The Prince and the Pauper Chapters 17-18 Summary

Mark Twain

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.