TWT logo

Together We Teach
Reading Room

Take time to read.
Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.

| Home | Reading Room The Prince and the Pauper

The Prince and the Pauper
by Mark Twain

< BACK    NEXT >



Chapter VI

Tom receives instructions.

Tom was conducted to the principal apartment of a noble suite, and

made to sit down--a thing which he was loth to do, since there

were elderly men and men of high degree about him. He begged them

to be seated also, but they only bowed their thanks or murmured

them, and remained standing. He would have insisted, but his

'uncle' the Earl of Hertford whispered in his ear--

"Prithee, insist not, my lord; it is not meet that they sit in thy presence."

The Lord St. John was announced, and after making obeisance to

Tom, he said--

"I come upon the King's errand, concerning a matter which

requireth privacy. Will it please your royal highness to dismiss

all that attend you here, save my lord the Earl of Hertford?"

Observing that Tom did not seem to know how to proceed, Hertford

whispered him to make a sign with his hand, and not trouble

himself to speak unless he chose. When the waiting gentlemen had

retired, Lord St. John said--

"His majesty commandeth, that for due and weighty reasons of

state, the prince's grace shall hide his infirmity in all ways

that be within his power, till it be passed and he be as he was

before. To wit, that he shall deny to none that he is the true

prince, and heir to England's greatness; that he shall uphold his

princely dignity, and shall receive, without word or sign of

protest, that reverence and observance which unto it do appertain

of right and ancient usage; that he shall cease to speak to any of

that lowly birth and life his malady hath conjured out of the

unwholesome imaginings of o'er-wrought fancy; that he shall strive

with diligence to bring unto his memory again those faces which he

was wont to know--and where he faileth he shall hold his peace,

neither betraying by semblance of surprise or other sign that he

hath forgot; that upon occasions of state, whensoever any matter

shall perplex him as to the thing he should do or the utterance he

should make, he shall show nought of unrest to the curious that

look on, but take advice in that matter of the Lord Hertford, or

my humble self, which are commanded of the King to be upon this

service and close at call, till this commandment be dissolved.

Thus saith the King's majesty, who sendeth greeting to your royal

highness, and prayeth that God will of His mercy quickly heal you

and have you now and ever in His holy keeping."

The Lord St. John made reverence and stood aside. Tom replied


"The King hath said it. None may palter with the King's command,

or fit it to his ease, where it doth chafe, with deft evasions.

The King shall be obeyed."

Lord Hertford said--

"Touching the King's majesty's ordainment concerning books and

such like serious matters, it may peradventure please your

highness to ease your time with lightsome entertainment, lest you

go wearied to the banquet and suffer harm thereby."

Tom's face showed inquiring surprise; and a blush followed when he

saw Lord St. John's eyes bent sorrowfully upon him. His lordship said--

"Thy memory still wrongeth thee, and thou hast shown surprise--but

suffer it not to trouble thee, for 'tis a matter that will not

bide, but depart with thy mending malady. My Lord of Hertford

speaketh of the city's banquet which the King's majesty did

promise, some two months flown, your highness should attend. Thou

recallest it now?"

"It grieves me to confess it had indeed escaped me," said Tom, in

a hesitating voice; and blushed again.

At this moment the Lady Elizabeth and the Lady Jane Grey were

announced. The two lords exchanged significant glances, and

Hertford stepped quickly toward the door. As the young girls

passed him, he said in a low voice--

"I pray ye, ladies, seem not to observe his humours, nor show

surprise when his memory doth lapse--it will grieve you to note

how it doth stick at every trifle."

Meantime Lord St. John was saying in Tom's ear--

"Please you, sir, keep diligently in mind his majesty's desire.

Remember all thou canst--SEEM to remember all else. Let them not

perceive that thou art much changed from thy wont, for thou

knowest how tenderly thy old play-fellows bear thee in their

hearts and how 'twould grieve them. Art willing, sir, that I

remain?--and thine uncle?"

Tom signified assent with a gesture and a murmured word, for he

was already learning, and in his simple heart was resolved to

acquit himself as best he might, according to the King's command.

In spite of every precaution, the conversation among the young

people became a little embarrassing at times. More than once, in

truth, Tom was near to breaking down and confessing himself

unequal to his tremendous part; but the tact of the Princess

Elizabeth saved him, or a word from one or the other of the

vigilant lords, thrown in apparently by chance, had the same happy

effect. Once the little Lady Jane turned to Tom and dismayed him

with this question,--

"Hast paid thy duty to the Queen's majesty to-day, my lord?"

Tom hesitated, looked distressed, and was about to stammer out

something at hazard, when Lord St. John took the word and answered

for him with the easy grace of a courtier accustomed to encounter

delicate difficulties and to be ready for them--

"He hath indeed, madam, and she did greatly hearten him, as

touching his majesty's condition; is it not so, your highness?"

Tom mumbled something that stood for assent, but felt that he was

getting upon dangerous ground. Somewhat later it was mentioned

that Tom was to study no more at present, whereupon her little

ladyship exclaimed--

"'Tis a pity, 'tis a pity! Thou wert proceeding bravely. But

bide thy time in patience: it will not be for long. Thou'lt yet

be graced with learning like thy father, and make thy tongue

master of as many languages as his, good my prince."

"My father!" cried Tom, off his guard for the moment. "I trow he

cannot speak his own so that any but the swine that kennel in the

styes may tell his meaning; and as for learning of any sort soever--"

He looked up and encountered a solemn warning in my Lord St. John's eyes.

He stopped, blushed, then continued low and sadly: "Ah, my malady

persecuteth me again, and my mind wandereth. I meant the King's

grace no irreverence."

"We know it, sir," said the Princess Elizabeth, taking her

'brother's' hand between her two palms, respectfully but

caressingly; "trouble not thyself as to that. The fault is none

of thine, but thy distemper's."

"Thou'rt a gentle comforter, sweet lady," said Tom, gratefully,

"and my heart moveth me to thank thee for't, an' I may be so bold."

Once the giddy little Lady Jane fired a simple Greek phrase at

Tom. The Princess Elizabeth's quick eye saw by the serene

blankness of the target's front that the shaft was overshot; so

she tranquilly delivered a return volley of sounding Greek on

Tom's behalf, and then straightway changed the talk to other matters.

Time wore on pleasantly, and likewise smoothly, on the whole.

Snags and sandbars grew less and less frequent, and Tom grew more

and more at his ease, seeing that all were so lovingly bent upon

helping him and overlooking his mistakes. When it came out that

the little ladies were to accompany him to the Lord Mayor's

banquet in the evening, his heart gave a bound of relief and

delight, for he felt that he should not be friendless, now, among

that multitude of strangers; whereas, an hour earlier, the idea of

their going with him would have been an insupportable terror to him.

Tom's guardian angels, the two lords, had had less comfort in the

interview than the other parties to it. They felt much as if they

were piloting a great ship through a dangerous channel; they were

on the alert constantly, and found their office no child's play.

Wherefore, at last, when the ladies' visit was drawing to a close

and the Lord Guilford Dudley was announced, they not only felt

that their charge had been sufficiently taxed for the present, but

also that they themselves were not in the best condition to take

their ship back and make their anxious voyage all over again. So

they respectfully advised Tom to excuse himself, which he was very

glad to do, although a slight shade of disappointment might have

been observed upon my Lady Jane's face when she heard the splendid

stripling denied admittance.

There was a pause now, a sort of waiting silence which Tom could

not understand. He glanced at Lord Hertford, who gave him a sign-

-but he failed to understand that also. The ready Elizabeth came

to the rescue with her usual easy grace. She made reverence and said--

"Have we leave of the prince's grace my brother to go?"

Tom said--

"Indeed your ladyships can have whatsoever of me they will, for

the asking; yet would I rather give them any other thing that in

my poor power lieth, than leave to take the light and blessing of

their presence hence. Give ye good den, and God be with ye!"

Then he smiled inwardly at the thought, "'Tis not for nought I

have dwelt but among princes in my reading, and taught my tongue

some slight trick of their broidered and gracious speech withal!"

When the illustrious maidens were gone, Tom turned wearily to his

keepers and said--

"May it please your lordships to grant me leave to go into some

corner and rest me?"

Lord Hertford said--

"So please your highness, it is for you to command, it is for us

to obey. That thou should'st rest is indeed a needful thing,

since thou must journey to the city presently."

He touched a bell, and a page appeared, who was ordered to desire

the presence of Sir William Herbert. This gentleman came

straightway, and conducted Tom to an inner apartment. Tom's first

movement there was to reach for a cup of water; but a silk-and-

velvet servitor seized it, dropped upon one knee, and offered it

to him on a golden salver.

Next the tired captive sat down and was going to take off his

buskins, timidly asking leave with his eye, but another silk-and-

velvet discomforter went down upon his knees and took the office

from him. He made two or three further efforts to help himself,

but being promptly forestalled each time, he finally gave up, with

a sigh of resignation and a murmured "Beshrew me, but I marvel

they do not require to breathe for me also!" Slippered, and

wrapped in a sumptuous robe, he laid himself down at last to rest,

but not to sleep, for his head was too full of thoughts and the

room too full of people. He could not dismiss the former, so they

stayed; he did not know enough to dismiss the latter, so they

stayed also, to his vast regret--and theirs.

Tom's departure had left his two noble guardians alone. They

mused a while, with much head-shaking and walking the floor, then

Lord St. John said--

"Plainly, what dost thou think?"

"Plainly, then, this. The King is near his end; my nephew is mad-

-mad will mount the throne, and mad remain. God protect England,

since she will need it!"

"Verily it promiseth so, indeed. But . . . have you no misgivings

as to . . . as to . . ."

The speaker hesitated, and finally stopped. He evidently felt

that he was upon delicate ground. Lord Hertford stopped before

him, looked into his face with a clear, frank eye, and said--

"Speak on--there is none to hear but me. Misgivings as to what?"

"I am full loth to word the thing that is in my mind, and thou so

near to him in blood, my lord. But craving pardon if I do offend,

seemeth it not strange that madness could so change his port and

manner?--not but that his port and speech are princely still, but

that they DIFFER, in one unweighty trifle or another, from what

his custom was aforetime. Seemeth it not strange that madness

should filch from his memory his father's very lineaments; the

customs and observances that are his due from such as be about

him; and, leaving him his Latin, strip him of his Greek and

French? My lord, be not offended, but ease my mind of its

disquiet and receive my grateful thanks. It haunteth me, his

saying he was not the prince, and so--"

"Peace, my lord, thou utterest treason! Hast forgot the King's

command? Remember I am party to thy crime if I but listen."

St. John paled, and hastened to say--

"I was in fault, I do confess it. Betray me not, grant me this

grace out of thy courtesy, and I will neither think nor speak of

this thing more. Deal not hardly with me, sir, else am I ruined."

"I am content, my lord. So thou offend not again, here or in the

ears of others, it shall be as though thou hadst not spoken. But

thou need'st not have misgivings. He is my sister's son; are not

his voice, his face, his form, familiar to me from his cradle?

Madness can do all the odd conflicting things thou seest in him,

and more. Dost not recall how that the old Baron Marley, being

mad, forgot the favour of his own countenance that he had known

for sixty years, and held it was another's; nay, even claimed he

was the son of Mary Magdalene, and that his head was made of

Spanish glass; and, sooth to say, he suffered none to touch it,

lest by mischance some heedless hand might shiver it? Give thy

misgivings easement, good my lord. This is the very prince--I

know him well--and soon will be thy king; it may advantage thee to

bear this in mind, and more dwell upon it than the other."

After some further talk, in which the Lord St. John covered up his

mistake as well as he could by repeated protests that his faith

was thoroughly grounded now, and could not be assailed by doubts

again, the Lord Hertford relieved his fellow-keeper, and sat down

to keep watch and ward alone. He was soon deep in meditation, and

evidently the longer he thought, the more he was bothered. By-

and-by he began to pace the floor and mutter.

"Tush, he MUST be the prince! Will any he in all the land

maintain there can be two, not of one blood and birth, so

marvellously twinned? And even were it so, 'twere yet a stranger

miracle that chance should cast the one into the other's place.

Nay, 'tis folly, folly, folly!"

Presently he said--

"Now were he impostor and called himself prince, look you THAT

would be natural; that would be reasonable. But lived ever an

impostor yet, who, being called prince by the king, prince by the

court, prince by all, DENIED his dignity and pleaded against his

exaltation? NO! By the soul of St. Swithin, no! This is the

true prince, gone mad!"



Top of Page

< BACK    NEXT >

| Home | Reading Room The Prince and the Pauper





Why not spread the word about Together We Teach?
Simply copy & paste our home page link below into your emails... 

Want the Together We Teach link to place on your website?
Copy & paste either home page link on your webpage...
Together We Teach 






Use these free website tools below for a more powerful experience at Together We Teach!

****Google™ search****

For a more specific search, try using quotation marks around phrases (ex. "You are what you read")


*** Google Translate™ translation service ***

 Translate text:


  Translate a web page:

****What's the Definition?****
(Simply insert the word you want to lookup)

 Search:   for   

S D Glass Enterprises

Privacy Policy

Warner Robins, GA, USA