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Mark Twain > The Prince and the Pauper > Chapter I

The Prince and the Pauper

Chapter I

The birth of the Prince and the Pauper.

In the ancient city of London, on a certain autumn day in the second
quarter of the sixteenth century, a boy was born to a poor family of the
name of Canty, who did not want him. On the same day another English
child was born to a rich family of the name of Tudor, who did want him.
All England wanted him too. England had so longed for him, and hoped for
him, and prayed God for him, that, now that he was really come, the
people went nearly mad for joy. Mere acquaintances hugged and kissed
each other and cried. Everybody took a holiday, and high and low, rich
and poor, feasted and danced and sang, and got very mellow; and they kept
this up for days and nights together. By day, London was a sight to see,
with gay banners waving from every balcony and housetop, and splendid
pageants marching along. By night, it was again a sight to see, with its
great bonfires at every corner, and its troops of revellers making merry
around them. There was no talk in all England but of the new baby,
Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales, who lay lapped in silks and satins,
unconscious of all this fuss, and not knowing that great lords and ladies
were tending him and watching over him--and not caring, either. But
there was no talk about the other baby, Tom Canty, lapped in his poor
rags, except among the family of paupers whom he had just come to trouble
with his presence.

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