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Tom as King
THE next day the foreign ambassadors came, with their gorgeous trains; and
Tom, throned in awful state, received them. The splendors of the scene delighted
his eye and fired his imagination at first, but the audience was long and dreary,
and so were most of the addresses-wherefore, what began as a pleasure, grew
into weariness and homesickness by and by. Tom said the words which
Hertford put into his mouth from time to time, and tried hard to acquit himself
satisfactorily, but he was too new to such things, and too ill at ease to accomplish
more than a tolerable success. He looked sufficiently like a king, but he was ill
able to feel like one. He was cordially glad when the ceremony was ended.
The larger part of his day was ‘wasted’- as he termed it, in his own mind-in
labors pertaining to his royal office. Even the two hours devoted to certain
princely pastimes and recreations were rather a burden to him than otherwise,
they were so fettered by restrictions and ceremonious observances. However, he
had a private hour with his whipping-boy which he counted clear gain, since he
got both entertainment and needful information out of it.
The third day of Tom Canty’s kingship came and went much as the others had
done, but there was a lifting of his cloud in one way-he felt less uncomfortable
than at first; he was getting a little used to his circumstances and surroundings;
his chains still galled, but not all the time; he found that the presence and
homage of the great afflicted and embarrassed him less and less sharply with
every hour that drifted over his head.
But for one single dread, he could have seen the fourth day approach without
serious distress-the dining in public; it was to begin that day. There were
greater matters in the program-for on that day he would have to preside at a
council which would take his views and commands concerning the policy to be
pursued toward various foreign nations scattered far and near over the great
globe; on that day, too, Hertford would be formally chosen to the grand office of
Lord Protector; other things of note were appointed for that fourth day also, but
to Tom they were all insignificant compared with the ordeal of dining all by
himself with a multitude of curious eyes fastened upon him and a multitude of
mouths whispering comments upon his performance-and upon his mistakes, if
he should be so unlucky as to make any.
Still, nothing could stop that fourth day, and so it came. It found poor Tom low-
spirited and absent-minded, and this mood continued; he could not shake it off.
The ordinary duties of the morning dragged upon his hands, and wearied him.
Once more he felt the sense of captivity heavy upon him.
Late in the forenoon he was in a large audience chamber, conversing with the
Earl of Hertford and duly awaiting the striking of the hour appointed for a visit
of ceremony from a considerable number of great officials and courtiers.