THE UNKNOWN MR. KENT
of a subject so delicate as the admission of one's own defeats it would be better if we were alone."
Kent turned toward Ivan. He started to ex- plain the latter's affliction and then, checking himself, said, " Quite right! It is better if we are alone."
It flashed through his mind that it might be as well to humour the king, and also mental habit controlled him, a habit of caution that had grown from the policy that it was far better never to tell anything that could remain untold. He saw that his follower's eyes were on his lips, and said, "Ivan, you may go. I shall not want you this evening. "
The giant, alert in his own world of silence, smiled quietly, understanding all that was implied, and turned toward the door with the lost book in his hands.
"Thank you, " he said. " If you need me, I shall "be in my room. Good night, sir ! "
He bowed to Kent's guests and passed out, while the king, with an air of relief, watched his departure.
"Well," said the king abruptly, after a min- ute's silence, "I tried to reform and be a father to my people without giving offence, and—made a mess of it!"
Kent liked him for the frankness of his con-