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The Prince and the Pauper
by Mark Twain

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Chapter IV

The Prince's troubles begin.

After hours of persistent pursuit and persecution, the little

prince was at last deserted by the rabble and left to himself. As

long as he had been able to rage against the mob, and threaten it

royally, and royally utter commands that were good stuff to laugh

at, he was very entertaining; but when weariness finally forced

him to be silent, he was no longer of use to his tormentors, and

they sought amusement elsewhere. He looked about him, now, but

could not recognise the locality. He was within the city of

London--that was all he knew. He moved on, aimlessly, and in a

little while the houses thinned, and the passers-by were

infrequent. He bathed his bleeding feet in the brook which flowed

then where Farringdon Street now is; rested a few moments, then

passed on, and presently came upon a great space with only a few

scattered houses in it, and a prodigious church. He recognised

this church. Scaffoldings were about, everywhere, and swarms of

workmen; for it was undergoing elaborate repairs. The prince took

heart at once--he felt that his troubles were at an end, now. He

said to himself, "It is the ancient Grey Friars' Church, which the

king my father hath taken from the monks and given for a home for

ever for poor and forsaken children, and new-named it Christ's

Church. Right gladly will they serve the son of him who hath done

so generously by them--and the more that that son is himself as

poor and as forlorn as any that be sheltered here this day, or

ever shall be."

He was soon in the midst of a crowd of boys who were running,

jumping, playing at ball and leap-frog, and otherwise disporting

themselves, and right noisily, too. They were all dressed alike,

and in the fashion which in that day prevailed among serving-men

and 'prentices{1}--that is to say, each had on the crown of his

head a flat black cap about the size of a saucer, which was not

useful as a covering, it being of such scanty dimensions, neither

was it ornamental; from beneath it the hair fell, unparted, to the

middle of the forehead, and was cropped straight around; a

clerical band at the neck; a blue gown that fitted closely and

hung as low as the knees or lower; full sleeves; a broad red belt;

bright yellow stockings, gartered above the knees; low shoes with

large metal buckles. It was a sufficiently ugly costume.

The boys stopped their play and flocked about the prince, who said

with native dignity--

"Good lads, say to your master that Edward Prince of Wales

desireth speech with him."

A great shout went up at this, and one rude fellow said--

"Marry, art thou his grace's messenger, beggar?"

The prince's face flushed with anger, and his ready hand flew to

his hip, but there was nothing there. There was a storm of

laughter, and one boy said--

"Didst mark that? He fancied he had a sword--belike he is the

prince himself."

This sally brought more laughter. Poor Edward drew himself up

proudly and said--

"I am the prince; and it ill beseemeth you that feed upon the king

my father's bounty to use me so."

This was vastly enjoyed, as the laughter testified. The youth who

had first spoken, shouted to his comrades--

"Ho, swine, slaves, pensioners of his grace's princely father,

where be your manners? Down on your marrow bones, all of ye, and

do reverence to his kingly port and royal rags!"

With boisterous mirth they dropped upon their knees in a body and

did mock homage to their prey. The prince spurned the nearest boy

with his foot, and said fiercely--

"Take thou that, till the morrow come and I build thee a gibbet!"

Ah, but this was not a joke--this was going beyond fun. The

laughter ceased on the instant, and fury took its place. A dozen


"Hale him forth! To the horse-pond, to the horse-pond! Where be

the dogs? Ho, there, Lion! ho, Fangs!"

Then followed such a thing as England had never seen before--the

sacred person of the heir to the throne rudely buffeted by

plebeian hands, and set upon and torn by dogs.

As night drew to a close that day, the prince found himself far

down in the close-built portion of the city. His body was

bruised, his hands were bleeding, and his rags were all besmirched

with mud. He wandered on and on, and grew more and more

bewildered, and so tired and faint he could hardly drag one foot

after the other. He had ceased to ask questions of anyone, since

they brought him only insult instead of information. He kept

muttering to himself, "Offal Court--that is the name; if I can but

find it before my strength is wholly spent and I drop, then am I

saved--for his people will take me to the palace and prove that I

am none of theirs, but the true prince, and I shall have mine own

again." And now and then his mind reverted to his treatment by

those rude Christ's Hospital boys, and he said, "When I am king,

they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out

of books; for a full belly is little worth where the mind is

starved, and the heart. I will keep this diligently in my

remembrance, that this day's lesson be not lost upon me, and my

people suffer thereby; for learning softeneth the heart and

breedeth gentleness and charity. {1}

The lights began to twinkle, it came on to rain, the wind rose,

and a raw and gusty night set in. The houseless prince, the

homeless heir to the throne of England, still moved on, drifting

deeper into the maze of squalid alleys where the swarming hives of

poverty and misery were massed together.

Suddenly a great drunken ruffian collared him and said--

"Out to this time of night again, and hast not brought a farthing

home, I warrant me! If it be so, an' I do not break all the bones

in thy lean body, then am I not John Canty, but some other."

The prince twisted himself loose, unconsciously brushed his

profaned shoulder, and eagerly said--

"Oh, art HIS father, truly? Sweet heaven grant it be so--then

wilt thou fetch him away and restore me!"

"HIS father? I know not what thou mean'st; I but know I am THY

father, as thou shalt soon have cause to--"

"Oh, jest not, palter not, delay not!--I am worn, I am wounded, I

can bear no more. Take me to the king my father, and he will make

thee rich beyond thy wildest dreams. Believe me, man, believe

me!--I speak no lie, but only the truth!--put forth thy hand and

save me! I am indeed the Prince of Wales!"

The man stared down, stupefied, upon the lad, then shook his head

and muttered--

"Gone stark mad as any Tom o' Bedlam!"--then collared him once

more, and said with a coarse laugh and an oath, "But mad or no

mad, I and thy Gammer Canty will soon find where the soft places

in thy bones lie, or I'm no true man!"

With this he dragged the frantic and struggling prince away, and

disappeared up a front court followed by a delighted and noisy

swarm of human vermin.



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