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Tom as a Patrician

TOM CANTY, left alone in the prince’s cabinet, made good use of his
opportunity. He turned himself this way and that before the great mirror,
admiring his finery; then walked away, imitating the prince’s high-bred
carriage, and still observing results in the glass. Next he drew the beautiful
sword, and bowed, kissing the blade, and laying it across his breast, as he had
seen a noble knight do, by way of salute to the lieutenant of the Tower, five or
six weeks before, when delivering the great lords of Norfolk and Surrey into his
hands for captivity. Tom played with the jeweled dagger that hung upon his
thigh; he examined the costly and exquisite ornaments of the room; he tried each
of the sumptuous chairs, and thought how proud he would be if the Offal Court
herd could only peep in and see him in his grandeur. He wondered if they
would believe the marvelous tale he should tell when he got home, or if they
would shake their heads, and say his overtaxed imagination had at last upset his

At the end of half an hour it suddenly occurred to him that the prince was gone
a long time; then right away he began to feel lonely; very soon he fell to listening
and longing, and ceased to toy with the pretty things about him; he grew
uneasy, then restless, then distressed. Suppose some one should come, and catch
him in the prince’s clothes, and the prince not there to explain. Might they not
hang him at once, and inquire into his case afterward? He had heard that the
great were prompt about small matters. His fears rose higher and higher; and
trembling he softly opened the door to the ante-chamber, resolved to fly and
seek the prince, and through him, protection and release. Six gorgeous
gentlemen-servants and two young pages of high degree, clothed like butterflies,
sprung to their feet, and bowed low before him. He stepped quickly back, and
shut the door. He said: ‘Oh, they mock at me! They will go and tell. Oh! why
came I here to cast away my life?’ He walked up and down the floor, filled with
nameless fears, listening, starting at every trifling sound. Presently the door
swung open, and a silken page said: ‘The Lady Jane Grey.’ The door closed, and
a sweet young girl, richly clad, bounded toward him.

But she stopped suddenly, and said in a distressed voice: ‘Oh, what aileth thee,
my lord?’ Tom’s breath was nearly failing him; but he made shift to stammer
out: ‘Ah, be merciful, thou! In sooth I am no lord, but only poor Tom Canty of
Offal Court in the city. Prithee let me see the prince, and he will of his grace
restore to me my rags, and let me hence unhurt. Oh, be thou merciful, and save
me!’ By this time the boy was on his knees, and supplicating with his eyes and
uplifted hands as well as with his tongue. The young girl seemed horror-

She cried out: ‘Oh, my lord, on thy knees? and to me!’ Then she fled away in
fright; and Tom, smitten with despair, sank down, murmuring: ‘There is no
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