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The Prince and The Pauper by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

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Chapter XVIII. The Prince with the tramps.

The troop of vagabonds turned out at early dawn, and set forward on their
march. There was a lowering sky overhead, sloppy ground under foot, and
a winter chill in the air. All gaiety was gone from the company; some
were sullen and silent, some were irritable and petulant, none were
gentle-humoured, all were thirsty.

The Ruffler put 'Jack' in Hugo's charge, with some brief instructions,
and commanded John Canty to keep away from him and let him alone; he also
warned Hugo not to be too rough with the lad.

After a while the weather grew milder, and the clouds lifted somewhat.
The troop ceased to shiver, and their spirits began to improve. They
grew more and more cheerful, and finally began to chaff each other and
insult passengers along the highway. This showed that they were awaking
to an appreciation of life and its joys once more. The dread in which
their sort was held was apparent in the fact that everybody gave them the
road, and took their ribald insolences meekly, without venturing to talk
back. They snatched linen from the hedges, occasionally in full view of
the owners, who made no protest, but only seemed grateful that they did
not take the hedges, too.

By-and-by they invaded a small farmhouse and made themselves at home
while the trembling farmer and his people swept the larder clean to
furnish a breakfast for them. They chucked the housewife and her
daughters under the chin whilst receiving the food from their hands, and
made coarse jests about them, accompanied with insulting epithets and
bursts of horse-laughter. They threw bones and vegetables at the farmer
and his sons, kept them dodging all the time, and applauded uproariously
when a good hit was made. They ended by buttering the head of one of the
daughters who resented some of their familiarities. When they took their
leave they threatened to come back and burn the house over the heads of
the family if any report of their doings got to the ears of the

About noon, after a long and weary tramp, the gang came to a halt behind
a hedge on the outskirts of a considerable village. An hour was allowed
for rest, then the crew scattered themselves abroad to enter the village
at different points to ply their various trades--'Jack' was sent with
Hugo. They wandered hither and thither for some time, Hugo watching for
opportunities to do a stroke of business, but finding none--so he finally

"I see nought to steal; it is a paltry place. Wherefore we will beg."

"WE, forsooth! Follow thy trade--it befits thee. But _I_ will not beg."

"Thou'lt not beg!" exclaimed Hugo, eyeing the King with surprise.
"Prithee, since when hast thou reformed?"

"What dost thou mean?"

"Mean? Hast thou not begged the streets of London all thy life?"

"I? Thou idiot!"

"Spare thy compliments--thy stock will last the longer. Thy father says
thou hast begged all thy days. Mayhap he lied. Peradventure you will
even make so bold as to SAY he lied," scoffed Hugo.

"Him YOU call my father? Yes, he lied."

"Come, play not thy merry game of madman so far, mate; use it for thy
amusement, not thy hurt. An' I tell him this, he will scorch thee finely
for it."

"Save thyself the trouble. I will tell him."

"I like thy spirit, I do in truth; but I do not admire thy judgment.
Bone-rackings and bastings be plenty enow in this life, without going out
of one's way to invite them. But a truce to these matters; _I_ believe
your father. I doubt not he can lie; I doubt not he DOTH lie, upon
occasion, for the best of us do that; but there is no occasion here. A
wise man does not waste so good a commodity as lying for nought. But
come; sith it is thy humour to give over begging, wherewithal shall we
busy ourselves? With robbing kitchens?"

The King said, impatiently--

"Have done with this folly--you weary me!"

Hugo replied, with temper--

"Now harkee, mate; you will not beg, you will not rob; so be it. But I
will tell you what you WILL do. You will play decoy whilst _I_ beg.
Refuse, an' you think you may venture!"

The King was about to reply contemptuously, when Hugo said, interrupting--

"Peace! Here comes one with a kindly face. Now will I fall down in a
fit. When the stranger runs to me, set you up a wail, and fall upon your
knees, seeming to weep; then cry out as all the devils of misery were in
your belly, and say, 'Oh, sir, it is my poor afflicted brother, and we be
friendless; o' God's name cast through your merciful eyes one pitiful
look upon a sick, forsaken, and most miserable wretch; bestow one little
penny out of thy riches upon one smitten of God and ready to perish!'--
and mind you, keep you ON wailing, and abate not till we bilk him of his
penny, else shall you rue it."

Then immediately Hugo began to moan, and groan, and roll his eyes, and
reel and totter about; and when the stranger was close at hand, down he
sprawled before him, with a shriek, and began to writhe and wallow in the
dirt, in seeming agony.

"O, dear, O dear!" cried the benevolent stranger, "O poor soul, poor
soul, how he doth suffer! There--let me help thee up."

"O noble sir, forbear, and God love you for a princely gentleman--but it
giveth me cruel pain to touch me when I am taken so. My brother there
will tell your worship how I am racked with anguish when these fits be
upon me. A penny, dear sir, a penny, to buy a little food; then leave me
to my sorrows."

"A penny! thou shalt have three, thou hapless creature"--and he fumbled
in his pocket with nervous haste and got them out. "There, poor lad, take
them and most welcome. Now come hither, my boy, and help me carry thy
stricken brother to yon house, where--"

"I am not his brother," said the King, interrupting.

"What! not his brother?"

"Oh, hear him!" groaned Hugo, then privately ground his teeth. "He denies
his own brother--and he with one foot in the grave!"

"Boy, thou art indeed hard of heart, if this is thy brother. For shame!
--and he scarce able to move hand or foot. If he is not thy brother, who
is he, then?"

"A beggar and a thief! He has got your money and has picked your pocket
likewise. An' thou would'st do a healing miracle, lay thy staff over his
shoulders and trust Providence for the rest."

But Hugo did not tarry for the miracle. In a moment he was up and off
like the wind, the gentleman following after and raising the hue and cry
lustily as he went. The King, breathing deep gratitude to Heaven for his
own release, fled in the opposite direction, and did not slacken his pace
until he was out of harm's reach. He took the first road that offered,
and soon put the village behind him. He hurried along, as briskly as he
could, during several hours, keeping a nervous watch over his shoulder
for pursuit; but his fears left him at last, and a grateful sense of
security took their place. He recognised, now, that he was hungry, and
also very tired. So he halted at a farmhouse; but when he was about to
speak, he was cut short and driven rudely away. His clothes were against

He wandered on, wounded and indignant, and was resolved to put himself in
the way of like treatment no more. But hunger is pride's master; so, as
the evening drew near, he made an attempt at another farmhouse; but here
he fared worse than before; for he was called hard names and was promised
arrest as a vagrant except he moved on promptly.

The night came on, chilly and overcast; and still the footsore monarch
laboured slowly on. He was obliged to keep moving, for every time he sat
down to rest he was soon penetrated to the bone with the cold. All his
sensations and experiences, as he moved through the solemn gloom and the
empty vastness of the night, were new and strange to him. At intervals
he heard voices approach, pass by, and fade into silence; and as he saw
nothing more of the bodies they belonged to than a sort of formless
drifting blur, there was something spectral and uncanny about it all that
made him shudder. Occasionally he caught the twinkle of a light--always
far away, apparently--almost in another world; if he heard the tinkle of
a sheep's bell, it was vague, distant, indistinct; the muffled lowing of
the herds floated to him on the night wind in vanishing cadences, a
mournful sound; now and then came the complaining howl of a dog over
viewless expanses of field and forest; all sounds were remote; they made
the little King feel that all life and activity were far removed from
him, and that he stood solitary, companionless, in the centre of a
measureless solitude.

He stumbled along, through the gruesome fascinations of this new
experience, startled occasionally by the soft rustling of the dry leaves
overhead, so like human whispers they seemed to sound; and by-and-by he
came suddenly upon the freckled light of a tin lantern near at hand. He
stepped back into the shadows and waited. The lantern stood by the open
door of a barn. The King waited some time--there was no sound, and
nobody stirring. He got so cold, standing still, and the hospitable barn
looked so enticing, that at last he resolved to risk everything and
enter. He started swiftly and stealthily, and just as he was crossing the
threshold he heard voices behind him. He darted behind a cask, within
the barn, and stooped down. Two farm-labourers came in, bringing the
lantern with them, and fell to work, talking meanwhile. Whilst they
moved about with the light, the King made good use of his eyes and took
the bearings of what seemed to be a good-sized stall at the further end
of the place, purposing to grope his way to it when he should be left to
himself. He also noted the position of a pile of horse blankets, midway
of the route, with the intent to levy upon them for the service of the
crown of England for one night.

By-and-by the men finished and went away, fastening the door behind them
and taking the lantern with them. The shivering King made for the
blankets, with as good speed as the darkness would allow; gathered them
up, and then groped his way safely to the stall. Of two of the blankets
he made a bed, then covered himself with the remaining two. He was a
glad monarch, now, though the blankets were old and thin, and not quite
warm enough; and besides gave out a pungent horsey odour that was almost
suffocatingly powerful.

Although the King was hungry and chilly, he was also so tired and so
drowsy that these latter influences soon began to get the advantage of
the former, and he presently dozed off into a state of semi-
consciousness. Then, just as he was on the point of losing himself
wholly, he distinctly felt something touch him! He was broad awake in a
moment, and gasping for breath. The cold horror of that mysterious touch
in the dark almost made his heart stand still. He lay motionless, and
listened, scarcely breathing. But nothing stirred, and there was no
sound. He continued to listen, and wait, during what seemed a long time,
but still nothing stirred, and there was no sound. So he began to drop
into a drowse once more, at last; and all at once he felt that mysterious
touch again! It was a grisly thing, this light touch from this noiseless
and invisible presence; it made the boy sick with ghostly fears. What
should he do? That was the question; but he did not know how to answer
it. Should he leave these reasonably comfortable quarters and fly from
this inscrutable horror? But fly whither? He could not get out of the
barn; and the idea of scurrying blindly hither and thither in the dark,
within the captivity of the four walls, with this phantom gliding after
him, and visiting him with that soft hideous touch upon cheek or shoulder
at every turn, was intolerable. But to stay where he was, and endure
this living death all night--was that better? No. What, then, was there
left to do? Ah, there was but one course; he knew it well--he must put
out his hand and find that thing!

It was easy to think this; but it was hard to brace himself up to try it.
Three times he stretched his hand a little way out into the dark,
gingerly; and snatched it suddenly back, with a gasp--not because it had
encountered anything, but because he had felt so sure it was just GOING
to. But the fourth time, he groped a little further, and his hand
lightly swept against something soft and warm. This petrified him,
nearly, with fright; his mind was in such a state that he could imagine
the thing to be nothing else than a corpse, newly dead and still warm.
He thought he would rather die than touch it again. But he thought this
false thought because he did not know the immortal strength of human
curiosity. In no long time his hand was tremblingly groping again--
against his judgment, and without his consent--but groping persistently
on, just the same. It encountered a bunch of long hair; he shuddered,
but followed up the hair and found what seemed to be a warm rope;
followed up the rope and found an innocent calf!--for the rope was not a
rope at all, but the calf's tail.

The King was cordially ashamed of himself for having gotten all that
fright and misery out of so paltry a matter as a slumbering calf; but he
need not have felt so about it, for it was not the calf that frightened
him, but a dreadful non-existent something which the calf stood for; and
any other boy, in those old superstitious times, would have acted and
suffered just as he had done.

The King was not only delighted to find that the creature was only a
calf, but delighted to have the calf's company; for he had been feeling
so lonesome and friendless that the company and comradeship of even this
humble animal were welcome. And he had been so buffeted, so rudely
entreated by his own kind, that it was a real comfort to him to feel that
he was at last in the society of a fellow-creature that had at least a
soft heart and a gentle spirit, whatever loftier attributes might be
lacking. So he resolved to waive rank and make friends with the calf.

While stroking its sleek warm back--for it lay near him and within easy
reach--it occurred to him that this calf might be utilised in more ways
than one. Whereupon he re-arranged his bed, spreading it down close to
the calf; then he cuddled himself up to the calf's back, drew the covers
up over himself and his friend, and in a minute or two was as warm and
comfortable as he had ever been in the downy couches of the regal palace
of Westminster.

Pleasant thoughts came at once; life took on a cheerfuller seeming. He
was free of the bonds of servitude and crime, free of the companionship
of base and brutal outlaws; he was warm; he was sheltered; in a word, he
was happy. The night wind was rising; it swept by in fitful gusts that
made the old barn quake and rattle, then its forces died down at
intervals, and went moaning and wailing around corners and projections--
but it was all music to the King, now that he was snug and comfortable:
let it blow and rage, let it batter and bang, let it moan and wail, he
minded it not, he only enjoyed it. He merely snuggled the closer to his
friend, in a luxury of warm contentment, and drifted blissfully out of
consciousness into a deep and dreamless sleep that was full of serenity
and peace. The distant dogs howled, the melancholy kine complained, and
the winds went on raging, whilst furious sheets of rain drove along the
roof; but the Majesty of England slept on, undisturbed, and the calf did
the same, it being a simple creature, and not easily troubled by storms
or embarrassed by sleeping with a king.

Chapter XIX. The Prince with the peasants.

When the King awoke in the early morning, he found that a wet but
thoughtful rat had crept into the place during the night and made a cosy
bed for itself in his bosom. Being disturbed now, it scampered away.
The boy smiled, and said, "Poor fool, why so fearful? I am as forlorn as
thou. 'Twould be a sham in me to hurt the helpless, who am myself so
helpless. Moreover, I owe you thanks for a good omen; for when a king
has fallen so low that the very rats do make a bed of him, it surely
meaneth that his fortunes be upon the turn, since it is plain he can no
lower go."

He got up and stepped out of the stall, and just then he heard the sound
of children's voices. The barn door opened and a couple of little girls
came in. As soon as they saw him their talking and laughing ceased, and
they stopped and stood still, gazing at him with strong curiosity; they
presently began to whisper together, then they approached nearer, and
stopped again to gaze and whisper. By-and-by they gathered courage and
began to discuss him aloud. One said--

"He hath a comely face."

The other added--

"And pretty hair."

"But is ill clothed enow."

"And how starved he looketh."

They came still nearer, sidling shyly around and about him, examining him
minutely from all points, as if he were some strange new kind of animal,
but warily and watchfully the while, as if they half feared he might be a
sort of animal that would bite, upon occasion. Finally they halted
before him, holding each other's hands for protection, and took a good
satisfying stare with their innocent eyes; then one of them plucked up
all her courage and inquired with honest directness--

"Who art thou, boy?"

"I am the King," was the grave answer.

The children gave a little start, and their eyes spread themselves wide
open and remained so during a speechless half minute. Then curiosity
broke the silence--

"The KING? What King?"

"The King of England."

The children looked at each other--then at him--then at each other again
--wonderingly, perplexedly; then one said--

"Didst hear him, Margery?--he said he is the King. Can that be true?"

"How can it be else but true, Prissy? Would he say a lie? For look you,
Prissy, an' it were not true, it WOULD be a lie. It surely would be.
Now think on't. For all things that be not true, be lies--thou canst
make nought else out of it."

It was a good tight argument, without a leak in it anywhere; and it left
Prissy's half-doubts not a leg to stand on. She considered a moment,
then put the King upon his honour with the simple remark--

"If thou art truly the King, then I believe thee."

"I am truly the King."

This settled the matter. His Majesty's royalty was accepted without
further question or discussion, and the two little girls began at once to
inquire into how he came to be where he was, and how he came to be so
unroyally clad, and whither he was bound, and all about his affairs. It
was a mighty relief to him to pour out his troubles where they would not
be scoffed at or doubted; so he told his tale with feeling, forgetting
even his hunger for the time; and it was received with the deepest and
tenderest sympathy by the gentle little maids. But when he got down to
his latest experiences and they learned how long he had been without
food, they cut him short and hurried him away to the farmhouse to find a
breakfast for him.

The King was cheerful and happy now, and said to himself, "When I am come
to mine own again, I will always honour little children, remembering how
that these trusted me and believed in me in my time of trouble; whilst
they that were older, and thought themselves wiser, mocked at me and held
me for a liar."

The children's mother received the King kindly, and was full of pity; for
his forlorn condition and apparently crazed intellect touched her womanly
heart. She was a widow, and rather poor; consequently she had seen
trouble enough to enable her to feel for the unfortunate. She imagined
that the demented boy had wandered away from his friends or keepers; so
she tried to find out whence he had come, in order that she might take
measures to return him; but all her references to neighbouring towns and
villages, and all her inquiries in the same line went for nothing--the
boy's face, and his answers, too, showed that the things she was talking
of were not familiar to him. He spoke earnestly and simply about court
matters, and broke down, more than once, when speaking of the late King
'his father'; but whenever the conversation changed to baser topics, he
lost interest and became silent.

The woman was mightily puzzled; but she did not give up. As she
proceeded with her cooking, she set herself to contriving devices to
surprise the boy into betraying his real secret. She talked about
cattle--he showed no concern; then about sheep--the same result: so her
guess that he had been a shepherd boy was an error; she talked about
mills; and about weavers, tinkers, smiths, trades and tradesmen of all
sorts; and about Bedlam, and jails, and charitable retreats: but no
matter, she was baffled at all points. Not altogether, either; for she
argued that she had narrowed the thing down to domestic service. Yes,
she was sure she was on the right track, now; he must have been a house
servant. So she led up to that. But the result was discouraging. The
subject of sweeping appeared to weary him; fire-building failed to stir
him; scrubbing and scouring awoke no enthusiasm. The goodwife touched,
with a perishing hope, and rather as a matter of form, upon the subject
of cooking. To her surprise, and her vast delight, the King's face
lighted at once! Ah, she had hunted him down at last, she thought; and
she was right proud, too, of the devious shrewdness and tact which had
accomplished it.

Her tired tongue got a chance to rest, now; for the King's, inspired by
gnawing hunger and the fragrant smells that came from the sputtering pots
and pans, turned itself loose and delivered itself up to such an eloquent
dissertation upon certain toothsome dishes, that within three minutes the
woman said to herself, "Of a truth I was right--he hath holpen in a
kitchen!" Then he broadened his bill of fare, and discussed it with such
appreciation and animation, that the goodwife said to herself, "Good
lack! how can he know so many dishes, and so fine ones withal? For these
belong only upon the tables of the rich and great. Ah, now I see! ragged
outcast as he is, he must have served in the palace before his reason
went astray; yes, he must have helped in the very kitchen of the King
himself! I will test him."

Full of eagerness to prove her sagacity, she told the King to mind the
cooking a moment--hinting that he might manufacture and add a dish or
two, if he chose; then she went out of the room and gave her children a
sign to follow after. The King muttered--

"Another English king had a commission like to this, in a bygone time--it
is nothing against my dignity to undertake an office which the great
Alfred stooped to assume. But I will try to better serve my trust than
he; for he let the cakes burn."

The intent was good, but the performance was not answerable to it, for
this King, like the other one, soon fell into deep thinkings concerning
his vast affairs, and the same calamity resulted--the cookery got burned.
The woman returned in time to save the breakfast from entire destruction;
and she promptly brought the King out of his dreams with a brisk and
cordial tongue-lashing. Then, seeing how troubled he was over his
violated trust, she softened at once, and was all goodness and gentleness
toward him.

The boy made a hearty and satisfying meal, and was greatly refreshed and
gladdened by it. It was a meal which was distinguished by this curious
feature, that rank was waived on both sides; yet neither recipient of the
favour was aware that it had been extended. The goodwife had intended to
feed this young tramp with broken victuals in a corner, like any other
tramp or like a dog; but she was so remorseful for the scolding she had
given him, that she did what she could to atone for it by allowing him to
sit at the family table and eat with his betters, on ostensible terms of
equality with them; and the King, on his side, was so remorseful for
having broken his trust, after the family had been so kind to him, that
he forced himself to atone for it by humbling himself to the family
level, instead of requiring the woman and her children to stand and wait
upon him, while he occupied their table in the solitary state due to his
birth and dignity. It does us all good to unbend sometimes. This good
woman was made happy all the day long by the applauses which she got out
of herself for her magnanimous condescension to a tramp; and the King was
just as self-complacent over his gracious humility toward a humble
peasant woman.

When breakfast was over, the housewife told the King to wash up the
dishes. This command was a staggerer, for a moment, and the King came
near rebelling; but then he said to himself, "Alfred the Great watched
the cakes; doubtless he would have washed the dishes too--therefore will
I essay it."

He made a sufficiently poor job of it; and to his surprise too, for the
cleaning of wooden spoons and trenchers had seemed an easy thing to do.
It was a tedious and troublesome piece of work, but he finished it at
last. He was becoming impatient to get away on his journey now; however,
he was not to lose this thrifty dame's society so easily. She furnished
him some little odds and ends of employment, which he got through with
after a fair fashion and with some credit. Then she set him and the
little girls to paring some winter apples; but he was so awkward at this
service that she retired him from it and gave him a butcher knife to
grind. Afterwards she kept him carding wool until he began to think he
had laid the good King Alfred about far enough in the shade for the
present in the matter of showy menial heroisms that would read
picturesquely in story-books and histories, and so he was half-minded to
resign. And when, just after the noonday dinner, the goodwife gave him a
basket of kittens to drown, he did resign. At least he was just going to
resign--for he felt that he must draw the line somewhere, and it seemed
to him that to draw it at kitten-drowning was about the right thing--when
there was an interruption. The interruption was John Canty--with a
peddler's pack on his back--and Hugo.

The King discovered these rascals approaching the front gate before they
had had a chance to see him; so he said nothing about drawing the line,
but took up his basket of kittens and stepped quietly out the back way,
without a word. He left the creatures in an out-house, and hurried on,
into a narrow lane at the rear.

Chapter XX. The Prince and the hermit.

The high hedge hid him from the house, now; and so, under the impulse of
a deadly fright, he let out all his forces and sped toward a wood in the
distance. He never looked back until he had almost gained the shelter of
the forest; then he turned and descried two figures in the distance.
That was sufficient; he did not wait to scan them critically, but hurried
on, and never abated his pace till he was far within the twilight depths
of the wood. Then he stopped; being persuaded that he was now tolerably
safe. He listened intently, but the stillness was profound and solemn--
awful, even, and depressing to the spirits. At wide intervals his
straining ear did detect sounds, but they were so remote, and hollow, and
mysterious, that they seemed not to be real sounds, but only the moaning
and complaining ghosts of departed ones. So the sounds were yet more
dreary than the silence which they interrupted.

It was his purpose, in the beginning, to stay where he was the rest of
the day; but a chill soon invaded his perspiring body, and he was at last
obliged to resume movement in order to get warm. He struck straight
through the forest, hoping to pierce to a road presently, but he was
disappointed in this. He travelled on and on; but the farther he went,
the denser the wood became, apparently. The gloom began to thicken, by-
and-by, and the King realised that the night was coming on. It made him
shudder to think of spending it in such an uncanny place; so he tried to
hurry faster, but he only made the less speed, for he could not now see
well enough to choose his steps judiciously; consequently he kept
tripping over roots and tangling himself in vines and briers.

And how glad he was when at last he caught the glimmer of a light! He
approached it warily, stopping often to look about him and listen. It
came from an unglazed window-opening in a shabby little hut. He heard a
voice, now, and felt a disposition to run and hide; but he changed his
mind at once, for this voice was praying, evidently. He glided to the
one window of the hut, raised himself on tiptoe, and stole a glance
within. The room was small; its floor was the natural earth, beaten hard
by use; in a corner was a bed of rushes and a ragged blanket or two; near
it was a pail, a cup, a basin, and two or three pots and pans; there was
a short bench and a three-legged stool; on the hearth the remains of a
faggot fire were smouldering; before a shrine, which was lighted by a
single candle, knelt an aged man, and on an old wooden box at his side
lay an open book and a human skull. The man was of large, bony frame;
his hair and whiskers were very long and snowy white; he was clothed in a
robe of sheepskins which reached from his neck to his heels.

"A holy hermit!" said the King to himself; "now am I indeed fortunate."

The hermit rose from his knees; the King knocked. A deep voice

"Enter!--but leave sin behind, for the ground whereon thou shalt stand is

The King entered, and paused. The hermit turned a pair of gleaming,
unrestful eyes upon him, and said--

"Who art thou?"

"I am the King," came the answer, with placid simplicity.

"Welcome, King!" cried the hermit, with enthusiasm. Then, bustling about
with feverish activity, and constantly saying, "Welcome, welcome," he
arranged his bench, seated the King on it, by the hearth, threw some
faggots on the fire, and finally fell to pacing the floor with a nervous

"Welcome! Many have sought sanctuary here, but they were not worthy, and
were turned away. But a King who casts his crown away, and despises the
vain splendours of his office, and clothes his body in rags, to devote
his life to holiness and the mortification of the flesh--he is worthy, he
is welcome!--here shall he abide all his days till death come." The King
hastened to interrupt and explain, but the hermit paid no attention to
him--did not even hear him, apparently, but went right on with his talk,
with a raised voice and a growing energy. "And thou shalt be at peace
here. None shall find out thy refuge to disquiet thee with supplications
to return to that empty and foolish life which God hath moved thee to
abandon. Thou shalt pray here; thou shalt study the Book; thou shalt
meditate upon the follies and delusions of this world, and upon the
sublimities of the world to come; thou shalt feed upon crusts and herbs,
and scourge thy body with whips, daily, to the purifying of thy soul.
Thou shalt wear a hair shirt next thy skin; thou shalt drink water only;
and thou shalt be at peace; yes, wholly at peace; for whoso comes to seek
thee shall go his way again, baffled; he shall not find thee, he shall
not molest thee."

The old man, still pacing back and forth, ceased to speak aloud, and
began to mutter. The King seized this opportunity to state his case; and
he did it with an eloquence inspired by uneasiness and apprehension. But
the hermit went on muttering, and gave no heed. And still muttering, he
approached the King and said impressively--

"'Sh! I will tell you a secret!" He bent down to impart it, but checked
himself, and assumed a listening attitude. After a moment or two he went
on tiptoe to the window-opening, put his head out, and peered around in
the gloaming, then came tiptoeing back again, put his face close down to
the King's, and whispered--

"I am an archangel!"

The King started violently, and said to himself, "Would God I were with
the outlaws again; for lo, now am I the prisoner of a madman!" His
apprehensions were heightened, and they showed plainly in his face. In a
low excited voice the hermit continued--

"I see you feel my atmosphere! There's awe in your face! None may be in
this atmosphere and not be thus affected; for it is the very atmosphere
of heaven. I go thither and return, in the twinkling of an eye. I was
made an archangel on this very spot, it is five years ago, by angels sent
from heaven to confer that awful dignity. Their presence filled this
place with an intolerable brightness. And they knelt to me, King! yes,
they knelt to me! for I was greater than they. I have walked in the
courts of heaven, and held speech with the patriarchs. Touch my hand--be
not afraid--touch it. There--now thou hast touched a hand which has been
clasped by Abraham and Isaac and Jacob! For I have walked in the golden
courts; I have seen the Deity face to face!" He paused, to give this
speech effect; then his face suddenly changed, and he started to his feet
again saying, with angry energy, "Yes, I am an archangel; A MERE
ARCHANGEL!--I that might have been pope! It is verily true. I was told
it from heaven in a dream, twenty years ago; ah, yes, I was to be pope!--
and I SHOULD have been pope, for Heaven had said it--but the King
dissolved my religious house, and I, poor obscure unfriended monk, was
cast homeless upon the world, robbed of my mighty destiny!" Here he began
to mumble again, and beat his forehead in futile rage, with his fist; now
and then articulating a venomous curse, and now and then a pathetic
"Wherefore I am nought but an archangel--I that should have been pope!"

So he went on, for an hour, whilst the poor little King sat and suffered.
Then all at once the old man's frenzy departed, and he became all
gentleness. His voice softened, he came down out of his clouds, and fell
to prattling along so simply and so humanly, that he soon won the King's
heart completely. The old devotee moved the boy nearer to the fire and
made him comfortable; doctored his small bruises and abrasions with a
deft and tender hand; and then set about preparing and cooking a supper--
chatting pleasantly all the time, and occasionally stroking the lad's
cheek or patting his head, in such a gently caressing way that in a
little while all the fear and repulsion inspired by the archangel were
changed to reverence and affection for the man.

This happy state of things continued while the two ate the supper; then,
after a prayer before the shrine, the hermit put the boy to bed, in a
small adjoining room, tucking him in as snugly and lovingly as a mother
might; and so, with a parting caress, left him and sat down by the fire,
and began to poke the brands about in an absent and aimless way.
Presently he paused; then tapped his forehead several times with his
fingers, as if trying to recall some thought which had escaped from his
mind. Apparently he was unsuccessful. Now he started quickly up, and
entered his guest's room, and said--

"Thou art King?"

"Yes," was the response, drowsily uttered.

"What King?"

"Of England."

"Of England? Then Henry is gone!"

"Alack, it is so. I am his son."

A black frown settled down upon the hermit's face, and he clenched his
bony hands with a vindictive energy. He stood a few moments, breathing
fast and swallowing repeatedly, then said in a husky voice--

"Dost know it was he that turned us out into the world houseless and

There was no response. The old man bent down and scanned the boy's
reposeful face and listened to his placid breathing. "He sleeps--sleeps
soundly;" and the frown vanished away and gave place to an expression of
evil satisfaction. A smile flitted across the dreaming boy's features.
The hermit muttered, "So--his heart is happy;" and he turned away. He
went stealthily about the place, seeking here and there for something;
now and then halting to listen, now and then jerking his head around and
casting a quick glance toward the bed; and always muttering, always
mumbling to himself. At last he found what he seemed to want--a rusty
old butcher knife and a whetstone. Then he crept to his place by the
fire, sat himself down, and began to whet the knife softly on the stone,
still muttering, mumbling, ejaculating. The winds sighed around the
lonely place, the mysterious voices of the night floated by out of the
distances. The shining eyes of venturesome mice and rats peered out at
the old man from cracks and coverts, but he went on with his work, rapt,
absorbed, and noted none of these things.

At long intervals he drew his thumb along the edge of his knife, and
nodded his head with satisfaction. "It grows sharper," he said; "yes, it
grows sharper."

He took no note of the flight of time, but worked tranquilly on,
entertaining himself with his thoughts, which broke out occasionally in
articulate speech--

"His father wrought us evil, he destroyed us--and is gone down into the
eternal fires! Yes, down into the eternal fires! He escaped us--but it
was God's will, yes it was God's will, we must not repine. But he hath
not escaped the fires! No, he hath not escaped the fires, the consuming,
unpitying, remorseless fires--and THEY are everlasting!"

And so he wrought, and still wrought--mumbling, chuckling a low rasping
chuckle at times--and at times breaking again into words--

"It was his father that did it all. I am but an archangel; but for him I
should be pope!"

The King stirred. The hermit sprang noiselessly to the bedside, and went
down upon his knees, bending over the prostrate form with his knife
uplifted. The boy stirred again; his eyes came open for an instant, but
there was no speculation in them, they saw nothing; the next moment his
tranquil breathing showed that his sleep was sound once more.

The hermit watched and listened, for a time, keeping his position and
scarcely breathing; then he slowly lowered his arms, and presently crept
away, saying,--

"It is long past midnight; it is not best that he should cry out, lest by
accident someone be passing."

He glided about his hovel, gathering a rag here, a thong there, and
another one yonder; then he returned, and by careful and gentle handling
he managed to tie the King's ankles together without waking him. Next he
essayed to tie the wrists; he made several attempts to cross them, but
the boy always drew one hand or the other away, just as the cord was
ready to be applied; but at last, when the archangel was almost ready to
despair, the boy crossed his hands himself, and the next moment they were
bound. Now a bandage was passed under the sleeper's chin and brought up
over his head and tied fast--and so softly, so gradually, and so deftly
were the knots drawn together and compacted, that the boy slept
peacefully through it all without stirring.

Chapter XXI. Hendon to the rescue.

The old man glided away, stooping, stealthy, cat-like, and brought the
low bench. He seated himself upon it, half his body in the dim and
flickering light, and the other half in shadow; and so, with his craving
eyes bent upon the slumbering boy, he kept his patient vigil there,
heedless of the drift of time, and softly whetted his knife, and mumbled
and chuckled; and in aspect and attitude he resembled nothing so much as
a grizzly, monstrous spider, gloating over some hapless insect that lay
bound and helpless in his web.

After a long while, the old man, who was still gazing,--yet not seeing,
his mind having settled into a dreamy abstraction,--observed, on a
sudden, that the boy's eyes were open! wide open and staring!--staring up
in frozen horror at the knife. The smile of a gratified devil crept over
the old man's face, and he said, without changing his attitude or his

"Son of Henry the Eighth, hast thou prayed?"

The boy struggled helplessly in his bonds, and at the same time forced a
smothered sound through his closed jaws, which the hermit chose to
interpret as an affirmative answer to his question.

"Then pray again. Pray the prayer for the dying!"

A shudder shook the boy's frame, and his face blenched. Then he
struggled again to free himself--turning and twisting himself this way
and that; tugging frantically, fiercely, desperately--but uselessly--to
burst his fetters; and all the while the old ogre smiled down upon him,
and nodded his head, and placidly whetted his knife; mumbling, from time
to time, "The moments are precious, they are few and precious--pray the
prayer for the dying!"

The boy uttered a despairing groan, and ceased from his struggles,
panting. The tears came, then, and trickled, one after the other, down
his face; but this piteous sight wrought no softening effect upon the
savage old man.

The dawn was coming now; the hermit observed it, and spoke up sharply,
with a touch of nervous apprehension in his voice--

"I may not indulge this ecstasy longer! The night is already gone. It
seems but a moment--only a moment; would it had endured a year! Seed of
the Church's spoiler, close thy perishing eyes, an' thou fearest to look

The rest was lost in inarticulate mutterings. The old man sank upon his
knees, his knife in his hand, and bent himself over the moaning boy.

Hark! There was a sound of voices near the cabin--the knife dropped from
the hermit's hand; he cast a sheepskin over the boy and started up,
trembling. The sounds increased, and presently the voices became rough
and angry; then came blows, and cries for help; then a clatter of swift
footsteps, retreating. Immediately came a succession of thundering
knocks upon the cabin door, followed by--

"Hullo-o-o! Open! And despatch, in the name of all the devils!"

Oh, this was the blessedest sound that had ever made music in the King's
ears; for it was Miles Hendon's voice!

The hermit, grinding his teeth in impotent rage, moved swiftly out of the
bedchamber, closing the door behind him; and straightway the King heard a
talk, to this effect, proceeding from the 'chapel':--

"Homage and greeting, reverend sir! Where is the boy--MY boy?"

"What boy, friend?"

"What boy! Lie me no lies, sir priest, play me no deceptions!--I am not
in the humour for it. Near to this place I caught the scoundrels who I
judged did steal him from me, and I made them confess; they said he was
at large again, and they had tracked him to your door. They showed me
his very footprints. Now palter no more; for look you, holy sir, an'
thou produce him not--Where is the boy?"

"O good sir, peradventure you mean the ragged regal vagrant that tarried
here the night. If such as you take an interest in such as he, know,
then, that I have sent him of an errand. He will be back anon."

"How soon? How soon? Come, waste not the time--cannot I overtake him?
How soon will he be back?"

"Thou need'st not stir; he will return quickly."

"So be it, then. I will try to wait. But stop!--YOU sent him of an
errand?--you! Verily this is a lie--he would not go. He would pull thy
old beard, an' thou didst offer him such an insolence. Thou hast lied,
friend; thou hast surely lied! He would not go for thee, nor for any

"For any MAN--no; haply not. But I am not a man."

"WHAT! Now o' God's name what art thou, then?"

"It is a secret--mark thou reveal it not. I am an archangel!"

There was a tremendous ejaculation from Miles Hendon--not altogether
unprofane--followed by--

"This doth well and truly account for his complaisance! Right well I
knew he would budge nor hand nor foot in the menial service of any
mortal; but, lord, even a king must obey when an archangel gives the word
o' command! Let me--'sh! What noise was that?"

All this while the little King had been yonder, alternately quaking with
terror and trembling with hope; and all the while, too, he had thrown all
the strength he could into his anguished moanings, constantly expecting
them to reach Hendon's ear, but always realising, with bitterness, that
they failed, or at least made no impression. So this last remark of his
servant came as comes a reviving breath from fresh fields to the dying;
and he exerted himself once more, and with all his energy, just as the
hermit was saying--

"Noise? I heard only the wind."

"Mayhap it was. Yes, doubtless that was it. I have been hearing it
faintly all the--there it is again! It is not the wind! What an odd
sound! Come, we will hunt it out!"

Now the King's joy was nearly insupportable. His tired lungs did their
utmost--and hopefully, too--but the sealed jaws and the muffling
sheepskin sadly crippled the effort. Then the poor fellow's heart sank,
to hear the hermit say--

"Ah, it came from without--I think from the copse yonder. Come, I will
lead the way."

The King heard the two pass out, talking; heard their footsteps die
quickly away--then he was alone with a boding, brooding, awful silence.

It seemed an age till he heard the steps and voices approaching again--
and this time he heard an added sound,--the trampling of hoofs,
apparently. Then he heard Hendon say--

"I will not wait longer. I CANNOT wait longer. He has lost his way in
this thick wood. Which direction took he? Quick--point it out to me."

"He--but wait; I will go with thee."

"Good--good! Why, truly thou art better than thy looks. Marry I do not
think there's not another archangel with so right a heart as thine. Wilt
ride? Wilt take the wee donkey that's for my boy, or wilt thou fork thy
holy legs over this ill-conditioned slave of a mule that I have provided
for myself?--and had been cheated in too, had he cost but the indifferent
sum of a month's usury on a brass farthing let to a tinker out of work."

"No--ride thy mule, and lead thine ass; I am surer on mine own feet, and
will walk."

"Then prithee mind the little beast for me while I take my life in my
hands and make what success I may toward mounting the big one."

Then followed a confusion of kicks, cuffs, tramplings and plungings,
accompanied by a thunderous intermingling of volleyed curses, and finally
a bitter apostrophe to the mule, which must have broken its spirit, for
hostilities seemed to cease from that moment.

With unutterable misery the fettered little King heard the voices and
footsteps fade away and die out. All hope forsook him, now, for the
moment, and a dull despair settled down upon his heart. "My only friend
is deceived and got rid of," he said; "the hermit will return and--" He
finished with a gasp; and at once fell to struggling so frantically with
his bonds again, that he shook off the smothering sheepskin.

And now he heard the door open! The sound chilled him to the marrow--
already he seemed to feel the knife at his throat. Horror made him close
his eyes; horror made him open them again--and before him stood John
Canty and Hugo!

He would have said "Thank God!" if his jaws had been free.

A moment or two later his limbs were at liberty, and his captors, each
gripping him by an arm, were hurrying him with all speed through the

Chapter XXII. A victim of treachery.

Once more 'King Foo-foo the First' was roving with the tramps and
outlaws, a butt for their coarse jests and dull-witted railleries, and
sometimes the victim of small spitefulness at the hands of Canty and Hugo
when the Ruffler's back was turned. None but Canty and Hugo really
disliked him. Some of the others liked him, and all admired his pluck
and spirit. During two or three days, Hugo, in whose ward and charge the
King was, did what he covertly could to make the boy uncomfortable; and
at night, during the customary orgies, he amused the company by putting
small indignities upon him--always as if by accident. Twice he stepped
upon the King's toes--accidentally--and the King, as became his royalty,
was contemptuously unconscious of it and indifferent to it; but the third
time Hugo entertained himself in that way, the King felled him to the
ground with a cudgel, to the prodigious delight of the tribe. Hugo,
consumed with anger and shame, sprang up, seized a cudgel, and came at
his small adversary in a fury. Instantly a ring was formed around the
gladiators, and the betting and cheering began. But poor Hugo stood no
chance whatever. His frantic and lubberly 'prentice-work found but a
poor market for itself when pitted against an arm which had been trained
by the first masters of Europe in single-stick, quarter-staff, and every
art and trick of swordsmanship. The little King stood, alert but at
graceful ease, and caught and turned aside the thick rain of blows with a
facility and precision which set the motley on-lookers wild with
admiration; and every now and then, when his practised eye detected an
opening, and a lightning-swift rap upon Hugo's head followed as a result,
the storm of cheers and laughter that swept the place was something
wonderful to hear. At the end of fifteen minutes, Hugo, all battered,
bruised, and the target for a pitiless bombardment of ridicule, slunk
from the field; and the unscathed hero of the fight was seized and borne
aloft upon the shoulders of the joyous rabble to the place of honour
beside the Ruffler, where with vast ceremony he was crowned King of the
Game-Cocks; his meaner title being at the same time solemnly cancelled
and annulled, and a decree of banishment from the gang pronounced against
any who should thenceforth utter it.

All attempts to make the King serviceable to the troop had failed. He had
stubbornly refused to act; moreover, he was always trying to escape. He
had been thrust into an unwatched kitchen, the first day of his return;
he not only came forth empty-handed, but tried to rouse the housemates.
He was sent out with a tinker to help him at his work; he would not work;
moreover, he threatened the tinker with his own soldering-iron; and
finally both Hugo and the tinker found their hands full with the mere
matter of keeping his from getting away. He delivered the thunders of
his royalty upon the heads of all who hampered his liberties or tried to
force him to service. He was sent out, in Hugo's charge, in company with
a slatternly woman and a diseased baby, to beg; but the result was not
encouraging--he declined to plead for the mendicants, or be a party to
their cause in any way.

Thus several days went by; and the miseries of this tramping life, and
the weariness and sordidness and meanness and vulgarity of it, became
gradually and steadily so intolerable to the captive that he began at
last to feel that his release from the hermit's knife must prove only a
temporary respite from death, at best.

But at night, in his dreams, these things were forgotten, and he was on
his throne, and master again. This, of course, intensified the
sufferings of the awakening--so the mortifications of each succeeding
morning of the few that passed between his return to bondage and the
combat with Hugo, grew bitterer and bitterer, and harder and harder to

The morning after that combat, Hugo got up with a heart filled with
vengeful purposes against the King. He had two plans, in particular.
One was to inflict upon the lad what would be, to his proud spirit and
'imagined' royalty, a peculiar humiliation; and if he failed to
accomplish this, his other plan was to put a crime of some kind upon the
King, and then betray him into the implacable clutches of the law.

In pursuance of the first plan, he purposed to put a 'clime' upon the
King's leg; rightly judging that that would mortify him to the last and
perfect degree; and as soon as the clime should operate, he meant to get
Canty's help, and FORCE the King to expose his leg in the highway and beg
for alms. 'Clime' was the cant term for a sore, artificially created.
To make a clime, the operator made a paste or poultice of unslaked lime,
soap, and the rust of old iron, and spread it upon a piece of leather,
which was then bound tightly upon the leg. This would presently fret off
the skin, and make the flesh raw and angry-looking; blood was then rubbed
upon the limb, which, being fully dried, took on a dark and repulsive
colour. Then a bandage of soiled rags was put on in a cleverly careless
way which would allow the hideous ulcer to be seen, and move the
compassion of the passer-by. {8}

Hugo got the help of the tinker whom the King had cowed with the
soldering-iron; they took the boy out on a tinkering tramp, and as soon
as they were out of sight of the camp they threw him down and the tinker
held him while Hugo bound the poultice tight and fast upon his leg.

The King raged and stormed, and promised to hang the two the moment the
sceptre was in his hand again; but they kept a firm grip upon him and
enjoyed his impotent struggling and jeered at his threats. This
continued until the poultice began to bite; and in no long time its work
would have been perfected, if there had been no interruption. But there
was; for about this time the 'slave' who had made the speech denouncing
England's laws, appeared on the scene, and put an end to the enterprise,
and stripped off the poultice and bandage.

The King wanted to borrow his deliverer's cudgel and warm the jackets of
the two rascals on the spot; but the man said no, it would bring trouble
--leave the matter till night; the whole tribe being together, then, the
outside world would not venture to interfere or interrupt. He marched
the party back to camp and reported the affair to the Ruffler, who
listened, pondered, and then decided that the King should not be again
detailed to beg, since it was plain he was worthy of something higher and
better--wherefore, on the spot he promoted him from the mendicant rank
and appointed him to steal!

Hugo was overjoyed. He had already tried to make the King steal, and
failed; but there would be no more trouble of that sort, now, for of
course the King would not dream of defying a distinct command delivered
directly from head-quarters. So he planned a raid for that very
afternoon, purposing to get the King in the law's grip in the course of
it; and to do it, too, with such ingenious strategy, that it should seem
to be accidental and unintentional; for the King of the Game-Cocks was
popular now, and the gang might not deal over-gently with an unpopular
member who played so serious a treachery upon him as the delivering him
over to the common enemy, the law.

Very well. All in good time Hugo strolled off to a neighbouring village
with his prey; and the two drifted slowly up and down one street after
another, the one watching sharply for a sure chance to achieve his evil
purpose, and the other watching as sharply for a chance to dart away and
get free of his infamous captivity for ever.

Both threw away some tolerably fair-looking opportunities; for both, in
their secret hearts, were resolved to make absolutely sure work this
time, and neither meant to allow his fevered desires to seduce him into
any venture that had much uncertainty about it.

Hugo's chance came first. For at last a woman approached who carried a
fat package of some sort in a basket. Hugo's eyes sparkled with sinful
pleasure as he said to himself, "Breath o' my life, an' I can but put
THAT upon him, 'tis good-den and God keep thee, King of the Game-Cocks!"
He waited and watched--outwardly patient, but inwardly consuming with
excitement--till the woman had passed by, and the time was ripe; then
said, in a low voice--

"Tarry here till I come again," and darted stealthily after the prey.

The King's heart was filled with joy--he could make his escape, now, if
Hugo's quest only carried him far enough away.

But he was to have no such luck. Hugo crept behind the woman, snatched
the package, and came running back, wrapping it in an old piece of
blanket which he carried on his arm. The hue and cry was raised in a
moment, by the woman, who knew her loss by the lightening of her burden,
although she had not seen the pilfering done. Hugo thrust the bundle
into the King's hands without halting, saying--

"Now speed ye after me with the rest, and cry 'Stop thief!' but mind ye
lead them astray!"

The next moment Hugo turned a corner and darted down a crooked alley--and
in another moment or two he lounged into view again, looking innocent and
indifferent, and took up a position behind a post to watch results.

The insulted King threw the bundle on the ground; and the blanket fell
away from it just as the woman arrived, with an augmenting crowd at her
heels; she seized the King's wrist with one hand, snatched up her bundle
with the other, and began to pour out a tirade of abuse upon the boy
while he struggled, without success, to free himself from her grip.

Hugo had seen enough--his enemy was captured and the law would get him,
now--so he slipped away, jubilant and chuckling, and wended campwards,
framing a judicious version of the matter to give to the Ruffler's crew
as he strode along.

The King continued to struggle in the woman's strong grasp, and now and
then cried out in vexation--

"Unhand me, thou foolish creature; it was not I that bereaved thee of thy
paltry goods."

The crowd closed around, threatening the King and calling him names; a
brawny blacksmith in leather apron, and sleeves rolled to his elbows,
made a reach for him, saying he would trounce him well, for a lesson; but
just then a long sword flashed in the air and fell with convincing force
upon the man's arm, flat side down, the fantastic owner of it remarking
pleasantly, at the same time--

"Marry, good souls, let us proceed gently, not with ill blood and
uncharitable words. This is matter for the law's consideration, not
private and unofficial handling. Loose thy hold from the boy, goodwife."

The blacksmith averaged the stalwart soldier with a glance, then went
muttering away, rubbing his arm; the woman released the boy's wrist
reluctantly; the crowd eyed the stranger unlovingly, but prudently closed
their mouths. The King sprang to his deliverer's side, with flushed
cheeks and sparkling eyes, exclaiming--

"Thou hast lagged sorely, but thou comest in good season, now, Sir Miles;
carve me this rabble to rags!"

Chapter XXIII. The Prince a prisoner.

Hendon forced back a smile, and bent down and whispered in the King's

"Softly, softly, my prince, wag thy tongue warily--nay, suffer it not to
wag at all. Trust in me--all shall go well in the end." Then he added to
himself: "SIR Miles! Bless me, I had totally forgot I was a knight!
Lord, how marvellous a thing it is, the grip his memory doth take upon
his quaint and crazy fancies! . . . An empty and foolish title is mine,
and yet it is something to have deserved it; for I think it is more
honour to be held worthy to be a spectre-knight in his Kingdom of Dreams
and Shadows, than to be held base enough to be an earl in some of the
REAL kingdoms of this world."

The crowd fell apart to admit a constable, who approached and was about
to lay his hand upon the King's shoulder, when Hendon said--

"Gently, good friend, withhold your hand--he shall go peaceably; I am
responsible for that. Lead on, we will follow."

The officer led, with the woman and her bundle; Miles and the King
followed after, with the crowd at their heels. The King was inclined to
rebel; but Hendon said to him in a low voice--

"Reflect, Sire--your laws are the wholesome breath of your own royalty;
shall their source resist them, yet require the branches to respect them?
Apparently one of these laws has been broken; when the King is on his
throne again, can it ever grieve him to remember that when he was
seemingly a private person he loyally sank the king in the citizen and
submitted to its authority?"

"Thou art right; say no more; thou shalt see that whatsoever the King of
England requires a subject to suffer, under the law, he will himself
suffer while he holdeth the station of a subject."

When the woman was called upon to testify before the justice of the
peace, she swore that the small prisoner at the bar was the person who
had committed the theft; there was none able to show the contrary, so the
King stood convicted. The bundle was now unrolled, and when the contents
proved to be a plump little dressed pig, the judge looked troubled,
whilst Hendon turned pale, and his body was thrilled with an electric
shiver of dismay; but the King remained unmoved, protected by his
ignorance. The judge meditated, during an ominous pause, then turned to
the woman, with the question--

"What dost thou hold this property to be worth?"

The woman courtesied and replied--

"Three shillings and eightpence, your worship--I could not abate a penny
and set forth the value honestly."

The justice glanced around uncomfortably upon the crowd, then nodded to
the constable, and said--

"Clear the court and close the doors."

It was done. None remained but the two officials, the accused, the
accuser, and Miles Hendon. This latter was rigid and colourless, and on
his forehead big drops of cold sweat gathered, broke and blended
together, and trickled down his face. The judge turned to the woman
again, and said, in a compassionate voice--

"'Tis a poor ignorant lad, and mayhap was driven hard by hunger, for
these be grievous times for the unfortunate; mark you, he hath not an
evil face--but when hunger driveth--Good woman! dost know that when one
steals a thing above the value of thirteenpence ha'penny the law saith he
shall HANG for it?"

The little King started, wide-eyed with consternation, but controlled
himself and held his peace; but not so the woman. She sprang to her
feet, shaking with fright, and cried out--

"Oh, good lack, what have I done! God-a-mercy, I would not hang the poor
thing for the whole world! Ah, save me from this, your worship--what
shall I do, what CAN I do?"

The justice maintained his judicial composure, and simply said--

"Doubtless it is allowable to revise the value, since it is not yet writ
upon the record."

"Then in God's name call the pig eightpence, and heaven bless the day
that freed my conscience of this awesome thing!"

Miles Hendon forgot all decorum in his delight; and surprised the King
and wounded his dignity, by throwing his arms around him and hugging him.
The woman made her grateful adieux and started away with her pig; and
when the constable opened the door for her, he followed her out into the
narrow hall. The justice proceeded to write in his record book. Hendon,
always alert, thought he would like to know why the officer followed the
woman out; so he slipped softly into the dusky hall and listened. He
heard a conversation to this effect--

"It is a fat pig, and promises good eating; I will buy it of thee; here
is the eightpence."

"Eightpence, indeed! Thou'lt do no such thing. It cost me three
shillings and eightpence, good honest coin of the last reign, that old
Harry that's just dead ne'er touched or tampered with. A fig for thy

"Stands the wind in that quarter? Thou wast under oath, and so swore
falsely when thou saidst the value was but eightpence. Come straightway
back with me before his worship, and answer for the crime!--and then the
lad will hang."

"There, there, dear heart, say no more, I am content. Give me the
eightpence, and hold thy peace about the matter."

The woman went off crying: Hendon slipped back into the court room, and
the constable presently followed, after hiding his prize in some
convenient place. The justice wrote a while longer, then read the King a
wise and kindly lecture, and sentenced him to a short imprisonment in the
common jail, to be followed by a public flogging. The astounded King
opened his mouth, and was probably going to order the good judge to be
beheaded on the spot; but he caught a warning sign from Hendon, and
succeeded in closing his mouth again before he lost anything out of it.
Hendon took him by the hand, now, made reverence to the justice, and the
two departed in the wake of the constable toward the jail. The moment
the street was reached, the inflamed monarch halted, snatched away his
hand, and exclaimed--

"Idiot, dost imagine I will enter a common jail ALIVE?"

Hendon bent down and said, somewhat sharply--

"WILL you trust in me? Peace! and forbear to worsen our chances with
dangerous speech. What God wills, will happen; thou canst not hurry it,
thou canst not alter it; therefore wait, and be patient--'twill be time
enow to rail or rejoice when what is to happen has happened." {1}

Chapter XXIV. The escape.

The short winter day was nearly ended. The streets were deserted, save
for a few random stragglers, and these hurried straight along, with the
intent look of people who were only anxious to accomplish their errands
as quickly as possible, and then snugly house themselves from the rising
wind and the gathering twilight. They looked neither to the right nor to
the left; they paid no attention to our party, they did not even seem to
see them. Edward the Sixth wondered if the spectacle of a king on his way
to jail had ever encountered such marvellous indifference before. By-and-
by the constable arrived at a deserted market-square, and proceeded to
cross it. When he had reached the middle of it, Hendon laid his hand
upon his arm, and said in a low voice--

"Bide a moment, good sir, there is none in hearing, and I would say a
word to thee."

"My duty forbids it, sir; prithee hinder me not, the night comes on."

"Stay, nevertheless, for the matter concerns thee nearly. Turn thy back
a moment and seem not to see: LET THIS POOR LAD ESCAPE."

"This to me, sir! I arrest thee in--"

"Nay, be not too hasty. See thou be careful and commit no foolish
error"--then he shut his voice down to a whisper, and said in the man's
ear--"the pig thou hast purchased for eightpence may cost thee thy neck,

The poor constable, taken by surprise, was speechless, at first, then
found his tongue and fell to blustering and threatening; but Hendon was
tranquil, and waited with patience till his breath was spent; then said--

"I have a liking to thee, friend, and would not willingly see thee come
to harm. Observe, I heard it all--every word. I will prove it to thee."
Then he repeated the conversation which the officer and the woman had had
together in the hall, word for word, and ended with--

"There--have I set it forth correctly? Should not I be able to set it
forth correctly before the judge, if occasion required?"

The man was dumb with fear and distress, for a moment; then he rallied,
and said with forced lightness--

"'Tis making a mighty matter, indeed, out of a jest; I but plagued the
woman for mine amusement."

"Kept you the woman's pig for amusement?"

The man answered sharply--

"Nought else, good sir--I tell thee 'twas but a jest."

"I do begin to believe thee," said Hendon, with a perplexing mixture of
mockery and half-conviction in his tone; "but tarry thou here a moment
whilst I run and ask his worship--for nathless, he being a man
experienced in law, in jests, in--"

He was moving away, still talking; the constable hesitated, fidgeted,
spat out an oath or two, then cried out--

"Hold, hold, good sir--prithee wait a little--the judge! Why, man, he
hath no more sympathy with a jest than hath a dead corpse!--come, and we
will speak further. Ods body! I seem to be in evil case--and all for an
innocent and thoughtless pleasantry. I am a man of family; and my wife
and little ones--List to reason, good your worship: what wouldst thou
of me?"

"Only that thou be blind and dumb and paralytic whilst one may count a
hundred thousand--counting slowly," said Hendon, with the expression of a
man who asks but a reasonable favour, and that a very little one.

"It is my destruction!" said the constable despairingly. "Ah, be
reasonable, good sir; only look at this matter, on all its sides, and see
how mere a jest it is--how manifestly and how plainly it is so. And even
if one granted it were not a jest, it is a fault so small that e'en the
grimmest penalty it could call forth would be but a rebuke and warning
from the judge's lips."

Hendon replied with a solemnity which chilled the air about him--

"This jest of thine hath a name, in law,--wot you what it is?"

"I knew it not! Peradventure I have been unwise. I never dreamed it had
a name--ah, sweet heaven, I thought it was original."

"Yes, it hath a name. In the law this crime is called Non compos mentis
lex talionis sic transit gloria mundi."

"Ah, my God!"

"And the penalty is death!"

"God be merciful to me a sinner!"

"By advantage taken of one in fault, in dire peril, and at thy mercy,
thou hast seized goods worth above thirteenpence ha'penny, paying but a
trifle for the same; and this, in the eye of the law, is constructive
barratry, misprision of treason, malfeasance in office, ad hominem
expurgatis in statu quo--and the penalty is death by the halter, without
ransom, commutation, or benefit of clergy."

"Bear me up, bear me up, sweet sir, my legs do fail me! Be thou
merciful--spare me this doom, and I will turn my back and see nought that
shall happen."

"Good! now thou'rt wise and reasonable. And thou'lt restore the pig?"

"I will, I will indeed--nor ever touch another, though heaven send it and
an archangel fetch it. Go--I am blind for thy sake--I see nothing. I
will say thou didst break in and wrest the prisoner from my hands by
force. It is but a crazy, ancient door--I will batter it down myself
betwixt midnight and the morning."

"Do it, good soul, no harm will come of it; the judge hath a loving
charity for this poor lad, and will shed no tears and break no jailer's
bones for his escape."

Chapter XXV. Hendon Hall.

As soon as Hendon and the King were out of sight of the constable, his
Majesty was instructed to hurry to a certain place outside the town, and
wait there, whilst Hendon should go to the inn and settle his account.
Half an hour later the two friends were blithely jogging eastward on
Hendon's sorry steeds. The King was warm and comfortable, now, for he
had cast his rags and clothed himself in the second-hand suit which
Hendon had bought on London Bridge.

Hendon wished to guard against over-fatiguing the boy; he judged that
hard journeys, irregular meals, and illiberal measures of sleep would be
bad for his crazed mind; whilst rest, regularity, and moderate exercise
would be pretty sure to hasten its cure; he longed to see the stricken
intellect made well again and its diseased visions driven out of the
tormented little head; therefore he resolved to move by easy stages
toward the home whence he had so long been banished, instead of obeying
the impulse of his impatience and hurrying along night and day.

When he and the King had journeyed about ten miles, they reached a
considerable village, and halted there for the night, at a good inn. The
former relations were resumed; Hendon stood behind the King's chair,
while he dined, and waited upon him; undressed him when he was ready for
bed; then took the floor for his own quarters, and slept athwart the
door, rolled up in a blanket.

The next day, and the day after, they jogged lazily along talking over
the adventures they had met since their separation, and mightily enjoying
each other's narratives. Hendon detailed all his wide wanderings in
search of the King, and described how the archangel had led him a fool's
journey all over the forest, and taken him back to the hut, finally, when
he found he could not get rid of him. Then--he said--the old man went
into the bedchamber and came staggering back looking broken-hearted, and
saying he had expected to find that the boy had returned and laid down in
there to rest, but it was not so. Hendon had waited at the hut all day;
hope of the King's return died out, then, and he departed upon the quest

"And old Sanctum Sanctorum WAS truly sorry your highness came not back,"
said Hendon; "I saw it in his face."

"Marry I will never doubt THAT!" said the King--and then told his own
story; after which, Hendon was sorry he had not destroyed the archangel.

During the last day of the trip, Hendon's spirits were soaring. His
tongue ran constantly. He talked about his old father, and his brother
Arthur, and told of many things which illustrated their high and generous
characters; he went into loving frenzies over his Edith, and was so glad-
hearted that he was even able to say some gentle and brotherly things
about Hugh. He dwelt a deal on the coming meeting at Hendon Hall; what a
surprise it would be to everybody, and what an outburst of thanksgiving
and delight there would be.

It was a fair region, dotted with cottages and orchards, and the road led
through broad pasture lands whose receding expanses, marked with gentle
elevations and depressions, suggested the swelling and subsiding
undulations of the sea. In the afternoon the returning prodigal made
constant deflections from his course to see if by ascending some hillock
he might not pierce the distance and catch a glimpse of his home. At
last he was successful, and cried out excitedly--

"There is the village, my Prince, and there is the Hall close by! You may
see the towers from here; and that wood there--that is my father's park.
Ah, NOW thou'lt know what state and grandeur be! A house with seventy
rooms--think of that!--and seven and twenty servants! A brave lodging
for such as we, is it not so? Come, let us speed--my impatience will not
brook further delay."

All possible hurry was made; still, it was after three o'clock before the
village was reached. The travellers scampered through it, Hendon's
tongue going all the time. "Here is the church--covered with the same
ivy--none gone, none added." "Yonder is the inn, the old Red Lion,--and
yonder is the market-place." "Here is the Maypole, and here the pump--
nothing is altered; nothing but the people, at any rate; ten years make a
change in people; some of these I seem to know, but none know me." So
his chat ran on. The end of the village was soon reached; then the
travellers struck into a crooked, narrow road, walled in with tall
hedges, and hurried briskly along it for half a mile, then passed into a
vast flower garden through an imposing gateway, whose huge stone pillars
bore sculptured armorial devices. A noble mansion was before them.

"Welcome to Hendon Hall, my King!" exclaimed Miles. "Ah, 'tis a great
day! My father and my brother, and the Lady Edith will be so mad with
joy that they will have eyes and tongue for none but me in the first
transports of the meeting, and so thou'lt seem but coldly welcomed--but
mind it not; 'twill soon seem otherwise; for when I say thou art my ward,
and tell them how costly is my love for thee, thou'lt see them take thee
to their breasts for Miles Hendon's sake, and make their house and hearts
thy home for ever after!"

The next moment Hendon sprang to the ground before the great door, helped
the King down, then took him by the hand and rushed within. A few steps
brought him to a spacious apartment; he entered, seated the King with
more hurry than ceremony, then ran toward a young man who sat at a
writing-table in front of a generous fire of logs.

"Embrace me, Hugh," he cried, "and say thou'rt glad I am come again! and
call our father, for home is not home till I shall touch his hand, and
see his face, and hear his voice once more!"

But Hugh only drew back, after betraying a momentary surprise, and bent a
grave stare upon the intruder--a stare which indicated somewhat of
offended dignity, at first, then changed, in response to some inward
thought or purpose, to an expression of marvelling curiosity, mixed with
a real or assumed compassion. Presently he said, in a mild voice--

"Thy wits seem touched, poor stranger; doubtless thou hast suffered
privations and rude buffetings at the world's hands; thy looks and dress
betoken it. Whom dost thou take me to be?"

"Take thee? Prithee for whom else than whom thou art? I take thee to be
Hugh Hendon," said Miles, sharply.

The other continued, in the same soft tone--

"And whom dost thou imagine thyself to be?"

"Imagination hath nought to do with it! Dost thou pretend thou knowest
me not for thy brother Miles Hendon?"

An expression of pleased surprise flitted across Hugh's face, and he

"What! thou art not jesting? can the dead come to life? God be praised
if it be so! Our poor lost boy restored to our arms after all these
cruel years! Ah, it seems too good to be true, it IS too good to be
true--I charge thee, have pity, do not trifle with me! Quick--come to
the light--let me scan thee well!"

He seized Miles by the arm, dragged him to the window, and began to
devour him from head to foot with his eyes, turning him this way and
that, and stepping briskly around him and about him to prove him from all
points of view; whilst the returned prodigal, all aglow with gladness,
smiled, laughed, and kept nodding his head and saying--

"Go on, brother, go on, and fear not; thou'lt find nor limb nor feature
that cannot bide the test. Scour and scan me to thy content, my good old
Hugh--I am indeed thy old Miles, thy same old Miles, thy lost brother,
is't not so? Ah, 'tis a great day--I SAID 'twas a great day! Give me
thy hand, give me thy cheek--lord, I am like to die of very joy!"

He was about to throw himself upon his brother; but Hugh put up his hand
in dissent, then dropped his chin mournfully upon his breast, saying with

"Ah, God of his mercy give me strength to bear this grievous

Miles, amazed, could not speak for a moment; then he found his tongue,
and cried out--

"WHAT disappointment? Am I not thy brother?"

Hugh shook his head sadly, and said--

"I pray heaven it may prove so, and that other eyes may find the
resemblances that are hid from mine. Alack, I fear me the letter spoke
but too truly."

"What letter?"

"One that came from over sea, some six or seven years ago. It said my
brother died in battle."

"It was a lie! Call thy father--he will know me."

"One may not call the dead."

"Dead?" Miles's voice was subdued, and his lips trembled. "My father
dead!--oh, this is heavy news. Half my new joy is withered now. Prithee
let me see my brother Arthur--he will know me; he will know me and
console me."

"He, also, is dead."

"God be merciful to me, a stricken man! Gone,--both gone--the worthy
taken and the worthless spared, in me! Ah! I crave your mercy!--do not
say the Lady Edith--"

"Is dead? No, she lives."

"Then, God be praised, my joy is whole again! Speed thee, brother--let
her come to me! An' SHE say I am not myself--but she will not; no, no,
SHE will know me, I were a fool to doubt it. Bring her--bring the old
servants; they, too, will know me."

"All are gone but five--Peter, Halsey, David, Bernard, and Margaret."

So saying, Hugh left the room. Miles stood musing a while, then began to
walk the floor, muttering--

"The five arch-villains have survived the two-and-twenty leal and honest
--'tis an odd thing."

He continued walking back and forth, muttering to himself; he had
forgotten the King entirely. By-and-by his Majesty said gravely, and
with a touch of genuine compassion, though the words themselves were
capable of being interpreted ironically--

"Mind not thy mischance, good man; there be others in the world whose
identity is denied, and whose claims are derided. Thou hast company."

"Ah, my King," cried Hendon, colouring slightly, "do not thou condemn me
--wait, and thou shalt see. I am no impostor--she will say it; you shall
hear it from the sweetest lips in England. I an impostor? Why, I know
this old hall, these pictures of my ancestors, and all these things that
are about us, as a child knoweth its own nursery. Here was I born and
bred, my lord; I speak the truth; I would not deceive thee; and should
none else believe, I pray thee do not THOU doubt me--I could not bear

"I do not doubt thee," said the King, with a childlike simplicity and

"I thank thee out of my heart!" exclaimed Hendon with a fervency which
showed that he was touched. The King added, with the same gentle

"Dost thou doubt ME?"

A guilty confusion seized upon Hendon, and he was grateful that the door
opened to admit Hugh, at that moment, and saved him the necessity of

A beautiful lady, richly clothed, followed Hugh, and after her came
several liveried servants. The lady walked slowly, with her head bowed
and her eyes fixed upon the floor. The face was unspeakably sad. Miles
Hendon sprang forward, crying out--

"Oh, my Edith, my darling--"

But Hugh waved him back, gravely, and said to the lady--

"Look upon him. Do you know him?"

At the sound of Miles's voice the woman had started slightly, and her
cheeks had flushed; she was trembling now. She stood still, during an
impressive pause of several moments; then slowly lifted up her head and
looked into Hendon's eyes with a stony and frightened gaze; the blood
sank out of her face, drop by drop, till nothing remained but the grey
pallor of death; then she said, in a voice as dead as the face, "I know
him not!" and turned, with a moan and a stifled sob, and tottered out of
the room.

Miles Hendon sank into a chair and covered his face with his hands.
After a pause, his brother said to the servants--

"You have observed him. Do you know him?"

They shook their heads; then the master said--

"The servants know you not, sir. I fear there is some mistake. You have
seen that my wife knew you not."

"Thy WIFE!" In an instant Hugh was pinned to the wall, with an iron grip
about his throat. "Oh, thou fox-hearted slave, I see it all! Thou'st
writ the lying letter thyself, and my stolen bride and goods are its
fruit. There--now get thee gone, lest I shame mine honourable
soldiership with the slaying of so pitiful a mannikin!"

Hugh, red-faced, and almost suffocated, reeled to the nearest chair, and
commanded the servants to seize and bind the murderous stranger. They
hesitated, and one of them said--

"He is armed, Sir Hugh, and we are weaponless."

"Armed! What of it, and ye so many? Upon him, I say!"

But Miles warned them to be careful what they did, and added--

"Ye know me of old--I have not changed; come on, an' it like you."

This reminder did not hearten the servants much; they still held back.

"Then go, ye paltry cowards, and arm yourselves and guard the doors,
whilst I send one to fetch the watch!" said Hugh. He turned at the
threshold, and said to Miles, "You'll find it to your advantage to offend
not with useless endeavours at escape."

"Escape? Spare thyself discomfort, an' that is all that troubles thee.
For Miles Hendon is master of Hendon Hall and all its belongings. He
will remain--doubt it not."

Chapter XXVI. Disowned.

The King sat musing a few moments, then looked up and said--

"'Tis strange--most strange. I cannot account for it."

"No, it is not strange, my liege. I know him, and this conduct is but
natural. He was a rascal from his birth."

"Oh, I spake not of HIM, Sir Miles."

"Not of him? Then of what? What is it that is strange?"

"That the King is not missed."

"How? Which? I doubt I do not understand."

"Indeed? Doth it not strike you as being passing strange that the land
is not filled with couriers and proclamations describing my person and
making search for me? Is it no matter for commotion and distress that
the Head of the State is gone; that I am vanished away and lost?"

"Most true, my King, I had forgot." Then Hendon sighed, and muttered to
himself, "Poor ruined mind--still busy with its pathetic dream."

"But I have a plan that shall right us both--I will write a paper, in
three tongues--Latin, Greek and English--and thou shalt haste away with
it to London in the morning. Give it to none but my uncle, the Lord
Hertford; when he shall see it, he will know and say I wrote it. Then he
will send for me."

"Might it not be best, my Prince, that we wait here until I prove myself
and make my rights secure to my domains? I should be so much the better
able then to--"

The King interrupted him imperiously--

"Peace! What are thy paltry domains, thy trivial interests, contrasted
with matters which concern the weal of a nation and the integrity of a
throne?" Then, he added, in a gentle voice, as if he were sorry for his
severity, "Obey, and have no fear; I will right thee, I will make thee
whole--yes, more than whole. I shall remember, and requite."

So saying, he took the pen, and set himself to work. Hendon contemplated
him lovingly a while, then said to himself--

"An' it were dark, I should think it WAS a king that spoke; there's no
denying it, when the humour's upon on him he doth thunder and lighten
like your true King; now where got he that trick? See him scribble and
scratch away contentedly at his meaningless pot-hooks, fancying them to
be Latin and Greek--and except my wit shall serve me with a lucky device
for diverting him from his purpose, I shall be forced to pretend to post
away to-morrow on this wild errand he hath invented for me."

The next moment Sir Miles's thoughts had gone back to the recent episode.
So absorbed was he in his musings, that when the King presently handed
him the paper which he had been writing, he received it and pocketed it
without being conscious of the act. "How marvellous strange she acted,"
he muttered. "I think she knew me--and I think she did NOT know me.
These opinions do conflict, I perceive it plainly; I cannot reconcile
them, neither can I, by argument, dismiss either of the two, or even
persuade one to outweigh the other. The matter standeth simply thus:
she MUST have known my face, my figure, my voice, for how could it be
otherwise? Yet she SAID she knew me not, and that is proof perfect, for
she cannot lie. But stop--I think I begin to see. Peradventure he hath
influenced her, commanded her, compelled her to lie. That is the
solution. The riddle is unriddled. She seemed dead with fear--yes, she
was under his compulsion. I will seek her; I will find her; now that he
is away, she will speak her true mind. She will remember the old times
when we were little playfellows together, and this will soften her heart,
and she will no more betray me, but will confess me. There is no
treacherous blood in her--no, she was always honest and true. She has
loved me, in those old days--this is my security; for whom one has loved,
one cannot betray."

He stepped eagerly toward the door; at that moment it opened, and the
Lady Edith entered. She was very pale, but she walked with a firm step,
and her carriage was full of grace and gentle dignity. Her face was as
sad as before.

Miles sprang forward, with a happy confidence, to meet her, but she
checked him with a hardly perceptible gesture, and he stopped where he
was. She seated herself, and asked him to do likewise. Thus simply did
she take the sense of old comradeship out of him, and transform him into
a stranger and a guest. The surprise of it, the bewildering
unexpectedness of it, made him begin to question, for a moment, if he WAS
the person he was pretending to be, after all. The Lady Edith said--

"Sir, I have come to warn you. The mad cannot be persuaded out of their
delusions, perchance; but doubtless they may be persuaded to avoid
perils. I think this dream of yours hath the seeming of honest truth to
you, and therefore is not criminal--but do not tarry here with it; for
here it is dangerous." She looked steadily into Miles's face a moment,
then added, impressively, "It is the more dangerous for that you ARE much
like what our lost lad must have grown to be if he had lived."

"Heavens, madam, but I AM he!"

"I truly think you think it, sir. I question not your honesty in that; I
but warn you, that is all. My husband is master in this region; his
power hath hardly any limit; the people prosper or starve, as he wills.
If you resembled not the man whom you profess to be, my husband might bid
you pleasure yourself with your dream in peace; but trust me, I know him
well; I know what he will do; he will say to all that you are but a mad
impostor, and straightway all will echo him." She bent upon Miles that
same steady look once more, and added: "If you WERE Miles Hendon, and he
knew it and all the region knew it--consider what I am saying, weigh it
well--you would stand in the same peril, your punishment would be no less
sure; he would deny you and denounce you, and none would be bold enough
to give you countenance."

"Most truly I believe it," said Miles, bitterly. "The power that can
command one life-long friend to betray and disown another, and be obeyed,
may well look to be obeyed in quarters where bread and life are on the
stake and no cobweb ties of loyalty and honour are concerned."

A faint tinge appeared for a moment in the lady's cheek, and she dropped
her eyes to the floor; but her voice betrayed no emotion when she

"I have warned you--I must still warn you--to go hence. This man will
destroy you, else. He is a tyrant who knows no pity. I, who am his
fettered slave, know this. Poor Miles, and Arthur, and my dear guardian,
Sir Richard, are free of him, and at rest: better that you were with
them than that you bide here in the clutches of this miscreant. Your
pretensions are a menace to his title and possessions; you have assaulted
him in his own house: you are ruined if you stay. Go--do not hesitate.
If you lack money, take this purse, I beg of you, and bribe the servants
to let you pass. Oh, be warned, poor soul, and escape while you may."

Miles declined the purse with a gesture, and rose up and stood before

"Grant me one thing," he said. "Let your eyes rest upon mine, so that I
may see if they be steady. There--now answer me. Am I Miles Hendon?"

"No. I know you not."

"Swear it!"

The answer was low, but distinct--

"I swear."

"Oh, this passes belief!"

"Fly! Why will you waste the precious time? Fly, and save yourself."

At that moment the officers burst into the room, and a violent struggle
began; but Hendon was soon overpowered and dragged away. The King was
taken also, and both were bound and led to prison.

Chapter XXVII. In prison.

The cells were all crowded; so the two friends were chained in a large
room where persons charged with trifling offences were commonly kept.
They had company, for there were some twenty manacled and fettered
prisoners here, of both sexes and of varying ages,--an obscene and noisy
gang. The King chafed bitterly over the stupendous indignity thus put
upon his royalty, but Hendon was moody and taciturn. He was pretty
thoroughly bewildered; he had come home, a jubilant prodigal, expecting
to find everybody wild with joy over his return; and instead had got the
cold shoulder and a jail. The promise and the fulfilment differed so
widely that the effect was stunning; he could not decide whether it was
most tragic or most grotesque. He felt much as a man might who had
danced blithely out to enjoy a rainbow, and got struck by lightning.

But gradually his confused and tormenting thoughts settled down into some
sort of order, and then his mind centred itself upon Edith. He turned
her conduct over, and examined it in all lights, but he could not make
anything satisfactory out of it. Did she know him--or didn't she know
him? It was a perplexing puzzle, and occupied him a long time; but he
ended, finally, with the conviction that she did know him, and had
repudiated him for interested reasons. He wanted to load her name with
curses now; but this name had so long been sacred to him that he found he
could not bring his tongue to profane it.

Wrapped in prison blankets of a soiled and tattered condition, Hendon and
the King passed a troubled night. For a bribe the jailer had furnished
liquor to some of the prisoners; singing of ribald songs, fighting,
shouting, and carousing was the natural consequence. At last, a while
after midnight, a man attacked a woman and nearly killed her by beating
her over the head with his manacles before the jailer could come to the
rescue. The jailer restored peace by giving the man a sound clubbing
about the head and shoulders--then the carousing ceased; and after that,
all had an opportunity to sleep who did not mind the annoyance of the
moanings and groanings of the two wounded people.

During the ensuing week, the days and nights were of a monotonous
sameness as to events; men whose faces Hendon remembered more or less
distinctly, came, by day, to gaze at the 'impostor' and repudiate and
insult him; and by night the carousing and brawling went on with
symmetrical regularity. However, there was a change of incident at last.
The jailer brought in an old man, and said to him--

"The villain is in this room--cast thy old eyes about and see if thou
canst say which is he."

Hendon glanced up, and experienced a pleasant sensation for the first
time since he had been in the jail. He said to himself, "This is Blake
Andrews, a servant all his life in my father's family--a good honest
soul, with a right heart in his breast. That is, formerly. But none are
true now; all are liars. This man will know me--and will deny me, too,
like the rest."

The old man gazed around the room, glanced at each face in turn, and
finally said--

"I see none here but paltry knaves, scum o' the streets. Which is he?"

The jailer laughed.

"Here," he said; "scan this big animal, and grant me an opinion."

The old man approached, and looked Hendon over, long and earnestly, then
shook his head and said--

"Marry, THIS is no Hendon--nor ever was!"

"Right! Thy old eyes are sound yet. An' I were Sir Hugh, I would take
the shabby carle and--"

The jailer finished by lifting himself a-tip-toe with an imaginary
halter, at the same time making a gurgling noise in his throat suggestive
of suffocation. The old man said, vindictively--

"Let him bless God an' he fare no worse. An' _I_ had the handling o' the
villain he should roast, or I am no true man!"

The jailer laughed a pleasant hyena laugh, and said--

"Give him a piece of thy mind, old man--they all do it. Thou'lt find it
good diversion."

Then he sauntered toward his ante-room and disappeared. The old man
dropped upon his knees and whispered--

"God be thanked, thou'rt come again, my master! I believed thou wert
dead these seven years, and lo, here thou art alive! I knew thee the
moment I saw thee; and main hard work it was to keep a stony countenance
and seem to see none here but tuppenny knaves and rubbish o' the streets.
I am old and poor, Sir Miles; but say the word and I will go forth and
proclaim the truth though I be strangled for it."

"No," said Hendon; "thou shalt not. It would ruin thee, and yet help but
little in my cause. But I thank thee, for thou hast given me back
somewhat of my lost faith in my kind."

The old servant became very valuable to Hendon and the King; for he
dropped in several times a day to 'abuse' the former, and always smuggled
in a few delicacies to help out the prison bill of fare; he also
furnished the current news. Hendon reserved the dainties for the King;
without them his Majesty might not have survived, for he was not able to
eat the coarse and wretched food provided by the jailer. Andrews was
obliged to confine himself to brief visits, in order to avoid suspicion;
but he managed to impart a fair degree of information each time--
information delivered in a low voice, for Hendon's benefit, and
interlarded with insulting epithets delivered in a louder voice for the
benefit of other hearers.

So, little by little, the story of the family came out. Arthur had been
dead six years. This loss, with the absence of news from Hendon,
impaired the father's health; he believed he was going to die, and he
wished to see Hugh and Edith settled in life before he passed away; but
Edith begged hard for delay, hoping for Miles's return; then the letter
came which brought the news of Miles's death; the shock prostrated Sir
Richard; he believed his end was very near, and he and Hugh insisted upon
the marriage; Edith begged for and obtained a month's respite, then
another, and finally a third; the marriage then took place by the death-
bed of Sir Richard. It had not proved a happy one. It was whispered
about the country that shortly after the nuptials the bride found among
her husband's papers several rough and incomplete drafts of the fatal
letter, and had accused him of precipitating the marriage--and Sir
Richard's death, too--by a wicked forgery. Tales of cruelty to the Lady
Edith and the servants were to be heard on all hands; and since the
father's death Sir Hugh had thrown off all soft disguises and become a
pitiless master toward all who in any way depended upon him and his
domains for bread.

There was a bit of Andrew's gossip which the King listened to with a
lively interest--

"There is rumour that the King is mad. But in charity forbear to say _I_
mentioned it, for 'tis death to speak of it, they say."

His Majesty glared at the old man and said--

"The King is NOT mad, good man--and thou'lt find it to thy advantage to
busy thyself with matters that nearer concern thee than this seditious

"What doth the lad mean?" said Andrews, surprised at this brisk assault
from such an unexpected quarter. Hendon gave him a sign, and he did not
pursue his question, but went on with his budget--

"The late King is to be buried at Windsor in a day or two--the 16th of
the month--and the new King will be crowned at Westminster the 20th."

"Methinks they must needs find him first," muttered his Majesty; then
added, confidently, "but they will look to that--and so also shall I."

"In the name of--"

But the old man got no further--a warning sign from Hendon checked his
remark. He resumed the thread of his gossip--

"Sir Hugh goeth to the coronation--and with grand hopes. He confidently
looketh to come back a peer, for he is high in favour with the Lord

"What Lord Protector?" asked his Majesty.

"His Grace the Duke of Somerset."

"What Duke of Somerset?"

"Marry, there is but one--Seymour, Earl of Hertford."

The King asked sharply--

"Since when is HE a duke, and Lord Protector?"

"Since the last day of January."

"And prithee who made him so?"

"Himself and the Great Council--with help of the King."

His Majesty started violently. "The KING!" he cried. "WHAT king, good

"What king, indeed! (God-a-mercy, what aileth the boy?) Sith we have but
one, 'tis not difficult to answer--his most sacred Majesty King Edward
the Sixth--whom God preserve! Yea, and a dear and gracious little urchin
is he, too; and whether he be mad or no--and they say he mendeth daily--
his praises are on all men's lips; and all bless him, likewise, and offer
prayers that he may be spared to reign long in England; for he began
humanely with saving the old Duke of Norfolk's life, and now is he bent
on destroying the cruellest of the laws that harry and oppress the

This news struck his Majesty dumb with amazement, and plunged him into so
deep and dismal a reverie that he heard no more of the old man's gossip.
He wondered if the 'little urchin' was the beggar-boy whom he left
dressed in his own garments in the palace. It did not seem possible that
this could be, for surely his manners and speech would betray him if he
pretended to be the Prince of Wales--then he would be driven out, and
search made for the true prince. Could it be that the Court had set up
some sprig of the nobility in his place? No, for his uncle would not
allow that--he was all-powerful and could and would crush such a
movement, of course. The boy's musings profited him nothing; the more he
tried to unriddle the mystery the more perplexed he became, the more his
head ached, and the worse he slept. His impatience to get to London grew
hourly, and his captivity became almost unendurable.

Hendon's arts all failed with the King--he could not be comforted; but a
couple of women who were chained near him succeeded better. Under their
gentle ministrations he found peace and learned a degree of patience. He
was very grateful, and came to love them dearly and to delight in the
sweet and soothing influence of their presence. He asked them why they
were in prison, and when they said they were Baptists, he smiled, and

"Is that a crime to be shut up for in a prison? Now I grieve, for I
shall lose ye--they will not keep ye long for such a little thing."

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