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

it, his mind being charmed and occupied with the blithe sights and sounds about
him-and besides, nobody can be very ungraceful in nicely fitting beautiful
clothes after he has grown a little used to them-especially if he is for the moment
unconscious of them. Tom remembered his instructions, and acknowledged his
greeting with a slight inclination of his plumed head, and a courteous ‘I thank
ye, my good people.’ He seated himself at table without removing his cap; and
did it without the least embarrassment; for to eat with one’s cap on was the one
solitary royal custom upon which the kings and the Cantys met upon common
ground, neither party having any advantage over the other in the matter of old
familiarity with it.

The pageant broke up and grouped itself picturesquely, and remained

Now, to the sound of gay music, the Yeomen of the Guard entered-‘the tallest
and mightiest men in England, they being selected in this regard’- but we will
let the chronicler tell about it: ‘The Yeomen of the Guard entered bareheaded,
clothed in scarlet, with golden roses upon their backs; and these went and came,
bringing in each turn a course of dishes, served in plate. These dishes were
received by a gentleman in the same order they were brought, and placed upon
the table, while the taster gave to each guard a mouthful to eat of the particular
dish he had brought, for fear of any poison.’ Tom made a good dinner,
notwithstanding he was conscious that hundreds of eyes followed each morsel to
his mouth and watched him eat it with an interest which could not have been
more intense if it had been a deadly explosive and was expected to blow him up
and scatter him all over the place. He was careful not to hurry, and equally
careful not to do anything whatever for himself, but wait till the proper official
knelt down and did it for him. He got through without a mistake-flawless and
precious triumph.

When the meal was over at last and he marched away in the midst of his bright
pageant, with the happy noises in his ears of blaring bugles, rolling drums, and
thundering acclamations, he felt that if he had seen the worst of dining in public,
it was an ordeal which he would be glad to endure several times a day if by that
means he could but buy himself free from some of the more formidable
requirements of his royal office.
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