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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/183

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"I should like to speak with Mr. Kent," announced the chancellor.

"I regret to say, sir, that he is not in at present," replied the secretary, with due deference. "Any word which Your Excellency might———"

"When will he be in?" curtly interrupted Provarsk.

"Probably not until late this evening," was the calm response.

"Where is he?"

"I rather think, sir, that he has gone to inspect some new work over at the mines," deliberately lied the secretary, but with a convincing air of innocence and candour that proved his worth as either a secretary or a witness before a congressional investigating committee. He stood at ease, still with that air of deference, but noted that the chancellor, after a moment's thought, was undoubtedly pleased. His meditations were interrupted by the entrance of the king, who came in with more than usual haste. Provarsk instantly stood to his feet; but the king took one glance at him and frowned in lieu of greeting.

"Your superior—where is he?" demanded the king, addressing the secretary.

"He is not in at present, Your Majesty," promptly responded that worthy.

The king was undoubtedly anxious. A certain nervousness of demeanour expressed it.