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but nobody appeared to be aware of it, or disturbed by it. But the next moment
he was himself disturbed by it, and showed discomposure; for this was the only
service he had been permitted to do with his own hands during the meal, and he
did not doubt that he had done a most improper and unprincely thing. At that
moment the muscles of his nose began to twitch, and the end of that organ to lift
and wrinkle. This continued, and Tom began to evince a growing distress. He
looked appealingly, first at one and then another of the lords about him, and
tears came into his eyes. They sprang forward with dismay in their faces, and
begged to know his trouble. Tom said with genuine anguish: ‘I crave your
indulgence; my nose itcheth cruelly. What is the custom and usage in this
emergence? Prithee speed, for ‘tis but a little time that I can bear it.’ None
smiled; but all were sore perplexed, and looked one to the other in deep
tribulation for counsel. But, behold, here was a dead wall, and nothing in
English history to tell how to get over it. The Master of Ceremonies was not
present; there was no one who felt safe to venture upon this uncharted sea, or
risk the attempt to solve this solemn problem. Alas! there was no Hereditary
Scratcher. Meantime the tears had overflowed their banks, and begun to trickle
down Tom’s cheeks.

His twitching nose was pleading more urgently than ever for relief. At last
nature broke down the barriers of etiquette; Tom lifted up an inward prayer for
pardon if he was doing wrong, and brought relief to the burdened hearts of his
court by scratching his nose himself.

His meal being ended, a lord came and held before him a broad, shallow, golden
dish with fragrant rose-water in it, to cleanse his mouth and fingers with; and
my lord the Hereditary Diaperer stood by with a napkin for his use. Tom gazed
at the dish a puzzled moment or two, then raised it to his lips, and gravely took
a draught. Then he returned it to the waiting lord, and said: ‘Nay, it likes me
not, my lord; it hath a pretty flavor, but it wanteth strength.’ This new
eccentricity of the prince’s ruined mind made all the hearts about him ache; but
the sad sight moved none to merriment.

Tom’s next unconscious blunder was to get up and leave the table just when the
chaplain had taken his stand behind his chair and with uplifted hands and
closed uplifted eyes, was in the act of beginning the blessing. Still nobody
seemed to perceive that the prince had done a thing unusual.

By his own request, our small friend was now conducted to his private cabinet,
and left there alone to his own devices. Hanging upon hooks in the oaken
wainscoting were the several pieces of a suit of shining steel armor, covered all
over with beautiful designs exquisitely inlaid in gold. This martial panoply
belonged to the true prince-a recent present from Madam Parr, the queen. Tom
put on the greaves, the gauntlets, the plumed helmet, and such other pieces as he
could don without assistance, and for a while was minded to call for help and
complete the matter, but bethought him of the nuts he had brought away from
dinner, and the joy it would be to eat them with no crowd to eye him, and no
Grand Hereditaries to pester him with undesired services; so he restored the
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