Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/57

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one or a hundred lives, than he would of throwing dice for his castle," Von Glutz roared.

"With the natural result that if he gets into power, the people of Marken will at least have a ruler," Kent retorted. "And quite plainly, from my way of thinking, that is what they have lacked. The country has had a king who, with the best of intentions, has been misunderstood. Firmness was the element lacking. To like a man's motives but to doubt his ability to carry any of them through is even worse than to doubt his motives, but be certain that, whatever they are, he will force them over. A resolute bad man is frequently better than a vacillating good man."

The king nodded his head and scowled at the fireplace.

"I admit all that — now that it is too late," he said, in a bitter monotone.

"Too late! Heavens, man, you don't mean to tell me that you are brave enough to cut your way through a band of murderers in the night, after defending your sister, and yet are ready to abdicate rather than make another fight for it, do you? Humph!"

Kent's tone conveyed contempt mixed with wonder.

"I am not personally afraid of anything, sir," declared the king, nettled. "But I do not want, and will not have, hundreds, perhaps thousands of