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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/241

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

 

KENT, breakfasting in his room, heard not only the singing of birds in the garden, but a persistent and increasing monotone of sound that pervaded everywhere, caused by the shuffling of many feet along the streets outside the palace walls, the indistinct hum of many voices, the grating of cart wheels over the roads, and an occasional shrill call rising above others. The atmosphere itself seemed charged and ready for a single spark to cause the explosion of revolt. At this hour of the morning, ordinarily, Marken would have been absorbed in industry, an industry that he had compelled and that had become habitual. This he thought, bitterly, was the result of too much prosperity. This was the price for arousing a slothful, shortsighted people and teaching them roads to wealth and ambition. The poorest churl in the fields had learned the value of his own earning power and profited, while others, who had been worse than hopeless, had seen the way to independence. Kent wondered if, after all, he had not taught them greed instead of industry, independence, and patriotism. He heard

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