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Tom’s Progress

WHILST the true king wandered about the land, poorly clad, poorly fed, cuffed
and derided by tramps one while, herding with thieves and murderers in a jail
another, and called idiot and impostor by all impartially, the mock King Tom
Canty enjoyed a quite different experience.

When we saw him last, royalty was just beginning to have a bright side for him.
This bright side went on brightening more and more every day; in a very little
while it was become almost all sunshine and delightfulness. He lost his fears; his
misgivings faded out and died; his embarrassments departed, and gave place to
an easy and confident bearing. He worked the whipping-boy mine to ever-
increasing profit.

He ordered my Lady Elizabeth and my Lady Jane Grey into his presence when
he wanted to play or talk, and dismissed them when he was done with them,
with the air of one familiarly accustomed to such performances. It no longer
confused him to have these lofty personages kiss his hand at parting.

He came to enjoy being conducted to bed in state at night, and dressed with
intricate and solemn ceremony in the morning. It came to be a proud pleasure to
march to dinner attended by a glittering procession of officers of state and
gentlemen-at-arms; insomuch, indeed, that he doubled his guard of gentlemen-
at-arms, and made them a hundred. He liked to hear the bugles sounding down
the long corridors, and the distant voices responding, ‘Way for the King!’ He
even learned to enjoy sitting in throned state in council, and seeming to be
something more than the Lord Protector’s mouthpiece. He liked to receive great
ambassadors and their gorgeous trains, and listen to the affectionate messages
they brought from illustrious monarchs who called him ‘brother.’ Oh, happy
Tom Canty, late of Offal Court!

He enjoyed his splendid clothes, and ordered more; he found his four hundred
servants too few for his proper grandeur, and trebled them. The adulation of
salaaming courtiers came to be sweet music to his ears. He remained kind and
gentle, and a sturdy and determined champion of all that were oppressed, and
he made tireless war upon unjust laws; yet upon occasion, being offended, he
could turn upon an earl, or even a duke, and give him a look that would make
him tremble. Once, when his royal ‘sister,’ the grimly holy Lady Mary, set
herself to reason with him against the wisdom of his course in pardoning so
many people who would otherwise be jailed, or hanged, or burned, and
reminded him that their august late father’s prisons had sometimes contained as
high as sixty thousand convicts at one time, and that during his admirable reign
he had delivered seventy-two thousand thieves and robbers over to death by the
executioner,*(21) the boy was filled with generous indignation, and commanded
her to go to her closet, and beseech God to take away the stone that was in her
breast, and give her a human heart.
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