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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/43

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She swept his attempted defence aside with an eloquent gesture.

"John Rhodes! The nightmare that has been over our heads for four years. Men might worry and work, but John Rhodes' interest must be paid! That magnificent usurer who thrives fat from the misfortunes of Nations, of peoples, of private enterprises. The gigantic spider that crouched behind the war, waiting, that he might plunge forward with money and twist his prey harder than ever. Shylock clutched and hung to his pitiable victims. And you have the affrontery to tell us here to-night, when we are your reluctant guests, with everything lost behind us, that you are the agent of the infamous John Rhodes!"

Kent looked at her in a strange admixture of annoyance and admiration. Here, at least, was one who was not afraid. His eyes lowered themselves to the papers on his desk. And it was as if the great John Rhodes before whom, as she said, kings and financiers alike had trembled, was for the first time being presented to Kent's mind in true light. She waited for his defence; indeed, demanded it as eloquently through the silence of the room as if she had voiced long sentences asking him what he could say to purge from the character of John Rhodes those charges and imputations that she had so stormily assembled against him.