Please note the date of this event is approximate:
At the end of the month the Admiral arrived from Vienna. He was no longer young, but he was very enterprising, and, though for many years retired, he now offered himself to his country, which was ungrateful enough to evince no very pressing need of his services. The Admiral’s thoughts, from force of habit, lingered on things naval, and his morning greeting was, invariably
“Good morning ! To-day we shall hear something from the sea ! ”
We all grew impatient as time passed and the Admiral’s big sea-battle failed to take place I once dared to suggest that the German Fleet was afraid to come out. The Admiral’s remaining hairs literally stood on end.
“Afraid ! Oh, Miss Jerry ! You must have patience they will come out in time. What do you suppose Willy built his Dreadnoughts for? To sit in the Kiel Canal, perhaps?”
There was never even a hint in the Austrian papers of any doings at sea at all ; but the Man of Art knew of the clearing of enemy ships from the seas by the Allied Fleets. It was in the suppressed Slav papers.
“But how do you manage to get those papers? ” I once asked.
“Na, Fraulein ; don’t ask me that. To have that known is as much as my life is worth. But you can be quite certain that I’m not the only person here who gets them.”
Japan’s declaration of war was the surprise of the Admiral’s life, and his rage was almost classic. It was right, though, he said, for the Allies to welcome the yellow Japs to their rainbow collection of soldiers!
Uncle Pista was charmingly funny about Japan one afternoon when Claire, the Admiral, and I went to tea to Aunt Sharolta.
“Japan will regret what she has done,” and in anticipation of this his face grew rounder and redder. “There won’t be much left of her by the time that Germany’s done with her.”
“How is Germany going to manage it ?”
“By sending ships and men there, of course,” he replied, contemptuously.
“And how will Germany manage that ? ” asked the Admiral, greatly amused.
” How!” repeated the old gentleman. “How does any ship go anywhere ? By crossing the sea, of course.”
“What about the British Navy on the way ? ” asked Claire.
“Why would the German boats go near the British Navy ? ” and Uncle Pista was surprised and disappointed.
“Not intentionally but they might find the British Navy difficult to avoid,” said the Admiral.
“Then they wouldn’t avoid it at all,” said Uncle Pista, recovering his spirits. “They would just smash it up, as they’re smashing up the English in Flanders just now, and then go on, and they would be in Japan in a few days.”
“Good sailing!” commented the Admiral.
“Oh yes, there will be an end of Japan and of England, too ! Willy will teach them the lesson they need. How glad I am that no child of mine ever learned English!” By this time we were literally roaring with laughter, and he paused in surprise.
“What are you all laughing at? Am I not right?” He had forgotten my nationality.
“Quite,” I said, hoping he would continue. But Aunt Sharolta looked up from the chest-protector she was sewing and said “It is useless for you to talk like that, Pista, when we are being annihilated in Galicia and Serbia. Oh yes, I know the newspapers are very encouraging, but those who know say otherwise.”
” Have patience ! Have patience,” said the Admiral. ” Trust in Willy. And mark my words, to-morrow we shall hear something from the sea.”