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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXII A Night Vigil

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``That was not the man!'' he whispered. ``It doesn't matter how much he looks like him, he isn't the right one.''

He was pale and swinging along swiftly as if he were in a hurry.

``Let's get into a quiet place,'' he said. ``Those queer things you've been telling me have got hold of me. How did I know? How could I know--unless it's because I've been trying to work that second law? I've been saying to myself that we should be told the right things to do--for the Game and for your father-- and so that I could be the right sort of aide-de-camp. I've been working at it, and, when he came out, I knew he was not the man in spite of his looks. And I couldn't be sure you knew, and I thought, if I kept on talking and interrupting you with silly questions, you could be prevented from speaking.''

``There's a place not far away where we can get a look at the mountains. Let's go there and sit down,'' said Marco. ``I knew it was not the right one, too. It's the Help over again.''

``Yes, it's the Help--it's the Help--it must be,'' muttered The Rat, walking fast and with a pale, set face. ``It could not be anything else.''

They got away from the streets and the people and reached the quiet place where they could see the mountains. There they sat down by the wayside. The Rat took off his cap and wiped his forehead, but it was not only the quick walking which had made it damp.

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``The queerness of it gave me a kind of fright,'' he said. ``When he came out and he was near enough for me to see him, a sudden strong feeling came over me. It seemed as if I knew he wasn't the man. Then I said to myself--`but he looks like him'--and I began to get nervous. And then I was sure again--and then I wanted to try to stop you from giving him the Sign. And then it all seemed foolishness--and the next second all the things you had told me rushed back to me at once--and I remembered what I had been thinking ever since--and I said--`Perhaps it's the Law beginning to work,' and the palms of my hands got moist.''

Marco was very quiet. He was looking at the farthest and highest peaks and wondering about many things.

``It was the expression of his face that was different,'' he said. ``And his eyes. They are rather smaller than the right man's are. The light in the shop was poor, and it was not until the last time he bent over me that I found out what I had not seen before. His eyes are gray--the other ones are brown.''

``Did you see that!'' The Rat exclaimed. ``Then we're sure! We're safe!''

``We're not safe till we've found the right man,'' Marco said. ``Where is he? Where is he? Where is he?''

He said the words dreamily and quietly, as if he were lost in thought--but also rather as if he expected an answer. And he still looked at the far-off peaks. The Rat, after watching him a moment or so, began to look at them also. They were like a loadstone to him too. There was something stilling about them, and when your eyes had rested upon them a few moments they did not want to move away.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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