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0105_001E The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XVI The Rat to the Rescue

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``They only think it is a boy shouting,'' he said. ``Some one will notice in time. At night, when the streets are quiet, I might make a policeman hear. But my father does not know where I am. He will be trying to find me--so will Lazarus--so will The Rat. One of them might pass through this very street, as I did. What can I do!''

A new idea flashed light upon him.

``I will begin to sing a Samavian song, and I will sing it very loud. People nearly always stop a moment to listen to music and find out where it comes from. And if any of my own people came near, they would stop at once--and now and then I will shout for help.''

Once when they had stopped to rest on Hampstead Heath, he had sung a valiant Samavian song for The Rat. The Rat had wanted to hear how he would sing when they went on their secret journey. He wanted him to sing for the Squad some day, to make the thing seem real. The Rat had been greatly excited, and had begged for the song often. It was a stirring martial thing with a sort of trumpet call of a chorus. Thousands of Samavians had sung it together on their way to the battle-field, hundreds of years ago.

He drew back a step or so, and, putting his hands on his hips, began to sing, throwing his voice upward that it might pass through the broken window. He had a splendid and vibrant young voice, though he knew nothing of its fine quality. Just now he wanted only to make it loud.

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In the street outside very few people were passing. An irritable old gentleman who was taking an invalid walk quite jumped with annoyance when the song suddenly trumpeted forth. Boys had no right to yell in that manner. He hurried his step to get away from the sound. Two or three other people glanced over their shoulders, but had not time to loiter. A few others listened with pleasure as they drew near and passed on.

``There's a boy with a fine voice,'' said one.

``What's he singing?'' said his companion. ``It sounds foreign.''

``Don't know,'' was the reply as they went by. But at last a young man who was a music-teacher, going to give a lesson, hesitated and looked about him. The song was very loud and spirited just at this moment. The music-teacher could not understand where it came from, and paused to find out. The fact that he stopped attracted the attention of the next comer, who also paused.

``Who's singing?'' he asked. ``Where is he singing?''

``I can't make out,'' the music-teacher laughed. ``Sounds as if it came out of the ground.''

And, because it was queer that a song should seem to be coming out of the ground, a costermonger stopped, and then a little boy, and then a workingwoman, and then a lady.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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