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a gracious figure and as pretty as a girl, in his mantle and trunks of purple satin,
and purple-plumed cap. He now moved in state toward his breakfast-room,
through the midst of the courtly assemblage; and as he passed, these fell back,
leaving his way free, and dropped upon their knees.

After breakfast he was conducted, with regal ceremony, attended by his great
officers and his guard of fifty Gentlemen Pensioners bearing gilt battle-axes, to
the throne-room, where he proceeded to transact business of state. His ‘uncle’
Lord Hertford, took his stand by the throne, to assist he royal mind with wise

The body of illustrious men named by the late king as his executors, appeared,
to ask Tom’s approval of certain acts of theirs-rather a form, and yet not wholly
a form, since there was no Protector as yet. The Archbishop of Canterbury made
report of the decree of the Council of Executors concerning the obsequies of his
late most illustrious majesty, and finished by reading the signatures of the
executors, to wit: the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Lord Chancellor of England;
William Lord St. John; John Lord Russell; Edward Earl of Hertford; John
Viscount Lisle; Cuthbert Bishop of Durham Tom was not listening-an earlier
clause of the document was puzzling him.

At this point he turned and whispered to Lord Hertford: ‘What day did he say
the burial hath been appointed for?’ ‘The 16 th of the coming month, my liege.’
‘’Tis a strange folly. Will he keep?’ Poor chap, he was still new to the customs of
royalty; he was used to seeing the forlorn dead of Offal Court hustled out of the
way with a very different sort of expedition. However, the Lord Hertford set his
mind at rest with a word or two.

A secretary of state presented an order of the council appointing the morrow at
eleven for the reception of the foreign ambassadors, and desired the king’s

Tom turned an inquiring look toward Hertford, who whispered: ‘Your majesty
will signify consent. They come to testify their royal masters’ sense of the heavy
calamity which hath visited your grace and the realm of England.’ Tom did as
he was bidden. Another secretary began to read a preamble concerning the
expenses of the late king’s household, which had amounted to L28,000 during
the preceding six months-a sum so vast that it made Tom Canty gasp; he gasped
again when the fact appeared that L20,000 of this money were still owing and
unpaid;*(10) and once more when it appeared that the king’s coffers were about
empty, and his twelve hundred servants much embarrassed for lack of the
wages due them. Tom spoke out, with lively apprehension.

‘We be going to the dogs, ‘tis plain. ‘Tis meet and necessary that we take a
smaller house and set the servants at large, sith they be of no value but to make
delay, and trouble one with offices that harass the spirit and shame the soul,
they misbecoming any but a doll, that hath nor brains nor hands to help itself
withal. I remember me of a small house that standeth over against the fish-
market, by Billingsgate-’ A sharp pressure upon Tom’s arm stopped his foolish
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

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