It may be as well to mention here that the whole of this book was planned, and at least three-fourths of it actually written, in those happy days, which now seem so pathetically distant, when we were still at peace—days when, to all but a very few, so hideous a calamity as a World-War seemed a danger that had passed for the present, and might never recur; when even those few could hardly have foreseen that England would be so soon compelled to fight for her very existence against the most efficient and deadly foe it has ever been her lot to encounter.But, as the central idea of this story happens to be inseparably connected with certain characters and incidents of German origin, I have left them unaltered—partly because it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to substitute any others, but mainly because I cannot bring myself to believe that the nursery friends of our youth could ever be regarded as enemies.
e told me all I wanted to know, so I must tear myself away."
"Must you really be going? Well, Lady Harriet, I've so much enjoyed our little chat. There are so few persons in a semi-suburban neighbourhood like this, with whom one can have anything in common. So I shall hope to see more of you in future. And if," she added, after ringing for Mitchell, "I should find I've forgotten anything I ought to have told you about Saunders, I can easily pop in some morning." Lady Harriet hastened to assure her that she must not think of giving herself this trouble--after which she took her leave.
"Rather an amusing experience in its way," she was thinking. "Something to tell Joan when I get back. But oh! what an appalling woman! She's settled one thing, though. It will be quite impossible to take Jane Saunders now. A pity--because I rather liked the girl's looks!"
Meanwhile the happily unconscious Mrs. Stimpson had settled down in her chair again w