Part 2 out of 6
show himself, it might stop all the fighting. Just read.''
Marco read, and his skin prickled as the blood went racing
through his body. But his face did not change. There was a
sketch of the story of the Lost Prince to begin with. It had
been regarded by most people, the article said, as a sort of
legend. Now there was a definite rumor that it was not a legend
at all, but a part of the long past history of Samavia. It was
said that through the centuries there had always been a party
secretly loyal to the memory of this worshiped and lost
Fedorovitch. It was even said that from father to son,
generation after generation after generation, had descended the
oath of fealty to him and his descendants. The people had made
a god of him, and now, romantic as it seemed, it was beginning to
be an open secret that some persons believed that a descendant
had been found--a Fedorovitch worthy of his young ancestor--and
that a certain Secret Party also held that, if he were called
back to the throne of Samavia, the interminable wars and
bloodshed would reach an end.
The Rat had begun to bite his nails fast.
``Do you believe he's found?'' he asked feverishly. ``DON'T YOU?
``I wonder where he is, if it's true? I wonder! Where?''
exclaimed Marco. He could say that, and he might seem as eager
as he felt.
The Squad all began to jabber at once. ``Yus, where wos'e?
There is no knowin'. It'd be likely to be in some o' these
furrin places. England'd be too far from Samavia. 'Ow far off
wos Samavia? Wos it in Roosha, or where the Frenchies were, or
the Germans? But wherever 'e wos, 'e'd be the right sort, an'
'e'd be the sort a chap'd turn and look at in the street.''
The Rat continued to bite his nails.
``He might be anywhere,'' he said, his small fierce face glowing.
``That's what I like to think about. He might be passing in the
street outside there; he might be up in one of those houses,''
jerking his head over his shoulder toward the backs of the
inclosing dwellings. ``Perhaps he knows he's a king, and perhaps
he doesn't. He'd know if what you said yesterday was true--about
the king always being made ready for Samavia.''
``Yes, he'd know,'' put in Marco.
``Well, it'd be finer if he did,'' went on The Rat. ``However
poor and shabby he was, he'd know the secret all the time. And
if people sneered at him, he'd sneer at them and laugh to
himself. I dare say he'd walk tremendously straight and hold his
head up. If I was him, I'd like to make people suspect a bit
that I wasn't like the common lot o' them.'' He put out his hand
and pushed Marco excitedly. ``Let's work out plots for him!'' he
said. ``That'd be a splendid game! Let's pretend we're the
He was tremendously excited. Out of the ragged pocket he fished
a piece of chalk. Then he leaned forward and began to draw
something quickly on the flagstones closest to his platform. The
Squad leaned forward also, quite breathlessly, and Marco leaned
forward. The chalk was sketching a roughly outlined map, and he
knew what map it was, before The Rat spoke.
``That's a map of Samavia,'' he said. ``It was in that piece of
magazine I told you about--the one where I read about Prince
Ivor. I studied it until it fell to pieces. But I could draw it
myself by that time, so it didn't matter. I could draw it with
my eyes shut. That's the capital city,'' pointing to a spot.
``It's called Melzarr. The palace is there. It's the place
where the first of the Maranovitch killed the last of the
Fedorovitch--the bad chap that was Ivor's father. It's the
palace Ivor wandered out of singing the shepherds' song that
early morning. It's where the throne is that his descendant
would sit upon to be crowned--that he's GOING to sit upon. I
believe he is! Let's swear he shall!'' He flung down his piece
of chalk and sat up. ``Give me two sticks. Help me to get up.''
Two of the Squad sprang to their feet and came to him. Each
snatched one of the sticks from the stacked rifles, evidently
knowing what he wanted. Marco rose too, and watched with sudden,
keen curiosity. He had thought that The Rat could not stand up,
but it seemed that he could, in a fashion of his own, and he was
going to do it. The boys lifted him by his arms, set him against
the stone coping of the iron railings of the churchyard, and put
a stick in each of his hands. They stood at his side, but he
`` 'E could get about if 'e 'ad the money to buy crutches!'' said
one whose name was Cad, and he said it quite proudly. The queer
thing that Marco had noticed was that the ragamuffins were proud
of The Rat, and regarded him as their lord and master. ``--'E
could get about an' stand as well as any one,'' added the other,
and he said it in the tone of one who boasts. His name was Ben.
``I'm going to stand now, and so are the rest of you,'' said The
Rat. ``Squad! 'Tention! You at the head of the line,'' to
Marco. They were in line in a moment--straight, shoulders back,
chins up. And Marco stood at the head.
``We're going to take an oath,'' said The Rat. ``It's an oath of
allegiance. Allegiance means faithfulness to a thing--a king or
a country. Ours means allegiance to the King of Samavia. We
don't know where he is, but we swear to be faithful to him, to
fight for him, to plot for him, to DIE for him, and to bring him
back to his throne!'' The way in which he flung up his head when
he said the word ``die'' was very fine indeed. ``We are the
Secret Party. We will work in the dark and find out things--and
run risks--and collect an army no one will know anything about
until it is strong enough to suddenly rise at a secret signal,
and overwhelm the Maranovitch and Iarovitch, and seize their
forts and citadels. No one even knows we are alive. We are a
silent, secret thing that never speaks aloud!''
Silent and secret as they were, however, they spoke aloud at this
juncture. It was such a grand idea for a game, and so full of
possible larks, that the Squad broke into a howl of an exultant
``Hooray!'' they yelled. ``Hooray for the oath of 'legiance!
'Ray! 'ray! 'ray!''
``Shut up, you swine!'' shouted The Rat. ``Is that the way you
keep yourself secret? You'll call the police in, you fools!
Look at HIM!'' pointing to Marco. ``He's got some sense.''
Marco, in fact, had not made any sound.
``Come here, you Cad and Ben, and put me back on my wheels,''
raged the Squad's commander. ``I'll not make up the game at all.
It's no use with a lot of fat-head, raw recruits like you.''
The line broke and surrounded him in a moment, pleading and
``Aw, Rat! We forgot. It's the primest game you've ever thought
out! Rat! Rat! Don't get a grouch on! We'll keep still, Rat!
Primest lark of all 'll be the sneakin' about an' keepin' quiet.
Aw, Rat! Keep it up!''
``Keep it up yourselves!'' snarled The Rat.
``Not another cove of us could do it but you! Not one! There's
no other cove could think it out. You're the only chap that can
think out things. You thought out the Squad! That's why you're
This was true. He was the one who could invent entertainment for
them, these street lads who had nothing. Out of that nothing he
could create what excited them, and give them something to fill
empty, useless, often cold or wet or foggy, hours. That made him
their captain and their pride.
The Rat began to yield, though grudgingly. He pointed again to
Marco, who had not moved, but stood still at attention.
``Look at HIM!'' he said. ``He knows enough to stand where he's
put until he's ordered to break line. He's a soldier, he is--not
a raw recruit that don't know the goose-step. He's been in
But after this outburst, he deigned to go on.
``Here's the oath,'' he said. ``We swear to stand any torture
and submit in silence to any death rather than betray our secret
and our king. We will obey in silence and in secret. We will
swim through seas of blood and fight our way through lakes of
fire, if we are ordered. Nothing shall bar our way. All we do
and say and think is for our country and our king. If any of you
have anything to say, speak out before you take the oath.''
He saw Marco move a little, and he made a sign to him.
``You,'' he said. ``Have you something to say?''
Marco turned to him and saluted.
``Here stand ten men for Samavia. God be thanked!'' he said. He
dared say that much, and he felt as if his father himself would
have told him that they were the right words.
The Rat thought they were. Somehow he felt that they struck
home. He reddened with a sudden emotion.
``Squad!'' he said. ``I'll let you give three cheers on that.
It's for the last time. We'll begin to be quiet afterward.''
And to the Squad's exultant relief he led the cheer, and they
were allowed to make as much uproar as they liked. They liked to
make a great deal, and when it was at an end, it had done them
good and made them ready for business.
The Rat opened the drama at once. Never surely had there ever
before been heard a conspirator's whisper as hollow as his.
``Secret Ones,'' he said, ``it is midnight. We meet in the
depths of darkness. We dare not meet by day. When we meet in
the daytime, we pretend not to know each other. We are meeting
now in a Samavian city where there is a fortress. We shall have
to take it when the secret sign is given and we make our rising.
We are getting everything ready, so that, when we find the king,
the secret sign can be given.''
``What is the name of the city we are in?'' whispered Cad.
``It is called Larrina. It is an important seaport. We must
take it as soon as we rise. The next time we meet I will bring a
dark lantern and draw a map and show it to you.''
It would have been a great advantage to the game if Marco could
have drawn for them the map he could have made, a map which would
have shown every fortress--every stronghold and every weak place.
Being a boy, he knew what excitement would have thrilled each
breast, how they would lean forward and pile question on
question, pointing to this place and to that. He had learned to
draw the map before he was ten, and he had drawn it again and
again because there had been times when his father had told him
that changes had taken place. Oh, yes! he could have drawn a map
which would have moved them to a frenzy of joy. But he sat
silent and listened, only speaking when he asked a question, as
if he knew nothing more about Samavia than The Rat did. What a
Secret Party they were! They drew themselves together in the
closest of circles; they spoke in unearthly whispers.
``A sentinel ought to be posted at the end of the passage,''
``Ben, take your gun!'' commanded The Rat.
Ben rose stealthily, and, shouldering his weapon, crept on tiptoe
to the opening. There he stood on guard.
``My father says there's been a Secret Party in Samavia for a
hundred years,'' The Rat whispered.
``Who told him?'' asked Marco.
``A man who has been in Samavia,'' answered The Rat. ``He said
it was the most wonderful Secret Party in the world, because it
has worked and waited so long, and never given up, though it has
had no reason for hoping. It began among some shepherds and
charcoal-burners who bound themselves by an oath to find the Lost
Prince and bring him back to the throne. There were too few of
them to do anything against the Maranovitch, and when the first
lot found they were growing old, they made their sons take the
same oath. It has been passed on from generation to generation,
and in each generation the band has grown. No one really knows
how large it is now, but they say that there are people in nearly
all the countries in Europe who belong to it in dead secret, and
are sworn to help it when they are called. They are only
waiting. Some are rich people who will give money, and some are
poor ones who will slip across the frontier to fight or to help
to smuggle in arms. They even say that for all these years there
have been arms made in caves in the mountains, and hidden there
year after year. There are men who are called Forgers of the
Sword, and they, and their fathers, and grandfathers, and
great-grandfathers have always made swords and stored them in
caverns no one knows of, hidden caverns underground.''
Marco spoke aloud the thought which had come into his mind as he
listened, a thought which brought fear to him. ``If the people
in the streets talk about it, they won't be hidden long.''
``It isn't common talk, my father says. Only very few have
guessed, and most of them think it is part of the Lost Prince
legend,'' said The Rat. ``The Maranovitch and Iarovitch laugh at
it. They have always been great fools. They're too full of
their own swagger to think anything can interfere with them.''
``Do you talk much to your father?'' Marco asked him.
The Rat showed his sharp white teeth in a grin.
``I know what you're thinking of,'' he said. ``You're
remembering that I said he was always drunk. So he is, except
when he's only HALF drunk. And when he's HALF drunk, he's the
most splendid talker in London. He remembers everything he has
ever learned or read or heard since he was born. I get him going
and listen. He wants to talk and I want to hear. I found out
almost everything I know in that way. He didn't know he was
teaching me, but he was. He goes back into being a gentleman
when he's half drunk.''
``If--if you care about the Samavians, you'd better ask him not
to tell people about the Secret Party and the Forgers of the
Sword,'' suggested Marco.
The Rat started a little.
``That's true!'' he said. ``You're sharper than I am. It
oughtn't to be blabbed about, or the Maranovitch might hear
enough to make them stop and listen. I'll get him to promise.
There's one queer thing about him,'' he added very slowly, as if
he were thinking it over, ``I suppose it's part of the gentleman
that's left in him. If he makes a promise, he never breaks it,
drunk or sober.''
``Ask him to make one,'' said Marco. The next moment he changed
the subject because it seemed the best thing to do. ``Go on and
tell us what our own Secret Party is to do. We're forgetting,''
The Rat took up his game with renewed keenness. It was a game
which attracted him immensely because it called upon his
imagination and held his audience spellbound, besides plunging
him into war and strategy.
``We're preparing for the rising,'' he said. ``It must come
soon. We've waited so long. The caverns are stacked with arms.
The Maranovitch and the Iarovitch are fighting and using all
their soldiers, and now is our time.'' He stopped and thought,
his elbows on his knees. He began to bite his nails again.
``The Secret Signal must be given,'' he said. Then he stopped
again, and the Squad held its breath and pressed nearer with a
softly shuffling sound. ``Two of the Secret Ones must be chosen
by lot and sent forth,'' he went on; and the Squad almost brought
ruin and disgrace upon itself by wanting to cheer again, and only
just stopping itself in time. ``Must be chosen BY LOT,'' The Rat
repeated, looking from one face to another. ``Each one will take
his life in his hand when he goes forth. He may have to die a
thousand deaths, but he must go. He must steal in silence and
disguise from one country to another. Wherever there is one of
the Secret Party, whether he is in a hovel or on a throne, the
messengers must go to him in darkness and stealth and give him
the sign. It will mean, `The hour has come. God save Samavia!'
``God save Samavia!'' whispered the Squad, excitedly. And,
because they saw Marco raise his hand to his forehead, every one
of them saluted.
They all began to whisper at once.
``Let's draw lots now. Let's draw lots, Rat. Don't let's 'ave
The Rat began to look about him with dread anxiety. He seemed to
be examining the sky.
``The darkness is not as thick as it was,'' he whispered.
``Midnight has passed. The dawn of day will be upon us. If any
one has a piece of paper or a string, we will draw the lots
before we part.''
Cad had a piece of string, and Marco had a knife which could be
used to cut it into lengths. This The Rat did himself. Then,
after shutting his eyes and mixing them, he held them in his hand
ready for the drawing.
``The Secret One who draws the longest lot is chosen. The Secret
One who draws the shortest is chosen,'' he said solemnly.
The drawing was as solemn as his tone. Each boy wanted to draw
either the shortest lot or the longest one. The heart of each
thumped somewhat as he drew his piece of string.
When the drawing was at an end, each showed his lot. The Rat had
drawn the shortest piece of string, and Marco had drawn the
``Comrade!'' said The Rat, taking his hand. ``We will face death
and danger together!''
``God save Samavia!'' answered Marco.
And the game was at an end for the day. The primest thing, the
Squad said, The Rat had ever made up for them. `` 'E wos a
wonder, he wos!''
``THE LAMP IS LIGHTED!''
On his way home, Marco thought of nothing but the story he must
tell his father, the story the stranger who had been to Samavia
had told The Rat's father. He felt that it must be a true story
and not merely an invention. The Forgers of the Sword must be
real men, and the hidden subterranean caverns stacked through the
centuries with arms must be real, too. And if they were real,
surely his father was one of those who knew the secret. His
thoughts ran very fast. The Rat's boyish invention of the rising
was only part of a game, but how natural it would be that
sometime--perhaps before long--there would be a real rising!
Surely there would be one if the Secret Party had grown so
strong, and if many weapons and secret friends in other
countries were ready and waiting. During all these years, hidden
work and preparation would have been going on continually, even
though it was preparation for an unknown day. A party which had
lasted so long--which passed its oath on from generation to
generation--must be of a deadly determination.
What might it not have made ready in its caverns and secret
meeting- places! He longed to reach home and tell his father, at
once, all he had heard. He recalled to mind, word for word, all
that The Rat had been told, and even all he had added in his
game, because-- well, because that seemed so real too, so real
that it actually might be useful.
But when he reached No. 7 Philibert Place, he found Loristan and
Lazarus very much absorbed in work. The door of the back
sitting-room was locked when he first knocked on it, and locked
again as soon as he had entered. There were many papers on the
table, and they were evidently studying them. Several of them
were maps. Some were road maps, some maps of towns and cities,
and some of fortifications; but they were all maps of places in
Samavia. They were usually kept in a strong box, and when they
were taken out to be studied, the door was always kept locked.
Before they had their evening meal, these were all returned to
the strong box, which was pushed into a corner and had newspapers
piled upon it.
``When he arrives,'' Marco heard Loristan say to Lazarus, ``we
can show him clearly what has been planned. He can see for
His father spoke scarcely at all during the meal, and, though it
was not the habit of Lazarus to speak at such times unless spoken
to, this evening it seemed to Marco that he LOOKED more silent
than he had ever seen him look before. They were plainly both
thinking anxiously of deeply serious things. The story of the
stranger who had been to Samavia must not be told yet. But it
was one which would keep.
Loristan did not say anything until Lazarus had removed the
things from the table and made the room as neat as possible.
While that was being done, he sat with his forehead resting on
his hand, as if absorbed in thought. Then he made a gesture to
``Come here, Comrade,'' he said.
Marco went to him.
``To-night some one may come to talk with me about grave
things,'' he said. ``I think he will come, but I cannot be quite
sure. It is important that he should know that, when he comes,
he will find me quite alone. He will come at a late hour, and
Lazarus will open the door quietly that no one may hear. It is
important that no one should see him. Some one must go and walk
on the opposite side of the street until he appears. Then the
one who goes to give warning must cross the pavement before him
and say in a low voice, `The Lamp is lighted!' and at once turn
What boy's heart would not have leaped with joy at the mystery of
it! Even a common and dull boy who knew nothing of Samavia would
have felt jerky. Marco's voice almost shook with the thrill of
``How shall I know him?'' he said at once. Without asking at
all, he knew he was the ``some one'' who was to go.
``You have seen him before,'' Loristan answered. ``He is the man
who drove in the carriage with the King.''
``I shall know him,'' said Marco. ``When shall I go?''
``Not until it is half-past one o'clock. Go to bed and sleep
until Lazarus calls you.'' Then he added, ``Look well at his
face before you speak. He will probably not be dressed as well
as he was when you saw him first.''
Marco went up-stairs to his room and went to bed as he was told,
but it was hard to go to sleep. The rattle and roaring of the
road did not usually keep him awake, because he had lived in the
poorer quarter of too many big capital cities not to be
accustomed to noise. But to-night it seemed to him that, as he
lay and looked out at the lamplight, he heard every bus and cab
which went past. He could not help thinking of the people who
were in them, and on top of them, and of the people who were
hurrying along on the pavement outside the broken iron railings.
He was wondering what they would think if they knew that things
connected with the battles they read of in the daily papers were
going on in one of the shabby houses they scarcely gave a glance
to as they went by them. It must be something connected with the
war, if a man who was a great diplomat and the companion of kings
came in secret to talk alone with a patriot who was a Samavian.
Whatever his father was doing was for the good of Samavia, and
perhaps the Secret Party knew he was doing it. His heart almost
beat aloud under his shirt as he lay on the lumpy mattress
thinking it over. He must indeed look well at the stranger
before he even moved toward him. He must be sure he was the
right man. The game he had amused himself with so long--the game
of trying to remember pictures and people and places clearly and
in detail--had been a wonderful training. If he could draw, he
knew he could have made a sketch of the keen-eyed, clever,
aquiline face with the well-cut and delicately close mouth, which
looked as if it had been shut upon secrets always--always. If he
could draw, he found himself saying again. He COULD draw, though
perhaps only roughly. He had often amused himself by making
sketches of things he wanted to ask questions about. He had even
drawn people's faces in his untrained way, and his father had
said that he had a crude gift for catching a likeness. Perhaps
he could make a sketch of this face which would show his father
that he knew and would recognize it.
He jumped out of bed and went to a table near the window. There
was paper and a pencil lying on it. A street lamp exactly
opposite threw into the room quite light enough for him to see
by. He half knelt by the table and began to draw. He worked for
about twenty minutes steadily, and he tore up two or three
unsatisfactory sketches. The poor drawing would not matter if he
could catch that subtle look which was not slyness but something
more dignified and important. It was not difficult to get the
marked, aristocratic outline of the features. A common-looking
man with less pronounced profile would have been less easy to
draw in one sense. He gave his mind wholly to the recalling of
every detail which had photographed itself on his memory through
its trained habit. Gradually he saw that the likeness was
becoming clearer. It was not long before it was clear enough to
be a striking one. Any one who knew the man would recognize it.
He got up, drawing a long and joyful breath.
He did not put on his shoes, but crossed his room as noiselessly
as possible, and as noiselessly opened the door. He made no
ghost of a sound when he went down the stairs. The woman who
kept the lodging-house had gone to bed, and so had the other
lodgers and the maid of all work. All the lights were out except
the one he saw a glimmer of under the door of his father's room.
When he had been a mere baby, he had been taught to make a
special sign on the door when he wished to speak to Loristan. He
stood still outside the back sitting-room and made it now. It
was a low scratching sound--two scratches and a soft tap.
Lazarus opened the door and looked troubled.
``It is not yet time, sir,'' he said very low.
``I know,'' Marco answered. ``But I must show something to my
father.'' Lazarus let him in, and Loristan turned round from his
Marco went forward and laid the sketch down before him.
``Look at it,'' he said. ``I remember him well enough to draw
that. I thought of it all at once--that I could make a sort of
picture. Do you think it is like him?'' Loristan examined it
``It is very like him,'' he answered. ``You have made me feel
entirely safe. Thanks, Comrade. It was a good idea.''
There was relief in the grip he gave the boy's hand, and Marco
turned away with an exultant feeling. Just as he reached the
door, Loristan said to him:
``Make the most of this gift. It is a gift. And it is true your
mind has had good training. The more you draw, the better. Draw
everything you can.''
Neither the street lamps, nor the noises, nor his thoughts kept
Marco awake when he went back to bed. But before he settled
himself upon his pillow he gave himself certain orders. He had
both read, and heard Loristan say, that the mind can control the
body when people once find out that it can do so. He had tried
experiments himself, and had found out some curious things. One
was that if he told himself to remember a certain thing at a
certain time, he usually found that he DID remember it.
Something in his brain seemed to remind him. He had often tried
the experiment of telling himself to awaken at a particular hour,
and had awakened almost exactly at the moment by the clock.
``I will sleep until one o'clock,'' he said as he shut his eyes.
``Then I will awaken and feel quite fresh. I shall not be sleepy
He slept as soundly as a boy can sleep. And at one o'clock
exactly he awakened, and found the street lamp still throwing its
light through the window. He knew it was one o'clock, because
there was a cheap little round clock on the table, and he could
see the time. He was quite fresh and not at all sleepy. His
experiment had succeeded again.
He got up and dressed. Then he went down-stairs as noiselessly
as before. He carried his shoes in his hands, as he meant to put
them on only when he reached the street. He made his sign at his
father's door, and it was Loristan who opened it.
``Shall I go now?'' Marco asked.
``Yes. Walk slowly to the other side of the street. Look in
every direction. We do not know where he will come from. After
you have given him the sign, then come in and go to bed again.''
Marco saluted as a soldier would have done on receiving an order.
Then, without a second's delay, he passed noiselessly out of the
Loristan turned back into the room and stood silently in the
center of it. The long lines of his handsome body looked
particularly erect and stately, and his eyes were glowing as if
something deeply moved him.
``There grows a man for Samavia,'' he said to Lazarus, who
watched him. ``God be thanked!''
Lazarus's voice was low and hoarse, and he saluted quite
``Your--sir!'' he said. ``God save the Prince!''
``Yes,'' Loristan answered, after a moment's hesitation,--``when
he is found.'' And he went back to his table smiling his
The wonder of silence in the deserted streets of a great city,
after midnight has hushed all the roar and tumult to rest, is an
almost unbelievable thing. The stillness in the depths of a
forest or on a mountain top is not so strange. A few hours ago,
the tumult was rushing past; in a few hours more, it will be
rushing past again.
But now the street is a naked thing; a distant policeman's tramp
on the bare pavement has a hollow and almost fearsome sound. It
seemed especially so to Marco as he crossed the road. Had it
ever been so empty and deadly silent before? Was it so every
night? Perhaps it was, when he was fast asleep on his lumpy
mattress with the light from a street lamp streaming into the
room. He listened for the step of the policeman on night-watch,
because he did not wish to be seen. There was a jutting wall
where he could stand in the shadow while the man passed. A
policeman would stop to look questioningly at a boy who walked up
and down the pavement at half-past one in the morning. Marco
could wait until he had gone by, and then come out into the light
and look up and down the road and the cross streets.
He heard his approaching footsteps in a few minutes, and was
safely in the shadows before he could be seen. When the
policeman passed, he came out and walked slowly down the road,
looking on each side, and now and then looking back. At first no
one was in sight. Then a late hansom-cab came tinkling along.
But the people in it were returning from some festivity, and were
laughing and talking, and noticed nothing but their own joking.
Then there was silence again, and for a long time, as it seemed
to Marco, no one was to be seen. It was not really so long as it
appeared, because he was anxious. Then a very early
vegetable-wagon on the way from the country to Covent Garden
Market came slowly lumbering by with its driver almost asleep on
his piles of potatoes and cabbages. After it had passed, there
was stillness and emptiness once more, until the policeman showed
himself again on his beat, and Marco slipped into the shadow of
the wall as he had done before.
When he came out into the light, he had begun to hope that the
time would not seem long to his father. It had not really been
long, he told himself, it had only seemed so. But his father's
anxiousness would be greater than his own could be. Loristan
knew all that depended on the coming of this great man who sat
side by side with a king in his carriage and talked to him as if
he knew him well.
``It might be something which all Samavia is waiting to know-- at
least all the Secret Party,'' Marco thought. ``The Secret Party
is Samavia,''--he started at the sound of footsteps. ``Some one
is coming!'' he said. ``It is a man.''
It was a man who was walking up the road on the same side of the
pavement as his own. Marco began to walk toward him quietly but
rather rapidly. He thought it might be best to appear as if he
were some boy sent on a midnight errand--perhaps to call a
doctor. Then, if it was a stranger he passed, no suspicion would
be aroused. Was this man as tall as the one who had driven with
the King? Yes, he was about the same height, but he was too far
away to be recognizable otherwise. He drew nearer, and Marco
noticed that he also seemed slightly to hasten his footsteps.
Marco went on. A little nearer, and he would be able to make
sure. Yes, now he was near enough. Yes, this man was the same
height and not unlike in figure, but he was much younger. He was
not the one who had been in the carriage with His Majesty. He
was not more than thirty years old. He began swinging his cane
and whistling a music-hall song softly as Marco passed him
without changing his pace.
It was after the policeman had walked round his beat and
disappeared for the third time, that Marco heard footsteps
echoing at some distance down a cross street. After listening to
make sure that they were approaching instead of receding in
another direction, he placed himself at a point where he could
watch the length of the thoroughfare. Yes, some one was coming.
It was a man's figure again. He was able to place himself rather
in the shadow so that the person approaching would not see that
he was being watched. The solitary walker reached a recognizable
distance in about two minutes' time. He was dressed in an
ordinary shop-made suit of clothes which was rather shabby and
quite unnoticeable in its appearance. His common hat was worn so
that it rather shaded his face. But even before he had crossed
to Marco's side of the road, the boy had clearly recognized him.
It was the man who had driven with the King!
Chance was with Marco. The man crossed at exactly the place
which made it easy for the boy to step lightly from behind him,
walk a few paces by his side, and then pass directly before him
across the pavement, glancing quietly up into his face as he said
in a low voice but distinctly, the words ``The Lamp is lighted,''
and without pausing a second walk on his way down the road. He
did not slacken his pace or look back until he was some distance
away. Then he glanced over his shoulder, and saw that the figure
had crossed the street and was inside the railings. It was all
right. His father would not be disappointed. The great man had
He walked for about ten minutes, and then went home and to bed.
But he was obliged to tell himself to go to sleep several times
before his eyes closed for the rest of the night.
AN EXCITING GAME
Loristan referred only once during the next day to what had
``You did your errand well. You were not hurried or nervous,''
he said. ``The Prince was pleased with your calmness.''
No more was said. Marco knew that the quiet mention of the
stranger's title had been made merely as a designation. If it
was necessary to mention him again in the future, he could be
referred to as ``the Prince.'' In various Continental countries
there were many princes who were not royal or even serene
highnesses--who were merely princes as other nobles were dukes or
barons. Nothing special was revealed when a man was spoken of as
a prince. But though nothing was said on the subject of the
incident, it was plain that much work was being done by Loristan
and Lazarus. The sitting- room door was locked, and the maps and
documents, usually kept in the iron box, were being used.
Marco went to the Tower of London and spent part of the day in
living again the stories which, centuries past, had been inclosed
within its massive and ancient stone walls. In this way, he had
throughout boyhood become intimate with people who to most boys
seemed only the unreal creatures who professed to be alive in
school- books of history. He had learned to know them as men and
women because he had stood in the palaces they had been born in
and had played in as children, had died in at the end. He had
seen the dungeons they had been imprisoned in, the blocks on
which they had laid their heads, the battlements on which they
had fought to defend their fortressed towers, the thrones they
had sat upon, the crowns they had worn, and the jeweled scepters
they had held. He had stood before their portraits and had gazed
curiously at their ``Robes of Investiture,'' sewn with tens of
thousands of seed-pearls. To look at a man's face and feel his
pictured eyes follow you as you move away from him, to see the
strangely splendid garments he once warmed with his living flesh,
is to realize that history is not a mere lesson in a school-book,
but is a relation of the life stories of men and women who saw
strange and splendid days, and sometimes suffered strange and
There were only a few people who were being led about sight-
seeing. The man in the ancient Beef-eaters' costume, who was
their guide, was good-natured, and evidently fond of talking. He
was a big and stout man, with a large face and a small, merry
eye. He was rather like pictures of Henry the Eighth, himself,
which Marco remembered having seen. He was specially talkative
when he stood by the tablet that marks the spot where stood the
block on which Lady Jane Grey had laid her young head. One of
the sightseers who knew little of English history had asked some
questions about the reasons for her execution.
``If her father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland, had left that
young couple alone--her and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley
--they'd have kept their heads on. He was bound to make her a
queen, and Mary Tudor was bound to be queen herself. The duke
wasn't clever enough to manage a conspiracy and work up the
people. These Samavians we're reading about in the papers would
have done it better. And they're half-savages.''
``They had a big battle outside Melzarr yesterday,'' the
sight-seer standing next to Marco said to the young woman who was
his companion. ``Thousands of 'em killed. I saw it in big
letters on the boards as I rode on the top of the bus. They're
just slaughtering each other, that's what they're doing.''
The talkative Beef-eater heard him.
``They can't even bury their dead fast enough,'' he said.
``There'll be some sort of plague breaking out and sweeping into
the countries nearest them. It'll end by spreading all over
Europe as it did in the Middle Ages. What the civilized
countries have got to do is to make them choose a decent king and
begin to behave themselves.''
``I'll tell my father that too,'' Marco thought. ``It shows that
everybody is thinking and talking of Samavia, and that even the
common people know it must have a real king. This must be THE
TIME!'' And what he meant was that this must be the time for
which the Secret Party had waited and worked so long--the time
for the Rising. But his father was out when he went back to
Philibert Place, and Lazarus looked more silent than ever as he
stood behind his chair and waited on him through his
insignificant meal. However plain and scant the food they had to
eat, it was always served with as much care and ceremony as if it
had been a banquet.
``A man can eat dry bread and drink cold water as if he were a
gentleman,'' his father had said long ago. ``And it is easy to
form careless habits. Even if one is hungry enough to feel
ravenous, a man who has been well bred will not allow himself to
look so. A dog may, a man may not. Just as a dog may howl when
he is angry or in pain and a man may not.''
It was only one of the small parts of the training which had
quietly made the boy, even as a child, self-controlled and
courteous, had taught him ease and grace of boyish carriage, the
habit of holding his body well and his head erect, and had given
him a certain look of young distinction which, though it assumed
nothing, set him apart from boys of carelessly awkward bearing.
``Is there a newspaper here which tells of the battle, Lazarus?''
he asked, after he had left the table.
``Yes, sir,'' was the answer. ``Your father said that you might
read it. It is a black tale!'' he added, as he handed him the
It was a black tale. As he read, Marco felt as if he could
scarcely bear it. It was as if Samavia swam in blood, and as if
the other countries must stand aghast before such furious
``Lazarus,'' he said, springing to his feet at last, his eyes
burning, ``something must stop it! There must be something
The time has come. The time has come.'' And he walked up and
down the room because he was too excited to stand still.
How Lazarus watched him! What a strong and glowing feeling there
was in his own restrained face!
``Yes, sir. Surely the time has come,'' he answered. But that
was all he said, and he turned and went out of the shabby back
sitting- room at once. It was as if he felt it were wiser to go
before he lost power over himself and said more.
Marco made his way to the meeting-place of the Squad, to which
The Rat had in the past given the name of the Barracks. The Rat
was sitting among his followers, and he had been reading the
morning paper to them, the one which contained the account of the
battle of Melzarr. The Squad had become the Secret Party, and
each member of it was thrilled with the spirit of dark plot and
adventure. They all whispered when they spoke.
``This is not the Barracks now,'' The Rat said. ``It is a
subterranean cavern. Under the floor of it thousands of swords
and guns are buried, and it is piled to the roof with them.
There is only a small place left for us to sit and plot in. We
crawl in through a hole, and the hole is hidden by bushes.''
To the rest of the boys this was only an exciting game, but Marco
knew that to The Rat it was more. Though The Rat knew none of
the things he knew, he saw that the whole story seemed to him a
thing. The struggles of Samavia, as he had heard and read of
them in the newspapers, had taken possession of him. His passion
for soldiering and warfare and his curiously mature brain had led
him into following every detail he could lay hold of. He had
listened to all he had heard with remarkable results. He
remembered things older people forgot after they had mentioned
them. He forgot nothing. He had drawn on the flagstones a map
of Samavia which Marco saw was actually correct, and he had made
a rough sketch of Melzarr and the battle which had had such
``The Maranovitch had possession of Melzarr,'' he explained with
feverish eagerness. ``And the Iarovitch attacked them from
here,'' pointing with his finger. ``That was a mistake. I
should have attacked them from a place where they would not have
been expecting it. They expected attack on their fortifications,
and they were ready to defend them. I believe the enemy could
have stolen up in the night and rushed in here,'' pointing again.
Marco thought he was right. The Rat had argued it all out, and
had studied Melzarr as he might have studied a puzzle or an
arithmetical problem. He was very clever, and as sharp as his
queer face looked.
``I believe you would make a good general if you were grown up,''
said Marco. ``I'd like to show your maps to my father and ask
him if he doesn't think your stratagem would have been a good
``Does he know much about Samavia?'' asked The Rat.
``He has to read the newspapers because he writes things,'' Marco
answered. ``And every one is thinking about the war. No one can
The Rat drew a dingy, folded paper out of his pocket and looked
it over with an air of reflection.
``I'll make a clean one,'' he said. ``I'd like a grown-up man to
look at it and see if it's all right. My father was more than
half- drunk when I was drawing this, so I couldn't ask him
questions. He'll kill himself before long. He had a sort of fit
``Tell us, Rat, wot you an' Marco'll 'ave ter do. Let's 'ear wot
you've made up,'' suggested Cad. He drew closer, and so did the
rest of the circle, hugging their knees with their arms.
``This is what we shall have to do,'' began The Rat, in the
hollow whisper of a Secret Party. ``THE HOUR HAS COME. To all
the Secret Ones in Samavia, and to the friends of the Secret
Party in every country, the sign must be carried. It must be
carried by some one who could not be suspected. Who would
suspect two boys--and one of them a cripple? The best thing of
all for us is that I am a cripple. Who would suspect a cripple?
When my father is drunk and beats me, he does it because I won't
go out and beg in the streets and bring him the money I get. He
says that people will nearly always give money to a cripple. I
won't be a beggar for him--the swine-- but I will be one for
Samavia and the Lost Prince. Marco shall pretend to be my
brother and take care of me. I say,'' speaking to Marco with a
sudden change of voice, ``can you sing anything? It doesn't
matter how you do it.''
``Yes, I can sing,'' Marco replied.
``Then Marco will pretend he is singing to make people give him
money. I'll get a pair of crutches somewhere, and part of the
time I will go on crutches and part of the time on my platform.
We'll live like beggars and go wherever we want to. I can whiz
past a man and give the sign and no one will know. Some times
Marco can give it when people are dropping money into his cap.
We can pass from one country to another and rouse everybody who
is of the Secret Party. We'll work our way into Samavia, and
we'll be only two boys--and one a cripple--and nobody will think
we could be doing anything. We'll beg in great cities and on the
``Where'll you get the money to travel?'' said Cad.
``The Secret Party will give it to us, and we sha'n't need much.
We could beg enough, for that matter. We'll sleep under the
stars, or under bridges, or archways, or in dark corners of
streets. I've done it myself many a time when my father drove me
out of doors. If it's cold weather, it's bad enough but if it's
fine weather, it's better than sleeping in the kind of place I'm
used to. Comrade,'' to Marco, ``are you ready?''
He said ``Comrade'' as Loristan did, and somehow Marco did not
resent it, because he was ready to labor for Samavia. It was
only a game, but it made them comrades--and was it really only a
game, after all? His excited voice and his strange, lined face
made it singularly unlike one.
``Yes, Comrade, I am ready,'' Marco answered him.
``We shall be in Samavia when the fighting for the Lost Prince
begins.'' The Rat carried on his story with fire. ``We may see
a battle. We might do something to help. We might carry
messages under a rain of bullets--a rain of bullets!'' The
thought so elated him that he forgot his whisper and his voice
rang out fiercely. ``Boys have been in battles before. We might
find the Lost King--no, the Found King--and ask him to let us be
his servants. He could send us where he couldn't send bigger
people. I could say to him, `Your Majesty, I am called ``The
Rat,'' because I can creep through holes and into corners and
dart about. Order me into any danger and I will obey you. Let
me die like a soldier if I can't live like one.' ''
Suddenly he threw his ragged coat sleeve up across his eyes. He
had wrought himself up tremendously with the picture of the rain
of bullets. And he felt as if he saw the King who had at last
been found. The next moment he uncovered his face.
``That's what we've got to do,'' he said. ``Just that, if you
want to know. And a lot more. There's no end to it!''
Marco's thoughts were in a whirl. It ought not to be nothing but
a game. He grew quite hot all over. If the Secret Party wanted
to send messengers no one would think of suspecting, who could be
more harmless-looking than two vagabond boys wandering about
picking up their living as best they could, not seeming to belong
to any one? And one a cripple. It was true--yes, it was true,
as The Rat said, that his being a cripple made him look safer
than any one else. Marco actually put his forehead in his hands
and pressed his temples.
``What's the matter?'' exclaimed The Rat. ``What are you
``I'm thinking what a general you would make. I'm thinking that
it might all be real--every word of it. It mightn't be a game at
all,'' said Marco.
``No, it mightn't,'' The Rat answered. ``If I knew where the
Secret Party was, I'd like to go and tell them about it. What's
that!'' he said, suddenly turning his head toward the street.
``What are they calling out?''
Some newsboy with a particularly shrill voice was shouting out
something at the topmost of his lungs.
Tense and excited, no member of the circle stirred or spoke for a
few seconds. The Rat listened, Marco listened, the whole Squad
listened, pricking up their ears.
``Startling news from Samavia,'' the newsboy was shrilling out.
``Amazing story! Descendant of the Lost Prince found!
Descendant of the Lost Prince found!''
``Any chap got a penny?'' snapped The Rat, beginning to shuffle
toward the arched passage.
``I have!'' answered Marco, following him.
``Come on!'' The Rat yelled. ``Let's go and get a paper!'' And
he whizzed down the passage with his swiftest rat-like dart,
while the Squad followed him, shouting and tumbling over each
``IT IS NOT A GAME''
Loristan walked slowly up and down the back sitting-room and
listened to Marco, who sat by the small fire and talked.
``Go on,'' he said, whenever the boy stopped. ``I want to hear
it all. He's a strange lad, and it's a splendid game.''
Marco was telling him the story of his second and third visits to
the inclosure behind the deserted church-yard. He had begun at
the beginning, and his father had listened with a deep interest.
A year later, Marco recalled this evening as a thrilling memory,
and as one which would never pass away from him throughout his
life. He would always be able to call it all back. The small
and dingy back room, the dimness of the one poor gas-burner,
which was all they could afford to light, the iron box pushed
into the corner with its maps and plans locked safely in it, the
erect bearing and actual beauty of the tall form, which the
shabbiness of worn and mended clothes could not hide or dim. Not
even rags and tatters could have made Loristan seem insignificant
or undistinguished. He was always the same. His eyes seemed
darker and more wonderful than ever in their remote
thoughtfulness and interest as he spoke.
``Go on,'' he said. ``It is a splendid game. And it is curious.
He has thought it out well. The lad is a born soldier.''
``It is not a game to him,'' Marco said. ``And it is not a game
to me. The Squad is only playing, but with him it's quite
different. He knows he'll never really get what he wants, but he
feels as if this was something near it. He said I might show you
the map he made. Father, look at it.''
He gave Loristan the clean copy of The Rat's map of Samavia. The
city of Melzarr was marked with certain signs. They were to show
at what points The Rat--if he had been a Samavian general --would
have attacked the capital. As Marco pointed them out, he
explained The Rat's reasons for his planning.
Loristan held the paper for some minutes. He fixed his eyes on
it curiously, and his black brows drew themselves together.
``This is very wonderful!'' he said at last. ``He is quite
right. They might have got in there, and for the very reasons he
How did he learn all this?''
``He thinks of nothing else now,'' answered Marco. ``He has
always thought of wars and made plans for battles. He's not like
the rest of the Squad. His father is nearly always drunk, but he
is very well educated, and, when he is only half drunk, he likes
The Rat asks him questions then, and leads him on until he finds
out a great deal. Then he begs old newspapers, and he hides
himself in corners and listens to what people are saying. He
says he lies awake at night thinking it out, and he thinks about
it all the day. That was why he got up the Squad.''
Loristan had continued examining the paper.
``Tell him,'' he said, when he refolded and handed it back,
``that I studied his map, and he may be proud of it. You may
also tell him--'' and he smiled quietly as he spoke--``that in my
opinion he is right. The Iarovitch would have held Melzarr
to-day if he had led them.''
Marco was full of exultation.
``I thought you would say he was right. I felt sure you would.
That is what makes me want to tell you the rest,'' he hurried on.
``If you think he is right about the rest too--'' He stopped
awkwardly because of a sudden wild thought which rushed upon him.
``I don't know what you will think,'' he stammered. ``Perhaps it
will seem to you as if the game--as if that part of it
could--could only be a game.''
He was so fervent in spite of his hesitation that Loristan began
to watch him with sympathetic respect, as he always did when the
boy was trying to express something he was not sure of. One of
the great bonds between them was that Loristan was always
interested in his boyish mental processes--in the way in which
his thoughts led him to any conclusion.
``Go on,'' he said again. ``I am like The Rat and I am like you.
It has not seemed quite like a game to me, so far.''
He sat down at the writing-table and Marco, in his eagerness,
drew nearer and leaned against it, resting on his arms and
lowering his voice, though it was always their habit to speak at
such a pitch that no one outside the room they were in could
distinguish what they said.
``It is The Rat's plan for giving the signal for a Rising,'' he
Loristan made a slight movement.
``Does he think there will be a Rising?'' he asked.
``He says that must be what the Secret Party has been preparing
for all these years. And it must come soon. The other nations
see that the fighting must be put an end to even if they have to
stop it themselves. And if the real King is found--but when The
Rat bought the newspaper there was nothing in it about where he
It was only a sort of rumor. Nobody seemed to know anything.''
He stopped a few seconds, but he did not utter the words which
were in his mind. He did not say: ``But YOU know.''
``And The Rat has a plan for giving the signal?'' Loristan said.
Marco forgot his first feeling of hesitation. He began to see
the plan again as he had seen it when The Rat talked. He began
to speak as The Rat had spoken, forgetting that it was a game.
He made even a clearer picture than The Rat had made of the two
vagabond boys--one of them a cripple--making their way from one
place to another, quite free to carry messages or warnings where
they chose, because they were so insignificant and poor-looking
that no one could think of them as anything but waifs and strays,
belonging to nobody and blown about by the wind of poverty and
chance. He felt as if he wanted to convince his father that the
plan was a possible one. He did not quite know why he felt so
anxious to win his approval of the scheme--as if it were real--as
if it could actually be done. But this feeling was what inspired
him to enter into new details and suggest possibilities.
``A boy who was a cripple and one who was only a street singer
and a sort of beggar could get almost anywhere,'' he said.
``Soldiers would listen to a singer if he sang good songs--and
they might not be afraid to talk before him. A strolling singer
and a cripple would perhaps hear a great many things it might be
useful for the Secret Party to know. They might even hear
important things. Don't you think so?''
Before he had gone far with his story, the faraway look had
fallen upon Loristan's face--the look Marco had known so well all
his life. He sat turned a little sidewise from the boy, his
elbow resting on the table and his forehead on his hand. He
looked down at the worn carpet at his feet, and so he looked as
he listened to the end. It was as if some new thought were
slowly growing in his mind as Marco went on talking and enlarging
on The Rat's plan. He did not even look up or change his
position as he answered, ``Yes. I think so.''
But, because of the deep and growing thought in his face, Marco's
courage increased. His first fear that this part of the planning
might seem so bold and reckless that it would only appear to
belong to a boyish game, gradually faded away for some strange
reason. His father had said that the first part of The Rat's
imaginings had not seemed quite like a game to him, and now--even
now--he was not listening as if he were listening to the details
of mere exaggerated fancies. It was as if the thing he was
hearing was not wildly impossible. Marco's knowledge of
Continental countries and of methods of journeying helped him to
enter into much detail and give realism to his plans.
``Sometimes we could pretend we knew nothing but English,'' he
said. ``Then, though The Rat could not understand, I could. I
should always understand in each country. I know the cities and
the places we should want to go to. I know how boys like us
live, and so we should not do anything which would make the
police angry or make people notice us. If any one asked
questions, I would let them believe that I had met The Rat by
chance, and we had made up our minds to travel together because
people gave more money to a boy who sang if he was with a
cripple. There was a boy who used to play the guitar in the
streets of Rome, and he always had a lame girl with him, and
every one knew it was for that reason. When he played, people
looked at the girl and were sorry for her and gave her soldi.
``Yes, I remember. And what you say is true,'' Loristan
Marco leaned forward across the table so that he came closer to
him. The tone in which the words were said made his courage leap
like a flame. To be allowed to go on with this boldness was to
feel that he was being treated almost as if he were a man. If
his father had wished to stop him, he could have done it with one
quiet glance, without uttering a word. For some wonderful reason
he did not wish him to cease talking. He was willing to hear
what he had to say--he was even interested.
``You are growing older,'' he had said the night he had revealed
the marvelous secret. ``Silence is still the order, but you are
man enough to be told more.''
Was he man enough to be thought worthy to help Samavia in any
small way--even with boyish fancies which might contain a germ of
some thought which older and wiser minds might make useful? Was
he being listened to because the plan, made as part of a game,
was not an impossible one--if two boys who could be trusted could
be found? He caught a deep breath as he went on, drawing still
nearer and speaking so low that his tone was almost a whisper.
``If the men of the Secret Party have been working and thinking
for so many years--they have prepared everything. They know by
this time exactly what must be done by the messengers who are to
give the signal. They can tell them where to go and how to know
the secret friends who must be warned. If the orders could be
written and given to--to some one who has--who has learned to
remember things!'' He had begun to breathe so quickly that he
stopped for a moment.
Loristan looked up. He looked directly into his eyes.
``Some one who has been TRAINED to remember things?'' he said.
``Some one who has been trained,'' Marco went on, catching his
breath again. ``Some one who does not forget--who would never
forget--never! That one, even if he were only twelve--even if he
were only ten--could go and do as he was told.'' Loristan put
his hand on his shoulder.
``Comrade,'' he said, ``you are speaking as if you were ready to
Marco's eyes looked bravely straight into his, but he said not
``Do you know what it would mean, Comrade?'' his father went on.
``You are right. It is not a game. And you are not thinking of
it as one. But have you thought how it would be if something
betrayed you--and you were set up against a wall to be SHOT?''
Marco stood up quite straight. He tried to believe he felt the
wall against his back.
``If I were shot, I should be shot for Samavia,'' he said. ``And
for YOU, Father.''
Even as he was speaking, the front door-bell rang and Lazarus
evidently opened it. He spoke to some one, and then they heard
his footsteps approaching the back sitting-room.
``Open the door,'' said Loristan, and Marco opened it.
``There is a boy who is a cripple here, sir,'' the old soldier
said. ``He asked to see Master Marco.''
``If it is The Rat,'' said Loristan, ``bring him in here. I wish
to see him.''
Marco went down the passage to the front door. The Rat was
there, but he was not upon his platform. He was leaning upon an
old pair of crutches, and Marco thought he looked wild and
strange. He was white, and somehow the lines of his face seemed
twisted in a new way. Marco wondered if something had frightened
him, or if he felt ill.
``Rat,'' he began, ``my father--''
``I've come to tell you about MY father,'' The Rat broke in
without waiting to hear the rest, and his voice was as strange as
his pale face. ``I don't know why I've come, but I--I just
wanted to. He's dead!''
``Your father?'' Marco stammered. ``He's--''
``He's dead,'' The Rat answered shakily. ``I told you he'd kill
himself. He had another fit and he died in it. I knew he would,
one of these days. I told him so. He knew he would himself. I
stayed with him till he was dead--and then I got a bursting
headache and I felt sick--and I thought about you.''
Marco made a jump at him because he saw he was suddenly shaking
as if he were going to fall. He was just in time, and Lazarus,
who had been looking on from the back of the passage, came
forward. Together they held him up.
``I'm not going to faint,'' he said weakly, ``but I felt as if I
was. It was a bad fit, and I had to try and hold him. I was all
by myself. The people in the other attic thought he was only
drunk, and they wouldn't come in. He's lying on the floor there,
``Come and see my father,'' Marco said. ``He'll tell us what do
do. Lazarus, help him.''
``I can get on by myself,'' said The Rat. ``Do you see my
crutches? I did something for a pawnbroker last night, and he
gave them to me for pay.''
But though he tried to speak carelessly, he had plainly been
horribly shaken and overwrought. His queer face was yellowish
white still, and he was trembling a little.
Marco led the way into the back sitting-room. In the midst of
its shabby gloom and under the dim light Loristan was standing in
one of his still, attentive attitudes. He was waiting for them.
``Father, this is The Rat,'' the boy began. The Rat stopped
short and rested on his crutches, staring at the tall, reposeful
figure with widened eyes.
``Is that your father?'' he said to Marco. And then added, with
a jerky half-laugh, ``He's not much like mine, is he?''
THE RAT-- AND SAMAVIA
What The Rat thought when Loristan began to speak to him, Marco
wondered. Suddenly he stood in an unknown world, and it was
Loristan who made it so because its poverty and shabbiness had no
power to touch him. He looked at the boy with calm and clear
eyes, he asked him practical questions gently, and it was plain
that he understood many things without asking questions at all.
Marco thought that perhaps he had, at some time, seen drunken men
die, in his life in strange places. He seemed to know the
terribleness of the night through which The Rat had passed. He
made him sit down, and he ordered Lazarus to bring him some hot
coffee and simple food.
``Haven't had a bite since yesterday,'' The Rat said, still
staring at him. ``How did you know I hadn't?''
``You have not had time,'' Loristan answered.
Afterward he made him lie down on the sofa.
``Look at my clothes,'' said The Rat.
``Lie down and sleep,'' Loristan replied, putting his hand on his
shoulder and gently forcing him toward the sofa. ``You will
sleep a long time. You must tell me how to find the place where
your father died, and I will see that the proper authorities are
``What are you doing it for?'' The Rat asked, and then he added,
``Because I am a man and you are a boy. And this is a terrible
thing,'' Loristan answered him.
He went away without saying more, and The Rat lay on the sofa
staring at the wall and thinking about it until he fell asleep.
But, before this happened, Marco had quietly left him alone. So,
as Loristan had told him he would, he slept deeply and long; in
fact, he slept through all the night.
When he awakened it was morning, and Lazarus was standing by the
side of the sofa looking down at him.
``You will want to make yourself clean,'' he said. ``It must be
``Clean!'' said The Rat, with his squeaky laugh. ``I couldn't
keep clean when I had a room to live in, and now where am I to
wash myself?'' He sat up and looked about him.
``Give me my crutches,'' he said. ``I've got to go. They've let
me sleep here all night. They didn't turn me into the street. I
don't know why they didn't. Marco's father--he's the right sort.
He looks like a swell.''
``The Master,'' said Lazarus, with a rigid manner, ``the Master
is a great gentleman. He would turn no tired creature into the
street. He and his son are poor, but they are of those who give.
He desires to see and talk to you again. You are to have bread
and coffee with him and the young Master. But it is I who tell
you that you cannot sit at table with them until you are clean.
Come with me,'' and he handed him his crutches. His manner was
authoritative, but it was the manner of a soldier; his somewhat
stiff and erect movements were those of a soldier, also, and The
Rat liked them because they made him feel as if he were in
barracks. He did not know what was going to happen, but he got
up and followed him on his crutches.
Lazarus took him to a closet under the stairs where a battered
tin bath was already full of hot water, which the old soldier
himself had brought in pails. There were soap and coarse, clean
towels on a wooden chair, and also there was a much worn but
cleanly suit of clothes.
``Put these on when you have bathed,'' Lazarus ordered, pointing
to them. ``They belong to the young Master and will be large for
you, but they will be better than your own.'' And then he went
out of the closet and shut the door.
It was a new experience for The Rat. So long as he remembered,
he had washed his face and hands--when he had washed them at
all--at an iron tap set in the wall of a back street or court in
some slum. His father and himself had long ago sunk into the
world where to wash one's self is not a part of every-day life.
They had lived amid dirt and foulness, and when his father had
been in a maudlin state, he had sometimes cried and talked of the
long-past days when he had shaved every morning and put on a
To stand even in the most battered of tin baths full of clean hot
water and to splash and scrub with a big piece of flannel and
plenty of soap was a marvelous thing. The Rat's tired body
responded to the novelty with a curious feeling of freshness and
``I dare say swells do this every day,'' he muttered. ``I'd do
it myself if I was a swell. Soldiers have to keep themselves so
clean they shine.''
When, after making the most of his soap and water, he came out of
the closet under the stairs, he was as fresh as Marco himself;
and, though his clothes had been built for a more stalwart body,
his recognition of their cleanliness filled him with pleasure.
He wondered if by any effort he could keep himself clean when he
went out into the world again and had to sleep in any hole the
police did not order him out of.
He wanted to see Marco again, but he wanted more to see the tall
man with the soft dark eyes and that queer look of being a swell
in spite of his shabby clothes and the dingy place he lived in.
There was something about him which made you keep on looking at
him, and wanting to know what he was thinking of, and why you
felt as if you'd take orders from him as you'd take orders from
your general, if you were a soldier. He looked, somehow, like a
soldier, but as if he were something more--as if people had taken
orders from him all his life, and always would take orders from
him. And yet he had that quiet voice and those fine, easy
movements, and he was not a soldier at all, but only a poor man
who wrote things for papers which did not pay him well enough to
give him and his son a comfortable living. Through all the time
of his seclusion with the battered bath and the soap and water,
The Rat thought of him, and longed to have another look at him
and hear him speak again. He did not see any reason why he
should have let him sleep on his sofa or why he should give him a
breakfast before he turned him out to face the world. It was
first-rate of him to do it. The Rat felt that when he was turned
out, after he had had the coffee, he should want to hang about
the neighborhood just on the chance of seeing him pass by
sometimes. He did not know what he was going to do. The parish
officials would by this time have taken his dead father, and he
would not see him again. He did not want to see him again. He
had never seemed like a father. They had never cared anything
for each other. He had only been a wretched outcast whose best
hours had been when he had drunk too much to be violent and
brutal. Perhaps, The Rat thought, he would be driven to going
about on his platform on the pavements and begging, as his father
had tried to force him to do. Could he sell newspapers? What
could a crippled lad do unless he begged or sold papers?
Lazarus was waiting for him in the passage. The Rat held back a
``Perhaps they'd rather not eat their breakfast with me,'' he
hesitated. ``I'm not--I'm not the kind they are. I could
swallow the coffee out here and carry the bread away with me.
And you could thank him for me. I'd want him to know I thanked
Lazarus also had a steady eye. The Rat realized that he was
looking him over as if he were summing him up.
``You may not be the kind they are, but you may be of a kind the
Master sees good in. If he did not see something, he would not
ask you to sit at his table. You are to come with me.''
The Squad had seen good in The Rat, but no one else had.
Policemen had moved him on whenever they set eyes on him, the
wretched women of the slums had regarded him as they regarded his
darting, thieving namesake; loafing or busy men had seen in him a
young nuisance to be kicked or pushed out of the way. The Squad
had not called ``good'' what they saw in him. They would have
yelled with laughter if they had heard any one else call it so.
``Goodness'' was not considered an attraction in their world.
The Rat grinned a little and wondered what was meant, as he
followed Lazarus into the back sitting-room.
It was as dingy and gloomy as it had looked the night before, but
by the daylight The Rat saw how rigidly neat it was, how well
swept and free from any speck of dust, how the poor windows had
been cleaned and polished, and how everything was set in order.
The coarse linen cloth on the table was fresh and spotless, so
was the cheap crockery, the spoons shone with brightness.
Loristan was standing on the hearth and Marco was near him. They
were waiting for their vagabond guest as if he had been a
The Rat hesitated and shuffled at the door for a moment, and then
it suddenly occurred to him to stand as straight as he could and
salute. When he found himself in the presence of Loristan, he
felt as if he ought to do something, but he did not know what.
Loristan's recognition of his gesture and his expression as he
moved forward lifted from The Rat's shoulders a load which he
himself had not known lay there. Somehow he felt as if something
new had happened to him, as if he were not mere ``vermin,'' after
all, as if he need not be on the defensive--even as if he need
not feel so much in the dark, and like a thing there was no place
in the world for. The mere straight and far-seeing look of this
man's eyes seemed to make a place somewhere for what he looked
at. And yet what he said was quite simple.
``This is well,'' he said. ``You have rested. We will have some
food, and then we will talk together.'' He made a slight gesture
in the direction of the chair at the right hand of his own place.
The Rat hesitated again. What a swell he was! With that wave of
the hand he made you feel as if you were a fellow like himself,
and he was doing you some honor.
``I'm not--'' The Rat broke off and jerked his head toward
Marco. ``He knows--'' he ended, ``I've never sat at a table like
``There is not much on it.'' Loristan made the slight gesture
toward the right-hand seat again and smiled. ``Let us sit
The Rat obeyed him and the meal began. There were only bread and
coffee and a little butter before them. But Lazarus presented
the cups and plates on a small japanned tray as if it were a
golden salver. When he was not serving, he stood upright behind
his master's chair, as though he wore royal livery of scarlet and
gold. To the boy who had gnawed a bone or munched a crust
wheresoever he found them, and with no thought but of the
appeasing of his own wolfish hunger, to watch the two with whom
he sat eat their simple food was a new thing. He knew nothing of
the every-day decencies of civilized people. The Rat liked to
look at them, and he found himself trying to hold his cup as
Loristan did, and to sit and move as Marco was sitting and
moving--taking his bread or butter, when it was held at his side
by Lazarus, as if it were a simple thing to be waited upon.
Marco had had things handed to him all his life, and it did not
make him feel awkward. The Rat knew that his own father had once
lived like this. He himself would have been at ease if chance
had treated him fairly. It made him scowl to think of it. But
in a few minutes Loristan began to talk about the copy of the map
of Samavia. Then The Rat forgot everything else and was ill at
ease no more. He did not know that Loristan was leading him on
to explain his theories about the country and the people and the
war. He found himself telling all that he had read, or
overheard, or THOUGHT as he lay awake in his garret. He had
thought out a great many things in a way not at all like a boy's.
His strangely concentrated and over-mature mind had been full of
military schemes which Loristan listened to with curiosity and
also with amazement. He had become extraordinarily clever in one
direction because he had fixed all his mental powers on one
thing. It seemed scarcely natural that an untaught vagabond lad
should know so much and reason so clearly. It was at least
extraordinarily interesting. There had been no skirmish, no
attack, no battle which he had not led and fought in his own
imagination, and he had made scores of rough queer plans of all
that had been or should have been done. Lazarus listened as
attentively as his master, and once Marco saw him exchange a
startled, rapid glance with Loristan. It was at a moment when
The Rat was sketching with his finger on the cloth an attack
which OUGHT to have been made but was not. And Marco knew at
once that the quickly exchanged look meant ``He is right! If it
had been done, there would have been victory instead of
It was a wonderful meal, though it was only of bread and coffee.
The Rat knew he should never be able to forget it.
Afterward, Loristan told him of what he had done the night
before. He had seen the parish authorities and all had been done
which a city government provides in the case of a pauper's death.
His father would be buried in the usual manner. ``We will follow
him,'' Loristan said in the end. ``You and I and Marco and
The Rat's mouth fell open.
``You--and Marco--and Lazarus!'' he exclaimed, staring. ``And
me! Why should any of us go? I don't want to. He wouldn't have
followed me if I'd been the one.''
Loristan remained silent for a few moments.
``When a life has counted for nothing, the end of it is a lonely
thing,'' he said at last. ``If it has forgotten all respect for
itself, pity is all that one has left to give. One would like to
give SOMETHING to anything so lonely.'' He said the last brief
sentence after a pause.
``Let us go,'' Marco said suddenly; and he caught The Rat's hand.
The Rat's own movement was sudden. He slipped from his crutches
to a chair, and sat and gazed at the worn carpet as if he were
not looking at it at all, but at something a long way off. After
a while he looked up at Loristan.
``Do you know what I thought of, all at once?'' he said in a
shaky voice. ``I thought of that `Lost Prince' one. He only
lived once. Perhaps he didn't live a long time. Nobody knows.
But it's five hundred years ago, and, just because he was the
kind he was, every one that remembers him thinks of something
fine. It's queer, but it does you good just to hear his name.
And if he has been training kings for Samavia all these
centuries--they may have been poor and nobody may have known
about them, but they've been KINGS. That's what HE did--just by
being alive a few years. When I think of him and then think
of--the other--there's such an awful difference that --yes--I'm
sorry. For the first time. I'm his son and I can't care about
him; but he's too lonely--I want to go.''
So it was that when the forlorn derelict was carried to the
graveyard where nameless burdens on the city were given to the
earth, a curious funeral procession followed him. There were two
tall and soldierly looking men and two boys, one of whom walked
on crutches, and behind them were ten other boys who walked two
by two. These ten were a queer, ragged lot; but they had
respectfully sober faces, held their heads and their shoulders
well, and walked with a remarkably regular marching step.
It was the Squad; but they had left their ``rifles'' at home.
``COME WITH ME''
When they came back from the graveyard, The Rat was silent all
the way. He was thinking of what had happened and of what lay
before him. He was, in fact, thinking chiefly that nothing lay
before him--nothing. The certainty of that gave his sharp, lined
face new lines and sharpness which made it look pinched and hard.
He had nothing before but a corner in a bare garret in which he
could find little more than a leaking roof over his head--when he
was not turned out into the street. But, if policemen asked him
where he lived, he could say he lived in Bone Court with his
father. Now he couldn't say it.
He got along very well on his crutches, but he was rather tired
when they reached the turn in the street which led in the
direction of his old haunts. At any rate, they were haunts he
knew, and he belonged to them more than he belonged elsewhere.
The Squad stopped at this particular corner because it led to
such homes as they possessed. They stopped in a body and looked
at The Rat, and The Rat stopped also. He swung himself to
Loristan's side, touching his hand to his forehead.
``Thank you, sir,'' he said. ``Line and salute, you chaps!'' And
the Squad stood in line and raised their hands also. ``Thank
you, sir. Thank you, Marco. Good-by.''
``Where are you going?'' Loristan asked.
``I don't know yet,'' The Rat answered, biting his lips.
He and Loristan looked at each other a few moments in silence.
Both of them were thinking very hard. In The Rat's eyes there
was a kind of desperate adoration. He did not know what he
should do when this man turned and walked away from him. It
would be as if the sun itself had dropped out of the heavens--and
The Rat had not thought of what the sun meant before.
But Loristan did not turn and walk away. He looked deep into the
lad's eyes as if he were searching to find some certainty. Then
he said in a low voice, ``You know how poor I am.''
``I--I don't care!'' said The Rat. ``You--you're like a king to
me. I'd stand up and be shot to bits if you told me to do it.''
``I am so poor that I am not sure I can give you enough dry bread
to eat--always. Marco and Lazarus and I are often hungry.
Sometimes you might have nothing to sleep on but the floor. But
I can find a PLACE for you if I take you with me,'' said
Loristan. ``Do you know what I mean by a PLACE?''
``Yes, I do,'' answered The Rat. ``It's what I've never had
What he knew was that it meant some bit of space, out of all the
world, where he would have a sort of right to stand, howsoever
poor and bare it might be.
``I'm not used to beds or to food enough,'' he said. But he did
not dare to insist too much on that ``place.'' It seemed too
great a thing to be true.
Loristan took his arm.
``Come with me,'' he said. ``We won't part. I believe you are
to be trusted.''
The Rat turned quite white in a sort of anguish of joy. He had
never cared for any one in his life. He had been a sort of young
Cain, his hand against every man and every man's hand against
him. And during the last twelve hours he had plunged into a
tumultuous ocean of boyish hero-worship. This man seemed like a
sort of god to him. What he had said and done the day before, in
what had been really The Rat's hours of extremity, after that
appalling night--the way he had looked into his face and
understood it all, the talk at the table when he had listened to
him seriously, comprehending and actually respecting his plans
and rough maps; his silent companionship as they followed the
pauper hearse together--these things were enough to make the lad
longingly ready to be any sort of servant or slave to him if he
might see and be spoken to by him even once or twice a day.
The Squad wore a look of dismay for a moment, and Loristan saw
``I am going to take your captain with me,'' he said. ``But he
will come back to Barracks. So will Marco.''
``Will yer go on with the game?'' asked Cad, as eager spokesman.
``We want to go on being the `Secret Party.' ''
``Yes, I'll go on,'' The Rat answered. ``I won't give it up.
There's a lot in the papers to-day.''
So they were pacified and went on their way, and Loristan and
Lazarus and Marco and The Rat went on theirs also.
``Queer thing is,'' The Rat thought as they walked together,
``I'm a bit afraid to speak to him unless he speaks to me first.
Never felt that way before with any one.''
He had jeered at policemen and had impudently chaffed ``swells,''
but he felt a sort of secret awe of this man, and actually liked
``It's as if I was a private and he was commander-in-chief,'' he
thought. ``That's it.''
Loristan talked to him as they went. He was simple enough in
his statements of the situation. There was an old sofa in
Marco's bedroom. It was narrow and hard, as Marco's bed itself
was, but The Rat could sleep upon it. They would share what food
they had. There were newspapers and magazines to be read. There
were papers and pencils to draw new maps and plans of battles.
There was even an old map of Samavia of Marco's which the two
boys could study together as an aid to their game. The Rat's
eyes began to have points of fire in them.
``If I could see the papers every morning, I could fight the
battles on paper by night,'' he said, quite panting at the
incredible vision of splendor. Were all the kingdoms of the
earth going to be given to him? Was he going to sleep without a
drunken father near him?
Was he going to have a chance to wash himself and to sit at a
table and hear people say ``Thank you,'' and ``I beg pardon,'' as
if they were using the most ordinary fashion of speech? His own
father, before he had sunk into the depths, had lived and spoken
in this way.
``When I have time, we will see who can draw up the best plans,''
``Do you mean that you'll look at mine then--when you have
time?'' asked The Rat, hesitatingly. ``I wasn't expecting
``Yes,'' answered Loristan, ``I'll look at them, and we'll talk
As they went on, he told him that he and Marco could do many
things together. They could go to museums and galleries, and
Marco could show him what he himself was familiar with.
``My father said you wouldn't let him come back to Barracks when
you found out about it,'' The Rat said, hesitating again and
growing hot because he remembered so many ugly past days.
``But--but I swear I won't do him any harm, sir. I won't!''
``When I said I believed you could be trusted, I meant several
things,'' Loristan answered him. ``That was one of them. You're
a new recruit. You and Marco are both under a commanding
officer.'' He said the words because he knew they would elate
him and stir his blood.
``ONLY TWO BOYS''
The words did elate him, and his blood was stirred by them every
time they returned to his mind. He remembered them through the
days and nights that followed. He sometimes, indeed, awakened
from his deep sleep on the hard and narrow sofa in Marco's room,
and found that he was saying them half aloud to himself. The
hardness of the sofa did not prevent his resting as he had never
rested before in his life. By contrast with the past he had
known, this poor existence was comfort which verged on luxury.
He got into the battered tin bath every morning, he sat at the
clean table, and could look at Loristan and speak to him and hear
his voice. His chief trouble was that he could hardly keep his
eyes off him, and he was a little afraid he might be annoyed.
But he could not bear to lose a look or a movement.
At the end of the second day, he found his way, at some trouble,
to Lazarus's small back room at the top of the house.
``Will you let me come in and talk a bit?'' he said.
When he went in, he was obliged to sit on the top of Lazarus's
wooden box because there was nothing else for him.
``I want to ask you,'' he plunged into his talk at once, ``do you
think he minds me looking at him so much? I can't help it--but
if he hates it--well--I'll try and keep my eyes on the table.''
``The Master is used to being looked at,'' Lazarus made answer.
``But it would be well to ask himself. He likes open speech.''
``I want to find out everything he likes and everything he
doesn't like,'' The Rat said. ``I want--isn't there
anything--anything you'd let me do for him? It wouldn't matter
what it was. And he needn't know you are not doing it. I know
you wouldn't be willing to give up anything particular. But you
wait on him night and day. Couldn't you give up something to
Lazarus pierced him with keen eyes. He did not answer for
``Now and then,'' he said gruffly at last, ``I'll let you brush
his boots. But not every day--perhaps once a week.''
``When will you let me have my first turn?'' The Rat asked.
Lazarus reflected. His shaggy eyebrows drew themselves down over
his eyes as if this were a question of state.
``Next Saturday,'' he conceded. ``Not before. I'll tell him
when you brush them.''
``You needn't,'' said The Rat. ``It's not that I want him to
know. I want to know myself that I'm doing something for him.
I'll find out things that I can do without interfering with you.
I'll think them out.''
``Anything any one else did for him would be interfering with
me,'' said Lazarus.
It was The Rat's turn to reflect now, and his face twisted itself
into new lines and wrinkles.
``I'll tell you before I do anything,'' he said, after he had
thought it over. ``You served him first.''
``I have served him ever since he was born,'' said Lazarus.
``He's--he's yours,'' said The Rat, still thinking deeply.
``I am his,'' was Lazarus's stern answer. ``I am his--and the
``That's it,'' The Rat said. Then a squeak of a half-laugh broke
from him. ``I've never been anybody's,'' he added.
His sharp eyes caught a passing look on Lazarus's face. Such a
queer, disturbed, sudden look. Could he be rather sorry for him?
Perhaps the look meant something like that.
``If you stay near him long enough--and it needn't be long--you
will be his too. Everybody is.''
The Rat sat up as straight as he could. ``When it comes to
that,'' he blurted out, ``I'm his now, in my way. I was his two
minutes after he looked at me with his queer, handsome eyes.
They're queer because they get you, and you want to follow him.
I'm going to follow.''
That night Lazarus recounted to his master the story of the
scene. He simply repeated word for word what had been said, and
Loristan listened gravely.
``We have not had time to learn much of him yet,'' he commented.
``But that is a faithful soul, I think.''
A few days later, Marco missed The Rat soon after their breakfast
hour. He had gone out without saying anything to the household.
He did not return for several hours, and when he came back he
looked tired. In the afternoon he fell asleep on his sofa in
Marco's room and slept heavily. No one asked him any questions
as he volunteered no explanation. The next day he went out again
in the same mysterious manner, and the next and the next. For an
entire week he went out and returned with the tired look; but he
did not explain until one morning, as he lay on his sofa before
getting up, he said to Marco:
``I'm practicing walking with my crutches. I don't want to go
about like a rat any more. I mean to be as near like other
people as I can. I walk farther every morning. I began with two
miles. If I practice every day, my crutches will be like legs.''
``Shall I walk with you?'' asked Marco.
``Wouldn't you mind walking with a cripple?''
``Don't call yourself that,'' said Marco. ``We can talk
together, and try to remember everything we see as we go along.''
``I want to learn to remember things. I'd like to train myself
in that way too,'' The Rat answered. ``I'd give anything to know
some of the things your father taught you. I've got a good
memory. I remember a lot of things I don't want to remember.
Will you go this morning?''
That morning they went, and Loristan was told the reason for
their walk. But though he knew one reason, he did not know all
about it. When The Rat was allowed his ``turn'' of the
boot-brushing, he told more to Lazarus.
``What I want to do,'' he said, ``is not only walk as fast as
other people do, but faster. Acrobats train themselves to do
anything. It's training that does it. There might come a time
when he might need some one to go on an errand quickly, and I'm
going to be ready. I'm going to train myself until he needn't
think of me as if I were only a cripple who can't do things and
has to be taken care of. I want him to know that I'm really as
strong as Marco, and where Marco can go I can go.''
``He'' was what he always said, and Lazarus always understood
`` `The Master' is your name for him,'' he had explained at the
beginning. ``And I can't call him just `Mister' Loristan. It
sounds like cheek. If he was called `General' or `Colonel' I
could stand it--though it wouldn't be quite right. Some day I
shall find a name. When I speak to him, I say `Sir.' ''
The walks were taken every day, and each day were longer. Marco
found himself silently watching The Rat with amazement at his
determination and endurance. He knew that he must not speak of
what he could not fail to see as they walked. He must not tell
him that he looked tired and pale and sometimes desperately
fatigued. He had inherited from his father the tact which sees
what people do not wish to be reminded of. He knew that for some
reason of his own The Rat had determined to do this thing at any
cost to himself. Sometimes his face grew white and worn and he
breathed hard, but he never rested more than a few minutes, and
never turned back or shortened a walk they had planned.
``Tell me something about Samavia, something to remember,'' he
would say, when he looked his worst. ``When I begin to try to
remember, I forget--other things.''
So, as they went on their way, they talked, and The Rat committed
things to memory. He was quick at it, and grew quicker every
day. They invented a game of remembering faces they passed.
Both would learn them by heart, and on their return home Marco
would draw them. They went to the museums and galleries and
learned things there, making from memory lists and descriptions
which at night they showed to Loristan, when he was not too busy
to talk to them.
As the days passed, Marco saw that The Rat was gaining strength.
This exhilarated him greatly. They often went to Hampstead Heath
and walked in the wind and sun. There The Rat would go through
curious exercises which he believed would develop his muscles.
He began to look less tired during and after his journey. There
were even fewer wrinkles on his face, and his sharp eyes looked
less fierce. The talks between the two boys were long and
curious. Marco soon realized that The Rat wanted to
``Your father can talk to you almost as if you were twenty years
old,'' he said once. ``He knows you can understand what he's