Part 3 out of 6
saying. If he were to talk to me, he'd always have to remember
that I was only a rat that had lived in gutters and seen nothing
They were talking in their room, as they nearly always did after
they went to bed and the street lamp shone in and lighted their
bare little room. They often sat up clasping their knees, Marco
on his poor bed, The Rat on his hard sofa, but neither of them
conscious either of the poorness or hardness, because to each one
the long unknown sense of companionship was such a satisfying
thing. Neither of them had ever talked intimately to another
boy, and now they were together day and night. They revealed
their thoughts to each other; they told each other things it had
never before occurred to either to think of telling any one. In
fact, they found out about themselves, as they talked, things
they had not quite known before. Marco had gradually discovered
that the admiration The Rat had for his father was an impassioned
and curious feeling which possessed him entirely. It seemed to
Marco that it was beginning to be like a sort of religion. He
evidently thought of him every moment. So when he spoke of
Loristan's knowing him to be only a rat of the gutter, Marco felt
he himself was fortunate in remembering something he could say.
``My father said yesterday that you had a big brain and a strong
will,'' he answered from his bed. ``He said that you had a
wonderful memory which only needed exercising. He said it after
he looked over the list you made of the things you had seen in
The Rat shuffled on his sofa and clasped his knees tighter.
``Did he? Did he?'' he said.
He rested his chin upon his knees for a few minutes and stared
straight before him. Then he turned to the bed.
``Marco,'' he said, in a rather hoarse voice, a queer voice;
``are you jealous?''
``Jealous,'' said Marco; ``why?''
``I mean, have you ever been jealous? Do you know what it is
``I don't think I do,'' answered Marco, staring a little.
``Are you ever jealous of Lazarus because he's always with your
father--because he's with him oftener than you are--and knows
about his work--and can do things for him you can't? I mean, are
you jealous of--your father?''
Marco loosed his arms from his knees and lay down flat on his
``No, I'm not. The more people love and serve him, the better,''
he said. ``The only thing I care for is--is him. I just care
for HIM. Lazarus does too. Don't you?''
The Rat was greatly excited internally. He had been thinking of
this thing a great deal. The thought had sometimes terrified
him. He might as well have it out now if he could. If he could
get at the truth, everything would be easier. But would Marco
really tell him?
``Don't you mind?'' he said, still hoarse and eager--``don't you
mind how much I care for him? Could it ever make you feel
savage? Could it ever set you thinking I was nothing but--what I
am--and that it was cheek of me to push myself in and fasten on
to a gentleman who only took me up for charity? Here's the
living truth,'' he ended in an outburst; ``if I were you and you
were me, that's what I should be thinking. I know it is. I
couldn't help it. I should see every low thing there was in you,
in your manners and your voice and your looks. I should see
nothing but the contrast between you and me and between you and
him. I should be so jealous that I should just rage. I should
HATE you--and I should DESPISE you!''
He had wrought himself up to such a passion of feeling that he
set Marco thinking that what he was hearing meant strange and
strong emotions such as he himself had never experienced. The
Rat had been thinking over all this in secret for some time, it
was evident. Marco lay still a few minutes and thought it over.
Then he found something to say, just as he had found something
``You might, if you were with other people who thought in the
same way,'' he said, ``and if you hadn't found out that it is
such a mistake to think in that way, that it's even stupid. But,
you see, if you were I, you would have lived with my father, and
he'd have told you what he knows--what he's been finding out all
``What's he found out?''
``Oh!'' Marco answered, quite casually, ``just that you can't set
savage thoughts loose in the world, any more than you can let
loose savage beasts with hydrophobia. They spread a sort of
rabies, and they always tear and worry you first of all.''
``What do you mean?'' The Rat gasped out.
``It's like this,'' said Marco, lying flat and cool on his hard
pillow and looking at the reflection of the street lamp on the
ceiling. ``That day I turned into your Barracks, without knowing
that you'd think I was spying, it made you feel savage, and you
threw the stone at me. If it had made me feel savage and I'd
rushed in and fought, what would have happened to all of us?''
The Rat's spirit of generalship gave the answer.
``I should have called on the Squad to charge with fixed
bayonets. They'd have half killed you. You're a strong chap,
and you'd have hurt a lot of them.''
A note of terror broke into his voice. ``What a fool I should
have been!'' he cried out. ``I should never have come here! I
should never have known HIM!'' Even by the light of the street
lamp Marco could see him begin to look almost ghastly.
``The Squad could easily have half killed me,'' Marco added.
``They could have quite killed me, if they had wanted to do it.
And who would have got any good out of it? It would only have
been a street- lads' row--with the police and prison at the end
``But because you'd lived with him,'' The Rat pondered, ``you
walked in as if you didn't mind, and just asked why we did it,
and looked like a stronger chap than any of us--and
different--different. I wondered what was the matter with you,
you were so cool and steady. I know now. It was because you
were like him. He'd taught you. He's like a wizard.''
``He knows things that wizards think they know, but he knows them
better,'' Marco said. ``He says they're not queer and unnatural.
They're just simple laws of nature. You have to be either on one
side or the other, like an army. You choose your side. You
either build up or tear down. You either keep in the light where
you can see, or you stand in the dark and fight everything that
comes near you, because you can't see and you think it's an
enemy. No, you wouldn't have been jealous if you'd been I and
I'd been you.''
``And you're NOT?'' The Rat's sharp voice was almost hollow.
``You'll swear you're not?''
``I'm not,'' said Marco.
The Rat's excitement even increased a shade as he poured forth
``I was afraid,'' he said. ``I've been afraid every day since I
came here. I'll tell you straight out. It seemed just natural
that you and Lazarus wouldn't stand me, just as I wouldn't have
stood you. It seemed just natural that you'd work together to
throw me out. I knew how I should have worked myself. Marco--I
said I'd tell you straight out--I'm jealous of you. I'm jealous
of Lazarus. It makes me wild when I see you both knowing all
about him, and fit and ready to do anything he wants done. I'm
not ready and I'm not fit.''
``You'd do anything he wanted done, whether you were fit and
ready or not,'' said Marco. ``He knows that.''
``Does he? Do you think he does?'' cried The Rat. ``I wish he'd
try me. I wish he would.''
Marco turned over on his bed and rose up on his elbow so that he
faced The Rat on his sofa.
``Let us WAIT,'' he said in a whisper. ``Let us WAIT.''
There was a pause, and then The Rat whispered also.
``For him to find out that we're fit to be tried. Don't you see
what fools we should be if we spent our time in being jealous,
either of us. We're only two boys. Suppose he saw we were only
two silly fools. When you are jealous of me or of Lazarus, just
go and sit down in a still place and think of HIM. Don't think
about yourself or about us. He's so quiet that to think about
him makes you quiet yourself. When things go wrong or when I'm
lonely, he's taught me to sit down and make myself think of
things I like--pictures, books, monuments, splendid places. It
pushes the other things out and sets your mind going properly.
He doesn't know I nearly always think of him. He's the best
thought himself. You try it. You're not really jealous. You
only THINK you are. You'll find that out if you always stop
yourself in time. Any one can be such a fool if he lets himself.
And he can always stop it if he makes up his mind. I'm not
jealous. You must let that thought alone. You're not jealous
yourself. Kick that thought into the street.''
The Rat caught his breath and threw his arms up over his eyes.
``Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord!'' he said; ``if I'd lived near him always
as you have. If I just had.''
``We're both living near him now,'' said Marco. ``And here's
something to think of,'' leaning more forward on his elbow.
``The kings who were being made ready for Samavia have waited all
these years; WE can make ourselves ready and wait so that, if
just two boys are wanted to do something--just two boys--we can
step out of the ranks when the call comes and say `Here!' Now
let's lie down and think of it until we go to sleep.''
LORISTAN ATTENDS A DRILL OF THE SQUAD, AND MARCO MEETS A SAMAVIAN
The Squad was not forgotten. It found that Loristan himself
would have regarded neglect as a breach of military duty.
``You must remember your men,'' he said, two or three days after
The Rat became a member of his household. ``You must keep up
their drill. Marco tells me it was very smart. Don't let them
``His men!'' The Rat felt what he could not have put into words.
He knew he had worked, and that the Squad had worked, in their
hidden holes and corners. Only hidden holes and corners had been
possible for them because they had existed in spite of the
protest of their world and the vigilance of its policemen. They
had tried many refuges before they found the Barracks. No one
but resented the existence of a troop of noisy vagabonds. But
somehow this man knew that there had evolved from it something
more than mere noisy play, that he, The Rat, had MEANT order and
``His men!'' It made him feel as if he had had the Victoria
Cross fastened on his coat. He had brain enough to see many
things, and he knew that it was in this way that Loristan was
finding him his ``place.'' He knew how.
When they went to the Barracks, the Squad greeted them with a
tumultuous welcome which expressed a great sense of relief.
Privately the members had been filled with fears which they had
talked over together in deep gloom. Marco's father, they
decided, was too big a swell to let the two come back after he
had seen the sort the Squad was made up of. He might be poor
just now, toffs sometimes lost their money for a bit, but you
could see what he was, and fathers like him weren't going to let
their sons make friends with ``such as us.'' He'd stop the drill
and the ``Secret Society'' game. That's what he'd do!
But The Rat came swinging in on his secondhand crutches looking
as if he had been made a general, and Marco came with him; and
the drill the Squad was put through was stricter and finer than
any drill they had ever known.
``I wish my father could have seen that,'' Marco said to The Rat.
The Rat turned red and white and then red again, but he said not
a single word. The mere thought was like a flash of fire passing
through him. But no fellow could hope for a thing as big as
that. The Secret Party, in its subterranean cavern, surrounded
by its piled arms, sat down to read the morning paper.
The war news was bad to read. The Maranovitch held the day for
the moment, and while they suffered and wrought cruelties in the
capital city, the Iarovitch suffered and wrought cruelties in the
country outside. So fierce and dark was the record that Europe
The Rat folded his paper when he had finished, and sat biting his
nails. Having done this for a few minutes, he began to speak in
his dramatic and hollow Secret Party whisper.
``The hour has come,'' he said to his followers. ``The
messengers must go forth. They know nothing of what they go for;
they only know that they must obey. If they were caught and
tortured, they could betray nothing because they know nothing but
that, at certain places, they must utter a certain word. They
carry no papers. All commands they must learn by heart. When
the sign is given, the Secret Party will know what to do--where
to meet and where to attack.''
He drew plans of the battle on the flagstones, and he sketched an
imaginary route which the two messengers were to follow. But his
knowledge of the map of Europe was not worth much, and he turned
``You know more about geography that I do. You know more about
everything,'' he said. ``I only know Italy is at the bottom and
Russia is at one side and England's at the other. How would the
Secret Messengers go to Samavia? Can you draw the countries
they'd have to pass through?''
Because any school-boy who knew the map could have done the same
thing, Marco drew them. He also knew the stations the Secret Two
would arrive at and leave by when they entered a city, the
streets they would walk through and the very uniforms they would
see; but of these things he said nothing. The reality his
knowledge gave to the game was, however, a thrilling thing. He
wished he could have been free to explain to The Rat the things
he knew. Together they could have worked out so many details of
travel and possible adventure that it would have been almost as
if they had set out on their journey in fact.
As it was, the mere sketching of the route fired The Rat's
imagination. He forged ahead with the story of adventure, and
filled it with such mysterious purport and design that the Squad
at times gasped for breath. In his glowing version the Secret
Two entered cities by midnight and sang and begged at palace
gates where kings driving outward paused to listen and were given
``Though it would not always be kings,'' he said. ``Sometimes it
would be the poorest people. Sometimes they might seem to be
beggars like ourselves, when they were only Secret Ones
disguised. A great lord might wear poor clothes and pretend to
be a workman, and we should only know him by the signs we had
learned by heart. When we were sent to Samavia, we should be
obliged to creep in through some back part of the country where
no fighting was being done and where no one would attack. Their
generals are not clever enough to protect the parts which are
joined to friendly countries, and they have not forces enough.
Two boys could find a way in if they thought it out.''
He became possessed by the idea of thinking it out on the spot.
He drew his rough map of Samavia on the flagstones with his
``Look here,'' he said to Marco, who, with the elated and
thrilled Squad, bent over it in a close circle of heads.
``Beltrazo is here and Carnolitz is here--and here is Jiardasia.
Beltrazo and Jiardasia are friendly, though they don't take
sides. All the fighting is going on in the country about
Melzarr. There is no reason why they should prevent single
travelers from coming in across the frontiers of friendly
neighbors. They're not fighting with the countries outside, they
are fighting with themselves.'' He paused a moment and thought.
``The article in that magazine said something about a huge forest
on the eastern frontier. That's here. We could wander into a
forest and stay there until we'd planned all we wanted to do.
Even the people who had seen us would forget about us. What we
have to do is to make people feel as if we were
They were in the very midst of it, crowded together, leaning
over, stretching necks and breathing quickly with excitement,
when Marco lifted his head. Some mysterious impulse made him do
it in spite of himself.
``There's my father!'' he said.
The chalk dropped, everything dropped, even Samavia. The Rat was
up and on his crutches as if some magic force had swung him
there. How he gave the command, or if he gave it at all, not
even he himself knew. But the Squad stood at salute.
Loristan was standing at the opening of the archway as Marco had
stood that first day. He raised his right hand in return salute
and came forward.
``I was passing the end of the street and remembered the Barracks
was here,'' he explained. ``I thought I should like to look at
your men, Captain.''
He smiled, but it was not a smile which made his words really a
joke. He looked down at the chalk map drawn on the flagstones.
``You know that map well,'' he said. ``Even I can see that it is
Samavia. What is the Secret Party doing?''
``The messengers are trying to find a way in,'' answered Marco.
``We can get in there,'' said The Rat, pointing with a crutch.
``There's a forest where we could hide and find out things.''
``Reconnoiter,'' said Loristan, looking down. ``Yes. Two stray
boys could be very safe in a forest. It's a good game.''
That he should be there! That he should, in his own wonderful
way, have given them such a thing as this. That he should have
cared enough even to look up the Barracks, was what The Rat was
thinking. A batch of ragamuffins they were and nothing else, and
he standing looking at them with his fine smile. There was
something about him which made him seem even splendid. The Rat's
heart thumped with startled joy.
``Father,'' said Marco, ``will you watch The Rat drill us? I
want you to see how well it is done.''
``Captain, will you do me that honor?'' Loristan said to The Rat,
and to even these words he gave the right tone, neither jesting
nor too serious. Because it was so right a tone, The Rat's
pulses beat only with exultation. This god of his had looked at
his maps, he had talked of his plans, he had come to see the
soldiers who were his work! The Rat began his drill as if he had
been reviewing an army.
What Loristan saw done was wonderful in its mechanical exactness.
The Squad moved like the perfect parts of a perfect machine.
That they could so do it in such space, and that they should have
accomplished such precision, was an extraordinary testimonial to
the military efficiency and curious qualities of this one
hunchbacked, vagabond officer.
``That is magnificent!'' the spectator said, when it was over.
``It could not be better done. Allow me to congratulate you.''
He shook The Rat's hand as if it had been a man's, and, after he
had shaken it, he put his own hand lightly on the boy's shoulder
and let it rest there as he talked a few minutes to them all.
He kept his talk within the game, and his clear comprehension of
it added a flavor which even the dullest member of the Squad was
elated by. Sometimes you couldn't understand toffs when they
made a shy at being friendly, but you could understand him, and
he stirred up your spirits. He didn't make jokes with you,
either, as if a chap had to be kept grinning. After the few
minutes were over, he went away. Then they sat down again in
their circle and talked about him, because they could talk and
think about nothing else. They stared at Marco furtively,
feeling as if he were a creature of another world because he had
lived with this man. They stared at The Rat in a new way also.
The wonderful-looking hand had rested on his shoulder, and he had
been told that what he had done was magnificent.
``When you said you wished your father could have seen the
drill,'' said The Rat, ``you took my breath away. I'd never have
had the cheek to think of it myself--and I'd never have dared to
let you ask him, even if you wanted to do it. And he came
himself! It struck me dumb.''
``If he came,'' said Marco, ``it was because he wanted to see
When they had finished talking, it was time for Marco and The Rat
to go on their way. Loristan had given The Rat an errand. At a
certain hour he was to present himself at a certain shop and
receive a package.
``Let him do it alone,'' Loristan said to Marco. ``He will be
better pleased. His desire is to feel that he is trusted to do
So they parted at a street corner, Marco to walk back to No. 7
Philibert Place, The Rat to execute his commission. Marco turned
into one of the better streets, through which he often passed on
his way home. It was not a fashionable quarter, but it contained
some respectable houses in whose windows here and there were to
be seen neat cards bearing the word ``Apartments,'' which meant
that the owner of the house would let to lodgers his drawing-room
or sitting-room suite.
As Marco walked up the street, he saw some one come out of the
door of one of the houses and walk quickly and lightly down the
pavement. It was a young woman wearing an elegant though quiet
dress, and a hat which looked as if it had been bought in Paris
or Vienna. She had, in fact, a slightly foreign air, and it was
this, indeed, which made Marco look at her long enough to see
that she was also a graceful and lovely person. He wondered what
her nationality was. Even at some yards' distance he could see
that she had long dark eyes and a curved mouth which seemed to be
smiling to itself. He thought she might be Spanish or Italian.
He was trying to decide which of the two countries she belonged
to, as she drew near to him, but quite suddenly the curved mouth
ceased smiling as her foot seemed to catch in a break in the
pavement, and she so lost her balance that she would have fallen
if he had not leaped forward and caught her.
She was light and slender, and he was a strong lad and managed to
steady her. An expression of sharp momentary anguish crossed her
``I hope you are not hurt,'' Marco said.
She bit her lip and clutched his shoulder very hard with her slim
``I have twisted my ankle,'' she answered. ``I am afraid I have
twisted it badly. Thank you for saving me. I should have had a
Her long, dark eyes were very sweet and grateful. She tried to
smile, but there was such distress under the effort that Marco
was afraid she must have hurt herself very much.
``Can you stand on your foot at all?'' he asked.
``I can stand a little now,'' she said, ``but I might not be able
to stand in a few minutes. I must get back to the house while I
can bear to touch the ground with it. I am so sorry. I am
afraid I shall have to ask you to go with me. Fortunately it is
only a few yards away.''
``Yes,'' Marco answered. ``I saw you come out of the house. If
you will lean on my shoulder, I can soon help you back. I am
glad to do it. Shall we try now?''
She had a gentle and soft manner which would have appealed to any
boy. Her voice was musical and her enunciation exquisite.
Whether she was Spanish or Italian, it was easy to imagine her a
person who did not always live in London lodgings, even of the
``If you please,'' she answered him. ``It is very kind of you.
You are very strong, I see. But I am glad to have only a few
steps to go.''
She rested on his shoulder as well as on her umbrella, but it was
plain that every movement gave her intense pain. She caught her
lip with her teeth, and Marco thought she turned white. He could
not help liking her. She was so lovely and gracious and brave.
He could not bear to see the suffering in her face.
``I am so sorry!'' he said, as he helped her, and his boy's voice
had something of the wonderful sympathetic tone of Loristan's.
The beautiful lady herself remarked it, and thought how unlike it
was to the ordinary boy-voice.
``I have a latch-key,'' she said, when they stood on the low
She found the latch-key in her purse and opened the door. Marco
helped her into the entrance-hall. She sat down at once in a
chair near the hat-stand. The place was quite plain and
``Shall I ring the front-door bell to call some one?'' Marco
``I am afraid that the servants are out,'' she answered. ``They
had a holiday. Will you kindly close the door? I shall be
obliged to ask you to help me into the sitting-room at the end of
the hall. I shall find all I want there--if you will kindly hand
me a few things. Some one may come in presently--perhaps one of
the other lodgers --and, even if I am alone for an hour or so, it
will not really matter.''
``Perhaps I can find the landlady,'' Marco suggested. The
beautiful person smiled.
``She has gone to her sister's wedding. That is why I was going
out to spend the day myself. I arranged the plan to accommodate
her. How good you are! I shall be quite comfortable directly,
really. I can get to my easy-chair in the sitting-room now I
have rested a little.''
Marco helped her to her feet, and her sharp, involuntary
exclamation of pain made him wince internally. Perhaps it was a
worse sprain than she knew.
The house was of the early-Victorian London order. A ``front
lobby'' with a dining-room on the right hand, and a ``back
lobby,'' after the foot of the stairs was passed, out of which
opened the basement kitchen staircase and a sitting-room looking
out on a gloomy flagged back yard inclosed by high walls. The
sitting-room was rather gloomy itself, but there were a few
luxurious things among the ordinary furnishings. There was an
easy-chair with a small table near it, and on the table were a
silver lamp and some rather elegant trifles. Marco helped his
charge to the easy-chair and put a cushion from the sofa under
her foot. He did it very gently, and, as he rose after doing it,
he saw that the long, soft dark eyes were looking at him in a
``I must go away now,'' he said, ``but I do not like to leave
you. May I go for a doctor?''
``How dear you are!'' she exclaimed. ``But I do not want one,
thank you. I know exactly what to do for a sprained ankle. And
perhaps mine is not really a sprain. I am going to take off my
shoe and see.''
``May I help you?'' Marco asked, and he kneeled down again and
carefully unfastened her shoe and withdrew it from her foot. It
was a slender and delicate foot in a silk stocking, and she bent
and gently touched and rubbed it.
``No,'' she said, when she raised herself, ``I do not think it is
a sprain. Now that the shoe is off and the foot rests on the
cushion, it is much more comfortable, much more. Thank you,
thank you. If you had not been passing I might have had a
``I am very glad to have been able to help you,'' Marco answered,
with an air of relief. ``Now I must go, if you think you will be
``Don't go yet,'' she said, holding out her hand. ``I should
like to know you a little better, if I may. I am so grateful. I
should like to talk to you. You have such beautiful manners for
a boy,'' she
ended, with a pretty, kind laugh, ``and I believe I know where
you got them from.''
``You are very kind to me,'' Marco answered, wondering if he did
not redden a little. ``But I must go because my father will--''
``Your father would let you stay and talk to me,'' she said, with
even a prettier kindliness than before. ``It is from him you
have inherited your beautiful manner. He was once a friend of
mine. I hope he is my friend still, though perhaps he has
All that Marco had ever learned and all that he had ever trained
himself to remember, quickly rushed back upon him now, because he
had a clear and rapidly working brain, and had not lived the
ordinary boy's life. Here was a beautiful lady of whom he knew
nothing at all but that she had twisted her foot in the street
and he had helped her back into her house. If silence was still
the order, it was not for him to know things or ask questions or
answer them. She might be the loveliest lady in the world and
his father her dearest friend, but, even if this were so, he
could best serve them both by obeying her friend's commands with
all courtesy, and forgetting no instruction he had given.
``I do not think my father ever forgets any one,'' he answered.
``No, I am sure he does not,'' she said softly. ``Has he been to
Samavia during the last three years?''
Marco paused a moment.
``Perhaps I am not the boy you think I am,'' he said. ``My
father has never been to Samavia.''
``He has not? But--you are Marco Loristan?''
``Yes. That is my name.''
Suddenly she leaned forward and her long lovely eyes filled with
``Then you are a Samavian, and you know of the disasters
overwhelming us. You know all the hideousness and barbarity of
what is being done. Your father's son must know it all!''
``Every one knows it,'' said Marco.
``But it is your country--your own! Your blood must burn in your
Marco stood quite still and looked at her. His eyes told whether
his blood burned or not, but he did not speak. His look was
answer enough, since he did not wish to say anything.
``What does your father think? I am a Samavian myself, and I
think night and day. What does he think of the rumor about the
descendant of the Lost Prince? Does he believe it?''
Marco was thinking very rapidly. Her beautiful face was glowing
with emotion, her beautiful voice trembled. That she should be a
Samavian, and love Samavia, and pour her feeling forth even to a
boy, was deeply moving to him. But howsoever one was moved, one
must remember that silence was still the order. When one was
very young, one must remember orders first of all.
``It might be only a newspaper story,'' he said. ``He says one
cannot trust such things. If you know him, you know he is very
``Has he taught you to be calm too?'' she said pathetically.
``You are only a boy. Boys are not calm. Neither are women when
their hearts are wrung. Oh, my Samavia! Oh, my poor little
country! My brave, tortured country!'' and with a sudden sob she
covered her face with her hands.
A great lump mounted to Marco's throat. Boys could not cry, but
he knew what she meant when he said her heart was wrung.
When she lifted her head, the tears in her eyes made them softer
``If I were a million Samavians instead of one woman, I should
know what to do!'' she cried. ``If your father were a million
Samavians, he would know, too. He would find Ivor's descendant,
if he is on the earth, and he would end all this horror!''
``Who would not end it if they could?'' cried Marco, quite
``But men like your father, men who are Samavians, must think
night and day about it as I do,'' she impetuously insisted.
``You see, I cannot help pouring my thoughts out even to a
boy--because he is a Samavian. Only Samavians care. Samavia
seems so little and unimportant to other people. They don't even
seem to know that the blood she is pouring forth pours from human
veins and beating human hearts. Men like your father must think,
and plan, and feel that they must--must find a way. Even a
woman feels it. Even a boy must. Stefan Loristan cannot be
sitting quietly at home, knowing that Samavian hearts are being
shot through and Samavian blood poured forth. He cannot think
and say NOTHING!''
Marco started in spite of himself. He felt as if his father had
been struck in the face. How dare she say such words! Big as he
was, suddenly he looked bigger, and the beautiful lady saw that
``He is my father,'' he said slowly.
She was a clever, beautiful person, and saw that she had made a
``You must forgive me,'' she exclaimed. ``I used the wrong words
because I was excited. That is the way with women. You must see
that I meant that I knew he was giving his heart and strength,
his whole being, to Samavia, even though he must stay in
She started and turned her head to listen to the sound of some
one using the latch-key and opening the front door. The some one
came in with the heavy step of a man.
``It is one of the lodgers,'' she said. ``I think it is the one
who lives in the third floor sitting-room.''
``Then you won't be alone when I go,'' said Marco. ``I am glad
some one has come. I will say good-morning. May I tell my
father your name?''
``Tell me that you are not angry with me for expressing myself so
awkwardly,'' she said.
``You couldn't have meant it. I know that,'' Marco answered
boyishly. ``You couldn't.''
``No, I couldn't,'' she repeated, with the same emphasis on the
She took a card from a silver case on the table and gave it to
``Your father will remember my name,'' she said. ``I hope he
will let me see him and tell him how you took care of me.''
She shook his hand warmly and let him go. But just as he reached
the door she spoke again.
``Oh, may I ask you to do one thing more before you leave me?''
she said suddenly. ``I hope you won't mind. Will you run
up-stairs into the drawing-room and bring me the purple book from
the small table? I shall not mind being alone if I have
something to read.''
``A purple book? On a small table?'' said Marco.
``Between the two long windows,'' she smiled back at him.
The drawing-room of such houses as these is always to be reached
by one short flight of stairs.
Marco ran up lightly.
MARCO DOES NOT ANSWER
By the time he turned the corner of the stairs, the beautiful
lady had risen from her seat in the back room and walked into the
dining-room at the front. A heavily-built, dark-bearded man was
standing inside the door as if waiting for her.
``I could do nothing with him,'' she said at once, in her soft
voice, speaking quite prettily and gently, as if what she said
was the most natural thing in the world. ``I managed the little
trick of the sprained foot really well, and got him into the
house. He is an amiable boy with perfect manners, and I thought
it might be easy to surprise him into saying more than he knew he
was saying. You can generally do that with children and young
things. But he either knows nothing or has been trained to hold
his tongue. He's not stupid, and he's of a high spirit. I made
a pathetic little scene about Samavia, because I saw he could be
worked up. It did work him up. I tried him with the Lost Prince
rumor; but, if there is truth in it, he does not or will not
know. I tried to make him lose his temper and betray something
in defending his father, whom he thinks a god, by the way. But I
made a mistake. I saw that. It's a pity. Boys can sometimes be
made to tell anything.'' She spoke very quickly under her
breath. The man spoke quickly too.
``Where is he?'' he asked.
``I sent him up to the drawing-room to look for a book. He will
look for a few minutes. Listen. He's an innocent boy. He sees
me only as a gentle angel. Nothing will SHAKE him so much as to
hear me tell him the truth suddenly. It will be such a shock to
him that perhaps you can do something with him then. He may lose
his hold on himself. He's only a boy.''
``You're right,'' said the bearded man. ``And when he finds out
he is not free to go, it may alarm him and we may get something
``If we could find out what is true, or what Loristan thinks is
true, we should have a clue to work from,'' she said.
``We have not much time,'' the man whispered. ``We are ordered
to Bosnia at once. Before midnight we must be on the way.''
``Let us go into the other room. He is coming.''
When Marco entered the room, the heavily-built man with the
pointed dark beard was standing by the easy-chair.
``I am sorry I could not find the book,'' he apologized. ``I
looked on all the tables.''
``I shall be obliged to go and search for it myself,'' said the
She rose from her chair and stood up smiling. And at her first
movement Marco saw that she was not disabled in the least.
``Your foot!'' he exclaimed. ``It's better?''
``It wasn't hurt,'' she answered, in her softly pretty voice and
with her softly pretty smile. ``I only made you think so.''
It was part of her plan to spare him nothing of shock in her
sudden transformation. Marco felt his breath leave him for a
``I made you believe I was hurt because I wanted you to come into
the house with me,'' she added. ``I wished to find out certain
things I am sure you know.''
``They were things about Samavia,'' said the man. ``Your father
knows them, and you must know something of them at least. It is
necessary that we should hear what you can tell us. We shall not
allow you to leave the house until you have answered certain
questions I shall ask you.''
Then Marco began to understand. He had heard his father speak of
political spies, men and women who were paid to trace the people
that certain governments or political parties desired to have
followed and observed. He knew it was their work to search out
secrets, to disguise themselves and live among innocent people as
if they were merely ordinary neighbors.
They must be spies who were paid to follow his father because he
was a Samavian and a patriot. He did not know that they had
taken the house two months before, and had accomplished several
things during their apparently innocent stay in it. They had
discovered Loristan and had learned to know his outgoings and
incomings, and also the outgoings and incomings of Lazarus,
Marco, and The Rat. But they meant, if possible, to learn other
things. If the boy could be startled and terrified into
unconscious revelations, it might prove well worth their while to
have played this bit of melodrama before they locked the front
door behind them and hastily crossed the Channel, leaving their
landlord to discover for himself that the house had been vacated.
In Marco's mind strange things were happening. They were spies!
But that was not all. The Lovely Person had been right when she
said that he would receive a shock. His strong young chest
swelled. In all his life, he had never come face to face with
black treachery before. He could not grasp it. This gentle and
friendly being with the grateful soft voice and grateful soft
eyes had betrayed--BETRAYED him! It seemed impossible to believe
it, and yet the smile on herm curved mouth told him that it was
true. When he had sprung to help her, she had been playing a
trick! When he had been sorry for her pain and had winced at the
sound of her low exclamation, she had been deliberately laying a
trap to harm him. For a few seconds he was stunned--perhaps, if
he had not been his father's son, he might have been stunned
only. But he was more. When the first seconds had passed, there
arose slowly within him a sense of something like high, remote
disdain. It grew in his deep boy's eyes as he gazed directly
into the pupils of the long soft dark ones. His body felt as if
it were growing taller.
``You are very clever,'' he said slowly. Then, after a second's
pause, he added, ``I was too young to know that there was any one
so--clever--in the world.''
The Lovely Person laughed, but she did not laugh easily. She
spoke to her companion.
``A grand seigneur!'' she said. ``As one looks at him, one half
believes it is true.''
The man with the beard was looking very angry. His eyes were
savage and his dark skin reddened. Marco thought that he looked
at him as if he hated him, and was made fierce by the mere sight
of him, for some mysterious reason.
``Two days before you left Moscow,'' he said, ``three men came to
see your father. They looked like peasants. They talked to him
for more than an hour. They brought with them a roll of
parchment. Is that not true?''
``I know nothing,'' said Marco.
``Before you went to Moscow, you were in Budapest. You went
there from Vienna. You were there for three months, and your
father saw many people. Some of them came in the middle of the
``I know nothing,'' said Marco.
``You have spent your life in traveling from one country to
another,'' persisted the man. ``You know the European languages
as if you were a courier, or the portier in a Viennese hotel. Do
Marco did not answer.
The Lovely Person began to speak to the man rapidly in Russian.
``A spy and an adventurer Stefan Loristan has always been and
always will be,'' she said. ``We know what he is. The police in
every capital in Europe know him as a sharper and a vagabond, as
well as a spy. And yet, with all his cleverness, he does not
seem to have money. What did he do with the bribe the
Maranovitch gave him for betraying what he knew of the old
fortress? The boy doesn't even suspect him. Perhaps it's true
that he knows nothing. Or perhaps it is true that he has been so
ill-treated and flogged from his babyhood that he dare not speak.
There is a cowed look in his eyes in spite of his childish
swagger. He's been both starved and beaten.''
The outburst was well done. She did not look at Marco as she
poured forth her words. She spoke with the abruptness and
impetuosity of a person whose feelings had got the better of her.
If Marco was sensitive about his father, she felt sure that his
youth would make his face reveal something if his tongue did
not--if he understood Russian, which was one of the things it
would be useful to find out, because it was a fact which would
verify many other things.
Marco's face disappointed her. No change took place in it, and
the blood did not rise to the surface of his skin. He listened
with an uninterested air, blank and cold and polite. Let them
say what they chose.
The man twisted his pointed beard and shrugged his shoulders.
``We have a good little wine-cellar downstairs,'' he said. ``You
are going down into it, and you will probably stay there for some
time if you do not make up your mind to answer my questions. You
think that nothing can happen to you in a house in a London
street where policemen walk up and down. But you are mistaken.
If you yelled now, even if any one chanced to hear you, they
would only think you were a lad getting a thrashing he deserved.
You can yell as much as you like in the black little wine-cellar,
and no one will hear at all. We only took this house for three
months, and we shall leave it to-night without mentioning the
fact to any
one. If we choose to leave you in the wine-cellar, you will wait
there until somebody begins to notice that no one goes in and
out, and chances to mention it to the landlord--which few people
would take the trouble to do. Did you come here from Moscow?''
``I know nothing,'' said Marco.
``You might remain in the good little black cellar an
unpleasantly long time before you were found,'' the man went on,
quite coolly. ``Do you remember the peasants who came to see
your father two nights before you left?''
``I know nothing,'' said Marco.
``By the time it was discovered that the house was empty and
people came in to make sure, you might be too weak to call out
and attract their attention. Did you go to Budapest from Vienna,
and were you there for three months?'' asked the inquisitor.
``I know nothing,'' said Marco.
``You are too good for the little black cellar,'' put in the
Lovely Person. ``I like you. Don't go into it!''
``I know nothing,'' Marco answered, but the eyes which were like
Loristan's gave her just such a look as Loristan would have given
her, and she felt it. It made her uncomfortable.
``I don't believe you were ever ill-treated or beaten,'' she
said. ``I tell you, the little black cellar will be a hard
thing. Don't go there!''
And this time Marco said nothing, but looked at her still as if
he were some great young noble who was very proud.
He knew that every word the bearded man had spoken was true. To
cry out would be of no use. If they went away and left him
behind them, there was no knowing how many days would pass before
the people of the neighborhood would begin to suspect that the
place had been deserted, or how long it would be before it
occurred to some one to give warning to the owner. And in the
meantime, neither his father nor Lazarus nor The Rat would have
the faintest reason for guessing where he was. And he would be
sitting alone in the dark in the wine-cellar. He did not know in
the least what to do about this thing. He only knew that silence
was still the order.
``It is a jet-black little hole,'' the man said. ``You might
crack your throat in it, and no one would hear. Did men come to
talk with your father in the middle of the night when you were in
``I know nothing,'' said Marco.
``He won't tell,'' said the Lovely Person. ``I am sorry for this
``He may tell after he has sat in the good little black
wine-cellar for a few hours,'' said the man with the pointed
beard. ``Come with me!''
He put his powerful hand on Marco's shoulder and pushed him
before him. Marco made no struggle. He remembered what his
father had said about the game not being a game. It wasn't a
game now, but somehow he had a strong haughty feeling of not
He was taken through the hallway, toward the rear, and down the
commonplace flagged steps which led to the basement. Then he was
marched through a narrow, ill-lighted, flagged passage to a door
in the wall. The door was not locked and stood a trifle ajar.
His companion pushed it farther open and showed part of a wine-
cellar which was so dark that it was only the shelves nearest the
door that Marco could faintly see. His captor pushed him in and
shut the door. It was as black a hole as he had described.
Marco stood still in the midst of darkness like black velvet.
His guard turned the key.
``The peasants who came to your father in Moscow spoke Samavian
and were big men. Do you remember them?'' he asked from outside.
``I know nothing,'' answered Marco.
``You are a young fool,'' the voice replied. ``And I believe you
know even more than we thought. Your father will be greatly
troubled when you do not come home. I will come back to see you
in a few hours, if it is possible. I will tell you, however,
that I have had disturbing news which might make it necessary for
us to leave the house in a hurry. I might not have time to come
down here again before leaving.''
Marco stood with his back against a bit of wall and remained
There was stillness for a few minutes, and then there was to be
heard the sound of footsteps marching away.
When the last distant echo died all was quite silent, and Marco
drew a long breath. Unbelievable as it may appear, it was in one
sense almost a breath of relief. In the rush of strange feeling
which had swept over him when he found himself facing the
astounding situation up-stairs, it had not been easy to realize
what his thoughts really were; there were so many of them and
they came so fast. How could he quite believe the evidence of
his eyes and ears? A few minutes, only a few minutes, had
changed his prettily grateful and kindly acquaintance into a
subtle and cunning creature whose love for Samavia had been part
of a plot to harm it and to harm his father.
What did she and her companion want to do--what could they do if
they knew the things they were trying to force him to tell?
Marco braced his back against the wall stoutly.
``What will it be best to think about first?''
This he said because one of the most absorbingly fascinating
things he and his father talked about together was the power of
the thoughts which human beings allow to pass through their
minds--the strange strength of them. When they talked of this,
Marco felt as if he were listening to some marvelous Eastern
story of magic which was true. In Loristan's travels, he had
visited the far Oriental countries, and he had seen and learned
many things which seemed marvels, and they had taught him deep
thinking. He had known, and reasoned through days with men who
believed that when they desired a thing, clear and exalted
thought would bring it to them. He had discovered why they
believed this, and had learned to understand their profound
What he himself believed, he had taught Marco quite simply from
his childhood. It was this: he himself--Marco, with the strong
boy-body, the thick mat of black hair, and the patched clothes--
was the magician. He held and waved his wand himself--and his
wand was his own Thought. When special privation or anxiety
beset them, it was their rule to say, ``What will it be best to
think about first?'' which was Marco's reason for saying it to
himself now as he stood in the darkness which was like black
He waited a few minutes for the right thing to come to him.
``I will think of the very old hermit who lived on the ledge of
the mountains in India and who let my father talk to him through
all one night,'' he said at last. This had been a wonderful
story and one of his favorites. Loristan had traveled far to see
this ancient Buddhist, and what he had seen and heard during that
one night had made changes in his life. The part of the story
which came back to Marco now was these words:
``Let pass through thy mind, my son, only the image thou wouldst
desire to see a truth. Meditate only upon the wish of thy heart,
seeing first that it can injure no man and is not ignoble. Then
will it take earthly form and draw near to thee. This is the law
of that which creates.''
``I am not afraid,'' Marco said aloud. ``I shall not be afraid.
In some way I shall get out.''
This was the image he wanted most to keep steadily in his mind
--that nothing could make him afraid, and that in some way he
would get out of the wine-cellar.
He thought of this for some minutes, and said the words over
several times. He felt more like himself when he had done it.
``When my eyes are accustomed to the darkness, I shall see if
there is any little glimmer of light anywhere,'' he said next.
He waited with patience, and it seemed for some time that he saw
no glimmer at all. He put out his hands on either side of him,
and found that, on the side of the wall against which he stood,
there seemed to be no shelves. Perhaps the cellar had been used
for other purposes than the storing of wine, and, if that was
true, there might be somewhere some opening for ventilation. The
air was not bad, but then the door had not been shut tightly when
the man opened it.
``I am not afraid,'' he repeated. ``I shall not be afraid. In
some way I shall get out.''
He would not allow himself to stop and think about his father
waiting for his return. He knew that would only rouse his
emotions and weaken his courage. He began to feel his way
carefully along the wall. It reached farther than he had thought
The cellar was not so very small. He crept round it gradually,
and, when he had crept round it, he made his way across it,
keeping his hands extended before him and setting down each foot
cautiously. Then he sat down on the stone floor and thought
again, and what he thought was of the things the old Buddhist had
told his father, and that there was a way out of this place for
him, and he should somehow find it, and, before too long a time
had passed, be walking in the street again.
It was while he was thinking in this way that he felt a startling
thing. It seemed almost as if something touched him. It made
him jump, though the touch was so light and soft that it was
scarcely a touch at all, in fact he could not be sure that he had
not imagined it. He stood up and leaned against the wall again.
Perhaps the suddenness of his movement placed him at some angle
he had not reached before, or perhaps his eyes had become more
completely accustomed to the darkness, for, as he turned his head
to listen, he made a discovery: above the door there was a place
where the velvet blackness was not so dense. There was something
like a slit in the wall, though, as it did not open upon daylight
but upon the dark passage, it was not light it admitted so much
as a lesser shade of darkness. But even that was better than
nothing, and Marco drew another long breath.
``That is only the beginning. I shall find a way out,'' he said.
He remembered reading a story of a man who, being shut by
accident in a safety vault, passed through such terrors before
his release that he believed he had spent two days and nights in
the place when he had been there only a few hours.
``His thoughts did that. I must remember. I will sit down again
and begin thinking of all the pictures in the cabinet rooms of
the Art History Museum in Vienna. It will take some time, and
then there are the others,'' he said.
It was a good plan. While he could keep his mind upon the game
which had helped him to pass so many dull hours, he could think
of nothing else, as it required close attention--and perhaps, as
the day went on, his captors would begin to feel that it was not
safe to run the risk of doing a thing as desperate as this would
be. They might think better of it before they left the house at
least. In any case, he had learned enough from Loristan to
realize that only harm could come from letting one's mind run
``A mind is either an engine with broken and flying gear, or a
giant power under control,'' was the thing they knew.
He had walked in imagination through three of the cabinet rooms
and was turning mentally into a fourth, when he found himself
starting again quite violently. This time it was not at a touch
but at a sound. Surely it was a sound. And it was in the cellar
with him. But it was the tiniest possible noise, a ghost of a
squeak and a suggestion of a movement. It came from the opposite
side of the cellar, the side where the shelves were. He looked
across in the darkness saw a light which there could be no
mistake about. It WAS a light, two lights indeed, two round
phosphorescent greenish balls. They were two eyes staring at
him. And then he heard another sound. Not a squeak this time,
but something so homely and comfortable that he actually burst
out laughing. It was a cat purring, a nice warm cat! And she
was curled up on one of the lower shelves purring to some
new-born kittens. He knew there were kittens because it was
plain now what the tiny squeak had been, and it was made plainer
by the fact that he heard another much more distinct one and then
another. They had all been asleep when he had come into the
cellar. If the mother had been awake, she had probably been very
much afraid. Afterward she had perhaps come down from her shelf
to investigate, and had passed close to him. The feeling of
relief which came upon him at this queer and simple discovery was
wonderful. It was so natural and comfortable an every-day thing
that it seemed to make spies and criminals unreal, and only
natural things possible. With a mother cat purring away among
her kittens, even a dark wine-cellar was not so black. He got up
and kneeled by the shelf. The greenish eyes did not shine in an
unfriendly way. He could feel that the owner of them was a nice
big cat, and he counted four round little balls of kittens. It
was a curious delight to stroke the soft fur and talk to the
mother cat. She answered with purring, as if she liked the sense
of friendly human nearness. Marco laughed to himself.
``It's queer what a difference it makes!'' he said. ``It is
almost like finding a window.''
The mere presence of these harmless living things was
companionship. He sat down close to the low shelf and listened
to the motherly purring, now and then speaking and putting out
his hand to touch the warm fur. The phosphorescent light in the
green eyes was a comfort in itself.
``We shall get out of this--both of us,'' he said. ``We shall
not be here very long, Puss-cat.''
He was not troubled by the fear of being really hungry for some
time. He was so used to eating scantily from necessity, and to
passing long hours without food during his journeys, that he had
proved to himself that fasting is not, after all, such a
desperate ordeal as most people imagine. If you begin by
expecting to feel famished and by counting the hours between your
meals, you will begin to be ravenous. But he knew better.
The time passed slowly; but he had known it would pass slowly,
and he had made up his mind not to watch it nor ask himself
questions about it. He was not a restless boy, but, like his
father, could stand or sit or lie still. Now and then he could
hear distant rumblings of carts and vans passing in the street.
There was a certain degree of companionship in these also. He
kept his place near the cat and his hand where he could
occasionally touch her. He could lift his eyes now and then to
the place where the dim glimmer of something like light showed
Perhaps the stillness, perhaps the darkness, perhaps the purring
of the mother cat, probably all three, caused his thoughts to
begin to travel through his mind slowly and more slowly. At last
they ceased and he fell asleep. The mother cat purred for some
time, and then fell asleep herself.
A SOUND IN A DREAM
Marco slept peacefully for several hours. There was nothing to
awaken him during that time. But at the end of it, his sleep was
penetrated by a definite sound. He had dreamed of hearing a
voice at a distance, and, as he tried in his dream to hear what
it said, a brief metallic ringing sound awakened him outright.
It was over by the time he was fully conscious, and at once he
realized that the voice of his dream had been a real one, and was
speaking still. It was the Lovely Person's voice, and she was
speaking rapidly, as if she were in the greatest haste. She was
speaking through the door.
``You will have to search for it,'' was all he heard. ``I have
not a moment!'' And, as he listened to her hurriedly departing
feet, there came to him with their hastening echoes the words,
``You are too good for the cellar. I like you!''
He sprang to the door and tried it, but it was still locked. The
feet ran up the cellar steps and through the upper hall, and the
front door closed with a bang. The two people had gone away, as
they had threatened. The voice had been excited as well as
hurried. Something had happened to frighten them, and they had
left the house in great haste.
Marco turned and stood with his back against the door. The cat
had awakened and she was gazing at him with her green eyes. She
began to purr encouragingly. She really helped Marco to think.
He was thinking with all his might and trying to remember.
``What did she come for? She came for something,'' he said to
himself. ``What did she say? I only heard part of it, because I
was asleep. The voice in the dream was part of it. The part I
heard was, `You will have to search for it. I have not a
moment.' And as she ran down the passage, she called back, `You
are too good for the cellar. I like you.' '' He said the words
over and over again and tried to recall exactly how they had
sounded, and also to recall the voice which had seemed to be part
of a dream but had been a real thing. Then he began to try his
favorite experiment. As he often tried the experiment of
commanding his mind to go to sleep, so he frequently experimented
on commanding it to work for him --to help him to remember, to
understand, and to argue about things clearly.
``Reason this out for me,'' he said to it now, quite naturally
and calmly. ``Show me what it means.''
What did she come for? It was certain that she was in too great
a hurry to be able, without a reason, to spare the time to come.
What was the reason? She had said she liked him. Then she came
because she liked him. If she liked him, she came to do
something which was not unfriendly. The only good thing she
could do for him was something which would help him to get out of
the cellar. She had said twice that he was too good for the
cellar. If he had been awake, he would have heard all she said
and have understood what she wanted him to do or meant to do for
him. He must not stop even to think of that. The first words he
had heard--what had they been? They had been less clear to him
than her last because he had heard them only as he was awakening.
But he thought he was sure that they had been, ``You will have to
search for it.'' Search for it. For what? He thought and
thought. What must he search for?
He sat down on the floor of the cellar and held his head in his
hands, pressing his eyes so hard that curious lights floated
``Tell me! Tell me!'' he said to that part of his being which
the Buddhist anchorite had said held all knowledge and could tell
a man everything if he called upon it in the right spirit.
And in a few minutes, he recalled something which seemed so much
a part of his sleep that he had not been sure that he had not
dreamed it. The ringing sound! He sprang up on his feet with a
little gasping shout. The ringing sound! It had been the ring
of metal, striking as it fell. Anything made of metal might have
sounded like that. She had thrown something made of metal into
the cellar. She had thrown it through the slit in the bricks
near the door. She liked him, and said he was too good for his
prison. She had thrown to him the only thing which could set him
free. She had thrown him the KEY of the cellar!
For a few minutes the feelings which surged through him were so
full of strong excitement that they set his brain in a whirl. He
knew what his father would say--that would not do. If he was to
think, he must hold himself still and not let even joy overcome
him. The key was in the black little cellar, and he must find it
in the dark. Even the woman who liked him enough to give him a
chance of freedom knew that she must not open the door and let
him out. There must be a delay. He would have to find the key
himself, and it would be sure to take time. The chances were
that they would be at a safe enough distance before he could get
``I will kneel down and crawl on my hands and knees,'' he said.
``I will crawl back and forth and go over every inch of the floor
with my hands until I find it. If I go over every inch, I shall
So he kneeled down and began to crawl, and the cat watched him
``We shall get out, Puss-cat,'' he said to her. ``I told you we
He crawled from the door to the wall at the side of the shelves,
and then he crawled back again. The key might be quite a small
one, and it was necessary that he should pass his hands over
every inch, as he had said. The difficulty was to be sure, in
the darkness, that he did not miss an inch. Sometimes he was not
sure enough, and then he went over the ground again. He crawled
backward and forward, and he crawled forward and backward. He
crawled crosswise and lengthwise, he crawled diagonally, and he
crawled round and round. But he did not find the key. If he had
had only a little light, but he had none. He was so absorbed in
his search that he did not know he had been engaged in it for
several hours, and that it was the middle of the night. But at
last he realized that he must stop for a rest, because his knees
were beginning to feel bruised, and the skin of his hands was
sore as a result of the rubbing on the flags. The cat and her
kittens had gone to sleep and awakened again two or three times.
``But it is somewhere!'' he said obstinately. ``It is inside the
cellar. I heard something fall which was made of metal. That
was the ringing sound which awakened me.''
When he stood up, he found his body ached and he was very tired.
He stretched himself and exercised his arms and legs.
``I wonder how long I have been crawling about,'' he thought.
``But the key is in the cellar. It is in the cellar.''
He sat down near the cat and her family, and, laying his arm on
the shelf above her, rested his head on it. He began to think of
``I am so tired, I believe I shall go to sleep again. `Thought
which Knows All' ''--he was quoting something the hermit had said
to Loristan in their midnight talk--``Thought which Knows All!
Show me this little thing. Lead me to it when I awake.''
And he did fall asleep, sound and fast.
He did not know that he slept all the rest of the night. But he
did. When he awakened, it was daylight in the streets, and the
milk-carts were beginning to jingle about, and the early postmen
were knocking big double-knocks at front doors. The cat may have
heard the milk-carts, but the actual fact was that she herself
was hungry and wanted to go in search of food. Just as Marco
lifted his head from his arm and sat up, she jumped down from her
shelf and went to the door. She had expected to find it ajar as
it had been before. When she found it shut, she scratched at it
and was disturbed to find this of no use. Because she knew Marco
was in the cellar, she felt she had a friend who would assist
her, and she miauled appealingly.
This reminded Marco of the key.
``I will when I have found it,'' he said. ``It is inside the
The cat miauled again, this time very anxiously indeed. The
kittens heard her and began to squirm and squeak piteously.
``Lead me to this little thing,'' said Marco, as if speaking to
Something in the darkness about him, and he got up.
He put his hand out toward the kittens, and it touched something
lying not far from them. It must have been lying near his elbow
all night while he slept.
It was the key! It had fallen upon the shelf, and not on the
floor at all.
Marco picked it up and then stood still a moment. He made the
sign of the cross.
Then he found his way to the door and fumbled until he found the
keyhole and got the key into it. Then he turned it and pushed
the door open--and the cat ran out into the passage before him.
THE RAT TO THE RESCUE
Marco walked through the passage and into the kitchen part of the
basement. The doors were all locked, and they were solid doors.
He ran up the flagged steps and found the door at the top shut
and bolted also, and that too was a solid door. His jailers had
plainly made sure that it should take time enough for him to make
his way into the world, even after he got out of the wine-cellar.
The cat had run away to some part of the place where mice were
plentiful. Marco was by this time rather gnawingly hungry
himself. If he could get into the kitchen, he might find some
fragments of food left in a cupboard; but there was no moving the
locked door. He tried the outlet into the area, but that was
immov- able. Then he saw near it a smaller door. It was
evidently the entrance to the coal-cellar under the pavement.
This was proved by the fact that trodden coal-dust marked the
flagstones, and near it stood a scuttle with coal in it.
This coal-scuttle was the thing which might help him! Above the
area door was a small window which was supposed to light the
entry. He could not reach it, and, if he reached it, he could
not open it. He could throw pieces of coal at the glass and
break it, and then he could shout for help when people passed by.
They might not notice or understand where the shouts came from at
first, but, if he kept them up, some one's attention would be
attracted in the end.
He picked a large-sized solid piece of coal out of the heap in
the scuttle, and threw it with all his force against the grimy
glass. It smashed through and left a big hole. He threw
another, and the entire pane was splintered and fell outside into
the area. Then he saw it was broad daylight, and guessed that he
had been shut up a good many hours. There was plenty of coal in
the scuttle, and he had a strong arm and a good aim. He smashed
pane after pane, until only the framework remained. When he
shouted, there would be nothing between his voice and the street.
No one could see him, but if he could do something which would
make people slacken their pace to listen, then he could call out
that he was in the basement of the house with the broken window.
``Hallo!'' he shouted. ``Hallo! Hallo! Hallo! Hallo!''
But vehicles were passing in the street, and the passers-by were
absorbed in their own business. If they heard a sound, they did
not stop to inquire into it.
``Hallo! Hallo! I am locked in!'' yelled Marco, at the topmost
power of his lungs. ``Hallo! Hallo!''
After half an hour's shouting, he began to think that he was
wasting his strength.
``They only think it is a boy shouting,'' he said. ``Some one
will notice in time. At night, when the streets are quiet, I
might make a policeman hear. But my father does not know where
I am. He will be trying to find me--so will Lazarus--so will The
Rat. One of them might pass through this very street, as I did.
What can I do!''
A new idea flashed light upon him.
``I will begin to sing a Samavian song, and I will sing it very
loud. People nearly always stop a moment to listen to music and
find out where it comes from. And if any of my own people came
near, they would stop at once--and now and then I will shout for
Once when they had stopped to rest on Hampstead Heath, he had
sung a valiant Samavian song for The Rat. The Rat had wanted to
hear how he would sing when they went on their secret journey.
He wanted him to sing for the Squad some day, to make the thing
seem real. The Rat had been greatly excited, and had begged for
the song often. It was a stirring martial thing with a sort of
trumpet call of a chorus. Thousands of Samavians had sung it
together on their way to the battle-field, hundreds of years ago.
He drew back a step or so, and, putting his hands on his hips,
began to sing, throwing his voice upward that it might pass
through the broken window. He had a splendid and vibrant young
voice, though he knew nothing of its fine quality. Just now he
wanted only to make it loud.
In the street outside very few people were passing. An irritable
old gentleman who was taking an invalid walk quite jumped with
annoyance when the song suddenly trumpeted forth. Boys had no
right to yell in that manner. He hurried his step to get away
from the sound. Two or three other people glanced over their
shoulders, but had not time to loiter. A few others listened
with pleasure as they drew near and passed on.
``There's a boy with a fine voice,'' said one.
``What's he singing?'' said his companion. ``It sounds
``Don't know,'' was the reply as they went by. But at last a
young man who was a music-teacher, going to give a lesson,
hesitated and looked about him. The song was very loud and
spirited just at this moment. The music-teacher could not
understand where it came from, and paused to find out. The fact
that he stopped attracted the attention of the next comer, who
``Who's singing?'' he asked. ``Where is he singing?''
``I can't make out,'' the music-teacher laughed. ``Sounds as if
it came out of the ground.''
And, because it was queer that a song should seem to be coming
out of the ground, a costermonger stopped, and then a little boy,
and then a workingwoman, and then a lady.
There was quite a little group when another person turned the
corner of the street. He was a shabby boy on crutches, and he
had a frantic look on his face.
And Marco actually heard, as he drew near to the group, the
tap-tap-tap of crutches.
``It might be,'' he thought. ``It might be!''
And he sang the trumpet-call of the chorus as if it were meant to
reach the skies, and he sang it again and again. And at the end
of it shouted, ``Hallo! Hallo! Hallo! Hallo! Hallo!''
The Rat swung himself into the group and looked as if he had gone
crazy. He hurled himself against the people.
``Where is he! Where is he!'' he cried, and he poured out some
breathless words; it was almost as if he sobbed them out.
``We've been looking for him all night!'' he shouted. ``Where is
he! Marco! Marco! No one else sings it but him. Marco!
Marco!'' And out of the area, as it seemed, came a shout of
``Rat! Rat! I'm here in the cellar--locked in. I'm here!'' and
a big piece of coal came hurtling through the broken window and
fell crashing on the area flags. The Rat got down the steps into
the area as if he had not been on crutches but on legs, and
banged on the door, shouting back:
``Marco! Marco! Here I am! Who locked you in? How can I get
the door open?''
Marco was close against the door inside. It was The Rat! It was
The Rat! And he would be in the street again in a few minutes.
``Call a policeman!'' he shouted through the keyhole. ``The
people locked me in on purpose and took away the keys.''
Then the group of lookers-on began to get excited and press
against the area railings and ask questions. They could not
understand what had happened to cause the boy with the crutches
to look as if he were crazy with terror and relief at the same
And the little boy ran delightedly to fetch a policeman, and
found one in the next street, and, with some difficulty,
persuaded him that it was his business to come and get a door
open in an empty house where a boy who was a street singer had
got locked up in a cellar.
``IT IS A VERY BAD SIGN''
The policeman was not so much excited as out of temper. He did
not know what Marco knew or what The Rat knew. Some common lad
had got himself locked up in a house, and some one would have to
go to the landlord and get a key from him. He had no intention
of laying himself open to the law by breaking into a private
house with his truncheon, as The Rat expected him to do.
``He got himself in through some of his larks, and he'll have to
wait till he's got out without smashing locks,'' he growled,
shaking the area door. ``How did you get in there?'' he shouted.
It was not easy for Marco to explain through a keyhole that he
had come in to help a lady who had met with an accident. The
policeman thought this mere boy's talk. As to the rest of the
story, Marco knew that it could not be related at all without
saying things which could not be explained to any one but his
father. He quickly made up his mind that he must let it be
believed that he had been locked in by some queer accident. It
must be supposed that the people had not remembered, in their
haste, that he had not yet left the house.
When the young clerk from the house agency came with the keys, he
was much disturbed and bewildered after he got inside.
``They've made a bolt of it,'' he said. ``That happens now and
then, but there's something queer about this. What did they lock
these doors in the basement for, and the one on the stairs? What
did they say to you?'' he asked Marco, staring at him
``They said they were obliged to go suddenly,'' Marco answered.
``What were you doing in the basement?''
``The man took me down.''
``And left you there and bolted? He must have been in a hurry.''
``The lady said they had not a moment's time.''
``Her ankle must have got well in short order,'' said the young
``I knew nothing about them,'' answered Marco. ``I had never
seen them before.''
``The police were after them,'' the young man said. ``That's
what I should say. They paid three months' rent in advance, and
they have only been here two. Some of these foreign spies
lurking about London; that's what they were.''
The Rat had not waited until the keys arrived. He had swung
himself at his swiftest pace back through the streets to No. 7
Philibert Place. People turned and stared at his wild pale face
as he almost shot past them.
He had left himself barely breath enough to speak with when he
reached the house and banged on the door with his crutch to save
Both Loristan and Lazarus came to answer.
The Rat leaned against the door gasping.
``He's found! He's all right!'' he panted. ``Some one had
locked him in a house and left him. They've sent for the keys.
I'm going back. Brandon Terrace, No. 10.''
Loristan and Lazarus exchanged glances. Both of them were at the
moment as pale as The Rat.
``Help him into the house,'' said Loristan to Lazarus. ``He must
stay here and rest. We will go.'' The Rat knew it was an order.
He did not like it, but he obeyed.
``This is a bad sign, Master,'' said Lazarus, as they went out
``It is a very bad one,'' answered Loristan.
``God of the Right, defend us!'' Lazarus groaned.
``Amen!'' said Loristan. ``Amen!''
The group had become a small crowd by the time they reached
Brandon Terrace. Marco had not found it easy to leave the place
because he was being questioned. Neither the policeman nor the
agent's clerk seemed willing to relinquish the idea that he could
give them some information about the absconding pair.
The entrance of Loristan produced its usual effect. The agent's
clerk lifted his hat, and the policeman stood straight and made
salute. Neither of them realized that the tall man's clothes
were worn and threadbare. They felt only that a personage was
before them, and that it was not possible to question his air of
absolute and serene authority. He laid his hand on Marco's
shoulder and held it there as he spoke. When Marco looked up at
him and felt the closeness of his touch, it seemed as if it were
an embrace-- as if he had caught him to his breast.
``My boy knew nothing of these people,'' he said. ``That I can
guarantee. He had seen neither of them before. His entering the
house was the result of no boyish trick. He has been shut up in
this place for nearly twenty-four hours and has had no food. I
must take him home. This is my address.'' He handed the young
man a card.
Then they went home together, and all the way to Philibert Place
Loristan's firm hand held closely to his boy's shoulder as if he
could not endure to let him go. But on the way they said very
``Father,'' Marco said, rather hoarsely, when they first got away
from the house in the terrace, ``I can't talk well in the street.
For one thing, I am so glad to be with you again. It seemed as
if--it might turn out badly.''
``Beloved one,'' Loristan said the words in their own Samavian,
``until you are fed and at rest, you shall not talk at all.''
Afterward, when he was himself again and was allowed to tell his
strange story, Marco found that both his father and Lazarus had
at once had suspicions when he had not returned. They knew no
ordinary event could have kept him. They were sure that he must
have been detained against his will, and they were also sure
that, if he had been so detained, it could only have been for
reasons they could guess at.
``This was the card that she gave me,'' Marco said, and he handed
it to Loristan. ``She said you would remember the name.''
Loristan looked at the lettering with an ironic half-smile.
``I never heard it before,'' he replied. ``She would not send me
a name I knew. Probably I have never seen either of them. But I
know the work they do. They are spies of the Maranovitch, and
suspect that I know something of the Lost Prince. They believed
they could terrify you into saying things which would be a clue.
Men and women of their class will use desperate means to gain
``Might they--have left me as they threatened?'' Marco asked him.
``They would scarcely have dared, I think. Too great a hue and
cry would have been raised by the discovery of such a crime. Too
many detectives would have been set at work to track them.''
But the look in his father's eyes as he spoke, and the pressure
of the hand he stretched out to touch him, made Marco's heart
thrill. He had won a new love and trust from his father. When
they sat together and talked that night, they were closer to each
other's souls than they had ever been before.
They sat in the firelight, Marco upon the worn hearth-rug, and
they talked about Samavia--about the war and its heart-rending
struggles, and about how they might end.
``Do you think that some time we might be exiles no longer?'' the
boy said wistfully. ``Do you think we might go there together
--and see it--you and I, Father?''
There was a silence for a while. Loristan looked into the
sinking bed of red coal.
``For years--for years I have made for my soul that image,'' he
said slowly. ``When I think of my friend on the side of the
Himalayan Mountains, I say, `The Thought which Thought the World
may give us that also!' ''
``CITIES AND FACES''
The hours of Marco's unexplained absence had been terrible to
Loristan and to Lazarus. They had reason for fears which it was
not possible for them to express. As the night drew on, the
fears took stronger form. They forgot the existence of The Rat,
who sat biting his nails in the bedroom, afraid to go out lest he
might lose the chance of being given some errand to do but also
afraid to show himself lest he should seem in the way.
``I'll stay upstairs,'' he had said to Lazarus. ``If you just
whistle, I'll come.''
The anguish he passed through as the day went by and Lazarus went
out and came in and he himself received no orders, could not
have been expressed in any ordinary words. He writhed in his
chair, he bit his nails to the quick, he wrought himself into a
frenzy of misery and terror by recalling one by one all the
crimes his knowledge of London police-courts supplied him with.
He was doing nothing, yet he dare not leave his post. It was his
post after all, though they had not given it to him. He must do
In the middle of the night Loristan opened the door of the back
sitting-room, because he knew he must at least go upstairs and
throw himself upon his bed even if he could not sleep.
He started back as the door opened. The Rat was sitting huddled
on the floor near it with his back against the wall. He had a
piece of paper in his hand and his twisted face was a weird thing
``Why are you here?'' Loristan asked.
``I've been here three hours, sir. I knew you'd have to come out
sometime and I thought you'd let me speak to you. Will you--
``Come into the room,'' said Loristan. ``I will listen to
anything you want to say. What have you been drawing on that
paper?'' as The Rat got up in the wonderful way he had taught
himself. The paper was covered with lines which showed it to be
another of his plans.
``Please look at it,'' he begged. ``I daren't go out lest you
might want to send me somewhere. I daren't sit doing nothing. I
began remembering and thinking things out. I put down all the
streets and squares he MIGHT have walked through on his way home.
I've not missed one. If you'll let me start out and walk through
every one of them and talk to the policemen on the beat and look
at the houses--and think out things and work at them--I'll not
miss an inch--I'll not miss a brick or a flagstone--I'll--'' His
voice had a hard sound but it shook, and he himself shook.
Loristan touched his arm gently.
``You are a good comrade,'' he said. ``It is well for us that
you are here. You have thought of a good thing.''
``May I go now?'' said The Rat.
``This moment, if you are ready,'' was the answer. The Rat swung
himself to the door.
Loristan said to him a thing which was like the sudden lighting
of a great light in the very center of his being.
``You are one of us. Now that I know you are doing this I may
even sleep. You are one of us.'' And it was because he was
following this plan that The Rat had turned into Brandon Terrace
and heard the Samavian song ringing out from the locked basement
of Number 10.
``Yes, he is one of us,'' Loristan said, when he told this part
of the story to Marco as they sat by the fire. ``I had not been
sure before. I wanted to be very sure. Last night I saw into
the depths of him and KNEW. He may be trusted.''
From that day The Rat held a new place. Lazarus himself,
strangely enough, did not resent his holding it. The boy was
allowed to be near Loristan as he had never dared to hope to be
near. It was not merely that he was allowed to serve him in many
ways, but he was taken into the intimacy which had before
enclosed only the three. Loristan talked to him as he talked to
Marco, drawing him within the circle which held so much that was
comprehended without speech. The Rat knew that he was being
trained and observed and he realized it with exaltation. His
idol had said that he was ``one of them'' and he was watching and
putting him to tests so that he might find out how much he was
one of them. And he was doing it for some grave reason of his
own. This thought possessed The Rat's whole mind. Perhaps he
was wondering if he should find out that he was to be trusted, as
a rock is to be trusted. That he should even think that perhaps
he might find that he was like a rock, was inspiration enough.
``Sir,'' he said one night when they were alone together, because
The Rat had been copying a road-map. His voice was very low--
``do you think that--sometime--you could trust me as you trust
Marco? Could it ever be like that--ever?''
``The time has come,'' and Loristan's voice was almost as low as
his own, though strong and deep feeling underlay its quiet--
``the time has come when I can trust you with Marco--to be his
companion--to care for him, to stand by his side at any moment.
And Marco is--Marco is my son.'' That was enough to uplift The
Rat to the skies. But there was more to follow.
``It may not be long before it may be his part to do work in
which he will need a comrade who can be trusted--as a rock can be
He had said the very words The Rat's own mind had given to him.
``A Rock! A Rock!'' the boy broke out. ``Let me show you, sir.
Send me with him for a servant. The crutches are nothing.
You've seen that they're as good as legs, haven't you? I've
``I know, I know, dear lad.'' Marco had told him all of it. He
gave him a gracious smile which seemed as if it held a sort of
fine secret. ``You shall go as his aide-de-camp. It shall be
part of the game.''
He had always encouraged ``the game,'' and during the last weeks
had even found time to help them in their plannings for the
mysterious journey of the Secret Two. He had been so interested
that once or twice he had called on Lazarus as an old soldier and
Samavian to give his opinions of certain routes--and of the
customs and habits of people in towns and villages by the way.
Here they would find simple pastoral folk who danced, sang after
their day's work, and who would tell all they knew; here they
would find those who served or feared the Maranovitch and who
would not talk at all. In one place they would meet with
hospitality, in another with unfriendly suspicion of all
strangers. Through talk and stories The Rat began to know the
country almost as Marco knew it. That was part of the game
too--because it was always ``the game,'' they called it. Another
part was The Rat's training of his memory, and bringing home his
proofs of advance at night when he returned from his walk and
could describe, or recite, or roughly sketch all he had seen in
his passage from one place to another. Marco's part was to
recall and sketch faces. Loristan one night gave him a number of
photographs of people to commit to memory. Under each face was
written the name of a place.
``Learn these faces,'' he said, ``until you would know each one
of them at once wheresoever you met it. Fix them upon your mind,
so that it will be impossible for you to forget them. You must
be able to sketch any one of them and recall the city or town or
neighborhood connected with it.''
Even this was still called ``the game,'' but Marco began to know
in his secret heart that it was so much more, that his hand
sometimes trembled with excitement as he made his sketches over
and over again. To make each one many times was the best way to
imbed it in his memory. The Rat knew, too, though he had no
reason for knowing, but mere instinct. He used to lie awake in
the night and think it over and remember what Loristan had said
of the time coming when Marco might need a comrade in his work.
What was his work to be? It was to be something like ``the
game.'' And they were being prepared for it. And though Marco
often lay awake on his bed when The Rat lay awake on his sofa,
neither boy spoke to the other of the thing his mind dwelt on.
And Marco worked as he had never worked before. The game was
very exciting when he could prove his prowess. The four gathered
together at night in the back sitting-room. Lazarus was obliged
to be with them because a second judge was needed. Loristan
would mention the name of a place, perhaps a street in Paris or a
hotel in Vienna, and Marco would at once make a rapid sketch of
the face under whose photograph the name of the locality had been
written. It was not long before he could begin his sketch
without more than a moment's hesitation. And yet even when this
had become the case, they still played the game night after
night. There was a great hotel near the Place de la Concorde in
Paris, of which Marco felt he should never hear the name during
all his life without there starting up before his mental vision a
tall woman with fierce black eyes and a delicate high-bridged
nose across which the strong eyebrows almost met. In Vienna
there was a palace which would always bring back at once a pale
cold-faced man with a heavy blonde lock which fell over his
forehead. A certain street in Munich meant a stout genial old
aristocrat with a sly smile; a village in Bavaria, a peasant with
a vacant and simple countenance. A curled and smoothed man who
looked like a hair-dresser brought up a place in an Austrian
mountain town. He knew them all as he knew his own face and No.
7 Philibert Place.
But still night after night the game was played.
Then came a night when, out of a deep sleep, he was awakened by
Lazarus touching him. He had so long been secretly ready to
answer any call that he sat up straight in bed at the first
``Dress quickly and come down stairs,'' Lazarus said. ``The
Prince is here and wishes to speak with you.''
Marco made no answer but got out of bed and began to slip on his
Lazarus touched The Rat.
The Rat was as ready as Marco and sat upright as he had done.
``Come down with the young Master,'' he commanded. ``It is
necessary that you should be seen and spoken to.'' And having
given the order he went away.