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The Prince’s Troubles Begin

AFTER hours of persistent pursuit and persecution, the little prince was at last
deserted by the rabble and left to himself. As long as he had been able to rage
against the mob, and threaten it royally, and royally utter commands that were
good stuff to laugh at, he was very entertaining; but when weariness finally
forced him to be silent, he was no longer of use to his tormentors, and they
sought amusement elsewhere. He looked about him now, but could not
recognize the locality. He was within the city of London-that was all he knew.
He moved on, aimlessly, and in a little while the houses thinned, and the
passers-by were infrequent.

He bathed his bleeding feet in the brook which flowed then where Farringdon
Street now is; rested a few moments, then passed on, and presently came upon a
great space with only a few scattered houses in it, and a prodigious church. He
recognized this church. Scaffoldings were about, everywhere, and swarms of
workmen; for it was undergoing elaborate repairs. The prince took heart at
oncehe felt that his troubles were at an end now. He said to himself, ‘It is the
ancient Grey Friars’ church, which the king my father hath taken from the
monks and given for a home forever for poor and forsaken children, and new-
named it Christ’s church. Right gladly will they serve the son of him who hath
done so generously by them-and the more that that son is himself as poor and as
forlorn as any that be sheltered here this day, or ever shall be.’

He was soon in the midst of a crowd of boys who were running, jumping,
playing at ball and leap-frog and otherwise disporting themselves, and right
noisily, too. They were all dressed alike, and in the fashion which in that day
prevailed among serving-men and ‘prentices’*- that is to say, each had on the
crown of his head a flat black cap about the size of a saucer, which was not
useful as a covering, it being of such scanty dimensions, neither was it
ornamental; from beneath it the hair fell, unparted, to the middle of the
forehead, and was cropped straight around; a clerical band at the neck; a blue
gown that fitted closely and hung as low as the knees or lower; full sleeves; a
broad red belt; bright yellow stockings, gartered above the knees; low shoes
with large metal buckles. It was a sufficiently ugly costume.

The boys stopped their play and flocked about the prince, who said with native
dignity: ‘Good lads, say to your master that Edward Prince of Wales desireth
speech with him.’ A great shout went up at this, and one rude fellow said:
‘Marry, art thou his grace’s messenger, beggar?’ The prince’s face flushed with
anger, and his ready hand flew to his hip, but there was nothing there. There
was a storm of laughter, and one boy said: ‘Didst mark that? He fancied he had a
sword-belike he is the prince himself.’

This sally brought more laughter. Poor Edward drew himself up proudly and
said: ‘I am the prince; and it ill beseemeth you that feed upon the king my
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

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