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 XXXI

The Recognition procession.

When Tom Canty awoke the next morning, the air was heavy with a

thunderous murmur: all the distances were charged with it. It

was music to him; for it meant that the English world was out in

its strength to give loyal welcome to the great day.

Presently Tom found himself once more the chief figure in a

wonderful floating pageant on the Thames; for by ancient custom

the 'recognition procession' through London must start from the

Tower, and he was bound thither.

When he arrived there, the sides of the venerable fortress seemed

suddenly rent in a thousand places, and from every rent leaped a

red tongue of flame and a white gush of smoke; a deafening

explosion followed, which drowned the shoutings of the multitude,

and made the ground tremble; the flame-jets, the smoke, and the

explosions, were repeated over and over again with marvellous

celerity, so that in a few moments the old Tower disappeared in

the vast fog of its own smoke, all but the very top of the tall

pile called the White Tower; this, with its banners, stood out

above the dense bank of vapour as a mountain-peak projects above a


Tom Canty, splendidly arrayed, mounted a prancing war-steed, whose

rich trappings almost reached to the ground; his 'uncle,' the Lord

Protector Somerset, similarly mounted, took place in his rear; the

King's Guard formed in single ranks on either side, clad in

burnished armour; after the Protector followed a seemingly

interminable procession of resplendent nobles attended by their

vassals; after these came the lord mayor and the aldermanic body,

in crimson velvet robes, and with their gold chains across their

breasts; and after these the officers and members of all the

guilds of London, in rich raiment, and bearing the showy banners

of the several corporations. Also in the procession, as a special

guard of honour through the city, was the Ancient and Honourable

Artillery Company--an organisation already three hundred years old

at that time, and the only military body in England possessing the

privilege (which it still possesses in our day) of holding itself

independent of the commands of Parliament. It was a brilliant

spectacle, and was hailed with acclamations all along the line, as

it took its stately way through the packed multitudes of citizens.

The chronicler says, 'The King, as he entered the city, was

received by the people with prayers, welcomings, cries, and tender

words, and all signs which argue an earnest love of subjects

toward their sovereign; and the King, by holding up his glad

countenance to such as stood afar off, and most tender language to

those that stood nigh his Grace, showed himself no less thankful

to receive the people's goodwill than they to offer it. To all

that wished him well, he gave thanks. To such as bade "God save

his Grace," he said in return, "God save you all!" and added that

"he thanked them with all his heart." Wonderfully transported

were the people with the loving answers and gestures of their King.'

In Fenchurch Street a 'fair child, in costly apparel,' stood on a

stage to welcome his Majesty to the city. The last verse of his

greeting was in these words--

'Welcome, O King! as much as hearts can think;

Welcome, again, as much as tongue can tell,--

Welcome to joyous tongues, and hearts that will not shrink:

God thee preserve, we pray, and wish thee ever well.'

The people burst forth in a glad shout, repeating with one voice

what the child had said. Tom Canty gazed abroad over the surging

sea of eager faces, and his heart swelled with exultation; and he

felt that the one thing worth living for in this world was to be a

king, and a nation's idol. Presently he caught sight, at a

distance, of a couple of his ragged Offal Court comrades--one of

them the lord high admiral in his late mimic court, the other the

first lord of the bedchamber in the same pretentious fiction; and

his pride swelled higher than ever. Oh, if they could only

recognise him now! What unspeakable glory it would be, if they

could recognise him, and realise that the derided mock king of the

slums and back alleys was become a real King, with illustrious

dukes and princes for his humble menials, and the English world at

his feet! But he had to deny himself, and choke down his desire,

for such a recognition might cost more than it would come to: so

he turned away his head, and left the two soiled lads to go on

with their shoutings and glad adulations, unsuspicious of whom it

was they were lavishing them upon.

Every now and then rose the cry, "A largess! a largess!" and Tom

responded by scattering a handful of bright new coins abroad for

the multitude to scramble for.

The chronicler says, 'At the upper end of Gracechurch Street,

before the sign of the Eagle, the city had erected a gorgeous

arch, beneath which was a stage, which stretched from one side of

the street to the other. This was an historical pageant,

representing the King's immediate progenitors. There sat

Elizabeth of York in the midst of an immense white rose, whose

petals formed elaborate furbelows around her; by her side was

Henry VII., issuing out of a vast red rose, disposed in the same

manner: the hands of the royal pair were locked together, and the

wedding-ring ostentatiously displayed. From the red and white

roses proceeded a stem, which reached up to a second stage,

occupied by Henry VIII., issuing from a red and white rose, with

the effigy of the new King's mother, Jane Seymour, represented by

his side. One branch sprang from this pair, which mounted to a

third stage, where sat the effigy of Edward VI. himself, enthroned

in royal majesty; and the whole pageant was framed with wreaths of

roses, red and white.'

This quaint and gaudy spectacle so wrought upon the rejoicing

people, that their acclamations utterly smothered the small voice

of the child whose business it was to explain the thing in

eulogistic rhymes. But Tom Canty was not sorry; for this loyal

uproar was sweeter music to him than any poetry, no matter what

its quality might be. Whithersoever Tom turned his happy young

face, the people recognised the exactness of his effigy's likeness

to himself, the flesh and blood counterpart; and new whirlwinds of

applause burst forth.

The great pageant moved on, and still on, under one triumphal arch

after another, and past a bewildering succession of spectacular

and symbolical tableaux, each of which typified and exalted some

virtue, or talent, or merit, of the little King's. 'Throughout

the whole of Cheapside, from every penthouse and window, hung

banners and streamers; and the richest carpets, stuffs, and cloth-

of-gold tapestried the streets--specimens of the great wealth of

the stores within; and the splendour of this thoroughfare was

equalled in the other streets, and in some even surpassed.'

"And all these wonders and these marvels are to welcome me--me!"

murmured Tom Canty.

The mock King's cheeks were flushed with excitement, his eyes were

flashing, his senses swam in a delirium of pleasure. At this

point, just as he was raising his hand to fling another rich

largess, he caught sight of a pale, astounded face, which was

strained forward out of the second rank of the crowd, its intense

eyes riveted upon him. A sickening consternation struck through

him; he recognised his mother! and up flew his hand, palm outward,

before his eyes--that old involuntary gesture, born of a forgotten

episode, and perpetuated by habit. In an instant more she had

torn her way out of the press, and past the guards, and was at his

side. She embraced his leg, she covered it with kisses, she

cried, "O my child, my darling!" lifting toward him a face that

was transfigured with joy and love. The same instant an officer

of the King's Guard snatched her away with a curse, and sent her

reeling back whence she came with a vigorous impulse from his

strong arm. The words "I do not know you, woman!" were falling

from Tom Canty's lips when this piteous thing occurred; but it

smote him to the heart to see her treated so; and as she turned

for a last glimpse of him, whilst the crowd was swallowing her

from his sight, she seemed so wounded, so broken-hearted, that a

shame fell upon him which consumed his pride to ashes, and

withered his stolen royalty. His grandeurs were stricken

valueless: they seemed to fall away from him like rotten rags.

The procession moved on, and still on, through ever augmenting

splendours and ever augmenting tempests of welcome; but to Tom

Canty they were as if they had not been. He neither saw nor

heard. Royalty had lost its grace and sweetness; its pomps were

become a reproach. Remorse was eating his heart out. He said,

"Would God I were free of my captivity!"

He had unconsciously dropped back into the phraseology of the

first days of his compulsory greatness.

The shining pageant still went winding like a radiant and

interminable serpent down the crooked lanes of the quaint old

city, and through the huzzaing hosts; but still the King rode with

bowed head and vacant eyes, seeing only his mother's face and that

wounded look in it.

"Largess, largess!" The cry fell upon an unheeding ear.

"Long live Edward of England!" It seemed as if the earth shook

with the explosion; but there was no response from the King. He

heard it only as one hears the thunder of the surf when it is

blown to the ear out of a great distance, for it was smothered

under another sound which was still nearer, in his own breast, in

his accusing conscience--a voice which kept repeating those

shameful words, "I do not know you, woman!"

The words smote upon the King's soul as the strokes of a funeral

bell smite upon the soul of a surviving friend when they remind

him of secret treacheries suffered at his hands by him that is gone.

New glories were unfolded at every turning; new wonders, new

marvels, sprang into view; the pent clamours of waiting batteries

were released; new raptures poured from the throats of the waiting

multitudes: but the King gave no sign, and the accusing voice

that went moaning through his comfortless breast was all the sound he heard.

By-and-by the gladness in the faces of the populace changed a

little, and became touched with a something like solicitude or

anxiety: an abatement in the volume of the applause was

observable too. The Lord Protector was quick to notice these

things: he was as quick to detect the cause. He spurred to the

King's side, bent low in his saddle, uncovered, and said--

"My liege, it is an ill time for dreaming. The people observe thy

downcast head, thy clouded mien, and they take it for an omen. Be

advised: unveil the sun of royalty, and let it shine upon these

boding vapours, and disperse them. Lift up thy face, and smile

upon the people."

So saying, the Duke scattered a handful of coins to right and

left, then retired to his place. The mock King did mechanically

as he had been bidden. His smile had no heart in it, but few eyes

were near enough or sharp enough to detect that. The noddings of

his plumed head as he saluted his subjects were full of grace and

graciousness; the largess which he delivered from his hand was

royally liberal: so the people's anxiety vanished, and the

acclamations burst forth again in as mighty a volume as before.

Still once more, a little before the progress was ended, the Duke

was obliged to ride forward, and make remonstrance. He whispered--

"O dread sovereign! shake off these fatal humours; the eyes of the

world are upon thee." Then he added with sharp annoyance,

"Perdition catch that crazy pauper! 'twas she that hath disturbed

your Highness."

The gorgeous figure turned a lustreless eye upon the Duke, and

said in a dead voice--

"She was my mother!"

"My God!" groaned the Protector as he reined his horse backward to

his post, "the omen was pregnant with prophecy. He is gone mad again!"



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