Sam: And, England; what has occurred there new and startling?
Lady: Nothing new and startling. You know her policy was always conservative. We detest novelty; and we have now one row of white porticos from Hampstead to Pimlico.
Uncle: Well, France,–tell us about France; does she remain unchanged?
Lady: Quite unchanged. She is still endeavouring to define the powers of the French Assembly.
Sam: And Spain. what became of Spain?
Lady: (musing) Spain! Spain! I don’t know that I ever heard of Spain.
Sam: Spain, in the southwest corner of the map of Europe; we left them fighting, every man of them.
Lady: (still musing) Southwest corner of the map of Europe! I’m sure, I don’t know. Oh yes. I think that must be the place where the Kilkenny cats come from. They are called the Carlo-Serranos.
Uncle: Merciful powers! what destruction. Well, Russia, Russia and Turkey, and all that part of Europe, what change has been wrought there?
Lady: A most remarkable change. That portion of the map of Europe, as you probably remember it, no longer exists. It has disappeared utterly.
Uncle: Oh Samuel!
Sam: Oh Uncle!
Uncle: What happened?
Lady: You may remember, perhaps, that frequent dissensions arose between the Emperors of Russia and the Sultans of Turkey. It was called the Eastern Question, but the wits of the day used to call it the Yeastern Question, because it was always rising to the surface. In process of time these difficulties became more and more complicated until reconciliation became impossible. Nothing was left then except to resort to physical force.
Uncle: Ah! they got out their armies.
Lady: I perceive you have misapprehended the term. By physical force we mean the physical forces of nature. Armies, brute force, and all that puny scratching with musket and cannon ball, we consider beneath the dignity of respectable nations.
Sam: How then are great international difficulties adjusted?
Lady: As the Emperor Bruin IV and Sulton Terrikigobbler adjusted theirs.
Uncle: I am very obtuse, perhaps, but pray explain.
Lady: Had you lived at a later period, you would have heard that the Emperor Bruin, by way of a joke, as he afterwards declared, caused the Caucasian mountains to be pushed down as far as Syria and the Euphrates. The Sultan Terrikigobbler, perceiving the remonstrance was ineffectual, and the intervention of his friendly neighbor, the Khannot of Tartary, futile, declared war against Russia on the 18th of August 1892. The season of the year highly favored the plan of operations which he intended to pursue, and following up his declaration of war by immediate action, he launched a deadly simoom over the great Circassian plains, which, continuing without intermission, for the space of eighteen days, destroyed at least one fifth of the Emperor’s subjects. The Emperor, however, replied by such a storm of sleet and hail as had never before visited the Ottoman dominions, and following up his advantage by a hurricane, à grande vitesse, scattered the huge Armenian peaks from Mesopotamia to Bagdad. Now a hurricane, à grande vitesse, is the most expensive element of modern warfare.
Both: Why so?
Lady: I know not why it is, but it is. Russia, with her overflowing coffers, could manage it easily, but Turkey found it impossible to raise the wind.
Sam: Ah! then Russia got the better of her.
Lady: I am not so sure of that, for the Sultan Terrikigobbler, placing a lever under the southern shore of the Caspian sea, submerged the vast territories of his adversary from Moscow to Siberia. But the Russian autocrat proved himself equal to the occasion, and causing the whole volcanic range, which underlies the Eastern Ural chain, to be ignited, explosion following explosion, until with a shock which caused the entire hemisphere to tremble, and to an accompaniment of thunder and lightening, heightened by earthquakes, and a chorus of waterspouts, that mighty tract of land, formally known as the Turkish and Russian Empires, became a void.
Both: Bless my soul! and what became of the pieces?
Lady: Of the pieces! why, where should they go? they went north, and south; and east, and west; and up, and down; and in, and out; and round, and round; and su, and giu; and wherever they could find a hole and corner to creep into. What an untopographical imagination you possess.
Uncle: What wholesale destruction!
Lady: Yes, that is the way we make war, nowadays. Admit that it is much more effectual than the system you pursued in your time.
Both: Horrible! horrible!
Lady: (coolly) Yes it was lively.
Sam: But what effect had all this upon western Europe?
Lady: It left a chasm, so abrupt, that the western rulers issued a proclamation, prohibiting their subjects from leaving their houses after nightfall, for fear of walking off.
Uncle: (preparing Sam for a joke) But after such wholesale destruction if a few men had so perished it would have been small matter.
Lady: Why so?
Uncle: It—it would have been but a drop in the ocean. (Uncle and Sam enjoy joke)
Lady: (sternly) My mind never descends to frivolities. I should I think had told you enough of blood and slaughter to make any man serious.
Both: We beg your pardon. We thought you were jesting.