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Then a noble anthem swept the Abbey with its rich waves of sound; and thus
heralded and welcomed, Tom Canty was conducted to the throne. The ancient
ceremonies went on with impressive solemnity, whilst the audience gazed; and
as they drew nearer and nearer to completion, Tom Canty grew pale, and still
paler, and a deep and steadily deepening woe and despondency settled down
upon his spirits and upon his remorseful heart.

At last the final act was at hand. The Archbishop of Canterbury lifted up the
crown of England from its cushion and held it out over the trembling mock
king’s head. In the same instant a rainbow radiance flashed along the spacious
transept; for with one impulse every individual in the great concourse of nobles
lifted a coronet and poised it over his or her head-and paused in that attitude.

A deep hush pervaded the Abbey. At this impressive moment, a startling
apparition intruded upon the scene-an apparition observed by none in the
absorbed multitude, until it suddenly appeared, moving up the great central
aisle. It was a boy, bareheaded, ill shod, and clothed in coarse plebeian garments
that were falling to rags. He raised his hand with a solemnity which ill
comported with his soiled and sorry aspect, and delivered this note of warning:
‘I forbid you to set the crown of England upon that forfeited head. I am the
king!’ In an instant several indignant hands were laid upon the boy; but in the
same instant Tom Canty, in his regal vestments, made a swift step forward and
cried out in a ringing voice: ‘Loose him and forbear! He is the king!’

A sort of panic of astonishment swept the assemblage, and they partly rose in
their places and stared in a bewildered way at one another and at the chief
figures in this scene, like persons who wondered whether they were awake and
in their senses, or asleep and dreaming. The Lord Protector was as amazed as
the rest, but quickly recovered himself and exclaimed in a voice of authority:
‘Mind not his Majesty, his malady is upon him again-seize the vagabond!’ He
would have been obeyed, but the mock king stamped his foot and cried out: ‘On
your peril! Touch him not, he is the king!’ The hands were withheld; a paralysis
fell upon the house, no one moved, no one spoke; indeed, no one knew how to
act or what to say, in so strange and surprising an emergency. While all minds
were struggling to right themselves, the boy still moved steadily forward, with
high port and confident mien; he had never halted from the beginning; and
while the tangled minds still floundered helplessly, he stepped upon the
platform, and the mock king ran with a glad face to meet him; and fell on his
knees before him and said: ‘Oh, my lord the king, let poor Tom Canty be first to
swear fealty to thee, and say “ Put on thy crown and enter into thine own
again!”’ The Lord Protector’s eye fell sternly upon the new-comer’s face; but
straightway the sternness vanished away, and gave place to an expression of
wondering surprise. This thing happened also to the other great officers. They
glanced at each other, and retreated a step by a common and unconscious
impulse. The thought in each mind was the same: ‘What a strange resemblance!’
The Lord Protector reflected a moment or two in perplexity, then he said, with
grave respectfulness: ‘By your favor, sir, I desire to ask certain questions which-’
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