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Chapter 29


Chapter XXIX. To London.

When Hendon's term of service in the stocks was finished, he was
released and ordered to quit the region and come back no more.
His sword was restored to him, and also his mule and his donkey.
He mounted and rode off, followed by the King, the crowd opening
with quiet respectfulness to let them pass, and then dispersing
when they were gone.

Hendon was soon absorbed in thought.  There were questions of high
import to be answered.  What should he do?  Whither should he go?
Powerful help must be found somewhere, or he must relinquish his
inheritance and remain under the imputation of being an impostor
besides.  Where could he hope to find this powerful help?  Where,
indeed!  It was a knotty question.  By-and-by a thought occurred
to him which pointed to a possibility--the slenderest of slender
possibilities, certainly, but still worth considering, for lack of
any other that promised anything at all.  He remembered what old
Andrews had said about the young King's goodness and his generous
championship of the wronged and unfortunate.  Why not go and try
to get speech of him and beg for justice?  Ah, yes, but could so
fantastic a pauper get admission to the august presence of a
monarch?  Never mind--let that matter take care of itself; it was
a bridge that would not need to be crossed till he should come to
it.  He was an old campaigner, and used to inventing shifts and
expedients:  no doubt he would be able to find a way.  Yes, he
would strike for the capital.  Maybe his father's old friend Sir
Humphrey Marlow would help him--'good old Sir Humphrey, Head
Lieutenant of the late King's kitchen, or stables, or something'--
Miles could not remember just what or which.  Now that he had
something to turn his energies to, a distinctly defined object to
accomplish, the fog of humiliation and depression which had
settled down upon his spirits lifted and blew away, and he raised
his head and looked about him.  He was surprised to see how far he
had come; the village was away behind him.  The King was jogging
along in his wake, with his head bowed; for he, too, was deep in
plans and thinkings.  A sorrowful misgiving clouded Hendon's new-
born cheerfulness:  would the boy be willing to go again to a city
where, during all his brief life, he had never known anything but
ill-usage and pinching want?  But the question must be asked; it
could not be avoided; so Hendon reined up, and called out--

"I had forgotten to inquire whither we are bound.  Thy commands,
my liege!"

"To London!"

Hendon moved on again, mightily contented with the answer--but
astounded at it too.

The whole journey was made without an adventure of importance.
But it ended with one.  About ten o'clock on the night of the 19th
of February they stepped upon London Bridge, in the midst of a
writhing, struggling jam of howling and hurrahing people, whose
beer-jolly faces stood out strongly in the glare from manifold
torches--and at that instant the decaying head of some former duke
or other grandee tumbled down between them, striking Hendon on the
elbow and then bounding off among the hurrying confusion of feet.
So evanescent and unstable are men's works in this world!--the
late good King is but three weeks dead and three days in his
grave, and already the adornments which he took such pains to
select from prominent people for his noble bridge are falling.  A
citizen stumbled over that head, and drove his own head into the
back of somebody in front of him, who turned and knocked down the
first person that came handy, and was promptly laid out himself by
that person's friend.  It was the right ripe time for a free
fight, for the festivities of the morrow--Coronation Day--were
already beginning; everybody was full of strong drink and
patriotism; within five minutes the free fight was occupying a
good deal of ground; within ten or twelve it covered an acre of
so, and was become a riot.  By this time Hendon and the King were
hopelessly separated from each other and lost in the rush and
turmoil of the roaring masses of humanity.  And so we leave them.


Mark Twain