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.