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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XII Only Two Boys

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``The Squad could easily have half killed me,'' Marco added. ``They could have quite killed me, if they had wanted to do it. And who would have got any good out of it? It would only have been a street- lads' row--with the police and prison at the end of it.''

``But because you'd lived with him,'' The Rat pondered, ``you walked in as if you didn't mind, and just asked why we did it, and looked like a stronger chap than any of us--and different--different. I wondered what was the matter with you, you were so cool and steady. I know now. It was because you were like him. He'd taught you. He's like a wizard.''

``He knows things that wizards think they know, but he knows them better,'' Marco said. ``He says they're not queer and unnatural. They're just simple laws of nature. You have to be either on one side or the other, like an army. You choose your side. You either build up or tear down. You either keep in the light where you can see, or you stand in the dark and fight everything that comes near you, because you can't see and you think it's an enemy. No, you wouldn't have been jealous if you'd been I and I'd been you.''

``And you're NOT?'' The Rat's sharp voice was almost hollow. ``You'll swear you're not?''

``I'm not,'' said Marco.

The Rat's excitement even increased a shade as he poured forth his confession.

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``I was afraid,'' he said. ``I've been afraid every day since I came here. I'll tell you straight out. It seemed just natural that you and Lazarus wouldn't stand me, just as I wouldn't have stood you. It seemed just natural that you'd work together to throw me out. I knew how I should have worked myself. Marco--I said I'd tell you straight out--I'm jealous of you. I'm jealous of Lazarus. It makes me wild when I see you both knowing all about him, and fit and ready to do anything he wants done. I'm not ready and I'm not fit.''

``You'd do anything he wanted done, whether you were fit and ready or not,'' said Marco. ``He knows that.''

``Does he? Do you think he does?'' cried The Rat. ``I wish he'd try me. I wish he would.''

Marco turned over on his bed and rose up on his elbow so that he faced The Rat on his sofa.

``Let us WAIT,'' he said in a whisper. ``Let us WAIT.''

There was a pause, and then The Rat whispered also.

``For what?''

``For him to find out that we're fit to be tried. Don't you see what fools we should be if we spent our time in being jealous, either of us. We're only two boys. Suppose he saw we were only two silly fools. When you are jealous of me or of Lazarus, just go and sit down in a still place and think of HIM. Don't think about yourself or about us. He's so quiet that to think about him makes you quiet yourself. When things go wrong or when I'm lonely, he's taught me to sit down and make myself think of things I like--pictures, books, monuments, splendid places. It pushes the other things out and sets your mind going properly. He doesn't know I nearly always think of him. He's the best thought himself. You try it. You're not really jealous. You only THINK you are. You'll find that out if you always stop yourself in time. Any one can be such a fool if he lets himself. And he can always stop it if he makes up his mind. I'm not jealous. You must let that thought alone. You're not jealous yourself. Kick that thought into the street.''

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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