Page:Chesterton--The Napoleon of Notting Hill.djvu/104

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The Napoleon of Notting Hill

"Your Majesty may have heard," he began, sarcastically, "of Hammersmith and a thing called a road. We have been at work ten years buying property and getting compulsory powers and fixing compensation and squaring vested interests, and now at the very end, the thing is stopped by a fool. Old Prout, who was Provost of Notting Hill, was a business man, and we dealt with him quite satisfactorily. But he's dead, and the cursed lot has fallen to a young man named Wayne, who's up to some game that's perfectly incomprehensible to me. We offer him a better price than any one ever dreamt of, but he won't let the road go through. And his Council seem to be backing him up. It's midsummer madness."

The King, who was rather inattentively engaged in drawing the Provost's nose with his finger on the window-pane, heard the last two words.

"What a perfect phrase that is," he said. "Midsummer madness!"

"The chief point is," continued Buck, doggedly, "that the only part that is really in question is one dirty little street — Pump Street — a street with nothing in it but a public house and a penny toy-shop, and that sort of