Chapter VIII. The question of the Seal.
About five o'clock Henry VIII. awoke out of an
unrefreshing nap, and muttered to himself, "Troublous
dreams, troublous dreams! Mine end is now at hand: so say
these warnings, and my failing pulses do confirm it."
Presently a wicked light flamed up in his eye, and he
muttered, "Yet will not I die till HE go before."
His attendants perceiving that he was awake, one of them
asked his pleasure concerning the Lord Chancellor, who was
"Admit him, admit him!" exclaimed the King eagerly.
The Lord Chancellor entered, and knelt by the King's
"I have given order, and, according to the King's
command, the peers of the realm, in their robes, do now
stand at the bar of the House, where, having confirmed the
Duke of Norfolk's doom, they humbly wait his majesty's
further pleasure in the matter."
The King's face lit up with a fierce joy. Said he—
"Lift me up! In mine own person will I go before my
Parliament, and with mine own hand will I seal the warrant
that rids me of—"
His voice failed; an ashen pallor swept the flush from
his cheeks; and the attendants eased him back upon his
pillows, and hurriedly assisted him with restoratives.
Presently he said sorrowfully—
"Alack, how have I longed for this sweet hour! and lo,
too late it cometh, and I am robbed of this so coveted
chance. But speed ye, speed ye! let others do this happy
office sith 'tis denied to me. I put my Great Seal in
commission: choose thou the lords that shall compose it,
and get ye to your work. Speed ye, man! Before the sun
shall rise and set again, bring me his head that I may see
"According to the King's command, so shall it be. Will't
please your majesty to order that the Seal be now restored
to me, so that I may forth upon the business?"
"The Seal? Who keepeth the Seal but thou?"
"Please your majesty, you did take it from me two days
since, saying it should no more do its office till your own
royal hand should use it upon the Duke of Norfolk's
"Why, so in sooth I did: I do remember. . . . What did I
with it? . . . I am very feeble. . . . So oft these days
doth my memory play the traitor with me. . . . 'Tis strange,
The King dropped into inarticulate mumblings, shaking his
grey head weakly from time to time, and gropingly trying to
recollect what he had done with the Seal. At last my Lord
Hertford ventured to kneel and offer information—
"Sire, if that I may be so bold, here be several that do
remember with me how that you gave the Great Seal into the
hands of his highness the Prince of Wales to keep against
the day that—"
"True, most true!" interrupted the King. "Fetch it! Go:
Lord Hertford flew to Tom, but returned to the King
before very long, troubled and empty-handed. He delivered
himself to this effect—
"It grieveth me, my lord the King, to bear so heavy and
unwelcome tidings; but it is the will of God that the
prince's affliction abideth still, and he cannot recall to
mind that he received the Seal. So came I quickly to
report, thinking it were waste of precious time, and little
worth withal, that any should attempt to search the long
array of chambers and saloons that belong unto his royal
A groan from the King interrupted the lord at this point.
After a little while his majesty said, with a deep sadness
in his tone—
"Trouble him no more, poor child. The hand of God lieth
heavy upon him, and my heart goeth out in loving compassion
for him, and sorrow that I may not bear his burden on mine
old trouble-weighted shoulders, and so bring him peace."
He closed his eyes, fell to mumbling, and presently was
silent. After a time he opened his eyes again, and gazed
vacantly around until his glance rested upon the kneeling
Lord Chancellor. Instantly his face flushed with wrath—
"What, thou here yet! By the glory of God, an' thou
gettest not about that traitor's business, thy mitre shall
have holiday the morrow for lack of a head to grace withal!"
The trembling Chancellor answered—
"Good your Majesty, I cry you mercy! I but waited for
"Man, hast lost thy wits? The small Seal which aforetime
I was wont to take with me abroad lieth in my treasury.
And, since the Great Seal hath flown away, shall not it
suffice? Hast lost thy wits? Begone! And hark ye—come no
more till thou do bring his head."
The poor Chancellor was not long in removing himself from
this dangerous vicinity; nor did the commission waste time
in giving the royal assent to the work of the slavish
Parliament, and appointing the morrow for the beheading of
the premier peer of England, the luckless Duke of Norfolk.
Chapter IX. The river pageant.
At nine in the evening the whole vast river-front of the
palace was blazing with light. The river itself, as far as
the eye could reach citywards, was so thickly covered with
watermen's boats and with pleasure-barges, all fringed with
coloured lanterns, and gently agitated by the waves, that it
resembled a glowing and limitless garden of flowers stirred
to soft motion by summer winds. The grand terrace of stone
steps leading down to the water, spacious enough to mass the
army of a German principality upon, was a picture to see,
with its ranks of royal halberdiers in polished armour, and
its troops of brilliantly costumed servitors flitting up and
down, and to and fro, in the hurry of preparation.
Presently a command was given, and immediately all living
creatures vanished from the steps. Now the air was heavy
with the hush of suspense and expectancy. As far as one's
vision could carry, he might see the myriads of people in
the boats rise up, and shade their eyes from the glare of
lanterns and torches, and gaze toward the palace.
A file of forty or fifty state barges drew up to the
steps. They were richly gilt, and their lofty prows and
sterns were elaborately carved. Some of them were decorated
with banners and streamers; some with cloth-of-gold and
arras embroidered with coats-of-arms; others with silken
flags that had numberless little silver bells fastened to
them, which shook out tiny showers of joyous music whenever
the breezes fluttered them; others of yet higher
pretensions, since they belonged to nobles in the prince's
immediate service, had their sides picturesquely fenced with
shields gorgeously emblazoned with armorial bearings. Each
state barge was towed by a tender. Besides the rowers,
these tenders carried each a number of men-at-arms in glossy
helmet and breastplate, and a company of musicians.
The advance-guard of the expected procession now appeared in the great
gateway, a troop of halberdiers. 'They were dressed in
striped hose of black and tawny, velvet caps graced at the
sides with silver roses, and doublets of murrey and blue
cloth, embroidered on the front and back with the three
feathers, the prince's blazon, woven in gold. Their halberd
staves were covered with crimson velvet, fastened with gilt
nails, and ornamented with gold tassels. Filing off on the
right and left, they formed two long lines, extending from
the gateway of the palace to the water's edge. A thick
rayed cloth or carpet was then unfolded, and laid down
between them by attendants in the gold-and-crimson liveries
of the prince. This done, a flourish of trumpets resounded
from within. A lively prelude arose from the musicians on
the water; and two ushers with white wands marched with a
slow and stately pace from the portal. They were followed
by an officer bearing the civic mace, after whom came
another carrying the city's sword; then several sergeants of
the city guard, in their full accoutrements, and with badges
on their sleeves; then the Garter King-at-arms, in his
tabard; then several Knights of the Bath, each with a white
lace on his sleeve; then their esquires; then the judges, in
their robes of scarlet and coifs; then the Lord High
Chancellor of England, in a robe of scarlet, open before,
and purfled with minever; then a deputation of aldermen, in
their scarlet cloaks; and then the heads of the different
civic companies, in their robes of state. Now came twelve
French gentlemen, in splendid habiliments, consisting of
pourpoints of white damask barred with gold, short mantles
of crimson velvet lined with violet taffeta, and carnation
coloured hauts-de-chausses, and took their way down the
steps. They were of the suite of the French ambassador, and
were followed by twelve cavaliers of the suite of the
Spanish ambassador, clothed in black velvet, unrelieved by
any ornament. Following these came several great English
nobles with their attendants.'
There was a flourish of trumpets within; and the Prince's
uncle, the future great Duke of Somerset, emerged from the
gateway, arrayed in a 'doublet of black cloth-of-gold, and a
cloak of crimson satin flowered with gold, and ribanded with
nets of silver.' He turned, doffed his plumed cap, bent his
body in a low reverence, and began to step backward, bowing
at each step. A prolonged trumpet-blast followed, and a
proclamation, "Way for the high and mighty the Lord Edward,
Prince of Wales!" High aloft on the palace walls a long
line of red tongues of flame leapt forth with a
thunder-crash; the massed world on the river burst into a
mighty roar of welcome; and Tom Canty, the cause and hero of
it all, stepped into view and slightly bowed his princely
He was 'magnificently habited in a doublet of white satin, with a
front-piece of purple cloth-of-tissue, powdered with
diamonds, and edged with ermine. Over this he wore a mantle
of white cloth-of-gold, pounced with the triple-feathered
crest, lined with blue satin, set with pearls and precious
stones, and fastened with a clasp of brilliants. About his
neck hung the order of the Garter, and several princely
foreign orders;' and wherever light fell upon him jewels
responded with a blinding flash. O Tom Canty, born in a
hovel, bred in the gutters of London, familiar with rags and
dirt and misery, what a spectacle is this!
Chapter X. The Prince in the toils.
We left John Canty dragging the rightful prince into
Offal Court, with a noisy and delighted mob at his heels.
There was but one person in it who offered a pleading word
for the captive, and he was not heeded; he was hardly even
heard, so great was the turmoil. The Prince continued to
struggle for freedom, and to rage against the treatment he
was suffering, until John Canty lost what little patience
was left in him, and raised his oaken cudgel in a sudden
fury over the Prince's head. The single pleader for the lad
sprang to stop the man's arm, and the blow descended upon
his own wrist. Canty roared out—
"Thou'lt meddle, wilt thou? Then have thy reward."
His cudgel crashed down upon the meddler's head: there was a groan, a
dim form sank to the ground among the feet of the crowd, and
the next moment it lay there in the dark alone. The mob
pressed on, their enjoyment nothing disturbed by this
Presently the Prince found himself in John Canty's abode,
with the door closed against the outsiders. By the vague
light of a tallow candle which was thrust into a bottle, he
made out the main features of the loathsome den, and also
the occupants of it. Two frowsy girls and a middle-aged
woman cowered against the wall in one corner, with the
aspect of animals habituated to harsh usage, and expecting
and dreading it now. From another corner stole a withered
hag with streaming grey hair and malignant eyes. John Canty
said to this one—
"Tarry! There's fine mummeries here. Mar them not till
thou'st enjoyed them: then let thy hand be heavy as thou
wilt. Stand forth, lad. Now say thy foolery again, an
thou'st not forgot it. Name thy name. Who art thou?"
The insulted blood mounted to the little prince's cheek
once more, and he lifted a steady and indignant gaze to the
man's face and said—
"'Tis but ill-breeding in such as thou to command me to
speak. I tell thee now, as I told thee before, I am Edward,
Prince of Wales, and none other."
The stunning surprise of this reply nailed the hag's feet to the floor
where she stood, and almost took her breath. She stared at
the Prince in stupid amazement, which so amused her
ruffianly son, that he burst into a roar of laughter. But
the effect upon Tom Canty's mother and sisters was
different. Their dread of bodily injury gave way at once to
distress of a different sort. They ran forward with woe and
dismay in their faces, exclaiming—
"Oh, poor Tom, poor lad!"
The mother fell on her knees before the Prince, put her
hands upon his shoulders, and gazed yearningly into his face
through her rising tears. Then she said—
"Oh, my poor boy! Thy foolish reading hath wrought its
woeful work at last, and ta'en thy wit away. Ah! why did'st
thou cleave to it when I so warned thee 'gainst it? Thou'st
broke thy mother's heart."
The Prince looked into her face, and said gently—
"Thy son is well, and hath not lost his wits, good dame.
Comfort thee: let me to the palace where he is, and
straightway will the King my father restore him to thee."
"The King thy father! Oh, my child! unsay these words
that be freighted with death for thee, and ruin for all that
be near to thee. Shake of this gruesome dream. Call back
thy poor wandering memory. Look upon me. Am not I thy
mother that bore thee, and loveth thee?"
The Prince shook his head and reluctantly said—
"God knoweth I am loth to grieve thy heart; but truly
have I never looked upon thy face before."
The woman sank back to a sitting posture on the floor,
and, covering her eyes with her hands, gave way to
heart-broken sobs and wailings.
"Let the show go on!" shouted Canty. "What, Nan!—what,
Bet! mannerless wenches! will ye stand in the Prince's
presence? Upon your knees, ye pauper scum, and do him
He followed this with another horse-laugh. The girls
began to plead timidly for their brother; and Nan said—
"An thou wilt but let him to bed, father, rest and sleep
will heal his madness: prithee, do."
"Do, father," said Bet; "he is more worn than is his
wont. To-morrow will he be himself again, and will beg with
diligence, and come not empty home again."
This remark sobered the father's joviality, and brought
his mind to business. He turned angrily upon the Prince,
"The morrow must we pay two pennies to him that owns this
hole; two pennies, mark ye—all this money for a half-year's
rent, else out of this we go. Show what thou'st gathered
with thy lazy begging."
The Prince said—
"Offend me not with thy sordid matters. I tell thee
again I am the King's son."
A sounding blow upon the Prince's shoulder from Canty's
broad palm sent him staggering into goodwife Canty's arms,
who clasped him to her breast, and sheltered him from a
pelting rain of cuffs and slaps by interposing her own
person. The frightened girls retreated to their corner; but
the grandmother stepped eagerly forward to assist her son.
The Prince sprang away from Mrs. Canty, exclaiming—
"Thou shalt not suffer for me, madam. Let these swine do their will
upon me alone."
This speech infuriated the swine to such a degree that
they set about their work without waste of time. Between
them they belaboured the boy right soundly, and then gave
the girls and their mother a beating for showing sympathy
for the victim.
"Now," said Canty, "to bed, all of ye. The entertainment
has tired me."
The light was put out, and the family retired. As soon
as the snorings of the head of the house and his mother
showed that they were asleep, the young girls crept to where
the Prince lay, and covered him tenderly from the cold with
straw and rags; and their mother crept to him also, and
stroked his hair, and cried over him, whispering broken
words of comfort and compassion in his ear the while. She
had saved a morsel for him to eat, also; but the boy's pains
had swept away all appetite—at least for black and tasteless
crusts. He was touched by her brave and costly defence of
him, and by her commiseration; and he thanked her in very
noble and princely words, and begged her to go to her sleep
and try to forget her sorrows. And he added that the King
his father would not let her loyal kindness and devotion go
unrewarded. This return to his 'madness' broke her heart
anew, and she strained him to her breast again and again,
and then went back, drowned in tears, to her bed.
As she lay thinking and mourning, the suggestion began to
creep into her mind that there was an undefinable something
about this boy that was lacking in Tom Canty, mad or sane.
She could not describe it, she could not tell just what it
was, and yet her sharp mother-instinct seemed to detect it
and perceive it. What if the boy were really not her son,
after all? Oh, absurd! She almost smiled at the idea,
spite of her griefs and troubles. No matter, she found that
it was an idea that would not 'down,' but persisted in
haunting her. It pursued her, it harassed her, it clung to
her, and refused to be put away or ignored. At last she
perceived that there was not going to be any peace for her
until she should devise a test that should prove, clearly
and without question, whether this lad was her son or not,
and so banish these wearing and worrying doubts. Ah, yes,
this was plainly the right way out of the difficulty;
therefore she set her wits to work at once to contrive that
test. But it was an easier thing to propose than to
accomplish. She turned over in her mind one promising test
after another, but was obliged to relinquish them all—none
of them were absolutely sure, absolutely perfect; and an
imperfect one could not satisfy her. Evidently she was
racking her head in vain—it seemed manifest that she must
give the matter up. While this depressing thought was
passing through her mind, her ear caught the regular
breathing of the boy, and she knew he had fallen asleep.
And while she listened, the measured breathing was broken
by a soft, startled cry, such as one utters in a troubled
dream. This chance occurrence furnished her instantly with
a plan worth all her laboured tests combined. She at once
set herself feverishly, but noiselessly, to work to relight
her candle, muttering to herself, "Had I but seen him THEN,
I should have known! Since that day, when he was little,
that the powder burst in his face, he hath never been
startled of a sudden out of his dreams or out of his
thinkings, but he hath cast his hand before his eyes, even
as he did that day; and not as others would do it, with the
palm inward, but always with the palm turned outward—I have
seen it a hundred times, and it hath never varied nor ever
failed. Yes, I shall soon know, now!"
By this time she had crept to the slumbering boy's side,
with the candle, shaded, in her hand. She bent heedfully
and warily over him, scarcely breathing in her suppressed
excitement, and suddenly flashed the light in his face and
struck the floor by his ear with her knuckles. The
sleeper's eyes sprang wide open, and he cast a startled
stare about him—but he made no special movement with his
The poor woman was smitten almost helpless with surprise and grief; but
she contrived to hide her emotions, and to soothe the boy to
sleep again; then she crept apart and communed miserably
with herself upon the disastrous result of her experiment.
She tried to believe that her Tom's madness had banished
this habitual gesture of his; but she could not do it.
"No," she said, "his HANDS are not mad; they could not
unlearn so old a habit in so brief a time. Oh, this is a
heavy day for me!"
Still, hope was as stubborn now as doubt had been before;
she could not bring herself to accept the verdict of the
test; she must try the thing again—the failure must have
been only an accident; so she startled the boy out of his
sleep a second and a third time, at intervals—with the same
result which had marked the first test; then she dragged
herself to bed, and fell sorrowfully asleep, saying, "But I
cannot give him up—oh no, I cannot, I cannot—he MUST be my
The poor mother's interruptions having ceased, and the Prince's pains
having gradually lost their power to disturb him, utter
weariness at last sealed his eyes in a profound and restful
sleep. Hour after hour slipped away, and still he slept like
the dead. Thus four or five hours passed. Then his stupor
began to lighten. Presently, while half asleep and half
awake, he murmured—
After a moment—
"Ho, Sir William Herbert! Hie thee hither, and list to
the strangest dream that ever . . . Sir William! dost hear?
Man, I did think me changed to a pauper, and . . . Ho
there! Guards! Sir William! What! is there no groom of the
chamber in waiting? Alack! it shall go hard with—"
"What aileth thee?" asked a whisper near him. "Who art
"Sir William Herbert. Who art thou?"
"I? Who should I be, but thy sister Nan? Oh, Tom, I had
forgot! Thou'rt mad yet—poor lad, thou'rt mad yet: would I
had never woke to know it again! But prithee master thy
tongue, lest we be all beaten till we die!"
The startled Prince sprang partly up, but a sharp
reminder from his stiffened bruises brought him to himself,
and he sank back among his foul straw with a moan and the
"Alas! it was no dream, then!"
In a moment all the heavy sorrow and misery which sleep
had banished were upon him again, and he realised that he
was no longer a petted prince in a palace, with the adoring
eyes of a nation upon him, but a pauper, an outcast, clothed
in rags, prisoner in a den fit only for beasts, and
consorting with beggars and thieves.
In the midst of his grief he began to be conscious of
hilarious noises and shoutings, apparently but a block or
two away. The next moment there were several sharp raps at
the door; John Canty ceased from snoring and said—
"Who knocketh? What wilt thou?"
A voice answered—
"Know'st thou who it was thou laid thy cudgel on?"
"No. Neither know I, nor care."
"Belike thou'lt change thy note eftsoons. An thou would
save thy neck, nothing but flight may stead thee. The man
is this moment delivering up the ghost. 'Tis the priest,
"God-a-mercy!" exclaimed Canty. He roused his family,
and hoarsely commanded, "Up with ye all and fly—or bide
where ye are and perish!"
Scarcely five minutes later the Canty household were in
the street and flying for their lives. John Canty held the
Prince by the wrist, and hurried him along the dark way,
giving him this caution in a low voice—
"Mind thy tongue, thou mad fool, and speak not our name.
I will choose me a new name, speedily, to throw the law's
dogs off the scent. Mind thy tongue, I tell thee!"
He growled these words to the rest of the family—
"If it so chance that we be separated, let each make for
London Bridge; whoso findeth himself as far as the last
linen-draper's shop on the bridge, let him tarry there till
the others be come, then will we flee into Southwark
At this moment the party burst suddenly out of darkness
into light; and not only into light, but into the midst of a
multitude of singing, dancing, and shouting people, massed
together on the river frontage. There was a line of bonfires
stretching as far as one could see, up and down the Thames;
London Bridge was illuminated; Southwark Bridge likewise;
the entire river was aglow with the flash and sheen of
coloured lights; and constant explosions of fireworks filled
the skies with an intricate commingling of shooting
splendours and a thick rain of dazzling sparks that almost
turned night into day; everywhere were crowds of revellers;
all London seemed to be at large.
John Canty delivered himself of a furious curse and
commanded a retreat; but it was too late. He and his tribe
were swallowed up in that swarming hive of humanity, and
hopelessly separated from each other in an instant. We are
not considering that the Prince was one of his tribe; Canty
still kept his grip upon him. The Prince's heart was
beating high with hopes of escape, now. A burly waterman,
considerably exalted with liquor, found himself rudely
shoved by Canty in his efforts to plough through the crowd;
he laid his great hand on Canty's shoulder and said—
"Nay, whither so fast, friend? Dost canker thy soul with
sordid business when all that be leal men and true make
"Mine affairs are mine own, they concern thee not,"
answered Canty, roughly; "take away thy hand and let me
"Sith that is thy humour, thou'lt NOT pass, till thou'st
drunk to the Prince of Wales, I tell thee that," said the
waterman, barring the way resolutely.
"Give me the cup, then, and make speed, make speed!"
Other revellers were interested by this time. They cried
"The loving-cup, the loving-cup! make the sour knave
drink the loving-cup, else will we feed him to the fishes."
So a huge loving-cup was brought; the waterman, grasping
it by one of its handles, and with the other hand bearing up
the end of an imaginary napkin, presented it in due and
ancient form to Canty, who had to grasp the opposite handle
with one of his hands and take off the lid with the other,
according to ancient custom. This left the Prince hand-free
for a second, of course. He wasted no time, but dived among
the forest of legs about him and disappeared. In another
moment he could not have been harder to find, under that
tossing sea of life, if its billows had been the Atlantic's
and he a lost sixpence.
He very soon realised this fact, and straightway busied himself about
his own affairs without further thought of John Canty. He
quickly realised another thing, too. To wit, that a
spurious Prince of Wales was being feasted by the city in
his stead. He easily concluded that the pauper lad, Tom
Canty, had deliberately taken advantage of his stupendous
opportunity and become a usurper.
Therefore there was but one course to pursue—find his way
to the Guildhall, make himself known, and denounce the
impostor. He also made up his mind that Tom should be
allowed a reasonable time for spiritual preparation, and
then be hanged, drawn and quartered, according to the law
and usage of the day in cases of high treason.
Chapter XI. At Guildhall.
The royal barge, attended by its gorgeous fleet, took its
stately way down the Thames through the wilderness of
illuminated boats. The air was laden with music; the river
banks were beruffled with joy-flames; the distant city lay
in a soft luminous glow from its countless invisible
bonfires; above it rose many a slender spire into the sky,
incrusted with sparkling lights, wherefore in their
remoteness they seemed like jewelled lances thrust aloft; as
the fleet swept along, it was greeted from the banks with a
continuous hoarse roar of cheers and the ceaseless flash and
boom of artillery.
To Tom Canty, half buried in his silken cushions, these
sounds and this spectacle were a wonder unspeakably sublime
and astonishing. To his little friends at his side, the
Princess Elizabeth and the Lady Jane Grey, they were
Arrived at the Dowgate, the fleet was towed up the limpid
Walbrook (whose channel has now been for two centuries
buried out of sight under acres of buildings) to
Bucklersbury, past houses and under bridges populous with
merry-makers and brilliantly lighted, and at last came to a
halt in a basin where now is Barge Yard, in the centre of
the ancient city of London. Tom disembarked, and he and his
gallant procession crossed Cheapside and made a short march
through the Old Jewry and Basinghall Street to the
Tom and his little ladies were received with due ceremony
by the Lord Mayor and the Fathers of the City, in their gold
chains and scarlet robes of state, and conducted to a rich
canopy of state at the head of the great hall, preceded by
heralds making proclamation, and by the Mace and the City
Sword. The lords and ladies who were to attend upon Tom and
his two small friends took their places behind their chairs.
At a lower table the Court grandees and other guests of noble degree
were seated, with the magnates of the city; the commoners
took places at a multitude of tables on the main floor of
the hall. From their lofty vantage-ground the giants Gog
and Magog, the ancient guardians of the city, contemplated
the spectacle below them with eyes grown familiar to it in
forgotten generations. There was a bugle-blast and a
proclamation, and a fat butler appeared in a high perch in
the leftward wall, followed by his servitors bearing with
impressive solemnity a royal baron of beef, smoking hot and
ready for the knife.
After grace, Tom (being instructed) rose—and the whole
house with him—and drank from a portly golden loving-cup
with the Princess Elizabeth; from her it passed to the Lady
Jane, and then traversed the general assemblage. So the
By midnight the revelry was at its height. Now came one
of those picturesque spectacles so admired in that old day.
A description of it is still extant in the quaint wording
of a chronicler who witnessed it:
'Space being made, presently entered a baron and an earl
appareled after the Turkish fashion in long robes of bawdkin
powdered with gold; hats on their heads of crimson velvet,
with great rolls of gold, girded with two swords, called
scimitars, hanging by great bawdricks of gold. Next came
yet another baron and another earl, in two long gowns of
yellow satin, traversed with white satin, and in every bend
of white was a bend of crimson satin, after the fashion of
Russia, with furred hats of gray on their heads; either of
them having an hatchet in their hands, and boots with pykes'
(points a foot long), 'turned up. And after them came a
knight, then the Lord High Admiral, and with him five
nobles, in doublets of crimson velvet, voyded low on the
back and before to the cannell-bone, laced on the breasts
with chains of silver; and over that, short cloaks of
crimson satin, and on their heads hats after the dancers'
fashion, with pheasants' feathers in them. These were
appareled after the fashion of Prussia. The torchbearers,
which were about an hundred, were appareled in crimson satin
and green, like Moors, their faces black. Next came in a
mommarye. Then the minstrels, which were disguised, danced;
and the lords and ladies did wildly dance also, that it was
a pleasure to behold.'
And while Tom, in his high seat, was gazing upon this
'wild' dancing, lost in admiration of the dazzling
commingling of kaleidoscopic colours which the whirling
turmoil of gaudy figures below him presented, the ragged but
real little Prince of Wales was proclaiming his rights and
his wrongs, denouncing the impostor, and clamouring for
admission at the gates of Guildhall! The crowd enjoyed this
episode prodigiously, and pressed forward and craned their
necks to see the small rioter. Presently they began to taunt
him and mock at him, purposely to goad him into a higher and
still more entertaining fury. Tears of mortification sprang
to his eyes, but he stood his ground and defied the mob
right royally. Other taunts followed, added mockings stung
him, and he exclaimed—
"I tell ye again, you pack of unmannerly curs, I am the
Prince of Wales! And all forlorn and friendless as I be,
with none to give me word of grace or help me in my need,
yet will not I be driven from my ground, but will maintain
"Though thou be prince or no prince, 'tis all one, thou
be'st a gallant lad, and not friendless neither! Here stand
I by thy side to prove it; and mind I tell thee thou
might'st have a worser friend than Miles Hendon and yet not
tire thy legs with seeking. Rest thy small jaw, my child; I
talk the language of these base kennel-rats like to a very
The speaker was a sort of Don Caesar de Bazan in dress,
aspect, and bearing. He was tall, trim-built, muscular.
His doublet and trunks were of rich material, but faded and
threadbare, and their gold-lace adornments were sadly
tarnished; his ruff was rumpled and damaged; the plume in
his slouched hat was broken and had a bedraggled and
disreputable look; at his side he wore a long rapier in a
rusty iron sheath; his swaggering carriage marked him at
once as a ruffler of the camp. The speech of this fantastic
figure was received with an explosion of jeers and laughter.
Some cried, "'Tis another prince in disguise!" "'Ware thy
tongue, friend: belike he is dangerous!" "Marry, he
looketh it—mark his eye!" "Pluck the lad from him—to the
horse-pond wi' the cub!"
Instantly a hand was laid upon the Prince, under the
impulse of this happy thought; as instantly the stranger's
long sword was out and the meddler went to the earth under a
sounding thump with the flat of it. The next moment a score
of voices shouted, "Kill the dog! Kill him! Kill him!" and
the mob closed in on the warrior, who backed himself against
a wall and began to lay about him with his long weapon like
a madman. His victims sprawled this way and that, but the
mob-tide poured over their prostrate forms and dashed itself
against the champion with undiminished fury.
His moments seemed numbered, his destruction certain, when suddenly a
trumpet-blast sounded, a voice shouted, "Way for the King's
messenger!" and a troop of horsemen came charging down upon
the mob, who fled out of harm's reach as fast as their legs
could carry them. The bold stranger caught up the Prince in
his arms, and was soon far away from danger and the
Return we within the Guildhall. Suddenly, high above the
jubilant roar and thunder of the revel, broke the clear peal
of a bugle-note. There was instant silence—a deep hush;
then a single voice rose—that of the messenger from the
palace—and began to pipe forth a proclamation, the whole
multitude standing listening.
The closing words, solemnly pronounced, were—
"The King is dead!"
The great assemblage bent their heads upon their breasts
with one accord; remained so, in profound silence, a few
moments; then all sank upon their knees in a body, stretched
out their hands toward Tom, and a mighty shout burst forth
that seemed to shake the building—
"Long live the King!"
Poor Tom's dazed eyes wandered abroad over this stupefying spectacle,
and finally rested dreamily upon the kneeling princesses
beside him, a moment, then upon the Earl of Hertford. A
sudden purpose dawned in his face. He said, in a low tone,
at Lord Hertford's ear—
"Answer me truly, on thy faith and honour! Uttered I
here a command, the which none but a king might hold
privilege and prerogative to utter, would such commandment
be obeyed, and none rise up to say me nay?"
"None, my liege, in all these realms. In thy person
bides the majesty of England. Thou art the king—thy word is
Tom responded, in a strong, earnest voice, and with great
"Then shall the king's law be law of mercy, from this
day, and never more be law of blood! Up from thy knees and
away! To the Tower, and say the King decrees the Duke of
Norfolk shall not die!"
The words were caught up and carried eagerly from lip to
lip far and wide over the hall, and as Hertford hurried from
the presence, another prodigious shout burst forth—
"The reign of blood is ended! Long live Edward, King of