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The Prince and his Deliverer

AS soon as Miles Hendon and the little prince were clear of the mob, they struck
down through back lanes and alleys toward the river. Their way was
unobstructed until they approached London Bridge; then they plowed into the
multitude again, Hendon keeping a fast grip upon the prince’s-no, the king’s-

The tremendous news was already abroad, and the boy learned it from a
thousand voices at once-‘The king is dead!’ The tidings struck a chill to the heart
of the poor little waif, and sent a shudder through his frame. He realized the
greatness of his loss, and was filled with a bitter grief; for the grim tyrant who
had been such a terror to others had always been gentle with him. The tears
sprung to his eyes and blurred all objects. For an instant he felt himself the most
forlorn, outcast, and forsaken of God’s creatures-then another cry shook the
night with its far-reaching thunders: ‘Long live King Edward the Sixth!’ and this
made his eyes kindle, and thrilled him with pride to his fingers’ ends. ‘Ah,’ he
thought, ‘how grand and strange it seems-I AM KING!’ Our friends threaded
their way slowly through the throngs upon the Bridge.

This structure, which had stood for six hundred years, and had been a noisy and
populous thoroughfare all that time, was a curious affair, for a closely packed
rank of stores and shops, with family quarters overhead, stretched along both
sides of it, from one bank of the river to the other. The Bridge was a sort of town
to itself; it had its inn, its beerhouses, its bakeries, its haberdasheries, its food
markets, its manufacturing industries, and even its church. It looked upon the
two neighbors which it linked together-London and Southwark-as being well
enough, as suburbs, but not otherwise particularly important. It was a close
corporation, so to speak; it was a narrow town, of a single street a fifth of a mile
long, its population was but a village population, and everybody in it knew all
his fellow-townsmen intimately, and had known their fathers and mothers
before themand all their little family affairs into the bargain. It had its
aristocracy, of courseits fine old families of butchers, and bakers, and what not,
who had occupied the same old premises for five or six hundred years, and
knew the great history of the Bridge from beginning to end, and all its strange
legends; and who always talked bridgy talk, and thought bridgy thoughts, and
lied in a long, level, direct, substantial bridgy way. It was just the sort of
population to be narrow and ignorant and self-conceited. Children were born on
the Bridge, were reared there, grew to old age and finally died without ever
having set a foot upon any part of the world but London Bridge alone. Such
people would naturally imagine that the mighty and interminable procession
which moved through its street night and day, with its confused roar of shouts
and cries, its neighings and bellowings and bleatings and its muffled thunder-
tramp, was the one great thing in this world, and themselves somehow the
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