Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ

<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

realm, am helpless to protect them. But let these miscreants look well to
themselves, for there is a day coming when I will require of them a heavy
reckoning for this work. For every blow they strike now they shall feel a
hundred then.’ A great gate swung open and a crowd of citizens poured in. They
flocked around the two women, and hid them from the king’s view. A
clergyman entered and passed through the crowd, and he also was hidden. The
king now heard talking, back and forth, as if questions were being asked and
answered, but he could not make out what was said. Next there was a deal of
bustle and preparation, and much passing and repassing of officials through that
part of the crowd that stood on the further side of the women; and while this
proceeded a deep hush gradually fell upon the people.

Now, by command, the masses parted and fell aside, and the king saw a
spectacle that froze the marrow in his bones. Fagots had been piled about the
two women, and a kneeling man was lighting them!

The women bowed their heads, and covered their faces with their hands; the
yellow flames began to climb upward among the snapping and crackling fagots,
and wreaths of blue smoke to stream away on the wind; the clergyman lifted his
hands and began a prayer-just then two young girls came flying through the
great gate, uttering piercing screams, and threw themselves upon the women at
the stake. Instantly they were torn away by the officers, and one of them was
kept in a tight grip, but the other broke loose, saying she would die with her
mother; and before she could be stopped she had flung her arms about her
mother’s neck again. She was torn away once more, and with her gown on fire.
Two or three men held her, and the burning portion of her gown was snatched
off and thrown flaming aside, she struggling all the while to free herself, and
saying she would be alone in the world now, and begging to be allowed to die
with her mother. Both the girls screamed continually, and fought for freedom;
but suddenly this tumult was drowned under a volley of heart-piercing shrieks
of mortal agony. The king glanced from the frantic girls to the stake, then turned
away and leaned his ashen face against the wall, and looked no more. He said,
‘That which I have seen, in that one little moment, will never go out from my
memory, but will abide there; and I shall see it all the days, and dream of it all
the nights, till I die. Would God I had been blind!’ Hendon was watching the
king. He said to himself, with satisfaction, ‘His disorder mendeth; he hath
changed, and groweth gentler. If he had followed his wont, he would have
stormed at these varlets, and said he was king, and commanded that the women
be turned loose unscathed. Soon his delusion will pass away and be forgotten,
and his poor mind will be whole again. God speed the day!’

That same day several prisoners were brought in to remain overnight, who were
being conveyed, under guard, to various places in the kingdom, to undergo
punishment for crimes committed. The king conversed with these-he had made
it a point, from the beginning, to instruct himself for the kingly office by
questioning prisoners whenever the opportunity offered-and the tale of their
woes wrung his heart. One of them was a poor half-witted woman who had
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page

In Association with