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658 pages, Kindle Edition
First published January 1, 1962
[T]he crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue and green and purple, three by three the sovereigns rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braids, crimson sashes, and jeweled orders flashing in the sun. After them came five heirs apparent, forty more imperial or royal high-nesses, seven queens – four dowager and three regent – and a scattering of special ambassadors from uncrowned countries. Together they represented seventy nations in the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last.
Every morning at eight o’clock Joffree presided at meetings of the section chiefs, a majestic and immobile arbiter but never the puppet of his entourage as outsiders, misled by his silence and his bare desk, supposed. He kept no papers on his desk and no map on his wall; he wrote nothing and said little. Plans were prepared for him, said Foch; “he weighs them and decides.” There were few who did not tremble in his presence. Anyone who was five minutes late at his mess was treated to a thunderous frown and remained an outcast for the remainder of the meal. Joffre ate in silence with a gourmet’s entire devotion to the food. He complained continuously of being kept in the dark by his staff…He used to rub his forehead, murmuring “Poor Joffre!” which his staff came to recognize as his way of refusing to do something that was being urged upon him. He was angered by anyone who tried too openly to make him change his mind. Like Talleyrand he disapproved of too much zeal.
That morning there arrived at Constantinople the small Italian passenger steamer which had witnessed the Gloucester’s action against the Goeben and Breslau. Among its passengers were the daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren of the American ambassador Mr. Henry Morgenthau.