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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XVIII "Cities and Faces"

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He had always encouraged ``the game,'' and during the last weeks had even found time to help them in their plannings for the mysterious journey of the Secret Two. He had been so interested that once or twice he had called on Lazarus as an old soldier and Samavian to give his opinions of certain routes--and of the customs and habits of people in towns and villages by the way. Here they would find simple pastoral folk who danced, sang after their day's work, and who would tell all they knew; here they would find those who served or feared the Maranovitch and who would not talk at all. In one place they would meet with hospitality, in another with unfriendly suspicion of all strangers. Through talk and stories The Rat began to know the country almost as Marco knew it. That was part of the game too--because it was always ``the game,'' they called it. Another part was The Rat's training of his memory, and bringing home his proofs of advance at night when he returned from his walk and could describe, or recite, or roughly sketch all he had seen in his passage from one place to another. Marco's part was to recall and sketch faces. Loristan one night gave him a number of photographs of people to commit to memory. Under each face was written the name of a place.

``Learn these faces,'' he said, ``until you would know each one of them at once wheresoever you met it. Fix them upon your mind, so that it will be impossible for you to forget them. You must be able to sketch any one of them and recall the city or town or neighborhood connected with it.''

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Even this was still called ``the game,'' but Marco began to know in his secret heart that it was so much more, that his hand sometimes trembled with excitement as he made his sketches over and over again. To make each one many times was the best way to imbed it in his memory. The Rat knew, too, though he had no reason for knowing, but mere instinct. He used to lie awake in the night and think it over and remember what Loristan had said of the time coming when Marco might need a comrade in his work. What was his work to be? It was to be something like ``the game.'' And they were being prepared for it. And though Marco often lay awake on his bed when The Rat lay awake on his sofa, neither boy spoke to the other of the thing his mind dwelt on. And Marco worked as he had never worked before. The game was very exciting when he could prove his prowess. The four gathered together at night in the back sitting-room. Lazarus was obliged to be with them because a second judge was needed. Loristan would mention the name of a place, perhaps a street in Paris or a hotel in Vienna, and Marco would at once make a rapid sketch of the face under whose photograph the name of the locality had been written. It was not long before he could begin his sketch without more than a moment's hesitation. And yet even when this had become the case, they still played the game night after night. There was a great hotel near the Place de la Concorde in Paris, of which Marco felt he should never hear the name during all his life without there starting up before his mental vision a tall woman with fierce black eyes and a delicate high-bridged nose across which the strong eyebrows almost met. In Vienna there was a palace which would always bring back at once a pale cold-faced man with a heavy blonde lock which fell over his forehead. A certain street in Munich meant a stout genial old aristocrat with a sly smile; a village in Bavaria, a peasant with a vacant and simple countenance. A curled and smoothed man who looked like a hair-dresser brought up a place in an Austrian mountain town. He knew them all as he knew his own face and No. 7 Philibert Place.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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