From the Author
The sun's rays shimmered on the calm surface of the fjord as Kaiser Wilhelm stood on the grassy bank gazing at the mountains of Balholm, rising up from the earth like wise old giants - their ancient features chiselled by the vicissitudes of nature, and the snow along their ridges like white strands of uncut hair.
He looked down into the fjord, and his reflection, monstrously distorted by the ripples, stared back at him in a grotesque caricature. His proud moustache seemed to have grown to enormous proportions and his eyes, magnified by the sunlight on the surface of the water, took on a wild voracious appearance. How different was this from the image he had taken such pains to cultivate! The great, heroic scholar-soldier of his dreams was contorted now into a gargoyle-like creature, hideous and depraved. Was this how history would remember him, if this petty Austrian dispute should lead to a European war? Would posterity forget his successes in peacetime and present him instead as the aggressor, responsible for these damned demands and the subsequent slaughter?
He plunged a stick into the water, violently swishing away the reflection and, as he turned again to the mountains, sorrow and disappointment tugged at his heart.
'Posterity,' he thought ruefully, 'will see me as neither the hero nor the aggressor. I will be forgotten; overlooked and cast aside.'
A great wave of self-pity washed over him. No matter what efforts he made, no matter how brilliant his mind, noble his plans or altruistic his intentions, he remained that same little boy desperately trying to impress a mother who failed to appreciate him.
Deep-rooted frustration tightened like a belt around his stomach and he wanted to scream aloud and hear his voice echo through the mountains, shattering the peaks and causing avalanches to boom through the valleys: "Why don't you see me? Why don't you hear me? I am the Kaiser, the successor of Frederick the Great!"
The uniforms, the parades, the cheering crowds and military displays - none of these, or even the combined memories of them all, had been able to exorcise that demon of self-doubt from his soul.
Laughter echoed from the deck of his yacht, Hohenzollern, moored in the bay, and for one dreadful moment came the terrible thought that he was the cause of the joke. Yes, they pandered to him, those officers and, like the ministers in Berlin, they nodded with their 'yes, sirs,' and 'no, sirs'; they flattered and cajoled with exaggerated respect and responded to his orders with alacrity but did they really think him so unintelligent that he could not see through their masks? They were no different from his mother - in their eyes he was still a helpless and deformed child whom they wanted to hide away. Did they honestly believe he was too blind to know why they had encouraged him to take this vacation? Weren't they making decisions in his absence, which were really his to take, leaving him - their Emperor and Kaiser! - to discover what was happening from the Norwegian newspapers?
The list of demands had been delivered; every other ruler in Europe was poring over its contents and making decisions that would affect the future of the world, while he was here, pushed aside, discarded and ignored.
Self-pity and frustration took their usual course and surged into anger. He stamped fiercely on the ground. Now they would listen to him. This time everyone would hear. He ruled and he was the one to whom they must pay attention. At the top of his voice he yelled, "Make ready. I must return at once to Berlin!"....