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  The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XIV Marco Does Not Answer

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By the time he turned the corner of the stairs, the beautiful lady had risen from her seat in the back room and walked into the dining-room at the front. A heavily-built, dark-bearded man was standing inside the door as if waiting for her.

``I could do nothing with him,'' she said at once, in her soft voice, speaking quite prettily and gently, as if what she said was the most natural thing in the world. ``I managed the little trick of the sprained foot really well, and got him into the house. He is an amiable boy with perfect manners, and I thought it might be easy to surprise him into saying more than he knew he was saying. You can generally do that with children and young things. But he either knows nothing or has been trained to hold his tongue. He's not stupid, and he's of a high spirit. I made a pathetic little scene about Samavia, because I saw he could be worked up. It did work him up. I tried him with the Lost Prince rumor; but, if there is truth in it, he does not or will not know. I tried to make him lose his temper and betray something in defending his father, whom he thinks a god, by the way. But I made a mistake. I saw that. It's a pity. Boys can sometimes be made to tell anything.'' She spoke very quickly under her breath. The man spoke quickly too.

``Where is he?'' he asked.

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``I sent him up to the drawing-room to look for a book. He will look for a few minutes. Listen. He's an innocent boy. He sees me only as a gentle angel. Nothing will SHAKE him so much as to hear me tell him the truth suddenly. It will be such a shock to him that perhaps you can do something with him then. He may lose his hold on himself. He's only a boy.''

``You're right,'' said the bearded man. ``And when he finds out he is not free to go, it may alarm him and we may get something worth while.''

``If we could find out what is true, or what Loristan thinks is true, we should have a clue to work from,'' she said.

``We have not much time,'' the man whispered. ``We are ordered to Bosnia at once. Before midnight we must be on the way.''

``Let us go into the other room. He is coming.''

When Marco entered the room, the heavily-built man with the pointed dark beard was standing by the easy-chair.

``I am sorry I could not find the book,'' he apologized. ``I looked on all the tables.''

``I shall be obliged to go and search for it myself,'' said the Lovely Person.

She rose from her chair and stood up smiling. And at her first movement Marco saw that she was not disabled in the least.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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