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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/123

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had spread, that through this old simpleton money was to come—plenty of it—enough to make them all rich. One of the lounging soldiers of fortune inside evon assisted the visitor up the wide marble steps and along the corridor where drowsy men fell back to give space.

Inside the room Ubaldo, Provarsk's captain at arms, sat beside the table talking to two other men, and his face, that had been perturbed, cleared when he saw the American ushered in. He stared at the door through which Kent and Ivan entered, as if expecting the usurper to follow them, and betrayed disappointment that this expectation was not fulfilled. Without asking consent, Ivan led Kent to a seat at the head of the table, as if unaware that this post of honour was reserved for the ruler of the country, then respectfully backed away until he stood to one side of the door.

"Baron Provarsk did not return with you, sir ? " Ubaldo asked with an effort at politeness.

The American again consulted his watch be- fore answering, and a look of satisfaction crept over his face. Leisurely he snapped the case shut, slipped the timepiece back into his pocket, leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands together carelessly. A dry grin broke over his lips, as he looked at Ubaldo and then answered.

"No, Baron Provarsk did not return with me.

In fact, the last I saw of him he was—er—whist-