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Full text of "The great impersonation"

E. PHILLIPS 



THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 



THE GREAT 
IMPERSONATION 

By E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM 



Author of 

'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 



Copyright, 1920, 
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY. 

All rights reserved. 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 



CHAPTER I 

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- 
ment." 

" 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 
'aughed. 

" 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 
>ther admitted. 



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 
the bed. 

" 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 
eyes. 

" What is my preserver's name ? " he asked the 
doctor. 

The latter looked as though the question were ir- 
reverent. 

" 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 
here." 

" 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 
minutes later. 



THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 5 

" You have drunk much whisky lately, so ? " he 
asked. 

" 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- 
ous." 

" Your constitution is still sound if you would 
only respect it," was the comforting assurance. 

" Anything been heard of the rest of my party? " 
Dominey enquired. 

" 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 
boat." 

" 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 ? " 

" Neither." 

" You mean to say that you've taken up this sort 
of political business just for its own sake, not for 
sport? " 

" Entirely so. I do not use a sporting rifle one* 
a month, except for necessity. I came to Africa for 
different reasons." 

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 
of this." 

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- 
pen." 

" A war in my younger days, when I was in the 
Army," Dominey mused, " might have made a man 
of me." 

" 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 
blazing world." 

" 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 
old." 

" 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 
star." 

" 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 
groaned. 



CHAPTER II 

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 
does." 

" 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 
irritably. 

" 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 
fashion. 

"Doctor, you've got some whisky, haven't you? " 
he asked. 

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- 
day." 

"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 
alone. 

" 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 
asked curiously. 

" I am part of a great machine," was the some- 
what evasive reply. " I have nothing to do but 
obey." 

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- 
low him. 

" 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." 

"So soon?" 

" 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 
be farewell." 

" 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 ? " 
he demanded. 

" 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 
shoulder. 

" 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- 
ular breathing. 

" 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 
reminded him. 

" 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." 

"So!" 

" 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 
know." 



THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 23 

"What about his near relatives?" 

** He has none nearer than cousins." 

"No wife?" 

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- 
thusiastically. 

" 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 
his questioner. 

" 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- 
kindly man. 

" I think," he murmured, " it will be better for 
the Englishman that he drinks." 



CHAPTER HI 

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 
enquired. 

" 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 
lunch, Harrison." 

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 
confident smile. 

" 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 
the lawyer. 

"And Lady Dominey?" the former asked at 
length. 



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- 
iney Hall." 

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 
Dominey estates." 

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- 
tions." 

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- 
ues?" 

" I . will leave instructions," Mr. Mangan prom- 
ised. " I think that the total amount is under eighty 
thousand pounds." 

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 
minutes. 

" 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. 
Mangan suggested. 

" They are keeping me a table until half-past one," 
Dominey replied. " We will lunch there, by all 
means." 

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 
England." 

" In plain words," Dominey said bitterly, " she 
has sworn to take my life if ever I sleep under the 
same roof." 

" 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 
idea?" 

" 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- 
slaughter? " 

" 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 ! " 



CHAPTER IV 

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 
acquaintance." 

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- 
ment. 

" 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- 
panion smiled. 

" 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 
regularly." 

" 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- 
fore." 

" 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 
friendly." 

" 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 

"Well?" 

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." 

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 
scarcely English. 

" Within the space of half an hour," Dominey 
continued, " I find a princess who desires to claim 



39 

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? " 

Seaman accepted the chair which the waiter had 
brought and sat down. The lawyer was immediately 
interested. 

" 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 
every day." 

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 
lap." 

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 
of relief. 

" 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- 
ilisation." 



THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 41 

" And you, too," Mr. Mangan asked, " have you 
retired?" 

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 
chief dissipation." 

" 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 
my council." 

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 
room. 






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? " 

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 
woman. 

" You came to say good-bye," she repeated, 
"and?" 

"I am to take that as a challenge?" Dominey 
asked, standing very upright and looking her in the 
eyes. 

" 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 ! " 



CHAPTER V 

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 
intentness. 

" There's something wrong about you, you know," 
she declared. 

" 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 
the world." 

She looked at him with a severity which was obvi- 
ously assumed. 

" 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." 

" 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 
days." 

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 
murmured. 

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 
too abruptly. 

" 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 
wonderingly. 

" If I had stayed there another year," he replied, 
" and been able to marry a Dutch Jewess, I should 
have qualified for Park Lane." 

She sighed. 



THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 49 

" It's too wonderful. Henry will love having his 
money back." 

"And you?" 

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," 
he pleaded. 

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 
manner." 

" 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. 
I forgot." 

" 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 ? " 

" Perfectly." 



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 
to-morrow." 

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 
word." 

" 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- 
iney? " 

" I am he, beyond a doubt," was the calm assur- 
ance. 

" 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, 
Everard? " 

" 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," 
Dominey replied. 

" 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 
else." 

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 
hand. 

" 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 
side. 



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- 
ment." 

Caroline smiled. 

" 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 
Africa." 

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- 
trap. 

" There's something wrong about it somewhere," 
he declared. 



CHAPTER VI 

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 
appeared. 

" 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- 
iney." 

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- 
chair. 

" 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 
success." 

" 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 
added gravely. 

" 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 
full." 

" 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 
presence here." 

" 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 
here." 

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- 
tinued : 

*' 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- 
minded." 

" 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- 
fully. 

" 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- 
folk?" 

" 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- 
fairs?" 

" 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- 
thing back." 

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 
objected. 

" 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- 
man's arm. 

** Listen," he said, " we are in London, alone in a 
taxicab, secure against any possible eavesdropping. 
You preach the advantage of our Kaiser-led 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 
intellect. 

" 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." 



CHAPTER VH 

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 
head. 

" 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 
von Ragastein." 

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 
sympathetically. 

" 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 
this?" 

" 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- 
bassador asserted. 

" 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 
natural thing." 

" 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 
iindly. 

" 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." 

"You consent?" 

" 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 
his escort." 

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 
sideboard. 

" 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 
England." 

" 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- 
sary." 

" 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." 



8i 

Dominey rose to his feet, prepared to tale his 
leave. 

" These matters will be solved for us," he mur- 
mured. 

" 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." 

"And that?" 

" She insists upon it that I present Sir Everard 
Dominey." 

The latter did not attempt to conceal his perturba- 
tion. 

" 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 
interests." 

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 
situation. 




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 
baronet." 

" Without any previous experience of European 
Courts?" 

" Without any at all." 

" Your German is wonderfully pure for an un- 
travelled man." 

" 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 
in darkness. 

" 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- 
able." 

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 
task." 

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 
furious curiosity. 

" 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 
time?" 

" 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- 
thusiastically. 



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- 
culty." 

" 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- 
tion." 

" 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 
Eiderstrom." 

" 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 
the sort." 

" What takes place between you in private," Sea- 
man began 

" 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- 
iney." 

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- 
mented : 

" 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." 



CHAPTER VIII 

" 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? " 
Dominey enquired. 

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, 
then?" 

" 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 
last spring." 



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- 
tered. 

" 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 
Mrs. Unthank." 

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 
like." 

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 
dialect. 

" 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- 
self." 

" 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- 
ments." 

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 
became. 

" There are things in your face I miss," she mut- 
tered. 

Mr. Mangan was glad of an opportunity of as- 
serting himself. 

" 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 
respect means." 

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 
outrageous proceeding." 

" She is still, I presume, the only companion whom 
Lady Dominey will tolerate ? " Dominey enquired with 
a sigh. 

" 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- 
thank?" 

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- 
couragement." 



g8 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 

" Has any one ever believed the contrary ? " Domi- 
ney demanded. 

" 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 
up." 

" 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 
or manslaughter." 

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 
the room. 

" After dinner," he promised, " I'll tell you a few 
West African superstitions which will make our local 
one seem anaemic." 



CHAPTER IX 

" 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- 
iney." 

" 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. 
Mangan confessed. 

" 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 
blankly. 

** 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, 
Mangan." 

" 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 
entrance. 

" 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- 
ranged. 

" 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- 
night? " 

" And why not? " Dominey asked. 

" It's next her ladyship's." 

"Well?" 

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- 
tory." 



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 
since." 

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 
quiet." 

" 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 
pounds." 

" 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 
asked. 

" 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- 
able." 

" 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." 



CHAPTER X 

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 
voice. 

" If you move," it said, " you will die. Remain 
quite still." 

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 
tensely. 

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 
night?" 

" 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 
smile. 

Parkins' expression remained immovable. There 
was in his tone, however, a mute protest against his 
master's levity. 

" 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- 
tefed. 

" 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- 
fulness. 

" 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 
Observed. 



H4 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 

Mangan raised his eyeglass and gazed at his host's 
throat. 

" 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 
office." 

" I intend that there shall be no more dissatisfac- 
tion amongst my tenants." 

Mr. Mangan set off for another prowl towards tk* 
sideboard. 

" 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 
was seated. 

" 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 
utes." 

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 
to visit. 

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- 
thank " 

" 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." 
"Presents?" 

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 
his limbs. 

" 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 
never lost." 

" 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 
goes away." 

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 
bearings. 

" 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 
to me." 

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." 



CHAPTER XI 

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 
his hand. 

" 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 
confessed. 

" 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- 
ney." 

" I shall look forward to the reminder," was the 
prompt response. 



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- 
cessity " 

" 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, 
nevertheless." 

" 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 
drunkard." 

" 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 
any sort." 



THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 125 

" Good old stock, ours," his visitor observed care- 
lessly. " Plenty of two-bottle men behind my gen- 
eration." 

" You have also gained courage since the days 
when you fled from England. You slept at the Hall 
last night?" 

" 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 
blunt reply. 

Uninvited, Dominey seated himself in an easy- 
chair. 

" 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- 
sional." 

" 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- 
tween us." 

" 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 
aback. 

" 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- 
thank?" 

" 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 ? " 
Dominey asked. 

" 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 
wife." 

Dominey moved uneasily in his chair. 

" For the next few months," he said, " that would 
be impossible." 

"Impossible!" 

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 
you." 

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 
door. 

" You are a miracle," he said, " and I hate mira- 
cles. I'll come and see Lady Dominey in a day 
or so." 



CHAPTER XII 

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 
his glass. 

" 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." 

Dominey nodded. 



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- 
marked. 

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- 
gan?" 



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- 
plied. 

" 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 
urgent." 

" We can send Mangan to bed early," Dominey 
suggested. 

" I am the early bird myself," was the weary reply. 
" I was up all last night. To-morrow morning will 
do." 

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- 
dition." 



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 
there?" 



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 
one alone." 

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- 
est. 

" 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 
you." 

She sighed, smiled like a tired child, and her eyes 



THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 137 

closed as her head fell farther back amongst the 
cushions. 

" 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 
said. 

Very slowly her fingers relaxed. She held out her 



arms. 
tt 



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 
bed. 

" You are comfortable ? " he asked. 

" Quite," she murmured drowsily. " Kiss me, 
Everard." 

Her hands drew his face down. His lips rested 
upon her forehead. Then he drew the bedclothes 
ver her and fled. 



CHAPTER XIH 

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- 
manded. 

" I sleep with one ear open," Seaman replied. 

"Well?" 

" I saw you leave your room early this morning," 
Seaman continued, " carrying Lady Dominey in your 
arms." 

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 
of honour." 

" 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- 
tions demanded." 

" Lady Dominey," Seaman remarked meditatively, 
" seems to be curiously falsifying certain predic- 
tions." 

"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- 
voluntary sarcasm. 



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, 
my friend." 

" 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 
day expenses." 



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 
him blankly. 

" 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 
your chauffeur." 

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 
take. 

" 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 
the attack. 

" 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 
for evil?" 

" 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 
demanded. 

" 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 
her eyes. 

" 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- 
swered sullenly. 

" 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-, 
ling." 

" 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 
comprehension. 

" 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 
anxiously. 

" 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 
hands. 

" 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 ! '* 



CHAPTER XIV 

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? " 

" Always." 

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- 
marked wonderingly. 

" 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 
seated. 

" 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 
this way." 

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 
to advance. 

" 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," 
Dominey ventured. 

" 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- 
iney murmured. 

" 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 
Terniloff." 

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," 
Dominey confided. 

" 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- 
tively. 

The eyes of his companion flashed. His lips curled 
contemptuously. 

" 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 
seas." 

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- 
man." 

Dominey bowed and remained silent. His com- 
panion continued after another brief spell of silent 
brooding. 

" 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 
Prince." 

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- 
scinded." 

" 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 
remarked. 

" 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 
days." 

The young man's face cleared, and Seaman, by his 
side, who had knitted his brows thoughtfully, nodded 
understandingly. 

" 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 
you down." 

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 
the arm. 

" 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 ! " 



CHAPTER XV 

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- 
ing's work." 

" Come out with a bit of a twist from the lef\, 
don't they? " Dominey remarked, repeating his late 
exploit. 

" 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 
gun familiar." 

" 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 
afternoon." 

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 
visit." 

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- 
day." 

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- 
dor? " 

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 
the Prince." 

" 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 
at?' 5 

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." 

"Well?" 

" 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 
wood. 

" 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 
him." 

" 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 
sometimes." 

" 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- 
serted. 

" 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 
bachelor establishment." 

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 

go." 

" 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 
sticks. 

" 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 
the place." 

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 
off. 

" 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 
asked. 

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 
years." 

" 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 
ground." 

" 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, 
then?" 

" 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" 
dows." 

" 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 
marshes. 

" 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 ? " 

Dominey smiled. 

" 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 
pressed it. 

" 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." 



CHAPTER XVI 

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- 
cult." 

" 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- 
many." 

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 
challenge. 

" 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 
guns, however. 

" 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 
command." 

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- 
band. 

" 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- 
lence. 

" We will speak," the Ambassador suggested, " of 
the way in which our host brought down those tall 
pheasants." 

" 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 
you." 

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 
arm. 

" 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 
side." 

" Is this going to be serious ? " he asked, wdth some 
slight disquietude. 

" Serious but wonderful," she murmured, lifting 
her eyes to his. " Will you please listen to me, I>o- 
pold?" 

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 
very unhappy." 

She paused, but her companion made no sign. She 
paused for so long, however, that speech became nec- 
essary. 

" You are speaking, Princess," he said calmly, " to 
one who is not present. My name is no longer Leo- 
pold." 

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- 
mained unchanged." 

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 
me." 

" 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 
Court. 

" WILHELM." 

Domhiey sat as a man enthralled with silence. She 
watched him. 

"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- 
manded, frowning. 

" In the nursing home where she has been for the 
last few months," he replied. " She has already 
practically recovered. She cannot remain there 
much longer." 

" 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 
of tears. 

" 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 
of." 

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 
dare " 

" 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- 
manded. 

" Lady Dominey has returned," was the quiet re- 
ply- 



CHAPTER XVH 

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 
outstretched hands. 

" 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 
come? " 

" 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 
you entertain." 

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 
up?" 

" I wanted to have it here," he told her. 

*' I'm not so nice as that now," she sighed, a little 
wistfully. 

" 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 
marry her." 

" 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 
heart." 

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 
inner hall. 

" 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." 

"What else?" 

" 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, 
please? " 

" 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- 
self." 

" 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- 
line." 

" Everard." 

" 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- 
ently." 

" 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- 
tatingly. 

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 
amazement. 

" 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 
fire. 

" 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." 



CHAPTER XVIH 

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- 
iney said. 

" 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 physically." 

" 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 
suggested. 

" 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 
imperative task." 

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 
his knees. 

" 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 
home." 

" 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 
the doctor's. 

" 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- 
house." 

" 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- 
band? " 

" 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 
morning." 

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 
down." 

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 
you." 

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? " 

She sighed. 

" 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. 



CHAPTER XIX 

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 
the night. 

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 
somewhere there." 

" Well, that isn't," the young man replied obsti- 
nately. 

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 
gravely. 

" Was anything heerd last night, sir? " 

" There was an infernal yell underneath this win- 
dow." 

" 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 
slow horror. 

" 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 
Africa." 

" 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 
relaxation." 



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 
fascinating study." 

" 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 
interest. 

" 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- 
posed. 

" 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 
you." 

" 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 
said gloomily. 

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," 
Dominey declared. 

" 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 
strong again." 



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." 



CHAPTER XX 

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 
opinion." 

" So far," Dominey remarked, " I have not been 
overworked." 

" 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 
two countries." 

" The sky certainly seems clear enough just now," 
agreed Dominey. 

" 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 
sentiment? " 

" 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 
memoirs." 

" 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 
now disappeared." 

" Unless," Dominey said thoughtfully, " the desire 
for war should come, not from Downing Street but 
from Potsdam." 

" 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. 



2ig 

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 
little abruptly. 

" His Excellency and I a*e, to tell you the truth," 
Dominey confessed, " in the midst of a most interest- 
ing conversation." 

" 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." 

Stephanie smiled. 

" Dear Maurice is so diplomatic," she murmured. 
" I am perfectly certain he is going to begin by 
remonstrating with you for your shocking treatment 
of me." 

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 
understanding." 

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 
with Stephanie." 



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 
encouraged her." 

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- 
ing. 

" 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- 
ous." 

" 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 
himself. 

" 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 
alarming. 

" 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 
Africa." 

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." 

Dominey nodded. 

" 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 
him." 

The man raised his hat respectfully and turned 
back towards the house. Caroline was watching her 
companion curiously. 

" 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." 



CHAPTER XXI 

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 
inscribed 

To Sir Everard Dominey, Baronet t 
Dominey Hall, 

In the County of Norfolk, 
England. 



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 
his hesitation. 



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 
child's task." 

" 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 
coast." 

" Does he call himself by his own name ? " Dominey 
asked. 

" 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 
here." 

" 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? " 
Dominey asked. 

" 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 
mysterious." 

" 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 
blue eyes. 

" 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 
a messenger." 

" Once in Vienna and twice in Cracow, my friend, 
we have met," Seaman reminded him softly but very 
insistently. 

The other shook his head gently. " A mistake. I 
have been in Vienna once, many years ago, but Cra- 
cow never." 

"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 
his head. 

" 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 
your friend." 

" 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 
tea table. 

" A game of pills, Eddy," he proposed. " They 



232 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 

tell me that pool is one of your great accomplish- 
ments." 

" 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- 
room. 

" 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 ! " 



CHAPTER XXII 

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 
host. 

" 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 
false position." 

" 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." 

"A fallacy?" 

" 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- 
ment." 

" 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 
lonely." 

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 
place. 

" 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." 

"And that?" 

"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 
character." 

She shrugged her shoulders. 

" You agree with that great Frenchman," she ob- 
served, " that no ambassador can remain a gentle- 
man politically." 

" Well, I have never been a diplomat, so I cannot 
say," Dominey replied. 

" You have many qualifications, I should think," 
she observed cuttingly. 

"Such as?" 

" 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 
up. 

" 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 
earnestly. 

"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* 
believe." 

" 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- 
ney." 

" I shall put you to the test," she exclaimed sud- 
denly, rising to her feet. " Your arm, if you 
please." 

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 
his. 

" 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 
whispered. 

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 
friends. 

" 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 
affection." 

" 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 
her." 

" 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 
enquired. 

" 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." 

Seaman nodded. 

" 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 
pleasure. 

" 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- 
ning." 

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 
him. 

" Yes," she said a little plaintively, " it's very com- 
fortable. Everard? " 

"Yes, dear?" 

She drew his head down and whispered in his ear. 

" May I come in and say good night for two min- 
utes?" 

He smiled a wonderfully kind smile but shook 
his head. 

" 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. 






CHAPTER XXIII 

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- 
ing apartment. 

" You are looking for the person who arrived this 
evening from abroad, sir? " he enquired. 

" I am," Seaman replied. " Has he locked him- 
self in?" 

" 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 
train." 

Seaman was silent for a moment. The news was a 
ihock to him. 

" What is your position here ? " he asked his in- 
formant. 

" 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, 
sir." 

" 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 
hesitatingly. 

" 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 
host?" 

" We are, and we expect to get them. I have 
watched him day by day. My confidence in him has 
grown." 

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 
curiously. 

" 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 
country." 

" 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 
sideboard. 

" Gone ? " every one repeated. 

" I should think such a thing has never happened 
to him before," Dominey observed. " He was wanted 
in town." 

" 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 
the news." 



250 THE GREAT IMPERSONATION 

" Who wanted him ? " the Duke enquired. %< His 
tailor? 

" Business of importance was his pretext," Domi- 
ney replied. 

There was a little ripple of good-humoured laugh- 
ter. 

" Does Eddy do anything for a living? " Caroline 
asked, yawning. 

" 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 
after shooting." 

" His bridge was reasonably good," the Duke com- 
mented. 

" He shot rather well the last two days," Mangan 
remarked. 

" 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- 
comfortable." 

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 
or me." 

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 
harmless." 

" 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?" 

" 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." 

"Whereto?" 

" 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 
asked. 

" 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- 
wise." 

" 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 
discreet." 

"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 
matters." 

" You do not know the Princess," Dominey mut 
tered. 

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 
now Stephanie." 

" 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 
attractive." 

" 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 
ompanion. 

** 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 
first." 

" 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 
rise. 

" I have had some thoughts of Parliament," he 
admitted, " but well, Henry need not worry." 



CHAPTER XXIV 

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- 
cern you." 

Dominey seemed to stiffen a little. 

"Well?" 

" 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- 
iney agreed. 

" 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- 
iney charming." 

" She will never lack a protector in me," Dominey 
declared. 

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 
Station?" 

" 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 
Lady Dominey." 

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- 
den departure." 

" 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- 
manded. 

" 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 
small car." 

" And what do you gather from all this ? " Dom- 
iney asked. 

** I gather that Wolff must have had friends in the 
neighbourhood," Seaman replied, " or else " 

"Well?" 

" 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 
removed." 

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 
your return." 

" 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. 

" S." 

" 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. 



CHAPTER XXV 

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 
burns." 

" 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 
silence. 

"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 
the mark." 

" You are at least consistent, Prince," Dominey 
remarked. 

Terniloff smiled. 

" 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 
to Africa?" 

" 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- 
terruption." 

" I suppose the next important question to whether 
it is to be peace or war is, how did you play ? " the 
Princess asked. 

" 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 
training." 

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 
ordinary conversation. 

" 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- 
served. 

** 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- 
plomatists." 

" 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 
now." 

" Curiously enough, he is returning from Ger- 
many to-night," Dominey announced. " I expect 
him at Berkeley Square. He is coming direct to 
me." 



CHAPTER XXVI 

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 
visitor." 

"A visitor?" 

" Not a social one," he assured her. " A matter 
of business which I fear will take me from you for 
the rest of the evening. So let us make the most of 
the time until he comes." 

She commenced her task with the peach, talking 
to him all the time a little gravely, a sweet and 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- 
ground. 

" 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 ? " 
he asked. 

" 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 
hoarsely. 

" I think he loved me better than you," she said 
very sadly. 

"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 
down. 

" 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 
come back." 

" 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- 
mund!" 

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- 
tounding." 

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- 
iney remarked. 

" 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 
his companion. 

" 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 
and impressively. 

" 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- 
tria? " 

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 
the future." 

" 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- 
pire?" 

" 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 
the war." 

" Terniloff is right, then, after all ! " Dominey ex- 
claimed. 

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 
I go." 

Dominey folded up the map with reluctance. His 
companion shook his head. It was curious that he, 
too, for the first time in his life upon the same day, 
addressed his host differently. 

" Baron von Ragastein," he said, " there are six of 
those maps in existence. That one is for you. Lock 
it away and guard it as though it were your greatest 
treasure on earth, but when you are alone, bring it 
out and study it. It shall be your inspiration, it 
shall lighten your moments of depression, give you 
courage when you are in danger ; it shall fill your mind 
with pride and wonder. It is yours." 



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. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

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 
the land. 

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 
door. 

" Von Ragastein," he groaned, " I am a broken 
man!" 

Dominey grasped his hand sympathetically. Ter- 
niloff seemed to have aged years even in the last few 
hours. 

" 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 
to it." 

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 
them." 

" 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 
my Country." 

Terniloff sighed. 

" 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 
days?" 

" 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- 
cited." 

" 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? " 

"Delightfully!" 

He took her arm and they paced slowly along the 
hot walk. 

" Rosamund dear," he said, " the time has come 
which many people have been dreading. We are at 
war." 

" 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 
wife." 

"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 
come? " 

" 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, 
Everard." 

" You know the proverb about the old roue," he. 
had replied. 

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 
that night." 

" 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 
there." 

" 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 
wood? " 

" 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- 
Unthank? " 

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 
five minutes." 

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- 
ioned curtsey. 



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 
earth." 

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 
his." 

" 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- 
iney? " 

He swung around and faced her. 

"Who else?" 



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- 
postor? " 

" 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 
him. 

" 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, 
Rosamund? " 

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 
grey eyebrow& 



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 
son." 

" 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 
fantastic." 

" 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- 
tated. 

" 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 ? " 
she demanded. 

" 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 ? " 
she asked. 

" 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 
and motionless. 

" 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- 
even. 

" 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- 
iney?" 

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 
son." 

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- 
morrow." 

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 
asked. 

** 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 
to himself. 

" Maybe you're right," he conceded. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

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 
solved. 

" 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- 
conic answer. 

The young man stood up, yawned and stretched 
himself. 



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." 

Dominey smiled. 

" 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 
easy-chair. 

" 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 
uniform. 

" 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 
just now." 

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 
amazing country." 

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 ! " 

Dominey nodded. 

" 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- 
sion." 

" 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- 
quered." 

"You killed him?" 

" I killed him," Dominey echoed. " It was a mat- 
ter of necessity. His body sleeps on the bed of the 
Blue River." 

" 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- 
wards. 

" 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- 
man!" 

" 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 
of nightmare. 

" 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? " 
Seaman gasped. 

" Naturally," Dominey replied. " He knew the 
truth and was trying all the time to communicate 
with you." 

" 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 
gleamed. 

" 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 
Germans." 



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 
been searched." 

" 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 day." 

The Princess rose from the chair into which she 
had subsided a few moments before. Dominey turned 
towards her. 

" 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 
unattended." 

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 
latter's room. 

" 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 
his face. 



THE END 



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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. 

Porter. 
Pollyanna of the Orange Blossoms. (Trade Mark.) Harriet 

Lummis Smith. 

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. 



' 




PR 

6029 
.P5 ' 
G4 



Oppenheim, Edward 

Phillips. 1866-1946. 

The great 
impersonation.