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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XII Only Two Boys

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``What I want to do,'' he said, ``is not only walk as fast as other people do, but faster. Acrobats train themselves to do anything. It's training that does it. There might come a time when he might need some one to go on an errand quickly, and I'm going to be ready. I'm going to train myself until he needn't think of me as if I were only a cripple who can't do things and has to be taken care of. I want him to know that I'm really as strong as Marco, and where Marco can go I can go.''

``He'' was what he always said, and Lazarus always understood without explanation.

`` `The Master' is your name for him,'' he had explained at the beginning. ``And I can't call him just `Mister' Loristan. It sounds like cheek. If he was called `General' or `Colonel' I could stand it--though it wouldn't be quite right. Some day I shall find a name. When I speak to him, I say `Sir.' ''

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The walks were taken every day, and each day were longer. Marco found himself silently watching The Rat with amazement at his determination and endurance. He knew that he must not speak of what he could not fail to see as they walked. He must not tell him that he looked tired and pale and sometimes desperately fatigued. He had inherited from his father the tact which sees what people do not wish to be reminded of. He knew that for some reason of his own The Rat had determined to do this thing at any cost to himself. Sometimes his face grew white and worn and he breathed hard, but he never rested more than a few minutes, and never turned back or shortened a walk they had planned.

``Tell me something about Samavia, something to remember,'' he would say, when he looked his worst. ``When I begin to try to remember, I forget--other things.''

So, as they went on their way, they talked, and The Rat committed things to memory. He was quick at it, and grew quicker every day. They invented a game of remembering faces they passed. Both would learn them by heart, and on their return home Marco would draw them. They went to the museums and galleries and learned things there, making from memory lists and descriptions which at night they showed to Loristan, when he was not too busy to talk to them.

As the days passed, Marco saw that The Rat was gaining strength. This exhilarated him greatly. They often went to Hampstead Heath and walked in the wind and sun. There The Rat would go through curious exercises which he believed would develop his muscles. He began to look less tired during and after his journey. There were even fewer wrinkles on his face, and his sharp eyes looked less fierce. The talks between the two boys were long and curious. Marco soon realized that The Rat wanted to learn--learn--learn.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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