The Prince and the Pauper Chapters 31-32 Summary
by Mark Twain

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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.