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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/59

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THE UNKNOWN MR. KENT

"There are many who like me," he said; "but they fear Provarsk."

"Pooh!" Kent accompanied himself with a snap of his fingers.

"If His Majesty would run the risk of a war——" began the chancellor.

"Rubbish!" exclaimed Kent. "War, nothing! The thing to do is to beat him at his own game. See here, young man,—I beg Your Majesty's pardon—you've got to do it! You've got to be one of two things, a king or a coward. You've got to decide to-night, too, before the people of Marken know that you have been driven out by Provarsk. Don't you understand that from to-night you are either just beginning or just finished?"

"If I could see any way on earth without civil war," declared the king, desperately, "I'd try it."

Kent studied him closely, with steady eyes, and then turned to his desk and consulted a memorandum book.

"I'm going to be perfectly frank with you," he said, at last. "It doesn't matter much to me who is the ruler of Marken; but I like you for the ideals you have had, and admire your sister for wishing to stay to the ultimate end. And most of all, I've got considerable at stake in this myself, because John Rhodes hasn't much use for a man who causes him to lose a million pounds, and what's more, he's a good fighter. He does pretty

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