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The Prince and the Pauper
by Mark Twain

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Chapter III

Tom's meeting with the Prince.

Tom got up hungry, and sauntered hungry away, but with his

thoughts busy with the shadowy splendours of his night's dreams.

He wandered here and there in the city, hardly noticing where he

was going, or what was happening around him. People jostled him,

and some gave him rough speech; but it was all lost on the musing

boy. By-and-by he found himself at Temple Bar, the farthest from

home he had ever travelled in that direction. He stopped and

considered a moment, then fell into his imaginings again, and

passed on outside the walls of London. The Strand had ceased to

be a country-road then, and regarded itself as a street, but by a

strained construction; for, though there was a tolerably compact

row of houses on one side of it, there were only some scattered

great buildings on the other, these being palaces of rich nobles,

with ample and beautiful grounds stretching to the river--grounds

that are now closely packed with grim acres of brick and stone.

Tom discovered Charing Village presently, and rested himself at

the beautiful cross built there by a bereaved king of earlier

days; then idled down a quiet, lovely road, past the great

cardinal's stately palace, toward a far more mighty and majestic

palace beyond--Westminster. Tom stared in glad wonder at the vast

pile of masonry, the wide-spreading wings, the frowning bastions

and turrets, the huge stone gateway, with its gilded bars and its

magnificent array of colossal granite lions, and other the signs

and symbols of English royalty. Was the desire of his soul to be

satisfied at last? Here, indeed, was a king's palace. Might he

not hope to see a prince now--a prince of flesh and blood, if

Heaven were willing?

At each side of the gilded gate stood a living statue--that is to

say, an erect and stately and motionless man-at-arms, clad from

head to heel in shining steel armour. At a respectful distance

were many country folk, and people from the city, waiting for any

chance glimpse of royalty that might offer. Splendid carriages,

with splendid people in them and splendid servants outside, were

arriving and departing by several other noble gateways that

pierced the royal enclosure.

Poor little Tom, in his rags, approached, and was moving slowly

and timidly past the sentinels, with a beating heart and a rising

hope, when all at once he caught sight through the golden bars of

a spectacle that almost made him shout for joy. Within was a

comely boy, tanned and brown with sturdy outdoor sports and

exercises, whose clothing was all of lovely silks and satins,

shining with jewels; at his hip a little jewelled sword and

dagger; dainty buskins on his feet, with red heels; and on his

head a jaunty crimson cap, with drooping plumes fastened with a

great sparkling gem. Several gorgeous gentlemen stood near--his

servants, without a doubt. Oh! he was a prince--a prince, a

living prince, a real prince--without the shadow of a question;

and the prayer of the pauper-boy's heart was answered at last.

Tom's breath came quick and short with excitement, and his eyes

grew big with wonder and delight. Everything gave way in his mind

instantly to one desire: that was to get close to the prince, and

have a good, devouring look at him. Before he knew what he was

about, he had his face against the gate-bars. The next instant

one of the soldiers snatched him rudely away, and sent him

spinning among the gaping crowd of country gawks and London

idlers. The soldier said,--

"Mind thy manners, thou young beggar!"

The crowd jeered and laughed; but the young prince sprang to the

gate with his face flushed, and his eyes flashing with

indignation, and cried out,--

"How dar'st thou use a poor lad like that? How dar'st thou use

the King my father's meanest subject so? Open the gates, and let him in!"

You should have seen that fickle crowd snatch off their hats then.

You should have heard them cheer, and shout, "Long live the Prince

of Wales!"

The soldiers presented arms with their halberds, opened the gates,

and presented again as the little Prince of Poverty passed in, in

his fluttering rags, to join hands with the Prince of Limitless Plenty.

Edward Tudor said--

"Thou lookest tired and hungry: thou'st been treated ill. Come with me."

Half a dozen attendants sprang forward to--I don't know what;

interfere, no doubt. But they were waved aside with a right royal

gesture, and they stopped stock still where they were, like so

many statues. Edward took Tom to a rich apartment in the palace,

which he called his cabinet. By his command a repast was brought

such as Tom had never encountered before except in books. The

prince, with princely delicacy and breeding, sent away the

servants, so that his humble guest might not be embarrassed by

their critical presence; then he sat near by, and asked questions

while Tom ate.

"What is thy name, lad?"

"Tom Canty, an' it please thee, sir."

"'Tis an odd one. Where dost live?"

"In the city, please thee, sir. Offal Court, out of Pudding Lane."

"Offal Court! Truly 'tis another odd one. Hast parents?"

"Parents have I, sir, and a grand-dam likewise that is but

indifferently precious to me, God forgive me if it be offence to

say it--also twin sisters, Nan and Bet."

"Then is thy grand-dam not over kind to thee, I take it?"

"Neither to any other is she, so please your worship. She hath a

wicked heart, and worketh evil all her days."

"Doth she mistreat thee?"

"There be times that she stayeth her hand, being asleep or

overcome with drink; but when she hath her judgment clear again,

she maketh it up to me with goodly beatings."

A fierce look came into the little prince's eyes, and he cried out--

"What! Beatings?"

"Oh, indeed, yes, please you, sir."

"BEATINGS!--and thou so frail and little. Hark ye: before the

night come, she shall hie her to the Tower. The King my father"--

"In sooth, you forget, sir, her low degree. The Tower is for the

great alone."

"True, indeed. I had not thought of that. I will consider of her

punishment. Is thy father kind to thee?"

"Not more than Gammer Canty, sir."

"Fathers be alike, mayhap. Mine hath not a doll's temper. He

smiteth with a heavy hand, yet spareth me: he spareth me not

always with his tongue, though, sooth to say. How doth thy mother

use thee?"

"She is good, sir, and giveth me neither sorrow nor pain of any

sort. And Nan and Bet are like to her in this."

"How old be these?"

"Fifteen, an' it please you, sir."

"The Lady Elizabeth, my sister, is fourteen, and the Lady Jane

Grey, my cousin, is of mine own age, and comely and gracious

withal; but my sister the Lady Mary, with her gloomy mien and--

Look you: do thy sisters forbid their servants to smile, lest the

sin destroy their souls?"

"They? Oh, dost think, sir, that THEY have servants?"

The little prince contemplated the little pauper gravely a moment,

then said--

"And prithee, why not? Who helpeth them undress at night? Who

attireth them when they rise?"

"None, sir. Would'st have them take off their garment, and sleep

without--like the beasts?"

"Their garment! Have they but one?"

"Ah, good your worship, what would they do with more? Truly they

have not two bodies each."

"It is a quaint and marvellous thought! Thy pardon, I had not

meant to laugh. But thy good Nan and thy Bet shall have raiment

and lackeys enow, and that soon, too: my cofferer shall look to

it. No, thank me not; 'tis nothing. Thou speakest well; thou

hast an easy grace in it. Art learned?"

"I know not if I am or not, sir. The good priest that is called

Father Andrew taught me, of his kindness, from his books."

"Know'st thou the Latin?"

"But scantly, sir, I doubt."

"Learn it, lad: 'tis hard only at first. The Greek is harder;

but neither these nor any tongues else, I think, are hard to the

Lady Elizabeth and my cousin. Thou should'st hear those damsels

at it! But tell me of thy Offal Court. Hast thou a pleasant life there?"

"In truth, yes, so please you, sir, save when one is hungry.

There be Punch-and-Judy shows, and monkeys--oh such antic

creatures! and so bravely dressed!--and there be plays wherein

they that play do shout and fight till all are slain, and 'tis so

fine to see, and costeth but a farthing--albeit 'tis main hard to

get the farthing, please your worship."

"Tell me more."

"We lads of Offal Court do strive against each other with the

cudgel, like to the fashion of the 'prentices, sometimes."

The prince's eyes flashed. Said he--

"Marry, that would not I mislike. Tell me more."

"We strive in races, sir, to see who of us shall be fleetest."

"That would I like also. Speak on."

"In summer, sir, we wade and swim in the canals and in the river,

and each doth duck his neighbour, and splatter him with water, and

dive and shout and tumble and--"

"'Twould be worth my father's kingdom but to enjoy it once!

Prithee go on."

"We dance and sing about the Maypole in Cheapside; we play in the

sand, each covering his neighbour up; and times we make mud

pastry--oh the lovely mud, it hath not its like for delightfulness

in all the world!--we do fairly wallow in the mud, sir, saving

your worship's presence."

"Oh, prithee, say no more, 'tis glorious! If that I could but

clothe me in raiment like to thine, and strip my feet, and revel

in the mud once, just once, with none to rebuke me or forbid,

meseemeth I could forego the crown!"

"And if that I could clothe me once, sweet sir, as thou art clad--

just once--"

"Oho, would'st like it? Then so shall it be. Doff thy rags, and

don these splendours, lad! It is a brief happiness, but will be

not less keen for that. We will have it while we may, and change

again before any come to molest."

A few minutes later the little Prince of Wales was garlanded with

Tom's fluttering odds and ends, and the little Prince of Pauperdom

was tricked out in the gaudy plumage of royalty. The two went and

stood side by side before a great mirror, and lo, a miracle:

there did not seem to have been any change made! They stared at

each other, then at the glass, then at each other again. At last

the puzzled princeling said--

"What dost thou make of this?"

"Ah, good your worship, require me not to answer. It is not meet

that one of my degree should utter the thing."

"Then will _I_ utter it. Thou hast the same hair, the same eyes,

the same voice and manner, the same form and stature, the same

face and countenance that I bear. Fared we forth naked, there is

none could say which was you, and which the Prince of Wales. And,

now that I am clothed as thou wert clothed, it seemeth I should be

able the more nearly to feel as thou didst when the brute soldier-

-Hark ye, is not this a bruise upon your hand?"

"Yes; but it is a slight thing, and your worship knoweth that the

poor man-at-arms--"

"Peace! It was a shameful thing and a cruel!" cried the little

prince, stamping his bare foot. "If the King--Stir not a step

till I come again! It is a command!"

In a moment he had snatched up and put away an article of national

importance that lay upon a table, and was out at the door and

flying through the palace grounds in his bannered rags, with a hot

face and glowing eyes. As soon as he reached the great gate, he

seized the bars, and tried to shake them, shouting--

"Open! Unbar the gates!"

The soldier that had maltreated Tom obeyed promptly; and as the

prince burst through the portal, half-smothered with royal wrath,

the soldier fetched him a sounding box on the ear that sent him

whirling to the roadway, and said--

"Take that, thou beggar's spawn, for what thou got'st me from his


The crowd roared with laughter. The prince picked himself out of

the mud, and made fiercely at the sentry, shouting--

"I am the Prince of Wales, my person is sacred; and thou shalt

hang for laying thy hand upon me!"

The soldier brought his halberd to a present-arms and said


"I salute your gracious Highness." Then angrily-- "Be off, thou

crazy rubbish!"

Here the jeering crowd closed round the poor little prince, and

hustled him far down the road, hooting him, and shouting--

"Way for his Royal Highness! Way for the Prince of Wales!"



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