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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXXI "The Son of Stefan Loristan"

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He realized vaguely that the King himself was standing, awaiting his approach. But as he advanced, each step bearing him nearer to the throne, the light and color about him, the strangeness and magnificence, the wildly joyous acclamation of the populace outside the palace, made him feel rather dazzled, and he did not clearly see any one single face or thing.

``His Majesty awaits you,'' said a voice behind him which seemed to be Baron Rastka's. ``Are you faint, sir? You look pale.''

He drew himself together, and lifted his eyes. For one full moment, after he had so lifted them, he stood quite still and straight, looking into the deep beauty of the royal face. Then he knelt and kissed the hands held out to him--kissed them both with a passion of boy love and worship.

The King had the eyes he had longed to see--the King's hands were those he had longed to feel again upon his shoulder--the King was his father! the ``Stefan Loristan'' who had been the last of those who had waited and labored for Samavia through five hundred years, and who had lived and died kings, though none of them till now had worn a crown!

His father was the King!

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It was not that night, nor the next, nor for many nights that the telling of the story was completed. The people knew that their King and his son were rarely separated from each other; that the Prince's suite of apartments were connected by a private passage with his father's. The two were bound together by an affection of singular strength and meaning, and their love for their people added to their feeling for each other. In the history of what their past had been, there was a romance which swelled the emotional Samavian heart near to bursting. By mountain fires, in huts, under the stars, in fields and in forests, all that was known of their story was told and retold a thousand times, with sobs of joy and prayer breaking in upon the tale.

But none knew it as it was told in a certain quiet but stately room in the palace, where the man once known only as ``Stefan Loristan,'' but whom history would call the first King Ivor of Samavia, told his share of it to the boy whom Samavians had a strange and superstitious worship for, because he seemed so surely their Lost Prince restored in body and soul--almost the kingly lad in the ancient portrait--some of them half believed when he stood in the sunshine, with the halo about his head.

It was a wonderful and intense story, that of the long wanderings and the close hiding of the dangerous secret. Among all those who had known that a man who was an impassioned patriot was laboring for Samavia, and using all the power of a great mind and the delicate ingenuity of a great genius to gain friends and favor for his unhappy country, there had been but one who had known that Stefan Loristan had a claim to the Samavian throne. He had made no claim, he had sought--not a crown--but the final freedom of the nation for which his love had been a religion.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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