The Prince and The Pauper
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

Part 2 out of 4

of crimson velvet, voyded low on the back and before to the cannell-bone,
laced on the breasts with chains of silver; and over that, short cloaks
of crimson satin, and on their heads hats after the dancers' fashion,
with pheasants' feathers in them. These were appareled after the fashion
of Prussia. The torchbearers, which were about an hundred, were
appareled in crimson satin and green, like Moors, their faces black.
Next came in a mommarye. Then the minstrels, which were disguised,
danced; and the lords and ladies did wildly dance also, that it was a
pleasure to behold.'

And while Tom, in his high seat, was gazing upon this 'wild' dancing,
lost in admiration of the dazzling commingling of kaleidoscopic colours
which the whirling turmoil of gaudy figures below him presented, the
ragged but real little Prince of Wales was proclaiming his rights and his
wrongs, denouncing the impostor, and clamouring for admission at the
gates of Guildhall! The crowd enjoyed this episode prodigiously, and
pressed forward and craned their necks to see the small rioter.
Presently they began to taunt him and mock at him, purposely to goad him
into a higher and still more entertaining fury. Tears of mortification
sprang to his eyes, but he stood his ground and defied the mob right
royally. Other taunts followed, added mockings stung him, and he

"I tell ye again, you pack of unmannerly curs, I am the Prince of Wales!
And all forlorn and friendless as I be, with none to give me word of
grace or help me in my need, yet will not I be driven from my ground, but
will maintain it!"

"Though thou be prince or no prince, 'tis all one, thou be'st a gallant
lad, and not friendless neither! Here stand I by thy side to prove it;
and mind I tell thee thou might'st have a worser friend than Miles Hendon
and yet not tire thy legs with seeking. Rest thy small jaw, my child; I
talk the language of these base kennel-rats like to a very native."

The speaker was a sort of Don Caesar de Bazan in dress, aspect, and
bearing. He was tall, trim-built, muscular. His doublet and trunks were
of rich material, but faded and threadbare, and their gold-lace
adornments were sadly tarnished; his ruff was rumpled and damaged; the
plume in his slouched hat was broken and had a bedraggled and
disreputable look; at his side he wore a long rapier in a rusty iron
sheath; his swaggering carriage marked him at once as a ruffler of the
camp. The speech of this fantastic figure was received with an explosion
of jeers and laughter. Some cried, "'Tis another prince in disguise!"
"'Ware thy tongue, friend: belike he is dangerous!" "Marry, he looketh
it--mark his eye!" "Pluck the lad from him--to the horse-pond wi' the

Instantly a hand was laid upon the Prince, under the impulse of this
happy thought; as instantly the stranger's long sword was out and the
meddler went to the earth under a sounding thump with the flat of it.
The next moment a score of voices shouted, "Kill the dog! Kill him!
Kill him!" and the mob closed in on the warrior, who backed himself
against a wall and began to lay about him with his long weapon like a
madman. His victims sprawled this way and that, but the mob-tide poured
over their prostrate forms and dashed itself against the champion with
undiminished fury. His moments seemed numbered, his destruction certain,
when suddenly a trumpet-blast sounded, a voice shouted, "Way for the
King's messenger!" and a troop of horsemen came charging down upon the
mob, who fled out of harm's reach as fast as their legs could carry them.
The bold stranger caught up the Prince in his arms, and was soon far away
from danger and the multitude.

Return we within the Guildhall. Suddenly, high above the jubilant roar
and thunder of the revel, broke the clear peal of a bugle-note. There
was instant silence--a deep hush; then a single voice rose--that of the
messenger from the palace--and began to pipe forth a proclamation, the
whole multitude standing listening.

The closing words, solemnly pronounced, were--

"The King is dead!"

The great assemblage bent their heads upon their breasts with one accord;
remained so, in profound silence, a few moments; then all sank upon their
knees in a body, stretched out their hands toward Tom, and a mighty shout
burst forth that seemed to shake the building--

"Long live the King!"

Poor Tom's dazed eyes wandered abroad over this stupefying spectacle, and
finally rested dreamily upon the kneeling princesses beside him, a
moment, then upon the Earl of Hertford. A sudden purpose dawned in his
face. He said, in a low tone, at Lord Hertford's ear--

"Answer me truly, on thy faith and honour! Uttered I here a command, the
which none but a king might hold privilege and prerogative to utter,
would such commandment be obeyed, and none rise up to say me nay?"

"None, my liege, in all these realms. In thy person bides the majesty of
England. Thou art the king--thy word is law."

Tom responded, in a strong, earnest voice, and with great animation--

"Then shall the king's law be law of mercy, from this day, and never more
be law of blood! Up from thy knees and away! To the Tower, and say the
King decrees the Duke of Norfolk shall not die!" {1}

The words were caught up and carried eagerly from lip to lip far and wide
over the hall, and as Hertford hurried from the presence, another
prodigious shout burst forth--

"The reign of blood is ended! Long live Edward, King of England!"

Chapter XII. The Prince and his deliverer.

As soon as Miles Hendon and the little prince were clear of the mob, they
struck down through back lanes and alleys toward the river. Their way
was unobstructed until they approached London Bridge; then they ploughed
into the multitude again, Hendon keeping a fast grip upon the Prince's--
no, the King's--wrist. The tremendous news was already abroad, and the
boy learned it from a thousand voices at once--"The King is dead!" The
tidings struck a chill to the heart of the poor little waif, and sent a
shudder through his frame. He realised the greatness of his loss, and
was filled with a bitter grief; for the grim tyrant who had been such a
terror to others had always been gentle with him. The tears sprang to
his eyes and blurred all objects. For an instant he felt himself the
most forlorn, outcast, and forsaken of God's creatures--then another cry
shook the night with its far-reaching thunders: "Long live King Edward
the Sixth!" and this made his eyes kindle, and thrilled him with pride to
his fingers' ends. "Ah," he thought, "how grand and strange it seems--I

Our friends threaded their way slowly through the throngs upon the
bridge. This structure, which had stood for six hundred years, and had
been a noisy and populous thoroughfare all that time, was a curious
affair, for a closely packed rank of stores and shops, with family
quarters overhead, stretched along both sides of it, from one bank of the
river to the other. The Bridge was a sort of town to itself; it had its
inn, its beer-houses, its bakeries, its haberdasheries, its food markets,
its manufacturing industries, and even its church. It looked upon the
two neighbours which it linked together--London and Southwark--as being
well enough as suburbs, but not otherwise particularly important. It was
a close corporation, so to speak; it was a narrow town, of a single
street a fifth of a mile long, its population was but a village
population and everybody in it knew all his fellow-townsmen intimately,
and had known their fathers and mothers before them--and all their little
family affairs into the bargain. It had its aristocracy, of course--its
fine old families of butchers, and bakers, and what-not, who had occupied
the same old premises for five or six hundred years, and knew the great
history of the Bridge from beginning to end, and all its strange legends;
and who always talked bridgy talk, and thought bridgy thoughts, and lied
in a long, level, direct, substantial bridgy way. It was just the sort
of population to be narrow and ignorant and self-conceited. Children were
born on the Bridge, were reared there, grew to old age, and finally died
without ever having set a foot upon any part of the world but London
Bridge alone. Such people would naturally imagine that the mighty and
interminable procession which moved through its street night and day,
with its confused roar of shouts and cries, its neighings and bellowing
and bleatings and its muffled thunder-tramp, was the one great thing in
this world, and themselves somehow the proprietors of it. And so they
were, in effect--at least they could exhibit it from their windows, and
did--for a consideration--whenever a returning king or hero gave it a
fleeting splendour, for there was no place like it for affording a long,
straight, uninterrupted view of marching columns.

Men born and reared upon the Bridge found life unendurably dull and inane
elsewhere. History tells of one of these who left the Bridge at the age
of seventy-one and retired to the country. But he could only fret and
toss in his bed; he could not go to sleep, the deep stillness was so
painful, so awful, so oppressive. When he was worn out with it, at last,
he fled back to his old home, a lean and haggard spectre, and fell
peacefully to rest and pleasant dreams under the lulling music of the
lashing waters and the boom and crash and thunder of London Bridge.

In the times of which we are writing, the Bridge furnished 'object
lessons' in English history for its children--namely, the livid and
decaying heads of renowned men impaled upon iron spikes atop of its
gateways. But we digress.

Hendon's lodgings were in the little inn on the Bridge. As he neared the
door with his small friend, a rough voice said--

"So, thou'rt come at last! Thou'lt not escape again, I warrant thee; and
if pounding thy bones to a pudding can teach thee somewhat, thou'lt not
keep us waiting another time, mayhap"--and John Canty put out his hand to
seize the boy.

Miles Hendon stepped in the way and said--

"Not too fast, friend. Thou art needlessly rough, methinks. What is the
lad to thee?"

"If it be any business of thine to make and meddle in others' affairs, he
is my son."

"'Tis a lie!" cried the little King, hotly.

"Boldly said, and I believe thee, whether thy small headpiece be sound or
cracked, my boy. But whether this scurvy ruffian be thy father or no,
'tis all one, he shall not have thee to beat thee and abuse, according to
his threat, so thou prefer to bide with me."

"I do, I do--I know him not, I loathe him, and will die before I will go
with him."

"Then 'tis settled, and there is nought more to say."

"We will see, as to that!" exclaimed John Canty, striding past Hendon to
get at the boy; "by force shall he--"

"If thou do but touch him, thou animated offal, I will spit thee like a
goose!" said Hendon, barring the way and laying his hand upon his sword
hilt. Canty drew back. "Now mark ye," continued Hendon, "I took this
lad under my protection when a mob of such as thou would have mishandled
him, mayhap killed him; dost imagine I will desert him now to a worser
fate?--for whether thou art his father or no--and sooth to say, I think
it is a lie--a decent swift death were better for such a lad than life in
such brute hands as thine. So go thy ways, and set quick about it, for I
like not much bandying of words, being not over-patient in my nature."

John Canty moved off, muttering threats and curses, and was swallowed
from sight in the crowd. Hendon ascended three flights of stairs to his
room, with his charge, after ordering a meal to be sent thither. It was
a poor apartment, with a shabby bed and some odds and ends of old
furniture in it, and was vaguely lighted by a couple of sickly candles.
The little King dragged himself to the bed and lay down upon it, almost
exhausted with hunger and fatigue. He had been on his feet a good part
of a day and a night (for it was now two or three o'clock in the
morning), and had eaten nothing meantime. He murmured drowsily--

"Prithee call me when the table is spread," and sank into a deep sleep

A smile twinkled in Hendon's eye, and he said to himself--

"By the mass, the little beggar takes to one's quarters and usurps one's
bed with as natural and easy a grace as if he owned them--with never a
by-your-leave or so-please-it-you, or anything of the sort. In his
diseased ravings he called himself the Prince of Wales, and bravely doth
he keep up the character. Poor little friendless rat, doubtless his mind
has been disordered with ill-usage. Well, I will be his friend; I have
saved him, and it draweth me strongly to him; already I love the bold-
tongued little rascal. How soldier-like he faced the smutty rabble and
flung back his high defiance! And what a comely, sweet and gentle face
he hath, now that sleep hath conjured away its troubles and its griefs.
I will teach him; I will cure his malady; yea, I will be his elder
brother, and care for him and watch over him; and whoso would shame him
or do him hurt may order his shroud, for though I be burnt for it he
shall need it!"

He bent over the boy and contemplated him with kind and pitying interest,
tapping the young cheek tenderly and smoothing back the tangled curls
with his great brown hand. A slight shiver passed over the boy's form.
Hendon muttered--

"See, now, how like a man it was to let him lie here uncovered and fill
his body with deadly rheums. Now what shall I do? 'twill wake him to
take him up and put him within the bed, and he sorely needeth sleep."

He looked about for extra covering, but finding none, doffed his doublet
and wrapped the lad in it, saying, "I am used to nipping air and scant
apparel, 'tis little I shall mind the cold!"--then walked up and down the
room, to keep his blood in motion, soliloquising as before.

"His injured mind persuades him he is Prince of Wales; 'twill be odd to
have a Prince of Wales still with us, now that he that WAS the prince is
prince no more, but king--for this poor mind is set upon the one fantasy,
and will not reason out that now it should cast by the prince and call
itself the king. . . If my father liveth still, after these seven years
that I have heard nought from home in my foreign dungeon, he will welcome
the poor lad and give him generous shelter for my sake; so will my good
elder brother, Arthur; my other brother, Hugh--but I will crack his crown
an HE interfere, the fox-hearted, ill-conditioned animal! Yes, thither
will we fare--and straightway, too."

A servant entered with a smoking meal, disposed it upon a small deal
table, placed the chairs, and took his departure, leaving such cheap
lodgers as these to wait upon themselves. The door slammed after him,
and the noise woke the boy, who sprang to a sitting posture, and shot a
glad glance about him; then a grieved look came into his face and he
murmured to himself, with a deep sigh, "Alack, it was but a dream, woe is
me!" Next he noticed Miles Hendon's doublet--glanced from that to
Hendon, comprehended the sacrifice that had been made for him, and said,

"Thou art good to me, yes, thou art very good to me. Take it and put it
on--I shall not need it more."

Then he got up and walked to the washstand in the corner and stood there,
waiting. Hendon said in a cheery voice--

"We'll have a right hearty sup and bite, now, for everything is savoury
and smoking hot, and that and thy nap together will make thee a little
man again, never fear!"

The boy made no answer, but bent a steady look, that was filled with
grave surprise, and also somewhat touched with impatience, upon the tall
knight of the sword. Hendon was puzzled, and said--

"What's amiss?"

"Good sir, I would wash me."

"Oh, is that all? Ask no permission of Miles Hendon for aught thou
cravest. Make thyself perfectly free here, and welcome, with all that
are his belongings."

Still the boy stood, and moved not; more, he tapped the floor once or
twice with his small impatient foot. Hendon was wholly perplexed. Said

"Bless us, what is it?"

"Prithee pour the water, and make not so many words!"

Hendon, suppressing a horse-laugh, and saying to himself, "By all the
saints, but this is admirable!" stepped briskly forward and did the small
insolent's bidding; then stood by, in a sort of stupefaction, until the
command, "Come--the towel!" woke him sharply up. He took up a towel,
from under the boy's nose, and handed it to him without comment. He now
proceeded to comfort his own face with a wash, and while he was at it his
adopted child seated himself at the table and prepared to fall to.
Hendon despatched his ablutions with alacrity, then drew back the other
chair and was about to place himself at table, when the boy said,

"Forbear! Wouldst sit in the presence of the King?"

This blow staggered Hendon to his foundations. He muttered to himself,
"Lo, the poor thing's madness is up with the time! It hath changed with
the great change that is come to the realm, and now in fancy is he KING!
Good lack, I must humour the conceit, too--there is no other way--faith,
he would order me to the Tower, else!"

And pleased with this jest, he removed the chair from the table, took his
stand behind the King, and proceeded to wait upon him in the courtliest
way he was capable of.

While the King ate, the rigour of his royal dignity relaxed a little, and
with his growing contentment came a desire to talk. He said--"I think
thou callest thyself Miles Hendon, if I heard thee aright?"

"Yes, Sire," Miles replied; then observed to himself, "If I MUST humour
the poor lad's madness, I must 'Sire' him, I must 'Majesty' him, I must
not go by halves, I must stick at nothing that belongeth to the part I
play, else shall I play it ill and work evil to this charitable and
kindly cause."

The King warmed his heart with a second glass of wine, and said--"I would
know thee--tell me thy story. Thou hast a gallant way with thee, and a
noble--art nobly born?"

"We are of the tail of the nobility, good your Majesty. My father is a
baronet--one of the smaller lords by knight service {2}--Sir Richard
Hendon of Hendon Hall, by Monk's Holm in Kent."

"The name has escaped my memory. Go on--tell me thy story."

"'Tis not much, your Majesty, yet perchance it may beguile a short half-
hour for want of a better. My father, Sir Richard, is very rich, and of
a most generous nature. My mother died whilst I was yet a boy. I have
two brothers: Arthur, my elder, with a soul like to his father's; and
Hugh, younger than I, a mean spirit, covetous, treacherous, vicious,
underhanded--a reptile. Such was he from the cradle; such was he ten
years past, when I last saw him--a ripe rascal at nineteen, I being
twenty then, and Arthur twenty-two. There is none other of us but the
Lady Edith, my cousin--she was sixteen then--beautiful, gentle, good, the
daughter of an earl, the last of her race, heiress of a great fortune and
a lapsed title. My father was her guardian. I loved her and she loved
me; but she was betrothed to Arthur from the cradle, and Sir Richard
would not suffer the contract to be broken. Arthur loved another maid,
and bade us be of good cheer and hold fast to the hope that delay and
luck together would some day give success to our several causes. Hugh
loved the Lady Edith's fortune, though in truth he said it was herself he
loved--but then 'twas his way, alway, to say the one thing and mean the
other. But he lost his arts upon the girl; he could deceive my father,
but none else. My father loved him best of us all, and trusted and
believed him; for he was the youngest child, and others hated him--these
qualities being in all ages sufficient to win a parent's dearest love;
and he had a smooth persuasive tongue, with an admirable gift of lying--
and these be qualities which do mightily assist a blind affection to
cozen itself. I was wild--in troth I might go yet farther and say VERY
wild, though 'twas a wildness of an innocent sort, since it hurt none but
me, brought shame to none, nor loss, nor had in it any taint of crime or
baseness, or what might not beseem mine honourable degree.

"Yet did my brother Hugh turn these faults to good account--he seeing
that our brother Arthur's health was but indifferent, and hoping the
worst might work him profit were I swept out of the path--so--but 'twere
a long tale, good my liege, and little worth the telling. Briefly, then,
this brother did deftly magnify my faults and make them crimes; ending
his base work with finding a silken ladder in mine apartments--conveyed
thither by his own means--and did convince my father by this, and
suborned evidence of servants and other lying knaves, that I was minded
to carry off my Edith and marry with her in rank defiance of his will.

"Three years of banishment from home and England might make a soldier and
a man of me, my father said, and teach me some degree of wisdom. I
fought out my long probation in the continental wars, tasting sumptuously
of hard knocks, privation, and adventure; but in my last battle I was
taken captive, and during the seven years that have waxed and waned since
then, a foreign dungeon hath harboured me. Through wit and courage I won
to the free air at last, and fled hither straight; and am but just
arrived, right poor in purse and raiment, and poorer still in knowledge
of what these dull seven years have wrought at Hendon Hall, its people
and belongings. So please you, sir, my meagre tale is told."

"Thou hast been shamefully abused!" said the little King, with a flashing
eye. "But I will right thee--by the cross will I! The King hath said

Then, fired by the story of Miles's wrongs, he loosed his tongue and
poured the history of his own recent misfortunes into the ears of his
astonished listener. When he had finished, Miles said to himself--

"Lo, what an imagination he hath! Verily, this is no common mind; else,
crazed or sane, it could not weave so straight and gaudy a tale as this
out of the airy nothings wherewith it hath wrought this curious romaunt.
Poor ruined little head, it shall not lack friend or shelter whilst I
bide with the living. He shall never leave my side; he shall be my pet,
my little comrade. And he shall be cured!--ay, made whole and sound--
then will he make himself a name--and proud shall I be to say, 'Yes, he
is mine--I took him, a homeless little ragamuffin, but I saw what was in
him, and I said his name would be heard some day--behold him, observe
him--was I right?'"

The King spoke--in a thoughtful, measured voice--

"Thou didst save me injury and shame, perchance my life, and so my crown.
Such service demandeth rich reward. Name thy desire, and so it be within
the compass of my royal power, it is thine."

This fantastic suggestion startled Hendon out of his reverie. He was
about to thank the King and put the matter aside with saying he had only
done his duty and desired no reward, but a wiser thought came into his
head, and he asked leave to be silent a few moments and consider the
gracious offer--an idea which the King gravely approved, remarking that
it was best to be not too hasty with a thing of such great import.

Miles reflected during some moments, then said to himself, "Yes, that is
the thing to do--by any other means it were impossible to get at it--and
certes, this hour's experience has taught me 'twould be most wearing and
inconvenient to continue it as it is. Yes, I will propose it; 'twas a
happy accident that I did not throw the chance away." Then he dropped
upon one knee and said--

"My poor service went not beyond the limit of a subject's simple duty,
and therefore hath no merit; but since your Majesty is pleased to hold it
worthy some reward, I take heart of grace to make petition to this
effect. Near four hundred years ago, as your grace knoweth, there being
ill blood betwixt John, King of England, and the King of France, it was
decreed that two champions should fight together in the lists, and so
settle the dispute by what is called the arbitrament of God. These two
kings, and the Spanish king, being assembled to witness and judge the
conflict, the French champion appeared; but so redoubtable was he, that
our English knights refused to measure weapons with him. So the matter,
which was a weighty one, was like to go against the English monarch by
default. Now in the Tower lay the Lord de Courcy, the mightiest arm in
England, stripped of his honours and possessions, and wasting with long
captivity. Appeal was made to him; he gave assent, and came forth
arrayed for battle; but no sooner did the Frenchman glimpse his huge
frame and hear his famous name but he fled away, and the French king's
cause was lost. King John restored De Courcy's titles and possessions,
and said, 'Name thy wish and thou shalt have it, though it cost me half
my kingdom;' whereat De Courcy, kneeling, as I do now, made answer,
'This, then, I ask, my liege; that I and my successors may have and hold
the privilege of remaining covered in the presence of the kings of
England, henceforth while the throne shall last.' The boon was granted,
as your Majesty knoweth; and there hath been no time, these four hundred
years, that that line has failed of an heir; and so, even unto this day,
the head of that ancient house still weareth his hat or helm before the
King's Majesty, without let or hindrance, and this none other may do. {3}
Invoking this precedent in aid of my prayer, I beseech the King to grant
to me but this one grace and privilege--to my more than sufficient
reward--and none other, to wit: that I and my heirs, for ever, may SIT
in the presence of the Majesty of England!"

"Rise, Sir Miles Hendon, Knight," said the King, gravely--giving the
accolade with Hendon's sword--"rise, and seat thyself. Thy petition is
granted. Whilst England remains, and the crown continues, the privilege
shall not lapse."

His Majesty walked apart, musing, and Hendon dropped into a chair at
table, observing to himself, "'Twas a brave thought, and hath wrought me
a mighty deliverance; my legs are grievously wearied. An I had not
thought of that, I must have had to stand for weeks, till my poor lad's
wits are cured." After a little, he went on, "And so I am become a
knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows! A most odd and strange
position, truly, for one so matter-of-fact as I. I will not laugh--no,
God forbid, for this thing which is so substanceless to me is REAL to
him. And to me, also, in one way, it is not a falsity, for it reflects
with truth the sweet and generous spirit that is in him." After a pause:
"Ah, what if he should call me by my fine title before folk!--there'd be
a merry contrast betwixt my glory and my raiment! But no matter, let him
call me what he will, so it please him; I shall be content."

Chapter XIII. The disappearance of the Prince.

A heavy drowsiness presently fell upon the two comrades. The King said--

"Remove these rags"--meaning his clothing.

Hendon disapparelled the boy without dissent or remark, tucked him up in
bed, then glanced about the room, saying to himself, ruefully, "He hath
taken my bed again, as before--marry, what shall _I_ do?" The little
King observed his perplexity, and dissipated it with a word. He said,

"Thou wilt sleep athwart the door, and guard it." In a moment more he
was out of his troubles, in a deep slumber.

"Dear heart, he should have been born a king!" muttered Hendon,
admiringly; "he playeth the part to a marvel."

Then he stretched himself across the door, on the floor, saying

"I have lodged worse for seven years; 'twould be but ill gratitude to Him
above to find fault with this."

He dropped asleep as the dawn appeared. Toward noon he rose, uncovered
his unconscious ward--a section at a time--and took his measure with a
string. The King awoke, just as he had completed his work, complained of
the cold, and asked what he was doing.

"'Tis done, now, my liege," said Hendon; "I have a bit of business
outside, but will presently return; sleep thou again--thou needest it.
There--let me cover thy head also--thou'lt be warm the sooner."

The King was back in dreamland before this speech was ended. Miles
slipped softly out, and slipped as softly in again, in the course of
thirty or forty minutes, with a complete second-hand suit of boy's
clothing, of cheap material, and showing signs of wear; but tidy, and
suited to the season of the year. He seated himself, and began to
overhaul his purchase, mumbling to himself--

"A longer purse would have got a better sort, but when one has not the
long purse one must be content with what a short one may do--

"'There was a woman in our town, In our town did dwell--'

"He stirred, methinks--I must sing in a less thunderous key; 'tis not
good to mar his sleep, with this journey before him, and he so wearied
out, poor chap . . . This garment--'tis well enough--a stitch here and
another one there will set it aright. This other is better, albeit a
stitch or two will not come amiss in it, likewise . . . THESE be very
good and sound, and will keep his small feet warm and dry--an odd new
thing to him, belike, since he has doubtless been used to foot it bare,
winters and summers the same . . . Would thread were bread, seeing one
getteth a year's sufficiency for a farthing, and such a brave big needle
without cost, for mere love. Now shall I have the demon's own time to
thread it!"

And so he had. He did as men have always done, and probably always will
do, to the end of time--held the needle still, and tried to thrust the
thread through the eye, which is the opposite of a woman's way. Time and
time again the thread missed the mark, going sometimes on one side of the
needle, sometimes on the other, sometimes doubling up against the shaft;
but he was patient, having been through these experiences before, when he
was soldiering. He succeeded at last, and took up the garment that had
lain waiting, meantime, across his lap, and began his work.

"The inn is paid--the breakfast that is to come, included--and there is
wherewithal left to buy a couple of donkeys and meet our little costs for
the two or three days betwixt this and the plenty that awaits us at
Hendon Hall--

"'She loved her hus--'

"Body o' me! I have driven the needle under my nail! . . . It matters
little--'tis not a novelty--yet 'tis not a convenience, neither . . .We
shall be merry there, little one, never doubt it! Thy troubles will
vanish there, and likewise thy sad distemper--

"'She loved her husband dearilee, But another man--'

"These be noble large stitches!"--holding the garment up and viewing it
admiringly--"they have a grandeur and a majesty that do cause these small
stingy ones of the tailor-man to look mightily paltry and plebeian--

"'She loved her husband dearilee, But another man he loved she,--'

"Marry, 'tis done--a goodly piece of work, too, and wrought with
expedition. Now will I wake him, apparel him, pour for him, feed him,
and then will we hie us to the mart by the Tabard Inn in Southwark and--
be pleased to rise, my liege!--he answereth not--what ho, my liege!--of a
truth must I profane his sacred person with a touch, sith his slumber is
deaf to speech. What!"

He threw back the covers--the boy was gone!

He stared about him in speechless astonishment for a moment; noticed for
the first time that his ward's ragged raiment was also missing; then he
began to rage and storm and shout for the innkeeper. At that moment a
servant entered with the breakfast.

"Explain, thou limb of Satan, or thy time is come!" roared the man of
war, and made so savage a spring toward the waiter that this latter could
not find his tongue, for the instant, for fright and surprise. "Where is
the boy?"

In disjointed and trembling syllables the man gave the information

"You were hardly gone from the place, your worship, when a youth came
running and said it was your worship's will that the boy come to you
straight, at the bridge-end on the Southwark side. I brought him hither;
and when he woke the lad and gave his message, the lad did grumble some
little for being disturbed 'so early,' as he called it, but straightway
trussed on his rags and went with the youth, only saying it had been
better manners that your worship came yourself, not sent a stranger--and

"And so thou'rt a fool!--a fool and easily cozened--hang all thy breed!
Yet mayhap no hurt is done. Possibly no harm is meant the boy. I will
go fetch him. Make the table ready. Stay! the coverings of the bed were
disposed as if one lay beneath them--happened that by accident?"

"I know not, good your worship. I saw the youth meddle with them--he
that came for the boy."

"Thousand deaths! 'Twas done to deceive me--'tis plain 'twas done to
gain time. Hark ye! Was that youth alone?"

"All alone, your worship."

"Art sure?"

"Sure, your worship."

"Collect thy scattered wits--bethink thee--take time, man."

After a moment's thought, the servant said--

"When he came, none came with him; but now I remember me that as the two
stepped into the throng of the Bridge, a ruffian-looking man plunged out
from some near place; and just as he was joining them--"

"What THEN?--out with it!" thundered the impatient Hendon, interrupting.

"Just then the crowd lapped them up and closed them in, and I saw no
more, being called by my master, who was in a rage because a joint that
the scrivener had ordered was forgot, though I take all the saints to
witness that to blame ME for that miscarriage were like holding the
unborn babe to judgment for sins com--"

"Out of my sight, idiot! Thy prating drives me mad! Hold! Whither art
flying? Canst not bide still an instant? Went they toward Southwark?"

"Even so, your worship--for, as I said before, as to that detestable
joint, the babe unborn is no whit more blameless than--"

"Art here YET! And prating still! Vanish, lest I throttle thee!" The
servitor vanished. Hendon followed after him, passed him, and plunged
down the stairs two steps at a stride, muttering, "'Tis that scurvy
villain that claimed he was his son. I have lost thee, my poor little
mad master--it is a bitter thought--and I had come to love thee so! No!
by book and bell, NOT lost! Not lost, for I will ransack the land till I
find thee again. Poor child, yonder is his breakfast--and mine, but I
have no hunger now; so, let the rats have it--speed, speed! that is the
word!" As he wormed his swift way through the noisy multitudes upon the
Bridge he several times said to himself--clinging to the thought as if it
were a particularly pleasing one--"He grumbled, but he WENT--he went,
yes, because he thought Miles Hendon asked it, sweet lad--he would ne'er
have done it for another, I know it well."

Chapter XIV. 'Le Roi est mort--vive le Roi.'

Toward daylight of the same morning, Tom Canty stirred out of a heavy
sleep and opened his eyes in the dark. He lay silent a few moments,
trying to analyse his confused thoughts and impressions, and get some
sort of meaning out of them; then suddenly he burst out in a rapturous
but guarded voice--

"I see it all, I see it all! Now God be thanked, I am indeed awake at
last! Come, joy! vanish, sorrow! Ho, Nan! Bet! kick off your straw and
hie ye hither to my side, till I do pour into your unbelieving ears the
wildest madcap dream that ever the spirits of night did conjure up to
astonish the soul of man withal! . . . Ho, Nan, I say! Bet!"

A dim form appeared at his side, and a voice said--

"Wilt deign to deliver thy commands?"

"Commands? . . . O, woe is me, I know thy voice! Speak thou--who am I?"

"Thou? In sooth, yesternight wert thou the Prince of Wales; to-day art
thou my most gracious liege, Edward, King of England."

Tom buried his head among his pillows, murmuring plaintively--

"Alack, it was no dream! Go to thy rest, sweet sir--leave me to my

Tom slept again, and after a time he had this pleasant dream. He thought
it was summer, and he was playing, all alone, in the fair meadow called
Goodman's Fields, when a dwarf only a foot high, with long red whiskers
and a humped back, appeared to him suddenly and said, "Dig by that
stump." He did so, and found twelve bright new pennies--wonderful
riches! Yet this was not the best of it; for the dwarf said--

"I know thee. Thou art a good lad, and a deserving; thy distresses shall
end, for the day of thy reward is come. Dig here every seventh day, and
thou shalt find always the same treasure, twelve bright new pennies.
Tell none--keep the secret."

Then the dwarf vanished, and Tom flew to Offal Court with his prize,
saying to himself, "Every night will I give my father a penny; he will
think I begged it, it will glad his heart, and I shall no more be beaten.
One penny every week the good priest that teacheth me shall have; mother,
Nan, and Bet the other four. We be done with hunger and rags, now, done
with fears and frets and savage usage."

In his dream he reached his sordid home all out of breath, but with eyes
dancing with grateful enthusiasm; cast four of his pennies into his
mother's lap and cried out--

"They are for thee!--all of them, every one!--for thee and Nan and Bet--
and honestly come by, not begged nor stolen!"

The happy and astonished mother strained him to her breast and exclaimed--

"It waxeth late--may it please your Majesty to rise?"

Ah! that was not the answer he was expecting. The dream had snapped
asunder--he was awake.

He opened his eyes--the richly clad First Lord of the Bedchamber was
kneeling by his couch. The gladness of the lying dream faded away--the
poor boy recognised that he was still a captive and a king. The room was
filled with courtiers clothed in purple mantles--the mourning colour--and
with noble servants of the monarch. Tom sat up in bed and gazed out from
the heavy silken curtains upon this fine company.

The weighty business of dressing began, and one courtier after another
knelt and paid his court and offered to the little King his condolences
upon his heavy loss, whilst the dressing proceeded. In the beginning, a
shirt was taken up by the Chief Equerry in Waiting, who passed it to the
First Lord of the Buckhounds, who passed it to the Second Gentleman of
the Bedchamber, who passed it to the Head Ranger of Windsor Forest, who
passed it to the Third Groom of the Stole, who passed it to the
Chancellor Royal of the Duchy of Lancaster, who passed it to the Master
of the Wardrobe, who passed it to Norroy King-at-Arms, who passed it to
the Constable of the Tower, who passed it to the Chief Steward of the
Household, who passed it to the Hereditary Grand Diaperer, who passed it
to the Lord High Admiral of England, who passed it to the Archbishop of
Canterbury, who passed it to the First Lord of the Bedchamber, who took
what was left of it and put it on Tom. Poor little wondering chap, it
reminded him of passing buckets at a fire.

Each garment in its turn had to go through this slow and solemn process;
consequently Tom grew very weary of the ceremony; so weary that he felt
an almost gushing gratefulness when he at last saw his long silken hose
begin the journey down the line and knew that the end of the matter was
drawing near. But he exulted too soon. The First Lord of the Bedchamber
received the hose and was about to encase Tom's legs in them, when a
sudden flush invaded his face and he hurriedly hustled the things back
into the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury with an astounded look and
a whispered, "See, my lord!" pointing to a something connected with the
hose. The Archbishop paled, then flushed, and passed the hose to the
Lord High Admiral, whispering, "See, my lord!" The Admiral passed the
hose to the Hereditary Grand Diaperer, and had hardly breath enough in
his body to ejaculate, "See, my lord!" The hose drifted backward along
the line, to the Chief Steward of the Household, the Constable of the
Tower, Norroy King-at-Arms, the Master of the Wardrobe, the Chancellor
Royal of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Third Groom of the Stole, the Head
Ranger of Windsor Forest, the Second Gentleman of the Bedchamber, the
First Lord of the Buckhounds,--accompanied always with that amazed and
frightened "See! see!"--till they finally reached the hands of the Chief
Equerry in Waiting, who gazed a moment, with a pallid face, upon what had
caused all this dismay, then hoarsely whispered, "Body of my life, a tag
gone from a truss-point!--to the Tower with the Head Keeper of the King's
Hose!"--after which he leaned upon the shoulder of the First Lord of the
Buckhounds to regather his vanished strength whilst fresh hose, without
any damaged strings to them, were brought.

But all things must have an end, and so in time Tom Canty was in a
condition to get out of bed. The proper official poured water, the
proper official engineered the washing, the proper official stood by with
a towel, and by-and-by Tom got safely through the purifying stage and was
ready for the services of the Hairdresser-royal. When he at length
emerged from this master's hands, he was a gracious figure and as pretty
as a girl, in his mantle and trunks of purple satin, and purple-plumed
cap. He now moved in state toward his breakfast-room, through the midst
of the courtly assemblage; and as he passed, these fell back, leaving his
way free, and dropped upon their knees.

After breakfast he was conducted, with regal ceremony, attended by his
great officers and his guard of fifty Gentlemen Pensioners bearing gilt
battle-axes, to the throne-room, where he proceeded to transact business
of state. His 'uncle,' Lord Hertford, took his stand by the throne, to
assist the royal mind with wise counsel.

The body of illustrious men named by the late King as his executors
appeared, to ask Tom's approval of certain acts of theirs--rather a form,
and yet not wholly a form, since there was no Protector as yet. The
Archbishop of Canterbury made report of the decree of the Council of
Executors concerning the obsequies of his late most illustrious Majesty,
and finished by reading the signatures of the Executors, to wit: the
Archbishop of Canterbury; the Lord Chancellor of England; William Lord
St. John; John Lord Russell; Edward Earl of Hertford; John Viscount
Lisle; Cuthbert Bishop of Durham--

Tom was not listening--an earlier clause of the document was puzzling
him. At this point he turned and whispered to Lord Hertford--

"What day did he say the burial hath been appointed for?"

"The sixteenth of the coming month, my liege."

"'Tis a strange folly. Will he keep?"

Poor chap, he was still new to the customs of royalty; he was used to
seeing the forlorn dead of Offal Court hustled out of the way with a very
different sort of expedition. However, the Lord Hertford set his mind at
rest with a word or two.

A secretary of state presented an order of the Council appointing the
morrow at eleven for the reception of the foreign ambassadors, and
desired the King's assent.

Tom turned an inquiring look toward Hertford, who whispered--

"Your Majesty will signify consent. They come to testify their royal
masters' sense of the heavy calamity which hath visited your Grace and
the realm of England."

Tom did as he was bidden. Another secretary began to read a preamble
concerning the expenses of the late King's household, which had amounted
to 28,000 pounds during the preceding six months--a sum so vast that it
made Tom Canty gasp; he gasped again when the fact appeared that 20,000
pounds of this money was still owing and unpaid; {4} and once more when
it appeared that the King's coffers were about empty, and his twelve
hundred servants much embarrassed for lack of the wages due them. Tom
spoke out, with lively apprehension--

"We be going to the dogs, 'tis plain. 'Tis meet and necessary that we
take a smaller house and set the servants at large, sith they be of no
value but to make delay, and trouble one with offices that harass the
spirit and shame the soul, they misbecoming any but a doll, that hath nor
brains nor hands to help itself withal. I remember me of a small house
that standeth over against the fish-market, by Billingsgate--"

A sharp pressure upon Tom's arm stopped his foolish tongue and sent a
blush to his face; but no countenance there betrayed any sign that this
strange speech had been remarked or given concern.

A secretary made report that forasmuch as the late King had provided in
his will for conferring the ducal degree upon the Earl of Hertford and
raising his brother, Sir Thomas Seymour, to the peerage, and likewise
Hertford's son to an earldom, together with similar aggrandisements to
other great servants of the Crown, the Council had resolved to hold a
sitting on the 16th of February for the delivering and confirming of
these honours, and that meantime, the late King not having granted, in
writing, estates suitable to the support of these dignities, the Council,
knowing his private wishes in that regard, had thought proper to grant to
Seymour '500 pound lands,' and to Hertford's son '800 pound lands, and
300 pound of the next bishop's lands which should fall vacant,'--his
present Majesty being willing. {5}

Tom was about to blurt out something about the propriety of paying the
late King's debts first, before squandering all this money, but a timely
touch upon his arm, from the thoughtful Hertford, saved him this
indiscretion; wherefore he gave the royal assent, without spoken comment,
but with much inward discomfort. While he sat reflecting a moment over
the ease with which he was doing strange and glittering miracles, a happy
thought shot into his mind: why not make his mother Duchess of Offal
Court, and give her an estate? But a sorrowful thought swept it
instantly away: he was only a king in name, these grave veterans and
great nobles were his masters; to them his mother was only the creature
of a diseased mind; they would simply listen to his project with
unbelieving ears, then send for the doctor.

The dull work went tediously on. Petitions were read, and proclamations,
patents, and all manner of wordy, repetitious, and wearisome papers
relating to the public business; and at last Tom sighed pathetically and
murmured to himself, "In what have I offended, that the good God should
take me away from the fields and the free air and the sunshine, to shut
me up here and make me a king and afflict me so?" Then his poor muddled
head nodded a while and presently drooped to his shoulder; and the
business of the empire came to a standstill for want of that august
factor, the ratifying power. Silence ensued around the slumbering child,
and the sages of the realm ceased from their deliberations.

During the forenoon, Tom had an enjoyable hour, by permission of his
keepers, Hertford and St. John, with the Lady Elizabeth and the little
Lady Jane Grey; though the spirits of the princesses were rather subdued
by the mighty stroke that had fallen upon the royal house; and at the end
of the visit his 'elder sister'--afterwards the 'Bloody Mary' of history
--chilled him with a solemn interview which had but one merit in his eyes,
its brevity. He had a few moments to himself, and then a slim lad of
about twelve years of age was admitted to his presence, whose clothing,
except his snowy ruff and the laces about his wrists, was of black,--
doublet, hose, and all. He bore no badge of mourning but a knot of
purple ribbon on his shoulder. He advanced hesitatingly, with head bowed
and bare, and dropped upon one knee in front of Tom. Tom sat still and
contemplated him soberly a moment. Then he said--

"Rise, lad. Who art thou. What wouldst have?"

The boy rose, and stood at graceful ease, but with an aspect of concern
in his face. He said--

"Of a surety thou must remember me, my lord. I am thy whipping-boy."

"My WHIPPING-boy?"

"The same, your Grace. I am Humphrey--Humphrey Marlow."

Tom perceived that here was someone whom his keepers ought to have posted
him about. The situation was delicate. What should he do?--pretend he
knew this lad, and then betray by his every utterance that he had never
heard of him before? No, that would not do. An idea came to his relief:
accidents like this might be likely to happen with some frequency, now
that business urgencies would often call Hertford and St. John from his
side, they being members of the Council of Executors; therefore perhaps
it would be well to strike out a plan himself to meet the requirements of
such emergencies. Yes, that would be a wise course--he would practise on
this boy, and see what sort of success he might achieve. So he stroked
his brow perplexedly a moment or two, and presently said--

"Now I seem to remember thee somewhat--but my wit is clogged and dim with

"Alack, my poor master!" ejaculated the whipping-boy, with feeling;
adding, to himself, "In truth 'tis as they said--his mind is gone--alas,
poor soul! But misfortune catch me, how am I forgetting! They said one
must not seem to observe that aught is wrong with him."

"'Tis strange how my memory doth wanton with me these days," said Tom.
"But mind it not--I mend apace--a little clue doth often serve to bring
me back again the things and names which had escaped me. (And not they,
only, forsooth, but e'en such as I ne'er heard before--as this lad shall
see.) Give thy business speech."

"'Tis matter of small weight, my liege, yet will I touch upon it, an' it
please your Grace. Two days gone by, when your Majesty faulted thrice in
your Greek--in the morning lessons,--dost remember it?"

"Y-e-s--methinks I do. (It is not much of a lie--an' I had meddled with
the Greek at all, I had not faulted simply thrice, but forty times.)
Yes, I do recall it, now--go on."

"The master, being wroth with what he termed such slovenly and doltish
work, did promise that he would soundly whip me for it--and--"

"Whip THEE!" said Tom, astonished out of his presence of mind. "Why
should he whip THEE for faults of mine?"

"Ah, your Grace forgetteth again. He always scourgeth me when thou dost
fail in thy lessons."

"True, true--I had forgot. Thou teachest me in private--then if I fail,
he argueth that thy office was lamely done, and--"

"Oh, my liege, what words are these? I, the humblest of thy servants,
presume to teach THEE?"

"Then where is thy blame? What riddle is this? Am I in truth gone mad,
or is it thou? Explain--speak out."

"But, good your Majesty, there's nought that needeth simplifying.--None
may visit the sacred person of the Prince of Wales with blows; wherefore,
when he faulteth, 'tis I that take them; and meet it is and right, for
that it is mine office and my livelihood." {1}

Tom stared at the tranquil boy, observing to himself, "Lo, it is a
wonderful thing,--a most strange and curious trade; I marvel they have
not hired a boy to take my combings and my dressings for me--would heaven
they would!--an' they will do this thing, I will take my lashings in mine
own person, giving God thanks for the change." Then he said aloud--

"And hast thou been beaten, poor friend, according to the promise?"

"No, good your Majesty, my punishment was appointed for this day, and
peradventure it may be annulled, as unbefitting the season of mourning
that is come upon us; I know not, and so have made bold to come hither
and remind your Grace about your gracious promise to intercede in my

"With the master? To save thee thy whipping?"

"Ah, thou dost remember!"

"My memory mendeth, thou seest. Set thy mind at ease--thy back shall go
unscathed--I will see to it."

"Oh, thanks, my good lord!" cried the boy, dropping upon his knee again.
"Mayhap I have ventured far enow; and yet--"

Seeing Master Humphrey hesitate, Tom encouraged him to go on, saying he
was "in the granting mood."

"Then will I speak it out, for it lieth near my heart. Sith thou art no
more Prince of Wales but King, thou canst order matters as thou wilt,
with none to say thee nay; wherefore it is not in reason that thou wilt
longer vex thyself with dreary studies, but wilt burn thy books and turn
thy mind to things less irksome. Then am I ruined, and mine orphan
sisters with me!"

"Ruined? Prithee how?"

"My back is my bread, O my gracious liege! if it go idle, I starve. An'
thou cease from study mine office is gone thou'lt need no whipping-boy.
Do not turn me away!"

Tom was touched with this pathetic distress. He said, with a right royal
burst of generosity--

"Discomfort thyself no further, lad. Thine office shall be permanent in
thee and thy line for ever." Then he struck the boy a light blow on the
shoulder with the flat of his sword, exclaiming, "Rise, Humphrey Marlow,
Hereditary Grand Whipping-Boy to the Royal House of England! Banish
sorrow--I will betake me to my books again, and study so ill that they
must in justice treble thy wage, so mightily shall the business of thine
office be augmented."

The grateful Humphrey responded fervidly--

"Thanks, O most noble master, this princely lavishness doth far surpass
my most distempered dreams of fortune. Now shall I be happy all my days,
and all the house of Marlow after me."

Tom had wit enough to perceive that here was a lad who could be useful to
him. He encouraged Humphrey to talk, and he was nothing loath. He was
delighted to believe that he was helping in Tom's 'cure'; for always, as
soon as he had finished calling back to Tom's diseased mind the various
particulars of his experiences and adventures in the royal school-room
and elsewhere about the palace, he noticed that Tom was then able to
'recall' the circumstances quite clearly. At the end of an hour Tom
found himself well freighted with very valuable information concerning
personages and matters pertaining to the Court; so he resolved to draw
instruction from this source daily; and to this end he would give order
to admit Humphrey to the royal closet whenever he might come, provided
the Majesty of England was not engaged with other people. Humphrey had
hardly been dismissed when my Lord Hertford arrived with more trouble for

He said that the Lords of the Council, fearing that some overwrought
report of the King's damaged health might have leaked out and got abroad,
they deemed it wise and best that his Majesty should begin to dine in
public after a day or two--his wholesome complexion and vigorous step,
assisted by a carefully guarded repose of manner and ease and grace of
demeanour, would more surely quiet the general pulse--in case any evil
rumours HAD gone about--than any other scheme that could be devised.

Then the Earl proceeded, very delicately, to instruct Tom as to the
observances proper to the stately occasion, under the rather thin
disguise of 'reminding' him concerning things already known to him; but
to his vast gratification it turned out that Tom needed very little help
in this line--he had been making use of Humphrey in that direction, for
Humphrey had mentioned that within a few days he was to begin to dine in
public; having gathered it from the swift-winged gossip of the Court.
Tom kept these facts to himself, however.

Seeing the royal memory so improved, the Earl ventured to apply a few
tests to it, in an apparently casual way, to find out how far its
amendment had progressed. The results were happy, here and there, in
spots--spots where Humphrey's tracks remained--and on the whole my lord
was greatly pleased and encouraged. So encouraged was he, indeed, that
he spoke up and said in a quite hopeful voice--

"Now am I persuaded that if your Majesty will but tax your memory yet a
little further, it will resolve the puzzle of the Great Seal--a loss
which was of moment yesterday, although of none to-day, since its term of
service ended with our late lord's life. May it please your Grace to make
the trial?"

Tom was at sea--a Great Seal was something which he was totally
unacquainted with. After a moment's hesitation he looked up innocently
and asked--

"What was it like, my lord?"

The Earl started, almost imperceptibly, muttering to himself, "Alack, his
wits are flown again!--it was ill wisdom to lead him on to strain them"--
then he deftly turned the talk to other matters, with the purpose of
sweeping the unlucky seal out of Tom's thoughts--a purpose which easily

Chapter XV. Tom as King.

The next day the foreign ambassadors came, with their gorgeous trains;
and Tom, throned in awful state, received them. The splendours of the
scene delighted his eye and fired his imagination at first, but the
audience was long and dreary, and so were most of the addresses--
wherefore, what began as a pleasure grew into weariness and home-sickness
by-and-by. Tom said the words which Hertford put into his mouth from
time to time, and tried hard to acquit himself satisfactorily, but he was
too new to such things, and too ill at ease to accomplish more than a
tolerable success. He looked sufficiently like a king, but he was ill
able to feel like one. He was cordially glad when the ceremony was

The larger part of his day was 'wasted'--as he termed it, in his own
mind--in labours pertaining to his royal office. Even the two hours
devoted to certain princely pastimes and recreations were rather a burden
to him than otherwise, they were so fettered by restrictions and
ceremonious observances. However, he had a private hour with his
whipping-boy which he counted clear gain, since he got both entertainment
and needful information out of it.

The third day of Tom Canty's kingship came and went much as the others
had done, but there was a lifting of his cloud in one way--he felt less
uncomfortable than at first; he was getting a little used to his
circumstances and surroundings; his chains still galled, but not all the
time; he found that the presence and homage of the great afflicted and
embarrassed him less and less sharply with every hour that drifted over
his head.

But for one single dread, he could have seen the fourth day approach
without serious distress--the dining in public; it was to begin that day.
There were greater matters in the programme--for on that day he would
have to preside at a council which would take his views and commands
concerning the policy to be pursued toward various foreign nations
scattered far and near over the great globe; on that day, too, Hertford
would be formally chosen to the grand office of Lord Protector; other
things of note were appointed for that fourth day, also; but to Tom they
were all insignificant compared with the ordeal of dining all by himself
with a multitude of curious eyes fastened upon him and a multitude of
mouths whispering comments upon his performance,--and upon his mistakes,
if he should be so unlucky as to make any.

Still, nothing could stop that fourth day, and so it came. It found poor
Tom low-spirited and absent-minded, and this mood continued; he could not
shake it off. The ordinary duties of the morning dragged upon his hands,
and wearied him. Once more he felt the sense of captivity heavy upon

Late in the forenoon he was in a large audience-chamber, conversing with
the Earl of Hertford and dully awaiting the striking of the hour
appointed for a visit of ceremony from a considerable number of great
officials and courtiers.

After a little while, Tom, who had wandered to a window and become
interested in the life and movement of the great highway beyond the
palace gates--and not idly interested, but longing with all his heart to
take part in person in its stir and freedom--saw the van of a hooting and
shouting mob of disorderly men, women, and children of the lowest and
poorest degree approaching from up the road.

"I would I knew what 'tis about!" he exclaimed, with all a boy's
curiosity in such happenings.

"Thou art the King!" solemnly responded the Earl, with a reverence.
"Have I your Grace's leave to act?"

"O blithely, yes! O gladly, yes!" exclaimed Tom excitedly, adding to
himself with a lively sense of satisfaction, "In truth, being a king is
not all dreariness--it hath its compensations and conveniences."

The Earl called a page, and sent him to the captain of the guard with the

"Let the mob be halted, and inquiry made concerning the occasion of its
movement. By the King's command!"

A few seconds later a long rank of the royal guards, cased in flashing
steel, filed out at the gates and formed across the highway in front of
the multitude. A messenger returned, to report that the crowd were
following a man, a woman, and a young girl to execution for crimes
committed against the peace and dignity of the realm.

Death--and a violent death--for these poor unfortunates! The thought
wrung Tom's heart-strings. The spirit of compassion took control of him,
to the exclusion of all other considerations; he never thought of the
offended laws, or of the grief or loss which these three criminals had
inflicted upon their victims; he could think of nothing but the scaffold
and the grisly fate hanging over the heads of the condemned. His concern
made him even forget, for the moment, that he was but the false shadow of
a king, not the substance; and before he knew it he had blurted out the

"Bring them here!"

Then he blushed scarlet, and a sort of apology sprung to his lips; but
observing that his order had wrought no sort of surprise in the Earl or
the waiting page, he suppressed the words he was about to utter. The
page, in the most matter-of-course way, made a profound obeisance and
retired backwards out of the room to deliver the command. Tom
experienced a glow of pride and a renewed sense of the compensating
advantages of the kingly office. He said to himself, "Truly it is like
what I was used to feel when I read the old priest's tales, and did
imagine mine own self a prince, giving law and command to all, saying 'Do
this, do that,' whilst none durst offer let or hindrance to my will."

Now the doors swung open; one high-sounding title after another was
announced, the personages owning them followed, and the place was quickly
half-filled with noble folk and finery. But Tom was hardly conscious of
the presence of these people, so wrought up was he and so intensely
absorbed in that other and more interesting matter. He seated himself
absently in his chair of state, and turned his eyes upon the door with
manifestations of impatient expectancy; seeing which, the company forbore
to trouble him, and fell to chatting a mixture of public business and
court gossip one with another.

In a little while the measured tread of military men was heard
approaching, and the culprits entered the presence in charge of an under-
sheriff and escorted by a detail of the king's guard. The civil officer
knelt before Tom, then stood aside; the three doomed persons knelt, also,
and remained so; the guard took position behind Tom's chair. Tom scanned
the prisoners curiously. Something about the dress or appearance of the
man had stirred a vague memory in him. "Methinks I have seen this man
ere now . . . but the when or the where fail me"--such was Tom's thought.
Just then the man glanced quickly up and quickly dropped his face again,
not being able to endure the awful port of sovereignty; but the one full
glimpse of the face which Tom got was sufficient. He said to himself:
"Now is the matter clear; this is the stranger that plucked Giles Witt
out of the Thames, and saved his life, that windy, bitter, first day of
the New Year--a brave good deed--pity he hath been doing baser ones and
got himself in this sad case . . . I have not forgot the day, neither the
hour; by reason that an hour after, upon the stroke of eleven, I did get
a hiding by the hand of Gammer Canty which was of so goodly and admired
severity that all that went before or followed after it were but
fondlings and caresses by comparison."

Tom now ordered that the woman and the girl be removed from the presence
for a little time; then addressed himself to the under-sheriff, saying--

"Good sir, what is this man's offence?"

The officer knelt, and answered--

"So please your Majesty, he hath taken the life of a subject by poison."

Tom's compassion for the prisoner, and admiration of him as the daring
rescuer of a drowning boy, experienced a most damaging shock.

"The thing was proven upon him?" he asked.

"Most clearly, sire."

Tom sighed, and said--

"Take him away--he hath earned his death. 'Tis a pity, for he was a
brave heart--na--na, I mean he hath the LOOK of it!"

The prisoner clasped his hands together with sudden energy, and wrung
them despairingly, at the same time appealing imploringly to the 'King'
in broken and terrified phrases--

"O my lord the King, an' thou canst pity the lost, have pity upon me! I
am innocent--neither hath that wherewith I am charged been more than but
lamely proved--yet I speak not of that; the judgment is gone forth
against me and may not suffer alteration; yet in mine extremity I beg a
boon, for my doom is more than I can bear. A grace, a grace, my lord the
King! in thy royal compassion grant my prayer--give commandment that I be

Tom was amazed. This was not the outcome he had looked for.

"Odds my life, a strange BOON! Was it not the fate intended thee?"

"O good my liege, not so! It is ordered that I be BOILED ALIVE!"

The hideous surprise of these words almost made Tom spring from his
chair. As soon as he could recover his wits he cried out--

"Have thy wish, poor soul! an' thou had poisoned a hundred men thou
shouldst not suffer so miserable a death."

The prisoner bowed his face to the ground and burst into passionate
expressions of gratitude--ending with--

"If ever thou shouldst know misfortune--which God forefend!--may thy
goodness to me this day be remembered and requited!"

Tom turned to the Earl of Hertford, and said--

"My lord, is it believable that there was warrant for this man's
ferocious doom?"

"It is the law, your Grace--for poisoners. In Germany coiners be boiled
to death in OIL--not cast in of a sudden, but by a rope let down into the
oil by degrees, and slowly; first the feet, then the legs, then--"

"O prithee no more, my lord, I cannot bear it!" cried Tom, covering his
eyes with his hands to shut out the picture. "I beseech your good
lordship that order be taken to change this law--oh, let no more poor
creatures be visited with its tortures."

The Earl's face showed profound gratification, for he was a man of
merciful and generous impulses--a thing not very common with his class in
that fierce age. He said--

"These your Grace's noble words have sealed its doom. History will
remember it to the honour of your royal house."

The under-sheriff was about to remove his prisoner; Tom gave him a sign
to wait; then he said--

"Good sir, I would look into this matter further. The man has said his
deed was but lamely proved. Tell me what thou knowest."

"If the King's grace please, it did appear upon the trial that this man
entered into a house in the hamlet of Islington where one lay sick--three
witnesses say it was at ten of the clock in the morning, and two say it
was some minutes later--the sick man being alone at the time, and
sleeping--and presently the man came forth again and went his way. The
sick man died within the hour, being torn with spasms and retchings."

"Did any see the poison given? Was poison found?"

"Marry, no, my liege."

"Then how doth one know there was poison given at all?"

"Please your Majesty, the doctors testified that none die with such
symptoms but by poison."

Weighty evidence, this, in that simple age. Tom recognised its
formidable nature, and said--

"The doctor knoweth his trade--belike they were right. The matter hath
an ill-look for this poor man."

"Yet was not this all, your Majesty; there is more and worse. Many
testified that a witch, since gone from the village, none know whither,
did foretell, and speak it privately in their ears, that the sick man
WOULD DIE BY POISON--and more, that a stranger would give it--a stranger
with brown hair and clothed in a worn and common garb; and surely this
prisoner doth answer woundily to the bill. Please your Majesty to give
the circumstance that solemn weight which is its due, seeing it was

This was an argument of tremendous force in that superstitious day. Tom
felt that the thing was settled; if evidence was worth anything, this
poor fellow's guilt was proved. Still he offered the prisoner a chance,

"If thou canst say aught in thy behalf, speak."

"Nought that will avail, my King. I am innocent, yet cannot I make it
appear. I have no friends, else might I show that I was not in Islington
that day; so also might I show that at that hour they name I was above a
league away, seeing I was at Wapping Old Stairs; yea more, my King, for I
could show, that whilst they say I was TAKING life, I was SAVING it. A
drowning boy--"

"Peace! Sheriff, name the day the deed was done!"

"At ten in the morning, or some minutes later, the first day of the New
Year, most illustrious--"

"Let the prisoner go free--it is the King's will!"

Another blush followed this unregal outburst, and he covered his
indecorum as well as he could by adding--

"It enrageth me that a man should be hanged upon such idle, hare-brained

A low buzz of admiration swept through the assemblage. It was not
admiration of the decree that had been delivered by Tom, for the
propriety or expediency of pardoning a convicted poisoner was a thing
which few there would have felt justified in either admitting or
admiring--no, the admiration was for the intelligence and spirit which
Tom had displayed. Some of the low-voiced remarks were to this effect--

"This is no mad king--he hath his wits sound."

"How sanely he put his questions--how like his former natural self was
this abrupt imperious disposal of the matter!"

"God be thanked, his infirmity is spent! This is no weakling, but a
king. He hath borne himself like to his own father."

The air being filled with applause, Tom's ear necessarily caught a little
of it. The effect which this had upon him was to put him greatly at his
ease, and also to charge his system with very gratifying sensations.

However, his juvenile curiosity soon rose superior to these pleasant
thoughts and feelings; he was eager to know what sort of deadly mischief
the woman and the little girl could have been about; so, by his command,
the two terrified and sobbing creatures were brought before him.

"What is it that these have done?" he inquired of the sheriff.

"Please your Majesty, a black crime is charged upon them, and clearly
proven; wherefore the judges have decreed, according to the law, that
they be hanged. They sold themselves to the devil--such is their crime."

Tom shuddered. He had been taught to abhor people who did this wicked
thing. Still, he was not going to deny himself the pleasure of feeding
his curiosity for all that; so he asked--

"Where was this done?--and when?"

"On a midnight in December, in a ruined church, your Majesty."

Tom shuddered again.

"Who was there present?"

"Only these two, your grace--and THAT OTHER."

"Have these confessed?"

"Nay, not so, sire--they do deny it."

"Then prithee, how was it known?"

"Certain witness did see them wending thither, good your Majesty; this
bred the suspicion, and dire effects have since confirmed and justified
it. In particular, it is in evidence that through the wicked power so
obtained, they did invoke and bring about a storm that wasted all the
region round about. Above forty witnesses have proved the storm; and
sooth one might have had a thousand, for all had reason to remember it,
sith all had suffered by it."

"Certes this is a serious matter." Tom turned this dark piece of
scoundrelism over in his mind a while, then asked--

"Suffered the woman also by the storm?"

Several old heads among the assemblage nodded their recognition of the
wisdom of this question. The sheriff, however, saw nothing consequential
in the inquiry; he answered, with simple directness--

"Indeed did she, your Majesty, and most righteously, as all aver. Her
habitation was swept away, and herself and child left shelterless."

"Methinks the power to do herself so ill a turn was dearly bought. She
had been cheated, had she paid but a farthing for it; that she paid her
soul, and her child's, argueth that she is mad; if she is mad she knoweth
not what she doth, therefore sinneth not."

The elderly heads nodded recognition of Tom's wisdom once more, and one
individual murmured, "An' the King be mad himself, according to report,
then is it a madness of a sort that would improve the sanity of some I
wot of, if by the gentle providence of God they could but catch it."

"What age hath the child?" asked Tom.

"Nine years, please your Majesty."

"By the law of England may a child enter into covenant and sell itself,
my lord?" asked Tom, turning to a learned judge.

"The law doth not permit a child to make or meddle in any weighty matter,
good my liege, holding that its callow wit unfitteth it to cope with the
riper wit and evil schemings of them that are its elders. The DEVIL may
buy a child, if he so choose, and the child agree thereto, but not an
Englishman--in this latter case the contract would be null and void."

"It seemeth a rude unchristian thing, and ill contrived, that English law
denieth privileges to Englishmen to waste them on the devil!" cried Tom,
with honest heat.

This novel view of the matter excited many smiles, and was stored away in
many heads to be repeated about the Court as evidence of Tom's
originality as well as progress toward mental health.

The elder culprit had ceased from sobbing, and was hanging upon Tom's
words with an excited interest and a growing hope. Tom noticed this, and
it strongly inclined his sympathies toward her in her perilous and
unfriended situation. Presently he asked--

"How wrought they to bring the storm?"


This astonished Tom, and also fired his curiosity to fever heat. He said,

"It is wonderful! Hath it always this dread effect?"

"Always, my liege--at least if the woman desire it, and utter the needful
words, either in her mind or with her tongue."

Tom turned to the woman, and said with impetuous zeal--

"Exert thy power--I would see a storm!"

There was a sudden paling of cheeks in the superstitious assemblage, and
a general, though unexpressed, desire to get out of the place--all of
which was lost upon Tom, who was dead to everything but the proposed
cataclysm. Seeing a puzzled and astonished look in the woman's face, he
added, excitedly--

"Never fear--thou shalt be blameless. More--thou shalt go free--none
shall touch thee. Exert thy power."

"Oh, my lord the King, I have it not--I have been falsely accused."

"Thy fears stay thee. Be of good heart, thou shalt suffer no harm. Make
a storm--it mattereth not how small a one--I require nought great or
harmful, but indeed prefer the opposite--do this and thy life is spared--
thou shalt go out free, with thy child, bearing the King's pardon, and
safe from hurt or malice from any in the realm."

The woman prostrated herself, and protested, with tears, that she had no
power to do the miracle, else she would gladly win her child's life
alone, and be content to lose her own, if by obedience to the King's
command so precious a grace might be acquired.

Tom urged--the woman still adhered to her declarations. Finally he said--

"I think the woman hath said true. An' MY mother were in her place and
gifted with the devil's functions, she had not stayed a moment to call
her storms and lay the whole land in ruins, if the saving of my forfeit
life were the price she got! It is argument that other mothers are made
in like mould. Thou art free, goodwife--thou and thy child--for I do
think thee innocent. NOW thou'st nought to fear, being pardoned--pull
off thy stockings!--an' thou canst make me a storm, thou shalt be rich!"

The redeemed creature was loud in her gratitude, and proceeded to obey,
whilst Tom looked on with eager expectancy, a little marred by
apprehension; the courtiers at the same time manifesting decided
discomfort and uneasiness. The woman stripped her own feet and her
little girl's also, and plainly did her best to reward the King's
generosity with an earthquake, but it was all a failure and a
disappointment. Tom sighed, and said--

"There, good soul, trouble thyself no further, thy power is departed out
of thee. Go thy way in peace; and if it return to thee at any time,
forget me not, but fetch me a storm." {13}

Chapter XVI. The State Dinner.

The dinner hour drew near--yet strangely enough, the thought brought but
slight discomfort to Tom, and hardly any terror. The morning's
experiences had wonderfully built up his confidence; the poor little ash-
cat was already more wonted to his strange garret, after four days'
habit, than a mature person could have become in a full month. A child's
facility in accommodating itself to circumstances was never more
strikingly illustrated.

Let us privileged ones hurry to the great banqueting-room and have a
glance at matters there whilst Tom is being made ready for the imposing
occasion. It is a spacious apartment, with gilded pillars and pilasters,
and pictured walls and ceilings. At the door stand tall guards, as rigid
as statues, dressed in rich and picturesque costumes, and bearing
halberds. In a high gallery which runs all around the place is a band of
musicians and a packed company of citizens of both sexes, in brilliant
attire. In the centre of the room, upon a raised platform, is Tom's
table. Now let the ancient chronicler speak:

"A gentleman enters the room bearing a rod, and along with him another
bearing a tablecloth, which, after they have both kneeled three times
with the utmost veneration, he spreads upon the table, and after kneeling
again they both retire; then come two others, one with the rod again, the
other with a salt-cellar, a plate, and bread; when they have kneeled as
the others had done, and placed what was brought upon the table, they too
retire with the same ceremonies performed by the first; at last come two
nobles, richly clothed, one bearing a tasting-knife, who, after
prostrating themselves three times in the most graceful manner, approach
and rub the table with bread and salt, with as much awe as if the King
had been present." {6}

So end the solemn preliminaries. Now, far down the echoing corridors we
hear a bugle-blast, and the indistinct cry, "Place for the King! Way for
the King's most excellent majesty!" These sounds are momently repeated--
they grow nearer and nearer--and presently, almost in our faces, the
martial note peals and the cry rings out, "Way for the King!" At this
instant the shining pageant appears, and files in at the door, with a
measured march. Let the chronicler speak again:--

"First come Gentlemen, Barons, Earls, Knights of the Garter, all richly
dressed and bareheaded; next comes the Chancellor, between two, one of
which carries the royal sceptre, the other the Sword of State in a red
scabbard, studded with golden fleurs-de-lis, the point upwards; next
comes the King himself--whom, upon his appearing, twelve trumpets and
many drums salute with a great burst of welcome, whilst all in the
galleries rise in their places, crying 'God save the King!' After him
come nobles attached to his person, and on his right and left march his
guard of honour, his fifty Gentlemen Pensioners, with gilt battle-axes."

This was all fine and pleasant. Tom's pulse beat high, and a glad light
was in his eye. He bore himself right gracefully, and all the more so
because he was not thinking of how he was doing it, his mind being
charmed and occupied with the blithe sights and sounds about him--and
besides, nobody can be very ungraceful in nicely-fitting beautiful
clothes after he has grown a little used to them--especially if he is for
the moment unconscious of them. Tom remembered his instructions, and
acknowledged his greeting with a slight inclination of his plumed head,
and a courteous "I thank ye, my good people."

He seated himself at table, without removing his cap; and did it without
the least embarrassment; for to eat with one's cap on was the one
solitary royal custom upon which the kings and the Cantys met upon common
ground, neither party having any advantage over the other in the matter
of old familiarity with it. The pageant broke up and grouped itself
picturesquely, and remained bareheaded.

Now to the sound of gay music the Yeomen of the Guard entered,--"the
tallest and mightiest men in England, they being carefully selected in
this regard"--but we will let the chronicler tell about it:--

"The Yeomen of the Guard entered, bareheaded, clothed in scarlet, with
golden roses upon their backs; and these went and came, bringing in each
turn a course of dishes, served in plate. These dishes were received by
a gentleman in the same order they were brought, and placed upon the
table, while the taster gave to each guard a mouthful to eat of the
particular dish he had brought, for fear of any poison."

Tom made a good dinner, notwithstanding he was conscious that hundreds of
eyes followed each morsel to his mouth and watched him eat it with an
interest which could not have been more intense if it had been a deadly
explosive and was expected to blow him up and scatter him all about the
place. He was careful not to hurry, and equally careful not to do
anything whatever for himself, but wait till the proper official knelt
down and did it for him. He got through without a mistake--flawless and
precious triumph.

When the meal was over at last and he marched away in the midst of his
bright pageant, with the happy noises in his ears of blaring bugles,
rolling drums, and thundering acclamations, he felt that if he had seen
the worst of dining in public it was an ordeal which he would be glad to
endure several times a day if by that means he could but buy himself free
from some of the more formidable requirements of his royal office.

Chapter XVII. Foo-foo the First.

Miles Hendon hurried along toward the Southwark end of the bridge,
keeping a sharp look-out for the persons he sought, and hoping and
expecting to overtake them presently. He was disappointed in this,
however. By asking questions, he was enabled to track them part of the
way through Southwark; then all traces ceased, and he was perplexed as to
how to proceed. Still, he continued his efforts as best he could during
the rest of the day. Nightfall found him leg-weary, half-famished, and
his desire as far from accomplishment as ever; so he supped at the Tabard
Inn and went to bed, resolved to make an early start in the morning, and
give the town an exhaustive search. As he lay thinking and planning, he
presently began to reason thus: The boy would escape from the ruffian,
his reputed father, if possible; would he go back to London and seek his
former haunts? No, he would not do that, he would avoid recapture.
What, then, would he do? Never having had a friend in the world, or a
protector, until he met Miles Hendon, he would naturally try to find that
friend again, provided the effort did not require him to go toward London
and danger. He would strike for Hendon Hall, that is what he would do,
for he knew Hendon was homeward bound and there he might expect to find
him. Yes, the case was plain to Hendon--he must lose no more time in
Southwark, but move at once through Kent, toward Monk's Holm, searching
the wood and inquiring as he went. Let us return to the vanished little
King now.

The ruffian whom the waiter at the inn on the bridge saw 'about to join'
the youth and the King did not exactly join them, but fell in close
behind them and followed their steps. He said nothing. His left arm was
in a sling, and he wore a large green patch over his left eye; he limped
slightly, and used an oaken staff as a support. The youth led the King a
crooked course through Southwark, and by-and-by struck into the high road
beyond. The King was irritated, now, and said he would stop here--it was
Hendon's place to come to him, not his to go to Hendon. He would not
endure such insolence; he would stop where he was. The youth said--

"Thou'lt tarry here, and thy friend lying wounded in the wood yonder? So
be it, then."

The King's manner changed at once. He cried out--

"Wounded? And who hath dared to do it? But that is apart; lead on, lead
on! Faster, sirrah! Art shod with lead? Wounded, is he? Now though
the doer of it be a duke's son he shall rue it!"

It was some distance to the wood, but the space was speedily traversed.
The youth looked about him, discovered a bough sticking in the ground,
with a small bit of rag tied to it, then led the way into the forest,
watching for similar boughs and finding them at intervals; they were
evidently guides to the point he was aiming at. By-and-by an open place
was reached, where were the charred remains of a farm-house, and near
them a barn which was falling to ruin and decay. There was no sign of
life anywhere, and utter silence prevailed. The youth entered the barn,
the King following eagerly upon his heels. No one there! The King shot a
surprised and suspicious glance at the youth, and asked--

"Where is he?"

A mocking laugh was his answer. The King was in a rage in a moment; he
seized a billet of wood and was in the act of charging upon the youth
when another mocking laugh fell upon his ear. It was from the lame
ruffian who had been following at a distance. The King turned and said

"Who art thou? What is thy business here?"

"Leave thy foolery," said the man, "and quiet thyself. My disguise is
none so good that thou canst pretend thou knowest not thy father through

"Thou art not my father. I know thee not. I am the King. If thou hast
hid my servant, find him for me, or thou shalt sup sorrow for what thou
hast done."

John Canty replied, in a stern and measured voice--

"It is plain thou art mad, and I am loath to punish thee; but if thou
provoke me, I must. Thy prating doth no harm here, where there are no
ears that need to mind thy follies; yet it is well to practise thy tongue
to wary speech, that it may do no hurt when our quarters change. I have
done a murder, and may not tarry at home--neither shalt thou, seeing I
need thy service. My name is changed, for wise reasons; it is Hobbs--
John Hobbs; thine is Jack--charge thy memory accordingly. Now, then,
speak. Where is thy mother? Where are thy sisters? They came not to
the place appointed--knowest thou whither they went?"

The King answered sullenly--

"Trouble me not with these riddles. My mother is dead; my sisters are in
the palace."

The youth near by burst into a derisive laugh, and the King would have
assaulted him, but Canty--or Hobbs, as he now called himself--prevented
him, and said--

"Peace, Hugo, vex him not; his mind is astray, and thy ways fret him.
Sit thee down, Jack, and quiet thyself; thou shalt have a morsel to eat,

Hobbs and Hugo fell to talking together, in low voices, and the King
removed himself as far as he could from their disagreeable company. He
withdrew into the twilight of the farther end of the barn, where he found
the earthen floor bedded a foot deep with straw. He lay down here, drew
straw over himself in lieu of blankets, and was soon absorbed in
thinking. He had many griefs, but the minor ones were swept almost into
forgetfulness by the supreme one, the loss of his father. To the rest of
the world the name of Henry VIII. brought a shiver, and suggested an ogre
whose nostrils breathed destruction and whose hand dealt scourgings and
death; but to this boy the name brought only sensations of pleasure; the
figure it invoked wore a countenance that was all gentleness and
affection. He called to mind a long succession of loving passages
between his father and himself, and dwelt fondly upon them, his unstinted
tears attesting how deep and real was the grief that possessed his heart.
As the afternoon wasted away, the lad, wearied with his troubles, sank
gradually into a tranquil and healing slumber.

After a considerable time--he could not tell how long--his senses
struggled to a half-consciousness, and as he lay with closed eyes vaguely
wondering where he was and what had been happening, he noted a murmurous
sound, the sullen beating of rain upon the roof. A snug sense of comfort
stole over him, which was rudely broken, the next moment, by a chorus of
piping cackles and coarse laughter. It startled him disagreeably, and he
unmuffled his head to see whence this interruption proceeded. A grim and
unsightly picture met his eye. A bright fire was burning in the middle
of the floor, at the other end of the barn; and around it, and lit
weirdly up by the red glare, lolled and sprawled the motliest company of
tattered gutter-scum and ruffians, of both sexes, he had ever read or
dreamed of. There were huge stalwart men, brown with exposure, long-
haired, and clothed in fantastic rags; there were middle-sized youths, of
truculent countenance, and similarly clad; there were blind mendicants,
with patched or bandaged eyes; crippled ones, with wooden legs and
crutches; diseased ones, with running sores peeping from ineffectual
wrappings; there was a villain-looking pedlar with his pack; a knife-
grinder, a tinker, and a barber-surgeon, with the implements of their
trades; some of the females were hardly-grown girls, some were at prime,
some were old and wrinkled hags, and all were loud, brazen, foul-mouthed;
and all soiled and slatternly; there were three sore-faced babies; there
were a couple of starveling curs, with strings about their necks, whose
office was to lead the blind.

The night was come, the gang had just finished feasting, an orgy was
beginning; the can of liquor was passing from mouth to mouth. A general
cry broke forth--

"A song! a song from the Bat and Dick and Dot-and-go-One!"

One of the blind men got up, and made ready by casting aside the patches
that sheltered his excellent eyes, and the pathetic placard which recited
the cause of his calamity. Dot-and-go-One disencumbered himself of his
timber leg and took his place, upon sound and healthy limbs, beside his
fellow-rascal; then they roared out a rollicking ditty, and were
reinforced by the whole crew, at the end of each stanza, in a rousing
chorus. By the time the last stanza was reached, the half-drunken
enthusiasm had risen to such a pitch, that everybody joined in and sang
it clear through from the beginning, producing a volume of villainous
sound that made the rafters quake. These were the inspiring words:--

'Bien Darkman's then, Bouse Mort and Ken, The bien Coves bings awast, On
Chates to trine by Rome Coves dine For his long lib at last. Bing'd out
bien Morts and toure, and toure, Bing out of the Rome vile bine, And
toure the Cove that cloy'd your duds, Upon the Chates to trine.' (From
'The English Rogue.' London, 1665.)

Conversation followed; not in the thieves' dialect of the song, for that
was only used in talk when unfriendly ears might be listening. In the
course of it, it appeared that 'John Hobbs' was not altogether a new
recruit, but had trained in the gang at some former time. His later
history was called for, and when he said he had 'accidentally' killed a
man, considerable satisfaction was expressed; when he added that the man
was a priest, he was roundly applauded, and had to take a drink with
everybody. Old acquaintances welcomed him joyously, and new ones were
proud to shake him by the hand. He was asked why he had 'tarried away so
many months.' He answered--

"London is better than the country, and safer, these late years, the laws
be so bitter and so diligently enforced. An' I had not had that
accident, I had stayed there. I had resolved to stay, and never more
venture country-wards--but the accident has ended that."

He inquired how many persons the gang numbered now. The 'ruffler,' or
chief, answered--

"Five and twenty sturdy budges, bulks, files, clapperdogeons and
maunders, counting the dells and doxies and other morts. {7} Most are
here, the rest are wandering eastward, along the winter lay. We follow at

"I do not see the Wen among the honest folk about me. Where may he be?"

"Poor lad, his diet is brimstone, now, and over hot for a delicate taste.
He was killed in a brawl, somewhere about midsummer."

"I sorrow to hear that; the Wen was a capable man, and brave."

"That was he, truly. Black Bess, his dell, is of us yet, but absent on
the eastward tramp; a fine lass, of nice ways and orderly conduct, none
ever seeing her drunk above four days in the seven."

"She was ever strict--I remember it well--a goodly wench and worthy all
commendation. Her mother was more free and less particular; a
troublesome and ugly-tempered beldame, but furnished with a wit above the

"We lost her through it. Her gift of palmistry and other sorts of
fortune-telling begot for her at last a witch's name and fame. The law
roasted her to death at a slow fire. It did touch me to a sort of
tenderness to see the gallant way she met her lot--cursing and reviling
all the crowd that gaped and gazed around her, whilst the flames licked
upward toward her face and catched her thin locks and crackled about her
old gray head--cursing them! why an' thou should'st live a thousand years
thoud'st never hear so masterful a cursing. Alack, her art died with
her. There be base and weakling imitations left, but no true blasphemy."

The Ruffler sighed; the listeners sighed in sympathy; a general
depression fell upon the company for a moment, for even hardened outcasts
like these are not wholly dead to sentiment, but are able to feel a
fleeting sense of loss and affliction at wide intervals and under
peculiarly favouring circumstances--as in cases like to this, for
instance, when genius and culture depart and leave no heir. However, a
deep drink all round soon restored the spirits of the mourners.

"Have any others of our friends fared hardly?" asked Hobbs.

"Some--yes. Particularly new comers--such as small husbandmen turned
shiftless and hungry upon the world because their farms were taken from
them to be changed to sheep ranges. They begged, and were whipped at the
cart's tail, naked from the girdle up, till the blood ran; then set in
the stocks to be pelted; they begged again, were whipped again, and
deprived of an ear; they begged a third time--poor devils, what else
could they do?--and were branded on the cheek with a red-hot iron, then
sold for slaves; they ran away, were hunted down, and hanged. 'Tis a
brief tale, and quickly told. Others of us have fared less hardly. Stand
forth, Yokel, Burns, and Hodge--show your adornments!"

These stood up and stripped away some of their rags, exposing their
backs, criss-crossed with ropy old welts left by the lash; one turned up
his hair and showed the place where a left ear had once been; another
showed a brand upon his shoulder--the letter V--and a mutilated ear; the
third said--

"I am Yokel, once a farmer and prosperous, with loving wife and kids--now
am I somewhat different in estate and calling; and the wife and kids are
gone; mayhap they are in heaven, mayhap in--in the other place--but the
kindly God be thanked, they bide no more in ENGLAND! My good old
blameless mother strove to earn bread by nursing the sick; one of these
died, the doctors knew not how, so my mother was burnt for a witch,
whilst my babes looked on and wailed. English law!--up, all, with your
cups!--now all together and with a cheer!--drink to the merciful English
law that delivered HER from the English hell! Thank you, mates, one and
all. I begged, from house to house--I and the wife--bearing with us the
hungry kids--but it was crime to be hungry in England--so they stripped
us and lashed us through three towns. Drink ye all again to the merciful
English law!--for its lash drank deep of my Mary's blood and its blessed
deliverance came quick. She lies there, in the potter's field, safe from
all harms. And the kids--well, whilst the law lashed me from town to
town, they starved. Drink, lads--only a drop--a drop to the poor kids,
that never did any creature harm. I begged again--begged, for a crust,
and got the stocks and lost an ear--see, here bides the stump; I begged
again, and here is the stump of the other to keep me minded of it. And
still I begged again, and was sold for a slave--here on my cheek under
this stain, if I washed it off, ye might see the red S the branding-iron
left there! A SLAVE! Do you understand that word? An English SLAVE!--
that is he that stands before ye. I have run from my master, and when I
am found--the heavy curse of heaven fall on the law of the land that hath
commanded it!--I shall hang!" {1}

A ringing voice came through the murky air--

"Thou shalt NOT!--and this day the end of that law is come!"

All turned, and saw the fantastic figure of the little King approaching
hurriedly; as it emerged into the light and was clearly revealed, a
general explosion of inquiries broke out--

"Who is it? WHAT is it? Who art thou, manikin?"

The boy stood unconfused in the midst of all those surprised and
questioning eyes, and answered with princely dignity--

"I am Edward, King of England."

A wild burst of laughter followed, partly of derision and partly of
delight in the excellence of the joke. The King was stung. He said

"Ye mannerless vagrants, is this your recognition of the royal boon I
have promised?"

He said more, with angry voice and excited gesture, but it was lost in a
whirlwind of laughter and mocking exclamations. 'John Hobbs' made
several attempts to make himself heard above the din, and at last

"Mates, he is my son, a dreamer, a fool, and stark mad--mind him not--he
thinketh he IS the King."

"I AM the King," said Edward, turning toward him, "as thou shalt know to
thy cost, in good time. Thou hast confessed a murder--thou shalt swing
for it."

"THOU'LT betray me?--THOU? An' I get my hands upon thee--"

"Tut-tut!" said the burley Ruffler, interposing in time to save the King,
and emphasising this service by knocking Hobbs down with his fist, "hast
respect for neither Kings NOR Rufflers? An' thou insult my presence so
again, I'll hang thee up myself." Then he said to his Majesty, "Thou
must make no threats against thy mates, lad; and thou must guard thy
tongue from saying evil of them elsewhere. BE King, if it please thy mad
humour, but be not harmful in it. Sink the title thou hast uttered--'tis
treason; we be bad men in some few trifling ways, but none among us is so
base as to be traitor to his King; we be loving and loyal hearts, in that
regard. Note if I speak truth. Now--all together: 'Long live Edward,
King of England!'"


The response came with such a thundergust from the motley crew that the
crazy building vibrated to the sound. The little King's face lighted
with pleasure for an instant, and he slightly inclined his head, and said
with grave simplicity--

"I thank you, my good people."

This unexpected result threw the company into convulsions of merriment.
When something like quiet was presently come again, the Ruffler said,
firmly, but with an accent of good nature--

"Drop it, boy, 'tis not wise, nor well. Humour thy fancy, if thou must,
but choose some other title."

A tinker shrieked out a suggestion--

"Foo-foo the First, King of the Mooncalves!"

The title 'took,' at once, every throat responded, and a roaring shout
went up, of--

"Long live Foo-foo the First, King of the Mooncalves!" followed by
hootings, cat-calls, and peals of laughter.

"Hale him forth, and crown him!"

"Robe him!"

"Sceptre him!"

"Throne him!"

These and twenty other cries broke out at once! and almost before the
poor little victim could draw a breath he was crowned with a tin basin,
robed in a tattered blanket, throned upon a barrel, and sceptred with the
tinker's soldering-iron. Then all flung themselves upon their knees
about him and sent up a chorus of ironical wailings, and mocking
supplications, whilst they swabbed their eyes with their soiled and
ragged sleeves and aprons--

"Be gracious to us, O sweet King!"

"Trample not upon thy beseeching worms, O noble Majesty!"

"Pity thy slaves, and comfort them with a royal kick!"

"Cheer us and warm us with thy gracious rays, O flaming sun of

"Sanctify the ground with the touch of thy foot, that we may eat the dirt
and be ennobled!"

"Deign to spit upon us, O Sire, that our children's children may tell of
thy princely condescension, and be proud and happy for ever!"

But the humorous tinker made the 'hit' of the evening and carried off the
honours. Kneeling, he pretended to kiss the King's foot, and was
indignantly spurned; whereupon he went about begging for a rag to paste
over the place upon his face which had been touched by the foot, saying
it must be preserved from contact with the vulgar air, and that he should
make his fortune by going on the highway and exposing it to view at the
rate of a hundred shillings a sight. He made himself so killingly funny
that he was the envy and admiration of the whole mangy rabble.

Tears of shame and indignation stood in the little monarch's eyes; and
the thought in his heart was, "Had I offered them a deep wrong they could
not be more cruel--yet have I proffered nought but to do them a kindness
--and it is thus they use me for it!"


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