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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

V "Silence Is Still the Order"

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Perhaps he had asked a stupid question--perhaps his father had always been looking for him, perhaps that was his secret and his work.

But Loristan did not look as if he thought him stupid. Quite the contrary. He kept his handsome eyes fixed on him still in that curious way, as if he were studying him--as if he were much more than twelve years old, and he were deciding to tell him something.

``Comrade at arms,'' he said, with the smile which always gladdened Marco's heart, ``you have kept your oath of allegiance like a man. You were not seven years old when you took it. You are growing older. Silence is still the order, but you are man enough to be told more.'' He paused and looked down, and then looked up again, speaking in a low tone. ``I have not looked for him,'' he said, ``because--I believe I know where he is.''

Marco caught his breath.

``Father!'' He said only that word. He could say no more. He knew he must not ask questions. ``Silence is still the order.'' But as they faced each other in their dingy room at the back of the shabby house on the side of the roaring common road--as Lazarus stood stock- still behind his father's chair and kept his eyes fixed on the empty coffee cups and the dry bread plate, and everything looked as poor as things always did--there was a king of Samavia--an Ivor Fedorovitch with the blood of the Lost Prince in his veins--alive in some town or city this moment! And Marco's own father knew where he was!

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He glanced at Lazarus, but, though the old soldier's face looked as expressionless as if it were cut out of wood, Marco realized that he knew this thing and had always known it. He had been a comrade at arms all his life. He continued to stare at the bread plate.

Loristan spoke again and in an even lower voice. ``The Samavians who are patriots and thinkers,'' he said, ``formed themselves into a secret party about eighty years ago. They formed it when they had no reason for hope, but they formed it because one of them discovered that an Ivor Fedorovitch was living. He was head forester on a great estate in the Austrian Alps. The nobleman he served had always thought him a mystery because he had the bearing and speech of a man who had not been born a servant, and his methods in caring for the forests and game were those of a man who was educated and had studied his subject. But he never was familiar or assuming, and never professed superiority over any of his fellows. He was a man of great stature, and was extraordinarily brave and silent. The nobleman who was his master made a sort of companion of him when they hunted together. Once he took him with him when he traveled to Samavia to hunt wild horses. He found that he knew the country strangely well, and that he was familiar with Samavian hunting and customs. Before he returned to Austria, the man obtained permission to go to the mountains alone. He went among the shepherds and made friends among them, asking many questions.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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