Britain was described maliciously but accurately by one of her earlier foes as a "nation of shopkeepers". It was therefore not inappropriate that Englishmen should be so skillful at espionage as, despite what novels said, the skills required for a spy are often not all that different from those required by a merchant.
In demonstration of this, Lord Wilberford sat at a restaurant in Romania conducting a meeting with a local businessman in the hope of depriving the Germans of access to the Danube oil fields. If it succeeded the war would be stopped before it was fairly begun.
Lord Wilberford and his prospective partner partook of the Old World pleasures of good wine and good food as they negotiated the deal.
Lord Wilberford said,"My 'company' is prepared to offer a considerable amount for the use of your oil barges."
The reply came,"I must remind you sir, that your 'companies' stock is a bit down of late".
Lord Wilberford said,"Because the French and the Poles were destroyed? My dear sir, I admit that our 'competetor' has showed a unique success. But might I remind you that tanks cannot swim? And that it has not been unknown for 'my company' to begin affairs of this kind at a disadvantage."
And then the man said,"And might I remind you that those same tanks most certainly can drive down the Danube and when they are in Romania and you are far away, someone might ask questions about my dealing with you. You will have to offer a considerably higher price. Farewell."
Lord Wilberford sighed. Then he looked at his table and allowed itself a whimsical grin. For on the table was a sign with the universally disobeyed decree of the Romanian State: