London, the middle of the XVI century. On the same day, two boys are born – Tom, the son of the thief John Kenti, huddling in the stinking cul-de-sac Yard Courtyard, and Edward, heir to King Henry the Eighth. Edward is waiting for all of England, Tom does not really need even his own family, where only the father-thief and mother-beggar have something like a bed; to the services of the rest – the spiteful grandmother and twin sisters – only a few piles of straw and scraps of two or three blankets.
In the same slum there is an old priest among all the rabbits who teach Tom Kenti to reading and writing and even the beginnings of Latin, but the oldest legends about wizards and kings are the most delightful. Tom beggars are not very diligent, and laws against beggars are extremely harsh. Beaten for neglecting the father and grandmother, hungry (except that the intimidated mother secretly put a hard cake), lying on the straw, he paints himself pictures of sweet pampered princes. Other boys are drawn into his game from the Court of Waste: Tom is a prince, they are a courtyard; all in strict ceremonial. Once, hungry, beaten, Tom wandered to the royal palace and with such self-oblivion looks through the trellised gate to the dazzling prince of Wales, that the sentry throws him back into the crowd. The little prince angrily intervenes for him and leads him into his quarters. He asks Tom about his life in the Court of Waste, and neglected plebeian pleasures seem to him so delicious that he invites Tom to exchange clothes with him. The dressed prince is absolutely indistinguishable from a beggar! Noticing Tom has a bruise on his arm, he runs to make a sentiment to the sentry – and gets a slap. The crowd, hooting, chasing the “half-witted ragamuffin” on the road. After long ordeals, he is grabbed by the shoulder of a huge drunkard – this is John Kent.
Meanwhile, the palace alarm: the prince went mad, he still remembers the English letter, but he does not even recognize the king, a terrible tyrant, but a tender father. Henry with a terrible order forbids any mention of the illness of the heir and hastens to confirm it in this rank. To do this, you need to quickly execute the suspect in the treason of Marshal Norfolk and appoint a new one. Tom is filled with horror and pity.
He is taught to hide his illness, but misunderstandings are huddled, at dinner he tries to drink water for washing hands and does not know whether he has the right to scrub his nose without the help of servants. Meanwhile, Norfolk’s execution is postponed due to the disappearance of the large state seal that was handed over to the Prince of Wales. But Tom, of course, can not remember, even how it looks, which, however, does not prevent him from becoming the central figure of a splendid festival on the river.
At the unfortunate prince, the enraged John Kenti waved a club; The intervening old priest falls under his blow dead. Tom’s mother sobs at the sight of the distraught son, but then arranges a test: he wakes him up suddenly, holding a candle before his eyes, but the prince does not cover his eyes with the palm of his hand, as Tom always did. Mother does not know what to think. John Kenti learns of the death of the priest and runs with the whole family. In the turmoil of the above-mentioned festival, the prince is hiding. And he understands that London honors the impostor. His indignant protests cause new mockery. But Miles Gendon beats him with a sword in his hand, a stout warrior in dandy, but shabby clothes.
To Tom, the messenger...
John Canty stealthily takes the king from under the wing of Miles, and the king gets into a thieves’ gang. He manages to escape, and he finds himself in the hut of a mad hermit who almost kills him because his father ruined the monasteries by introducing Protestantism in England. This time, Edward is rescued by John Kent. As long as the imaginary king creates the court, surprising the nobles with his common folk note, the true king among thieves and scoundrels meets also honest people who were victims of English laws. The boldness of the king eventually helps him to win respect even among the tramps.
The young swindler Hugo, whom the king has beaten with a stick by all the rules of fencing art, throws him a stolen pig, so that the king almost hits the gallows, but is saved thanks to the ingenuity of Miles Gendon, who appeared as always. But in Gendon Hall they are waited with a blow: Arthur’s father and brother died, and on the basis of a forged letter about the death of Miles, he took possession of the inheritance and married Edith. Guy declares Miles an impostor, Edith, too, renounces him, terrified by the threat of Gyu otherwise to kill Miles. Guy is so influential that no one in the district decides to identify a legitimate heir,
Miles and the king go to jail, where the king again sees the action of fierce English laws. In the end, Miles, sitting in the pads at the pillory, takes on more and the whips, which brings with his audacity the king. Then Miles and the king go to London for the truth. And in London during the coronation procession, Tom Kenti’s mother recognizes him by a characteristic gesture, but he pretends that he does not know her. Out of shame, the triumph fades for him, The moment the Archbishop of Canterbury is ready to lay his crown on his head, is the true king. With the generous help of Tom, he proves his royal origin, remembering where he hid the vanished state seal. Stunned Miles Gendon, who had difficulty in getting to the reception with the King, demonstratively sits in his presence to make sure that his vision does not change him. Miles receives in return a large fortune and the title of peer of England, along with the title of Count of Kent. The disgraced Gyuu dies in a foreign land, and Miles marries Edith. Tom Kenti lives to a very old age, using special honor for “sitting on the throne.”
And King Edward Six leaves his memory with a reign extremely rare for those cruel times of the day. When some gilded dignitary rebuked him in excessive softness, the king answered with a voice full of compassion: “What do you know about oppression and torment? I know this, my people know, but not you.”