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The Recognition Procession

WHEN Tom Canty awoke the next morning, the air was heavy with a
thunderous murmur; all the distances were charged with it. It was music to him;
for it meant that the English world was out in its strength to give loyal welcome
to the great day.

Presently Tom found himself once more the chief figure in a wonderful floating
pageant on the Thames; for by ancient custom the ‘recognition procession’
through London must start from the Tower, and he was bound thither.

When he arrived there, the sides of the venerable fortress seemed suddenly rent
in a thousand places, and from every rent leaped a red tongue of flame and a
white gush of smoke; a deafening explosion followed, which drowned the
shoutings of the multitude, and made the ground tremble; the flame-jets, the
smoke, and the explosions were repeated over and over again with marvelous
celerity, so that in a few moments the old Tower disappeared in the vast fog of
its own smoke, all but the very top of the tall pile called the White Tower; this,
with its banners, stood out above the dense bank of vapor as a mountain peak
projects above a cloud-rack.

Tom Canty, splendidly arrayed, mounted a prancing war-steed, whose rich
trappings almost reached to the ground; his ‘uncle,’ the Lord Protector Somerset,
similarly mounted, took place in his rear; the King’s Guard formed in single
ranks on either side, clad in burnished armor; after the Protector followed a
seemingly interminable procession of resplendent nobles attended by their
vassals; after these came the lord mayor and the aldermanic body, in crimson
velvet robes, and with their gold chains across their breasts; and after these the
officers and members of all the guilds of London, in rich raiment, and bearing
the showy banners of the several corporations. Also in the procession, as a
special guard of honor through the city, was the Ancient and Honorable
Artillery Company-an organization already three hundred years old at that
time, and the only military body in England possessing the privilege (which it
still possesses in our day) of holding itself independent of the commands of
Parliament. It was a brilliant spectacle, and was hailed with acclamations all
along the line, as it took its stately way through the packed multitudes of
citizens. The chronicler says, ‘The king, as he entered the city, was received by
the people with prayers, welcomings, cries, and tender words, and all signs
which argue an earnest love of subjects toward their sovereign; and the king, by
holding up his glad countenance to such as stood afar off, and most tender
language to those that stood nigh his Grace, showed himself no less thankful to
receive the people’s good will than they to offer it. To all that wished him well,
he gave thanks. To such as bade “God save his Grace,” he said in return, “God
save you all!” and added that “he thanked them with all his heart.” Wonderfully
transported were the people with the loving answers and gestures of their king.’
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