The Prince and the Pauper By Mark Twain Summary and Analysis Chapters 25-26

Summary

Hendon tells the young king to wait outside of town while he settles his accounts at one of the inns, and Edward is content to do so, for now he is warm and comfortable in the new clothes that Hendon brought him. Hendon is greatly concerned that harsh treatment is bad for the boy's "crazed mind, whilst rest, regularity, and moderate exercise would be pretty sure to hasten its cure, [and] he longed to see the stricken intellect made well again and its diseased visions driven out of the tormented little head."

On the road, they travel slowly for several days; at nights, Hendon allows the boy to sleep in the bed, and he sleeps on the floor. Finally, on the last day of their trip, Hendon becomes ecstatic as they approach Hendon Hall. He points out all the old familiar sights and then finally welcomes his friend to Hendon Hall itself, assuring the "king" that he will receive a warm welcome from all. Hendon then rushes to embrace his brother Hugh, telling him to "call our father, for home is not home till I shall touch his hand, and see his face, and hear his voice once more."

Hugh Hendon is horrified and comments, "Thy wits seem touched, poor stranger." He wonders who Miles Hendon conceives himself to be, for a letter arrived some six or seven years ago, telling of the death of Miles Hendon, and upon close scrutiny, Hugh Hendon can see no relationship between this demented stranger and his brother Miles. Hendon calls for his father and for his brother Arthur, but learns that both are long since dead. The Lady Edith is alive, but only five of the old servants are alive, and they are all scoundrels. Hendon is saddened and incensed, but the young prince reminds him, "There be others in the world whose identity is denied, and whose claims are derided. Thou hast company." Hendon begs the prince not to doubt him, and the prince responds, "I do not doubt thee." Then he asks Hendon, "Dost thou doubt me?" Fortunately, Hendon does not have to answer the question because the Lady Edith suddenly arrives, looks at Hendon, and announces, "I know him not!" The servants arrive and, in unison, all deny that they know Hendon. The greatest shock of all, however, is when Miles learns that the Lady Edith is now Hugh's wife. Sir Hugh orders the servants to apprehend Miles, and when they hold back, he departs to fetch the authorities to arrest this "imposter."

Edward comments that things are most strange, and as Hendon is about to agree, Edward says that he is referring to the fact that the royal couriers of the land are not out looking for him and that proclamations have not been sent out concerning his royal person. It is a "matter for commotion and distress that the head of state is gone." He then offers a plan: he will write to his Uncle Hertford in Latin, Greek, and English; Hendon will take it to London and deliver it to the Lord Hertford in person and then all will be well. Hendon watches the boy begin to write, and he feels that "there's no denying it, when the humor's upon him he doth thunder and lighten like your true king. . . ." After Edward finishes the letter, he gives it to Hendon, whose thoughts are, at the moment, wholly on the Lady Edith. He cannot understand her actions. He is convinced that she is incapable of lying. At this moment, she enters and urges Miles to flee as quickly as possible. She tells him that even if he is Miles, it would still be best to flee. Sir Hugh, she says, is a "tyrant who knows no pity." She herself is "his fettered slave." She offers Miles all of the money she has if he will leave immediately. Miles asks one favor; he asks her to rest her eyes on him and tell him that he is indeed Miles Hendon. She refuses to acknowledge him and implores him to leave: "Why will you waste the precious time? Fly and save yourself." It is too late; at that moment, officers of the law burst into the room, arrest Miles, and Edward is likewise bound and taken to prison.

Analysis

These two chapters present a reversal of the young king's situation. He is aware by now that not even Miles fully believes that he is the true king, now he witnesses a situation in which no one believes that Miles is who he says that he is. Miles has told Edward fantastic stories about Hendon Hall; he fully expects to be welcomed at his home with open arms and he will then be able to take care of his sick young friend. All during their journey to Hendon Hall, Miles told Edward about his family; yet in his excitement, he temporarily forgot that earlier he let Edward (and the reader) know that his youngest brother Hugh was a horribly mean person. Consequently, the reader is somewhat prepared for Hugh's rough and brusque treatment of Miles.

The first words that are addressed to Miles are ironic: "Thy wits seem touched, poor stranger." Although there is no reason for Edward to assume that Miles has been telling the truth, the young king has believed his friend completely; certainly this has not been the case with Edward, however. No one, not even Miles, truly believes that young Edward is King of England.

The most puzzling aspect of the chapter concerning Miles's homecoming centers on the Lady Edith's denial of Miles. This mystery is not cleared up until a later chapter, when old Blake Andrews reveals that the Lady Edith lied not to save herself, but to save Miles; she was threatened that if she did not deny knowing Miles, Hugh would torture Miles. Thus, out of great concern for Miles, the Lady Edith was forced to lie.

The concern on young Edward's part that royal couriers are not searching for him carries forward the plot line of the novel. Edward writes a letter in Latin, Greek, and English, and he asks Miles to deliver it to the Lord Hertford, but because Miles is so distracted with the disturbing events of Hendon Hall, he shoves the letter into one of his pockets, and it is not discovered again until Miles is arrested later in the novel. It is, therefore, through the discovery of the letter that Miles and the king are reunited, for then Miles will test the king — who looks like Edward — by sitting in his presence, a foolish little bit of ceremonial business that Miles agreed to long ago so that he would be able to get some rest, if he were to spend considerable time in the king's company.

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About whom did a crowd chant, "Be gracious to us, O sweet king! / "Trample not upon thy beseeching worms, O noble majesty!" / "Pity thy slaves, and comfort them with a royal kick!"




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