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Tom Recieves Instructions

TOM was conducted to the principal apartment of a noble suite, and made to sit
down-a thing which he was loath to do, since there were elderly men and men
of high degree about him. He begged them to be seated, also, but they only
bowed their thanks or murmured them, and remained standing. He would have
insisted, but his ‘uncle,’ the Earl of Hertford, whispered in his ear: ‘Prithee, insist
not, my lord; it is not meet that they sit in thy presence.’ The Lord St. John was
announced, and, after making obeisance to Tom, he said: ‘I come upon the king’s
errand, concerning a matter which requireth privacy.

Will it please your royal highness to dismiss all that attend you here, save my
lord the Earl of Hertford?’ Observing that Tom did not seem to know how to
proceed, Hertford whispered him to make a sign with his hand and not trouble
himself to speak unless he chose. When the waiting gentlemen had retired, Lord
St. John said: ‘His majesty commandeth, that for due and weighty reasons of
state, the prince’s grace shall hide his infirmity in all ways that be within his
power, till it be passed and he be as he was before. To wit, that he shall deny to
none that he is the true prince, and heir to England’s greatness; that he shall
uphold his princely dignity, and shall receive, without word or sign of protest,
that reverence and observance which unto it do appertain of right and ancient
usage; that he shall cease to speak to any of that lowly birth and life his malady
hath conjured out of the unwholesome imaginings of o’erwrought fancy; that he
shall strive with diligence to bring unto his memory again those faces which he
was wont to know-and where he faileth he shall hold his peace, neither
betraying by semblance of surprise, or other sign, that he hath forgot; that upon
occasions of state, whensoever any matter shall perplex him as to the thing he
should do or the utterance he should make, he shall show naught of unrest to the
curious that look on, but take advice in that matter of the Lord Hertford, or my
humble self, which are commanded of the king to be upon this service and close
at call, till this commandment be dissolved.

Thus saith the king’s majesty, who sendeth greeting to your royal highness and
prayeth that God will of His mercy quickly heal you and have you now and ever
in His holy keeping.’ The Lord St. John made reverence and stood aside. Tom
replied, resignedly: ‘The king hath said it. None may palter with the king’s
command, or fit it to his ease, where it doth chafe, with deft evasions. The king
shall be obeyed.’ Lord Hertford said: ‘Touching the king’s majesty’s ordainment
concerning books and such like serious matters, it may peradventure please your
highness to ease your time with lightsome entertainment, lest you go wearied to
the banquet and suffer harm thereby.’

Tom’s face showed inquiring surprise; and a blush followed when he saw Lord
St. John’s eyes bent sorrowfully upon him. His lordship said: ‘Thy memory still
wrongeth thee, and thou hast shown surprise-but suffer it not to trouble thee,
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