beginning with the sudden disappearance of Monsieur X.'s trusted head

clerk--a German boy who has been in the office for fifteen years and who

knew every phase of the situation. What reason on earth could he have

had for vanishing like that with all his personal belongings, not

leaving one trace behind to show that such a person had ever been? Odd,

but certainly done with studied thoroughness.

This afternoon we sat at the end of the garden by the little lake,

listless and content to do nothing. The air was ominously still, as I

remember it now, and the sun beat down through a yellow haze. Suddenly,

without the slightest warning, huge drops of rain began to fall. You can

imagine that we scurried up the path as fast as possible, past the old

oak, and reached the terrace just before the very heavens opened in a

flood and a great shaft of lightning, like a sword, swept down from the

sky straight to the oak tree, crushing it completely. My hand trembles a

little as I write tonight--it was the suddenness of the onslaught which

unnerved me, I suppose, for it was a curious thing that there were no

signs of approaching storm except the dull yellow light which we did not

notice then.

There was a small dinner this evening and the table was beautiful as

usual with old silver and candles which shed their warm light about--all

lovely and luxurious. Monsieur R., M.P., did his best to draw out the

political opinions of the party, but conversation, quite contrary to

custom, was fitful. I think every one was a little unstrung by the

afternoon's experience and the air even yet is full of electricity.

During one of the unwelcome pauses of the dinner a motor came panting up

the drive and "Uncle Henri" burst in, virtually hatless and coatless,

fairly bristling with political news and very much annoyed that

something, anything, had wrecked his normal existence for a moment. But

this something which has happened is terribly serious. The French trains

are not going beyond the frontier to-night, and part of "Uncle Henri's"

agitation was due to this fact as he had been obliged to walk a few

hundred yards to get the Belgian train. In the excitement of such an

unheard of proceeding he had plunged ponderously along in the dark and

mud with his fellow-travellers and incidentally lost his luggage and his

valet, the ineradicably English James. Nobody took in the seriousness of

such a strange tale at first, for Uncle Henri is, before all, _tres

comedien_. But why was he not in Russia as he was expected to be? Very

good reasons indeed, for it appears that Austria and Serbia and Germany

and Russia are about to jump down each other's throats, according to

widespread rumor. France, too, is writhing in suppressed excitement

which one cannot understand, with conditions growing worse every minute.

It would seem rather left-handed for Germany and Russia to reach around

through France to cross swords.

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