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0100_005E The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXII A Night Vigil

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The Rat had been very silent all the morning. He had been silent when they got up, and he had scarcely spoken when they made their way to the station at Munich and sat waiting for their train. It seemed to Marco that he was thinking so hard that he was like a person who was far away from the place he stood in. His brows were drawn together and his eyes did not seem to see the people who passed by. Usually he saw everything and made shrewd remarks on almost all he saw. But to-day he was somehow otherwise absorbed. He sat in the train with his forehead against the window and stared out. He moved and gasped when he found himself staring at the Alps, but afterwards he was even strangely still. It was not until after the sleepy old peasant had gathered his bundles and got out at a station that he spoke, and he did it without turning his head.

``You only told me one of the two laws,'' he said. ``What was the other one?''

Marco brought himself back from his dream of reaching the highest mountain-top and seeing clouds float beneath his feet in the sun. He had to come back a long way.

``Are you thinking of that? I wondered what you had been thinking of all the morning,'' he said.

``I couldn't stop thinking of it. What was the second one?'' said The Rat, but he did not turn his head.

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``It was called the Law of Earthly Living. It was for every day,'' said Marco. ``It was for the ordering of common things--the small things we think don't matter, as well as the big ones. I always remember that one without any trouble. This was it:

`` `Let pass through thy mind, my son, only the image thou wouldst desire to see become a truth. Meditate only upon the wish of thy heart--seeing first that it is such as can wrong no man and is not ignoble. Then will it take earthly form and draw near to thee.

`` `This is the Law of That which Creates.' ''

Then The Rat turned round. He had a shrewdly reasoning mind.

``That sounds as if you could get anything you wanted, if you think about it long enough and in the right way,'' he said. ``But perhaps it only means that, if you do it, you'll be happy after you're dead. My father used to shout with laughing when he was drunk and talked about things like that and looked at his rags.''

He hugged his knees for a few minutes. He was remembering the rags, and the fog-darkened room in the slums, and the loud, hideous laughter.

``What if you want something that will harm somebody else?'' he said next. ``What if you hate some one and wish you could kill him?''

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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