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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

VII "The Lamp Is Lighted!"

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``I will sleep until one o'clock,'' he said as he shut his eyes. ``Then I will awaken and feel quite fresh. I shall not be sleepy at all.''

He slept as soundly as a boy can sleep. And at one o'clock exactly he awakened, and found the street lamp still throwing its light through the window. He knew it was one o'clock, because there was a cheap little round clock on the table, and he could see the time. He was quite fresh and not at all sleepy. His experiment had succeeded again.

He got up and dressed. Then he went down-stairs as noiselessly as before. He carried his shoes in his hands, as he meant to put them on only when he reached the street. He made his sign at his father's door, and it was Loristan who opened it.

``Shall I go now?'' Marco asked.

``Yes. Walk slowly to the other side of the street. Look in every direction. We do not know where he will come from. After you have given him the sign, then come in and go to bed again.''

Marco saluted as a soldier would have done on receiving an order.

Then, without a second's delay, he passed noiselessly out of the house.

Loristan turned back into the room and stood silently in the center of it. The long lines of his handsome body looked particularly erect and stately, and his eyes were glowing as if something deeply moved him.

``There grows a man for Samavia,'' he said to Lazarus, who watched him. ``God be thanked!''

Lazarus's voice was low and hoarse, and he saluted quite reverently.

``Your--sir!'' he said. ``God save the Prince!''

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``Yes,'' Loristan answered, after a moment's hesitation,--``when he is found.'' And he went back to his table smiling his beautiful smile.

The wonder of silence in the deserted streets of a great city, after midnight has hushed all the roar and tumult to rest, is an almost unbelievable thing. The stillness in the depths of a forest or on a mountain top is not so strange. A few hours ago, the tumult was rushing past; in a few hours more, it will be rushing past again.

But now the street is a naked thing; a distant policeman's tramp on the bare pavement has a hollow and almost fearsome sound. It seemed especially so to Marco as he crossed the road. Had it ever been so empty and deadly silent before? Was it so every night? Perhaps it was, when he was fast asleep on his lumpy mattress with the light from a street lamp streaming into the room. He listened for the step of the policeman on night-watch, because he did not wish to be seen. There was a jutting wall where he could stand in the shadow while the man passed. A policeman would stop to look questioningly at a boy who walked up and down the pavement at half-past one in the morning. Marco could wait until he had gone by, and then come out into the light and look up and down the road and the cross streets.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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