Frank Lavallo hosts two readers and the three of them summarize the world’s greatest works of classic literature, giving their reactions along the way. If SparkNotes had an audio best friend, it would be us!
Plot: A poor boy named Tom Canty and the Prince of Wales exchange identities. The events that follow force the pair to experience each other's lives, which does not come without consequences. Mistaken for a beggar, Edward must struggle to survive on the streets. Meanwhile, Tom, who has no knowledge of how to be a Prince, fears being mistaken for an imposter. The two boys learn a great deal of insight from living in each other's shoes.
Frank: Hello and welcome. I'm Frank Lavallo and this is Novel Conversations. For each episode of Novel Conversations, I talk to two readers about one book; and together we summarize the story for you. We introduce you to the characters, we tell you what happens to them, and we read from the book along the way. So, if you love hearing a good story you're in the right place.
This novel conversation is about The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain and I'll be joined by our Novel Conversations readers, Elizabeth Flood and Phil Setnik. Elizabeth, Phil hello.
Elizabeth: Hi Frank.
Phil: Hi Frank.
Frank: Alright Elizabeth, Phil, before we start our conversation let me read a quick introduction to our novel The Prince and the Pauper. The Prince and the Pauper is the story of two boys, opposites in every way but one. They look so much alike they could be identical twins. After a misadventure leads to an exchange of identities, each boy must live as a stranger in a strange land. The story of how each boy survives, matures, and learns from his experiences while working his way back to his rightful place, make up our novel The Prince and the Pauper. So, Phil let me ask you… was this the first time you read The Prince and the Pauper?
Phil: I believe so. I've either read it before or I've seen about 16 TV versions.
Frank: Right, everyone seems to have a film memory of this novel. Probably a Disney one.
Elizabeth: So do I. It seems so familiar but I don't remember reading it.
Frank: But really, isn't the only part of the story that's really familiar to you is the exchange of identities. What happens to each boy hasn't really been played out in film.
Phil: Yea, the details of the story are certainly unique, but the premise is well trod upon.
Frank: In fact it's been well trod upon by Mark Twain himself. I think he has an exchange of identities in his well-known short story, Pudd’nhead Wilson.
Elizabeth: Well I'm not familiar with that one but I am familiar with the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and there's a similar exchange with the king and a ‘pauper’ persona in that story.
Frank: That's right. Hank Morgan travels the English countryside with a knight who's in disguise as a beggar.
Elizabeth: That's right.
Frank: And he also learned some very important lessons.
Elizabeth: They did.
Phil: Right. And the Tom Canty character in The Prince and the Pauper certainly reminds us of Tom Sawyer quite a bit and at a certain point, Tom and Huck in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
exchange identities also.
Frank: That's right. So Mark Twain has this literary device of exchanging identities several times in his works.
Frank: All right Elizabeth, tell me how do we meet The Prince and the Pauper?
Elizabeth: Well we meet them the day they're born. One is born to, too much pomp and circumstance in London England. He has been anticipated and greatly celebrated. And the pauper is born to a family who receives his birth as trouble.
Frank: Well Phil, our pauper has a name and of course our prince does too.But what's the paupers name?
Phil: The paupers name is Tom Canty. His father is John Canty and he has two sisters Bett and Na.
Frank: Plus a pretty nasty old grandma that's hanging around.
Elizabeth: She's horrible.
Frank: Phil what's the prince's name or what is it going to be?
Phil: The prince is Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales.
Frank: He's the son and only heir of Henry the Eighth?
Frank: Mark Twain doesn't really give us too much more about the babies, Tom Canty and Edward Tudor - Prince of Wales. In his very next chapter, chapter two, he skips 15 years.
Elizabeth: Yes. That's one of his favorite devices.
Frank: All right Elizabeth catch us up. What's Tom Canty, our pauper doing at this point?
Elizabeth: Well he's been raised to learn the trade of his family and father, begging and stealing.
Frank: Yeah, I think he makes it clear… begging is the trade of his sisters and grandmother, but stealing is the trait of his father.
Elizabeth: But he doesn't like to steal. He finds it against his nature and his father teases him… if he can only be begging. He's like the girls, he's weak.
Frank: In fact though, he's willing to take a beating instead of steal. His father beats him every time he doesn't come home with a penny.
Elizabeth: Which is just about every day. And his grandmother joins.
Frank: Oh sure if the father's got a reason to beat Tom Canty than Grandma is gonna join right in. Phil what more can you tell me about Tom Canty and particularly about how he's living at this time?
Phil: Well Tom lives with his family off Pudding Lane in a small area called Awful Court which Twain spells O – F – F– A – L .
Frank: Isn’t offal another word for guts and intestines of slaughtered animals.
Elizabeth: Is it really?
Keven: It just sounds like awful to me.
Frank: And it was a pretty awful existence. Mark Twain describes it as such: “Offal court was just such another hive as Canty’s House, drunkenness, riot and brawling were the order. In there, every night and nearly all night long. Broken heads were as common as hunger in that place. Yet little Tom was not unhappy.” Phil tell me why Tom was not unhappy…
Phil: Well it's here that we learn Tom has royal aspirations and actually puts together a small court with the boys that he runs with.
Frank: Well Elizabeth that's right. Apparently, Tom Canty has been getting a little bit of schooling from an old priest in the neighborhood and the priest is letting him read all his old books of chivalry.
Elizabeth: Not only that he's also teaching him Latin.
Frank: But Elizabeth, Tom's fantasies didn't just run to reading about knights and kings and princes. As Phil said, he put his own court together. He played as the king but he had an admiral of war and a Chamberlain.
Elizabeth: He did.
Frank: And it's these fantasies that eventually lead him to go to the palace. He wants to see the young prince.
Phil: And walks right up to the gates and kind of peers in and what happens is the Sentinels kind of beat him back.
Frank: And it's during this beating that we finally meet the prince of our story.
Phil: Right. This commotion draws the attention of the prince. And the prince comes over and sees the Sentinels beating this little beggar boy back and invites him in through the gates.
Elizabeth: Young Edward Tudor says, “You look hungry and tired. Come with me.” He takes him in to give him something to eat. They realize how much they look alike. They begin to play as young boys might and they trade clothing. It's a great scene. Twain writes: “A few minutes later, the little Prince of Wales was garlanded with Tom's fluttering Odds and Ends and The Little Prince of Pauperdom was tricked out in the gaudy plumage of royalty. The two went and stood side by side before a great mirror and low a miracle. There did not seem to have been any change made.”
Frank: And it's while they're unclothed that Prince Edward sees the bruises on Tom Canty, put there by the sentinels at the gate.
Phil: Right. So this angers him and forgetting that he's in the pauper’s dress - Tom's clothing - he runs out to the gate and demands that the gate be opened; that he is going to reprimand the Sentinels and punish them. However, this is when the misadventures begin, because they begin making fun of him thinking that he's the young boy that they let in.
Frank: And they promptly throw him out of the castle.
Elizabeth: He's immediately boxed on the air.
Frank: And sent through the gates.
Elizabeth: He's in total shock that no one's listening to him as they should be. He doesn't know any world except being the Prince; and Tom Canty, he's afraid to leave the room where he's dressed in the Prince’s clothes.
Frank: Right for the next few chapters what Mark Twain does as he goes back and forth. We get a chapter of the prince's adventures and we get a chapter of Tom Canty’s adventures in the palace back to the Prince and back to the Pauper.
Phil: Yeah. They don't begin or change really so much as they begin adapting to the situations, I think. The prince kind of maintains his royal demeanor or stature. Tom still kind of retains his lower-class sensibility.
Frank: But this adaption doesn't really take place right away. For the first few hours, the prince expects to be rescued or recognized immediately. And of course, Tom Canty is hiding out in the prince's chambers hoping that the prince is going to come back soon.
Elizabeth: He's just afraid to be in trouble.
Phil: He's afraid actually that he'll be punished, he’ll be hung or something like that when the prince comes back.
Frank: But it's actually the prince who gets found out first.
Elizabeth: The Prince remembers the name of Awful Court. So he wanders until he finds it. Looking for this family thinking they will know I am not their son and these good people will help me.
Frank: But that's not how it works out.
Elizabeth: No sir.
Phil: No. And meanwhile, back at the palace, Tom begins to experience the trappings of being the Prince with the royal handlers and the hereditary, diaperer.
Frank: That's right. He's going to have to learn how to deal with a lot of hereditary attendants. But first he has to be introduced to the Prince's sister, Lady Elizabeth and his cousin the Lady Jane Grey; and then of course she's going to have to have an audience with the King.
Phil: Here's where the royal family begins to notice something's wrong. He doesn't recognize Lady Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey. He doesn't respond to their questions in different languages.
Frank: They start to quiz him in Latin, Greek and even French but he can't respond to any of these; except for a little bit of his Latin that he's learned from the old priest.
Elizabeth: Which is enough to make them think this is our prince. But he's just mad.
Frank: Something's wrong with this boy. And isn't that what leads him to be summoned by the King. King Henry the 8th.
Phil: And this is where we really see Tom still a pauper, when he comes into the presence of the King. He goes down on his knees which is very odd.
Frank: He acts as a commoner would in front of the king not as a prince would.
Elizabeth: He says, “You are my king.” Which the king says, “Yes of course I am. Do you not recognize me as your father.” Just continues to say ‘You are my king.’ It's confusing, it's kind of funny, and you can see how everybody's very puzzled.
Frank: The King does come to the conclusion that, yes, my son might be mad. He doesn't recognize us all. He seems to have forgotten some of his languages but we're not going to mention this. We're all gonna pretend everything's fine. I can't have a mad man as heir to the throne.
Elizabeth: He declares him temporarily mad providing an out for the child later.
Frank: In fact here's what the king says about who he thinks is his son: “List y'all. This my son is mad, but it is not permanent. Over study have done this, in somewhat too much of confinement. Away with his books and teachers; pleasure him with sports, beguile him in wholesome ways so that his health come again.” The king raised himself higher still and went on with energy. “He is mad but he is my son and England's heir and matter saying still shall he reign. And here ye further and proclaim it whosoever speaks of this has distemper workers against the peace and order of these realms and shall be gallowed.”
Elizabeth: We never heard Henry the Eighth was such a good father (laughs)
Frank: We heard actually the opposite.
Phil: So after the declaration by the King, the royal court actually begins to indulge Tom's insanity or in his case ignorance. And that brings us to Tom's first royal dinner where the comedy of errors really continues.
Frank: Tell me a little bit about that first dinner…
Elizabeth: Before the actual meal we meet the entire team of people that are there to help him.
Phil: Right. There's a hereditary diaperer who fastens the napkin around Tom's neck.
Elizabeth: And this guy has been in a long line of hereditary diaperers.
Frank: Well Elizabeth, there are a lot of servants in that room with very specific tasks.
Elizabeth: There is the First Groom of the Chamber, Lord Chief Butler the Lord Head Cook, Lord Great Steward. You can just picture the room full of people.
Phil: And we learn he has a cup bearer and a taster which Tom actually thinks is quite ridiculous. He actually remarks that should have a dog or a plumber do the job. (laughs)
Frank: He actually has a commoner’s common sense for how they should really solve the taster problem.
Elizabeth: Then the problem comes in when Tom has said, Okay if I'm going to play along with this he has to scratch his nose and he turns to ask, Who is in charge here of scratching my nose?
Frank: Phil a crisis of state ensues.
Phil: Right. There is no hereditary scratcher.
Elizabeth: He says, what is the custom and usage in this emergence?
Frank: And how is this crisis resolved.
Elizabeth: Well, he eventually just hopes he's not causing a complete scene. He scratches his nose, himself.
Frank: Thank God they've all been told to ignore anything he does that's out of the ordinary, since he's mad. But Phil that's not really the end of Tom's troubles. This dinner goes on and on and the ceremonies go on and on…
Phil: And he's actually quite bored. So, he decides to steal some nuts and skirt away and just hang out and it's here that he says he's happy for the first time since he's been in the castle.
Frank: And as I said before he gets away with this behavior. He can get away with any behavior because he's crazy and they're indulging him. Well Phil, let's leave the erstwhile Prince happy cracking nuts in his private chamber for the moment and Mark Twain takes us in sort of a cutaway that doesn't relate to either the Prince or the pauper. He gives us a scene with the king off with his head, I think we can call it.
Phil: Right. During this scene and we'll get some key bits of information. The first being that the king has a scheduled execution of the Duke of Norfolk. Another thing we found out is the King is dying.
Frank: And he's real anxious to have the Duke of Norfolk executed before he dies.
Phil: Right. That's kind of a personal mission of his that he wants to see this traitor, as he calls him, put to death. And the third piece of information that we find out is that the royal seal is missing and had been put in the prince's charge and they can't find it now.
Elizabeth: So this execution is delayed until they can find that seal.
Frank: All right Elizabeth and Phil let's leave Tom in the castle. Let's leave the king and his court searching for that great seal.
Frank: Now, we want to get back to what's happening to the actual Prince. As we had mentioned, the little prince remembered where Tom Canty lived off the court. And so he went back there, just as he's sort of wandering around, he's immediately grabbed by what Mark Twain describes as a ‘ruffian’. That ruffian turns out to be Tom Canty’s father, John Canty.
Phil: Right, so John Canty, thinking this is his son, precedes beating on Prince Edward for being out so late and for not having any pennies.
Frank: More for not having pennies than for being out so late.
Elizabeth: And Tom's friend, the priest, tries to come to his rescue. Unfortunately, he gets in the way of John Canty’s weapon of choice, the oak cudgel.
Frank: Right. John Candy basically clubs the priest to the ground and then just walks off leaving the mob to surround the body.
Elizabeth: Right. You know a real low life.
Frank: And this is when John Canty drags, who he thinks is his son, Tom, back to their little hovel on Awful court.
Phil: Right. Well, I think the Prince feels that once he gets to a Offal Court that he'll be finally recognized for who he is because these people will know that he is not Tom Canty. You know he's been proclaiming he's the Prince.
Frank: But Phil, contrary to what the Prince thinks he's not immediately recognized as Edward, Prince of Wales.
Phil: No he's not. So just like Tom Canty at the Palace, this family thinks that this boy is crazy and so John Canty and the grandmother proceed to try and beat this nonsense out of him. He just kind of slinks off to bed tired from the day and falls asleep.
Frank: But Elizabeth the mother begins to wonder this doesn't really seem like my boy.
Elizabeth: Yes, she has been suspicious that this may actually not be her son. But she can't figure out how to determine it. She needs to find a test some way to prove it. And as the boy sleeps she finally remembers… when Tom is interrupted in his sleep by a bright light and noise… He puts his palm outward in front of his face.
Frank: And this is something he's been doing since he was an infant.
Elizabeth: Since he was infant she says: “Since that day when he was little that the powder burst in his face, he had never been startled out of a sudden out of his dreams or out of his thinkings, but he cast his hand before his eyes not as others would do with the palm inward but always the palm outward.”
Frank: This was a pretty good test.
Elizabeth: She spends the whole night waking him from his sleep with bright light, candle in his face, thumping noises and he continues to sit up straight and look around.
Frank: He never reacts the way she thinks her son would react.
Elizabeth: A mother knows her son.
Frank: But before she can do anything about her discovery, there's a loud knock on the door. Someone's yelling for John Canty.
Elizabeth: Well the priest has died.
Phil: So the knock on the door is a friend warning John Canty, that the mob, they're coming to get him basically. So, he quickly packs up the whole family and runs into the street and treats the whole family that if they get split up meet at London Bridge later.
Frank: But the prince has no intention of meeting up with this family later. He sees his chance and makes good his escape.
Phil: Right. And this is Twain's opportunity to take us back to the palace and Tom.
Frank: What's happening with Tom Canty, our erstwhile Prince?
Phil: Tom is a Guildhall attending a royal dinner and the dinner is interrupted with the news that the king is dead.
Frank: And immediately after pronouncing that the old king is dead, they proclaim Tom Canty the new King.
Elizabeth and Phil: Long live the king.
Frank: But in the meantime, outside of Guild Hall the real prince, I guess now the real king shows up, and he's trying to convince the commoners outside: I'm the real prince! Let me in, let me in! And of course we know how that ends up.
Phil: Right. It's gone from being a fun amusement but the commoners are now mad, angry with him and the mob kind of closes in around him. And this is where we meet Miles Hendon.
Frank: Elizabeth what do we know about Miles Hendon?
Elizabeth: At this point we just get a vague reference to him. The bold stranger caught up the prince in his arms and was soon far away from danger and the multitude. Miles takes him back to his room at the Inn. He sees a little beggar child in rags. He assumes that he must be tired and hungry and of course Prince Edward is tired and hungry. He's spent the night with the Canty family. So, Miles is kind to him gives him a place to sleep and some food to eat. But this gets to be funny because Miles indulges what he believes to be a little bit of madness or fine imagination of the prince.
Frank: That's right. Essentially Miles Hendon is going to do what the boy attendants are doing at the palace. He's going to humor this little boy and say ‘OK fine you're the prince,” But then the prince wants more than just humoring. He wants serving and attending.
Elizabeth: Which only makes Miles assume he must be really mad.
Frank: But let's be clear… Miles does indulge him. He does call him Your Majesty. He helps him get undressed. He helps him get dressed. He serves him his food.
Elizabeth: Within reason he also says, “Let's play this game here, but when we are outside, let's not worry everyone.”
Frank: You would think the Prince would catch on by now. Every time he tells the mob that he's the prince. They beat him up.
Elizabeth: He does see some reason in Miles's suggestions, so he's willing to go along with it. And this is where Prince Edward does start to learn a little bit about how to cope.
Frank: And Miles is going to continue to help him learn how to cope.
Phil: So I think Miles is kind of enjoying serving this little what he believes to be: Mad Prince.
Frank: But back to Tom Canty. He's now the King or about to be. So Phil, while this is happening to the real Prince Edward, what's Tom Canty doing now that he's considered King Edward?
Phil: Tom, as the acting king decides to make his first proclamation which is to pardon the Duke Norfolk who was scheduled to die which really upset Tom.
Frank: Right. Tom doesn't understand all the political implications of what the Duke of Norfolk may have done. He just knows he doesn't really want anyone to be killed while he's the king, let's say.
Phil: Right. And so what this does is change the public perception of the king. He's now seen as merciful. And people on the court begin proclaiming that the reign of blood has ended. Long live Edward King of England
Frank: And it's at this time that Tom Canty in the palace, sort of finds a companion of his own, just as the real prince has with Miles Hendon.
Phil: Right. This is where Tom meets his whipping boy, Humphrey Marlowe.
Frank: His whipping boy?
Elizabeth: That's right. Just like there is an assignment for every function in the court. There's also someone to take Edwards beatings for him.
Frank: So let me get this straight. They don't have someone to scratch the prince's nose but they have someone to take his punishments, literally.
Elizabeth: That's right.
Elizabeth: Well, it's sort of a funny scene because he says: I know you're not studying right now because you're not well, but if you don't study and make mistakes at your academics then I have no job and I need to be whipped because I need the money keep the job. So could you please do something gets me in trouble. (laughing)
Frank: That's right, apparently the whipping boy got a coin every time he was whipped. And this is how he's earning a living for himself and his family.
Elizabeth: Yes, he probably comes from a long line of hereditary whipping people.
Frank: In fact, I believe he says he does. But Elizabeth Tom doesn't need Humphrey Marlowe to take a whipping for him. He has other uses for him right now.
Elizabeth: Humphrey Marlowe becomes his confidante, his source of information, his tutor if you will.
Frank: Even his spy.
Elizabeth: And a great spy!
Phil: And also a friend, and he really teaches Tom in the ways of the royals. And Tom really begins to embrace his role as king now, as he learns how to do that through Humphrey.
Frank: His adapting to this new role becomes easier because now he's actually got real information.
Frank: Well Phil, while Tom Canty is learning from Humphrey how to be a king, what's going on with the real King of England, Edward?
Phil: Well Edward is still in Miles's flat. And what happens is that a charge hired by John Canty shows up to trick Edward, who he thinks is Tom, into coming out because he says his friend has been injured and he needs to come see him.
Frank: So the Prince thinks that Miles has been hurt and goes off with this person, who we come to know as Hugo, but he's not leading the Prince to Miles Hendon is he?
Phil: No, he's leading the Prince back to John Canty who has now changed his name to Hobbs.
Frank: Right, he's still on the run from killing The Priest.
Elizabeth: And now Edward has been tricked right into John's gang of ruffians and thieves.
Frank: Well Phil tell me a little bit about Prince Edward's time amongst this gang of ruffians.
Phil: Well this is where Prince Edward really meets the underbelly of his society. He meets a shopkeeper who has lost everything to taxes. He meets a farmer who's been kicked off his land. He really begins to see how laws are affecting the people day to day.
Frank: These would have been some of the strict laws of his father and he's now seeing the results.
Phil: Right. And this will help him become a more benevolent king later.
Frank: Well that's certainly the promise he makes to himself.
Frank: But the Prince can't stay with this gang of ruffians long. He's got to get away from this situation. And ofcourse eventually he does.
Elizabeth: He makes another escape.
Frank: But Elizabeth he's essentially gone out of the frying pan into the fire.
Elizabeth: He has. He's made his way through the woods he comes upon a hermit only to find that the hermit now really is mad.
Frank: Finally our first crazy person!
Elizabeth: So, only because he's crazy does he actually believe this is the Prince.
Frank: That's right. When Edward says ‘I am the King,’ the hermit believes him, but he's got a plan for him.
Phil: It's hinted that the hermit has been driven crazy by what was done to him by a king.
Frank: Now wait, let me see if I get this straight. The first person to believe that Prince Edward really is the King of England… wants to kill the king of England.
Frank: Wow. Really crazy and really dangerous. Phil why is he dangerous?
Phil: Well he's dangerous because he's planning on killing the King or Prince Edward. So, when Prince Edward falls asleep, he binds his ankles and commences sharpening his knife.
Frank: Right, he finds his rusty old butcher knife and begins to shine it up.
Phil: And throughout the evening he goes back and forth between - about to kill him - watching him - about to kill him - and at a certain point, he just decides to go ahead and do it. And it's at this moment when Prince Edward is saved by his good friend Miles.
Frank: Elizabeth, Miles Hendon to the rescue.
Elizabeth: Exactly. Miles approaches the Hermit’s hideout. The Hermit goes outside to redirect Miles in his search through the woods but all of this does buy some time for the young King.
Frank: Just enough time to be rescued by John Canty.
Phil: Right. This is the first time that the Prince is actually happy to see John Canty. It actually says: ‘He would have said, Thank God, if his jaws had been free.’ But it's not really a rescue because he's just sent back into the gang of vagabonds that he was with before.
Elizabeth: So, despite the fact that the prince is disappointed to be back in the company of these vagabonds, there is still a lot of funny stuff that happens at this point.
Frank: And not only that, but just like the first time he was with these ruffians, he meets people that really give him an education into what's going on in his land.
Elizabeth: That's right, there’s some tough lessons to learn. But they certainly are entertaining.
Phil: And it's during one of these moments that the Prince hooks back up with Miles Hendon.
Frank: And finally, we get a chance to learn Miles Hendon’s story. Turns out he's minor royalty himself. He's actually a knight.
Phil: Right. And he's got all the problems that go with having that royalty in his family.
Frank: What are those problems?
Phil: Claiming his family's land…
Elizabeth: Being disowned by the younger brother who denies him…
Frank: And Elizabeth, he goes on to tell us the rest of his story…
Elizabeth: Essentially he was the middle son. He was sent away to have his experiences, as a knight, become a man. He expects to return home to find his older brother married to the woman who Miles had actually always held the torch for.
Frank: Right. In fact, that's why his father sent him away. He was in love with the woman betrothed to his older brother. His father had to get him out of the way.
Elizabeth: Right. So he's returning home seven years later.
Frank: And what does he find when he finally gets back to Hendon Hall?
Phil: Everything has changed.
Phil: He's gotten home, and his older brother Arthur has died, and his younger brother Hugh, is now married to Lady Edith.
Frank: Lady Edith was the woman that both Miles and Arthur wanted to marry.
Elizabeth: So, Hugh is really evil. He took over everything from his two brothers.
Phil: And his younger brother also claims that he does not recognize Miles, and has essentially disowned him. What he does now is toss Miles and the Prince into prison claiming they're impostors.
Frank: But Elizabeth surely Lady Edith would have recognized Miles.
Elizabeth: She does. But she's afraid to recognize him. He is a terrible tyrant.
Frank: And this is kind of an interesting moment in our novel now Miles Hendon gets to experience what the prince has been experiencing: No one will believe he is, who he says he is.
Elizabeth: And the Prince is even more understanding of the people in the prisons.
Frank: More education for the prince.
Elizabeth: Yet another.
Frank: And Phil, this lesson might be the most transformative for the little prince.
Phil: Actually, Frank he learns two lessons through this process: The first is he learns about the harshness of the laws of his land when he sees two Baptists who are burned at the stake for their religion. He also learns the true nature of sacrifice when Miles, who is not his whipping boy but his friend at this point, takes the punishment that is meant for the prince.
Frank: And of course, as the prince usually does in these situations, he promises someday ‘I will reward you for this action.’
Elizabeth: And even more than that, he recognizes as he says, “The world is made wrong. Kings should go to school to their own laws at times and so learn mercy.”
Frank: And finally, once Miles takes this beating meant for the prince. Sir Hugh, Miles younger brother, has been banished from the land and they set off again.
Elizabeth: For London.
Frank: Why for London?
Elizabeth: Where both of them have an interest in getting back to the castle. Miles knows there's a groundskeeper who will recognize him and he thinks he might be placed back in his rightful position. And of course our prince needs to interrupt the coronation process because Tom's about to be crowned King of England.
Phil: And so we finally bring the Prince and the Pauper back together.
Frank: And how does that happen?
Phil: The Prince/Pauper - at this point - sneaks back into the palace with a group of workers and basically waits until the coronation ceremonies to take place and that's when he appears.
Frank: But actually, he's fallen asleep and his appearance comes just at the last minute.
Phil: Right. Ofcourse, it comes just at the moment when the Crown is to be put onto Tom's head.
Frank: But wait a minute. This little ragamuffin Pauper jumps out at Coronation and yells ‘I'm the King! I'm the King’ and everyone believes him?
Elizabeth: Not exactly.
Phil: They have to go through a little test first.
Frank: Well first of all, they realize these two boys do look exactly alike.
Elizabeth: It's astonishing. Everyone's realizing that they're exactly twins.
Frank: And that's what at least gives the attendants pause to think a bit further. And now they devise a test.
Elizabeth: They don't know what to do because, our almost King is saying, he is the king and no one wants to believe him. Tom is so willing to relinquish his position on the throne. This is confusing everyone why would he give up his kingdom.
Frank: Essentially he says ‘I'm your king and I'm telling you this is your King.’ Of course that's confusing! (laughter) But finally one of the attendants comes up with an idea.
Phil: Right. And the idea is that the true king will know where the great seal is hidden.
Frank: Back to the great seal. They were all looking for that before when they wanted to execute the Duke of Norfolk.
Elizabeth: And it can't be just that easy. There's even more confusion because the seal is not in the hiding place where it's supposed to be. And it's Tom who reminds the prince: ‘Don't you remember before you ran away you hid it in a different place?’
Frank: I do remember that.
Phil: Right. And Tom had been using it to actually crack the nuts that he would take from dinner.
Frank: So, Tom Canty knew where the seal is and he just had to get the prince to remember where it had been put.
Elizabeth: Of course he didn't know it was the royal seal, all this time.
Frank: Right. He knew they were looking for the royal seal. He just didn't know that his Nutcracker was in fact that seal.
Elizabeth and Phil: That's right.
Frank: So Elizabeth, wrap this novel up for us. There are happy endings here. Everybody lives happily ever after.
Elizabeth: So now that they're back in their rightful positions, our Prince is made the rightful King. He has just learned these great lessons in mercy and he turns around immediately and officially makes Miles his Earl and gives Tom and his family a position where they don't have to be paupers and beggars anymore. He makes official an orphanage.
Frank: He even reaches into the prison where he had been and pardons a couple of the people that he met there. He finds the farmer that had been thrown off his land and restores his lands. He finds the shopkeeper who had been ruined by taxes restores his shop. He really has learned some important lessons during his misadventures.
Elizabeth: That's right. The reign of terror really is over.
Phil: And all's well that ends well.
Frank: And that is essentially how our novel The Prince and the Pauper ends. Now of course Elizabeth, Phil in every novel that we have our conversation about we can't get to every character every moment so there's a moment you want to talk about her a character you want to tell us about. Now's your opportunity. Phil?
Phil: To me the best and the most interesting and the funniest parts of the novel and the most well- crafted, actually, were the run downs of what it was like to be a royal at this time, according to Twain of course. And one of those is when they are dressing Tom. That's kind of the rundown of how the garments get passed.
Frank: I enjoyed this moment as well.
Phil: He says: ‘In the beginning a shirt was taken up by the Chief Actuary in Waiting… who passed it to the First Lord of the Buck Hounds… who passed it to the Second Gentleman of the Bedchamber… who passed it to the Head Ranger of Windsor Forest… who passed it to the third room of the stall… who passed it to the Chancellor Royal of the Duchy of Lancaster… who passed it to the Master of the Wardrobe… who passed it to new Roy King at Arms… who passed it to the Constable of the Tower… who passed it to the Chief Steward of the Household… who passed it to the Hereditary Grand Diaperer… who passed it to the Lord High Admiral of England… who passed as the Archbishop of Canterbury, one more, who passed it to the First Lord of the Bedchamber… who took what was left of it and put it on Tom. Poor little wandering chap. It reminded him of passing buckets at a fire.
Frank: That is a great scene. Elizabeth do you have a moment or a quote?
Elizabeth: I do have a favorite passage Frank. This is when Tom is really essentially playing king. He's hearing some cases that are brought before him and he is asked to pass judgment on them. And he's showing himself to be a very compassionate king and he's getting quite a response from the crowd. Well here's an interesting case where a black crime is charged upon them and clearly proven they sold themselves to the devil and such as their crime. Tom says how can we know that they sold themselves to the devil. The proof that is offered to him is that they caused a storm and there were 40 witnesses to this storm. And he says well this is a serious matter. How do you believe that they caused this storm and they present that this woman and her daughter pulled off their stockings and created this storm therefore they must have sold their souls to the devil. So this astonished Tom and fired his curiosity. He says eagerly it is wonderful has it always this dread effect? Always, they say. He says, Exert thy power I would see a storm. And here creates this scene. No one's ever asked someone to prove their evil powers and when of course the women cannot cause a storm by taking off their stockings. Tom concludes, therefore they're telling the truth. They did not sell their souls to the devil. This is all rubbish. I dismiss the case. Yet one more gracious move by a wise king.
Frank: You know Elizabeth I'm glad you brought up that quote because we did mention a few times that the Prince, while he was a Pauper. learned a lot of lessons as he went about his misadventures. But we should also say that the Pauper while a Prince also learned some lessons as well.
Elizabeth: That's right.
Frank: I have a quote here that just seemed funny to me and in fact it reminded me of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence they're talking about London Bridge. And this is what he says about London Bridge: “The bridge was sort of a town to itself. It had its inn, its beer houses, its bakeries, its Haberdashery, its food markets. It was a closed corporation so to speak. It was a narrow town of a single street a fifth of a mile long. Its population was but a village population and everyone in it knew all their fellow townsmen. It had its own aristocracy of course, its fine old families of butchers and bakers and whatnot, who had occupied the same old premises for five or six hundred years and knew the great history of the bridge from beginning to end and all its strange legends and who always talked ‘bridgey’ talk and thought ‘bridgey’ thoughts and lied in a long level direct, substantial ‘bridgey’ way. Children were born on a bridge were reared there grew to old age and finally died without ever having set foot upon any part of the world, but London Bridge.
Elizabeth: That is great.
Phil: Reminds me of people from New England. (laughter)
Frank: Get there from here.
Phil: My family's been here since 1908.
Elizabeth: Came over on the Mayflower.
Frank: And I think it's with that thought that will end our conversation today about the novel, The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. I want to thank you both for coming in and having this conversation with me was great.
Elizabeth: Thank you Frank.
Phil: Thanks Frank.
Frank: You've been listening to Novel Conversations.
Novel Conversations a production of The Front Porch People.
For more information about upcoming Novel Conversations, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. Or go to our website at The Front Porch People dot com. And if you like the podcast, don’t forget to leave us a review. It really helps.
was produced by Julie Fink and engineered by Sean Rule-Hoffman, Eric Koltnow and Dave Douglas. And a special thanks to our Executive Producer, Joan Andrews. I'm your host, Frank Lavallo, until next time, I hope you find yourself in a Novel Conversation.