Thomas Barclay.

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

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wicked man.

English Prisoner

I know. Good Lord! don't I know! This Is my
third knockover, and now I 've boxed the compass
by coming to this blessed place as a prisoner to be
treated by a . . .

Nurse Nelson
Well — no, not an Englishwoman.

English Prisoner

By an Anglo-Saxon. By the by, what brought
you here?

Nurse Nelson


English Prisoner

Nurse Nelson

Love of adventure. Don't be so Inquisitive.
Yes, love of a man, too. I was married to a Ger-

I.] In Gremio Deorum i97


English Prisoner
So you like these blighters?

Nurse Nelson
Some, yes.

English Prisoner

Well, I suppose some of 'em are right enough.
Tell me what has been going on since I fell — that
is three weeks ago. I am allowed to talk and be
talked to now, you know.

Nurse Nelson

I am not supposed to give news to prisoners.
Besides, I am under observation since America
came in, you may be sure. But I '11 tell you, all the
same, if you 're good and don't get too restless and
shift your bandages. Germany's in a terrible way.
They're running short of ammunition and men too,
and Berlin's full of sedition {glancing round her and
lowering her voice) and the working classes are all
up against going on with the war and are demon-
strating against it daily. {Nurse passing.) You
know you ought not to be In this ward at all. It was
some mistake.

English Prisoner

Probably on account of my name being Zlm-

Nurse Nelson

No wonder. They could n't realise that a Zim-
mermann was a prisoner. Are n't you a German?

198 The Sands of Fate [i.

English Prisoner

My father was, but I hate the Germans. — At
least, I hate Germany — I mean their Govern-
ment — No, perhaps I ought rather to say the
beasts who brought on the war. You are of Ger-
man origin too, I suppose.

Nurse Nelson
No, I'm really Scotch, but bom in America.

English Prisoner

How absurd international hatred is. Here am I
fighting against my father's sister's children and
you a Scotchwoman tending my wounds in the
enemy's country — both of us much more attached
to the place of our up-bringing than affected by
political allegiance or birth.

Nurse Nelson
You don't speak like a Tommy, now.

English Prisoner

Well, if you want to know, I am an Oxf Drd man
and a barrister and joined the London Scottish.

Nurse Nelson {eagerly)
Then you are Scotch too.f*

English Prisoner
No, not necessarily, though my mother is.

Nurse Nelson
Well, that's enough. In America, if you only

I.] In Gremio Deorum 199

have a Scotch great-grandmother, you belong to
Scotland and keep St. Andrew's day. It's like
royal blood in your veins. {Laughs.)

English Prisoner

I wish all these blessed politicians could be
shunted to the Falkland Islands. It's the politicians
have made the war, and all of us have been fighting
and killed and wounded because they are incom-
petent to deal with anything complicated. I love
my own profession, but I see the superiority of a
careful business man or manufacturer or engineer.
They think before they act. Politicians act first
and find excuses afterwards, and lawyers don't care
much about essentials — they enjoy the sport of
winning, right or wrong.

[Doors thrown open, A lady in black enters.
Saluting and curtseying.

Who's that?

Nurse Nelson {standing at attention)
The Empress!

English Prisoner
I hope she's brought cigarettes.

Nurse Nelson

She always leaves several boxes. All the flowers
are from her. She's an angel to the hospitals.

[The Kaiserin moves round from bed to bed,
conversing pleasantly with the wounded and
nurses. Here and there a laugh. Eventually
she reaches the English Prisoner's bed.

200 The Sands of Fate [i.

Matron {rather severely)

This man, Your Majesty, is a prisoner. He was
badly wounded in four places.

Vous etes Frangais, Monsieur ?

English Prisoner
No, Madam, I am an Englishman. ]

Matron {severely)
His name is Zimmermann.

That's not an English name.

English Prisoner

My father was German and my mother Is Scotch,
and I was born in England, and I have fought for
my country and been thrice wounded In her service.


But if your father is German, you don't think
us all such ogres as we are represented, do you?

English Prisoner

No, Ma'am, I know that all Germans are nothing
of the kind and that this war would never have
taken place if men had known each other better.

Where is your father?

I.] In Gremio Deorum '201

English Prisoner

My father Is a naturalised Englishman, but a
suspect. I don't blame the authorities, who can't
make distinctions, but he Is more English than I

Why do so many Germans love England?

English Prisoner {with energy and making an
effort to rise, and falling back)

Because she Is lovable.


You have excited yourself too much in talking
with me. But before I go, tell me what do you mean
by "lovable"?

English Prisoner

She is like Your Majesty. Her large, warm,
mother's heart beats In harmony with all her sub-
jects and has even tenderness to spare for others.
[The K-Aiserin gives him her hand, which he
raises to his lips. She passes on in silence.

Nurse Nelson
Is n't she a daisy, as we say?

English Prisoner
She seems a good sort.

202 The Sands of Fate [i.

Nurse Nelson

How fearfully prosaic! Why, you spoke of her
heart so beautifully and poetically that you went
straight to it.

English Prisoner
Of England's heart, you mean.

Nurse Nelson

She knows nothing of England's heart. Hers
beats within her. But you said more than you un-
derstood, young man. And that touched her, too,
the more so because she saw you were not cap-
able of realising its depth. Her Majesty's heart
does beat with all her subjects, but His Majesty's
Government has no heart for half of them. The
Poles, the Alsatians, the Schleswigers, practically
the whole artisan and working class of Germany —
most of the thinking population — are regarded
by the Kaiser's Government as enemies, and Ger-
many, the great mother, is still unborn. When you
said that of England, you may have opened Her
Majesty's eyes to the greatest fact of the present
age. England is a motherland, Germany is merely
a fatherland, a guardian with as much motherliness
in it as a public company.

English Prisoner

Upon my soul — it is good to hear you talk. My
father was a friend of old Liebknecht. He was a
young revolutionary refugee in Paris in 1870, and
though he would not fight against Germany, he

I.] In Gremio Deorum '203

fought with the Commune against the Versaillais
and fled to England, where he has Hved ever since.
He is known to Hterature under a pseudonym. He
could have returned to Germany, but the great
mother, England, had received him to her bosom
in his trouble. There he found safety from per-
secution, — freedom, — not a gesticulating deity,
but the warm, tender comfort of being let alone.
That's why he loves her and why I love her. Only
those who know something else can understand such
goodness in itself. You understand it because you
have . . .

Nurse Nelson

Stop ! You are talking too much. I must go to
other patients now. But great events are impend-
ing. You spoke of Liebknecht. His son is in danger
of his life. The Government thought that ideas
could be locked up, and kept him in prison for
months, but he is out again. On the slightest ex-
cuse, the Government would try him for high
treason and have him shot. He is immensely pop-
ular and goes his own way, defying the Govern-
ment. This country is ripening for revolution. If
they don't get peace shortly, there will be — you
know what I mean.

English Prisoner
Are you a revolutionary too?

Nurse Nelson
[My mother was an Irish patriot. ^

204 The Sands of Fate [i.

English Prisoner
I suppose you mean that to explain everything.

Nurse Nelson

It does a lot, does n't it? By the by, are you
married ?

English Prisoner
No, I am still a sporting chance.

Nurse Nelson {laughing)

In spite of your shortened leg! Now, be quiet or
I shall be reprimanded for impropriety and you
turned into a prisoners' ward. Be a good boy and
go to sleep.

[Moves away. The English Prisoner pulls
a shade over his eyes.



A lofty Bier-Halle in Berlin^ packed with men and
a sprinkling of women; small tables, beer-tankards,
long pipes, short pipes, cigars, a few cigarettes; plat-
form to right; constables at long table with reporters,
some constables facing platform, others audience;
high reading-desk, table for Chairman, and a few
chairs on platform.

« Hum of subdued conversation — a note of restless
expectation and excitement.

First Citizen
It's shameful.

I.] In Gremio Deorum 205

Second Citizen
What's shameful?

First Citizen
Using the police to stifle public opinion. .

Second Citizen

They've been doing that since the war began.
The world's gagged. I've just heard from New
York that it's as bad there — not a song can be
sung in a music-hall without the consent of the
police. It's not militarism that's the curse of the
world, it's the present generation's own damned
stupidity that stands this sort of thing.

First Citizen

What can you expect of a system that tries to
reduce everybody to the same low level? The only
sensible political philosophy is anarchism — the
removal of fetters to free development.

Second Citizen

The present generation 's too stupid to appreciate
freedom. They clamour for the State as if it were
a medicine-man, and when they've got a bottle of
something with a label on it they feel better. All
their so-called progress is only exchanging one evil
or one delusion for another.

First Citizen

With all our vaunted civilisation we have re-
verted intellectually to the hand-to-mouth stage.

2o6 The Sands of Fate [i.

Only It's on such a gigantic scale that we can't get
it into a panorama. Look at this War — we dash
Into It as if we were cutting into cake, with no more
attempt to grasp its meaning than if we were
women at a tea-fight {Kaffee-Klatsch), and now we
are clamouring for peace In just . . .

[Noise at the back; everybody rises to see
what it is.
Uninvited guests !

Second Citizen {looking at his watch)

High time they began !

[Noise continues; some person invisible to the
audience speaking in background. Hush-
ing and silence.

^^ Gentlemen, I should be glad to admit you,
but this meeting is under the supervision of
the police, and admissions are by invitation
only. If you persist in trying to force an
entrance I must hand over the doors to the
police officer.''^

[Noise — cries of ^^ Shameful! " '^ Police to the
devil r'' "Downwiththe police I ^^ Constables
sit stolid and observant at table. Outside
a shot is fired; then follow several. A mus-
cular, commanding voice shouts, " Close the
doors r"^ {Thiir zu !) Closing of doors.

^ First Citizen

We are In a rat-trap.

[Firing outside, screams of women, and shouts
of command and defiance. Then a thunder-

I-] In Gremio Deorum 207

ing volley ; screams and yells growing less
and less until silence.
[The muscular, commanding voice: ^^ Gentle-
men, you can proceed with your meeting.''^
The prelude 's taken the stomach out of it.

[Door at side of platform opens and three men
in frock coats enter. The Chairman at table
pours out glass of water. Others take seats on
either side.

Gentlemen — We are met here to-night under
somewhat exceptional circumstances. Public meet-
ings, as you know, are forbidden. This is not a pub-
lic meeting and, as you may have observed, it is
under the protection of the police {a titter).

[Constables look round to discover the author
of the unseemly interruption.
I beg the audience to remain calm and to re-
member that we owe the privilege of meeting at all
to the intervention of His Majesty. We should also
remember that the police are only performing their
duty, and I feel sure their duty is often as unpleas-
ant to them as it is . . . [Noise and a pause.
[Burly police officer walks up the middle pas-
sage to the table and addresses the Chair-
man, rather short of breath.

Police Officer

I respectfully request the Chairman not to refer
to the police. Compliments are as misplaced as
criticism. We have our orders, and so long as you
behave yourselves properly you may proceed.

[General indignation.

2o8 The Sands of Fate [i.

First Citizen
The Impertinence!


Gentlemen, you have heard the poHte and con-
siderate intimation of the gentleman in command
of this hall. {A titter — same movement.) You have
also heard the echo of feelings outside the hall. {A
groan — same movement.) They had a certain elo-
quence. In fact they spat out the gag. (Turning to
officer.) I beg your honour's pardon. And, well,
gentlemen, I stop. You have come to hear our
friend Deputy Dr. Liebknecht, and not me, and to
him I yield the floor.

["Hear, hear,'^ and rumbling of feet. Gentle-
man on right of the Chairman rises ; clap-
ping of hands and rumbling of feet ; takes
a manuscript from his pocket and spreads
it out on reading-desk ; clears his voice.

Police Officer {rising)

Mr. Chairman, I must ask you to forbid all cheer-
ing and manifestations of opinion. Such are my

Dr. Liebknecht

Gentlemen, the Chairman has told you that It Is
by the Kaiser's express leave that we are able to
hold a meeting at all. I do not thank him for grant-
ing us what he ought to have no right to withhold,
but I take his consent as evidence that the scales

I.] In Gremio Deorum 209

are falling from the eyes of authority and that a
better time is coming.

The internal government of peoples is no longer
a purely internal question. It may have the grav-
est consequences for other nations. The French
revolutionary philosophers were right. Revolution
— a revolution against autocracy is not a mere
revolt — it is a crusade.

Police Officer

I cannot allow "revolution" to be spoken about
as a crusade.

Dr. Liebknecht

If the officer were less hasty, he would have let
me explain before he interrupted me. My father of
blessed memory called Socialism an "Evangelium."
I regard it as such. It is the consolation of the poor
and the downtrodden, of the wreckage of man-
kind, of the flotsam and jetsam of society, of those
to whom, in mind or in body. Nature has been un-
generous. It is the good time combing for those
who lie stranded in the hospitals of life — of the
wounded in life's battle. It is the word of good
cheer, and what is the word of God but the word
of good cheer, the smile of that greatest nurse of
mankind — hope — hope, if not in this life, hope
for our children and generations to come? And
what I am saying to you to-day is only what my
father said before me. In me he lives, and in your
children and your children's children will you live.
The dawn is on the horizon, we discern it through

2IO The Sands of Fate [i.

the mists left by the long night from which the
sunlight is just emerging. We appeal across these
mists to suifering mankind.

I am forbidden to speak of how the rulers of the
earth are fulfilling their trust.

Police Officer

Will the speaker please confine himself to his
"Evangelium".'' (Smiling.) (Murmurs ; the word
"insolence'^ (Frechheit) is heard.) I cannot allow
any manifestation of opinion, any applause, or the
contrary. If repeated it will be followed by im-
mediate evacuation of the hall. Such are my


The officer has to obey his orders, however in-
sensate they may be.

[Police Officer rises indignantly, but sits
dozvfi again.

Dr. Liebknecht

Not to speak of the War implies silence about
Peace. All, therefore, I can say is that we, the So-
cialists of Germany, who have not surrendered to
Csesar (the Police Officer jumps to his feet, but
sits down again), hold out our hands to the Social-
ists of the world and declare (with vehemence) our
loathing for a war ...

Police Officer
Stop, sir!

I.] In Gremio Deorum 211

Dr. Liebknecht {shouting him down)

... a war forced on mankind by a malignant
gang of miscreants on grounds as contemptible as
they are criminal.

[All the audience on their feet, cheering

Police Officer {bawling)

Clear the hall !

[Police, formed into a line with drawn pistols,

gradually move the audience back to the


{To Dr. Liebknecht, sarcastically.) Sorry, sir,

to disturb so pleasant a gathering. My orders.

If you and the Chairman and the other gentlemen

go out quietly by the back door you will escape


Dr. Liebknecht

I don't want to escape you. I am at your dis-

Police Officer
Don't be a fool! [Joining his men.



The Kaiser's study at Schloss, Berlin^ as in
Part I, Act III. Von Etting at telephone with re-
ceiver at his ear, looking very impatient.

Von Etting

Yes, Headquarters. Excellency von Etting, yes.
Is that you, Field-Marshal? All right, thanks. His
Majesty wishes to know if you propose to evacuate
Cologne. {Pause.) Diisseldorf and Duisburg al-
ready! Good God! {Listening.) Essen! {Almost
shouting.) . . . Yes, a couple of hundred thousand
Japanese. We shall need all we've got on that side.
Berlin is seething with revolution. Yes, we had to
shoot two hundred of them. The rest sent back to
the Front. What can you spare.-* Not ten thou-
sand. Yes, see what you can do. Good luck to you.
[Puts down receiver. Ring. Takes up re-
ceiver again.

His Ma j es ty is going to receive them here. Who 's
the President of the Reichstag — oh, yes, that
bounder Kaempf; and how many.? Some dozen or
so. Deputation of Liberal leaders. Wait a moment,
let me make a note. {Passes receiver to other ear and
writes while still holding it.) All right, when you
like. [Puts down receiver and hurries out.

[A pause.

Enter Court Chamberlain with a large sheet of
paper in his hand and takes a look round, pushes

II.] In Gremio Deorum 213

chairs out of the way to make plenty of standing
room, consults paper leisurely, and exit.

[Pause. Voices.
Enter Dr. Kaempf, with Court Chamberlain,
followed by a number of members of the Reich-
stag in swallowtails, white gloves, and white ties.
Court Chamberlain arranges them, with list
in hand, according to alphabetical order. Inau-
dible subdued remarks of Court Chamberlain
to each. Smiles. Handshaking in some cases.
[Exit Court Chamberlain. Pause.
[Doors thrown open. Halbardiers enter and
place themselves at either side of doorway.

Enter Court Chamberlain.

Court Chamberlain {in official voice)

Gentlemen! His Majesty!

Enter the Kaiser.

[Exeunt Halbardiers.


Gentlemen, your President, Dr. Kaempf, has
been good enough to Inform me that you wished to
present me an address. It has given me pleasure
to grant you an audience for this purpose, and I
bid you welcome.

Dr. Kaempf

I beg to present to Your Majesty my colleagues
of the Reichstag who are present, a list of whom
His Excellency the Court Chamberlain, I am in-
formed, submitted beforehand for Your Majesty's

214 The Sands of Fate [n.

approval. Your Majesty objected to the presence
of two of our colleagues. May I humbly request
Your Majesty to tell their colleagues here present
why Your Majesty objected to their forming part
of the deputation. I beg to add that they were duly
elected by the political group to which they belong,
and the group to which they belong will expect
an explanation, which, I trust. Your Majesty will
enable me to give.


Mr. President Kaempf, it is not for a Sovereign
to give any explanation. To the two gentlemen in
question I had the gravest objection. That ought
to suffice.

Dr. Kaempf

I am afraid it does not, Sir. The Reichstag rep-
resents the German people.


No, Sir, I represent the German people. The
Reichstag is merely my adviser.

Dr. Kaempf

With all deference to Your Majesty, the question
of the true position of Sovereign and Parliament
has long since been settled in the Home of Parlia-
ments, and both in France and in Germany, as in
other Parliamentary countries, the Parliamentary
system has been borrowed from England, and Is
subject to the principles and privileges which at-
tend and surround the institution in that country.

II.] In Gremio Deorum 215

KLa-ISER {with a slightly contemptuous smile)
A sort of apostolic succession.

Dr. Kaempf
If Your Majesty pleases.


And if I decline to give you any reason, do you
propose to send me to the guillotine ? {Looks steadily
at Dr. Kaempf.) {A pause.) My dear President,
I am no Louis Capet, and this Schloss is not yet
invaded by the Berlin canaille. Take a friend's
advice, and drop dictation. {Pause.) Let us pro-
ceed to the matter in hand.

Dr. Kaempf

Your Majesty knows I make no pretence of hav-
ing any power of coercion, but I would humbly
point out to Your Majesty that the Reichstag is in
no mood to allow any discussion as to its supremacy.

Kaiser {startled)

Dr. Kaempf

Yes, Sir, the word I have used is the one which
was used at yesterday's council of the leaders. The
Reichstag intends to be supreme.


And pray. Sir, how is the Reichstag going to
materialise its supremacy against the physical

2i6 The Sands of Fate [n.

force which is under my command and obeys my
orders? My dear President, you are threatening
me with civil war, and exposing the leaders to a
coup d'etat.

Dr. Kaempf {drawing himself up and turning to

his colleagues)

Gentlemen, His Majesty's last words I think we
must regard as a dismissal.


Gentlemen, your President has an emphatic way
of putting his point which exposes him to the an-
swer I have given him. Now, what I suppose he
wished me to understand is that the Reichstag is
displeased with the course the War has taken, has
come to think that if a declaration of war, under the
German Constitution, had been subject to the ap-
proval of Parliament, as in France, the Reichstag
would probably have had a majority against it.
Perhaps, gentlemen, you are right, and so far as
that is concerned I should have been glad to have
been restrained by such a provision; but you are not
unaware that in the Home of Parliaments war was
declared against Germany without the consent of

Dr. Kaempf
But by a Committee of Parliarnent.

How a Committee of Parliament?

II.] In Gremio Deorum 217

Dr. Kaempf

By a Government chosen from among the mem-
bers of the Parliament and responsible to it.


Then is that the point on which you wish to hear
my commands?

Dr. Kaempf

Our object, Sir, is humbly to request you. Sir,
to grant your people two changes in the Imperial
Constitution. The one is that no member of the
Cabinet shall be chosen outside the Reichstag or
the Bundesrath, that the majority of the Cabinet
shall in all cases belong to the Reichstag, and that
this shall apply to the Imperial Chancellor, who
shall continue, as hitherto, to be President of the
Cabinet and Prime Minister, choosing his col-
leagues from the two legislative houses exclusively.


Gentlemen, I will consider the matter. Have you
any other proposal f

Dr. Kaempf

No, Sir, not at present. I beg Your Majesty to
regard this deputation as the expression of the
entire liberalism of the Reichstag, and therefore of
the country. We represent, with the Social Demo-
crats, a large majority of Your Majesty's subjects,
and hope that Your Majesty, who has always been
regarded by German Liberals as in sympathy with

21 8 The Sands of Fate [n.

liberal ideas and progressive legislation, will appre-
ciate this step on our part as necessary for the
protection of generations of Germans to come.

[Stepping back to the middle of the deputation.
[A pause, during which the Emperor puts his
hand to his eyes and stands for a few mo-
ments in silence.


Gentlemen, I have been a Liberal all my life.
Every act in my career has been an act of liberal-
ism. If I have fought Socialism, it is because I re-
gard It as subversive of every principle of righteous
conduct, human and divine. It proposes to apply
general and artificial injustice as a remedy for the
cruelties of Nature. To prevent a thousand men
from using their limbs in order to console one who
has none would be just about as sensible as the
equalising system of Socialism. I have fought
trade-unionism for the same reason. But if I have
fought the levelling process at the foot, I have
fought privilege at the top. I have, fought the uni-
versities and the so-called Intellectuals, who have

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