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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/166

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CHAPTER NINE

 

IT was the morning of the day in which the announcements were to be made to the citizens of Marken that they had been conscripted for something far worse than war, namely work. Early in the day, as Kent had foreseen, Marken began to fill not only with those of the classes called, but with members of all other classes. Peasants, chattering volubly, poured into the capital, some on foot, others in carts, and all gaily clad in their best garb. There was an expectant and serious air pervading everything, the people themselves, the quiet old palace, the very trees of the streets and the flowers that lent colour to window sills and tiny patches of open gardens. The American was early at his desk, and was never more methodical and energetic. This he recognised as a crisis. People, he knew, could be asked to go to war and would go cheering; but to ask them to go to work was an entirely different and more serious request. They might rebel. All that foresight could suggest had been done. The standing army, the first and second reserves, had all been called out and posted in various places

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