The Master Key

Page 25

Upon the man's forehead appeared the letter "E."

"Your Majesty," said Rob, "I have here another queer invention. Will you please wear these spectacles for a few moments?"

The king at once put them on.

"They are called Character Markers," continued the boy, "because the lenses catch and concentrate the character vibrations radiating from every human individual and reflect the true character of the person upon his forehead. If a letter 'G' appears, you may be sure his disposition is good; if his forehead is marked with an 'E' his character is evil, and you must beware of treachery."

The king saw the "E" plainly marked upon his minister's forehead, but he said nothing except "Thank you," and returned the spectacles to Rob.

But the minister, who from the first had been ill at ease, now became positively angry.

"Do not believe him, your Majesty!" he cried. "It is a trick, and meant to deceive you."

"I did not accuse you," answered the king, sternly. Then he added: "I wish to be alone with this young gentleman."

The minister left the room with an anxious face and hanging head.

"Now," said Rob, "let's look over the record of the past day and see if that fellow has been up to any mischief."

He turned the cylinder of the Record to "England," and slowly the events of the last twenty-four hours were reproduced, one after the other, upon the polished plate.

Before long the king uttered an exclamation. The Record pictured a small room in which were seated three gentlemen engaged in earnest conversation. One of them was the accused minister.

"Those men," said the king in a low voice, while he pointed out the other two, "are my avowed enemies. This is proof that your wonderful spectacles indicated my minister's character with perfect truth. I am grateful to you for thus putting me upon my guard, for I have trusted the man fully."

"Oh, don't mention it," replied the boy, lightly; "I'm glad to have been of service to you. But it's time for me to go."

"I hope you will favor me with another interview," said the king, "for I am much interested in your electrical inventions. I will instruct my guards to admit you at any time, so you will not be obliged to fight your way in."

"All right. But it really doesn't matter," answered Rob. "It's no trouble at all to knock 'em over."

Then he remembered his manners and bowed low before the king, who seemed to him "a fine fellow and not a bit stuck up." And then he walked calmly from the palace.

The people in the outer room stared at him wonderingly and the officer of the guard saluted the boy respectfully. But Rob only smiled in an amused way as he marched past them with his hands thrust deep into his trousers' pockets and his straw hat tipped jauntily upon the back of his head.

11. The Man of Science

Rob passed the remainder of the day wandering about London and amusing himself by watching the peculiar ways of the people. When it became so dark that there was no danger of his being observed, he rose through the air to the narrow slit in the church tower and lay upon the floor of the little room, with the bells hanging all around him, to pass the night.

He was just falling asleep when a tremendous din and clatter nearly deafened him, and set the whole tower trembling. It was the midnight chime.

Rob clutched his ears tightly, and when the vibrations had died away descended by the ladder to a lower platform. But even here the next hourly chime made his ears ring, and he kept descending from platform to platform until the last half of a restless night was passed in the little room at the bottom of the tower.

When, at daylight, the boy sat up and rubbed his eyes, he said, wearily: "Churches are all right as churches; but as hotels they are rank failures. I ought to have bunked in with my friend, King Edward."

He climbed up the stairs and the ladders again and looked out the little window in the belfry. Then he examined his map of Europe.

"I believe I'll take a run over to Paris," he thought.

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