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The fault is none of thine, but thy distemper’s.’ ‘Thou’rt a gentle comforter,
sweet lady,’ said Tom, gratefully, ‘and my heart moveth me to thank thee for’t,
an I may be so bold.’ Once the giddy little Lady Jane fired a simple Greek phrase
at Tom. The Princess Elizabeth’s quick eye saw by the serene blankness of the
target’s front that the shaft was overshot; so she tranquilly delivered a return
volley of sounding Greek on Tom’s behalf, and then straightway changed the
talk to other matters.

Time wore on pleasantly, and likewise smoothly, on the whole. Snags and sand-
bars grew less and less frequent, and Tom grew more and more at his ease,
seeing that all were so lovingly bent upon helping him and overlooking his
mistakes. When it came out that the little ladies were to accompany him to the
Lord Mayor’s banquet in the evening, his heart gave a bound of relief and
delight, for he felt that he should not be friendless now, among that multitude of
strangers, whereas, an hour earlier, the idea of their going with him would have
been an insupportable terror to him.

Tom’s guardian angels, the two lords, had had less comfort in the interview than
the other parties to it. They felt much as if they were piloting a great ship
through a dangerous channel; they were on the alert constantly, and found their
office no child’s play. Wherefore, at last, when the ladies’ visit was drawing to a
close and the Lord Guilford Dudley was announced, they not only felt that their
charge had been sufficiently taxed for the present, but also that they themselves
were not in the best condition to take their ship back and make their anxious
voyage all over again. So they respectfully advised Tom to excuse himself, which
he was very glad to do, although a slight shade of disappointment might have
been observed upon my Lady Jane’s face when she heard the splendid stripling
denied admittance.

There was a pause now, a sort of waiting silence which Tom could not
understand. He glanced at Lord Hertford, who gave him a sign-but he failed to
understand that also. The ready Elizabeth came to the rescue with her usual easy

She made reverence and said: ‘Have we leave of the prince’s grace my brother to

Tom said: ‘Indeed, your ladyships can have whatsoever of me they will, for the
asking; yet would I rather give them any other thing that in my poor power
lieth, than leave to take the light and blessing of their presence hence. Give ye
good den, and God be with ye!’ Then he smiled inwardly at the thought, ‘’tis not
for naught I have dwelt but among princes in my reading, and taught my tongue
some slight trick of their broidered and gracious speech withal!’ When the
illustrious maidens were gone, Tom turned wearily to his keepers and said:
‘May it please your lordships to grant me leave to go into some corner and rest
me!’ Lord Hertford said: ‘So please your highness, it is for you to command, it is
for us to obey. That thou shouldst rest, is indeed a needful thing, since thou must
journey to the city presently.’ He touched a bell and a page appeared, who was
ordered to desire the presence of Sir William Herbert. This gentleman came
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

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