Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/32

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too much, mind you! And you might take these raincoats out and clean the mud off the skirts. And bring us all something hot to drink. Quickly! We 're half frozen and wet to our hearts!"

With considerable resentment she faced Kent, as if accepting orders from none other, and he, smiling sardonically, made a swift gesture com- manding her to obey. She sniffed her nose high in the air, tossed her head and disappeared. The younger man, in the meantime, with an air of great weariness and dejection, dropped into a chair by the side of the fireplace, where he suddenly leaned forward until his elbows rested on his knees and held his white, well-kept hands toward the blaze. On one of his fingers was a huge old signet ring that now and then he absently twisted in distrac- tion, while moodily staring in front of him.

Kent, finding himself still ignored, smiled know- ingly and reoccupied his chair by the desk, where he pretended to absorb himself in a book. Ivan, taking the cue from his master, resumed his search of the book shelves as if receiving unexpected guests on such a night was a regular routine, and the young officer by the door, on an invitation from the leader of the group, joined the others by the fireplace in an attitude of respectful waiting.

"Well, we are this far and——" began the elder man, in his booming French, and then, re-

calling that they were not alone, turned stiffly and