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and calling; and the wife and kids are gone; mayhap they are in heaven, mayhap
in-in the other place-but the kindly God be thanked, they bide no more in
England! My good old blameless mother strove to earn bread by nursing the
sick; one of these died, the doctors knew not how, so my mother was burned for
a witch, whilst my babes looked on and wailed. English law!- up, all with your
cups!- now all together and with a cheer!- drink to the merciful English law that
delivered her from the English hell! Thank you, mates, one and all. I begged,
from house to house-I and the wife-bearing with us the hungry kids-but it was
a crime to be hungry in England-so they stripped us and lashed us through
three towns. Drink ye all again to the merciful English law!- for its lash drank
deep of my Mary’s blood and its blessed deliverance came quick.

She lies there, in the potter’s field, safe from all harms. And the kids-well, whilst
the law lashed me from town to town, they starved. Drink lads-only a drop-a
drop to the poor kids, that never did any creature harm. I begged again-begged
for a crust, and got the stocks and lost an ear-see, here bides the stump; I begged
again, and here is the stump of the other to keep me minded of it. And still I
begged again, and was sold for a slave-here on my cheek under this stain, if I
washed it off, ye might see the red S the branding iron left there! A SLAVE! Do
ye understand that word! An English SLAVE!- that is he that stands before ye. I
have run from my master, and when I am found-the heavy curse of heaven fall
on the law of the land that hath commanded it!- I shall hang!’*(17) A ringing
voice came through the murky air: ‘Thou shalt not!- and this day the end of that
law is come!’ All turned, and saw the fantastic figure of the little king
approaching hurriedly; as it emerged into the light and was clearly revealed, a
general explosion of inquiries broke out: ‘Who is it ? What is it? Who art thou,

The boy stood unconfused in the midst of all those surprised and questioning
eyes, and answered with princely dignity: ‘I am Edward, king of England.’ A
wild burst of laughter followed, partly of derision and partly of delight in the
excellence of the joke. The king was stung. He said sharply: ‘Ye mannerless
vagrants, is this your recognition of the royal boon I have promised?’ He said
more, with angry voice and excited gesture, but it was lost in a whirlwind of
laughter and mocking exclamations. ‘John Hobbs’ made several attempts to
make himself heard above the din, and at last succeeded-saying: ‘Mates, he is
my son, a dreamer, a fool, and stark mad-mind him not-he thinketh he is the
king.’ ‘I am the king,’ said Edward, turning toward him, ‘as thou shalt know to
thy cost, in good time. Thou hast confessed a murder-thou shalt swing for it.’
‘Thou’lt betray me!- thou? An I get my hands upon thee-’ ‘Tut-tut!’ said the
burly Ruffler, interposing in time to save the king, and emphasizing this service
by knocking Hobbs down with his fist, ‘hast respect for neither kings nor
Rufflers? An thou insult my presence so again, I’ll hang thee up myself.’ Then he
said to his majesty, ‘Thou must make no threats against thy mates, lad; and thou
must guard thy tongue from saying evil of them elsewhere.
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