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The great pageant moved on, and still on, under one triumphal arch after
another, and past a bewildering succession of spectacular and symbolical
tableaux, each of which typified and exalted some virtue, or talent, or merit, of
the little king’s. ‘Throughout the whole of Cheapside, from every penthouse and
window, hung banners and streamers; and the richest carpets, stuffs, and cloth-
of-gold tapestried the streets-specimens of the great wealth of the stores within;
and the splendor of this thoroughfare was equaled in the other streets, and in
some even surpassed.’ ‘And all these wonders and these marvels are to welcome
me-me!’ murmured Tom Canty.

The mock king’s cheeks were flushed with excitement, his eyes were flashing,
his senses swam in a delirium of pleasure. At this point, just as he was raising
his hand to fling another rich largess, he caught sight of a pale, astounded face
which was strained forward out of the second rank of the crowd, its intense eyes
riveted upon him, A sickening consternation struck through him; he recognized
his mother! and up flew his hand, palm outward, before his eyes-that old
involuntary gesture, born of a forgotten episode, and perpetuated by habit. In an
instant more she had torn her way out of the press, and past the guards, and was
at his side.

She embraced his leg, she covered it with kisses, she cried, ‘O, my child, my
darling!’ lifting toward him a face that was transfigured with joy and love. The
same instant an officer of the King’s Guard snatched her away with a curse, and
sent her reeling back whence she came with a vigorous impulse from his strong

The words ‘I do not know you, woman!’ were falling from Tom Canty’s lips
when this piteous thing occurred; but it smote him to the heart to see her treated
so; and as she turned for a last glimpse of him, whilst the crowd was swallowing
her from his sight, she seemed so wounded, so broken-hearted, that a shame fell
upon him which consumed his pride to ashes, and withered his stolen royalty.
His grandeurs were stricken valueless; they seemed to fall away from him like
rotten rags.

The procession moved on, and still on, through ever-augmenting splendors and
ever-augmenting tempests of welcome; but to Tom Canty they were as if they
had not been. He neither saw nor heard. Royalty had lost its grace and
sweetness; its pomps were become a reproach. Remorse was eating his heart out.
He said, ‘Would God I were free of my captivity!’ He had unconsciously
dropped back into the phraseology of the first days of his compulsory greatness.
The shining pageant still went winding like a radiant and interminable serpent
down the crooked lanes of the quaint old city, and through the huzzaing hosts;
but still the king rode with bowed head and vacant eyes, seeing only his
mother’s face and that wounded look in it.

‘Largess, largess!’ The cry fell upon an unheeding ear.
‘Long live Edward of England!’ It seemed as if the earth shook with the
explosion; but there was no response from the king. He heard it only as one
hears the thunder of the surf when it is blown to the ear out of a great distance,
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

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