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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XV A Sound in a Dream

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``But it is somewhere!'' he said obstinately. ``It is inside the cellar. I heard something fall which was made of metal. That was the ringing sound which awakened me.''

When he stood up, he found his body ached and he was very tired. He stretched himself and exercised his arms and legs.

``I wonder how long I have been crawling about,'' he thought. ``But the key is in the cellar. It is in the cellar.''

He sat down near the cat and her family, and, laying his arm on the shelf above her, rested his head on it. He began to think of another experiment.

``I am so tired, I believe I shall go to sleep again. `Thought which Knows All' ''--he was quoting something the hermit had said to Loristan in their midnight talk--``Thought which Knows All! Show me this little thing. Lead me to it when I awake.''

And he did fall asleep, sound and fast.

He did not know that he slept all the rest of the night. But he did. When he awakened, it was daylight in the streets, and the milk-carts were beginning to jingle about, and the early postmen were knocking big double-knocks at front doors. The cat may have heard the milk-carts, but the actual fact was that she herself was hungry and wanted to go in search of food. Just as Marco lifted his head from his arm and sat up, she jumped down from her shelf and went to the door. She had expected to find it ajar as it had been before. When she found it shut, she scratched at it and was disturbed to find this of no use. Because she knew Marco was in the cellar, she felt she had a friend who would assist her, and she miauled appealingly.

This reminded Marco of the key.

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``I will when I have found it,'' he said. ``It is inside the cellar.''

The cat miauled again, this time very anxiously indeed. The kittens heard her and began to squirm and squeak piteously.

``Lead me to this little thing,'' said Marco, as if speaking to Something in the darkness about him, and he got up.

He put his hand out toward the kittens, and it touched something lying not far from them. It must have been lying near his elbow all night while he slept.

It was the key! It had fallen upon the shelf, and not on the floor at all.

Marco picked it up and then stood still a moment. He made the sign of the cross.

Then he found his way to the door and fumbled until he found the keyhole and got the key into it. Then he turned it and pushed the door open--and the cat ran out into the passage before him.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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