Copyright
Thomas Barclay.

The sands of fate; dramatised study of an imperial conscience, a phantasy online

. (page 3 of 11)
Online LibraryThomas BarclayThe sands of fate; dramatised study of an imperial conscience, a phantasy → online text (page 3 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


His wife 's English .?

Crown Prince
No, American; almost as bad. [Telephone ring.

Von Etting
For Your Highness.

Crown Prince {at telephone)

Hurry up. {Listens) At the Castle. {Lowers his
voice.) Can you hear me.'' {Turning to Von Et-
ting.) Would you mind leaving the room for a
moment, Etting.? So sorry. [Exit Von Etting.

His Majesty changed his mind as usual on the
way from Kiel. ... I don't like it either. Telegram
from Uncle Henry. I don't know what he advises.
Nor Lichnowsky either. All dead against us at



42 The Sands of Fate [n.

the Wilhelmstrasse. Every hour counts now.
Tschirschky? What! Berch told weakening! Great
God, I 'm coming round at once !

[Snatches up his helmet and rushes out.

Hooting of car.
[Liveried attendant looks in from other door;
stealthily goes to desk, and, facing the door,
touches one of the buttons several times.
Moves away. Ring.

Enter Von Etting.

Von" Etting {sharply)
What do you want?

Attendant

Heard a ring, Sir.

[Exit, VoN Etting staring suspiciously at him
as he goes.

VoN Etting {at telephone)

Who's there? I don't know. Ask at the palace.
I'm not the door-keeper.

[Puts down receiver angrily.

[Motor-horn, drum, noise of presenting arms.

[Voices approaching. Doors thrown open and

the Kjviser enters, followed by the A. D. C.'s.

The Kjiiser shakes hands with Von Etting.

Kaiser
Where is the Chancellor?



11.] The Sands of Fate 43

Von Etting

His Imperial Highness wishes to see Your
Majesty first.

KLaiser {irritatedly)

I want the Chancellor at once. Here, give me the
telephone.

[VoN Etting presses button and hands receiver.

Kaiser {putting back receiver)

{To First A.D.C.) Tell the Crown Prince I will
see him In a few minutes. [Exit A.D.C.

{To Von Etting.) Ask the Chancellor In.

[Exit Von Etting.
[Footsteps outside. Door half opened. The
Crown Prince puts his head in.

Crown Prince
May I come In ?

Kaiser
I am expecting the Chancellor.

Crown Prince
Can't I see you first?

Kaiser
No, my boy, you can't.

Crown Prince {at door still)

Oh, here's mother!

[The Crown Prince's head disappears.



44 The Sands of Fate [n.

Enter the KIaiserin.

[The Kaiser goes forward and kisses her
hand.

Kaiserin {simpering)
I can't bear this, Willie.

Kaiser
What can't you bear?

Kaiserin
The boy is devoted to you.

Kaiser

I am sorry. You must go. I hear the Chancel-
lor's tread.

Enter Von Etting and the Chancellor. The
Kaiserin gives faint salutation to the Chan-
cellor. The Kaiser shakes hands gravely with
him,

[Exit the Kaiserin.
Well, Bethmann, for first-class bungling you
deserve the prize of honour.

Chancellor
I admit it frankly, Sir.

Kaiser

Well, that clears the ground a bit. How do
things stand now?



II.] The Sands of Fate 45

Chancellor

Telegram yesterday from Petersburg that Rus-
sia will mobilise on Austrian frontier, if Austrian
troops move into Servia.

Kaiser
What have you replied?

Chancellor

That I trusted she would not, as I feared we
could not regard war between Russia and Austria
with indifference.

Kaiser
Where is Jagow?

Chancellor
In his room.

Kaiser {touching button and putting receiver

to his ear)

Is that you, Jagow? Bring all the correspond-
ence here at once.

[Puts receiver down. Pause during which the
Kaiser walks up and down in evident
agitation.
Do you realise what this damned thing means ?

Chancellor
Yes, it is terrible.



46 The Sands of Fate [n.



Kaiser

Then why, man, have you let It come to this?
What has that idiot Tschirschky been doing? {The
Chancellor not answering.) Don't you hear me?
{The Chancellor looks at him steadily.) God!
you don't mean to say he has done this ?

Chancellor
He is not alone in it.

Kaiser
I always distrusted that man.

Chancellor
There are others, Majesty.

Kaiser

A conspiracy. {Laughs bitterly.) A conspiracy —

a conspiracy — say, man, the word, a conspiracy.

[Chancellor again says nothing, but again

looks steadily at the Kaiser.

Leave me alone. Wait for me in Etting's room.

[Exit the Chancellor.

[Walks up and down the room muttering,

''Blind idiot that I have been."" Sits down

to write something, tears up the paper. Ring

at telephone; takes up receiver.

No, I can't; not yet.

A.D.C.

Excellency von Jagow, Sir.



11.] The Sands of Fate 47

Enter VoN Jagow

Kaiser
Have they mobilised yet?

Von Jagow

No, Sir.

Kaiser
Nothing new to-night?

Von Jagow
Not at Foreign Office.

Kaiser
Out with It, man, quick.

Von Jagow

The War Office have moved forces to the
frontiers.

Kaiser
Well, that 's right In case of danger.

Von Jagow
Yes, but It has excited the public.

Kaiser
Do you mean you think my people want a war?

Von Jagow
I think the Staff count on it.



4^ The Sands of Fate [n.

Kaiser

The conspiracy. Jagow, you are a sensible fel-
low. Tell me. Do you think my people want a
war?

Von Jagow

I think many of Your Majesty's subjects do.

Kaiser

That's it. Germans have forgotten what war
means. They have grown rich. Everybody is
prosperous and happy. Germany is the best regu-
lated community in the world. She is at the head
of everything. She is sick of prosperity and wants
misfortune for a change. Is that what you mean.'*

VoN Jagow

No, Sir. I do not think that. But I fear the
public believes the whole world will go on its knees
the moment Germany raises her voice.

Kaiser

Well, let us see the despatches. {Reads.) Do you
think Grey genuine .f*

VoN Jagow

I think so. Englishmen, however, are hardly
ever themselves.

Kaiser

Why, Jagow {smiling), that's rank philosophy.
Explain !



II.] The Sands of Fate 49

Von Jagow

I mean that an English Ambassador is always
interpreting instructions of his chief, and his chief
those of the Cabinet; and the Cabinet is always
thinking of Parliament, and Parliament of the
electors ; and behind them all are a lot of irrespon-
sible, clever, and some unscrupulous interesses, who
influence decisions.

Kaiser

Very well reasoned, Jagow. That might apply to
all the Ministers but Grey. The Foreign Office is
quite independent of Parliament and does what it
likes. I know Grey. He means well and can't want
war. You look incredulous, Jagow! No diplomacy
can want war.

Von Jagow
Yes, obviously.

Kaiser

The Chancellor 's in Etting's room. I have several

men to see. I'll see you together later. Send no

more despatches for the present. I want a few

hours' reflection. [Exit VoN Jagow.

Enter Von Etting.

Show in the Professor.

Enter the Professor.
Have you been waiting long?



50 The Sands of Fate [n.

Professor
No, Sir, about an hour.

Kaiser

They hate you. Professor. I shall have to en-
noble you. [Laughs.

Professor
God forbid!

Kaiser (hurt)
Why?

Professor

Your Majesty has done me enough honour by
having confidence in my sincerity. I wish to retain
Your Majesty's confidence by its disinterestedness.

Kaiser

Quite right. No unworthy honours will be in-
flicted on you. Though I should like to have the
right to ask you to lunch with men instead of gov-
ernesses. (Silence.) You know war is imminent.'*

Professor
I knew.

Kaiser (in astonishment)
You knew?

Professor

Yes, Sir. War has been coming for some time.
Your Majesty has the self-command not to see the
obvious.



II.] The Sands of Fate 51

KAISER

My God, Professor, I like you well! Call me
names next. Call me a blasted idiot, call me a
bloody fool {getting angrier at every epithet) — a
vainglorious simpleton. No, Professor, don't call
me that. Call m.e any damned thing you like and
go to Hell yourself. [Purple with rage.

[The Professor rises, bows, and moves to
the door.

Stop. {The Professor stops) Here's my hand.
You are the only friend I have. Sit down. I wish
you could swear. Professor. It is what I have
wanted all my life. Just a sensible, earnest ad-
viser, just a sort of Socrates like you to . . .

Professor {with a half-suppressed smile)

Swear back?

Kaiser

Yes, damn it, yes.

\fFalks nervously up and down. Hands the
Professor a cigar-box. The Professor
takes one, wrapped in silver paper.

What do you think of this business?

Professor
Insanity!

Kaiser

With method In it!

Professor
None on our side.



'52 The Sands of Fate [n.

EIaiser

You mean we are mere tools — fools and tools.

[Laughs at his own joke.

Professor {^ery serious, with a slight trace of the

supercilious)

The only country which has nothing to gain by
war is Germany.

Kaiser
If we get Rotterdam and Riga out of it.^

Professor
Dreams !

Kaiser

How dreams! Do you mean we might be de-
feated }

Professor

No, Sir, I don't mean that we might not be ulti-
mately successful. But history . . .

Kaiser

Oh, history! {Contemptuously.) We make his-
tory.

Professor

The mightiest soldier can only kill his enemies.
It takes mightier men than soldiers to make and
preserve empires, and human character is the work
of ages.



II.] The Sands of Fate 53

Kaiser
"Great Csesar fell"!

Professor

History {the Kaiser looks impatient) has many
Instances of conquests, but the only conquests
which have endured are those in which the union
has been one which permitted the free play of in-
dividual character. France annexed Alsace and
Russia Poland. Look at the difference. Spain
could not hold Holland, and Holland could not hold
Belgium. Why.^* Because the only bonds that can
hold together peoples of different race or different
historical evolution are either a common language,
poetry, and literature, or a political web so delicate
that it takes a microscope to perceive it, and so
elastic that it distends with every breeze that blows.

Kaiser {wrapt in attention)
Go on, give me instances.

Professor

The United States are an instance of the one, and
British rule is an instance of the other.

Kaiser
The United States !

Professor

Yes, Sir, the United States have Imposed a com-
mon language on all immigrants as a political
method.



54 The Sands of Fate [ii.

Kaiser

Well, but Alsace is German and the Dutch are
Germans. You are wandering, Professor.

Professor

No, Sir {testily), I am not wandering. The
Dutch are almost as little of the same race with the
Germans of to-day as the Prussians are.

Kaiser
My Prussians not Germans!

Professor

No, Sir, they are a race apart in Europe. The
Dutch have grown apart. They have their own
literature, their own history, their own political
development, their own manners, and tlieir own . . .

Kaiser

Infernal pride.

Professor

Yes, Sir, their own infernal pride and love of in-
dependence. And as for Alsace, the Alsatians under
the mild, elastic rule of the French developed their
own way, and they too, like all peoples which are
left to themselves, have developed pride and in-
dependence just like the Dutch. It takes centuries
of discipline to overcome the spirit of independence
when once it has eaten into the bones of a nation.



II.] The Sands of Fate 55

Kaiser

You think we ought to have let Alsace, a Ger-
man land, go on agitating for reunion to France.

Professor

No, Sir. Pardon my repeating. Soldiers are only
good for killing their enemies, and we have tried to
govern Alsace with soldiers and by brute force,
instead of following better examples.

Kaiser

Well, you don't think highly of the policy of an-
nexing the Rhine Delta? But Rotterdam is a Ger-
man port.

Professor

It is becoming German by evolution and his-
tory.

Kaiser
Oh, history!

Professor

Yes, Sir. History is but evolution. Wars are
mere passing explosions of anger which may arrest
evolution temporarily but are incapable of promot-
ing it. In antiquity . . .

Kaiser

Oh, antiquity . . .

Professor

In antiquity all the men were killed off or sent
into slavery. Children were slaughtered.



56 The Sands of Fate [n.

Kaiser

By the by, Professor, have you seen that passage
in Deuteronomy?

Professor

I know it, Sir; it only records what was custom-
ary in antiquity. Children were exterminated and
the women became the concubines of the conquer-
ors. Conquest then produced permanent results.

Kaiser

You don't mean we can only get Rotterdam by
killing off the Dutch?

Professor

No, Sir. I only say that would be the permanent
alternative for peaceful evolution in this particular
case. And then you would have to reckon with
England.

Kaiser

Oh, England bellows for a few days and then
goes off to golf for the week-end. I am not very
frightened of England.

Professor

With all deference for Your Majesty's view, and
Your Majesty has more knowledge of English
character . . .

Kaiser

Half an Englishman myself. By the by. Pro-
fessor, I count in English. Did you know that?



II.] The Sands of Fate S7

Professor

I did not know. Your Majesty's mother was a
clever woman.

Kaiser

She was, indeed, Professor. {Walks over to a pic-
ture and looks at it.) She was, indeed. And to think
that she might still be living, if science had been a
little faster in making its discoveries. I did not ap-
preciate her. Everything she was blamed for ad-
vocating I have helped to get. In her I lost the one
person I had to listen to. My dear wife admires me
too much, Professor. I began by being her Prince
Charming, and now I am her earthly Godhead.
{The Professor looks very respectful.) No, Pro-
fessor, I have had no Egeria.

Now Uncle Bertie had friends; I have had none.
I mean intimate friends who forget you are their
sovereign. That is the worst of Germany. Be-
tween ourselves, Professor, Germans have no self-
restraint. If I made a friend of a German, he would
act like Falstaff in no time. That's where English-
men have an advantage over us. They never take
liberties with each other, however intimate they
may be. Even women in England take no liber-
ties. Uncle Bertie, now. . . Well, never mind. Go
on with your history. Professor. {Touches tele-
phone button.) England will not move. She has her
arms full of the Irish question.

Professor

Perhaps, Sir, she will only be too glad to have a
diversion.



58 The Sands of Fate [n.

Kaiser

I have thought of that too, though LIchnowsky
reports that a foreign comphcation would pre-
cipitate a civil war. All the troops are in Ireland
and can't be withdrawn. Well, you say Peace,
Professor. I am going to see Ballin now. Come
every day to see me. Good-bye.

[Shakes hands. Exit the Professor.

Enter Von Etting.
I '11 see Herr Ballin, now.

Von Etting
Yes, Sir. [Exit.

Enter Ballin.

ELaiser

Glad you were able to get through so quickly.
All the lines blocked?

Ballin
Yes, Sir, but I motored from Hamburg.

Kaiser

Well done! {A pause.) This Is bad business.
What do you think of it?

Ballin

It is not for one of Your Majesty's humbler
subjects . . .



II.] The Sands of Fate 59

Kaiser

Oh, damn humility, Ballin! Speak out, man.
By the by, have you lunched?

Ballin

No, Sir.

ELaiser

The brutes kept you waiting with an empty
stomach! {Touches a button.) I'll have something
brought for you.

Enter Second A.D.C.

Order something for Herr Ballin. He'll eat it

here. [Exit A.D.C.

Ballin {looking at him closely), they are all mad.

[A pause.

Ballin
Who, Sir?

Kaiser

Never mind. You look ten years older, Ballin.
{A pause.) Are we making a mistake?

Ballin

Your Majesty knows my devotion to the cause
of Germany's prosperity.

Kaiser {impatiently)
Yes, Ballin. Yes, Ballin.



6o The Sands of Fate [n.

Ballin {slowly)

I am not competent in matters of higher pohcy.
[Doors thrown open. Flunkies bring in tray
with food. Table pulled out from some-
where. Exeunt flunkies. Ballin waits.

Kaiser

Eat, man, eat. [Ballin eats.

You don't approve of war.

Ballin
No, Sir.

Kaiser

It will be over by Christmas. {Silence.) You
don't think so.

Ballin
No, Sir.

Kaiser

Then, what the devil do you think.?

[The Kaiser gets up and walks up and down

the room without waiting for an answer.

Stops.

Ballin, I want you to talk frankly. {Offers him a

cigar.) Why do they all want war.? [Ballin rising.

Keep your seat. No, "take this one. {Pointing to

a large armchair and sitting down in another?^ So

you think it's a mistake, do you? Why?

Ballin
I may be wrong.



II.] The Sands of Fate 6i

ELaiser

Damn humility, Ballin. There's nobody Hsten-
ing. Now the stomach 's at ease, talk.

Ballin {clearing his throat)

War is subject to the laws of business, and in
business the best-laid ventures can fail. But for
Your Majesty the Hamburg-Amerlka would not
have outlived many a venture. But if Your Ma-
jesty's venture fails, where 's the help to come
from ?

Kaiser

Don't say my venture, Ballin. It is everybody's
venture except mine. But go on, why do you
think it will fail.?

Ballin"

I only say it may fail. I don't think it will fail.

Kaiser
Yes, you do, Ballin.

Ballin
No, Sir. I only think the stake is too large.

Kaiser
Our all.

Ballin

Yes, it is an act of desperation — the thing a
business man does when the only alternative is to
blow his brains out.



62 The Sands of Fate [ii.

Kaiser
But they all want it.

Ballin
Ignorance and want of imagination!

Kaiser

That may apply to the mass of the population,
but you can't call my advisers ignorant.

Ballin

Nor is that my meaning. Ignorance and want
of imagination account for the popularity of war.

Kaiser
Tell me how It will affect Hamburg.

Ballin

That will depend on who gets the mastery of the
sea. If with our smaller. . .

Kaiser
But superior ...

Ballin

. . . fleet we obtain the mastery, Hamburg will
rise to a prosperity never before witnessed. If not,
war will spell unqualified disaster for us.

ICaiser

Oh, Ballin, Ballin, these are terrible times! Don't
go away. Go and tell the Countess Emma I want



n.] The Sands of Fate 63

you to stay overnight. We'll take a walk in the
park later. [Ballin bows and exit.

Enter the Crown Prince.
Well, my boy, what have you to say to all this?

Crown Prince

I say there is no alternative. War is inevitable.
The whole country is anxious for it and expects it.
We can't afford to let it cool off. Ask anybody you
like, father, you will find only one idea : War has
to be. You don't suppose that Poincare is in Peters-
burg merely to pay a call. He was sent for. France
is simply Russia's lackey. Iswolsky rules the French
Cabinet. He has only to threaten them with the
Imperial displeasure and down they go on their
knees.

Kaiser

Yes, the French are a degenerate people.

Crown Prince
They need a master like Napoleon.

Kaiser

So do all peoples, my boy. But suppose England
joins them?

Crown Prince

That she will not do. She will only protest, and
even that only mildly in her usual virtuous way,
and make money out of the war by supplying us
with all we want to crush her friends. She did that



64 The Sands of Fate [n.

In 1870. She has always thriven on the misfortune
of others, and, when we have crushed France and
Russia, we shall be able to conclude a naval alliance
with her against America and Japan.

ICaiser

My boy, you don't know England as I do. I feel
like an Englishman and understand their feelings.
I am afraid England will be dragged into war by
hatred and fear of Germany.

Crown Prince

I think not. She has enough on her hands in
Ulster. Besides, the Consuls' reports are there. My
dear father, if you were to read them instead of . . .
trusting to your intuition — I don't believe in in-
tuition — you would see that Ireland would be in
flames the moment the troops were withdrawn.
England dare not move. Lichnowsky reports . . .
[The Kaiser looks angrily surprised.

{Misunderstanding the Kaiser's displeasure at
his having had access to the Ambassador^ s des-
patches.) Yes, you may start, father. Lichnowsky
reports that the guns may go off in Ireland at any
moment. Carson is no mere actor, and every true
Irishman only longs for the downfall of England,
which means freedom for Ireland. England is a
quantite negligeable.

ICaiser

Have you thought that just the opposite of what
you all expect might result, and that England may



n.] The Sands of Fate 65



come in to get rid of the Irish question ? I know the
Irish; when fighting is to be done the Irish fly to
arms. The EngUsh may be mostly fools, insular,
ignorant, and all that, but they have just the intui-
tion you despise. A common enemy, my boy, will
make a united nation of the United Kingdom.

Crown Prince

I know the English people of to-day better than
you do, father. You know those of yesterday, I
know the English of to-day, the typical English
who govern India, for instance. I have hunted with
them, caroused with them, and a better sort I don't
know. If I had my choice, I would rather have
Englishmen than any other kind of men for my
companions. With them I feel more comfortable
{gemilthlich) than with Germans. With Germans I
can't be familiar as I can with Englishmen. Ger-
inans get so easily boisterous {ausgelassen). Indi-
vidually I like the English, but they and the Irish
have a racial antipathy for each other. Ireland is
their Alsace and Poland combined, and it is now or
never for Ulster, just as it is now or never for Home
Rule. Lichnowsky is quite confident that civil war
is inevitable.

Kaiser

Suppose he is right; have you thought that a war
between the Great Western Powers at the present
day can only be a life or death struggle, that we
shall have to fling all considerations of humanity,
justice, even treaty obligations, to the winds in a



66 The Sands of Fate [n.

gigantic effort to annihilate the enemy, that such
war is not a mere duel, but a death grapple in
which, just as teeth and nails are used between in-
dividuals, what is equivalent to them is used be-
tween nations; have you thought what this may
mean for Germany?

Crown Prince
Yes, I have weighed all that.

Kaiser

Even if we win, have you thought of the count-
less families plunged into mourning, of the hatred
we shall stir up throughout the world, of the curses
of whole nations ? Have you thought that a mere
hitch, the unforeseen of strategy and battle, may
foil our hopes, that we may find ourselves a year,
two years, three years hence, still struggling against
increasing odds? Have you considered the possi-
bility of our ultimate failure ?

Crown Prince
Yes, I have weighed all that.

Kaiser

Have you thought of Germany invaded by the
Cossack, our cities bombarded, our unoffending
citizens shot down in cold blood on any pretext
that is handy, our villages and towns sacked and
burnt, our women and children massacred by
drunken fiends?



II.] The Sands of Fate 67

Crown Prustce

I have weighed it all. We can only win, father.
The French are quite unprepared. Everybody
knows that. We shall reach Paris before .the Rus-
sians have finished their mobilisation, and we can
confidently leave England out altogether. What-
ever you decide, don't you think, father, I ought to
be consulted as future sovereign?

Kjviser (musing — pause — stands up and puts his
hand on his son^s shoulder)

Bear this in mind, my boy, that if I win I shall
go down to posterity with a character as black as
that of Attila. If I lose, you will never reign.

Crown Prince
We can't lose. [Exit the Kaiser.

Enter Von Etting.
It's all right, I think.

VoN Etting
I hope the fleet 's safe.

Crown Prince

It left Norwegian waters yesterday. It won't be
in safety till to-morrow. By Jove! I know what I
should have done, had I had command at the Brit-
ish Admiralty. I should have sent a squadron to
cruise off the Skaggerack.

Von Etting
Would not that draw war.f*



68 The Sands of Fate [n.

Crown Prince

Not necessarily. I don't think Tirpitz would
have let them come out of the fyords.

Von Etting

That is just what His Majesty would have liked.
That England does not do anything so simple
shows she wants war.

Crown Prince

I say let her have it. Vive la guerre ! Ta ! Ta !

[Exit.
[VoN Etting busy at the desk, putting
things in order.

CURTAIN
SCENE II

Same decor, but at night. About thirty-six hours
have elapsed.

Steps in darkness. A.D.C. turns on light. The
Kaiser's study revealed. A pause. Von Etting
comes hurriedly in with despatch-box. Tries quills.
Picks out of zvastepaper basket the torn-off date of
calendar and replaces it. It is July 28. Looks nerv-
ous and angry. Pause. Doors thrown open and the
Kaiser enters rather boisterously. Exit A.D.C.

Kaiser

Take down a telegram. {Walks up and down hur-
riedly.) Great God in heaven ! War — war! I don't
want war. Great God in heaven! Great God in




1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryThomas BarclayThe sands of fate; dramatised study of an imperial conscience, a phantasy → online text (page 3 of 11)