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0105_001E The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXVIII "Extra! Extra! Extra!"

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The Rat gnawed his finger ends a great deal. His thoughts were more wild and feverish than Marco's. They leaped forward in spite of him. It was no use to pull himself up and tell himself that he was a fool. Now that all was over, he had time to be as great a fool as he was inclined to be. But how he longed to reach London and stand face to face with Loristan! The sign was given. The Lamp was lighted. What would happen next? His crutches were under his arms before the train drew up.

``We're there! We're there!'' he cried restlessly to Marco. They had no luggage to delay them. They took their bags and followed the crowd along the platform. The rain was rattling like bullets against the high glassed roof. People turned to look at Marco, seeing the glow of exultant eagerness in his face. They thought he must be some boy coming home for the holidays and going to make a visit at a place he delighted in. The rain was dancing on the pavements when they reached the entrance.

``A cab won't cost much,'' Marco said, ``and it will take us quickly.''

They called one and got into it. Each of them had flushed cheeks, and Marco's eyes looked as if he were gazing at something a long way off--gazing at it, and wondering.

``We've come back!'' said The Rat, in an unsteady voice. ``We've been--and we've come back!'' Then suddenly turning to look at Marco, ``Does it ever seem to you as if, perhaps, it--it wasn't true?''

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``Yes,'' Marco answered, ``but it was true. And it's done.'' Then he added after a second or so of silence, just what The Rat had said to himself, ``What next?'' He said it very low.

The way to Philibert Place was not long. When they turned into the roaring, untidy road, where the busses and drays and carts struggled past each other with their loads, and the tired-faced people hurried in crowds along the pavement, they looked at them all feeling that they had left their dream far behind indeed. But they were at home.

It was a good thing to see Lazarus open the door and stand waiting before they had time to get out of the cab. Cabs stopped so seldom before houses in Philibert Place that the inmates were always prompt to open their doors. When Lazarus had seen this one stop at the broken iron gate, he had known whom it brought. He had kept an eye on the windows faithfully for many a day--even when he knew that it was too soon, even if all was well, for any travelers to return.

He bore himself with an air more than usually military and his salute when Marco crossed the threshold was formal stateliness itself. But his greeting burst from his heart.

``God be thanked!'' he said in his deep growl of joy. ``God be thanked!''

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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