Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ

<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

After a little while Tom, who had wandered to a window and become interested
in the life and movement of the great highway beyond the palace gates-and not
idly interested, but longing with all his heart to take part in person in its stir and
freedom-saw the van of a hooting and shouting mob of disorderly men, women,
and children of the lowest and poorest degree approaching from up the road.

‘I would I knew what ‘tis about!’ he exclaimed, with all a boy’s curiosity in such

‘Thou art the king!’ solemnly responded the earl, with a reverence. ‘Have I your
grace’s leave to act?’ ‘Oh, blithely, yes! Oh, gladly, yes!’ exclaimed Tom,
excitedly, adding to himself with a lively sense of satisfaction, ‘In truth, being a
king is not all drearinessit hath its compensations and conveniences.’ The earl
called a page, and sent him to the captain of the guard with the order: ‘Let the
mob be halted, and inquiry made concerning, the occasion of its movement. By
the king’s command!’ A few seconds later a long rank of the royal guards, cased
in flashing steel, filed out at the gates and formed across the highway in front of
the multitude. A messenger returned, to report that the crowd were following a
man, a woman, and a young girl to execution for crimes committed against the
peace and dignity of the realm.

Death-and a violent death-for these poor unfortunates! The thought wrung
Tom’s heartstrings. The spirit of compassion took control of him, to the exclusion
of all other considerations; he never thought of the offended laws, or of the grief
or loss which these three criminals had inflicted upon their victims, he could
think of nothing but the scaffold and the grisly fate hanging over the heads of
the condemned. His concern made him even forget, for the moment, that he was
but the false shadow of a king, not the substance; and before he knew it he had
blurted out the command: ‘Bring them here!’ Then he blushed scarlet, and a sort
of apology sprung to his lips; but observing that his order had wrought no sort
of surprise in the earl or the waiting page, he suppressed the words he was
about to utter. The page, in the most matter-ofcourse way, made a profound
obeisance and retired backward out of the room to deliver the command. Tom
experienced a glow of pride and a renewed sense of the compensating
advantages of the kingly office. He said to himself, ‘Truly it is like what I used to
feel when I read the old priest’s tales, and did imagine mine own self a prince,
giving law and command to all, saying, “ Do this, do that,” while none durst
offer let or hindrance to my will.’ Now the doors swung open; one high-
sounding title after another was announced, the personages owning them
followed, and the place was quickly half filled with noble folk and finery. But
Tom was hardly conscious of the presence of these people, so wrought up was
he and so intensely absorbed in that other and more interesting matter. He
seated himself, absently, in his chair of state, and turned his eyes upon the door
with manifestations of impatient expectancy; seeing which, the company forbore
to trouble him, and fell to chatting a mixture of public business and court gossip
one with another.
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page

In Association with