Page:Ambassador Morgenthau's Story.djvu/78

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52
AMBASSADOR MORGENTHAU'S STORY

of these naval preparations was no secret in Constantinople. As soon as they obtained these ships, or even the one dreadnaught which was nearing completion, Turkey intended to attack Greece and take back the islands. A single modern battleship like the Sultan Osman—this was the name the Turks had given the Brazilian vessel—could easily overpower the whole Greek navy and control the Ægean Sea. As this powerful vessel would be finished and commissioned in a few months, we all expected the Greco-Turkish war to break out in the fall. What could the Greek navy possibly do against this impending danger?

Such was the situation when, early in June, I received a most agitated visitor. This was Djemal Pasha, the Turkish Minister of Marine and one of the three men who then dominated the Turkish Empire. I have hardly ever seen a man who appeared more utterly worried than was Djemal on this occasion. As he began talking excitedly to my interpreter in French, his whiskers trembling with his emotions and his hands wildly gesticulating, he seemed to be almost beside himself. I knew enough French to understand what he was saying, and the news which he brought—this was the first I had heard of it—sufficiently explained his agitation. The American Government, he said, was negotiating with Greece for the sale of two battleships, the Idaho and the Mississippi. He urged that I should immediately move to prevent any such sale. His attitude was that of a suppliant; he begged, he implored that I should intervene. All along, he said, the Turks regarded the United States as their best friend; I had frequently expressed my desire to help them; well, here was the chance to show our good feeling.