The Death Voyage by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Death Voyage

bySir Arthur Conan Doyle

Kobo ebook | June 18, 2013

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It was a winter evening, and as I sat by a dwindling fire in the twilight, my mind hit upon a strange line of thought. Mulling over the great crises of history, I could see that the chief actor in each had always come to a dividing of the ways where it was within his choice to take the one path or the other. He took the one, and the annals tell us what came of it. But suppose that he had taken the other? Is it possible for the human imagination to follow up the course of events which would have resulted from that? A series of fascinating alternatives passed through my brain, each involving a problem of its own. Had Caesar remained faithful as a general of the republic, and refused to cross the Rubicon, would not the whole story or Imperial Rome have been avoided? Had Washington persuaded his fellow countrymen to wait patiently until a liberal majority in the British Parliament righted their wrongs, would not Britain and all her Dominions now be an annex to the great central power of America? If Napoleon had made peace before entering upon the Russian campaign—and so on, and so on.

As I brooded thus, a modern instance came into my mind, and so, half sleeping, and with my eyes fixed upon the red embers, there came a series of pictures, a vision, if one may so call it, which, with realistic detail duly added, might be traruslated into some such narrative as this:

It was a dull November day in the little Belgian town of Spa. It was very easy to see that some great event had occurred—some event which had stirred the townspeople to their depth. Business had ceased, and they stood in excited, gossiping groups along the sidewalks. Among them there wandered great numbers or German soldiers in their gray-green uniforms, some of them so worn with service that they presented every shade of color. These men were as excited aa the civilians, and choked the streets with their noisy, gesticulating assemblies. Boys carrying newspapers rushed wildly here and there. The whole place waa like an ants' nest stirred up suddenly by some intrusive stick. Suddenly the groups fell apart to give space for a huge motor car, containing four officers and two civilians, who were clearly men of importance, to judge by the attention which they excited. The lionlike face which looked fiercely out at the undisciplined groups of soldiers was one which was familiar to every bystander, since Spa had been for so long the center of German military activity. It was old Marshal von Berg himself. Beside him, lost in thought. sat a high naval officer, his clean-shaven race seamed with furrows of care. It was the famoua Admiral von Speer. Two other high generals and two statesmen fresh from Berlin completed the group. The car roared down the main street, turned hard to the right, swung round between the pillars of an ornamental gate, and halted presently before the stucccoed front of the Villa Froneuse. Sentries on either side of the door presented arms, a red-plushed butler appeared in the opening, and the illustrious deputation vanished into the house, while curious faces and staring eyes lined the railing, for it was rumored that some eventful decision was to be reached that day, and that the moment of fate had arrived.


Title:The Death VoyageFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:June 18, 2013Publisher:WDS PublishingLanguage:English

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