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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XIII Loristan Attends a Drill of the Squad

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``It might be only a newspaper story,'' he said. ``He says one cannot trust such things. If you know him, you know he is very calm.''

``Has he taught you to be calm too?'' she said pathetically. ``You are only a boy. Boys are not calm. Neither are women when their hearts are wrung. Oh, my Samavia! Oh, my poor little country! My brave, tortured country!'' and with a sudden sob she covered her face with her hands.

A great lump mounted to Marco's throat. Boys could not cry, but he knew what she meant when he said her heart was wrung.

When she lifted her head, the tears in her eyes made them softer than ever.

``If I were a million Samavians instead of one woman, I should know what to do!'' she cried. ``If your father were a million Samavians, he would know, too. He would find Ivor's descendant, if he is on the earth, and he would end all this horror!''

``Who would not end it if they could?'' cried Marco, quite fiercely.

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``But men like your father, men who are Samavians, must think night and day about it as I do,'' she impetuously insisted. ``You see, I cannot help pouring my thoughts out even to a boy--because he is a Samavian. Only Samavians care. Samavia seems so little and unimportant to other people. They don't even seem to know that the blood she is pouring forth pours from human veins and beating human hearts. Men like your father must think, and plan, and feel that they must--must find a way. Even a woman feels it. Even a boy must. Stefan Loristan cannot be sitting quietly at home, knowing that Samavian hearts are being shot through and Samavian blood poured forth. He cannot think and say NOTHING!''

Marco started in spite of himself. He felt as if his father had been struck in the face. How dare she say such words! Big as he was, suddenly he looked bigger, and the beautiful lady saw that he did.

``He is my father,'' he said slowly.

She was a clever, beautiful person, and saw that she had made a great mistake.

``You must forgive me,'' she exclaimed. ``I used the wrong words because I was excited. That is the way with women. You must see that I meant that I knew he was giving his heart and strength, his whole being, to Samavia, even though he must stay in London.''

She started and turned her head to listen to the sound of some one using the latch-key and opening the front door. The some one came in with the heavy step of a man.

``It is one of the lodgers,'' she said. ``I think it is the one who lives in the third floor sitting-room.''

``Then you won't be alone when I go,'' said Marco. ``I am glad some one has come. I will say good-morning. May I tell my father your name?''

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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