The Prince and the Pauper

privately in their ears, that the sick man would die by poison_—and more, that a stranger would give it—a stranger with brown hair and clothed in a worn and common garb; and surely this prisoner doth answer woundily to the bill. Please your Majesty to give the circumstance that solemn weight which is its due, seeing it was _foretold.”

This was an argument of tremendous force in that superstitious day. Tom felt that the thing was settled; if evidence was worth anything, this poor fellow’s guilt was proved. Still he offered the prisoner a chance, saying—

“If thou canst say aught in thy behalf, speak.”

“Nought that will avail, my King. I am innocent, yet cannot I make it appear. I have no friends, else might I show that I was not in Islington that day; so also might I show that at that hour they name I was above a league away, seeing I was at Wapping Old Stairs; yea more, my

← Page-276 p.277 Page-278 →