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|The Prince and the Pauper||Mark Twain|
Chapter XXV. Hendon Hall.
|Page 3 of 5||
"Take thee? Prithee for whom else than whom thou art? I take thee to be Hugh Hendon," said Miles, sharply.
The other continued, in the same soft tone--
"And whom dost thou imagine thyself to be?"
"Imagination hath nought to do with it! Dost thou pretend thou knowest me not for thy brother Miles Hendon?"
An expression of pleased surprise flitted across Hugh's face, and he exclaimed--
"What! thou art not jesting? can the dead come to life? God be praised if it be so! Our poor lost boy restored to our arms after all these cruel years! Ah, it seems too good to be true, it IS too good to be true--I charge thee, have pity, do not trifle with me! Quick--come to the light--let me scan thee well!"
He seized Miles by the arm, dragged him to the window, and began to devour him from head to foot with his eyes, turning him this way and that, and stepping briskly around him and about him to prove him from all points of view; whilst the returned prodigal, all aglow with gladness, smiled, laughed, and kept nodding his head and saying--
"Go on, brother, go on, and fear not; thou'lt find nor limb nor feature that cannot bide the test. Scour and scan me to thy content, my good old Hugh--I am indeed thy old Miles, thy same old Miles, thy lost brother, is't not so? Ah, 'tis a great day--I SAID 'twas a great day! Give me thy hand, give me thy cheek-- lord, I am like to die of very joy!"
He was about to throw himself upon his brother; but Hugh put up his hand in dissent, then dropped his chin mournfully upon his breast, saying with emotion--
"Ah, God of his mercy give me strength to bear this grievous disappointment!"
Miles, amazed, could not speak for a moment; then he found his tongue, and cried out--
"WHAT disappointment? Am I not thy brother?"
Hugh shook his head sadly, and said--
"I pray heaven it may prove so, and that other eyes may find the resemblances that are hid from mine. Alack, I fear me the letter spoke but too truly."
"One that came from over sea, some six or seven years ago. It said my brother died in battle."
"It was a lie! Call thy father--he will know me."
"One may not call the dead."
"Dead?" Miles's voice was subdued, and his lips trembled. "My father dead!--oh, this is heavy news. Half my new joy is withered now. Prithee let me see my brother Arthur--he will know me; he will know me and console me."
"He, also, is dead."
"God be merciful to me, a stricken man! Gone,--both gone--the worthy taken and the worthless spared, in me! Ah! I crave your mercy!--do not say the Lady Edith--"
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