The Prince and the Pauper: A Tale for Young People of All Ages

By Mark Twain | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
TOM RECEIVES INSTRUCTIONS

T OM was conducted to the principal apartment of a noble suite, and made to sit down--a thing which he was loath to do, since there were elderly men and men of high degree about him. He begged them to be seated, also, but they only bowed their thanks or murmured them, and remained standing. He would have insisted, but his "uncle," the Earl of Hertford, whispered in his ear:

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

The Lord St. John was announced, and, after making obeisance to Tom, he said:

"I come upon the king's errand, concerning a matter which requireth privacy. Will it please your royal highness to dismiss all that attend you here, save my lord the Earl of Hertford?"

Observing that Tom did not seem to know how to proceed, Hertford whispered him to make a sign with his hand and not trouble himself to speak unless he chose. When the waiting gentlemen had retired, Lord St. John said:

"His majesty commandeth, that for due and weighty reasons of state, the prince's grace shall hide his infirmity in all ways that be within his

-34-

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