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


The Prince with the Peasants

WHEN the king awoke in the early morning, he found that a wet but thoughtful
rat had crept into the place during the night and made a cozy bed for itself in his
bosom. Being disturbed now, it scampered away. The boy smiled, and said,
‘Poor fool, why so fearful? I am as forlorn as thou. ‘Twould be a shame in me to
hurt the helpless, who am myself so helpless. Moreover, I owe you thanks for a
good omen; for when a king has fallen so low that the very rats do make a bed of
him, it surely meaneth that his fortunes be upon the turn, since it is plain he can
no lower go.’ He got up and stepped out of the stall, and just then he heard the
sound of children’s voices. The barn door opened and a couple of little girls
came in. As soon as they saw him their talking and laughing ceased, and they
stopped and stood still, gazing at him with strong curiosity; they presently
began to whisper together, then they approached nearer, and stopped again to
gaze and whisper. By and by they gathered courage and began to discuss him
aloud. One said: ‘He hath a comely face.’ The other added:
‘And pretty hair.’ ‘But is ill clothed enow.’

‘And how starved he looketh.’ They came still nearer, sidling shyly around and
about him, examining him minutely from all points, as if he were some strange
new kind of animal; but warily and watchfully the while, as if they half feared
he might be a sort of animal that would bite, upon occasion. Finally they halted
before him, holding each other’s hands for protection, and took a good satisfying
stare with their innocent eyes; then one of them plucked up all her courage and
inquired with honest directness: ‘Who art thou, boy?’ ‘I am the king,’ was the
grave answer.

The children gave a little start, and their eyes spread themselves wide open and
remained so during a speechless half-minute. Then curiosity broke the silence:
‘The king? What king?’ ‘The king of England.’ The children looked at each other
then at him-then at each other again-wonderingly, perplexedly-then one said:
‘Didst hear him, Margery?- he saith he is the king. Can that be true?’ ‘How can it
be else but true, Prissy? Would he say a lie? For look you, Prissy, an it were not
true, it would be a lie. It surely would be. Now think on’t. For all things that be
not true, be lies-thou canst make naught else out of it.’

It was a good, tight argument, without a leak in it anywhere; and it left Prissy’s
half-doubts not a leg to stand on. She considered a moment, then put the king
upon his honor with the simple remark: ‘If thou art truly the king, then I believe
thee.’ ‘I am truly the king.’ This settled the matter. His majesty’s royalty was
accepted without further question or discussion, and the two little girls began at
once to inquire into how he came to be where he was, and how he came to be so
unroyally clad, and whither he was bound, and all about his affairs. It was a
mighty relief to him to pour out his troubles where they would not be scoffed at
or doubted; so he told his tale with feeling, forgetting even his hunger for the
<- 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