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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/71

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"that you gentlemen are really on the king's business. Otherwise I fear that My Lord the baron will prove—ahem! a trifle unpleasant. At first he swore that he wouldn't get up for the king himself. It was not until I suggested you might be robbers, and there was a prospect of a good fight, that he consented to arise. He is now loading his shotgun. Pray be seated."

"Must be a pleasant old chap !" said Kent, with a soft chuckle.

But the king, failing to see any humour in the situation, threw himself wearily into a chair without removing his hat or coat, and stretched his legs in front of him and stared at his boots. The watchman took his post outside the doorway, and then, by afterthought, switched on the lights in the corridors, and brought the waiting room to full blaze. Kent, as idly as any tourist, personally conducted, and endowed with a connoisseur's knowledge, stared around at the fine old wainscoting and polished floors. He acted as if calling out a baron of the realm of Marken at three o'clock in the morning were an every-night occurrence with him. He was disturbed by a sharp "Ahem!" in the doorway and looked around to discover a tall, gaunt, white-whiskered old gentleman whose bald head was protected by a flaming red night cap, and who carried a heavy fowling piece in a manner that suggested that he might be per-