Open main menu

Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/81

This page needs to be proofread.

THE UNKNOWN MR. KENT

and all sorts of unpleasant things, and get up early. Not that this would have made much dif- ference to the good folk of Marken; but that these same foolish farmers invaded the city with a clatter of sabots, a bleating of kids, the braying of donkeys, and much voluble chatter, so that it was quite impossible for any one to sleep.

The storm of the night had completely disap- peared with the dawn and a lazy spring sun busied itself in drying the mud on this particular market day, when some of the more observant arrivals noted with curiosity that for the first time since Karl II had become a king, with vast and delight- ful ceremony, the gates of his palace were closed and two grim and foreign-appearing sentries stood guard beside the main entrance, each square- ly planted in his sentry box as if he had grown there over night like a fungus. And so he had, in truth!

The palace stood on the flat top of a fair hill and was surrounded by a wall. Every good pal- ace has to have one, and all others do not count. Doubtless, in some ancient day, there had been a moat; but this had been filled and turfed. "Where in the time of his august predecessors had been a considerable place d'armes for the drilling of fighting men, Karl II had created a garden of distinguished beauty in which, it was scornfully

whispered by the malcontents, he occasionally

[77]