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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/92

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care a rap who pays them. All I want is the payment. Money alone does not change. It has no regard for the hand that borrows, spends or pays. It absorbs no personality, no identity. It has neither fealty nor religion. It outlasts kings and cardinals. It is admirable, being steadfastly itself." His eyes were wide and vacant as he rhapsodized; but now they came quickly to another cast and he demanded, "What does the new government of the great sovereign state of Marken intend to do about the bonds held by Mr. John Rhodes?"

The usurper stared straight at him, wondering if there was intentional sarcasm in this money lender's speech, but meeting a stare even steadier than his own, and devoid of anything save enquiry, resolved to continue in diplomacy.

"I am exceedingly sorry, Mr. Kent," he said, with an admirable assumption of regret, "to say that the late king, my cousin Karl, was not—ah! What shall I say to seem kindly yet truthful?—In fact, Karl was anything but a great and farsighted monarch. Indeed, he was a plain, unadulterated ass!"

"It appears so. You are here!" drily observed the American, and again the usurper wondered if there might be a double significance in his words. Patiently, however, he resumed.

"He managed the affairs of the kingdom of