Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Lost Prince by Francis Hodgson Burnett

Part 4 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

No one heard the shoeless feet of the two boys as they stole down
the stairs.

An elderly man in ordinary clothes, but with an unmistakable
face, was sitting quietly talking to Loristan who with a gesture
called both forward.

``The Prince has been much interested in what I have told him of
your game,'' he said in his lowest voice. ``He wishes to see you
make your sketches, Marco.''

Marco looked very straight into the Prince's eyes which were
fixed intently on him as he made his bow.

``His Highness does me honor,'' he said, as his father might have
said it. He went to the table at once and took from a drawer his
pencils and pieces of cardboard.

``I should know he was your son and a Samavian,'' the Prince

Then his keen and deep-set eyes turned themselves on the boy with
the crutches.

``This,'' said Loristan, ``is the one who calls himself The Rat.
He is one of us.''

The Rat saluted.

``Please tell him, sir,'' he whispered, ``that the crutches don't

``He has trained himself to an extraordinary activity,'' Loristan
said. ``He can do anything.''

The keen eyes were still taking The Rat in.

``They are an advantage,'' said the Prince at last.

Lazarus had nailed together a light, rough easel which Marco used
in making his sketches when the game was played. Lazarus was
standing in state at the door, and he came forward, brought the
easel from its corner, and arranged the necessary drawing
materials upon it.

Marco stood near it and waited the pleasure of his father and his
visitor. They were speaking together in low tones and he waited
several minutes. What The Rat noticed was what he had noticed
before--that the big boy could stand still in perfect ease and
silence. It was not necessary for him to say things or to ask
questions-- to look at people as if he felt restless if they did
not speak to or notice him. He did not seem to require notice,
and The Rat felt vaguely that, young as he was, this very freedom
from any anxiety to be looked at or addressed made him somehow
look like a great gentleman.

Loristan and the Prince advanced to where he stood.

``L'Hotel de Marigny,'' Loristan said.

Marco began to sketch rapidly. He began the portrait of the
handsome woman with the delicate high-bridged nose and the black
brows which almost met. As he did it, the Prince drew nearer and
watched the work over his shoulder. It did not take very long
and, when it was finished, the inspector turned, and after giving
Loristan a long and strange look, nodded twice.

``It is a remarkable thing,'' he said. ``In that rough sketch
she is not to be mistaken.''

Loristan bent his head.

Then he mentioned the name of another street in another place
--and Marco sketched again. This time it was the peasant with
the simple face. The Prince bowed again. Then Loristan gave
another name, and after that another and another; and Marco did
his work until it was at an end, and Lazarus stood near with a
handful of sketches which he had silently taken charge of as each
was laid aside.

``You would know these faces wheresoever you saw them?'' said the
Prince. ``If you passed one in Bond Street or in the Marylebone
Road, you would recognize it at once?''

``As I know yours, sir,'' Marco answered.

Then followed a number of questions. Loristan asked them as he
had often asked them before. They were questions as to the
height and build of the originals of the pictures, of the color
of their hair and eyes, and the order of their complexions.
Marco answered them all. He knew all but the names of these
people, and it was plainly not necessary that he should know
them, as his father had never uttered them.

After this questioning was at an end the Prince pointed to The
Rat who had leaned on his crutches against the wall, his eyes
fiercely eager like a ferret's.

``And he?'' the Prince said. ``What can he do?''

``Let me try,'' said The Rat. ``Marco knows.''

Marco looked at his father.

``May I help him to show you?'' he asked.

``Yes,'' Loristan answered, and then, as he turned to the Prince,
he said again in his low voice: ``HE IS ONE OF US.''

Then Marco began a new form of the game. He held up one of the
pictured faces before The Rat, and The Rat named at once the city
and place connected with it, he detailed the color of eyes and
hair, the height, the build, all the personal details as Marco
himself had detailed them. To these he added descriptions of the
cities, and points concerning the police system, the palaces, the
people. His face twisted itself, his eyes burned, his voice
shook, but he was amazing in his readiness of reply and his
exactness of memory.

``I can't draw,'' he said at the end. ``But I can remember. I
didn't want any one to be bothered with thinking I was trying to
learn it. So only Marco knew.''

This he said to Loristan with appeal in his voice.

``It was he who invented `the game,' '' said Loristan. ``I
showed you his strange maps and plans.''

``It is a good game,'' the Prince answered in the manner of a man
extraordinarily interested and impressed. ``They know it well.
They can be trusted.''

``No such thing has ever been done before,'' Loristan said. ``It
is as new as it is daring and simple.''

``Therein lies its safety,'' the Prince answered.

``Perhaps only boyhood,'' said Loristan, ``could have dared to
imagine it.''

``The Prince thanks you,'' he said after a few more words spoken
aside to his visitor. ``We both thank you. You may go back to
your beds.''

And the boys went.



A week had not passed before Marco brought to The Rat in their
bedroom an envelope containing a number of slips of paper on each
of which was written something.

``This is another part of the game,'' he said gravely. ``Let us
sit down together by the table and study it.''

They sat down and examined what was written on the slips. At the
head of each was the name of one of the places with which Marco
had connected a face he had sketched. Below were clear and
concise directions as to how it was to be reached and the words
to be said when each individual was encountered.

``This person is to be found at his stall in the market,'' was
written of the vacant-faced peasant. ``You will first attract
his attention by asking the price of something. When he is
looking at you, touch your left thumb lightly with the forefinger
of your right hand. Then utter in a low distinct tone the words
`The Lamp is lighted.' That is all you are to do.''

Sometimes the directions were not quite so simple, but they were
all instructions of the same order. The originals of the
sketches were to be sought out--always with precaution which
should conceal that they were being sought at all, and always in
such a manner as would cause an encounter to appear to be mere
chance. Then certain words were to be uttered, but always
without attracting the attention of any bystander or passer-by.

The boys worked at their task through the entire day. They
concentrated all their powers upon it. They wrote and re-wrote
--they repeated to each other what they committed to memory as if
it were a lesson. Marco worked with the greater ease and more
rapidly, because exercise of this order had been his practice and
entertainment from his babyhood. The Rat, however, almost kept
pace with him, as he had been born with a phenomenal memory and
his eagerness and desire were a fury.

But throughout the entire day neither of them once referred to
what they were doing as anything but ``the game.''

At night, it is true, each found himself lying awake and
thinking. It was The Rat who broke the silence from his sofa.

``It is what the messengers of the Secret Party would be ordered
to do when they were sent out to give the Sign for the Rising,''
he said. ``I made that up the first day I invented the party,
didn't I?''

``Yes,'' answered Marco.

After a third day's concentration they knew by heart everything
given to them to learn. That night Loristan put them through an

``Can you write these things?'' he asked, after each had repeated
them and emerged safely from all cross-questioning.

Each boy wrote them correctly from memory.

``Write yours in French--in German--in Russian--in Samavian,''
Loristan said to Marco.

``All you have told me to do and to learn is part of myself,
Father,'' Marco said in the end. ``It is part of me, as if it
were my hand or my eyes--or my heart.''

``I believe that is true,'' answered Loristan.

He was pale that night and there was a shadow on his face. His
eyes held a great longing as they rested on Marco. It was a
yearning which had a sort of dread in it.

Lazarus also did not seem quite himself. He was red instead of
pale, and his movements were uncertain and restless. He cleared
his throat nervously at intervals and more than once left his
chair as if to look for something.

It was almost midnight when Loristan, standing near Marco, put
his arm round his shoulders.

``The Game''--he began, and then was silent a few moments while
Marco felt his arm tighten its hold. Both Marco and The Rat felt
a hard quick beat in their breasts, and, because of this and
because the pause seemed long, Marco spoke.

``The Game--yes, Father?'' he said.

``The Game is about to give you work to do--both of you,''
Loristan answered.

Lazarus cleared his throat and walked to the easel in the corner
of the room. But he only changed the position of a piece of
drawing- paper on it and then came back.

``In two days you are to go to Paris--as you,'' to The Rat,
``planned in the game.''

``As I planned?'' The Rat barely breathed the words.

``Yes,'' answered Loristan. ``The instructions you have learned
you will carry out. There is no more to be done than to manage
to approach certain persons closely enough to be able to utter
certain words to them.''

``Only two young strollers whom no man could suspect,'' put in
Lazarus in an astonishingly rough and shaky voice. ``They could
pass near the Emperor himself without danger. The young
Master--'' his voice became so hoarse that he was obligated to
clear it loudly--``the young Master must carry himself less
finely. It would be well to shuffle a little and slouch as if he
were of the common people.''

``Yes,'' said The Rat hastily. ``He must do that. I can teach
him. He holds his head and his shoulders like a gentleman. He
must look like a street lad.''

``I will look like one,'' said Marco, with determination.

``I will trust you to remind him,'' Loristan said to The Rat, and
he said it with gravity. ``That will be your charge.''

As he lay upon his pillow that night, it seemed to Marco as if a
load had lifted itself from his heart. It was the load of
uncertainty and longing. He had so long borne the pain of
feeling that he was too young to be allowed to serve in any way.
His dreams had never been wild ones--they had in fact always been
boyish and modest, howsoever romantic. But now no dream which
could have passed through his brain would have seemed so
wonderful as this--that the hour had come--the hour had come--and
that he, Marco, was to be its messenger. He was to do no
dramatic deed and be announced by no flourish of heralds. No one
would know what he did. What he achieved could only be attained
if he remained obscure and unknown and seemed to every one only a
common ordinary boy who knew nothing whatever of important
things. But his father had given to him a gift so splendid that
he trembled with awe and joy as he thought of it. The Game had
become real. He and The Rat were to carry with them The Sign,
and it would be like carrying a tiny lamp to set aflame lights
which would blaze from one mountain-top to another until half the
world seemed on fire.

As he had awakened out of his sleep when Lazarus touched him, so
he awakened in the middle of the night again. But he was not
aroused by a touch. When he opened his eyes he knew it was a
look which had penetrated his sleep--a look in the eyes of his
father who was standing by his side. In the road outside there
was the utter silence he had noticed the night of the Prince's
first visit--the only light was that of the lamp in the street,
but he could see Loristan's face clearly enough to know that the
mere intensity of his gaze had awakened him. The Rat was
sleeping profoundly. Loristan spoke in Samavian and under his

``Beloved one,'' he said. ``You are very young. Because I am
your father--just at this hour I can feel nothing else. I have
trained you for this through all the years of your life. I am
proud of your young maturity and strength but--Beloved--you are a
child! Can I do this thing!''

For the moment, his face and his voice were scarcely like his

He kneeled by the bedside, and, as he did it, Marco half sitting
up caught his hand and held it hard against his breast.

``Father, I know!'' he cried under his breath also. ``It is
true. I am a child but am I not a man also? You yourself said
it. I always knew that you were teaching me to be one--for some
reason. It was my secret that I knew it. I learned well because
I never forgot it. And I learned. Did I not?''

He was so eager that he looked more like a boy than ever. But
his young strength and courage were splendid to see. Loristan
knew him through and through and read every boyish thought of

``Yes,'' he answered slowly. ``You did your part--and now if I
--drew back--you would feel that I HAD FAILED YOU-FAILED YOU.''

``You!'' Marco breathed it proudly. ``You COULD not fail even
the weakest thing in the world.''

There was a moment's silence in which the two pairs of eyes dwelt
on each other with the deepest meaning, and then Loristan rose to
his feet.

``The end will be all that our hearts most wish,'' he said.
``To- morrow you may begin the new part of `the Game.' You may
go to Paris.''

When the train which was to meet the boat that crossed from Dover
to Calais steamed out of the noisy Charing Cross Station, it
carried in a third-class carriage two shabby boys. One of them
would have been a handsome lad if he had not carried himself
slouchingly and walked with a street lad's careless shuffling
gait. The other was a cripple who moved slowly, and apparently
with difficulty, on crutches. There was nothing remarkable or
picturesque enough about them to attract attention. They sat in
the corner of the carriage and neither talked much nor seemed to
be particularly interested in the journey or each other. When
they went on board the steamer, they were soon lost among the
commoner passengers and in fact found for themselves a secluded
place which was not advantageous enough to be wanted by any one

``What can such a poor-looking pair of lads be going to Paris
for?'' some one asked his companion.

``Not for pleasure, certainly; perhaps to get work,'' was the
casual answer.

In the evening they reached Paris, and Marco led the way to a
small cafe in a side-street where they got some cheap food. In
the same side-street they found a bed they could share for the
night in a tiny room over a baker's shop.

The Rat was too much excited to be ready to go to bed early. He
begged Marco to guide him about the brilliant streets. They went
slowly along the broad Avenue des Champs Elysees under the lights
glittering among the horse-chestnut trees. The Rat's sharp eyes
took it all in--the light of the cafes among the embowering
trees, the many carriages rolling by, the people who loitered and
laughed or sat at little tables drinking wine and listening to
music, the broad stream of life which flowed on to the Arc de
Triomphe and back again.

``It's brighter and clearer than London,'' he said to Marco.
``The people look as if they were having more fun than they do in

The Place de la Concorde spreading its stately spaces--a world of
illumination, movement, and majestic beauty--held him as though
by a fascination. He wanted to stand and stare at it, first from
one point of view and then from another. It was bigger and more
wonderful than he had been able to picture it when Marco had
described it to him and told him of the part it had played in the
days of the French Revolution when the guillotine had stood in it
and the tumbrils had emptied themselves at the foot of its steps.

He stood near the Obelisk a long time without speaking.

``I can see it all happening,'' he said at last, and he pulled
Marco away.

Before they returned home, they found their way to a large house
which stood in a courtyard. In the iron work of the handsome
gates which shut it in was wrought a gilded coronet. The gates
were closed and the house was not brightly lighted.

They walked past it and round it without speaking, but, when they
neared the entrance for the second time, The Rat said in a low

``She is five feet seven, has black hair, a nose with a high
bridge, her eyebrows are black and almost meet across it, she has
a pale olive skin and holds her head proudly.''

``That is the one,'' Marco answered.

They were a week in Paris and each day passed this big house.
There were certain hours when great ladies were more likely to go
out and come in than they were at others. Marco knew this, and
they managed to be within sight of the house or to pass it at
these hours. For two days they saw no sign of the person they
wished to see, but one morning the gates were thrown open and
they saw flowers and palms being taken in.

``She has been away and is coming back,'' said Marco. The next
day they passed three times--once at the hour when fashionable
women drive out to do their shopping, once at the time when
afternoon visiting is most likely to begin, and once when the
streets were brilliant with lights and the carriages had begun to
roll by to dinner- parties and theaters.

Then, as they stood at a little distance from the iron gates, a
carriage drove through them and stopped before the big open door
which was thrown open by two tall footmen in splendid livery.

``She is coming out,'' said The Rat.

They would be able to see her plainly when she came, because the
lights over the entrance were so bright.

Marco slipped from under his coat sleeve a carefully made sketch.

He looked at it and The Rat looked at it.

A footman stood erect on each side of the open door. The footman
who sat with the coachman had got down and was waiting by the
carriage. Marco and The Rat glanced again with furtive haste at
the sketch. A handsome woman appeared upon the threshold. She
paused and gave some order to the footman who stood on the right.
Then she came out in the full light and got into the carriage
which drove out of the courtyard and quite near the place where
the two boys waited.

When it was gone, Marco drew a long breath as he tore the sketch
into very small pieces indeed. He did not throw them away but
put them into his pocket.

The Rat drew a long breath also.

``Yes,'' he said positively.

``Yes,'' said Marco.

When they were safely shut up in their room over the baker's
shop, they discussed the chances of their being able to pass her
in such a way as would seem accidental. Two common boys could
not enter the courtyard. There was a back entrance for
tradespeople and messengers. When she drove, she would always
enter her carriage from the same place. Unless she sometimes
walked, they could not approach her. What should be done? The
thing was difficult. After they had talked some time, The Rat
sat and gnawed his nails.

``To-morrow afternoon,'' he broke out at last, ``we'll watch and
see if her carriage drives in for her--then, when she comes to
the door, I'll go in and begin to beg. The servant will think
I'm a foreigner and don't know what I'm doing. You can come
after me to tell me to come away, because you know better than I
do that I shall be ordered out. She may be a good-natured woman
and listen to us --and you might get near her.''

``We might try it,'' Marco answered. ``It might work. We will
try it.''

The Rat never failed to treat him as his leader. He had begged
Loristan to let him come with Marco as his servant, and his
servant he had been more than willing to be. When Loristan had
said he should be his aide-de-camp, he had felt his trust lifted
to a military dignity which uplifted him with it. As his
aide-de-camp he must serve him, watch him, obey his lightest
wish, make everything easy for him. Sometimes, Marco was
troubled by the way in which he insisted on serving him, this
queer, once dictatorial and cantankerous lad who had begun by
throwing stones at him.

``You must not wait on me,'' he said to him. ``I must wait upon

The Rat rather flushed.

``He told me that he would let me come with you as your aide-de
camp,'' he said. ``It--it's part of the game. It makes things
easier if we keep up the game.''

It would have attracted attention if they had spent too much time
in the vicinity of the big house. So it happened that the next
afternoon the great lady evidently drove out at an hour when they
were not watching for her. They were on their way to try if they
could carry out their plan, when, as they walked together along
the Rue Royale, The Rat suddenly touched Marco's elbow.

``The carriage stands before the shop with lace in the windows,''
he whispered hurriedly.

Marco saw and recognized it at once. The owner had evidently
gone into the shop to buy something. This was a better chance
than they had hoped for, and, when they approached the carriage
itself, they saw that there was another point in their favor.
Inside were no less than three beautiful little Pekingese
spaniels that looked exactly alike. They were all trying to look
out of the window and were pushing against each other. They were
so perfect and so pretty that few people passed by without
looking at them. What better excuse could two boys have for
lingering about a place?

They stopped and, standing a little distance away, began to look
at and discuss them and laugh at their excited little antics.
Through the shop-window Marco caught a glimpse of the great lady.

``She does not look much interested. She won't stay long,'' he
whispered, and added aloud, ``that little one is the master. See
how he pushes the others aside! He is stronger than the other
two, though he is so small.''

``He can snap, too,'' said The Rat.

``She is coming now,'' warned Marco, and then laughed aloud as if
at the Pekingese, which, catching sight of their mistress at the
shop-door, began to leap and yelp for joy.

Their mistress herself smiled, and was smiling as Marco drew near

``May we look at them, Madame?'' he said in French, and, as she
made an amiable gesture of acquiescence and moved toward the
carriage with him, he spoke a few words, very low but very
distinctly, in Russian.

``The Lamp is lighted,'' he said.

The Rat was looking at her keenly, but he did not see her face
change at all. What he noticed most throughout their journey was
that each person to whom they gave the Sign had complete control
over his or her countenance, if there were bystanders, and never
betrayed by any change of expression that the words meant
anything unusual.

The great lady merely went on smiling, and spoke only of the
dogs, allowing Marco and himself to look at them through the
window of the carriage as the footman opened the door for her to

``They are beautiful little creatures,'' Marco said, lifting his
cap, and, as the footman turned away, he uttered his few Russian
words once more and moved off without even glancing at the lady

``That is ONE!'' he said to The Rat that night before they went
to sleep, and with a match he burned the scraps of the sketch he
had torn and put into his pocket.



Their next journey was to Munich, but the night before they left
Paris an unexpected thing happened.

To reach the narrow staircase which led to their bedroom it was
necessary to pass through the baker's shop itself.

The baker's wife was a friendly woman who liked the two boy
lodgers who were so quiet and gave no trouble. More than once
she had given them a hot roll or so or a freshly baked little
tartlet with fruit in the center. When Marco came in this
evening, she greeted him with a nod and handed him a small parcel
as he passed through.

``This was left for you this afternoon,'' she said. ``I see you
are making purchases for your journey. My man and I are very
sorry you are going.''

``Thank you, Madame. We also are sorry,'' Marco answered, taking
the parcel. ``They are not large purchases, you see.''

But neither he nor The Rat had bought anything at all, though the
ordinary-looking little package was plainly addressed to him and
bore the name of one of the big cheap shops. It felt as if it
contained something soft.

When he reached their bedroom, The Rat was gazing out of the
window watching every living thing which passed in the street
below. He who had never seen anything but London was absorbed by
the spell of Paris and was learning it by heart.

``Something has been sent to us. Look at this,'' said Marco.

The Rat was at his side at once. ``What is it? Where did it
come from?''

They opened the package and at first sight saw only several pairs
of quite common woolen socks. As Marco took up the sock in the
middle of the parcel, he felt that there was something inside
it-- something laid flat and carefully. He put his hand in and
drew out a number of five-franc notes--not new ones, because new
ones would have betrayed themselves by crackling. These were old
enough to be soft. But there were enough of them to amount to a
substantial sum.

``It is in small notes because poor boys would have only small
ones. No one will be surprised when we change these,'' The Rat

Each of them believed the package had been sent by the great
lady, but it had been done so carefully that not the slightest
clue was furnished.

To The Rat, part of the deep excitement of ``the Game'' was the
working out of the plans and methods of each person concerned.
He could not have slept without working out some scheme which
might have been used in this case. It thrilled him to
contemplate the difficulties the great lady might have found
herself obliged to overcome.

``Perhaps,'' he said, after thinking it over for some time, ``she

went to a big common shop dressed as if she were an ordinary
woman and bought the socks and pretended she was going to carry
them home herself. She would do that so that she could take them
into some corner and slip the money in. Then, as she wanted to
have them sent from the shop, perhaps she bought some other
things and asked the people to deliver the packages to different
places. The socks were sent to us and the other things to some
one else. She would go to a shop where no one knew her and no
one would expect to see her and she would wear clothes which
looked neither rich nor too poor.''

He created the whole episode with all its details and explained
them to Marco. It fascinated him for the entire evening and he
felt relieved after it and slept well.

Even before they had left London, certain newspapers had swept
out of existence the story of the descendant of the Lost Prince.
This had been done by derision and light handling--by treating it
as a romantic legend.

At first, The Rat had resented this bitterly, but one day at a
meal, when he had been producing arguments to prove that the
story must be a true one, Loristan somehow checked him by his own

``If there is such a man,'' he said after a pause, ``it is well
for him that his existence should not be believed in--for some
time at least.''

The Rat came to a dead stop. He felt hot for a moment and then
felt cold. He saw a new idea all at once. He had been making a
mistake in tactics.

No more was said but, when they were alone afterwards, he poured
himself forth to Marco.

``I was a fool!'' he cried out. ``Why couldn't I see it for
myself! Shall I tell you what I believe has been done? There is
some one who has influence in England and who is a friend to
Samavia. They've got the newspapers to make fun of the story so
that it won't be believed. If it was believed, both the
Iarovitch and the Maranovitch would be on the lookout, and the
Secret Party would lose their chances. What a fool I was not to
think of it! There's some one watching and working here who is a
friend to Samavia.''

``But there is some one in Samavia who has begun to suspect that
it might be true,'' Marco answered. ``If there were not, I
should not have been shut in the cellar. Some one thought my
father knew something. The spies had orders to find out what it

``Yes. Yes. That's true, too!'' The Rat answered anxiously.
``We shall have to be very careful.''

In the lining of the sleeve of Marco's coat there was a slit into
which he could slip any small thing he wished to conceal and also
wished to be able to reach without trouble. In this he had
carried the sketch of the lady which he had torn up in Paris.
When they walked in the streets of Munich, the morning after
their arrival, he carried still another sketch. It was the one
picturing the genial- looking old aristocrat with the sly smile.

One of the things they had learned about this one was that his
chief characteristic was his passion for music. He was a patron
of musicians and he spent much time in Munich because he loved
its musical atmosphere and the earnestness of its opera-goers.

``The military band plays in the Feldherrn-halle at midday. When
something very good is being played, sometimes people stop their
carriages so that they can listen. We will go there,'' said

``It's a chance,'' said The Rat. ``We mustn't lose anything like
a chance.''

The day was brilliant and sunny, the people passing through the
streets looked comfortable and homely, the mixture of old streets
and modern ones, of ancient corners and shops and houses of the
day was picturesque and cheerful. The Rat swinging through the
crowd on his crutches was full of interest and exhilaration. He
had begun to grow, and the change in his face and expression
which had begun in London had become more noticeable. He had
been given his ``place,'' and a work to do which entitled him to
hold it.

No one could have suspected them of carrying a strange and vital
secret with them as they strolled along together. They seemed
only two ordinary boys who looked in at shop windows and talked
over their contents, and who loitered with upturned faces in the
Marien- Platz before the ornate Gothic Rathaus to hear the eleven
o'clock chimes play and see the painted figures of the King and
Queen watch from their balcony the passing before them of the
automatic tournament procession with its trumpeters and tilting
knights. When the show was over and the automatic cock broke
forth into his lusty farewell crow, they laughed just as any
other boys would have laughed. Sometimes it would have been easy
for The Rat to forget that there was anything graver in the world
than the new places and new wonders he was seeing, as if he were
a wandering minstrel in a story.

But in Samavia bloody battles were being fought, and bloody plans
were being wrought out, and in anguished anxiety the Secret Party
and the Forgers of the Sword waited breathlessly for the Sign for
which they had waited so long. And inside the lining of Marco's
coat was hidden the sketched face, as the two unnoticed lads made
their way to the Feldherrn-halle to hear the band play and see
who might chance to be among the audience.

Because the day was sunny, and also because the band was playing
a specially fine programme, the crowd in the square was larger
than usual. Several vehicles had stopped, and among them were
one or two which were not merely hired cabs but were the
carriages of private persons.

One of them had evidently arrived early, as it was drawn up in a
good position when the boys reached the corner. It was a big
open carriage and a grand one, luxuriously upholstered in green.
The footman and coachman wore green and silver liveries and
seemed to know that people were looking at them and their master.

He was a stout, genial-looking old aristocrat with a sly smile,
though, as he listened to the music, it almost forgot to be sly.
In the carriage with him were a young officer and a little boy,
and they also listened attentively. Standing near the carriage
door were several people who were plainly friends or
acquaintances, as they occasionally spoke to him. Marco touched
The Rat's coat sleeve as the two boys approached.

``It would not be easy to get near him,'' he said. ``Let us go
and stand as close to the carriage as we can get without pushing.
Perhaps we may hear some one say something about where he is
going after the music is over.''

Yes, there was no mistaking him. He was the right man. Each of
them knew by heart the creases on his stout face and the sweep of
his gray moustache. But there was nothing noticeable in a boy
looking for a moment at a piece of paper, and Marco sauntered a
few steps to a bit of space left bare by the crowd and took a
last glance at his sketch. His rule was to make sure at the
final moment. The music was very good and the group about the
carriage was evidently enthusiastic. There was talk and praise
and comment, and the old aristocrat nodded his head repeatedly in

``The Chancellor is music mad,'' a looker-on near the boys said
to another. ``At the opera every night unless serious affairs
keep him away! There you may see him nodding his old head and
bursting his gloves with applauding when a good thing is done.
He ought to have led an orchestra or played a 'cello. He is too
big for first violin.''

There was a group about the carriage to the last, when the music
came to an end and it drove away. There had been no possible
opportunity of passing close to it even had the presence of the
young officer and the boy not presented an insurmountable

Marco and The Rat went on their way and passed by the Hof-
Theater and read the bills. ``Tristan and Isolde'' was to be
presented at night and a great singer would sing Isolde.

``He will go to hear that,'' both boys said at once. ``He will
be sure to go.''

It was decided between them that Marco should go on his quest
alone when night came. One boy who hung around the entrance of
the Opera would be observed less than two.

``People notice crutches more than they notice legs,'' The Rat
said. ``I'd better keep out of the way unless you need me. My
time hasn't come yet. Even if it doesn't come at all I've--I've
been on duty. I've gone with you and I've been ready- that's what
an aide-de- camp does.''

He stayed at home and read such English papers as he could lay
hands on and he drew plans and re-fought battles on paper.

Marco went to the opera. Even if he had not known his way to the
square near the place where the Hof-Theater stood, he could
easily have found it by following the groups of people in the
streets who all seemed walking in one direction. There were
students in their odd caps walking three or four abreast, there
were young couples and older ones, and here and there whole
families; there were soldiers of all ages, officers and privates;
and, when talk was to be heard in passing, it was always talk
about music.

For some time Marco waited in the square and watched the
carriages roll up and pass under the huge pillared portico to
deposit their contents at the entrance and at once drive away in
orderly sequence. He must make sure that the grand carriage with
the green and silver liveries rolled up with the rest. If it
came, he would buy a cheap ticket and go inside.

It was rather late when it arrived. People in Munich are not
late for the opera if it can be helped, and the coachman drove up
hurriedly. The green and silver footman leaped to the ground and
opened the carriage door almost before it stopped. The
Chancellor got out looking less genial than usual because he was
afraid that he might lose some of the overture. A rosy-cheeked
girl in a white frock was with him and she was evidently trying
to soothe him.

``I do not think we are really late, Father,'' she said. ``Don't
feel cross, dear. It will spoil the music for you.''

This was not a time in which a man's attention could be attracted
quietly. Marco ran to get the ticket which would give him a
place among the rows of young soldiers, artists, male and female
students, and musicians who were willing to stand four or five
deep throughout the performance of even the longest opera. He
knew that, unless they were in one of the few boxes which
belonged only to the court, the Chancellor and his rosy-cheeked
daughter would be in the best seats in the front curve of the
balcony which were the most desirable of the house. He soon saw
them. They had secured the central places directly below the
large royal box where two quiet princesses and their attendants
were already seated.

When he found he was not too late to hear the overture, the
Chancellor's face become more genial than ever. He settled
himself down to an evening of enjoyment and evidently forgot
everything else in the world. Marco did not lose sight of him.
When the audience went out between acts to promenade in the
corridors, he might go also and there might be a chance to pass
near to him in the crowd. He watched him closely. Sometimes his
fine old face saddened at the beautiful woe of the music,
sometimes it looked enraptured, and it was always evident that
every note reached his soul.

The pretty daughter who sat beside him was attentive but not so
enthralled. After the first act two glittering young officers
appeared and made elegant and low bows, drawing their heels
together as they kissed her hand. They looked sorry when they
were obliged to return to their seats again.

After the second act the Chancellor sat for a few minutes as if
he were in a dream. The people in the seats near him began to
rise from their seats and file out into the corridors. The young
officers were to be seen rising also. The rosy daughter leaned
forward and touched her father's arm gently.

``She wants him to take her out,'' Marco thought. ``He will take
her because he is good-natured.''

He saw him recall himself from his dream with a smile and then he
rose and, after helping to arrange a silvery blue scarf round the
girl's shoulders, gave her his arm just as Marco skipped out of
his fourth-row standing-place.

It was a rather warm night and the corridors were full. By the
time Marco had reached the balcony floor, the pair had issued
from the little door and were temporarily lost in the moving

Marco quietly made his way among the crowd trying to look as if
he belonged to somebody. Once or twice his strong body and his
dense black eyes and lashes made people glance at him, but he
was not the only boy who had been brought to the opera so he felt
safe enough to stop at the foot of the stairs and watch those who
went up and those who passed by. Such a miscellaneous crowd as
it was made up of--good unfashionable music-lovers mixed here and
there with grand people of the court and the gay world.

Suddenly he heard a low laugh and a moment later a hand lightly
touched him.

``You DID get out, then?'' a soft voice said.

When he turned he felt his muscles stiffen. He ceased to slouch
and did not smile as he looked at the speaker. What he felt was
a wave of fierce and haughty anger. It swept over him before he
had time to control it.

A lovely person who seemed swathed in several shades of soft
violet drapery was smiling at him with long, lovely eyes.

It was the woman who had trapped him into No. 10 Brandon Terrace.



Did it take you so long to find it? asked the Lovely Person with
the smile. ``Of course I knew you would find it in the end. But
we had to give ourselves time. How long did it take?''

Marco removed himself from beneath the touch of her hand. It was
quietly done, but there was a disdain in his young face which
made her wince though she pretended to shrug her shoulders

``You refuse to answer?'' she laughed.

``I refuse.''

At that very moment he saw at the curve of the corridor the
Chancellor and his daughter approaching slowly. The two young
officers were talking gaily to the girl. They were on their way
back to their box. Was he going to lose them? Was he?

The delicate hand was laid on his shoulder again, but this time
he felt that it grasped him firmly.

``Naughty boy!'' the soft voice said. ``I am going to take you
home with me. If you struggle I shall tell these people that you
are my bad boy who is here without permission. What will you
answer? My escort is coming down the staircase and will help me.
Do you see?'' And in fact there appeared in the crowd at the
head of the staircase the figure of the man he remembered.

He did see. A dampness broke out on the palms of his hands. If
she did this bold thing, what could he say to those she told her
lie to? How could he bring proof or explain who he was--and what
story dare he tell? His protestations and struggles would merely
amuse the lookers-on, who would see in them only the impotent
rage of an insubordinate youngster.

There swept over him a wave of remembrance which brought back, as
if he were living through it again, the moment when he had stood
in the darkness of the wine cellar with his back against the door
and heard the man walk away and leave him alone. He felt again
as he had done then--but now he was in another land and far away
from his father. He could do nothing to help himself unless
Something showed him a way.

He made no sound, and the woman who held him saw only a flame
leap under his dense black lashes.

But something within him called out. It was as if he heard it.
It was that strong self--the self that was Marco, and it
called--it called as if it shouted.

``Help!'' it called--to that Unknown Stranger Thing which had
made worlds and which he and his father so often talked of and in
whose power they so believed. ``Help!''

The Chancellor was drawing nearer. Perhaps! Should he--?

``You are too proud to kick and shout,'' the voice went on.
``And people would only laugh. Do you see?''

The stairs were crowded and the man who was at the head of them
could only move slowly. But he had seen the boy.

Marco turned so that he could face his captor squarely as if he
were going to say something in answer to her. But he was not.

Even as he made the movement of turning, the help he had called
for came and he knew what he should do. And he could do two
things at once--save himself and give his Sign--because, the Sign
once given, the Chancellor would understand.

``He will be here in a moment. He has recognized you,'' the
woman said.

As he glanced up the stairs, the delicate grip of her hand
unconsciously slackened.

Marco whirled away from her. The bell rang which was to warn the
audience that they must return to their seats and he saw the
Chancellor hasten his pace.

A moment later, the old aristocrat found himself amazedly looking
down at the pale face of a breathless lad who spoke to him in
German and in such a manner that he could not but pause and
listen .

``Sir,'' he was saying, ``the woman in violet at the foot of the
stairs is a spy. She trapped me once and she threatens to do it
again. Sir, may I beg you to protect me?''

He said it low and fast. No one else could hear his words.

``What! What!'' the Chancellor exclaimed.

And then, drawing a step nearer and quite as low and rapidly but
with perfect distinctness, Marco uttered four words:

``The Lamp is lighted.''

The Help cry had been answered instantly. Marco saw it at once
in the old man's eyes, notwithstanding that he turned to look at
the woman at the foot of the staircase as if she only concerned

``What! What!'' he said again, and made a movement toward her,
pulling his large moustache with a fierce hand.

Then Marco recognized that a curious thing happened. The Lovely
Person saw the movement and the gray moustache, and that instant
her smile died away and she turned quite white--so white, that
under the brilliant electric light she was almost green and
scarcely looked lovely at all. She made a sign to the man on the
staircase and slipped through the crowd like an eel. She was a
slim flexible creature and never was a disappearance more
wonderful in its rapidity. Between stout matrons and their thin
or stout escorts and families she made her way and lost
herself--but always making toward the exit. In two minutes there
was no sight of her violet draperies to be seen. She was gone
and so, evidently, was her male companion.

It was plain to Marco that to follow the profession of a spy was
not by any means a safe thing. The Chancellor had recognized
her-- she had recognized the Chancellor who turned looking
ferociously angry and spoke to one of the young officers.

``She and the man with her are two of the most dangerous spies in
Europe, She is a Rumanian and he is a Russian. What they wanted
of this innocent lad I don't pretend to know. What did she
threaten?'' to Marco.

Marco was feeling rather cold and sick and had lost his healthy
color for the moment.

``She said she meant to take me home with her and would pretend I
was her son who had come here without permission,'' he answered.
``She believes I know something I do not.'' He made a hesitating
but grateful bow. ``The third act, sir--I must not keep you.
Thank you! Thank you!''

The Chancellor moved toward the entrance door of the balcony
seats, but he did it with his hand on Marco's shoulder.

``See that he gets home safely,'' he said to the younger of the
two officers. ``Send a messenger with him. He's young to be
attacked by creatures of that kind.''

Polite young officers naturally obey the commands of Chancellors
and such dignitaries. This one found without trouble a young
private who marched with Marco through the deserted streets to
his lodgings. He was a stolid young Bavarian peasant and seemed
to have no curiosity or even any interest in the reason for the
command given him. He was in fact thinking of his sweetheart who
lived near Konigsee and who had skated with him on the frozen
lake last winter. He scarcely gave a glance to the schoolboy he
was to escort, he neither knew nor wondered why.

The Rat had fallen asleep over his papers and lay with his head
on his folded arms on the table. But he was awakened by Marco's
coming into the room and sat up blinking his eyes in the effort
to get them open.

``Did you see him? Did you get near enough?'' he drowsed.

``Yes,'' Marco answered. ``I got near enough.'

The Rat sat upright suddenly.

``It's not been easy,'' he exclaimed. ``I'm sure something
happened --something went wrong.''

``Something nearly went wrong--VERY nearly,'' answered Marco.
But as he spoke he took the sketch of the Chancellor out of the
slit in his sleeve and tore it and burned it with a match. ``But
I did get near enough. And that's TWO.''

They talked long, before they went to sleep that night. The Rat
grew pale as he listened to the story of the woman in violet.

``I ought to have gone with you!'' he said. ``I see now. An
aide- de-camp must always be in attendance. It would have been
harder for her to manage two than one. I must always be near to
watch, even if I am not close by you. If you had not come
back--if you had not come back!'' He struck his clenched hands
together fiercely. ``What should I have done!''

When Marco turned toward him from the table near which he was
standing, he looked like his father.

``You would have gone on with the Game just as far as you
could,'' he said. ``You could not leave it. You remember the
places, and the faces, and the Sign. There is some money; and
when it was all gone, you could have begged, as we used to
pretend we should.

We have not had to do it yet; and it was best to save it for
country places and villages. But you could have done it if you
were obliged to. The Game would have to go on.''

The Rat caught at his thin chest as if he had been struck

``Without you?'' he gasped. ``Without you?''

``Yes,'' said Marco. ``And we must think of it, and plan in case
anything like that should happen.''

He stopped himself quite suddenly, and sat down, looking straight
before him, as if at some far away thing he saw.

``Nothing will happen,'' he said. ``Nothing can.''

``What are you thinking of?'' The Rat gulped, because his breath
had not quite come back. ``Why will nothing happen?''

``Because--'' the boy spoke in an almost matter-of-fact tone--in
quite an unexalted tone at all events, ``you see I can always
make a strong call, as I did tonight.''

``Did you shout?'' The Rat asked. ``I didn't know you shouted.''

``I didn't. I said nothing aloud. But I--the myself that is in
me,'' Marco touched himself on the breast, ``called out, `Help!
Help!' with all its strength. And help came.''

The Rat regarded him dubiously.

``What did it call to?'' he asked.

``To the Power--to the Strength-place--to the Thought that does
things. The Buddhist hermit, who told my father about it, called
it `The Thought that thought the World.' ''

A reluctant suspicion betrayed itself in The Rat's eyes.

``Do you mean you prayed?'' he inquired, with a slight touch of

Marco's eyes remained fixed upon him in vague thoughtfulness for
a moment or so of pause.

``I don't know,'' he said at last. ``Perhaps it's the same
thing-- when you need something so much that you cry out loud for
it. But it's not words, it's a strong thing without a name. I
called like that when I was shut in the wine-cellar. I
remembered some of the things the old Buddhist told my father.''

The Rat moved restlessly.

``The help came that time,'' he admitted. ``How did it come to-

``In that thought which flashed into my mind almost the next
second. It came like lightning. All at once I knew if I ran to
the Chancellor and said the woman was a spy, it would startle him
into listening to me; and that then I could give him the Sign;
and that when I gave him the Sign, he would know I was speaking
the truth and would protect me.''

``It was a splendid thought!'' The Rat said. ``And it was quick.

But it was you who thought of it.''

``All thinking is part of the Big Thought,'' said Marco slowly.
``It KNOWS--It KNOWS. And the outside part of us somehow broke
the chain that linked us to It. And we are always trying to mend
the chain, without knowing it. That is what our thinking
is--trying to mend the chain. But we shall find out how to do it
sometime. The old Buddhist told my father so--just as the sun
was rising from behind a high peak of the Himalayas.'' Then he
added hastily, ``I am only telling you what my father told me,
and he only told me what the old hermit told him.''

``Does your father believe what he told him?'' The Rat's
bewilderment had become an eager and restless thing.

``Yes, he believes it. He always thought something like it,
himself. That is why he is so calm and knows so well how to

``Is THAT it!'' breathed The Rat. ``Is that why? Has--has he
mended the chain?'' And there was awe in his voice, because of
this one man to whom he felt any achievement was possible.

``I believe he has,'' said Marco. ``Don't you think so

``He has done something,'' The Rat said.

He seemed to be thinking things over before he spoke again-- and
then even more slowly than Marco.

``If he could mend the chain,'' he said almost in a whisper, ``he
could find out where the descendant of the Lost Prince is. He
would know what to do for Samavia!''

He ended the words with a start, and his whole face glowed with a
new, amazed light.

``Perhaps he does know!'' he cried. ``If the help comes like
thoughts --as yours did--perhaps his thought of letting us give
the Sign was part of it. We--just we two every-day boys--are
part of it!''

``The old Buddhist said--'' began Marco.

``Look here!'' broke in The Rat. ``Tell me the whole story. I
want to hear it.''

It was because Loristan had heard it, and listened and believed,
that The Rat had taken fire. His imagination seized upon the
idea, as it would have seized on some theory of necromancy proved
true and workable.

With his elbows on the table and his hands in his hair, he leaned
forward, twisting a lock with restless fingers. His breath

``Tell it,'' he said, ``I want to hear it all!''

``I shall have to tell it in my own words,'' Marco said. ``And
it won't be as wonderful as it was when my father told it to me.
This is what I remember:

``My father had gone through much pain and trouble. A great load
was upon him, and he had been told he was going to die before his
work was done. He had gone to India, because a man he was
obliged to speak to had gone there to hunt, and no one knew when
he would return. My father followed him for months from one wild
place to another, and, when he found him, the man would not hear
or believe what he had come so far to say. Then he had
jungle-fever and almost died. Once the natives left him for dead
in a bungalow in the forest, and he heard the jackals howling
round him all the night. Through all the hours he was only alive
enough to be conscious of two things--all the rest of him seemed
gone from his body: his thought knew that his work was
unfinished--and his body heard the jackals howl!''

``Was the work for Samavia?'' The Rat put in quickly. ``If he
had died that night, the descendant of the Lost Prince never
would have been found--never!'' The Rat bit his lip so hard that
a drop of blood started from it.

``When he was slowly coming alive again, a native, who had gone
back and stayed to wait upon him, told him that near the summit
of a mountain, about fifty miles away, there was a ledge which
jutted out into space and hung over the valley, which was
thousands of feet below. On the ledge there was a hut in which
there lived an ancient Buddhist, who was a holy man, as they
called him, and who had been there during time which had not
been measured. They said that their grandparents and
great-grandparents had known of him, though very few persons had
ever seen him. It was told that the most savage beast was tame
before him. They said that a man- eating tiger would stop to
salute him, and that a thirsty lioness would bring her whelps to
drink at the spring near his hut.''

``That was a lie,'' said The Rat promptly.

Marco neither laughed nor frowned.

``How do we KNOW?'' he said. ``It was a native's story, and it
might be anything. My father neither said it was true nor false.
He listened to all that was told him by natives. They said that
the holy man was the brother of the stars. He knew all things
past and to come, and could heal the sick. But most people,
especially those who had sinful thoughts, were afraid to go near

``I'd like to have seen--'' The Rat pondered aloud, but he did
not finish.

``Before my father was well, he had made up his mind to travel to
the ledge if he could. He felt as if he must go. He thought
that if he were going to die, the hermit might tell him some wise
thing to do for Samavia.''

``He might have given him a message to leave to the Secret
Ones,'' said The Rat.

``He was so weak when he set out on his journey that he wondered
if he would reach the end of it. Part of the way he traveled by
bullock cart, and part, he was carried by natives. But at last
the bearers came to a place more than halfway up the mountain,
and would go no further. Then they went back and left him to
climb the rest of the way himself. They had traveled slowly and
he had got more strength, but he was weak yet. The forest was
more wonderful than anything he had ever seen. There were
tropical trees with foliage like lace, and some with huge leaves,
and some of them seemed to reach the sky. Sometimes he could
barely see gleams of blue through them. And vines swung down
from their high branches, and caught each other, and matted
together; and there were hot scents, and strange flowers, and
dazzling birds darting about, and thick moss, and little
cascades bursting out. The path grew narrower and steeper, and
the flower scents and the sultriness made it like walking in a
hothouse. He heard rustlings in the undergrowth, which might
have been made by any kind of wild animal; once he stepped across
a deadly snake without seeing it. But it was asleep and did not
hurt him. He knew the natives had been convinced that he would
not reach the ledge; but for some strange reason he believed he
should. He stopped and rested many times, and he drank some milk
he had brought in a canteen. The higher he climbed, the more
wonderful everything was, and a strange feeling began to fill
him. He said his body stopped being tired and began to feel very
light. And his load lifted itself from his heart, as if it were
not his load any more but belonged to something stronger. Even
Samavia seemed to be safe. As he went higher and higher, and
looked down the abyss at the world below, it appeared as if it
were not real but only a dream he had wakened from--only a

The Rat moved restlessly.

``Perhaps he was light-headed with the fever,'' he suggested.

``The fever had left him, and the weakness had left him,'' Marco
answered. ``It seemed as if he had never really been ill at
all-- as if no one could be ill, because things like that were
only dreams, just as the world was.''

``I wish I'd been with him! Perhaps I could have thrown these
away--down into the abyss!'' And The Rat shook his crutches
which rested against the table. ``I feel as if I was climbing,
too. Go on.''

Marco had become more absorbed than The Rat. He had lost himself
in the memory of the story.

``I felt that _I_ was climbing, when he told me,'' he said. ``I
felt as if I were breathing in the hot flower-scents and pushing
aside the big leaves and giant ferns. There had been a rain, and
they were wet and shining with big drops, like jewels, that
showered over him as he thrust his way through and under them.
And the stillness and the height--the stillness and the height!
I can't make it real to you as he made it to me! I can't! I was
there. He took me. And it was so high--and so still--and so
beautiful that I could scarcely bear it.''

But the truth was, that with some vivid boy-touch he had carried
his hearer far. The Rat was deadly quiet. Even his eyes had not
moved. He spoke almost as if he were in a sort of trance.
``It's real,'' he said. ``I'm there now. As high as you--go
on--go on. I want to climb higher.''

And Marco, understanding, went on.

``The day was over and the stars were out when he reached the
place were the ledge was. He said he thought that during the
last part of the climb he never looked on the earth at all. The
stars were so immense that he could not look away from them.
They seemed to be drawing him up. And all overhead was like
violet velvet, and they hung there like great lamps of radiance.
Can you see them? You must see them. My father saw them all
night long. They were part of the wonder.''

``I see them,'' The Rat answered, still in his trance-like voice
and without stirring, and Marco knew he did.

``And there, with the huge stars watching it, was the hut on the
ledge. And there was no one there. The door was open. And
outside it was a low bench and table of stone. And on the table
was a meal of dates and rice, waiting. Not far from the hut was
a deep spring, which ran away in a clear brook. My father drank
and bathed his face there. Then he went out on the ledge, and
sat down and waited, with his face turned up to the stars. He
did not lie down, and he thought he saw the stars all the time he
waited. He was sure he did not sleep. He did not know how long
he sat there alone. But at last he drew his eyes from the stars,
as if he had been commanded to do it. And he was not alone any
more. A yard or so away from him sat the holy man. He knew it
was the hermit because his eyes were different from any human
eyes he had ever beheld. They were as still as the night was,
and as deep as the shadows covering the world thousands of feet
below, and they had a far, far look, and a strange light was in

``What did he say?'' asked The Rat hoarsely.

``He only said, `Rise, my son. I awaited thee. Go and eat the
food I prepared for thee, and then we will speak together.' He
didn't move or speak again until my father had eaten the meal.
He only sat on the moss and let his eyes rest on the shadows over
the abyss. When my father went back, he made a gesture which
meant that he should sit near him.

``Then he sat still for several minutes, and let his eyes rest on
my father, until he felt as if the light in them were set in the
midst of his own body and his soul. Then he said, `I cannot tell
thee all thou wouldst know. That I may not do.' He had a
wonderful gentle voice, like a deep soft bell. `But the work
will be done. Thy life and thy son's life will set it on its

``They sat through the whole night together. And the stars hung
quite near, as if they listened. And there were sounds in the
bushes of stealthy, padding feet which wandered about as if the
owners of them listened too. And the wonderful, low, peaceful
voice of the holy man went on and on, telling of wonders which
seemed like miracles but which were to him only the `working of
the Law.' ''

``What is the Law?'' The Rat broke in.

``There were two my father wrote down, and I learned them. The
first was the law of The One. I'll try to say that,'' and he
covered his eyes and waited through a moment of silence.

It seemed to The Rat as if the room held an extraordinary

``Listen!'' came next. ``This is it:

`` `There are a myriad worlds. There is but One Thought out of
which they grew. Its Law is Order which cannot swerve. Its
creatures are free to choose. Only they can create Disorder,
which in itself is Pain and Woe and Hate and Fear. These they
alone can bring forth. The Great One is a Golden Light. It is
not remote but near. Hold thyself within its glow and thou wilt
behold all things clearly. First, with all thy breathing being,
know one thing! That thine own thought--when so thou
standest--is one with That which thought the Worlds!' ''

``What?'' gasped The Rat. ``MY thought--the things _I_ think!''

``Your thoughts--boys' thoughts--anybody's thoughts.''

``You're giving me the jim-jams!''

``He said it,'' answered Marco. ``And it was then he spoke about
the broken Link--and about the greatest books in the world--that
in all their different ways, they were only saying over and over
again one thing thousands of times. Just this thing--`Hate not,
Fear not, Love.' And he said that was Order. And when it was
disturbed, suffering came--poverty and misery and catastrophe and

``Wars!'' The Rat said sharply. ``The World couldn't do without
war--and armies and defences! What about Samavia?''

``My father asked him that. And this is what he answered. I
learned that too. Let me think again,'' and he waited as he had
waited before. Then he lifted his head. ``Listen! This is it:

`` `Out of the blackness of Disorder and its outpouring of human
misery, there will arise the Order which is Peace. When Man
learns that he is one with the Thought which itself creates all
beauty, all power, all splendor, and all repose, he will not fear
that his brother can rob him of his heart's desire. He will
stand in the Light and draw to himself his own.' ''

``Draw to himself?'' The Rat said. ``Draw what he wants? I
don't believe it!''

``Nobody does,'' said Marco. ``We don't know. He said we stood
in the dark of the night--without stars--and did not know that
the broken chain swung just above us.''

``I don't believe it!'' said The Rat. ``It's too big!''

Marco did not say whether he believed it or not. He only went on

``My father listened until he felt as if he had stopped
breathing. Just at the stillest of the stillness the Buddhist
stopped speaking. And there was a rustling of the undergrowth a
few yards away, as if something big was pushing its way
through--and there was the soft pad of feet. The Buddhist turned
his head and my father heard him say softly: `Come forth,

``And a huge leopardess with two cubs walked out on to the ledge
and came to him and threw herself down with a heavy lunge near
his feet.''

``Your father saw that!'' cried out The Rat. ``You mean the old
fellow knew something that made wild beasts afraid to touch him
or any one near him?''

``Not afraid. They knew he was their brother, and that he was
one with the Law. He had lived so long with the Great Thought
that all darkness and fear had left him forever. He had mended
the Chain.''

The Rat had reached deep waters. He leaned forward--his hands
burrowing in his hair, his face scowling and twisted, his eyes
boring into space. He had climbed to the ledge at the
mountain-top; he had seen the luminous immensity of the stars,
and he had looked down into the shadows filling the world
thousands of feet below. Was there some remote deep in him from
whose darkness a slow light was rising? All that Loristan had
said he knew must be true. But the rest of it--?

Marco got up and came over to him. He looked like his father

``If the descendant of the Lost Prince is brought back to rule
Samavia, he will teach his people the Law of the One. It was for
that the holy man taught my father until the dawn came.''

``Who will--who will teach the Lost Prince--the new King--when he
is found?'' The Rat cried. ``Who will teach him?''

``The hermit said my father would. He said he would also teach
his son--and that son would teach his son--and he would teach
his. And through such as they were, the whole world would come
to know the Order and the Law.''

Never had The Rat looked so strange and fierce a thing. A whole
world at peace! No tactics--no battles--no slaughtered heroes
--no clash of arms, and fame! It made him feel sick. And yet--
something set his chest heaving.

``And your father would teach him that--when he was found! So
that he could teach his sons. Your father BELIEVES in it?''

``Yes,'' Marco answered. He said nothing but ``Yes.'' The Rat
threw himself forward on the table, face downward.

``Then,'' he said, ``he must make me believe it. He must teach
me--if he can.''

They heard a clumping step upon the staircase, and, when it
reached the landing, it stopped at their door. Then there was a
solid knock.

When Marco opened the door, the young soldier who had escorted
him from the Hof-Theater was standing outside. He looked as
uninterested and stolid as before, as he handed in a small flat

``You must have dropped it near your seat at the Opera,'' he
said. ``I was to give it into your own hands. It is your

After he had clumped down the staircase again, Marco and The Rat
drew a quick breath at one and the same time.

``I had no seat and I had no purse,'' Marco said. ``Let us open

There was a flat limp leather note-holder inside. In it was a
paper, at the head of which were photographs of the Lovely Person
and her companion. Beneath were a few lines which stated that
they were the well known spies, Eugenia Karovna and Paul Varel,
and that the bearer must be protected against them. It was
signed by the Chief of the Police. On a separate sheet was
written the command: ``Carry this with you as protection.''

``That is help,'' The Rat said. ``It would protect us, even in
another country. The Chancellor sent it--but you made the strong
call --and it's here!''

There was no street lamp to shine into their windows when they
went at last to bed. When the blind was drawn up, they were
nearer the sky than they had been in the Marylebone Road. The
last thing each of them saw, as he went to sleep, was the
stars--and in their dreams, they saw them grow larger and larger,
and hang like lamps of radiance against the violet--velvet sky
above a ledge of a Himalayan Mountain, where they listened to the
sound of a low voice going on and on and on.



On a hill in the midst of a great Austrian plain, around which
high Alps wait watching through the ages stands a venerable
fortress, almost more beautiful than anything one has ever seen.
Perhaps, if it were not for the great plain flowering broadly
about it with its wide-spread beauties of meadow-land, and wood,
and dim toned buildings gathered about farms, and its dream of a
small ancient city at its feet, it might--though it is to be
doubted--seem something less a marvel of medieval
picturesqueness. But out of the plain rises the low hill, and
surrounding it at a stately distance stands guard the giant
majesty of Alps, with shoulders in the clouds and god-like heads
above them, looking on--always looking on--sometimes themselves
ethereal clouds of snow-whiteness, some times monster bare crags
which pierce the blue, and whose unchanging silence seems to know
the secret of the everlasting. And on the hill which this august
circle holds in its embrace, as though it enclosed a treasure,
stands the old, old, towered fortress built as a citadel for the
Prince Archbishops, who were kings in their domain in the long
past centuries when the splendor and power of ecclesiastical
princes was among the greatest upon earth.

And as you approach the town--and as you leave it--and as you
walk through its streets, the broad calm empty-looking ones, or
the narrow thoroughfares whose houses seem so near to each other,
whether you climb or descend--or cross bridges, or gaze at
churches, or step out on your balcony at night to look at the
mountains and the moon--always it seems that from some point you
can see it gazing down at you--the citadel of Hohen-Salzburg.

It was to Salzburg they went next, because at Salzburg was to be
found the man who looked like a hair-dresser and who worked in a
barber's shop. Strange as it might seem, to him also must be
carried the Sign.

``There may be people who come to him to be shaved--soldiers, or
men who know things,'' The Rat worked it out, ``and he can speak
to them when he is standing close to them. It will be easy to
get near him. You can go and have your hair cut.''

The journey from Munich was not a long one, and during the latter
part of it they had the wooden-seated third-class carriage to
themselves. Even the drowsy old peasant who nodded and slept in
one corner got out with his bundles at last. To Marco the
mountains were long-known wonders which could never grow old.
They had always and always been so old! Surely they had been the
first of the world! Surely they had been standing there waiting
when it was said ``Let there be Light.'' The Light had known it
would find them there. They were so silent, and yet it seemed as
if they said some amazing thing--something which would take your
breath from you if you could hear it. And they never changed.
The clouds changed, they wreathed them, and hid them, and trailed
down them, and poured out storm torrents on them, and thundered
against them, and darted forked lightnings round them. But the
mountains stood there afterwards as if such things had not been
and were not in the world. Winds roared and tore at them,
centuries passed over them--centuries of millions of lives, of
changing of kingdoms and empires, of battles and world-wide fame
which grew and died and passed away; and temples crumbled, and
kings' tombs were forgotten, and cities were buried and others
built over them after hundreds of years--and perhaps a few stones
fell from a mountain side, or a fissure was worn, which the
people below could not even see. And that was all. There they
stood, and perhaps their secret was that they had been there for
ever and ever. That was what the mountains said to Marco, which
was why he did not want to talk much, but sat and gazed out of
the carriage window.

The Rat had been very silent all the morning. He had been silent
when they got up, and he had scarcely spoken when they made their
way to the station at Munich and sat waiting for their train. It
seemed to Marco that he was thinking so hard that he was like a
person who was far away from the place he stood in. His brows
were drawn together and his eyes did not seem to see the people
who passed by. Usually he saw everything and made shrewd remarks
on almost all he saw. But to-day he was somehow otherwise
absorbed. He sat in the train with his forehead against the
window and stared out. He moved and gasped when he found himself
staring at the Alps, but afterwards he was even strangely still.
It was not until after the sleepy old peasant had gathered his
bundles and got out at a station that he spoke, and he did it
without turning his head.

``You only told me one of the two laws,'' he said. ``What was
the other one?''

Marco brought himself back from his dream of reaching the highest
mountain-top and seeing clouds float beneath his feet in the sun.
He had to come back a long way.

``Are you thinking of that? I wondered what you had been
thinking of all the morning,'' he said.

``I couldn't stop thinking of it. What was the second one?''
said The Rat, but he did not turn his head.

``It was called the Law of Earthly Living. It was for every
day,'' said Marco. ``It was for the ordering of common
things--the small things we think don't matter, as well as the
big ones. I always remember that one without any trouble. This
was it:

`` `Let pass through thy mind, my son, only the image thou
wouldst desire to see become a truth. Meditate only upon the
wish of thy heart--seeing first that it is such as can wrong 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.' ''

Then The Rat turned round. He had a shrewdly reasoning mind.

``That sounds as if you could get anything you wanted, if you
think about it long enough and in the right way,'' he said.
``But perhaps it only means that, if you do it, you'll be happy
after you're dead. My father used to shout with laughing when he
was drunk and talked about things like that and looked at his

He hugged his knees for a few minutes. He was remembering the
rags, and the fog-darkened room in the slums, and the loud,
hideous laughter.

``What if you want something that will harm somebody else?'' he
said next. ``What if you hate some one and wish you could kill

``That was one of the questions my father asked that night on the
ledge. The holy man said people always asked it,'' Marco
answered. ``This was the answer:

`` `Let him who stretcheth forth his hand to draw the lightning
to his brother recall that through his own soul and body will
pass the bolt.' ''

``Wonder if there's anything in it?'' The Rat pondered. ``It'd
make a chap careful if he believed it! Revenging yourself on a
man would be like holding him against a live wire to kill him and
getting all the volts through yourself.''

A sudden anxiety revealed itself in his face.

``Does your father believe it?'' he asked. ``Does he?''

``He knows it is true,'' Marco said.

``I'll own up,'' The Rat decided after further reflection--``I'll
own up I'm glad that there isn't any one left that I've a grudge
against. There isn't any one--now.''

Then he fell again into silence and did not speak until their
journey was at an end. As they arrived early in the day, they
had plenty of time to wander about the marvelous little old city.
But through the wide streets and through the narrow ones, under
the archways into the market gardens, across the bridge and into
the square where the ``glockenspiel'' played its old tinkling
tune, everywhere the Citadel looked down and always The Rat
walked on in his dream.

They found the hair-dresser's shop in one of the narrow streets.
There were no grand shops there, and this particular shop was a
modest one. They walked past it once, and then went back. It
was a shop so humble that there was nothing remarkable in two
common boys going into it to have their hair cut. An old man
came forward to receive them. He was evidently glad of their
modest patronage. He undertook to attend to The Rat himself,
but, having arranged him in a chair, he turned about and called
to some one in the back room.

``Heinrich,'' he said.

In the slit in Marco's sleeve was the sketch of the man with
smooth curled hair, who looked like a hair-dresser. They had
found a corner in which to take their final look at it before
they turned back to come in. Heinrich, who came forth from the
small back room, had smooth curled hair. He looked extremely
like a hair- dresser. He had features like those in the
sketch--his nose and mouth and chin and figure were like what
Marco had drawn and committed to memory. But--

He gave Marco a chair and tied the professional white covering
around his neck. Marco leaned back and closed his eyes a moment.

``That is NOT the man!'' he was saying to himself. ``He is NOT
the man.''

How he knew he was not, he could not have explained, but he felt
sure. It was a strong conviction. But for the sudden feeling,
nothing would have been easier than to give the Sign. And if he
could not give it now, where was the one to whom it must be
spoken, and what would be the result if that one could not be
found? And if there were two who were so much alike, how could
he be sure?

Each owner of each of the pictured faces was a link in a powerful
secret chain; and if a link were missed, the chain would be
broken. Each time Heinrich came within the line of his vision,
he recorded every feature afresh and compared it with the
remembered sketch. Each time the resemblance became more close,
but each time some persistent inner conviction repeated, ``No;
the Sign is not for him!''

It was disturbing, also, to find that The Rat was all at once as
restless as he had previously been silent and preoccupied. He
moved in his chair, to the great discomfort of the old
hair-dresser. He kept turning his head to talk. He asked Marco
to translate divers questions he wished him to ask the two men.
They were questions about the Citadel--about the Monchsberg--the
Residenz--the Glockenspiel--the mountains. He added one query to
another and could not sit still.

``The young gentleman will get an ear snipped,'' said the old man
to Marco. ``And it will not be my fault.''

``What shall I do?'' Marco was thinking. ``He is not the man.''

He did not give the Sign. He must go away and think it out,
though where his thoughts would lead him he did not know. This
was a more difficult problem than he had ever dreamed of facing.
There was no one to ask advice of. Only himself and The Rat, who
was nervously wriggling and twisting in his chair.

``You must sit still,'' he said to him. ``The hair-dresser is
afraid you will make him cut you by accident.''

``But I want to know who lives at the Residenz?'' said The Rat.
``These men can tell us things if you ask them.''

``It is done now,'' said the old hair-dresser with a relieved
air. ``Perhaps the cutting of his hair makes the young gentleman
nervous. It is sometimes so.''

The Rat stood close to Marco's chair and asked questions until
Heinrich also had done his work. Marco could not understand his
companion's change of mood. He realized that, if he had wished
to give the Sign, he had been allowed no opportunity. He could
not have given it. The restless questioning had so directed the
older man's attention to his son and Marco that nothing could
have been said to Heinrich without his observing it.

``I could not have spoken if he had been the man,'' Marco said to

Their very exit from the shop seemed a little hurried. When they
were fairly in the street, The Rat made a clutch at Marco's arm.

``You didn't give it?'' he whispered breathlessly. ``I kept
talking and talking to prevent you.''

Marco tried not to feel breathless, and he tried to speak in a
low and level voice with no hint of exclamation in it.

``Why did you say that?'' he asked.

The Rat drew closer to him.

``That was not the man!'' he whispered. ``It doesn't matter how
much he looks like him, he isn't the right one.''

He was pale and swinging along swiftly as if he were in a hurry.

``Let's get into a quiet place,'' he said. ``Those queer things
you've been telling me have got hold of me. How did I know? How
could I know--unless it's because I've been trying to work that
second law? I've been saying to myself that we should be told
the right things to do--for the Game and for your father-- and so
that I could be the right sort of aide-de-camp. I've been
working at it, and, when he came out, I knew he was not the man
in spite of his looks. And I couldn't be sure you knew, and I
thought, if I kept on talking and interrupting you with silly
questions, you could be prevented from speaking.''

``There's a place not far away where we can get a look at the
mountains. Let's go there and sit down,'' said Marco. ``I knew
it was not the right one, too. It's the Help over again.''

``Yes, it's the Help--it's the Help--it must be,'' muttered The
Rat, walking fast and with a pale, set face. ``It could not be
anything else.''

They got away from the streets and the people and reached the
quiet place where they could see the mountains. There they sat
down by the wayside. The Rat took off his cap and wiped his
forehead, but it was not only the quick walking which had made it

``The queerness of it gave me a kind of fright,'' he said.
``When he came out and he was near enough for me to see him, a
sudden strong feeling came over me. It seemed as if I knew he
wasn't the man. Then I said to myself--`but he looks like
him'--and I began to get nervous. And then I was sure again--and
then I wanted to try to stop you from giving him the Sign. And
then it all seemed foolishness--and the next second all the
things you had told me rushed back to me at once--and I
remembered what I had been thinking ever since--and I
said--`Perhaps it's the Law beginning to work,' and the palms of
my hands got moist.''

Marco was very quiet. He was looking at the farthest and highest
peaks and wondering about many things.

``It was the expression of his face that was different,'' he
said. ``And his eyes. They are rather smaller than the right
man's are. The light in the shop was poor, and it was not until
the last time he bent over me that I found out what I had not
seen before. His eyes are gray--the other ones are brown.''

``Did you see that!'' The Rat exclaimed. ``Then we're sure!
We're safe!''

``We're not safe till we've found the right man,'' Marco said.
``Where is he? Where is he? Where is he?''

He said the words dreamily and quietly, as if he were lost in
thought--but also rather as if he expected an answer. And he
still looked at the far-off peaks. The Rat, after watching him a
moment or so, began to look at them also. They were like a
loadstone to him too. There was something stilling about them,
and when your eyes had rested upon them a few moments they did
not want to move away.

``There must be a ledge up there somewhere,'' he said at last.

``Let's go up and look for it and sit there and think and think--
about finding the right man.''

There seemed nothing fantastic in this to Marco. To go into some
quiet place and sit and think about the thing he wanted to
remember or to find out was an old way of his. To be quiet was
always the best thing, his father had taught him. It was like
listening to something which could speak without words.

``There is a little train which goes up the Gaisberg,'' he said.
``When you are at the top, a world of mountains spreads around
you. Lazarus went once and told me. And we can lie out on the
grass all night. Let us go, Aide-de-camp.''

So they went, each one thinking the same thought, and each
boy-mind holding its own vision. Marco was the calmer of the
two, because his belief that there was always help to be found
was an accustomed one and had ceased to seem to partake of the
supernatural. He believed quite simply that it was the working
of a law, not the breaking of one, which gave answer and led him
in his quests. The Rat, who had known nothing of laws other than
those administered by police-courts, was at once awed and
fascinated by the suggestion of crossing some borderland of the
Unknown. The law of the One had baffled and overthrown him, with
its sweeping away of the enmities of passions which created wars
and called for armies. But the Law of Earthly Living seemed to
offer practical benefits if you could hold on to yourself enough
to work it.

``You wouldn't get everything for nothing, as far as I can make
out,'' he had said to Marco. ``You'd have to sweep all the
rubbish out of your mind--sweep it as if you did it with a
broom--and then keep on thinking straight and believing you were
going to get things--and working for them--and they'd come.''

Then he had laughed a short ugly laugh because he recalled

``There was something in the Bible that my father used to jeer
about--something about a man getting what he prayed for if he
believed it,'' he said.

``Oh, yes, it's there,'' said Marco. ``That if a man pray
believing he shall receive what he asks it shall be given him.
All the books say something like it. It's been said so often it
makes you believe it.''

``He didn't believe it, and I didn't,'' said The Rat.

``Nobody does--really,'' answered Marco, as he had done once
before. ``It's because we don't know.''

They went up the Gaisberg in the little train, which pushed and
dragged and panted slowly upward with them. It took them with it
stubbornly and gradually higher and higher until it had left
Salzburg and the Citadel below and had reached the world of
mountains which rose and spread and lifted great heads behind
each other and beside each other and beyond each other until
there seemed no other land on earth but that on mountain sides
and backs and shoulders and crowns. And also one felt the
absurdity of living upon flat ground, where life must be an
insignificant thing.

There were only a few sight-seers in the small carriages, and
they were going to look at the view from the summit. They were
not in search of a ledge.

The Rat and Marco were. When the little train stopped at the
top, they got out with the rest. They wandered about with them
over the short grass on the treeless summit and looked out from
this viewpoint and the other. The Rat grew more and more silent,
and his silence was not merely a matter of speechlessness but of
expression. He LOOKED silent and as if he were no longer aware
of the earth. They left the sight-seers at last and wandered
away by themselves. They found a ledge where they could sit or
lie and where even the world of mountains seemed below them.
They had brought some simple food with them, and they laid it
behind a jutting bit of rock. When the sight-seers boarded the
laboring little train again and were dragged back down the
mountain, their night of vigil would begin.

That was what it was to be. A night of stillness on the heights,
where they could wait and watch and hold themselves ready to hear
any thought which spoke to them.

The Rat was so thrilled that he would not have been surprised if
he had heard a voice from the place of the stars. But Marco only
believed that in this great stillness and beauty, if he held his
boy-soul quiet enough, he should find himself at last thinking of
something that would lead him to the place which held what it was
best that he should find. The people returned to the train and

Book of the day: