Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Tom Canty and Prince Edward are born in London on the same day. Tom, however, is unwanted, and Edward has been long awaited. While the prince lies robed in silks, Tom grows up in the filth of Offal Court. As a small child, Tom is forced by his father to beg during the day and is beaten by him at night. Gathering a ragtag court of street urchins around him, Tom often pretends that he is a prince. Father Andrew, a priest who lives in Tom’s house, teaches Tom to read.
One day, hoping to see Prince Edward of England, Tom visits the royal precincts, but when he approaches too near, he is cuffed by a guard and ordered away. Edward, who has witnessed the incident, protects Tom and takes the young beggar into the palace. There, in the privacy of Edward’s chamber, Tom confesses his longing to be a prince. When the two boys exchange garments, they discover that they are identical in appearance. Before they can switch clothes again, Edward is mistaken for the beggar boy and thrown out of the palace. He wanders helplessly in the streets, mocked by people whom he approaches with pleas that they pay homage to him as their rightful prince.
In the palace, it is thought that the prince has gone mad because he can recall none of the royal matters that he is supposed to know. King Henry VIII issues an edict that no one should discuss the royal lapse of memory, and Edward’s half-sister, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I); his cousin Lady Jane...
(The entire section is 1248 words.)
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Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
In The Prince and the Pauper, Twain brought together several of his literary interests. His interest in old European civilization, which had been so successfully employed in his travel book The Innocents Abroad and had been essayed again in A Tramp Abroad (1880), is here focused on England, with emphasis upon life in London. (He will come back again to the theme in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which also returns to the idea of taking the novel back into the past.) The novel does not forget the part of Twain’s literary gift that is most celebrated: his interest in boys and how they cope in situations that are not without serious consequences. Twain also had wider ambitions for the novel, and he makes use of it to comment upon politics, social problems, and the relations between children and parents or, as often is the case in his books, surrogate parents.
The book is directly related to the fairy tale genre, and it starts simply enough with the unusual, but not impossible, idea that a London street urchin, who looks surprisingly like Prince Edward, is taken into the palace by the prince. They innocently change clothes, and the prince goes off to chide the guard who mistreated his new friend, only to be thrown out on to the street despite his claim that he is the prince. Then the real trouble starts, both for him and for Tom Canty, the beggar boy, for whom the danger is less physically obvious but...
(The entire section is 866 words.)
Chapters 1-2 Summary
In London, two boys are born. Edward Tudor, the Prince of Wales, is born to great celebration, having been long hoped for by the people of England as well as by his family. There is rejoicing throughout London at the arrival of a male heir to the throne. Tom is born to the Canty family in the poor district near London Bridge. He is seen as just another burden and mouth to feed.
The years pass, and Tom is revealed to be living in third-floor, single-room lodgings in Offal Court with his family: his drunken father and grandmother, his subdued mother, and his twin sisters Bet and Nan. The girls are good hearted but ignorant. Tom’s father, John Canty, is a thief and regularly comes home to beat his wife and children, especially Tom. Tom’s grandmother is a beggar and takes up the beatings when John Canty leaves off. Whenever Mrs. Canty tries to slip some extra food to Tom, she also receives a beating from her husband.
Also living in the house is Father Andrew, a pensioned priest who gives Tom as much education as he can. Tom learns a little Latin, but his primary interest is in the tales Father Andrew tells. He is enthralled by stories of princes and the lives they lead. Tom imagines what it would be like to be a prince, to be pampered and well fed. More than anything, Tom wants to see a real prince, but his comrades laugh at him.
Eventually, through his reading and his dreaming, Tom’s speech and mannerisms resemble more those of a prince than a pauper. He is held with deep respect by the other residents of Offal Court. He even grows in wisdom, as if he were raised in a palace with the best mentors of the land. People, even adults, come to Tom for advice.
Tom organizes his friends into a royal court, complete with guards, chamberlains, equerries, lords, and ladies-in-waiting, along with a royal family. Despite the dirt and filth of his daily life, Tom begins to take more care with his cleanliness, splashing around in the Thames River for a bath rather than just for fun.
One January day, Tom wanders the streets of London, looking through the shop windows at the rich displays of food and dainties. He longs for release from his impoverished life. That night, he dreams that he is surrounded by real lords and ladies and all the glories of royalty. He awakens to be disheartened even more by his meager surroundings.
(The entire section is 426 words.)
Chapters 3-4 Summary
As Tom Canty wanders around London, he makes his way to the royal palace at Westminster. He looks through the gates and at last sees a prince dressed in his glorious array. The guard smacks Tom away, but the prince, Edward Tutor, sees this and berates the guard for his cruelty.
The prince invites Tom into the palace, seeing that he is weak and hungry. He asks the poor boy about his family. He is outraged to learn that Tom’s father and grandmother beat him and vows that he will make sure that they are properly punished, even if the Tower of London is reserved for more noble criminals. Tom tells about his mother and sisters, who are kind although poor.
Prince Edward describes his equally kind sister Elizabeth and cousin Jane Grey, but restrains himself in his description of his mean elder sister Mary.
Tom assures Edward that his life is not all hardship. He relates the fun he and the other poor children have along the banks of the river. This intrigues Edward, since his life is pretty constrained as a prince. He suggests that he and Tom change clothes, just for fun. When they do, they notice that they look identical, even down to voice and mannerisms.
Edward notices a bruise on Tom’s hand where the guard struck him. Furious, Edward runs out after putting away an “article of national importance.” He confronts the guard with his cruelty, but the guard, thinking that the prince is the pauper, strikes him and throws him outside the palace gate.
Chased down the road by the laughing crowd, Edward cries out royal oaths to the mob, which only makes them laugh harder. When he falls silent from fatigue, the crowd loses interest in him and leaves.
Edward finds himself at Grey Friars’, renamed Christ’s Church, which is a hospital for poor boys. Edward reasons that the people here will return him to the palace, but the poor boys treat him as roughly as the mob as soon as Edward demands that they take him to his father the king.
They march him out of the hospital, and Edward is forced to walk through the rain, hoping to find Offal Court and Tom’s family, who he is sure will return him to his father. Edward is caught by John Canty, who exclaims that he is out late at night with nothing to show for his begging. Edward tries to convince John Canty that he is not Tom, but John merely drags him back to Offal Court to face the consequences of his unprofitable day.
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Chapters 5-6 Summary
Tom continues to admire his appearance in the mirror and wanders around the room, examining the rich articles displayed there. After some time, he begins to worry since Edward has not returned.
Soon Lady Jane Grey arrives and sees that the boy she believes is her cousin is not as he usually is. Tom tells her that he is Tom Canty and wants to go back to his humble home. Lady Jane thinks that he is truly ill and rushes out of the room.
The rumor quickly spreads throughout the palace that the Prince of Wales has gone mad. Tom leaves the room and walks through the palace, eventually coming to a room filled with courtiers and a large man sitting on a chair. He soon discovers that this is King Henry the Eighth, Edward’s father.
The king beckons him and questions him, having heard the rumors of his son’s madness. He speaks in Latin, and Tom answers him. This relieves the king somewhat as it is a sign to him that he is not completely mad. When Tom does not understand French, however, he once more becomes concerned.
King Henry announces that his son’s madness is only temporary and is not to be spoken of. He tells Lord Hertford, Edward’s uncle, to prepare for Edward’s installation as Prince of Wales. Lord Hertford mentions the coming execution of the Duke of Norfolk, which bothers Tom. The king recognizes the gentle spirit of his son in Tom, who reflects that this royal reality is completely different from the dreams he used to have of being a prince.
Lord Hertford takes Tom back to Edward’s chambers. They are joined by Lord St. John, who tells Tom that he must hide his madness and make no mention of it. Since the king has decided that the prince’s illness is due to overstudy, Tom is to avoid books as much as possible.
Lady Jane Grey and Lady Elizabeth enter and try to act normally. Tom decides to speak as the princes in his books speak. He successfully fools the other characters.
Lord Hertford and Lord St. John discuss this situation, both concerned that the king is near death, which will leave a mad boy on the throne of England. St. John suggests that this may not be madness but a totally different boy who has assumed the identity of the prince. Hertford assures him that he would know his nephew anywhere.
When St. John leaves, however, Hertford begins to wonder if it is possible that the prince is not really Edward. He dismisses this since it...
(The entire section is 459 words.)
Chapters 7-8 Summary
Tom must submit to having his clothes changed for the noonday meal. He is not allowed to dress himself but has a team of servants to perform the ceremony.
He is escorted to a banquet hall, where a sumptuous table is spread for him alone, although the room is filled with servants, each with his own duty. One fastens a napkin around Tom’s neck and another tastes Tom’s food, lest it be poisoned. The chaplain stands to say grace before and after the meal. The Lord Chief Butler, the Lord Great Steward, and the Lord Head Cook all stand in attendance. Amazed at the number of servants, Tom is not aware that he personally has hundreds more, all of them dedicated to meeting his every need and whim.
When presented with the food, Tom eats with his fingers. The servants are moved with compassion at this sign of the prince’s mental illness. When offered a napkin to wipe his greasy hands, he sends it away lest he accidentally soil it. Many of the vegetables have only recently been grown in England, so they are new to Tom.
When he finishes dessert Tom sticks a handful of nuts into his pocket, but he can tell that this is something that a true prince would not do. Conscious of the unseemliness of a prince doing anything on his own, he is distressed to find that his nose itches. The servants are confused as to what to do in this matter, so Tom scratches his nose himself.
He returns to his chambers and finds a suit of armor that he tries on. He also discovers a small library of books. Among them, he is delighted to find a book on court etiquette. He begins to read it, realizing that he still has much to learn in being a prince.
King Henry awakens from a nap and feels unwell. He senses that his death is drawing near and so resolves that he will execute the Duke of Norfolk before his own end. He calls the Lord Chancellor to learn what the situation is for the execution. The Lord Chancellor tells the king that they are only waiting for his orders.
The king calls for the Great Seal, which is necessary to order the execution. The Lord Chancellor reminds King Henry that he asked for the seal a few days previously so that he could command Norfolk’s death when the time came. He had given it to the Prince of Wales for safekeeping.
The Lord Chancellor goes to the prince’s chambers but returns to tell the king that the prince cannot remember ever having the seal. King Henry orders...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
Chapters 9-10 Summary
That evening, a river pageant is held in honor of the Prince of Wales’s investiture. Lighted barges float along the Thames to the palace, each bearing soldiers, diplomats, or noblemen. Tom appears, dressed in bejeweled splendor. His life as a celebrated prince is in deep contrast to his lowly life as a pauper.
In the meantime, John Canty has captured Edward, the true Prince of Wales. Edward resists John’s grip, but Canty raises his cudgel to strike the boy. A figure intervenes and the stroke hits him instead, knocking him to the ground.
Canty hauls Edward into Offal Court to the one-room lodgings of the Canty family. Edward keeps insisting that he is a prince and must be returned to his father the king. Mrs. Canty exclaims that “Tom” has lost his sanity by reading so many books about the life of princes. Canty tries to strike Edward again, but Mrs. Canty shields him from the blows. Edward breaks free, stating that a woman will not take the blows in his stead and dares Canty to give him his worst. Canty orders Edward to bed along with everyone else.
Mrs. Canty wonders at the change in her son. He is so completely different from what he had been that morning that she begins to speculate that the boy may indeed be someone else. She tries to think of some way to test his identity but can think of nothing.
Finally Mrs. Canty remembers a time that Tom had been exposed to a blast of gunpowder. Ever since, Tom always has thrown up his hand at any sudden noise or occurrence. She goes to the spot where Edward is sleeping and holds the candle to his face, knocking on the floor by his head. Edward awakens, but he does not throw up his hand. She tries several times throughout the night, but still there is no sign.
Mrs. Canty tries to believe that Tom’s new madness drove the habit out of his mind, but she cannot accept this. She comes to realize that this boy is not her son.
In his sleep, Edward cries out for Sir William, telling him that he dreamed that he was a pauper. He awakens Tom’s sister Nan, who asks him who Sir William is. She remembers that “Tom” is now mad.
A knock on the door awakens the family. A messenger informs Canty that the man he struck down was the priest, Father Andrew, which puts Canty in danger of the law. The entire family flees. Canty has hold of Edward when they run into the revelers at the river pageant. Canty is stopped and given a...
(The entire section is 467 words.)
Chapters 11-12 Summary
Tom, along with Princess Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey, is carried by barge to the Guildhall, where their arrival is celebrated with great ceremony.
In the meantime, Edward is trying to enter the Guildhall but is held back, obviously being a pauper. He is trying to reach Tom, who he has decided has usurped his place as the Prince of Wales and must be arrested. As he berates the guards, a friend arrives, bearing the name of Miles Hendon. Miles himself looks to be a faded prince and is also the butt of the crowd's jokes.
As the crowd advances on Edward, a mounted messenger rides through the mob to proclaim that King Henry is dead. As the people inside the Guildhall react by kneeling before Tom, the poor boy is struck with an idea. He asks the Earl of Hertford, who is standing next to him, if he is allowed to give a command. The Earl tells him that, now that he is the king, his word is law.
Tom declares to the assembly that there will be no more law of blood. He orders guards to the Tower to release the Duke of Norfolk from his sentence of death. The crowd rejoices that the “reign of blood” is ended.
As Miles pulls the prince through the crowd, Edward hears the news that his father is dead. His grief is soon replaced by the realization that he is now the king. Miles and Edward encounter John Canty, who tries to capture “Tom” once again. Miles refuses to let go of him, and the two of them escape.
Miles takes Edward to his lodgings on London Bridge, which is a small village all its own. The shops, church, and homes are the entire world of the inhabitants, who do not often leave the Bridge to go to the rest of London.
At Miles’ home, Edward falls asleep and Miles tenderly covers him with his own doublet. He wonders at the consistency of Edward’s story. When Edward awakens, he demands that Miles bring him some water to wash and prepare his meal. He also objects to Miles’ sitting in the presence of a king. Miles plays along with him, although he thinks that he is simply a mad boy.
Miles tells him of his history. He is the son of a rich knight and had fallen in love with his cousin Edith. Although Miles’ brothers poisoned their father’s mind against him, Miles vowed to marry Edith anyway. His father exiled him and Miles joined the army, where he was caught and imprisoned until his recent release.
Edward asks Miles what reward he can give him...
(The entire section is 471 words.)
Chapters 13-14 Summary
After eating, Edward lies down to sleep after ordering Miles to undress him for the night. Miles covers him again and lies down across the door, as Edward had told him to do.
In the morning, Miles measures Edward and tells him to go back to sleep, covering up even his head. Miles goes out to buy some second-hand clothes for Edward to replace his rags. He plans to take Edward to his father’s home at Hendon Hall, some distance from London.
He returns and mends the clothes as Edward sleeps. When he is finished, Miles tells Edward to wake up but finds that Edward is gone. The servant arrives, bringing breakfast. Miles learns that a youth came for Edward with the message that he was to meet Miles at Southwark. The servant also says that the two were met by a ruffian, who took them away. Miles vows that he will search until he finds Edward.
Tom awakens, thinking that he has been dreaming of being a prince. He calls for his sisters to tell them about it, only to discover that it was no dream. He falls back asleep and dreams of a dwarf who tells him to dig by a stump, where he finds twelve pennies. He takes them home, giving some to his mother, proud that he did not have to beg or steal for them.
When he awakens again, Tom must undergo the ordeal of being dressed by a long line of attendants. After breakfast, he learns that the king is to be buried the following month. Tom asks if the body will keep. Tom must then listen to the business of the day, but soon falls asleep.
He is awakened by his whipping boy, who must bear the punishment that the prince is to receive for failing in his lessons. The whipping boy’s name is Humphrey Marlowe, and he explains to Tom that just a few days previously he had been whipped when the prince did not know his Greek lessons. Humphrey expresses great concern that, now that the prince is the king, his services will not be needed, since the king will be giving up his lessons. He fears that he and his sisters will starve once he loses his position.
Tom assures him that he will continue with his lessons and fail in them often to ensure Humphrey a job. He gives him the hereditary title of the Grand Whipping Boy, which will be passed down to his descendants.
The Earl of Hertford enters and asks once again if Tom remembers where the Great Seal is. When Tom asks what it looks like, Hertford despairs that the new king has once more lost his mind....
(The entire section is 455 words.)
Chapters 15-16 Summary
The following day, Tom receives the foreign ambassadors. With the Earl of Hertford’s assistance, Tom speaks the words appropriate for a king in receiving diplomats. He manages to look and sound like a king, but he does not feel at ease. He sees most of his time as wasted with royal business, but he enjoys a few hours with his whipping boy, who instructs him in some useful information about palace life.
After a few days, Tom grows more easy in his role. Hertford is chosen as the Lord Protector, being most in touch with the king’s royal duties.
One day, Tom looks out the window and sees a mob. He sends someone to find out what is happening, surprised at the speed with which he has picked up the voice of royal command.
A man, a woman, and a young girl are brought in. Tom recognizes the man as Giles Witt, whom he had seen pull a drowning boy out of the Thames. He is informed that Giles is to be executed for poisoning. Giles asks that he be put to death by hanging instead of being boiled alive.
Tom agrees, horrified at the barbarity of punishment in the royal court. He further questions Giles and learns that the evidence against him is based on circumstances and the prediction of a witch. Giles claims that he was nowhere near the spot where the poisoning occurred since he was in London saving a drowning boy. Tom immediately frees him.
The members of the royal court are astonished at Tom’s wisdom, believing that no insane person could show such reasoning. In questioning the woman, Tom learns that she has been convicted of selling her soul, along with the soul of her daughter, to the devil. They are accused of causing a storm by taking off their stockings.
Tom orders the woman to cause a storm now, assuring her that he will set her free if she does. The woman cannot produce a storm, even after she removes her stockings.
Tom asks about the girl selling herself to the devil. He learns that it is illegal for an Englishman to sell a child so young, but she may be sold to the devil. Tom questions why the devil is allowed to do something that the English are prohibited from doing. He frees both the woman and the girl, and the people are amazed at his good judgment.
Tom attends his first state dinner and manages to act like a king, without a single flaw.
(The entire section is 425 words.)
Chapters 17-18 Summary
Miles Hendon hurries across London Bridge to Southwark but finds no sign of Edward, the youth, or the ruffian. He decides that Edward’s most likely course of action would be to try to find Miles, his only friend, perhaps even going toward Hendon Hall. Miles sets off in that direction.
In the meantime, Edward is taken by the youth and the ruffian into the countryside to a wood. They find shelter in a dilapidated barn. There the ruffian takes off his disguise of an eyepatch and bandage to reveal himself as John Canty. Edward demands to know where Miles is (to whom he refers as his servant), but Canty simply laughs at his pretensions.
He tells Edward that he has changed his name to John Hobbs and that Edward is now Jack. He asks the boy where his mother and sisters are. Edward replies that his mother is dead and that his sisters are in the palace. Canty (Hobbs) and the youth (Hugo) talk between themselves while Edward tries to distance himself from them as far as he can.
Edward falls asleep but awakens to find that a large crowd of thieves has joined them in the barn. He overhears them talking about their past lives. One describes himself as a poor man who was forced to beg to avoid starving to death. Since begging is against the law in England, he was arrested and beaten. He calls himself nothing but an English slave.
Edward, horrified at the account, jumps up and declares that as he is the king of England, the law against begging will be done away with. The thieves laugh at him and mock him. Edward takes them seriously and thanks them for their courtesy. One of the thieves suggests that he drop the royal act and calls him “Foo-foo the First, King of the Mooncalves.” The other thieves take up the cry, and Edward cries tears of shame and indignation.
Later, Edward manages to escape from the youth Hugo. He wanders around the countryside, trying to find food at nearby farmhouses, but he is ordered away. He finds a barn and sneaks inside. He discovers some blankets in one of the stalls and crawls under them, falling asleep from fatigue.
He is startled awake when he feels a movement. He fears finding some dead body nearby but is glad to find that it is only a calf. He crawls next to the calf and covers them both with the blankets, falling deep asleep at last.
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Chapters 19-20 Summary
Edward awakens the next morning to find that a rat has fallen asleep on his chest. He realizes that since he cannot sink any lower, his circumstances are about to change for the better.
Two young girls enter the barn and are surprised to see him there. When he announces that he is the king, the girls readily believe him. Their mother, however, believes him to be a deranged tramp. A widow, the woman gives him some food and tries to determine where he has come from. He shows no signs of knowing any of the places she names. She tries to find out his occupation, finally deciding from his interest that he used to be a servant in the palace kitchen.
She sets him to watching some cooking food while she does some chores. Thinking of the story of King Alfred and the cakes, Edward watches the food but like Alfred, lets it burn. Edward shows no skill at any of the tasks the widow sets him to do.
Edward spends the day with the widow and her daughters. He condescends to allow them to sit with him and eat rather than stand and serve. The widow condescends to give him a good meal rather than the broken bits she would normally give a tramp.
She tells him to wash the dishes, which he manages to do, although not well. She tells him to take a basket of kittens out to drown, but Edward decides that this is where he must draw the line. However, when he sees John Canty and Hugo enter the farm's yard, he grabs the kittens and leaves. He sets the kittens in an outbuilding and takes off through the woods.
As night falls, Edward finds a hut where a hermit lives. The hermit seems readily to believe his tale that he is the king, complimenting him on leaving his throne behind for the religious life. He learns that King Henry the Eighth is dead. He tells Edward that he is an archangel but would have been the pope if the king had not dissolved all the monasteries.
Edward thinks that he would be safer in the hands of the outlaws rather than in the company of the hermit, and this estimation proves to be correct. As Edward sleeps, the hermit sharpens his knife. He believes that Edward was sent to him to exact revenge on behalf of all the monks. Carefully, he ties Edward’s hands and feet and waits for him to awaken.
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Chapters 21-22 Summary
Edward awakens to find himself bound and gagged, the mad monk sitting nearby with a knife. He tries to cry out when the monk asks him if he has prayed the prayer for the dying.
Soon he hears the sound of someone approaching. A knock on the door reveals Miles Hendon, who tells the monk that he is seeking a boy who has escaped from outlaws. The monk reveals to Miles that he is an archangel, which Miles plays along with. The monk says that he sent the boy out on an errand, but Miles knows that Edward would never leave on such a task.
As Miles and the monk speak, Edward tries to make sounds loud enough for Miles to hear. Miles does indeed hear, but the monk says that the sounds came from outside. He and Miles go out into the woods, Miles fearing that the boy will get lost.
Edward is left alone, but he soon hears someone else enter the cabin. It is John Canty and Hugo, who untie Edward and take him away.
Canty and Hugo, holding tight to Edward, rejoin the gang of outlaws, who are overjoyed to see that “King Foo-foo” has been returned to them. Most of the thieves like Edward, but Canty and Hugo make his life miserable. They try to get him to steal and beg, but Edward refuses. When set to tasks of labor, he rejects these as well.
While he was glad to be rescued from the mad monk, Edward now realizes that he is still in a very bad spot. Hugo plans to create a sore on Edward’s leg, which will make him more pitiable as a beggar. Edward fights against this attempt, promising to hang both Hugo and John Canty the moment he is restored to the throne.
Hugo resolves to turn Edward into a thief, just to get rid of him. In a village, Hugo (accompanied by Edward) steals a package from a woman’s basket. He gives the package to Edward and takes off. Edward is caught by the woman, who berates him for stealing from a poor woman.
A crowd surrounds Edward and the woman, and a blacksmith approaches, intent on inflicting some punishment on the would-be thief. A man enters the fray, brandishing a sword and warning the mob to let the law take care of the situation. The woman and the blacksmith release Edward and he springs to the side of his rescuer, who is Miles Hendon, and orders him to carve the rabble to rags.
(The entire section is 426 words.)
Chapters 23-24 Summary
A constable approaches, but Edward resists any attempt to take him to the court for questioning. Miles warns him that he should submit himself to the law just as any of the king’s subjects would since the law of England is even more supreme than the monarch.
Edward sees the wisdom of this and allows himself to be brought before the justice of the peace. When the woman’s package is revealed, it is a dressed pig, which the woman claims is worth three shillings and eightpence.
At this, the justice orders the court cleared and the doors closed. He warns the woman that any one who thieves something above the value of thirteen pence ha’penny is subject to the death penalty. He pleads for her to change the value, considering Edward a poor boy driven to theft by starvation. The woman relents and values the pig at eightpence.
She is released from the court, but the constable follows her. Miles sneaks out to eavesdrop on the conversation that the constable has with the woman. The constable offers to buy the dressed pig for eightpence, but the woman objects that it is worth more than that. He warns her that she swore on oath to the reduced value. Faced with prosecution for perjury, the woman gives the constable the pig.
Edward is sentenced to a short imprisonment followed by a public flogging. When he objects to this, Miles tells him to trust him. As the constable takes Edward to jail, Miles approaches the official and tells him to let the boy escape. The constable is shocked at the suggestion, but Miles repeats the conversation that he overheard.
The constable objects that he had just plagued the woman in jest, but Miles asks if he then kept the pig in jest. Miles says that the constable effectively stole the pig from the poor woman. Since the pig was valued initially as being worth three shillings and eightpence, the constable is now subject to the same death penalty that would have been handed down to Edward.
He tells the constable that he will ask the justice of the peace if such jesting is protected by the law, but the constable stops him and asks for mercy for the sake of his wife and children. Miles agrees, as long as the constable does not prevent Edward from escaping. The constable swears that he will become deaf, speechless, and paralyzed when Miles comes to rescue Edward from the jail cell. Miles thanks him, stating that he doubts that justice will be harsh for the...
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Chapters 25-26 Summary
Edward discards his rags and dresses in the clothes Miles bought for him on London Bridge. They leave London and travel across country, staying at a village overnight.
Miles continues to act as the servant to Edward’s “act” as the king. He tells Edward that the mad monk returned to his hut and was upset that Edward had escaped. When Edward tells Miles that the monk planned to kill him, Miles regrets not killing the “archangel.”
Miles looks forward to arriving at his old home, Hendon Hall. When he reaches the village, it seems to him unchanged. At Hendon Hall, Miles’ brother Hugh is the first to see them. Hugh, however, claims not to recognize Miles as his brother. He says that the family received a letter several years before saying that Miles Hendon had been killed in battle.
When Miles asks for his brother Arthur and his father in hopes that they will recognize him, Hugh tells him that both are dead. When Edith arrives, she looks at him but also claims not to know him. Not only that, but Hugh reveals that Edith is now his wife.
Miles is heartbroken that no one recognizes him and welcomes him home. Edward assures him that he believes in him but also asks if Miles believes that he is the king. Hugh tells Miles that he must not escape. Miles assures him that he will remain at Hendon Hall until the truth is revealed, sure that Hugh wrote the letter of his death himself to gain control of the estate.
As they wait, Edward wonders why his own disappearance from the palace has not caused a stir. He dismisses Miles’ loss of his lands relative to his own loss of a nation. He proposes that he write a letter in English, Latin, and Greek and have Miles deliver it to the Earl of Hertford, thus letting the royal court know that their true king is missing. Miles does not want to leave Hendon Hall to go to London with the message, prepared to wait until he regains his old home.
Edith comes back in and begs Miles to leave before Hugh does more mischief. She herself is a slave to Hugh and does not want any harm to come to Miles. He asks her to look once more into his eyes and swear that she does not recognize him. She looks and swears, urging him to leave at once. Before he can do so, the officials Hugh summoned arrive and imprison Miles and Edward.
(The entire section is 424 words.)
Chapters 27-28 Summary
Miles and Edward are chained in an overcrowded cell, subjected to seeing the violence criminals inflict on one another. The jailor mocks him as an imposter and brings in an old man to see him. Miles recognizes him as Blake Andrews, who used to be a servant for the Hendon family. The old man looks at Miles and says that he does not know him.
The jailor leaves, but Andrews returns and tells Miles that he does indeed recognize him. He promises that he will proclaim the truth, even if he is strangled for it. Over the next few days, Andrews comes to “abuse” Miles, all the while bringing him some delicacies. Miles gives these to Edward, who is suffering badly in jail.
Andrews tells Miles that Arthur Hendon, Miles’ brother, died six year earlier. With the death of one son and the disappearance of another, Sir Richard Hendon’s health then failed. He wished to see Hugh and Edith married before his death, but Edith wanted to wait for some news of Miles. When the letter of Miles’ death arrived, Hugh and Edith were married by Sir Richard’s death bed.
The villagers whisper about Hugh’s abuse of Edith, especially after Edith found drafts of the letter announcing Miles’ death among Hugh’s possessions.
Andrews also says that there is a rumor that the new king is mad, although he has ruled with great kindness. King Henry is to be buried in a day or two, with the new king crowned a few days later. Hugh is going to the coronation, Andrews says, since he is a friend of the Lord Protector, the Duke of Somerset. Edward does not know who this is and is surprised to find that it is none other than the Earl of Hertford.
When the prisoners are conducted to the prison yard, Edward sees two women tied to a stake to be burned. Two girls arrive, begging to die with their mother. He is unable to watch the women die, which convinces Miles that the boy is getting over his delusions of being king, since he surely would have demanded that they be released.
Miles is condemned to be put in the stock for a few hours, while Edward is released. Edward demands that they let the servant of the king go, but Miles tells them that the boy is mad and asks that he receive the lashings that they planned to give him. Edward is overcome to see his friend beaten.
(The entire section is 419 words.)
Chapters 29-30 Summary
When Miles’ term in the stocks is completed, he and Edward are told to leave the village and not return. As they ride back to London, Miles ponders what his next course of action must be to regain his inheritance.
He thinks of Andrews’ comment about the kindness of the new king. He decides he will try to appeal to King Edward for his assistance, although he is not sure whether a man with such a poor appearance as he now has will be allowed into the royal presence. He remembers an old friend of his father, Sir Humphrey Marlow, who held a position in the royal palace and might be able to get him in to see King Edward.
Edward is also deep in thought, and Miles forgets his intention of treating the boy as a king. He asks him where he plans to go now. Edward replies that they will go to London, which amazes Miles since Edward has had such bad experiences in the city lately.
On February 19, the day before the king’s coronation, Miles and Edward arrive at London Bridge. As they pass over it, a severed head falls on Miles. He reflects that this is a signal of change for the better, from the bloody days of Henry to the justice of Edward. With the crowds gathered for Coronation Day, Miles and Edward are separated and lost in the masses.
In the palace, Tom Canty has grown accustomed to his new role as king. He enjoys the company of his whipping boy as well as that of Princess Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey. He has acquired the ease of commanding others and actually enjoys his royal duties.
He remains kind to all, however, except in the company of Princess Mary, who will later be known as Bloody Mary. She objects to his pardoning so many prisoners, so unlike their late father. Tom sends her away and advises her to pray that God remove the stone in her breast and replace it with a human heart.
Tom at first wonders about the real king, feeling guilty that he is enjoying his new life while the real king has disappeared. At first he missed his mother and sisters, but now he fears that they might show up and expose him as an imposter.
On the night before his coronation, Tom sleeps peacefully in his bed while the real king of England is stuck in the crowd at Westminster Abbey, waiting for the coronation of England’s new king.
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Chapters 31-32 Summary
On Coronation Day, Tom Canty rides in the pageant to the cheers of the London citizens. He sees two of his friends from Offal Court and wonders what they would think if they knew who he really was.
He is stunned when he recognizes his mother among the crowd. His hand flies up, the habit that he acquired in his younger days when he was startled by an explosion of gunpowder. His mother recognizes the sign and cries out to him as her son. When he says, “I do not know you, woman,” a guard knocks her down into the street.
Tom is haunted by the expression on his mother’s face when he denied knowing her. The Earl of Hertford sees that his countenance fell after seeing the pauper woman and urges him to change his appearance. When Tom says that the pauper woman is his mother, Hertford despairs that the king once again has sunk into madness.
At Westminster Abbey, the nobility assembles for the approach of the king. As Tom is escorted to the coronation throne, he considers his position once again to be that of a prisoner and wants to be released.
As the crown is about to be placed on his head, a voice cries out and Edward appears, demanding that the coronation cease. The guards grab Edward, but Tom demands that he be released, identifying him as the true king. The crowd clearly can see that the boys are identical but also fears that the king’s madness has returned.
Edward is questioned about details of the palace and the royal family, all of which he can answer. Hertford asserts that the “true” king (Tom) can do so as well, but then he asks him the one question that only the real Edward Tudor can answer: where the Great Seal is hidden. Edward gives directions to a hidden place in the wall where he put the Great Seal.
A messenger is sent forth but returns to announce that the Seal is not there. Tom urges Edward to think back to that day when he left the palace. Edward finally remembers that he hid the Great Seal in a suit of armor. A messenger is dispatched once again and returns with the Great Seal.
Edward stops the guards from arresting Tom as an imposter. He asks Tom how he knew where the Great Seal was. Tom explains that he did not know that this was the Great Seal, which he has been using to crack nuts.
(The entire section is 421 words.)
Chapter 33 and Conclusion Summary
Before he can get across London Bridge, Miles Hendon is the victim of pickpockets and is left with nothing but his sword. Rather than pawn his only weapon, Miles tramps along with the coronation procession. Afterward he finds himself in the countryside, where he lies down to sleep.
The next morning, he decides to go to the palace and sue for aid. He encounters the former prince’s whipping boy and asks if Sir Humphrey Marlowe is within. Since Sir Humphrey is the whipping boy’s father, Miles is allowed in. He carries the letter Edward had written and is thus shown into the presence of the king.
Miles is shocked to see his former traveling companion sitting on the royal throne. To test the truth of what he sees, Miles grabs a chair and sits in the presence of the king. As the soldiers grab him, the king calls out for him to be released, saying that Miles has that privilege for saving his life during his disappearance.
Edward names Miles the Earl of Kent and gives him great wealth and property. Sir Hugh and Edith arrive, and Edward orders that Hugh be stripped of his property and led away. Tom Canty also arrives, telling Edward that he has found his mother and sisters. Edward promises Tom that his father will be hanged, if that is what he chooses, and names Tom as King’s Ward.
King Edward rewards the people who helped him on his journey as a pauper. Hugh is released from prison since neither Miles nor Edith will testify against him, although Hugh had told Edith that if she did not deny Miles’ identity, he would have him killed. Hugh escapes to the continent (Europe) where he dies, thus freeing Edith at last to marry Miles.
John Canty is never heard from again. Tom and Miles remain friends of King Edward for the few remaining years of Edward’s short life. Miles’ descendants retain the honor of sitting in the king’s presence until the line dies out during the days of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell.
Tom lives to be an old man, always honored wherever he goes. King Edward the Sixth is known as a kind and magnanimous monarch who rejects suggestions that he amend any law to be more harsh and oppressive, saying that he and his people know what suffering is. He always enjoys telling people the story of the time when the prince became a pauper.
(The entire section is 415 words.)