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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXVIII "Extra! Extra! Extra!"

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When Marco put forth his hand, he bent his grizzled head and kissed it devoutly.

``God be thanked!'' he said again.

``My father?'' Marco began, ``my father is out?'' If he had been in the house, he knew he would not have stayed in the back sitting-room.

``Sir,'' said Lazarus, ``will you come with me into his room? You, too, sir,'' to The Rat. He had never said ``sir'' to him before.

He opened the door of the familiar room, and the boys entered. The room was empty.

Marco did not speak; neither did The Rat. They both stood still in the middle of the shabby carpet and looked up at the old soldier. Both had suddenly the same feeling that the earth had dropped from beneath their feet. Lazarus saw it and spoke fast and with tremor. He was almost as agitated as they were.

``He left me at your service--at your command''--he began.

``Left you?'' said Marco.

``He left us, all three, under orders--to WAIT,'' said Lazarus. ``The Master has gone.''

The Rat felt something hot rush into his eyes. He brushed it away that he might look at Marco's face. The shock had changed it very much. Its glowing eager joy had died out, it had turned paler and his brows were drawn together. For a few seconds he did not speak at all, and, when he did speak, The Rat knew that his voice was steady only because he willed that it should be so.

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``If he has gone,'' he said, ``it is because he had a strong reason. It was because he also was under orders.''

``He said that you would know that,'' Lazarus answered. ``He was called in such haste that he had not a moment in which to do more than write a few words. He left them for you on his desk there.''

Marco walked over to the desk and opened the envelope which was lying there. There were only a few lines on the sheet of paper inside and they had evidently been written in the greatest haste. They were these:

``The Life of my life--for Samavia.''

``He was called--to Samavia,'' Marco said, and the thought sent his blood rushing through his veins. ``He has gone to Samavia!''

Lazarus drew his hand roughly across his eyes and his voice shook and sounded hoarse.

``There has been great disaffection in the camps of the Maranovitch,'' he said. ``The remnant of the army has gone mad. Sir, silence is still the order, but who knows--who knows? God alone.''

He had not finished speaking before he turned his head as if listening to sounds in the road. They were the kind of sounds which had broken up The Squad, and sent it rushing down the passage into the street to seize on a newspaper. There was to be heard a commotion of newsboys shouting riotously some startling piece of news which had called out an ``Extra.''

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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