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The Prince and the Pauper
by Mark Twain

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Chapter IX

The river pageant.

At nine in the evening the whole vast river-front of the palace

was blazing with light. The river itself, as far as the eye could

reach citywards, was so thickly covered with watermen's boats and

with pleasure-barges, all fringed with coloured lanterns, and

gently agitated by the waves, that it resembled a glowing and

limitless garden of flowers stirred to soft motion by summer

winds. The grand terrace of stone steps leading down to the

water, spacious enough to mass the army of a German principality

upon, was a picture to see, with its ranks of royal halberdiers in

polished armour, and its troops of brilliantly costumed servitors

flitting up and down, and to and fro, in the hurry of preparation.

Presently a command was given, and immediately all living

creatures vanished from the steps. Now the air was heavy with the

hush of suspense and expectancy. As far as one's vision could

carry, he might see the myriads of people in the boats rise up,

and shade their eyes from the glare of lanterns and torches, and

gaze toward the palace.

A file of forty or fifty state barges drew up to the steps. They

were richly gilt, and their lofty prows and sterns were

elaborately carved. Some of them were decorated with banners and

streamers; some with cloth-of-gold and arras embroidered with

coats-of-arms; others with silken flags that had numberless little

silver bells fastened to them, which shook out tiny showers of

joyous music whenever the breezes fluttered them; others of yet

higher pretensions, since they belonged to nobles in the prince's

immediate service, had their sides picturesquely fenced with

shields gorgeously emblazoned with armorial bearings. Each state

barge was towed by a tender. Besides the rowers, these tenders

carried each a number of men-at-arms in glossy helmet and

breastplate, and a company of musicians.

The advance-guard of the expected procession now appeared in the

great gateway, a troop of halberdiers. 'They were dressed in

striped hose of black and tawny, velvet caps graced at the sides

with silver roses, and doublets of murrey and blue cloth,

embroidered on the front and back with the three feathers, the

prince's blazon, woven in gold. Their halberd staves were covered

with crimson velvet, fastened with gilt nails, and ornamented with

gold tassels. Filing off on the right and left, they formed two

long lines, extending from the gateway of the palace to the

water's edge. A thick rayed cloth or carpet was then unfolded,

and laid down between them by attendants in the gold-and-crimson

liveries of the prince. This done, a flourish of trumpets

resounded from within. A lively prelude arose from the musicians

on the water; and two ushers with white wands marched with a slow

and stately pace from the portal. They were followed by an

officer bearing the civic mace, after whom came another carrying

the city's sword; then several sergeants of the city guard, in

their full accoutrements, and with badges on their sleeves; then

the Garter King-at-arms, in his tabard; then several Knights of

the Bath, each with a white lace on his sleeve; then their

esquires; then the judges, in their robes of scarlet and coifs;

then the Lord High Chancellor of England, in a robe of scarlet,

open before, and purfled with minever; then a deputation of

aldermen, in their scarlet cloaks; and then the heads of the

different civic companies, in their robes of state. Now came

twelve French gentlemen, in splendid habiliments, consisting of

pourpoints of white damask barred with gold, short mantles of

crimson velvet lined with violet taffeta, and carnation coloured

hauts-de-chausses, and took their way down the steps. They were

of the suite of the French ambassador, and were followed by twelve

cavaliers of the suite of the Spanish ambassador, clothed in black

velvet, unrelieved by any ornament. Following these came several

great English nobles with their attendants.'

There was a flourish of trumpets within; and the Prince's uncle,

the future great Duke of Somerset, emerged from the gateway,

arrayed in a 'doublet of black cloth-of-gold, and a cloak of

crimson satin flowered with gold, and ribanded with nets of

silver.' He turned, doffed his plumed cap, bent his body in a low

reverence, and began to step backward, bowing at each step. A

prolonged trumpet-blast followed, and a proclamation, "Way for the

high and mighty the Lord Edward, Prince of Wales!" High aloft on

the palace walls a long line of red tongues of flame leapt forth

with a thunder-crash; the massed world on the river burst into a

mighty roar of welcome; and Tom Canty, the cause and hero of it

all, stepped into view and slightly bowed his princely head.

He was 'magnificently habited in a doublet of white satin, with a

front-piece of purple cloth-of-tissue, powdered with diamonds, and

edged with ermine. Over this he wore a mantle of white cloth-of-

gold, pounced with the triple-feathered crest, lined with blue

satin, set with pearls and precious stones, and fastened with a

clasp of brilliants. About his neck hung the order of the Garter,

and several princely foreign orders;' and wherever light fell upon

him jewels responded with a blinding flash. O Tom Canty, born in

a hovel, bred in the gutters of London, familiar with rags and

dirt and misery, what a spectacle is this!



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