THE UNKNOWN MR. KENT
seemed impossible to drive him into a corner and keep him there. And this was naturally much of a disappointment to rival magnates. His most peculiar characteristic, however, was such a morbid hatred for publicity that even those who could have identified him on the street were few and it became a tradition that, whenever possible, his business was transacted through agents. Also that of these agents Richard Kent was the one who effected nearly all the largest deals; also that if there was any truth in the adage, "Like master like man," Rhodes must have been a "terror," inasmuch as, in the parlance of the street, Kent was a "Hum-dinger!"
It was admitted that Kent could be neither bullied, bribed, influenced nor employed, because at different times all these tactics had been tried unsuccessfully. There were diverse opinions of him. Some agreed with that expressed by a certain renowned financial light, pillar of a fashionable church, advertised as a philanthropist, moralist, and patriot, who declared wrothfully, "Kent is nothing more nor less than a blithering ass! A fool! Why, do you know, he's so stupid that he can tell Rhodes' money from his own? He refused fifty thousand dollars I offered him as a gift, when all he had to do to get it was to tell me whether Rhodes was a bull or a bear on Steel Common? Plain dishonest, I call him!"