Summary and Analysis
As Miles Hendon takes Edward away from the Guildhall and toward London Bridge, they move quickly through the streets, the prince feeling the loss of his father keenly. Tears come to his eyes, especially when the crowd yells, "Long live King Edward the Sixth." Despite his sorrow, however, Edward is thrilled that — despite everything — he is now King of England.
London Bridge is a village unto itself, packed with shops and family dwellings above them; in short, it is a place where people live their entire lives, and Hendon's lodgings are in a small inn on this bridge. Before they reach these lodgings, however, Hendon and Edward are stopped by John Canty, who reaches out for the prince and threatens to beat him for escaping. Hendon again intercedes, threatening Canty with his sword, and Canty slinks away, "muttering threats and curses."
In Hendon's apartment, the prince falls asleep on the bed immediately, leaving orders to be awakened when food arrives. Hendon is amused by the boy's actions — which are, however, truly in character with his claim to be Prince of Wales. Already, Hendon has become fond of the boy, and he resolves to humor him and care for him, even if it means acting as the boy's "retainer."
The prince is awakened by the noise of someone departing after food has been brought in, and he expects to be waited on — with water, so that he can wash himself and with a towel so that he can dry himself. In addition, the prince reprimands Hendon for sitting, while in the prince's presence. Hendon humors the boy without a word, although he is silently amused.
Refreshed by the food and drink, Edward asks Hendon for his story. Hendon tells the prince that he is the middle son of a baronet in Kent. His older brother is gentle and generous, but his younger brother is a mean and vicious rascal. Although his older brother, Arthur, has been betrothed to the Lady Edith since childhood, he loves another. Miles Hendon himself is in love with Edith, and she with him, and Arthur has assured them that things will work out satisfactorily. However, the younger brother, Hugh, wants to many Edith for her fortune. To get his way, Hugh conspired against Miles and managed to have him banished. While fighting in a war on the Continent, Miles was captured and lay in a dungeon for seven years. He escaped only a short time before and is now on his way home to Kent.
The prince proclaims that he will set matters right. Then he tells Hendon about his own adventures. Although the prince has clearly accepted Hendon's story as truth, Hendon cannot do the same for the prince's story, yet he renews his resolve to protect the boy and, hopefully, help him regain his sanity.
The prince then says that Hendon deserves some reward for the service he has rendered. Even though he is startled by such news, and even though he does not believe that the prince is really the Prince of Wales, Hendon thinks carefully about the matter. Finally, he requests that he and his heirs have the right to sit in the presence of the king. Edward grants this request, naming Hendon as hence forth "Sir Miles Hendon, Knight." Hendon cannot believe what he hears; he tells himself that he is, alas, a "knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows." Nonetheless, he is content.
The prince suddenly feels extremely sleepy, and he orders Hendon, as though Hendon were his valet, to remove the rags he is wearing. Hendon strips the boy; then the prince notices Hendon's obvious perplexity about where he is to sleep. Edward tells his "knight" that he can sleep "athwart the door." Hendon does so, without complaint, and falls asleep near dawn.
Waking up near noon, Hendon measures the still-sleeping prince and sets out to buy better clothing for the boy. Gone less than an hour, Hendon returns and begins to mend the secondhand clothes he has bought. As he works, he sings and muses upon all that has happened. All this time, he has taken care not to awaken the prince.
When he finally does go to rouse the prince, he discovers to his amazement that the boy is gone. He accosts a servant, who tells him that another boy came for the prince and took him toward the Southwark area of the bridge. They were joined by a man who looked like a ruffian, and the three of them continued on toward Southwark. Hendon realizes that the man is no doubt the very one who stopped them the night before — John Canty — and he plunges out of the inn, resolved to scour the countryside until he finds the boy once again.
In Chapter 12, when the Prince of Wales hears the cry, "Long live Edward the Sixth," he is immediately filled with immense grief for the death of his father and, at the same time, he is thrilled with immense pride at now being King of England, even though he is treated as a mere pauper. Edward's view of his father as a kind and loving person contrasts, of course, with the views of others in the story; Henry VIII had, for example, inspired great fear in the Lord Chancellor in Chapter 8, and he has been responsible for the deaths and imprisonments of tens of thousands of English citizens.
In this section of the novel, Twain interrupts the narrative flow of the novel in order to give a historical description of the famous London Bridge, largely so that he can create a sense of historical accuracy for his novel. Then he resumes his story, and we learn that while on the bridge, Hendon and Edward encounter John Canty, a pattern which occurs often throughout the novel: Hendon will lose the prince to Canty and then regain him. Miles Hendon's admiration for the boy increases as a result of the plucky courage which Edward exhibits when he confronts the threats and curses which John Canty hurls at him.
In this particular scene and throughout the novel, Miles Hendon's response to the prince is more like the royal court's response to Tom than like the rabble's response to the prince. Hendon seems genuinely concerned for the boy's well-being, and he is determined to protect him and do everything necessary to help the boy be cured of his madness. Thus, Hendon again and again demonstrates for us his true nobility of spirit.
But in spite of his admiration for the young boy's spirit and his recognition of the prince's essential "nobility," Miles Hendon is unable to accept in any way the prince's tale of his past adventures. This, of course, contrasts with the prince's ready and swift acceptance of Hendon's adventures and family difficulties. The prince's response to Hendon's story also demonstrates his quickness in promising to right all wrongs and his willingness to reward Hendon's service and loyalty. These characteristics that are displayed by the prince are clearly parallel to similar circumstances and characteristics shown by Tom Canty when he pardons the Duke of Norfolk.
Miles Hendon's request to Edward, when he is given the opportunity, is a very practical one. Foreseeing that he will be required to — literally — stand a great deal if he continues his association with this boy, Hendon simply asks for permission to "sit" in the presence of the "king." Once this favor is granted, Hendon is allowed far more rest than he would have otherwise have had; also of note, here, it is important that in the novel's last chapter, as a test to determine whether or not the person on the throne of England is indeed the little waif whom Hendon rescued so often, Hendon makes reference to this permission to "sit" in the king's presence.
Chapter 13 is primarily devoted to reestablishing the next steps of Twain's plot — that is, it establishes that the prince is gone, recaptured by John Canty apparently, and it also establishes Hendon's firm decision to follow the boy and recapture him. One other important feature of this chapter is the irony of Hendon's statement that he makes about the Prince of Wales. Hendon says, "Dear heart, he should have been born a king!" Little does he know that the boy asleep on the bed is indeed the true King of England. It is no wonder, therefore, to us, that Edward "playeth the part to a marvel."