THE UNKNOWN MR. KENT
eating and arrogance, who has a vastly exalted opinion of himself; and is, in reality, a man of but mediocre ability.' Steady! Steady, Baron! I've not finished."
"Yes, do be quiet!" insisted the king, with a slight grin of satisfaction.
"'It is largely due to his incompetence and pig-headedness that the kingdom is secretly in a state of unrest at the time of rendering this report; but it is doubtful if the king will dismiss him from office inasmuch as the baron is a sort of family heirloom. I find nothing to his credit save that he is bluntly honest and loyal.'"
"There you are, Baron!" the king laughed, almost gleefully; but the chancellor, after gasping like a large and overfat codfish hauled from deep water, was now on his feet, bristling with rage, his eyes completely round and blazing, his moustaches quivering, his face red, and his fist clenched and threatening assault on Kent, who grinned cheerfully and said in English, "Hoity-toity! Got a rise out of you that time, you old porpoise!"
"By what right, I demand to know," shouted the baron, "did you dare to send a detective to Marken? You have gone too far, even if we do have to accept you as host. By what right, sir? Answer me!"
Kent's bushy eyebrows closed in a heavy frown and all tolerance and good-humour disappeared.