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all hands; and since the father’s death Sir Hugh had thrown off all soft disguises
and become a pitiless master toward all who in any way depended upon him
and his domains for bread.

There was a bit of Andrews’s gossip which the king listened to with a lively
interest: ‘There is rumor that the king is mad. But in charity forbear to say I
mentioned it, for ‘tis death to speak of it, they say.’ His majesty glared at the old
man and said: ‘The king is not mad, good man-and thou’lt find it to thy
advantage to busy thyself with matters that nearer concern thee than this
seditious prattle.’ ‘What doth the lad mean?’ said Andrews, surprised at this
brisk assault from such an unexpected quarter. Hendon gave him a sign, and he
did not pursue his question, but went on with his budget: ‘The late king is to be
buried at Windsor in a day or two-the sixteenth of the month-and the new king
will be crowned at Westminster the twentieth.’ ‘Methinks they must needs find
him first,’ muttered his majesty; then added, confidently, ‘but they will look to
that-and so also shall I.’ ‘In the name of-’ But the old man got no further-a
warning sign from Hendon checked his remark. He resumed the thread of his

‘Sir Hugh goeth to the coronation-and with grand hopes. He confidently looketh
to come back a peer, for he is high in favor with the Lord Protector.’ ‘What Lord
Protector?’ asked his majesty.

‘His grace the Duke of Somerset.’ ‘What Duke of Somerset?’ ‘Marry, there is but
one-Seymour, Earl of Hertford.’ The king asked sharply: ‘Since when is he a
duke, and Lord Protector?’ ‘Since the last day of January.’ ‘And, prithee, who
made him so?’ ‘Himself and the Great Council-with the help of the king.’ His
majesty started violently. ‘The king!’ he cried. ‘What king, good sir?’

‘What king, indeed! (God-a-mercy, what aileth the boy?) Sith we have but one,
‘tis not difficult to answer-his most sacred majesty King Edward the Sixthwhom
God preserve! Yea, and a dear and gracious little urchin is he, too; and whether
he be mad or no-and they say he mendeth daily-his praises are on all men’s
lips; and all bless him likewise, and offer prayers that he may be spared to reign
long in England; for he began humanely, with saving the old Duke of Norfolk’s
life, and now is he bent on destroying the cruelest of the laws that harry and
oppress the people.’ This news struck his majesty dumb with amazement, and
plunged him into so deep and dismal a reverie that he heard no more of the old
man’s gossip. He wondered if the ‘little urchin’ was the beggar-boy whom he
left dressed in his own garments in the palace. It did not seem possible that this
could be, for surely his manners and speech would betray him if he pretended to
be the Prince of Walesthen he would be driven out, and search made for the true
prince. Could it be that the court had set up some sprig of the nobility in his
place? No, for his uncle would not allow that-he was all-powerful and could
and would crush such a movement, of course. The boy’s musings profited him
nothing; the more he tried to unriddle the mystery the more perplexed he
became, the more his head ached, and the worse he slept. His impatience to get
to London grew hourly, and his captivity became almost unendurable.
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