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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXII A Night Vigil

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``That was one of the questions my father asked that night on the ledge. The holy man said people always asked it,'' Marco answered. ``This was the answer:

`` `Let him who stretcheth forth his hand to draw the lightning to his brother recall that through his own soul and body will pass the bolt.' ''

``Wonder if there's anything in it?'' The Rat pondered. ``It'd make a chap careful if he believed it! Revenging yourself on a man would be like holding him against a live wire to kill him and getting all the volts through yourself.''

A sudden anxiety revealed itself in his face.

``Does your father believe it?'' he asked. ``Does he?''

``He knows it is true,'' Marco said.

``I'll own up,'' The Rat decided after further reflection--``I'll own up I'm glad that there isn't any one left that I've a grudge against. There isn't any one--now.''

Then he fell again into silence and did not speak until their journey was at an end. As they arrived early in the day, they had plenty of time to wander about the marvelous little old city. But through the wide streets and through the narrow ones, under the archways into the market gardens, across the bridge and into the square where the ``glockenspiel'' played its old tinkling tune, everywhere the Citadel looked down and always The Rat walked on in his dream.

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They found the hair-dresser's shop in one of the narrow streets. There were no grand shops there, and this particular shop was a modest one. They walked past it once, and then went back. It was a shop so humble that there was nothing remarkable in two common boys going into it to have their hair cut. An old man came forward to receive them. He was evidently glad of their modest patronage. He undertook to attend to The Rat himself, but, having arranged him in a chair, he turned about and called to some one in the back room.

``Heinrich,'' he said.

In the slit in Marco's sleeve was the sketch of the man with smooth curled hair, who looked like a hair-dresser. They had found a corner in which to take their final look at it before they turned back to come in. Heinrich, who came forth from the small back room, had smooth curled hair. He looked extremely like a hair- dresser. He had features like those in the sketch--his nose and mouth and chin and figure were like what Marco had drawn and committed to memory. But--

He gave Marco a chair and tied the professional white covering around his neck. Marco leaned back and closed his eyes a moment.

``That is NOT the man!'' he was saying to himself. ``He is NOT the man.''

How he knew he was not, he could not have explained, but he felt sure. It was a strong conviction. But for the sudden feeling, nothing would have been easier than to give the Sign. And if he could not give it now, where was the one to whom it must be spoken, and what would be the result if that one could not be found? And if there were two who were so much alike, how could he be sure?

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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