The Prince and the Pauper Chapters 15-16 Summary
by Mark Twain

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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.