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THE UNKNOWN MR. KENT

enemy! No half-way measures with me. I must be one or the other, squarely, uncompromisingly. You must decide."

The king settled back into his chair, and appeared to hesitate and consider, while the chancellor fixed his stare on the floor, greatly perturbed, and quite helpless. The old clock in the corner ticked heavily, and the rain lashed the windows audibly, as if waiting outside the room were enemies, defiant and challenging onslaught. The American slowly opened his strong box a second time, selected some papers with due care, and held them toward the king.

"That there may be no doubt in your mind that I am the original man who made the loan to your government, and that I am empowered by John Rhodes to act as I deem best, you will please read these. They will serve as credentials."

He handed the papers to the king, who read them and handed them back; but with an increased look of respect in his eyes. His gaze shifted back to the chancellor, then, almost absently, so evident was his concentration, to the fire dogs. Plainly he was hesitating, yet devoid of funds or other plans, an exile, tempted to plunge.

"If you were out of money, why didn't you sell those manganese mines you own, or a concession on them for a number of years?" Kent asked the king as if by afterthought.

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