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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XIX "That Is One!"

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A week had not passed before Marco brought to The Rat in their bedroom an envelope containing a number of slips of paper on each of which was written something.

``This is another part of the game,'' he said gravely. ``Let us sit down together by the table and study it.''

They sat down and examined what was written on the slips. At the head of each was the name of one of the places with which Marco had connected a face he had sketched. Below were clear and concise directions as to how it was to be reached and the words to be said when each individual was encountered.

``This person is to be found at his stall in the market,'' was written of the vacant-faced peasant. ``You will first attract his attention by asking the price of something. When he is looking at you, touch your left thumb lightly with the forefinger of your right hand. Then utter in a low distinct tone the words `The Lamp is lighted.' That is all you are to do.''

Sometimes the directions were not quite so simple, but they were all instructions of the same order. The originals of the sketches were to be sought out--always with precaution which should conceal that they were being sought at all, and always in such a manner as would cause an encounter to appear to be mere chance. Then certain words were to be uttered, but always without attracting the attention of any bystander or passer-by.

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The boys worked at their task through the entire day. They concentrated all their powers upon it. They wrote and re-wrote --they repeated to each other what they committed to memory as if it were a lesson. Marco worked with the greater ease and more rapidly, because exercise of this order had been his practice and entertainment from his babyhood. The Rat, however, almost kept pace with him, as he had been born with a phenomenal memory and his eagerness and desire were a fury.

But throughout the entire day neither of them once referred to what they were doing as anything but ``the game.''

At night, it is true, each found himself lying awake and thinking. It was The Rat who broke the silence from his sofa.

``It is what the messengers of the Secret Party would be ordered to do when they were sent out to give the Sign for the Rising,'' he said. ``I made that up the first day I invented the party, didn't I?''

``Yes,'' answered Marco.

After a third day's concentration they knew by heart everything given to them to learn. That night Loristan put them through an examination.

``Can you write these things?'' he asked, after each had repeated them and emerged safely from all cross-questioning.

Each boy wrote them correctly from memory.

``Write yours in French--in German--in Russian--in Samavian,'' Loristan said to Marco.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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