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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXIII The Silver Horn

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The old woman sprang upright with the fire of delight in her eyes.

``It is his silver horn!'' she cried out striking her hands together. ``It is his own call to me when he is coming. He has been hunting somewhere and wants to sleep in his good bed here. Help me to put on more faggots,'' to The Rat, ``so that he will see the flame of them through the open door as he comes.''

``Shall we be in the way?'' said Marco. ``We can go at once.''

She was going towards the door to open it and she stopped a moment and turned.

``No, no!'' she said. ``He must see your face. He will want to see it. I want him to see--how young you are.''

She threw the door wide open and they heard the silver horn send out its gay call again. The brushwood and faggots The Rat had thrown on the coals crackled and sparkled and roared into fine flames, which cast their light into the road and threw out in fine relief the old figure which stood on the threshold and looked so tall.

And in but a few minutes her great lord came to her. And in his green hunting-suit with its green hat and eagle's feather he was as splendid as she had said he was. He was big and royal-looking and laughing and he bent and kissed her as if he had been her own son.

``Yes, good Mother,'' they heard him say. ``I want my warm bed and one of your good suppers. I sent the others to the Gasthaus.''

He came into the redly glowing room and his head almost touched the blackened rafters. Then he saw the two boys.

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``Who are these, good Mother?'' he asked.

She lifted his hand and kissed it.

``They are the Bearers of the Sign,'' she said rather softly. `` `The Lamp is lighted.' ''

Then his whole look changed. His laughing face became quite grave and for a moment looked even anxious. Marco knew it was because he was startled to find them only boys. He made a step forward to look at them more closely.

``The Lamp is lighted! And you two bear the Sign!'' he exclaimed. Marco stood out in the fire glow that he might see him well. He saluted with respect.

``My name is Marco Loristan, Highness,'' he said. ``And my father sent me.''

The change which came upon his face then was even greater than at first. For a second, Marco even felt that there was a flash of alarm in it. But almost at once that passed.

``Loristan is a great man and a great patriot,'' he said. ``If he sent you, it is because he knows you are the one safe messenger. He has worked too long for Samavia not to know what he does.''

Marco saluted again. He knew what it was right to say next.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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