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

dumb! Go, my Lord St. John, give thy feet wings!’ The whole assemblage was on
its feet now, and well-nigh out of its mind with uneasiness, apprehension, and
consuming excitement. On the floor and on the platform a deafening buzz of
frantic conversation burst forth, and for some time nobody knew anything or
heard anything or was interested in anything but what his neighbor was
shouting into his ear, or he was shouting into his neighbor’s ear.

Time-nobody knew how much of it-swept by unheeded and unnoted. At last a
sudden hush fell upon the house, and in the same moment St. John appeared
upon the platform and held the Great Seal aloft in his hand. Then such a shout
went up!

‘Long live the true king!’ For five minutes the air quaked with shouts and the
crash of musical instruments, and was white with a storm of waving
handkerchiefs; and through it all a ragged lad, the most conspicuous figure in
England, stood, flushed and happy and proud, in the center of the spacious
platform, with the great vassals of the kingdom kneeling around him.

Then all rose, and Tom Canty cried out: ‘Now, O my king, take these regal
garments back, and give poor Tom, thy servant, his shreds and remnants again.’
The Lord Protector spoke up: ‘Let the small varlet be stripped and flung into the
Tower.’ But the new king, the true king, said: ‘I will not have it so. But for him I
had not got my crown again-none shall lay a hand upon him to harm him. And
as for thee, my good uncle, my Lord Protector, this conduct of thine is not
grateful toward this poor lad, for I hear he hath made thee a duke’- the Protector
blushed-’ yet he was not a king; wherefore, what is thy fine title worth now? To-
morrow you shall sue to me, through him, for its confirmation, else no duke, but
a simple earl, shalt thou remain.’

Under this rebuke, his grace the Duke of Somerset retired a little from the front
for the moment. The king turned to Tom, and said, kindly: ‘My poor boy, how
was it that you could remember where I hid the Seal when I could not remember
it myself?’ ‘Ah, my king, that was easy, since I used it divers days.’ ‘Used it-yet
could not explain where it was?’ ‘I did not know it was that they wanted. They
did not describe it, your majesty.’ ‘Then how used you it?’ The red blood began
to steal up into Tom’s cheeks, and he dropped his eyes and was silent.

‘Speak up, good lad, and fear nothing,’ said the king. ‘How used you the Great
Seal of England?’ Tom stammered a moment, in a pathetic confusion, then got it
out: ‘To crack nuts with!’ Poor child, the avalanche of laughter that greeted this,
nearly swept him off his feet. But if a doubt remained in any mind that Tom
Canty was not the king of England and familiar with the august appurtenances
of royalty, this reply disposed of it utterly.

Meantime the sumptuous robe of state had been removed from Tom’s shoulders
to the king’s, whose rags were effectively hidden from sight under it. Then the
coronation ceremonies were resumed; the true king was anointed and the crown
set upon his head, whilst cannon thundered the news to the city, and all London
seemed to rock with applause.
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

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