," Dominey replied, " but I am
not a politician in any shape or form. All the Ger-
mans whom I have met out there seem a most peace-
able race of men, and there doesn't seem to be the
slightest discontent amongst the Boers or any one
The Duke's face fell. " This is very surprising."
" The only people who seem to have any cause for
discontent," Dominey continued, " are the English
settlers. I didn't commence to do any good myself
there till a few years ago, but I have heard some
queer stories about the way our own people were
treated after the war."
" What you say about South Africa, Sir Everard,"
the young soldier remarked, " is naturally interest-
54 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
ing, but I am bound to say that it is in direct oppo-
sition to all I have heard."
" And I," the Duke echoed fervently.
" I have lived there for the last eleven years,"
Dominey continued, " and although I spent the earlier
part of that time trekking after big game, lately I
am bound to confess that every thought and energy/
I possess have been centered upon money-making.
For that reason, perhaps, my observations may have
been at fault. I shall claim the privilege of coming
to one of your first meetings, Duke, and of trying
to understand this question."
His august connection blinked at him a little curi-
ously for a moment behind his glasses.
" My dear Everard," he said, " forgive my re-
marking it, but I find you more changed than I could
have believed possible."
" Everard is changed in more ways than one,"
his wife observed, with faint irony.
Dominey, who had risen to leave, bent over her
" What about my dinner party, sir ? " she added.
" As soon as I return from Norfolk," he replied.
"Dominey Hall will really find you?" she asked
ji little curiously.
" Most certainly ! "
There was again that little flutter of fear in her
eyes, followed by a momentary flash of admiration.
Dominey shook hands gravely with his host and
nodded to Bartram. The servant whom the Duchess
had summoned stood holding the curtains on one
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 55
" I shall hope to see you again shortly, Duke,"
Dominey said, as he completed his leave-taking.
" There is a little matter of business to be adjusted
between us. You will probably hear from Mr. Man-
gan in a day or two."
The Duke gazed after the retreating figure of this
very amazing visitor. When the curtains had fallen
he turned to his wife.
" A little matter of business," he repeated. " I
hope you have explained to Everard, my dear, that
although, of course, we are very glad to see him back
again, it is absolutely hopeless for him to look to
me for any financial assistance at the present mo-
" Everard was alluding to the money he already
owes you," she explained. " He intends to repay it
at once. He is also paying off the Dominey mort-
gages. He has apparently made a fortune in
The Duke collapsed into an easy-chair.
" Everard pay his debts ? " he exclaimed. " Ever-
ard Dominey pay off the mortgages ? "
" That is what I understand," his wife acquiesced.
The Duke clutched at the last refuge of a weak but
obstinate man. His mouth came together like a rat-
" There's something wrong about it somewhere,"
Dominey spent a very impatient hour that evening
in his sitting-room at the Carlton, waiting for Sea-
man. It was not until nearly seven that the latter
" Are you aware," Dominey asked him, " that I
am expected to call upon the Princess Eiderstrom
at seven o'clock? "
" I have your word for it," Seaman replied, " but
I see no tragedy in the situation. The Princess is
a woman of sense and a woman of political insight.
While I cannot recommend you to take her entirely
into your confidence, I still think that a middle course
can be judiciously pursued."
" Rubbish ! " Dominey exclaimed. " As Leopold
von Ragastein, the Princess has indisputable claims
upon me and my liberty, claims which would alto-
gether interfere with the career of Everard Dom-
With methodical neatness, Seaman laid his hat,
gloves and walking stick upon the sideboard. He
then looked into the connecting bedroom, closed and
fastened tte door and extended himself in an easy-
" Sit opposite to me, my friend," he said. " We
will talk together."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 57
Dominey obeyed a little sullenly. His companion,
however, ignored his demeanour.
" Now, my friend," he said, beating upon the palm
of one hand with the forefinger of his other, " I am
a man of commerce and I do things in a business
way. Let us take stock of our position. Three
months ago last week, we met by appointment at a
certain hotel in Cape Town."
" Only three months," Dominey muttered.
" We were unknown to one another," Seaman con-
tinued. " I had only heard of the Baron von Ra-
gastein as a devoted German citizen and patriot, en-
gaged in an important enterprise in East Africa
by special intercession of the Kaiser, on account of
a certain unfortunate happening in Hungary."
" I killed a man in a duel," Dominey said slowly,
with his eyes fixed upon his companion's. " It was
not an unforgivable act."
" There are duels and duels. A fight between two
young men, in defence of the honour of or to gain
the favour of a young lady in their own station of
life, has never been against the conventions of the
Court. On the other hand, to become the lover of
the wife of one of the greatest nobles in Hungary,
and to secure possession by killing the husband in
the duel which his honour makes a necessity is looked
upon very differently."
" I had no wish to kill the Prince," Dominey pro-
tested, " nor was it at my desire that we met at all.
The Prince fought like a madman and slipped, after
a wild lunge, on to the point of my stationary sword."
" Let that pass," Seaman said. " I am not of
58 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
your order and I probably do not understand the
etiquette of these matters. I simply look upon you
as a culprit in the eyes of our master, and I feel
that he has a right to demand from you much in
the way of personal sacrifice."
" Perhaps you will tell me," Dominey demanded,
" what more he would have ? I have spent weary
years in a godless and fever-ridden country, rais-
ing up for our arms a great troop of natives. I
have undertaken other political commissions in the
Colony which may bear fruit. I am to take up the
work for which I was originally intended, for which
I was given an English education. I am to repair
to England, and, under such identity as I might
assume after consultation with you at Cape Town, I
am to render myself so far as possible a persona grata
in that country. I do not wait for our meeting. I
see a great chance and I make use of it. I trans-
form myself into an English country gentleman, and
I think you will admit that I have done so with great
" All that you say is granted," Seaman agreed.
:< You met me at Cape Town in your new identity,
and you certainly seemed to wear it wonderfully.
You have made it uncommonly expensive, but we do
not grudge money."
" I could not return home to a poverty-stricken
domain," Dominey pointed out. " I should have held
no place whatever in English social life, and I should
have received no welcome from those with whom I
imagine you desire me to stand well."
" Again I make no complaints," Seaman declared.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 59
" There is no bottom to our purse, nor any stint.
Neither must there be any stint to our loyalty," he
" In this instance," Dominey protested, " it is not
a matter of loyalty. Everard Dominey cannot throw
himself at the feet of the Princess Eidcrstrom, well-
known to be one of the most passionate women in
Europe, whilst her love affair with Leopold von
Ragastein is still remembered. Remember that the
question of our identities might crop up any day.
We were friends over here in England, at school and
at college, and there are many who will still remem-
ber the likeness between us. Perfectly though I may
play my part, here and there there may be doubts.
These will be doubts no longer if I am to be dragged
at the chariot wheels of the Princess."
Seaman was silent for a moment.
" There is reason in what you say," he admitted
presently. " It is for a few months only. What is
your proposition? "
" That you see the Princess in my place at once,"
Dominey suggested eagerly. " Point out to her that
for the present, for political reasons, I am and must
remain Everard Dominey, to her as to the rest of the
world. Let her be content with such measure of
friendship and admiration as Sir Everard Dominey
might reasonably offer to a beautiful woman whom
he met to-day for the first time, and I am entirely
and with all my heart at her service. But let her
remember that even between us two, in the solitude
of her room as in the drawing-rooms where we might
meet, it can be Everard Dominey only until my mis-
6o THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
sion is ended. You think, perhaps, that I lay un-
necessary stress upon this. I do not. I know the
Princess and I know myself."
Seaman glanced at the clock. " At what hour was
your appointment ? "
" It was not an appointment, it was a command,"
Dominey replied. " I was told to be at Belgrave
Square at seven o'clock."
" I will have an understanding with the Princess,"
promised Seaman, as he took up his hat. " Dine
with me downstairs at eight o'clock on my return."
Dominey, descending about an hour later, found
his friend Seaman already established at a small,
far-away table set in one of the recesses of the grill
room. He was welcomed with a little wave of the
hand, and cocktails were at once ordered.
" I have done your errand," Seaman announced.
" Since my visit I am bound to admit that I realise
a little more fully your anxiety."
" You probably had not met the Princess before? "
"I had not. I must confess that I found her a
lady of somewhat overpowering temperament. I
fancy, my young friend," Seaman continued, with
a twitch at the corner of his lips, " that somewhere
about August next year you will find your hands
" August next year can take care of itself," was
the cool reply.
" In the meantime," Seaman continued, " the Prin-
cess understands the situation and is, I think, im-
pressed. She will at any rate do nothing rash. You
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 61
and she will meet within the course of the next few
hours, but on reasonable terms. To proceed ! As I
drove back here after my interview with the Princess,
I decided that it was time you made the acquaintance
of the person who is chiefly responsible for your
" Terniloff ? "
" Precisely ! You have maintained, my young
friend," Seaman went on after a brief pause, during
which one waiter had brought their cocktails and
another received their order for dinner, " a very dis-
creet and laudable silence with regard to those fur-
ther instructions which were promised to you imme-
diately you should arrive in London. Those instruc-
tions will never be committed to writing. They are
Seaman touched his forehead and drained the re-
maining contents of his glass.
" My instructions are to trust you absolutely,"
Dominey observed, " and, until the greater events stir,
to concentrate the greater part of my energies in
leading the natural life of the man whose name and
place I have taken."
" Quite so," Seaman acquiesced.
He glanced around the room for a moment or two,
as though interested in the people. Satisfied at last
that there was no chance of being overheard, he con-
*' The first idea you have to get out of your head,
my dear friend, if it is there, is that you are a spy.
You are nothing of the sort. You are not con-
nected with our remarkably perfect system of es-
62 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
pionage in the slightest degree. You are a free
agent in all that you may choose to say or do. You
can believe in Germany or fear her whichever you
like. You can join your cousin's husband in his
crusade for National Service, or you can join me in
my efforts to cement the bonds of friendship and
affection between the citizens of the two countries.
We really do not care in the least. Choose your own
part. Live yourself thoroughly into the life of Sir
Everard Dominey, Baronet, of Dominey Hall, Nor-
folk, and pursue exactly the course which you think
Sir Everard himself would be likely to take."
" This," Dominey admitted, " is very broad-
" It is common sense," was the prompt reply.
" With all your ability, you could not in six months'
time appreciably affect the position either way.
Therefore, we choose to have you concentrate the
whole of your energies upon one task and one task
only. If there is anything of the spy about your
mission here, it is not England or the English which
are to engage your attention. We require you to
concentrate wholly and entirely upon Terniloff."
Dominey was startled.
" Terniloff? " he repeated. " I expected to work
with him, but "
"Empty your mind of all preconceived ideas,"
Seaman enjoined. " What your duties are with re-
gard to Terniloff will grow upon you gradually as
the situation develops."
" As yet." Dominey remarked, " I have not eveo
made his acquaintance'*
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 63
" I was on the point of telling you, earlier in our
conversation, that I have made an appointment for
you to see him at eleven o'clock to-night at the Em-
bassy. You will go to him at that hour. Remem-
ber, you know nothing, you are waiting for instruc-
tions. Let speech remain with him alone. Be par-
ticularly careful not to drop him a hint of your
knowledge of what is coming. You will find him
absolutely satisfied with the situation, absolutely
content. Take care not to disturb him. He is a
missioner of peace. So are you."
" I begin to understand," Dominey said thought-
" You shall understand everything when the time
comes for you to take a hand," Seaman promised,
" and do not in your zeal forget, my friend, that
your utility to our great cause will depend largely
upon your being able to establish and maintain your
position as an English gentleman. So far all has
gone well? "
" Perfectly, so far as I am concerned," Dominey
replied. " You must remember, though, that there
is your end to keep up. Berlin will be receiving
frantic messages from East Africa as to my disap-
pearance. Not even my immediate associates were
in the secret."
" That is all understood," Seaman assured his com-
panion. " A little doctor named Schmidt has spent
many marks of the Government money in frantic
cables. You must have endeared yourself to him."
" He was a very faithful associate."
" He has been a very troublesome friend. It
64 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
seems that the natives got their stories rather mixed
up concerning your namesake, who apparently died
in the bush, and Schmidt continually emphasised
your promise to let him hear from Cape Town.
However, all this has been dealt with satisfactorily.
The only real dangers are over here, and so far you
seem to have encountered the principal ones."
" I have at any rate been accepted," Dominey de-
clared, " by my nearest living relative, and inci-
dentally I have discovered the one far-seeing person
in England who knows what is in store for us."
Seaman was momentarily anxious.
" Whom do you mean ? "
" The Duke of Worcester, my cousin's husband,
of whom you were speaking just now."
The little man's face relaxed.
" He reminds me of the geese who saved the Cap-
itol," he said, " a brainless man obsessed with one
idea. It is queer how often these fanatics discover
the truth. That reminds me," he added, taking a
small memorandum book from his waistcoat pocket
and glancing it through. " His Grace has a meet-
ing to-night at the Holborn Town Hall. I shall
make one of my usual interruptions."
" If he has so small a following, why don't you
leave him alone ? " Dominey enquired.
" There are others associated with him," was the
placid reply, " who are not so insignificant. Besides,
when I interrupt I advertise my own little hobby."
" These we English are strange people," Dom-
iney remarked, glancing around the room after a
brief but thoughtful pause. " We advertise and
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 65
boast about our colossal wealth, and yet we are in-
capable of the slightest self-sacrifice in order to pre-
serve it. One would have imagined that our phi-
losophers, our historians, would warn us in irresist-
ible terms, by unanswerable scientific deduction, of
what was coming."
" My compliments to your pronouns," Seaman
murmured, with a little bow. A propos of what you
were saying, you will never make an Englishman
I beg your pardon, one of your countrymen real-
ise anything unpleasant. He prefers to keep his
head comfortably down in the sand. But to leave
generalities, when do you think of going to Nor-
" Within the next few days," Dominey replied.
" I shall breathe more freely when you are securely
established there," his companion declared. " Great
things wait upon your complete acceptance, in the
country as well as in town, as Sir Everard Dominey.
You are sure that you perfectly understand your
position there as regards your er domestic af-
" I understand ail that is necessary," was the
somewhat stiff reply.
" All that is necessary is not enough," Seaman
rejoined irritably. " I thought that you had wormed
the whole story out of that drunken Englishman?"
" He told me most of it. There were just one or
two points which lay beyond the limits where ques-
tioning was possible."
Seaman frowned angrily.
" In other words," he complained, " you remem-
66 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
bered that you were a gentleman and not that you
were a German."
" The Englishman of a certain order," Dominey
pronounced, " even though he be degenerate, has a
certain obstinacy, generally connected with one par-
ticular thing, which nothing can break. We talked
together on that last night until morning; we drank
wine and brandy. I tore the story of my own exile
from my breast and laid it bare before him. Yet I
knew all the time, as I know now, that he kept some-
There was a brief pause. During the last few
minutes a certain tension had crept in between the
two men. With it, their personal characteristics
seemed to have become intensified. Dominey was
more than ever the aristocrat; Seaman the plebeian
schemer, unabashed and desperately in earnest. He
leaned presently a little way across the table. His
eyes had narrowed but they were as bright as steel.
His teeth were more prominent than usual.
" You should have dragged it from his throat,"
he insisted. " It is not your duty to nurse fine per-
sonal feelings. Heart and soul you stand pledged
to great things. I cannot at this moment give you
any idea what you may not mean to us after the
trouble has come, if you are able to play your part
still in this country as Everard Dominey of Dominey
Hall. I know well enough that the sense of per-
sonal honour amongst the Prussian aristocracy is
the finest in the world, and yet there is not a single
man of your order who should not be prepared to
lie or cheat for his country's sake. You must fall
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 67
into line with your fellows. Once more, it is not
only your task with regard to Terniloff which makes
your recognition as Everard Dominey so important
to us. It is the things which are to come later.
Come, enough of this subject. I know that you un-
derstand. We grow too serious. How shall you
spend your evening until eleven o'clock? Remember
you did not leave England an anchorite, Sir Everard.
You must have your amusements. Why not try a
music hall? "
" My mind is too full of other things," Dominey
" Then come with me to Holborn," the little man
suggested. " It will amuse you. We will part at
the door, and you shall sit at the back of the hall,
out of sight. You shall hear the haunting eloquence
of your cousin-in-law. You shall hear him trying
to warn the men and women of England of the danger
awaiting them from the great and rapacious Ger-
man nation. What do you say? "
" I will come," Dominey replied in spiritless fash-
ion. " It will be better than a music hall, at any
rate. I am not at all sure, Seaman, that the hard-
est part of my task over here will not be this neces*-
sity for self-imposed amusements."
His companion struck the table gently but impa-
tiently with his clenched fist.
" Man, you are young ! " he exclaimed. " You are
like the rest of us. You carry your life in your
hands. Don't nourish past griefs. Cast the mem-
ory of them away. There's nothing which narrows
a man more than morbidness. You have a past which
68 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
may sometimes bring the ghosts around you, but
remember the sin was not wholly yours, and there is
an atonement which in measured fashion you may
commence whenever you please. I have said enough
about that. Greatness and gaiety go hand in hand.
There ! You see, I was a philosopher before I be-
came a professor of propaganda. Good! You
smile. That is something gained, at any rate. Now
we will take a taxicab to Holborn and I will show
you something really humorous."
At the entrance to the town hall, the two men, at
Seaman's instigation, parted, making their way in-
side by different doors. Dominey found a retired
seat under a balcony, where he was unlikely to be
recognised from the platform. Seaman, on the other
hand, took up a more prominent position at the end
of one of the front rows of benches. The meeting
was by no means overcrowded, overenthusiastic, over-
anything. There were rows of empty benches, a
good many young couples who seemed to have come
in for shelter from the inclement night, a few sturdy,
respectable-looking tradesmen who had come because
it seemed to be the respectable thing to do, a few
genuinely interested, and here and there, although
they were decidedly in the minority, a sprinkling of
enthusiasts. On the platform was the Duke, with
civic dignitaries on either side of him ; a distinguished
soldier, a Member of Parliament, a half-dozen or so
of nondescript residents from the neighbourhood, and
Captain Bartram. The meeting was on the point of
commencement as Dominey settled down in his corner.
First of all the Di^ke rose, and in a few hackneyed
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 69
but earnest sentences introduced his young friend
Captain Bartram. The latter, who sprang at once
into the middle of his subject, was nervous and more
than a little bitter. He explained that he had re-
signed his commission and was therefore free to speak
his mind. He spoke of enormous military prepara-
tions in Germany and a general air of tense expecta
tion. Against whom were these preparations^
Without an earthly doubt against Germany's great-
est rival, whose millions of young men, even in this
hour of danger, preferred playing or watching foot-
ball or cricket on Saturday afternoons to realising
their duty. The conclusion of an ill-pointed but
earnest speech was punctuated by the furtive en-
trance into the hall of a small boy selling evening
newspapers, and there was a temporary diversion
from any interest in the proceedings on the part of
the younger portion of the audience, whilst they satis-
fied themselves as to the result of various Cup Ties.
The Member of Parliament then descended upoa
them in a whirlwind of oratory and in his best House
of Commons style. He spoke of black clouds and of
the cold breeze that went before the coming thunder-
storm. He pointed to the collapse of every great
nation throughout history who had neglected the
arts of self-defence. He appealed to the youth of
the nation to prepare themselves to guard their
womenkind, their homes, the sacred soil of their coun-
try, and at that point was interrupted by a drowsy
member of the audience with stentorian lungs, who
seemed just at that moment to have waked Up.
" What about the Navy, guv'nor ? "
70 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
The orator swept upon the interrupter in his fa-
mous platform manner. The Navy, he declared,
could be trusted at all times to do its duty, but it
could not fight on sea and land. Would the young
man who had just interrupted do his, and enrol his
name for drill and national service that evening?
and so on. The distinguished soldier, who was suf-
fering from a cold, fired off a few husky sentences
only, to the tune of rounds of applause. The pro-
ceedings were wound up by the Duke, who was obvi-
ously, with the exception of the distinguished soldier,
much more in earnest than any of them, and secured
upon the whole a respectful attention. He brought
in a few historical allusions, pleaded for a greater
spirit of earnestness and citizenship amongst the men
of the country, appealed even to the women to de-
velop their sense of responsibility, and sat down
amidst a little burst of quite enthusiastic applause.
The vote of thanks to the chairman was on the point
of being proposed when Mr. Seaman, standing up
in his place, appealed to the chairman for permis-
sion to say a few words. The Duke, who had had
some experience with Mr. Seaman before, looked
at him severely, but the smile with which Mr.
Seaman looked around upon the audience was so
good-natured and attractive, that he had no al-
ternative but to assent. Seaman scrambled up the
steps on to the platform, coughed apologetically,
bowed to the Duke, and took possession of the meet-
ing. After a word or two of compliment to the chair-
man, he made his confession. He was a German citi-
zen he was indeed one of that bloodthirsty race.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 71
(Some laughter.) He was also, and it was his excuse
for standing there, the founder and secretary of a
league, doubtless well known to them, a league for
promoting more friendly relations between the busi-
ness men of Germany and England. Some of the
remarks which he had heard that evening had pained
him deeply. Business often took him to Germany,
and as a German he would be doing less than his duty
if he did not stand up there and tell them that the
average German loved the Englishman like a brother,
that the object of his life was to come into greater
kinship with him, that Germany, even at that moment,
was standing with hand outstretched to her relatives
across the North Sea, begging for a deeper sympathy,
begging for a larger understanding. (Applause
from the audience, murmurs of dissent from the plat-
form.) And as to those military preparations of
which they had heard so much (with a severe glance
at Captain Bartram), let them glance for one mo-
ment at the frontiers of Germany, let them realise
that eastwards Germany was being continually
pressed by an ancient and historic foe of enormous
strength. He would not waste their time telling
them of the political difficulties which Germany had
had to face during the last generation. He would
simply tell them this great truth, the foe for whom
Germany was obliged to make these great military
preparations was Russia. If ever they were used
it would be against Russia, and at Russia's instiga-
tion. In his humble way he was striving for the
betterment of relations between the dearly beloved
country of his birth and the equally beloved country
72 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
of his adoption. Such meetings as these, instituted,
as it seemed to him, for the propagation of unfair and
unjustified suspicions, were one of the greatest diffi-
culties in his way. He could not for a moment doubt
that these gentlemen upon the platform were patriots.
They would prove it more profitably, both to them-
selves and their country, if they abandoned their
present prejudiced and harmful campaign and be-
came patrons of his Society.
Seaman's little bow to the chairman was good-
humoured, tolerant, a little wistful. The Duke's few
words, prefaced by an indignant protest against the
intrusion of a German propagandist into an English
patriotic meeting, did nothing to undo the effect pro-
duced by this undesired stranger. When the meet-
ing broke up, it was doubtful whether a single ad-
herent had been gained to the cause of National
Service. The Duke went home full of wrath, and
Seaman chuckled with genuine merriment as he
stepped into the taxi which Dominey had secured, at
the corner of the street.
" I promised you entertainment," he observed.
" Confess that I have kept my word."
Dominey smiled enigmatically. " You certainly
succeeded in making fools of a number of respectable
and well-meaning men."
" The miracle of it extends further," Seaman
agreed. " To-night, in its small way, is a supreme
example of the transcendental follies of democracy.
England is being slowly choked and strangled with
too much liberty. She is like a child being over-
fed with jam. Imagine, in our dear country, an
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 73
Englishman being allowed to mount the platform and
spout, undisturbed, English propaganda in deadly
opposition to German interests. The so-called lib-
erty of the Englishman is like the cuckoo in his po-
litical nest. Countries must be governed. They
cannot govern themselves. The time of war will
prove all that."
" Yet in any great crisis of a nation's history,"
Dominey queried, " surely there is safety in a multi-
tude of counsellors?"
" There would be always a multitude of coun-
sellors," Seaman replied, " in Germany as in Eng-
land. 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 coun-
sellors, 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 Sea-
** Listen," he said, " we are in London, alone in a
taxicab, secure against any possible eavesdropping.
You preach the advantage of our Kaiser-led coun-
try. Do you really believe that the Kaiser is the
man for the task which is coming? "
Seaman's narrow eyes glittered. He looked at
74 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
his companion in satisfaction. His forehead was
puckered, his eternal smile gone. He was the man of
" So you are waking up from the lethargy of
Africa, my friend ! " he exclaimed. " You are be-
ginning to think. As you ask me, so shall I answer.
The Kaiser is a vain, bombastic dreamer, the great-
est egotist who ever lived, with a diseased person-
ality, 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 na-
tion 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 Terni-
loff, 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 hop-
ing 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
" You have an appointment at half-past eleven,"
she said. " I wish you to keep it."
"You know, then?"
" I lunched to-day at the Carlton grill room. In
the reception-room I came face to face with Leopold
The Ambassador made no remark. It seemed to
be his wish to hear first all that his companion had
to say. After a moment's pause she continued:
" I spoke to him, and he denied himself. To me !
I think that those were the most terrible seconds of
my life. I have never suffered more. I shall never
suffer so much again."
76 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" It was most unfortunate," the Prince murmured
" This evening," she went on, " I received a visit
from a man whom I took at first to be an insignificant
member of the German bourgeoisie. I learnt some-
thing of his true position later. He came to me to
explain that Leopold was engaged in this country on
secret service, that he was passing under the name
which he gave me, Sir Everard Dominey, an Eng-
lish baronet, long lost in Africa. You know of
" I know that to-night I am receiving a visit from
Sir Everard Dominey."
" He is to work under your auspices ? "
" By no means," the Prince rejoined warmly. " I
am not favourably inclined towards this network of
espionage. The school of diplomacy in which I have
been brought up tries to work without such ignoble
means. 5 '*
" One realises that," she said. " Leopold is com-
ing, however, to-night, to pay his respects to you."
" He is waiting for me now in my study," the Am-
" You will do me the service of conveying to him
a message from me," she continued. " This man
Seaman pointed out to me the unwisdom of any asso-
ciation between myself and Leopold, under present
conditions. I listened to all that he had to say. I
reserved my decision. I have now considered the
matter. I will compromise with necessity. I will
be content with the acquaintance of Sir Everard
Dominey, but that I will have."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 77
" For myself," the Ambassador reflected, " I do
not even know what Von Ragastein's mission over
here is, but if in Berlin they decide that, for the more
complete preservation of his incognito, association
between you and him is undesirable "
She laid her fingers upon his arm.
" Stop ! " she ordered. " I am not of Berlin. I
am not a German. I am not even an Austrian. I
am Hungarian, and though I am willing to study
your interests, I am not willing to place them before
my own life. I make terms, but I do not surrender.
Those terms I will discuss with Leopold. Ah, be
kind to me ! " she went on, with a sudden change of
voice. " Since those few minutes at midday I have
lived in a dream. Only one thing can quiet me. I
must speak to him, I must decide with him what I
will do. You will help? "
" An acquaintance between you and Sir Everard
Dominey," he admitted, " is certainly a perfectly
" Look at me," she begged.
He turned and looked into her face. Underneath
her beautiful eyes were dark lines ; there was some-
thing pitiful about the curve of her mouth. He
remembered that although she had carried herself
throughout the evening with all the dignity which was
second nature to her, he had overheard more than
one sympathetic comment upon her appearance.
" I can see that you are suffering," he remarked
" My eyes are hot, and inside I am on fire," she
continued. " I must speak to Leopold. Freda has
78 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
asked me to stay and talk to her for an hour. My
car waits. Arrange that he drives me home. Oh!
believe me, dear friend, I am a very human woman,
and there is nothing in the world to be gained by
treating me as though I were of wood or stone. To-
night I can see him without observation. If you re-
fuse, I shall take other means. I will make no prom-
ises. I will not even promise that I will not call out
before him in the streets that he is a liar, that his life
is a lie. I will call him Leopold von Ragastein "
" Hush ! " he begged her. " Stephanie, you are
nervous. I have not yet answered your entreaty."
" I consent," he promised. " After our interview,
I shall bring the young man to Freda's room and
present him. You will be there. He can offer you
She suddenly stooped and kissed his hand. An
immense relief was in her face.
" Now I will keep you no longer. Freda is wait-
ing for me."
The Ambassador strolled thoughtfully away into
his own den at the back of the house, where Dominey
was waiting for him.
" I am glad to see you," the former said, holding
out his hand. " For five minutes I desire to talk to
your real self. After that, for the rest of your time
in England, I will respect your new identity."
Dominey bowed in silence. His host pointed to the
" Come," he continued, " there are cigars and ciga-
rettes at your elbow, whisky and soda on the si4e*
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 79
board. Make yourself at home in that chair there.
Africa has really changed you very little. Do you
remember our previous meeting, in Saxony? "
" I remember it perfectly, your Excellency."
" His Majesty knew how to keep Court in those
days," the Ambassador went on. " One was tempted
to believe oneself at an English country party.
However, that much of the past. You know, of
course, that I entirely disapprove of your present
position here? "
" I gathered as much, your Excellency."
" We will have no reserves with one another," the
Prince declared, lighting a cigar. " I know quite
well that you form part of a network of espionage
in this country which I consider wholly unnecessary.
That is simply a question of method. I have no
doubt that you are here with the same object as
I am, the object which the Kaiser has declared to
me with his own lips is nearest to his heart to ce-
ment the bonds of friendship between Germany and
" You believe, sir, that that is possible ? "
" I am convinced of it," was the earnest reply.
" I do not know what the exact nature of your work
over here is to be, but I am glad to have an oppor-
tunity of putting before you my convictions. I be-
lieve that in Berlin the character of some of the
leading statesmen here has been misunderstood and
misrepresented. I find on all sides of me an earnest
and sincere desire for peace. I have convinced my-
self that there is not a single statesman in this coun-
try who is desirous of war with Germany."
8o THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Dominey was listening intently, with the air of
one who hears unexpected things.
" But, your Excellency," he ventured, " what about
the matter from our point of view? There are a
great many in our country, whom you and I know
of, who look forward to a war with England as inevi-
table. Germany must become, we all believe, the
greatest empire in the world. She must climb there,
as one of our friends once said, with her foot upon
the neck of the British lion."
" You are out of date," the Ambassador declared
earnestly. " I see now why they sent you to me.
Those days have passed. There is room in the world
for Great Britain and for Germany. The disintegra-
tion of Russia in the near future is a certainty. It
is eastward that we must look for any great exten-
sion of territory."
" These things have been decided ? "
" Absolutely ! They form the soul of my mission
here. My mandate is one of peace, and the more I
see of English statesmen and the more I understand
the British outlook, the more sanguine I am as to
the success of my efforts. This is why all this out-
side espionage with which Seaman is so largely con-
cerned seems to me at times unwise and unneces-
" And my own mission? " Dominey enquired.
" Its nature," the Prince replied, " is not as yet
divulged, but if, as I have* been given to understand,
it is to become closely connected with my own, then I
am very sure you will presently find that its text
also is Peace."
Dominey rose to his feet, prepared to tale his
" These matters will be solved for us," he mur-
" There is just one word more, on a somewhat
more private matter," Terniloff said in an altered
tone. " The Princess Eiderstrom is upstairs."
"In this house?"
" Waiting for a word with you. Our friend Sea-
man has been with her this evening. I understand
that she is content to subscribe to the present situa-
tion. She makes one condition, however."
" She insists upon it that I present Sir Everard
The latter did not attempt to conceal his perturba-
" I need scarcely point out to you, sir," he pro-
tested, " that any association between the Princess
and myself is likely to largely increase the difficul-
ties of my position here."
The Ambassador sighed.
" I quite appreciate that," he admitted. ** Both
Seaman and I have endeavoured to reason with her,
but, as you are doubtless aware, the Princess is a
woman of very strong will. She is also very power-
fully placed here, and it is the urgent desire of the
Court at Berlin to placate in every way the Hun"
garian nobility. You will understand, of course,
that I speak from a political point of view only. 1
cannot ignore the fact of your unfortunate relations
with the late Prince, but in considering the present
82 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
position you will, I am sure, remember the greater
His visitor was silent for a moment.
"You say that the Princess is waiting here?"
" She is with my wife and asks for your escort
home. My wife also looks forward to the pleasure
of renewing her acquaintance with you."
*' I shall accept your Excellency's guidance in the
matter," Dominey decided.
The Princess Terniloff was a woman of world cul-
ture, an artist, and still an extremely attractive
woman. She received the visitor whom her husband
brought to her in a very charming little room fur-
nished after the style of the simplest French period,
and she did her best to relieve the strain of what she
understood must be a somewhat trying moment.
" We are delighted to welcome you to London, Sir
Everard Dominey," she said, taking his hand, " and
I hope that we shall often see you here. I want to
present you to my cousin, who is interested in you,
I must tell you frankly, because of your likeness to
a very dear friend of hers. Stephanie, this is Sir
Everard Dominey the Princess Eiderstrom."
Stephanie, who was seated upon the couch from
which her cousin had just risen, held out her hand
to Dominey, who made her a very low and formal
bow. Her gown was of unrelieved black. Wonder^
ful diamonds flashed around her neck, and she wore
also a tiara fashioned after the Hungarian style, a
little low on her forehead. Her manner and tone
still indicated some measure of rebellion against the
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 83
" You have forgiven me for my insistence this
morning? " she asked. " It was hard for me to be-
lieve that you were not indeed the person for whom
I mistook you."
" Other people have spoken to me of the likeness,"
Dominey replied. " It is a matter of regret to me
that I can claim to be no more than a simple Norfolk
" Without any previous experience of European
" Without any at all."
" Your German is wonderfully pure for an un-
" Languages were the sole accomplishment I
brought away from my misspent school days."
" You are not going to bury yourself in Nor-
folk, Sir Everard? " the Princess Terniloff enquired.
" Norfolk is very near London these days," Dom-
iney replied, " and I have experienced more than my
share of solitude during the last few years. I hope
to spend a portion of my time here."
" You must dine with us one night," the Princess
insisted, " and tell us about Africa. My husband
would be so interested."
" You are very kind."
Stephanie rose slowly to her feet, leaned grace-
fully over and kissed her hostess on both cheeks, and
submitted her hand to the Prince, who raised it to
his lips. Then she turned to Dominey.
"Will you be so kind as to see me home?" she
asked. " Afterwards, my car can take you on wher-
ever you choose to go."
84 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
** I shall be very happy," Dominey assented.
He, too, made his farewells. A servant in the
hall handed him his hat and coat, and he took his
place in the car by Stephanie's side. She touched
the electric switch as they glided off. The car was
" I think," she murmured, " that I could not have
borne another moment of this juggling with words.
Leopold we are alone ! "
He caught the flash of her jewels, the soft bril-
liance of her eyes as she leaned towards him. His
voice sounded, even to himself, harsh and strident.
" You mistake, Princess. My name is not Leo-
pold. I am Everard Dominey."
" Oh, I know that you are very obstinate," she
said softly, " very obstinate and very devoted to your
marvellous country, but you have a soul, Leopold;
you know that there are human duties as great as
any your country ever imposed upon you. You
know what I look for from you, what I must find
from you or go down into hell, ashamed and miser-
He felt his throat suddenly dry.
" Listen," he muttered, " until the hour strikes,
I must remain to you as to the world, alone or in a
crowd Everard Dominey. There is one way and
one way only of carrying through my appointed
She gave a little hysterical sob.
" Wait," she begged. " I will answer you in a
moment. Give me your hand."
He opened the fingers which he had kept clenched
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 85
together, and he felt the hot grip of her hand, hold-
ing his passionately, drawing it towards her until
the fingers of her other hand, too, fell upon it. So
she sat for several moments.
" Leopold," she continued presently, " I under-
stand. You are afraid that I shall betray our love.
You have reason. I am full of impulses and passion,
as you know, but I have restraint. What we are to
one another when we are alone, no soul in this world
need know. I will be careful. I swear it. I will
never even look at you as though my heart ached for
your notice, when we are in the presence of other
people. You shall come and see me as seldom as
you wish. I will receive you alone only as often as
you say. But don't treat me like this. Tell me
you have come back. Throw off this hideous mask,
if it be only for a moment."
He sat quite still, although her hands were tear-
ing at his, her lips and eyes beseeching him.
" Whatever may come afterwards," lie pronounced
inexorably, " until the time arrives I am Everard
Dominey. I cannot take advantage of your feelings
for Leopold von Ragastein. He is not here. He
is in Africa. Perhaps some day he will come back
to you and be all that you wish."
She flung his hands away. He felt her eyes burn-
ing into his, this time with something more like
" Let me look at you," she cried. " Let me be
sure. Is this just some ghastly change, or are you
an impostor? My heart is growing chilled. Are
you the man I have waited for all these years? Are
86 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
you the man to whom I have given my lips, for whose
sake I offered up my reputation as a sacrifice, the
man who slew my husband and left me? "
" I was exiled," he reminded her, his own voice
shaking with emotion. " You know that. So far as
other things are concerned, I am exiled now. I am
working out my expiation."
She leaned back in her seat with an air of ex-
haustion. Her eyes closed. Then the car drove in
through some iron gates and stopped in front of her
door, which was immediately opened. A footman
hurried out. She turned to Dominey.
" You will not enter," she pleaded, " for a short
" If you will permit me to pay you a visit, it will
give me great pleasure," he answered formally. " I
will call, if I may, on my return from Norfolk."
She gave him her hand with a set smile.
" Let my people take you wherever you want to
go," she invited, " and remember," she added, drop-
ping her voice, " I do not admit defeat. This is
not the last word between us."
She disappeared in some state, escorted through
the great front door of one of London's few palaces
by an attractive major-domo and footman in the
livery of her House. Dominey drove back to the
Carlton, where in the lounge he found the band play-
ing, crowds still sitting around, amongst whom Sea-
man was conspicuous, in his neat dinner clothes and
with his cherubic air of inviting attention from pros-
pective new acquaintances. He greeted Dominey en-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 87
" Come," he exclaimed, " I am weary of solitude !
I have seen scarcely a face that I recognise. My
tongue is parched with inaction. I like to talk, and
there has been no one to talk to. I might as well
have opened up my little house in Forest Hill."
" I'll talk to you if you like," Dominey promised
a little grimly, glancing at the clock and hastily
ordering a whisky and soda. " I will b' ,-gin by tell-
ing you this," he added, lowering his tone. " I have
discovered the greatest danger I shall have to face
during my enterprise."
"What is that?"
" A woman the Princess Eiderstrom."
Seaman lit one of his inevitable cigars and threw
one of his short, fat legs over the other. He gazed
for a moment with an air of satisfaction at his small
foot, neatly encased in court shoes.
" You surprise me," he confessed. " I have con-
sidered the matter. I cannot see any great diffi-
" Then you must be closing your eyes to it wil-
fully," Dominey retorted, " or else you are wholly
ignorant of the Princess's temperament and disposi-
" I believe I appreciate both," Seaman replied,
" but I still do not see any peculiar difficulty in the
situation. As an English nobleman you have a per-
fect right to enjoy the friendship of the Princess
" And I thought you were a man of sentiment ! "
Dominey scoffed. " I thought you understood a lit-
tle of human nature. Stephanie Eiderstrom is Hun-
88 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
garian born and bred. Even race has never taught
her self-restraint. You don't seriously suppose that
after all these years, after all she has suffered and
she has suffered she is going to be content with an
emasculated form of friendship ? I talk to you with-
out reserve, Seaman. She has made it very plain to-
night that she is going to be content with nothing of
" What takes place between you in private," Sea-
" Rubbish ! " his companion interrupted. " The
Princess is an impulsive, a passionate, a distinctly
'jprimitive woman, with a good deal of the wild animal
in her still. Plots or political necessities are not
likely to count a snap of the fingers with her."
" But surely," Seaman protested, " she must un-
derstand that your country has claimed you for a
great work ? "
Dominey shook his head.
" She is not a German," he pointed out. " On the
contrary, like a great many other Hungarians, I
think she rather dislikes Germany and Germans.
Her only concern is the personal question between
us. She considers that every moment of the rest
of my life should be devoted to her."
" Perhaps it is as well," Seaman remarked, " that
you have arranged to go down to-morrow to Dom-
iney. I will think out a scheme. Something must
be done to pacify her."
The lights were being put out. The two men rose
a little unwillingly. Dominey felt singularly indis-
posed for sleep, but anxious at the same time to get
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION Sg
rid of his companion. They strolled into the dark-
ened hall of the hotel together.
" I will deal with this matter for you as well as
I can," Seaman promised. " To my mind, your
greatest difficulty will be encountered to-morrow.
You know what you have to deal with down at Dom-
Dominey's face was very set and grave.
" I am prepared," he said.
Seaman still hesitated.
" Do you remember," he asked, " that when we
talked over your plans at Cape Town, you showed
me a picture of of Lady Dominey ? "
" I remember."
" May I have one more look at it ? "
Dominey, with fingers that trembled a little, drew
from the breast pocket of his coat a leather case, and
from that a worn picture. The two men looked at
it side by side beneath one of the electric standards
which had been left burning. The face was the face
of a girl, almost a child, and the great eyes seemed
filled with a queer, appealing light. There was some-
thing of the same suggestion to be found in the lips,
a certain helplessness, an appeal for love and pro-
tection to some stronger being.
Seaman turned away with a little grunt, and com-
" Permitting myself to reassume for a moment or
two the ordinary sentiments of an ordinary human
being, I would sooner have a dozen of your Prin-
cesses to deal with than the original of that picture."
" Your ancestral home," Mr. Mangan observed,
as the car turned the first bend in the grass-grown
avenue and Dominey Hall came into sight.
" Damned fine house, too ! "
His companion made no reply. A storm had come
up during the last few minutes, and, as though he
felt the cold, he had dragged his hat over his eyes and
turned his coat collar up to his ears. The house,
with its great double front, was now clearly visible
the time-worn, Elizabethan, red brick outline that
faced the park southwards, and the stone-supported,
grim and weather-stained back which confronted the
marshes and the sea. Mr. Mangan continued to
make amiable conversation.
" We have kept the old place weathertight, some-
how or other," he said, " and I don't think you'll
miss the timber much. We've taken it as far as
possible from the outlying woods."
" Any from the Black Wood? " Dominey asked,
without turning his head.
Mr. Mangan shook his head.
" Not a stump," he replied, " and for a very ex-
cellent reason. Not one of the woodmen would ever
go near the place."
" The superstition remains, then ? "
" The villagers are absolutely rabid about it.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 91
There are at least a dozen who declare that they
have seen the ghost of Roger Unthank, and a score
or more who will swear by all that is holy that they
have heard his call at night."
" Does he still select the park and the terrace out-
side the house for his midnight perambulations? "
The lawyer hesitated.
" The idea is, I believe," he said, " that the ghost
makes his way out from the wood and sits on the
terrace underneath Lady Dominey's window. All
bunkum, of course, but I can assure you that every
servant and caretaker we've had there has given no-
tice within a month. That is the sole reason why
I haven't ventured to recommend long ago that you
should get rid of Mrs. Unthank."
" She is still in attendance upon Lady Dominey,
" Simply because we couldn't get any one else to
stay there," the lawyer explained, " and her lady-
ship positively declines to leave the Hall. Between
ourselves, I think it's time a change was made. We'll
have a chat after dinner, if you've no objection.
You see, we've left all the trees in the park," he went
on, with an air of satisfaction. " Beautiful place,
this, in the springtime. I was down last May for a
night, and I never saw such buttercups in my life.
The cows here were almost up to their knees in pas-
ture, and the bluebells in the home woods were won-
derful. The whole of the little painting colony down
at Flankney turned themselves loose upon the place
92 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Some of the old wall is down, I see," Dominey re-
marked with a frown, as he gazed towards the en-
closed kitchen garden.
Mr. Mangan was momentarily surprised.
" That wall has been down, to my knowledge, for
twenty years," he reminded his companion.
Dominey nodded. " I had forgotten," he mut-
" We wrote you, by the by," the lawyer continued,
" suggesting the sale of one or two of the pictures,
to form a fund for repairs, but thank goodness you
didn't reply ! We'll have some workpeople here as
soon as you've decided what you'd like done. I'm
afraid," he added, as they turned in through some
iron gates and entered the last sweep in front of the
house, " you won't find many familiar faces to wel-
come you. There's Loveybond, the gardener, whom
you would scarcely remember, and Middleton, the
head keeper, who has really been a godsend so far as
the game is concerned. No one at all indoors, except
The car drew up at that moment in front of the
great porch. There was nothing in the shape of a
reception. They had even to ring the bell before
the door was opened by a manservant sent down a
few days previously from town. In the background,
wearing a brown velveteen coat, with breeches and
leggings of corduroy, stood an elderly man with
white side whiskers and skin as brown as a piece of
parchment, leaning heavily upon a long ash stick.
Half a dozen maidservants, new importations, were
visible in the background, and a second man was
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 93
taking possession of the luggage. Mr. Mangan took
charge of the proceedings.
" Middleton," he said, resting his hand upon the
old man's shoulder, " here's your master come back
again. Sir Everard was very pleased to hear that
you were still here; and you, Loveybond."
The old man grasped the hand which Dominey
stretched out with both of his.
" I'm right glad you're back again, Squire," he
said, looking at him with curious intentncss, " and
yet the words of welcome stick in my throat."
" Sorry you feel like that about it, Middleton,"
Dominey said pleasantly. " What is the trouble
about my coming back, eh? "
" That's no trouble, Squire," the old man replied.
" That's a joy leastways to us. It's what it may
turn out to be for you which makes one hold back
Dominey drew himself more than ever erect a
commanding figure in the little group.
" You will feel better about it when we have had
a day or two with the pheasants, Middleton," he said
reassuringly. " You have not changed much, Lovey-
bond," he added, turning to the man who had fallen
a little into the background, very stiff and uncom-
fortable in his Sunday clothes.
" I thankee, Squire," the latter replied a little
awkwardly, with a motion of his hand towards his
forehead. " I can't say the same for you, sir.
Them furrin parts has filled you out and hardened
you. I'll take the liberty of saying that I should
never have recognised you, sir, and that's sure."
94 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" This is Parkins," Mr. Mangan went on, pushing
his way once more into the foreground, " the butler
whom I engaged in London. And "
There was a queer and instantaneous silence. The
little group of maidservants, who had been exchang-
ing whispered confidences as to their new master's
appearance, were suddenly dumb. All eyes were
turned in one direction. A woman whose advent had
been unperceived, but who had evidently issued from
one of the recesses of the hall, stood suddenly before
them all. She was as thin as a lath, dressed in severe
black, with grey hair brushed back from her head and
not even a white collar at her neck. Her face was
long and narrow, her features curiously large, her
eyes filled with anger. She spoke very slowly, but
with some trace in her intonation of a north-country
" There's no place in this house for you. Everard
Dominey," she said, standing in front of him as
though to bar his progress. " I wrote last night to
stop you, but you've shown indecent haste in com-
ing. There's no place here for a murderer. Get
back where you came from, back to your hiding."
" My good woman ! " Mangan gasped. " This is
really too much ! "
" I've not come to bandy words with lawyers," the
woman retorted. " I've come to speak to him. Can
you face me, Everard Dominey, you who murdered
my son and made a madwoman of your wife? "
The lawyer would have answered her, but Dominey
waved him on one side.
" Mrs. Unthank," he said sternly, " return to your
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 95
duties at once, and understand that this house is
mine, to enter or leave when I choose."
She was speechless for a moment, amazed at the
firmness of his words.
" The house may be yours, Sir Everard Dominey,"
she said threateningly, " but there's one part of
it at least in which you won't dare to show your-
" You forget yourself, woman," he replied coldly.
" Be so good as to return to your mistress at once,
announce my coming, and say that I wait only for
her permission before presenting myself in her apart-
The woman laughed, unpleasantly, horribly. Her
eyes were fixed upon Dominey curiously.
" Those are brave words," she said. " You've
come back a harder man. Let me look at you."
She moved a foot or two to where the light was
better. Very slowly a frown developed upon her fore-
head. The longer she looked, the less assured she
" There are things in your face I miss," she mut-
Mr. Mangan was glad of an opportunity of as-
" The fact is scarcely important, Mrs. Unthank,"
he said angrily. " If you will allow me to give you
a word of advice, you will treat your master with the
respect to which his position here entitles him."
Once more the woman blazed up.
" Respect ! What respect have I for the murderer
Qf my son ? Respect ! Well, if he stays here against
96 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
'my bidding, perhaps her ladyship will show him what
She turned around and disappeared. Every one
began bustling about the luggage and talking at
once. Mr. Mangan took his patron's arm and led
him across the hall.
" My dear Sir Everard," he said anxiously, " I am
most distressed that this should have occurred. I
thought that the woman would probably be sullen, but
I had no idea that she would dare to attempt such an
" She is still, I presume, the only companion whom
Lady Dominey will tolerate ? " Dominey enquired with
" I fear so," the lawyer admitted. " Nevertheless
we must see Doctor Harrison in the morning. It
must be understood distinctly that if she is suffered
to remain, she adopts an entirely different attitude.
I never heard anything so preposterous in all my
life. I shall pay her a visit myself after dinner.
You will feel quite at home here in the library, Sir
Everard," Mr. Mangan went on, throwing open the
door of a very fine apartment on the seaward side of
the house. " Grand view from these windows, espe-
cially since we've had a few of the trees cut down. I
see that Parkins has set out the sherry. Cocktails,
I'm afraid, are an institution you will have to inaugu-
rate down here. You'll be grateful to me when I tell
you one thing, Sir Everard. We've been hard
pressed more than once, but we haven't sold a single
bottle of wine out of the cellars."
Dominey accepted the glass of sherry which the
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 97
lawyer had poured out but made no movement to-
wards drinking it. He seemed during the last few
minutes to have been wrapped in a brown study.
" Mangan," he asked a little abuptly, " is it the
popular belief down here that I killed Roger Un-
The lawyer set down the decanter and coughed.
" A plain answer," Dominey insisted.
Mr. Mangan adapted himself to the situation. He
was beginning to understand his client.
" I am perfectly certain, Sir Everard," he con-
fessed, " that there isn't a soul in these parts who
isn't convinced of it. They believe that there was a
fight and that you had the best of it."
" Forgive me," Dominey continued, " if I seem to
ask unnecessary questions. Remember that I spent
the first portion of my exile in Africa in a very deter-
mined effort to blot out the memory of everything
that had happened to me earlier in life. So that is
the popular belief? "
" The popular belief seems to march fairly well
with the facts," Mr. Mangan declared, wielding the
decanter again in view of his client's more reasonable
manner. " At the time of your unfortunate visit to
the Hall Miss Felbrigg was living practically alone
at the Vicarage after her uncle's sudden death there,
with Mrs. Unthank as housekeeper. Roger Un-
thank's infatuation for her was patent to the whole
neighbourhood and a source of great annoyance to
Miss Felbrigg. I am convinced that at no time did
Lady Dominey give the young man the slightest en-
g8 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Has any one ever believed the contrary ? " Domi-
" Not a soul," was the emphatic reply. " Never-
theless, when you came down, fell in love with Miss
Felbrigg and carried her off, every one felt that there
would be trouble."
" Roger Unthank was a lunatic," Dominey pro-
nounced deliberately. " His behaviour from the first
was the behaviour of a madman."
" The Eugene Aram type of village schoolmaster
gradually drifting into positive insanity," Mangan
acquiesced. " So far, every one is agreed. The
mystery began when he came back from his holidays
and heard the news."
" The sequsl was perfectly simple," Dominey ob-
served. " We met at the north end of the Black
Wood one evening, and he attacked me like a mad-
man. I suppose I had to some extent the best of it,
but when I got back to the Hall my arm was broken,
I was covered with blood, and half unconscious. By
some cruel stroke of fortune, almost the first person I
saw was Lady Dominey. The shock was too much
for her she fainted and "
" And has never been quite herself since," the law~
yer concluded. " Most tragic ! "
" The cruel part of it was," Dominey went on,
standing before the window, his hands clasped behind
his back, " that my wife from that moment developed
a homicidal mania against me I, who had fought
in the most absolute self-defence. That was what
drove me out of the country, Mangan not the fear
of being arrested for having caused the death of
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 99
Roger Unthank. I'd have stood my trial for that at
any moment. It was the other thing that broke me
" Quite so," Mangan murmured sympathetically.
'* As a matter of fact, you were perfectly safe from
arrest, as it happened. The body of Roger Unthank
has never been found from that day to this."
" If it had "
" You must have been charged with either murder
Dominey abandoned his post at the window and
raised his glass of sherry to his lips. The tragical
side of these reminiscences seemed, so far as he was
concerned, to have passed.
** I suppose," he remarked, " it was the disappear-
ance of the body which has given rise to all this talk
as to his spirit still inhabiting the Black Wood."
<c Without a doubt," the lawyer acquiesced. " The
place had a bad name already, as you know. As it is,
I don't suppose there's a villager here would cross the
park in that direction after dark."
Dominey glanced at his watch and led the way from
" After dinner," he promised, " I'll tell you a few
West African superstitions which will make our local
one seem anaemic."
" I certainly offer you my heartiest congratula-
tions upon your cellars, Sir Everard," his guest said,
as he sipped his third glass of port that evening.
" This is the finest glass of seventy I've drunk for
a long time, and this new fellow I've sent you down
Parkins tells me there's any quantity of it."
" It has had a pretty long rest," Dominey observed.
w I was looking through the cellar-book before
dinner," the lawyer went on, " and I see that you still
have forty-seven and forty-eight, and a small quan-
tity of two older vintages. Something ought to be
done about those."
" We will try one of them to-morrow night," Domi-
ney suggested. " We might spend half an hour or so
in the cellars, if we have any time to spare."
" And another half an hour," Mr. Mangan said
gravely, " I should like to spend in interviewing Mrs.
Unthank. Apart from any other question, I do not
for one moment believe that she is the proper person
to be entrusted with the care of Lady Dominey. I
made up my mind to speak to you on this subject, Sir
Everard, as soon as we had arrived here."
" Mrs. Unthank was old Mr. Felbrigg's house-
keeper and my wife's nurse when she was a child,"
Dominey reminded his companion. " Whatever her
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 101
faults may be, I believe she is devoted to Lady Dom-
" She may be devoted to your wife," the lawyer ad-
mitted, " but I am convinced that she is your enemy.
The situation doesn't seem to me to be consistent.
Mrs. Unthank is firmly convinced that, whether in fair
fight or not, you killed her son. Lady Dominey be-
lieves that, too, and it was the sight of you after the
fight that sent her insane. I cannot but believe that
it would be far better for Lady Dominey to have
some one with her unconnected with this unfortunate
chapter of your past."
" We will consult Doctor Harrison to-morrow,"
Dominey said. " I am very glad you came down with
me, Mangan," he went on, after a minute's hesitation.
" I find it very difficult to get back into the atmos-
phere of those days. I even find it hard sometimes,"
he added, with a curious little glance across the table,
** to believe that I am the same man."
" Not so hard as I have done more than once," Mr.
" Tell me exactly in what respects you consider me
changed? " Dominey insisted.
The lawyer hesitated.
" You seem to have lost a certain pliability, or per-
haps I ought to call it looseness of disposition," he
admitted. " There are many things connected with
the past which I find it almost impossible to associate
with you. For a trifling instance," he went on, with
a slight smile, inclining his head towards his host's
untasted glass. " You don't drink port like any
Dominey I ever knew."
102 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I'm afraid that I never acquired the taste for
port," Dominey observed.
The lawyer gazed at him with raised eyebrows.
" Not acquired the taste for port ? " he repeated
** I should have said reacquired," Dominey hastened
to explain. " You see, in the bush we drank a simply
frightful amount of spirits, and that vitiates the taste
for all wine."
The lawyer glanced enviously at his host's fine
bronzed complexion and clear eyes.
" You haven't the appearance of ever having drunk
anything, Sir Everard," he observed frankly. " One
finds it hard to believe the stories that were going
about ten or fifteen years ago."
" The Dominey constitution, I suppose ! "
The new butler entered the room noiselessly and
came to his master's chair.
'* I have served coffee in the library, sir," he an-
nounced. " Mr. Middleton, the gamekeeper, has just
called, and asks if he could have a word with you be-
fore he goes to bed to-night, sir. He seems in a very
nervous and uneasy state."
" He can come to the library 'at once," Dominey
directed ; " that is, if you are ready for your coffee,
" Indeed I am," the lawyer assented, rising. " A
great treat, that wine. One thing the London res-
taurants can't give us. Port should never be drunk
away from the place where it was laid down."
The two men made their way across the very fine
hall, the walls of which had suffered a little through
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 103
lack of heating, into the library, and seated them-
selves in easy-chairs before the blazing log fire. Par-
kins silently served them with coffee and brandy. He
had scarcely left the room before there was a timid
knock and Middleton made his somewhat hesitating
" Come in and close the door," Dominey directed.
** What is it, Middleton ? Parkins says you wish to
speak to me."
The man came hesitatingly forward. He was ob-
viously distressed and uneasy, and found speech diffi-
cult. His face glistened with the rain which had
found its way, too, in long streaks down his velveteen
coat. His white hair was wind-tossed and disar-
" Bad night," Dominey remarked.
" It's to save its being a worse one that I'm here,
Squire," the old man replied hoarsely. " I've come to
ask you a favour and to beg you to grant it for your
own sake. You'll not sleep in the oak room to-
" And why not? " Dominey asked.
" It's next her ladyship's."
The old man was obviously perturbed, but his
master, as though of a purpose, refused to help him.
He glanced at Mangan and mumbled to himself.
" Say exactly what you wish to, Middleton," Domi-
ney invited. " Mr. Mangan and his father and
grandfather have been solicitors to the estate for a
great many years. They know all our family hia-
io 4 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I can't get rightly into touch with you, Squire,
and that's a fact," Middleton went on despairingly.
" The shape of you seems larger and your voice
harder. I don't seem to be so near to you as I'd
wished, to say what's in my heart."
" I have had a rough time, Middleton," Dominey
reminded him. " No wonder I have changed ! Never
mind, speak to me just as man to man."
" It was I who first met you, Squire," the old man
went on, " when you tottered home that night across
the park, with your arm hanging helplessly by your
side, and the blood streaming down your face and
clothes, and the red light in your eyes murderous
fire, they called it. I heard her ladyship go into
hysterics. I saw her laugh and sob like a maniac,
and, God help us! that's what she's been ever
The two men were silent. Middleton had raised his
voice, speaking with fierce excitement. It was obvi-
ous that he had only paused for breath. He had
more to say.
" I was by your side, Squire," he went on, " when
her ladyship caught up the knife and ran at you,
and, as you well know, it was I, seizing her from be-
hind, that saved a double tragedy that night, and it
was I who went for the doctor the next morning, when
she'd stolen into your room in the night and missed
your throat by a bare inch. I heard her call to you,
heard her threat. It was a madwoman's threat,
Squire, but her ladyship is a madwoman at this mo-
ment, and with a knife in her hand you'll never be safe
in this house."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 105
" We must see," Dominey said quietly, " that she is
not allowed to get possession of any weapon."
" Aye ! Make sure of that," Middleton scoffed,
" with Mother Unthank by her side ! Her ladyship's
mad because of the horror of that night, but Mother
Unthank is mad with hate, and there isn't a week
passes," the old man went on, his voice dropping
lower and his eyes burning, " that Roger Unthank's
spirit doesn't come and howl for your blood beneath
their window. If you stay here this night, Squire,
come over and sleep in the little room they've got
ready for you on the other side of the house."
Mr. Mangan had lost his smooth, after-dinner ap-
pearance. His face was distinctly pale, his smoothly
brushed hair was rumpled, and his coffee was growing
cold. This was a very different thing from the vague
letters and rumours which had reached him from time
to time and which he had put out of his mind with all
the contempt* of the materialist.
" It is very good of you to warn me, Middleton,"
Dominey said, " but I can lock my door, can I not? "
" Lock the door of the oak room ! " was the scorn-
ful reply. "And what good would that do? You
know well enough that the wall's double on three sides,
and there are more secret entrances than even I know
,of. The oak room's not for you this night, Squire.
It's hoping to get you there that's keeping them
" Tell us what you meant, Middleton," the lawyer
asked, with ill-assumed indifference, " when you spoke
of the howling of Roger Unthank's spirit? "
The old man turned patiently around.
io6 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
"Just that, sir," he replied. "It's round the
house most weeks. Except for me odd nights, and
Mrs. Unthank, there's been scarcely a servant would
sleep in the Hall for years. Some of the maids they
do come up from the village, but back they go before
nightfall, and until morning there isn't a living soul
would cross the park no, not for a hundred
" A howl, you call it ? " Mr. Mangan observed.
" That's mostly like a dog what's hurt itself,"
Middleton explained equably, " like a dog, that is,
with a touch of the human in its throat, as we've all
heard in our time, sir. You'll hear it yourself, sir,
maybe to-night or to-morrow night."
" You've heard it then, Middleton ? " his master
" Why, surely, sir," the old man replied in surprise.
" Most weeks for the last ten years."
" Haven't you ever got up and gone out to see
what it was? "
The old man shook his head.
" But I knew right well what that was, sir," he said,
" and I'm not one for looking on spirits. Spirits
there are that walk this world, as we well know, and
the spirit of Roger Unthank walks from between the
Black Wood and these windows, come every week of
the year. But I'm not for looking at him. There's
evil comes of that. I turn over in my bed, and I stop
my ears, but I've never yet raised a blind."
" Tell me, Middleton," Dominey asked, " is Lady
Dominey terrified at these er visitations ? "
" That I can't rightly say, sir. Her ladyship's
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 107
always sweet and gentle, with kind words on her lips
for every one, but there's the terror there in her eyes
that was lit that night when you staggered into the
hall, Squire, and I've never seen it properly quenched
yet, so to speak. She carries fear with her, but
whether it's the fear of seeing you again, or the fear
of Roger Unthank's spirit, I could not tell."
Dominey seemed suddenly to become possessed of a
strange desire to thrust the whole subject away. He
dismissed the old man kindly but a little abruptly,
accompanying him to the corridor which led to the
servants' quarters and talking all the time about the
pheasants. When he returned, he found that his
guest had emptied nis second glass of brandy and
was surreptitiously mopping his forehead.
" That," the latter remarked, " is the class of old
retainer who lives too long. If I were a Dominey of
the Middle Ages, I think a stone around his neck and
the deepest well would be the sensible way of dealing
with him. He made me feel positively uncomfort-
" I noticed it," Dominey remarked, with a faint
smile. " I'm not going to pretend that it was a pleas-
ant conversation myself."
" I've heard some ghost stories," Mangan went on,
" but a spook that comes and howls once a week for
ten years takes some beating."
Dominey poured himself out a glass of brandy with
a steady hand.
" You've been neglecting things here, Mangan," he
complained. " You ought to have come down and
exorcised that ghost. We shall have those smart
io8 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
maidservants of yours off to-morrow, I suppose, un-
less you and I can get a little ghost-laying in first."
Mr. Mangan began to feel more comfortable. The
brandy and the warmth of the burning logs were
creeping into his system.
" By the by, Sir Everard," he enquired, a little
later on, " where are you going to sleep to-night? "
Dominey stretched himself out composedly.
" There is obviously only one place for me," he re-
plied. " I can't disappoint any one. I shall sleep in
the oak room."
For the first few tangled moments of nightmare,
slowly developing into a live horror, Dominey fancied
himself back in Africa, with the hand of an enemy
upon his throat. Then a rush of awakened mem-
ories the silence of the great house, the mysterious
rustling of the heavy hangings around the black oak
four-poster on which he lay, the faint pricking of
something deadly at his throat these things rolled
back the curtain of unreality, brought him acute and
painful consciousness of a situation almost appalling.
He opened his eyes, and although a brave and cal-
lous man he lay still, paralysed with the fear which
forbids motion. The dim light of a candle, recently
lit, flashed upon the bodkin-like dagger held at his
throat. He gazed at the thin line of gleaming steel,
fascinated. Already his skin had been broken, a few
drops of blood were upon the collar of his pyjamas.
The hand which held that deadly, assailing weapon
small, slim, very feminine, curving from somewhere
behind the bed curtain belonged to some unseen
person. He tried to shrink farther back upon the
pillow. The hand followed him, displaying glimpses
now of a soft, white-sleeved arm. He lay quite still,
the muscles of his right arm growing tenser as he
no THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
prepared for a snatch at those cruel fingers. Then a
voice came, a slow, feminine and rather wonderful
" If you move," it said, " you will die. Remain
Dominey was fully conscious now, his brain at
work, calculating his chances with all the cunning of
the trained hunter who seeks to avoid death. Reluct-
antly he was compelled to realise that no movement
of his could be quick enough to prevent the driving of
that thin stiletto into his throat, if his hidden assail-
ant should keep her word. So he lay still.
" Why do you want to kill me? " he asked, a little
There was no reply, yet somehow he knew that he
was being watched. Ever so slightly those curtains
around which the arm had come, were being parted.
Through the chink some one was looking at him. The
thought came that he might call out for help, and
once more his unseen enemy read his thought.
" You must be very quiet," the voice said, that
voice which it was difficult for him to believe was not
the voice of a child. " If you even speak above a
whisper, it will be the end. I wish to look at you."
A little wider the crack opened, and then he began
to feel hope. The hand which held the stiletto was
shaking, he heard something which sounded like quick
breathing from behind the curtains the breathing
of a woman astonished or terrified and then, so
suddenly that for several seconds he could not move
or take advantage of the circumstance, the hand with
its cruel weapon was withdrawn around the curtain
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION in
and woman began to laugh, softly at first, and then
with a little hysterical sob thrusting its way through
that incongruous note of mirth.
He lay upon the bed as though mesmerised, finding
at his first effort that his limbs refused their office, as
might the limbs of one lying under the thrall of a
nightmare. The laugh died away, there was a sound
like a scraping upon the wall, the candle was suddenly
blown out. Then his nerve began to return and with
it his control over his limbs. He crawled to the side
of the bed remote from the curtains, stole to the little
table on which he had left his revolver and an electric
torch, snatched at them, and, with the former in his
right hand, flashed a little orb of light into the shad-
ows of the great apartment. Once more something
like terror seized him. The figure which had been
standing by the side of his bed had vanished. There
was no hiding place in view. Every inch of the room
was lit up by the powerful torch he carried, and, save
for himself, the room was empty. The first moment,
of realisation was chill and unnerving. Then the
slight smarting of the wound at his throat became
convincing proof to him that there was nothing super-
natural about this visit. He lit up half-a-dozen of
the candles distributed about the place and laid down
his torch. He was ashamed to find that his forehead
was dripping with perspiration.
" One of the secret passages, of course," he mut-
tered to himself, stooping for a moment to examine
the locked, folding doors which separated his room
from the adjoining one. " Perhaps, when one re-
flects, I have run unnecessary risks."
H2 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Dominey was standing at the window, looking out
at the tumbled grey waters of the North Sea, when
Parkins brought him hot water and tea in the morn-
ing. He thrust his feet into slippers and held out
his arms for a dressing-gown.
" Find out where the nearest bathroom is, Par-
kins," he ordered, " and prepare it. I have quite
forgotten my way about here."
" Very good, sir."
The man was motionless for a moment, staring
at the blood on his master's pyjamas. Dominey
glanced down at it and turned the dressing-gown up
to his throat.
" I had a slight accident this morning," he
remarked carelessly. " Any ghost alarms last
" None that I heard of, sir," the man replied. " I
am afraid we should have difficulty in keeping the
young women from London, if they heard what I
heard the night of my arrival."
" Very terrible, was it ? " Dominey asked with a
Parkins' expression remained immovable. There
was in his tone, however, a mute protest against his
" The cries were the most terrible I have ever heard,
sir," he said. " I am not a nervous person, but I
found them most disturbing."
" Human or animal ? "
" A mixture of both, I should say, sir."
" You should camp out for the night on the skirts
of an African forest," Dominey remarked. " There
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 113
you get a whole orchestra of wild animals, every one
of them trying to freeze your blood up."
" I was out in South Africa during the Boer War,
sir," Parkins replied, " and I went big game hunting
with my master afterwards. I do not think that any
animal was ever born in Africa with so terrifying a
cry as we heard the night before last."
" We must look into the matter," Dominey mut-
" I have already prepared a bath, sir, at the end of
the corridor," the man announced. " If you will
allow me, I will show you the way."
Dominey, when he descended about an hour later,
found his guest awaiting him in a smaller dining-
room, which looked out eastwards towards the sea, a
lofty apartment with great windows and with an air
of faded splendour which came from the ill-cared-for
tapestries, hanging in places from the wall. Mr.
Mangan had, contrary to his expectations, slept well
and was in excellent spirits. The row of silver dishes
upon the sideboard inspired him with an added cheer-
" So there were no ghosts walking last night, eh? "
he remarked, as he took his place at the table.
" Wonderful thing this absolute quiet is after Lon-
don. Give you my word, I never heard a sound from
the moment my head touched the pillow until I woke a
short while ago."
Dominey returned from the sideboard, carrying
also a well-filled plate.
" I had a pretty useful night's rest myself," he
H4 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Mangan raised his eyeglass and gazed at his host's
" Cut yourself, eh ? " he queried.
" Razor slipped," Dominey told him. " You ge*
out of the use of those things in Africa."
" You've managed to give yourself a nasty gash,"
Mr. Mangan observed curiously.
" Parkins is going to send up for a new set of
safety razors for me," Dominey announced. " About
our plans for the day, I've ordered the car for two-
thirty this afternoon, if that suits you. We can look
around the place quietly this morning. Mr. Johnson
is sleeping over at a farmhouse near here. We shall
pick him up en route. And I have told Lees, the bail-
iff, to come with us too."
Mr. Mangan nodded his approval.
" Upon my word," he confessed, " it will be a joy
to me to go and see some of these fellows without
having to put 'em off about repairs and that sort of
thing. Johnson has had the worst of it, poor chap,
but there are one or two of them took it into their
heads to come up to London and worry me at the
" I intend that there shall be no more dissatisfac-
tion amongst my tenants."
Mr. Mangan set off for another prowl towards tk*
" Satisfied tenants you never will get in Norfolk,"
he declared. " I must admit, though, that some of
them have had cause to grumble lately. There's a
fellow round by Wells who farms nearly eight hun-
dred acres "
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 115
He broke off in his speech. There was a knock at
the door, not an ordinary knock at all, but a meas-
ured, deliberate tapping, three times repeated.
" Come in," Dominey called out.
Mrs. Unthank entered, severer, more unattractive
than ever in the hard morning light. She came to
the end of the table, facing the place where Dominey
" Good morning, Mrs. Unthank," he said.
She ignored his greeting.
" I am the bearer of a message," she announced.
" Pray deliver it," Dominey replied.
" Her ladyship would be glad for you to visit her
in her apartment at once."
Dominey leaned back in his chair. His eyes were
fixed upon the face of the woman whose antagonism to
himself was so apparent. She stood in the path of a
long gleam of morning sunlight. The wrinkles in
her face, her hard mouth, her cold, steely eyes were
all clearly revealed.
" I am not at all sure," he said, with a purpose in
his words, " that any further meeting between Lady
Dominey and myself is at present desirable."
If he had thought to disturb this messenger by his
suggestion, he was disappointed.
" Her ladyship desires me to assure you," she
added, with a note of contempt in her tone, " that
you need be under no apprehension."
Dominey admitted defeat and poured himself out
some more coffee. Neither of the two noticed that
liis fingers were trembling.
" Her ladyship is very considerate," he said.
n6 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
'* Kindly say that I shall follow you in a few
Dominey, following within a very few minutes of his
summons, was ushered into an apartment large and
sombrely elegant, an apartment of faded white and
gold walls, of chandeliers glittering with lustres, of
Louis Quinze furniture, shabby but priceless. To his
surprise, although he scarcely noticed it at the time,
Mrs. Unthank promptly disappeared. He was from
the first left alone with the woman whom he had come
She was sitting up on her couch and watching his
approach. A woman? Surely only a child, with
pale cheeks, large, anxious eyes, and masses of brown
hair brushed back from her forehead. After all, was
he indeed a strong man, vowed to great things?
There was a queer feeling in his throat, almost a mist
before his eyes. She seemed so fragile, so utterly,
sweetly pathetic. And all the time there was the
strange light, or was it want of light, in those haunt-
ing eyes. His speech of greeting was never spoken.
" So you have come to see me, Everard," she said,
in a broken tone. " You are very brave."
He possessed himself of her hand, the hand which
a few hours ago had held a dagger to his throat, and
kissed the waxenlike fingers. It fell to her side like a
lifeless thing. Then she raised it and began rubbing
softly at the place where his lips had fallen.
" I have come to see you at your bidding," he re-
plied, " and for my pleasure."
" Pleasure ! " she murmured, with a ghastly little
smile. " You have learnt to control your words,
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 117
Everard. You have slept here and you live. I have
broken my word. I wonder why? "
" Because," he pleaded, " I have not deserved that
you should seek my life."
" That sounds strangely," she reflected. " Doesn't
it say somewhere in the Bible 'A life for a life'?
You killed Roger Unthank."
" I have killed other men since in self-defence,"
Dominey told her. " Sometimes it comes to a man
that he must slay or be slain. It was Roger Un-
" I shall not talk about him any longer," she de-
cided quite calmly. " The night before last, his
spirit was calling to me below my window. He wants
me to go down into Hell and live with him. The very
thought is horrible."
" Come," Dominey said, " we will speak of other
things. You must tell me what presents I can bujr
you. I have come back from Africa rich."
For a single wonderful moment, hers was the face of
a child who has been offered toys. Her smile of an-
ticipation was delightful, her eyes had lost that
strange vacancy. Then, before he could say another
word, it all came back again.
" Listen to me," she said. " This is important. I
have sent for you because I do not understand why,
quite suddenly last night, after I had made up my
mind, I lost the desire to kill you. It is gone now.
I am not sure about myself any longer. Draw your
chair nearer to mine. Or no, come to my side, here
at the other end of the sofa."
u8 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
She moved her skirts to make room for him. When
he sat down, he felt a strange trembling through all
" Perhaps," she went on, " I shall break my oath.
Indeed, I have already broken it. Let me look at
you, my husband. It is a strange thing to own after
all these years a husband."
Dominey felt as though he were breathing an
atmosphere of turgid and poisoned sweetness. There
was a flavour of unreality about the whole situation,
the room, this child woman, her beauty, her delib-
erate, halting speech and the strange things she said.
" You find me changed ? " he asked.
" You are very wonderfully changed. You look
stronger, you are perhaps better-looking, yet there is
something gone from your face which I thought one
" You," he said cautiously, " are more beautiful
than ever, Rosamund."
She laughed a little drearily.
" Of what use has my beauty been to me, Everard,
since you came to my little cottage and loved me and
made me love you, and took me away from Dour
Roger? Do you remember the school children used
to call him Dour Roger? But that does not mat-
ter. Do you know, Everard, that since you left me
my feet have not passed outside these gardens? "
" That can be altered when you wish," he said
quickly. " You can visit where you will. You can
have a motor-car, even a house in town. I shall bring
some wonderful doctors here, and they will make you
quite strong again."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 119
Her large eyes were lifted almost piteously to his.
" But how can I leave here ? " she asked plain-
tively. " Every week, sometimes of tener, he calls to
me. If I went away, his spirit would break loose and
follow me. I must be here to wave my hand ; then he
Dominey was conscious once more of that strange
and most unexpected fit of emotion. He was unrec-
ognisable even to himself. Never before in his life
had his heart beaten as it was beating now. His eyes,
too, were hot. He had travelled around the world in
search of new things, only to find them in this strange,
faded chamber, side by side with this suffering woman.
Nevertheless, he said quietly :
" We must send you some place where the people
are kinder and where life is pleasanter. Perhaps you
love music and to see beautiful pictures. I think that
we must try and keep you from thinking."
She sighed in a perplexed fashion.
" I wish that I could get it out of my blood that I
want to kill you. Then you could take me right
away. Other married people have lived together and
hated each other. Why shouldn't we ? We may for-
get even to hate."
Dominey staggered to his feet, walked to a window,
threw it open and leaned out for a moment. Then
he closed it and came back. This new element in the
situation had been a shock to him. All the time she
was watching him composedly.
" Well ? " she asked, with a strange little smile.
"What do you say? Would you like to hold as a
wife's the hand which frightened you so last night? n
120 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
She held it out to him, soft and warm. Her fingers
even returned the pressure of his. She looked at him
pleasantly, and once more he felt like a man who has
wandered into a strange country and has lost his
" I want you so much to be happy," he said
hoarsely, " but you are not strong yet, Rosamund.
We cannot decide anything in a hurry."
" How surprised you are to find that I am willing
to be nice to you ! " she murmured. " But why not?
You cannot know why I have so suddenly changed my
mind about you and I have changed it. I have
seen the truth these few minutes. There is a reason,
Everard, why I should not kill you."
" What is it? " he demanded.
She shook her head with all the joy of a child who
keeps a secret.
" You are clever," she said. " I will leave you to
find it out. I am excited now, and I want you to go
away for a little time. Please send I.lrs. Unthank
The prospect of release was a strange relief, min-
gled still more strangely with regret. He lingered
over her hand.
" If you walk in your sleep to-night, then," he
begged, " you will leave your dagger behind? "
" I have told you," she answered, as though sur-
prised, " that I have abandoned my intention. I
shall not kill you. Even though I may walk in my
sleep and sometimes the nights are so long it
will not be your death I seek."
Dominey left the room like a man in a dream, de-
scended the stairs to his own part of the house, caught
up a hat and stick and strode out into the sea mist
which was fast enveloping the gardens. There was
all the chill of the North Pole in that ice-cold cloud
of vapour, but nevertheless his forehead remained
hot, his pulses burning. He passed out of the pos-?
tern gate which led from the walled garden on to a
broad marsh, with dikes running here and there, and
lapping tongues of sea water creeping in with the tide.
He made his way seaward with uncertain steps until
he reached a rough and stony road ; here he hesitated
for a moment, looked about him, and then turned back
at right angles. Soon he came to a little village, a
village of ancient cottages, with seasoned, red-brick
tiles, trim little patches of garden, a church embow-
ered with tall elm trees, a triangular green at the
cross-roads. On one side a low, thatched building,
the Dominey Arms; on another, an ancient, square,
stone house, on which was a brass plate. He went
over and read the name, rang the bell, and asked the
trim maidservant who answered it, for the doctor.
Presently, a man of youthful middle-age presented
himself in the surgery and bowed. Dominey was fo*
a moment at a loss.
122 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I came to see Doctor Harrison," he ventured.
" Doctor Harrison retired from practice some
years ago," was the courteous reply. " I am his
nephew. My name is Stillwell."
" I understood that Doctor Harrison was still in
the neighbourhood," Dominey said. " My name is
Dominey Sir Everard Dominey."
" I guessed as much," the other replied. " My
uncle lives with me here, and to tell you the truth he
was hoping that you would come and see him. He
retains one patient only," Doctor Stillwell added, in
a graver tone. " You can image who that would be."
His caller bowed. " Lady Dominey, I presume."
The young doctor opened the door and motioned
to his guest to precede him.
" My uncle has his own little apartment on the
other side of the house," he said. " You must let me
take you to him."
They moved across the pleasant white stone hall
into a small apartment with French windows leading
out to a flagged terrace and tennis lawn. An elderly
man, broad-shouldered, with weather-beaten face,
grey hair, and of somewhat serious aspect, looked
around from the window before which he was standing
examining a case of fishing flies.
" Uncle, I have brought an old friend in to see
you," his nephew announced.
The doctor glanced expectantly at Dominey, half
moved forward as though to greet him, then checked
himself and shook his head doubtfully.
" You certainly remind me very much of an old
friend, sir," he said, " but I can see now that you
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 123
are not he. I do not believe that I have ever seen you
before in my life."
There was a moment's somewhat tense silence.
Then Dominey advanced a little stiffly and held out
" Come, Doctor," he said, " I can scarcely have
changed as much as all that. Even these years of
strenuous life "
" You mean to tell me that I am speaking to
Everard Dominey? " the doctor interposed.
" Without a doubt ! "
The doctor shook hands coolly. His was certainly
not the enthusiastic welcome of an old family attend-
ant to the representative of a great family.
" I should certainly never have recognised you," he
" My presence here is nevertheless indisputable,"
Dominey continued. " Still attracted by your old
pastime, I see, Doctor? "
" I have only taken up fly fishing," the other replied
drily, " since I gave up shooting."
There was another somewhat awkward pause, which
the younger man endeavoured to bridge over.
" Fishing, shooting, golf," he said ; " I really don't
know what we poor medical practitioners would do
in the country without sport."
" I shall remind you of that later," Dominey ob-
served. " I am told that the shooting is one of the
only glories which has not passed away from Domi-
" I shall look forward to the reminder," was the
i2 4 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
His uncle, who had been bending once more over
the case of flies, turned abruptly around.
" Arthur," he said, addressing his nephew, " you
had better start on your round. I dare say Sir
Everard would like to speak to me privately."
" I wish to speak to you certainly," Dominey ad-
mitted, " but only professionally. There is no ne-
" I am late already, if you will excuse me," Doctor
Stillwell interrupted. " I will be getting on. You
must excuse my uncle, Sir Everard," he added in a
lower tone, drawing him a little towards the door,
" if his manners are a little gruff. He is devoted to
Lady Dominey, and I sometimes think that he broods
over her case too much."
Dominey nodded and turned back into the room to
find the doctor, his hands in his old-fashioned breeches
pockets, eying him steadfastly.
" I find it very hard to believe," he said a little
curtly, " that you are really Everard Dominey."
" I am afraid you will have to accept me as a fact,
" Your present appearance," the old man contin-
ued, eying him appraisingly, " does not in any way
bear out the description I had of you some years ago.
I was told that you had become a broken-down
" The world is full of liars," Dominey said equably.
" You appear to have met with one, at least."
" You have not even," the doctor persisted, " the
appearance of a man who has been used to excesses of
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 125
" Good old stock, ours," his visitor observed care-
lessly. " Plenty of two-bottle men behind my gen-
" You have also gained courage since the days
when you fled from England. You slept at the Hall
" Where else? I also, if you want to know, occu-
pied my own bedchamber with results," Dominey
added, throwing his head a little back, to display the
scar on his throat, " altogether insignificant."
" That's just your luck," the doctor declared.
" You've no right to have gone there without seeing
me; no right, after all that has passed, to have even
approached your wife."
" You seem rather a martinet as regards my do-
mestic affairs," Dominey observed.
" That's because I know your history," was the
Uninvited, Dominey seated himself in an easy-
" You were never my friend, Doctor," he said.
" Let me suggest that we conduct this conversation
on a purely professional basis."
" I was never your friend," came the retort, " be-
cause I have known you always as a selfish brute ; be-
cause you were married to the sweetest woman on
God's earth, gave up none of your bad habits, fright-
ened her into insanity by reeling home with another
man's blood on your hands, and then stayed away for
over ten years instead of making an effort to repair
the mischief you had done."
** This," observed Dominey, " is history, dished up
126 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
in a somewhat partial fashion. I repeat my sugges-
tion that we confine our conversation to the profes-
" This is my house," the other rej oined, " and you
came to see me. I shall say exactly what I like to
you, and if you don't like it you can get out. If it
weren't for Lady Dominey's sake, you shouldn't have
passed this threshold."
" Then for her sake," Dominey suggested in a
softer tone, " can't you forget how thoroughly you
disapprove of me? I am here now with only one
object: I want you to point out to me any way in
which we can work together for the improvement of
my wife's health."
" There can be no question of a partnership be-
" You refuse to help ? "
" My help isn't worth a snap of the fingers. I
have done all I can for her physically. She is a per-
fectly sound woman. The rest depends upon you,
and you alone, and I am not very hopeful about it."
" Upon me ? " Dominey repeated, a little taken
" Fidelity," the doctor grunted, " is second nature
with all good women. Lady Dominey is a good
woman, and she is no exception to the rule. Her
brain is starved because her heart is aching for love.
If she could believe in your repentance and reform, if
any atonement for the past were possible and were
generously offered, I cannot tell what the result might
be. They tell me that you are a rich man now, al-
though heaven knows, when one considers what a lazy*
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 127
selfish fellow you were, that sounds like a miracle.
You could have the great specialists down. They
couldn't help, but it might salve your conscience to
pay them a few hundred guineas."
" Would you meet them ? " Dominey asked anx-
iously. " Tell me whom to send for? "
" Pooh ! Those days are finished with me," was
the curt reply. " I would meet none of them. I am
a doctor no longer. I have become a villager. I
go to see Lady Dominey as an old friend."
" Give me your advice," Dominey begged. " Is it
of any use sending for specialists? "
" Just for the present, none at all."
" And what about that horrible woman, Mrs. Un-
" Part of your task, if you are really going to take
it up. She stands between your wife and the sun."
" Then why have you suffered her to remain there
all those years? " Dominey demanded.
" For one thing, because there has been no one to
replace her," the doctor replied, " and for another,
because Lady Dominey, believing that you slew her
son, has some fantastic idea of giving her a home and
shelter as a kind of expiation."
" You think there is no affection between the two ? "
" Not a scrap," was the blunt reply, " except that
Lady Dominey is of so sweet and gentle a nature "
The doctor paused abruptly. His visitor's fingers
had strayed across his throat.
" That's a different matter," the former continued
fiercely. " That's just where the weak spot in her
128 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
brain remains. If you ask me, I believe it's pandered
to by Mrs. Unthank. Come to think of it," he went
on, " the Domineys were never cowards. If you've
got your courage back, send Mrs. Unthank away,
sleep with your doors wide open. If a single night
passes without Lady Dominey coming to your room
with a knife in her hand, she will be cured in time of
that mania at any rate. Dare you do that? "
Dominey's hesitation was palpable, also his agi-
tation. The doctor grinned contemptuously.
" Still afraid ! " he scoffed.
" Not in the way you imagine," his visitor replied.
" My wife has already promised to make no further
attempt upon my life."
" Well, you can cure her if you want to," the doc-
tor declared, " and if you do, you will have the sweet-
est companion for life any man could have. But
you'll have to give up the idea of town houses and
racing and yachting, and grouse moors in Scotland,
and all those sort of things I suppose you've been
looking forward to. You'll have for some time, at
any rate, to give every moment of your time to your
Dominey moved uneasily in his chair.
" For the next few months," he said, " that would
The doctor repeated the word, seemed to roll it
round in his mouth with a sort of wondering scorn.
" I am not quite the idler I used to be," Dominey
explained, frowning. " Nowadays, you cannot make
money without assuming responsibilities. I am clear-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 129
ing off the whole of the mortgages upon the Dominey
estates within the next few months."
" How you spend your time is your affair, not
mine," the doctor muttered. " All that I say about
the matter is that your wife's cure, if ever it comes to
pass, is in your hands. And now come over to me
here, in the light of this window. I want to look at
Dominey obeyed with a little shrug of the shoul-
ders. There was no sunshine, but the white north
light was in its way searching. It showed the sprin-
kling of grey in his ruddy-brown hair, the suspicion
of it in his closely trimmed moustache, but it could
find no weak spot in his steady eyes, in the tan of his
hard, manly complexion, or even in the set of his
somewhat arrogant lips. The old doctor took up his
box of flies again and jerked his head towards the
" You are a miracle," he said, " and I hate mira-
cles. I'll come and see Lady Dominey in a day
Dominey spent a curiously placid, and, to those
with whom he was brought into contact, an entirely
satisfactory afternoon. With Mr. Mangan by his
side, murmuring amiable platitudes, and Mr. Johnson,
his agent, opposite, revelling in the unusual situation
of a satisfied landlord and delighted tenants, he made
practically the entire round of the Dominey estates.
They reached home late, but Dominey, although he
seemed to be living in another world, was not neglect-
ful of the claims of hospitality. Probably for the
first time in their lives, Mr. Johnson and Lees, the
bailiff, watched the opening of a magnum of cham-
pagne. Mr. Johnson cleared his throat as he raised
" It isn't only on my own account, Sir Everard,"
he said, " that I drink your hearty good health. I
have your tenants too in my mind. They've had a
rough time, some of them, and they've stood it like
white men. So here's from them and me to you, sir,
and may we see plenty of you in these parts."
Mr. Lees associated himself with these sentiments,
and the glasses were speedily emptied and filled again.
" I suppose you know, Sir Everard," the agent
observed, " that what you've promised to do to-day
will cost a matter of ten to fifteen thousand pounds."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 131
" Before I go to bed to-night," he said, " I shall
send a cheque for twenty thousand pounds to the
estate account at your bank at Wells. The money
is there waiting, put aside for just that one purpose
and well, you may just as well have it."
Agent and bailiff leaned back in the tonneau of
their motor-car, half an hour later, with immense
cigars in their mouths and a pleasant, rippling
warmth in their veins. They had the sense of hav-
ing drifted into fairyland. Their philosophy, how-
ever, met the situation.
" It's a fair miracle," Mr. Lees declared.
"A modern romance," Mr. Johnson, who reads
novels, murmured. " Hello, here's a visitor for the
Hall," he added, as a car swept by them.
" Comfortable-looking gent, too," Mr. Lees re-
The " comfortable-looking gent " was Otto Sea-
man, who presented himself at the Hall with a smaD
dressing-bag and a great many apologies.
" Found myself in Norwich, Sir Everard," he ex-
plained. " I have done business there all my life, and
one of my customers needed looking after. I finished
early, and when I found that I was only thirty miles
off you, I couldn't resist having a run across. If it
is in any way inconvenient to put me up for the night,
say so "
" My dear fellow ! " Dominey interrupted.
" There are a score of rooms ready. All that we
need is to light a fire, and an old-fashioned bed-
warmer will do the rest. You remember Mr. Man-
132 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
The two men shook hands, and Seaman accepted a
little refreshment after his drive. He lingered be-
hind for a moment after the dressing bell had rung.
"What time is that fellow going? " he asked.
" Nine o'clock to-morrow morning," Dominej re-
" Not a word until then," Seaman whispered back.
" I must not seem to be hanging after you too much
I really did not want to come but the matter is
" We can send Mangan to bed early," Dominey
" I am the early bird myself," was the weary reply.
" I was up all last night. To-morrow morning will
Dinner that night was a pleasant and social meal.
Mr. Mangan especially was uplifted. Everything to
do with the Domineys for the last fifteen years had
reeked of poverty. He had really had a hard strug-
gle to make both ends meet. There had been dis-
agreeable interviews with angry tenants, formal inter-
views with dissatisfied mortgagees, and remarkably
little profit at the end of the year to set against these
disagreeable episodes. The new situation was almost
beatific. The concluding touch, perhaps, was in Par-
kins' congratulatory whisper as he set a couple of
decanters upon the table.
" I have found a bin of Cockburn's -fifty-one, sir,"
he announced, including the lawyer in his confidential
whisper. " I thought you might like to try a couple
of bottles, as Mr. Mangan seems rather a connois-
seur, sir. The corks appear to be in excellent con-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 133
" After this," Mr. Mangan sighed, " it will be hard
to get back to the austere life of a Pall Mall club ! "
Seaman, very early in the evening, pleaded an ex-
traordinary sleepiness and retired, leaving his host
and Mangan alone over the port. Dominey, although
an attentive host, seemed still a little abstracted.
Even Mr. Mangan, who was not an observant man,
was conscious that a certain hardness, almost arro-
gance of speech and manner, seemed temporarily to
have left his patron.
" I can't tell you, Sir Everard," he said, as he
sipped his first glass of wine, " what a pleasure it is to
me to see, as it were, this recrudescence of an old
family. If I might be allowed to say so, there's only
one thing necessary to round the whole business off,
as it were."
"And that? " Dominey asked unthinkingly.
" The return of Lady Dominey to health. I was
one of the few, you may remember, privileged to make
her acquaintance at the time of your marriage."
" I paid a visit this morning," Dominey said, " to
the doctor who has been in attendance upon her since
her marriage. He agrees with me that there is no
reason why Lady Dominey should not, in course of
time, be restored to perfect health."
" I take the liberty of finishing my glass to that
hope, Sir Everard," the lawyer murmured.
Both glasses were set down empty, only the stem of
D.ominey's was snapped in two. Mr. Mangan ex-
pressed his polite regrets.
" This old glass," he murmured, looking at his own
admiringly, " becomes very fragile."
134 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Dominey did not answer. His brain had served
him a strange trick. In the shadows of the room he
had fancied that he could see Stephanie Eiderstrom
holding out her arms, calling to him to fulfil the
pledges of long ago, and behind her
" Have you ever been in love, Mangan? " Dominey
asked his companion.
"I, sir? Well, I'm not sure," the man of the
world replied, a little startled by the abruptness of
the question. " It's an old-fashioned way of looking
at things now, isn't it? "
Dominey relapsed into thoughtfulness.
" I suppose so," he admitted.
That night a storm rolled up from somewhere
across that grey waste of waters, a storm heralded
by a wind which came booming over the marshes,
shaking the latticed windows of Dominey Place,
shrieking and wailing amongst its chimneys and
around its many corners. Black clouds leaned over
the land, and drenching streams of rain dashed
against the loose-framed sashes of the windows.
Dominey lit the tall candles in his bedroom, fastened
a dressing-gown around him, threw himself into an
easy-chair, and, fixing an electric reading lamp by his
side, tried to read. Very soon the book slipped from
his fingers. He became suddenly tense and watchful.
His eyes counted one by one the panels in the wall by
the left-hand side of the bed. The familiar click was
twice repeated. For a moment a dark space ap-
peared. Then a woman, stooping low, glided into
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 135
the room. She came slowly towards him, drawn like
a moth towards that semicircle of candle. Her hair
hung down her back like a girl's, and the white dress-
ing-gown which floated diaphanously about her was
unexpectedly reminiscent of Bond Street.
" You are not afraid ? " she asked anxiously.
" See, I have nothing in my hands. I almost think
that the desire has gone. You remember the little
stiletto I had last night ? To-day I threw it into the
well. Mrs. Unthank was very angry with me."
" I am not afraid," he assured her, " but "
" Ah, but you will not scold me? " she begged.
" It is the storm which terrifies me."
He drew a low chair for her into the little circle of
light and arranged some cushions. As she sank into
it, she suddenly looked up at him and smiled, a smile
of rare and wonderful beauty. Dominey felt for a
moment something like the stab of a knife at his heart.
*' Sit here and rest," he invited. " There is noth-
ing to fear."
" In my heart I know that," she answered simply.
" These storms are part of our lives. They come
with birth, and they shake the world when death
seizes us. One should not be afraid, but I have been
so ill, Everard. Shall I call you Everard still? "
"Why not? "he asked.
" Because you are not like Everard to me any
more," she told him, " because something has gone
from you, and something has come to you. You are
not the same man. What is it? Had you troubles
in Africa? Did you learn what life was like out
136 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
He sat looking at her for a moment, leaning back
in his chair, which he had pushed a few feet into the
shadows. Her hair was glossy and splendid, and
against it her skin seemed whiter and more delicate
than ever. Her eyes were lustrous but plaintive, and
with something of the child's fear of harm in them.
She looked very yourg and very fragile to have been
swayed through the years by an evil passion.
" I learnt many things there, Rosamund," he told
her quietly. " I learnt a little of the difference be-
tween right doing and wrongdoing. I learned, too,
that all the passions of life burn themselves out, save
She twisted the girdle of her dressing-gown in her
fingers for a moment. His last speech seemed to have
been outside the orbit of her comprehension or inter-
" You need not be afraid of me any more, Ever-
ard," she said, a little pathetically.
" I have no fear of you," he answered.
" Then why don't you bring your chair forward
and come and sit a little nearer to me? " she asked,
raising her eyes. " Do you hear the wind, how it
shrieks at us ? Oh, I am afraid ! "
He moved forward to her side, and took her hand
gently in his. Her fingers responded at once to his
pressure. When he spoke, he scarcely recognised his
own voice. It seemed to him thick and choked.
" The wind shall not hurt you, or anything else,"
he promised. " I have come back to take care of
She sighed, smiled like a tired child, and her eyes
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 137
closed as her head fell farther back amongst the
" Stay just like that, please," she begged.
" Something quite new is coming to me. I am rest-
ing. It is the sweetest rest I ever felt. Don't move,
Everard. Let my fingers stay in yours so."
The candles burned down in their sockets, the wind
rose to greater furies, and died away only as the dawn
broke through the storm clouds. A pale light stole
into the room. Still the woman slept, and still her
fingers seemed to keep their clutch upon his hand.
Her breathing was all the time soft and regular.
Her silky black eyelashes lay motionless upon her pale
cheeks. Her mouth a very perfectly shaped
mouth rested in quiet lines. Somehow he realised
that about this slumber there was a new thing. With
hot eyes and aching limbs he sat through the night.
Dream after dream rose up and passed away before
that little background of tapestried wall. When she
opened her eyes and looked at him, the same smile
parted her lips as the smile which had come there when
she had passed away to sleep.
" I am so rested," she murmured. " I feel so well.
I have had dreams, beautiful dreams."
The fire had burned out, and the room was chilly.
** You must go back to your own room now," he
Very slowly her fingers relaxed. She held out her
Carry me," she begged. " I am only half awake.
I want to sleep again."
He lifted her up. Her fingers closed around his
138 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
neck, her head fell back with a little sigh of content.
He tried the folding doors, and, finding some difficulty
in opening them, carried her out into the corridor,
into her own room, and laid her upon the untouched
" You are comfortable ? " he asked.
" Quite," she murmured drowsily. " Kiss me,
Her hands drew his face down. His lips rested
upon her forehead. Then he drew the bedclothes
ver her and fled.
There was a cloud on Seaman's good-humoured
face as, muffled up in their overcoats, he and his host
walked up and down the terrace the next morning,
after the departure of Mr. Mangan. He disclosed
his mind a little abruptly.
" In a few minutes," he said, " I shall come to the
great purpose of my visit. I have great and won-
derful news for you. But it will keep."
" The time for action has arrived ? " Dominey asked
curiously. " I hope you will remember that as yet I
am scarcely established here."
" It is with regard to your establishment here,"
Seaman explained drily, " that I desire to say a word.
We have seen much of one another since we met in
Cape Town. The passion and purpose of my life
you have been able to judge. Of those interludes
which are necessary to a human being, unless his
system is to fall to pieces as dry dust, you have also
seen something. I trust you will not misunderstand
me when I say that apart from the necessities of my
work, I am a man of sentiment."
" I am prepared to admit it," Dominey murmured
a little idly.
" You have undertaken a great enterprise. It was,
without a doubt, a miraculous piece of fortune which
brought the Englishman, Dominey, to your camp just
i 4 o THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
at the moment when you received jour orders from
headquarters. Your self-conceived plan has met with
every encouragement from us. You will be placed in
a unique position to achieve your final purpose. Now
mark my words and do not misunderstand me. The
very keynote of our progress is ruthlessness. To
take even a single step forward towards the achieve-
ment of that purpose is worth the sacrifice of all the
scruples and delicacies conceivable. But when a cer-
tain course of action is without profit to our purpose,
I see ugliness in it. It distresses me."
" What the devil do you mean ? " Dominey de-
" I sleep with one ear open," Seaman replied.
" I saw you leave your room early this morning,"
Seaman continued, " carrying Lady Dominey in your
There were little streaks of pallor underneath the
tan in Dominey's face. His eyes were like glittering
metal. It was only when he had breathed once or
twice quickly that he could command his voice.
" What concern is this of yours? " he demanded.
Seaman gripped his companion's arm.
" Look here," he said, " we are too closely allied for
bluff. I am here to help you fill the shoes of another
man, so far as regards his estates, his position, and
character, which, by the by, you are rehabilitating.
I will go further. I will admit that it is not my con-
cern to interfere in any ordinary amour you might
undertake, but I shall tell you this, my friend, to
your face that to deceive a lady of weak intellect,
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 141
however beautiful, to make use of your position as her
supposed husband, is not, save in the vital interests of
his country, the action of a Prussian nobleman."
Dominey's passion seemed to have burned itself out
without expression. He showed not the slightest re-
sentment at his companion's words.
" Have no fear, Seaman," he enjoined him. " The
situation is delicate, but I can deal with it as a man
" You relieve me," Seaman confessed. " You must
admit that the spectacle of last night was calculated
to inspire me with uneasiness."
** I respect you for your plain words," Dominey
declared. " The fact is, that Lady Dominey was
frightened of the storm last night and found her way
into my room. You may be sure that I treated hei
with all the respect and sympathy which our posi-
" Lady Dominey," Seaman remarked meditatively,
" seems to be curiously falsifying certain predic-
"In what way?"
" The common impression in the neighbourhood
here is that she is a maniac chiefly upon one subject
her detestation of you. She has been known to
take an oath that you should die if you slept in this
house again. You naturally, being a brave man,
ignored all this, yet in the morning after your first
night here there was blood upon your night clothes."
Dominey's eyebrows were slowly raised.
" You are well served here," he observed, with in-
i 4 2 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" That, for your own sake as well as ours, is neces-
sary," was the terse reply. " To continue, people of
unsound mind are remarkably tenacious of their
ideas. There was certainly nothing of the murderess
in her demeanour towards you last night. Cannot
you see that a too friendly attitude on her part might
become fatal to our schemes ? "
" In what way? "
" If ever your identity is doubted," Seaman ex-
plained, " the probability of which is, I must confess,
becoming less every day, the fact that Lady Dominey
seems to have so soon forgotten all her enmity to-
wards you would be strong presumptive evidence that
you are not the man you claim to be."
" Ingenious," Dominey assented, " and very possi-
ble. All this time, however, we speak on what you
yourself admit to be a side issue."
" You are right," Seaman confessed. " Very well,
then, listen. A great moment has arrived for you,
" Explain, if you please."
" I shall do so. You have seen proof, during the
last few days, that you have an organisation behind
you to whom money is dross. It is the same in diplo-
macy as in war. Germany will pay the price for
what she intends to achieve. Ninety thousand
pounds was yesterday passed to the credit of your
account for the extinction of certain mortgages. In
a few months' or a few years' time, some distant
Dominey will benefit to that extent. We cannot re-
cover the money. It is just an item in our day by
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
*' It was certainly a magnificent way of establish-
ing me," Dominey admitted.
" Magnificent, but safest in the long run," Seaman
declared. " If you had returned a poor man, every-
body's hand would have been against you; suspi-
cions, now absolutely unkindled, might have been
formed ; and, more important, perhaps, than either,
you would not have been able to take your place in
Society, which is absolutely necessary for the further-
ance of our scheme."
" Is it not almost time," Dominey enquired, " that
the way was made a little clearer for me? "
" That would have been my task this morning,"
Seaman replied, " but for the news I bring. In pass-
ing, however, let me promise you this. You will never
be asked to stoop to the crooked ways of the ordi-
nary spy. We want you for a different purpose."
"And the news?"
" What must be the greatest desire in your heart,"
Seaman said solemnly, " is to be granted. The
Kaiser has expressed a desire to see you, to give you
his instructions in person."
Dominey stopped short upon the terrace. He
withdrew his arm from his companion's and stared at
" The Kaiser ? " he exclaimed. " You mean that I
am to go to Germany ? "
" We shall start at once," Seaman replied. " Per-
sonally, I do not consider the proceeding discreet or
necessary. It has been decided upon, however, with-
out consulting me."
" I consider it suicidal," Dominey protested.
i 4 4 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" What explanation can I possibly make for going to
Germany, of all countries in the world, before I have
had time to settle down here? "
" That of itself will not be difficult," his companion
pointed out. " Many of the mines in which a share
has been bought in your name are being run with
German capital. It is easy to imagine that a crisis
has arisen in the management of one of them. We
require the votes of our fellow shareholders. You
need not trouble your head about that. And think
of the wonder of it ! If only for a single day your
sentence of banishment is lifted. You will breathe the
air of the Fatherland once more."
" It will be wonderful," Dominey muttered.
" It will be for you," Seaman promised, " a breath
of the things that are to come. And now, action.
How I love action ! That time-table, my friend, and
It was arranged that the two men should leave dur-
ing the morning for Norwich by motor-car and thence
to Harwich. Dominey, having changed into travel-
ling clothes, sent a messenger for Mrs. Unthank,
who came to him presently in his study. He held
out a chair to her, which she declined, however, to
" Mrs. Unthank," he said, " I should like to know
why you have been content to remain my wife's at'
tendant for the last ten years ? "
Mrs. Unthank was startled by the suddenness of
" Lady Dominey has needed ite," she answered,
after a moment's pause.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 145
" Do you consider," he asked, " that you have been
the best possible companion for her? "
" She has never been willing to accept any other,"
the woman replied.
" Are you very devoted to my wife? " he enquired.
Mrs. Unthank, grim and fierce though she was and
appeared to be, was obviously disconcerted by Domi-
ney's line of questions.
" If I weren't," she demanded, " should I have been
here all these years ? "
" I scarcely see," he continued, " what particular
claim my wife has had upon you. I understand,
moreover, that you are one of those who firmly believe
that I killed your son. Is this attendance upon my
wife a Christian act, then the returning of good
" Exactly what do you want to say to me, Sir
Everard ? " she asked harshly.
" I wish to say this," Dominey replied, " that I am
determined to bring about my wife's restoration to
health. For that reason I am going to have special-
ists down here, and above all things to change for a
tame her place of residence. My own feeling is that
she will stand a much better chance of recovery with-
out your attendance."
" You would dare to send me away? " the woman
" That is my intention," Dominey confessed. " I
have not spoken to Lady Dominey yet, but I hope
that very soon my influence over her will be such that
she will be content to obey my wishes. I look upon
your future from the financial point of view, as my
146 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
care. I shall settle upon you the sum of three hun-
dred pounds a year."
The woman showed her first sign of weakness. She
began to shake. There was a curious look of fear in
" I can't leave this place, Sir Everard," she cried.
" I must stay here ! "
"Why?" he demanded.
" Lady Dominey couldn't do without me," she an-
" That," he replied, " is for her to decide. Per-
sonally, from enquiries I have made, I believe that you
have encouraged in her that ridiculous superstition
about the ghost of your son. I also believe that you
have kept alive in her that spirit of unreasonable
hatred which she has felt towards me."
"Unreasonable, you call it?" the woman almost
shouted. " You, who came home to her with the
blood on your hands of the man whom, if only you had
kept away, she might one day have loved? Unrea-
sonable, you call it ? "
" I have finished what I had to say, Mrs. Unthank,"
Dominey declared. " I am compelled by important
business to leave here for two or three days. On my
return I shall embark upon the changes with which
I have acquainted you. In the meantime," he added,
watching a curious change in the woman's expres-
sion, " I have written this morning to Doctor Har-
rison, asking him to come up this afternoon and to
keep Lady Dominey under his personal observation
until my return."
She stood quite still, looking at him. Then she
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 147
came a little nearer and leaned forward, as though
studying his face.
" Eleven years," she muttered, " do change many
men, but I never knew a man made out of a weak-,
" I have nothing more to say to you," Dominey
replied, " except to let you know that I am coming
to see my wife in the space of a few minutes."
The motor-horn was already sounding below when
Dominey was admitted to his wife's apartment. She
was dressed in a loose gown of a warm crimson colour,
and she had the air of one awaiting his arrival ex-
pectantly. The passion of hatred seemed to have
passed from her pale face and from the depths of her
strangely soft eyes. She held out her hands towards
him. Her brows were a little puckered. The dis-
appointment of a child lurked in her manner.
" You are going away? " she murmured.
" In a very few moments," he told her. " I have
been waiting to see you for an hour."
She made a grimace.
" It was Mrs. Unthank. I think that she hid my
things on purpose. I was so anxious to see you."
" I want to talk to you about Mrs. Unthank," he
said. " Should you be very unhappy if I sent her
away and found some one younger and kinder to be
your companion ? "
The idea seemed to be outside the bounds of her
" Mrs. Unthank would never go," she declared.
" She stays here to listen to the voice. All night
i4 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
long sometimes she waits and listens, and it doesn't
come. Then she hears it, and she is rested."
" And you ? " he asked.
" I am afraid," she confessed. " But then, you
see, I am not very strong."
" You are not fond of Mrs. Unthank ? " he enquired
" I don't think so," she answered, in a perplexed
tone. " I think I am very much afraid of her. But
it is no use, Everard ! She would never go away."
" When I return," Dominey said, " we shall see."
She took his arm and linked her hands through it.
" I am so sorry that you are going," she murmured.
" I hope you will soon come back. Will you come
back my husband ? "
Dominey's nails cut into the flesh of his clenched
" I will come back within three days," he promised.
" Do you know," she went on confidentially, " some-
thing has come into my mind lately. I spoke about it
yesterday, but I did not tell you what it was. You
need never be afraid of me any more. I understand."
" What do you understand? " he demanded huskily.
" The knowledge must have come to me," she went
on, dropping her voice a little and whispering almost
in his ear, " at the very moment when my dagger
rested upon your throat, when I suddenly felt the
desire to kill die away. You are very like him some-
times, but you are not Everard. You are not my
husband at all. You are another man."
Dominey gave a little gasp. They both turned
towards the door. Mrs. Unthank was standing there,
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 149
her gaunt, hard face lit up with a gleam of some-
thing which was like triumph, her eyes glittering.
Her lips, as though involuntarily, repeated her mis-
tress' last words.
" Another man ! '*
There were tiir.es during their rapid journey when
Seaman, studying his companion, became thoughtful.
Dominey seemed, indeed, to have passed beyond the
boundaries of any ordinary reserve, to have become
like a man immeshed in the toils of a past so absorb-
ing that he moved as though in a dream, speaking
only when necessary and comporting himself gen-
erally like one to whom all externals have lost sig-
nificance. As they embarked upon the final stage of
their travels, Seaman leaned forward in his seat in
the sombrely upholstered, overheated compartment.
" Your home-coming seems to depress you, Von
Ragastein," he said.
" It was not my intention," Dominey replied, " to
set foot in Germany again for many years."
" The past still bites, eh? "
The train sped on through long chains of vineyard-
covered hills, out into a stretch of flat country, into
forests of pines, in the midst of which were great
cleared spaces, where, notwithstanding the closely
drawn windows, the resinous odour from the fallen
trunks seemed to permeate the compartment. Pres-
ently they slackened speed. Seaman glanced at his
watch and rose.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 151
" Prepare yourself, my friend," he said. " We
descend in a few minutes."
Dominey glanced out of the window.
" But where are we? " he enquired.
" Within five minutes of our destination."
" But there is not a house in sight," Dominey re-
" You will be received on board His Majesty's pri-
vate train," Seaman announced. " The Kaiser, with
his staff, is making one of his military tours. We
are honoured by being permitted to travel back with
him as far as the Belgian frontier."
They had come to a standstill now. A bearded
and uniformed official threw open the door of their
compartment, and they stepped on to the narrow
wooden platform of a small station which seemed to
have been recently built of fresh pine planks. The
train, immediately they had alighted, passed on.
Their journey was over.
A brief conversation was carried on between Sea-
man and the official, during which Dominey took
curious note of his surroundings. Around the sta-
tion, half hidden in some places by the trees and
shrubs, was drawn a complete cordon of soldiers,
who seemed to have recently disembarked from a
military train which stood upon a siding. In the
middle of it was a solitary saloon carriage, painted
black, with much gold ornamentation, and having
emblazoned upon the central panel the royal arms of
Germany. Seaman, when he had finished his con~
versation, took Dominey by the arm and led him
across the line towards it. An officer received them
152 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
at the steps and bowed punctiliously to Dominey, at
whom he gazed with much interest.
" His Majesty will receive you at once," he an-
nounced. " Follow me."
They boarded the train and passed along a richly
carpeted corridor. Their guide paused and pointed
to a small retiring-room, where several men were
" Herr Seaman will find friends there," he said.
" His Imperial Majesty will receive him for a few
minutes later. The Baron von Ragastein will come
Dominey was ushered now into the main saloon.
His guide motioned him to remain near the entrance,
and, himself advancing a few paces, stood at the
salute before a seated figure who was bending over
a map, which a stern-faced man in the uniform of a
general had unrolled before him. The Kaiser glanced
up at the sound of footsteps and whispered something
in the general's ear. The latter clicked his heels
together and retired. The Kaiser beckoned Dominey
" The Baron von Ragastein, your Majesty," the
young officer murmured.
Dominey stood at attention for a moment and
bowed a little awkwardly. The Kaiser smiled.
" It pleases me," he said, " to see a German officer
ill at ease without his uniform. Count, you will leave
us. Baron von Ragastein, be seated."
" Sir Everard Dominey, at your service, Majesty,"
Dominey replied, as he took the chair to which his
august host pointed.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 153
" Thorough in all things, I see," the latter ob-
served. " Sit there and be at your ease. Good
reports have reached me of your work in Africa."
" I did my best to execute your Majesty's will,"
" You did so well," the Kaiser pronounced, " that
my counsellors were unanimous in advising your with-
drawal to what will shortly become the great centre
of interest. From the moment of receiving our com-
mands you appear to have displayed initiative. I
gather that your personation of this English baronet
has been successfully carried through?"
" Up to the present, your Majesty."
" Important though your work in Africa was,"
the Kaiser continued, " your present task is a far
greater one. I wish to speak to you for these few
minutes without reserve. First, though, drink a
toast with me."
From a mahogany stand at his elbow, the Kaiser
drew out a long-necked bottle of Moselle, filled two
very beautiful glasses, passed one to his companion
and raised the other.
" To the Fatherland ! " he said.
" To the Fatherland ! " Dominey repeated.
They set down their glasses, empty. The Kaiser
threw back the grey military cloak which he was
wearing, displaying a long row of medals and decora-
tions. His fingers still toyed with the stem of his
wineglass. He seemed for a moment to lose himself
in thought. His hard and somewhat cruel mouth
was tightly closed; there was a slight frown upon
his forehead. He was sitting upright, taking no
154 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
advantage of the cushioned back of his easy-chair,
his eyes a little screwed up, the frown deepening.
For quite five minutes there was complete silence.
One might have gathered that, turning aside from
great matters, he had been devoting himself entirely
to the scheme in which Dominey was concerned.
" Von Ragastein," he said at last, " I have sent
for you to have a few words concerning your habita-
tion in England. I wish you to receive your im-
pressions of your mission from my own lips."
"Your Majesty does me great honour," Dom-
" I wish you to consider yourself," the Kaiser con-
tinued, " as entirely removed from the limits, the
authority and the duties of my espionage system.
From you I look for other things. I desire you to
enter into the spirit of your assumed position. As
a typical English country gentleman I desire you to
study the labour question, the Irish question, the
progress of this National Service scheme, and other
social movements of which you will receive notice in
due time. I desire a list compiled of those writers
who, in the Reviews, or by means of fiction, are en-
couraging the suspicions which I am inclined to fancy
England has begun to entertain towards the Father-
land. These things are all on the fringe of your
real mission. That, I believe, our admirable friend
Seaman has already confided to you. It is to seek
the friendship, if possible the intimacy, of Prince
The Kaiser paused, and once more his eyes wan-
dered to the landscape which rolled away from the
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 155
plate-glass windows of the car. They were cer-
tainly not the eyes of a dreamer, and yet in those
moments they seemed filled with brooding pictures.
" The Prince has already received me graciously,"
" Terniloff is the dove of peace," the Kaiser pro-
nounced. " He carries the sprig of olive in his
mouth. My statesmen and counsellors would have
fcent to London an ambassador with sterner quali-
ties. I preferred not. Terniloff is the man to gull
fools, because he is a fool himself. He is a fit am-
bassador for a country which has not the wit to
arm itself on land as well as by sea, when it sees a
nation, mightier, more cultured, more splendidly led
than its own, creeping closer every day."
" The English appear to put their whole trust in
their navy, your Majesty," Dominey observed tenta-
The eyes of his companion flashed. His lips curled
" Fools ! " he exclaimed. " Of what use will their
navy be when my sword is once drawn, when I hold
the coast towns of Calais and Boulogne, when my
cannon command the Straits of Dover ! The days
of insular nations are passed, passed as surely as the
days of England's arrogant supremacy upon the
The Kaiser refilled his glass and Dominey 's.
" In some months' time, Von Ragastein," he con-
tinued, " you will understand why you have been en-
joined to become the friend and companion of Terni-
loff. You will understand your mission a little more
156 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
clearly than you do now. Its exact nature waits
upon developments. You can at all times trust Sea-
Dominey bowed and remained silent. His com-
panion continued after another brief spell of silent
" Von Ragastein," he said, " my decree of banish-
ment against you was a just one. The morals of my
people are as sacred to me as my oath to win for them
a mightier empire. You first of all betrayed the wife
of one of the most influential noblemen of a State
allied to my own, and then, in the duel that followed,
you slew him."
" It was an accident, your Majesty," Dominey
pleaded. " I had no intention of even wounding the
The Kaiser frowned. All manner of excuses were
loathsome to him.
" The accident should have happened the other
way," he rejoined sharply. "I should have lost a
valuable servant, but it was your life which was
forfeit, and not his. Still, they tell me that your
work in Africa was well and thoroughly done. I
give you this one great chance of rehabilitation. If
your work in England commends itself to me, the
sentence of exile under which you suffer shall be re-
" Your Majesty is too good," Dominey murmured.
" The work, for its own sake, will command my every
effort, even without the hope of reward."
" That," the Kaiser said, " is well spoken. It is
the spirit, I believe, with which every son of my
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 157
Empire regards the future. I think that they, too,
more especially those who surround my person, have
felt something of that divine message which has come
to me* For many years I have, for the sake of my
people, willed peace. Now that the time draws near
when Heaven has shown me another duty, I have
no fear but that every loyal German will bow his
head before the lightnings which will play around my
sword and share with me the iron will to wield it.
Your audience is finished, Baron von Ragastein.
You will take your place with the gentlemen of my
suite in the retiring-room. We shall proceed within
a few minutes and leave you at the Belgian frontier."
Dominey rose, bowed stiffly and backed down the
carpeted way. The Kaiser was already bending once
more over the map. Seaman, who was waiting out-
side the door of the anteroom, called him in and in-
troduced him to several members of the suite. One,
a young man with a fixed monocle, scars upon his
face, and a queer, puppet-like carriage, looked at him
a little strangely.
" We met some years ago in Munich, Baron," he
" I acknowledge no former meetings with any one
in this country," Dominey replied stiffly. " I obey
the orders of my Imperial master when I wipe from
my mind every episode or reminiscence of my former
The young man's face cleared, and Seaman, by his
side, who had knitted his brows thoughtfully, nodded
" You are certainly a great actor, Baron," he de-
re* THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
ciared. " Even your German has become a little
English. Sit down and join us in a glass of beer.
Luncheon will be served to us here in a few minutes.
You will not be recalled to the Presence until we set
Dominey bowed stiffly and took his place with the
others. The train had already started. Dominey
gazed thoughtfully out of the window. Seaman, who
was waiting about for his audience, patted him on
" Dear friend," he said, " I sympathise with you.
You sorrow because your back is now to Berlin.
Still, remember this, that the day is not far off when
the sentence of exile against you will be annulled.
You will have expiated that crime which, believe me,
although I do not venture to claim a place amongst
them, none of your friends and equals have ever re-
garded in the same light as His Imperial Majesty."
A smiling steward, in black livery with white fac-
ings, made his appearance and served them with beer
in tall glasses. The senior officer there, who had
now seated himself opposite to Dominey, raised his
glass and bowed.
" To the Baron von Ragastein," he said, " whose
acquaintance I regret not having made before to-
day. May we soon welcome him back, a brother in
arms, a companion in great deeds ! Hoch ! "
Sir Everard Dominey, Baronet, the latest and most
popular recruit to Norfolk sporting society, stood
one afternoon, some months after his return from
Germany, at the corner of the long wood which
stretched from the ridge of hills behind almost to
the kitchen gardens of the Hall. At a reasonable
distance on his left, four other guns were posted,
On one side of him stood Middleton, leaning on his
ash stick and listening to the approach of the beat-
ers; on the other, Seaman, curiously out of place in
his dark grey suit and bowler hat. The old keeper,
whom time seemed to have cured of all his appre-
hensions, was softly garrulous and very happy.
" That do seem right to have a Squire Dominey at
this corner," he observed, watching a high cock
pheasant come crashing down over their heads. " I
mind when the Squire, your father, sir, gave up this
corner one day to Lord Wendermere, whom folks
called one of the finest pheasant shots in England,
and though they streamed over his head like starlings,
he'd nowt but a few cripples to show for his morn-
" Come out with a bit of a twist from the lef\,
don't they? " Dominey remarked, repeating his late
" They do that, sir," the old man assented, " anA
160 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
no one but a Dominey seems to have learnt the knack
of dealing with them proper. That foreign Prince,
so they say, is well on to his birds, but I wouldn't
trust him at this corner."
The old man moved off a few paces to some higher
ground, to watch the progress of the beaters through
the wood. Seaman turned to his companion, and
there was a note of genuine admiration in his tone.
" My friend," he declared, " you are a miracle.
You seem to have developed the Dominey touch even
in killing pheasants."
" You must remember that I have shot higher
ones in Hungary," was the easy reply.
" I am not a sportsman," Seaman admitted. " I
do not understand sport. But I do know this : there
is an old man who has lived on this land since
the day of his birth, who has watched you shoot,
reverently, and finds even the way you hold your
" That twist of the birds," Dominey explained,
" is simply a local superstition. The wood ends on
the slant, and they seem to be flying more to the
left than they really are."
Seaman gazed steadfastly for a moment along the
side of the wood.
" Her Grace is coming," he said. " She seems to
share the Duke's dislike of me, and she is too great
a lady to conceal her feelings. Just one word be-
fore I go. The Princess Eiderstrom arrives this
Dominey frowned, then, warned by the keeper**
shout, turned around and killed a hare.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 161
" My friend," he said, with a certain note of chal-
lenge in his tone, " I am not certain that you have
told me all that you know concerning the Princess's
Seaman was thoughtful for a brief space of time.
" You are right," he admitted, " I have not. It is
a fault which I will repair presently."
He strolled away to the next stand, where Mr.
Mangan was displaying an altogether different stand-
ard of proficiency. The Duchess came up to Dom-
iney a few minutes later.
" I told Henry I shouldn't stop with him another
moment," she declared. " He has fired off about
forty cartridges and wounded one hare."
" Henry is not keen," Dominey remarked, " al-
though I think you are a little hard on him, are you
not? I saw him bring down a nice cock just now.
So far as regards the birds, it really does not matter.
They are all going home."
The Duchess was very smartly tailored in clothes
of brown heather mixture. She wore thick shoes
and gaiters and a small hat. She was looking very
well but a little annoyed.
" I hear," she said, " that Stephanie is coming to-
Dominey nodded, and seemed for a moment intent
on watching the flight of a pigeon which kept tanta-
lisingly out of range.
" She is coming down for a few days," he assented.
" I am afraid that she will be bored to death."
"Where did you become so friendly with her?"
his cousin asked curiously.
X62 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" The first time we ever meV Dominey replied,
" was in the Carlton grill room, a few days after
I landed in England. She mistook me for some one
else, and we parted with the usual apologies. I met
her the same night at Carlton House Terrace she
is related to the Terniloffs and we came across
one another pretty often after that, during the short
time I was in town."
" Yes," the Duchess murmured meditatively.
" That is another of the little surprises you seem to
have all ready dished up for us. How on earth did
you become so friendly with the German Ambassa-
Dominey smiled tolerantly.
" Really," he replied, " there is not anything so
very extraordinary about it, is there? Mr. Sea-
man, my partner in one or two mining enterprises,
took me to call upon him. He is very interested in
East Africa, politically and as a sportsman. Our
conversations seemed to interest him and led to a
certain intimacy, of which I may say that I am
proud. I have the greatest respect and liking for
" So have I," Caroline agreed. " I think he's
charming. Henry declares that he must be either a
fool or a knave."
" Henry is blinded by prejudice," Dominey de-
clared a little impatiently. " He cannot imagine a
German who feasts with any one else but the devil."
" Don't get annoyed, dear," she begged, resting
her fingers for a moment upon his coat sleeve. " I
admire the Prince immensely. He is absolutely the
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 163
nly German I ever met whom one felt instinctively
to be a gentleman. Now what are you smiling
Dominey turned a perfectly serious face towards
her. " Not guilty," he pleaded.
" I saw you smile."
" It was just a quaint thought. You are rather
sweeping, are you not, Caroline? "
" I'm generally right," she declared. " To re-
turn to the subject of Stephanie."
" Do you know whom she mistook you for in the
Carlton grill room ? "
" Tell me ? " he answered evasively.
" She mistook you for a Baron Leopold von Ra-
gastein," Caroline continued drily. " Von Raga-
stein was her lover in Hungary. He fought a duel
with her husband and killed him. The Kaiser was
furious and banished him to East Africa."
Dominey picked up his shooting-stick and handed
his gun to Middleton. The beaters were through the
" Yes, I remember now," he said. " She addressed
me as Leopold."
" I still don't see why it was necessary to invite
her here," his companion observed a little petulantly.
" She may call you Leopold again ! "
" If she does, I shall be deaf," Dominey promised.
*' But seriously, she is a cousin of the Princess Terni-
loff, and the two women are devoted to one another.
The Princess hates shooting parties, so I thought
they could entertain one another."
164 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Bosh ! Stephanie will monopolise you all the
time ! That's what she's coming for."
<$ You are not suggesting that she intends seriously
to put me in the place of my double? " Dominey
asked, with mock alarm.
" Oh, I shouldn't wonder ! And she's an extraor-
dinarily attractive woman. I'm full of complaints,
Everard. There's that other horrible little man,
Seaman. You know that the very sight of him makes
Henry furious. I am quite sure that he never
expected to sit down at the same table with
" I am really sorry about that," Dominey assured
her, " but you see His Excellency takes a great in-
terest in him on account of this Friendship League,
of which Seaman is secretary, and he particularly
asked to have him here."
" Well, you must admit that the situation is a
little awkward for Henry," she complained. " Next
to Lord Roberts, Henry is practically the leader of
the National Service movement here; he hates Ger-
many and distrusts every German he ever met, and
in a small house party like this we meet the German
Ambassador and a man who is working hard to lull
to sleep the very sentiments which Henry is endeav-
ouring to arouse."
" It sounds very pathetic," Dominey admitted,
with a smile, " but even Henry likes Terniloff , and
after all it is stimulating to meet one's opponents
" Of course he likes Terniloff," Caroline assented,
** but he bates the thing* he stands for. However,
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 165
I'd have forgiven you everything if only Stephanie
weren't coming. That woman is really beginning to
irritate me. She always seems to be making mys-
terious references to some sentimental past in which
you both are concerned, and for which there can be
no foundation at all except your supposed likeness
to her exiled lover. Why, you never met her until
that day at the Carlton ! "
" She was a complete stranger to me," Dominey as-
" Then all I can say is that you have been un-
usually rapid if you've managed to create a past in
something under three months ! " Caroline pronounced
suspiciously. " I call her coming here a most bare-
faced proceeding, especially as this is practically a
They had arrived at the next stand, and conversa-
tion was temporarily suspended. A flight of wild
duck were put out from a pool in the wood, and
for a few minutes every one was busy. Middleton
watched his master with unabated approval.
" You're most as good as the old Squire with them
high duck, Sir Everard," he said. " That's true
very few can touch 'em when they're coming out
nigh to the pheasants. They can't believe in the
speed of 'em."
" Do you think Sir Everard shoots as well as he
did before he went to Africa ? " Caroline asked.
Middleton touched his hat and turned to Seaman,
who was standing in the background.
" Better, your Grace," he answered, " as I was
saying to this gentleman here, early this morning.
i66 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
He*s cooler like and swings more level. I'd have
known his touch on a gun anywhere, though."
There was a glint of admiration in Seaman's eyes.
The beaters came through the wood, and the little
party of guns gossiped together while the game was
collected. Terniloff, his usual pallor chased away
by the bracing wind and the pleasure of the sport,
was affable and even loquacious. He had great es-
tates of his own in Saxony and was explaining to
the Duke his manner of shooting them. Middleton
glanced at his horn-rimmed watch.
" There's another hour's good light, sir," he said.
" Would you care about a partridge drive, or should
we go through the home copse? "
" If I might make a suggestion," Terniloff ob-
served diffidently, " most of the pheasants went into
that gloomy-looking wood just across the marshes."
There was a moment's rather curious silence.
Dominey had turned and was looking towards the
wood in question, as though fascinated by its almost
sinister-like blackness and density. Middleton had
dropped some game he was carrying and was mutter-
ing to himself.
"We call that the Black Wood," Dominey said
calmly, " and I am rather afraid that the pheasants
who find their way there claim sanctuary. What
do you think, Middleton? "
The old man turned his head slowly and looked at
his master. Somehow or other, every scrap of col-
our seemed to have faded out of his bronzed face.
His eyes were filled with that vague horror of the
supernatural common amongst the peasant folk of
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 167
various localities. His voice shook. The old fear
was back again.
" You wouldn't put the beaters in there, Squire ? "
he faltered ; " not that there's one of them would
" Have we stumbled up against a local supersti-
tion ? " the Duke enquired.
" That's not altogether local, your Grace," Mid-
dleton replied, " as the Squire himself will tell you.
I doubt whether there's a beater in all Norfolk would
go through the Black Wood, if you paid him red
gold for it. Here, you lads."
He turned to the beaters, who were standing wait-
ing for instructions a few yards away. There were
a dozen of them, stalwart men for the most part,
clad in rough smocks and breeches and carrying thick
" There's one of the gentlemen here," Middleton
announced, addressing them, " who wants to know if
you'd go through the Black Wood of Dominey for
a sovereign apiece, eh? Watch their faces, your
Grace. Now then, lads? "
There was no possibility of any mistake. The
very suggestion seemed to have taken the healthy
sunburn from their cheeks. They fumbled with their
sticks uneasily. One of them touched his hat and
spoke to Dominey.
" Vm one as 'as seen it, sir, as well as heard," he
said. " I'd sooner give up my farm than go nigh
Caroline suddenly passed her arm through Dom-
iney's. There was a note of distress in her tone.
168 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
"Henry, you're an idiot!" she exclaimed. "It
was my fault, Everard. I'm so sorry. Just for one
moment I had forgotten. I ought to have stopped
Henry at once. The poor man has no memory."
Dominey's arm responded for a moment to the pres-
sure of her fingers. Then he turned to the beaters.
" Well, no one is going to ask you to go to the
Black Wood," he promised. " Get round to the back
of Hunt's stubbles, and bring them into the roots
and then over into the park. We will line the park
fence. How is that, Middleton, eh? "
The keeper touched his hat and stepped briskly
" I'll just have a walk with them myself, sir," he
said. " Them birds do break at Fuller's corner.
I'll see if I can flank them. You'll know where to
put the guns, Squire."
Dominey nodded. One and all the beaters were
walking with most unaccustomed speed towards their
destination. Their backs were towards the Black
Wood. Terniloff came up to his host.
" Have I, by chance, been terribly tactless ? " he
Dominey shook his head.
" You asked a perfectly natural question, Prince,"
he replied. " There is no reason why you should not
know the truth. Near that wood occurred the trag-
edy which drove me from England for so many
" I am deeply grieved," the Prince began
" It is false sentiment to avoid allusions^ to it,"
Dominey interrupted. " I was attacked there on*
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 169
night by a man who had some cause for offence
against me. We fought, and I reached home in a
somewhat alarming state. My condition terrified
my wife so much that she has been an invalid ever
since. But here is the point which has given birth
to all these superstitions, and which made me for
many years a suspected person. The man with
whom I fought has never been seen since."
Terniloff wan at once too fascinated by the story
and puzzled by his host's manner of telling it to main-
tain his apologetic attitude.
" Never seen since ! " he repeated.
** My own memory as to the end of our fight is
uncertain," Dominey continued. " My impression is
that I left my assailant unconscious upon the
" Then it is his ghost, I imagine, who haunts the
Black Wood? "
Dominey shook himself as one who would get rid
of an unwholesome thought.
" The wood itself, Prince," he explained, as they
walked along, " is a noisome place. There are quag-
mires even in the middle of it, where a man may sink
in and be never heard of again. Every sort of ver-
min abounds there, every unclean insect and bird are
to be found in the thickets. I suppose the character
of the place has encouraged the local superstition in
which every one of those men firmly believes."
" They absolutely believe the place to be haunted,
" The superstition goes further," Dominey contin-
ued. " Our locals say that somewhere in the heart
170 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
of the wood, where I believe that no human being for
many years has dared to penetrate, there is living in
the spiritual sense some sort of a demon who comes
out only at night and howls underneath my win"
" Has any one ever seen it? "
" One or two of the villagers ; to the best of my
belief, no one else," Dominey replied.
Terniloff seemed on the point of asking more
questions, but the Duke touched him on the arm and
drew him on one side, as though to call his attention
to the sea fogs which were rolling up from the
" Prince," he whispered, " the details of that story
are inextricably mixed up with the insanity of Lady
Dominey. I am sure you understand."
The Prince, a diplomatist to his fingertips, ap-
peared shocked, although a furtive smile still lingered
upon his lips.
" I regret my -faux pas most deeply," he murmured.
" Sir Everard," he went on, " you promised to tell
me of some of your days with a shotgun in South
Africa. Isn't there a bird there which corresponds
with your partridges ? "
" If you can kill the partridges which Middleton
is going to send over in the next ten minutes," he
said, " you could shoot anything of the sort that
comes along in East Africa, with a catapult. If
you will stand just a few paces there to the left,
Henry, Terniloff by the gate, Stillwell up by the
left-hand corner, Mangan next, Eddy next, and I
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 171
shall be just beyond towards the oak clump. Will
you walk with me, Caroline? "
His cousin took his arm as they walked off and
" Everard, I congratulate you," she said. " You
have conquered your nerve absolutely. You did a
simple and a fine thing to tell the whole story. Why,
you were almost matter-of-fact. I could even have
imagined you were telling it about some one else."
Her host smiled enigmatically.
" Curious that it should have struck you like that,"
he remarked. " Do you know, when I was telling it
I had the same feeling. Do you mind crouching
down a little now? I am going to blow the whistle."
Even in the great dining-room of Dominey Hall,
the mahogany table which was its great glory was
stretched that evening to its extreme capacity. Be-
sides the house party, which included the Right Hon-
ourable Gerald Watson, a recently appointed Cabinet
Minister, there were several guests from the neigh-
bourhood the Lord Lieutenant of the County and
other notabilities. Caroline, with the Lord Lieu-
tenant on one side of her and Terniloff on the other,
played the part of hostess adequately but without
enthusiasm. Her eyes seldom left for long the other
end of the table, where Stephanie, at Dominey's left
hand, with her crown of exquisitely coiffured red-
gold hair, her marvellous jewellery, her languorous
grace of manner, seemed more like one of the beauties
of an ancient Venetian Court than a modern Hun-
garian Princess gowned in the Rue de la Paix. Con-
versation remained chiefly local and concerned the
day's sport and kindred topics. It was not until to-
wards the close of the meal that the Duke succeeded
in launching his favourite bubble.
" I trust, Everard," he said, raising his voice a
little as he turned towards his host, " that you make
a point of inculcating the principles of National
Service into your tenantry here."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 173
Dominey's reply was a little dubious.
" I am afraid they do not take to the idea very
kindly in this part of the world," he confessed.
" Purely agricultural districts are always a little diffi-
" It is your duty as a landowner," the Duke in-
sisted, " to alter their point of view. There is not
the slightest doubt," he added, looking belligerently
over the top of his pince nez at Seaman, who was
seated at the opposite side of the table, " that before
long we shall find ourselves and in a shocking state
of unpreparedness, mind you at war with Ger-
Lady Maddeley, the wife of the Lord Lieutenant,
who sat at his side, seemed a little startled. She was
probably one of the only people present who was not
aware of the Duke's foible.
" Do you really think so ? " she asked. " The Ger-
mans seem such civilised people, so peaceful and do-
mestic in their home life, and that sort of thing."
The Duke groaned. He glanced down the table to
be sure that Prince Terniloff was out of hearing.
" My dear Lady Maddeley," he declared, " Ger-
many is not governed like England. When the war
comes, the people will have had nothing to do with
it. A great many of them will be just as surprised
as you will be, but they will fight all the same."
Seaman, who had kept silence during the last fen
moments with great difficulty, now took up the Duke's
" Permit me to assure you, madam," he said, bow-
ing across the table, " that the war with Germany
174 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
of which the Duke is so afraid will never come. I
speak with some amount of knowledge because I am
a German by birth, although naturalised in this coun-
try. I have as many and as dear friends in Berlin
as in London, and with the exception of my recent
absence in Africa, where I had the pleasure to meet
our host, I spend a great part of my time going back
and forth between the two capitals. I have also the
honour to be the secretary of a society for the pro-
motion of a better understanding between the citizen*
of Germany and England."
" Rubbish ! " the Duke exclaimed. " The Germans
don't want a better understanding. They only want
to fool us into believing that they do."
Seaman looked a little pained. He stuck to his
" His Grace and I," he observed, " are old op-
ponents on this subject."
" We are indeed," the Duke agreed. " You may
be an honest man, Mr. Seaman, but you are a very
ignorant one upon this particular topic."
" You are probably both right in your way," Dom-
iney intervened, very much in the manner of a well-
bred host making his usual effort to smooth over two
widely divergent points of view. " There is no doubt
a war party in Germany and a peace party, states-
men who place economic progress first, and others
who are tainted with a purely military lust for con-
quest. In this country it is very hard for us to
strike a balance between the two."
Seaman beamed his thanks upon his host.
" I have friends," he said impressively, " in the
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 175
very highest circles of Germany, who are continually
encouraging my work here, and I have received the
benediction of the Kaiser himself upon my efforts to
promote a better feeling in this country. And if
you will forgive my saying so, Duke, it is such ill-
advised and ill-founded statements as you are con-
stantly making about my country which is the only
bar to a better understanding between us."
" I have my views," the Duke snapped, " and they
have become convictions. I shall continue to express
them at all times and with all the eloquence at my
The Ambassador, to whom portions of this con-
versation had now be.ome audible, leaned a little for-
ward in his place.
" Let me speak first as a private individual," he
begged, " and express my well-studied opinion that
war between our two countries would be simply race
suicide, an indescribable and an abominable crime.
Then I will remember what I represent over here,
and I will venture to add in my ambassadorial ca-
pacity that I come with an absolute and heartfelt
mandate of peace. My task over here is to secure
and ensure it."
Caroline flashed a warning glance at her hus-
" How nice of you to be so frank, Prince ! " she
said. " The Duke sometimes forgets, in the pursuit
of his hobby, that a private dinner table is not a
platform. I insist upon it that we discuss some-
thing of more genuine interest."
** There isn't a more vital subject in the world,"
176 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
the Duke declared, resigning himself, however, to si-
" We will speak," the Ambassador suggested, " of
the way in which our host brought down those tall
" You will tell me, perhaps," Seaman suggested to
the lady on his right, " how you English women have
been able to secure for yourselves so much more lib*
erty than our German wives enjoy? "
" Later on," Stephanie whispered to her host, with
a little tremble in her voice, " I have a surprise for
After dinner, Dominey's guests passed naturally
enough to the relaxations w 1 -!ch each preferred.
There were two bridge tab- ,, Terniloff and the Cab-
inet Minister played billiards, and Seaman, with a
touch which amazed every one, drew strange music
from the yellow keys of the old-fashioned grand piano
in the drawing-room. Stephanie and her host made
a slow progress through the hall and picture gallery.
For some time their conversation was engaged solely
with the objects to which Dominey drew his com-
panion's attention. When they had passed out of
possible hearing, however, of any of the other guests,
Stephanie's fingers tightened upon her companion's
" I wish to speak to you alone," she said, " without
the possibility of any one overhearing."
Dominey hesitated and looked behind.
" Your guests are well occupied," she continued a
little impatiently, " and in any case I am one of them.
I claim your attention."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 177
Dominey threw open the door of the library and
turned on a couple of the electric lights. She made
her way to the great open fireplace, on which a log
was burning, looked down into the shadows of the
room and back again into her host's face.
" For one moment," she begged, " turn on all the
lights. I wish to be sure that we are alone."
Dominey did as he was bidden. The furthermost
corners of the room, with its many wings of book-
filled shelves, were illuminated. She nodded.
" Now turn them all out again except this one,"
she directed, " and wheel me up an easy-chair. No,
I choose this settee. Please seat yourself by my
" Is this going to be serious ? " he asked, wdth some
" Serious but wonderful," she murmured, lifting
her eyes to his. " Will you please listen to me, I>o-
She was half curled up in a corner of the settee,
her head resting slightly upon her long fingers, her
brown eyes steadily fixed upon her companion.
There was an atmosphere about her of serious yet
of tender things. Dominey's face seemed to fall into
more rigid lines as he realised the appeal of her eyes.
" Leopold," she began, " I left this country a few
weeks ago, feeling that you were a brute, determined
never to see you again, half inclined to expose you
before I went as an impostor and a charlatan. Ger-
many means little to me, and a patriotism which took
no account of human obligations left me absolutely
^responsive. I meant to go home and never to re-
178 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
turn to London. My heart was bruised, and I was
She paused, but her companion made no sign. She
paused for so long, however, that speech became nec-
" You are speaking, Princess," he said calmly, " to
one who is not present. My name is no longer Leo-
She laughed at him with a curious mixture of ten-
derness and bitterness.
" My friend," she continued, " I am terrified to
think, besides your name, how much of humanity you
have lost in your new identity. To proceed, it
suited my convenience to remain for a few days in
Berlin, and I was therefore compelled to present my-
self at Potsdam. There I received a great surprise.
Wilhelm spoke to me of you, and though, alas f my
heart is still bruised, he helped me to understand."
" Is this wise ? " he asked a little desperately.
She ignored his words.
" I was taken back into favour at Court," she
went on. " For that I owe to you my thanks. Wil-
helm was much impressed by your recent visit to
him, and by the way in which you have established
yourself here. He spoke also with warm commen-
dation of your labours in Africa, which he seemed to
appreciate all the more as you were sent there an
exile. He asked me, Leopold," she added, dropping
her voice a little, " if my feelings towards you re-
Dominey's face remained unrelaxed. Persistently
he refused the challenge of her eyes.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 179
" I told him the truth," she proceeded. " I told
him how it all began, and how it must last with me
to the end. We spoke even of the duel. I told him
what both your seconds had explained to me, that
turn of the wrist, Conrad's wild lunge, how he liter-
ally threw himself upon the point of your sword.
Wilhelm understands and forgives, and he has sent
you this letter."
She drew a small grey envelope from her pocket.
On the seal were the Imperial Hohenzollern arms.
She passed it to him.
" Leopold," she whispered, " please read that,"
He shook his head, although he accepted the letter
with reluctant fingers.
" Leopold again," he muttered. " It is not for
" Read the superscription," she directed.
He obeyed her. It was addressed in a strange,
straggling handwriting to Sir Everard Dominey,
Baronet. He broke the seal unwillingly and drew
out the letter. It was dated barely a fortnight back.
There was neither beginning nor ending; just a cou-
ple of sentences scrawled across the thick notepaper:
" It is my will that you offer your hand in marriage to
the Princess Stephanie of Eiderstrom. Your union
shall be blessed by the Church and approved by my
Domhiey sat as a man enthralled with silence. She
"Not on your knees yet?" she asked, with faint
i8o THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
but somewhat resentful irony. " Can it be, Leo-
pold, that you have lost your love for me? You
have changed so much and in so many ways. Has
the love gone? "
Even to himself his voice sounded harsh and un-
natural, his words instinct with the graceless cruelty
of a clown.
"This is not practical," he declared. "Think:
I am as I have been addressed here, and as I must
remain yet for months to come Everard Dominey,
an Englishman and the owner of this house the
husband of Lady Dominey."
"Where is your reputed wife?" Stephanie de-
" In the nursing home where she has been for the
last few months," he replied. " She has already
practically recovered. She cannot remain there
" You must insist upon it that she does."
" I ask you to consider the suspicions which would
be excited by such a course," Dominey pleaded
earnestly, " and further, can you explain to me in
what way I, having already, according to the belief
of everybody, another wife living, can take advan-
tage of this mandate? "
She looked at him wonderingly.
" You make difficulties ? You sit there like the
cold Englishman whose place you are taking, you
whose tears have fallen before now upon my hand,
whose lips "
" You speak of one who is dead," Dominey inter-
rupted, " dead until the coming of great events may
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 181
bring him to life again. Until that time your lovei
must be dumb."
Then her anger blazed out. She spoke incoher-
ently, passionately, dragged his face down to hers
and clenched her fist the next moment as though she
would have struck it. She broke down with a storm
" Not so hard not so hard, Leopold ! " she im-
plored. " Oh ! yours is a great task, and you must
carry it through to the end, but we have his permis-
sion there can be found a way we could be mar-
ried secretly. At least your lips your arms I My
heart is starved, Leopold."
He rose to his feet. Her arms were still twined
about his neck, her lips hungry for his kisses, her
eyes shining up into his.
" Have pity on me, Stephanie," he begged. " Un-
til our time has come there is dishonour even in a
single kiss. Wait for the day, the day you know
She unwound her arms and shivered slightly. Her
hurt eyes regarded him wonderingly.
" Leopold," she faltered, " what has changed you
like this? What has dried up all the passion in you?
You are a different man. Let me look at you."
She caught him by the shoulders, dragged him un-
derneath the electric globe, and stood there gazing
into his face. The great log upon the hearth was
spluttering and fizzing. Through .the closed door
came the faint wave of conversation and laughter
from outside. Her breathing was uneven, her eyes
were seeking to rend the mask from his face.
i82 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Can you have learnt to care for any one else?"
she muttered. " There were no women in Africa.
This Rosamund Dominey, your reputed wife they
tell me that she is beautiful, that you have been kind-
ness itself to her, that her health has improved since
your coming, that she adores you. You wouldn't
" No," he interrupted, " I should not dare."
" Then what are you looking at ? " she demanded.
"Tell me that?"
His eyes were following the shadowed picture which
had passed out of the room. He saw once more the
slight, girlish form, the love-seeking light in those
pleading dark eyes, the tremulous lips, the whole
sweet appeal for safety from a frightened child to
him, the strong man. He felt the clinging touch of
those soft fingers laid upon his, the sweetness of those
marvellously awakened emotions, so cruelly and
drearily stifled through a cycle of years. The wom-
an's passion by his side seemed suddenly tawdry and
unreal, the seeking of her lips for his something
horrible. His back was towards the door, and it
was her cry of angry dismay which first apprised
him of a welcome intruder. He swung around to find
Seaman standing upon the threshold Seaman, to
him a very angel of deliverance.
" I am indeed sorry to intrude, Sir Everard," the
newcomer declared, with a shade of genuine concern
on his round, good-humoured face. " Something has
happened which I thought you ought to know at
once. Can you spare me a moment? "
The Princess swept past them without a word of
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 183
farewell or a backward glance. She had the carriage
and the air of an insulted queen. A shade of deeper
trouble came into Seaman's face as he stepped re-
spectfully on one side.
" What is it that has happened ? " Dominey de-
" Lady Dominey has returned," was the quiet re-
It seemed to Dominey that he had never seen any-
thing more pathetic than that eager glance, half of
hope, half of apprehension, flashed upon him from
the strange, tired eyes of the woman who was stand-
ing before the log fire in a little recess of the main
hall. By her side stood a pleasant, friendly looking
person in the uniform of a nurse ; a yard or two be-
hind, a maid carrying a jewel case. Rosamund, who
had thrown back her veil, had been standing with
her foot upon the fender. Her whole expression
changed as Dominey came hastily towards her with
" My dear child," he exclaimed, " welcome home ! '*
" Welcome? " she repeated, with a little glad catch
in her throat. " You mean it? "
With a self-control of which he gave no, sign, he
touched the lips which were raised so eagerly to his
as tenderly and reverently as though this were some
strange child committed to his care.
" Of course I mean it," he answered heartily.
" But what possessed you to come without giving us
notice? How was this, nurse? "
" Her ladyship has had no sleep for two nights,**
the latter replied. " She has been so much better
that we dreaded the thought of a relapse, so Mrs.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 185
Coulson, our matron, thought it best to let her have
her own way about coming. Instead of telegraphing
to you, unfortunately, we telegraphed to Doctor Har-
rison, and I believe he is away."
" Is it very wrong of me? " Rosamund asked, cling-
ing to Dominey's arm. " I had a sudden feeling that
I must get back here. I wanted to see yo" again.
Every one has been so sweet and kind at .t'almouth,
especially Nurse Alice here, but they weren't quite
the same thing. You are not angry? These people
who are staying here will not mind? "
" Of course not," he assured her cheerfully.
" They will be your guests. To-morrow you must
xnake friends with them all."
" There was a very beautiful woman," she said
timidly, " with red hair, who passed by just now.
She looked very angry. That was not because I have
" Why should it be? " he answered. " You have a
right here a better right than any one."
She drew a long sigh of contentment.
" Oh, but this is wonderful ! " she cried. " And
you, dear I shall call you Everard, mayn't I?
you look just as I hoped you might. Will you take
me upstairs, please? Nurse, you can follow us."
She leaned heavily on his arm and even loitered on
the way, but her steps grew lighter as they ap-
proached her own apartment. Finally, as they
reached the corridor, she broke away from him and
tripped on with the gaiety almost of a child to the
door of her room. Then came a little cry of disap-
pointment as she flung open the door. Several maids
i86 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
were there, busy with a refractory fire and removing
the covers from the furniture, but the room was half
full of smoke and entirely unprepared.
" Oh, how miserable ! " she exclaimed. " Everard,
what shall I do?"
He threw open the door of his own apartment. A
bright fire was burning in the grate, the room was
warm and comfortable. She threw herself with a
little cry of delight into the huge Chesterfield drawn
up to the edge of the hearthrug.
" I can stay here, Everard, can't I, until you come
up to bed? " she pleaded. " And then you can sit and
talk to me, and tell me who is here and all about the
people. You have no idea how much better I am.
All my music has come back to me, and they say
that I play bridge ever so well. I shall love to help
The maid was slowly unfastening her mistress's
boots. Rosamund held up her foot for him to feel.
" See how cold I am ! " she complained. " Please
rub it. I am going to have some supper up here
with nurse. Will one of you maids please go down
and see about it? What a lot of nice new things
you have, Everard ! " she added, looking around.
" And that picture of me from the drawing-room,
on the table ! " she cried, her eyes suddenly soft with
joy. " You dear thing ! What made you bring that
" I wanted to have it here," he told her.
*' I'm not so nice as that now," she sighed, a little
" Do not believe it," he answered. " You have
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 187
not changed in the least. You will be better-looking
still when you have been here for a few months."
She looked at him almost shyly tenderly, yet
still with that gleam of aloofness in her eyes.
"I think," she murmured, "I shall be just what
you want me to be. I think you could make me just
what you want. Be very kind to me, please," she
begged, stretching her arms out to him. " I sup-
pose it is because I have been ill so long, but I feel
so helpless, and I love your strength and I want you
to take care of me. Your own hands are quite cold,"
she added anxiously. " You look pale, too. You're
not ill, Everard?"
" I am very well," he assured her, struggling to
keep his voice steady. " Forgive me now, won't you,
if I hurry away. There are guests here rather
important guests. To-morrow you must come and
see them all."
"And help you?"
" And help me."
Dominey made his escape and went reeling down
the corridor. At the top of the great quadrangular
landing he stopped and stood with half-closed eyes
for several moments. From downstairs he could hear
the sound of pleasantly raised voices, the music of a
piano in the distance, the click of billiard balls. He
waited until he had regained his self-possession.
Then, as he was on the point of descending, he saw
Seaman mounting the stairs. At a gesture he waited
for him, waited until he came, and, taking him by
the arm, led him to a great settee in a dark corner.
i88 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Seaman had lost his usual blitheness. The good-
humoured smile played no longer about his lips.
" Where is Lady Dominey ? " he asked.
" In my room, waiting until her own is prepared."
Seaman's manner was unusually grave.
" My friend," he said, " you know very well that
when we walk in the great paths of life I am un-
scrupulous. In those other hours, alas ! I have a
weakness. I love women."
" Well? " Dominey muttered.
" I will admit," the other continued, " that you are
placed in a delicate.and trying position. Lady Dom-
iney seems disposed to offer to you the affection
which, notwithstanding their troubles together, she
doubtless felt for her husband. I risk your anger,
my friend, but I warn you to be very careful how
you encourage her."
A light flashed in Dominey's eyes. For the mo-
ment angry words seemed to tremble upon his lips.
Seaman's manner, however, was very gentle. He
courted no offence.
" If you were to take advantage of your position
with with any other, I would shrug my shoulders
and stand on one side, but this mad Englishman's
wife, or rather his widow, has been mentally ill. She
is still weak-minded, just as she is tender-hearted. I
watched her as she passed through the hall with you
just now. She turns to you for love as a flower to
the sun after a long spell of cold, wet weather. Von
Ragastein, you are a man of honour. You must
find means to deal with this situation, however diffi-
cult it may become."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 189
Dominey had recovered from his first wave of weak-
ness. His companion's words excited no sentiment
of anger. He was conscious even of regarding him
with a greater feeling of kindness than ever before.
" My friend," he said, " you have shown me that
you are conscious of one dilemma in which I find
myself placed, and which I must confess is exercising
me to the utmost. Let me now advise you of an-
other. The Princess Eiderstrom has brought me an
autograph letter from the Kaiser, commanding me to
" The situation," Seaman declared grimly, " but
for its serious side, would provide all the elements
for a Palais Royal farce. For the present, how-
ever, you have duties below. I have said the words
which were thumping against the walls of my
Their descent was opportune. Some of the local
guests were preparing to make their departure, and
Dominey was in time to receive their adieux. They
all left messages for Lady Dominey, spoke of a speedy
visit to her, and expressed themselves as delighted
to hear of her return and recovery. As the last car
rolled away, Caroline took her host's arm and led
him to a chimney seat by the huge log fire in the
" My dear Everard," she said, " you redly are a
very terrible person."
" Exactly why? " he demanded.
"Your devotion to my sex," she continued, "is
flattering but far too catholic. Your return to Eng-
land appears to have done what we understood to
J90 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Ibe impossible restored your wife's reason. A
liery-headed Hungarian Princess has pursued you
down here, and has now gone to her room in a tan-
krum because you left her side for a few minutes to
welcome your wife. And there remains our own sen-
timental little flirtation, a broken and, alas, a dis-
carded thing ! There is no doubt whatever, Everard,
that you are a very bad lot."
" You are distressing me terribly," Dominey con-
fessed, " but all the same, after a somewhat agitated
evening I must admit that I find it pleasant to talk
with some one who is not wielding the lightnings.
May I have a whisky and soda? "
" Bring me one, too, please," Caroline begged.
*' I fear that it will seriously impair the note which
I had intended to strike in our conversation, but I
am thirsty. And a handful of those Turkish ciga-
rettes, too. You can devote yourself to me with a
perfectly clear conscience. Your most distinguished
guest has found a task after his own heart. He has
got Henry in a corner of the billiard-room and is
trying to convince him of what I am sure the dear
man really believes himself that Germany's \v'
tentions towards England are of a particularly dove-
like nature. Your Right Honourable guest has gone
to bed, and Eddy Pelham is playing billiards with
Mr. Mangan. Every one is happy. You can de-
vote yourself to soothing my wounded vanity, to say
nothing of my broken heart."
" Always gibing at me," Dominey grumbled.
" Not always," she answered quietly, raising her
eyes for a moment. " There was a time, Everard,
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 191
before that terrible tragedy the last time you
stayed at Dunratter when I didn't gibe."
" When, on the contrary, you were sweetness it-
self," he reflected.
She sighed reminiscently.
" That was a wonderful month," she murmured.
" I think it was then for the first time that I saw
traces of something in you which I suppose accounts
for your being what you are to-day."
" You think that I have changed, then ? "
She looked him in the eyes.
" I sometimes find it difficult to believe," she ad-
mitted, " that you are the same man."
He turned away to reach for his whisky and soda.
" As a matter of curiosity," he asked, " why? "
" To begin with, then," she commented, " you have
become almost a precisian in your speech. You
used to be rather slangy at times."
" You used always to clip your final g's."
" Shocking habit," he murmured. " I cured my-
self of that by reading aloud in the bush. Go on,
" You carry yourself so much more stiffly. Some-
times you have the air of being surprised that you
are not in uniform."
" Trifles, all these things," he declared. " Now
for something serious ? "
" The serious things are pretty good," she ad-
mitted. " You used to drink whiskys and sodas at
all hours of the day, and quite as much wine as was
good for you at dinner time. Now, although you are
192 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
a wonderful host, you scarcely take anything your-
" You should see me at the port," he told her,
" when you ladies are well out of the way ! Some
more of the good, please? "
" All your best qualities seem to have come to the
surface," she went on, " and I think that the way
you have come back and faced it all is simply won-
derful. Tell me, if that man's body should be dis-
covered after all these years, would you be charged
with manslaughter? "
He shook his head. " I do not think so, Caro-
" Well? "
" Did you kill Roger Unthank? "
A portion of the burning log fell on to the hearth.
Then there was silence. They heard the click of
the billiard balls in the adjoining room. Dominey
leaned forward and with a pair of small tongs re-
placed the burning wood upon the fire. Suddenly he
felt his hands clasped by his companion's.
" Everard dear," she said, " I am so sorry. Yott
came to me a little tired to-night, didn't you? I
think that you needed sympathy, and here I am ask-
ing you once more that horrible question. Forget it,
please. Talk to me like your old dear self. Tell
me about Rosamund's return? Is she really recov-
ered, do you think? "
" I saw her only for a few minutes," Dominey re-
plied, " but she seemed to me absolutely better. I
must say that the weekly reports I have received
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 193
from the nursing home quite prepared me for a great
improvement. She is very frail, and her eyes still
have that restless look, but she talks quite coher-
" What about that horrible woman? "
"I have pensioned Mrs. Unthank. To my sur-
prise I hear that she is still living in the village."
" And your ghost ? "
" Not a single howl all the time that Rosamund
has been away."
" There is one thing more," Caroline began hesi-
That one thing lacked forever the clothing of
words. There came a curious, almost a dramatic in-
terruption. Through the silence of the hall there
pealed the summons of the great bell which hung over
the front door. Dominey glanced at the clock in
" Midnight ! " he exclaimed. " Who on earth can
be coming here at this time of night ! "
Instinctively they both rose to their feet. A man-
servant had turned the great kev, drown the bolts,
and opened the door with difficulty. Little flakes of
snow and a gust of icy wind swept into the hall, and
following them the figure of a man, white from head
to foot, his hair tossed with the wind, almost un-
recognisable after his struggle.
" Why, Doctor Harrison ! " Dominey cried, taking
a quick step forward. " What brings you here at
this time of night ! "
The doctor leaned upon his stick for a moment.
He was out of breath, and the melting snow was
i4 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
pouring from his clothes on to the oak floor. They
relieved him of his coat and dragged him towards the
" I must apologise for disturbing you at such an
hour," he said, as he took the tumbler which Dom-
iney pressed into his hand. "I have only just re-
ceived Lady Dominey's telegram. I had to see you
~ at once."
The doctor, with his usual bluntness, did not hesi-
tate to make it known that this unusual visit was of
a private nature. Caroline promptly withdrew, and
the two men were left alone in the great hall. The
lights in the billiard-room and drawing-room were
extinguished. Every one in the house except a few
servants had retired.
" Sir Everard," the doctor began, " this return of
Lady Dominey's has taken me altogether by sur-
prise. I had intended to-morrow morning to discuss
the situation with you."
" I am most anxious to hear your report," Dom-
" My report is good," was the confident answer.
" Although I would not have allowed her to have left
the nursing home so suddenly had I known, there was
nothing to keep her there. Lady Dominey, except
for one hallucination, is in perfect health, mentally
" And this one hallucination? "
" That you are not her husband."
Dominey was silent for a moment. Then he
laughed a little unnaturally.
" Can a person be perfectly sane," he asked, " and
yet be subject to an hallucination which must make
the whole of her surroundings seem unreal ? "
ig6 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Lady Dominey is perfectly sane," the doctor an-
swered bluntly, " and as for that hallucination, it is
up to you to dispel it."
" Perhaps you can give me some advice ? " Dominey
" I can, and I am going to be perfectly frank with
you," the doctor replied. " To begin with then,
there are certain obvious changes in you which might
well minister to Lady Dominey's hallucination. For
instance, you have been in England now some eight
months, during which time you have revealed an
entirely new personality. You seem to have got rid
of every one of your bad habits, you drink moder-
ately, as a gentleman should, you have subdued your
violent temper, and you have collected around you,
where your personality could be the only inducement,
friends of distinction and interest. This is not at
all what one expected from the Everard Dominey
who scuttled out of England a dozen years ago."
" You are excusing my wife," Dominey remarked.
" She needs no excuses," was the brusque reply.
" She has been a long-enduring and faithful woman,
suffering from a cruel illness, brought on, to take
the kindest view of it, through your clumsiness and
lack of discretion. Like all good women, forgiveness
is second nature to her. It has now become her wish
to take her proper place in life."
" But if her hallucination continues," Dominey
asked, " if she seriously doubts that I am indeed her
husband, how can she do that? "
" That is the problem you and I have to face,"
the doctor said sternly. " The fact that your wife
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 197
has been willing to return here to you, whilst still
subject to that hallucination, is a view of the matter
which I can neither discuss nor understand. I am
here to-night, though, to lay a charge upon you.
You have to remember that your wife needs still one
step towards a perfect recovery, and until that step
has been surmounted you have a very difficult but
Dominey set his teeth for a moment. He felt the
doctor's keen grey eyes glowering from under his
shaggy eyebrows as he leaned forward, his hands upon
" You mean," Dominey suggested quietly, " that
until that hallucination has passed we must remain
upon the same terms as we have done since my arrival
" You've got it," the doctor assented. " It's a
tangled-up position, but we've got to deal with it
or rather you have. I can assure you," he went on,
" that all her other delusions have gone. She speaks
of the ghost of Roger Unthank, of the cries at night,
of his mysterious death, as parts of a painful past.
She is quite conscious of her several attempts upon
your life and bitterly regrets them. Now we come
to the real danger. She appears to be possessed of
a passionate devotion towards you, whilst still believ-
ing that you are not her husband."
Dominey pushed his chair back from the fire as
though he felt the heat. His eyes seemed glued upon
" I do not pretend," the latter continued gravely,
" to account for that, but it is my duty to warn you,
ig8 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Sir Everard, that that devotion may lead her to
great lengths. Lady Dominey is naturally of n
exceedingly affectionate disposition, and this return
to a stronger condition of physical health and a
fuller share of human feelings has probably reawak-
ened all those tendencies which her growing fondness
for you and your position as her reputed husband
make perfectly natural. I warn you, Sir Everard,
that you may find your position an exceedingly diffi-
cult one, but, difficult though it may be, there is a
plain duty before you. Keep and encourage your
wife's affection if you can, but let it be a charge upon
you that whilst the hallucination remains that affec-
tion must never pass certain bounds. Lady Dominey
is a good and a sweet woman. If she woke up one
morning with that hallucination still in her mind, and
any sense of guilt on her conscience, all our labours
for these last months might well be wasted, and she
herself might very possibly end her days in a mad-
" Doctor," Dominey said firmly. " I appreciate
every word you say. You can rely upon me."
The doctor looked at him.
" I believe I can," he admitted, with a sigh of re-
lief. " I am glad of it."
" There is just one more phase of the position,"
Dominey went on, after a pause. " Supposing this
hallucination of hers should pass? Supposing she
should suddenly become convinced that I am her hus-
" In that case," the doctor replied earnestly, " the
position would be exactly reversed, and it would be
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 199
just as important for you not to check the affection
which she might offer to you as it would be in the
other case for you to accept it. The moment she
realises, with her present predispositions, that you
really are her lawful husband, that moment will be
the beginning of a new life for her."
Somehow they both seemed to feel that the last
words had been spoken. After a brief pause, the
doctor helped himself to a farewell drink, filled his
pipe and stood up. The car which Dominey had
ordered from the garage was already standing at
the door. It was curious how both of them seemed
disinclined to refer again even indirectly to the sub-
ject which they had been discussing.
" Very good of you to send me back," the doctor
said gruffly. " I started out all right, but it was a
drear walk across the marshes."
" I am very grateful to you for coming," Dominey
replied, with obvious sincerity. " You will come and
have a look at the patient in a day or two? "
" I'll stroll across as soon as you've got rid of
some of this houseful," the doctor promised. " Good
night ! "
The two men parted, and curiously enough Dom-
iney was conscious that with those few awkward
words of farewell some part of the incipient antagon-
ism between them had been buried. Left to himself,
he wandered for some moments up and down the
great, dimly lit hall. A strange restlessness seemed
to have fastened itself upon him. He stood for a
time by the dying fire, watching the grey ashes,
stirred uneasily by the wind which howled down the
200 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
chimney. Then he strolled to a different part of
the hall, and one by one he turned on, by means of
the electric switches, the newly installed lights which
hung above the sombre oil pictures upon the wall.
He looked into the faces of some of these dead
Domineys, trying to recall what he had heard of their
history, and dwelling longest upon a gallant of the
Stuart epoch, whose misdeeds had supplied material
for every intimate chronicler of those days. When
at last the sight of a sleepy manservant hovering in
the background forced his steps upstairs, he still lin-
gered for a few moments in the corridor and turned
the handle of his bedroom door with almost reluctant
fingers. His heart gave a great jump as he realised
that there was some one there. He stood for a mo-
ment upon the threshold, then laughed shortly to him-
self at his foolish imagining. It was his servant who
was patiently awaiting his arrival.
" You can go to bed, Dickens," he directed. " I
shall not want you again to-night. We shoot in the
The man silently took his leave, and Dominey com-
menced his preparations for bed. He was in no hu-
mour for sleep, however, and, still attired in his shirt
and trousers, he wrapped a dressing-gown around
him, drew a reading lamp to his side, and threw him-
self into an easy-chair, a book in his hand. It was
some time before he realised that the volume was up-
side down, and even when he had righted it, the words
he saw had no meaning for him. All the time a queer
procession of women's faces was passing before his
eyes Caroline, with her half-flirtatious, wholly sen-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 201
timental bon camaraderie; Stephanie, with her volup-
tuous figure and passion-lit eyes; and then, blotting
the others utterly out of his thoughts and memory,
Rosamund, with all the sweetness of life shining out
of her eager face. He saw her as she had come to
him last, with that little unspoken cry upon her trem-
ulous lips, and the haunting appeal in her soft eyes.
All other memories faded away. They were as
though they had never been. Those dreary years of
exile in Africa, the day by day tension of his precari-
ous life, were absolutely forgotten. His heart was
calling all the time for an unknown boon. He felt
himself immeshed in a world of cobwebs, of weakness
more potent than all his boasted strength. Then he
suddenly felt that the madness which he had begun to
fear had really come. It was the thing for which he
longed yet dreaded most the faint click, the soft
withdrawal of the panel, actually pushed back by a
pair of white hands. Rosamund herself was there.
Her eyes shone at him, mystically, wonderfully. Her
lips were parted in a delightful smile, a smile in which
there was a spice of girlish mischief. She turned for
a moment to close the panel. Then she came towards
him with her finger upraised.
" I cannot sleep," she said softly. " Do you mind
my coming for a few minutes ? "
" Of course not," he answered. " Come and sit
She curled up in his easy-chair.
" Just for a moment," she murmured contentedly.
" Give me your hands, dear. But how cold ! You
must come nearer to the fire yourself."
303 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
He sat on the arm of her chair, and she stroked
his head with her hands.
" You were not afraid, then," she asked, " when
you saw me come through the panel? "
" I should never be afraid of any harm that you
might bring me, dear," he assured her.
" Because all that foolishness is really gone," she
continued eagerly. " I know that whatever hap-
pened to poor Roger, it was not you who killed him.
Even if I heard his ghost calling again to-night, I
should have no fear. I can't think why I ever wanted
to hurt you, Everard. I am sure that I always loved
His arm went very softly around her. She re-
sponded to his embrace without hesitation. Her
cheek rested upon his shoulder, he felt the warmth of
her arm through her white, fur-lined dressing-gown.
" Why do you doubt any longer then," he asked
hoarsely, " that I am your husband? "
" Ah, but I know you are not," she answered. " Is
it wrong of me to feel what I do for you, I wonder?
You are so like yet so unlike him. He is dead. He
died in Africa. Isn't it strange that I should know
it? But I do!"
" But who am I then? " he whispered.
She looked at him pitifully.
" I do not know," she confessed, " but you are kind
to me, and when I feel you are near I am happy. It
is because I wanted to see you that I would not stay
any longer at the nursing home. That must mean
that I am very fond of you."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 203
" You are not afraid," he asked, " to be here alone
with me? "
She put her other arm around his neck and drew
his face down.
" I am not afraid," she assured him. " I am
happy. But, dear, what is the matter? A mo-
ment ago you were cold. Now your head is wet, your
hands are burning. Are you not happy because I
am here ? "
Her lips were seeking his. His own touched them
for a moment. Then he kissed her on both cheeks.
She made a little grimace.
" I am afraid," she said, " that you are not really
fond of me."
" Can't you believe," he asked hoarsely, " that I am
really Everard your husband? Look at me.
Can't you feel that you have loved me before? "
She shook her head a little sadly.
" No, you are not Everard," she sighed ; " but,"
she added, her eyes lighting up, " you bring me love
and happiness and life, and "
A few seconds before, Dominey felt from his soul
that he would have welcomed an earthquake, a thun-
derbolt, the crumbling of the floor beneath his feet to
have been spared the torture of her sweet importu-
nities. Yet nothing so horrible as this interruption
which really came could ever have presented itself be-
fore his mind. Half in his arms, with her head
thrown back, listening he, too, horrified, convulsed
for a moment even with real physical fear they
heard the silence of the night broken by that one aw-
ful cry, the cry of a man's soul in torment, imprisoned
204 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
in the jaws of a beast. They listened to it together
until its echoes died away. Then what was, perhaps,
the most astonishing thing of all, she nodded her head
slowly, unperturbed, unterrified.
" You see," she said, " I must go back. He will
not let me stay here. He must think that you are
Everard. It is only I who know that you are not."
She slipped from the chair, kissed him, and, walk-
ing quite firmly across the floor, touched the spring
and passed through the panel. Even then she turned
around and waved a little good-bye to him. There
was no sign of fear in her face; only a little dumV
disappointment. The panel glided to and shut out
the vision of her. Dominey held his head like a man
who fears madness.
Dawn the next morning was heralded by only a thin
line of red parting the masses of black-grey snow
clouds which still hung low down in the east. The
wind had dropped, and there was something ghostly
about the still twilight as Dominey issued from the
back regions and made his way through the untrodden
snow round to the side of the house underneath Rosa-
mund's window. A little exclamation broke from his
lips as he stood there. From the terraced walk, down
the steps, and straight across the park to the corner
of the Black Wood, were fresh tracks. The cry had
been no fantasy. Somebody or something had passed
from the Black Wood and back again to this spot in
Dominey, curiously excited by his discovery, exam-
ined the footmarks eagerly, then followed them to the
corner of the wood. Here and there they puzzled
him. They were neither like human footsteps or the
track of any known animal. At the edge of the wood
they seemed to vanish into the heart of a great mass
of brambles, from which here and there the snow had
been shaken off. There was no sign of any pathway ;
if ever there had been one, the neglect of years had
obliterated it. Bracken, brambles, shrubs and bushes
206 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
had grown up and degenerated, only to be succeeded
by a ranker and more dense form of undergrowth.
Many of the trees, although they were still plentiful,
had been blown down and left to rot on the ground.
The place was silent except for the slow drip of fall"
ing snow from the drooping leaves. He took one
more cautious step forward and found himself slowly
sinking. Black mud was oozing up through the snow
where he had set his feet. He was just able to
scramble back. Picking his way with great caution,
he commenced a leisurely perambulation of the whole
of the outside of the wood.
Heggs, the junior keeper, an hour or so later, went
over the gun rack once more, tapped the empty cases,
and turned towards Middleton, who was sitting in a
chair before the fire, smoking his pipe.
" I can't find master's number two gun, Mr. Mid-
dleton," he announced. " That's missing."
" Look again, lad," the old keeper directed, remov-
ing the pipe from his mouth. " The master was
shooting with it yesterday. Look amongst those
loose 'uns at the far end of the rack. It must be
" Well, that isn't," the young man replied obsti-
The door of the room was suddenly opened, and
Dominey entered with the missing gun under his arm.
Middleton rose to his feet at once and laid down his
pipe. Surprise kept him temporarily silent.
" I want you to come this way with me for a mo-
ment," his master ordered.
The keeper took up his hat and stick and followed.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 207
Dominey led him to where the tracks had halted on
the gravel outside Rosamund's window and pointed
across to the Black Wood.
" What do you make of those? " he enquired.
Middleton did not hesitate. He shook his head
" Was anything heerd last night, sir? "
" There was an infernal yell underneath this win-
" That was the spirit of Roger Unthank, for sure,"
Middleton pronounced, with a little shudder.
" When he do come out of that wood, he do call."
" Spirits," his master pointed out, " do not leave
tracks like that behind."
Middleton considered the matter.
" They do say hereabout," he confided, " that the
spirit of Roger Unthank have been taken possession
of by some sort of great animal, and that it do come
here now and then to be fed."
" By whom ? " Dominey enquired patiently.
" Why, by Mrs. Unthank."
" Mrs. Unthank has not been in this house for
many months. From the day she left until last night,
so far as I can gather, nothing has been heard of this
ghost, or beast, or whatever it is."
" That do seem queer, surely," Middleton admitted.
Dominey followed the tracks with his eyes to the
wood and back again.
" Middleton," he said, " I am learning something
about spirits. It seems that they not only make
tracks, but they require feeding. Perhaps if that is
so they can feel a charge of shot inside them."
208 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
The old man seemed for a moment to stiffen with
" You wouldn't shoot at it, Squire? " he gasped.
" I should have done so this morning if I had had a
chance," Dominey replied. " When the weather is a
little drier, I am going to make my way into that
wood, Middleton, with a rifle under my arm."
" Then as God's above, you'll never come out,
Squire ! " was the solemn reply.
" We will see," Dominey muttered. " I have
hacked my way through some queer country in
" There's nowt like this wood in the world, sir,"
the old man asserted doggedly. " The bottom's rot-
ten from end to end and the top's all poisonous. The
birds die there on the trees. It's chockful of reptiles
and unclean things, with green and purple fungi, two
feet high, with poison in the very sniff of them. The
man who enters that wood goes to his grave."
" Nevertheless," Dominey said firmly, " within a
very short time I am going to solve the mystery of
this nocturnal visitor."
They returned to the house, side by side. Just be-
fore they entered, Dominey turned to his companion.
" Middleton," he said, " you keep up the good old
customs, I suppose, and spend half an hour at the
* Dominey Arms ' now and then ? "
" Most every night of my life, sir," the old man
replied, " from eight till nine. I'm a man of regular
habits, and that do seem right to me that with the
work done right and proper a man should have his
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 209
" That is right, John," Dominey assented. " Next
time you are there, don't forget to mention that I am
going to have that wood looked through. I should
like it to get about, you understand? "
" That'll fair flummox the folk," was the doubtful
reply, " but I'll let 'em know, Squire. There'll be a
rare bit of talk, I can promise you that."
Dominey handed over his gun, went to his room,
bathed and changed, and descended for breakfast.
There was a sudden hush as he entered, which he very
well understood. Every one began to talk about the
prospect of the day's sport. Dominey helped himself
from the sideboard and took his place at the table.
" I hope," he said, " that our very latest thing in
ghosts did not disturb anybody."
" We all seem to have heard the same thing," the
Cabinet Minister observed, with interest, " a most
appalling and unearthly cry. I have lately joined
every society connected with spooks and find them a
" If you want to investigate," Dominey observed,
as he helped himself tp coffee, " you can bring out
a revolver and prowl about with me one night. From
the time when I was a kid, before I went to Eton, up
till when I left here for Africa, we had a series of
highly respectable and well-behaved ghosts, who were
a credit to the family and of whom we were somewhat
proud. This latest spook, however, is something
quite outside the pale."
"Has he a history?" Mr. Watson asked, with
" I am informed," Dominey replied, " that he is the
2io THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
spirit of a schoolmaster who once lived here, and for
whose departure from the world I am supposed to be
responsible. Such a spook is neither a credit nor a
comfort to the family."
Their host spoke with such an absolute absence
of emotion that every one was conscious of a curious
reluctance to abandon a subject full of such fasci-
nating possibilities. Terniloff was the only one, how-
ever, who made a suggestion.
" We might have a battue in the wood," he pro-
" I am not sure," Dominey told them, " that the
character of the wood is not more interesting than the
ghost who is supposed to dwell in it. You remember
how terrified the beaters were yesterday at the bare
suggestion of entering it? For generations it has
been held unclean. It is certainly most unsafe. I
went in over my knees on the outskirts of it this morn-
ing. Shall we say half-past ten in the gun room? "
Seaman followed his host out of the room.
" My friend," he said, " you must not allow these
local circumstances to occupy too large a share of
your thoughts. It is true that these are the days of
your relaxation. Still, there is the Princess for you
to think of. After all, she has us in her power. The
merest whisper in Downing Street, and behold, catas-
trophe ! "
Dominey took his friend's arm.
"Look here, Seaman," he rejoined, "it's easy
enough to say there is the Princess to be considered,
but will you kindly tell me what on earth more I can
do to make her see the position? Necessity demands
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 211
that I should be on the best of terms with Lady Domi-
ney and that I should not make myself in any way
conspicuous with the Princess."
" I am not sure," Seaman reflected, " that the
terms you are on with Lady Dominey matter very
much to any one. So far as regards the Princess, she
is an impulsive and passionate person, but she is also
grande dame and a diplomatist. I see no reason why
you should not marry her secretly in London, in the
name of Everard Dominey, and have the ceremony
repeated under your rightful name later on."
They had paused to help themselves to cigarettes,
which were displayed with a cabinet of cigars on a
round table in the hall. Dominey waited for a mo-
ment before he answered.
" Has the Princess confided to you that that is her
wish? " he asked.
" Something of the sort," Seaman acknowledged.
" She wishes the suggestion, however, to come from
" And your advice? "
Seaman blew out a little cloud of cigar smoke.
*' My friend," he confessed, " I am a little afraid of
the Princess. I ask you no questions as to your own
feelings with regard to her. I take it for granted
that as a man of honour it will be your duty to offer
her your hand in marriage, sooner or later. I see no
harm in anticipating a few months, if by that means
we can pacify her. Terniloff would arrange it at
the Embassy. He is devoted to her, and it will
strengthen your position with him."
Dominey turned away towards the stairg.
212 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" We will discuss this again before we leave," he
Dominey was admitted at once by her maid into
his wife's sitting-room. Rosamund, in a charming
morning robe of pale blue lined with grey fur, had
just finished breakfast. She held out her hands to
him with a delighted little cry of welcome.
" How nice of you to come, Everard ! " she ex-
claimed. " I was hoping I should see you for a mo-
ment before you went off."
He raised her fingers to his lips and sat down by
her side. She seemed entirely delighted by his pres-
ence, and he felt instinctively that she was quite un-
affected by the event of the night before.
" You slept well ? " he enquired.
" Perfectly," she answered.
He tackled the subject bravely, as he had made up
his mind to on every opportunity.
" You do not lie awake thinking of our nocturnal
visitor, then? "
" Not for one moment. You see," she went on
conversationally, " if you were really Everard, then I
might be frightened, for some day or other I feel that
if Everard comes here, the spirit of Roger Unthank
will do him some sort of mischief."
"Why? "he asked.
" You don't know about these things, of course,"
she went on, " but Roger Unthank was in love with
me, although I had scarcely ever spoken to him, be-
fore I married Everard. I think I told you that
much yesterday, didn't I? After I was married, the
poor man nearly went out of his mind. He gave up
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 213
his work and used to haunt the park here. One eve-
ning Everard caught him and they fought, and Roger
Unthank was never seen again. I think that any one
around here would tell you," she went on, dropping
her voice a little, " that Everard killed Roger and
threw him into one of those swampy places near the
Black Wood, where a body sinks and sinks and noth-
ing is ever seen of it again."
" I do not believe he did anything of the sort,"
" Oh, I don't know," she replied doubtfully.
" Everard had a terrible temper, and that night he
came home covered with blood, looking awful ! It
was the night when I was taken ill."
" Well, no more tragedies," he insisted. " I have
come up to remind you that we have guests here.
When are you coming down to see them? "
She laughed like a child.
" You say * we ' just as though you were really my
husband," she declared.
" You must not tell any one else of your fancy,"
he warned her.
She acquiesced at once.
" Oh, I quite understand," she assured him. " I
shall be very, very careful. And, Everard, you have
such clever guests, not at all the sort of people my
Everard would have had here, and I have been out of
the world for so long, that I am afraid I sha'n't be
able to talk to them. Nurse Alice is tremendously
impressed. I am sure I should be terrified to sit at
the end of the table, and Caroline will hate not being
hostess any longer. Let me come down at tea-time
214 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
and after dinner, and slip into things gradually.
You can easily say that I am still an invalid, though
of course I'm not at all."
" You shall do exactly as you choose," he promised,
as he took his leave.
So when the shooting party tramped into the hall
that afternoon, a little weary, but flushed with exer-
cise and tJie pleasure of the day's sport, they found,
seated in a corner of the room, behind the great
round table upon which tea was set out, a rather pale
but extraordinarily childlike and fascinating woman,
with large, sweet eyes which seemed to be begging for
their protection and sympathy as she rose hesitat-
ingly to her feet. Dominey was by her side in a mo-
ment, and his first few words of introduction brought
every one around her. She said very little, but what
she said was delightfully natural and gracious.
" It has been so kind of you," she said to Caroline,
" to help my husband entertain his guests. I am very
much better, but I have been ill for so long that I
have forgotten a great many things, and I should be
a very poor hostess. But I want to make tea for
you, please, and I want you all to tell me how many
pheasants you have shot."
Terniloff seated himself on the settee by her side.
" I am going to help you in this complicated task,"
he declared. " I am sure those sugar tongs are too
heavy for you to wield alone."
She laughed at him gaily.
" But I am not really delicate at all," she assured
him. " I have had a very bad illness, but I am quite
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 215
" Then I will find some other excuse for sitting
here," he said. " I will tell you all about the high
pheasants your husband killed, and about the wood-
cock he brought down after we had all missed it."
" I shall love to hear about that," she assented.
" How much sugar, please, and will you pass those
hot muffins to the Princess? And please touch that
bell. I shall want more hot water. I expect you are
all very thirsty. I am so glad to be here with you."
Arm in arm, Prince Terniloff and his host climbed
the snow-covered slope at the back of a long fir plan-
tation, towards the little beflagged sticks which indi-
cated their stand. There was not a human being in
sight, for the rest of the guns had chosen a steeper
but somewhat less circuitous route.
" Von Ragastein," the Ambassador said, " I am go-
ing to give myself the luxury of calling you by your
name. You know my one weakness, a weakness which
in my younger days very nearly drove me out of
diplomacy. I detest espionage in every shape and
form, even where it is necessary. So far as you are
concerned, my young friend," he went on, " I think
your position ridiculous. I have sent a private de-
spatch to Potsdam, in which I have expressed that
" So far," Dominey remarked, " I have not been
" My dear young friend," the Prince continued,
" you have not been overworked because there has
been no legitimate work for you to do. There will
be none. There could be no possible advantage ac-
cruing from your labours here to compensate for the
very bad effect which the discovery of your true name
and position would have in the English Cabinet."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 217
" I must ask you to remember," Dominey begged,
" that I am here as a blind servant of the Father-
land. I simply obey orders."
" I will grant that freely," the Prince consented.
" But to continue. I am now at the end of my first
year in this country. I feel able to congratulate my-
self upon a certain measure of success. From that
part of the Cabinet with whom I have had to do, 1
have received nothing but encouragement in my ef-
forts to promote a better understanding between our
" The sky certainly seems clear enough just now,"
" I have convinced myself," the Prince said em-
phatically, " that there is a genuine and solid desire
for peace with Germany existing in Downing Street.
In every argument I have had, in every concession I
have asked for, I have been met with a sincere desire
to foster the growing friendship between our coun-
tries. I am proud of my work here, Von Ragastein.
I believe that I have brought Germany and England
nearer together than they have been since the days
of the Boer War."
" You are sure, sir," Dominey asked, " that you
are not confusing personal popularity with national
" I am sure of it," the Ambassador answered
gravely. " Such popularity as I may have achieved
here has been due to an appreciation of the more
healthy state of world politics now existing. It has
been my great pleasure to trace the result of my
work in a manuscript of memoirs, which some day,
218 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
when peace is firmly established between our two
countries, I shall cause to be published. I have put
on record there evidences of the really genuine senti-
ment in favour of peace which I have found amongst
the present Cabinet."
" I should esteem it an immense privilege," Domi-
ney said, " to be given a private reading of these
" That may be arranged," was the suave reply.
" In the meantime, Von Ragastein, I want you to re-
consider your position here."
" My position is not voluntary," Dominey re-
peated. " I am acting under orders."
" Precisely," the other acquiesced, " but matters
have changed very much during the last six months.
Even at the Ask. of offending France, England is
showing wonderful pliability with regard to our claims
in Morocco. Every prospect of disagreement be-
tween our two countries upon any vital matter has
" Unless," Dominey said thoughtfully, " the desire
for war should come, not from Downing Street but
" We serve an honourable master," Terniloff de-
clared sternly, " and he has shown me his mind. His
will is for peace, and for the great triumphs to which
our country is already entitled by reason of her su-
premacy in industry, in commerce, in character and
in genius. These are the weapons which will make
Germany the greatest Power in the world. No em-
pire has ever hewn its way to permanent glory by the
aword alone. We have reached our stations, I see.
Come to me after this drive is finished, my host. All
that I have said so far has been by way of prelude."
The weather had turned drier, the snow was crisp,
and a little party of women from the Hall reached the
guns before the beaters were through the wood.
Caroline and Stephanie both took their places by
Dominey's side. The former, however, after a few
minutes passed on to Terniloff's stand. Stephanie
and Dominey were alone for the first time since their
stormy interview in the library.
" Has Maurice been talking to you? " she asked a
" His Excellency and I a*e, to tell you the truth,"
Dominey confessed, " in the midst of a most interest-
" Has he spoken to you about me? "
" Your name has not yet been mentioned."
She made a little grimace. In her wonderful furs
and Russian turban hat she made rather a striking
picture against the background of snow.
" An interesting conversation in which my name
has not been mentioned ! " she repeated satirically.
" I think you were coming into it before very
long," Dominey assured her. " His Excellency
warned me that all he had said so far was merely the
prelude to a matter of larger importance."
" Dear Maurice is so diplomatic," she murmured.
" I am perfectly certain he is going to begin by
remonstrating with you for your shocking treatment
Their conversation was interrupted for a few min-
220 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
utes by the sport. Dominey called the faithful Mid-
dleton to his side for a further supply of cartridges.
Stephanie bided her time, which came when the beaters
at last emerged from the wood.
" Shocking," Stephanie repeated, reverting to their
conversation, " is the mildest word in my vocabulary
which I can apply to your treatment of me. Hon-
estly, Leopold, I feel bruised all over inside. My
pride is humbled."
" It is because you look at the matter only from
a feminine point of view," Dominey persisted.
" And you," she answered in a low tone, " once the
fondest and the most passionate of lovers, only from
a political one. You think a great deal of your coun-
try, Leopold. Have I no claims upon you? "
" Upon Everard Dominey, none," he insisted.
" When the time comes, and Leopold von Ragastein
can claim all that is his right, believe me, you will
have no cause to complain of coldness or dilatoriness.
He will have only one thought, only one hope to
end the torture of these years of separation as speed-
ily as may be."
The strained look passed from her face. Her tone
became more natural.
" But, dear," she pleaded, " there is no need to
wait. Your Sovereign gives you permission. Your
political chief will more than endorse it."
" I am on the spot," Dominey replied, " and believe
me I know what is safest and best. I cannot live as
two men and keep my face steadfast to the world.
The Prince, however, has not spoken to me yet. I
will hear what he has to say."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 221
Stephanie turned a little haughtily away.
" You are putting me in the position of a suppli-
ant ! " she exclaimed. " To-night we must have an
The little party moved on all together to another
cover. Rosamund had joined them and hung on to
Dominey's arm with delight. The brisk walk across
the park had brought colour to her cheeks. She
walked with all the free and vigorous grace of a
healthy woman. Dominey found himself watching
her, as she deserted him a little later on to stand by
Terniloff's side, with a little thrill of tangled emo-
tions. He felt a touch on his arm. Stephanie, who
was passing with another of the guns, paused to whis-
per in his ear :
" There might be a greater danger one that has
evaded even your cautious mind in overplaying
your part ! "
Dominey was taken possession of by Caroline on
their walk to the next stand. She planted herself on
a shooting stick by his side and commenced to take
him roundly to task.
" My dear Everard," she said, " you are one of the
most wonderful examples of the reformed rake I ever
met! You have even acquired respectability. For
heaven's sake, don't disappoint us all ! "
" I seem to be rather good at that," Dominey ob-
served a little drearily.
** Well, you are the master of your own actions,
are you not ? " she asked. " What I want to say in
plain words is, don't go and make a fool of yourself
222 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I have not the least intention of doing anything
of the sort."
" Well, she has ! Mark my words, Everard, I know
that woman. She is clever and brilliant and any-
thing else you like, but for some reason or other she
has set her mind upon you. She looks at dear little
Rosamund as though she hadn't a right to exist.
Don't look so sorry for yourself. You must have
Dominey was silent. Fortunately, the exigencies
of the next few minutes demanded it. His cousin
waited patiently until there came a pause in the shoot-
" Now let me hear what you have to say for your-
self, sir? So far as I can see, you've been quite sweet
to your wife, and she adores you. If you want to
have an affair with the Princess, don't begin it here.
You'll have your wife ill again if you make her jeal-
" My dear Caroline, there will be no affair between
Stephanie and me. Of that you may rest assured."
" You mean to say that this is altogether on her
side, then ? " Caroline persisted.
" You exaggerate her demeanour," he replied,
" but even if what you suggest were true "
" Oh, I don't want a lot of protestations ! " she
interrupted. " I am not saying that you encourage
her much, because I don't believe you do. All I want
to point out is that, having really brought your wife
back almost to health, you must be extraordinarily
and wonderfully careful. If you want to talk non-
sense with Stephanie, do it in Belgrave Square."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 223
Dominey was watching the gyrations of a falling
pheasant. His left hand was stretched out towards
the cartridge bag which Caroline was holding. He
clasped her fingers for a moment before he helped
" You are rather a dear," he said. " I would not
do anything to hurt Rosamund for the world."
" If you can't get rid of your old tricks altogether
and must flirt," she remarked, " well, I'm always
somewhere about. Rosamund wouldn't mind me, be-
cause there are a few grey hairs in my sandy ones.
And here comes your man across the park looks
as though he had a message for you. So long as
nothing has happened to your cook, I feel that I
could face ill tidings with composure."
Dominey found himself watching with fixed eyes
the approach of his rather sad-faced manservant
through the snow. Parkins was not dressed for such
an enterprise, nor did he seem in any way to relish it.
His was the stern march of duty, and, curiously
enough, Dominey felt from the moment he caught
sight of him that he was in some respects a messenger
of Fate. Yet the message which he delivered, when
at last he reached his master's side, was in no way
" A person of the name of Miller has arrived here,
sir," he announced, " from Norwich. He is, I under-
stand, a foreigner of some sort, who has recently
landed in this country. I found it a little difficult
to understand him, but her Highness's maid conversed
with him in German, and I understand that he either
is or brings you a message from a certain Doctor
224 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Schmidt, with whom you were acquainted in
The warning whistle blew at that moment, and
Dominey swung round and stood at attention. His
behaviour was perfectly normal. He let a hen pheas-
ant pass over his head, and brought down a cock
from very nearly the limit distance. He reloaded
before he turned to Parkins.
" Is this person in a hurry? " he said.
" By no means, sir," the man replied. " I told him
that you would not be back until three or four o'clock,
and he is quite content to wait."
" Look after him yourself then, Parkins," he di-
rected. " We shall not be shooting late to-day.
Very likely I will send Mr. Seaman back to talk to
The man raised his hat respectfully and turned
back towards the house. Caroline was watching her
" Do you find many of your acquaintances in Af-
rica look you up, Everard? " she asked.
" Except for Seaman," Dominey replied, looking
through the barrels of his gun, " who really does not
count because we crossed together, this is my first
visitor from the land of fortune. I expect there will
be plenty of them by and by, though. Colonials have
a wonderful habit of sticking to one another."
There was nothing in the least alarming about the
appearance of Mr. Ludwig Miller. He had been ex-
ceedingly well entertained in the butler's private sit-
ting-room and had the air of having done full justice
to the hospitality which had been offered him. He
rose to his feet at Dominey's entrance and stood at
attention. But for some slight indications of mili-
tary training, he would have passed anywhere as a
highly respectable retired tradesman.
" Sir Everard Dominey ? " he enquired.
Dominey nodded assent. " That is my name.
Have I seen you before? "
The man shook his head. " I am a cousin of Doc--
tor Schmidt. I arrived in the Colony from Rhodesia,
after your Excellency had left."
" And how is the doctor? "
" My cousin is, as always, busy but in excellent
health," was the reply. " He sends his respectful
compliments and his good wishes. Also this letter."
With a little flourish the man produced an envelope
To Sir Everard Dominey, Baronet t
In the County of Norfolk,
226 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Dominey broke the seal just as Seaman entered.
" A messenger here from Doctor Schmidt, an ac-
quaintance of mine in East Africa," he announced.
" Mr. Seaman came home from South Africa with
me," he explained to his visitor.
The two men looked steadily into each other's eyes.
Dominey watched them, fascinated. Neither be-
trayed himself by even the fall of an eyelid. Yet
Dominey, his perceptive powers at their very keenest
in this moment which instinct told him was one of
crisis, felt the unspoken, unbetokened recognition
which passed between them. Some commonplace re-
mark was uttered and responded to. Dominey read
the few lines which seemed to take him back for a
moment to another world:
" Honoured and Honourable Sir,
" I send you my heartiest and most respectful greet-
ing. Of the progress of all matters here you will learn
from another source.
" I recommend to your notice and kindness my cousin,
the bearer of this letter Mr. Ludwig Miller. He will
lay before you certain circumstances of which it is ad-
visable for you to have knowledge. You may speak
freely with him. He is in all respects to be trusted.
(Signed) " KARL SCHMIDT."
" Your cousin is a little mysterious," Dominey re-
marked, as he passed the letter to Seaman. " Come,
what about these circumstances? "
Ludwig Miller looked around the little room and
then at Seaman. Dominey affected to misunderstand
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 227
" Our friend here knows everything," he declared.
" You can speak to him as to myself."
The man began as one who has a story to tell.
" My errand here is to warn you," he said, " that
the Englishman whom you left for dead at Big Bend,
on the banks of the Blue River, has been heard of in
another part of Africa."
Dominey shook his head incredulously. " I hope
you have not come all this way to tell me that ! The
man was dead."
" My cousin himself," Miller continued, " was hard
to convince. The man left his encampment with
whisky enough to kill him, thirst enough to drink it
all, and no food."
" So I found him," Dominey assented, " deserted
by his boys and raving. To silence him forever was a
" The task, however, was unperformed," the other
persisted. " From three places in the Colony he has
been heard of, struggling to make his way to the
" Does he call himself by his own name ? " Dominey
" He does not," Miller admitted. " My cousin,
however, desired me to point out to you the fact that
in any case he would probably be shy of doing so.
He is behaving in an absurd manner ; he is in a very
weakly state ; and without a doubt he is to some de-
gree insane. Nevertheless, the fact remains that he
is in the Colony, or was three months ago, and that if
he succeeds in reaching the coast you may at any time
be surprised by a visit from him here. I am sent to
228 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
warn you in order that you may take what steps may
be necessary and not be placed at a disadvantage if
he should appear."
" This is queer news you have brought us, Miller,"
Seaman said thoughtfully.
" It is news which greatly disturbed Doctor
Schmidt," the man replied. " He has had the na-
tives up one after the other for cross-examination.
Nothing can shake their story."
" If we believed it," Seaman continued, " this other
European, if he had business in this direction, might
walk in here at any moment."
" It was to warn you of that possibility that I am
" How much do you know personally," Seaman
asked, " of the existent circumstances? "
The man shook his head vaguely.
" I know nothing," he admitted. " I went out to
East Africa some years ago, and I have been a trader
in Mozambique in a small way. I supplied outfits
for officers and hospitals and sportsmen. Now and
then I have to return to Europe to buy fresh stock.
Doctor Schmidt knew that, and he came to see me just
before I sailed. He first thought of writing a very
long letter. Afterwards he changed his mind. He
wrote only those few lines I brought, but he told me
those other things."
" You have remembered all that he told you? "
" I can think of nothing else," was the reply, after
a moment's pause. " The whole affair has been a
great worry to Doctor Schmidt. There are things
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 229
connected with it which he has never understood,
things connected with it which he has always found
" Hence your presence here, Johann Wolff, eh? "
Seaman asked, in an altered tone.
The visitor's expression remained unchanged ex-
cept for the faint surprise which shone out of his
" Johann Wolff," he repeated. " That is not my
name. I am Ludwig Miller, and I know nothing of
this matter beyond what I have told you. I am just
" Once in Vienna and twice in Cracow, my friend,
we have met," Seaman reminded him softly but very
The other shook his head gently. " A mistake. I
have been in Vienna once, many years ago, but Cra-
"You have no idea with whom you are talking?"
" Herr Seaman was the name, I understood."
" It is a very good name," Seaman scoffed.
" Look here and think."
He undid his coat and waistcoat and displayed a
plain vest of chamois leather. Attached to the left-
hand side of it was a bronze decoration, with lettering
and a number. Miller stared at it blankly and shook
" Information Department, Bureau Twelve, pass-
word * The Day is coming,' " Seaman continued,
dropping his voice.
His listener shook his head and smiled with the
puzzled ignorance of a child.
2 3 o THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" The gentleman mistakes me for some one else,"
he replied. " I know nothing of these things."
Seaman sat and studied this obstinate visitor for
several minutes without speaking, his finger tips
pressed together, his eyebrows gently contracted.
His vis-a-vis endured this scrutiny without flinching,
calm, phlegmatic, the very prototype of the bour-
geois German of the tradesman class.
" Do you propose," Dominey enquired, " to stay
in these parts long? "
" One or two days a week, perhaps," was the in-
different answer. " I have a cousin in Norwich who
makes toys. I love the English country. I spend
my holiday here, perhaps."
" Just so," Seaman muttered grimly. " The Eng-
lish country under a foot of snow! So you have
nothing more to say to me, Johann Wolff? "
" I have executed my mission to his Excellency,"
was the apologetic reply. " I am sorry to have
caused displeasure to you, Herr Seaman."
The latter rose to his feet. Dominey had already
turned towards the door.
" You will spend the night here, of course, Mr.
Miller? " he invited. " I dare say Mr. Seaman would
like to have another talk with you in the morning."
" I shall gladly spend the night here, your Excel-
lency," was the polite reply. " I do not think that I
have anything to say, however, which would interest
" You are making a great mistake, Wolff," Seaman
declared angrily. " I am your superior in the Serv-
ice, and your attitude towards me is indefensible."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 231
'* If the gentleman would only believe," the culprit
begged, " that he is mistaking me for some one else 1 "
There was trouble in Seaman's face as the two men
made their way to the front of the house and trouble
in his tone as he answered his companion's query.
" What do you think of that fellow and his visit? "
" I do not know yet what to think, but there is a
great deal that I know," Seaman replied gravely.
" The man is a spy, a favourite in the Wilhelm-
strasse and only made use of on important occasions.
His name is Wolff Johann Wolff."
" And this story of his ? "
" You ought to be the best judge of that."
" I am," Dominey assented confidently. " With-
out the shadow of a doubt I threw the body of the
man I killed into the Blue River and watched it sink."
" Then the story is a fake," Seaman decided.
" For some reason or other we have come under the
suspicion of our own secret service."
Seaman, as they emerged into the hall, was sum-
moned imperiously to her side by the Princess Eider-
strom. Dominey disappeared for a moment and re-
turned presently, having discarded some of his soaked
shooting garments. He was followed by his valet,
bearing a note upon a silver tray.
" From the person in Mr. Parkins' room to Mr.
Seaman, sir," the man announced, in a low tone.
Dominey took it from the salver with a little nod.
Then he turned to where the youngest and most frivo-
lous of his guests was in the act of rising from the
" A game of pills, Eddy," he proposed. " They
232 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
tell me that pool is one of your great accomplish-
" I'm pretty useful," the young man confessed,
with a satisfied chuckle. " Give you a black at
snooker, what ? "
Dominey took his arm and led him into the billiard-
" You will give me nothing, young fellow," he re-
plied. " Set them up, and I will show you how I
made a living for two months at Johannesberg ! "
The evening at Dominey Hall was practically a
repetition of the previous one, with a different set of
guests from the outer world. After dinner, Dominey
was absent for a few minutes and returned with Rosa-
mund upon his arm. She received the congratula-
tions of her neighbours charmingly, and a little court
soon gathered around her. Doctor Harrison, who
had been dining, remained upon its outskirts, listen-
ing to her light-hearted and at times almost brilliant,
chatter with grave and watchful interest. Dominey,
satisfied that she was being entertained, obeyed Ter-
niloff's gestured behest and strolled with him to a
distant corner of the hall.
" Let me now, my dear host," the Prince began,
with some eagerness in his tone, " continue and, I
trust, conclude the conversation to which aH that I
said this morning was merely the prelude."
" I am entirely at your service," murmured his
" I have tried to make you understand that from
my own point of view and I am in a position to
know something the fear of war between this coun-
try and our own has passed. England is willing to
make all reasonable sacrifices to ensure peace. She
wants peace, she intends peace, therefore there will
be peace. Therefore, I maintain, my young friend*
234 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
it is better for you to disappear at once from this
" I am scarcely my own master," Dominey replied.
* You yourself must know that. I am here as a serv-
ant under orders."
" Join your protest with mine," the Prince sug-
gested. " I will make a report directly I get back
to London. To my mind, the matter is urgent. If
anything should lead to the discovery of your false
position in this country, the friendship between us
which has become a real pleasure to me must seriously
undermine my own position."
Dominey had risen to his feet and was standing on
the hearthrug, in front of a fire of blazing logs. Th&
Ambassador was sitting with crossed legs in a com-
fortable easy-chair, smoking one of the long, thin
cigars which were his particular fancy.
" Your Excellency," Dominey said, " there is just
one fallacy in all that you have said."
" You have come to the absolute conclusion," Dom-
iney continued, " that because England wants peace
there will be peace. I am of Seaman's mind. I be-
lieve in the ultimate power of the military party of
Germany. I believe that in time they will thrust
their will upon the Kaiser, if he is not at the present
moment secretly in league with them. Therefore, I
believe that there will be war."
" If I shared that belief with you, my friend," the
Ambassador said quietly, " I should consider my posi-
tion here one of dishonour. My mandate is for
peace, and my charge is from the Kaiser's lips."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 235
Stephanie, with the air of one a little weary of the
conversation, broke away from a distant group and
came towards them. Her beautiful eyes seemed tired,
she moved listlessly, and she even spoke with less than
her usual assurance.
"Am I disturbing a serious conversation?" she
asked. " Send me away if I am."
" His Excellency and I," Dominey observed, " have
reached a cul-de-sac in our argument, the blank
wall of good-natured but fundamental disagree-
" Then I shall claim you for a while," Stephanie
declared, taking Dominey's arm. " Lady Dominey
has attracted all the men to her circle, and I am
The Prince bowed.
" I deny the cul-de-sac," he said, " but I yield our
host ! I shall seek my opponent at billiards."
He turned away and Stephanie sank into his vacant
" So you and my cousin," she remarked, as she
made room for Dominey to sit by her side, " have
come to a disagreement."
" Not an unfriendly one," her host assured her.
" That I am sure of. Maurice seems, indeed, to
have taken a wonderful liking to you. I cannot re-
member that you ever met before, except for that day
or two in Saxony? "
" That is so. The first time I exchanged any inti-
mate conversation with the Prince was in London. I
have the utmost respect and regard for him, but I
cannot help feeling that the pleasant intimacy to
236 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
which he has admitted me is to a large extent owing
to the desire of our friends in Berlin. So far as I
am concerned, I have never met any one, of any na-
tion, whose character I admire more."
" Maurice lives his life loftily. He is one of the
few great aristocrats I have met who carries his no-
bility of birth into his simplest thought and action.
There is just one thing," she added, " which would
break his heart."
"The subject upon which you two disagree a
war between Germany and this country."
" The Prince is an idealist," Dominey said.
" Sometimes I wonder why he was sent here, why
they did not send some one of a more intriguing
She shrugged her shoulders.
" You agree with that great Frenchman," she ob-
served, " that no ambassador can remain a gentle-
" Well, I have never been a diplomat, so I cannot
say," Dominey replied.
" You have many qualifications, I should think,"
she observed cuttingly.
" You are absolutely callous, absolutely without
heart or sympathy where your work is concerned."
" I do not admit it," he protested.
" I go back to London to-morrow," she continued,
" a very miserable and unhappy woman. I take with
me the letter which should have brought me happi-
ness. The love for which I have sacrificed my life has
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 237
failed me. Not even the whip of a royal command,
not even all that I have to offer, can give me even five
seconds of happiness."
" All that I have pleaded for," Dominey reminded
her earnestly, " is delay."
" And what delay do you think," she asked, with a
sudden note of passion in her tone, " would the Leo-
pold von Ragastein of six years ago have pleaded
for? Delay! He found words then which would
have melted an iceberg. He found words the memory
of which comes to me sometimes in the night and which
mock me. He had no country then save the paradise
where lovers walk, no ruler but a queen, and I was
she. And now "
Domhif y feit a strange pang of distress. She saw
the unusual softening in his face, and here eyes lit
" Just for a moment," she broke off, " you were like
Leopold. As a rule, you know, you are not like him.
I think that you left him somewhere in Africa and
came home in his likeness."
" Believe that for a little time," Dominey begged
"What if it were true?" she asked abruptly.
** There are times when I do not recognise you.
There are words Leopold used to use which I have
never heard from your lips. Is not West Africa
the sorcerer's paradise? Perhaps you are an im-
postor, and the man I love is there still, in trouble
perhaps ill. You play the part of Everard Dominey
like a very king of actors. Perhaps before you came
here you played the part of Leopold. You are not
238 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
my Leopold. Love cannot die as you would have m*
" Now," he said coolly, " you are coming round to
my way of thinking. I have been assuring you, from
the very first moment we met at the Carlton, that I
was not your Leopold that I was Everard Domi-
" I shall put you to the test," she exclaimed sud-
denly, rising to her feet. " Your arm, if you
She led him across the hall to where little groups of
people were gossiping, playing bridge, and Seaman,
the centre of a little group of gullible amateur specu-
lators, was lecturing on mines. They stopped to say
a word or two here and there, but Stephanie's fingers
never left her companion's arm. They passed down
a corridor hung with a collection of wonderful sport-
ing prints in which she affected some interest, into a
small gallery which led into the ballroom. Here they
were alone. She laid her hands upon his shoulders
and looked up into his eyes. Her lips drew nearer to
" Kiss me upon the lips, Leopold," she ordered.
" There is no Leopold here," he replied ; " you
yourself have said it."
She came a little nearer. '* Upon the lips," she
He held her, stooped down, and their lips met.
Then she stood apart from him. Her eyes were for
a moment closed, her hands were extended as though
to prevent any chance of his approaching her again.
" Now I know the truth," she muttered.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 239
Dominey found an opportunity to draw Seaman
away from his little group of investment-seeking
" My friend," he said, " trouble grows."
" Anything more from Schmidt's supposed emis-
sary? " Seaman asked quickly.
" No. I am going to keep away from him this
evening, and I advise you to do the same. The
trouble is with the Princess."
" With the Princess," declared Seaman. " I think
you have blundered. I quite appreciate your general
principles of behaving internally and externally as
though you were the person whom you pretend to
be. It is the very essence of all successful espionage.
But you should know when to make exceptions. I see
grave objections myself to your obeying the Kaiser's
behest. On the other hand, I see no objection what-
ever to your treating the Princess in a more human
manner, to your visiting her in London, and
giving her more ardent proofs of your continued
" If I once begin "
" Look here," Seaman interrupted, " the Princess
is a woman of the world. She knows what she is
doing, and there is a definite tie between you. I tell
you frankly that I could not bear to see you playing
the idiot for a moment with Lady Dominey, but with
the Princess, scruples don't enter into the question
at all. You should by no means make an enemy of
" Well, I have done it," Dominey acknowledged.
" She has gone off to bed now, and she is leaving early
240 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
to-morrow morning. She thinks I have borrowed
some West African magic, that I have left her lover's
soul out there and come home in his body."
" Well, if she does," Seaman declared, " you are
out of your troubles."
" Am I ! " Dominey replied gloomily. " First of
all, she may do a lot of mischief before she goes. And
then, supposing by any thousand to one chance the
story of this cousin of Schmidt's should be true, and
she should find Dominey out there, still alive? The
Princess is not of German birth, you know. She
cares nothing for Germany's future. As a matter of
fact, I think, like a great many Hungarians, she pre-
fers England. They say that an Englishman has as
many lives as a cat. Supposing that chap Dominey
did come to life again and she brings him home ? You
say yourself that you do not mean to make much use
of me until after the war has started. In the par-
lance of this country of idioms, that will rather upset
the apple cart, will it not? "
" Has the Princess a suite of rooms here? " Seaman
" Over in the west wing. Good idea ! You go and
see what you can do with her. She will not think of
going to bed at this time of night."
" Leave it to me," he directed. " You go out and
play the host."
Dominey played the host first and then the hus-
band. Rosamund welcomed him with a little cry of
" I have been enjoying myself so much, Everard! "
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 241
she exclaimed. " Everybody has been so kind, and
Mr. Mangan has taught me a new Patience."
" And now, I think," Doctor Harrison intervened
a little gruffly, " it's time to knock off for the eve-
She turned very sweetly to Everard.
" Will you take me upstairs ? " she begged. " I
have been hoping so much that you would come before
Doctor Harrison sent me off."
" I should have been very disappointed if I had been
too late," Dominey assured her. " Now say good
night to everybody."
" Why, you talk to me as though I were a child,"
she laughed. " Well, good-bye, everybody, then.
You see, my stern husband is taking me off. When
are you coming to see me, Doctor Harrison? "
" Nothing to see you for," was the gruff reply.
" You are as well as any woman here."
" Just a little unsympathetic, isn't he? " she com-
plained to Dominey. " Please take me through the
hall, so that I can say good-bye to every one else. Is
the Princess Eiderstrom there? "
" I am afraid that she has gone to bed," Dominey
answered, as they passed out of the room. " She -said
something about a headache."
" She is very beautiful," Rosamund said wistfully.
" I wish she looked as though she liked me a little
more. Is she very fond of you, Everard? "
" I think that I am rather in her bad books just at
present," Dominey confessed.
" I wonder ! I am very observant, and I have seen
her looking at you sometimes Of course," Rosa-
242 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
mimd went on, " as I am not really your wife and you
are not really my husband, it is very stupid of me to
feel jealous, isn't it, Everard? "
" Not a bit," he answered. " If I am not your
husband, I will not be anybody else's."
" I love you to say that," she admitted, with a little
sigh, " but it seems wrong somewhere. Look how
cross the Duchess looks ! Some one must have played
the wrong card."
Rosamund's farewells were not easily made; Ter-
niloff especially seemed reluctant to let her go. She
excused herself gracefully, however, promising to sit
up a little later the next evening. Dominey led the
way upstairs, curiously gratified at her lingering
progress. He took her to the door of her room and
looked in. The nurse was sitting in an easy-chair,
reading, and the maid was sewing in the background.
" Well, you look very comfortable here," he de-
clared cheerfully. " Pray do not move, nurse."
Rosamund held his hands, as though reluctant to
let him go. Then she drew his face down and kissed
" Yes," she said a little plaintively, " it's very com-
fortable. Everard? "
She drew his head down and whispered in his ear.
" May I come in and say good night for two min-
He smiled a wonderfully kind smile but shook
" Not to-night, dear," he replied. " The Prince
loves to sit up late, and I shall be downstairs with
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 243
him. Besides, that bully of a doctor of yours insists
upon ten hours' sleep."
She sighed like a disappointed child.
" Very well." She paused for a moment to listen.
" Wasn't that a car? " she asked.
" Some of our guests going early, I dare say," he
replied, as he turned away.
Seaman did not at once start on his mission to the
Princess. He made his way instead to the servants'
quarters and knocked at the door of the butler's sit-
ting-room. There was no reply. He tried the han-
dle in vain. The door was locked. A tall, grave-
faced man in sombre black came out from an adjoin-
" You are looking for the person who arrived this
evening from abroad, sir? " he enquired.
" I am," Seaman replied. " Has he locked him-
" He has left the Hall, sir ! "
" Left ! " Seaman repeated. " Do you mean gone
away for good ? "
" Apparently, sir. I do not understand his lan-
guage myself , but I believe he considered his reception
here, for some reason or other, unfavourable. He
took advantage of the car which went down to the
station for the evening papers and caught the last
Seaman was silent for a moment. The news was a
ihock to him.
" What is your position here ? " he asked his in-
" My name is Reynolds, sir," was the respectful
reply. " I am Mr. Pelham's servant."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 245
" Can you tell me why, if this man has left, the
door here is locked? "
" Mr. Parkins locked it before he went out, sir.
He accompanied Mr. Miller, I think his name
was to the station."
Seaman had the air of a man not wholly satisfied.
" Is it usual to lock up a sitting-room in this fash-
ion? " he asked.
" Mr. Parkins always does it, sir. The cabinets
of cigars are kept there, also the wine-cellar key and
the key of the plate chest. None of the other serv-
ants use the room except at Mr. Parkins' invitation."
" I understand," Seaman said, as he turned away.
" Much obliged for your information, Reynolds. I
will speak to Mr. Parkins later."
" I will let him know that you desire to see him,
" Good night, Reynolds ! "
" Good night, sir ! "
Seaman passed back again to the crowded hall and
billiard-room, exchanged a few remarks here and
there, and made his way up the southern flight of
stairs towards the west wing. Stephanie consented
without hesitation to receive him. She was seated in
front of the fire, reading a novel, in a boudoir open-
ing out of her bedroom.
" Princess," Seaman declared, with a low bow, " we
are in despair at your desertion."
She put down her book.
" I have been insulted in this house," she said.
" To-morrow I leave it."
Seaman shook his head reproachfully.
246 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Your Highness," he continued, " believe me, I do
not wish to presume upon my position. I am only a
German tradesman, admitted to circles like these for
reas,ons connected solely with the welfare of my coun-
try. Yet I know much, as it happens, of the truth of
this matter, the matter which is causing you distress.
I beg you to reconsider your decision. Our friend
here is, I think, needlessly hard upon himself. So
much the greater will be his reward when the end
comes. So much the greater will be the rapture with
which he will throw himself on his knees before you."
" Has he sent you to reason with me? "
" Not directly. I am to a certain extent, however,
his major-domo in this enterprise. I brought him
from Africa. I have watched over him from the
start. Two brains are better than one. I try to
show him where to avoid mistakes, I try to point out
the paths of danger and of safety."
" I should imagine Sir Everard finds you useful,"
she remarked calmly.
" I hope he does."
" It has doubtless occurred to you," she continued,
" that our friend has accommodated himself wonder-
fully to English life and customs? "
" You must remember that he was educated here.
Nevertheless, his aptitude has been marvellous."
" One might almost call it supernatural," she
agreed. " Tell me, Mr. Seaman, you seem to have
been completely successful in the installation of our
friend here as Sir Everard. What is going to be his
real value to you ? What work will he do ? "
"We are keeping him for the big things. You
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 247
have seen our gracious master lately? " he added
" I know what is at the back of your mind," she
replied. " Yes ! Before the summer is over I am to
pack up my trunks and fly. I understand."
" It is when that time comes," Seaman said impres-
sively, " that we expect Sir Everard Dominey, the
typical English country gentleman, of whose loyalty
there has never been a word of doubt, to be of use to
us. Most of our present helpers will be under sus-
picion. The authorised staff of our secret service
can only work underneath. You can see for yourself
the advantage we gain in having a confidential corre-
spondent who can day by day reflect the changing
psychology of the British mind in all its phases. We
have quite enough of the other sort of help arranged
for. Plans of ships, aerodromes and harbours, sail-
ings of convoys, calling up of soldiers all these are
the A. B. C. of the secret service profession. We
shall never ask our friend here for a single fact, but,
from his town house in Berkeley Square, the host of
Cabinet Ministers, of soldiers, of the best brains of
the country, our fingers will never leave the pulse of
Britain's day by day life."
Stephanie threw herself back in her easy-chair and
clasped her hands behind her head.
" These things you are expecting from our present
" We are, and we expect to get them. I have
watched him day by day. My confidence in him has
Stephanie was silent. She sat looking into the fire.
248 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Seaman, keenly observant as always, realised the
change in her, yet found something of mystery in her
new detachment of manner.
" Your Highness," he urged, " I am not here to
speak on behalf of the man who at heart is, I know,
your lover. He will plead his own cause when the
time comes. But I am here to plead for patience, I
am here to implore you to take no rash step, to do
nothing which might imperil in any way his position
here. I stand outside the gates of the world which
your sex can make a paradise. I am no judge of the
things that happen there. But in your heart I feel
there is bitterness, because the man for whom you
care has chosen to place his country first. I implore
your patience, Princess. I implore you to believe
what I know so well, that it is the sternest sense of
duty only which is the foundation of Leopold von
Ragastein's obdurate attitude."
" What are you afraid that I shall do ? " she asked
" I am afraid of nothing directly."
"Indirectly, then? Answer me, please."
" I am afraid," he admitted frankly, " that in
some corner of the world, if not in this country, you
might whisper a word, a scoffing or an angry sentence,
which would make people wonder what grudge you
had against a simple Norfolk baronet. I would not
like that word spoken in the presence of any one who
knew your history and realised the rather amazing
likeness between Sir Everard Dominey and Baron
Leopold von Ragastein."
" I see," Stephanie murmured, a faint smile part-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 249
ing her lips. " Well, Mr. Seaman, I do not think
that you need have many fears. What I shall carry
away with me in my heart is not for you or any
man to know. In a few days I shall leave this
" You are going back to Berlin to Hungary ? "
She shook her head, beckoned her maid to open the
door, and held out her hand in token of dismissal.
" I am going to take a sea voyage," she announced.
" I shall go to Africa."
The morrow was a day of mild surprises. Eddy
Pelham's empty place was the first to attract notice,
towards the end of breakfast time.
"Where's the pink and white immaculate?" the
Right Honourable gentleman asked. " I miss my
morning wonder as to how he tied his tie."
" Gone," Dominey replied, looking round from the
" Gone ? " every one repeated.
" I should think such a thing has never happened
to him before," Dominey observed. " He was wanted
" Fancy any one wanting Eddy for any serious
purpose ! " Caroline murmured.
" Fancy any one wanting him badly enough to
drag him out of bed in the middle of the night with
a telephone call and send him up to town by the
breakfast train from Norwich ! " their host continued.
" I thought we had started a new ghost when he came
into my room in a purple dressing-gown and broke
250 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Who wanted him ? " the Duke enquired. %< His
" Business of importance was his pretext," Domi-
There was a little ripple of good-humoured laugh-
" Does Eddy do anything for a living? " Caroline
" Mr. Pelham is a director of the Chelsea Motor
Works," Mangan told them. " He received a small
legacy last year, and his favourite taxicab man was
the first to know about it."
" You're not suggesting," she exclaimed, " that it
is business of that sort which has taken Eddy away ! "
" I should think it most improbable," Mangan con-
fessed. " As a matter of fact, he asked me the other
day if I knew where their premises were."
" We shall miss him," she acknowledged. " It was
quite one of the events of the day to see his costume
" His bridge was reasonably good," the Duke com-
" He shot rather well the last two days," Mangan
" And he had told me confidentially," Caroline con-
cluded, " that he was going to wear brown to-day.
Now I think Eddy would have looked nice in brown."
The missing young man's requiem was finished by
the arrival of the local morning papers. A few mo-
ments later Dominey rose and left the room. Sea-
man, who had been unusually silent, followed him.
" My friend." he confided, " I do not know whether
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 251
you have heard, but there was another curious dis-
appearance from the Hall last night."
"Whose? " Dominey asked, pausing in the act of
selecting a cigarette.
" Our friend Miller, or Wolff Doctor Schmidt's
emissary," Seaman announced, " has disappeared."
" Disappeared? " Dominey repeated. " I suppose
he is having a prowl round somewhere."
" I have left it to you to make more careful en-
quiries," Seaman replied. " All I can tell you is that
I made up my mind last night to interview him once
more and try to fathom his very mysterious behav-
iour. I found the door of your butler's sitting-room
locked, and a very civil fellow Mr. Pelham's valet
he turned out to be told me that he had left in the
car which went for the evening papers."
" I will go and make some enquiries," Dominey de-
cided, after a moment's puzzled consideration.
" If you please," Seaman acquiesced. " The affair
disconcerts me because I do not understand it. When
*.here is a thing which I do not understand, I am un-
Dominey vanished into the nether regions, spent
half an hour with Rosamund, and saw nothing of his
disturbed guest again until they were walking to the
first wood. They had a moment together after Dom-
iney had pointed out the stands.
" Well ? " Seaman enquired.
" Our friend," Dominey announced, " apparently
made up his mind to go quite suddenly. A bed was
arranged for him or rather it is always there in
a small apartment opening out of the butler's room,
252 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
on the ground floor. He said nothing about leaving
until he saw Parkins preparing to go down to the
station with the chauffeur. Then he insisted upon
accompanying him, and when he found there was a
train to Norwich he simply bade them both good
night. He left no message whatever for either youj
Seaman was thoughtful.
" There is no doubt," he said, " that his departure
was indicative of a certain distrust in us. He came
to find out something, and I suppose he found it out.
I envy you your composure, my friend. We live on
the brink of a volcano, and you shoot pheasants."
" We will try a partridge for a change," Dominey
observed, swinging round as a single Frenchman with
a dull whiz crossed the hedge behind them and fell a
little distance away, a crumpled heap of feathers.
" Neat, I think? " he added, turning to his companion.
" Marvellous ! " Seaman replied, with faint sar-
casm. " I envy your nerve."
" I cannot take this matter very seriously," Domi-
ney acknowledged. " The fellow seemed to me quite
" My anxieties have also been aroused in another
direction," Seaman confided.
" Any other trouble looming? " Dominey asked.
" You will find yourself minus another guest when'
you return this afternoon."
" The Princess," Seaman assented. " I did my
best with her last night, but I found her in a most
peculiar frame of mind. We are to be relieved of any
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 253
Anxiety concerning her for some time, however. She
has decided to take a sea voyage."
" Africa ! "
Dominey paused in the act of inserting a cartridge
into his gun. He turned slowly around and looked
into his companion's expressionless face.
" Why the mischief is she going out there ? " he
" I can no more tell you that," Seaman replied,
" than why Johann Wolff was sent over here to spy
upon our perfect work. I am most unhappy, mj
friend. The things which I understand, however
threatening they are, I do not fear. Things which I
do not understand oppress me."
Dominey laughed quietly.
" Come," he said, " there is nothing here which seri-
ously threatens our position. The Princess is angry,
but she is not likely to give us away. This man
Wolff could make no adverse report about either of
us. We are doing our job and doing it well. Let
our clear consciences console us."
" That is well," Seaman replied, " but I feel un-
easy. I must not stay here any longer. Too
intimate an association between you and me is un-
" Well, I think I can be trusted," Dominey ob-
served, " even if I am to be left alone."
" In every respect except as regards the Princess,**
Seaman admitted, " your deportment has been most
"Except as regards the Princess," Dominey re-
254 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
peated irritably. " Really, my friend, I cannot un-
derstand your point of view in this matter. You
could not expect me to mix up a secret honeymoon
with my present commitments ! "
" There might surely have been some middle way? "
Seaman persisted. " You show so much tact in other
" You do not know the Princess," Dominey mut
Rosamund joined them for luncheon, bringing
news of Stephanie's sudden departure, with notes and
messages for everybody. Caroline made a little
grimace at her host.
" You're in trouble ! " she whispered in his ear.
" All the same, I approve. I like Stephanie, but she
is an exceedingly dangerous person."
" I wonder whether she is," Dominey mused.
'* I think men have generally found her so," Caro-
line replied. " She had one wonderful love affair,
which ended, as you know, in her husband being killed
in a duel and her lover being banished from the coun-
try. Still, she's not quite the sort of woman to be
content with a banished lover. I fancied I noticed
distinct signs of her being willing to replace him
whilst she has been down here ! "
" I feel as though a blight had settled upon my
house party," Dominey remarked with bland irrele-
vancy. " First Eddy, then Mr. Ludwig Miller, and
" And who on earth was Mr. Ludwig Miller, after
all? " Caroline enquired.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 255
" He was a fat, flaxen-haired German who brought
me messages from old friends in Africa. He had no
luggage but a walking stick, and he seems to have
upset the male part of my domestics last night by
accepting a bed and then disappearing ! "
"With the plate?"
" Not a thing missing. Parkins spent an agon-
ised half hour, counting everything. Mr. Ludwig
appears to be one of those unsolved mysteries which
go to make up an imperfect world."
"Well, we've had a jolly time," Caroline said
reminiscently. " To-morrow Henry and I are off,
and I suppose the others. I must say on the whole I
am delighted with our visit."
" You are very gracious," Dominey murmured.
" I came, perhaps, expecting to see a little more of
you," she went on deliberately, " but there is a very
great compensation for my disappointment. I think
your wife, Everard, is worth taking trouble about.
She is perfectly sweet, and her manners are most
" I am very glad you think that," he said warmly.
She looked away from him.
" Everard," she sighed, " I believe you are in love
with your wife."
There was a strange, almost a terrible mixture of
expressions in his face as he answered, a certain
fear, a certain fondness, a certain almost desperate
resignation. Even his voice, as a rule so slow and
measured, shook with an emotion which amazed his
** I believe I am," he muttered. " I am afraid of
5 6 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
my feelings for her. It may bring even another trag-
edy down upon us."
" Don't talk rubbish ! " Caroline exclaimed.
" What tragedy could come between you now?
You've recovered your balance. You are a strong,
steadfast person, just fitted to be the protector of
anything so sweet and charming as Rosamund.
Tragedy, indeed ! Why don't you take her down to
the South of France, Everard, and have your honey-
moon all over again ? "
" I can't do that just yet."
She studied him curiously. There were times when
he seemed wholly incomprehensible to her.
" Are you still worried about that Unthank af-
fair ? " she asked.
He hesitated for a moment.
" There is still an aftermath to our troubles," he
told her, " one cloud which leans over us. I shall
clear it up in time, but other things may happen
" You take yourself very seriously, Everard," she
observed, looking at him with a puzzled expression.
" One would think that there was a side of your life,
and a very important one, which you kept entirely
to yourself. Why do you have that funny little
man Seaman always round with you? STou're not
being blackmailed or anything, are you ? "
" On the contrary," he told her, " Seaman was the
first founder of my fortunes."
She shrugged her shoulders.
" I have made a little money once or twice on the
Stock Exchange," she remarked, " but I didn't hare
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 257
to carry my broker about in my pocket afterwards."
" Seaman is a good-hearted little fellow, and he
loves companionship. He will drift away presently,
and one won't see anything of him for ages."
" Henry began to wonder," she concluded drily,
** whether you were going to stand for Parliament
on the Anglo-German alliance ticket."
Dominey laughed as he caught Middleton's re-
proachful eye in the doorway of the farmer's kitchen
in which they were lunching. He gave the signal to
" I have had some thoughts of Parliament," he
admitted, " but well, Henry need not worry."
The next morning saw the breaking-up of Dom-
iney's carefully arranged shooting party. The
Prince took his host's arm and led him to one side
for a few moments, as the cars were being loaded up.
His first few words were of formal thanks. He spoke
then more intimately.
" Von Ragastein," he said, " I desire to refer back
for a moment to our conversation the other day."
Dominey shook his head and glanced behind.
" I know only one name here, Prince."
" Dominey, then. I will confess that you play
and carry the part through perfectly. I have known
English gentlemen all my life, and you have the trick
of the thing. But listen. I have already told you
of my disapproval of this scheme in which you are
the central figure."
" It is understood," Dominey assented.
" That," the Prince continued, " is a personal mat-
ter. What I am now going to say to you is official.
I had despatches from Berlin last night. They con-
Dominey seemed to stiffen a little.
" I am given to understand," the Ambassador con-
tinued, " that you practically exist only in the event
of that catastrophe which I, for one, cannot foresee.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 259
I am assured that if your exposure should take place
at any time, your personation will be regarded as a
private enterprise, and there is nothing whatever to
connect you with any political work."
" Up to the present that is absolutely so," Dom-
" I am further advised to look upon you as my un-
named and unsuspected successor here, in the event
of war. For that reason I am begged to inaugurate
terms of intimacy with you, to treat you with the
utmost confidence, and, if the black end should come,
to leave in your hands all such unfulfilled work as can
be continued in secrecy and silence. I perhaps ex-
press myself in a somewhat confused manner."
" I understand perfectly," Dominey replied.
" The authorities have changed their first ideas as
to my presence here. They want to keep every
shadow of suspicion away from me, so that in the
event of war I shall have an absolutely unique posi-
tion, an unsuspected yet fervently patriotic German,
living hand in glove with the upper classes of Eng-
lish Society. One can well imagine that there would
be work for me."
" Our understanding is mutual," Terniloff de-
clared. " What I have to say to you, therefore, is
that I hope you will soon follow us to London and
give me the opportunity of offering you the constant
hospitality of Carlton House Gardens."
" You are very kind, Prince," Dominey said.
** My instructions are, as soon as I have consolidated
my position here an event which I fancy I may
consider attained to establish myself in London
26o THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
and to wait orders. I trust that amongst other
things you will then permit me to examine the mem-
oirs you spoke of the other day."
" Naturally, and with the utmost pleasure," the
Ambassador assented. " They are a faithful record
of my interviews and negotiations with certain Min-
isters here, and they reflect a desire and intention
for peace which will, I think, amaze you. I ven-
ture now upon a somewhat delicate question," he
continued, changing the subject of their conversa-
tion abruptly, as they turned back along the terrace.
" Lady Dominey will accompany you ? "
" Of that I am not sure," Dominey replied thought-
fully. " I have noticed, Prince, if I may be allowed
to say so, your chivalrous regard for that lady.
You will permit me to assure you that in the peculiar
position in which I am placed I shall never forget
that she is the wife of Everard Dominey."
Terniloff shook hands heartily.
" I wanted to hear that from you," he admitted.
" You I felt instinctively were different, but there
are many men of our race who are willing enough to
sacrifice a woman without the slightest scruple, either
for their passions or their policy. I find Lady Dom-
" She will never lack a protector in me," Dominey
There were more farewells and, soon after, the
little procession of cars drove off. Rosamund her-
self was on the terrace, bidding all her guests fare-
well. She clung to Dominey's arm when at last they
turned back into the empty hall.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 261
" What dear people they were, Everard ! " she ex-
claimed. " I only wish that I had seen more of them.
The Duchess was perfectly charming to me, and I
never knew any one with such delightful manners
as Prince Terniloff. Are you going to miss them
very much, dear? "
" Not a bit," he answered. " I think I shall take
a gun now and stroll down the meadows and across
the rough ground. Will you come with me, or will
you put on one of your pretty gowns and entertain
me downstairs at luncheon? It is a very long time
since we had a meal alone together."
She shook her head a little sadly.
" We never have had," she answered. " You know
that, Everard, and, alas! I know it. But we are
going on pretending, aren't we? "
He raised her fingers to his lips and kissed them.
" You shall pretend all that you like, dear Rosa-
mund," he promised, " and I will be the shadow of
your desires. No ! No tears t " he added quickly,
as she turned away. " Remember there is nothing
but happiness for you now. Whoever I am or am
not, that is my one aim in life."
She clutched at his hand passionately, and sud-
denly, as though finding it insufficient, twined her
arms around his neck and kissed him.
" Let me come with you," she begged. " I can't
bear to let you go. I'll be very quiet. Will you
wait ten minutes for me? "
" Of course," he answered.
He strolled down towards the gun room, stood by
the fire for a moment, and then wandered out into
the courtyard, where Middleton and a couple of beat-
ers were waiting for him with the dogs. He had
scarcely taken a step towards them, however, when
he stopped short. To his amazement Seaman was
there, standing a little on one side, with his eyes
fixed upon the windows of the servants' quarters.
"Hullo, my friend!" he exclaimed. "Why, I
thought you went by the early train from Thursford
" Missed it by two minutes," Seaman replied with
a glance towards the beaters. " I knew all the cars
were full for the eleven o'clock, so I thought I'd wait
till the afternoon."
" And where have you been to for the last few
hours, then ? "
Seaman had reached his side now and was out of
earshot of the others.
" Trying to solve the mystery of Johann Wolff's
sudden departure last night. Come and walk down
the avenue with me a little way."
" A very short distance, then. I am expecting
They passed through the thin iron gates and paced
along one of the back entrances to the Hall.
" Do not think me indiscreet," Seaman began. " I
returned without the knowledge of any one, and I
kept out of the way until they had all gone. It is
what I told you before. Things which I do not un-
derstand depress me, and behold ! I have found proof
this morning of a further significance in Wolff's sud-
" Proceed," Dominey begged.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 263
" I learned this morning, entirely by accident, that
Mr. Pelham's servant was either mistaken or wil-
fully deceived me. Wolff did not accompany your
butler to the station."
" And how did you find that out? " Dominey de-
" It is immaterial ! What is material is that there
is a sort of conspiracy amongst "the servants here
to conceal the manner of his leaving. Do not in-
terrupt me, I beg! Early this morning there was a
fresh fall of snow which has now disappeared. Out-
side the window of the room which I found locked
were the marks of footsteps and the tracks of a
" And what do you gather from all this ? " Dom-
** I gather that Wolff must have had friends in the
neighbourhood," Seaman replied, " or else "
" My last supposition sounds absurd," Seaman
confessed, " but the whole matter is so incomprehen-
sible that I was going to say or else he was forcibly
Dominey laughed softly.
" Wolff would scarcely have been an easy man
to abduct, would he," he remarked, " even if we
could hit upon any plausible reason for such a thing !
As a matter of fact, Seaman," he concluded, turn-
ing on his heel a little abruptly as he saw Rosamund
standing in the avenue, " I cannot bring myself to
treat this Johann Wolff business seriously. Granted
that the man was a spy, well, let him get on with it.
264 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
We are doing our job here in the most perfect and
praiseworthy fashion. We neither of us have the
ghost of a secret to hide from his employers."
" In a sense that is true," Seaman admitted.
" Well, then, cheer up," Dominey enj oined.
** Take a little walk with us, and we will see whether
Parkins cannot find us a bottle of that old Bur-
gundy for lunch. How does that sound, eh? "
" If you will excuse me from taking the walk,"
Seaman begged, " I would like to remain here until
" You are more likely to do harm," Dominey re-
minded him, " and set the servants talking, if you
show too much interest in this man's disappearance.'*
" I shall be careful," Seaman promised, " but there
are certain things which I cannot help. I work al-
ways from instinct, and my instinct is never wrong.
I will ask no more questions of your servants, but I
know that there is something mysterious about the
sudden departure of Johann Wolff."
Dominey and Rosamund returned about one o'clock
to find only a note from Seaman, which the former
tore open as his companion stood warming her feet
in front of the fire. There were only a few lines :
" I am following an idea. It takes me to London.
Let us meet there within a few days.
" Has he really gone? " Rosamund asked.
" Back to London."
She laughed happily. " Then we shall lunch a
deux after all ! Delightful ! I have my wish ! "
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 265
There was a sudden glow in Dominey's face, a glow
which was instantly suppressed.
" Shall I ever have mine? " he asked, with a queer
little break in his voice.
Terniloff and Dominey, one morning about six
months later, lounged underneath a great elm tree at
Ranelagh, having iced drinks after a round of golf.
Several millions of perspiring Englishmen were at
the same moment studying with dazed wonder the
headlines in the midday papers.
" I suppose," the Ambassador remarked, as he
leaned back in his chair with an air of lazy content,
" that I am being accused of fiddling while Rome
" Every one has certainly not your confidence in
the situation," Dominey rejoined calmly.
" There is no one else who knows quite so much,"
Terniloff reminded him.
Dominey sipped his drink for a moment or two in
"Have you the latest news of the Russian mobi-
lisation? " he asked " They had some startling fig-
ures in the city this morning."
The Prince waved his hand.
" My faith is not founded on these extraneous in-
cidents," he replied. " If Russia mobilises, it is for
defence. No nation in the world would dream of
attacking Germany, nor has Germany the slightest
intention of imperilling her coming supremacy
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 267
amongst the nations by such crude methods as mili-
tary enterprise. Servia must be punished, naturally,
but to that, in principle, every nation in Europe is
agreed. We shall not permit Austria to overstep
" You are at least consistent, Prince," Dominey
" That is because I have been taken behind the
scenes," he said. " I have been shown, as is the
privilege of ambassadors, the mind of our rulers.
You, my friend," he went on, " spent your youth
amongst the military faction. You think that you
are the most important people in Germany. Well,
you are not. The Kaiser has willed it otherwise.
By-the-by, I had yesterday a most extraordinary
cable from Stephanie."
Dominey ceased swinging his putter carelessly
Over the head of a daisy and turned his head to listen.
" Is she on the way home ? "
" She is due in Southampton at any moment now.
She wants to know where she can see me immediately
upon her arrival, as she has information of the ut-
most importance to give me."
" Did she ever tell you the reason for her journey
" She was most mysterious about it. If such an
idea had had any logical outcome, I should have
surmised that she was going there to seek information
as to your past."
" She gave Seaman the same idea," Dominey ob-
served. " I scarcely see what she has to gain. In
268 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Africa, as a matter of fact," he went on, " my life
would bear the strictest investigation."
" The whole affair is singularly foolish," the Prince
declared. " Still, I am not sure that you have been
altogether wise. Even accepting your position, I
see no reason why you should not have obeyed the
Kaiser's behest. My experience of your Society
here is that love affairs between men and women
moving in the same circles are not uncommon."
" That," Dominey urged, " is when they are all
tarred with the same brush. My behaviour towards
Lady Dominey has been culpable enough as it is.
To have placed her in the position of a neglected
wife would have been indefensible. Further, it might
have affected the position which it is in the interests
of my work that I should maintain here."
"An old subject," the Ambassador sighed, "best
not rediscussed. Behold, our womenkind ! "
Rosamund and the Princess had issued from the
house, and the two men hastened to meet them. The
latter looked charming, exquisitely gowned, and
stately in appearance. By her side Rosamund,
dressed with the same success but in younger fashion,
seemed almost like a child. They passed into the
luncheon room, crowded with many little parties of
distinguished and interesting people, brilliant with
the red livery of the waiters, the profusion of flowers
all that nameless elegance which had made the
place Society's most popular rendezvous. The
women, as they settled into their places, asked a
question which was on the lips of a great many Eng-
lish people that day.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 263
" Is there any news ? "
Terniloff perhaps felt that he was the cynosure
of many eager and anxious eyes. He smiled light-
heartedly as he answered:
" None. If there were, I am convinced that it
would be good. I have been allowed to play out
my titanic struggle against Sir Everard without in-
" I suppose the next important question to whether
it is to be peace or war is, how did you play ? " the
" I surpassed myself," her husband replied, " but
of course no ordinary human golfer is of any ac-
count against Dominey. He plays far too well for
any self-respecting Ger "
The Ambassador broke off and paused while he
helped himself to mayonnaise.
" For any self-respecting German to play
against," he concluded.
Luncheon was -a very pleasant meal, and a good
many people noticed the vivacity of the beautiful
Lady Dominey whose picture was beginning to appear
in the illustrated papers. Afterwards they drank
coffee and sipped liqueurs under a great elm tree on
the lawn, listening to the music and congratulating
themselves upon having made their escape from Lon-
don. In the ever-shifting panorama of gaily-dressed
women and flannel-clad men, the monotony of which
was varied here and there by the passing of a di-
plomatist or a Frenchman, scrupulously attired in
morning clothes, were many familiar faces. Caro-
line and ft little group of friends waved to them from
270 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
the terrace. Eddy Pelham, in immaculate white, ana
a long tennis coat with dark blue edgings, paused to
speak to them on his way to the courts.
"How is the motor business, Eddy?" Dominey
asked, with a twinkle in his eyes.
" So, so ! I'm not quite so keen as I was. To
tell you the truth," the young man confided, glanc-
ing around and lowering his voice so that no one
should share the momentous information, " I was
lucky enough to pick up a small share in Jere
Moore's racing stable at Newmarket, the other day.
I fancy I know a little more about gee-gees than I
do about the inside of motors, what? "
" I should think very possibly that you are right,"
Dominey assented, as the young man passed on with
a farewell salute.
Terniloff looked after him curiously.
" It is the type of young man, that," he declared,
* ( which we cannot understand. What would happen
to him, in the event of a war? In the event of his
being called upon, say, either to fight or do some
work of national importance for his country?"
" I expect he would do it," Dominey replied. " He
would do it pluckily, whole-heartedly and badly.
He is a type of the upper-class young Englishman,
over-sanguine and entirely undisciplined. They ex-
pect, and their country expects for them, that in the
case of emergency pluck would take the place of
The Right Honourable Gerald Watson stood upon
the steps talking to the wife of the Italian Ambas-
sador. She left him presently, and he came strolling
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 271
down the lawn with his hands behind his back and his
eyes seeming to see out past the golf links.
" There goes a man," Terniloff murmured, " whom
lately I have found changed. When I first came
here he met me quite openly. I believe, even now,
he is sincerely desirous of peace and amicable rela-
tions between our two countries, and yet something
has fallen between us. I cannot tell what it is. I
cannot tell even of what nature it is, but I have
an instinct for people's attitude towards me, and
the English are the worst race in the world at hid-
ing their feelings. Has Mr. Watson, I wonder, come
under the spell of your connection, the Duke of
Worcester? He seemed so friendly with both of us
down in Norfolk."
Their womenkind left them at that moment to talk
to some acquaintances seated a short distance away.
Mr. Watson, passing within a few yards of them, was
brought to a standstill by Dominey's greeting.
They talked for a moment or two upon idle subjects.
" Your news, I trust, continues favourable? " the
Ambassador remarked, observing the etiquette which
required him to be the first to leave the realms of
" It is a little negative in quality," the other an-
swered, after a moment's hesitation. " I am sum-
moned to Downing Street again at six o'clock."
" I have already confided the result of my morn-
ing despatches to the Prime Minister," Terniloff ob-
** I went through them before I came down here,"
was the somewhat doubtful reply.
272 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" You will have appreciated, I hope, their geir-
uinely pacific tone? " Terniloff asked anxiously.
His interlocutor bowed and then drew himself up.
It was obvious that the strain of the last few days
was telling upon him. There were lines about his
mouth, and his eyes spoke of sleepless nights.
" Words are idle things to deal with at a time like
this," he said. " One thing, however, I will venture
to say to you, Prince, here and under these circum-
stances. There will be no war unless it be the will
of your country."
Terniloff was for a moment unusually pale. It
was an episode of unrecorded history. He rose to
his feet and raised his hat.
" There will be no war," he said solemnly.
The Cabinet Minister passed on with a lighter step.
Dominey, more clearly than ever before, understood
the subtle policy which had chosen for his great posi-
tion a man as chivalrous and faithful and yet as
simple-minded as Terniloff. He looked after the re-
treating figure of the Cabinet Minister with a slight
smile at the corner of his lips.
" In a time like this," he remarked significantly,
" one begins to understand why one of our great
writers was it Bernhardi, I wonder ? has writ-
ten that no island could ever breed a race of di-
" The seas which engirdle this island," the Am-
bassador said thoughtfully, " have brought to Eng-
land 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
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 273
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 pres-
ently 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 an-
other 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 cheer-
ful little friend Seaman? He ought to be busy just
" Curiously enough, he is returning from Ger-
many to-night," Dominey announced. " I expect
him at Berkeley Square. He is coming direct to
These were days, to all dwellers in London, of
vivid impressions, of poignant memories, reasserting
themselves afterwards with a curious sense of un~
reality, as though belonging to another set of daya
and another world. Dominey long remembered his
dinner that evening in the sombre, handsomely fur-
nished dining-room of his town house in Berkeley
Square. Although it lacked the splendid propor-
tions 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 be-
tween them was yet considerable. As soon as Par-
kins had gravely put the port upon the table, Rosa-
mund 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
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 275
of those peaches, and we divide it. After which we
listen for a ring at the bell. To-night I expect a
" 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 pic-
turesque picture of a graceful and very desirable
woman, her delicate shape and artistic fragility more
than ever accentuated by the sombreness of the back-
" Do you know, Everard," she said, " I am so
happy in London here with you, and I feel all the
time so strong and well. I can read and understand
the books which were a maze of print to me before.
I can see the things in the pictures, and feel the thrill
of the music, which seemed to come to me, somehow,
before, all dislocated and discordant. You under-
stand, dear? "
" Of course," he answered gravely.
" I do not wonder," she went on, " that Doctor
Harrison is proud of me for a patient, but there are
many times when I feel a dull pain in my heart, be-
cause I know that, whatever he or anybody else
might say, I am not quite cured."
" Rosamund dear," he protested.
" Ah, but don't interrupt," she insisted, deposit-
ing his share of the peach upon his plate. " How
can I be cured when all the time there is the problem
276 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
of you, the problem which I am just as far off
solving as ever I was? Often I find myself compar-
ing you with the Everard whom I married."
" Do I fail so often to come up to his standard ? "
" You never fail," she answered, looking at him
with brimming eyes. " Of course, he was very much
more affectionate," she went on, after a moment's
pause. " His kisses were not like yours. And he
was far fonder of having me with him. Then, on
the other hand, often when I wanted him he was
not there, he did wild things, mad things ; he seemed
to forget me altogether. It was that," she went on,
" that was so terrible. It was that which made me
so nervous. I think that I should even have been
able to stand those awful moments when he came back
to me, covered with blood and reeling, if it had not
been that I was already almost a wreck. You know,
he killed Roger Unthank that night. That is why
he was never able to come back."
" Why do you talk of these things to-night, Rosa-
mund," Dominey begged.
" I must, dear," she insisted, laying her fingers
upon his hand and looking at him curiously. " I
must, even though I see how they distress you. It
is wonderful that you should mind so much, Everard,
but you do, and I love you for it."
" Mind? " he groaned. " Mind ! "
" You are so like him and yet so different," she
went on meditatively. " You drink so little wine, you
are always so self-controlled, so serious. You live
as though you had a life around you of which others
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 277
knew nothing. The Everard I remember would never
have cared about being a magistrate or going into
Parliament. He would never have had ambassadors
for his friends. He would have spent his time racing
or yachting, hunting or shooting, as the fancy took
him. And yet "
" And yet what ? " Dominey asked, a little
" I think he loved me better than you," she said
"Why?" he demanded.
" I cannot tell you," she answered, with her eyes
upon her plate, " but I think that he did."
Dominey walked suddenly to the window and
leaned out. There were drops of moisture upon his
forehead, he felt the fierce need of air. When he
came back she was still sitting there, still looking
" I have spoken to Doctor Harrison about it,"
she went on, her voice scarcely audible. " He told
me that you probably loved more than you dared
to show, because some day the real Everard might
" That is quite true," he reminded her softly.
" He may come back at any moment."
She gripped his hand, her voice shook with pas-
sion. She leaned towards him, her other arm stole
around his neck.
" But I don't want him to come back ! " she cried.
" I want you ! "
Dominey sat for a moment motionless, like a figure
of stone. Through the wide-flung, blind-shielded
278 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
windows came the raucous cry of a newsboy, break-
ing the stillness of the summer evening. And then
another and sharper interruption, the stopping of
a taxicab outside, the firm, insistent ringing of the
front doorbell. Recollection came to Dominey, and
a great strength. The fire which had leaped up
within him was thrust back. His response to her
wave of passion was infinitely tender.
" Dear Rosamund," he said, " that front doorbell
summons me to rather an important interview. Will
you please trust in me a little while longer? Believe
me, I am not in any way cold. I am not indifferent.
There is something which you will have to be told,
something with which I never reckoned, something
which is beginning to weigh upon me night and day.
Trust me, Rosamund, and wait ! "
She sank back into her chair with a piquant and
yet pathetic little grimace.
" You tell me always to wait," she complained.
" I will be patient, but you shall tell me this. You
are so kind to me. You make or mar my life. You
must care a little? Please? "
He was standing up now. He kissed her hands
fondly. His voice had all the old ring in it.
" More than for any woman on earth, dear Rosa-
Seaman, in a light grey suit, a panama, and a
white beflowered tie, had lost something of the placid
urbanity of a few months ago. He was hot and
tired with travel. There were new lines in his face
and a queer expression of anxiety about his eyes,
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 279
at the corners of which little wrinkles had begun
to appear. He responded to Dominey's welcome
with a fervour which was almost feverish, scrutinised
him closely, as though expecting to find some change,
and finally sank into an easy-chair with a little ges-
ture of relief. He had been carrying a small, brown
despatch case, which he laid on the carpet by his side.
" You have news ? " Dominey asked.
" Yes," was the momentous reply, " I have news."
Dominey rang the bell. He had already surmised,
from the dressing-case and coats in the hall, that his
visitor had come direct from the station.
" What will you have? " he enquired.
" A bottle of hock with seltzer water, and ice if
you have it," Seaman replied. " Also a plate of
cold meat, but it must be served here. And after-
wards the biggest cigar you have. I have indeed
news, news disturbing, news magnificent, news as-
Dominey gave some orders to the servant who an-
swered his summons. For a few moments they spoke
trivialities of the journey. When everything was
served, however, and the door closed, Seaman could
wait no longer. His appetite, his thirst, his speech,
seemed all stimulated to swift action.
" We are of the same temperament," he said.
" That I know. We will speak first of what is more
than disturbing a little terrifying. The mystery
of Johann Wolff has been solved."
" The man who came to us with messages from
Schmidt in South Africa ? " Dominey asked. " I had
almost forgotten about him."
280 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" The same. What was at the back of his visit
to us that night I cannot even now imagine. Neither
is it clear why he held aloof from me, who am his
superior in practically the same service. There we
are, from the commencement, confronted with a very
singular happening, but scarcely so singular as the
denouement. Wolff vanished from your house that
night into an English fortress."
" It seems incredible," Dominey declared bluntly.
" It is nevertheless true," Seaman insisted. " No
member of our service is allowed to remain more than
one month without communicating his existence and
whereabouts to headquarters. No word has been re-
ceived from Wolff since that night in January. On
the other hand, indirect information has reached us
that he is in durance over here."
" But such a thing is against the law, unheard
of," Dominey protested. " No country can keep the
citizen of another country in prison without formu-
lating a definite charge or bringing him up for trial."
Seaman smiled grimly.
" That's all very well in any ordinary case," he
said. " Wolff has been a marked man for years,
though. Wilhelmstrasse would soon make fuss
enough, if it were of any use, but it would not be.
There are one or two Englishmen in German prisons
at the present moment, concerning whose welfare the
English Foreign Office has not even thought it worth
while to enquire. What troubles me more than the
actual fact of Wolff's disappearance is the mystery
of his visit to you and his apprehension practically
on the spot."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 281
" They must have tracked him down there," Dom-
" Yes, but they couldn't thrust a pair of tongs
into your butler's sitting-room, extract Johann Wolff,
and set him down inside Norwich Castle or whatever
prison he may be in," Seaman objected. " How-
ever, the most disquieting feature about Wolff is
that it introduces something we don't understand.
For the rest, we have many men as good, and better,
and the time for their utility is past. You are our
great hope now, Dominey."
"It is to be, then?"
Seaman took a long and ecstatic draught of his
hock and seltzer.
" It is to be," he declared solemnly. " There was
never any doubt about it. If Russia ceases to mobi-
lise to-morrow, if every statesman in Servia crawls
to Vienna with a rope around his neck, the result
would still be the same. The word has gone out.
The whole of Germany is like a vast military camp.
It comes exactly twelve months before the final day
fixed by our great authorities, but the opportunity is
too great, too wonderful for hesitation. By the end
of August we shall be in Paris."
" You bring news indeed ! " Dominey murmured,
standing for a moment by the opened window.
" I have been received with favour in the very
loftiesi circles," Seaman continued. " You and I
both stand high in the list of those to whom great
rewards shall come. His Majesty approves alto-
gether of your reluctance to avail yourself of his
permission to wed the Princess Eideretrom. * Von
282 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Ragastein has decided well,' he declared. ' These are
not the days for marriage or giving in marriage,
these, the most momentous days the world has ever
known, the days when an empire shall spring into
being, the mightiest since the Continents fell into
shape and the stars looked down upon this present
world.' Those are the words of the All Highest.
In his eyes the greatest of all attributes is singleness
of purpose. You followed your own purpose, con-
trary to my advice, contrary to Terniloff's. You
will gain by it."
Seaman finished his meal in due course, and the
tray was removed. Soon the two men were alone
again, Seaman puffing out dense volumes of smoke,
gripping his cigar between his teeth, brandishing it
sometimes in his hand to give effect to his words.
A little of his marvellous caution seemed to have de-
serted him. For the first time ne spoke directly to
" Von Ragastein," he said, " it is a great country,
ours. It is a wonderful empire we shall build. To-
night I am on fire with the mighty things. I have
a list of instructions for you, many details. They
can wait. We will talk of our future, our great and
glorious destiny as the mightiest nation who has ever
earned for herself the right to govern the world.
You would think that in Germany there was excite-
ment. There is none. The task of every one is al-
lotted, their work made clear to them. Like a mighty
piece of gigantic machinery, we move towards war.
Every regiment knows its station, every battery com-
mander knows his positions, every general knows his
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 283
exact line of attack. Rations, clothing, hospitals,
every unit of which you can think, has its movements
calculated out for it to the last nicety."
"And the final result?" Dominey asked. "Is
that also calculated? "
Seaman, with trembling fingers, unlocked the little
despatch box which stood by his side and took from
it jealously a sheet of linen-backed parchment.
" You, my friend," he said, " are one of the first
to gaze upon this. This will show you the dream of
our Kaiser. This will show you the framework of
the empire that is to be."
He laid out a map upon the table. The two men
bent over it. It was a map of Europe, in which Eng-
land, a diminished France, Spain, Portugal and Italy,
were painted in dark blue. For the rest, the whole
of the space included between two lines, one from
Hamburg to Athens, the other from Finland to the
Black Sea, was painted a deep scarlet, with here and
there portions of it in slightly lighter colouring.
Seaman laid his palm upon the map.
" There lies our future Empire," he said solemnly
" Explain it to me," Dominey begged.
" Broadly speaking, everything between those two
lines belongs to the new German Empire. Poland,
Courland, Lithuania and the Ukraine will possess a
certain degree of autonomous government, which
will practically amount to nothing. Asia is there
at our feet. No longer will Great Britain control
the supplies of the world. Raw materials of every
description will be ours. Leather, tallow, wheat, ou\
284 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
fats, timber they are all there for us to draw upon.
And for wealth India and China ! What more
would you have, my friend? "
" You take my breath away. But what about Aus-
Seaman's grin was almost sardonic.
" Austria," he said, " must already feel her doom
creeping upon her. There is no room in middle Eu-
rope for two empires, and the House of Hapsburg
must fall before the House of Hohenzollern. Aus-
tria, body and soul, must become part of the German
Empire. Then further down, mark you. Roumania
must become a vassal state or be conquered. Bul-
garia is already ours. Turkey, with Constantinople,
is pledged. Greece will either join us or be wiped
out. Servia will be blotted from the map ; probably
also Montenegro. Those countries which are painted
in fainter red, like Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece, be-
come vassal states, to be absorbed one by one as op-
portunity presents itself."
Dominey's finger strayed northward.
" Belgium," he observed, " has disappeared."
" Belgium we shall occupy and enslave," Seaman
replied. " Our line of advance into France lies that
way, and we need her ports to dominate the Thames.
Holland and the Scandinavian countries, as you ob-
serve, are left in the lighter shade of red. If an
opportunity occurs, Holland and Denmark may be
incited to take the field against us. If they do so, it
means absorption. If they remain, as they probably
will, scared neutrals, they will none the less be our
vassal states when the last gun has been fired."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 285
"And Norway and Sweden?"
Seaman looked down at the map and smiled.
" Look at them," he said. " They lie at our
mercy. Norway has her western seaboard, and there
might always be the question of British aid, so far
as she is concerned. But Sweden is ours, body and
soul. More than any other of these vassal states,
it is our master's plan to bring her into complete
subjection. We need her lusty manhood, the finest
cannon food in the world, for later wars, if indeed
such a thing should be. She has timber and min-
erals which we also need. But there it is
enough. First of all men in this country, my friend,
you, Von Ragastein, have gazed upon this picture of
" This is marvellously conceived," Dominey mut-
tered, " but what of Russia with her millions? How
is it that we propose, notwithstanding her countless
millions of men, to help ourselves to her richest prov-
inces, to drive a way through the heart of her em-
" 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 involun-
tary 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
286 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
rule, a moderate man, but this was the third time ht
had replenished his glass since his hasty meal.
" My brain is weary, friend," he admitted, pass-
ing his hand over his forehead. " I have a great fa-
tigue. The thoughts jump about. This last week
has been one of fierce excitements. Everything, al-
most 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
" Terniloff is right, then, after all ! " Dominey ex-
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 atti-
tude towards England may change a little! Now
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."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 287
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. Even the lightest-hearted felt a thrill of
apprehension at the thought of the horrors that were
to come. In a day or two all this was to be changed.
People went about then counting the Russian mil-
lions ; the steamroller fetish was to be evolved. The
most peaceful stockbroker or shopkeeper, who had
never even been to a review in his life, could make
calculations of man power with a stump of pencil on
the back of an old envelope, which would convince
the greatest pessimist that Germany and Austria were
outnumbered by at least three to one. But on this
particular morning, people were too stunned for cal-
culations. The incredible had happened. The long-
discussed war the nightmare of the nervous, the
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 289
derision of the optimist had actually materialised.
The happy-go-lucky years of peace and plenty had
suddenly come to an end. Black tragedy leaned over
Dominey, avoiding acquaintances as far as pos-
sible, his own mind in a curious turmoil, passed down
St. James's Street and along Pall Mall and presented
himself at Carlton House Terrace. Externally, the
great white building, with its rows of flower boxes,
showed no signs of undue perturbation. Inside, how-
ever, the anteroom was crowded with callers, and it
was only by the intervention of Terniloff's private
secretary, who was awaiting him, that Dominey was
able to reach the inner sanctum where the Ambassador
was busy dictating letters. He broke off immedi*
ately his visitor was announced and dismissed every
one, including his secretaries. Then he locked the
" Von Ragastein," he groaned, " I am a broken
Dominey grasped his hand sympathetically. Ter-
niloff seemed to have aged years even in the last few
" I sent for you," he continued, " to say farewell,
to say farewell and to make a confession. You were
right, and I was wrong. It would have been better
if I had remained and played the country farmer on
my estates. I was never shrewd enough to see until
now that I have been made the cat's-paw of the very
men whose policy I always condemned."
His visitor still remained silent. There was so
little that he could say.
2 9 o THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I have worked for peace," Terniloff went on,
" believing that my country wanted peace. I have
worked for peace with honourable men who were just
as anxious as I was to secure it. But all the time
those for whom I laboured were making faces behind
my back. I was nothing more nor less than their
tool. I know now that nothing in this world could
have hindered what is coming."
" Every one will at least realise," Dominey re-
minded him, " that you did your best for peace."
" That is one reason why I sent for you," was the
agitated reply. " Not long ago I spoke of a little
volume, a diary which I have been keeping of my
work in this country. I promised to show it to you.
You have asked me for it several times lately. I am
going to show it to you now. It is written up to
yesterday. It will tell you of all my efforts and
how they were foiled. It is an absolutely faithful
narrative of my work here and the English response
The Prince crossed the room, unlocked one of the
smaller safes, which stood against the side of the
wall, withdrew a morocco-bound volume the size of
a small portfolio, and returned to Dominey.
" I beg you," he said earnestly, " to read this with
the utmost care and to await my instructions with
regard to it. You can judge, no doubt," he went
on a little bitterly, " why I give it into your keeping.
Even the Embassy here is not free from our own
spies, and the existence of these memoirs is known.
The moment I reach Germany, their fate is assured.
I am a German and a patriot, although my heart is
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION agr
bitter against those who are bringing this blot upon
our country. For that reason, these memoirs must
be kept in a safe place until I see a good use for
" You mean if the governing party in Germany
should change? "
" Precisely ! They would then form at once my
justification, and place English diplomacy in such a
light before the saner portion of my fellow country-
men that an honourable peace might be rendered
possible. Study them carefully, Von Ragastein.
Perhaps even your own allegiance to the Party you
serve may waver for a moment as you read."
" I serve no Party," Dominey said quietly, " only
" Alas ! there is no time for us to enter into one
of our old arguments on the ethics of government. I
must send you away, Von Ragastein. You have a
terrible task before you. I am bound to wish you
Godspeed. For myself I shall not raise my head
again until I have left England."
" There is no other commission ? " Dominey asked.
" No other way in which I can serve you? "
*' None," Terniloff answered sadly. " I am per-
mitted to suffer no inconveniences. My departure is
arranged for as though I were royalty. Yet be-
lieve me, my friend, every act of courtesy and gener-
osity which I receive in these moments, bites into n\y
.Start. Farewell ! "
Dominey found a taxicab in Pall Mall and drove
back to Berkeley Square. He found Rosamund with
2Q2 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
a little troop of dogs, just entering the gardens, and
crossed to her side.
" Dear," he asked, taking her arm, " would you
mind very much coming down to Norfolk for a few
" With you ? " she asked quickly.
" Yes ! I want to be in retreat for a short time.
There are one or two things I must settle before I
take up some fresh work."
" I should love it," she declared enthusiastically.
" London is getting so hot, and every one is so ex-
" I shall order the touring car at three o'clock,"
Dominey told her. " We shall get home about nine.
Parkins and your maid can go down by train. Does
that suit you? "
He took her arm and they paced slowly along the
" Rosamund dear," he said, " the time has come
which many people have been dreading. We are at
" I know," she murmured.
" You and I have had quite a happy time together,
these last few months," he went on, " even though
there is still that black cloud between us. I have
tried to treat you as kindly and tenderly as though
I were really your husband and you were indeed my
"You're not going away?" she cried, startled.
" I couldn't bear that ! No one could ever be so
as you have been to me."
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 293
" Dear," he said, " I want you to think of your
husband of Everard. He was a soldier once for
a short time, was he not? What do you think he
would have done now that this terrible war has
" He would have done what you will do," she an-
swered, with the slightest possible tremor in her tone.
" He would have become a soldier again, he would
have fought for his country."
" And so must I fight for my country," he de-
clared. " That is why I must leave you for an hour
now while I make some calls. I shall be back to
luncheon. Directly afterwards we must start. I
have many things to arrange first, though. Life is
not going to be very easy for the next few days."
She held on to his arm. She seemed curiously re-
luctant to let him go.
" Everard," she said, " when we are at Dominey
shall I be able to see Doctor Harrison? "
" Of course," he assured her.
" There is something I want to say to him," she
confided, " something I want to ask you, too. Are
you the same person, Everard, when you are in town
as when you are in the country? "
He was a little taken aback at her question
asked, too, with such almost plaintive seriousness.
The very aberration it suggested seemed altogether
denied by her appearance. She was wearing a dress
of black and white muslin, a large black hat, Paris
shoes. Her stockings, her gloves, all the trifling de-
tails of her toilette, were carefully chosen, and her
clothes themselves gracefully and naturally worn.
294 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
Socially, too, she had been amazingly successful.
Only the week before, Caroline had come to him with
a little shrug of the shoulders.
" I have been trying to be kind to Rosamund," she
said, " and finding out instead how unnecessary it is.
She is quite the most popular of the younger mar-
ried women in our set. You don't deserve such luck,
" You know the proverb about the old roue," he.
His mind had wandered for a moment. He real-
ised Rosamund's question with a little start.
" The same person, dear? " he repeated. " I think
so. Don't I seem so to you? "
She shook her head.
" I am not sure," she answered, a little mysteri-
ously. " You see, in thf country I still remember
sometimes that awful night when I so nearly lost my
reason. I have never seen you look as you looked
" You would rather not go back, perhaps ? "
" That is the strange part of it," she replied.
** There is nothing in the world I want so much to do.
There's an empty taxi, dear," she added, as they
reached the gate. " I shall go in and tell Justine
about the packing."
Within the course of the next few days, a strange
rumour spread through Dominey and the district,
fjrom the farm labourer to the farmer, from the
school children to their homes, from the village post-
office to the neighbouring hamlets. A gang of wood-
men from a neighbouring county, with an engine and
all the machinery of their craft, had started to work
razing to the ground everything in the shape of tree
or shrub at the north end of the Black Wood. The
matter of the war was promptly forgotten. Be-
fore the second day, every man, woman and child in
the place had paid an awed visit to the outskirts of
the wood, had listened to the whirr of machinery, had
gazed upon the great bridge of planks leading into
the wood, had peered, in the hope of some strange
discovery, into the tents of the men who were camp-
ing out. The men themselves were not communica-
tive, and the first time the foreman had been known
to open his mouth was when Dominey walked down
to discuss progress, on the morning after his arrival.
" It's a dirty bit of work, sir," he confided. " I
don't know as I ever came across a bit of woodland
as was so utterly, hopelessly rotten. Why, the wood
crumbles when you touch it, and the men have to be
within reach of one another the whole of the time,
296 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
though we've a matter of five hundred planks down
" Come across anything unusual yet? "
" We ain't come across anything that isn't unusual
so far, sir. My men are all wearing extra leggings
to keep them from being bitten by them adders as
long as my arm, some on 'em. And there's fungus
there which, when you touch it, sends out a smell
enough to make a strong man faint. We killed a
cat the first day, as big and as fierce as a young
tigress. It's a queer job, sir."
"How long will it take?"
" Matter of three weeks, sir, and when we've got
the timber out you'll be well advised to burn it. It's
not worth a snap of the fingers. Begging your
pardon, sir," the man went on, " the old lady in the
distance there hangs about the whole of the time.
Some of my men are half scared of her."
Dominey swung around. On a mound a little dis-
tance away in the park, Rachael Unthank was stand-
ing. In her rusty black clothes, unrelieved by any
trace of colour, her white cheeks and strange eyes,
even in the morning light she was a repellent figure.
Dominey strolled across to her.
" You see, Mrs. Unthank," he began
She interrupted him. Her skinny hand was
stretched out towards the wood.
" What are those men doing, Sir Everard Dom-
iney ? " she demanded. " What is your will with the
" I am carrying out a determination I came to in
the winter," Dominey replied. " Those men are go-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 297
ing to cut and hew their way from one end of the
Black Wood to the other, until not a tree or a bush
remains upright. As they cut, they burn. After-
wards, I shall have it drained. We may live to see
a field of corn there, Mrs. Unthank."
" You will dare to do this ? " she asked hoarsely.
" Will you dare to tell me why I should not, Mrs-
She relapsed into silence, and Dominey passed on.
But that night, as Rosamund and he were lingering
over their dessert, enjoying the strange quiet and the
wonderful breeze which crept in at the open window,
Parkins announced A visitor.
" Mrs. Unthank is in the library, sir," he an-
nounced. " She would be glad if you could spare her
Rosamund shivered slightly but nodded as Dominey
glanced towards her enquiringly.
" Don't let me see her, please," she begged. " You
must go, of course. Everard ! "
" Yes, dear?"
" I know what you are doing out there, although
you have never said a word to me about it," she con-
tinued, with an odd little note of passion in her tone.
" Don't let her persuade you to stop. Let them cut
and burn and hew till there isn't room for a mouse to
hide. You promise?"
" I promise," he answered.
Mrs. Unthank was making every effort to keep un-
der control her fierce discomposure. She rose as
Dominey entered, the room and dropped an old-fash-
2 g8 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Well, Mrs. Unthank," he enquired, " what can I
do for you? "
" It's about the wood again, sir," she confessed.
" I can't bear it. All night long I seem to hear those
axes, and the calling of the men."
" What is your objection, Mrs. Unthank, to the
destruction of the Black Wood? " Dominey asked
bluntly. " It is nothing more nor less than a noisome
pest-hole. Its very presence there, after all that she
has suffered, is a menace to Lady Dominey's nerves.
I am determined to sweep it from the face of the
The forced respect was already beginning to dis-
appear from her manner.
" There's evil will come to you if you do, Sir
Everard," she declared doggedly.
" Plenty of evil has come to me from that wood
as it is," he reminded her.
" You mean to disturb the spirit of him whose
body you threw there? " she persisted.
Dominey looked at her calmly. Some sort of evil
seemed to have lit in her face. Her lips had shrunk
apart, showing her yellow teeth. The fire in her
narrowed eyes was the fire of hatred.
" I am no murderer, Mrs. Unthank," he said.
" Your son stole out from the shadow of that wood,
attacked me in a cowardly manner, and we fought.
He was mad when he attacked me, he fought like a
madman, and, notwithstanding my superior strength,
I was glad to get away alive. I never touched his
body. It lay where he fell. If he crept into the
wood and died there, then his death was not at my
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 299
door. He sought for my life as I never sought for
" You'd done him wrong," the woman muttered.
" That again is false. His passion for Lady Dom-
iney was uninvited and unreciprocated. Her only
feeling concerning him was one of fear; that the
whole countryside knows. Your son was a lonely, a
morose and an ill-living man, Mrs. Unthank. If
either of us had murder in our hearts, it was he, not
I. And as for you," Dominey went on, after a mo-
ment's pause, " I think that you have had your re-
venge, Mrs. Unthank. It was you who nursed my
wife into insanity. It was you who fed her with
the horror of your son's so-called spirit. I think
that if I had stayed away another two years, Lady
Dominey would have been in a mad-house to-day."
" I would to Heaven," the woman cried, " that
you'd rotted to death in Africa ! "
" You carry your evil feelings far, Mrs. Unthank,"
he replied. " Take my advice. Give up this foolish
idea that the Black Wood is still the home of your
son's spirit. Go and live on your annuity in another
part of the country and forget."
He moved across the room to throw open a window.
Her eyes followed him wonderingly.
" I have heard a rumour," she said slowly ; " there
has been a word spoken here and there about you.
I've had my doubts sometimes. I have them again
every time you speak. Are you really Everard Dom-
He swung around and faced her.
3 oo THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" There's one," she went on, " has never believed
it, and that's her ladyship. I've heard strange talk
from the people who've come under your masterful
ways. You're a harder man than the Everard Dom-
iney I remember. What if you should be an im-
" You have only to prove that, Mrs. Unthank,"
Dominey replied, " and a portion, at any rate, of
the Black Wood may remain standing. You will
find it a little difficult, though. You must excuse
my ringing the bell. I see no object in asking you
to remain longer."
She rose unwillingly to her feet. Her manner was
sullen and unyielding.
" You are asking for the evil things," she warned
" Be assured," Dominey answered, " that if they
come I shall know how to deal with them."
Dominey found Rosamund and Doctor Harrison,
who had walked over from the village, lingering on
the terrace. He welcomed the latter warmly.
" You are a godsend, Doctor," he declared. " I
have been obliged to leave my port untasted for want
of a companion. You will excuse us for a moment,
She nodded pleasantly, and the doctor followed his
host into the dining-room and took his seat at the
table where the dessert still remained.
" Old woman threatening mischief, eh? " the latter
asked, with a keen glance from under his shaggy
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 301
" I think she means it," Dominey replied, as he
filled hjs guest's glass. " Personally," he went on,
after a moment's pause, " the present situation is
beginning to confirm an old suspicion of mine. I
am a hard and fast materialist, you know, Doctor,
in certain matters, and I have not the slightest faith
in the vindictive mother, terrified to death lest the
raring of a wood of unwholesome character should
turn out into the cold world the spirit of her angel
" What do you believe? " the doctor asked bluntly.
" I would rather not tell you at the present mo<
ment," Dominey answered. " It would sound tot
" Your note this afternoon spoke of urgency,"
the doctor observed.
" The matter is urgent. I want you to do me a
great favour to remain here all night."
" You are expecting something to happen ? "
" I wish, at any rate, to be prepared."
" I'll stay, with pleasure," the doctor promised.
" You can lend me some paraphernalia, I suppose?
And give me a shake-down somewhere near
Lady Dominey's. By-the-by," he began, and hesi-
" I have followed your advice, or rather your
orders," Dominey interrupted, a little harshly. " It
has not always been easy, especially in London, where
Rosamund is away from these associations. I am
hoping great things from what may happen to-night,
or very soon."
The doctor nodded sympathetically.
V>2 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I shouldn't wonder if you weren't on the right
track," he declared.
Rosamund came in through the window to them
and seated herself by Dominey's side.
" Why are you two whispering like conspirators ? "
" Because we are conspirators," he replied lightly.
" I have persuaded Doctor Harrison to stay the
night. He would like a room in our wing. Will
you let the maids know, dear? "
She nodded thoughtfully.
" Of course ! There are several rooms quite ready.
Mrs. Midgeley thought that we might be bringing
down some guests. I am quite sure that we can make
Doctor Harrison comfortable."
" No doubt about that, Lady Dominey," the doc-
tor declared. " Let me be as near to your apart'
ments as possible."
There was a shade of anxiety in her face.
" You think that to-night something will happen ? "
" To-night, or one night very soon," Dominey as-
sented. " It is just as well for you to be prepared.
You will not be afraid, dear? You will have the
doctor on one side of you and me on the other."
" I am only afraid of one thing," she answered a
little enigmatically. " I have been so happy lately."
Dominey, changed into ordinary morning clothes,
with a thick covd tied round his body, a revolver in
his pocket, and a loaded stick in his hand, spent the
remainder of that night and part of the early morn-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 303
ing concealed behind a great clump of rhododendrons,
his e} T es fixed upon the shadowy stretch of park
which lay between the house and the Black Wood.
The night was moonless but clear, and when his eyes
were once accustomed to the pale but sombre twi-
light, the whole landscape and the moving objects
upon it were dimly visible. The habits of his years
of bush life seemed instinctively, in those few hours
of waiting, to have reestablished themselves. Every
sense was strained and active ; every night sound
of which the hooting of some owls, disturbed from
their lurking place in the Black Wood, was predom-
inant heard and accounted for. And then, just
as he had glanced at his watch and found that it
was close upon two o'clock, came the first real inti-
mation that something was likely to happen. Mov-
ing across the park towards him he heard the sound
of a faint patter, curious and irregular in rhythm,
which came from behind a range of low hillocks. He
raised himself on his hands and knees to watch. His
eyes were fastened upon a certain spot, a stretch
of the open park between himself and the hillocks.
The patter ceased and began again. Into the open
there came a dark shape, the irregularity of its
movements swiftly explained. It moved at first upon
all fours, then on two legs, then on all fours again.
It crept nearer and nearer, and Dominey, as he
watched, laid aside his stick. It reached the terrace,
paused underneath Rosamund's window, now barely
half a dozen yards from where he was crouching.
Deliberately he waited, waited for what he knew
must soon come. Then the deep silence of the breath-
304 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
less night was broken by that familiar, unearthly
scream. Dominey waited till even its echoes had
died away. Then he ran a few steps, bent double,
and stretched out his hands. Once more, for the
last time, that devil's cry broke the deep stillness of
the August morning, throbbing a little as though with
a new fear, dying away as though the fingers which
crushed it back down the straining throat had indeed
crushed with it the last flicker of some unholy life.
When Doctor Harrison made his hurried appear-
ance, a few moments later, he found Dominey seated
upon the terrace, furiously smoking a cigarette. On
the ground, a few yards away, lay something black
" What is it? " the doctor gasped.
For the first time Dominey showed some signs of
a lack of self-control. His voice was choked and un-
" Go and look at it, Doctor," he said. " It's tied
up, hand and foot. You can see where the spirit of
Roger Unthank has hidden itself."
" Bosh ! " the doctor answered, with grim contempt.
" It's Roger Unthank himself. The beast ! "
A little stream of servants came running- out.
Dominey gave a few orders quickly.
" Ring up the garage," he directed, " and I shall
want one of the men to go into Norwich to the hoe-
pital. Doctor, will you go up and see Lady Dom-
The habits of a lifetime broke down : Parkins, the
immaculate, the silent, the perfect automaton, asked
an eager question.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 305
"What is it, sir?"
There was the sound of a window opening over-
head. At that moment Parkins would not have asked
in vain for an annuity. Dominey glanced at the little
semicircle of servants and raised his voice.
" It is the end, I trust, of these foolish supersti-
tions about Roger Unthank's ghost. There lies
Roger Unthank, half beast, half man. For some
reason or other some lunatic's reason, of course
he has chosen to hide himself in the Black Wood
all these years. His mother, I presume, has been his
accomplice and taken him food. He is still alive but
in a disgusting state."
There was a little awed murmur. Dominey's voice
had become quite matter of fact.
" I suppose," he continued, " his first idea was to
revenge himself upon us and this household, by whom
he imagined himself badly treated. The man, how-
ever, was half a madman when he came to the neigh-
bourhood and has behaved like one ever since.
Johnson," Dominey continued, singling out a sturdy
footman with sound common sense, " get ready to
take this creature into Norwich Hospital. Say that
if I do not come in during the day, a letter of ex-
planation will follow from me. The rest of you,
with the exception of Parkins, please go to bed."
With little exclamations of wonder they began to
disperse. Then one of them paused and pointed
across the park. Moving with incredible swiftness
came the gaunt, black figure of Rachael Unthank,
swaying sometimes on her feet, yet in their midst
before they could realise it. She staggered to the
306 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
prostrate body and threw herself upon her knees.
Her hands rested upon the unseen face, her eyes
glared across at Dominey.
" So you've got him at last ! " she gasped.
" Mrs. Unthank," Dominey said sternly, " you are
in time to accompany your son to the hospital at
Norwich. The car will be here in two minutes. I
have nothing to say to you. Your own conscience
should be sufficient punishment for keeping that poor
creature alive in such a fashion and ministering dur-
ing my absence to his accursed desires for vengeance."
" He would have died if I hadn't brought him food,"
she muttered. " I have wept all the tears a woman's
broken heart could wring out, beseeching him to come
back to me."
" Yet," Dominey insisted, " you shared his foul
plot for vengeance against a harmless woman. You
let him come and make his ghoulish noises, night by
night, under these windows, without a word of re-
monstrance. You knew very well what their accursed
object was you, with a delicate woman in your
charge who trusted you. You are an evil pair, but
of the two you are worse than your half-witted
The woman made no reply. She was still on her
knees, bending over the prostrate figure, from whose
lips now came a faint moaning. Then the lights of
the car flashed out as it left the garage, passed
through the iron gates and drew up a few yards away.
" Help him in," Dominey ordered. " You can
loosen his cords, Johnson, as soon as you have started.
He has very little strength. Tell them at the hos-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 307
pital I shall probably be there during the day, or to-
With a little shiver the two men stooped to their
task. Their prisoner muttered to himself all the
time, but made no resistance. Rachael Unthank, as
she stepped in to take her place by his side, turned
once more to Dominey. She was a broken woman.
" You're rid of us," she sobbed, " perhaps for-
ever. You've said harsh things of both of us.
Roger isn't always so bad. Sometimes he's more
gentle than at others. You'd have thought then that
he was just a baby, living there for love of the wind
and the trees and the birds. If he comes to "
Her voice broke. Dominey's reply was swift and
not unkind. He pointed to the window above.
" If Lady Dominey recovers, you and your son
are forgiven. If she never recovers, I wish you both
the blackest corner of hell."
The car drove off. Doctor Harrison met Dom-
iney on the threshold as he turned towards the house.
" Her ladyship is unconscious now," he announced.
" Perhaps that is a good sign. I never liked that
unnatural calm. She'll be unconscious, I think, for
a great many hours. For God's sake, come and get
a whisky and soda and give me one ! "
The 2arly morning sunshine lay upon the park
when the two men at last separated. They stood
for a moment looking out. From the Black Wood
came the whirr of a saw. The little troop of men
had left their tents. The crash of a fallen tree her-
alded their morning's work.
308 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" You are still going on with that ? " the doctor
** To the very last stump of a tree, to the last bush,
to the last cluster of weeds," Dominey replied, with
a sudden passion in his tone. " I will have that place
razed to the bare level of the earth, and I will h"7e
its poisonous swamps sucked dry. I have hated that
foul spot," he went on, " ever since I realised what
suffering it meant to her. My reign here may not
be long, Doctor I have my own tragedy to deal
with but those who come after me will never feel
the blight of that accursed place."
The doctor grunted. His inner thoughts he kept
" Maybe you're right," he conceded.
The heat of a sulphurous afternoon a curious
parallel in its presage of coming storm to the fast-
approaching crisis in Dominey's own affairs had
driven Dominey from his study out on to the terrace.
In a chair by his side lounged Eddy Pelham, im-
maculate in a suit of white flannels. It was the fifth
day since the mystery of the Black Wood had been
" Ripping, old chap, of you to have me down
here," the young man remarked amiably, his hand
stretching out to a tumbler which stood by his side.
" The country, when you can get ice, is a paradise
this weather, especially when London's so full of
ghastly rumours and all that sort of thing, eh?
What's the latest news of her ladyship? "
" Still unconscious," Dominey replied. " The doc-
tors, however, seem perfectly satisfied. Everything
depends on her waking moments."
The young man abandoned the subject with a mur-
mur of hopeful sympathy. His eyes were fixed upon
a little cloud of dust in the distance.
" Expecting visitors to-day? " he asked.
" Should not be surprised," was the somewhat la-
The young man stood up, yawned and stretched
3 io THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I'll make myself scarce," he said. " Jove ! " he
added approvingly, lingering for a moment. " Jolly
well cut, the tunic of your uniform, Dominey ! If a
country in peril ever decides to waive the matter of
my indifferent physique and send me out to the rescue,
I shall go to your man."
" Mine is only the local Yeomanry rig-out," he
replied. " They will nab you for the Guards ! "
Dominey stepped back through the open windows
into his study as Pelham strolled off. He was seated
at his desk, poring over some letters, when a few
minutes later Seaman was ushered into the room.
For a single moment his muscles tightened, his frame
became tense. Then he realised his visitor's out-
stretched hands of welcome and he relaxed. Seaman
was perspiring, vociferous and excited.
" At last ! " he exclaimed. " Donner und ! My
God, Dominey, what is this? "
" Thirteen years ago," Dominey explained, " I re-
signed a commission in the Norfolk Yeomanry. That
little matter, however, has been adjusted. At a crisis
like this "
" My friend, you are wonderful ! " Seaman inter-
rupted solemnly. " You are a man after my own
heart, you are thorough, you leave nothing undone.
That is why," he added, lowering his voice a little,
" we are the greatest race in the world. Drink be-
fore everything, my friend," he went on, " drink I
must have. What a day ! The very clouds that hide
the sun are full of sulphurous heat."
Dominey rang the bell, ordered hock and seltzer
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 311
and ice. Seaman drank and threw himself into an
" There is no fear of your being called out of the
country because of that, I hope?" he asked a little
anxiously, nodding his head towards his companion's
" Not at present," Dominey answered. " I am a
trifle over age to go with the first batch or two.
Where have you been ? "
Seaman hitched his chair a little nearer.
" In Ireland," he confided. " Sorry to desert you
as I did, but you do not begin to count for us just
yet. There was just a faint doubt as to what they
were going to do about internment. That is why I
had to get the Irish trip off my mind."
" What has been decided? "
" The Government has the matter under considera-
tion," Seaman replied, with a chuckle. " I can cer-
tainly give myself six months before I need to slip
off. Now tell me, why do I find you down here? "
" After Terniloff left," Dominey explained, " I felt
I wanted to get away. I have been asked to start
some recruiting work down here."
" Terniloff left his little volume with you? "
Yes ! "
"Where is it?"
" Safe," Dominey replied.
Seaman mopped his forehead.
" It needs to be," he muttered. " I have orders to
see it destroyed. We can talk of that presently.
Sometimes, when I am away from you, I tremble,
It may sound foolish, but you have in your posses-
3 i2 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
sion just the two things that map and Von Terni-
loff's memoirs which would wreck our propaganda
in every country of the world."
" Both are safe," Dominey assured him. " By the
by, my friend," he went on, " do you know that you
yourself are forgetting your usual caution? "
" In what respect ? " Seaman demanded quickly.
" As you stooped to sit down just now, I distinctly
saw the shape of your revolver in your hip pocket.
You know as well as I do that with your name and
the fact that you are only a naturalised Englishman,
it is inexcusably foolish to be carrying firearms about
Seaman thrust his hand into his pocket and threw
the revolver upon the table.
" You are quite right," he acknowledged. " Take
care of it for me. I took it with me to Ireland, be-
cause one never knows what may happen in that
Dominey swept it carelessly into the drawer of the
desk at which he was sitting.
" Our weapons, from now on," Seaman continued,
" must be weapons of guile and craft. You and I
will have, alas ! to see less of one another, Dominey.
In many ways it is unfortunate that we have not
been able to keep England out of this for a few
more months. However, the situation must be dealt
with as it exists. So far as you are concerned, you
have practically secured yourself against suspicion.
You will hold a brilliant and isolated place amongst
those who are serving the great War Lord. When
I do approach you, it will be for sympathy and assist-
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 313
ance against the suspicions of these far-seeing Eng-
lishmen ! "
" You will stay the night? " he asked.
" If I may," Seaman assented. " It is the last
time for many months when it will be wise for us to
meet on such intimate terms. Perhaps our dear
friend Parkins will take vinous note of the occa-
" In other words," Dominey said, " you propose
that we shall drink the Dominey cabinet hock and the
Dominey port to the glory of our country."
" To the glory of our country," Seaman echoed.
" So be it, my friend. Listen."
A car had passed along the avenue in front of the
house. There was the sound of voices in the hall,
a knock at the door, the rustle of a woman's clothes.
Parkins, a little disturbed, announced the arrivals.
" The Princess of Eiderstrom and a gentleman.
The Princess said that her errand with you was
urgent, sir," he added, turning apologetically to-
wards his master.
The Princess was already in the room, and fol-
lowing her a short man in a suit of sombre black,
wearing a white tie, and carrying a black bowler
hat. He blinked across the room through his thick
glasses, and Dominey knew that the end had come.
The door was closed behind them. The Princess
came a little further into the room. Her hand was
extended towards Dominey, but not in greeting.
Her white finger pointed straight at him. She turned
to her companion.
314 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" Which is that, Doctor Schmidt? " she demanded.
* The Englishman, by God ! " Schmidt answered.
The silence which reigned for several seconds was
intense and profound. The coolest of all four was
perhaps Dominey. The Princess was pale with a
passion which seemed to sob behind her words.
" Everard Dominey,'* she cried, " what have you
done with my lover? What have you done with Leo-
pold von Ragastein ? "
" He met with the fate," Dominey replied, " which
he had prepared for me. We fought and I con-
"You killed him?"
" I killed him," Dominey echoed. " It was a mat-
ter of necessity. His body sleeps on the bed of the
" And your life here has been a lie ! "
" On the contrary, it has been the truth," Dom-
iney objected. " I assured you at the Carlton, when
you first spoke to me, and I have assured you a dozen
times since, that I was Everard Dominey. That is
my name. That is who I am."
Seaman's voice seemed to come from a long way
off. For the moment the man had neither courage
nor initiative. He seemed as though he had received
some sort of stroke. His mind was travelling back-
" You came to me at Capt Town," he muttered ;
" you had all Von Ragastein's letters, you knew his
history, you had the Imperial mandate."
" Von Ragastein and I exchanged the most inti-
mate confidences in his camp," Dominey said, " &r.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 315
Doctor Schmidt there knows. I told him my his-
tory, and he told me his. The letters and papers I
took from him."
Schmidt had covered his face with his hands for
a moment. His shoulders were heaving.
" My beloved chief ! " he sobbed. " My dear de-
voted master! Killed by that drunken English-
" Not so drunk as you fancied him," Dominey said
coolly, " not so far gone in his course of dissipation
but that he was able to pull himself up when the
great incentive came."
The Princess looked from one to the other of the
two men. Seaman had still the appearance of a
man struggling to extricate himself from some sort
" My first and only suspicion," he faltered, " was
that night when Wolff disappeared ! "
" Wolff's coming was rather a tragedy," Dominey
admitted. " Fortunately, I had a secret service man
in the house who was able to dispose of him."
" It was you who planned his disappearance? "
" Naturally," Dominey replied. " He knew the
truth and was trying all the time to communicate
" And the money ? " Seaman continued, blinking
rapidly. " One hundred thousand pounds, and
more ? "
'* I understood that was a gift," Dominey replied.
" If the German Secret Service, however, cares t&
formulate a claim and sue me "
3 i6 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
The Princess suddenly interrupted. Her eyes
seemed on fire.
" What are you, you two ? " she cried, stretching
out her hands towards Schmidt and Seaman. " Are
you lumps of earth clods creatures without
courage and intelligence? You can let him stand!
there the Englishman who has murdered my lover,
who has befooled you? You let him stand there and
mock you, and you do and say nothing! Is his life
a sacred thing? Has he none of your secrets in his
charge ? "
" The great God above us ! " Seaman groaned, with
a sudden white horror in. his face. " He has the
Prince's memoirs J He has the Kaiser's map!"
" On the contrary," Dominey replied, " both are
deposited at the Foreign Office. We hope to find
them very useful a little later on."
Seaman sprang forward like a tiger and went down
in a heap as he almost threw himself upon Dominey's
out-flung fist. Schmidt came stealing across the
room, and from underneath his cuff something
" You are two to one ! " the Princess cried pas-
sionately, as both assailants hesitated. " I would to
God that I had a weapon, or that I were a man ! "
'* My dear Princess," a good-humoured voice re-
marked from the window, " four to two the other way,
I think, what? "
Eddy Pelham, his hands in his pockets, but a very
alert gleam in his usually vacuous face, stood in the
windowed doorway. From behind him, two exceed-
ingly formidable-looking men slipped into the room.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 317
There was no fight, not even a struggle. Seaman,
who had never recovered from the shock of his sur-
prise, and was now completely unnerved, was hand-
cuffed in a moment, and Schmidt disarmed. The lat-
ter was the first to break the curious silence.
" What have I done? " he demanded. " Why am
I treated like this?"
" Doctor Schmidt? " Eddy asked pleasantly.
" That is my name, sir," was the fierce reply. " I
have just landed from East Africa. We knew noth-
ing of the war when we started. I came to expose
that man. He is an impostor a murderer! He
has killed a German nobleman."
" He has committed Use majeste! " Seaman gasped.
" He has deceived the Kaiser ! He has dared to sit
in his presence as the Baron von Ragastein! "
The young man in flannels glanced across at Dom-
iney and smiled.
" I say, you two don't mean to be funny but you
are," he declared. " First of all, there's Doctor
Schmidt accuses Sir Everard here of being an im-
postor because he assumed his own name ; accuses
him of murdering a man who had planned in cold
blood you were in that, by the by, Schmidt to
kill him ; and then there's our friend here, the secre-
tary of the society for propagating better relations
between the business men of England and Germany,
complaining because Sir Everard carried through in
Germany, for England, exactly what he believed the
Baron von Ragastein was carrying out here for
Germany. You're a curious, thick-headed race, you
3i8 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" I demand again," Schmidt shouted, " to know
by what right I am treated as a criminal? "
" Because you are one," Eddy answered coolly.
" You and Von Ragastein together planned the mur-
der of Sir Everard Dominey in East Africa, and I
caught you creeping across the floor just now with
a knife in your hand. That'll do for you. Any
questions to ask, Seaman ? "
" None," was the surly reply.
" You are well-advised," the young man remarked
coolly. " Within the last two days, your house in
Forest Hill and your offices in London Wall have
" You have said enough," Seaman declared.
" Fate has gone against me. I thank God that our
master has abler servants than I and the strength
to crush this island of popinj ays and fools ! "
"Popinjays seems severe," Eddy murmured, in a
hurt tone. " However, to get on with this little mat-
ter," he added, turning to one of his two subordi-
nates. " You will find a military car outside. Take
these men over to the guardroom at the Norwich
Barracks. I have arranged for an escort to see
them to town. Tell the colonel I'll be over later in
The Princess rose from the chair into which she
had subsided a few moments before. Dominey turned
" Princess," he said, " there can be little conversa-
tion between us. Yet I shall ask you to remember
this. Von Ragastein planned my death in cold blood.
I could have slain him as an assassin, without the;
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 319
slightest risk, but I preferred to meet him face to
face with the truth upon my lips. It was his life
or mine. I fought for my country's sake, as he
did for his."
The Princess looked at him with glittering eyes.
" I shall hate you to the end of my days," she de-
clared, " because you have killed the thing I love,
but although I am a woman, I know justice. You
were chivalrous towards me. You treated Leopold
perhaps better than he would have treated you. I
pray that I shall never see your face again. Be so
good as to suffer me to leave this house at once, and
Dominey threw open the windows which led on to
the terrace and stood on one side. She passed by
without a glance at him and disappeared. Eddy
came strolling along the terrace a few moments later.
" Nice old ducks, those two, dear heart," he con-
fided. " Seaman has just offered Forsyth, my burly
ruffian in the blue serge suit, a hundred pounds to
shoot him on the pretence that he was escaping."
" And what about Schmidt? "
" Insisted on his rights as an officer and demanded
the front seat and a cigar before the car started I
A pretty job, Dominey, and neatly cleaned up."
Dominey was watching the dust from the two cars
which were disappearing down the avenue.
" Tell me, Eddy," he asked, " there's one thing I
have always been curious about. How did you man-
age to keep that fellow Wolff when there wasn't a
war on, and he wasn't breaking the law? "
The young man grinned.
320 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
" We had to stretch a point there, old dear," he
admitted. "Plans of a fortress, eh?"
" Do you mean to say that he had plans of a
fortress upon him ? " Dominey asked.
" Picture post-card of Norwich Castle," the young
man confided, " but keep it dark. Can I have a
drink before I get the little car going? "
The turmoil of the day was over, and Dominey,
after one silent but passionate outburst of thankful-
ness at the passing from his life of this unnatural
restraint, found all his thoughts absorbed by the
struggle which was being fought out in the bedcham-
ber above. The old doctor came down and joined
him at dinner time. He met Dominey's eager glance
with a little nod.
" She's doing all right," he declared.
" No fever or anything? "
" Bless you, no ! She's as near as possible in per-
fect health physically. A different woman from
what she was this time last year, I can tell you.
When she wakes up, she'll either be herself again,
without a single illusion of any sort, or "
The doctor paused, sipped his wine, emptied his
glass and set it down approvingly.
" Or? " Dominey persisted.
" Or that part of her brain will be more or less
permanently affected. However, I am hoping for the
best. Thank heavens you're on the spot ! "
They finished their dinner almost in silence.
Afterwards, they smoked for a few minutes upon the
terrace. Then they made their way softly upstairs.
THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 321
The doctor parted with Dominey at the door of the
" I shall remain with her for an hour or so," he
said. " After that I shall leave her entirely to her-
self. You'll be here in case there's a change? "
" I shall be here," Dominey promised.
The minutes passed into hours, uncounted, unno-
ticed. Dominey sat in his easy-chair, stirred by a
tumultuous wave of passionate emotion. The mem-
ory of those earlier days of his return came back to
him with all their poignant longings. He felt again
the same tearing at his heart-strings, the same
strange, unnerving tenderness. The great world's
drama, in which he knew that he, too, would surely
continue to play his part, seemed like -a thing far
off, the concern of another race of men. Every
fibre of his being seemed attuned to the magic and
the music of one wild hope. Yet when there came
what he had listened for so long, the hope seemed
frozen into fear. He sat a little forward in his easy-
chair, his hands gripping its sides, his eyes fixed
upon the slowly widening crack in the panel. It was
as it had been before. She stooped low, stood up
again and came towards him. From behind an un-
seen hand closed the panel. She came to him with her
arms outstretched and all the wonderful things of
life and love in her shining eyes. That faint touch
of the somnambulist had passed. She came to him
as she had never come before. She was a very real
and a very live woman.
" Everard ! " she cried.
3 22 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION
He took her into his arms. At their first kiss she
thrilled from head to foot. For a moment she laid
her head upon his shoulder.
" Oh, I have been so silly ! " she confessed.
" There were times when I couldn't believe that you
were my Fverard mine ! And now I know."
Her lips sought his again, his parched with the
desire of years. Along the corridor, the old doctor
tiptoed his way to his room, with a pleased smile upon
The greatest pleasure in life is
that of reading. Why not then
own the books of great novelists
when the price is so small
C Of all the amusements which can possibly
be imagined for a hard-working man, after
his daily toil, or in its intervals, there is
nothing like reading an entertaining book.
It calls for no bodily exertion. It transports
him into a livelier, and gayer, and more di-
versified and interesting scene, and while he
enjoys himself there he may forget the evils
of the present moment. Nay, it accompanies
him to his next day's work, and gives him
something to think of besides the mere
mechanical drugdgery of his every-day occu-
pation something he can enjoy while absent,
and look forward with pleasure to return to.
Ask your dealer for a list of the titles
in Burfs Popular Priced Fiction
In buying the books bearing the
A. L. Burt Company imprint
you are assured of wholesome, en-
tertaining and instructive reading
THE BEST OF RECENT FICTION
Adventures of Jimmie Dale, Frank L. Packard.
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. A. Conan Doyle.
Affair in Duplex 9B, The. William Johnston.
Affinities and Other Stories. Mary Roberts Rinehart.
After House, The. Mary Roberts Rinehart.
After Noon. Susan Ertz.
Alcatraz. Max Brand.
Amateur Gentleman. Jeffery Farnol.
Anne's House of Dreams. L. M. Montgomery.
Anne of the Island. L. M. Montgomery.
And They Lived Happily Ever After. Meredith Nicholson,
Are All Men Alike, and The Lost Titian. Arthur Stringer.
At the Foot of the Rainbow. James B. Hendryx.
Auction Block, The. Rex Beach.
Aw Hell! Clarke Venable.
Bab: a Sub-Deb. Mary Roberts Rinehart.
Bar-20. Clarence E. Mulford.
Bar-20 Days. Clarence E. Mulford.
Bar 20 Rides Again, The. Clarence E. Mulford.
Bar-20 Three. Clarence E. Mulford.
Barrier, The. Rex Beach.
Bars of Iron, The. Ethel M. Dell.
Bat Wing. Sax Rohmer.
Bellamy Trial, The. Frances Noyes Hart.
Beloved Traitor, The. Frank L. Packard.
Beloved Woman, The. Kathleen Norris.
Beltane the Smith. Jeffery Farnol.
Benson Murder Case, The. S. S. Van Dine.
Big Brother. Rex Beach.
Big Mogul, The. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Big Timber. Bertrand W. Sinclair.
Bill The Sheik. A. M. Williamson.
Black Abbot, The. Edgar Wallace.
Black Bartlemy's Treasure. Jeffery Farnot
Black Buttes. Clarence E. Mulford.
Black Flemings, The. Kathleen Norris.
Black Oxen. Gertrude Atherton.
Blatchington Tangle, The. G. D. H. & Margaret Colfe
Blue Car Mystery, The. Natalie Sumner Lincoln.
Blue Castle, The. L. M. Montgomery.
Blue Hand. Edgar Wallace.
81ue Jay, The. Max Brand.
Bob, Son of Battle. Alfred Ollivant.
Box With Broken Seals. E. Phillips Oppepheins
THE BEST OF RECENT FICTION
Brass. Charles G. Norris.
Bread. Charles G. Norris.
Breaking Point, The. Mary Roberts Rinehart
Bright Shawl, The. Joseph Hergesheimer.
Bring Me His Ears. Clarence E. Mulford.
Broad Highway, The. Jeffery Farnol.
Broken Waters. Frank L. Packard.
Bronze Hand, The. Carolyn Wells.
Brood of the Witch Queen. Sax Rohmer.
Brown Study, The. Grace S. Richmond.
Buck Peters, Ranchman. Clarence E. Mulford.
Bush Rancher, The. Harold Bindloss.
Buster, The. William Patterson White.
Butterfly. Kathleen Norris.
Cabbages and Kings. O. Henry.
Callahana and the Murphys. Kathleen Norris.
Calling of Dan Matthews. Harold Bell Wright.
Cape Cod Stories. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Cap'n Dan's Daughter. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Cap'n ErL Joseph C. Lincoln.
Cap'n Warren's Wards. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Cardigan. Robert W. Chambers.
Carnac's Folly. Sir Gilbert Parker.
Case and the Girl, The. Randall Parrish.
Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, The. A. Conan Doyle,
Cat's Eye, The. R. Austin Freeman.
Celestial City, The. Baroness Orczy.
Certain People of Importance. Kathleen Norris.
Cherry Square. Grace S. Richmond.
Child of the North. Ridgwell Cullum.
Child of the Wild. Edison Marshall.
Club of Masks, The. Allen Upward.
Cinema Murder, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Clouded Pearl, The. Berta Ruck.
Clue of the New Pin, The. Edgar Wallace.
Coming of Cassidy, The. Clarence E. Mulford.
Coming of Cosgrove, The. Laurie Y. Erskine.
Comrades of Peril Randall Parrish.
Conflict. Clarence Budinpton Kelland.
Conquest of Canaan, The. Booth Tarkington.
Constant Nymph, The. Margaret Kennedy.
Contraband. Clarence Budington Kelland.
Corsican Justice. J. G. Sarasin.
Cottonwood Gulch. Clarence E. Mulford.
Court of Inquiry, A. Grace S. Richmond.
THE BEST OF RECENT FICTION
Cross Trails. Harold Bindloss.
Crystal Cup, The. Gertrude Atherton.
Cup of Fury, The. Rupert Hughes.
Curious Quest, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Cytherea. Joseph Hergesheimer.
Cy Whittaker's Place. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Dan Barry's Daughter. Max Brand.
Dancing Star. Berta Ruck.
Danger. Ernest Poole.
Danger and Other Stories. A. Conan Doyle.
Daughter of the House, The. Carolyn Wells.
Deep in the Hearts of Men. Mary E. Waller.
Dead Ride Hard, The. Louis Joseph Vance.
Deep Seam, The. Jack Bethea.
Delight. Mazo de la Roche, author of "Jalna."
Depot Master, The. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Desert Healer. E. M. Hull.
Desire of His Life and Other Stories. Ethel M. Del)
Destiny. Rupert Hughes.
Devil's Paw, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Devil of Pei-Ling, The. Herbert Asbury.
Devonshers, The. Honore Willsie Morrow.
Diamond Thieves, The. Arthur Stringer.
Door of Dread, The. Arthur Stringer.
Door with Seven Locks, The. Edgar Wallace.
Doors of the Night Frank L. Packard.
Dope. Sax Rohmer.
Double Traitor, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Downey of the Mounted. James B. Hendryx.
Dr. Nye. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Dream Detective. Sax Rohmer.
Emily Climbs. L. M. Montgomery.
Emily of New Moon. L. M. Montgomery.
Empty Hands. Arthur Stringer.
Enchanted Canyon, The. Honore Willsie.
Enemies of Women. Vicente Blasco Ibanez.
Evil Shepherd, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Exile of the Lariat, The. Honore Willsie.
Extricating Obadiah. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Eyes of the World, The. Harold Beil Wright
Face Cards. Carolyn Wells.
Faith of Our Fathers. Dorothy Walworth Carman
Harbor. Joseph C. Lincoln.
THE BEST OF RECENT FICTION
Feast of the Lanterns, The. Louise Jordan Miln.
Feathers Left Around. Carolyn Wells.
Fire Brain. Max Brand.
Fire Tongue. Sax Rohmer.
Flaming Jewel, The. Robert W. Chambers.
Flowing Gold. Rex Beach.
Forbidden Door, The. Herman Landon.
Forbidden Trail, The. Honore Willsie.
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The. Vicente Blasco
Four Million, The. O. Henry.
Foursquare. Grace S. Richmond.
Four Stragglers, The. Frank L. Packard.
Fourteenth Key, The. Carolyn Wells.
From Now On. Frank L. Packard.
Further Adventures of Jimmie Dale, The. Frank L. Packard
Furthest Fury, The. Carolyn Wells.
Gabriel Samara, Peacemaker. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Galusha the Magnificent. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Gaspards of Pine Croft. Ralph Connor.
Gift of the Desert. Randall Parrish.
Glitter. Katharine Brush.
God's Country and the Woman. James Oliver Curwood
Going Some. Rex Beach.
Gold Girl, The. James B. Hendryx.
Golden Beast, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Golden Ladder, The. Major Rupert Hughes.
Golden Road, The. L. M. Montgomery.
Golden Scorpion, The. Sax Rohmer.
Goose Woman, The. Rex Beach.
Greater Love Hath No Man. Frank L. Packard.
Great Impersonation, The. E. Phillips Oppenheina,
Great Moment, The. Elinor Glyn.
Great Prince Shan, The. E. Phillips Oppenheuo-
Green Archer, The. Edgar Wallace.
Green Dolphin, The. Sara Ware Bassett.
Green Eyes of Bast, The. Sax Rohmer.
Green Goddess, The. Louise Jordan Miln.
Green Timber. Harold Bindloss.
Grey Face. Sax Rohmer.
3un Brand, The. James B. Hendryx.
Gun Gospel. W. D. Hoffman.
Hairy Arm, The. Edgar Wallace.
Hnd of Fu-Manchu. The. Si ,>
THE BEST OF RECENT FICTION
Hand of Peril, The. Arthur Stringer.
Harriet and the Piper. Kathleen Norris.
Harvey Garrard's Crime. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Hawkeye, The. Herbert Quick.
Head of the House of Coombe, The. Frances Hodgson
Heart of Katie O'Doone, The. Leroy Scott.
Heart of the Desert. Honore Willsie.
Heart of the Hills, The. John Fox, Jr.
Heart of the Range, The. William Patterson White.
Heart of the Sunset. Rex Beach.
Helen of the Old House. Harold Bell Wright.
Her Mother's Daughter. Nalbro Bartley.
Her Pirate Partner. Berta Ruck.
Hidden Places, The. Bertrand W. Sinclair.
Hidden Trails. William Patterson White.
High Adventure^ The. Jeffery Farnol.
Hildegarde. Kathleen Norris.
His Official Fiancee. Berta Ruck.
Honor of the Big Snows. James Oliver Curwood.
Hopalong Cassidy. Clarence E. Mulford.
Hopalong Cassidy Returns. Clarence E. Mulford.
Hopalong Cassidy's Protege. Clarence E. Mulford.
Horseshoe Robinson. John P. Kennedy.
House of Adventure, The. Warwick Deeping, author of "Sor.
rell and Son"
House of Intrigue, The. Arthur Stringer.
Hunchback of Notre Dame. Victor Hugo.
Hustler Joe and Other Stories. Eleanor H. Porter.
Illiterate Digest, The. Will Rogers.
Immortal Girl, The. Berta Ruck.
Inn of the Hawk and Raven, The. George Barr McCutcheon.
In Another Girl's Shoes. Berta Ruck.
In a Shantung Garden. Louise Jordan Miln.
Indifference of Juliet, The. Grace S. Richmond.
Inevitable Millionaires, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu. Sax Rohmer.
Inverted Pyramid. Bertrand Sinclair.
Invisible Woman, The. Herbert Quick.
Iron Trail, The. Rex Beach.
Isle of Retribution, The. Edison Marshall.
It Happened in Peking. Louise Jordan Miln.
I Want To Be a Lady. Maximilian Foster.
Jacob's Ladder. E. Phillips Oppenheim,
THE BEST OF RECENT FICTION
Jean of the Lazy A. B. M. Bower.
Jimmie Dale and the Phantom Clue. Frank L. Packard.
Johnny Nelson. Clarence E. Mulford.
Judith of the Godless Valley. Honore Willsie.
Keeper of the Door, The. Ethel M. Dell.
Kent Knowles: Quahaug. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Keziah Coffin. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Kilmeny of the Orchard. L. M. Montgomery.
Kindling and Ashes. George Barr McCutcheon.
Kingdom of the Blind. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
King By Night, A. Edgar Wallace.
King of the Wilderness. Albert Cooper Allen.
Knave of Diamonds, The. Ethel M. Dell.
Kneel To The Prettiest. Berta Ruck.
Knights of the Desert. W. D. Hoffman.
Labels. A. Hamilton Gibbs.
Ladies of Lyndon, The. Margaret Kennedy.
Land of Forgotten Men. Edison Marshall.
Land of Mist, The. A. Conan Doyle.
Last Trail, The. Zane Grey.
Leap Year Girl, The. Berta Ruck.
Leave It to Psmith. P. G. Wodehouse.
Letters of a Self-Made Diplomat to His President. Will
Light That Failed, The. Rudyard Kipling.
Limping Sheriff, The. Arthur Preston.
Little Pardner. Eleanor H. Porter.
Little Red Foot, The. Robert W. Chambers.
Little Ships. Kathleen Norris.
Little White Hag, The. Francis Beediag.
Locked Book, The. Frank L. Packard.
Lone Hand, The. Joseph B. Ames.
Lone Wolf, The. Louis Joseph Vance.
Long Live the King. Mary Roberts Rinehart.
Loring Mystery, The. Jeffery Farnol.
Lost World, The. A. Conan Doyle.
Loudon from Laramie. Joseph B. Ames.
Luck of the Kid, The. Ridgwell Cullum.
Lucky in Love. Berta Ruck.
Lucretia Lombard. Kathleen Norris.
Lydia of the Pines. Honore Willsie.
Lynch Lawyers. William Patterson White.
Madame Claire. Susan Ertz.
THE BEST OF RECENT FICTION
Major, The. Ralph Connor.
Man and Maid. Elinor Glyn.
Man from Bar-20, The. Clarence E. Mulford.
Man from El Paso, The. W. D. Hoffman.
Man from Smiling Pass, The. Eliot H. Robinson.
Man They Couldn't Arrest, The. Austin J. Small.
Man They Hanged, The. Robert W. Chambers.
Mare Nostrum (Our Sea). Vicente Blasco Ibanez.
Martin Conisby's Vengeance. Jeffery Farnol.
Mary-'Gusta. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Master of Man. Hall Caine.
Master of the Microbe, The. Robert W. Service.
Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. A. Conan Doyle.
Men Marooned. George Marsh.
Michael's Evil Deeds. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Mine With the Iron Door. Harold Bell Wright
Mind of a Minx, The. Berta Ruck.
Miracle. Clarence B. Kelland.
Mischief Maker, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Miss Blake's Husband. Elizabeth Jordan.
Money, Love and Kate. Eleanor H. Potter.
Money Moon, The. Jeffery Farnol.
More Tish. Mary Roberts Rinehart.
Mr. and Mrs. Sen. Louise Jordan Miln.
Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo. E. Phillips Oppenheintt
Mr. Pratt. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Mr. Pratt's Patients. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Mr. Wu. Louise Jordan Miln.
Mrs. Red Pepper. Grace S. Richmond.
My Best GirL Kathleen Norris.
My Lady of the North. Randall Parrish.
My Lady of the South. Randall Parrish.
Mystery of the Sycamore. Carolyn Wells.
Mystery Road, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Ne'er-Do-Well, The. Rex Beach.
Net, The. Rex Beach.
Night Hawk. Arthur Stringer.
Night Horseman, The. Max Brand.
Night Operator, The. Frank L. Packard
Nina. Susan Ertz.
No. 17. J. Jefferson Fairjeon.
Nobody's Man. E. Phillips OppenheinSr
No Defence. Gilbert Parker.
North. James B. Hendryx.
THE BEST OF RECENT FICTION
Oak and Iron. James B. Hendryx.
Obstacle Race, The. Ethel M. Dell.
Odds, and Other Stories. Ethel M. Dell.
Old Home Town, The. Rupert Hughes.
Oliver October. George Barr McCutcheon.
On the Rustler Trail. Robert Ames Bennet.
Orphan, The. Clarence E. Mulford.
Owner of the Lazy D. William Patterson White.
Padlocked. Rex Beach.
Painted Ponies. Alan Le May.
Paradise Bend. William Patterson White.
Partners of the Tide. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Passer-By, The, and Other Stories. Ethel M. Dell.
Passionate Quest, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail, The. Ralph Connor.
Pawned. Frank L. Packard.
Pawns Count, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Pearl Thief, The. Berta Ruck.
Peregrine's Progress. Jeffery Farnol.
Peter Ruff and the Double Four. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Philopena. Henry Kitchell Webster.
Pine Creek Ranch. Harold Bindloss.
Poisoned Paradise, The. Robert W. Service.
Polly anna; "The Glad Book," (Trade Mark.) Eleanor H.
Pollyanna of the Orange Blossoms. (Trade Mark.) Harriet
Poor Man's Rock. Bertrand W. Sinclair.
Poor Wise Man, A. Mary Roberts Rinehart.
Portygee, The. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Possession. Mazo de la Roche, author of "Jalna."
Postmaster, The. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Power of the Glory, The. Gilbert Parker.
Prairie Flowers. James B. Hendryx.
Prairie Mother, The. Arthur Stringer.
Prairie Wife, The. Arthur Stringer.
Prillilgirl. Carolyn Wells.
Prodigal Soa Hall Caine.
Profiteers, The. E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Progressive Marriage. Bonnie Busch.
Promise, The. J. B. Hendryx.
Purple Mask, The. Louise Jordan Miln.
Purple Mist, The. Gladys Edson Locke.
Queer Judson, Joseph C. Lincoln.
THE BEST OF RECENT FICTION
Quest of the Sacred Slipper, The. Sax Rohmer.
Quill's Window. George Barr McCutcheon.
Rainbow's End, The. Rex Baach.
Rainbow Valley. L. M. Montgomery.
Re-Creation of Brian Kent, The. Harold Bell Wright
Red and Black. Grace S. Richmond.
Red Lamp. Mary Roberts Rinehart.
Red Ledger, The. Frank L. Packard.
Red Pepper Burns. Grace S. Richmond.
Red Pepper's Patients. Grace S. Richmond.
Red of the Redfields, The. Grace S. Richmond.
Red Road, The. Hugh Pendexter.
Red Sky at Morning. Margaret Kennedy.
Renegade. Arthur O. Friei.
Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu. Sax Rohmer.
Rhoda Fair. Clarence Budington Kelland.
Riddle of Three Way Creek, The. Ridgwell Cullum.
Rider of the Golden Bar. William Patterson White.
Rilla of Ingleside. L. M. Montgomery.
Ringer, The. Edgar Wallace.
Rise of Roscoe Paine, The. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Rivers to Cross. Roland Pertwee.
Rocks of Valpre, The. Ethel M. Dell.
Romantic Comedians, The. Ellen Glasgow.
Romeo in Moon Village. George Barr McCutcheon.
Rose of the World. Kathleen Norris.
Round the Corner in Gay Street. Grace S. Richmond
Rowforest. Anthony Pryde.
Ruben and Ivy Sen. Louise Jordan Miln.
Rufus. Grace S. Richmond.
Rugged Water. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Running Special. Frank L. Packard.
Rustlers' Valley. Clarence E. Mulford.
Sackcloth and Ashes. E. W. Savi.
Saint Michael's Gold. H. Bedford- Jones.
Saint of the Speedway. Ridgwell Cullum.
Sea Gull, The. Kathleen Norris.
Second Violin, The. Grace S. Richmond.
Seven Sleepers, The. Francis Seeding.
Seventh Man, The. Max Brand.
Seward's Folly. Edison Marshall.
Shadow of the East, The. E. M. Hull.
Shavings. Joseph C. Lincoln.
Sheik. The. E. M. Hull.