Europe is choosing up sides with fatalistic calm for the next big - if not decisive - test of strength.
That there will be another major international showdown no one in a position of authority in London, Berlin, Rome or Paris seems to doubt.
When it will come and whether it will mean a general war are less easily answered questions but the word "August" has been whispered through diplomatic circles for almost a month and now both the British and French governments have disclosed extraordinary military precautions for immediately after Europe's harvest time.
No nation is planning to start a war and the big powers are slowly fostering belief that advance preparations and skillful direction of power politics will avoid a general conflict.
But with Great Britain apparently ready to complete an alliance with Soviet Russia the opposing lines across the continent have been so solidified and each camp has become so confident that the other side will give ground in a showdown that many observers believe the actual danger is greater today than ever.
It is possible after a tour of the principal European capitals and conversations with many men in government offices and men in the street to fill in blank spaces in the picture of events since Nazi soldiers marched into the historic city of Prague and to indicate the trend of events in recent weeks that Europeans fear marked a lull before the storm.
In addition to the fact that such influential forces as those centered at the Vatican not only have failed to break the international deadlock but have failed to unearth any definite prospects for an early solution, two fundamental factors must stand out as guides to the future:
Great Britain and Germany now stand face to face in a perilous game of power politics in which retreat for either might easily be a prelude to disaster. The destinies of almost every nation in Europe, but especially of France and Italy, must now be largely dependent in the long run on either London or Berlin.
Adolf Hitler firmly intends to continue reconstruction of the Greater Reich and unless he has deceived some of the most astute observers in Europe, his next move will be toward Danzig and the Polish Corridor.
Throughout Europe there is a striking and highly dangerous contrast in the attitude of the people of cities within two or three hours flight of each other. Each side is now confident of itself.
Londoners in gray top hats and morning coats en route to the race track imperturbably walk through streets overshadowed by huge signs reading, "Enroll Now; We Must Be Prepared," while along the same street march overall-clad anti-aircraft volunteers with chins up and arms swinging in military fashion.
In Berlin workers pulled down flags and banners along the wide Unter Den Linden to mark the end of a series of elaborate military demonstrations for visiting potentates, much to the relief of many thousands or residents who had been herded into the streets at monotonous intervals and given little flags to wave.
Fed up with demonstrations, Berliners live in a serious but confident atmosphere that has led them to be ready for der Fuehrer's next move, either tomorrow or next month.
Possibly never in six years of Nazi rule have they been more united behind Hitler than today as a result of the Germans press charges that Britain seeks to "encircle and destroy" the Reich.
Still different is the atmosphere of neighboring capitals, especially in Paris, where the government's persistent and energetic declarations that France is making great strides in national recovery and rearmament has created among the boulevardiers and the workmen alike an outward spirit of optimism mingled with unconcern over the prospects of war.
Only in the little capitals is there hope of avoiding involvement if war comes. "We stayed out of the World War and we are far better prepared to keep out of the next," one Dutch business man remarked, reflecting the view not only of Hollanders, but of their Belgian and Danish neighbors.
It is this contrast in attitude with each capital fostering the idea that it is now strong enough to meet any emergency, that creates a complicated situation in which a minor mistake in judgment might precipitate a general conflict overnight.
Nazis and, to a lesser extent, Fascists are certain they will again gain their immediate goals without resort to more than local military operations and probably without firing a shot.
Britain and France are convinced that the dictatorial bloc is now hemmed in and outnumbered - if, as expected, the security front leaders get together with Soviet Russia - and that the process of totalitarian expansion can be stopped without a fight.
The result is a deadlock that can be maintained only a limited time. So far no progress has been made toward negotiating a settlement, but eventually the break must come.
The danger is that a bluff will be called or a mistake made in high places. Or that the people will become fed up with a situation that is sapping their economic power and force a showdown.