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observing to himself, ‘Lo, it is a wonderful thing-a most strange and curious
trade; I marvel they have not hired a boy to take my combings and my dressings
for me-would heaven they would!- an they will do this thing, I will take my
lashings in mine own person, giving thanks to God for the change.’ Then he said
aloud: ‘And hast thou been beaten, poor friend, according to the promise?’ ‘No,
good your majesty, my punishment was appointed for this day, and
peradventure it may be annulled, as unbefitting the season of mourning that is
come upon us; I know not, and so have made bold to come hither and remind
your grace about your gracious promise to intercede in my behalf-’ ‘With the
master? To save thee thy whipping?’ ‘Ah, thou dost remember!’ ‘My memory
mendeth, thou seest. Set thy mind at ease-thy back shall go unscathed-I will see
to it.’ ‘Oh, thanks, my good lord!’ cried the boy, dropping upon his knee again.
‘Mayhap I have ventured far enow; and yet’....

Seeing Master Humphrey hesitate, Tom encouraged him to go on, saying he was
‘in the granting mood.’ ‘Then will I speak it out, for it lieth near my heart. Sith
thou art no more Prince of Wales but king, thou canst order matters as thou wilt,
with none to say thee nay; wherefore it is not in reason that thou wilt longer vex
thyself with dreary studies, but wilt burn thy books and turn thy mind to things
less irksome.

Then am I ruined, and mine orphan sisters with me!’ ‘Ruined? Prithee, how?’
‘My back is my bread, O my gracious liege! if it go idle, I starve. An thou cease
from study, mine office is gone, thou’lt need no whipping-boy. Do not turn me
away!’ Tom was touched with this pathetic distress. He said, with a right royal
burst of generosity: ‘Discomfort thyself no further, lad. Thine office shall be
permanent in thee and thy line, forever.’ Then he struck the boy a light blow on
the shoulder with the flat of his sword, exclaiming, ‘Rise, Humphrey Marlow,
Hereditary Grand Whipping-Boy to the royal house of England! Banish sorrow-
I will betake me to my books again, and study so ill that they must in justice
treble thy wage, so mightily shall the business of thine office be augmented.’ The
grateful Humphrey responded fervidly: ‘Thanks, oh, most noble master, this
princely lavishness doth far surpass my most distempered dreams of fortune.
Now shall I be happy all my days, and all the house of Marlow after me.’ Tom
had wit enough to perceive that here was a lad who could be useful to him. He
encouraged Humphrey to talk, and he was nothing loath. He was delighted to
believe that he was helping in Tom’s ‘cure’; for always, as soon as he had
finished calling back to Tom’s diseased mind the various particulars of his
experiences and adventures in the royal schoolroom and elsewhere about the
palace, he noticed that Tom was then able to ‘recall’ the circumstances quite
clearly. At the end of an hour Tom found himself well freighted with very
valuable information concerning personages and matters pertaining to the court;
so he resolved to draw instruction from this source daily; and to this end he
would give order to admit Humphrey to the royal closet whenever he might
come, provided the majesty of England was not engaged with other people.
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