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 fire, sat himself down, and began to whet the knife softly on the stone, still
muttering, mumbling, ejaculating. The winds sighed around the lonely place,
the mysterious voices of the night floated by out of the distances. The shining
eyes of venturesome mice and rats peered out at the old man from cracks and
coverts, but he went on with his work, rapt, absorbed, and noted none of these

At long intervals he drew his thumb along the edge of his knife, and nodded his
head with satisfaction. ‘It grows sharper,’ he said; ‘yes, it grows sharper.’ He
took no note of the flight of time, but worked tranquilly on, entertaining himself
with his thoughts, which broke out occasionally in articulate speech: ‘His father
wrought us evil, he destroyed us-and is gone down into the eternal fires! Yes,
down into the eternal fires! He escaped us-but it was God’s will, yes it was
God’s will, we must not repine. But he hath not escaped the fires! no, he hath not
escaped the fires, the consuming, unpitying, remorseless fires-and they are
everlasting!’ And so he wrought; and still wrought; mumbling-chuckling a low
rasping chuckle at times-and at times breaking again into words: ‘It was his
father that did it all. I am but an archangel-but for him, I should be pope!’ The
king stirred. The hermit sprang noiselessly to the bedside, and went down upon
his knees, bending over the prostrate form with his knife uplifted. The boy
stirred again; his eyes came open for an instant, but there was no speculation in
them, they saw nothing; the next moment his tranquil breathing showed that his
sleep was sound once more.

The hermit watched and listened for a time, keeping his position and scarcely
breathing; then he slowly lowered his arm, and presently crept away, saying: ‘It
is long past midnight-it is not best that he should cry out, lest by accident some
one be passing.’ He glided about his hovel, gathering a rag here, a thong there,
and another one yonder; then he returned, and by careful and gentle handling
he managed to tie the king’s ankles together without waking him. Next he
essayed to tie the wrists; he made several attempts to cross them, but the boy
always drew one hand or the other away, just as the cord was ready to be
applied; but at last, when the archangel was almost ready to despair, the boy
crossed his hands himself, and the next moment they were bound. Now a
bandage was passed under the sleeper’s chin and brought up over his head and
tied fast-and so softly, so gradually, and so deftly were the knots drawn
together and compacted, that the boy slept peacefully through it all without
<- 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