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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXII A Night Vigil

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``There must be a ledge up there somewhere,'' he said at last.

``Let's go up and look for it and sit there and think and think-- about finding the right man.''

There seemed nothing fantastic in this to Marco. To go into some quiet place and sit and think about the thing he wanted to remember or to find out was an old way of his. To be quiet was always the best thing, his father had taught him. It was like listening to something which could speak without words.

``There is a little train which goes up the Gaisberg,'' he said. ``When you are at the top, a world of mountains spreads around you. Lazarus went once and told me. And we can lie out on the grass all night. Let us go, Aide-de-camp.''

So they went, each one thinking the same thought, and each boy-mind holding its own vision. Marco was the calmer of the two, because his belief that there was always help to be found was an accustomed one and had ceased to seem to partake of the supernatural. He believed quite simply that it was the working of a law, not the breaking of one, which gave answer and led him in his quests. The Rat, who had known nothing of laws other than those administered by police-courts, was at once awed and fascinated by the suggestion of crossing some borderland of the Unknown. The law of the One had baffled and overthrown him, with its sweeping away of the enmities of passions which created wars and called for armies. But the Law of Earthly Living seemed to offer practical benefits if you could hold on to yourself enough to work it.

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``You wouldn't get everything for nothing, as far as I can make out,'' he had said to Marco. ``You'd have to sweep all the rubbish out of your mind--sweep it as if you did it with a broom--and then keep on thinking straight and believing you were going to get things--and working for them--and they'd come.''

Then he had laughed a short ugly laugh because he recalled something.

``There was something in the Bible that my father used to jeer about--something about a man getting what he prayed for if he believed it,'' he said.

``Oh, yes, it's there,'' said Marco. ``That if a man pray believing he shall receive what he asks it shall be given him. All the books say something like it. It's been said so often it makes you believe it.''

``He didn't believe it, and I didn't,'' said The Rat.

``Nobody does--really,'' answered Marco, as he had done once before. ``It's because we don't know.''

They went up the Gaisberg in the little train, which pushed and dragged and panted slowly upward with them. It took them with it stubbornly and gradually higher and higher until it had left Salzburg and the Citadel below and had reached the world of mountains which rose and spread and lifted great heads behind each other and beside each other and beyond each other until there seemed no other land on earth but that on mountain sides and backs and shoulders and crowns. And also one felt the absurdity of living upon flat ground, where life must be an insignificant thing.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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