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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXXI "The Son of Stefan Loristan"

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The night before they reached Melzarr, they slept at a town some hours distant from the capital. They arrived at midnight and went to a quiet hotel.

``To-morrow,'' said Marco, when The Rat had left him for the night, ``to-morrow, we shall see him! God be thanked!''

``God be thanked!'' said The Rat, also. And each saluted the other before they parted.

In the morning, Lazarus came into the bedroom with an air so solemn that it seemed as if the garments he carried in his hands were part of some religious ceremony.

``I am at your command, sir,'' he said. ``And I bring you your uniform.''

He carried, in fact, a richly decorated Samavian uniform, and the first thing Marco had seen when he entered was that Lazarus himself was in uniform also. His was the uniform of an officer of the King's Body Guard.

``The Master,'' he said, ``asks that you wear this on your entrance to Melzarr. I have a uniform, also, for your aide-de-camp.''

When Rastka and Vorversk appeared, they were in uniforms also. It was a uniform which had a touch of the Orient in its picturesque splendor. A short fur-bordered mantle hung by a jeweled chain from the shoulders, and there was much magnificent embroidery of color and gold.

``Sir, we must drive quickly to the station,'' Baron Rastka said to Marco. ``These people are excitable and patriotic, and His Majesty wishes us to remain incognito, and avoid all chance of public demonstration until we reach the capital.'' They passed rather hurriedly through the hotel to the carriage which awaited them. The Rat saw that something unusual was happening in the place. Servants were scurrying round corners, and guests were coming out of their rooms and even hanging over the balustrades.

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As Marco got into his carriage, he caught sight of a boy about his own age who was peeping from behind a bush. Suddenly he darted away, and they all saw him tearing down the street towards the station as fast as his legs would carry him.

But the horses were faster than he was. The party reached the station, and was escorted quickly to its place in a special saloon- carriage which awaited it. As the train made its way out of the station, Marco saw the boy who had run before them rush on to the platform, waving his arms and shouting something with wild delight. The people who were standing about turned to look at him, and the next instant they had all torn off their caps and thrown them up in the air and were shouting also. But it was not possible to hear what they said.

``We were only just in time,'' said Vorversk, and Baron Rastka nodded.

The train went swiftly, and stopped only once before they reached Melzarr. This was at a small station, on the platform of which stood peasants with big baskets of garlanded flowers and evergreens. They put them on the train, and soon both Marco and The Rat saw that something unusual was taking place. At one time, a man standing on the narrow outside platform of the carriage was plainly seen to be securing garlands and handing up flags to men who worked on the roof.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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