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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/159

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and younger ones unconsciously swelled their chests as duly becomes citizens of one of the "Great Powers." The cautious ones hoped that Marken was not going to plunge the world into a war of conquest, and a village oracle who had once seen the Adriatic sea and declared that it was impossible to see across it because there was so much water, and who had for twenty years been discredited therefor as a notorious liar, arose again to prominence and sagely declared that he believed, after long deliberation, that Marken was about to have a navy of its own.

Then, after a week's excited argument, there appeared that memorable state announcement that it was the duty of all to support the state and that at the places named, on the dates named, all able-bodied citizens of both sexes would appear and register themselves; that failure to do so would be punished by fines, imprisonment, confiscation of property and various other humiliations. Also, God save the King! And this manifesto was signed by the new chancellor! This was carrying it too far! The idea of expecting people to do something for the state! Why, who ever heard of such a thing! Of course anything done for the state was wasted time. Didn't they pay taxes? Wasn't that enough? Things were coming to a pretty pass. Anyway, two weeks must elapse before the new conscription measures be-