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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XIV Marco Does Not Answer

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The man twisted his pointed beard and shrugged his shoulders.

``We have a good little wine-cellar downstairs,'' he said. ``You are going down into it, and you will probably stay there for some time if you do not make up your mind to answer my questions. You think that nothing can happen to you in a house in a London street where policemen walk up and down. But you are mistaken. If you yelled now, even if any one chanced to hear you, they would only think you were a lad getting a thrashing he deserved. You can yell as much as you like in the black little wine-cellar, and no one will hear at all. We only took this house for three months, and we shall leave it to-night without mentioning the fact to any

one. If we choose to leave you in the wine-cellar, you will wait there until somebody begins to notice that no one goes in and out, and chances to mention it to the landlord--which few people would take the trouble to do. Did you come here from Moscow?''

``I know nothing,'' said Marco.

``You might remain in the good little black cellar an unpleasantly long time before you were found,'' the man went on, quite coolly. ``Do you remember the peasants who came to see your father two nights before you left?''

``I know nothing,'' said Marco.

``By the time it was discovered that the house was empty and people came in to make sure, you might be too weak to call out and attract their attention. Did you go to Budapest from Vienna, and were you there for three months?'' asked the inquisitor.

``I know nothing,'' said Marco.

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``You are too good for the little black cellar,'' put in the Lovely Person. ``I like you. Don't go into it!''

``I know nothing,'' Marco answered, but the eyes which were like Loristan's gave her just such a look as Loristan would have given her, and she felt it. It made her uncomfortable.

``I don't believe you were ever ill-treated or beaten,'' she said. ``I tell you, the little black cellar will be a hard thing. Don't go there!''

And this time Marco said nothing, but looked at her still as if he were some great young noble who was very proud.

He knew that every word the bearded man had spoken was true. To cry out would be of no use. If they went away and left him behind them, there was no knowing how many days would pass before the people of the neighborhood would begin to suspect that the place had been deserted, or how long it would be before it occurred to some one to give warning to the owner. And in the meantime, neither his father nor Lazarus nor The Rat would have the faintest reason for guessing where he was. And he would be sitting alone in the dark in the wine-cellar. He did not know in the least what to do about this thing. He only knew that silence was still the order.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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