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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XV A Sound in a Dream

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Marco slept peacefully for several hours. There was nothing to awaken him during that time. But at the end of it, his sleep was penetrated by a definite sound. He had dreamed of hearing a voice at a distance, and, as he tried in his dream to hear what it said, a brief metallic ringing sound awakened him outright. It was over by the time he was fully conscious, and at once he realized that the voice of his dream had been a real one, and was speaking still. It was the Lovely Person's voice, and she was speaking rapidly, as if she were in the greatest haste. She was speaking through the door.

``You will have to search for it,'' was all he heard. ``I have not a moment!'' And, as he listened to her hurriedly departing feet, there came to him with their hastening echoes the words, ``You are too good for the cellar. I like you!''

He sprang to the door and tried it, but it was still locked. The feet ran up the cellar steps and through the upper hall, and the front door closed with a bang. The two people had gone away, as they had threatened. The voice had been excited as well as hurried. Something had happened to frighten them, and they had left the house in great haste.

Marco turned and stood with his back against the door. The cat had awakened and she was gazing at him with her green eyes. She began to purr encouragingly. She really helped Marco to think. He was thinking with all his might and trying to remember.

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``What did she come for? She came for something,'' he said to himself. ``What did she say? I only heard part of it, because I was asleep. The voice in the dream was part of it. The part I heard was, `You will have to search for it. I have not a moment.' And as she ran down the passage, she called back, `You are too good for the cellar. I like you.' '' He said the words over and over again and tried to recall exactly how they had sounded, and also to recall the voice which had seemed to be part of a dream but had been a real thing. Then he began to try his favorite experiment. As he often tried the experiment of commanding his mind to go to sleep, so he frequently experimented on commanding it to work for him --to help him to remember, to understand, and to argue about things clearly.

``Reason this out for me,'' he said to it now, quite naturally and calmly. ``Show me what it means.''

What did she come for? It was certain that she was in too great a hurry to be able, without a reason, to spare the time to come. What was the reason? She had said she liked him. Then she came because she liked him. If she liked him, she came to do something which was not unfriendly. The only good thing she could do for him was something which would help him to get out of the cellar. She had said twice that he was too good for the cellar. If he had been awake, he would have heard all she said and have understood what she wanted him to do or meant to do for him. He must not stop even to think of that. The first words he had heard--what had they been? They had been less clear to him than her last because he had heard them only as he was awakening. But he thought he was sure that they had been, ``You will have to search for it.'' Search for it. For what? He thought and thought. What must he search for?

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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