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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XXIX 'Twixt Night and Morning

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Marco took out the sovereign and held it out to the woman.

``You hear what he says,'' he said. ``At the end of this week if there is not enough to pay for the next, we will go.''

Lazarus looked so like a hyena, only held back from springing by chains of steel, that the dusty Mrs. Beedle was afraid to take the money.

``If you say that I shall not lose it, I'll wait until the week's ended,'' she said. ``You're nothing but a lad, but you're like your father. You've got a way that a body can trust. If he was here and said he hadn't the money but he'd have it in time, I'd wait if it was for a month. He'd pay it if he said he would. But he's gone; and two boys and a fellow like that one don't seem much to depend on. But I'll trust YOU.''

``Be good enough to take it,'' said Marco. And he put the coin in her hand and turned into the back sitting-room as if he did not see her.

The Rat and Lazarus followed him.

``Is there so little money left?'' said Marco. ``We have always had very little. When we had less than usual, we lived in poorer places and were hungry if it was necessary. We know how to go hungry. One does not die of it.''

The big eyes under Lazarus' beetling brows filled with tears.

``No, sir,'' he said, ``one does not die of hunger. But the insult --the insult! That is not endurable.''

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``She would not have spoken if my father had been here,'' Marco said. ``And it is true that boys like us have no money. Is there enough to pay for another week?''

``Yes, sir,'' answered Lazarus, swallowing hard as if he had a lump in his throat, ``perhaps enough for two--if we eat but little. If--if the Master would accept money from those who would give it, he would alway have had enough. But how could such a one as he? How could he? When he went away, he thought--he thought that --'' but there he stopped himself suddenly.

``Never mind,'' said Marco. ``Never mind. We will go away the day we can pay no more.''

``I can go out and sell newspapers,'' said The Rat's sharp voice.

``I've done it before. Crutches help you to sell them. The platform would sell 'em faster still. I'll go out on the platform.''

``I can sell newspapers, too,'' said Marco.

Lazarus uttered an exclamation like a groan.

``Sir,'' he cried, ``no, no! Am I not here to go out and look for work? I can carry loads. I can run errands.''

``We will all three begin to see what we can do,'' Marco said.

Then--exactly as had happened on the day of their return from their journey--there arose in the road outside the sound of newsboys shouting. This time the outcry seemed even more excited than before. The boys were running and yelling and there seemed more of them than usual. And above all other words was heard ``Samavia! Samavia!'' But to-day The Rat did not rush to the door at the first cry. He stood still--for several seconds they all three stood still --listening. Afterwards each one remembered and told the others that he had stood still because some strange, strong feeling held him WAITING as if to hear some great thing.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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