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The Lost Prince by Francis Hodgson Burnett

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Francis Hodgson Burnett


I The New Lodgers at No. 7 Philibert Place
II A Young Citizen of the World
III The Legend of the Lost Prince
IV The Rat
V ``Silence Is Still the Order''
VI The Drill and the Secret Party
VII ``The Lamp Is Lighted!''
VIII An Exciting Game
IX ``It Is Not a Game''
X The Rat-and Samavia
XI Come with Me
XII Only Two Boys
XIII Loristan Attends a Drill of the Squad
XIV Marco Does Not Answer
XV A Sound in a Dream
XVI The Rat to the Rescue
XVII ``It Is a Very Bad Sign''
XVIII ``Cities and Faces''
XIX ``That Is One!''
XX Marco Goes to the Opera
XXI ``Help!''
XXII A Night Vigil
XXIII The Silver Horn
XXIV ``How Shall We Find Him?
XXV A Voice in the Night
XXVI Across the Frontier
XXVII ``It is the Lost Prince! It Is Ivor!''
XXVIII ``Extra! Extra! Extra!''
XXIX 'Twixt Night and Morning
XXX The Game Is at an End
XXXI ``The Son of Stefan Loristan''




There are many dreary and dingy rows of ugly houses in certain
parts of London, but there certainly could not be any row more
ugly or dingier than Philibert Place. There were stories that it
had once been more attractive, but that had been so long ago that
no one remembered the time. It stood back in its gloomy, narrow
strips of uncared-for, smoky gardens, whose broken iron railings
were supposed to protect it from the surging traffic of a road
which was always roaring with the rattle of busses, cabs, drays,
and vans, and the passing of people who were shabbily dressed and
looked as if they were either going to hard work or coming from
it, or hurrying to see if they could find some of it to do to
keep themselves from going hungry. The brick fronts of the
houses were blackened with smoke, their windows were nearly all
dirty and hung with dingy curtains, or had no curtains at all;
the strips of ground, which had once been intended to grow
flowers in, had been trodden down into bare earth in which even
weeds had forgotten to grow. One of them was used as a
stone-cutter's yard, and cheap monuments, crosses, and slates
were set out for sale, bearing inscriptions beginning with
``Sacred to the Memory of.'' Another had piles of old lumber in
it, another exhibited second-hand furniture, chairs with unsteady
legs, sofas with horsehair stuffing bulging out of holes in their
covering, mirrors with blotches or cracks in them. The insides
of the houses were as gloomy as the outside. They were all
exactly alike. In each a dark entrance passage led to narrow
stairs going up to bedrooms, and to narrow steps going down to a
basement kitchen. The back bedroom looked out on small, sooty,
flagged yards, where thin cats quarreled, or sat on the coping of
the brick walls hoping that sometime they might feel the sun; the
front rooms looked over the noisy road, and through their windows
came the roar and rattle of it. It was shabby and cheerless on
the brightest days, and on foggy or rainy ones it was the most
forlorn place in London.

At least that was what one boy thought as he stood near the iron
railings watching the passers-by on the morning on which this
story begins, which was also the morning after he had been
brought by his father to live as a lodger in the back
sitting-room of the house No. 7.

He was a boy about twelve years old, his name was Marco Loristan,
and he was the kind of boy people look at a second time when they
have looked at him once. In the first place, he was a very big
boy--tall for his years, and with a particularly strong frame.
His shoulders were broad and his arms and legs were long and
powerful. He was quite used to hearing people say, as they
glanced at him, ``What a fine, big lad!'' And then they always
looked again at his face. It was not an English face or an
American one, and was very dark in coloring. His features were
strong, his black hair grew on his head like a mat, his eyes were
large and deep set, and looked out between thick, straight, black
lashes. He was as un- English a boy as one could imagine, and an
observing person would have been struck at once by a sort of
SILENT look expressed by his whole face, a look which suggested
that he was not a boy who talked much.

This look was specially noticeable this morning as he stood
before the iron railings. The things he was thinking of were of
a kind likely to bring to the face of a twelve-year-old boy an
unboyish expression.

He was thinking of the long, hurried journey he and his father
and their old soldier servant, Lazarus, had made during the last
few days--the journey from Russia. Cramped in a close
third-class railway carriage, they had dashed across the
Continent as if something important or terrible were driving
them, and here they were, settled in London as if they were going
to live forever at No. 7 Philibert Place. He knew, however, that
though they might stay a year, it was just as probable that, in
the middle of some night, his father or Lazarus might waken him
from his sleep and say, ``Get up-- dress yourself quickly. We
must go at once.'' A few days later, he might be in St.
Petersburg, Berlin, Vienna, or Budapest, huddled away in some
poor little house as shabby and comfortless as No. 7 Philibert

He passed his hand over his forehead as he thought of it and
watched the busses. His strange life and his close association
with his father had made him much older than his years, but he
was only a boy, after all, and the mystery of things sometimes
weighed heavily upon him, and set him to deep wondering.

In not one of the many countries he knew had he ever met a boy
whose life was in the least like his own. Other boys had homes
in which they spent year after year; they went to school
regularly, and played with other boys, and talked openly of the
things which happened to them, and the journeys they made. When
he remained in a place long enough to make a few boy-friends, he
knew he must never forget that his whole existence was a sort of
secret whose safety depended upon his own silence and discretion.

This was because of the promises he had made to his father, and
they had been the first thing he remembered. Not that he had
ever regretted anything connected with his father. He threw his
black head up as he thought of that. None of the other boys had
such a father, not one of them. His father was his idol and his
chief. He had scarcely ever seen him when his clothes had not
been poor and shabby, but he had also never seen him when,
despite his worn coat and frayed linen, he had not stood out
among all others as more distinguished than the most noticeable
of them. When he walked down a street, people turned to look at
him even oftener than they turned to look at Marco, and the boy
felt as if it was not merely because he was a big man with a
handsome, dark face, but because he looked, somehow, as if he had
been born to command armies, and as if no one would think of
disobeying him. Yet Marco had never seen him command any one,
and they had always been poor, and shabbily dressed, and often
enough ill-fed. But whether they were in one country or another,
and whatsoever dark place they seemed to be hiding in, the few
people they saw treated him with a sort of deference, and nearly
always stood when they were in his presence, unless he bade them
sit down.

``It is because they know he is a patriot, and patriots are
respected,'' the boy had told himself.

He himself wished to be a patriot, though he had never seen his
own country of Samavia. He knew it well, however. His father
had talked to him about it ever since that day when he had made
the promises. He had taught him to know it by helping him to
study curious detailed maps of it--maps of its cities, maps of
its mountains, maps of its roads. He had told him stories of the
wrongs done its people, of their sufferings and struggles for
liberty, and, above all, of their unconquerable courage. When
they talked together of its history, Marco's boy-blood burned and
leaped in his veins, and he always knew, by the look in his
father's eyes, that his blood burned also. His countrymen had
been killed, they had been robbed, they had died by thousands of
cruelties and starvation, but their souls had never been
conquered, and, through all the years during which more powerful
nations crushed and enslaved them, they never ceased to struggle
to free themselves and stand unfettered as Samavians had stood
centuries before.

``Why do we not live there,'' Marco had cried on the day the
promises were made. ``Why do we not go back and fight? When I
am a man, I will be a soldier and die for Samavia.''

``We are of those who must LIVE for Samavia--working day and
night,'' his father had answered; ``denying ourselves, training
our bodies and souls, using our brains, learning the things which
are best to be done for our people and our country. Even exiles
may be Samavian soldiers--I am one, you must be one.''

``Are we exiles?'' asked Marco.

``Yes,'' was the answer. ``But even if we never set foot on
Samavian soil, we must give our lives to it. I have given mine
since I was sixteen. I shall give it until I die.''

``Have you never lived there?'' said Marco.

A strange look shot across his father's face.

``No,'' he answered, and said no more. Marco watching him, knew
he must not ask the question again.

The next words his father said were about the promises. Marco
was quite a little fellow at the time, but he understood the
solemnity of them, and felt that he was being honored as if he
were a man.

``When you are a man, you shall know all you wish to know,''
Loristan said. ``Now you are a child, and your mind must not be
burdened. But you must do your part. A child sometimes forgets
that words may be dangerous. You must promise never to forget
this. Wheresoever you are; if you have playmates, you must
remember to be silent about many things. You must not speak of
what I do, or of the people who come to see me. You must not
mention the things in your life which make it different from the
lives of other boys. You must keep in your mind that a secret
exists which a chance foolish word might betray. You are a
Samavian, and there have been Samavians who have died a thousand
deaths rather than betray a secret. You must learn to obey
without question, as if you were a soldier. Now you must take
your oath of allegiance.''

He rose from his seat and went to a corner of the room. He knelt
down, turned back the carpet, lifted a plank, and took something
from beneath it. It was a sword, and, as he came back to Marco,
he drew it out from its sheath. The child's strong, little body
stiffened and drew itself up, his large, deep eyes flashed. He
was to take his oath of allegiance upon a sword as if he were a
man. He did not know that his small hand opened and shut with a
fierce understanding grip because those of his blood had for long
centuries past carried swords and fought with them.

Loristan gave him the big bared weapon, and stood erect before

``Repeat these words after me sentence by sentence!'' he

And as he spoke them Marco echoed each one loudly and clearly.

``The sword in my hand--for Samavia!

``The heart in my breast--for Samavia!

``The swiftness of my sight, the thought of my brain, the life of
my life--for Samavia.

``Here grows a man for Samavia.

``God be thanked!''

Then Loristan put his hand on the child's shoulder, and his dark
face looked almost fiercely proud.

``From this hour,'' he said, ``you and I are comrades at arms.''

And from that day to the one on which he stood beside the broken
iron railings of No. 7 Philibert Place, Marco had not forgotten
for one hour.



He had been in London more than once before, but not to the
lodgings in Philibert Place. When he was brought a second or
third time to a town or city, he always knew that the house he
was taken to would be in a quarter new to him, and he should not
see again the people he had seen before. Such slight links of
acquaintance as sometimes formed themselves between him and other
children as shabby and poor as himself were easily broken. His
father, however, had never forbidden him to make chance
acquaintances. He had, in fact, told him that he had reasons for
not wishing him to hold himself aloof from other boys. The only
barrier which must exist between them must be the barrier of
silence concerning his wanderings from country to country. Other
boys as poor as he was did not make constant journeys, therefore
they would miss nothing from his boyish talk when he omitted all
mention of his. When he was in Russia, he must speak only of
Russian places and Russian people and customs. When he was in
France, Germany, Austria, or England, he must do the same thing.
When he had learned English, French, German, Italian, and Russian
he did not know. He had seemed to grow up in the midst of
changing tongues which all seemed familiar to him, as languages
are familiar to children who have lived with them until one
scarcely seems less familiar than another. He did remember,
however, that his father had always been unswerving in his
attention to his pronunciation and method of speaking the
language of any country they chanced to be living in.

``You must not seem a foreigner in any country,'' he had said to
him. ``It is necessary that you should not. But when you are in
England, you must not know French, or German, or anything but

Once, when he was seven or eight years old, a boy had asked him
what his father's work was.

``His own father is a carpenter, and he asked me if my father was
one,'' Marco brought the story to Loristan. ``I said you were
not. Then he asked if you were a shoemaker, and another one said
you might be a bricklayer or a tailor--and I didn't know what to
tell them.'' He had been out playing in a London street, and he
put a grubby little hand on his father's arm, and clutched and
almost fiercely shook it. ``I wanted to say that you were not
like their fathers, not at all. I knew you were not, though you
were quite as poor. You are not a bricklayer or a shoemaker, but
a patriot--you could not be only a bricklayer--you!'' He said it
grandly and with a queer indignation, his black head held up and
his eyes angry.

Loristan laid his hand against his mouth.

``Hush! hush!'' he said. ``Is it an insult to a man to think he
may be a carpenter or make a good suit of clothes? If I could
make our clothes, we should go better dressed. If I were a
shoemaker, your toes would not be making their way into the world
as they are now.'' He was smiling, but Marco saw his head held
itself high, too, and his eyes were glowing as he touched his
shoulder. ``I know you did not tell them I was a patriot,'' he
ended. ``What was it you said to them?''

``I remembered that you were nearly always writing and drawing
maps, and I said you were a writer, but I did not know what you
wrote--and that you said it was a poor trade. I heard you say
that once to Lazarus. Was that a right thing to tell them?''

``Yes. You may always say it if you are asked. There are poor
fellows enough who write a thousand different things which bring
them little money. There is nothing strange in my being a

So Loristan answered him, and from that time if, by any chance,
his father's means of livelihood were inquired into, it was
simple enough and true enough to say that he wrote to earn his

In the first days of strangeness to a new place, Marco often
walked a great deal. He was strong and untiring, and it amused
him to wander through unknown streets, and look at shops, and
houses, and people. He did not confine himself to the great
thoroughfares, but liked to branch off into the side streets and
odd, deserted-looking squares, and even courts and alleyways. He
often stopped to watch workmen and talk to them if they were
friendly. In this way he made stray acquaintances in his
strollings, and learned a good many things. He had a fondness
for wandering musicians, and, from an old Italian who had in his
youth been a singer in opera, he had learned to sing a number of
songs in his strong, musical boy-voice. He knew well many of the
songs of the people in several countries.

It was very dull this first morning, and he wished that he had
something to do or some one to speak to. To do nothing whatever
is a depressing thing at all times, but perhaps it is more
especially so when one is a big, healthy boy twelve years old.
London as he saw it in the Marylebone Road seemed to him a
hideous place. It was murky and shabby-looking, and full of
dreary-faced people. It was not the first time he had seen the
same things, and they always made him feel that he wished he had
something to do.

Suddenly he turned away from the gate and went into the house to
speak to Lazarus. He found him in his dingy closet of a room on
the fourth floor at the back of the house.

``I am going for a walk,'' he announced to him. ``Please tell my
father if he asks for me. He is busy, and I must not disturb

Lazarus was patching an old coat as he often patched things--
even shoes sometimes. When Marco spoke, he stood up at once to
answer him. He was very obstinate and particular about certain
forms of manner. Nothing would have obliged him to remain seated
when Loristan or Marco was near him. Marco thought it was
because he had been so strictly trained as a soldier. He knew
that his father had had great trouble to make him lay aside his
habit of saluting when they spoke to him.

``Perhaps,'' Marco had heard Loristan say to him almost severely,
once when he had forgotten himself and had stood at salute while
his master passed through a broken-down iron gate before an
equally broken-down-looking lodging-house--``perhaps you can
force yourself to remember when I tell you that it is not
safe--IT IS NOT SAFE! You put us in danger!''

It was evident that this helped the good fellow to control
himself. Marco remembered that at the time he had actually
turned pale, and had struck his forehead and poured forth a
torrent of Samavian dialect in penitence and terror. But, though
he no longer saluted them in public, he omitted no other form of
reverence and ceremony, and the boy had become accustomed to
being treated as if he were anything but the shabby lad whose
very coat was patched by the old soldier who stood ``at
attention'' before him.

``Yes, sir,'' Lazarus answered. ``Where was it your wish to

Marco knitted his black brows a little in trying to recall
distinct memories of the last time he had been in London.

``I have been to so many places, and have seen so many things
since I was here before, that I must begin to learn again about
the streets and buildings I do not quite remember.''

``Yes, sir,'' said Lazarus. ``There HAVE been so many. I also
forget. You were but eight years old when you were last here.''

``I think I will go and find the royal palace, and then I will
walk about and learn the names of the streets,'' Marco said.

``Yes, sir,'' answered Lazarus, and this time he made his
military salute.

Marco lifted his right hand in recognition, as if he had been a
young officer. Most boys might have looked awkward or theatrical
in making the gesture, but he made it with naturalness and ease,
because he had been familiar with the form since his babyhood.
He had seen officers returning the salutes of their men when they
encountered each other by chance in the streets, he had seen
princes passing sentries on their way to their carriages, more
august personages raising the quiet, recognizing hand to their
helmets as they rode through applauding crowds. He had seen many
royal persons and many royal pageants, but always only as an
ill-clad boy standing on the edge of the crowd of common people.
An energetic lad, however poor, cannot spend his days in going
from one country to another without, by mere every-day chance,
becoming familiar with the outer life of royalties and courts.
Marco had stood in continental thoroughfares when visiting
emperors rode by with glittering soldiery before and behind them,
and a populace shouting courteous welcomes. He knew where in
various great capitals the sentries stood before kingly or
princely palaces. He had seen certain royal faces often enough
to know them well, and to be ready to make his salute when
particular quiet and unattended carriages passed him by.

``It is well to know them. It is well to observe everything and
to train one's self to remember faces and circumstances,'' his
father had said. ``If you were a young prince or a young man
training for a diplomatic career, you would be taught to notice
and remember people and things as you would be taught to speak
your own language with elegance. Such observation would be your
most practical accomplishment and greatest power. It is as
practical for one man as another--for a poor lad in a patched
coat as for one whose place is to be in courts. As you cannot be
educated in the ordinary way, you must learn from travel and the
world. You must lose nothing--forget nothing.''

It was his father who had taught him everything, and he had
learned a great deal. Loristan had the power of making all
things interesting to fascination. To Marco it seemed that he
knew everything in the world. They were not rich enough to buy
many books, but Loristan knew the treasures of all great cities,
the resources of the smallest towns. Together he and his boy
walked through the endless galleries filled with the wonders of
the world, the pictures before which through centuries an
unbroken procession of almost worshiping eyes had passed
uplifted. Because his father made the pictures seem the glowing,
burning work of still-living men whom the centuries could not
turn to dust, because he could tell the stories of their living
and laboring to triumph, stories of what they felt and suffered
and were, the boy became as familiar with the old
masters--Italian, German, French, Dutch, English, Spanish--as he
was with most of the countries they had lived in. They were not
merely old masters to him, but men who were great, men who seemed
to him to have wielded beautiful swords and held high, splendid
lights. His father could not go often with him, but he always
took him for the first time to the galleries, museums, libraries,
and historical places which were richest in treasures of art,
beauty, or story. Then, having seen them once through his eyes,
Marco went again and again alone, and so grew intimate with the
wonders of the world. He knew that he was gratifying a wish of
his father's when he tried to train himself to observe all things
and forget nothing. These palaces of marvels were his
school-rooms, and his strange but rich education was the most
interesting part of his life. In time, he knew exactly the
places where the great Rembrandts, Vandykes, Rubens, Raphaels,
Tintorettos, or Frans Hals hung; he knew whether this masterpiece
or that was in Vienna, in Paris, in Venice, or Munich, or Rome.
He knew stories of splendid crown jewels, of old armor, of
ancient crafts, and of Roman relics dug up from beneath the
foundations of old German cities. Any boy wandering to amuse
himself through museums and palaces on ``free days'' could see
what he saw, but boys living fuller and less lonely lives would
have been less likely to concentrate their entire minds on what
they looked at, and also less likely to store away facts with the
determination to be able to recall at any moment the mental shelf
on which they were laid. Having no playmates and nothing to play
with, he began when he was a very little fellow to make a sort of
game out of his rambles through picture-galleries, and the places
which, whether they called themselves museums or not, were
storehouses or relics of antiquity. There were always the
blessed ``free days,'' when he could climb any marble steps, and
enter any great portal without paying an entrance fee. Once
inside, there were plenty of plainly and poorly dressed people to
be seen, but there were not often boys as young as himself who
were not attended by older companions. Quiet and orderly as he
was, he often found himself stared at. The game he had created
for himself was as simple as it was absorbing. It was to try how
much he could remember and clearly describe to his father when
they sat together at night and talked of what he had seen. These
night talks filled his happiest hours. He never felt lonely
then, and when his father sat and watched him with a certain
curious and deep attention in his dark, reflective eyes, the boy
was utterly comforted and content. Sometimes he brought back
rough and crude sketches of objects he wished to ask questions
about, and Loristan could always relate to him the full, rich
story of the thing he wanted to know. They were stories made so
splendid and full of color in the telling that Marco could not
forget them.



As he walked through the streets, he was thinking of one of these
stories. It was one he had heard first when he was very young,
and it had so seized upon his imagination that he had asked often
for it. It was, indeed, a part of the long-past history of
Samavia, and he had loved it for that reason. Lazarus had often
told it to him, sometimes adding much detail, but he had always
liked best his father's version, which seemed a thrilling and
living thing. On their journey from Russia, during an hour when
they had been forced to wait in a cold wayside station and had
found the time long, Loristan had discussed it with him. He
always found some such way of making hard and comfortless hours
easier to live through.

``Fine, big lad--for a foreigner,'' Marco heard a man say to his
companion as he passed them this morning. ``Looks like a Pole or
a Russian.''

It was this which had led his thoughts back to the story of the
Lost Prince. He knew that most of the people who looked at him
and called him a ``foreigner'' had not even heard of Samavia.
Those who chanced to recall its existence knew of it only as a
small fierce country, so placed upon the map that the larger
countries which were its neighbors felt they must control and
keep it in order, and therefore made incursions into it, and
fought its people and each other for possession. But it had not
been always so. It was an old, old country, and hundreds of
years ago it had been as celebrated for its peaceful happiness
and wealth as for its beauty. It was often said that it was one
of the most beautiful places in the world. A favorite Samavian
legend was that it had been the site of the Garden of Eden. In
those past centuries, its people had been of such great stature,
physical beauty, and strength, that they had been like a race of
noble giants. They were in those days a pastoral people, whose
rich crops and splendid flocks and herds were the envy of less
fertile countries. Among the shepherds and herdsmen there were
poets who sang their own songs when they piped among their sheep
upon the mountain sides and in the flower-thick valleys. Their
songs had been about patriotism and bravery, and faithfulness to
their chieftains and their country. The simple courtesy of the
poorest peasant was as stately as the manner of a noble. But
that, as Loristan had said with a tired smile, had been before
they had had time to outlive and forget the Garden of Eden. Five
hundred years ago, there had succeeded to the throne a king who
was bad and weak. His father had lived to be ninety years old,
and his son had grown tired of waiting in Samavia for his crown.
He had gone out into the world, and visited other countries and
their courts. When he returned and became king, he lived as no
Samavian king had lived before. He was an extravagant, vicious
man of furious temper and bitter jealousies. He was jealous of
the larger courts and countries he had seen, and tried

to introduce their customs and their ambitions. He ended by
introducing their worst faults and vices. There arose political
quarrels and savage new factions. Money was squandered until
poverty began for the first time to stare the country in the
face. The big Samavians, after their first stupefaction, broke
forth into furious rage. There were mobs and riots, then bloody
battles. Since it was the king who had worked this wrong, they
would have none of him. They would depose him and make his son
king in his place. It was at this part of the story that Marco
was always most deeply interested. The young prince was totally
unlike his father. He was a true royal Samavian. He was bigger
and stronger for his age than any man in the country, and he was
as handsome as a young Viking god. More than this, he had a
lion's heart, and before he was sixteen, the shepherds and
herdsmen had already begun to make songs about his young valor,
and his kingly courtesy, and generous kindness. Not only the
shepherds and herdsmen sang them, but the people in the streets.
The king, his father, had always been jealous of him, even when
he was only a beautiful, stately child whom the people roared
with joy to see as he rode through the streets. When he returned
from his journeyings and found him a splendid youth, he detested
him. When the people began to clamor and demand that he himself
should abdicate, he became insane with rage, and committed such
cruelties that the people ran mad themselves. One day they
stormed the palace, killed and overpowered the guards, and,
rushing into the royal apartments, burst in upon the king as he
shuddered green with terror and fury in his private room. He was
king no more, and must leave the country, they vowed, as they
closed round him with bared weapons and shook them in his face.
Where was the prince? They must see him and tell him their
ultimatum. It was he whom they wanted for a king. They trusted
him and would obey him. They began to shout aloud his name,
calling him in a sort of chant in unison, ``Prince Ivor--Prince
Ivor--Prince Ivor!'' But no answer came. The people of the
palace had hidden themselves, and the place was utterly silent.

The king, despite his terror, could not help but sneer.

``Call him again,'' he said. ``He is afraid to come out of his

A savage fellow from the mountain fastnesses struck him on the

``He afraid!'' he shouted. ``If he does not come, it is because
thou hast killed him--and thou art a dead man!''

This set them aflame with hotter burning. They broke away,
leaving three on guard, and ran about the empty palace rooms
shouting the prince's name. But there was no answer. They
sought him in a frenzy, bursting open doors and flinging down
every obstacle in their way. A page, found hidden in a closet,
owned that he had seen His Royal Highness pass through a corridor
early in the morning. He had been softly singing to himself one
of the shepherd's songs.

And in this strange way out of the history of Samavia, five
hundred years before Marco's day, the young prince had walked--
singing softly to himself the old song of Samavia's beauty and
happiness. For he was never seen again.

In every nook and cranny, high and low, they sought for him,
believing that the king himself had made him prisoner in some
secret place, or had privately had him killed. The fury of the
people grew to frenzy. There were new risings, and every few
days the palace was attacked and searched again. But no trace of
the prince was found. He had vanished as a star vanishes when it
drops from its place in the sky. During a riot in the palace,
when a last fruitless search was made, the king himself was
killed. A powerful noble who headed one of the uprisings made
himself king in his place. From that time, the once splendid
little kingdom was like a bone fought for by dogs. Its pastoral
peace was forgotten. It was torn and worried and shaken by
stronger countries. It tore and worried itself with internal
fights. It assassinated kings and created new ones. No man was
sure in his youth what ruler his maturity would live under, or
whether his children would die in useless fights, or through
stress of poverty and cruel, useless laws. There were no more
shepherds and herdsmen who were poets, but on the mountain sides
and in the valleys sometimes some of the old songs were sung.
Those most beloved were songs about a Lost Prince whose name had
been Ivor. If he had been king, he would have saved Samavia, the
verses said, and all brave hearts believed that he would still
return. In the modern cities, one of the jocular cynical sayings
was, ``Yes, that will happen when Prince Ivor comes again.''

In his more childish days, Marco had been bitterly troubled by
the unsolved mystery. Where had he gone--the Lost Prince? Had
he been killed, or had he been hidden away in a dungeon? But he
was so big and brave, he would have broken out of any dungeon.
The boy had invented for himself a dozen endings to the story.

``Did no one ever find his sword or his cap--or hear anything or
guess anything about him ever--ever--ever?'' he would say
restlessly again and again.

One winter's night, as they sat together before a small fire in a
cold room in a cold city in Austria, he had been so eager and
asked so many searching questions, that his father gave him an
answer he had never given him before, and which was a sort of
ending to the story, though not a satisfying one:

``Everybody guessed as you are guessing. A few very old
shepherds in the mountains who like to believe ancient histories
relate a story which most people consider a kind of legend. It
is that almost a hundred years after the prince was lost, an old
shepherd told a story his long-dead father had confided to him in
secret just before he died. The father had said that, going out
in the early morning on the mountain side, he had found in the
forest what he at first thought to be the dead body of a
beautiful, boyish, young huntsman. Some enemy had plainly
attacked him from behind and believed he had killed him. He was,
however, not quite dead, and the shepherd dragged him into a cave
where he himself often took refuge from storms with his flocks.
Since there was such riot and disorder in the city, he was afraid
to speak of what he had found; and, by the time he discovered
that he was harboring the prince, the king had already been
killed, and an even worse man had taken possession of his throne,
and ruled Samavia with a blood-stained, iron hand. To the
terrified and simple peasant the safest thing seemed to get the
wounded youth out of the country before there was any chance of
his being discovered and murdered outright, as he would surely
be. The cave in which he was hidden was not far from the
frontier, and while he was still so weak that he was hardly
conscious of what befell him, he was smuggled across it in a cart
loaded with sheepskins, and left with some kind monks who did not
know his rank or name. The shepherd went back to his flocks and
his mountains, and lived and died among them, always in terror of
the changing rulers and their savage battles with each other.
The mountaineers said among themselves, as the generations
succeeded each other, that the Lost Prince must have died young,
because otherwise he would have come back to his country and
tried to restore its good, bygone days.''

``Yes, he would have come,'' Marco said.

``He would have come if he had seen that he could help his
people,'' Loristan answered, as if he were not reflecting on a
story which was probably only a kind of legend. ``But he was
very young, and Samavia was in the hands of the new dynasty, and
filled with his enemies. He could not have crossed the frontier
without an army. Still, I think he died young.''

It was of this story that Marco was thinking as he walked, and
perhaps the thoughts that filled his mind expressed themselves in
his face in some way which attracted attention. As he was
nearing Buckingham Palace, a distinguished-looking well-dressed
man with clever eyes caught sight of him, and, after looking at
him keenly, slackened his pace as he approached him from the
opposite direction. An observer might have thought he saw
something which puzzled and surprised him. Marco didn't see him
at all, and still moved forward, thinking of the shepherds and
the prince. The well- dressed man began to walk still more
slowly. When he was quite close to Marco, he stopped and spoke
to him--in the Samavian language.

``What is your name?'' he asked.

Marco's training from his earliest childhood had been an extra-
ordinary thing. His love for his father had made it simple and
natural to him, and he had never questioned the reason for it.
As he had been taught to keep silence, he had been taught to
control the expression of his face and the sound of his voice,
and, above all, never to allow himself to look startled. But for
this he might have started at the extraordinary sound of the
Samavian words suddenly uttered in a London street by an English
gentleman. He might even have answered the question in Samavian
himself. But he did not. He courteously lifted his cap and
replied in English:

``Excuse me?''

The gentleman's clever eyes scrutinized him keenly. Then he also
spoke in English.

``Perhaps you do not understand? I asked your name because you
are very like a Samavian I know,'' he said.

``I am Marco Loristan,'' the boy answered him.

The man looked straight into his eyes and smiled.

``That is not the name,'' he said. ``I beg your pardon, my

He was about to go on, and had indeed taken a couple of steps
away, when he paused and turned to him again.

``You may tell your father that you are a very well-trained lad.
I wanted to find out for myself.'' And he went on.

Marco felt that his heart beat a little quickly. This was one of
several incidents which had happened during the last three years,
and made him feel that he was living among things so mysterious
that their very mystery hinted at danger. But he himself had
never before seemed involved in them. Why should it matter that
he was well-behaved? Then he remembered something. The man had
not said ``well-behaved,'' he had said ``well-TRAINED.''
Well-trained in what way? He felt his forehead prickle slightly
as he thought of the smiling, keen look which set itself so
straight upon him. Had he spoken to him in Samavian for an
experiment, to see if he would be startled into forgetting that
he had been trained to seem to know only the language of the
country he was temporarily living in? But he had not forgotten.
He had remembered well, and was thankful that he had betrayed
nothing. ``Even exiles may be Samavian soldiers. I am one. You
must be one,'' his father had said on that day long ago when he
had made him take his oath. Perhaps remembering his training was
being a soldier. Never had Samavia needed help as she needed it
to-day. Two years before, a rival claimant to the throne had
assassinated the then reigning king and his sons, and since then,
bloody war and tumult had raged. The new king was a powerful
man, and had a great following of the worst and most self-seeking
of the people. Neighboring countries had interfered for their
own welfare's sake, and the newspapers had been full of stories
of savage fighting and atrocities, and of starving peasants.

Marco had late one evening entered their lodgings to find
Loristan walking to and fro like a lion in a cage, a paper
crushed and torn in his hands, and his eyes blazing. He had been
reading of cruelties wrought upon innocent peasants and women and
children. Lazarus was standing staring at him with huge tears
running down his cheeks. When Marco opened the door, the old
soldier strode over to him, turned him about, and led him out of
the room.

``Pardon, sir, pardon!'' he sobbed. ``No one must see him, not
even you. He suffers so horribly.''

He stood by a chair in Marco's own small bedroom, where he half
pushed, half led him. He bent his grizzled head, and wept like a
beaten child.

``Dear God of those who are in pain, assuredly it is now the time
to give back to us our Lost Prince!'' he said, and Marco knew the
words were a prayer, and wondered at the frenzied intensity of
it, because it seemed so wild a thing to pray for the return of a
youth who had died five hundred years before.

When he reached the palace, he was still thinking of the man who
had spoken to him. He was thinking of him even as he looked at
the majestic gray stone building and counted the number of its
stories and windows. He walked round it that he might make a
note in his memory of its size and form and its entrances, and
guess at the size of its gardens. This he did because it was
part of his game, and part of his strange training.

When he came back to the front, he saw that in the great entrance
court within the high iron railings an elegant but quiet- looking
closed carriage was drawing up before the doorway. Marco stood
and watched with interest to see who would come out and enter it.
He knew that kings and emperors who were not on parade looked
merely like well-dressed private gentlemen, and often chose to go
out as simply and quietly as other men. So he thought that,
perhaps, if he waited, he might see one of those well-known faces
which represent the highest rank and power in a monarchical
country, and which in times gone by had also represented the
power over human life and death and liberty.

``I should like to be able to tell my father that I have seen the
King and know his face, as I know the faces of the czar and the
two emperors.''

There was a little movement among the tall men-servants in the
royal scarlet liveries, and an elderly man descended the steps
attended by another who walked behind him. He entered the
carriage, the other man followed him, the door was closed, and
the carriage drove through the entrance gates, where the sentries

Marco was near enough to see distinctly. The two men were
talking as if interested. The face of the one farthest from him
was the face he had often seen in shop-windows and newspapers.
The boy made his quick, formal salute. It was the King; and, as
he smiled and acknowledged his greeting, he spoke to his

``That fine lad salutes as if he belonged to the army,'' was what
he said, though Marco could not hear him.

His companion leaned forward to look through the window. When he
caught sight of Marco, a singular expression crossed his face.

``He does belong to an army, sir,'' he answered, ``though he does
not know it. His name is Marco Loristan.''

Then Marco saw him plainly for the first time. He was the man
with the keen eyes who had spoken to him in Samavian.



Marco would have wondered very much if he had heard the words,
but, as he did not hear them, he turned toward home wondering at
something else. A man who was in intimate attendance on a king
must be a person of importance. He no doubt knew many things not
only of his own ruler's country, but of the countries of other
kings. But so few had really known anything of poor little
Samavia until the newspapers had begun to tell them of the
horrors of its war--and who but a Samavian could speak its
language? It would be an interesting thing to tell his
father--that a man who knew the King had spoken to him in
Samavian, and had sent that curious message.

Later he found himself passing a side street and looked up it.
It was so narrow, and on either side of it were such old, tall,
and sloping-walled houses that it attracted his attention. It
looked as if a bit of old London had been left to stand while
newer places grew up and hid it from view. This was the kind of
street he liked to pass through for curiosity's sake. He knew
many of them in the old quarters of many cities. He had lived in
some of them. He could find his way home from the other end of
it. Another thing than its queerness attracted him. He heard a
clamor of boys' voices, and he wanted to see what they were
doing. Sometimes, when he had reached a new place and had had
that lonely feeling, he had followed some boyish clamor of play
or wrangling, and had found a temporary friend or so.

Half-way to the street's end there was an arched brick passage.
The sound of the voices came from there--one of them high, and
thinner and shriller than the rest. Marco tramped up to the arch
and looked down through the passage. It opened on to a gray
flagged space, shut in by the railings of a black, deserted, and
ancient graveyard behind a venerable church which turned its face
toward some other street. The boys were not playing, but
listening to one of their number who was reading to them from a

Marco walked down the passage and listened also, standing in the
dark arched outlet at its end and watching the boy who read. He
was a strange little creature with a big forehead, and deep eyes
which were curiously sharp. But this was not all. He had a
hunch back, his legs seemed small and crooked. He sat with them
crossed before him on a rough wooden platform set on low wheels,
on which he evidently pushed himself about. Near him were a
number of sticks stacked together as if they were rifles. One of
the first things that Marco noticed was that he had a savage
little face marked with lines as if he had been angry all his

``Hold your tongues, you fools!'' he shrilled out to some boys
who interrupted him. ``Don't you want to know anything, you
ignorant swine?''

He was as ill-dressed as the rest of them, but he did not speak
in the Cockney dialect. If he was of the riffraff of the
streets, as his companions were, he was somehow different.

Then he, by chance, saw Marco, who was standing in the arched end
of the passage.

``What are you doing there listening?'' he shouted, and at once
stooped to pick up a stone and threw it at him. The stone hit
Marco's shoulder, but it did not hurt him much. What he did not
like was that another lad should want to throw something at him
before they had even exchanged boy-signs. He also did not like
the fact that two other boys promptly took the matter up by
bending down to pick up stones also.

He walked forward straight into the group and stopped close to
the hunchback.

``What did you do that for?'' he asked, in his rather deep young

He was big and strong-looking enough to suggest that he was not a
boy it would be easy to dispose of, but it was not that which
made the group stand still a moment to stare at him. It was
something in himself--half of it a kind of impartial lack of
anything like irritation at the stone-throwing. It was as if it
had not mattered to him in the least. It had not made him feel
angry or insulted. He was only rather curious about it. Because
he was clean, and his hair and his shabby clothes were brushed,
the first impression given by his appearance as he stood in the
archway was that he was a young ``toff'' poking his nose where it
was not wanted; but, as he drew near, they saw that the
well-brushed clothes were worn, and there were patches on his

``What did you do that for?'' he asked, and he asked it merely as
if he wanted to find out the reason.

``I'm not going to have you swells dropping in to my club as if
it was your own,'' said the hunchback.

``I'm not a swell, and I didn't know it was a club,'' Marco
answered. ``I heard boys, and I thought I'd come and look. When
I heard you reading about Samavia, I wanted to hear.''

He looked at the reader with his silent-expressioned eyes.

``You needn't have thrown a stone,'' he added. ``They don't do
it at men's clubs. I'll go away.''

He turned about as if he were going, but, before he had taken
three steps, the hunchback hailed him unceremoniously.

``Hi!'' he called out. ``Hi, you!''

``What do you want?'' said Marco.

``I bet you don't know where Samavia is, or what they're fighting
about.'' The hunchback threw the words at him.

``Yes, I do. It's north of Beltrazo and east of Jiardasia, and
they are fighting because one party has assassinated King Maran,
and the other will not let them crown Nicola Iarovitch. And why
should they? He's a brigand, and hasn't a drop of royal blood in

``Oh!'' reluctantly admitted the hunchback. ``You do know that
much, do you? Come back here.''

Marco turned back, while the boys still stared. It was as if two
leaders or generals were meeting for the first time, and the
rabble, looking on, wondered what would come of their encounter.

``The Samavians of the Iarovitch party are a bad lot and want
only bad things,'' said Marco, speaking first. ``They care
nothing for Samavia. They only care for money and the power to
make laws which will serve them and crush everybody else. They
know Nicola is a weak man, and that, if they can crown him king,
they can make him do what they like.''

The fact that he spoke first, and that, though he spoke in a
steady boyish voice without swagger, he somehow seemed to take it
for granted that they would listen, made his place for him at
once. Boys are impressionable creatures, and they know a leader
when they see him. The hunchback fixed glittering eyes on him.
The rabble began to murmur.

``Rat! Rat!'' several voices cried at once in good strong
Cockney. ``Arst 'im some more, Rat!''

``Is that what they call you?'' Marco asked the hunchback.

``It's what I called myself,'' he answered resentfully. `` `The
Rat.' Look at me! Crawling round on the ground like this! Look
at me!''

He made a gesture ordering his followers to move aside, and began
to push himself rapidly, with queer darts this side and that
round the inclosure. He bent his head and body, and twisted his
face, and made strange animal-like movements. He even uttered
sharp squeaks as he rushed here and there--as a rat might have
done when it was being hunted. He did it as if he were
displaying an accomplishment, and his followers' laughter was

``Wasn't I like a rat?'' he demanded, when he suddenly stopped.

``You made yourself like one on purpose,'' Marco answered. ``You
do it for fun.''

``Not so much fun,'' said The Rat. ``I feel like one. Every
one's my enemy. I'm vermin. I can't fight or defend myself
unless I bite. I can bite, though.'' And he showed two rows of
fierce, strong, white teeth, sharper at the points than human
teeth usually are. ``I bite my father when he gets drunk and
beats me. I've bitten him till he's learned to remember.'' He
laughed a shrill, squeaking laugh. ``He hasn't tried it for
three months--even when he was drunk-- and he's always drunk.''
Then he laughed again still more shrilly. ``He's a gentleman,''
he said. ``I'm a gentleman's son. He was a Master at a big
school until he was kicked out--that was when I was four and my
mother died. I'm thirteen now. How old are you?''

``I'm twelve,'' answered Marco.

The Rat twisted his face enviously.

``I wish I was your size! Are you a gentleman's son? You look
as if you were.''

``I'm a very poor man's son,'' was Marco's answer. ``My father
is a writer.''

``Then, ten to one, he's a sort of gentleman,'' said The Rat.
Then quite suddenly he threw another question at him. ``What's
the name of the other Samavian party?''

``The Maranovitch. The Maranovitch and the Iarovitch have been
fighting with each other for five hundred years. First one
dynasty rules, and then the other gets in when it has killed
somebody as it killed King Maran,'' Marco answered without

``What was the name of the dynasty that ruled before they began
fighting? The first Maranovitch assassinated the last of them,''
The Rat asked him.

``The Fedorovitch,'' said Marco. ``The last one was a bad

``His son was the one they never found again,'' said The Rat.
``The one they call the Lost Prince.''

Marco would have started but for his long training in exterior
self-control. It was so strange to hear his dream-hero spoken of
in this back alley in a slum, and just after he had been thinking
of him.

``What do you know about him?'' he asked, and, as he did so, he
saw the group of vagabond lads draw nearer.

``Not much. I only read something about him in a torn magazine I
found in the street,'' The Rat answered. ``The man that wrote
about him said he was only part of a legend, and he laughed at
people for believing in him. He said it was about time that he
should turn up again if he intended to. I've invented things
about him because these chaps like to hear me tell them. They're
only stories.''

``We likes 'im,'' a voice called out, ``becos 'e wos the right
sort; 'e'd fight, 'e would, if 'e was in Samavia now.''

Marco rapidly asked himself how much he might say. He decided
and spoke to them all.

``He is not part of a legend. He's part of Samavian history,''
he said. ``I know something about him too.''

``How did you find it out?'' asked The Rat.

``Because my father's a writer, he's obliged to have books and
papers, and he knows things. I like to read, and I go into the
free libraries. You can always get books and papers there. Then
I ask my father questions. All the newspapers are full of things
about Samavia just now.'' Marco felt that this was an
explanation which betrayed nothing. It was true that no one
could open a newspaper at this period without seeing news and
stories of Samavia.

The Rat saw possible vistas of information opening up before him.

``Sit down here,'' he said, ``and tell us what you know about
him. Sit down, you fellows.''

There was nothing to sit on but the broken flagged pavement, but
that was a small matter. Marco himself had sat on flags or bare
ground often enough before, and so had the rest of the lads. He
took his place near The Rat, and the others made a semicircle in
front of them. The two leaders had joined forces, so to speak,
and the followers fell into line at ``attention.''

Then the new-comer began to talk. It was a good story, that of
the Lost Prince, and Marco told it in a way which gave it
reality. How could he help it? He knew, as they could not, that
it was real. He who had pored over maps of little Samavia since
his seventh year, who had studied them with his father, knew it
as a country he could have found his way to any part of if he had
been dropped in any forest or any mountain of it. He knew every
highway and byway, and in the capital city of Melzarr could
almost have made his way blindfolded. He knew the palaces and
the forts, the churches, the poor streets and the rich ones. His
father had once shown him a plan of the royal palace which they
had studied together until the boy knew each apartment and
corridor in it by heart. But this he did not speak of. He knew
it was one of the things to be silent about. But of the
mountains and the emerald velvet meadows climbing their sides and
only ending where huge bare crags and peaks began, he could
speak. He could make pictures of the wide fertile plains where
herds of wild horses fed, or raced and sniffed the air; he could
describe the fertile valleys where clear rivers ran and flocks of
sheep pastured on deep sweet grass. He could speak of them
because he could offer a good enough reason for his knowledge of
them. It was not the only reason he had for his knowledge, but
it was one which would serve well enough.

``That torn magazine you found had more than one article about
Samavia in it,'' he said to The Rat. ``The same man wrote four.
I read them all in a free library. He had been to Samavia, and
knew a great deal about it. He said it was one of the most
beautiful countries he had ever traveled in--and the most
fertile. That's what they all say of it.''

The group before him knew nothing of fertility or open country.
They only knew London back streets and courts. Most of them had
never traveled as far as the public parks, and in fact scarcely
believed in their existence. They were a rough lot, and as they
had stared at Marco at first sight of him, so they continued to
stare at him as he talked. When he told of the tall Samavians
who had been like giants centuries ago, and who had hunted the
wild horses and captured and trained them to obedience by a sort
of strong and gentle magic, their mouths fell open. This was the
sort of thing to allure any boy's imagination.

``Blimme, if I wouldn't 'ave liked ketchin' one o' them 'orses,''
broke in one of the audience, and his exclamation was followed by
a dozen of like nature from the others. Who wouldn't have liked
``ketchin' one''?

When he told of the deep endless-seeming forests, and of the
herdsmen and shepherds who played on their pipes and made songs
about high deeds and bravery, they grinned with pleasure without
knowing they were grinning. They did not really know that in
this neglected, broken-flagged inclosure, shut in on one side by
smoke- blackened, poverty-stricken houses, and on the other by a
deserted and forgotten sunken graveyard, they heard the rustle of
green forest boughs where birds nested close, the swish of the
summer wind in the river reeds, and the tinkle and laughter and
rush of brooks running.

They heard more or less of it all through the Lost Prince story,
because Prince Ivor had loved lowland woods and mountain forests
and all out-of-door life. When Marco pictured him tall and
strong- limbed and young, winning all the people when he rode
smiling among them, the boys grinned again with unconscious

``Wisht 'e 'adn't got lost!'' some one cried out.

When they heard of the unrest and dissatisfaction of the
Samavians, they began to get restless themselves. When Marco
reached the part of the story in which the mob rushed into the
palace and demanded their prince from the king, they ejaculated
scraps of bad language. ``The old geezer had got him hidden
somewhere in some dungeon, or he'd killed him out an' out--that's
what he'd been up to!'' they clamored. ``Wisht the lot of us had
been there then--wisht we 'ad. We'd 'ave give' 'im wot for,

``An' 'im walkin' out o' the place so early in the mornin' just
singin' like that! 'E 'ad 'im follered an' done for!'' they
decided with various exclamations of boyish wrath. Somehow, the
fact that the handsome royal lad had strolled into the morning
sunshine singing made them more savage. Their language was
extremely bad at this point.

But if it was bad here, it became worse when the old shepherd
found the young huntsman's half-dead body in the forest. He HAD
``bin `done for' IN THE BACK! 'E'd bin give' no charnst.
G-r-r-r!'' they groaned in chorus. ``Wisht'' THEY'D ``bin there
when 'e'd bin 'it!'' They'd `` 'ave done fur somebody''
themselves. It was a story which had a queer effect on them. It
made them think they saw things; it fired their blood; it set
them wanting to fight for ideals they knew nothing
about--adventurous things, for instance, and high and noble young
princes who were full of the possibility of great and good deeds.
Sitting upon the broken flagstones of the bit of ground behind
the deserted graveyard, they were suddenly dragged into the world
of romance, and noble young princes and great and good deeds
became as real as the sunken gravestones, and far more

And then the smuggling across the frontier of the unconscious
prince in the bullock cart loaded with sheepskins! They held
their breaths. Would the old shepherd get him past the line!
Marco, who was lost in the recital himself, told it as if he had
been present. He felt as if he had, and as this was the first
time he had ever told it to thrilled listeners, his imagination
got him in its grip, and his heart jumped in his breast as he was
sure the old man's must have done when the guard stopped his cart
and asked him what he was carrying out of the country. He knew
he must have had to call up all his strength to force his voice
into steadiness.

And then the good monks! He had to stop to explain what a monk
was, and when he described the solitude of the ancient monastery,
and its walled gardens full of flowers and old simples to be used
for healing, and the wise monks walking in the silence and the
sun, the boys stared a little helplessly, but still as if they
were vaguely pleased by the picture.

And then there was no more to tell--no more. There it broke off,
and something like a low howl of dismay broke from the

``Aw!'' they protested, ``it 'adn't ought to stop there! Ain't
there no more? Is that all there is?''

``It's all that was ever known really. And that last part might
only be a sort of story made up by somebody. But I believe it

The Rat had listened with burning eyes. He had sat biting his
finger-nails, as was a trick of his when he was excited or angry.

``Tell you what!'' he exclaimed suddenly. ``This was what
happened. It was some of the Maranovitch fellows that tried to
kill him. They meant to kill his father and make their own man
king, and they knew the people wouldn't stand it if young Ivor
was alive. They just stabbed him in the back, the fiends! I
dare say they heard the old shepherd coming, and left him for
dead and ran.''

``Right, oh! That was it!'' the lads agreed. ``Yer right there,

``When he got well,'' The Rat went on feverishly, still biting
his nails, ``he couldn't go back. He was only a boy. The other
fellow had been crowned, and his followers felt strong because
they'd just conquered the country. He could have done nothing
without an army, and he was too young to raise one. Perhaps he
thought he'd wait till he was old enough to know what to do. I
dare say he went away and had to work for his living as if he'd
never been a prince at all. Then perhaps sometime he married
somebody and had a son, and told him as a secret who he was and
all about Samavia.'' The Rat began to look vengeful. ``If I'd
bin him I'd have told him not to forget what the Maranovitch had
done to me. I'd have told him that if I couldn't get back the
throne, he must see what he could do when he grew to be a man.
And I'd have made him swear, if he got it back, to take it out of
them or their children or their children's children in torture
and killing. I'd have made him swear not to leave a Maranovitch
alive. And I'd have told him that, if he couldn't do it in his
life, he must pass the oath on to his son and his son's son, as
long as there was a Fedorovitch on earth. Wouldn't you?'' he
demanded hotly of Marco.

Marco's blood was also hot, but it was a different kind of blood,
and he had talked too much to a very sane man.

``No,'' he said slowly. ``What would have been the use? It
wouldn't have done Samavia any good, and it wouldn't have done
him any good to torture and kill people. Better keep them alive
and make them do things for the country. If you're a patriot,
you think of the country.'' He wanted to add ``That's what my
father says,'' but he did not.

``Torture 'em first and then attend to the country,'' snapped The
Rat. ``What would you have told your son if you'd been Ivor?''

``I'd have told him to learn everything about Samavia--and all
the things kings have to know--and study things about laws and
other countries--and about keeping silent--and about governing
himself as if he were a general commanding soldiers in battle--so
that he would never do anything he did not mean to do or could be
ashamed of doing after it was over. And I'd have asked him to
tell his son's sons to tell their sons to learn the same things.
So, you see, however long the time was, there would always be a
king getting ready for Samavia--when Samavia really wanted him.
And he would be a real king.''

He stopped himself suddenly and looked at the staring semicircle.

``I didn't make that up myself,'' he said. ``I have heard a man
who reads and knows things say it. I believe the Lost Prince
would have had the same thoughts. If he had, and told them to
his son, there has been a line of kings in training for Samavia
for five hundred years, and perhaps one is walking about the
streets of Vienna, or Budapest, or Paris, or London now, and he'd
be ready if the people found out about him and called him.''

``Wisht they would!'' some one yelled.

``It would be a queer secret to know all the time when no one
else knew it,'' The Rat communed with himself as it were, ``that
you were a king and you ought to be on a throne wearing a crown.
I wonder if it would make a chap look different?''

He laughed his squeaky laugh, and then turned in his sudden way
to Marco:

``But he'd be a fool to give up the vengeance. What is your

``Marco Loristan. What's yours? It isn't The Rat really.''

``It's Jem RATcliffe. That's pretty near. Where do you live?''

``No. 7 Philibert Place.''

``This club is a soldiers' club,'' said The Rat. ``It's called
the Squad. I'm the captain. 'Tention, you fellows! Let's show

The semicircle sprang to its feet. There were about twelve lads
altogether, and, when they stood upright, Marco saw at once that
for some reason they were accustomed to obeying the word of
command with military precision.

``Form in line!'' ordered The Rat.

They did it at once, and held their backs and legs straight and
their heads up amazingly well. Each had seized one of the sticks
which had been stacked together like guns.

The Rat himself sat up straight on his platform. There was
actually something military in the bearing of his lean body. His
voice lost its squeak and its sharpness became commanding.

He put the dozen lads through the drill as if he had been a smart
young officer. And the drill itself was prompt and smart enough
to have done credit to practiced soldiers in barracks. It made
Marco involuntarily stand very straight himself, and watch with
surprised interest.

``That's good!'' he exclaimed when it was at an end. ``How did
you learn that?''

The Rat made a savage gesture.

``If I'd had legs to stand on, I'd have been a soldier!'' he
said. ``I'd have enlisted in any regiment that would take me. I
don't care for anything else.''

Suddenly his face changed, and he shouted a command to his

``Turn your backs!'' he ordered.

And they did turn their backs and looked through the railings of
the old churchyard. Marco saw that they were obeying an order
which was not new to them. The Rat had thrown his arm up over
his eyes and covered them. He held it there for several moments,
as if he did not want to be seen. Marco turned his back as the
rest had done. All at once he understood that, though The Rat
was not crying, yet he was feeling something which another boy
would possibly have broken down under.

``All right!'' he shouted presently, and dropped his
ragged-sleeved arm and sat up straight again.

``I want to go to war!'' he said hoarsely. ``I want to fight! I
want to lead a lot of men into battle! And I haven't got any
legs. Sometimes it takes the pluck out of me.''

``You've not grown up yet!'' said Marco. ``You might get strong.

No one knows what is going to happen. How did you learn to drill
the club?''

``I hang about barracks. I watch and listen. I follow soldiers.
If I could get books, I'd read about wars. I can't go to
libraries as you can. I can do nothing but scuffle about like a

``I can take you to some libraries,'' said Marco. ``There are
places where boys can get in. And I can get some papers from my

``Can you?'' said The Rat. ``Do you want to join the club?''

``Yes!'' Marco answered. ``I'll speak to my father about it.''

He said it because the hungry longing for companionship in his
own mind had found a sort of response in the queer hungry look in
The Rat's eyes. He wanted to see him again. Strange creature as
he was, there was attraction in him. Scuffling about on his low
wheeled platform, he had drawn this group of rough lads to him
and made himself their commander. They obeyed him; they listened
to his stories and harangues about war and soldiering; they let
him drill them and give them orders. Marco knew that, when he
told his father about him, he would be interested. The boy
wanted to hear what Loristan would say.

``I'm going home now,'' he said. ``If you're going to be here
to- morrow, I will try to come.''

``We shall be here,'' The Rat answered. ``It's our barracks.''

Marco drew himself up smartly and made his salute as if to a
superior officer. Then he wheeled about and marched through the
brick archway, and the sound of his boyish tread was as regular
and decided as if he had been a man keeping time with his

``He's been drilled himself,'' said The Rat. ``He knows as much
as I do.''

And he sat up and stared down the passage with new interest.



They were even poorer than usual just now, and the supper Marco
and his father sat down to was scant enough. Lazarus stood
upright behind his master's chair and served him with strictest
ceremony. Their poor lodgings were always kept with a soldierly
cleanliness and order. When an object could be polished it was
forced to shine, no grain of dust was allowed to lie undisturbed,
and this perfection was not attained through the ministrations of
a lodging house slavey. Lazarus made himself extremely popular
by taking the work of caring for his master's rooms entirely out
of the hands of the overburdened maids of all work. He had
learned to do many things in his young days in barracks. He
carried about with him coarse bits of table-cloths and towels,
which he laundered as if they had been the finest linen. He
mended, he patched, he darned, and in the hardest fight the poor
must face--the fight with dirt and dinginess--he always held his
own. They had nothing but dry bread and coffee this evening, but
Lazarus had made the coffee and the bread was good.

As Marco ate, he told his father the story of The Rat and his
followers. Loristan listened, as the boy had known he would,
with the far-off, intently-thinking smile in his dark eyes. It
was a look which always fascinated Marco because it meant that he
was thinking so many things. Perhaps he would tell some of them
and perhaps he would not. His spell over the boy lay in the fact
that to him he seemed like a wonderful book of which one had only
glimpses. It was full of pictures and adventures which were
true, and one could not help continually making guesses about
them. Yes, the feeling that Marco had was that his father's
attraction for him was a sort of spell, and that others felt the
same thing. When he stood and talked to commoner people, he held
his tall body with singular quiet grace which was like power. He
never stirred or moved himself as if he were nervous or
uncertain. He could hold his hands (he had beautiful slender and
strong hands) quite still; he could stand on his fine arched feet
without shuffling them. He could sit without any ungrace or
restlessness. His mind knew what his body should do, and gave it
orders without speaking, and his fine limbs and muscles and
nerves obeyed. So he could stand still and at ease and look at
the people he was talking to, and they always looked at him and
listened to what he said, and somehow, courteous and
uncondescending as his manner unfailingly was, it used always to
seem to Marco as if he were ``giving an audience'' as kings gave

He had often seen people bow very low when they went away from
him, and more than once it had happened that some humble person
had stepped out of his presence backward, as people do when
retiring before a sovereign. And yet his bearing was the
quietest and least assuming in the world.

``And they were talking about Samavia? And he knew the story of
the Lost Prince?'' he said ponderingly. ``Even in that place!''

``He wants to hear about wars--he wants to talk about them,''
Marco answered. ``If he could stand and were old enough, he
would go and fight for Samavia himself.''

``It is a blood-drenched and sad place now!'' said Loristan.
``The people are mad when they are not heartbroken and

Suddenly Marco struck the table with a sounding slap of his boy's
hand. He did it before he realized any intention in his own

``Why should either one of the Iarovitch or one of the
Maranovitch be king!'' he cried. ``They were only savage
peasants when they first fought for the crown hundreds of years
ago. The most savage one got it, and they have been fighting
ever since. Only the Fedorovitch were born kings. There is only
one man in the world who has the right to the throne--and I don't
know whether he is in the world or not. But I believe he is! I

Loristan looked at his hot twelve-year-old face with a reflective
curiousness. He saw that the flame which had leaped up in him
had leaped without warning--just as a fierce heart-beat might
have shaken him.

``You mean--?'' he suggested softly.

``Ivor Fedorovitch. King Ivor he ought to be. And the people
would obey him, and the good days would come again.''

``It is five hundred years since Ivor Fedorovitch left the good
monks.'' Loristan still spoke softly.

``But, Father,'' Marco protested, ``even The Rat said what you
said--that he was too young to be able to come back while the
Maranovitch were in power. And he would have to work and have a
home, and perhaps he is as poor as we are. But when he had a son
he would call him Ivor and TELL him--and his son would call HIS
son Ivor and tell HIM--and it would go on and on. They could
never call their eldest sons anything but Ivor. And what you
said about the training would be true. There would always be a
king being trained for Samavia, and ready to be called.'' In the
fire of his feelings he sprang from his chair and stood upright.
``Why! There may be a king of Samavia in some city now who knows
he is king, and, when he reads about the fighting among his
people, his blood gets red-hot. They're his own people--his very
own! He ought to go to them--he ought to go and tell them who he
is! Don't you think he ought, Father?''

``It would not be as easy as it seems to a boy,'' Loristan
answered. ``There are many countries which would have something
to say-- Russia would have her word, and Austria, and Germany;
and England never is silent. But, if he were a strong man and
knew how to make strong friends in silence, he might sometime be
able to declare himself openly.''

``But if he is anywhere, some one--some Samavian--ought to go and

look for him. It ought to be a Samavian who is very clever and a
patriot--'' He stopped at a flash of recognition. ``Father!''
he cried out. ``Father! You--you are the one who could find him
if any one in the world could. But perhaps--'' and he stopped a
moment again because new thoughts rushed through his mind.
``Have YOU ever looked for him?'' he asked hesitating.

Perhaps he had asked a stupid question--perhaps his father had
always been looking for him, perhaps that was his secret and his

But Loristan did not look as if he thought him stupid. Quite the
contrary. He kept his handsome eyes fixed on him still in that
curious way, as if he were studying him--as if he were much more
than twelve years old, and he were deciding to tell him

``Comrade at arms,'' he said, with the smile which always
gladdened Marco's heart, ``you have kept your oath of allegiance
like a man. You were not seven years old when you took it. You
are growing older. Silence is still the order, but you are man
enough to be told more.'' He paused and looked down, and then
looked up again, speaking in a low tone. ``I have not looked for
him,'' he said, ``because--I believe I know where he is.''

Marco caught his breath.

``Father!'' He said only that word. He could say no more. He
knew he must not ask questions. ``Silence is still the order.''
But as they faced each other in their dingy room at the back of
the shabby house on the side of the roaring common road--as
Lazarus stood stock- still behind his father's chair and kept his
eyes fixed on the empty coffee cups and the dry bread plate, and
everything looked as poor as things always did--there was a king
of Samavia--an Ivor Fedorovitch with the blood of the Lost Prince
in his veins--alive in some town or city this moment! And
Marco's own father knew where he was!

He glanced at Lazarus, but, though the old soldier's face looked
as expressionless as if it were cut out of wood, Marco realized
that he knew this thing and had always known it. He had been a
comrade at arms all his life. He continued to stare at the bread

Loristan spoke again and in an even lower voice. ``The Samavians
who are patriots and thinkers,'' he said, ``formed themselves
into a secret party about eighty years ago. They formed it when
they had no reason for hope, but they formed it because one of
them discovered that an Ivor Fedorovitch was living. He was head
forester on a great estate in the Austrian Alps. The nobleman he
served had always thought him a mystery because he had the
bearing and speech of a man who had not been born a servant, and
his methods in caring for the forests and game were those of a
man who was educated and had studied his subject. But he never
was familiar or assuming, and never professed superiority over
any of his fellows. He was a man of great stature, and was
extraordinarily brave and silent. The nobleman who was his
master made a sort of companion of him when they hunted together.
Once he took him with him when he traveled to Samavia to hunt
wild horses. He found that he knew the country strangely well,
and that he was familiar with Samavian hunting and customs.
Before he returned to Austria, the man obtained permission to go
to the mountains alone. He went among the shepherds and made
friends among them, asking many questions.

One night around a forest fire he heard the songs about the Lost
Prince which had not been forgotten even after nearly five
hundred years had passed. The shepherds and herdsmen talked
about Prince Ivor, and told old stories about him, and related
the prophecy that he would come back and bring again Samavia's
good days. He might come only in the body of one of his
descendants, but it would be his spirit which came, because his
spirit would never cease to love Samavia. One very old shepherd
tottered to his feet and lifted his face to the myriad stars
bestrewn like jewels in the blue sky above the forest trees, and
he wept and prayed aloud that the great God would send their king
to them. And the stranger huntsman stood upright also and lifted
his face to the stars. And, though he said no word, the herdsman
nearest to him saw tears on his cheeks--great, heavy tears. The
next day, the stranger went to the monastery where the order of
good monks lived who had taken care of the Lost Prince. When he
had left Samavia, the secret society was formed, and the members
of it knew that an Ivor Fedorovitch had passed through his
ancestors' country as the servant of another man. But the secret
society was only a small one, and, though it has been growing
ever since and it has done good deeds and good work in secret,
the huntsman died an old man before it was strong enough even to
dare to tell Samavia what it knew.''

``Had he a son?'' cried Marco. ``Had he a son?''

``Yes. He had a son. His name was Ivor. And he was trained as
I told you. That part I knew to be true, though I should have
believed it was true even if I had not known. There has ALWAYS
been a king ready for Samavia--even when he has labored with his
hands and served others. Each one took the oath of allegiance.''

``As I did?'' said Marco, breathless with excitement. When one
is twelve years old, to be so near a Lost Prince who might end
wars is a thrilling thing.

``The same,'' answered Loristan.

Marco threw up his hand in salute.

`` `Here grows a man for Samavia! God be thanked!' '' he quoted.
``And HE is somewhere? And you know?''

Loristan bent his head in acquiescence.

``For years much secret work has been done, and the Fedorovitch
party has grown until it is much greater and more powerful than
the other parties dream. The larger countries are tired of the
constant war and disorder in Samavia. Their interests are
disturbed by them, and they are deciding that they must have
peace and laws which can be counted on. There have been Samavian
patriots who have spent their lives in trying to bring this about
by making friends in the most powerful capitals, and working
secretly for the future good of their own land. Because Samavia
is so small and uninfluential, it has taken a long time but when
King Maran and his family were assassinated and the war broke
out, there were great powers which began to say that if some king
of good blood and reliable characteristics were given the crown,
he should be upheld.''

``HIS blood,''-- Marco's intensity made his voice drop almost to
a whisper,--``HIS blood has been trained for five hundred years,
Father! If it comes true--'' though he laughed a little, he was
obliged to wink his eyes hard because suddenly he felt tears rush
into them, which no boy likes--``the shepherds will have to make
a new song --it will have to be a shouting one about a prince
going away and a king coming back!''

``They are a devout people and observe many an ancient rite and
ceremony. They will chant prayers and burn altar-fires on their
mountain sides,'' Loristan said. ``But the end is not yet--the
end is not yet. Sometimes it seems that perhaps it is near--but
God knows!''

Then there leaped back upon Marco the story he had to tell, but
which he had held back for the last--the story of the man who
spoke Samavian and drove in the carriage with the King. He knew
now that it might mean some important thing which he could not
have before suspected.

``There is something I must tell you,'' he said.

He had learned to relate incidents in few but clear words when he

related them to his father. It had been part of his training.
Loristan had said that he might sometime have a story to tell
when he had but few moments to tell it in--some story which meant
life or death to some one. He told this one quickly and well.
He made Loristan see the well-dressed man with the deliberate
manner and the keen eyes, and he made him hear his voice when he
said, ``Tell your father that you are a very well-trained lad.''

``I am glad he said that. He is a man who knows what training
is,'' said Loristan. ``He is a person who knows what all Europe
is doing, and almost all that it will do. He is an ambassador
from a powerful and great country. If he saw that you are a
well-trained and fine lad, it might--it might even be good for

``Would it matter that _I_ was well-trained? COULD it matter to
Samavia?'' Marco cried out.

Loristan paused for a moment--watching him gravely--looking him
over--his big, well-built boy's frame, his shabby clothes, and
his eagerly burning eyes.

He smiled one of his slow wonderful smiles.

``Yes. It might even matter to Samavia!'' he answered.



Loristan did not forbid Marco to pursue his acquaintance with The
Rat and his followers.

``You will find out for yourself whether they are friends for you
or not,'' he said. ``You will know in a few days, and then you
can make your own decision. You have known lads in various
countries, and you are a good judge of them, I think. You will
soon see whether they are going to be MEN or mere rabble. The
Rat now--how does he strike you?''

And the handsome eyes held their keen look of questioning.

``He'd be a brave soldier if he could stand,'' said Marco,
thinking him over. ``But he might be cruel.''

``A lad who might make a brave soldier cannot be disdained, but a
man who is cruel is a fool. Tell him that from me,'' Loristan
answered. ``He wastes force--his own and the force of the one he
treats cruelly. Only a fool wastes force.''

``May I speak of you sometimes?'' asked Marco.

``Yes. You will know how. You will remember the things about
which silence is the order.''

``I never forget them,'' said Marco. ``I have been trying not
to, for such a long time.''

``You have succeeded well, Comrade!'' returned Loristan, from his
writing-table, to which he had gone and where he was turning over

A strong impulse overpowered the boy. He marched over to the
table and stood very straight, making his soldierly young salute,
his whole body glowing.

``Father!'' he said, ``you don't know how I love you! I wish you
were a general and I might die in battle for you. When I look at
you, I long and long to do something for you a boy could not do.
I would die of a thousand wounds rather than disobey you--or

He seized Loristan's hand, and knelt on one knee and kissed it.
An English or American boy could not have done such a thing from
unaffected natural impulse. But he was of warm Southern blood.

``I took my oath of allegiance to you, Father, when I took it to
Samavia. It seems as if you were Samavia, too,'' he said, and
kissed his hand again.

Loristan had turned toward him with one of the movements which
were full of dignity and grace. Marco, looking up at him, felt
that there was always a certain remote stateliness in him which
made it seem quite natural that any one should bend the knee and
kiss his hand.

A sudden great tenderness glowed in his father's face as he
raised the boy and put his hand on his shoulder.

``Comrade,'' he said, ``you don't know how much I love you--and
what reason there is that we should love each other! You don't
know how I have been watching you, and thanking God each year
that here grew a man for Samavia. That I know you are--a MAN,
though you have lived but twelve years. Twelve years may grow a
man--or prove that a man will never grow, though a human thing he
may remain for ninety years. This year may be full of strange
things for both of us. We cannot know WHAT I may have to ask you
to do for me--and for Samavia. Perhaps such a thing as no
twelve-year- old boy has ever done before.''

``Every night and every morning,'' said Marco, ``I shall pray
that I may be called to do it, and that I may do it well.''

``You will do it well, Comrade, if you are called. That I could
make oath,'' Loristan answered him.

The Squad had collected in the inclosure behind the church when
Marco appeared at the arched end of the passage. The boys were
drawn up with their rifles, but they all wore a rather dogged and
sullen look. The explanation which darted into Marco's mind was
that this was because The Rat was in a bad humor. He sat
crouched together on his platform biting his nails fiercely, his
elbows on his updrawn knees, his face twisted into a hideous
scowl. He did not look around, or even look up from the cracked
flagstone of the pavement on which his eyes were fixed.

Marco went forward with military step and stopped opposite to him
with prompt salute.

``Sorry to be late, sir,'' he said, as if he had been a private
speaking to his colonel.

``It's 'im, Rat! 'E's come, Rat!'' the Squad shouted. ``Look at

But The Rat would not look, and did not even move.

``What's the matter?'' said Marco, with less ceremony than a
private would have shown. ``There's no use in my coming here if
you don't want me.''

`` 'E's got a grouch on 'cos you're late!'' called out the head
of the line. ``No doin' nothin' when 'e's got a grouch on.''

``I sha'n't try to do anything,'' said Marco, his boy-face
setting itself into good stubborn lines. ``That's not what I
came here for. I came to drill. I've been with my father. He
comes first. I can't join the Squad if he doesn't come first.
We're not on active service, and we're not in barracks.''

Then The Rat moved sharply and turned to look at him.

``I thought you weren't coming at all!'' he snapped and growled
at once. ``My father said you wouldn't. He said you were a
young swell for all your patched clothes. He said your father
would think he was a swell, even if he was only a penny-a-liner
on newspapers, and he wouldn't let you have anything to do with a
vagabond and a nuisance. Nobody begged you to join. Your father
can go to blazes!''

``Don't you speak in that way about my father,'' said Marco,
quite quietly, ``because I can't knock you down.''

``I'll get up and let you!'' began The Rat, immediately white and
raging. ``I can stand up with two sticks. I'll get up and let

``No, you won't,'' said Marco. ``If you want to know what my
father said, I can tell you. He said I could come as often as I
liked --till I found out whether we should be friends or not. He
says I shall find that out for myself.''

It was a strange thing The Rat did. It must always be remembered
of him that his wretched father, who had each year sunk lower and
lower in the under-world, had been a gentleman once, a man who
had been familiar with good manners and had been educated in the
customs of good breeding. Sometimes when he was drunk, and
sometimes when he was partly sober, he talked to The Rat of many
things the boy would otherwise never have heard of. That was why
the lad was different from the other vagabonds. This, also, was
why he suddenly altered the whole situation by doing this strange
and unexpected thing. He utterly changed his expression and
voice, fixing his sharp eyes shrewdly on Marco's. It was almost
as if he were asking him a conundrum. He knew it would have been
one to most boys of the class he appeared outwardly to belong to.
He would either know the answer or he wouldn't.

``I beg your pardon,'' The Rat said.

That was the conundrum. It was what a gentleman and an officer
would have said, if he felt he had been mistaken or rude. He had
heard that from his drunken father.

``I beg yours--for being late,'' said Marco.

That was the right answer. It was the one another officer and
gentleman would have made. It settled the matter at once, and it
settled more than was apparent at the moment. It decided that
Marco was one of those who knew the things The Rat's father had
once known--the things gentlemen do and say and think. Not
another word was said. It was all right. Marco slipped into
line with the Squad, and The Rat sat erect with his military
bearing and began his drill:


`` 'Tention!


``Slope arms!

``Form fours!


``Quick march!


``Left turn!

``Order arms!

``Stand at ease!

``Stand easy!''

They did it so well that it was quite wonderful when one
considered the limited space at their disposal. They had
evidently done it often, and The Rat had been not only a smart,
but a severe, officer. This morning they repeated the exercise a
number of times, and even varied it with Review Drill, with which
they seemed just as familiar.

``Where did you learn it?'' The Rat asked, when the arms were
stacked again and Marco was sitting by him as he had sat the
previous day.

``From an old soldier. And I like to watch it, as you do.''

``If you were a young swell in the Guards, you couldn't be
smarter at it,'' The Rat said. ``The way you hold yourself! The
way you stand! You've got it! Wish I was you! It comes natural
to you.''

``I've always liked to watch it and try to do it myself. I did
when I was a little fellow,'' answered Marco.

``I've been trying to kick it into these chaps for more than a
year,'' said The Rat. ``A nice job I had of it! It nearly made
me sick at first.''

The semicircle in front of him only giggled or laughed outright.
The members of it seemed to take very little offense at his
cavalier treatment of them. He had evidently something to give
them which was entertaining enough to make up for his tyranny and
indifference. He thrust his hand into one of the pockets of his
ragged coat, and drew out a piece of newspaper.

``My father brought home this, wrapped round a loaf of bread,''
he said. ``See what it says there!''

He handed it to Marco, pointing to some words printed in large
letters at the head of a column. Marco looked at it and sat very

The words he read were: ``The Lost Prince.''

``Silence is still the order,'' was the first thought which
flashed through his mind. ``Silence is still the order.''

``What does it mean?'' he said aloud.

``There isn't much of it. I wish there was more,'' The Rat said
fretfully. ``Read and see. Of course they say it mayn't be
true--but I believe it is. They say that people think some one
knows where he is--at least where one of his descendants is.
It'd be the same thing. He'd be the real king. If he'd just

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