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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXIX 'Twixt Night and Morning

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The Squad glowed and exulted. The Rat glowed and exulted himself. Marco watched his sharp-featured, burning-eyed face with wonder and admiration. This strange power of making things alive was, he knew, what his father would call ``genius.''

``Let's take the oath of 'legiance again,'' shouted Cad, when the Game was over for the morning.

``The papers never said nothin' more about the Lost Prince, but we are all for him yet! Let's take it!'' So they stood in line again, Marco at the head, and renewed their oath.

``The sword in my hand--for Samavia!

``The heart in my breast--for Samavia!

``The swiftness of my sight, the thought of my brain, the life of my life--for Samavia.

``Here grow twelve men--for Samavia.

``God be thanked!''

It was more solemn than it had been the first time. The Squad felt it tremendously. Both Cad and Ben were conscious that thrills ran down their spines into their boots. When Marco and The Rat left them, they first stood at salute and then broke out into a ringing cheer.

On their way home, The Rat asked Marco a question.

``Did you see Mrs. Beedle standing at the top of the basement steps and looking after us when we went out this morning?''

Mrs. Beedle was the landlady of the lodgings at No. 7 Philibert Place. She was a mysterious and dusty female, who lived in the ``cellar kitchen'' part of the house and was seldom seen by her lodgers.

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``Yes,'' answered Marco, ``I have seen her two or three times lately, and I do not think I ever saw her before. My father has never seen her, though Lazarus says she used to watch him round corners. Why is she suddenly so curious about us?''

``I'd like to know,'' said The Rat. ``I've been trying to work it out. Ever since we came back, she's been peeping round the door of the kitchen stairs, or over balustrades, or through the cellar- kitchen windows. I believe she wants to speak to you, and knows Lazarus won't let her if he catches her at it. When Lazarus is about, she always darts back.''

``What does she want to say?'' said Marco.

``I'd like to know,'' said The Rat again.

When they reached No. 7 Philibert Place, they found out, because when the door opened they saw at the top of cellar-kitchen stairs at the end of the passage, the mysterious Mrs. Beedle, in her dusty black dress and with a dusty black cap on, evidently having that minute mounted from her subterranean hiding-place. She had come up the steps so quickly that Lazarus had not yet seen her.

``Young Master Loristan!'' she called out authoritatively. Lazarus wheeled about fiercely.

``Silence!'' he commanded. ``How dare you address the young Master?''

She snapped her fingers at him, and marched forward folding her arms tightly. ``You mind your own business,'' she said. ``It's young Master Loristan I'm speaking to, not his servant. It's time he was talked to about this.''

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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