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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/16

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Mr. Rhodes' disappearance was noted; Mr. Kent's wasn't. Watchful financiers rumoured it that Mr. Rhodes was travelling in the far East intent on new plunder; but about Mr. Kent there were no rumours at all, and for the simplest of reasons, that Kent had hopped completely beyond the reach of rumour; had hopped almost out of the known world, beyond finance, railways, automobiles, and state highways, into the unknown, unchanging, sixteenth century village of Steinweg. Accompanied only by his factotum, Ivan, who for years had gone with him, everywhere, he had found in Steinweg his two great objects, fish and freedom. Probably he would not have admitted any sentimental or artistic interest in the quaint village itself, with its single crooked street, lined by houses whose gables seemed forever to reach across and whisper of conspiracies, the next robber baron raid, or the public flaying of some poor wretch accused of stealing a purse or a ham. He might have admitted the comfort within the old houses, once one had passed through the low doors to the cool interiors where low ceilings, heavy beams, ancient fire-places, blackened wainscotings and all, were lighted by the cross shadows cast through the narrow windows with tiny leaded panes. This would have been his excuse for renting one of those quaint houses in the quaint street—renting it and all it contained, in-