Prince and the Pauper Essay

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Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper

Calais, France

Anno Domini 1544,

October the First

My dear Hugh,

It is with a heavy heart that I take up quill and inkpot to pen this sad missive, informing thee of the death of Miles thy brother during that recent battle between his majesty our most puissant sovereign King Henry the Eighth and his sworn enemy, that perifidious frog the Dauphin of France, which did of late take place in pitched battle at Boulogne-sur-Mer in the month of August, in the year of our lord 1544.

As doubtless thou hast heard at Hendon Hall, in the heat of summer His Majesty did command His Grace the Duke of Norfolk to raise the engines of siege so as to break the will of the French garrison in that wretched town, so close to the Channel which doth separate our blessed England from the continent. His grace of Norfolk did muster and conscript a tremendous host from the shires and hamlets of Albion and among their number was young Miles, whose very name he did remark to had destined him for a soldier. 'Twas folly indeed though that Miles should have gone to France when still so green in years. Yet he did sign a military commission, and to France with him I did go, and all the English force.

The conflict was no glorious martial scene but a mess of filth and blood, as the scaffolds and catapults were erected outside the town, and sappers skilled in the art of piercing fortifications were summoned to break the French line of defense. Yet the perfidious Dauphin had commanded a dozen skilled bowmen to rise to the parapets and stop the English advance: with coarse jests and taunts they did mock the English forces from that height, and His Grace of Norfolk bid the catapults be loaded, whereupon the bowmen let fly with a volley of arrows. 'Twas such an one that clip't thy brother Miles by the side of the neck, severing a vein to let the life pour forth. He died in my arms and bid me tell thee of his love for family and England both, and his eternal detestation of the French.

I can thus aver that thy brother died a hero, bearing the standards and colors of His Majesty's host. I trust that thou shalt remember him in thy orisons, and perhaps thou mayst erect at Hendon Hall a cenotaph to his eternal memory. I hope, dear Hugh, that the burden of inheriting thy brother's titles and estates is not too great for thou to bear. But they are all thine now, as is Hendon Hall.

PART 2

For the feast of All Hallows' Eve, it is expected that young persons will garb themselves in festive raiment and fancy dress, and go about in disguise. And so I did, disguising myself as that titled aristocrat herself, no stranger to controversy, Lady Gaga (who, it is said, inherited her title upon the death of the hereditary Lord Gaga some years back).

And so it was that on Hallowe'en I found myself magnificently habited in remarkable attire, designed to mimic that outrage of couture which is known to followers of her Ladyship as "the meat dress": because my coiffure cannot match that of her Ladyship, I did wear a wig of blond locks of platinum hue, adorned atop with a rosette made from red satin, upholstered and shaped so as to resemble a rosette of freshest beefsteak: then a choker of the rarest rhinestones was placed round my throat, with bracelets to match on either wrist, so that whatever illumination did reach them exploded in a blinding flash.

And then came the garment itself -- fearing the cold slither of actual ribeyes and t-bones stitched together to clothe my nakedness, this meat was made of plastic imitation filets-mignons and bunched and upholstered satin in rich hues of blood red, and a pink most rare (or medium rare), and ribbons of pristine white to mimic those generous slabs of fat which mottle and marble the hue of butcher's beef. This selfsame mock-meat satin was swathed round my platform boots as well, to add six inches to my height as surely as her ladyship uses it to reach closer to…[continue]

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