CHAPTER XVII
THE SECRET TREATY OF BJÖRKE--II

TURNING to me Witte said, "I had in my mind at the time, but I did not mention it to Bülow, a much more striking instance which had made very bad blood at the Tsar's court. It was an incident--a characteristic one-- which had happened at military manœuvres presided over by the Kaiser. The Grand Duke of Hesse, who took part in them, was being caustically criticised by his war-lord who said, 'So you want to have the Black Eagle conferred on you, I understand? Very well. Show that you deserve it. Answer me a question, but answer it at once and without hesitation. When a hussar mounts his charger which foot must he raise first, the right or the left? Quick!' The Grand Duke did not rise to the occasion. He remained silent. Then the Emperor said, 'You want the Black Eagle and yet are unable to answer a simple question like that,' and with a sneer he left the parade ground. That monologue found its way to Peterhof very shortly afterwards. And it was brooded over. But I kept that to myself." About six months later Bülow thanked Witte fervidly for his advice, which he said was most wise and efficacious. "The Tsar," he added, "has, as you told me, a great store of amour propre." "After that," Witte went on, "I must say that the Kaiser's manner towards Nicholas II. was much less overbearing than before. He evidently remembered my recipe. He advised the Tsar not to give way during the Japanese war, but he gave the advice in an acceptable form. But after all he was knocking at an open door. For Nicholas II hated England then, and for three reasons: first, because of the treaty she had made with Japan which ruined his own political schemes; second, because of English liberalism which sympathised with Russian liberalism and gave asylum to Russian revolutionaries; and third, because of the growing

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