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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/172

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fully, and at once called to two of his men and began conducting them forward. The crowd swayed, commented, and drew back leaving a free lane down which they pasesd. Gay it appeared with all the colours of the rainbow, a strange motley of gorgeous hues now that the holiday cos- tume was donned. Under their feet the rounded cobbles, polished by many feet for many ages, were littered with broken flowers, tinsel from sweet- meats and confetti. Any great gathering in Marken betokened a holiday, sacred or secular, and habit could not be overcome in a day. At the foot of a grey old tower whose clock, daintily veiled with ivy, stared down at the assemblage, a stand had been erected; for here, from time im- memorial, had been read the king's commands. It was always the same scene. First the waiting crowd, then the king's heralds brilliantly clad, the shrilling of silver trumpets, the silence, some- times murmuring, sometimes breathless and ex- pectant, as befitted the gravity of the situation, while some person of state shouted in long-drawn, deliberate tones the king's decree. Always it closed with the same statement, that confirmation would be found on the printed announcements hereafter to issue and "God Save the King!" Sometimes they had approved. Sometimes they had looked at one another sullenly, or humorously,

and asked what God should save him for, being a