THE UNKNOWN MR. KENT
from now onward, until I have recovered the money John Rhodes lent you, which would naturally mean the clearing of Marken's finances and a restoration of peace and industry, I am to be the absolute, untrammelled dictator of your kingdom. Not only that, but that you and this chancellor, or any other that I name, are to do exactly as I order. I'm to be temporarily the tyrant, the ruler. Also that not a soul on earth besides ourselves is to know that I am such. I can be anything we wish, a visitor at court, or anything that doesn't matter, so long as you and the baron here obey me implicitly, no matter how difficult my demand."
The king gasped and stared at him as if fascinated, while the chancellor went red and white by turns. Both were speechless at the boldness of his proposition.
"Come," he said, in a friendly tone, "you've everything to gain and nothing to lose. You've lost all you had, both of you. And I believe, if you agree to give me a free hand, that we can succeed. Administration is, after all, largely a matter of finance. Furthermore, if you do not agree to this, I am compelled to take steps immediately to ally myself with Provarsk, the insurgent, for the protection of that loan which I caused to be made, and which I represent. Hence, after to-night, I shall be either your friend or your