Chapter the Third: The Ending of War - Section 8

It was still quite dark when his valet and Firmin came together and told the ex-king Egbert that the business was settled.

He started up into a sitting position on the side of his bed.

‘Did he go out?’ asked the ex-king.

‘He is dead,’ said Firmin. ‘He was shot.’

The ex-king reflected. ‘That’s about the best thing that could have happened,’ he said. ‘Where are the bombs? In that farm-house on the opposite hill-side! Why! the place is in sight! Let us go. I’ll dress. Is there any one in the place, Firmin, to get us a cup of coffee?’

Through the hungry twilight of the dawn the ex-king’s automobile carried him to the farm-house where the last rebel king was lying among his bombs. The rim of the sky flashed, the east grew bright, and the sun was just rising over the hills when King Egbert reached the farm-yard. There he found the hay lorries drawn out from the barn with the dreadful bombs still packed upon them. A couple of score of aviators held the yard, and outside a few peasants stood in a little group and stared, ignorant as yet of what had happened. Against the stone wall of the farm-yard five bodies were lying neatly side by side, and Pestovitch had an expression of surprise on his face and the king was chiefly identifiable by his long white hands and his blonde moustache. The wounded aeronaut had been carried down to the inn. And after the ex-king had given directions in what manner the bombs were to be taken to the new special laboratories above Zurich, where they could be unpacked in an atmosphere of chlorine, he turned to these five still shapes.

Their five pairs of feet stuck out with a curious stiff unanimity....

‘What else was there to do?’ he said in answer to some internal protest.

‘I wonder, Firmin, if there are any more of them?’

‘Bombs, sir?’ asked Firmin.

‘No, such kings....

‘The pitiful folly of it!’ said the ex-king, following his thoughts. ‘Firmin, as an ex-professor of International Politics, I think it falls to you to bury them. There? . . . No, don’t put them near the well. People will have to drink from that well. Bury them over there, some way off in the field.’