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awhile, as if seeking some grateful sign of returning reason there, then pressed
the curly head against his breast, and patted it tenderly.

Presently he said: ‘Dost thou know thy father, child? Break not mine old heart;
say thou know’st me. Thou dost know me, dost thou not?’ ‘Yea; thou art my
dread lord the king, whom God preserve.’ ‘True, true-that is well-be comforted,
tremble not so; there is none here who would hurt thee; there is none here but
loves thee. Thou art better now; thy ill dream passeth-is’t not so? And thou
knowest thyself now also-is’t not so? Thou wilt not miscall thyself again, as they
say thou didst a little while agone?’

‘I pray thee of thy grace believe me, I did but speak the truth, most dread lord;
for I am the meanest among thy subjects, being a pauper born, and ‘tis by a sore
mischance and accident I am here, albeit I was therein nothing blameful. I am
but young to die, and thou canst save me with one little word. Oh, speak it, sir!’
‘Die? Talk not so, sweet prince-peace, peace, to thy troubled heart-thou shalt
not die!’ Tom dropped upon his knees with a glad cry: ‘God requite thy mercy,
oh my king, and save thee long to bless thy land!’ Then springing up, he turned
a joyful face toward the two lords in waiting, and exclaimed, ‘Thou heard’st it! I
am not to die: the king hath said it!’ There was no movement, save that all
bowed with grave respect; but no one spoke. He hesitated, a little confused, then
turned timidly toward the king, saying, ‘I may go now?’ ‘Go? Surely, if thou
desirest. But why not tarry yet a little? Whither wouldst go?’ Tom dropped his
eyes, and answered humbly: ‘Peradventure I mistook; but I did think me free,
and so was I moved to seek again the kennel where I was born and bred to
misery, yet which harboreth my mother and my sisters, and so is home to me;
whereas these pomps and splendors whereunto I am not used-oh, please you,
sir, to let me go!’

The king was silent and thoughtful awhile, and his face betrayed a growing
distress and uneasiness. Presently he said, with something of hope in his voice:
‘Perchance he is but mad upon this one strain and hath his wits unmarred as
toucheth other matter. God send it may be so! We will make trial.’ Then he asked
Tom a question in Latin, and Tom answered him lamely in the same tongue. The
King was delighted, and showed it. The lords and doctors manifested their
gratification also.

The king said: ‘’Twas not according to his schooling and ability, but sheweth
that his mind is but diseased, not stricken fatally. How say you, sir?’ The
physician addressed bowed low, and replied: ‘It jumpeth with mine own
conviction, sire, that thou hast divined aright.’ The king looked pleased with this
encouragement, coming as it did from so excellent authority, and continued with
good heart: ‘Now mark ye all: we will try him further.’ He put a question to Tom
in French. Tom stood silent a moment, embarrassed by having so many eyes
centered upon him, then said diffidently: ‘I have no knowledge of this tongue, so
please your majesty.’ The king fell back upon his couch. The attendants flew to
his assistance; but he put them aside, and said: ‘Trouble me not-it is nothing but
a scurvy faintness. Raise me! there, ‘tis sufficient. Come hither, child; there, rest
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