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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXIV "How Shall We Find Him?

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``He's one of those chaps with the trick of saying witty things as if he didn't see the fun in them himself,'' The Rat summed him up. ``Chaps like that are always cleverer than the other kind.''

``He's too high in favor and too rich not to be followed about,'' they heard a man in a shop say one day, ``but he gets tired of it. Sometimes, when he's too bored to stand it any longer, he gives it out that he's gone into the mountains somewhere, and all the time he's shut up alone with his pictures in his own palace.''

That very night The Rat came in to their attic looking pale and disappointed. He had been out to buy some food after a long and arduous day in which they had covered much ground, had seen their man three times, and each time under circumstances which made him more inaccessible than ever. They had come back to their poor quarters both tired and ravenously hungry.

The Rat threw his purchase on to the table and himself into a chair.

``He's gone to Budapest,'' he said. ``NOW how shall we find him?''

Marco was rather pale also, and for a moment he looked paler. The day had been a hard one, and in their haste to reach places at a long distance from each other they had forgotten their need of food.

They sat silent for a few moments because there seemed to be nothing to say. ``We are too tired and hungry to be able to think well,'' Marco said at last. ``Let us eat our supper and then go to sleep. Until we've had a rest, we must `let go.' ''

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``Yes. There's no good in talking when you're tired,'' The Rat answered a trifle gloomily. ``You don't reason straight. We must `let go.' ''

Their meal was simple but they ate well and without words.

Even when they had finished and undressed for the night, they said very little.

``Where do our thoughts go when we are asleep,'' The Rat inquired casually after he was stretched out in the darkness. ``They must go somewhere. Let's send them to find out what to do next.''

``It's not as still as it was on the Gaisberg. You can hear the city roaring,'' said Marco drowsily from his dark corner. ``We must make a ledge--for ourselves.''

Sleep made it for them--deep, restful, healthy sleep. If they had been more resentful of their ill luck and lost labor, it would have come less easily and have been less natural. In their talks of strange things they had learned that one great secret of strength and unflagging courage is to know how to ``let go''--to cease thinking over an anxiety until the right moment comes. It was their habit to ``let go'' for hours sometimes, and wander about looking at places and things--galleries, museums, palaces, giving themselves up with boyish pleasure and eagerness to all they saw. Marco was too intimate with the things worth seeing, and The Rat too curious and feverishly wide-awake to allow of their missing much.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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