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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/25

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a fellow being born to inherit a farm whose nearest idea he has of a plough is an ice scraper for cocktails."

Whilst Kent spoke Ivan's eyes were fixed on his lips, attentively; but discerning that his employer's speech was at an end, he slowly wagged his massive head, and added all his information.

"They say, sir, that the king is credited with being a well-meaning man, but not just the one to advance the kingdom. They are afraid Marken will be swallowed by some of the big fish around it."

"That's where an autocrat comes in," declared Kent. "A first-class autocrat ought to be a big enough fish to go out, and, under the guise of charity, culture, or some other bosh like that, swallow the other fellow first. Any sort of an excuse will do, just so he eats them, dead or alive. I'm rather a believer in autocrats, myself. Now, if I were advising Karl the Second, I'd say——"

He stopped abruptly, interrupted by a prolonged peal of thunder, and when it died away there became audible a terrific bumping and thumping on the door outside as some one knocked for ingress. At the same moment the door from the kitchen opened hurriedly, and the gnarled widow entered.

"Some one wants in—some one who raps on the outside door," she grumbled.